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84% of Searches on Google Will Be Impacted by the Company's AI-Powered Results, Says Expert

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BrightEdge, a leading AI-powered SEO platform for enterprises, recently released new research on the potential impact of Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) by industry. Based on its new BrightEdge Generative ParserTM technology, the company has been measuring and tracking patterns within AI-generated results as they happen daily.

I recently caught up with BrightEdge founder and executive chairman Jim Yu to learn more about the future of AI in search.

How do you see SGE affecting brands? 

SGE will affect brands in a multitude of ways and its potential impact should not be underestimated.

Overall, we estimate that SGE is poised to affect over $40 billion per year spent by companies on search ads. 

This is a conservative impact based on Google 2022 “Search and Other Revenue” of $162B and estimated average clicks on SGE of 38% across all industries. Our data predicts that healthcare, ecommerce, and B2B technology industries will be the most significantly impacted when SGE is broadly deployed by Google.

However, depending on your industry, and where Google is focusing its experimentation and creating new AI experiences, impact varies, and marketing strategies will differ.

We are seeing many cases where results that do not appear organically in the top 10 are used for SGE. This could bring a great advantage for brands that are struggling to appear for competitive results. However, in the long run, we expect Google will apply the same quality guidelines to SGE that they would regular web results. 

Ultimately, we will know more as the rollout happens. 

What's the big picture here of how SGE is going to impact search?

Google’s key focus is based on enhancing user experiences in SGE.

And, as AI becomes an intermediary between a company’s content and its users, a single response will replace the need for five separate queries. For example, in retail shopping we will see AI suggest an entire experience for shopping that reflects the most likely next steps of the buying journey via multiple channels and multiple media types. 

Will these new experiences have a big impact on search? Absolutely! We have found that 84% of search queries on Google are impacted by SGE. 

As a result, every consumer’s online decision will be influenced by the new search experiences (SGE). This means, brands may find that managing their presence in search will be more complex but more rewarding.

It is vital that these brands understand that the shift to Search Generative Experiences (SGE) is not just Google’s next algorithmic change. It's the Search engine's most significant change ever and represents a tectonic change that will impact every industry, company, and marketer.

This is exactly why we launched our Ultimate Guide to SGE to keep the wider marketing community informed and help them prepare for what I call the ‘Searchquake’ ahead.

The guide contains live updates into Googles SGE experimentation and:

  • What do new search experiences look like, and which key SGE states are most represented. 
  • Where Google is creating more immersive experiences and exercising caution in areas such as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL).
  • What new product formats and views are being tested and how they appear

Are there any industries that will be more affected than others by SGE? 

Our data predicts that healthcare, ecommerce, and B2B technology industries will be the most significantly impacted.

You can view and download the full data infographic here.

Can you share more insights on the high-impact industries?

Yes, for sure.

What we found very surprising, was that healthcare was the industry with the highest potential impact by SGE. However, we know many people turn to Google for health-related advice and that they are also likely to consult with a physician before making any decisions. So, it makes sense for Google to provide a better search experience with lots of information from high authoritative government sites and experts clinics like Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic and add context and disclaimers around advice, and consulting doctors for example.

In ecommerce, we are seeing more integrated experiences where users can view products, information, reviews and have richer specific experiences – i.e. apparel trending products, classic v new looks. This is an area where marketers need to be prepared to adapt rapidly as Google constantly has been changing visual result formats daily. More and more page formats are being tested daily in ecommerce.

We predict that Google is taking a careful, industry-by-industry approach to SGE and its experimentation rollout, hence the industry differentiation on impact at the moment. 

How does Google show SGE results, and do they show up for all queries? 

As I mentioned, we have found that on average 84% of search queries on Google are impacted by SGE. This is based on our analysis of over 1 billion search queries.

SGE results (states) are shown in three main ways. 

  • Collapsed: AI generated results are presented in a truncated form that can be easily expanded. SGE results are the most visible in this format.
  • Opt-in: Users must explicitly click on a button to request AI generated results.
  • None: Search AI Generative results are not available.

To give you some more context.

When we think about Collapsed v Opt-in states we see different SGE states and experiences in each industry.

Ecommerce is being tested the most at moment. However, if we look at Finance, nearly half of the results we analyzed did not give you any AI formats as it relates to money and cautioning needs to be exercised in this area on advice. This shows that Google is working to align results and information that adhere to regulative standards and informational compliance.

How do you anticipate consumer search behaviours changing in light of AI-generated results?

Consumer behavior has evolved where users are demanding better, relevant, and accurate answers to their questions and needs. They are seeking online experiences that helps them make better, more informed decisions with ease and speed and more media formats to engage with. 

As a result, the way they search is changing and becoming more conversational. 

