Beep boop. Artificial intelligence is once again manning the helm of Google’s new search experience. So, buckle up, everyone. You’re in for a hopefully-not-so-bumpy ride with the new Google Search Generative Experience, or Google SGE.
What is Google SGE?
The future is truly now thanks to breakthrough advancements in generative AI capabilities. You want a picture of John Oliver marrying a cabbage? AI art generation tools like DALL-E have you covered. Want a step-by-step guide on how to do the Hokey Pokey? ChatGPT can write that up for you in seconds. Want to have a hyper-personalized search experience? In the near future, Google SGE may be just what you’ve been looking for.
So, just what is SGE? It stands for “Search Generative Experience” and it’s part of a larger planned upgrade to Google search that the Alphabet-owned search engine promises will revamp the user experience. Everything from paid search ads to organic results pages are subject to change with these new upgrades.
These promises may sound lofty, but they aren’t far-fetched; Google has used generative AI before. The company rolled out large language models (LLMs) like BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) to their English-language SERPs in 2019, for example. BERT was transformational for search; this model can not only train faster with less data, but also contextualize human speech in more ways than previous LLMs could. In other words, BERT is able to understand language on a deeper level than earlier LLMs while also being quicker.
Clearly, Google wasn’t content to just stop with the rollout of LLMs like BERT. The company is stepping up the search experience game with SGE, and trials and testing are already underway.
When is SGE Available?
There is currently a waitlist via Search Labs to try out SGE in English. It’s available on mobile for both iOS and Android, as well as for Chrome on desktop.
What Can Google SGE Do?
Hello, Google SGE, nice to meet you. Now that you’re properly acquainted, you’re probably wondering what your new friend can do.
Wonder no more.
New features and updated AI tools that will roll out with this SGE update include the following.
Google search queries just got personal. Hyper-personal. Search queries with SGE will allow a user to ask a follow-up question with amazing detail, creating a more conversational experience that users will hopefully find not just more helpful, but more personable as well.
Say, for example, that you wanted to go on a family vacation to a beach, but someone in your family uses a wheelchair. You could ask follow-up questions to Google regarding best beach vacation spots for families with a wheelchair user, narrowing down the results Google shows you until only those most relevant and hyper-specific to your needs remain. In other words, this conversational mode will build upon prior queries to narrow down results, rather than having you enter new queries if your first one does not show you what you want. This streamlined process will hopefully reduce time spent sifting through unhelpful content or using different queries that show similar results pages with the same content again and again.
Staying in an echo chamber means you don’t get potentially enlightening outside perspectives. Staying online means you can lose out on human connections. Wouldn’t it be great if the online search experience were able to fold both differing viewpoints and the human touch into the equation?
Google’s new “Perspectives” tool may be able to do just that.
Perspectives will offer up-close-and-personal looks at a subject/query, including long-form video content, personal reviews, and images, all of which offer differing viewpoints. It’s all part of Google’s plan to create not just a hyper-personalized user experience, but also one with a human touch.
Vertical shopping is yet another experience that this new update will revamp. Currently, Google’s Shopping Graph boasts a whopping 35+ billion product listings. When rolled out, SGE can pull from those listings to provide search users with the most up-to-date product listings based on specific prompts/queries. It may not sound like a massive change, but Google hopes that this new update will result in even faster, more accurate results than what it currently shows.
Google is all about helping people find high-quality information right away. The challenge? Sifting through mountains of content (some better, some worse, to use Bo Burnham’s words) to find such content. Part of simplifying this process is creating helpful content guidelines to reward content creators for producing content that will provide valuable information and an overall great experience to users.
These helpful content guidelines just got a new update, all part of Google’s new changes to enhance its search experience.
A prominent part of Google’s previously helpful content guidelines was E-A-T, or Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness. Google has now removed E-A-T from its Search Central Google Discover, replacing it with recommendations to create “helpful, reliable, people-first content.” In other words, Google has replaced mentions of E-A-T with guidelines that are a little more straightforward, although the primary principles of E-A-T (making good content) still apply.
Knowing Its Limitations
AI can be powerful, but it isn’t all-knowing. When the new Google Search cannot find enough information about a subject to give an informed answer, or if it’s for a topic like finances/YMYL (your money, your life), AI will not provide an answer, leaving this realm to the humans.
What Does Google SGE Mean for Ads?
Okay, so a new organic search experience is great. But what about paid advertisements? How does SGE affect Google Ads?
At least while it is in the experimental stage, SGE will not offer specific tracking metrics to show if ads come from either the old or new Google Search… and advertisers will not be able to opt out of showing ads in this new Search.
So, for the time being, it appears that the new, experimental Google Search is not optimized for advertisers, with Google fully focusing on the user experience above all else.
What Does SGE Mean for Bard?
Google Bard is Google’s AI chatbot, and it’s been in the news for a less-than-stellar reason. (It’s not great. That is the reason.) Now, with the promise of SGE’s advanced conversational mode, many wonder just what place in the world the struggling Bard will have—if it even has a place at all.
It looks like Google is not planning on getting rid of Bard any time soon, though. Like ChatGPT, Bard will likely just remain Google’s alternative to OpenAI’s chatbot and continue to offer creative collaboration services. SGE will conversely handle the search-related shenanigans, meaning it will not fully replace Bard.
What Does Google SGE Mean for SEO?
SEO strategists always have to be quick and nimble to stay on top of the latest search algorithm updates if they want their content and ads to succeed. Which brings us here: just what the heck (pardon our language) does Google SGE mean for SEO?
Here’s what it will likely mean: if you’re doing everything the right way—getting quality backlinks, offering useful content, reducing load times, etc.—you could see a boost in organic rankings, as this new update is all about finding the best of the best on the web and putting it front and center for users.
Need help navigating these new, uncharted SGE waters? Call the digital marketing experts at Digital Strike – Targeted Marketing. We’re a quick and nimble team of experts that can help you set the course for success and help you plan your next steps.