7 Takeaways from JDM’s SGE Webinar

The SEO world got rocked with a couple of Google-focused news drops in May.

The first was the release of AI Overviews in Google Marketing Live 2024, which made it clear just how quickly Google is planning for GPT results to take over the SERP. The second was a leak of documentation that peeled back the curtain on the Google algorithm. 

In tandem, what did we learn that we can take forward into the new SGE age of SEO? Here are some major takeaways from my recent webinar (full recording here).


New call-to-action

AI is here, but Google is focusing on engaging the user

Google is really focusing on delivering a personalized search experience. The SERPs (non-AI edition) now feature a diverse range of elements, including featured snippets, knowledge panels, Q&As, discussions & forums, and image and video carousels. And that's just the beginning.

With that knowledge, great SEOs must understand how to analyze intent and how to craft compelling first-person perspectives that will resonate with a user seeking authenticity.

We know the part of the SERPs that doesn’t include AI Overviews will prioritize engaging and valuable content. While we don’t know the algorithm that produces AI Overview (and provides source links), content that anticipates the right question and provides a thorough, helpful answer should be in good standing.

You shouldn’t sleep on UGC

At the other end of the spectrum from AI-produced content is user-generated content – and, perhaps as a hedge to keep from going too far in one direction, Google is prioritizing UGC as well as AI.

I guarantee you that you’ve seen, for instance, an uptick in Reddit and Quora answers pulled into the Discussions & forums part of the SERP. Consumer-related queries are also returning a surge of TikTok content.

This reflects Google's recognition of the value of user generated content in providing real-world insights and super-detailed responses to niche questions. An SEO strategy that includes creating high-quality content for discussion within those platforms can very much improve your search visibility – on those platforms and on Google.

SGE is more than an algorithm

Let’s take a minute to put SGE in its proper context. It’s not a new algorithm or an algorithm update; it’s an ecosystem that attempts to enrich the search process by understanding context and intent around user queries. Its end goal is to make search results more relevant and personalized.

It’s also engineered to keep the user on the page and asking follow-up questions to drill down into more and more relevant answers, which is a process that could lead to a significant decrease in clicks to brand sites.

SGE is dependent on its sources to be effective

Like any AI tool that aggregates and synthesizes data and content, SGE’s output is vulnerable to some questionable input, which is how you get AI Overviews saying that you can eat a rock a day, or that Barack Obama was our first Muslim president. 

In other words, SGE is not a finished product. For that reason, there are bound to be some PR nightmares ahead while Google works to refine its QA processes.

SGE is already gobbling up SERP space

At the time of writing, we’re seeing that 14% of the queries we’re studying in client accounts are automatically returning SGE content, and 28% of the queries return SGE content when you hit the “generate” button.

That said, volatility is high, and we’ve seen Google introduce SERP features and pull back on the reins in the past. In other words, the arrow could swing up or down on this one, and trends could be erratic for a while.

There’s room for content that AI can’t replicate

Other than UGC, you know what AI Overviews can’t encroach on?

Proprietary data and real, first-person experiences.

For those reasons, we’re encouraging clients to lean into original research or experimentation and to focus on genuine, first-party perspectives gleaned from experience. This approach is already showing traction in the SERPs (see the UGC point above), and it stands to serve as a fantastic differentiator when people get AI fatigue.

Trust the experts, not Google

Hating on Google is a pretty trendy thing these days, and it’s an easy stance to defend. (Check out the “highlights” of the antitrust trial, or query “Google layoffs.”)

Google spokespeople claimed at Google Marketing Live (without evidence) that people love AI Overviews, and they’re saying AI Overviews “might” lead to a decrease in site clicks. Common sense says that if the stats showed great engagement with AI Overviews, those stats would have been shoved in our faces. It also says that any new ecosystem meant to change user behavior to keep them on Google will decrease the flow of traffic away from Google.

We’re all learning on the fly on this one, so make sure you find a few sources you trust, and don’t take the Google PR team’s words at face value.

As you might have guessed, we’re going to be all over this topic in the months and years to come. Follow the JDM blog for more insights on what we’re seeing (and how we’re planning ahead) in client accounts.

New call-to-action

Recent Articles

5 Powerful Ways HR Drives Company Values

If you last chatted about HR a decade ago, you likely think HR pros are all about compliance,...

Put Digital PR into Action with Link-Building & SEO

The landscape of SEO and link-building is always changing, and building high-quality links has...

The Journey to a Big Honor from Google

A little over six years ago, I was laid off. The job was great, but the startup was struggling. It...