Generative AI has swept across the digital landscape. According to Insider Intelligence, the growth has surpassed the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets in record time. By 2025, over half of the Gen Z and millennial cohorts in the United States will be devout monthly users of generative AI.
There are numerous reasons why major corporations are steering their course toward an AI-centric future. The titans of tech, including Google, Bing, Adobe, Meta, and Apple, are fully on board with the AI revolution. Their flagship products are transforming, blending with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
But what are the implications, and how can other businesses undergo similar transformations to remain competitive?
It makes sense to explore the latest frontier with Google’s newly launched Search Generative Experience feature. Using this and other examples, let’s get a glimpse of the future of online visibility.
SGE by Google: Overview
In May 2023, Google unveiled its new AI-powered search feature, Search Generative Experience—SGE—yet available exclusively to Google Search Labs users in the US. It’s operable only in English and uses a substantial language model for content and query functions.
The key features of SGE include:
- Enhanced search capabilities—SGE allows users to pose more complex and detailed questions. Then, they can receive personalized answers without multiple clicks or additional queries.
- Interactive search results page—Each SERP will now present a cluster of pertinent information and links in an interactive summary referred to as a “snapshot.” This may replace Google’s current “featured snippet.”
- Conversational interaction—Users can engage in conversational-style follow-up questions and generate text interactions. Interactions will be similar to AI-chatbots like ChatGPT.
From “Content Created by People for People” to “Helpful Content for People”
Let’s say a user wants to search for your product on Google. In the past, they might have seen content created by individuals, which reflected a more subjective and varied landscape.
Now, with SGE, the top of their search results page will showcase a snapshot. It will offer an organized view of product options, complete with links and helpful details, like key considerations. The more specific the customer’s search query, the more personalized and targeted the snapshot becomes.
Why Is Google Finally Embracing AI?
Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, is shifting his perspective. Previously, there was a documented lack of interest in AI, with neglect towards early developments in Google’s Brain division. The success of ChatGPT seems to be a catalyst. And Brin, who initially downplayed AI, is now catching up with the latest advancements and recognizing its significance.
Given the current trends, it looks like Google’s future is closely tied to AI, especially when it comes to search. Rather than going for flashy chatbots or a ChatGPT-style interface, Google is emphasizing AI in its search results, the prime real estate on the internet. Brin’s hands-on role in this decision has earned praise from experts and analysts.
An opt-in box at the top of the search results might seem minor compared to other AI-driven redesigns like Microsoft’s Bing or ChatGPT. Still, Google’s SGE signifies a meaningful shift in how billions access information online. Consider it an initial step in a holistic reconsideration of Google’s strategy.
Answering the User’s Need
Even though many searches are handled efficiently, there’s a category of complex queries that has proven challenging for Google. Questions like “Where should I go in [insert city] next week?” or “What’s the best restaurant in [insert city]?” pose challenges with no single, definitive answer.
In recognizing this gap, Google is turning to AI. The bottleneck, as Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP at Google overseeing Search, identifies, is in the orchestration of complex structures within these intricate questions. Sure, there is relevant data existing across the internet. But compiling it into a coherent response is a formidable task. People seek more than factual information—they want personalized ideas and exploration.
Traditional search methods rely on specific pages with information. That is why they fall short when dealing with queries like planning a vacation for a family with specific preferences. In these cases, links, podcasts, and TikToks offer limited assistance.
The answer is large language models trained on lots of internet data, which can do multiple searches at once and turn the scattered information into short, clear responses. Users will no longer have to break down their questions into multiple parts.
What Generative AI Means for User Experience
With generative AI, as demonstrated by SGE, users can find answers more comfortably, the information they seek is presented directly, and many searches may begin and end within Google’s domain.
Imagine an e-commerce business looking for a software development partner to enhance its online platform. Instead of a broad query like “top custom software development companies,” the user can now input specific details — “best custom software development firms specializing in creating user-friendly mobile applications for an e-commerce site selling fashion accessories in Spain and France.”
