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Written by Gijs de Rooij, 14 March 2024

Google SGE:
Search Generative Experience

2023 is considered the year of Artificial Intelligence’s final breakthrough with the general public. Almost every company today uses ChatGPT, Midjourney or similar tools that make our work easier. Google is also increasingly using AI and has rolled out Google SGE in several countries. Not yet in the Netherlands, but that is a matter of time. This new update has implications for our search behavior and therefore SEO. But what are the consequences? We explain that to you in this blog.

It’s Saturday night and you feel like having a bite to eat out. In your search for great places, Google “Restaurant Tilburg. The SERP (Search Engine Results Page) displays several links below one another from websites or comparison sites that show the best restaurants. This is how we have known Google for several decades now. After the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) update, these search pages look very different.

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Want to know more about SEO? Then you ask Google “What is SEO? After the Google SGE update, you now don’t get a row of links at the top of the SERP. Instead, your question is answered immediately. Google does this by extracting information from the first ten search results and combining this information into a clear answer. So this information comes from sources that have worked their way to the first page of Google via SEO. So it can never be assumed with certainty that these AI-generated answers, are true.

Your question may well not have been answered to perfection with this new AI tool. That’s where Google has come up with something clever. At the bottom of Google’s response are several buttons. So you can ask for a follow-up or you can click on another related question to gather even more information on the topic.

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Implications for SEO

More and more companies are using SEO to appear at the top of Google’s search results among that cutthroat competition. After all, 50% of searchers always click on the first Google search result and 70% do not even look beyond the first three results. Over 90% say they always stay on the first page. So it is disastrous for your findability when your website does not show on the first page of Google. Ideally, therefore, you are at the very top.

With Google SGE’s new update, there is no longer a place for a website link at the top. Indeed, that is where we find Google’s AI-generated response. Chances are that this answer is enough for you and so you don’t look any further on the SERP. A drop in your organic traffic is therefore a logical consequence. According to those in the know, this drop could be as much as 30%. Although it is really too early now to put a serious number on that. Finally, the same decline applies to your competitors.

So does SEO not matter at all after this update? No, of course not. SEO remains an incredibly important part of increasing your visibility. As mentioned earlier, Google extracts its AI-generated answers from the first ten search results. As a website, you always want to be a part of that.

With the advent of Google SGE, rankings may become somewhat less important. After all, there aren’t any in the “block. However, it does become important that your brand name or a link from your website appears in the “block.

What can you do?

Google rolls out Search Generatve Experience to increase searcher ease of use. If they can keep all the promises, the world’s largest search engine seems to succeed in this with this update. As a marketer, it does present some challenges. However, don’t be surprised at the number of opportunities it presents. You may no longer stand proudly at the top of search results. But when Google uses your input for AI-generated answers, your website’s authority goes through the roof.

Therefore, keep creating relevant and unique content. Google is going to reward that sooner or later. Adhere to the E-E-A-T principle that Google considers so important. Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust. That is, Google appreciates it when you really add something with your content. Google is there for its searchers, and Google prefers to give its searchers content that is relevant. Fully AI-generated content does not fit the E-E-A-T principle, according to Google.

Therefore, write yourself, add value, and really give the reader something to take away with your content. In addition, the use of structured data is very important. By adding structured data to your pages, you have a key to success at hand. This will make it easier to link content on your website and be ready for Google’s next update. Learn more about structured data and how to apply it here.