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Search Generative Experience + Organic: What We Think The Future Will Look Like

Date published: September 15, 2023
Last updated: February 20, 2024

It might get you excited, and it might make you break out in a cold sweat. One way or another, everyone is processing the fact that AI is the future. With AI tools popping up everywhere, the stream of new resources that lean on artificial intelligence can be intimidating — especially if you’re thinking about the future of your business.

In June of 2023, Google Search Labs rolled out its latest experiment in the field of AI. “Search Generative Experience” (SGE for short) is a new feature that the search engine giant is currently testing.

If you want to get a glimpse of what a future with SGE might look like and how it could impact key concepts like SEO strategy and organic traffic, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at SGE and the potential implications it could have on the marketing community.

What Is SGE? A Deeper Dive Into Google’s Generative AI Experiment.

SGE may claim to use AI, but what does that mean? How is Google integrating artificial intelligence software into its search experience?

Let’s start with a more detailed description of SGE itself. In a report on the new tool published right after its release in June, veteran marketing journalist Scott Clark described SGE as a “new set of search features that incorporate results powered by generative AI into responses from Google's search engine queries.”

The journalist went on to explain that, in essence, SGE’s role is to enhance the simple answer of a traditional search query with an AI result that adds information and contextual elements. This enables “a deeper understanding of topics,” Clark explains, “revealing fresh perspectives and simplifying the process, SGE is able to improve the search experience for the end user.”

While this sounds great in theory, we’ll see how well it works in execution. We don’t yet know how the average user will react to an AI summarization of information. The testing phase of SGE runs through December, and there’s a bit of runway before we really know what the end result will be.

That said, in the minds of most marketers, some form of generative search powered by AI technology is likely coming. The question is, how can businesses react to the change?

How Will SGE Impact Organic Search Results?

Only time will truly tell how SGE impacts organic search. Nevertheless, there’s little doubt that the Google Search Generative Experience will change things on some level. And while we don’t suggest changing your entire search strategy just yet, there are things you can do to better prepare.

For instance, there will likely be a shift in search-driven on-site traffic. As generative AI search responses address queries, sites will have fewer click-throughs.

Even so, for the time being, at least, there are still links to sources that Google includes in each AI answer. That’s helpful, as it sends a signal of credibility and brand awareness when a consumer sees that your content was used to provide a quality answer.

This balance between major shifts and silver linings is likely to persist as Google fleshes SGE out. One downside that we may see, though, is that the option for quick AI summaries could reduce traffic and clicks.

However, organic traffic will still play a role — especially when it comes to high-quality content. Content that efficiently and expertly educates, informs, and demonstrates experience will still be needed.

Creating exceptional content has always been a critical element that brings together brand authority (being a thought leader in your industry), credibility (third-party references boost credibility for a brand), and visibility (even if it’s via a link reference in a text snippet).

Authority, credibility, and visibility. These are all critical pillars of a good growth strategy. In other words, even if we end up using SGE differently than we used search in the past, it will still have the ability to help reach critical growth marketing goals. Brands who do those three things well will likely be the ones who “win” at SGE.

How Can Companies Adapt to SGE?

Okay, so SGE will likely remain a relevant marketing tool. But how can brands adapt to its AI-powered search?

The good news is that the goal of SGE is to help people connect with businesses. So, brands that tailor their content marketing strategy to cater to SGE aren’t working against the system. Instead, they should simply adjust their focus within their marketing strategy. Here are a few suggestions for how that might look:

  • A focus on timeliness and quality resources: ChatGPT and similar tools can often pull data that is dated. When brands create fresh, timely content (or properly update older content), it will deliver a unique degree of quality that Google will likely reward.
  • Focusing on new data: Along with sourcing relevant third-party data, companies should also develop their own branded value-driven data whenever possible. Those who generate fresh data from research studies or surveys and polls will become increasingly important as a way to compliment and inform the more generic AI-driven content creation tools that they use.
  • Abandoning generic content: It may be that basic 101 pages and information will no longer be worth creating in a world where AI can assemble information from a million places at once in an instant. Instead, focus on questions. Q&As are the future, and companies that provide the best answers will likely feature in Google’s responses.
  • Always remember to E-E-A-T: Google’s E-E-A-T acronym stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Brands should demonstrate this through innovative content that includes fresh takes, inspiring ideas, and input from subject matter experts. First-hand experience is becoming increasingly important to searchers, so incorporate that into your strategy.
  • Fill question gaps: As you create content, look at what answers are already in the queries and SERPs you’re pursuing. Consider what questions haven’t been answered well, and provide better alternatives. At the end of the day, Google wants to create a good user experience and if you can answer user questions, Google will prioritize your site and information.

Brands that can cater to Google’s adaptive AI will be much more likely to retain their status in the search engines. Partner with a growth marketing agency that specializes in organic traffic. The right partner can help your brand stay up to date on AI updates that could affect your business. If they can help Google SGE provide an elite user experience, chances are they will remain at the forefront of search engine marketing — regardless of what that may look like moving forward.

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