The new AI-based Google search engine, SGE

Artificial intelligence will soon change the way you search on Google. It’s very interesting to see, both from a user and SEO expert’s perspective, how artificial intelligence and the war between search giants is evolving to new levels.

With Bing Chat using ChatGPT’s language model, Microsoft has made a huge step to catch up with Google, so of course Alphabet has had to step in.

They’ve been working on the so-called SGE, the Search Generated Experience, which is only available to testers for now, but no doubt will soon be rolled out to all 4 billion users.

What is the Search Generated Experience (SGE)?

The Search Generated Experience is a concept based on the idea that search engines should provide users with the most useful information and interactive features to help them with their queries.

That’s why, instead of simply listing sites in response to a search query (as is currently the case), the SGE aims to provide a deeper and richer experience. So, based on the leaked images, we can expect to see additional very detailed data, tools and features appear directly on the search page.

How does the Search Generated Experience work?

The Search Generated Experience uses complex algorithms and machine learning to understand user queries.

Accordingly, it analyses the query context, search history and various other factors to determine what additional data or features might be useful to the user.

For example, when searching for a restaurant, the SGE can offer the user a list of recommended restaurants with reviews, photos, opening hours and even a booking option directly on the search page.

Milyen lesz az új Google?

This gives users the most complete information about restaurants without having to navigate to the website.

The SGE uses a variety of data sources to operate, including structured data, assessments, schedules, answers to questions and more, all to provide more useful information.

When a user clicks on something, Google analyses it and selects the relevant data. It then displays this information in selected blocks or cards.

Previously, so-called “long-tail queries” could be broken down into several separate queries, which meant re-reading a lot of information, analysing hundreds of websites and comparing and ranking the resulting content.

Now, however, SGE takes the burden off the shoulders of the searcher, as the AI puts the search in context, and taking the above metrics into account, the AI will return the content and pages that best match the query.

The new Google interface basically includes 3 main new features :

AI snapshot: For open questions, you get a condensed summary of the answer above the traditional search results. The left side of the snapshot usually shows 3 additional links and sources.

If you ask the AI about the fastest land animal, for example, you get such a detailed snapshot:

Image source: intellectualead

Conversation mode:In this section, you can ask the AI additional questions and get more valuable information by clicking on the “Conversation” tab. At the bottom of the AI’s snapshot, you will usually see suggested questions to start the conversation (as you can see in the attached image):

Image source: intellectualead

Image source: intellectualead

Vertical experiences:In commercial and local searches, Google SGE displays an expanded list of product images and details. In addition, the AI provides specific annotations about each product and/or location to help you make your choice.

If you were looking for the best restaurant for a group dinner with friends in Chicago, for example, the screenshot below would appear:

What AI does the SGE use?

Among other things, SGE uses the MUM and PaLM2 language models, which are also used in Google’s own chatbot, BARD.

Képernyőkép a Google új keresőjéről

How is the user experience?

How is the user experience?

Mars has the same ice cover, weather and volcanoes as Earth, and the days are roughly the same length. And Venus is similar to our planet in size and composition of its interior.

It then lists some planets outside our solar system.

The paid ads section will also be redesigned. If you type in that you want a dress that will be delivered in 2 days for a wedding and fits the Miami weather in May, it will be able to list those as well.

He even gives advice on what to look out for, such as: light, breathable clothes and so on.

You can also use the follow-up question to search for other products, such as shoes.

how Google search will look in the future

In addition to the screenshots, you should also watch the video below, which shows the future search engine in action.

What will be the impact for website owners?

Seeing the above, as a website owner, you might be in a panic, because if the potential buyer/customer gets all the relevant information through the Google interface, how will there be traffic to your website?

First, let us reassure you: the AI-based response will not always appear, a typical area will be YMYL, which we have written about in more detail in a previous article.

In addition, Google highlights the sources with an image, title and URL, thus eliminating the shortcomings seen in BARD, for example.

This is marked in the picture below.

A Google AI kereső hatása a CTR-re

However, there is no doubt that the number of clicks could decrease significantly, as most of the data will be available on Google.

At the same time, it will be worth optimising the website for SGE from a new angle and increase the chances of our website appearing as additional data in the search results.

This, of course, will be the job of SEO specialists.

What impact is the SBU expected to have on the rankings?

This type of Google update has a significant impact on user behaviour. Because, if you think about it, users used to have to go through several results to get to the solution, but now they get an instant, “instant” response in the Google SERP.

They won’t necessarily have to visit websites and will increasingly rely on Google’s generative AI for more personalised answers.

Since the beta version is already available for testing in the US, the first observations by SEO experts have come in, which are quite interesting.

