Extensive Guide to Prepare for Google SGE | Varn

Extensive Guide for Understanding and Preparing for Google’s SGE (AI Overviews)

We have collated a full guide to SGE (Search Generative Experience), now being referred to from Google as AI Overviews. We will cover what it is and how to prepare for it. We expect that SGE (AI Overviews) will greatly impact Google organic search, so we are focusing much of our innovation time within Varn on researching, testing and collecting data on this. We will keep this page up to date with our latest findings and whether there are any updates to how best to show up within SGE / AI Overview results. 

Latest Update from Google: Launch of AI Overviews (formerly SGE) in the US

Contents of this Guide

  1. What is SGE?
  2. What does SGE look like?
  3. Impact of SGE on Organic Search
  4. SGE Release Date
  5. Where does SGE get its information from? 
  6. Is SGE always correct and useful?
  7. How to Access SGE in Search Labs
  8. How to Prepare for SGE
  9. Additional Useful Resources 

 

What is SGE?

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) aims to transform the search experience by incorporating generative AI directly into the Google results page. It enables users to answer more specific and long-tail queries and receive highly relevant results. SGE is currently still in Beta and was released in Search Labs back in May 2023.

 

What does SGE look like?

As SGE has been in beta for the past year, there are constant updates to how it looks and what shows up in the queries. Below are some images of how SGE may display results for some queries. We expect this to change even more as Google tests more updates to this new feature. 

When you input a query, Google most often presents you with the option to generate a generative responsive instead of automatically showing up in full. With the former, SGE takes up less retail space on Google’s search results and will, therefore, take less traffic away from the first few blue links below it. 

 

 

 

 

Within the SGE result, Google references the sources that it has used for the answer it has given. 

SGE also incorporates video content in its results. Over the past year, there have been increasing reports of more videos and images appearing in SGE results.

 

Google search screengrab.

 


Impact of SGE on Organic Search

There is ongoing debate about how much SGE will impact organic search clicks in Google search results. Google’s aim is to serve the best content to the most relevant users quickly. It is important to remember that SGE just gives a snippet of information, just like you already see in search results, and users will still need to click into a website to get the full depth of a topic. This could mean that clicks go down, due to users wanting a quick answer not clicking through, however, it may mean that the users that do click through have higher intent and are more likely to convert, due to them showing interest in knowing more about the given topic. 

Over the past year, several companies have been conducting research to see how much the links referenced in SGE results compare to the generic top 10 links that we see in Google search results. We have conducted research in-house and found that 55% of Google SGE results overlap with standard organic search results

As Google continues to experiment with this feature, the data is not consistent. However, it is interesting to see that even though the links in the SGE result may vary, often, the links below them are consistent with the top 10 on standard Google results.


SGE Release Date

On the 14th of May 2024 Google launched AI Overviews in SERPs (formerly know as SGE) in the US. Currently, Google has not set a date for when SGE / AI Overviews will be officially launched globally. However, they have extended the beta period for SGE, which was initially supposed to end in 2023, but it can still be tested in Google labs in a number of countries. 

We will continue to update this page with any new announcements from Google.


Where does SGE get its information from? 

SGE does reference its sources of information, and you can see that it is pulling information not only from generic websites but also from other platforms, such as LinkedIn. This is why it is vital that your full presence across the web is optimised. 

If you would like a more in-depth understanding of how SGE works and where it gets its information, you can read our blog on How SGE Works

 


Is SGE always correct and useful?

SGE is not always correct. It has been found to pull incorrect information and display it to users as if it were correct. This is often referred to as hallucinations and is common within generative AI chatbots such as ChatGPT and Gemini. 

Furthermore, there are many instances where SGE results are not better or more useful than the current Google results page. Often, the current widget that Google shows, such as the weather, already efficiently gives users information. 

Tom Capper at Moz showed a great example of where SGE results are not always better in his Brighton SEO talk on SGE. He used the example of searching for the cast of a movie. We have shown our own example below, where the current Google algorithm shows images with names and also enables you to click directly on the image to find more out about the actor. This is arguably better than the SGE result which only lists out the names. 

 

Google-search-collage

 

How to Access SGE in Search Labs

The AI Overviews have only been rolled out for US users so other countries will have to access through Search Labs. SGE is currently only available in Search Labs in a limited number of countries. However, this list is expanding, giving beta access to more people globally. 

If you are not on the list of countries with access, you can still access SGE through a VPN. Once you have set up your VPN in one of the listed countries, you need to login through Search Labs and enable SGE, you can then search queries and receive SGE results.

 

How to Prepare for SGE

Google has not published any official ranking factors for SGE as of this writing. However, by collecting and analysing data on SGE and reading Google’s statements around SGE content, we can infer some clear factors that will impact your website’s ability to show up in SGE results. 

  • Google EEAT guidelines continue to be highly important. It is important to display your depth of expertise and knowledge on a topic so that Google knows your content is reputable and relevant to users. You can take many actions here, such as writing strong author profiles on your website and linking to relevant studies. 

 

  • Ensure you are writing high-quality, relevant content. Google has been clamping down on AI content this year, as content written purely by generative AI is often not high-quality or the most helpful for users. Google wants to reduce the amount of unoriginal, low-quality content available on the web. 

 

  • Multimedia content is continuing to show up more and more in SGE results. Therefore, it is important to make sure you upload images and videos to your site and optimise them according to SEO best practices, so that Google can understand their content and that they are high-quality for users. 

 

  • It is also important to make sure it is easy for Google to crawl your website. If it is not easily crawlable, Google will not be able to understand your content and will then not know to rank it for certain queries. This is where Technical SEO comes into play. Making sure your website code is optimised is very important as it enables Google to crawl your website and also ensures that users have a good experience when they are on your site. Issues like broken links and redirects can worsen user experience and Google will look upon this badly. 

 

Additional Useful Resources for Understanding and Preparing for SGE

  • Google has released an extensive PDF covering what SGE is. This is a useful resource if you would like to hear Google’s reasoning for SGE and an explanation of how it works. 

 

 

 

Below, you can find all of our blogs and articles that are related to SGE which cover some of these topics in more detail. If you would like support on SEO queries related to SGE, please get in touch. 

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