About the Author

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Content Manager at 

Sven Nossek is a Content Manager at UnitedAds, overseeing all aspects of content creation: from research and briefings to content plans and the final text. He has been involved with content management, SEO, content marketing, and artificial intelligence in marketing and content areas since 2019.

In addition to German, he speaks English, is learning Swedish, and knows a few words in Spanish. In his free time, he reads fantasy, science fiction, and historical novels, writes himself, cooks, and can be found at medieval markets where he combines his passion for history and archaeology with another hobby: brewing exquisite mead from regional ingredients.

Google’s Search Generative Experience, or SGE for short, is a combination of the search engine with a generative AI. This innovative technology, which is currently (as of January 2024) only available to a limited extent via Google Labs, has the potential to permanently change web search as we know it.

As there are always new tests, studies and findings, we want to shed light on the current status from an SEO perspective in this article.

For example, a study was recently published by Authoritas that deals with the current version of the SBU preview version.

We will continue to add to and update this article as new studies and findings become available. So it’s worth taking a look again and again.

Google SGE

Google’s SGE: More than just a search engine

SGE, an advanced, AI-based search interface, aims to fundamentally change the way people interact with online information.

Instead of relying solely on keyword results, SGE uses generative artificial intelligence to respond to queries with rich, personalized answers.

These answers, which are displayed in a comprehensive results box above the previously known search results, offer users an efficient and intuitive way to discover information and clarify questions.

However, the SBU results display also means that both organic and paid search results lose visibility as they slide down.

For companies and entrepreneurs present in the digital space, this signals a potential turning point. The way users search for and interact with information is changing, bringing new challenges and opportunities for online presence and visibility.

SGE is therefore not only a technological innovation, but also an impetus for strategic considerations in digital marketing and search engine optimization.

The key findings from the SBU study by Authoritas

recently published study by Authoritas
has revealed some interesting findings that are of great importance to SEO experts and digital marketers.

A key finding is that 94% of the links presented by SBU are different from traditional organic search results. This shift signals a profound change in the way Google indexes and presents content. It is particularly noteworthy that SGE provides answers that often come from a wider range of sources, which increases the diversity of the content presented.

For companies and website operators, this means a possible realignment of their SEO strategies in order to remain visible in this new environment.

At this point, we must mention that other studies on SBU also found different results – in these, significantly more links corresponded to the organic results.

Another result of the study, which is also being discussed intensively in social media and industry blogs, is the finding that 87% of all search queries return an SBU result. That sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t mean that the SBU box will appear immediately in all these cases.

For the study, “automatic” and “manual” SBU boxes were recorded together. For automatic generative results, Google automatically displays the AI results box. For manual results, there is only a link or button above the search results to generate this box. SBU results appear automatically in just under 35% of cases.

The study also emphasizes that SGE influences the placement of organic search results by pushing them down. We will go into this in more detail in a moment.

The findings suggest that SEO tactics will need to be adapted in order to be successful in a search environment dominated by artificial intelligence.

New SEO challenges: Ranking and traffic changes

One of the main effects of SGE is the shift in the placement of websites in search results.

According to the study, SGE shifts organic entries down by an average of 1,500 pixels. This shift results from the fact that the content generated by SBU is displayed above the traditional organic search results.

This has a potentially drastic impact on the visibility of web pages, as the first organic listing now appears further down the page, making it less likely that users will see and click on this content.

As a result, this could lead to a significant drop in click-through rates and organic traffic for many websites. This could pose a significant challenge, especially for websites that were previously heavily dependent on high rankings in organic search results.

It is therefore of great importance for website operators and SEO specialists to adapt their strategies to mitigate the effects of this new search dynamic and continue to reach users effectively.

Is SGE perhaps not coming at all?

On January 17, 2024, Google introduced two new features for Google Search (initially only in the USA, as is usually the case with new features): Circle to Search and AI Multisearch. Both allow you to extend the search based on images: Circle to Search performs a search for a selected part of the image. Multisearch makes it possible to link screenshots or other images to a question.

