We’ve seen Google’s SGE (Search Generative Experience) in action for quite some time now, and its experimental phase in Search Labs is set to end in December.
After that, widespread adoption should take place sometime in early 2024.
The good news?
After rigorous testing and experimentation by SEOs far and wide, SGE isn’t nearly as mysterious or scary as it was just a few months ago.
Digital marketers have begun to emerge from their underground bunkers, so to speak, as they’re starting to realize SGE won’t mean the end of SEO as we know it (Y2K, anyone?).
Yet, implementing SGE will mark one of the most significant changes in Google’s history, so you shouldn’t sleep on it.
The best thing you can do now is to get all your ducks in a row before the official rollout begins.
You still have a few precious months to optimize the heck out of your website and content before SGE lands in 2024, so you should make the most out of it.
Choose our preparation techniques, and the impending traffic loss will only affect low-quality visitors who weren’t going to convert anyway. You’ll likely start appearing in SGE’s AI snapshot, and you’ll not only survive in the new search environment but also begin to thrive.
If you choose poor optimization tactics, this guy will be your only organic visitor:
All kidding aside, stay tuned to learn how to prepare your website for Google’s SGE.
An Overview of Google SGE
Google’s Search Generative Experience is their attempt to use generative AI (GAI) to enhance and personalize the Google Search experience.
In particular, SGE uses an advanced language model that uses NLP (natural language processing) to understand natural conversation better.
This enables users to ask the AI questions just as they would another person, eliminating the need to use brief search queries.
The AI also responds to the user conversationally, directly answering their question while listing three sources (the web results where it found the answer to the user’s question).
This is SGE’s AI snapshot, and it’s going to appear at the very top of the SERPs, even above paid ads.
SGE also introduces the Perspectives section, which Google included as a way to hear opinions, experiences, and voices from others. The section includes short-form videos, blog posts, Q&A sections, and more from noteworthy voices from around the web.
The AI snapshot is a tad similar to the ‘featured snippet’ SERP feature, although SGE goes far more in-depth.
Whereas featured snippets only draw from one source online (and quotes from it directly), the AI writes an original answer based on three online sources, and it only paraphrases them instead of using direct quotes.
You can also follow up with Google’s AI if you have additional questions or want to learn more about a particular subject.
In other words, the Google Search experience will resemble a conversation with a chatbot more than a traditional search engine.
What happens to our precious organic results?
The organic SERP results have long been the bread-and-butter of SEO specialists, which is why SGE’s announcement caused so much concern.
After all, the organic rankings have already been losing page real estate for a while now due to things like SERP features and sponsored ads.
With SGE’s AI snapshot, the organic results are pushed even further down the page into no-man’s land.
Remember the classic joke about hiding a dead body on page 2 of Google’s search results?
Well, that joke may soon apply to nearly all organic results that feature an AI snapshot.
The hard truth is that most searchers will get what they need from SGE’s AI snapshot and won’t scroll down to peep at ANY of the organic results (including any hidden dead bodies).
While we know that the search landscape is changing and that GAI is here to stay, the diminishing role of organic SERPs is still a sad fact for veteran SEOs.
Join us in a moment of silence.
Enough doom and gloom; now let’s take a look at some good news.
The light at the end of the tunnel
It’s important to note that not every search will feature an AI snapshot. They only appear whenever Google thinks GAI would be more useful than the traditional results – so all isn’t lost for organic SEO by any means.
At The HOTH, we’ve been hard at work running tests and experiments with SGE, and we’ve developed a proprietary solution that’ll help our clients avoid any negative effects of its implementation.
Besides that, we’ve landed upon the best ways to optimize your site for SGE, and the good news is you won’t have to radically change your approach.
According to research, if you’re already ranking in positions 1 or 2, Google is far more likely to feature you as a source in the SGE AI snapshot.
That means finding success in the era of SGE won’t look too dissimilar to what SEO success looks like now.
Researching queries, creating content based on E-E-A-T, and building a reputable link profile will all still matter for SGE, so you shouldn’t throw out your current SEO playbooks just yet.
Start Your Engines! Preparing for the Shift to Google SGE
The best way to get ready for SGE is to continue your organic SEO strategies – albeit with a few key tweaks.
If you’re already ranking in the number 1 or 2 spots for your most important keywords, you’re clearly doing something right, so keep it up.
If you’ve still got some room to grow, you shouldn’t abandon your efforts to rank up, even with SGE fast approaching on its pale horse.
Here’s a look at the best ways to make your current SEO strategy SGE-friendly.
‘The Long Query Home’: focusing on long-tail keywords
The era of targeting high-volume search keywords is about to be dethroned by focusing on longer queries to cater to GAI snapshots.
This is due to the nature of how users will interact with Google’s AI, as they’ll ask longer, conversational-style questions instead of using brief keywords that only hint at what they want.
For example, using SGE, a user may ask Google, “Where can I buy some fresh fruit?”
The AI will provide a direct answer by listing up to 5 highly rated local fruit vendors, as well as 3 relevant sources.
Accordingly, SEOs should research question-based long-tail keywords to prepare for SGE.
In the near future, it’s highly likely that the majority of your content efforts will focus on informational, commercial, and transactional long-tail queries.
When creating content for these queries, clearly answer the question and cover the topic in great detail. That will heighten the chances that Google’s AI will turn to your content when looking for an answer to the user’s question.
What’s ironic is that if GAI does alter the way people use Google, short-tail keywords will no longer occupy the ‘short-tail’ of the search demand curve as they continue to lose popularity.
Will long-tail become the new short-tail? It’s an interesting (and slightly confusing) thought.
Besides optimizing for SGE, targeting long-tail keywords provides other benefits. For instance, long-tail keywords have higher conversion rates than their short-tail counterparts.
Create content good enough to E-E-A-T
E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) signals will matter even more in the age of SGE.
Why is that?
It’s because the popular acronym represents what Google’s algorithm considers to be high-quality content.
As such, you can be sure that the web pages Google’s AI includes in its snapshot will be from websites that exhibit strong E-E-A-T signals.
Showcasing your first-hand experience is vast in the age of AI-generated content, as unique human perspectives that AI can’t duplicate will matter more than ever.
To establish authoritativeness and trustworthiness, you need a strong link profile, which is proof that links still matter (and will continue to when SGE drops).
Link-182: Building authoritative links
If your website isn’t considered a trustworthy and authoritative source, Google’s AI responses will stay far away from your content.
So, if you want to appear in AI snapshots, a high-quality link-building strategy is an absolute necessity.
That doesn’t mean buying a boatload of cheap links and calling it a day, as that’s the last thing you want to do.
Instead, modern link-building is all about building a flawless reputation online by building strong relationships with trusted websites.
You do that by engaging in tactics like creating valuable content that generates links like infographics, videos, and long-form posts. Link insertions, article syndication, and press releases are other enormously effective link-building techniques.
Become a schema scholar
Schema, also called structured data markup, has long been a part of SEO. In particular, it’s how you qualify for rich snippets, which are Google’s SERP features.
Structured data plays an even bigger role in SGE carousels, as it’ll help Google’s AI better understand your content, especially in terms of what you want to rank for on the SERPs.
For example, schema helps Google distinguish between things like FAQs, Q&As, recipes, and how-to tutorials.
Becoming an SGE Mastermind
SGE is not the end of the world for digital marketing, especially if you take the time to prepare now.
Building content for question-based long-tail keywords, creating E-E-A-T content, using schema, and building high-quality links are all fantastic ways to ensure a buttery smooth transition to Google SGE.
If you need help getting ready for SGE and want to generate more traffic, don’t wait to check out HOTH X, our managed SEO service.