In Brief

  • Google is rapidly becoming a Q&A engine for informational queries, delivering answers directly without clicks.
  • Only branded queries remain relatively untouched in search results, so association of your brand with search demand is essential.
  • Content creation strategies based on expertise, authority and subject matter expertise are dominant in the new search results.
  • Brands that ignore the changes in Google are likely to be supplanted by up-and-coming brands, risking their market share.

Customers Don't Care About Your SEO Goals

Customers want answers now. Google is addressing that need in a manner reminiscent of its inception: elegant simplicity free from clutter. It aims to attract users away from cluttered, pop-up infested search experiences and solidify its position as the primary gateway to the web. This is to ensure that companies like ChatGPT, Apple, and Amazon don’t emerge as potential search replacements.

As a result, informational queries often lead to no website clicks, as structured snippets and SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features provide immediate and satisfying answers.

SGE No Links
An on-SERP (Search Engine Results Page) strategy is based on building brand value as the "go-to" source since links are often absent!

Big Changes in Search Results

The Long-Tail Answer Engine and Generative AI / SGE

Google’s Generative AI Search Results, also known as SGE (Search Generative Experience), represent its latest feature in the realm of Generative AI and conversational search engine results. At its core, the aim is to answer customer questions in the most effective way, ensuring Google retains its title as the “gateway to the Internet” amidst stiff competition from ChatGPT, Amazon, and Bing. While it’s grounded in the traditional Google search index, it’s enhanced with a Large Language Model (LLM) that offers a predictive and conversational interface. Interacting with it feels akin to chatting with a human.

For many website owners, this development implies that searchers might find their answers directly on Google, bypassing the need to click through search results. This could lead to a significant drop in organic click traffic. Estimates from September 2023 suggest that anywhere from 20 to 80% of organic search traffic might be replaced by on-page results.

Beyond Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) into SGE

Insights into how SGE will be integrated into Google can be gleaned from its recent updates. As of now, Google has discontinued the Q&A section of its results, which used to appear below the standard results. This popular feature’s removal suggests its replacement by SGE. Additionally, Google has significantly revamped its algorithm to prioritize content helpfulness and author credibility.

To excel in SGE, firms should focus on populating their websites with Subject Matter Expertise (SME) content. Publishing branded Q&A content in Knowledge Bases, making it accessible to LLMs and linking it to a particular brand, could be a potent strategy. Strengthening this association further, internal linking structures can be used to form topical clusters from this Q&A content.

Q&A Knowledge Bases (KBSEO) and Extended LLMs

Many companies possess private knowledge bases with content stored across various systems, making it challenging to access. Employing LLM systems to process, categorize, and showcase this content as part of a brand’s online presence seems like a prudent move for many businesses. This content can be presented as generative website material or as search tools that adapt based on user navigation.

Notably, this aligns with our previous advice (from 2005-2022) about making knowledge bases accessible in libraries for easy indexing by search engines.

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See Also

  • Local SEO
    Local SEO is the process of connecting your business to the community of searchers nearby in a cost-effective manner.
  • SEO Audits with Actionable Next Steps
    This is a honest, plain-English, objective critique of your website's SEO from a SEO specialist and researcher.   These clinics are done via screen sharing and a phone call, or in person and on-site using big data, state of the art tools and rich Q&A.
  • Avoiding SEO Scams, Incompetence and F.U.D.
    Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time defending clients from unsolicited SEO pitches - many of which depend on "FUD"  (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) to cause less aware staff to question the necessity of our "white hat" methods for SEO, while offering a shortcut through the slog.  Client education is key an we make every attempt to keep our clients aware of the state of the art so they're able to discern these scams when they see them.