Search Generative Experience (SGE): What Is It and How Is It Going to Affect Search Results?

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Search Generative Experience (SGE): What Is It and How Is It Going to Affect Search Results?d-tags
04 June 2024
The Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a feature in which Google provides search results as summaries created by AI based on the sources selected by the search engine. It works in a conversational mode, allowing the users to explore topics in-depth, and easily move to other Google services. While it sounds useful for users, some website owners are concerned that SGE might significantly decrease the organic traffic on their websites.

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What Is SGE: Search Generative Experience?

Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a new feature from Google that uses advanced AI to provide more detailed, context-matching, and intuitive answers to your questions. Instead of just showing a list of links like traditional search results, SGE gives you comprehensive responses based on information from multiple sources.

If you’ve ever used large language models (LLMs) that search the web for information, you probably have a good idea of how this works. SGE uses Google’s language model – Gemini – which is impressively good at understanding complex questions, planning, and using different types of data like text, images and other multimedia. Basically, it feels like having a virtual assistant that helps you find the most relevant information in a snap.

Curious about what these search results look like? Check out this example from Google’s blog:

Google Search Generative Experience - an example of search result

source: Google blog

For now, we need to cool the excitement of everyone outside the States who is eager to try out Google’s feature – currently, Google Search Generative Experience isn’t available worldwide. Most of the buzz about it is currently happening only in the USA.

Why Has Google Introduced the Search Generative Experience?

It can’t be denied that generative AI is becoming a big part of our lives. As large language models (LLMs) are used more widely, they’re changing many areas, especially in the tech world, where services constantly need to develop to live up to the expectations of the market. It’s not surprising to see AI being used in things like content marketing or specialized tasks, such as using ChatGPT for keyword analysis.

Google, being the global leader in search engines, can’t fall behind. Competitors like Microsoft with Bing and other smaller search engines are also adding innovations based on generative AI. Integrating AI into search seems to be unavoidable to meet the changing expectations of users.

What do users expect? Faster access to relevant information, better context matching, and greater accuracy. Generative language models help provide these kinds of answers, saving you from having to sift through pages of search results.

The goal of Google Search Generative Experience is to make searching more human and intuitive. It aims to make you feel like the search engine understands and efficiently responds to complex questions, rather than just throwing a list of links at you that might not fit your search context.

What Is in Google Search Generative Experience for Users?

The biggest change you’ll notice with Google Search Generative Experience is the AI Overviews. These are brief summaries that appear at the top of your search results, giving you quick answers to your questions. These overviews are created by analyzing multiple sources, so you get the key info without having to click through a bunch of websites (I will touch on how they work and give you a fun tidbit about gasoline and spaghetti in a moment).

Another intriguing feature you’ll see is suggested follow-up questions that you can ask the AI to explore a given topic further. Indeed, the search doesn’t end with one answer – SGE works in a conversational mode, letting you continue your queries naturally.

You can keep asking related questions without having to rephrase or re-explain anything to SGE. This so-called conversation stays on topic because the AI remembers what you’ve asked before, and this is how it keeps giving you better responses.

As you can probably guess, SGE is also perfectly integrated with other Google products, making it easy to switch between different services.

Example #1: If you’re searching for local places, SGE can connect you directly to Google Maps for directions.

Example #2: If you’re looking at products, it can link you to Google Shopping so you can buy right from the search results.

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SEO Specialists Take on Search Generative Experience: How Will SGE Change SEO?

So, what’s the big deal with Search Generative Experience, and how it’ll shake up SEO? Well, let’s break it down. One biggie is how it might affect the way regular internet users find stuff online. You see, with SGE giving out fuller answers right on the search results page, experts like the crew over at Yoast reckon it could mean fewer clicks on individual websites under those AI Overviews. This means website owners need to tweak their SEO strategies to get their websites visible in the SERPs where Google is presenting their users with more detailed responses at the very top of the screen.

To get featured in SGE results, website owners have to publish credible, expert, and valuable content. Google is all about trustworthy sources, so websites need to be filled with informative and expert pieces that users love. Similarly to SEO Specialists, content creators need to be all about serving up info that isn’t just useful, but comprehensive enough to answer those tricky user questions.

With SGE, building a high website’s authority and understanding of what your target audience is searching for has become even more critical than ever. The good news is that…

…even if your website doesn’t show up high in the regular search results, you have a chance to be featured in SGE. All you have to do is nail those clear, thorough answers that match user needs.

So, website owners, it’s time to get into your target audience’s heads to understand what they want. Later, you need to fill your website with content that satisfies these wants.

Looking Ahead: Pros and Cons of Search Generative Experience

So, how’s the tech and SEO crowd feeling about the Search Generative Experience? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Some industry specs are pretty stoked about the benefits it offers, but there are also some concerns floating around.

What’s Cool about SGE?

First off, users are getting a better deal – they’re getting more accurate and relevant answers, which clearly improves the value of their search results. Plus, it’s speedy! Thanks to the generative AI, responses come faster, and users get more detailed info from a bunch of different sources without having to go through several pages.