This means, especially with SGE, they will begin to engage and spend more time on Google before clicking through to a site. One search will provide for more information and options than they have had in the past. The creation of more immersive and engaging SGE experiences on Google will allow them to get precisely the information they need before going to the best, most relevant website that serves their specific need.

For example - searching for a BMW X3:

In the past query results would predominantly contain links straight to the BMW website, Wikipedia page, Carfax.com, Top Gear, and Consumer Reports. As a consumer, you’d be responsible for reading those pages and drawing your own conclusions about the BMW model.

In the future, results powered by generative AI will include opinion. This means the route to a direct website takes a twist. Top results may highlight critical considerations you should keep in mind when shopping for a BMW, like high maintenance costs and supply chain constraints for parts. You’ll read that before you’re shown any links to click out to.

For the consumer this means more immersive and engaging experiences and more time spent on Google, so they get precisely the information they need before going to the best, most relevant website that serves their specific need.

How does this impact brands and clicks to their website? 

For brands, managing your presence in search will be more complex but more rewarding. This could mean less but higher-quality traffic. Pinpointing high-value searches that trigger multiple types of results becomes critical. 

The great thing here is that clicks will have a higher monetized value, as brands will see improved conversions. Why?  The consumer is primed for action based on its previous interactions and information from Google.

My CEO Krish Kumar, shared more on this earlier this year on the MAII and how SEO efforts must concentrate more on improving page experience and conversion optimization

How is Google experimenting and what types of new AI experiences are they testing?

A great question. We have talked a lot about SGE impact, and the different ways is shows how users can interact with it. The final piece of the jigsaw, or triage as I call it, is how Google is experimenting with new AI experiences and what this means for brands.

BrightEdge Generative ParserTM has been monitoring and tracking daily how and where Google is creating new AI experiences. Depending on your industry, experiences vary and hence approaches will vary.

For example, Places is now the most common module appearing in SGE results. These local packs prominently display citations and incorporate elements like user reviews, providing a comprehensive and relevant local search experience. They are predominantly utilized in searches related to sectors like restaurants and travel, where localized information is crucial. 

We are also seeing more reviews emerging in SGE results. For example, in entertainment, we are seeing more snippets from a full review, which users can click on.  (Try this on traditional search and in SGE labs on the query "Disney Music Hall.")

There is also a lot of experimentation happening with content formats. For example, breakouts lists in industries such as ecommerce where more visual formats are being tested daily. Google is also giving a lot more contextual information for consumers in finance and education where they show many micro formats, like rich snippets from high-authority sites.

What do brands need to be thinking about regarding their reputation and search position online? 

As I mentioned earlier, the emergence of trusted sources and the emergence of more reviews are a big signal that brands will have less of a say in the customer journey for the first time ever. 

AI-generated content will be based on trusted content and credible sources. It will be vital that brands match their messaging strategies to align with these sources. In the past brands could control a lot of sentiment around the reputation. However, now Google will have the ultimate opinion on the quality and relevancy of brands, so it is essential they prepare early to avoid chaos.

What immediate next steps should marketers take to prepare for the imminent arrival of SGE and improve their visibility in search?

AI is allowing search engines to include new informed, objective, authoritative and trusted opinions. It’s a new dynamic that all brands and marketers need to manage as it represents a fundamental shift in the way a search engine responds to queries.

Firstly, ensure you have your core SEO and site basics covered. The core principles of technical SEO remain vital and will become more important over time. Ensure your site is optimized for ease of use and you adhere to Googles guidelines on Core Web Vitals, Helpful Content and E-E-A-T. 

We have recently found via BrightEdge SearchIQ that some core key to success come from faster sites, smarter keyword usage, and contextual relevance.

Secondly, it is vital to use data to understand user and conversational intent data as the trigger to AI generated results. Going forward pinpointing high-value searches that trigger multiple types of results will be critical. Companies need to prioritize how they understand user intent, moving beyond basic keyword optimization to understanding conversational intent and long tail phrases. Brands must ensure the content they create addresses the direct query and the broader context within which it is asked. 

I would also say, always remain vigilant. AI is reshaping Google’s search page and the changing nature of search experiences, and the injection of AI generated results will demand that brands exercise maximum agility. They must be prepared to adapt quickly to new AI experiences, content formats, and a whole new set of best practices.

It is also very important to remember, as we have talked about how consumers no longer consume media in silos, that marketers no longer operate in silos. You could say in some cases this happens with PPC, SEO and some elements of content. However, as SGE results contain multiple media types and formats, social media, reviews and news sources, marketers across all media channels need to come together if they want improved visibility and results. Make sure your marketing, content, digital, brand, design, social and PR teams are aligning and talking to each other now. This is especially true when brands also look at using AI applications for content creation themselves. This is especially true when brands also look at using themselves.

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