How the new Google SGE could affect marketers. 

by Arjun Reddy, Search/Paid Social Supervisor, and Nick Papagiannis, VP, Search Director

Shortly after the viral success of ChatGPT and the launch of the “new Bing,” Google had a bit of an existential crisis as the whole world watched in anticipation of how they would modify their flagship search engine to keep up. After all, if you’re not willing to disrupt your own business from time to time, someone else is willing to do it for you (remember Blockbuster?).   

We got our answer recently at Google’s annual I/O developer conference where Google announced a major overhaul of its search results format. The new format, called the “Search Generative Experience” (SGE), is designed to make it easier for us to find the information we need by having a more conversational experience with the search engine.  

With SGE, we can type in our questions or queries in a natural way, and Google will respond with answers, summaries of relevant articles, and even links to other websites that may be helpful. The format is still in development, but Google says it will be available to everybody in the coming months. 

These changes will make a big impact in how we approach search marketing.  

What will happen to the “old Google” – the Google I loved?

Did you decide to give up on Google completely and switch to the “new Bing” after they launched their chatbot feature? Probably not.  

The truth is, despite all the fanfare and news articles surrounding the February launch of the “new Bing,” Bing market share has actually declined since launching their chatbot experience. Bing’s desktop market share peaked in October 2022 at 10% and finished April 2023 at 7%, with the February launch not creating a noticeable lift.  

This shows that while the general population has been fascinated with ChatGPT, it hasn’t yet been viewed as a full-time replacement for the traditional search engine. It seems that most users still prefer to trust a variety of human web sources over one single AI-generated answer. This could change as the new AI becomes more powerful, but for now, it seems that traditional search is here to stay based on current user preferences.  

Therefore, Google likely won’t need to make big, sweeping changes to their core product all at once seeing as their market share dominance has withstood the competitive pressure.  

Change is coming, but it will likely be made incrementally.  

Is this the end of Google advertising as we know it?  

Ad revenue is what keeps the internet mostly free, and Google has stated that “ads will continue to play an important role” going forwards. They’ve made it abundantly clear that ads will continue to serve alongside, and even inside, AI-generated answers.  

We expect that impression volume should remain relatively consistent, or even increase due to more placement opportunities being available.  

The main difference could be in an ad’s clickthrough rate. If users decide that they are happy with the AI-generated answer and decide not to browse any further, they wouldn’t click any ads.  

However, Google’s entire search business is built on the pay-per-click model; therefore, Google will likely navigate this situation carefully to avoid costing themselves ad revenue.  

How will paid advertising change?  

Ads could be shown above, below or within the AI-generated answer. This could mean additional campaign or ad types down the road to help advertisers better tap into the new experience. It could also lead to an increase in automated ad creation based on your landing page content so that Google can choose what to include in their AI response.  

Therefore, SGE will likely make your landing page content more important than ever, and marketers should continue testing landing page variations to find what works best with the new Google.  

There will also be even more emphasis on ad copy testing as the new experience is rolled out. Copy that worked well in the old Google could see different results in the new Google, especially if the human-like response of AI makes your old copy seem too “sales-y.” 

How will SGE affect SEO? 

Organic search results have traditionally been laid out differently based on the search terms used, but now it looks like they will be pushed down further due to the AI response element. 

That being the case, SEO strategists should plan to audit the search results for key terms and see how their brand’s presence has been impacted.   

SEO in general will be more difficult for some search terms, and SEO directors need to plan on optimizing their websites, content, images, YouTube videos, news releases, and even their Google My Business pages – as all of them will continue to be referenced in organic search results. This may entail targeting a wider range of search terms and creating SEO-optimized content around those keywords. 

Google also continues to emphasize that they’ll reward high-quality content. This means that marketers and brands should focus on creating content that is informative, engaging and relevant to their target audiences on websites that are well-designed and SEO-optimized. 

A final word to the wise

As Google begins to roll out SGE, they will “test and evolve the ads experience” as they learn more. The same should go for you and your strategy.

As advertisers, our main job is to stay plugged in and develop new ideas as technology advances.  If you’re looking for someone to help you along this complex journey, please reach out to us at C-K.  

More Insights