Yesterday, I attended a webinar about “Search Generative Experience (SGE)” lead by a team of experts in paid SEO (think Google Ads) and organic SEO (think your website and Google My Business Profile ranking well in Google without the help of paid advertising, i.e., organically). And, today, I googled the aforementioned “quoted” term to get an idea of how to best explain it to my readers. Of course, because I’m testing out the SGE experience, an SGE listing was served up to me, in the form of the content shown in the image below.
What Is SGE?
So, the above image of AI-generated content should provide you with an idea of what SGE is. It basically is a search capability that Google offers where it employs artificial intelligence (AI) to spit back answers to questions that searchers enter into Google, regardless of the complexity of those questions. Answers to questions usually are presented in conversational format and may include text, images, videos, or other multimedia content. The driver behind Google offering SGE capabilities was its desire to provide more natural-sounding answers than its algorithms spit out in the past to more-detailed/complex questions that its search engine users were posing.
In our SEO blog post about why any website owner should ensure they are writing and posting “helpful content” for their target audiences, we emphasized how Google rewards websites that offer what it considers to be helpful content by serving up their site higher up in its search results for relevant search terms. It makes great sense that Google wants to be more helpful too regarding the listings and information it serves up to users of its search engine tool.
According to a October 2023 pdf about SGE offered by Google, “When appropriate, SGE will show an AI-powered snapshot to help people quickly get an overview on a topic, with factors to consider and helpful information. These snapshots serve as a jumping-off point from which people can explore a wide range of content and perspectives on the web. SGE will show links to resources that support the information in the snapshot, so people can check the information themselves and explore further. This allows people to dig deeper and discover a diverse range of content, from publishers, creators, retailers, businesses, and more, and use the information they find to advance their tasks.”
When Did SGE Go Into Effect?
SGE went into effect in May 2023. Currently, if people do not “opt in” to pilot/test/experience Google SGE, they will not be served up AI-generated snapshots like the one shown at the top of our blog post. However, it is expected that Google SGE might be rolled out to all users/become Google’s search-engine default in 2024. Given the aforementioned, our thoughts as SEO experts are as follows:
- Many individuals have already opted in to have AI-generated snapshots served up to them in search results, so why not take measures to have your website content or other assets like videos and images served up to them?
- The day is coming very soon when AI-generated snapshots will be presented to each & every user of Google’s search engine. Don’t you want to see your organization featured in appropriate snapshots?
So, if you aren’t already taking the steps we’ve outlined below to respond to and capitalize on SGE, it’s time to start taking them!
Google SGE SEO Tactics
So, what are some tactics we recommend to capitalize on and/or defend against the Google rankings impact of Google SGE?
- Be Willing to Share A Different Point Of View. As we called out in the title of our blog post, be willing to rock the boat, as we did a bit in our recent blog post entitled “Is Social Media Worth It?” Don’t jump tow the party line or jump on the same bandwagon everyone else is on related to a particular topic. If you’ve got different, unique ideas about something, share that — as long as you are not abusive to or attacking anyone. With so many other’s in your particular industry/space sharing the same ideas and content related to a topic of importance to your target audience(s), you’ll stand out to Google and likely have your content served up more if you’re willing to take and share a different approach to the topic in-question.
- Share Data That Others Want and Need. Google SGE is most likely to share information from individuals and organizations it believes are experienced and credible. As long as you’re not giving out anyone else’s confidential information, share data you’ve collected and analyzed on a particular topic. Leverage propriety data that no-one else has, and if you want to rank locally, share regional data that’s important to the geography you serve.
- Inform Google You’re Credible. Keep adding testimonials to your website or other content that demonstrates you are a trusted SME (subject matter expert) such as updates to staff/team bios. Give thought to what other information you could add to your site that would make an outsider trust you. Maybe it’s adding badges for certifications or accreditations you hold, or from organizations you belong to such as local Chambers of Commerce or Industry/Trade associations. And, of course, favorable publicity that you post on your site and/or from which you receive backlinks to your site is always helpful in establishing credibility.
- Provide Non-content Assets to Google SGE To Share With Searchers. Create more video content for Google SGE to share with users of its AI capabilities and be creative about how you visually present data/info.
- Continue To Include The Three Types Of Links We Discussed In Our Blog Post About Links That Support SEO. These are in keeping with the second bullet above — they reinforce your credibility.
- Think Like A Cook or Baker, Plus Recipe Sharer. Make sure your content is both detailed enough for readers to apply learnings from it/take action, and digestible by a lay person. This is in keeping with Google SGE’s desire to answer people’s detailed questions and support what’s known as “long-tail keyword (descriptive)” search-engine searches. We’ve talked about this in several other blog posts, including “Give The People What They Want,” but make sure you cover a topic thoroughly by understanding and answering your reader’s questions. View yourself as having a conversation with your target audiences and try to walk in their shoes. What questions might they have, and how can you provide answers that are both thorough and understandable?