The rise of ChatGPT and other LLMs (large language models) came with a bunch of chatter about what these new developments would mean for search engines.
Industry pros were speculating that people would begin searching for information through ChatGPT because, unlike Google, they could get one answer neatly summarised.
Google, as it so often does, quickly retaliated. Its answer? Search Generative Experience (SGE) ✅
The latest addition to Google was announced back in May. At the time, it was announced that Google would be introducing a new feature that would do the same as ChatGPT — provide a neatly summarised answer based off of a breadth of sources, using generative AI.
Of course, Google’s new model came with its own competitive edge — where ChatGPT’s data was only as current as the interest in 2021, Google would obviously still have access to all of the world’s information.
As well as this, Google’s history demonstrates its commitment to accurate information. ChatGPT’s history, on the other hand, doesn’t quite stand up the same.
This announcement came with some pushback, though. See, in the first iteration of Search Generative Experience, there were no sources.
This meant that all of our content marketing efforts and the SEO industry’s obsession with authoritative content (thanks to Google) could potentially be wasted.
And, importantly, thought leaders and other clever people writing content on the internet wouldn’t get the credit they deserved.
Luckily for all of our blog writing efforts — and SEO agencies like us — Google later announced that the links to its referenced content would be included.
“We know that people want to hear insights from others to help inform their decisions,” the search engine giant said.
“So we’ve designed these new experiences to highlight and drive attention to content on the web, making it easy for people to dive deeper on the topic they’re learning about.”
So, what is Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) going to look like, how is it going to work, and what does it mean for your SEO strategy?
Let’s dive in 👇
SGE is Google’s answer to ChatGPT. It’s a search function that uses AI to crawl different websites and collates the information to craft the perfect answer for you.
We said it up above but in case you’re skimming (we can’t blame you), the new Google tool was initially released as a platform that wouldn’t provide links or sources.
Industry professionals weren’t stoked with that aspect. Many online content creators work hard to develop unique content with valuable perspectives — so the idea that their ideas could be shared without credit was understandably frustrating.
News corporations in particular began questioning the ethics of this kind of model, with discussions around copyright, credit, and the potentially devastating effects this could have on online journalism.
They’ve now updated this and have shared that they will be providing links to credit the sources they use in these answers.
Now the question has become what the user journey will look like. Will getting these links lead to a real click-through jump for these websites?
We hope so, but of course, only time will tell ⌛️
Search Labs — a program that allows users to experiment with new Google Search experiences in their early stages, is only available in the United States. So, we haven’t had the chance to play around with the technology just yet.
We expect to see this move into other international markets soon, though.
What does Search Generative Experience mean for your SEO strategy? ♟
Well, we don’t really know just yet. What we do know is that content quality (as always) is going to be so, so important.
There’s set to be even less digital real estate to fight for. Where featured snippets used to be the gold standard for ranking, it’ll soon become these SGE responses.
Quick tangent: what do we mean by digital real estate? If you search a query in Google and look at the page, you’ll see a bunch of opportunities for your website to be presented. It goes beyond the 10 or so listings on the page.
Could SGE mean users will spend less time poking around in these different features? Maybe.
The other side of things is that the industry is currently bracing for an AI content bloat 🍞
ChatGPT has been around for a minute now, and as a result, businesses and even media outlets have been using the AI model to pump out content.
Content is making its way online like never before, and so, naturally, Google is getting a bit suss. Is the content accurate? Is it topical and relevant? Does it have a unique perspective? Most importantly, is it good?
It’s always been the case with SEO and Google, but now, like never before, the way you write will be really important.
Let’s get semantic for a minute. Semantic SEO should guide how you write ✍🏻
The world of keywords and how Google understands them have come leaps and bounds since its inception.
Can you believe there was a time when dropping lists of keywords on a website with no navigation actually worked?
Since then, there’s been incremental progression. There was a time when we needed to include keywords verbatim, like “Italian restaurant Brisbane’.
Then we progressed to ‘Italian restaurant in Brisbane’, being acceptable. It didn’t need to be verbatim, but those words did need to be close together.
Today? Google focuses on grouping keywords under topics. If you’ve heard of topical authority, where a website uses content to become an authority on a topic and helps search engines understand the topic as a result — this is a large part of where that can come into play.
No longer do we map content to a singular keyword. If you’re an existing client of ours, you might notice your pages and content are created based off of a set of keywords — incorporating primary and secondary keywords.
Search engines are getting smarter, and they’re now able to understand that a cluster of keywords can all relate to one topic.
It’s becoming more and more about the concept and topic and how the keywords relate to it, rather than how the keywords relate to each other.
How to write content for semantic SEO 🕸
Make it topical. You want to be leading the conversation 💬
Look, not every piece of content you create is going to be groundbreaking. We know the concept of ‘thought leadership’ is one that intimidates business owners.
The fact is that you are an expert in your field. You do have unique experiences and thoughts that relate to the services you deliver or the products you sell.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry through high-quality content can only serve to benefit you.
How to use content to position yourself as a thought leader 💭
How it comes together 👩🍳
Well, it’s still early, but from what we know so far, Search Generative Experience loves semantic SEO.
It’s this kind of optimisation that’s really enabling the function that allows Google to create these rich, specific answers to the most niche of questions.
That’s why it’s becoming so important to cover a topic in full, rather than a singular keyword.
We’re still waiting for SGE to roll out in Australia, but positioning yourself as a thought leader in your market now is as important as ever.
There’s going to be a limited number of seats in the SGE space, and who thrives (and who doesn’t) in this environment is going to be really dependent on that thought leadership piece.
A note on blocking ChatGPT 📝
You might’ve heard that businesses and news websites are now using robots.txt to block ChatGPT from crawling their websites. Doing this stops ChatGPT from using your website’s content in its results. An important thing to note is that we don’t yet know if blocking AI robots will impact your ability to show up on Search Generative Experience.
If you’re on the fence about whether you need to block the robots and are worried about your content being plagiarised, there’s no need to stress. Just like content that’s duplicated on Google, websites will be penalised for content that’s used AI LLMs too heavily (essentially, if the content is ripped off).
Excite Media is all over it like a splotch.
We’re always working hard to produce better and better content, both for our own website and for our clients.
When it comes to SGE, semantic SEO, and the content we produce in light of it, you can trust Excite Media is all over it.