What BrightonSEO Taught Us About AI-Powered Search and What It Means for SEO

Diwakar Redhu Artificial Intelligence (AI), BrightonSEO, SEO

We attended the latest BrightonSEO event so you didn’t have to, and not only are we breaking down one of the topics that stood out as a key development to watch, but we’ve also done some extra homework on what B2B marketers targeting a niche actually need to know about it.

Unsurprisingly, AI dominated the conversation. What was particularly new and interesting for us, though, were the sessions covering Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE). As Google announced its rollout for all users across the US earlier this week (May 14, 2024), with other regions set to follow, it’s clear that SGE will significantly shape our search interactions in the near future.

After testing for more than a year in 120 countries, it has also got the highest satisfactory scores in a poll by GenZ (18-24 year olds). This might well indicate where the search experience is heading into the future.

If this is the future, what do we need to know about it right now? Below, we reflect on what SGE is and explore how it impacts our B2B clients targeting a niche audience.

What exactly is SGE?

Google’s Search Generative Experience uses AI to craft contextual answers for complex queries, enhancing how we find information online. Think of it as an advanced version of the featured snippets you see at the top of your search results, but more intuitive. 

How would this impact SEO? 

Increase in ‘zero click’ searches   

There are always queries for which you don’t need to visit a website. For simple searches, you can get their answers directly from the search page— like weather updates, quick facts, or even recipes and DIY tips—without having to click through to a website. This shift could lead to less traffic for some sites, as the search results themselves become the final destination. 

Even on the search result page, the ‘real estate’ for your website’s organic search result has shrunk considerably – as evident by the following image. Of course, this is not set in stone for now as Google continues to test different variations until we get a unified view of what search results could look like going forward. But various studies suggest space for organic result is going to be drastically reduced. 

Voice search: Ready for a breakthrough?

We’ve been hearing about the potential of voice search for years, yet it’s been slow to take off. With SGE, this might finally change. Integrating well with conversational AI like ChatGPT and Bing, voice search seems set to become more useful and widespread. It’s particularly suited to the conversational nature of SGE, suggesting we might soon talk more to our devices and type less. Traditional Google search, written, ultimately relies on formatted keywords or keyword combinations. However, we can expect a much greater variation in queries and long tail keywords from voice searches – and need to optimise our content for conversational-type queries in general.

What are the limitations of SGE in its present form?

Legal Concerns: SGE pulls information from various sources, sometimes without proper citations, which could mislead users or infringe on content copyrights.

User Experience Issues: Users accustomed to traditional search results might find SGE’s AI-generated content less familiar or harder to navigate.

Economic Impacts: Google’s revenue is heavily reliant on ads. With SGE, if users stop clicking through to websites, ad views could decrease, potentially impacting Google’s bottom line.

Key takeaways

For more complex queries and detailed content, SGE would not mean a lot of transformation. The good news is that the best practices of SEO still hold meaning we should aim at ensuring the content we create is helpful to our audience. The content that exhibits depth of knowledge and first-hand experience in the topic would still rank highly and continue to drive organic traffic.

Given its limitations, SGE is poised to stay volatile, and it is hard to predict exactly how it would shape our search experience. Google will surely continue to expand its rollout to users globally, but we should expect a less radical departure from the current SERP.

When it comes to the future of search – ‘Expect evolution, not revolution’.

If this has left you with more search queries (sorry, I couldn’t resist), then why not contact us here to discuss the evolution of search and how it may directly impact your activity.

Diwakar Redhu

Diwakar Redhu

Digital Marketing Manager

With boundless experience in ABM campaigns for the technology sector, Diwakar generates outstanding results for our clients’ businesses through end-to-end organic and paid media digital campaigns and SEOOutside of work, Diwakar a commissioned photographer loves to head to the coast to capture shots.