Generative AI’s Impact on SERPs

Generative AI is all over the news, and this technology has permeated nearly every aspect of digital marketing today. Now, Google’s announcement of Search Generative Experience (SGE) as a new tool suggests radical changes to how we search the internet.

Reorganization of the SERP Page

Traditionally, queries entered into Google produce a results page tailored to the intent of the search. The page might include a featured snippet, ads, top results based on SEO, “People also ask” sections, and more. You might not always get exactly what you need, and you’ll usually have to click through to get the answers you’re looking for.

With Search Generative Experience, the top of the search results page will carry the AI response to your question. Google’s AI results are generated by their AI engine and include sources, but the intent is that you won’t need to click them to find what you need.

Responsive Results Based on User Queries

When you enter a question into SGE, Google’s AI tailors the type of content at the top of the SERP to your intent. Searching for “top law schools in the US” will provide a list, while “Why is Harvard Law ranked #1?” will give an article response.

Google keeps track of your searches, so when you ask a question, the AI engine will suggest other questions you might ask. Clicking “Ask a follow-up” continues the thread of your search query along the same path you began. Context, in this case, exists in Google’s conversational model AI.

SGE’s Impact on SEO

While it might seem like SGE’s generative model will make SEO obsolete, the opposite is true. Schools and businesses will still need to ensure their pages contain clear content relevant to users. Nonetheless, it’s time to start monitoring SEO to understand SGE impact. Use data from Google Search Console to track clicks and impressions in several categories. If you see regular fluctuations in impressions, they could result from Google’s rollout of SGE.

Beyond that, you may still see stable clickthrough rates in branded searches. Generic searches may share your information but not your brand, which doesn’t give you exposure.

When your content team sets their strategy for the quarter, make sure to think about conversational and intent-based searching. Consider all the questions your potential students may have about your school, articulate them in plain language, and answer them in your content marketing strategy. This isn’t a new strategy for SEO content writers, but it’s more important than ever with SGE.

Our Takeaway

As search engines integrate with conversational AI models to enhance the user experience, a new kind of response is possible. Instead of lists of links, users will see an answer to their query generated by Google’s AI, not by a human content creator. Our challenge is finding ways to create SEO content that is valuable to your audience and tied to your school’s brand.

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