Google Search Generative Experience: 8 SEO Tips for Your Website

Editor’s note: Google launched its AI-generated search results on May 14, 2024. Renamed “AI Overviews,” the feature was heavily criticized for inaccurate (and sometimes dangerous) answers. Google has since decreased the frequency with which generated answers appear in the SERPs. More changes and updates to the feature are expected in the months to come.

In jumping on the AI-generated train, Google is about to change search engine optimization forever with its new Search Generative Experience (a.k.a. “AI Overviews”).

Current AI search trends are shaping up to impact your organic traffic in a massive, not-necessarily beneficial way — which means seasoned SEOs, website owners, and digital marketing managers alike all need to pay close attention.

But there is hope.

Here at Inflow, our SEO team has been evaluating the effects of Google’s generative search experience on our clients from its initial beta launch in 2023 to its live deployment in May 2024. Today, we’ll share some of our findings, as well as our recommendations for successful SEO initiatives in the SGE future that lies ahead.

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].

Keep reading to learn how we’re prepping our clients for success — or reach out to us anytime for a custom plan of attack for your website.

What SGE Is & What It Means for Your Website

The Search Generative Experience is a generative AI experiment from Google’s Search Labs, designed to anticipate and address a searcher’s needs on the homepage of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

When a user searches Google, SGE displays an AI-generated snapshot of key information before any other organic results. When you click on the top response, Google produces additional responses below, including additional related webpages, product links and descriptions, and more.

Google Search Generative Experience result for query: what's better for a family with kids under 3 and a , bryce canyon or arches.

Its “ask a follow-up question” interactive functionality allows searchers to add more context to their original queries to generate more helpful responses.

In its May 2024 launch, Google updated the feature’s name to “AI Overviews,” but the functionality largely remained the same — although the accuracy of AI-generated answers left much to be desired.

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].

While SGE does improve upon Bard by including website links and sources in its AI-generated responses, the feature takes up most of the space at the top of the SERPs — which will mean bad news for most websites’ SEO initiatives.

Here’s why:

SGE will likely cause a drop in traffic for all organic listings. 

Before its launch, research estimated up to a 30% drop in organic traffic due to SGE, with certain industries (including healthcare) feeling more impacts than others. Other reports indicated that SGE results might appear for up to 86% of all user queries.

Note: The actual percentage upon original release was almost identical (84%), before Google sharply decreased the frequency to 15% after criticism over inaccurate AI Overview answers.

On the eCommerce front, our research indicated a decrease in organic traffic for category pages. However, based on current SGE trends, we do expect to see an increase in organic traffic to well-optimized product pages (more on that below).

Another important fact to note for all industries: Current top organic listings won’t necessarily be reflected in the SGE results. Certain studies indicate that a significant majority (93%) of generative URLs in the beta testing did not match any URLs in Page 1 organic search results.

The bottom line: If your website’s organic success is based on top-ranking keywords, get ready for changes to that performance if the SGE algorithm launches in its current iteration.

Information presented in AI Overviews is wildly unreliable.

Shortly after Google launched SGE (renamed “AI Overviews”) in May 2024, users quickly began reporting inaccurate and nonsensical answers within the SERP feature. Some of the most glaring: Recommending health benefits for running with scissors and suggesting using non-toxic glue to give pizza sauce more tackiness.

Google A I overview result for query: cheese not sticking to pizza. Highlighted response: You can also add about 1/8 cup of non-toxic glue to the sauce to give it more tackiness.

While these answers obviously present dangerous information to users as fact, the danger for brands is also clear: Google’s AI Overviews could provide inaccurate (and even harmful) information about your brand, negatively impacting any positive and long-term brand building you’ve been doing for your business.

Retailers will face more competition in the SERPs. 

If your products are branded and sold elsewhere, those resellers are likely to appear in the new SGE SERP features. They’ll take up valuable real estate, and you will likely lose out on some website traffic.

Google Search Generative Experience result for Allbirds. Highlighted are stores: Allbirds, R E I, Nordstrom, Dick's Sporting Goods, eBay, and Scheels.

Customers may get AI fatigue and leave the Google SERPs. 

In its current iteration, SGE requires many more steps before customers reach an actual product listing page. 

With more clicks involved before the final purchase, browsers may get frustrated — and choose to order directly from marketplaces like Amazon, where they know they can buy quickly and easily.

Combine this with the inaccuracy of the results themselves, and it’s no wonder that users are already searching for ways to turn the feature off:

Google auto-complete for query: turn off go. Top result: Turn off Google A I.

Optimizing for all SGE boxes will be impossible. 

Due to the ever-changing nature of SGE, SEO teams will only be able to optimize for a handful of SGE boxes at a time (if at all). 

