How Does SGE Affect SEO? (And How to Prepare Your Strategy)

Google's Search Generative Experience will affect SEO by decreasing organic visibility and creating a ripple effect for other metrics, like traffic and conversions. SEOs can prepare, though, by adapting their strategy and approach to SEO content.
  • Portrait of a smiling woman with long hair, transparent background.
    Sarah Berry SEO Consultant
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  • March 20, 2024
  • 8 min. read

While not guaranteed to launch (Google is famous for its graveyard of abandoned projects), the company’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is one SEOs can’t ignore because of its predicted negative impact on organic:

  • Visibility
  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Revenue

Learn more about how SGE will affect SEO and how to prepare now!

How will SGE affect SEO?

Since its launch in Google Labs, SEOs have invested hundreds of hours researching how SGE will affect SEO. They have found it’ll decrease organic visibility, which will lower organic traffic, conversions, and revenue, with some sites estimating a 20 to 60% decrease in organic traffic.

SGE example

Why will SGE affect search engine optimization?

The SGE will affect search engine optimization for a few reasons:

  • Function: Google designed SGE to answer a user’s search intent while providing the means (and encouragement) for users to continue their journey from within the SGE. This design aligns with Google’s evolution from a search engine to an answer engine.
  • Placement: With SGE-enabled results, the SGE response appears at the top of search results —before organic search results and sometimes before paid listings. This placement gives SGE content maximum visibility while downgrading the top organic search results.
  • Monetization: Growth is Google’s — and its shareholders’ — goal. Paid ads serve as the company’s biggest revenue source, and with SGE, the company has a new avenue for generating revenue: SGE ads.
  • Appearance: SGE-enabled results appear across searches, from informational to transactional. On average, SGE responses have a height of 1764 pixels, which moves organic listings down more than 140%.

Search engine optimization success depends on visibility. Even for sites ranking #1, the SGE decreases organic visibility so significantly that it often requires scrolling halfway down the search results to view the first organic listing.

How much will SGE affect SEO?

How much SGE will affect SEO depends on a few factors:

  • SGE response: Multiple SGE snapshots exist, from product listings to text-based summaries. The usefulness of those snapshots will shape whether users engage with the SGE or move to the organic search results.
  • Industry: Publishers expect the biggest impact from SGE, with some publishers expecting a 20 to 60% decrease in organic search traffic. Sectors in the “Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) sphere, like finance, insurance, and health, could see less of an impact from SGE.
  • Target audience: Since the SGE’s initial launch, Google has shared that younger demographics (18-24 year olds) have responded well to SGE results, which could indicate higher adoption rates among younger vs. older users.
  • User adoption: SGE’s success (and impact) depends on user adoption, which requires Google to overcome AI challenges like hallucinations and how people decide to use the SGE.

Remember that Google is still testing and evolving Search Generative Experience.

While YMYL queries triggered fewer SGE responses at launch, that number has increased over time, meaning Google is experimenting with bringing Search Generative Experience to previously sensitive verticals.

Who will SGE affect the most?

SGE will affect all websites, but who SGE will affect the most depends on what the Search Generative Experience looks like at launch. In its current version, search engine optimization experts have concerns for the following industries:

  • Ecommerce, especially for transactional searches
  • Publishers, especially affiliate sites targeting “best” or “top” terms

SGE risk example for ecommerce

However, a recent study shows SGE will affect more than those two, but also:

  • Healthcare, where 76% of queries triggered SGE
  • Technology, where 49% of queries triggered SGE
  • Insurance, where 45% of queries triggered SGE
  • Education, where 44% of queries triggered SGE

The point is that SGE does affect your business, which demands your team’s response.

How to evaluate your SGE risk

Evaluating how SGE will affect your SEO efforts requires research within Google Search Console, Google Analytics 4, and Search Generative Experience. A few SEOs (listed below) have created templates for completing an SEO impact analysis:

If you’re curious about preparing for SGE’s SEO impact, you’ll find our recommendations below!

