What is SGE?

Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a way that Google presents search results. It leverages intelligence (AI) to offer users straightforward summaries of search topics without opening separate webpages. In essence, SGE condenses large amounts of information, into a new format right on the search results page. You can try out SGE when using Google Search on Chrome, Android, iOS or browsers such, as Microsoft Edge.

Google SGE Overview

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) uses the Gemini model to provide users with concise summaries of search topics directly on the search results page. While Google’s CEO hopes that SGE will impact the web ecosystem in the long run, there has been no comment on how it might affect website rankings.

SGE remains current with evolving patterns, effectively answering emerging topics and preferences. Although it can be disabled, this feature is currently hidden in labs, making it difficult and therefore unlikely for users to disable it, keeping SGE on by default.



Despite its potential, SGE is far from perfect and faces several challenges that need to be addressed:

  • Crawling issues

  • Authority blind sights
  • Accuracy issues
  • Complexity challenge, AI can’t grasp complex subjects and will provide inaccurate answers
  • Google will also enable users to ask questions using video content
  • SGE prioritises contextual understanding, scenario-specific results, SEO focus will shift away from the keyword more towards natural language/themes

Rollout and SERP Impact

Currently, SGE is only available in 120 countries, excluding Europe, and is primarily intended for use in the US, although Google has started conducting tests in the UK. To stand out from the crowd, perform well in SERPs, or place well in SGE, SEO needs to be watertight. Reports indicate that organic search will decline by 140% due to the new system. The pool of data that SGE will draw from to form its responses will make it crucial to maintain technical SEO in terms of site crawlability and text rendering by search engines and crawlers. Content that fulfills the intent of queries needs to be accessible to Google, and the HTML must be crawlable.

This will further increase the importance of having a well-structured and easily navigable site for crawlers, such as linked sitemaps, and will heighten the risk of damaged rankings where JavaScript is used to render HTML. Accordion-formatted elements and expandable elements with hidden text must be readable. FAQs and other question/answer content should be easily read and formatted, and headings within content may benefit from a question/answer format.

Images pulled into shopping results from websites will face scrutiny, and its unclear which elements will determine the image show in search. A good bet is the header image of an image pack on a product page. It is likely that optimising alt text, file names, and keywords within alt attributes will be important. Businesses will need to ensure that their images match the image style of competitors and yet still stand out amongst the crowd, challenges already faced with Google Ads shopping feed. Experience with optimising Google Ads shopping will be beneficial.

Local SEO Impact

In a local case study for SGE results:

  • 3% of the carousels linked to Yelp
  • 6% linked to Wikipedia
  • 4% linked to TripAdvisor
  • 4% linked to YP YouTube
  • 5% linked directly to brands’ websites
  • 8% linked to a local informational site, like local online tourism sites or online local travel magazines
  • There was also a smattering of Facebook, Michelin, UberEats, GrubHub, and Superpages
  • 100% of SGE results containing SGE packs include carousel links to local.google.com
  • Local pack displayed now is different to the results from SGE
    • We think this all indicates reviews are going to play a bigger role. We will implement strategies to improve reviews for our clients
    • GMB data being pulled into SGE – this means GMB optimisation is more important and should be focused on
    • Reactive optimisation for SGE as results are different to main local pack.

For more detailed strategies and help navigating these changes, consider partnering with an experienced SEO Agency.

How Businesses Can Benefit

Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) presents significant potential benefits for ecommerce businesses, allowing products to be instantly scrolled through with a more expansive shopping section than currently available. This model encourages natural language, tailored for voice search and conversational queries with AI, thereby creating opportunities to secure results based on natural language rather than formal language.

The interaction with AI is expected to foster more conversational search queries, potentially increasing the volume of detailed, long-tail queries and keywords. This shift may offer opportunities to optimize and achieve high rankings for specific keywords that directly align with user intent. Implementing more question-and-answer-based content on websites can align with the queries and content users will search for using SGE.