The release of these new features was accompanied by a blog post that led to speculation. This post mentioned that SGE remains available in Google Labs as a test environment for AI-powered search features.

This can also be interpreted to mean that Google does not intend to ever publish SGE properly, but to use it as a“perpetual test environment” for features. But is that really the case?

My personal opinion is that there is no real evidence for this interpretation. In their
blog article on SGE
Google praises generative search as the next really big milestone in web search. That doesn’t sound like something that should never appear. However, Google has (in my opinion deliberately) never announced a clear release date. In fact, Google has not promised anywhere that SGE will see a release at all.

But there is a good reason for this. Google is still the market leader in web search and naturally has no interest in giving up this position. However, a hasty, radical change to search could well jeopardize this position. The above-mentioned study by Authoritas on the impact of SBU on the SERP has made a lot of waves in SEO and marketing circles.

I think that Google is planning for the long term when it comes to SGE. We can certainly expect individual features that are already working well in the short and medium term. However, I suspect that the “big” rollout of generative search will only take place once the tool is fully developed and extensively tested. Even more: if the feedback shows that users are satisfied with it and use it intensively. And finally, when it is certain that factors such as ad revenues and market position are not jeopardized by the new function.

Will SGE really appear? I think: Yes. It will. But maybe it will take a while yet. It is very likely that individual components will be added bit by bit as the features mature. There may never be that one day when Google says “here it is”, but a slow, piecemeal rollout. This would have the advantage for us in marketing that we could react to individual features and adapt our work. The advantage for users would be that the search would not change completely overnight.

Digital marketing agencies: adapting to an SBU world

At a time when Google’s SBU is potentially reshaping the SEO landscape, the role of a savvy digital marketing agency is becoming increasingly important.

These agencies are at the center of adapting to the dynamic changes that SBU brings with it. An experienced agency can be crucial in helping to recalibrate SEO strategies so that companies remain visible in search results despite the shifts.

Agencies use their expertise to optimize content, improve the user experience and integrate the latest technologies to meet changing requirements. They can also provide valuable insights into the use of SBU-specific features to strengthen their customers’ online presence.

For companies that want to be successful in this new environment, it is crucial to work with an agency that not only acts reactively, but also proactively develops strategies to make the most of the opportunities created by SBU.

In our article “
Prepared for the future: SEO strategies for the Google Search Generative Experience
” we have already provided comprehensive insights into this topic, which can serve as a supplementary resource.

Strategic SEO adjustments in the SBU context

  • 1

    E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness): Make sure your content is written by experts and comes across as trustworthy and authoritative. This increases the credibility and trust of users in your website.

  • 2

    Understanding the needs of your target group: Create content that is not relevant for search engines, but above all for people. Analyze user requests and industry trends to provide target group-specific and valuable content. Although this is nothing new, it is becoming even more important than ever in times of conversational search.

  • 3

    Integration of AI and machine learning: Use AI-based tools to optimize your content and achieve more relevant results. AI systems can help to identify content gaps and continuously improve the quality of content.

  • 4

    Optimization for voice search: Customize your content to optimize it for voice-activated search queries. Use the question-and-answer format and concise information. This form of content is not only better understood by voice assistants, but also by the SBU AI and similar models.

  • 5

    Structured data and schema markup: The use of structured data such as Schema.org markup helps search engines and AIs to understand content and place it in the right context. This increases the chance of being played in SBU results.

  • 6

    Content depth: Create in-depth articles that provide comprehensive answers to user queries and offer added value. Of course, this applies regardless of the Search Generative Experience! But while content with low added value still has a certain chance of performing well in conventional search, this is no longer likely in AI-driven search.

  • 7

    Mobile-First Indexing: Prioritize the mobile usability of your website as mobile search queries increasingly dominate. This only plays an indirect role for SGE, but since most requests come via mobile devices, it is important that your website is also displayed correctly on these devices.