The resulting snapshot will offer a detailed overview tailored precisely to the user’s unique requirements. For users, the update enriches the precision and depth of the search experience.
Questions and Challenges on the Business Side
Businesses understand that it’s crucial to show expertise and highlight what makes them unique when communicating with customers. However, there’s a big question mark about how SGE will figure out which websites are the most relevant and trustworthy. This uncertainty is especially worrying for business owners who depend on Google for getting traffic and customers.
It’s possible that AI-generated low-quality content could flood the internet, which will ultimately make it harder for customers and companies to connect effectively. Since SGE is still in the early testing phase, it’s tough to predict exactly how it will affect businesses. Google says that Search Ads will continue to work the same way, appearing separately in the user interface.
But this leaves businesses with new questions: How can they make sure people keep finding their content? How will SGE change how Google ranks websites? And most importantly, what strategies should businesses use to make the most of this new search approach?
Let’s do our best to clear up these uncertainties.
How Can SGE and Other Google Search Changes Affect Your Website Traffic?
In SEO, getting those top organic listings, known as the “blue listings” at the top of a search page, used to be like striking gold for specialists. However, this prime position has been gradually shrinking over time. First, there were more paid listings, then came featured snippets, and now, the arrival of SGE.
SGE is set to provide users with more comprehensive information directly within Google’s domain. Consequently, this trend is likely to lead to a reduction in organic traffic for most other domains. Websites that rank high for queries now directly answered on the SERP are likely to experience a more noticeable decline in their organic traffic.
However, there is an opportunity for businesses to adapt by optimizing their content for the unique searching methods within SGE (we’ll touch on that a bit later in more detail).
Generative AI Software Market State
Generative AI isn’t the enemy. In fact, many companies, not just Google, are making great strides with it. Jonathan Gillham, CEO of Originality.AI, pointed out that even companies publicly saying no to generative AI have internal groups looking into how to use it.
The market has seen rapid development in the span of a year. For example, just four months after the introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022, OpenAI launched GPT-4, a new large language model with major enhancements.
Anthropic’s generative AI, Claude, showcased notable progress by processing 100,000 tokens of text in a minute in May 2023.
Google also contributed to this swift evolution with SGE, and PaLM 2, a large language model for its Bard chatbot and other products.
The impact of generative AI depends on factors like business functions and industry revenue.
Most industries will benefit in marketing and sales, but high-tech industry will see even greater effects, especially in accelerating software development.
Pavlo Yalovol, VP of Innovation at Intetics, talked about the essential role of AI-powered coding assistants in shaping the future of the software industry. These assistants bring impressive capabilities, simplifying engineers’ tasks, but unlocking their full potential will require expertise and experience. To remain competitive, Yalovol suggests embracing AI and learning to integrate it into daily work. This principle extends beyond software development, of course.
Shall we see some specific examples of companies investing in AI and integrating AI features into their existing products?
In April, the widely used e-commerce platform Shopify introduced an AI tool that lets businesses generate product descriptions using keywords. This means that soon, online shoppers might come across computer-generated text and images without clear signs of AI involvement. This is made possible with Shopify Magic, artificial intelligence tools designed for commerce.
Shopify is planning to do more with its AI tool in the coming year.
There are examples of AI integration not only in customer-facing applications but also in optimizing internal processes.
Walmart has launched an internal tool called My Assistant for its 50,000 corporate employees. According to company management, the tool serves to streamline repetitive tasks, foster creative thinking, and ultimately enhance productivity. In the future, they want to increase My Assistant’s role in the orientation process for new employees.
McKinsey, PwC, and EY
Leading consulting giants McKinsey, PwC, and EY are embracing generative AI through internal, proprietary initiatives. PwC, for instance, unveiled a Generative AI factory and ChatPwC in August. These products use OpenAI technology to assist employees with tax queries and regulations as part of a $1 billion investment in AI capability scaling.
