What is Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) & Why Your Brand Should Care



Nov 09, 2023

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min read




Nov 09, 2023

Read Time

min read



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So, what is Google SGE? What does Google SGE mean for your brand? Demonstrating Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-E-A-T) will be more important than ever Brand building to minimise the impact of lost traffic

A Google search from ten years ago looked very different to a search today. Featured Snippets, People Also Ask, Knowledge Panels…. Google’s been experimenting with ways to give users more answers with fewer clicks.

Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is the next step down this path. It uses artificial intelligence to provide in-depth answers to your searches. In theory, this means more precise answers and less time scrolling through websites. Sound good? For you, almost definitely. For your business, maybe not.

So, what is Google SGE?

Google’s been focused on making searches more user friendly for years. From shopping panels to local business panels, search engine results pages (SERPs) are now full of features to improve your experience. More answers, more easily available. Consequently, at least 25% of Google searches today don’t even result in a click.

This means the days of the ’10 blue links’ are slowly coming to an end. Compare a Google search today to one in 1998. Which one provides a better user experience?

a google search today

Search Generative Experience is an acceleration of this shift towards ‘zero-click marketing‘. SGE uses AI to source answers from the millions of websites across Google, summarising relevant content into a few paragraphs that satisfy a search. These AI-generated responses will appear in a box at the top of the page – pushing all the other websites, ads and features down the page. Imagine a featured snippet on steroids.

Although SGE will appear for all sorts of searches, it excels at informational queries. FAQs, how-to’s and guides – it’ll provide a speedy, easy to consume response. Instead of trawling through websites, people will have the information handed to them on a plate. The result? They can get their answers without even getting close to your website. And if you’re not included in the SGE box, they might not even know you exist.

This is bad news for your traffic. Some people in the industry are forecasting a 25% drop in website traffic, while some are saying even more. So be prepared for your GA4 reports to take a hit. Potentially your sales too.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. SGE also allows people to refine their searches – meaning they can search for exactly what they want. Today, someone looking for dinner might Google ‘best restaurants in London’. But with SGE, they could search ‘best restaurants in London that serve steak and have outside seating and are open at 7pm tonight’. The answers will be much closer to what they actually want. This means that while you might receive less traffic – the traffic you do receive may have higher buyer intent. Higher buyer intent = better conversion rates. Wonderful.

clicking on google sge

Despite all this, SGE is still a mystery. No one knows what the final version will look like or how it’ll really impact traffic. Google are currently trialling the test version in the US, India and Japan, and we can’t even access it yet in the UK. They’ve been testing different SGE designs, different algorithms. But while there’s a lot we don’t know, we do know one thing. Search is about to change in a big way.

What does Google SGE mean for your brand?

Across the world, SEOs are collectively quaking in their boots at the possibility of all their hard work going out the window. SGE reinforces a ‘position zero’. You either rank in it or you don’t. For some searches, appearing in SGE could become the thing that matters most, meaning ranking as the top blue link may not be enough anymore. Some SEOs will have been working for years to rank 1st on Google, only for SGE to push their website down the page – taking a big chunk of their traffic with it. So what does this mean for you?

Demonstrating Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-E-A-T) will be more important than ever

Google need their AI-generated results to be factual and correct. They can’t be spreading false information. A few months ago, a Bard mistake dropped their market value by $100 billion… and they clearly don’t want this happening again. So to ensure that search results are as error-free as possible, SGE will look for signals that content is trustworthy. Enter E-E-A-T.

How do you increase the chance you’ll be included in the SGE results? You’ll need onsite and offsite signals that demonstrate you and your brand are trustworthy, have experience and expertise with the topic at hand, and are an authority in your sector. Find out how digital PR can help you demonstrate E-E-A-T in this blog.

Brand building to minimise the impact of lost traffic

SGE is probably going to drop your traffic – at least in the short term. More zero-click searches = less website visits. To make up for this, you need to start thinking about other ways to widen your marketing net. If fewer people visit your site, how else can you expand your reach?

The answer: brand building. It should be at the heart of every company’s marketing strategy. It’s more than working with an influencer, sending a press release or attending a trade show. It’s about being where your audience is. You need to find out who your audience is, what they’re talking about, and where they you can find them. Once you’ve got this, you simply need to get your brand in front of them.

If you can ensure your brand is appearing in the same places as you audience, you’re sorted. Show up in a relevant, meaningful and consistent way. Think of all the well-known brands you encounter each day. You don’t recognise them because they rank 1st on Google, or because they invest heavily in Google ads. You recognise them because you know the brand. This rings true for all companies, just at different scales.

A strong brand can make you the go-to company for your audience. It can keep you front of mind, improving the chances of them thinking of you at the point of purchase. It can futureproof your business, and will outlast any algorithm changes.

And as Search Generative Experience could well be one of the biggest algorithm changes in the history of Google, the real question is: why wouldn’t you invest in your brand?

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