The Next Evolution of Google Search

The Next Evolution of Google Search


Authors: Chase Callaway & Bobby Falconer

November 17, 2023

A Deep Dive into SGE and its Implications for Marketers

What is SGE, and Why Does it Matter?
With the capabilities of generative AI becoming more impressive than ever, the days of inputting keywords into a search bar and scrolling through pages of results will be gone sooner than you’d expect. One of several factors causing its imminent demise is new AI-enabled search functionality like Google’s recently beta-tested SGE (Search Generative Experience). If you haven’t heard of SGE, you aren’t alone. At a high level, Google is delivering its users (who opt-in to the Google Labs trial) AI-generated results to their Google queries, and it will likely fundamentally alter the search experience for billions of people within the next few years.
This change will greatly impact analytics, marketing KPIs, and the ways marketing teams optimize their content for search engine discoverability. It will fundamentally change how users interact with search and what results they see. As a marketing leader, without adapting to SGE, you may quickly realize you’ve been left behind in search optimization. Let’s dive deep into what SGE is and ponder the potential implications it may have on marketers across the globe.

Understanding SGE
So, what is SGE and why should I care? How is this any different than Chat GPT? Essentially, SGE leverages Google’s AI to provide users with generated answers to questions and interact with search in a more conversational way. Rather than answering a user’s search with an exhausting list of links, the SGE results will provide one summarized answer in an easy-to-understand brief narrative. By scouring the internet for the most relevant content, Google can provide a single, succinct result with the ability to explore further.

Google SGE on desktop browser


Key Features of Google SGE:

  1. AI-Powered Results: Concise search results give users a quick response to their query, along with other content to consider and relevant links. When done right, these results enable more rapid search and encourage deeper exploration.
  2. Suggested Follow-Up Prompts: As part of the SGE result, users find recommended follow-up prompts. Clicking one of these prompts converts SGE into a more conversational search, almost resembling LLMs (large language models) like Chat GPT. Rather than a content dump from a traditional query, search can now become more of a conversation, where each question builds on the previous, furthering your understanding with each iterative question.
  3. SGE While Browsing: SGE doesn’t stop with the search engine; it continues to support users after they’ve reached a website. SGE while browsing leverages the capabilities behind SGE search results to give users the ability to summarize content on a page, find similar sites, and jump to certain parts of the page.

Google SGE on mobile browser


The Broader Picture: How SGE Might Shape the Future of Marketing
It’s clear that the efficiency and user-centric experience of SGE will have broad implications on businesses and their marketing teams. With the future of SGE still uncertain and its inner workings shrouded in mystery, it’s difficult for anyone to recommend any specific actions at this moment. But it is still important for marketing teams to begin to ponder what types of shifts will soon occur.

  • SEO in an SGE World: Optimization for SGE will inevitably vary from SEO as we know it today. The bulk of SEO tasks like structuring content more clearly, focusing on metadata, improving site performance, updating it regularly, and aligning content with topics and keywords will likely be important factors for SEO and SGE alike.
    However, brands may now begin to place more of a focus on conversational search optimization strategies. Similar to optimizing for Google’s Featured Snippets, businesses may want to tailor content toward search queries that are phrased more naturally and conversationally.
    Companies may find that focusing content strategies on niches may be more successful for appearing in SGE results. With people asking more specific questions, SGE will likely favor content that answers more specific questions.
  • Transformation of Website UX: As users get used to rapid, precise answers from SGE, will websites adapt to offer a similar experience? If Google is giving us the results we are looking for in seconds (and with no clicks), the idea of scrolling through a company’s many landing pages and navigating dropdown menus could become understandably frustrating. AI chatbots guiding entire user experiences on websites isn't far-fetched or far off. What if conversational LLMs like Chat GPT and Bard are the future of home pages?
  • Integration of Paid Ads: With the amount of dollars behind Google Search and Display ads, it’s hard to believe in a future where the use of SGE is commonplace without integration of paid ads. If SGE (or a future variation of it) is the future, it will be monetized. How will this shift the paid ads landscape? Let’s save the ethical implications of this for a future discussion.
  • Shifting Competitive Landscape: With a shift to SGE bringing about new avenues for discoverability, there will inevitably be a shift in how businesses stack up against their competition. Marketing teams that move first will find themselves gaining ground, while those that fail to adapt may notice themselves falling behind overnight. When it comes to keyword rankings within the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), for example, companies may rank one way in the SERP and another in SGE. Overnight, a business could go from ranking second amongst their competition for a top keyword to third.

