SGE for SEO: A roundup of highlights

Search Generative Experience (SGE) is one of the biggest fundamental game-changers to hit SEO in years, so it’s no surprise that appetite for insights and predictions is off the charts in 2024.

A lot of the intrigue is no doubt fueled by what we don’t (and might never) know, since SGE content is produced by a black-box algorithm layered on top of the more traditional (and also black-box) SERP algorithm.

In other words, don’t listen to anyone who claims to know definitively how SGE content is pulled. But DO listen to what folks are seeing in early results – and listen to reminders of the things we can control in a relatively unsettled era of SEO.

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Here are 3 things to keep top of mind when it comes to SGE for SEO:

SGE doesn’t lead to link clicks – at least not the way you’d expect

Google’s aim with SGE is to keep users right on the SERP page, and that’s the way it’s working. We’ve had plenty of clients get traction (with links cited) in SGE content to date. As you can read in Director of SEO Kelly Ayres’s blog, users generally aren’t clicking on those links, instead choosing to consume the SGE content in front of them.

But – and this is a bit of a surprise – what we’re also seeing with that SGE content is that the original link tends to rank extremely high, usually in the top three spots. So although it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg scenario, links that lead to SGE placements are also proving effective in traditional SERP rankings, which are getting plenty of clicks.

SEO expertise has never been more important

We always get plenty of questions from brands about the value our SEO experts can add – and these days, there are even more ways to answer that question. 

Whether it’s real-world SEO experience, the ability to understand user intent and the related interplay with SERP content, or the many ways to augment distribution of your content outside of Google, SEO experts have a huge role to play in maintaining and building brand equity and awareness as SGE rolls out.

Google wants you to focus on first-hand experience and expertise

This is just about the polar opposite of AI-produced content, but Google’s being uncharacteristically obvious about prioritizing content that features E-E-A-T and first-party perspectives. As I wrote in a post about SEO hidden gems for Search Engine Land, Google has launched no fewer than three updates since September 2022 telling marketers that success in the SERPs won’t be all about AI.

So, while SGE will eat up a lot of real estate in the SERPs, there will be plenty of traditional results to work with – and the more authentic and trustworthy your content, the better chance you have to move up the rankings.

If you take away one lesson for how to approach SEO in the SGE age, it’s to come up with a list of trusted sources and follow their insights frequently. Subscribing to the JDM newsletter is a good place to start, but make sure you’re checking in with a range of experts, especially those specializing in your particular vertical.

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