Sweeping Changes Ahead: How Google AI Search Will Redefine Your Business Visibility

Sweeping Changes Ahead: How Google AI Search Will Redefine Your Business Visibility

Search: It’s where questions get answers and where users connect to you… or to your competitors. For years, marketers and businesses have been striving to continuously unlock the mysteries of Google’s algorithms to claim that #1 spot in search. We start to find something that works, and then Google comes in hot with another new update. And historically, Google’s advice has been a tad cryptic, like the ever-vague “just make helpful content.” Helpful, huh? But now, they’re throwing us a curveball with their new AI-powered update, the Search Generative Experience (SGE).

It’s a pivotal moment in the world of SEO.

Why should you care? Because if you’re not preparing for this change, you risk being left in the digital dust. Let’s take a closer look to help you prepare for this monumental rollout.

TL;DR: Key Takeaways on Google’s SGE and Its Impact on SEO

  • Google’s SGE generates unique answers to queries, drawing from supporting information across various websites. No more static answers; it’s dynamic each time you search.
  • The ‘snapshot carousel’ is the new prime digital real estate. It shows links that back up what SGE produces as an answer. Focus here to be seen.
  • Organic links in search will be taking a backseat, appearing below the fold. Notably, these aren’t the same as SGE results.
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all just yet. Different niches might see varying results. Adaptation and experimentation are vital.
  • SGE Optimization may require a fresh strategy, potentially evolving separately from traditional SEO practices.
  • To stay ahead, it’s crucial to continuously optimize for ranking, adapting to changes as they come. Even with SGE’s dynamism, it seems to pull from the top pages somewhat frequently, but not always.

Why does SEO matter in the first place?

Think of it this way: SEO is the digital equivalent of ensuring your store has the prime spot in a bustling marketplace, optimizing visibility, and driving sales. According to a recent survey, SEO offers an impressive ROI of over 29%, outshining other digital marketing strategies like social media, which averages 18%. However, this digital landscape isn’t static and really never has been. With the growing prevalence of AI, it’s safe to assume that the only constant will be change and more change.

Take a look at our comprehensive SEO services to find out how SEO can benefit you.

Google Loves Change

Google has always been in the business of refining its algorithms. The driving force? Ensuring users get the best possible experience, even if it means individual website rankings might take a hit. AI isn’t a new player in Google’s game, either. Consider BERT, an AI model designed to understand the nuances of user queries better, or even the spell correction system rolled out way back in 2001. However, it’s the introduction of SGE that’s capturing attention and setting the stage for the next big evolution in search.

More to Explore:
Get up to speed on Google’s recent Helpful Content Update with our quick Helpful Update Strategy Guide.

So, what the heck is SGE?

So, what is a Search Generative Experience, you ask? It’s Google’s newest leap in search evolution, and it’s powered by generative AI. If you’re familiar with ChatGPT (and other AI tools notorious for giving kids an ‘easy way out’ on homework), think of SGE as Google’s equivalent but with a broader scope. Instead of just churning out custom AI-generated text, it can pull in various media forms from across the web, from video tutorials to detailed diagrams. Not only that, but searchers can ask follow-up questions and interact with this AI-driven technology in a conversational way to get more personalized answers. 

For instance, let’s say you’re wanting to learn a musical instrument. A vague query like “how to play an instrument” might yield an SGE result, giving you an overview of various instruments, maybe a video on the basics of music theory, and a beginner’s guide to reading music. But ask a more specific follow-up question, like “What are tips for mastering the ukulele for left-handers,” and you’ll get a much more tailored answer. You could even choose from a list of pre-generated prompts to continue your search. Even more interesting is that you may get a different generated result if you ask the same question again or on a different browser.

The Look of Results with AI-generated Search

Wondering where your business comes in in all this? We’ll get to that by explaining how this affects the overall look of search results. Suffice it to say that for those queries where SGE will be active (a sizeable chunk of about 70 to 90%), the search results page gets a bit of rearranging and some additional elements new to searchers.

