Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) has forced SEOs and content marketers to reconsider how they approach creating informative, engaging content that will rank well.
By commandeering the top section of search engine results pages (SERPs) for AI-generated responses, Google has many wondering whether — or rather how — its AI integration will impact click through rates and search visibility.
SGE is currently in beta, and Google is frequently updating its functionality. However, that doesn’t mean content teams should wait until launch to develop SGE-proof content strategies. Better to work with the information we have now than eto sit on our hands until launch.
I have two goals with this article. First, I want to show how you can create content SGE will want to cite. Secondly, I want to illustrate how you can still rank well and pull in organic traffic without worrying about SGE stealing your thunder.
Note: This piece was originally published in September 2023. Google makes frequent updates to SGE, so the screenshots may differ from what SGE looks like today. Despite this, the conclusions in the article remain the same.
Creating Content SGE Will Cite
SGE provides citations to the content from which it pulls information. I’ve noticed when a featured snippet is present during the searches, Google will pull the featured snippet into its SGE response.
By using the same techniques one would use to capture a feature snippet, you may be able to snag a highlight in an SGE response.
- Google your primary keyword and check out the associated featured snippet if one exists.
- Take note of the format and content in the featured snippet. Is the snippet a paragraph or a list? Is there specific bolding? Visit the page Google has selected. Where is the featured content on the page? Does it include an H2?
- Brainstorm how you can provide better information. Can you define the term more succinctly? Can you offer more helpful steps? Can your table include more in-depth info?
- When optimizing your content, keep your findings in mind. Mimic the style of the featured snippet. If it was a list pulled from h3s, make sure to format your content similarly.
You can learn more about how to get a featured snippet here.
Featured snippets appear for a variety of searches. But they likely won’t appear for every search you want to target. So when a featured snippet isn’t available, how can you still rank well and increase the chances SGE will want to cite your page?
How To Rank in an SGE World
Right now, there’s no word from Google on any algorithm updates that may correspond to the public launch of SGE. As a content leader, to me, that means the focus should remain on quality content that provides more value than what’s currently out there.
Of course, this is easier said than done — but well worth the effort.
Focus on Competitive Parity and Information Gain
Shifting focus from word count to competitive parity and information gain provides a path forward for continued search visibility and ranking success.
Let’s break that down.
By competitive parity, I mean creating content that meets the search intent of your target keyword theme and, at the minimum, contains the type of information Google is currently surfacing for your keyword.
Let’s say you’re writing about cybersecurity tips. You want to do a B2C piece that provides actionable steps for your consumers. Taking a look at top-ranking content, you’ll find Google ranks those that describe the threat and share tips for combating or mitigating them — no need to do a deep dive into the history of cybersecurity.
Information gain, in this context, refers to a patent that Google submitted in 2018 which referred to a method of ranking pages wherein the uniqueness of the content was considered when compared to other content a searcher may have already seen. When researching word count and evaluating competitors’ content, information gain should be top of mind. Using it as an evaluative framework can help us consistently provide value to our readers while improving the quality of our content and its chances of ranking well.
Both of these ideas tie in beautifully with Google’s helpful content system, which aims to reward high-quality content geared at readers that provides value. The helpful content system plays a big role in how well content ranks in SERPs. By structuring your content strategy around the concepts of competitive parity and information gain, you’re naturally creating content that includes all the tenets Google holds dear.
Schema helps search engines better understand a page’s content. By using schema markup to highlight relevant content, you’re pointing a giant arrow at what’s important on your page.
If you’ve invested time in a great guide with lots of easy-to-implement steps, boost its visibility with how-to schema.
Have a list of handy questions and answers? Don’t forget the FAQ schema. While Google has drastically reduced FAQ SERP features, FAQ schema may still help you snag a People Also Ask box feature.
Learn more about the different types of schema you can use here.
Optimize Alt Text
Help Google better understand your images by optimizing your alt text. Not only does it help screen readers describe the images you feature on your site, but it makes it more likely Google will surface your images in an image search. SGE doesn’t currently feature images, but there’s a good chance it will in the future. This is an easy lift and one that’s already an SEO best practice.