In a similar move, McKinsey launched Lilli—a generative AI solution for employees. This system aggregates the firm’s extensive knowledge, scans data for relevance, and provides summaries along with expert insights. Jacky Wright, McKinsey’s senior partner and chief technology and platform officer, highlighted how this is improving the way the firm accesses and utilizes its wealth of knowledge.
EY is making a $1.4 billion investment in generative AI technology with EY.ai EYQ. This is an in-house large language model that will provide AI training for employees. Once again, this shows how the consulting industry is strategically using generative AI to improve internal processes and enhance knowledge.
How to Stay Competitive: Visibility in the Generative AI Era
Let’s shift back to digital visibility and what are ways to leverage generative AI to positively influence your business’s online presence.
Elevating Online Presence through Quality Content and Domain Authority
The expected decline in click-through rates for top-ranking SERP pages will require businesses to adjust their strategies. The key measure here is the establishment of domain authority, which will ensure content visibility within the SGE snapshot or as a linked resource.
Building domain authority involves a strategic focus on acquiring backlinks and creating high-quality, value-added content. Businesses should move away from the conventional approach of providing snippet-style responses. Generating comprehensive, in-depth content that aligns with user queries will work better.
Creating quality content and building authority has always been good for visibility and engagement. Now, it’s even more crucial. To be featured in the SGE snapshot, authority matters as much as (or more) than content relevance.
Strategic Content Clustering
To better align with SGE’s preferences, consider organizing your content into clusters, where each delves into specific topics and subtopics. In the past, businesses may have opted for a broad “ultimate guide” format for every post because comprehensive coverage was the norm. Now, you may want to opt for interconnected clusters that explore aspects in greater detail.
This strategy ensures your content addresses specific questions, which makes it more meaningful to SGE’s search algorithms. That said, these content clusters should address a diverse array of topics. It’s better to avoid pigeonholing your website into a single theme to accommodate highly specific lines of questioning while catering to a multitude of different search journeys.
Creating Engaging Content
It’s advisable to enhance how users engage with your content because, again, this can impact its visibility in the SGE snapshot. Consider presenting information in various formats, such as infographics and videos alongside traditional text. Another way is to effectively interlink your content and encourage users to explore more, which will only enhance cluster content strategies.
Additionally, your website’s core web vitals need to be in check to offer a smooth and engaging user experience. Most importantly, businesses will need to optimize load speed, especially for mobile users. Otherwise, they won’t be able to meet the technical criteria for better visibility in AI-driven searches.
Optimizing for Authentic Interactions
Optimizing for SGE also means shifting towards more authentic and interactive content. One of the easier ways to do this is to avoid basic keywords. Targeting longer, more detailed keywords, i.e., long-tail keywords, to capture the nuances of deeper topic searches will work better.
One of the harder ways is anticipating the questions and follow-up queries users might pose. To achieve this, content should be structured to mimic a dialogue so that it will engage users in a conversational manner.
Adding relatable examples to your content helps create a more conversational tone, and it connects with your audience in a natural and interactive way. On the one hand, it enhances the overall feel of the content; on the other, it helps businesses incorporate relevant keywords in a more meaningful way.
As a business in the AI age, you have two main roles: adapt to changes brought by platforms like Google’s search algorithms and take an active stance by integrating AI into your operations. It’s not a choice between an active or passive role. It’s a dual strategy — adjusting to external AI-driven shifts while leveraging AI as a transformative force within your organization.
Whether you’re more focused on responding or integrating, the decisions you make now will define how your business navigates the dynamic digital terrain.
Looking to develop a bespoke AI-powered solution or seeking to integrate cutting-edge AI/ML functionalities into your product? Whatever the nature of your needs, turn to Intetics to fulfil expertise in navigating the complexities of artificial intelligence. Let’s explore innovative possibilities together.