In most cases, this will be the wrong approach for modern SEO, which is why we’re including some of our strategic recommendations below to point you in the right direction.

However, remember that every industry and niche will be different. While it’s helpful to review recovery case studies and other research, we do not recommend copy-pasting those strategies, especially if you operate in a different niche. Instead, you’ll need to create your strategic approach (an agency can help you) to maximize your brand’s opportunities in the SGE SERPs.

How to Build Your Google SGE SEO Strategy

Google’s AI Overviews are continually evolving. Previous iterations prioritized strategic content and branded queries; others showed links in the text.

Planning your optimization strategy based on the latest format will be a waste of time and energy.

So, what should you do instead?

Below, we’ve outlined a few key perspectives to consider as you update your site’s SEO strategy for the Search Generative Experience. 

While we’ve built these marketing strategies based on our research with certain eCommerce and lead-generation clients, much of what we detail below can apply to a wide range of industries. (We’re happy to build a custom strategy for your vertical whenever you ask.)

Step 1: Stop relying solely on keyword research.

If you’re using keyword research as the foundation for your content creation, it’s time for a new approach.

With these zero-click updates, keyword research is becoming less valuable in terms of driving organic traffic to your site. In fact, many research tools are already missing important keywords — and, by the time the tools receive the data, it’s already too old (or oversaturated) to be accurate.

If you must use search engines for content creation, consider using Google’s “People Also Ask” feature. While these terms may show up with zero search volume in tools like Ahrefs and Semrush, they often reflect the most current, accurate look at what users are searching for and their overall search intent.

Otherwise, we recommend ideating your site content the old-fashioned way — through audience research and discussions with your real customers.

Step 2: Prioritize middle- and bottom-funnel content.

Because top-of-funnel queries will now be easily answered by the AI Overviews, we recommend prioritizing content for customers further down in the purchase funnel. Those will have a higher chance of actually viewing your website content, not to mention converting into revenue for your online business.

For example, a user who searches for “things to do in Athens” will likely browse their options within Google’s SGE answers. 

Google Generative A I search results for things to do in Athens. Answer: Athens, Greece has many things to do, including: Acropolis of Athens. This world-renowned monument is a symbol of the city and is home to the Parthenon, which is dedicated to the goddess Athena. National Archeological Museum. The museum contains some of Greece's most revered artifacts, ****** back to 6000 B C.
Because this search is too top-of-funnel, it will be hard to rank with the addition of the SGE results.

More specific long-tail searches (like “cheap things to do in Athens with kids”) will give your content a better chance to shine, because there will be less competition and more opportunity for individualization — if the SGE even populates at all!

Google search results for cheap things to do in Athens with kids. Answer: An A I -powered overview is not available for this search.
Because this search query doesn’t result in SGE, it’s more likely for your content to get a spot in the traditional SERPs and receive organic traffic (without SGE there to take it away).

From an eCommerce perspective, we’re recommending that our clients focus on their top product pages (by revenue) to maintain any organic rankings, traffic, and revenue they’re currently receiving. Our client roadmaps now include a list of optimizations for valuable product pages to preserve their performance post-SGE launch.

Step 3: Protect your brand.

SGE results for your brand name may display links to non-branded (unowned) sites with information about your brand — whether it’s accurate or not.

This content often won’t be a snippet from your brand site. Instead, it’s a summary of what the AI search machine has learned about your business, reputation, and products/services from various data input sources.

Google Search Generative Experience result for query: Sitelock.

With the inclusion of third-party links and content from across the web, we recommend these specific efforts to maintain any branded traffic and revenue in a post-SGE world:

  • Optimize your existing brand-specific content (i.e. “About Us” page) and identify any opportunities for added pages
  • Use structured data (schema markup) to communicate information about your brand and business
  • Encourage happy customers to leave reviews on third-party review websites

Step 4: Enhance your revenue reporting.

At Inflow, we’ve always stressed the importance of “real” SEO metrics like revenue over vanity metrics like clicks and impressions. SGE makes that even more crucial.

We anticipate organic traffic, clicks, click-through rates (CTRs), and impressions to decrease due to Google’s new AI Overviews. It’s also unknown if Google Search Console will gather this new data correctly (or even at all!). 

If your reports are solely built on these KPIs, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.

Take the time you have now to build out better, revenue-based reporting for your SEO efforts. (If you need help making that happen within the new GA4 platform, our experts are here to help.)

Search Generative Experience Optimization for eCommerce Sites

All that said, there are certain ways that you can optimize your site for Google’s Search Generative Experience. Here, we’ve listed a few of our recommendations based on testing performed for our eCommerce clients.

However, remember that the AI Overviews are always evolving, and these strategies may not always result in the best performance for your specific site.

