Embracing Change: 2024 SEO Outlook with Zero Click Search, SGE, and AI Leading the Way

7 min read

In our SEO projections 2024, we anticipate the emergence of groundbreaking and futuristic methods for user interaction with search engines.

Of notable significance is Google’s impending launch of the Search Generative Experience (SGE) in early 2024, poised to revolutionize the search engine landscape.

SGE introduces AI-powered Snapshots for select queries, offering direct answers to user inquiries and furnishing detailed information alongside three relevant online sources.

Beyond Google, Microsoft’s Bing has integrated AI through its chatbot Copilot (formerly Bing Chat). While users can still access the traditional Bing interface, Copilot can respond to queries, generate original text, and create new images from scratch.

These advancements are significantly reshaping the online search experience, presenting formidable challenges for digital marketers.

For instance, the rise of zero-click searches, where users obtain all necessary information directly from the SERP (search engine results page) without clicking on any results, is gaining traction. This trend is expected to persist in 2024 with the advent of SGE and other AI-driven search functionalities, necessitating adaptation strategies for online success.

Fortunately, we have devised methodologies to address the challenges of 2024. Stay tuned for insights on navigating this evolving landscape effectively.


Prediction #1: Google’s Search Generative Experience Anticipated to Trigger 25% Decline in Website Traffic


As December marked the conclusion of SGE’s testing phase in Google Search Labs, anticipation mounts for its official launch in early 2024.

A select group within the US can activate SGE while browsing, albeit in experimental mode. It’s accessible in English and exclusively on Android mobile devices with the latest Google app version.

Below are the official criteria and steps to enable SGE’s AI Snapshot on your mobile device.

Upon SGE’s availability in Search Labs earlier this year, SEO experts, including ourselves, diligently scrutinized and experimented with its functionalities, leading to our first prediction for 2024.

Based on our findings, we anticipate an approximate 25% reduction in organic traffic for every website currently indexed on Google Search once SGE is live.

The rationale behind this projection lies in the efficacy of the AI-powered Snapshot. By furnishing comprehensive answers and information in response to user queries, many users are expected to acquire requisite details from this source and navigate away from the SERPs.

Furthermore, the AI Snapshot prominently features at the top of the SERPs, relegating top-ranked organic results lower on the page, contributing to the projected 25% traffic decline.

Preparing for SGE: Essential Strategies to Fortify Your Site

While the prospect of diminished traffic and decreased significance of organic rankings may appear disheartening, optimism remains amidst the challenges.

Our experiments unveiled a beacon of hope: adept optimization for SGE can mitigate the anticipated 25% traffic loss, predominantly impacting low-quality visitors unlikely to convert.

Here are some swift guidelines for rendering your content SGE-friendly:

  1. Cultivate a reputable backlink profile, as GAI (Generative AI) primarily draws from trusted sites.
  2. Tailor your content to longer, conversational queries to capitalize on SGE traffic.
  3. Uphold Google’s E-A-T (Experience, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines to enhance content quality assessment by GAI.

Implementing these strategies can align your site with SGE without significantly overhauling your existing SEO approach.

Additionally, ranking within the top two positions for specific keywords enhances the likelihood of featuring in the SGE Snapshot.

Classic technical and on-page SEO considerations remain pivotal. Regular audits are imperative to ensure compliance with Google’s Core Web Vitals and optimal keyword optimization, which is crucial for SGE Snapshot inclusion.

Continual attention to on-page and technical SEO nuances ensures your site remains poised for success amidst evolving search paradigms.


Prediction #2 – The Rise of Zero-Click Searches


We stand at the cusp of the zero-click search era, a topic that once inspired unsettling tales among SEO professionals. However, the reality of zero-click searches has been with us for some time. SEMrush’s study reveals that 57% of mobile and a quarter of desktop searches culminate without clicking on any results.

Why is this trend gaining traction? Users increasingly find the information they seek through SERP features like featured snippets, knowledge bars, and the local pack. Even straightforward inquiries, such as “What time is it in Australia?” yield immediate responses via SERP features, obviating the need for users to peruse organic results.

Understanding this phenomenon mitigates the apprehension associated with the SEMrush statistics. Searchers seeking basic information like time conversions or local business hours are unlikely to transition into customers through website visits—a trend analogous to the 25% traffic reduction anticipated from SGE.

The unsettling aspect arises with introducing technologies like SGE and other AI-powered search features. With SGE’s AI Snapshot, users obtain answers to questions typically found in website content, posing a challenge for website owners.

