Google’s Search Generative Experience Is Here – Will It Help or Hurt Your SEO?

Filed in For Photographers, SEO — May 26, 2024

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MaryBeth Bryant

There’s a lot of talk among SEO enthusiasts and professionals about Google’s latest innovation—the Search Generative Experience (SGE). You may have come across discussions filled with skepticism or concerns like “It’ll never become mainstream” or “It’s going to screw up your SEO strategies massively.” Well, let me set the record straight—it’s here, and it’s making waves.

Today, I’ll dive into what SGE is, discuss whether you should be concerned, and explore ways to use this change to your advantage. But not just as an SEO consultant but I’ve owned my own photography business for almost 10 years now. So when I say I get it. Trust me, I see both worlds.

Remembering that change brings opportunities to adapt and enhance our current strategies is vital. SGE is no exception to this rule.

What is SGE – Google Search Generative Experience?

Think of it as Google’s version of ChatGPT but integrated directly into your search experience. Here’s how it works: when you type a question into Google, instead of just presenting you with a list of links, SGE pulls up a concise overview of the answer right there on the search results page. You can even ask follow-up questions without leaving Google or clicking through to any websites.

This feature represents a new format of SERP (Search Engine Results Placement). Traditionally, SERPs included a mix of listings like images, maps, Q&A sections, and the usual website links. Now, SGE introduces a layer where it serves as your primary interaction point with information—for the moment, at least.

By integrating a system where immediate answers are provided, Google aims to streamline users’ search experience but this brings a new challenge for content creators and SEO strategists. How do we ensure our content remains visible and relevant in this new setup? Understanding this new SERP layer is crucial for adapting our strategies effectively.

Why are people worried about SGE?

The main concern with SGE lies in its potential to disrupt the traditional flow of internet traffic. Think about it: many businesses, especially those in the information and education sectors, thrive by drawing visitors to their websites through engaging, informative content. Questions like “How to start a family photography business” or “What to wear for family photos” have traditionally helped funnel potential clients from a Google search to a photographer’s website.

Before SGE, a user might see a snippet of this information and feel compelled to click through to the full article, beginning their journey with a brand. This is the crux of traditional SEO—drawing traffic by answering questions effectively.

Now, with SGE summarizing answers upfront, users might not feel the need to visit websites. This shift can reduce the number of visitors to sites, particularly affecting those who rely heavily on educational content. It’s a significant change, one that many of us cringed at the thought of.

Who’s most at risk of losing SEO traction with SGE?

Primarily, websites focused on education and providing detailed information may feel the impact the most. Local businesses might be less affected since many local queries necessitate direct interactions with specific websites.

However, if your local business strategy includes a strong content element—such as blogs about photography tips, seasonal photo ideas, or how-to guides—you may also be at risk. These kinds of informational posts are exactly what SGE aims to summarize within the search results themselves.

Understanding the distinction between informational and transactional queries can help us navigate this new landscape:

Informational versus transactional queries for SEO

Three Ways You Can Leverage The Opportunity That Search Generative Experience Brings

  1. Focus on niche and local content: Google tends to summarize information that is widely recognized and generalized. If your content is niche-specific or highly relevant to a local audience, there’s a lower chance of it being preemptively summarized by SGE. This makes your unique, detailed content more valuable than ever.
  2. Become a featured source within SGE: Post-summary, Google sometimes highlights websites that offer more in-depth or specialized information. This is a crucial opportunity to stand out. Think about how you can present your topics from unique angles or provide depth that SGE cannot.
  3. Be strategic with AI-generated content: Tools like ChatGPT are incredibly useful, but relying solely on them for content creation might backfire in the SGE era. If the content is too generic, it’s likely something SGE will summarize. When using AI tools, ensure your final output is personalized and tailored to your unique audience

A few final thoughts about SGE

Whenever I see claims like “SEO is pointless now that SGE is here,” I can’t help but smile. SEO is not becoming obsolete; it’s evolving. With each shift, there’s a window of opportunity for those ready to adapt and innovate. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or resistant to change, those who embrace these shifts can use them to their advantage. It’s an exciting time for those who view change as a catalyst for growth.

This new landscape might initially seem daunting, especially for educators and content creators who have built their strategies around traditional SEO. However, it’s also a thrilling opportunity for niche and small business brands. SGE could level the playing field in the visibility game, giving unique and specialized content a chance to shine brighter.

Embracing SGE means being proactive about understanding how Google is changing search dynamics and staying ahead with innovative content strategies. It’s not just about surviving; it’s about thriving by turning potential challenges into opportunities for visibility and engagement.

For more insights on how to navigate the evolving world of SEO and to keep up with Google’s updates, join my newsletter community. Here, I offer monthly webinars that delve into these topics, providing you with the knowledge and tools to excel.

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