Google SGE: What Is It And Should You Be Afraid?

By Billy Wright| 12 Min Read | November 27, 2023
Google SGE: What it is and should you be afraid?

Updated 5/14/2024

EDIT: Google SGE is finally here! Today, May 14th, 2024, Google announced that Google SGE, AKA Google AI Answers, will be rolling out to all United States users by the end of the week. But what are these new Google AI Answers, and what do they mean for the future of the search engine and your website’s traffic? Read on to learn more!

Everything changes all of the time. Especially in the world of SEO.

Google Search Results could likely be unrecognizably different by this time next year. With the growth of AI and Google SGE (Search Generative Experience), the world of SEO will get considerably more exciting and challenging moving forward. 

But what do we expect to happen when Google launches the SGE version of Search? How will optimizing your website change because of Google SGE? How will Google SGE impact how users interact with the search engine and your website?

We’ve asked our in-house SEO experts here at Direct Online Marketing for their opinions and we have compiled a guide of best practices we expect to help your website thrive, as you optimize for Google SGE.

What Do We Know About Google SGE AKA Google AI Answers?

What Are Google AI Answers?

Google AI Answers are the generated content you see at the top of search results within the United States as of May 14, 2024. Google AI Answers are pulled by the new system known as Google SGE.

What is Google SGE?

  • Google’s Search Generative Experience – AKA Google SGE – is an innovation to its search engine, powered by its generative AI. 
  • This new experimental feature aims to transform search engine experiences from being passive, as they were historically, to more interactive, personalized and dynamic. SGE uses AI to generate quick, concise overviews of search topics, enhancing user experience (sure, Google…) and providing new ways to interact with search results​​​​​​. 
  • It also means there could be a significant shift in strategies previously employed towards gaining visibility in search results.

Will Google SGE Replace Rich Results?

  • As of this writing, no explicit information suggests that Google SGE will entirely replace rich results, but it is very likely to have an impact. Rich results, which provide additional data in the SERPs, differ from SGE’s AI-powered overviews and interactive content. 
  • As SGE is still experimental and not live out in the wild, its exact impact on existing features like rich results remains to be fully understood.

While I anticipate seeing organic traffic drop for many sites, thorough and well-written content can enhance click-through rate to mitigate this decline by becoming the source of information that SGE quotes from, with the best, most relevant content available on the subject in question providing Google’s AI with all the information it needs on the query in an easily digestible way.”
– Brian Slonka, Digital Marketing Account Manager

When is Google SGE Coming?

  • Google SGE is already available as an experimental feature in 120 countries (excluding Europe), supporting multiple languages. Its full implementation and potential expansion remain under development, with access to the Google Labs experiments open until the end of December 2023​​. There is much speculation that it will launch much sooner than many users originally anticipated. 

Will My Site Lose Traffic Because of Google SGE?

  • There are concerns that SGE could lead to reduced visibility for organic search results. The AI-generated overviews at the top of search results might reduce the need for users to click on individual websites, potentially lowering click-through rates (CTR) and organic traffic. 
  • This shift may require websites to adapt their SEO strategies​​. Images that accompany your top-ranking results on Google may become much more important as they can help guide users to click into your website since the URL of the site itself may be more obscured.

Are There Certain Types Of Sites That Google SGE Will Impact More?

Short answer: Possibly.

Google SGE may impact certain types of websites more than others. Particularly, sites that produce content tailored for Google Rich Results, such as recipe blogs and video game walkthrough sites, could see a decrease in search engine visibility. This is because their content might be incorporated directly into Google’s SGE results section, potentially reducing the need for users to visit the original websites for information.

This advancement will likely enhance user experience by providing more intuitive, context-aware, and interactive search results. For website owners and content creators, this means adapting to a more AI-driven approach in content presentation and SEO strategies, focusing on quality, relevance, and structured data to align with how AI interprets and ranks content.”
– Alicia Cleary, Digital Marketing Strategist

Will Google SGE Mean More Ads in Search Results?

There is no direct company-issued information that Google SGE will lead to an increase in ads within search results, as Google says the focus of Google SGE is on enhancing the user experience through AI-generated content and interactive features. 

There is some speculation, however, that there will be more screen real estate taken up by Google SGE content in addition to ads, but this remains to be seen outside of what appear to be tests and experiments.

How Will Google SGE Impact My Analytics?

Analyzing and optimizing for user experience is going to be more and more critical in the SGE world. Additionally, segmenting your organic data is going to be an absolute necessity for drawing insightful conclusions about the impact of SGE.

“Looking at your data by content grouping, funnel stage, device type, keyword intent breakouts, etc. will help you better mitigate and optimize for the new SGE landscape.

– Dana Schumacher, Sr. Digital Analyst

Prepare For A New Search Engine Experience

In summary, Google SGE represents a significant evolution in search engine technology, focusing on AI-driven interactivity and personalized experiences. While its full impact on SEO, organic traffic, and ad integration is still unfolding, dynamically adapting to this rollout will be crucial for website owners and content creators.

SGE provides a unique opportunity for businesses to revisit how well their websites define their customers’ unique problems and how clearly they present solutions at a high and granular level.

“The depth, clarity, and formatting of website content is more crucial than ever. Website content that prioritizes these fundamentals will be in the best position to be present within SGE results and, most importantly, to convert traffic.

– Gary Kramer, Sr. Digital Strategist

How Can I Try Google SGE Today?

Update: As of today, May 14th, 2024 Google SGE AKA Google AI Answers has begun rolling out to all Google users within the United States. Google SGE should be live for all US users by the end of week, but if you are outside of the US the following instructions may still be available for you.

If you want to try out the experimental version of Google SGE before it rolls out to the wider world, you can do so simply using Google Labs. Here is a short guide on how to use Google SGE today.

