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SGE - What Does it Mean for E-Commerce

Search is on the brink of a significant change with Google's introduction of the Search Generative Experience (SGE). This new search result format which is in beta at the moment utilises generative AI to deliver Chat GPT style answers to search queries directly in your search results.

Understanding SGE

SGE represents a significant change from traditional search results. SGE will provide results in the form of a text response, generated from aggregating information from various sources. 

Early tests of the beta suggest the text is taken often close to word for word from sources that are all referenced, with links directing you to the exact section of text on the source web page.

Importantly, the SGE results are consistently displayed above the current text, featured snippet or shopping results we are accustomed to seeing.

As Google continues to refine SGE, the final version's features and release timeline remain uncertain. This uncertainty further complicates how e-commerce businesses should prepare for the change. Is it time to start investing in adapting organic and paid search strategies now? Or is it best to wait until features are confirmed and released.

One particularly big unknown is the formats and options available for paid search results within Search Generative Experience. It seems almost guaranteed that Google will develop and include paid ads as this is their biggest revenue source.

Impact on E-commerce

Search Results relegated below the fold

One of the most immediate impacts of SGE is the relegation of traditional search result formats – including text links and featured snippets – further down the search results page. This change could lead to a significant reduction in organic website traffic for top ranking sites.

E-commerce and Marketing Funnels

Businesses that have built their models around search traffic, particularly those utilising marketing funnels based on users taking actions on their sites, need to reassess their strategies. With SGE providing answers within search results, the likelihood of users clicking through to websites decreases.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

With fewer visitors reaching websites, the opportunity to optimise conversion rates through user behaviour analysis diminishes. Less traffic means less data gathered and that means less opportunities to learn and improve website experiences.

Content Marketing: 

Businesses leveraging content marketing for traffic generation might see a decline in effectiveness, as informational content gets increasingly summarised in search results.

Ad Revenue: 

Websites relying on ad revenue from search-driven traffic will also directly be impacted.

Transactional vs. Informational Searches

It's important to differentiate the impact of SGE on the type of searches. Informational searches are likely to be most affected, as users get summaries and overviews directly in search results. Think of searches beginning with “how do I […]”. In contrast, transactional or purchase-intent searches should largely continue to drive website clicks, as users seek to complete purchases or engage in specific services. Think searches like “blue dresses”.

screenshot of Meta ads report showing performance of ASC and TOF campaign from an anonymised account

Adapting to SGE

The influence of SGE will not be uniform across all industries. Businesses should assess their current organic and paid traffic and plan accordingly based on how SGE is likely to affect them.

Some techniques such as adapting landing pages to match existing SGE results word for word seem to deliver extremely good (almost too easy) results. This is working in beta, but will it behave the same in the final version.

Regardless of what is done however, this change will mean less traffic to websites and e-commerce businesses will need to adapt.

Work With PD

At Purpose Digital, we have years of experience in paid and organic search. We can help your business understand and navigate search as a channel for growth. Whether you have existing campaigns which you are looking to grow or have never had the confidence to test search as a channel. We can help you understand your options, assess where you are and develop the best strategy possible to reach your goals through search marketing.


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