SGE also integrates functionality for Local SEO, leveraging data from Google My Business. Optimizing GMB profiles and Local Search Packs/Schema could enhance visibility in local SGE results. Additionally, local link building to acquire backlinks from relevant sites, bolstering reviews on third-party platforms (SGE pulls from various sources including GBP), and optimising secondary categories and attributes can enhance consistency and accuracy across directories.

SGE’s impact is unlikely to significantly affect Your Money Your Life (YMYL) or B2B SEO. Businesses in these sectors should prioritise improving YMYL and EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) principles where traditional rankings remain crucial. B2B and YMYL users may be less inclined to engage with or trust SGE results, preferring traditional search results.

A shift towards long-tail keywords is encouraged to potentially appear in SGE results or within the top three positions below SGE results. While competition for long-tail keywords may intensify, it also opens up more opportunities for visibility.

Structuring content in a question-and-answer format can be advantageous. With AI generating overviews that directly answer queries, optimising content in this format can increase the likelihood of being surfaced by Google’s AI models.


Drawbacks of SGE

SGE results prominently display above any search listings, potentially occupying nearly an entire screen’s worth of content before traditional search results appear. Consequently, even websites with high organic rankings may see reduced visibility in the SERP, with positions 1-3 equating to current positions 8-10, and lower-ranked sites experiencing even less visibility. This obstruction is exacerbated on mobile devices where screen space is limited, further monopolised by SGE.

The positioning of paid search within the SGE model remains ambiguous, as Google has not clarified whether SGE detracts from paid ads aiming for higher visibility. There’s a possibility that PPC could be included in the data pool from which SGE generates responses, although Google has denied working on an ad-free model.

SGE’s potential to replace snippets within traditional SERPs raises concerns about its impact on client rankings. Furthermore, the inability to track SGE data at scale limits the amount of recorded user data. While this limitation is unlikely to directly impact conversions, clients may observe changes in traffic patterns and user journeys on their websites. Pre-emptively focusing on conversions and leads during this transition period is advisable.

Ecommerce clients may find SGE disadvantageous if they lack high-authority sites, reducing their likelihood of appearing in SGE shopping results compared to popular or high-authority competitors. Additionally, sectors or industries with low search volume for products or topics that don’t fall under Your Money Your Life (YMYL) categories or where achieving Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) is challenging may also face disadvantages.


Potential Actions and Touch Points for Businesses

The approach brands should consider depends on the industry/sector and target audience:

For those targeting users who are less likely to engage with SGE results (YMYL, B2B, Niche ecommerce or topics where EEAT is difficult), we can more heavily target reaching high positions on traditional search (positions 1-3)

    • Involving a heavier focus on technical SEO, increasing the quality or quantity of backlinks, improving UX on the site for improved user experience and prioritising conversion/user journey on the website itself.
    • Backlink profiles and backlink profile health are becoming more important.

For brands who are targeting users that are more likely to engage with SGE (Primarily Ecommerce), we will focus on getting you to appear or be linked to within SGE results themselves. This includes prioritising and optimising:

  • Importance of improving EEAT across the site and improving authority within the sector:
    • Improve Trust signals and authority with EEAT
    • Importance of covering YMYL topics
  • Local SEO will be impacted
    • Look to improve GMB profile optimisation and map pack
    • Product image optimisation
    • UX for booking if event/experience-based (easy booking for restaurants)
  • We will also focus on improving technical aspects of SEO as normal with an increased focus on crawlability and site readability. Ensuring elements are rendering correctly and content is accessible to crawlers
    • Improving image optimisation
    • Content formatting and page rendering

Prepare Your Website for the Future of Search

Whether you’re looking to optimise your website for traditional search results or capitalise on SGE’s capabilities for ecommerce and local SEO, we’re here to help you achieve sustained visibility and growth.

Our SEO team is ready to tailor strategies specific to your industry and target audience, ensuring your online presence is prepared to navigate the evolving landscape of Google’s SGE.

Get in touch with us at info@polarisagency.com or complete our enquiry form to discuss how we can future proof your website for SGE.


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