Google’s Search Generative Experience, also known as Google SGE, is an evolving feature designed to streamline the process of conducting searches on Google. The new search experience incorporates an AI-generated synopsis of selected search results above the fold, theoretically providing faster answers to the user's query request.
Currently, the new search experience is still in the beta phase but will be rolling out to more regions soon as part of Google Labs. To help businesses properly prepare for the impact of Google SGE, we explore the ins and outs of SGE, and the SEO considerations worth taking into account to ensure your website is optimised for generative AI-powered search experiences on Google.
Inbound FinTech’s expert SEO insights on SGE
The SEO and development team at Inbound FinTech are continually watching new SEO trends and assessing where there are needs and opportunities to adapt and refine strategies. As there aren't a lot of case studies publicly available on Google SGE as yet, we've been reviewing various websites to see how they are being included in the SGE knowledge panels for some insights on how businesses like yours can appear in SGE search results.
Let's delve into the background of Google SGE and how to prepare your website content for the AI-powered future of Google search.
Background to Google SGE
Both Google and Bing have begun rolling out AI-based searches to their search results, to answer a user's query as quickly and efficiently as possible. After OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched in November 2022, the use of AI-generated requests in daily use has accelerated, and since Bing purchased ChatGPT, Google quickly began investigating how they could bring AI to day-to-day searches on their results page.
It’s worth noting, however, that Google has the conundrum of still having the usual search engine results page (SERP) layout where they display search ads, which remains Google’s biggest revenue stream. In 2022, Google's ad revenue amounted to $224.47 billion U.S. dollars. This amounts to a 53% increase from 2020, where revenue saw a jump from the previous year’s $134 billion.
Google’s approach to AI
Given the surge in AI’s popularity, Google has been playing catch-up with their developments in generative AI. Their answer to ChatGPT is Google Bard, which has a similar interface and UX to ChatGPT and operates very similarly. In terms of SGE, Google’s AI approach deviates from conventional search methodologies in that it leverages a comprehensive language model called Pathways Language Model (PaLM) 2, which is used for content generation as well as query handling.
As a result of this dual approach, SGE doesn't just display indexed and ranked data the way traditional search does; instead, it uses AI to deduce outcomes and propose enhancements to users' search results. It's important to note that this doesn't eliminate the traditional Google index results but rather serves as a complementary addition to them.
With generative AI integrated in search, Google users can:
- Ask new kinds of questions that are more complex and descriptive.
- Get the gist of topics faster, with links to relevant results to explore further.
- Easily progress in their search for answers by asking conversational follow-ups or trying suggested next steps provided by SGE.
Understanding Google SGE and generative AI search functionality
SGE stands as an exploratory rendition of Google’s search functionality, employing generative AI to construct contextually relevant responses to multifaceted search queries. SGE bolsters the search experience by deploying AI to craft a bespoke summary for more extensive queries in the form of an AI-powered snapshot.
Google SGE’s conversational mode delivers answers to subsequent queries, ensuring the original search context remains intact. It also has vertical experiences which showcase a curated feature list and additional product specifics for commercial searches.
With conversational mode, Google's generative AI search often extends beyond the initial query. SGE’s conversational mode is engineered to handle follow-up questions whilst still preserving the context of the initial search. To activate the conversational mode, one would click on the "Ask a follow-up" option or any of the suggested next steps that appear beneath the snapshot. Note that this functionality might not be available in your region yet.
How to prepare for AI-based search: Google SGE optimisation tips
Because Google SGE is an evolving AI-based feature, as mentioned, and the language model powering it is constantly learning and changing as users interact with it, the full effect of Google SGE, from an SEO perspective, remains to be seen. However, there are some optimisation exercises that businesses can do as part of their SEO strategy to try to get their website to appear in this up-and-coming digital real estate on Google results pages.
Title tags and content types
Google SGE takes the first 30-40 characters of a page’s title and puts it into the relevant knowledge panel. It seems that many core pages aren’t included in the snapshot, such as home pages, about or contact pages; instead, the knowledge panel seems to favour blog-related content or frequently asked questions.
To capitalise on this preference, ensure the focus keyword you're aiming to rank for appears within the first 30-40 characters of your page title tags, and spend some time optimising your blog and FAQ content for maximum discoverability.
Featured snippet images
Already considered a high priority for SEO, the SGE results also typically include an image pulled from a featured snippet. You should already be actively optimising your website to try to rank in featured snippets, but for AI-powered Google search specifically, it’s important to check that your pages each have an optimised featured image that SGE can pull into the snapshot result. Also, the more click-worthy your feature image is, the more likely you are to see click-throughs from the SGE results snapshot and therefore, increased CRO.
Pages that appear in the SGE snapshot seem to be well-optimised in terms of their structured data. Relevant schema, such as “Organisation”, “BlogPosting” “person” etc., is often added to the result, so it’s important to ensure your pages’ schema markup is up to scratch. This not only means that Google can better understand and categorise your webpage content for traditional search, but that SGE may favour your content when delivering snapshot results to queries.
For guidance and insights on schema markup best practices, check out schema.org when optimising your website’s structured data.
The importance of SEO for Financial Services
SEO is a vital consideration for any business with a digital presence, but it is especially important for Financial Services businesses that see decidedly more complex sales cycles and user journeys.
For a website that delivers an ROI, SEO should be top of mind. Not only does it help ensure you get noticed by potential customers looking for solutions like yours on Google, but it also helps position your brand throughout the entire buyer’s journey.
With a robust SEO strategy, your business can establish itself as an industry leader in the virtual domain, signalling to potential customers that you are a relevant and authoritative source of information while offering them the solutions they’re after.
To stand out from the crowd online, rank highly in SERPs, and even appear in SGE results, your SEO needs to be watertight.
While Google SGE is still in the development and testing phase, it's important to keep an eye on such new developments and changes with Google's AI-powered search plans. You need to start preparing and optimising your website accordingly to take advantage of the opportunities these developments present. Leveraging the potential of innovations like AI in search can do wonders for your company's digital presence and in turn, your marketing ROI.
Chat to IFT for Google optimisation strategies for FinTech companies
At IFT, our experts continuously keep abreast of innovations in SEO, test them, and then suggest relevant changes to help our clients stay ahead of the curve. This way, we can ensure that our SEO services remain cutting-edge and relevant to our clients’ needs in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
To tap into our expertise, why not download our Essential SEO Strategies for Financial Services guide? Jam-packed with insights and handy tips, this guide is designed to help Financial Services businesses make the most of their SEO, ensuring their digital presence is primed for success.
Inbound FinTech (IFT) is an award-winning digital growth agency, based in London, UK, in the heart of the Financial District. Our experienced team of marketing specialists helps FinTech and Financial Services companies to drive high-quality leads and grow their business online. IFT is a Google partner and elite HubSpot agency.