On May 10, 2023, during its I/O conference, Google announced several changes and new features, including:
- the launch of a Pixel Tablet;
- the massive arrival of Bard – its answer to ChatGPT – in different services (Workspace, Search), and its immediate availability in 180 countries;
- The new version of the SGE ( Search Generative Experience ) online search.
And it is precisely this SGE that interests us today. Indeed, it is based on artificial intelligence (AI) and promises a unique research experience. Available in 7 languages (English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, for example), it has been tested for several months in 120 countries, including the United States.
On the other hand, it has not yet been deployed in the European Union, perhaps due to current regulations on the protection of personal data. But it won’t be long. The SGE will likely be accessible to European Internet users in 2024, and this will not be without consequences:
- their research experience;
- natural referencing (SEO) of sites.
This is why it is essential to prepare now. This implies a good understanding of the EMS, its functionalities and the future changes that it may cause to the visibility and traffic of websites.
What Is Search Generative Experience? The New Google Technology Based On AI
The Search Generative Experience, or SGE, was developed by Google to make online searches more intelligent, interactive, and faster. To do this, the web giant has relied on a technology that has become essential: AI. The principle is simple :
- an Internet user searches in Google;
- The engine offers, in addition to the natural (SEO) and sponsored (SEA) results to which we are all accustomed, results generated by AI.
Unlike other results, those offered by the AI do not require clicking on links. The answer to an Internet user’s search is displayed directly at the top of the page, in an insert with a coloured background, thus ensuring excellent visibility.
If this answer is not satisfactory, it is possible to request more information from Google. In other words, the search engine becomes a conversational engine. This is, therefore, a significant development since with SGE, Internet users obtain precise information:
- Who responds to their requests;
- Which are displayed directly in Google.
They can also interact with AI to benefit from even more complete and personalized responses. All without necessarily needing to click on links and, therefore, consult websites.
New Features Recently Added By Google
Since its May 2023 conference, Google has equipped SGE search with new features, which make it even more efficient. Here are a few.
The snapshot designates the mode of displaying the responses generated by the AI. This is a coloured insert that appears at the top of the results page. It consists of a textual response, visuals and links to sites used by the AI to respond to the Internet user.
Customer reviews may also appear. Between its location, its colorful background and its size, it’s complicated to miss the snapshot. This is undoubtedly the goal sought by Google.
The Appearance Of Definitions In Search Results
Since August 2023, the definitions of certain words have been displayed in SGE answers. This functionality appears in particular in the case of terms linked to science, economics, health or history, for example. The definition is displayed when you hover over the word with the cursor. Once again, there is no need to click on a link to get an answer…
Improving Google Translate
With AGE, Google’s translation tool gains performance. When a sentence to be translated contains a word that can have several meanings, click on this word to obtain several suggestions and choose the appropriate definition. It is also possible to indicate your gender (masculine, feminine, neutral). The translation is, therefore, more precise and better adapted to a context.
SGE now integrates the carousel format, as we know it, for establishment descriptions (restaurants, for example). It has three thumbnails with photos located next to the text. On the other hand, on the SGE carousel, the links are not currently directly visible.
With AGE, Internet users can chat with Google and ask questions from the search results page. To do this, click on the “Ask a follow-up” button, which is placed at the bottom of the snapshot under the text response. Thanks to AI, Google can provide answers taking into account the context and information previously indicated. Let’s take an example. An Internet user first asks for the recipe for chocolate cake.
Then, he adds that he wants a vegan recipe using “Ask a follow-up”. Google, based on the first query, completes its search results by displaying those mentioning “vegan” recipes without the Internet user having to type the new question “vegan chocolate cake recipe”. Next to this button, the most frequently asked questions asked by other Internet users who have made identical requests are also mentioned.
This list is incomplete because Google regularly updates the beta version of the SGE. But it gives a glimpse of the possibilities of this new research experiment. Likewise, we are still determining if these functionalities will be definitively integrated into the SGE or if they will remain experiments.
