After more than a quarter of a century of entrusting our queries to the Google search engine, generative AI is entering the landscape and shaking up our well-established habits. If 2023 was the year of Chat GPT, Google has not said its last word. For months, the giant has been refining its Search Generative Experience (SGE), the cradle of a new search experience. Experience where SEO is threatened in its fundamentals.
So, what should we expect after putting in so much effort to reach and then maintain the top spots in the rankings? What are the new challenges for natural referencing in 2024? How can we anticipate the impact of these new uses on traffic generation? The SEO department of the JVWEB agency proposed some answers.
Search Generative Experience, From Search Engine To Response Engine
Until a few months ago, a question that crossed your mind inevitably ended up on Google, the essential search engine for over 25 years. Then, Open AI came to shake up the web with its now famous Chat GPT. Suddenly, without a selection of links – SEO results – we obtain a response, thanks to generative AI, a summary of the information extracted from here and there. A decidedly different approach has inspired new uses in just a few months and tends to transform the digital landscape profoundly.
If Google was a little slow to get started, the giant is included on the subject of generative AI. Thus, for several months, the Search Generative Experience has been tested in the United States and India in particular. Behind the three letters, SGE is a new search experience through a conversational interface, where the user accesses a response formulated in natural language.
Promised for a more massive deployment in 2024, SGE aims, according to Google, to “understand a subject more quickly and discover new points of view”. Concretely, via SGE, Google aspires to provide an enriched response formulated in natural language and personalized according to user requests. A response that is inserted between SEA results and SEO results and transforms the search engine into a response engine…
In practice, SGE displays a summary of the proposed answers, adding the possibility of generating visuals linked to the query, formulating additional questions, and isolating links to understand the fundamentals of the topic. As you will have understood, if the user benefits from expertise at a glance, the incentive to click is reduced dramatically…
SGE, A Real Risk Factor For Your SEO Results
Although it is still a little early to know the impact of search via SGE on SEO rankings – deployment is planned in the coming months – initial signals invite us to think about the consequences and the evolution of good SEO practices.
Slow SEO Traffic
Indeed, if Internet users confirm the adoption of this new search practice, the traffic generated by organic SEO results risks severely dropping. With fewer visible links, a “sufficient” response generated on demand for each query and increased ease of accessing information without navigating through different sources, click motivation is under threat.
Some are already predicting that the arrival of SHE could lead to a traffic loss from SEO of around 60% to 80%. Figures that are enough to make publishers whose online activity relies on SEO tremble!
New Domains At The Top Of The Rankings
A study in December 2023 by Authoritas also highlights the nature of the SEO links relayed by AGE. Thus, according to her, 94% of the links offered by AGE differ from classic SEO results for an equivalent query. Another point of importance is that of the proposed first ten results, only four come from different domains, reducing the spectrum considerably.
Finally, 15% of requests did not result in the proposition of additional links. The only encouraging observation from this study for challengers is that the generative links mainly refer to domains that had just reached the top 10 SEO results.
The Emergence Of Formats Adapted To Conversational
Furthermore, a study by Bright Edge highlights the nature of the answers offered by AGE compared to those offered by traditional search engines. The first, the main focus is on local results, which offer a more complete response thanks to the personalized approach than the current “Nearby”.
The second point is that specific content formats are often integrated into response generation. This is particularly the case for lists, more or less structured, of product viewers, warnings (medical or financial in particular) or even “for and against ”. In short, with AGE, 2024 risks seeing the pillars of traditional SEO shake up badly…
SEO Traffic Generation, New Practices To Experiment With
However, nothing is lost! The oldest SEOs on the market know this: Google has already put them to the test of the disappearance of traffic on multiple occasions, with Zero Clic in the lead! The key to weathering an SEO storm is adapting your practices and finding traffic where it is. In this case, Google Discover for information and Google Shopping for conversions…
Google Discover, The New El Dorado?
Indeed, currently being tested on desktops, Google Discover also tends to offer new uses. Presented in the form of a personalized news feed, Google Discover has, until now, focused mainly on the news, offering elected publishers excellent volumes of SEO traffic from this source. For some time now, we have seen links to much older content integration into Discover results as long as they find their place in the user’s “spectrum of interests”.
This may be about building the future residence of your senior content to preserve all their qualities! The only downside is that, for the moment, this content generally needs to be early in the purchasing journey and, therefore, relatively far from potential conversion.
SEO Practices To Challenge
At the same time, it is certainly fashionable to start exploring new SEO practices to adapt to the expectations of generative AI, such as AGE, but also Bing, which is returning to the landscape. Here are some ideas:
- Work harder than ever on your long-tail SEO queries. They correspond more to the intention expressed through natural language and conversational interfaces.
- Experiment with different interfaces and see how AI assistants translate questions into search queries.
- Study the intentions behind your key queries and see how to translate them into different formats suitable for SGE.
- Continue to offer helpful content in line with the EEAT reading grid.
- Include quotes, excerpts and external sources to consolidate your statements.
- Make sure your markup schemes are correct and suitable for consideration by the target AI.
- Carefully monitor the evolution of your positions in the SERPs using an SEO audit.
- Diversify your traffic sources to better control the risk and its consequences on your business activity.
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