Google’s AI gameplan: How it’ll shape the future of SEO

By seoBusiness

09 Apr 2024

Website
seoBusiness Google SGE

Google found fame and fortune as the internet’s great directory, the place you went to find out where to go. In recent years though, it has been repositioning itself not as the signpost but as the destination.

In its earliest days, a search result on Google would return a ranked list of the websites most likely to be able to answer a user’s query.

More and more, Google is aiming to become the only site you’ll ever need.

You no longer needed to browse different sites to find specific images, you could find them right there on Google Images (until a copyright claim hampered its effectiveness, somewhat.)

You didn’t need to hop from shop to shop to find the best deal, you could compare prices within Google Shopping.

And if you wanted to find a restaurant, study its menu, read reviews, browse photos and even book a table, you could do that through Google’s Maps and Small Business Profiles.

All of this was possible without ever leaving google.com, and Google SGE is the next step in this direction.

What is Google SGE?

Google recently launched ‘featured snippets’ which extract text from websites in order to answer user questions. It displays a sentence or two which is likely to answer the question, alongside a link through to the website for a full explanation if needed.

But in most cases, a more in-depth answer is not needed, and the user finds everything they need to know without clicking through to the site that provided the answer.

This is known as a no-click or zero-click search result and presents a problem to businesses that we’ll explore in greater detail later in this blog.

Now, Google is making its first tentative steps at doing away with displaying a list of websites which might answer a query. Instead, it will mine those websites for information, and write up, in as human-like prose as possible, a detailed response which should fully satisfy the user.

Not only does this mean a user won’t need to click through to the website that provided the information, it means they might even know which websites were used as the source.

This is the Google Search Generative Experience, or SGE, and the fall-out for businesses could be huge.

The latest SEO trend: What is a no-click search and what does this mean for businesses?

The Latest SEO Trend: A no-click, or zero-click search, is one in which a user goes to Google to find something, and gets their answer without ever having to click through to another website.

This could be anything including – but not limited to – a weather forecast, a product price, user reviews, a location on a map.

The advantage to the wider public is that this system is extremely user-friendly, and any business with a comprehensive Search Engine Optimisation campaign can join in and use it to raise their visibility.

You can add your business to its map, you can list your products in its Shopping inventory, and it brings you face-to-face with new customers.

The downside is that it does so on Google’s terms. Most notably, your potential audience may be able to access what information you’re offering without ever having to visit your side.

How SGE will impact your website’s traffic

Businesses often depend on clicks through to their website to build their audience. When a potential customer visits your website, you can present your information in your own way, branded how you want to brand it.

You can build your website to optimise your sales funnel. You can capture the user information you need, analyse it, and make the necessary tweaks.

You can even collect customer information, adding them to your CRM database.

But you can’t do this if they don’t visit your website. Then you’re left to rely on whatever information Google chooses to provide.

SGE is still being tested and evolving. But one thing that we can be sure of is that clicks through to other websites will become less and less important to Google’s user experience. And so, those websites will likely see a decrease in traffic volume and engagement.

How businesses should react to SGE

For its part, Google says that it intends to continue to “send valuable traffic to publishers, and support a healthy, open Internet.” However, it also says that advertising will play a large role in its SGE results. The adverts, of course, will be how it pays for this multi-billion-dollar roll-out.

So, it’s fair to say that a lot of businesses will be seeing a reduction in traffic to their websites due to the SGE roll-out.

It’s too early to know the exact details, but in recent years it has been the early adopters, those with their finger on the pulse and a willingness to move quickly, that have had the advantage.

This could mean investing in advertising to ensure you are the result beside the generated AI content.

It could mean adapting your site to appeal to the AI minds within Google that go hunting for information. This may include populating your website with helpful, quotable content. Google ranks each source’s Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, and so you can follow the guidelines to boost your score and become a trusted source that appears in results.

It will also involve coding your site properly, employing the correct markups to text, image and video content to ensure that Google can see it and interpret it.

And then it’ll be a case of test, analyse and refine. Use Google to search for your products and services, and search for your competitors. Take note of the results, identify areas where your site could be improved, make the required changes, and repeat.

Google’s rocky history with AI

AI is relatively new and evolving quickly, and the path so far has been rocky, which makes it difficult to predict where things could be heading in the future.

