What is SGE: Navigating Google’s AI in Search

Google's search generative experience generating a search result

Welcome to an era where your computer doesn’t just follow commands—it creates, imagines, and even surprises you. This is the time of Generative AI, a groundbreaking technology that arms machines with the ability to generate text, images, and music that feel incredibly human-like, all without explicit instructions. This innovation is revolutionizing numerous fields, including the way we search.

Introducing Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), a transformative approach to online search. The traditional method of sifting through pages of search results is becoming a thing of the past. With SGE, Google aims to understand your queries on a deeper level, offering precise, conversational responses as if you were discussing your question with a knowledgeable friend.

Let’s delve into the mechanics of this AI-driven technology, uncover the essence ‘what is SGE’, and discover how it’s set to become an indispensable tool in our digital lives.

What is SGE?

Leveraging advanced algorithms, SGE interprets your queries with an unprecedented level of understanding, providing responses that are not only relevant but also rich in context. For example, instead of searching for “black women’s shoes” and having to comb through results, you can search for “trending black women’s shoes for dinner at a fancy restaurant” and get refined, relevant results instantly. This shift from keyword-based searches to conversational interactions marks a significant evolution in how we interact with search engines.

SGE’s intelligence stems from its continuous learning process, which allows it to refine its predictions and offer personalized search experiences. Imagine having a search assistant that knows precisely what you’re looking for, every single time—that’s the promise of SGE.

What the research is telling us about SGE right now:

  • Studies show there’s only a 4.5% overlap in URLs between generative content and traditional organic results at the page level
  • There is a large variation in how SGE results are being displayed depending on the search query, related products, map/image/blog results etc

Activating Your Personal AI Search Companion

Embarking on your journey with SGE is straightforward. Simply begin by typing your query into Google’s search bar. Instantly, SGE springs into action, analyzing your input with sophisticated linguistic understanding. Currently in its experimental phase, those eager to experience SGE firsthand can sign up at labs.google.com using a personal Gmail account. 

The Pros and Cons of Google’s Search Innovation

Why Google’s AI Search Stands Out:

  • Personalized Searches: Google can seem to read your mind, tailoring search results to fit your specific needs.
  • Deep Understanding: SGE grasps the nuances of your queries, offering answers that truly understand your intent.
  • Efficiency: Say goodbye to endless scrolling. SGE provides concise, accurate answers swiftly.

Areas to Watch:

  • Bias Awareness: Like any AI, SGE’s responses may reflect biases from its training data.
  • The Balance of Convenience: While AI simplifies searches, there’s a fine line between convenience and overreliance.
  • Privacy Considerations: The sophistication of AI raises valid concerns about data privacy and how personal information is used.

Google SGE in the Competitive Landscape

Google SGE distinguishes itself in the AI-powered search arena by offering a uniquely personalized search experience, leveraging Google’s vast data resources. In comparison, platforms like ChatGPT and Bing’s AI search bring their own strengths to the table, but SGE sets a new standard by prioritizing user intent and delivering finely tuned responses. 

Google has also released Gemini, an AI assistant using a chat interface that appears to be learning and evolving at a much faster rate than the competitors based on our own testing.

Redefining SEO and PPC Marketing with SGE

The advent of SGE is reshaping the strategies behind SEO and PPC marketing. Success now hinges on understanding and aligning with the nuanced, conversational nature of user queries. This evolution encourages marketers to craft content and ads that speak directly to the audience’s intentions, as recognized by SGE.

What this means for SEO

SGE results for a search on PR agency San Francisco

Due to the experimental nature of SGE we currently don’t have many definites about what will change and how it will affect websites. What we do know comes from research on the experimental version and our own expertise.

  • Research into 10 different factors that could affect SGE performance showed that adding citations, quotes and statistics into content can improve SGE search rankings by up to 40%
  • A separate study recorded Healthcare (76%) as being the industry most affected by SGE results when compared to traditional search results followed by Ecommerce (49%) and B2B Tech (48%)

Other factors that have come to light during our testing:

  • Optimized images and alt text are going to become more important than ever as Google uses visual results in a variety of ways
  • Places have become one of the most common SGE result types. Places are similar to traditional local pack results but with more insights and sources for each result.
  • Because of the significance of places results, Google reviews are going to take center stage. This is great for businesses with a long-standing track record of 5-star reviews, but also allows results to be manipulated by those paying for non-legitmate ratings.

What this means for PPC

SGE results showing trending black shoe sponsored results

The data on PPC within SGE results is a lot more sparse. Here’s what currently has been confirmed or tested by Google: 

  • SGE shopping results will feature a ‘sponsored’ product first
  • Google has announced SGE results will feature ads ‘above’ and ‘below’ the generated results
  • New ad placements will be appearing like “You May Also Like” product carousels featuring sponsored products

The main idea behind SGE is to increase engagement within the search. What this means is a likely dramatic decrease in CTRs for anything non-transactional as people find the answer without having to leave Google. This is likely going to lead to a shift in what data is seen as being the most relevant for both SEO and SEM reporting.

Looking Ahead: Adapting to the Future of Search

Staying ahead in the SGE-driven landscape requires agility and foresight. Marketers, in particular, must remain attuned to changing search behaviors, optimizing content to meet the sophisticated demands of conversational queries. This is a time of opportunity, inviting us to innovate and forge deeper connections with our audiences.

At Mannix Marketing we pride ourselves on innovative strategies and continued learning to stay ahead of the many evolutions of the digital marketing landscape. With over 25 years in SEO and numerous satisfied clients, our team is ready to navigate your business through these changes. Speak to our team today about how SGE could affect your website today.

About Dan Prynne

Daniel Prynne joined the Mannix Marketing team in 2022 as a Digital Marketing Strategist. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of the West of England. Since 2019 Daniel has specialized in on-page SEO and social media strategy for nonprofits. He loves learning new ways to optimize websites and demonstrating proven success with new and returning clients.  When not working, Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife and son, playing soccer, reading and traveling.