Preparing for Google SGE: Essential guide for marketers

Uncover insights and actionable tips on how to adapt and thrive in the dynamic landscape of AI-driven search experiences.

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After months of seeing Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) in action, it’s not the digital marketer’s apocalypse many thought it would be.

Despite some hiccups, it has presented several opportunities for those who have gained a deeper understanding of the experiences SGE seeks to provide users – giving perfect answers right on SERPs.

Here’s how marketers should prepare for Google’s SGE.

Understanding Google SGE

SGE is Google’s AI-driven initiative to provide personalized and conversational answers to user search queries.

Google’s Search Generative Experience uses natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to understand complex topics and detailed search queries better. 

But what does this mean?

Simply put, imagine asking your friend about their favorite restaurant – you’d expect them to give its name and share details like location, ambiance, best dishes, etc., right? 

That’s exactly how Google aims at answering through SGE – providing complete information without needing follow-up questions.

The dawn of Google’s Search Generative Experience, or SGE, marks a significant shift in how users interact with search engine results pages (SERPs). This new paradigm leverages generative AI to provide personalized answers to user queries. 

A key aspect differentiating SGE from traditional Google search is its focus on conversational queries and featured snippets. These are more likely to appear as AI-generated text rather than typical web content and may increase the time users spend on SERPs.

In the past, position zero (the featured snippet) was a snippet of information from the website Google deemed to offer the best information on the topic. With SGE, Google’s AI parses different sites to develop a single comprehensive answer to a search query. 

Unlike the featured snippet, this answer has links to the articles the AI engine pulled from to generate the SGE snapshot. Contrary to popular belief, this means SGE won’t steal your traffic. If anything, it’s giving publishers more ranking opportunities. 

So, instead of anticipating a drop in website traffic, marketers and content creators should look for ways to increase it by leveraging the ranking opportunities presented by Google’s generative AI.

SGE example

However, SGE is still experimental, so this may change.

SEO experts agree that the change to SERPs has an intriguing result – users will spend more time on search result pages thanks to SGE. 

The reasoning? 

It provides comprehensive responses akin to a real human conversation.

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How can marketers prepare for SGE?

With all these massive changes, should you close shop as a marketer? Not at all.

SGE does not spell doom for SEO and search marketing in general. You can still thrive and drive traffic to your website. 

And no, the tips outlined below aren’t just for SEO specialists. Anyone can implement most of them.

So, here’s how the marketer should prepare for SGE.

1. Move beyond traditional SEO strategies

One of the first ways to thrive in the era of SGE is to move beyond traditional Google search engine optimization practices. You need an evolved SEO strategy to leverage these advancements better. 

A typical example is keyword research and content optimization. Gone are the days when proper keyword research and placement would help you rank. SEO content is now more about building topical authority and thought leadership. 

And that can only be done by creating valuable content users find helpful. 

Generic answers and traditional search tactics aren’t enough anymore. The focus has moved towards creating content that offers a unique experience and reflects real human perspectives.

Your content should also be personality-driven and thought-provoking to set it apart from the generic content most publishers are churning out, thanks to the proliferation of AI tools.

And don’t get me wrong here. I’m absolutely for AI tools. However, I believe they should be used ethically and wisely. 

For instance, you should always edit your AI content output to ensure accuracy, reliability, and human-like flow.

2. Pay closer attention to E-E-A-T signals

In this new landscape, Google’s search algorithm values E-E-A-T signals – experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness – more than ever. Your SEO strategy should prioritize these elements to drive traffic effectively.

A few ways to ensure you meet Google’s E-E-A-T standards include demonstrating your expertise and experience. It also involves authority-boosting activities like link building and trust-building through customer reviews and case studies.

You should also consider leveraging subject matter experts as much as possible in your content creation workflow.

3. Reputation management is more important than ever

Another way to optimize for SGE is to ensure your reputation management game is on point. This is because Google wants to ensure that every SGE response is accurate. To do this, it pulls answers from reputable sites.

Building a good online reputation involves drumming up positive reviews, being active on social media, and actively looking for negative reviews so you can combat them. You should also consider running a PR campaign to promote mentions of your brand in a positive light and for link building purposes. 

