A first look into the Search Generative Experience
In this blog post, we will dive into the initial impressions and insights surrounding the recently launched “Search Generative Experience” (SGE) by Google through the private testing that was released on May 25th, Google introduced SGE, a new search feature aimed at enhancing user experiences and providing more direct access to relevant information within the search results page.
The SEO and digital marketing community has been scouring keyword searches and have been actively sharing their observations and findings.
In this breakdown, we will explore the first wave of tweets and insights shared by industry experts, shedding light on what people have witnessed and experienced with this new feature:
SEO Is Not Dead Yet…
When Google demo’ed this keyword at #GoogleIO it didn’t show this many organic links at the bottom. The organic carousel below this query shows *14* (!!) results from product review websites. And plenty more below. SEO is not dead yet. – Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc)
Lily Ray, points out that the demo didn’t show as many organic links at the bottom of a search result as what she’s currently seeing. There’s a carousel of 14 results from product review websites that appear beneath a specific search query. Despite these changes, Lily says that “SEO is not dead” yet!
buy a surfboard online
— Brendan OConnell (@BrendanOConnel) May 25, 2023
Brendan O’Connell shares an image related to buying a surfboard online, possibly pointing towards some aspects of e-commerce or online shopping trends a very basic search but very telling.
Featured Snippets Here to Stay?
FS are still here, it also holds back from answering several medical queries. – Gael Breton (@GaelBreton)
Gael Breton, mentions that Featured Snippets are still present. Additionally, he notes that the SGE is refraining from providing responses to several medical queries. This might indicate a feature or limitation of the Google SGE experience that considers the sensitivity and potential risk associated with providing health-related information
No Trigger for YLML on Queries
No AI Snippet, probably triggered by YMYL filter. – Gael Breton (@GaelBreton)
Gael shares that no AI Snippet is available for a specific search query (“cheap car insurance”) in the Google SGE experience. It is suggested that the AI in the Google SGE experience is also adhering to these guidelines of Your Money, Your Life, withholding AI-generated snippets for queries that could have significant real-life implications for users
Google Business Profiles in SGE
Google Business Profiles listing panel images carousel test. – Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick)
Barry Schwartz shares a link to an article or post discussing a test related to Google Business Profiles. More specifically, the test involves the image carousel within the listing panel of these profiles, it signals Google’s ongoing efforts to refine and improve the presentation of business profiles in its platform
Example of Local Search
My first SGE had to be local 😏
Andy Simpson shares their first use of SGE was focused on local search.
Using Original Content Without Citation?
This is one of many examples I am finding but something that is a bit alarming about SGE is that it seems to directly plagiarize content. I thought generative AI almost always switched words around. I’m finding many examples where the answer is pulled from the page verbatim. – Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc)
Back to Lily shares concerns about SGE seeming to directly replicate content from source pages without rewording or paraphrasing. This stands in contrast to their expectations of generative AI, which typically transforms the original text to some extent. Lily’s findings point to the need for more nuanced handling of content reproduction by AI systems, especially when it comes to respecting original content and avoiding issues related to plagiarism.
High Ranking Pages Not Used
FYI, being the top ranking results organically doesn’t automatically imply that your site will be cited/linked to in the SGE result. – Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc)
Then addresses a common question about Google’s Search Generated Experience (SGE). Then clarifies that a website’s ranking in the organic search results does not guarantee that the site will be referenced in SGE results. This is a significant insight for website owners and SEO professionals, as it indicates that top organic rankings and visibility in SGE results may require different strategies
Google taking on direct feedback from users
This is a more appropriate way for Google to cite their sources. Link attribution in the actual “AI answer”. With quotation marks. That’s a direct quote you’re using.
Mike Futia, discusses the issue of proper citation in the context of Google’s AI-generated responses. He suggests that when Google’s AI pulls direct quotes from sources, it should include link attribution within the AI answer itself, marked clearly with quotation marks.
