Google Announces a Transformative Change: Search Generative Experience (SGE)
It’s a new era in the digital landscape. Google, the most visited website on the Internet, is undergoing its most significant transformation in the past 25 years, leaving marketers worldwide wondering what this could mean for them.
Last month, Google announced an innovative redesign of its search results page, combining it with AI interface. The new feature, known as Search Generative Experience (SGE), disrupts the usual search behavior. As you enter your query, the conventional «10 blue links» briefly flicker before being replaced by an AI-generated information panel. This change virtually makes the familiar Google search results disappear, signaling a significant shift in how users find and consume information online.
Critics often mock Google’s current search results page for being cluttered and manipulated by sites that game the system to achieve higher rankings. However, the latest iteration drastically alters this dynamic, potentially marking the beginning of an era of more efficient, albeit centralized, information sourcing.
Google has been moving toward this model for a long time. The tech giant has continuously introduced user interface updates that prioritize answers from its own ecosystem over third-party sources. The Knowledge Graph and featured snippets, for example, have increasingly displaced traditional blue links. SGE represents the culmination of this strategy: its aim is to provide answers to users without redirecting them to an external source.
To understand the potential impact of SGE, consider Google’s demonstration last month. SGE dominated the screen, pushing the list of links almost entirely off the screen. The same pattern was even more pronounced in a live demo on a Pixel device, pushing the links so far down that they only became visible after scrolling or expanding the summary box.
However, it’s when ads join the fray that the situation could become even more challenging. During the demonstration, Google showcased how ads on «commercial queries» could integrate with SGE results, potentially rendering traditional links completely invisible.
Despite potential drawbacks, Google insists on the transformative power of AI in search. Elizabeth Reid, Vice President and General Manager of Google Search, expressed excitement about the innovative technology that could unlock new types of queries and redefine how information is organized.
However, like with any AI-driven technology, there are inherent risks. Google’s current version of AI sometimes provides inaccurate answers, raising concerns about the reliability of SGE.
Google acknowledges these concerns and has provided an alternative to the links. A set of cards appears to the right of the summaries generated by SGE, with links to websites for validating the provided information. However, these links are intended to play a complementary role rather than being the user’s primary destination.
As marketers, we need to be aware of the potential impact of SGE on the advertising media ecosystem. The success of this system relies on people clicking on Google’s links to access article with ads, ultimately enabling publishers to earn revenue from advertisers. If SGE consolidates all this information into a summary at the top of search results, users may bypass clicking on any links, undermining publishers’ advertising revenue.
In its current phase, SGE is an experimental feature available only to users on a waitlist. But given Google’s emphasis on AI, it’s conceivable that SGE could become a central component of everyone’s search experience in the future.
As marketers, the evolution of Google’s search algorithms and user interface is nothing new. However, the launch of SGE marks a significant shift in how users will interact with search results. We need to be prepared to adapt our strategies and leverage new opportunities to remain competitive.
In conclusion, we are witnessing a pivotal moment in the evolution of search. The introduction of SGE promises a more optimized and AI-focused search experience, but it also presents challenges and implications for digital marketers. We need to stay agile, anticipate changes, and continue innovating to ensure our brands remain visible and compelling in this new era of Google Search.