Both signal to search engines that you’re producing valuable, relevant content.

Dig deeper: How to repair your Google search results and reclaim your online reputation

4. Own the narrative in your industry

Owning the narrative in your industry is another way of preparing for SGE as a marketer.

This means going beyond targeting your money-earning keywords and being the go-to resource for all information in your niche.

As you create your content, make sure to cover your topics in-depth. You should also strategically build internal links to your priority pages to enhance their authority. 

And don’t forget to earn backlinks as they also boost the authoritativeness of your content.

5. Become an agile marketer

Agility becomes key in this dynamic digital landscape where change is the only constant.

SEO strategists should constantly evaluate their approach based on data analysis and make necessary tweaks quickly when things aren’t working as expected.

Because Google’s SGE is still in its infancy, marketers and SEOs are still trying to determine what makes it tick. SGE is the Wild West all over again.

This means you should try new tactics to help you get visibility in SGE. This may involve experimenting with new concepts and SGE-based content strategies – and leaving some of your old standards and practices behind.

6. Optimize for long-tail queries

Long-tail queries are evolving into a pivotal aspect of the SGE. 

Their unique nature allows AI to generate personalized, detailed answers from various sources. When the AI links to you as a source, that can boost your visibility and engagement on search engine result pages. This is why informational queries, particularly long-tail ones, are anticipated to gain prominence in SGE. 

To tap into this potential, it’s important to comprehensively answer questions users have. That means you should try to create and optimize content specifically for question-based queries. 

Plus, long-tail queries have the added advantage of having higher conversion rates than their short-tail counterparts.

Long-tail keywords
Source: Semrush

7. Embrace experimentation

Last but not least, embrace experimentation. 

Trying innovative ideas can help identify what resonates best with your audience in this new SGE reality. Experiment with everything you can, from incorporating user-generated content to exploring personal branding tactics to creating AI content.

While SGE brings challenges, it also presents opportunities for marketers to better engage with users. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready to navigate this exciting new search paradigm.

8. The power of first-person narratives

In the era of SGE, first-person narratives have taken center stage. 

The reason? 

They provide glimpses into real human experiences that AI simply can’t replicate. These narratives give life and authenticity to your content – making them invaluable assets when dealing with complex topics or answer-focused inquiries.

When crafting your next piece, ensure you’re using conversational language and addressing follow-up questions naturally within the text. Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines suggest weaving personal insights throughout your content as it enhances E-E-A-T signals.

Dig deeper: AI can’t write this: 10 ways to AI-proof your content for years to come

9. Leverage structured data markup and SEO strategies

A robust SEO strategy coupled with effective structured data markup techniques also plays a significant role in optimizing for SGE.

Sure, structured data has been around for a long time, but it’s even more important now than ever. This is because it helps AI and search engines understand your content better. It may even help you rank better in SGE carousels.

For instance, using structured data markup can help Google understand when you’re sharing a recipe or when you’re providing a list of FAQs.

How the marketer should prepare for SGE: The future is bright

Embarking on the SGE journey can feel like a leap into the unknown. But now, you’re better equipped with knowledge on how to navigate it.

And contrary to popular belief, it’s not all doom and gloom.

If anything, SGE brings many promises of a brighter feature for marketers. 

And while no one is 100% certain about what SGE will eventually evolve into, you can still take advantage of this new frontier to boost your rankings, drive traffic, and increase your revenue. 

However, regarding how the marketer should prepare for SGE, I can offer a one-word answer – optimism.

Embrace the future of search and digital marketing with at least a little optimism, and you’ll be just fine.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy is an 9x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As the President at Content at Scale, she leads big initiatives for one of the fastest-growing AI content writing tools for SEO marketers on the planet. She’s been named in the top 30 of all content marketers worldwide, is the founder of Content Hacker, and exited a 100-person writing agency she spent 10 years building with a desire to help marketers, teams, and entrepreneurs find the keys of online success and revenue growth without breaking. Now, she's leading the charge and pioneering the field in AI-driven content efficiency.

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