  • Organic results are, on average, much less clicked on; however, the first three results are clicked on in roughly equal proportions at the same time (as opposed to the current situation where the first result “pockets” the majority of clicks.)
  • Users spend more time on the SGE interface and less time on websites.
  • Overall, websites are receiving much less organic traffic (according to the Agile SEO agency, traffic has dropped by 18-64%(!) for some websites).
  • These websites receive proportionally more direct and brand-based traffic.

This will present a whole new challenge for SEO professionals and marketers alike.

How should you prepare as an SEO professional?

As an SEO professional, you will need to make sure that your SEO strategies are tailored to user intent. In all cases, you need to work with analytics (Analytics, Search Console and other SEO tools).

You see, this will broaden the scope of the SEO specialists’ work a bit, as they will not only be involved in optimising the website, but also in optimising the additional data that appears on the search page.

It is likely that there will be new metrics to measure the impact of SGE on traffic, user interactions and conversions, so be prepared for a period of more intensive learning as the new AI-based search is introduced.

What do we know so far? How can Google SGE affect SEO?

Because it is still very much in the experimental stage, no one can say for sure exactly how Google SGE will change SEO. But you can certainly expect that, as with Google’s huge changes so far, there will be a huge turnaround.

SGE can make it difficult to rank for traditional “question-based” keywords

Like other recently introduced features of the Google SERP (such as Rich Snippets, to name just one), the primary goal of the Search Generative Experience is to simplify search results and make it easier to find answers.

Like chatbot solutions such as ChatGPT or the latest versions of Google Bard, the SGE SERP screenshots also present the user with a brutally large amount of information.

Like the latest versions of chatbot solutions such as ChatGPT or Google Bard, the SGE SERP screenshots present a brutal amount of information to the user.

This is why the new system is likely to make it much more difficult to rank for keywords based on questions, at least this will be the case if the questions are clear.

The battle for the top spots in the Google search results is heating up even more

While achieving the highest possible search rankings has always been important, SEO experts expect this to become even more important from now on.

At the moment, the SGE looks like the first three to five matches can appear as part of an AI-generated snapshot – which is particularly beneficial if you’re one of them. But vice versa: if you’re not in the first five hits, the click-through rate is unfortunately reduced even more drastically.

In fact, if you think about it, the battle for the top five places will be a bit of a reshuffle in the SBU-driven future. After all, it won’t be about being in the top hits, but about getting into that snapshot.

After all, if this “snapshot” answers the user’s question, there is virtually no reason to scroll down.

Source: Google Labs

The pictures so far illustrate both the differences and the similarities. On the one hand, there were already highlighted extracts in the search engine, but now you can also get answers to complex questions with recommendations.

SEO experts are currently of the opinion that sites with higher domain rankings are likely to be included in these recommendations. However, it is also very important that the content provides specific answers to search intentions and covers a broad range of topics

Align your SEO strategy with AI

We have to accept that the age of AI is coming, and that search functions will evolve at a huge speed.

Alongside SGE, AI software like ChatGPT, Bard, Midjourney and many other platforms are not just a passing fad, but an integral part of life. Only those marketers and SEO professionals who learn to adapt them smartly into their work and optimization can stay afloat.

Here are some tips on how you can do just that.

Topics and content

As impressive as it is that language models such as ChatGPT can write entire blog posts or articles in seconds, it is not recommended to use them for SEO purposes, neither now nor for SGE.

The language models can hallucinate, i.e. give false information, and the texts are not sophisticated enough. No one wants to read dry articles created by robots that merely chiselled facts.

Man’s time is valuable, and he decides what to spend it on. Today, there are much more interesting things on TikTok, where you can get more pulses in 3 minutes than you could in 3 weeks 10 years ago.

So if people are reading, you need to produce exciting, useful content, based on facts and data.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use these tools in the SGE, in fact you can!

With ChatGPT, you can develop a year’s worth of content in a few seconds and write briefs. Of course, there are more sophisticated tools, especially in the English-speaking world, such as Jasper or Copy.ai, to name a few.

Keyword research

Like brainstorming a topic, AI can save you a lot of time in discovering and cleaning up keywords.

Give the language model information about what your business is about, what the main profile is, who the target audience is and the main keywords, and then ask it for further suggestions.

You can then expand them further with keyword research software.

Update existing content

Software such as ChatGPT can help you make your content even better and optimise it according to SGE metrics.

For example:

  • Ask ChatGPT to suggest synonyms and antonyms for words that appear too often in the article.
  • Enter the main keyword and ask him to calculate the keyword density. If it is greater than 2%, also ask him to replace these keywords in the text with a synonym.
  • Enter the main keyword and ask it to calculate the keyword density. If it is higher than 2%, ask him to replace these keywords in the text with a synonym.
  • You can ask him to provide additional article ideas that are related to the topic, and highlight anchor texts where you can insert the backlink.

These are just a few tips, of course, but there are plenty of other ways to harness the huge potential of AI, which you can then use in the SGE. However, it is very important that you always check and proofread the work of ChatGPT, as it may contain errors.

