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Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) Released in the US

It was made public during Google's I/O conference on May 14, 2024, that the AI-powered search engine, Search Generative Experience (SGE), is now being released in the US with a worldwide deployment scheduled to happen soon after, with an expected rollout to 1 billion users by the end of the year.

SGE refers to AI-driven search results that appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Users will be able to ask Google more complex and descriptive search queries, and Google’s AI Overview will put together a quick answer for you. Users may benefit from faster topic exploration, with a more streamlined and accessible way to follow up with further research.

The Impact of SGE on Users

By providing users with a quick, overview-style answer to their query, it offers a faster, more efficient search experience, with links to find out more about the search topic. With detailed information more readily available to searchers, Google aims to do the ‘searching’ for users, even when the query is highly specific.

Understanding the Impact of SGE on SEO

With SGE, users will now have access to AI-driven responses that are not only faster, but also more contextually rich, all of which are designed to greatly improve user experience.

Users' interactions with search results will be transformed by this new search experience, which could alter conventional click-through rate (CTR) patterns. Direct answers to queries will be provided by generative AI search results; this implies users probably won’t have to browse across to a website to find the answers they need.

Due to SGE's capacity to process complicated queries efficiently, a number of industries, including healthcare, e-commerce, B2B tech, hospitality, tourism, and real estate, could witness the most changes. These sectors are prime for disruption by more advanced AI capabilities since they frequently need timely and accurate information delivery.

SGE works well for answering questions from visitors who are comparatively far away from a company website's conversion funnel (unless the business is rendering ads through a publishing website).

How Often Do AI Overviews Appear?

Although Google has not revealed the exact percentage of searches that result in AI Overviews, recent studies from data indicates that Google scaled SGE coverage down before the launch.

  • 14% of queries return SGE results automatically.

  • 28% of queries return SGE results after pressing the "generate" button (forced).

  • 58% of queries do not return SGE results at all.

SERP Volatility

Semrush's Sensor noticed significant variations in search results during the launch of SGE for the US market. There has been a noticeable shift in search engine rankings and visibility in the United States, as seen in the first screenshot below. There is less, but still significant volatility in other countries.

In the US

In other countries

So, websites targeting the US will highly likely see a drop in their organic traffic for May 2024. The healthcare, finance, and publishing sectors are anticipated to have the biggest effects on your acquisition of organic visitors, because of the complexity of their queries.

Moz claims that 70% of SGE content is simply text. So, there is still plenty of chance to optimise content for search engines through incorporating relevant keywords, improving readability, and providing visitors useful information—even if there is a short-term loss in rank.

And, in the top 10 organic results, all three SGE carousel links represented 13% of the 100 SGE SERPs that were examined. There are chances to be featured in the SGE carousel, which can boost organic click-through rates (CTR) for websites even if site CTR declines.

How generative AI is expected to impact SEO community

  • Google currently lumps AI Overview impressions and clicks with regular search results and does not offer separate reporting for them in Google Search Console. It will be a little frustrating because of this lack of transparency, which hides the actual effect of AI Overviews on traffic.

  • AI Overviews are not replacing featured snippets; both will continue to coexist in search results. However, the exact scenarios in which both will appear simultaneously still need clarification. This can result in a shift in the CTR number since, depending on how these answers are integrated, featured snippets could either redistribute or cannibalise their clicks.

  • Currently, AI Overviews do not include ads, but Google does show ads around them. If users get answers without clicking on organic results, adverts near the top of the page may become more visible or less effective, based on how generative content influences user attention dynamics.

  • It is possible that the impact will be less noticeable for Navigation and Transactional inquiries that have a clear purpose to visit a certain website or complete a transaction. But, Generative Search intends to incorporate product comparisons directly into the search results. It could alter the decisions that users make, which might have an impact on the clicks that users make to specific e-commerce websites.

  • Generative Search will be at its best when answering long-tail queries by generating specific answers that were previously hard to find in a Google search. The effect of generative AI on this category of searches could lead to 50-90% reduction in CTR.

Video Demo of SGE: Search in Gemini era

More information on SGE content: SGE