How to prepare for SGE’s SEO impact

Prepare for SGE’s SEO impact with these actionable steps:

1.     Manage leadership’s expectations

First, reset leadership’s expectations for SEO’s performance.

Google’s Search Generative Experience will affect organic traffic — how much depends on your site’s risk levels, SEO optimizations, and user behavior. You must ensure leadership understands that traffic will likely decline and affect other critical metrics, like organic revenue.

Consider setting new performance benchmarks (pre- and post-SGE) to help here. You should also outline how the team is responding to this shift (see the tips below for how to prepare for SGE’s search engine optimization impact).

2.     Improve E-E-A-T

Search Generative Experience is “rooted” in Google’s “core Search ranking and quality systems,” which include the Helpful content system. If you’re familiar with the Helpful content system, it ties into E-E-A-T. So, what is E-E-A-T? It emphasizes the importance of:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Authority
  • Trust

A recent study into generative search engines (like SGE) confirmed the impact of E-E-A-T:

  • Authoritative adjustments to content improved rankings 89% in one example
  • Trust adjustments to content improved rankings 134% in one example

Bring more E-E-A-T to your content by:

  • Infusing content with cited sources
  • Including statistics from reputable sources
  • Using authoritative language

For example, if writing a restaurant review, include your opinion, plus data-backed information, like the number of reviews for the restaurant and the average user rating about the past six months. This data can build your content’s authority and user trust.

3.     Make content easy to read

Researchers also found in their generative search engine experiments (like SGE) that easier-to-read content ranked better in generative search engines. Improving readability is a quick win, and a tool like WebFX’s Readability Test Tool can help you get started.

Readability test results

4.     Embrace structured data

Structured data is critical to Search Generative Experience. That’s because schema markup provides the large language models (LLMs) powering SGE with more context about your content and business.

According to Google, SGE “is built on Google’s Shopping Graph,” which gets its data from Google Merchant Center and indexed URLs. Indexed URLs with Product markup can provide Google with valuable information for its Google Shopping Graph.

Get started with structured data with markup options like:

  • Product markup
  • LocalBusiness markup
  • Organization markup

Check out our schema markup guide for how to generate and add structured data.

5.     Enhance content with multimedia

Google uses multi-modal models in SGE. A multi-modal model understands more than text — it can also understand images, videos, and voice. Give these models more to work with by creating custom images, videos, and audio that can appear in SGE results.

SGE with multimedia below

Images that appear in organic search results (below SGE results) can also compel users to visit your site. Your multimedia can also appear in Google Image or Google Video search, which doesn’t have the Search Generative Experience.

6.     Acquire third-party mentions

Third-party mentions provide another chance to appear in SGE-generated results. That’s because Google can use these sites to generate SGE responses (“what are the best XYZ apps?”), which could feature your brand’s name and trigger users to search for your brand.

SGE mentions example

Getting these mentions is similar to acquiring backlinks. With outreach, plus a compelling brand and offer, it’s possible to get third-party publishers to review or feature your brand. In some cases — like a directory site — you’ll need to pay for a listing.

7.     Supercharge search intent

Search Generative Experience aims to deliver a conversational search experience, meaning users can converse with AI to ask follow-up questions vs. making follow-up searches. That’s why SEOs recommend supercharging SEO content by targeting:

  • Suggested follow-up questions in SGE
  • People Also Ask
  • Common questions on forum threads

While these are effective strategies, it’s important to consider your target audience. Focus on reaching that audience by asking the questions they’re most likely to ask, which you can find by reading online reviews and speaking to departments like sales and customer support.

Offset SGE’s impact on SEO

Yes, SGE will impact SEO, but there are steps SEOs can take now to offset its impact. Get started with the above resources and tips, or receive professional assistance with our SGE optimization services — powered by the award-winning team behind, WebFX.

Portrait of a smiling woman with long hair, transparent background.
Sarah Berry is an SEO Consultant at one of the largest SEO agencies in the USA — WebFX. With more than 10,000 hours of SEO experience, she offers practical insights and strategies you can use to grow your rankings, traffic, and revenue from search.

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