Google is poised to redesign the search experience to better serve searchers what they are looking for.
Testing Search Generated Experience (SGE) and other AI advances reflects a strategic shift aimed at enabling AI interaction through natural queries. With SGE, searchers can see topic summaries and engage in dynamic conversation modes.
SGEs are carefully designed to reward content that demonstrates Google’s EEAT principles – experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness. The system also prioritizes content with deep experience and authoritative recommendations.
Google provides users with short summaries or short answers that are particularly helpful for understanding complex topics and are similar to the short information boxes at the top of search results.
In addition, it provides an opportunity to explore more details by clicking links to the original sources. SGEs are based on Google’s Large Language Model (LLM), its general-purpose model PaLM 2, and the Multitask Unified Model (MUM).
Every SERP will be different and SGEs are in an experimental phase. Content creators and marketers must have the equipment and the will to experiment, test, measure results and formulate a strategy for SGEs.
In this search for a “good bike for a five-mile commute with hills,” the AI-generated text highlights the aspects to consider when choosing a commuter bike and concludes that an e-bike best suited for hilly communities. It then lists the best e-bikes to consider. All content appears before any organic or paid search listings.
Of course, any change in the search experience and layout of Google’s search engine results pages requires a change in SEO strategy to take advantage of new opportunities for ranking and engagement.
How to make your content a part of SGEs
While it’s still too early to assess the full impact of this conversational AI approach, I expect the traffic effect will be similar to previous zero-click results, as many searchers get the answer they need without one visit another website. In this case, top-level traffic would decrease, but conversion rates could increase because the people who click to visit the sites show more interest.
To get the most out of Google’s search-generated experiences, optimize them for these four types of content.
Visual content often wins prominent positions in organic search results and SGEs. Optimize your image and video search strategy for:
Address search intent on conversation requests
- Do up-to-date keyword research.
- Break up long, complex videos into fun clips that answer a single question or explain an idea.
- Use original, professional-quality images to clearly convey a point, product or concept and stand out from the competition in multimedia search results.
Review the site’s schema markup and structured data
- Leverage structured data and schema markup to help search engines understand video and image content more easily.
- Add descriptions, filenames, and alt text.
- Add images and videos to your sitemap to ensure crawlers notice all of your content.
Improve the visitor experience
- Resize images, compress file sizes, and optimize for the web. A content delivery network can help carry out these steps at an enterprise level.
- Make images and website responsive and mobile friendly.
- Use your target keywords naturally in the image, video title, alt text, captions, or descriptions.
Once you’ve refined your blog content based on Google Search’s helpful content system, you’ll have a head start on building a search-generated experience strategy. Google prioritizes useful, high-quality content and increasingly encounters thin, generic content that doesn’t appear to be written by people for people.
With SGEs, think of the natural flow of conversation between the searcher and Google’s AI. How can you better meet the needs of searchers and make it clear to Google that your blog or article is the best choice for relevant searches?
Consider the following:
Pay attention to the blog/article structure
- Use subheadings to break up blocks of text, highlight important questions and information, and help readers scan the information.
- Make sure the content of each section delivers what the subheading promises.
- Review your content library to identify good candidates for updating and optimizing for SGEs. Look for ways to add structure to your existing posts and make questions and answers more prominent.
Use natural language
- Understand your audience’s needs, questions and preferences and address them in a conversational tone. Use language that resonates with your readers and makes them feel like they’re having a one-to-one conversation.
- Incorporate long-tail keywords naturally into your content to ensure they fit seamlessly into the context.
- Always write for people first, then optimize for search.
Schema.org provides the schema for content types such as articles, recipes, events, reviews, and more. Review your content carefully to identify key elements to emphasize, such as: B. Article title, author, date, images and all relevant details. Then select the appropriate schema types that match your content.
While manually adding schema markup to the HTML is an option, structured data markup tools can simplify the process and help ensure accuracy.
Schema has become critical with the advent of Generative AI and Google’s Search Generative Experiences. Across all industry categories, we’ve seen a four times greater presence of schema tags in top positions at BrightEdge this year than in 2022. As marketers plan for the early holiday season in e-commerce, there is a big focus on images and product schema – a relationship trend , which we commonly see as brands prepare for search generative experiences. They also ensure that important organizational and company information such as locations, social media accounts, and third-party ratings are tagged.
Use Google’s rich search results test and schema markup validator to see which content schema might trigger rich search results.
The move to search-generated experiences is designed, in part, to help searchers find accurate and helpful local business information. To that end, Google began sourcing reviews and photos from Google Business Profiles in June. This ties your local SEO strategy more closely to the organic strategy, as the information in business profiles provides the opportunity to appear higher and more frequently in conversation query results.
How can you use this to your advantage? Do the following:
Add more high-quality photos and videos
- Bring in a professional photographer to brush up on your photos and make sure they’re optimized with meaningful filenames.
- Periodically add photos and videos of your company’s interior and exterior, products/services, employees, events and more so Google will recognize that the profile contains new content.
- Create a process to remove outdated photos and videos to keep content relevant and of high quality.
Improve review management
- Respond promptly to all local reviews, whether positive or negative.
- Use email or SMS to follow up on purchases and store visits, weed out negative experiences, and encourage reviews. Ask questions in post-transaction surveys to encourage more meaningful and keyword-rich answers.
- Make sure the company name, address and phone number are correct.
- Note that Google may change contact information on business profiles based on user suggestions, other results across the web, information provided by data aggregators, and more. Use software to monitor and prevent bad experiences from outdated business data.
You might be wondering what chatbots have to do with ranking in search-generated experiences. Finally, customer chats are not indexed in Google search results. However, existing chatbots and messaging content can have a greater impact in an SGE world, including:
Investigate chatbot insights
When people interact with your chatbot, AI technology directs them to your content resources to answer questions and find more information:
- What are the most common questions people ask your chatbots?
- What keywords do people use in chatbot interactions?
- How can you integrate these possibilities into your content?
Check out the replies on Google Messaging
Google allows businesses to set up autoresponders for frequently asked questions submitted via Google Business Profile Messaging.
- Rate the questions asked as they may also show up in conversation searches. Do you have accurate and up-to-date content to answer these questions, or is it time to refresh your content?
- Rate the page performance of the shared URLs to answer the FAQs and instant messages. Which pages resonated and led to conversions? How can you better optimize these pages for conversion?
Expand your library with educational content
- Search your knowledge base for ways to turn text content into video or images to populate chatbot and messaging responses.
- In addition to keyword research, explore the live SERPs to see what types of content Google might prefer for specific searches. Do you have content that you want to appear there? If not, here is your chance.
Have a great experience
Search becomes more of a conversation than a transaction, expanding potential touchpoints throughout the audience journey. As Google search increases the role of AI, and especially generative AI, in delivering better results, marketers should explore the new opportunities. You can then plan and implement a strategic content strategy that meets the evolving needs and expectations of the searcher.
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Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute