What is Google SGE & How to Prepare
Generative AI technology and experiences have had a transformative influence on many businesses in 2023. Now most marketers are asking themselves how generative AI should be included in their strategies for next year with 2024 quickly approaching. One of the most important generative AI developments to be aware of for 2024 is the potential for Google to release its Search Generative Experience (or an equivalent). Let’s go over what Google SGE is, why it’s important and how to prepare for it.
What is Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)?
Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a generative AI search interface that Google launched as an experiment back in May of 2023. Initially Google required users to join a waitlist before getting access to SGE, but now users can easily get access without waiting – let’s go over how.
How to access & use Google SGE
You can gain access to Google SGE using your Google Account and going to labs.google.com to sign up. Once you’re signed up you can enable Google SGE and SGE while browsing.
You will need the latest version of the Google app if you’re accessing SGE via phone or Chrome browser if you’re on desktop. Google also states that users need to be over the age of 13 in order to use SGE. Google SGE is available in 7 languages and 120 countries. See where Search Labs & experiments are available.
You can always enable/disable Google SGE and SGE while browsing by opening a new tab in Chrome and clicking on the Search Labs icon to take you to the page above.
Why is Google SGE important?
Google SGE is important for SEOs, digital marketers and business owners (just to name a few) because it could dramatically change how organic search performs. If and when Google SGE goes live it is going to shift how users interact with the world’s largest search engine in a very meaningful way.
As a general rule, I try to steer clear of doomsdays predictions. But it’s difficult to imagine how Google SGE wouldn’t negatively impact organic search metrics for most sites. What incentive does Google leave users to click on your website when they’re able to display your content directly in search results? Ecommerce sites are likely to be less effected, but news publishers, blogs and the like are sure to experience a loss in traffic post-SGE rollout.
Google SGE examples – Images & Video
“What is SEO” prompt
“GA4 audit checklist” prompt
“What is the best phone” prompt
I tested 3 or more variations of this prompt (‘best phone”, “which phone should I buy” etc.) and never saw the iPhone 15 above #3 which I found interesting.
“How do I rank on Google” prompt”
Will SGE Survive the testing phase?
The simple answer is most likely.
Like many SEOs, I speculated on SGE’s survival and future since its release. Many SEOs are holding their breathe as the clock ticks down and the experiment’s end draws near. It’s unlikely SGE will rollout before 2024 after Google announced Gemini (which Bard uses, but not SGE yet). And it’s even more unlikely that Google will scrap the SGE experiment entirely based on the need to compete with Microsoft & OpenAI. It seems like Google may take what I called “Option 3” back in September and extend the SGE experiment into 2024. Only time will tell though.
How to prepare for Google SGE
The best way to prepare for Google SGE is create content unique content that targets E-E-A-T signals while optimizing for long-tail keywords/queries.
It’s important to note that SGE doesn’t rely on content solely from the top-ranking pages. Google SGE results pull content from a myriad of sources which are rarely if ever the same even for the same query (i.e. I’ve noticed while testing that the sources cited almost always change). As the example above for “how do I rank on Google” shows – the second sourced cited for the SGE result was actually ranking #15 at the time.
Personally, I believe one of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to SGE era will be the treatment of YMYL (your money, your life) queries. YMYL queries are searches for financial tips, legal advice, health & safety information, current affairs etc. Google SGE doesn’t generate a response for many YMYL queries based on my testing, but their treatment seems inconsistent. For example, there’s no SGE results for “best bank” or “best car insurance”, but there is for “best car.” I think advice on the best car to buy (often the 2nd largest purchase of an individual’s life) should be treated with the same care (i.e. by not showing SGE results) as which bank to choose. I guess Google doesn’t think so though.
Marketers and business owners should also be prepared to adjust the way they track and measure performance if/when SGE rolls out. Tracking SEO performance in the SGE-era could easily be more about tracking mentions and citations than traditional rankings. SEO reporting will need to change significantly alongside the launch and adoption of generative AI experiences – especially Google SGE.
How is SGE while browsing different from SGE in Search?
SGE while browsing is similar to, but distinct from SGE in Search. SGE while browsing summarizes the content of a web page similar to how SGE in Search summarizes information in search results.
You can get access to SGE while browsing via labs.google.com, the same way as SGE in Search. Once you have the feature enabled, use it by clicking the search side panel button in your Chrome browser.
Interestingly, I wasn’t able to get SGE while browsing to summarize any page on Apple.com that I tested. SGE while browsing did provide “Explore on Page” buttons, but I was expecting more for one of the web’s most popular sites.
Based on my testing SGE while browsing seems to be useful for summarizing long articles. But it rarely provides Key Points for content with a commercial (product pages) or navigational (home pages) focus though.
I hope you found this article both educational and entertaining. Regardless of what Google does with SGE, marketers will need to prepare their SEO strategies for generative AI in 2024. Best of luck and happy searching (or prompting)!