How To Try The Beta Of Google SGE

Log into Your Google Account:

  • Open Chrome on your desktop or laptop.
Google profile
  • Click the profile icon in the upper right corner and select “Turn on sync”.
Google account turn on sync
  • Enter your Google account email and password.
  • If you’re already logged in with Sync enabled, skip this step.

How To Access Google Labs:

  • Open a new tab in Chrome.
  • Click the small beaker icon to the left of your profile icon to open Google Labs.
click on beaker icon

How To Enable Google SGE:

  • In Google Labs, find the SGE card.
  • Click the On/Off slider on the SGE card to the On position.
Google SGE AI in search
  • Close the Google Labs tab.

How To Try Google SGE:

  • In the Google search field, type a query.
  • On the Google search results page, click the “Generate” button above the standard results to activate an AI response.
Get an AI Powered overview
  • Google will return results personalized to your search using AI.
Google results for best pizza places near me

SGE is going to impact user behavior away from visiting some websites entirely – particularly those sites that solely exist to answer questions Google can easily steal an answer and showcase in their SERP. I like to think of SGE’s impact being similar to the impact felt by the wide release of People Also Ask answer boxes and Featured Snippets, but on a much larger scale.

“Because of that, companies need to make sure they connect their top-performing webpages to keywords where Google users are more likely to need to take action, not just research something to get a surface-level understanding.

“Industry-leading sites have already been strategically growing with Google this way, but now every business that wants to grow using SEO will need to follow suit.

– Jonathan Bentz, Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist

How To Optimize Your Website For Google SGE

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) represents a significant shift in how search engines function, leveraging generative AI to enhance user search experiences. This article explores key strategies for optimizing your website for the upcoming Google SGE.

Content Quality & Google SGE

  • User Focus: Consider what makes your website valuable to users. Why should someone choose your content over others? Ensuring your content serves the user’s needs is crucial.
  • Google’s Perspective: Reflect on why Google should prioritize your content. It’s essential to align your content with what search engines consider valuable.
  • AI-Generated Content: If you use AI to generate content, ensure it’s carefully edited and refined before publishing. Authenticity and quality remain paramount.

A good content approach will be unfazed by SGE or, really, any Google algorithm changes. Since the beginning of the web, the mandate for content creators has always been to write the best stuff we can that informs the reader and answers the questions they have.

“We aren’t just writing for robots; we’re writing for people. The better we do our jobs, the better the search results get, and the better Google will get at recognizing (and delivering) the content we write.

– Jim Foreman, Sr. Content Specialist

Authority & Google SGE

  • E-E-A-T Framework: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Google values these traits extremely highly when deciding whether or not to show content currently, and it will only get more important as Google SGE rolls out in the wild. To build authority, focus on creating high-quality, expert content.
  • Establishing Authority: Develop your website’s authority by showcasing expertise and providing valuable, well-researched content.
  • Author Persona: Having content written by individuals with verifiable expertise is beneficial. This adds a layer of credibility to your website.

“User Experience is one of the most under-optimized parts of SEO, and it will only become more important as we move into the world of Google SGE. If a user has a bad time on your website, they’re unlikely to return, make a purchase, or recommend your content to a friend. Why would an AI version of Google continue to show your website if it doesn’t delight users?”
– Billy Wright, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist

User Experience & Google SGE

  • Accessibility: Ensure users can easily find what they’re looking for on your site. Navigation should be intuitive and straightforward.
  • Website Speed: A fast-loading website enhances user experience, which is a critical factor in SEO.
  • E-commerce Optimization: For e-commerce sites, streamline the purchasing process to be as quick and user-friendly as possible.

Images & Google SGE

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): With SGE, images will play a more significant role in influencing CTR. Optimize images to be engaging and relevant to your content.

Video & Google SGE

  • Growing Importance: Videos are likely to gain more importance in search results. Incorporating unique video content on your site can enhance user engagement and SEO.

SGE’s focus on interactive, AI-generated content emphasizes the importance of quality, authority, and user experience in website optimization. By adapting to these evolving standards, websites can enhance their visibility and effectiveness in Google’s AI-driven search landscape

April 2024 Google SGE Update

Beginning at the end of March 2024 Google began testing the Google SGE AI results directly within the normal Google search results for some users within the United States. This caused lots of controversy as some users noted that they could not opt-out of getting the Google SGE results, and that it was taking up so much search real estate that it became problematic for their user experience. Whether this test is reflective of an upcoming roll-out of Google SGE in 2024 is yet to be seen.

May 14, 2024 Google SGE Update

At Google I/O today, May 14th, 2024, Google announced that Google SGE AKA Google Ai Answers was rolling out live for all United States users, and would be fully available across the US by end of week. Their language also focused mainly on calling it AI Answers, which reflects the most recent change to the text surrounding the generated content within the search results.

SEO will keep changing, as it always has–Google SGE is just the latest development to shake things up. At Direct Online Marketing, we’re all about helping you adapt and thrive in this new search era, no matter what happens. Got questions about how your site will work with Google SGE? Looking for smart strategies? We’ve got you covered. Drop us a line for a free SEO chat, and let’s team up to make your online presence shine in the world of Google SGE.

Note: This article has been updated to include the end of March 2024 / April 2024 Google SGE updates where it was tested among users who were not white-listed for Google SGE in Google Labs.

Search Engine Optimization Consulting | billy-wright-headshot

Written by Billy Wright

Billy is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist specializing in SEO with a background in Local and eCommerce SEO. He’s optimized the online personas and websites of clients from the Entertainment Industry to the Political world and everything in between. He’s been in love with The Internet since he built his first website in 1996.

View Billy Wright's Full Bio

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