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April 12, 2024

How to Prepare Your Business for Google SGE

If you’re a digital marketer anxiously awaiting Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) rollout, you aren’t alone. 

Depending on who you ask, this experiment’s eventual public release will herald a new age of Search.

The consequences could be dire, particularly for sites that have worked so hard to climb into the coveted top organic positions but now stand to see their visibility squashed by a huge SGE result. 

With massive AI overviews dominating SERPs, sites could see click-through rates drop, in turn pulling down traffic, conversions, and revenue. 

At least, that’s the possibility that has so many digital marketing and SEO professionals on edge. It’s certainly a troubling hypothetical, but at this point, that’s all it is. 

Even so, shouldn’t you be doing something to prepare? 

Here’s everything you need to know about Google SGE, how it will impact your business, and what you should—and shouldn’t—be doing to optimize your websites.

What Is Google SGE?

Google Search Generative Experience promises a new way to search by using generative artificial intelligence to deliver overviews of search topics. 

These AI-powered snapshots will show links to pages that support the information SGE spits out, so users can dig deeper and verify, with options to ask common follow-up questions. 

Through SGE, Google’s aim is to provide a faster, easier search experience, without compromising the quality and accuracy of information provided. 

But SGE has not been fully rolled out and has no official release date. It is still part of Search Labs, where people can experiment with Google products that are still under development. 

So, at this point, that’s exactly what SGE is: an experiment. 

Initially, SGE had a listed end date of December 2023, but that date has since been removed with nothing to replace it. 

In addition, an SGE overview that Google released in January 2024 includes numerous mentions of iterating, fine-tuning, evaluating, and evolving in the present tense—clear signals that work on SGE is very much ongoing.  

How Will SGE Change Search?

For searchers, Google SGE promises to deliver a more valuable, useful search experience. 

That assumes, however, that developers can resolve LLM hallucination issues, not to mention other known limitations including misinterpretation, bias, and contradiction of information contained in other Search features such as featured snippets.

For brands, SGE could reduce visibility, constrict site traffic, and hurt conversion rates. 

As to how exactly SGE will change Search, here’s the short answer: No one knows for sure, not even Google. 

It’s true, but it’s also an oversimplification. Sure, SGE is still in development, but no matter what the final version looks like, we can assume that the addition of an AI overview will eat up already scarce real estate on SERPs.

This issue of space is the biggest single problem for digital marketers. 

With an SGE snapshot at the top of SERPs, organic results will be pushed down significantly—by an average of over 1,200 pixels, according to one study. 

That would mean less visibility for brands ranking highly in organic results, and potentially less space for ads, depending on the query. SGE could also mean more zero-click searches and declines in CTRs across the board. 

Sounds catastrophic, right? 

Don’t start setting strategy meetings just yet. Although there are plenty of industry sources who want to seem as though they have a crystal ball, none of them know what final form SGE will take, much less when it might finally roll out.

What Do We Still Not Know About SGE?

There’s been a lot of discussion about SGE and what it might look like, but none of the information out there is concrete enough to start optimizing your pages, or even infer how SGE could impact your site.

So, what remains unknown about SGE? Virtually everything.

When it comes to SGE’s AI snapshots on SERPs, size will make a big difference. But no one knows how large these results will be, so it’s still impossible to anticipate impacts with meaningful specificity. 

Beyond the size of the SGE result, there are many questions regarding the appearance of these AI snapshots. 

It’s widely anticipated that SGE results will look different depending on interpreted search intent for each query. But not every query will be met with an SGE result. 

On certain SERPS, users may have to opt in before an AI overview is displayed. Some SGE modules will appear collapsed, resulting in a smaller initial impact to organic visibility unless and until the user expands the SGE result. 

Currently, the source links included with the SGE overview are often not among the top organic rankings, which means that, in terms of visibility, these lower-ranking pages could leapfrog the competition if they’re pulled for inclusion in the SGE result. 

There are plenty of screenshots out there depicting results from the latest iteration of SGE. But nothing is set in stone.

With so much work ahead, it’s unlikely that what people see now will remain unchanged when—and if—SGE rolls out in earnest. 

If you take nothing else away from this article, understand this: Google SGE is far from complete. The things industry insiders claim to “know” about it now could change overnight. 

Despite the rumors, a full rollout likely isn’t coming anytime soon, especially considering the limitations Google acknowledged in its January SGE overview. 

How to Prepare for SGE

What’s the best way to prepare for something you know virtually nothing about? 

Regardless of how transformative SGE may turn out to be, the truth is that no one knows anything meaningful about its rollout and impacts at this point. 

Focus on aligning your site with Google’s current guidance. 

That means optimizing your website to deliver a premium user experience and enhancing revenue-driving pages with high-quality, helpful content designed with your users in mind. 

Using targeted keywords naturally in your page title tags and H1 tags is a best practice that can help users and search engines alike understand what each page on your site is about. 

Unique, helpful productive descriptions are essential, as are buying guides, how-to guides, and FAQs about your products or services. 

Some of those running e-commerce sites may think content creation isn’t a worthwhile investment, or that there are few opportunities to feature content on priority pages. It’s a common misconception preventing many businesses from maximizing digital channel revenue. 

In a broad sense, you want to do everything you can to make your site as valuable to users as possible. 

How NOT to Prepare for SGE

Search is the core of Google’s business model. Because so much of the company’s revenue depends on the Search ecosystem, the decision-makers are treating SGE with great care, as it could revolutionize Search.  

Yes, Google wants to innovate and provide an unparalleled Search experience to users, but doing so at a cost to brands who invest in PPC and SEO to achieve meaningful Search visibility would hurt Google’s bottom line. 

Google is treading carefully, and although some of the visibility impacts may prove unavoidable, digital marketers can rest assured that the search giant doesn’t stand to benefit from pulling the rug out from under them. 

So there’s no need to make guesses or assumptions about what Google SGE will ultimately look like if it ends up rolling out. 

Because SGE is still in the ALPHA/BETA phase and not even available to Google Workspace users, the last thing you want to do is start making changes to your site based on the scant details currently available about SGE. 

Here’s the bottom line: Google is the only entity that knows anything about SGE, and it’s not saying much. 

Despite what you may have heard, no reliable, authoritative information regarding SGE has been released. 

Instead of fretting about things you can’t control, focus on the things you can control by optimizing your site based on Google’s current guidance.

Make VELOX Media Your Business Intelligence Wing

From more routine algorithm updates to the potential of an eventual SGE rollout that could fundamentally transform Search, keeping up with the latest developments in digital marketing can be challenging, especially when you have a business to run. 

That’s why so many enterprise-level businesses choose VELOX as their business intelligence partner. At VELOX, our SEM, SEO, and PPC specialists leverage their extensive expertise to create tailored campaigns. We customize strategies and use proven techniques to help clients achieve sustained search engine dominance. 

See how VELOX can help you prepare for what’s next. Contact VELOX today and let us chart your path to exponential growth. 

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