Here is a basic breakdown of the anatomy of the new results page:

  • Ads at the Top: Paid Search advertising still claims the prime real estate at the top of the page.
  • Generative AI Text: Directly below the ads, you’ll see a section of text generated by Google’s AI. This isn’t a link to a specific site but rather a concise and comprehensive answer to the query. It’s like having a super-informative snippet right at the top of the page.
  • Snapshot Carousel: Situated right next to the AI-generated text is the Snapshot carousel. This is a series of cards displaying links to various sources that support or provide context to the AI’s answer. It’s essentially a quick way for users to verify the information or delve deeper into a topic.
  • Additional Media (Varies by Query):
    • Products/Businesses: For some queries, especially transactional ones, a list of products or businesses offering a service will appear. However, it’s important to note that these don’t generally link directly to the site, even if they are clickable. Ultimately, landing a spot here is about brand visibility and not driving site traffic.
    • Images: A series of relevant images might be displayed for more visual queries.
    • Videos: In some cases, especially for how-to or tutorial queries, video results might be showcased.
Google Example

The Impact on Organic Traffic and SEO

And where are the organic links? All the way below that. So the question then becomes, will people be satisfied with all the information SGE provides, or will they scroll all the way down to the organic results? It’s not something a business should really leave to chance. With organic content being shifted down, there’s cause for concern about a near-certain decline in organic site traffic. Insight Partners anticipates a decrease ranging from 15-25%, and Agile SEO’s study reported reductions from 18% to 64% across 23 of their clients’ websites.

And more bad news for paid search, too. With organic results pushed so far down, paid search is becoming one of the only surefire methods for visibility, leading to heightened competition among advertisers. What this means for your business is that sole reliance on traditional SEO is no longer sufficient. It’s a sink-or-swim moment, where adapting and evolving with the digital environment is a must. And if you haven’t done anything about SEO, here is your wake-up call.

SGE Example

Preparing for SGE: Organic SEO Vs. SGE Strategies

As Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) makes its grand entrance, the SEO playbook is getting some new chapters. Sure, we’re still figuring out the ins and outs of SGE, but let’s not toss out those SEO strategies we’ve come to rely on just yet. They’re about to become even more valuable, albeit with a few tweaks to keep up with the times

A key thing to keep in mind is that SGE operates on top of Google’s existing search algorithms. What does that mean for your search strategy? It means that our current SEO best practices are still the foundation of successful ranking, BUT they aren’t sufficient on their own to get content to do well in the new SGE environment. If you’re not optimizing your content based on keyword research and the tried and true E-A-T strategy, you could potentially have lost out before you even started.

Crucial SEO basics to get your content up to speed:

  • Quality Content Is Still King: Good content never goes out of style. Keep your content rich, informative, and engaging – Google loves that, and so do your readers.
  • Keywords and Intent: Knowing what your audience is searching for and tailoring your content to meet those queries is still your SEO bread and butter.
  • Make It Snappy and Structured: A well-organized page with clear headers and user-friendly design? That’s gold for keeping your readers hooked and happy. Plus, search engines appreciate it, too.
  • Local SEO Is Essential: In the era of SGE, excelling in local search is crucial for businesses with a local presence or brick-and-mortar shop. Ensure your website highlights local specifics effectively, but don’t just focus on-site. Maintaining accurate, updated business listings across various platforms is equally important. These efforts help Google recognize your relevance for local searches in both traditional SEO and SGE, boosting your visibility where it matters most.

More to Explore:
For a deeper dive into SEO fundamentals, check out our guide on What Makes a Good SEO Strategy.

With the additional algorithmic layer SGE brings, we’ve got to also add a new layer to our game plan to get this right. It seems that the SGE algorithm operates more on a page level, searching for high-quality content to back up its generated answers. Sure, the usual factors like backlinks, internal links, metadata, and other page-specific content play a role in how SGE ranks your page. But here’s the kicker: massive site-wide overhauls might not be necessary. Focus on those that delve into topics linked to your most valuable keywords. It’s all about fine-tuning your content, shaping it to answer the common questions your audience might have about your products or services. Think of it as tailoring your page to become the perfect partner for SGE’s generated responses.