Of course with anything people are finding the humour in Google’s new SERP appearance, pushing SGE for a quick laugh:
Thin Content in Generated Responses
The best part about the @Google #SGE is that I don’t have to click just to land on a thin content @amazon affiliate FBA page anymore. That experience is right there for me to enjoy on top of the SERP. “Y’all take care of the E-E-A-T, and we’ll make the thin content experience this time. Thanks for everything, #SEO.” – G – Jeff Coyle (@jeffrey_coyle)
Jeff Coyle, comments on the perks of Google’s SGE, which lets them view content straight in the search engine results page (SERP). He appreciates not needing to navigate potentially subpar Amazon affiliate pages, as Google manages this task itself.
CLS? Never Head of It?
Google: Low Cumulative Layout Shift is important. Also Google:
Ross Hudgens draws attention to a possible inconsistency in Google’s web design guidelines. Google promotes the need for a low ‘Cumulative Layout Shift’ (CLS) to improve user experience, but may not be following this standard itself. CLS gauges a page’s visual stability – a low CLS indicates stable page elements during loading. Essentially, Hudgens is suggesting that Google’s own pages might have a higher CLS than their own recommendations.
LLM can be gamed
SGE Engineers: Yea, Brit’s trying to convince SGE that Jlo’s favorite food is grilled cheese again.. —Knowing how LLMs work makes this game too easy 😅
Britney Muller recently shared a rather amusing experiment where they tried to pull the strings of Search Engine algorithms (otherwise known as “SGE”) to convince them that Jennifer Lopez’s (“Jlo’s”) favorite food is grilled cheese. When they talk about “knowing how LLMs work”, she’s hinting at leveraging their knowledge of Language Models to nudge search results in a particular direction.
Criticism of SGE
. I’m in absolute awe. How do some of you refrain from bitch slapping Google? There’s a number of SEOs looking at #SGE, pointing out flaws with Googles piss poor handling of direct usage of content, and none of them are telling G to fuck off. #SEO #SGE
— Darth Autocrat (Lyndon NA) (@darth_na) May 27, 2023
Lyndon expresses their frustration at Google’s handling of direct usage of content with SGE, and questions the restraint of SEO professionals in not criticizing Google more harshly.
Hot take: I don’t think SGE goes live in close to its current form. It’s not good enough. Or if it does, it’s a mistake. I recorded a video breaking down three example queries from SaaS, e-commerce and fintech, and then recapped my overall thoughts.
29:24 568 views
— Ross Hudgens (@RossHudgens) May 26, 2023
Ross Hudgens shares a hot take on the current state of SGE, doubting its readiness for live implementation. He also mentions a video he made discussing their thoughts on SGE.
Overview of SGE
🚨 I just got my hands on the new Google SGE AI. I used to be a PM on the Google Search team. Here’s what’s new and how it changes SEO.
— parthi loganathan (@parthi_logan) May 26, 2023
Parthi Loganathan, a former Product Manager on the Google Search team, shared insights on how the new Google SGE AI is changing the SEO landscape quite well in their twitter thread:
Fact-Checking: Google’s pulling facts straight from the top pages. So, if you want to be picked up and quoted by Google’s AI, think about serving fresh takes and unique viewpoints instead of reheating what’s already out there, this is where experience part of EEAT will kick in to cull the waves of content coming out that isn’t created for people, rather to rank.
Keep It Clear: Click a source, and you’ll see the text Google “read” highlighted in purple. The takeaway? Keep your pages user-friendly with clear headings and straight-shooting answers. Google seems to play the game of semantic similarity, so a solid FAQ section might be your ace in the hole.
Quantity Matters: The more a product gets mentioned across pages, the better chance it has to strut its stuff in the AI response. So, consider boosting your investment in gathering reviews and perspectives
Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) presents opportunities and challenges for SEO and digital marketing. Reactions are mixed due to concerns about original content and search result quality. Businesses and SEO professionals must prioritize high-quality content and adapt to changes in this AI-driven landscape. The objective remains user experience and information accuracy.