That’s why we highly recommend partnering with an agency like Inflow that can keep your team abreast of the latest developments and adjust your strategy accordingly in the months to come.

Not an eCommerce site? Our team is currently testing other industry-specific tactics and strategies for our range of clients. Connect with us today to learn more about how those may apply to your brand’s SEO strategy.

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].

1. Optimize your product pages.

As mentioned above, category pages will no longer be the workhorses when it comes to eCommerce SEO efforts. Instead, it will be time to give your product pages a facelift.

At this time, SGE seems to reward those product pages with descriptive, helpful content. It pulls these details into “tags” used to compare products against each other in the generated response.

Google search results for mirrorless cameras. Answer: Here are some popular options. Tags for each result are highlighted: Good for professionals. Good for professionals. Good for macro photography. Good for sports.

You can optimize your eCommerce product page SEO by:

  • Using comprehensive schema markup (reviews, pricing, descriptions, rankings, etc.)
  • Creating well-written product pages with in-depth descriptions and product specifications
  • Creating supporting, related content, such as buying guides, product comparisons, etc.
  • Gathering product reviews from customers, which SGE will pull into its AI-generated responses to set your offerings apart from competitors

Remember: AI Overviews will generate featured snippets based on the specific phrases that people are searching for or clicking on. The more detailed you can get with your product pages, the more likely your content will appear in the SERPs — as indicated by our work with Chubo Knives in the video below:

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].

2. Focus on your topical authority and E.E.A.T. principles.

Google still needs high-quality content to feed its artificial intelligence machine, so your team must focus on creating blog and website content that establishes topical authority in your industry.

While Google’s SGE is taking away valuable real estate in the SERPs, it will still attribute your site if it uses your content in the generated responses.

We recommend investing in high-quality content marketing that raises your brand awareness and thought leadership in your space by adhering to E.E.A.T principles:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact [email protected].

Read how we used E.E.A.T. principles for one medical client to increase their organic revenue by 300% in this Search-Engine-Land-Award winning case study!

3. Improve your linking strategy.

Links and other external authority signals will help Google decide which sources to trust and use in its AI Overviews. For this reason, we recommend doubling down on your link-building efforts

Of course, make sure to use white-hat methods only, such as:

  • Partnering with influencers for product giveaways or reviews
  • Working with local online communities (like local governments or non-profits)
  • Using programs like Connectively (formerly known as Help a Reporter Out [HARO]) to share your brand’s expertise
Download our eCommerce Link-Building Guide Now. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Don’t forget about your internal linking, too.

4. Set up your Google Merchant Center data feeds.

Google Merchant Center feeds may not be the typical domain of SEO teams, but because of these pages’ importance when it comes to SGE, we’re making sure to include them in this list.

By optimizing your GMC data feeds with as much relevant product information as possible, you’ll give Google’s AI more data to work with when generating responses in the SERPs.

You should also optimize for the Shopping Graph by adding relevant product descriptions, up-to-**** reviews, ratings, prices, product images, and links to your products.

Google shopping ads screenshot for Levi's Men's Jeans. Six advertisements with a photograph of the product, the name of the specific type of Levi's jeans, the price, rating, and the stores which have them available. The titles of most of the product contain the word men's and the type of fit. The product titles all end in an ellipsis.

For more guidance on optimizing your GMC product data feed, check out our complete guide.

SEO: Only One Piece of the SGE Puzzle

There’s no doubt that Google’s new AI Overviews will throw a wrench in many an SEO team’s strategy, especially as the feature evolves in the months to come. 

Patience will be a virtue here. Don’t attempt to change your entire SEO plan to meet SGE where it’s at right now. 

Instead, continue with the path of search engine optimization best practices: Create detailed, high-quality content, and don’t simply chase organic rankings.

We also recommend looping in your paid search advertising team. Ads are (and will continue to be) placed above the SGE feature to prioritize Google’s revenue sources. By working with your PPC team, you can attack the SERPs from two angles and increase the likelihood of shoppers clicking through to your site.

Google Search Generative Experience result for query:  cameras. Google Shopping Ads appear before the Generative A I content.

Whether you need help coordinating your paid search and SEO efforts, or you simply want an expert to review your latter strategy in response to the AI Overviews, remember that Inflow is always here to help. 

Contact us anytime for a free strategy consultation, or check out our other helpful resources below:

#seotips #seo #digitalmarketing #searchengineoptimization #seoexpert #seoservices #seomarketing #digitalmarketingtips #marketing #seotools #seoagency #seostrategy #contentmarketing #socialmediamarketing #google #digitalmarketingagency #searchenginemarketing #onlinemarketing #socialmedia #onpageseo #website #marketingtips #seotipsandtricks #searchengineoptimisation #searchengine #digitalmarketingstrategy #googleranking #offpageseo #keywords #webdesign

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