Even Google Ads Specialists can rub their hands because Google’s trying out new ad formats with SGE that could mesh better with AI-generated content, opening up new opportunities for marketers.

What’s Not So Cool about SGE?

Well, website owners and SEO Specialists are a bit worried about the potential organic traffic loss. With users finding answers right in the search results, they might not be clicking through to source pages as much, which could hit websites that rely on search engine traffic pretty hard.

And then there are the ethical questions, too, pointed out by Semrush Specialists. SGE could churn out content on topics like health or finance – in general, the YMYL-related industries – where accuracy and user safety are crucial.

There’s a risk of getting wonky, unreliable, or incomplete info that could lead to some pretty bad consequences – like, imagine if you got some sketchy medical advice from a search. Sure, Google puts up warnings for stuff like that, but the risk’s still there.

⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️

AI can contribute to the spread of false information from unverified sources on the internet. Anyone can pass along incorrect information (either due to ignorance or as a joke) – and AI might pick it up and share it with users who are expecting accurate information. Language models can’t distinguish satire or jokes, which can lead to unfavorable or even dangerous situations for users.

That’s why we’re now giving the same advice we’ve tried to drive your attention to in previous articles about using AI as a tool – always thoroughly verify the information provided by generative artificial intelligence, including AI Overviews in the Search Generative Experience!

⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️

The problem of unreliable answers displayed in AI Overviews has caught the attention of social media users, being perceived as definitely the biggest downside of SGE right now – and it goes far beyond YMYL industries. What’s it about?

We’ve dedicated a whole section to this issue. Take a look at what AI in Google Search can come up with today.

Search Generative Experience and the AI Overviews Controversy

What’s the real issue with inaccurate source selection in SGE? Users are already sharing some “gems” from the Search Generative Experience, especially with AI Overviews – just check out this recipe for spaghetti in gasoline sauce…

Maybe gasoline in your meals isn’t quite your thing, and you’re craving a different diet. Geologists are here to help! Just eat at least one rock a day… In this case, users managed to track the source. It appears that the article about eating rocks came from the satirical website The Onion, which proves that AI doesn’t get jokes. Since The Onion is a well-known website with a certain level of authority online, the language model takes it very seriously when creating AI Overviews.

SGE eating rocks example

source: Reddit

Having trouble baking pizza? Is the cheese falling off after it’s cooked? Search Generative Experience has a simple solution for you! Just add… some office glue. At least that’s what a Reddit user with a hilariously creative username suggested 11 years ago. As it turns out, his joke was successful because today, over a decade later, it’s being quoted in AI Overviews. Don’t try this at home!

Search Generative Experience a AI Overviews examples of errors in pizza recipe

source: X

Jokes aside it gets dangerous when AI Overviews present and legitimize conspiracy theories. There are plenty of wild rumors and theories about U.S. presidents, but it’s worse when artificial intelligence takes them as facts, like in the case of Barack Obama:

Summary: Search Generative Experience

SGE has the potential to revolutionize search engines, benefiting both users and website owners who rely on organic search traffic.

However, Google currently faces a significant challenge that limits the practical use and credibility of AI Overviews. As shown in the examples above, the language model behind SGE can pull information from satirical websites, user-generated content created as jokes, or even maliciously spread misinformation like conspiracy theories.

If this issue is resolved, the introduction of SGE by Google could offer numerous benefits to users. They could gain extra value from precise answers and interactive conversations with the search engine. The industry could also benefit from new optimization and content creation strategies tailored to SGE. However, the threat of declining organic traffic is causing concern among industry professionals, once again sparking discussions about whether “SEO is dead,” though that doesn’t seem to be the case.

How will it all unfold? We’ll be watching closely. For now, we’re (im)patiently awaiting the launch of Google Search Generative Experience worldwide!

Are you a website owner looking to prepare for SGE? Reach out to us – we can help with optimizing your website and creating valuable content so it matches the search intent of your target audience, giving your website a better chance of appearing in AI-generated results!

Author
Maciej Jakubiec
Author
Maciej Jakubiec

Junior SEO Specialist

A marketing graduate with a specialization in e-commerce from the Cracow University of Economics, hailing from the picturesque Podkarpacie region. He joined Delante in 2022. In SEO, he particularly appreciates the relationship of this field with attention to positive user experience and high-quality content. Privately, he spends almost all of his free time on music production, which he has been doing for years – or discovering and testing new recipes.

Author
Maciej Jakubiec
Author
Maciej Jakubiec

Junior SEO Specialist

A marketing graduate with a specialization in e-commerce from the Cracow University of Economics, hailing from the picturesque Podkarpacie region. He joined Delante in 2022. In SEO, he particularly appreciates the relationship of this field with attention to positive user experience and high-quality content. Privately, he spends almost all of his free time on music production, which he has been doing for years – or discovering and testing new recipes.

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