Offer What Google Can’t
Case studies, templates, and downloadable lead magnets can help you showcase the value of your services or products — and it’s content SGE just can’t provide.
Uncovering content types Google can’t replicate can help future-proof your content strategy. Plus, these content types tend to showcase E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Start by identifying what type of content would provide the most value to your customers, as well as any gaps in your current content. Do you need to beef up your case studies? Are your lead magnets outdated? Add those needs to your content strategy and prioritize them. Don’t forget to publicize them widely once they’re ready — create emails, share them via social media, and add them as CTAs where appropriate on your site.
Focus on Experiences
SGE provides information, and while it can do simple how-tos, it can’t offer the rich experience that a well-written article featuring images or videos of each step can. Consider who your audience is, what they may want to know, and how they like to learn to structure valuable experiences on your website.
Are there interactive elements you can incorporate into your site to help visitors better grasp your content? Can webinars or virtual events help you better connect with your target audience?
When you focus on providing a unique experience, you give your site a better chance of ranking well. Yes, an SGE box may still appear at the top for your desired keywords, but ranking well will still lead to more clicks than lingering at the bottom of page one. Plus, your new experiences encourage visitors to come back time and again.
Beyond the experiences you can offer site visitors, be prepared to share your own experiences… and expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
E-E-A-T is a critical part of Google’s vision and a building block for its algorithms and systems. While not a ranking factor on its own, E-E-A-T helps inform algorithm and system updates that aim to help quality content rise in Google Search results.
- Keep your ‘About’ page accurate and up to date. Make sure it has the right business name, address, and phone number.
- If you don’t already have them, add author bios to your website. This showcases your team’s expertise.
- Note a page’s author and their experience when appropriate.
- Make a concerted effort to secure company or product reviews. When customers are willing to share their experience with your company, it speaks volumes!
- Create case studies that spotlight what it’s like to work with your company.
- Seek out citations on industry-appropriate directories.
Measure, Analyze, and Remain Flexible
Iteration is the name of the game under SGE. Google doesn’t release a product or update and then let it be. It constantly tinkers with it, always trying to improve it. Content marketers must maintain that same spirit and focus on improving their strategies in the face of whatever updates Google throws at us.
Continue measuring and monitoring your content’s reach. Assess which content types fare well as SGE evolves and update your content strategy as needed to maintain growth and visibility.
Maximize your content by repurposing it for other channels. Despite your hard work, SGE will likely lead to a drop in organic traffic since Google will be surfacing answers to more queries right at the top of SERPs. Since you will have reworked your content strategy to increase quality and value, you can repurpose existing and new content to meet your audience’s needs in different ways.
- Bundle related blog posts into useful ebooks. Share them on your site, in email newsletters, and on social media. We do this pretty often. One great example is our SEO Content guide.
- Rework blog posts into short videos for social or into podcasts. Some audiences love videos, while others dig podcasts. And, of course, there are those who like both. Repurposing your written content in this way creates more opportunities for your audience to engage with it.
- Create long-form social posts and carousels from your blog content. This is a great way to repurpose content you’ve invested a lot of time into. Here’s an example of how we used our SEO statistics posts to create a carousel on LinkedIn.
And while AI may seem like the force driving this change, it can also be a tool used to make this work easier. ChatGPT can help you rework your content, create a script from existing pieces, summarize content for social posts, and more. Check out some helpful ChatGPT content prompts here.
Other AI tools can be used to generate videos and images — just make sure anything you publish passes the AI sniff test:
- Is it accurate?
- Is it helpful?
- Has it been edited by a human?
Elevate Your SEO Content
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Support Your Content Strategy With Thoughtful SEO
SGE won’t kill SEO because SEO has never been a static strategy. It will evolve, just as Google and its offerings continue to evolve. So, too, will user search behavior. An adaptive SEO strategy is critical to stay at the forefront of these changes.
Victorious is a data-driven SEO agency committed to helping our customers build out organic search as a marketing channel in its own right. Learn more about how we can support your content marketing strategy through SGE and beyond with our SEO content writing services — schedule a free consultation today.