Google’s new SGE & what it means for your SEO & PPC strategy

Apr 18, 2024

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by | Apr 18, 2024 | Technology

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Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) is set to shake up the world of SEO and B2B marketing strategy as we know it. Some sources have described it as having a potentially “devastating” effect on content creators and websites. This is supported by a recent poll, which showed that 60% of SEO professionals are worried about the impact on their jobs and performance. So what do we need to know about these changes, and is there really any need to panic? 

In this blog, we outline what the new SGE developments are expected to look like, and how you can ensure your search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) strategies are prepared for these changes.

 

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE): What is it? 

SGE is Google’s latest AI development to enhance its search model. First announced at its annual I/O developer conference in May 2023, it’s currently being tested within Google Search Labs. SGE was originally set to end in 2023, but has since been extended. This may be because Google wants to ensure SGE is fully compatible with its AI guiding principles before launch. Identifiers of this can be seen in one of Google’s most recent tests showing more “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) warnings for sensitive topics such as health queries. With Google remaining vague around timelines, it’s uncertain exactly when SGE is expected to be launched, but consensus currently seems to be at some point in 2024.  

The main features of the new SGE will include an AI-powered overview or snippet of key information around the search query, at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). It will likely also include the ability to ask follow up questions to refine the search results, as can be seen currently with how ChatGPT works. Google is also looking to launch an image generative experience, where users can ask the system to create visuals based on their search query requests. 

From a user perspective, Google is expecting SGE to enable you to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily”. It’ll enable you to ask more complex questions as a search query, with the platform piecing together and delivering the relevant insight to the user. The follow up questions also allow more context within the queries and answers, as well as further in-depth exploration around the topic. 

 

What will this mean for my SEO and PPC strategy?

As with any changes to Google’s search experience, this may cause concern for B2B marketers in what it will mean for their SEO and PPC management and performance. As the new SGE hasn’t officially been launched yet, it’s hard to say with certainty all the likely impacts, but here’s what’s been predicted:

1. A decline in organic traffic

Because of the SGE’s new AI-powered overview set to appear at the top of the page, it’s likely that this will mean search results and organic listings are pushed further down the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will then impact listings further down the page, with an expected reduction in organic traffic volumes for these websites. 

2. An increased volume of actively engaged traffic

On the other hand, those users who do continue to scroll through results and click on listings are more likely to be actively interested and looking for your services, rather than just browsing for an answer to a question. 

3. Increased competition within paid search

SGE is unlikely to mean any major changes to Google’s PPC ad services and management. However, it may mean that there are slightly fewer ads shown on the page because of the reduced space available with the AI overview. This could increase competition within paid search, making it more expensive for your ads to appear, whilst ensuring quality score remains high.

4. Increased user exposure to paid search ads

With the AI overview section expected to appear around the paid search ads at the top of the page, it’s likely to mean that users will stay in that area of the page for longer. These users are then exposed to the PPC ads for more time, which may result in an uplift in engagement or brand awareness for your brand. 

5. A more volatile period to keep up to date with changes

As with most AI related technology, because the SGE is likely to be continually evolving, this will mean frequent changes that need to be understood and taken into consideration within your SEO and PPC management and overall B2B marketing strategy

 

How can I mitigate any negative impacts on my B2B marketing strategy?

While there are still unknowns around the SGE at this stage, there are some key strategic actions that should help to mitigate impact on your B2B marketing strategy, much of which is closely aligned to current SEO best practice. This is something we’ve been working closely with a number of our clients on, making sure they’re aware of the changes, what they may mean for their SEO, unified search strategies and general PPC management, whilst ensuring that they’re working towards implementing the steps outlined below. 

Firstly, continue to ensure that your content is engaging, accurate and valuable to your audience. This establishes trust with your audience and should play a key role in ranking well for SEO when the SGE is launched. 

Secondly, make sure to include personal perspectives and experiences within your content. These personal and human elements are something which AI in general cannot provide (or cannot provide accurately), and will be key to differentiating your content in a more AI driven marketing world.

Finally, for SEO and PPC strategies, keeping up to date with the latest release timeframes and other updates around the SGE will ensure you’re aware and fully prepared for what it may mean as more details become available. 

At Modern, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these updates and feeding back to clients with any further recommendations, as and when they appear!

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Further reading

The impact of the strategic skills gap in marketing technology

When conversion tracking goes wrong, everything gets shaky

Leading change: Unpacking the Forrester B2B Summit, North America