Preparing for the Zero-Click Search Era: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

How can websites adapt to thrive in the zero-click search landscape? Presently, leveraging AI Snapshots and SERP features to augment website visibility is paramount. Securing “position zero” with a Snapshot or SERP feature promises a substantial uptick in organic traffic and brand recognition.

This elevation positions your brand as a thought leader in the field, enticing users to delve deeper into your website beyond the Snapshot or SERP feature’s purview.

Identifying the keywords that trigger SERP features, such as featured snippets. SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool proves invaluable in this regard. By entering a niche-related keyword and filtering for SERP features like featured snippets, you gain insights into potential triggers for SERP features.

Furthermore, employing Google’s Rich Results Test ensures that your content aligns with SERP feature requirements, clarifying the features your content qualifies for.

Embracing these strategies empowers websites to navigate the zero-click search landscape effectively, transforming challenges into opportunities for enhanced visibility and engagement.


Prediction #3: Answer Engine Optimization (AEO) Emerges as a Necessity


In the wake of the AI revolution, platforms such as Bing, ChatGPT, and Google’s SGE have transformed into ‘answer engines,’ prioritizing direct responses to user queries in a conversational tone facilitated by advanced LLMs (large language models).

This paradigm shift aligns seamlessly with the rise of zero-click searches, as users increasingly rely on AI-generated answers instead of navigating to web results.

Adaptation has always been central to SEO practices, and the emergence of AEO is no exception. SEO practitioners must integrate AEO into their strategies, primarily by catering to the question-answer format of AI-powered search engines.

A key approach involves crafting concise content centered around questions and employing conversational-style keywords. Emphasizing clarity in addressing the titular question enhances the likelihood of citation by AI algorithms in their generated responses.

Incorporating commonly asked questions within articles is imperative. Furthermore, creating long-form content centered on individual FAQs amplifies the depth of engagement.

Leveraging our free keyword planner tool facilitates research into question-based keywords, enabling proactive measures to stay ahead of the competition—an initiative we strongly endorse.


Prediction #4: E-E-A-T Signals to Ascend as Content Cornerstones


In December 2022, Google introduced its updated E-E-A-T acronym within its Quality Rater Guidelines, underscoring the significance of incorporating E-E-A-T signals into SEO content. However, their relevance is poised to amplify substantially.

Google’s GAI for SGE will accord precedence to websites exhibiting topical authority for its AI Snapshots. E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) signals are the bedrock of credibility acquisition.

This underscores the imperative for content to embody each facet of the acronym, particularly emphasizing the newly appended “experience” element. Integrating real-life examples that showcase firsthand encounters with the subject matter communicates to Google the depth of practical understanding, distinguishing content from mere reiterations.

For those yet to embark, establishing a robust repository of content covering paramount topics and subtopics within the industry or niche is paramount. Equally essential is optimizing site architecture to foster a logical and user-friendly layout, facilitating seamless navigation for crawler bots and human visitors alike.


Prediction #5: Backlinks Set to Reassert Their Importance


Backlinks persist as pivotal markers of a website’s credibility in the digital milieu. Regarded as affirmations of trust, these external links signify the value of your content and the integrity of your brand, exerting a profound influence on search engine rankings.

In the nascent stages, Google’s algorithm, aptly named “Backrub,” underscored the centrality of backlinks, underscoring their significance. The endorsement from reputable sites drives traffic and augments domain authority, propelling your site to higher echelons in pertinent searches.

However, with the proliferation of AI-driven tools like ChatGPT and other generative AI systems, churning out copious content, search engines may increasingly rely on backlinks to discern and evaluate content quality.

It’s imperative to recognize that not all backlinks carry equal weight. In the realm of backlinks, quality surpasses quantity. Analogously, akin to a political campaign, an endorsement from a distinguished, ideologically aligned figure holds more sway than multiple endorsements from unknown sources.

In an era where content creation and user experience enhancements are easily accessible through diverse tools, prioritizing elements that remain less automated, such as acquiring high-quality backlinks, is paramount. These endorsements, presently beyond the purview of AI tools, offer a distinct advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape. By seizing the opportunity to secure more high-quality backlinks, you can maintain a leading edge in the digital realm.


Navigating SEO Trends in the Year Ahead


The year 2024 promises seismic shifts in the SEO landscape. With the advent of AI-powered search engines like ChatGPT and Google SGE, adaptation becomes imperative to maintain the relevance of your site’s content.

Rather than lamenting the bygone era, proactive preparation for these novel search experiences is prudent. Initiating the adjustment process now affords you valuable time to acclimate to the evolving SEO dynamics.

Should you find the transition daunting, consider exploring our monthly SEO packages, where experts stand ready to provide assistance and guidance, ensuring your continued success in the ever-evolving digital realm.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]