We also need to find out if they will be offered to European users when the SGE is deployed in the European Union.
How To Access The Beta Version Of The SGE In France?
As we previously mentioned, SGE is yet to be available to European internet users. However, it is possible to access it in France by modifying a few parameters. The method is done in a few steps and was well summarized by the Journal du Net. It’s necessary :
- Create a new Google Chrome profile with a gmail.com address;
- Change Google Chrome settings to English as the primary language;
- Connect to a server in the United States using a VPN;
- Locate in the United States after checking that the Google Chrome interface is displayed in English (type a word in the search bar);
- Join the Google Labs waitlist to test the AGE beta. When access is authorized, an email is sent, which allows AGE to be activated in Google Chrome.
What Impact Does AGE Have On Natural Referencing?
For the moment, as we have mentioned, the SGE is not available in France. However, several SEO (or natural referencing) experts have been able to test it and consider its consequences on the visibility and traffic of websites.
These are certainly hypotheses, but they give us an idea of the impact of EMS on SEO, which could be similar to that of Google’s algorithm updates in 2011 (Panda) and 2012 (Penguin). Three consequences can be mentioned for SEO if the deployment of the SHE takes place in 2024.
A Drop In Traffic
The first foreseeable impact of the SGE, which we briefly mentioned in a previous paragraph, is the drop in website traffic. The reason is simple: the responses proposed by the AI in the snapshots are displayed at the top of the page.
They are, therefore, above the organic (or natural) results, which are positioned lower. They lose visibility, which generally results in a drop in clicks and traffic.
This thus promotes an already existing phenomenon, “zero-click”, because the AI snapshots provide Internet users with several pieces of information, both textual and visual, which they can complete and clarify.
Therefore, the first results displayed in these snapshots may be enough for them to obtain answers to their questions and their research. They will, therefore, not click on the sites located below, which the SGE does not highlight.
Less Keyword Research
SGE also risks impacting keyword search volume. With the “Ask a follow up” functionality or the ability to interact with Google’s AI, Internet users no longer need to type keywords in the search bar for their additional queries. Likewise, if the answer displayed on the first search satisfies an Internet user, he will be satisfied with it and will have no interest in continuing his search.
And, therefore, will not type other keywords. For a site, the priority will no longer be to be in the first three search results but to be visible in the carousel, which, as a reminder, only displays three sites in the thumbnails.
In addition, if Google transforms into a conversational engine, it will no longer rely solely on keywords to provide precise answers to Internet users. The search will, therefore, evolve to become semantic, integrating the intention of an Internet user, the context of their query, and the links between the keywords initially typed.
In SEO, this means that the content of a site no longer has to work on a few keywords. Their semantic field must be developed to attract the attention of Google’s AI.
New Opportunities For E-Commerce Sites
The deployment of SHE would have positive effects on SEO. It could have some benefits for online commerce, improving the user experience. Integrating products, customer reviews, ratings, descriptions, photos, and snapshots can make people want to click on them.
They can also refine a search by asking Google other questions and quickly access products that better match their needs, thus purchasing them with just a few clicks.
Good SEO Reflexes To Adopt Now
The arrival of the SGE in the European Union has not yet been determined, nor has the end of the experimentation phase, nor has the final version been determined. The vagueness remains, and at present, at the end of 2023, we need to learn more about its future.
But based on the potential consequences of this new research experience on SEO*, we can consider some ideas to prepare for its (possible) arrival. Advice that we already give to our clients in our Power Trafic agency and which allows us to improve the positioning of a site in the SERPs, namely:
- Favor quality content, always unique and detailed;
- Work on long-tail keywords in addition to generic keywords, which make it possible to respond more precisely to Internet users’ queries;
- Ban copy-paste and focus on the originality of content, both in form and content;
- Write content directly addressing Internet users, using “you” rather than “we”, for example.
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