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Google’s Search Generative Experience. What Does it Even Mean?

Search Generative Experience - what does this even mean? This is one of those topics that sounds confusing and over your head - but when you dive in and explore how search engines, like Google, are adapting you’ll soon start to realise that small changes to your marketing strategy could set you up well for the AI-driven future of search engine marketing. Today we’ll chat about the small steps you should be taking now to ensure you’re setting your business up to thrive in a ‘new search’ world.
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Listen to the podcast or read the edited, short transcript below:

There’s been a massive shift in the marketing landscape in 2023, with so much changing and updating and talk of AI, people losing jobs, social media changes with Threads and Twitter turning into X – it’s been a big year of change….and we’ve still got a few months to go!

The massive amount of change has also meant that it’s been challenging to keep up with all the changes and the potential changes on the horizon.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the development of Google’s Search Generative Experience – which I’ll refer to from here as ‘new search’.

In a nutshell, this is due to shake up the world of Google search in both HOW you use Google as a search engine to find information and products that you want and how we MARKET using Google search in the future.

Google announced its plans to use generative AI in search at its annual developer conference in May earlier this year. 

The company said that using generative AI technology would allow it to create more comprehensive and informative search results for users of Google by summarising the information from multiple sources and providing more concise and easy-to-understand answers to your search.

While there’s no release date yet, the new Google Search has opened up in BETA mode to select US users, so we’re starting to understand how it will shake up the way you search.

So, by this point, I might have lost you – honestly, it all sounds like a complex change – but once you delve in and look at the information and the suggested actions that business should take to prepare, it’s much easier than you may be thinking – and a lot of the suggestions are most likely things that you’re doing already within your strategy, meaning you may need just to make some tweaks.  

So, in a nutshell – what is the ‘New’ Google Search?

Google is creating a new search experience that uses ‘Generative AI’.

In simple terms, this type of artificial intelligence can create new content, such as text, images, and videos. 

Google is using generative AI to improve its search results.

This means that when you search for something on Google, you will be more likely to see comprehensive and informative results, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.

So does the ‘New’ Google Search change the game for marketers?

Yes and no.

As we’ve come to expect in 2023 so far – there are planned changes to Google search which will impact how we both use search engines and how we use search engines to market our businesses.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Users will most likely spend more time on the search result pages.

Yip – more time on Google search and potentially less on your website.

Why? 

Well, what we know about the ‘new search’ is that generative AI will be able to provide more comprehensive and informative results, making it easier for users to find the information they are looking for.

So likely, the user will get the info they need right on Google, not your website.

We currently see this on search results now – with the ‘Featured Snippets’, but the ‘new search’ will 10x that.

But Google says this won’t affect ALL businesses.

There will be less website traffic from informational queries. 

So this means that if you have a website that currently serves more ‘informational’ type searches – you should be rethinking your strategy.


This is because ‘new search’ will be able to answer many informational queries directly, without users needing to click through to websites, as mentioned above.

Think recipes and how-tos, for example.

Action-based queries will drive higher-quality traffic to websites. 

So here’s where the ‘new search’ might work better for your business – if your business primarily focuses on ‘transactional’ or ‘action-base’ search queries.

So what are these?

Action-based queries are more likely to lead to a purchase or other action, such as “buy a car” or “book a flight.” 

Understanding the intent of a user’s search will become increasingly important in future search.

Google claims that if you sell products or services online, you could see a rise in traffic and purchases on your websites as the new search would be able to identify the user’s intent and direct them to sites that are most likely able to fulfil that intent the best.

So as businesses, how do we adapt?

So we’ve got an understanding of what’s on the horizon; the question now becomes how do we best adapt – or prepare to adapt.

As mentioned at the start of this podcast, it may sound confusing or a little scary, however, once we delve into the ways you should adapt, you’ll soon discover that there are current suggestions based on what you’re most likely doing – or should be doing anyway. 

The aim will be for you to identify some of the below suggestions and look at what you’re currently doing – and tweak your approach – or what you need to start thinking about across all your marketing touch points.

Have an Emphasis on Real Human Experiences

Google has said it will emphasise real human experiences in its search results. 

This means that Google will more likely rank websites that feature real people sharing real experiences, insights, and perspectives.

This isn’t anything new, as marketers we’ve been speaking about the power of testimonials and influencers for a while. It’s just time to double down on this.

However, it also goes against the grain that we’re seeing in the market right now, as everyone’s rushing to tools like ChatGPT and AI writing tools to bust out as much content as possible – when what Google is searching for is ‘real human insights’.

Use AI and ChatGpt to speed up your workflow; however, if you’re adopting an entire AI content workflow, you’ll likely be in trouble down the line.

Google is focusing on human experiences as it means that they’ll be more likely to show search results that are more directly relevant to a specific user’s needs and interests and show results and resources that are more trustworthy and credible.

Here’s a quick checklist of how you need to look at this:

Build your personal brand profiles (and your teams): This means working with your core team, or yourself, and the people with your business who have valuable insights to share. 

Start focusing on building personal brands that help you to then highlight your expertise and credentials, and it can also make them more accessible to potential customers and clients. This, in turn, then helps credibility with the overall business.

And this works in so many verticals as well – from service-based providers to retail – customers want to see trust and authority in what you are selling.