Google itself has had its own faltering track record of rolling out AI products. Recently, its generative AI tool Gemini earned criticism for its perceived in-built bias.

When asked to write a job description for an opening in the fossil fuel industry, it instead returned an argument on why fossil fuels are bad for the planet. When asked to draw pictures of people – even real-life people – it seemed incapable of rendering anybody with white skin.

At the time of writing, Google has scaled back Gemini’s capabilities while it investigates. This demonstrates that AI is imperfect and we don’t yet know how long it will be before it becomes a trusted source for the general public.

On the other hand, in recent years it seems to be that wherever Google goes, people will follow, missteps and all.

And so if Google decides to replace search listings with generated AI answers, it’ll soon become the norm, and businesses better be ready to embrace it – or risk losing out to those who do adapt.

Latest news

1

Darwen gets go-ahead for 'transformational' manufacturing site Darwen Manufacturing Research Site Chapel South Visual

Darwen gets go-ahead for 'transformational' manufacturing site

24 May 2024

2

Uncertainty over devo deal progress after election call Lancashire Devolution

Uncertainty over devo deal progress after election call

24 May 2024

3

Lancaster seeks approval for 135-home community development Skerton High Proposal

Lancaster seeks approval for 135-home community development

24 May 2024

4

North West charities benefit from donations by law firm Napthens NWAA-LI-May-2024.jpg.jpg

North West charities benefit from donations by law firm Napthens

24 May 2024

5

How much money do you need to have a financial adviser? article placeholder listing image

How much money do you need to have a financial adviser?

24 May 2024

Lbv116 Ltb Strip980
Background image for hub sign up block

LBV Hub

Reach 50,000 members of the Lancashire business community

Post your news
Post your events
Post your offers
Company profile
Social reach
Magazine coverage
Sign-up
Events
Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista
EVENT LISTING SIZING Vista.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
28 May 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour
EVENT LISTING SIZING Endeavour.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
28 May 2024

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour

Oak Royal, Bury Lane, Chorley, PR6 8SW

06:30 - 08:30

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond
EVENT LISTING BNI Diamond.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
29 May 2024 - 29 May 2024

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond

The Marriot Hotel, Garstang Road, Broughton, PR3 5JB

07:15 - 09:00

Business Networking in Lancaster - Eden Business Network
Eden Business Network.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
29 May 2024 - 29 May 2024

Business Networking in Lancaster - Eden Business Network

The Borough, 3 Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PP

18:30 - 20:30

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus
EVENT LISTING SIZING Zeus.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
29 May 2024

Business Networking in Accrington - BNI Zeus

The Mill House, Corn Mill Yard, Accrington, BB5 5HX

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Lancaster - BNI Castle
EVENT LISTING BNI Castle.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
30 May 2024 - 30 May 2024

Business Networking in Lancaster - BNI Castle

Vale of Lune RUFC, Powder House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 2TT

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos
EVENT LISTING BNI Kudos.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
30 May 2024 - 30 May 2024

Business Networking in Burnley - BNI Kudos

Prairie Sports Village, Windemere Avenue, Burnley, BB10 2FU

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Brunch
EVENT LISTING SIZING Brunch .png.png
LBV Hub Networking
31 May 2024

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Brunch

Samlesbury Hotel, Preston, PR5 0UL

09:30 - 11:00

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Infinity
EVENT LISTING BNI Infinity.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
31 May 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Infinity

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:30 - 08:30

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour
EVENT LISTING SIZING Endeavour.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
04 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Chorley - BNI Endeavour

Oak Royal, Bury Lane, Chorley, PR6 8SW

06:30 - 08:30

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista
EVENT LISTING SIZING Vista.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
04 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Blackburn - BNI Vista

Hampton by Hilton, 2 Frontier Ave, Blackburn, BB1 3AL

06:45 - 08:30

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond
EVENT LISTING BNI Diamond.png.png
LBV Hub Networking
05 Jun 2024

Business Networking in Preston - BNI Diamond

The Marriot Hotel, Garstang Road, Broughton, PR3 5JB

07:15 - 09:00

Advertise with us

Reaching 50,000 members, our print, digital and event platforms offer a fantastic way to raise your business profile and help you grow.

Find out more LBV116 Online Graphic
Subscribe now

Weekly news bulletin