Google SGE 'Experiment' Gives SEO Professionals A Critical Role

Google began sourcing reviews and photos from Google Business Profiles, not just the web, making its Search Generative Experience (SGE), an experiment in Google Search Labs, easier to get answers on a variety of topics, as well as planning trips and travel, finding restaurants, and more.

The company’s goal has always been to improve the overall search experience, but the upgrade announced last week should put search engine optimization (SEO) professionals on notice to adapt to change.

With changes being made to search, BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu said it will become essential to monitor and understand the dynamics of the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in results. SEO professionals must keep up with Google's updates and release statements and guidelines on AI-generated content.

The new experience resembles a featured snippet, Yu said. It is powered by Google's Large Language Model) (LLM), general-purpose model PaLM 2, and Multitask Unified Model (MUM).

“This helps it identify multiple types of content and media formats,” Yu said, adding that Google will continually fine-tune this interface, although it's calling SGE an "experiment."

Results are intended to highlight content that showcases Google Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust (EEAT), the company’s search-quality rating guide for real experiences of topics, products, and services.

Yu says it also prioritizes experience-driven, authoritative content and recommendations.

“In some instances, especially as AI develops, it can include genuine recommendations and first-hand accounts from real people, particularly expert creators with off-site signals based on trust and authority,” he said.

Putting this into context, Yu said users will have the opportunity -- by clicking on a filter -- to find and explore diverse perspectives on search. It showcases varied perspectives through multimedia content from boards, Q&A channels, and social media, making great content on sites more important.

“The emphasis on Perspectives is on providing valuable information based on first-hand experiences or deep knowledge of a subject,” Yu says.

Despite the queries being answered by technology, Google is serious about including critical attributes such as human experience and helpful content (HCU) in answers to queries -- ad wants users to get the right, precise, and quality informational answers to questions and queries the first time.

Yu outlined what this means for SEO professionals. SEO results are still shown, and users can swiftly bypass incorrect AI Snippets to see these results. Pages in AI Snapshot also appear in organic results, and can easily guide people back to familiar search results, and while the top result is in this new search format, those who are curious can check the links themselves.

Despite the changes, core fundamentals of technology SEO and site optimization will increase in importance.

People will always visit websites, regardless of how they get there. But as Google shifts to engagement and conversions, “technical SEO will remain vital, and marketers need to prepare retail traffic, ensuring that when a user finds the company's site, it is optimized for engagement and conversion," Yu says.

SEO professionals should consider the following to prepare for continued change:

  • Site structure
  • Internal site links
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Removal of duplicate content and addition of fresh new content based on (EEAT) HCU)
  • Page Speed and Core Web Vitals
  • Site experience – design and journey
  • External links
  • Error detections and fixes

Schema is no longer an option. It's a necessity, Yu says. This means focusing on designing content with context to provide as many signals as possible to help generative AI models understand the context with schema.

Schema is essential for giving context to search engines.

Yu points to trends that took place earlier this year -- how schema improvements across many industries showed deliberate SEO Now activity.

Google has also incorporated SGE into other search results, such as local search. Last month, BrightEdge SearchIQ found a steady 20% annual growth in "near me" searches across various industries.

SGE will provide users with the information they need directly from the search results page in AI-powered snapshots. As a result, users will become less likely to click on links to evergreen content.

Yu has provided additional insight on a variety of topics:

  • Monitor competition and track your Share of Voice
  • Prioritize retaining traffic, technical optimization, and website experience and performance
  • Use opportunities from more qualified leads in cases of lesser traffic.
  • SGE's AI snapshots may reduce user clicks on evergreen content, so look to replace it with fresh content
  • Ensure that  content is built on Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT)

Conversational Search:

  • Understand and optimize for conversational search intent
  • Optimize images, especially thumbnails
  • Create authoritative profiles (EEAT) for content experts
  • SGE will boost UGC from YouTube and TikTok
  • PR and Thought Leadership will become vital for trust signals

SEPRS and Perspectives:

  • Optimize for image thumbnails, images in general, and video optimization
  • Leverage Twitter, TikTok, and reviews insights
  • Increase collaboration with content teams and technical teams
  • Ensure that SEO teams and strategies are aligned and integrated with social, PR, brand, and design teams

Overall key opportunities and areas of focus:

  • Combining creativity with Technical SEO will become very important
  • Prioritize unique experiences, opinions, and data-backed research and content
  • Use subject-matter experts or influential voices and people within your organization
  • Invest in more user-generated content, especially from social platforms
  • Producing a variety of content on a variety of websites will help SEO
  • Anticipate increased focus on mobile device optimization
  • Prioritize unique, data-backed experiences and content
  • Optimization for mobile, visual, and video voice will become essential
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