Google is widely regarded as the most popular search engine in the world. This is partly due to its complex algorithms and guidelines that rank web pages within its search results based on relevance, site structure and user experience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been Google’s primary tool in providing a level playing field for websites to compete for visibility and organic traffic. However, users must still search articles, blogs and listicles for answers.
But what if they didn’t have to?
In May 2023, Google unveiled its plans to launch the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE). The new Google search experience is in its early stages but uses generative artificial intelligence (AI) to display AI-generated answers above search results. Essentially, it provides a condensed and interactive snapshot tailored to a user’s query.
So, what does this mean for ecommerce business? The potential for increased visibility if you adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. That said, the competition for top rankings may also become stiffer.
Key Features of Google's New Search Experience
The new interface, which is not yet released to the general public as of May 2023, will look very similar to the Google you already know and love. The search engine will still list sponsored content, top-ranking websites, knowledge panels and commonly searched questions.
But one thing will change: Above the search results, users will find an AI-generated answer meant to streamline their experience.
For example, let’s say you wanted to plan the perfect day in New York City. You begin a string of Google searches, such as:
- “best restaurants in New York”
- “New York City subway map”
- “cheap Broadway tickets”
With Google’s current search experience, you would have to compile all the information you find throughout your search to create your New York City itinerary.
But with SGE, Google can do that for you. With one question, such as, “what are the best things to do in New York if you’re only there for one day?” Google AI can generate a personalized response, similar to OpenAI's ChatGPT experience, complete with:
- Citations and links to corroborating websites
- Vertical search and product recommendations
- Conversational mode for follow-up queries
See an example of the new Google Search Experience below:
Implications for Ecommerce Businesses
Ultimately, SGE will transform the SEO landscape. Because SGE will provide an interactive and conversational search result, it may deter some users from scrolling beyond that AI-generated snapshot.
To stay relevant on Google, ecommerce businesses will need to adjust their SEO strategies to better align with the new SGE. For instance, long-tail keywords are expected to increase in popularity. SGE will also operate with semantic search AI technology, which analyzes search queries using natural language processing (NLP) to:
- Understand context
- Detect synonyms and related terms
- Identify variations in spelling, grammar and syntax
In effect, both natural language and long-tail keywords may factor into SEO rankings in the future.
How to Adapt Your Marketing Strategies to SGE
In addition to altering your strategies around semantics, you can also take a few steps to leverage AI-generated answers to drive traffic and conversions — and ultimately, get ahead of the competition.
- Step 1: Optimize your website content for AI – Focus on structuring your website content to align with the specific types of questions and queries that AI-generated answers most frequently address. By tailoring your content to match the format and style of these answers, you can increase your chances of being featured within generative AI results.
- Step 2: Leverage conversational mode for customer engagement – With AI-generated answers becoming more conversational, consider adjusting your marketing strategies to engage customers in a more informal way.
- Step 3: Build authority through reputable citations and links – AI-generated answers prioritize authoritative and trustworthy sources. Make sure your website is well-cited and linked to reputable sites. Establishing your business as an industry expert and earning high-quality backlinks can enhance your credibility and increase your likelihood of being featured in AI-generated answers.
- Step 4: Adapt keyword research and targeting for AI-generated answers – You may need to adjust your traditional keyword research to focus on long-tail, question-based queries that align with AI-generated answers. By identifying the types of questions users ask and optimizing your content to address those queries, you can position your business as a relevant source of information.
- Step 5: Incorporate vertical search optimization – AI-generated answers are also prevalent in vertical search, such as product searches. Ensure your product listings are optimized for vertical search by including detailed product information, structured data and relevant keywords specific to your industry.
- Step 6: Evaluate the role of paid advertising – As AI-generated answers occupy prominent positions in search results, it's important to assess the effectiveness and ROI of paid advertising in this new landscape. Fortunately, ads will still appear in AI-generated answers, similar to how they appear today. Consider targeting specific queries and leveraging ad extensions to stay on top of the search engine results page (SERP).
Stay a Step Ahead of SGE With Human
As Google search queries evolve, so too must ecommerce marketing strategies. While paid advertising is still a viable option to stake your ecommerce business at the top of Google SERPS, you may also need to adjust your approach to target keywords, content structure and product listings when SGE hits the mainstream search experience.
For help navigating these ever-changing search technologies and user behaviors, team up with a dynamic marketing agency like Human. We specialize in partnering with ecommerce entrepreneurs, and we’re ready to partner with you. We’ll guide you through shifting SERP landscapes and help you adapt new technologies early to ensure you always stay ahead of the competition.
Check out our SEO Services today to learn more.
Statista. Market share of leading desktop search engines worldwide from January 2015 to March 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/216573/worldwide-market-share-of-search-engines/
Google. Supercharging Search with generative AI. https://blog.google/products/search/generative-ai-search/
Search Engine Journal. Semantic Search: What It Is & Why It Matters for SEO Today. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/semantic-search-seo/264037/#close
MarketingDive. Google starts testing generative AI in search, ads included. https://www.marketingdive.com/news/google-tests-generative-ai-search-advertising/649989/
Search Engine Journal. I, Search: How AI Will Transform the Landscape of SEO. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/search-ai-will-transform-landscape-seo/185531/