May 14, 2024

UPDATED – Google Testing AI Overviews: What Does Search Generative Experience (SGE) Mean for Your Website?

UPDATE May 14, 2024 – Google announced today that it would begin rolling out AI Overviews to all users in the United States this week.

Google announced this during its annual developers’ conference as part of a wider launch of AI improvement and previously unannounced features and products.

According to Barry Schwartz, writing for Search Engine Land, these new features are mostly part of the generative AI product Gemini and include multistep reasoning, the ability to plan, and the ability to organize search results into categories.

On March 22, 2024, Google launched Search Generative Experience (SGE) to users beyond those who were logged into Google Search Labs for the early experiments, giving the general public its first glimpse at the tech giant’s generative AI search tool.

Google has indicated it is only providing AI results – or what they call “AI Overviews” – for a limited subset of queries, meaning that not every search will result in an AI answer. Google says its end goal is to gather information from users who haven’t tried the SGE product yet. The final version of SGE will likely look different from what we see today.

Not sure what all the fuss is about SGE? Read on to learn more!

What is Google SGE?

SGE is Google’s version of providing an AI-generated response to a search query inside its main search engine product. Essentially, SGE provides an aggregated answer to a search query by pulling together information from multiple sources. This response may answer the question the searcher asks without requiring a click to another website.

Google SGE is also the next step forward for AI-driven results in search. Machine learning has powered Google results for years, although it’s not as obvious. Featured snippets, map packs, local search results and other products already make up a large portion of the SERPs.

When will SGE fully launch?

This is the question the SEO community has been speculating about since SGE appeared in Search Labs last spring. One thing is made clear with this open testing from Google – it’s likely closer than we anticipated. Many industry insiders predicted a Q1 2024 launch, but we still don’t have an official launch date from Google.

What does SGE mean for my website?

The threat to organic search traffic for websites is obvious. About half of all current search queries result in no click. This means one of two things – the question was answered, or the user refined the search to find better results. With generative AI results in play, organic traffic could be impacted further.

Authoritas shared a research study about the impact of SGE on organic rankings, and the results showed a decrease in organic traffic. The biggest takeaways from this study were: 

  • SGE displayed an AI result in 87% of all searches.
  • The number one organic listing was typically pushed “below the fold.”
  • 94% of generative links in their dataset came from outside the current top organic domains.

These numbers become even more concerning based on your site’s industry.
Search Engine Land quoted a study from BrightEdge that looked at a billion queries across nine industries. Healthcare saw the most impact, as 76% of queries resulted in an AI answer. Finance was the least affected, with only 17% of queries producing an AI response.

Even at the low end of the scale, a 17% potential reduction in organic traffic is a significant blow to most websites!

My site isn’t prepared for this! What do I do?

Luckily, there are things you can do to boost your site’s chances of finding its way to the top of the SGE heap.

1. Conduct an E-E-A-T audit

Take a look at the Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness of your site and update any areas in which there are weaknesses. Things to look for include:

  • Bios for key personnel at your site that highlight their experience, achievements, awards, recognition and certifications.
  • Easily accessible contact information, privacy policies, terms and conditions, and other relevant items that show trustworthiness and credibility.
  • Information about the business that displays authority, such as the length of time the business has been open, certifications and awards, and other relevant information.
  • This audit should also include a meticulous examination of your site’s user interface and user experience (UI/UX) to ensure that visitors can easily navigate and find the information they’re looking for, enhancing their overall experience on your site.

2. Create high-quality content

  • If your site already produces content like blogs and social media posts, ensure it is of the highest possible quality and reflects your company values and expertise. 
  • If you’re not creating high-quality, original content, consider doing so. It’s a great way to showcase your site’s credibility with users and search engines. Leverage the expertise of your company and employees when creating this content!
  • Diversify your content strategy by publishing to various platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn and industry-specific forums to share insights and engage with a broader audience, helping to mitigate potential declines in organic traffic due to SGE’s influence.

3. Pay attention to KPIs and be ready to respond quickly

  • Watching Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great (and free!) ways to analyze traffic patterns, identify pages and keywords that require additional optimization, and find new opportunities to improve your position in the SERPs.
  • Key performance indicators for organic search will be users, sessions, views and entrances to your site among others. It will be important to keep a close eye on things over the next few months to determine the impact SGE has had on your website.

4. Consider a digital advertising campaign

  • Digital advertising can be a great way to offset organic traffic loss. Identifying important keywords and creating an ad budget to help drive that traffic – and conversions – to your site can help overcome SGE’s impact.
  • Digital advertising, however, has much more at your disposal than search campaigns. Talking to an advertising specialist could open up new opportunities for your business.

5. Contact an agency

We would be remiss not to mention this one. Search engine optimization can be intimidating for even seasoned professionals. It can be downright maddening for beginners. Reaching out to a digital marketing agency can be an effective way to help resolve issues.

A good SEO agency will audit your site for performance and E-E-A-T to help you find ways to improve your site’s positioning as well as identify opportunities for additional traffic.

At Campaignium, we take your site’s success seriously and can provide resources to help you reach your business goals. Reach out to us and let’s discuss your objectives. We’ll find a way to help you achieve them!


Game On!

We’re all about putting up big numbers for your business.