Leverage user-generated content: This means using images, reviews, testimonials, and feedback from real people to promote your products or services. This can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

Think about how you can display that on your website; what content formats will help you build trust with your prospective audience?

Utilise real stories and case studies: Share stories about how your products or services have helped real people. 

I had a client who saw Gary V speak in Melbourne last week – and one thing he mentioned was focusing on sharing testimonials in short 45-second chunks that clearly explain the customer’s life before using your product and then after. Simple.

This can help demonstrate the value of your products or services and make your brand more relatable to potential customers.

Use video and social media to showcase real human experiences: Share real-time experiences with potential customers. This can help to make your brand more engaging and authentic.

How can you then share these videos on your website or YouTube shorts to increase the likelihood that the content could appear in search engines?

Actively engage in conversations with your audience across channels: This is nothing new. Foster and build your community. 

Responding to comments and questions from potential customers on your website, social media, and other channels. Start conversations and nurture these new customers.

This can help to build relationships with potential customers, and it can also help to address any concerns they may have.

Build AI-friendly content with personalisation in mind

So we know what type of content you should focus on – but then the question becomes, how do we present that information in an AI-friendly way that appeals to your customer?

We now know that Google’s ‘new search’ will be enhanced by personalising the search experience for users.

What does that actually mean?

It means that Google will be able to consider a user’s past search history, location, and interests to provide more tailored results to their searches.

Again, this is nothing new – but it could affect how your content is presented to the user.

This could be based on the searcher’s location, the time of day they search, and their past history across Google products.

This means that you should be thinking about the following checklist:

Conducting thorough audience research

If you haven’t done this for your business yet, hit pause and do that now. You need to gain a true understanding of your target audience and their needs. 

We’ve shared a lot on this in the past, but these ‘new search’ updates point towards having that clear customer persona, which makes this stage even more important.

Conducting surveys, analysing social media data, and talking to potential customers.

Build. Your. Customer. Personas.

Start by creating fictional representations of your ideal customers and then even using those “fictional names” when creating content.

Start by creating content for specific personas – and refer to that person in your workflow. 

You want to move away from simply ‘writing a website landing page’ to ‘writing a website landing page for Dave’.

Again.

Build. Your. Customer. Personas.

Prioritise optimising content for conversational queries.

What does this even mean?

This means creating content designed to be answered in a conversational way. 

Consider the natural language that users may use in search, what questions they are asking, and how our search behaviours might change in the future.  

For example, the world or ‘prompts’ are being used with AI tools like ChatGPT, so consider how users may start thinking about and using ‘prompts’ for search.

Create tailored content for different segments within your target audience:

What does this even mean?

Create content specific to the needs and interests of different segments of your target audience. 

This goes back to the customer personas and ensures that the landing pages on your website answer their questions based on their personas.

Remember, right back at the start of this podcast, we spoke about ‘informational’ content VS action-based content. You need to understand your persona to understand their intent and then ensure that the content on your website or marketing matches that intent.

You should also consider creating this content that is ‘AI-friendly’

What does this even mean?

Use formats that are easy for AI systems to understand and process. This includes using bullet points, lists, tables, and snippets. 

Make sure that, technically, your website is set up with the correct usage of headings and subheadings to break up your content into smaller sections.

Provide clear and concise answers to the questions that users are asking.

This can be done using FAQ pages or writing question-based headings in your articles.

Again, this isn’t groundbreaking information and frameworks that we’ve been speaking about for years.

The difference is that we’re getting a more precise roadmap on why this is becoming more important.

Here’s your opportunity – defined.

We know already from BETA testing that the ‘new search’ experience (officially called Search Generative Experience) will likely highlight video responses, social media posts, forum comments, expert articles and snippets of information.

You should start establishing your personal branding for you and individuals within your organisation, especially those with subject matter expertise.

Create a robust online presence for your expert-based content, including blogs, social profiles, LinkedIn, and YouTube – wherever your audience will likely consume content.

This will help to establish your business as a thought leader in your field and make you more likely to be cited as a source for AI-generated answers.

Perhaps incorporate and collaborate with influencers and other experts and use the leverage of people who have a following on social media or in a particular industry. This can help to get your brand in front of a wider audience and to build trust with potential customers.

Or, get experts featured within your content – potentially as guest posts, podcast guests, or webinar guests. 

This can help you share their knowledge and expertise with your audience and again position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.

Then, showcase your thought leadership with insightful articles, white papers, research studies, and industry reports. Create content that is informative and valuable to your target audience. 

This will help to establish your brand as a trusted source of information and to attract new customers – and ensure that your brand is following the guidelines we’re seeing from Google’s ‘new search’ of focusing on authentic human experiences and personalisation.

Search user intent is the king of search, and marketers need to focus on real human experiences, perspectives, and expertise with their content – and then package that all up into AI-friendly formatting that ‘new’ search engines will love!

Start with a Strategy

We’ve thrown a lot of content and ideas to you in this article, and the best way to actually make some of the improvements we’ve suggested is to start with a strong strategy.

This is what we do best, helping you to build a strategy, identify your customer personas, plan your tactics and formulate the plan on how you’ll execute that plan out to your market. Get in touch with our team and let’s talk.

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