Search Engine Optimisation

New Google SGE Updates

Google’s recent announcement at their I/O event has sparked a lot of interest and debate within the digital marketing community. The introduction of the Search Generative Experience (SGE) in the US is poised to transform how over a billion people interact with Google Search by the end of the year, especially with the advent of AI Overviews that will soon support complex, multi-step reasoning.

Key Features of the New SGE

SGE’s development by Google involves a sophisticated system called Gemini, which breaks down large, intricate queries into smaller, more manageable components. This system then prioritises these components and addresses them sequentially, tapping into Google’s extensive index of information and businesses. This capability is not just a technical upgrade; it represents a significant shift towards more dynamic, responsive search interactions that can understand and anticipate user needs more effectively.

Current Impact and User Interaction

Despite the ambitious rollout, the integration of SGE has been selective and somewhat restrained:

  • Only 14% of search queries currently return SGE-generated results automatically.
  • An additional 28% of queries return SGE results when users manually prompt the generation.
  • Surprisingly, 58% of queries show no SGE results at all, a dramatic increase from just 9% in February.

This phased approach shows Google’s caution in implementing these changes broadly, likely to monitor user feedback and system performance closely before wider application.

There’s been much speculation about the role of SEO when AI generated search results are properly integrated. It’s worth remembering past changes that rocked the digital ecosystem:

  • Panda
  • Penguin
  • Hummingbird
  • Featured snippets
  • Zero click searches
  • Hidden ads
  • Relentless SERP changes
  • Now, the introduction of SGE and AI overviews

Our clients have thrived throughout these shifts and we’ll continue to adapt our strategies to provide the marketing edge needed to meet their objectives.

screenshot from semrush

Publisher Concerns and Ethical Considerations

The rollout has not been without controversy. A significant backlash from both small and large publishers has surfaced, echoing concerns reminiscent of the unrest caused by the introduction of featured snippets and the rise of zero-click searches. From the publishers’ viewpoint, the use of their content by SGE without clear oversight mirrors what they consider to be content scraping and abuse of site reputation. These practices, they argue, fall under what would typically be deemed spam according to Google’s own guidelines.

Additionally, there’s an ongoing discussion about the use of the Nosnippet tag. This HTML tag, which can be used to prevent Google from showing specific text in meta descriptions or featured snippets, is now being scrutinised to see if it will extend to AI Overviews. Publishers are keenly awaiting confirmation on whether applying Nosnippet across full-page content will prevent their articles from being displayed in these new AI-driven search overviews.

Looking Forward

As Google finalises the new SERP layouts and prepares for further updates, the digital marketing world watches closely. The final structure of SGE’s layout is yet to be seen, and Herdl will conduct thorough tests to understand the full implications once Google completes its updates.

For our clients, staying informed about these changes is crucial. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, providing updates and strategic insights to help underscore decisions. If you’d like to learn more about about how AI Overviews will impact SEO or anything related to AI in digital marketing, please get in touch.

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