SGE and Marketing Analytics: A New Horizon for Marketers
When discussing the future of SGE through the lens of marketing, one natural question for brands and marketers is, "How will my marketing analytics change?" Even with the advent of SGE, businesses will continue to invest in marketing analytics that answer fundamental questions. Customer churn, campaign optimization, ROI, customer journey mapping, NPS calculations, and similar analytics will remain important. However, new KPIs and metrics might soon populate analytics dashboards and alter the calculations behind these insights. Some potential new KPIs and analytics could include:

  • Bounce Rate from “SGE While Browsing": As users engage more with SGE While Browsing and receive links to other sites within your site, it's important to know how many bounces this is causing.
  • SGE Scores: Organizations enjoy combining different SEO efforts into one unified “score” to track their success. Will marketing teams do the same with SGE?
  • Prompt Path Analysis: Did my business appear in the first SGE result that users were shown for a given search query? Did it appear after multiple follow-up prompts were clicked? Where does my business rank in the overall conversational prompt-search user journey?
  • SGE Link Ranking: How often are links to my site(s) shown in SGE results? How many clicks are they receiving from that source?
  • “SGE While Browsing” Optimization: How well is the content on my website optimized for this element of SGE? When SGE delivers an outline or breakdown of the different sections of my page, is it accurate? Are some pages showing nothing at all? How does this affect user journeys across my pages?
  • A New Google Analytics: Unsurprisingly, there's limited content regarding how Google Analytics will acclimate to SGE. Will Google Analytics give quick answers to these concepts above? What new KPIs will be provided?

Uncharted Territories
At the end of the day, several crucial unknowns exist when it comes to SGE. These unknowns will soon become known, but they will inevitably open new doors for discussion and close others. We are particularly watching for answers to these questions:

  • What is Google’s timeline for a full rollout of SGE?
  • How will users react? What will adoption rates of SGE be after it is widely released?
  • What new features of SGE are coming?
  • Will there be competitor products to SGE?
  • How much of the inner workings of the SGE will be revealed?
  • What is the potential for paid advertising integration?
  • How might the “language of search” change? Over the past few decades, we’ve collectively built our own language within search queries that yields us the best results. Many people wouldn’t Google “What Data Analytics firm should I work with?”, but rather something like “best Data Analytics companies Atlanta.” Will that be true in five years?

SGE isn’t another Chat GPT. It isn’t a routine update from Google. And it isn’t Skynet either. SGE is a huge leap forward in the evolution of the modern-day Rosetta Stone. As we stand at this intersection of search, AI, and marketing analytics, it's crucial for brands, marketers, and data analysts to understand these changing dynamics, make plans to adapt, and stay ahead of the competition.
Here at Kaizen Analytix, our team of data, analytics, and technology experts has been tracking the evolution of AI closely, and we’ve been working hands-on with it for years, well before Chat GPT became widely known. And our marketing analytics team is prepared to explore cutting-edge initiatives and tackle all of these new challenges head-on. If you found this article intriguing and want to reach out to our team, we’d love to hear from you! Head here and Contact Us.
The future might be simultaneously uncertain, daunting, and promising, but it's undoubtedly here.

About Kaizen
We help companies have big impacts and drive real value with their Data, Analytics, and Technology investments. We do this with our continuous improvement-based consulting services, flexible delivery models, and ability to be translators that find answers. Recognized by Gartner, NPR, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. 5000 as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies, we are a certified minority-owned business headquartered in Atlanta, with offices in New York City, Dallas, and a global offshore team.

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