It’s been a quarter-century since Google introduced its search engine, transforming how people access information online. Over the years, Google has consistently innovated to enhance search results and streamline user navigation.
With advancements in generative AI, Google is once again reshaping our interaction with its search engine, enabling a broader range of questions to be answered through Search.
This latest stride in AI-driven technology promises a deeper understanding for making intricate decisions, all while ensuring a wealth of information remains at your fingertips.
Let’s delve into this new Google advancement, its impact on your search experience, and its ramifications for the future of marketing.
Not Just Another Web Companion – It’s a Search Generative Journey
This might sound familiar, as another company unveiled a similar technology in 2023: Microsoft. Touted as your web co-pilot, Microsoft Bing’s Chat feature pioneered generative AI in the search experience, immediately boosting Bing’s web traffic after Chat’s launch.
Naturally, Google safeguards its primary enterprise (Search Ads). Thus, they’ve introduced a feature that bears a striking resemblance.
Their counterpart is termed the Search Generative Experience (SGE). While it may sound complex, it’s designed to “facilitate deeper exploration of the subjects users are learning about,” according to Google’s blog post.
Search Generative Experience is Google’s novel generative AI, enhancing the user’s search experience by offering clear, user-friendly answers sourced from reputable web outlets.
Essentially, Google Search scours the web to assist you in:
- Speeding up comprehension of a topic
- Unearthing fresh perspectives
- Executing tasks more efficiently
For instance, consider this Google search comparing two U.S. national parks and identifying the more family-friendly option:
In the new Search, Google compiles information from the web and provides its own insights on these parks. It furnishes reasons why you might prefer one park over the other. In this instance, Bryce Canyon is recommended due to its two dog-friendly paved trails.
Following that, you’ll find a section beneath the generative AI suggesting your next steps and pages to explore for further information on these parks.
All this generative AI content and suggestions overlay organic search results after Google finishes “generating” its responses.
However, SGE refrains from generating answers when it’s confident enough in its response. This occurs in instances of data voids or information gaps that Google can’t fill. If you’re venturing into risky territory, SGE won’t generate an AI response.
Crucially, Google emphasizes the importance of directing users to websites with valuable content. This is why there are numerous content suggestions (and yes, Ads) integrated into their generative AI.
This addresses a significant concern regarding AI chatbots: how will publishers and website owners monetize Google Search? Google ingeniously incorporates your content into their AI-powered search if it meets their standards.
What We Know Thus Far
So, how does it fare? Will it emerge as one of the premier AI tools? We’ll refrain from making a judgment call and instead share what we currently understand about Google’s AI-driven search experience.
Distinguishing It from Bard
Rumors abound regarding the array of features and integrations Bard will receive in the future. Some even speculated that Bard might eventually supplant Search as the go-to source for information. As it turns out, they will remain two distinct products offering unique experiences for gathering information from the internet.
The initial difference that stands out is their interface. Google’s new AI-powered search preserves most of the beloved elements of Google Search, with added visual appeal and interactive elements atop organic search results, such as:
- YouTube Stories
- Video Clips
- Fresh design elements and palettes
While Bard also embraces the familiar material design associated with Google’s ecosystem, it operates like other AI chatbots, featuring an interface reminiscent of ChatGPT’s. It doesn’t aim to deliver organic search results unless aided by software integrations.
Engage with Your Search Box
This represents the most compelling feature in Google’s integration of generative AI.
Now, you can pose follow-up questions to Google after receiving initial answers and suggestions. This proves valuable when you seek contextual information rather than just raw search results. For instance, after generating answers about the best dog food for a Labrador, you can further inquire, “What about nutrition?” prompting Google to supply additional information about nutrient-rich food for your Labrador’s well-being.
However, unlike ChatGPT and other AI chatbots, Google’s AI-powered Search refrains from adopting a distinct persona, typically avoiding self-references as “I.”
Expect to engage with a rather straightforward Google bot, albeit one armed with a robust array of responses (more on that later).
Enhanced Shopping Experience
Whether you’re a frequent shopper or an occasional browser, this Google innovation streamlines product searches.
This doesn’t merely entail displaying more products on a single page. Instead, Google offers insightful advice when navigating a sea of products. It’s akin to having a personal assistant that cross-references product features across various stores, ensuring you snag the best deals.
This feat is achieved through Google’s extensive repository of over 35 billion product listings, aptly named the Shopping Graph. It’s continuously evolving with the addition of new listings, ensuring its generative AI content remains dynamic and current.
Ads and Blue Links Persist
For publishers and advertisers, this AI-powered search maintains opportunities for monetization.
After all, SGE aims to enhance your search experience, not supplant it with generated content. Consequently, you’ll still encounter links to sources alongside and beneath generated content.
In the accompanying GIF, you’ll observe Search’s generated responses enclosed in boxes, with websites linked through images, enabling you to delve deeper into these products and websites independently.
Ads continue to be part of your search experience, occupying “dedicated slots throughout the page.” You’ll discern whether a displayed result is an ad or not, much like in the previous Google search experience.
Notably, the colors of these generated answer boxes adapt to the user’s journey and intent. If you’re seeking more informational data, the box will be green. Conversely, if you’re shopping, it’ll be a light purple hue. This serves as another touch in Google’s interface, enhancing the overall experience.