  • 8

    Semantic Search: Optimize for semantic search by using synonyms and related terms in your content and structuring them in an understandable way.

  • 9

    Rich content formats: Don’t just rely on text, use different content formats to communicate your information. Images and videos are displayed prominently in SGE results and can significantly increase your visibility.

  • 10

    Keeping product feeds up to date: SGE is a real opportunity for eCommerce websites. The preview version shows that products – with correct labeling – can be displayed prominently and in large numbers. It is important that the data is clearly recognizable for the AI.

Search Generative Experience: An innovation in the beta phase

The Search Generative Experience, currently available in Google Labs, is a typical example of a product in the test phase. We could also speak of a beta version here.

A beta version is a preliminary version of a tool that is used for testing and collecting user feedback. It is important to understand that the functions and appearance of a beta version are not yet final and may change considerably before the final release.

For companies and SEO experts, this means that the current form (as of January 2024) of SGE only offers a preliminary insight and does not necessarily reflect the final version. Future developments could fundamentally change the technical aspects and the user experience of SGE.

It is therefore crucial to remain flexible and keep a close eye on the developments surrounding SGE in order to be prepared for any changes in the final version.

This is also the reason why many tips for preparing for the Search Generative Experience are formulated quite vaguely: Before the product is finalized, it is unfortunately only possible to give very limited concrete advice on how to handle it correctly.

Focus on the future: The next steps in digital marketing

The constant evolution of digital marketing is unstoppable, and SBU is just one example of how technology can change the rules of the game. But what can we expect in the future?

Experts predict that the role of artificial intelligence in digital marketing will continue to grow, which will have a lasting impact not only on search engine optimization, but also on content creation, user experience and data analysis. Increasingly powerful algorithms and AI tools are also getting better and better at distinguishing good content from bad. Shortcuts and tricks will no longer work – and are not sustainable either.

Companies should be prepared for the fact that the requirements for personalized and interactive user experiences will continue to increase. This requires continuous monitoring of industry trends and flexible adaptation of marketing strategies.

In order to be prepared for the future, it is crucial to keep a close eye on current developments.

Industry experts and online marketing specialists are your best allies. Not only do they offer valuable insights into the latest trends, but they can also develop customized strategies to keep your company on the right track.

Working with an experienced digital marketing agency or an experienced freelancer can be invaluable here. Experts not only have the necessary expertise to interpret and implement the latest trends, but also provide the necessary support to close any knowledge or capacity gaps in internal marketing teams.

This enables companies to ensure that they can react to changes in the short term as well as develop long-term strategies to consolidate their online presence.

This enables them not only to meet current requirements, but also to make the most of future opportunities.

At a time when the digital landscape is evolving rapidly, having a solid partner by your side is more than just an investment – it’s a crucial building block for long-term success in digital marketing.

Final thoughts: Next steps in the SGE era

In summary, the introduction of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) has the potential to fundamentally change digital marketing and search engine optimization.

This technology offers new opportunities, but also requires proven strategies to be adapted. Here are three specific recommendations for action that can help marketing decision-makers in companies:

  • 1

    Stay up to date: The world of digital marketing is constantly evolving. It is therefore crucial to keep a close eye on the latest trends and developments. Subscribe to industry blogs, attend webinars and exchange ideas with experts to ensure you always have the latest knowledge.

  • 2

    Invest in expertise: SBU and other technologies require specialized knowledge. Consider working with an experienced digital marketing agency or freelancer as an investment in the success of your company. These experts can develop customized strategies and ensure that your company remains visible in the digital world.

  • 3

    Optimize your content: High-quality, relevant and natural language content is becoming increasingly important. Make sure that your website offers content that is tailored to the needs of your target group. Use AI-supported tools for optimization and pay attention to structured data to increase your visibility.

By implementing these steps, you can ensure that your company is best prepared to effectively take advantage of the challenges and opportunities that SBU and similar developments bring.

Remember that proactive adjustments and constant development are key elements for success in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.

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