SGE-Specific Strategies: Tailoring for the New Search Landscape

In the SGE realm, it’s not just about sticking to the old rules but adapting to new ones. In fact, more than 50% of the top organic results for a specific keyword don’t even land a spot in the coveted Snapshot Carousel. We wouldn’t blame you for being a bit anxious about that, especially if you’ve spent hours trying to snag the top spot. On the bright side, it also means that pages that aren’t able to quite beat out the competition in standard SEO have a shot at hitting it big time with SGE. Here are some SGE-specific strategies that can potentially give you an edge:

  • Monitor SGE Results and Snapshot Carousel: Keep an eye on what SGE pulls up for keywords related to your business. You may need to fine-tune your page content to better align with these AI-generated answers. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; what works in one industry might not work in another.
  • Enhance Imagery for Better Engagement: With SGE showing small thumbnails, having attractive, relevant images on your site could mean more clicks and better engagement.
  • Anticipate Conversational Queries: Think of the follow-up questions someone might ask after their initial query. By covering a broader range of related questions, your content can stay relevant and visible as users refine their searches.
  • Focus on Reputation Management and Offsite SEO: Ensure a strong presence on review sites and industry listicles, especially since SGE often pulls information from these sources for queries like “best air fryer.”
  • Guide Link-Building with SGE Insights: Observe which sources SGE favors and target these for backlinks. This can enhance your visibility in both traditional search results and SGE.
  • Target Mid-Bottom Funnel Keywords: As SGE tends to answer top-funnel queries directly, focusing on so-called mid-bottom funnel keywords can enhance your performance in SGE. These are keywords that potential customers use when they’re closer to making a purchase decision, as opposed to top-funnel keywords used for general information. Content that answers specific questions or offers detailed comparisons can be more effective in attracting clicks.
  • Optimize Feature Pages Thoroughly: Go in-depth with your product or service features. Detailed descriptions, user testimonials, and case studies make your site a rich information source for both Google’s AI and potential customers.
  • Layer in Expertise and Experience Signals: Use expert quotes or detailed examples to enhance your content. This shows depth and expertise, making your content more appealing to both SGE and your audience.
  • Build Topical Relevance Around Key Terms: This means creating a network of content that covers various aspects of a key product or service. By linking related articles or pages, you can establish your site as an authority on specific topics, which can boost your performance in SGE.

Implementing these strategies involves a mix of creativity, diligence, and regular monitoring. The landscape is dynamic, so continuous testing and adapting are key. Keep tweaking and tracking your on-page changes to see what resonates best with SGE and your audience. Also, be prepared for the possibility that strategies for SGE and traditional SEO may begin to branch off in different directions. It’s a natural evolution and something to embrace as we navigate this new digital landscape.

The Future of SEO: Adapting and Diversifying

The shifting sands of SEO have always reminded us of one thing – it’s risky to put all our eggs in one SEO basket. As algorithms evolve, being vigilant and diversifying becomes essential. Beyond just optimizing for search engines, it’s about building a resilient digital presence. This includes leveraging social media and focusing on reputation management, which not only enhance your brand’s visibility but also signal social significance and authoritativeness to search engines.

Incorporating these broader strategies ensures that no matter how the digital landscape shifts, your online presence remains strong and adaptive. The future of SEO is not just about reacting to changes but proactively expanding your toolkit to include a mix of traditional and innovative approaches.

Closing Thoughts: Embracing Change and Adding Value

As we navigate through the waves of change in the digital world, one constant remains paramount: the commitment to providing value. Amidst all the chatter about SEO’s supposed demise, it’s important to remember that it isn’t dead; it’s just evolving, and so are we at Curiosity Marketing Group.

In these times of transition, adaptability isn’t just an advantage; it’s a necessity. Seeing these shifts as opportunities for growth allows us to approach the future with optimism and strategy. At Curiosity Marketing Group, we’re equipped to help you navigate these changes, ensuring that your online presence isn’t just surviving but thriving in this new landscape.

As we embrace the new era of SEO and SGE, our focus remains on future-proofing your digital footprint. We’re here to guide you through every twist and turn, helping you adapt and grow in an ever-changing digital world. So, while SEO continues to evolve, rest assured, we’re evolving right alongside it, ready to face the challenges and seize the opportunities that come our way.


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