It’s Not Perfect, but There’s Promise
SGE has room for growth as an AI-powered search tool. According to a Washington Post article, this cutting-edge AI technology generates content at a relatively slower pace, at least in comparison to other AI programs.
However, this is to be anticipated since it draws from real-time search data, in contrast to some of the leading AI tools today, which rely solely on training data.
Furthermore, it’s still susceptible to producing inaccurate information, a phenomenon known as “hallucination” in the context of generative AI. To address this, SGE includes a feedback mechanism for flagging inaccuracies in Google’s generated content.
As advocates for responsible AI, Google also provides disclaimers cautioning against relying on SGE for critical information like finance and health.
This Google bot, like any AI technology at present, may occasionally furnish incorrect information. Nonetheless, Google has taken measures to enhance its AI generation capabilities.
For instance, Google employs a five-pronged approach when generating answers for users. These five factors encompass:
- Addressing your information needs
- Ensuring the quality of the information provided
- Safeguarding the reliability of SGE’s responses
- Linking back to Google’s publisher network
- Ensuring the relevance of ads in generated results
Consequently, Google’s responses may not flow as seamlessly as some other AI chatbots, but you can anticipate that SGE is more precise with fewer instances of hallucinations than ChatGPT and even Bing Chat.
Enrollment in Google Search Labs
Cutting-edge AI technology doesn’t materialize overnight, and the same holds true for SGE. This Google breakthrough is initially rolled out to volunteer users in the United States for beta testing.
If you’re currently in the U.S., simply sign up on Search Labs to be among the first to experience SGE when it becomes available for testing.
Search Labs represents Google’s platform for exploring generative AI capabilities, where volunteers get a chance to engage with Google’s experimental features, including:
- Search Generative Experience: Utilize generative AI directly from Google Search.
- Code Tips: Streamline code writing with the assistance of Large Language Models (LLMs).
- Add to Sheets: Seamlessly incorporate a search result into your spreadsheet, enhancing your research and organization workflow.
In addition to these initial projects, more experimental features will be rolled out in the following weeks. All you need to do is sign up if you’re in the U.S. today. And for those outside the U.S., rest assured, these features will become widely accessible once Google establishes their market viability.
The Future of Marketing and SEO in the Generative AI Era
For enthusiasts of generative AI, these are undeniably thrilling times. However, for marketers, the advent of this technology carries both liberating opportunities and potential challenges.
Our SEO experts offer insights on navigating the ever-evolving landscape of AI technology.
Test the New Search for Yourself
To fully harness SGE’s potential, you need to experience it firsthand. Go ahead and input your queries into this Google bot, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
Consider mapping out customer journeys and envisioning how users might follow up with Google Search. Remember, you can already use SGE for subsequent questions. Hence, optimizing for a single query in a keyword cluster may not suffice. You might need to optimize for question-answer pairs, a facet that search engine marketing and optimization haven’t previously addressed.
Experiment with the new SGE if you have the opportunity, and gauge how your current content aligns with these Google Search updates.
Prioritize Search Experience Optimization
Search experience optimization is the way forward in SEO.
Search Experience Optimization or SXO is the practice of improving the total user experience throughout the search process by optimizing a website or online content. In contrast, conventional SEO primarily concerns elevating a website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results.
You’re no longer confined to optimizing solely for keyword phrases or clusters. Now, you must factor in how users interact with your content and engage with Google Search.
This entails implementing better-structured data, ensuring swift page loading, enhancing user experience, and the ability to address multiple inquiries. All these elements should be considered when optimizing for search outcomes.
Thought Leadership Holds Significance
Thought leadership has been a cornerstone of online presence for some time. Chances are, you’re already leveraging it to gain traction in the SERPs. However, with generative AI, thought leadership takes on a fresh dimension. It’s no longer sufficient to merely produce content that’s rich in keywords and thorough. You must also be equipped to respond to your audience’s follow-up questions.
For instance, when writing a product review, consider incorporating an FAQ section to guide readers in extracting maximum value from your content. Anticipate their main pain points and craft content accordingly.
Gruspe advocates for these practices to bolster both thought leadership and SEO:
- Prioritizing user experience
- Cultivating authoritative backlinks
- Leveraging social media
- Continuously evaluating and refining your content for an enhanced search experience
This is because Google aims to present the most beneficial content to its users. Simultaneously, users prefer to click on links they perceive as reliable and beneficial. Thought leadership is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise in the field and entice users to explore your website.
Crafting People-Centric Content
All discussions about search experience optimization and thought leadership ultimately converge on the creation of people-centric content.
The integration of generative AI into Google’s search experience increased the importance of creating people-first content. With generative AI’s potential to improve the relevance and customization of search results, focusing on content that prioritizes users becomes even more crucial.
Content that’s tailored to the user, addresses their queries, and furnishes an outstanding experience will consistently be favored by Google. Contemplate how you can tweak your content to make it even more beneficial for the user.
Concentrate on producing content with genuine value, rather than content that’s overly stuffed with keywords.
Enlist in Leadshouse’s Growth Insider Today
That concludes our comprehensive exploration of Google’s SGE. We anticipate it to be a stride in a series of Google Search Engine updates. We’ll keep you apprised of the latest developments and trends in this domain.
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