What is Search Generative Experience (SGE)?

Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) is the newest shift in how Google plans for us to find and interact with web content. It uses AI to give you quick snapshots of info right on the search results page, so instead of clicking around multiple websites to find what you need, you get the goods right away. This can help with a variety of tasks, such as:
  • Finding answers
  • Discovering topic overviews
  • Summarising key takeaways
  • Getting how-to instructions
This article will give you an overview of what to expect, how you can already be trialing this new tech and, importantly for marketers, what this all means for SEO!
  • User
  • Tom W

    18 April, 2024

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Let’s take an example of someone hunting for activities for kids on a rainy day.

Previously you would have been served a list of pages that share ideas and activities that match your search term. You’d be likely to see articles such as “10 wet weather activities for your kids this holiday” or “indoor activities for kids in your city”. But with SGE, Google will compile these suggestions from multiple sources into a list of top results, like this:

Alongside this, will be displayed the sources for each suggestion. Like this:


How to access SGE now

To use Google SGE, you will need:

  • Chrome (internet browser)
  • Be logged into your Google account
  • Be 18 years or over
  • Be based in one of the 120+ countries where Google SGE is available

Search Generative Experience (SGE) has not yet been launched in Australia but it will be soon. Within the 120 countries it is currently available as Google Labs “experiment”, meaning you need to opt in to see it.

Follow these steps to turn on Google Search Generative Experience:

  • Open Chrome while you’re signed in to your Google Account
  • Open a new tab and go to Google
  • Select the “Labs” icon at the top right of the page.

  • On the “SGE, generative AI in Search” card, click the toggle icon

You should now see AI-generated responses for some of your queries. But keep in mind that SGE isn’t available for all queries.


How does SGE work?

Search Generative Experience uses ‘Generative AI’, which is – simplistically – an algorithm that can create content including text, images, audio and code. It runs on what is called a ‘Large Language Model” (LLM) where the AI is fed huge amounts of data to learn from. Google uses an LLM called Pathways Language Model 2, where Bing and ChatGPT use GPT-4.

These technologies then use a variety of other AI based tools such as natural language processing, machine learning and deep learning to understand what a user is intending from their query and to process and generate the most relevant response.

Here’s another example. If you were looking for a chocolate chip recipe, SGE will find 3  different recipes, and will review and summarise each into one response.

SGE will also prompt for potential follow up questions. In this example, “what’s the secret to the perfect cookie?”

Engaging with this follow up question will provide a further summarised list of the best tips from across the web on this topic.

At this point you’ll have the option to ask another follow up question.

Would you like to learn how to make your cookies healthier? This is what you’d get:


What are Google hoping this delivers?

What does Google deem to be the benefits of this new AI based search tool?

  • Simple overviews of complex topics
  • Conversational results
  • Fast & direct information


Are there downsides to SGE?

Whilst it sounds exciting, there are some limitations and downsides. The most notable of these is the potential for inaccuracy. Language models are known to “hallucinate”, which is basically the term given to them just making stuff up. SGE has a clear disclaimer on it currently, stating that it’s an experiment – but let’s be honest, plenty of weight loss medicines have that written on too and people still use them.

Having mentioned weight loss medicine, this warning is even more evident in regards to “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics. This is the Google term for any topic which can affect a person’s happiness (e.g. finance, health and safety).

The additional disclaimer for health related topics states clearly that the result “does not constitute medical advice”.


How does this affect Paid Search (PPC)?

Well with PPC being Google’s primary income source, they’re certainly going to be making ads integral to the SGE experience. They’ll need to be careful, however, to integrate them in a way that doesn’t detract from the intended benefits. They are already experimenting with Generative AI ads and testing formats and placements.


What does Generative Search Experience mean for SEO marketing?

It seems clear to SEOs that organic traffic is going to be affected. If users are getting the answers to their questions from a summary within the SERP (search engine results page) there is no need for them to click through and browse your website.

For example, if you’ve asked a “what is” question, Google will provide an answer via SGE and the user doesn’t need to visit the website any more.

This would decrease the value of sites ranking well for “what is” queries. However, people will always need to do more in-depth research and whilst they may no longer be visiting your site for educational purposes, it will likely mean by the time they reach your website they will be better informed and more likely to convert in some way.

Also, remember that SGE will be combined with traditional search, not replacing it, so there will still be an important space for SERP results.


How to optimise SEO for SGE

As SEO experts, we’re keeping a keen eye on the ever-changing landscape and making predictions based on the available information released by Google. Here are the top ways to optimise for the new generative AI search:

Long-Tail Key Words

With SGE seemingly encouraging users to search for short and specific queries (e.g. “what is…” and “how to…”) optimising for long-tail keywords could be a space to win.

For example, instead of “running sneakers” a better option for long-tail could be “comfortable running sneakers for marathons”. If would be remiss of us not to drop in at this point that Online Path can help with SEO keyword research!

Quality EEAT Content, aligned with search intent

There has been a shift in the Google algorithm since 2022 to provide users with the most relevant and helpful content for their search. Therefore Google places more value and prioritises content that it deems to be from a reputable source, sharing expert opinions ultimately to ensure the information provided is accurate.

That’s where EEAT comes in. The acronym “E-E-A-T,” stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

It is important to note that E-E-A-T is not a ranking factor of Google’s search algorithm but a component of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines which are utilised to assess the expertise of content creators.

Further to this, there are 4 main types of search intent:

  • Navigational intent: Users are looking for a specific page (e.g., “dominos pizza login”)
  • Informational intent: Users want to learn about something (e.g., “what is a Chicago deep dish pizza”)
  • Commercial intent: Users are conducting research before making a purchase decision (e.g., “best pizza near me”)
  • Transactional intent: Users want to complete a specific action—usually a purchase (e.g., “order pizza online”)

Going forward it will be more important than ever to ensure content is developed to be the most in-depth solution to the searcher’s intent. This will go not only for organic ranking but also for content to be used within SGE.

But… how?

Prioritise natural language

Use every day terms in a manner your audience would speak. This is already best practice for ensuring voice search results.

This means avoiding using phrases like “we provide SEO services for companies” on your homepage, but rather, “we help people rank better on Google with SEO”.


Schema or Structured Data helps search engines better understand and categorise elements they crawl on your site.

How to prepare for SGE

It’s no doubt that SGE is going to shake things up for SEO and there are still a LOT of unknowns. As always, Google hold their cards close to their chest and we do our best to keep updated with the latest information as it comes available.

But what’s the best move for now?

Keep optimising your website using the most up-to-date SEO practices and focus on creating user-centered, helpful content in natural language, aligned with your audiences search intent. As always, we’re here to help.

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