With Midjourney you can now create stunning, lifelike and most importantly, unique images for your content. If you’re not sure what prompt to give the image creation AI software, ask ChatGPT to suggest a prompt for Midjourney based on the parameters you provide.

For example, “I want to see a lifelike, high-resolution deer in the middle of the forest, in 2K resolution, grazing on the green grass. Write a prompt that Midjourney can map for me.”

Of course, there are still a lot of open questions, but we’ll soon be smarter, as the beta version of the SGE is already available for users to test. Unfortunately, for now, it is only available in the US and only in English.

Of course, until then there are still many questions. For example:

Search intent is also becoming increasingly important

Understanding precise search intent has been an important part of effective SEO for some time, but with SGE it is likely to become even more important.

How should you prepare as a marketer?

Once the SGE is available to everyone, it is expected to completely transform the way we search and shop.

Make no mistake: people will continue to use Google as a search engine, but users will rely much more on what Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz) calls “brand co-occurrences”.

Users will get answers to their questions from Google’s artificial intelligence, not from websites. And they will only dig deeper into a topic when they are faced with more complex problems and need expert content.

But this is also where AI comes in, as it will cite and list professionals and brands that are closely related to the needs.

For example, a more specific question could be:

Which is the best accounting software for my accounting firm?

The combined appearance of brands will be determined by factors similar to SERP ranking.

Relevance and authority of content

The more useful information an article provides on a given topic, and the more perspectives (e.g. pros and cons), the more likely the SBU will see you as an expert on the topic and recommend you.

Popularity of the website

The more organic traffic you have, the more likely you are to produce relevant content, and therefore the more likely you are to be recommended by the SGE on those topics.

Your online reputation

The more forums and posts your name is mentioned (in a positive context, of course), the more likely it is that the SBU will recommend you. And vice versa: the more negative comments about you, your brand, the less likely Google will recommend you in the renewed SERP.

In other words, you will need to meet the E-E-A-A-T standards (Expertise, authority, reliability and personal experience) more than ever before.

How can you adapt to Google SGE as a marketing professional?

SGE is not yet widespread, but that does not mean that we should not be prepared for radical changes.

In a world dominated by the SGE, the way to get customers online will be similar to the way it is now, but you’ll need to pay attention to a few extra things. If you like, you need to take a step back and look at marketing from a broader perspective.

Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • You should pay attention to the context in which your brand is mentioned in different forums. You can even set up a Google Alerts for this and monitor it if you have the capacity. Because the SGE will largely monitor how your brand is perceived online. So more than ever before, you need to pay attention to increasing the engagement of your community, to fan and evangelise them.
  • Simplify your content to the most important keywords: as the SERP enters a new stage of its evolution, you may have to make some very drastic changes.
  • Associate faces with your brand, as users will mostly search through Google’s AI, so they will be even more “hungry” to turn to real flesh-and-blood experts – people they can trust. This is why personal branding will also need to be given special attention.

What about hallucinations?

Both BARD and the ChatGPT language model experience hallucinations. These are untrue, airy-fairy data, statistics and even source references that do not actually exist.

Google tries to limit this in the way mentioned above, for example in the YMYL topics. This means that the search engine does not use AI to display answers in financial, legal, health and other topics.

However, it will be interesting to see how the search giant solves this problem in other areas.

A Google keresés jövője

What can we expect in the future?

The SBU has huge potential.

Search engines, using AI, will become increasingly adept at understanding individual user preferences and displaying relevant search results.

This level of customisation will provide a great user experience, as the most relevant information will be found quickly and with minimal effort.

These technologies allow search engines to understand the context, intentions and even emotions behind search queries, providing more nuanced and accurate results.

We didn’t mention it because they are not so widespread in this country, but voice search and the integration of virtual assistants will be an important aspect of SGE.

It is likely that the SGE will focus on semantic rather than keyword-based search in the future. This will allow search engines to provide more complete and accurate results and improve the search experience.

As we wrote above, only beta tests are running overseas for now (which teens can already use), but a lot will depend on the user experience, as Google is playing a wait-and-see game.

Bing has not been able to increase its market dominance significantly, even though it has built its chatbot based on the ChatGPT language model. Google therefore wants to introduce its innovations cautiously.

In fact, according to Glenn Gabe’s X-tweet, Google is also experimenting with what it calls SGE lite, where a smaller block of recommendations is included.

So it’s too early to draw any lessons from the early beta tests, as user feedback could well lead to Google eventually delaying and fine-tuning the SGE before releasing it to the wider public.

So it’s worth waiting until the overseas beta test is over, and once we see where Google is pointing the new direction, we can then develop our SEO and marketing strategy accordingly.

Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile and interesting to watch the new traplines and gather the info, as the above will probably be just as relevant if Google were to use the Lite SGE version.

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