Google Study Unveils Disruptive Trends for Brands & SEO

5 min read

New research sheds light on the potential influence of Google’s AI-driven Search Generative Experience (SGE) on brand visibility.

According to the study, Google’s SGE can potentially negatively affect brand visibility and search traffic.

With SGE introducing increased competition, many links originate from domains beyond the top 10 organic search results.

As a result, marketers may need to explore innovative strategies to sustain brand visibility amidst this evolving landscape.

Recent research conducted by Authoritas indicates that Google’s AI-driven Search Generative Experience (SGE), currently being tested with a select user group, may have a detrimental effect on brand visibility and organic search traffic.

The study reveals the following key findings:

  • Upon expanding an SGE box, the top organic result experiences an average drop of over 1,200 pixels, leading to a substantial reduction in visibility.
  • Approximately 62% of SGE links originate from domains outside the top 10 organic search results.
  • While the impact varies across different sectors, verticals such as e-commerce, electronics, and fashion-related searches are particularly affected, with all industries experiencing some disruption.

As generative search becomes more prominent, adapting SEO strategies may necessitate a shift towards prioritizing long-form content, expert insights, and multimedia formats.

With Google’s ongoing investment in AI-driven search, the insights from the Authoritas study offer an initial glimpse into the forthcoming challenges and opportunities in the digital landscape.


The Ubiquity of SGE Results & Industry-Wide Implications


The study examined 2,900 brand and product-related keywords spanning 15 industry verticals, revealing that Google showcases Search Generative Experience (SGE) results for 91.4% of all search queries.

This widespread presence of SGE results underscores their significant impact on most websites across diverse industries.

Analysis of the typical composition of SGE results revealed that, on average, each SGE element comprised between 10-11 links sourced from an average of four distinct domains.

Brands may need to secure multiple links and listings within these AI-curated results to sustain their visibility and traffic. Moreover, the research indicates that larger, well-established websites like Quora and Reddit will likely outperform smaller websites and lesser-known brands in SGE results.


Evolving Landscape: Impact of SGE on Organic Search Results


As Search Generative Experience (SGE) results dominate the entire first page, websites currently occupying top positions may witness a notable decline in traffic and click-through rates.

The study reveals that upon expanding the SGE element, the average drop in position for the #1 ranked organic result is significant, reaching 1,255 pixels down the page.

Even websites ranking first in organic search may find themselves effectively relegated to the second page owing to the prominence of SGE results.


Unforeseen Rivals: Emergence of New Competition in SGE


The study uncovered that SGE often presents links and content from websites that should have been featured in the top organic rankings.

On average, only 20.1% of SGE links are precisely aligned with a URL from the first page of Google search results.

Furthermore, an additional 17.9% of SGE links originated from the exact domains as those on the first page but directed users to different pages. Notably, most, accounting for 62% of SGE links, were derived from sources outside the top organic results.


Navigating Brand Term Optimization & Local Search Amidst SGE Challenges


The study highlights the hurdles brands face in optimizing branded terms and local search in light of Search Generative Experience (SGE) results.

SGE results for branded terms may present a unique challenge, as they may include competitors’ websites alongside the brand’s site, intensifying competition for brand visibility.

Laurence O’Toole, CEO and founder of Authoritas, remarks:

“Brands are not immune. These new generative results introduce more opportunities for third-party sites and competitors to rank for your brand terms and related brand and product terms you care about.”

Moreover, local businesses may encounter similar obstacles, with SGE results showcasing competing local brands even when users search for a specific brand within a regional context.


Methodology & Considerations


To unveil these findings, Authoritas conducted an exhaustive analysis of 2,900 search keywords encompassing various query types, such as specific brand names, brand + generic terms, brand + product names, generic terms, and specific product names. These keywords were distributed across 15 industry verticals.

Employing a consistent desktop browser viewport, the study quantified pixel-based alterations in search results. Additionally, Authoritas developed exclusive “alignment scores” to gauge the extent of overlap between traditional organic search outcomes and the emerging SGE links.

While acknowledging certain limitations, including the necessity for the keyword set to be fully representative of each vertical and the ongoing evolution of SGE, Authority asserts that these insights offer valuable preparation for brands navigating the shifting landscape of an AI-driven search environment.


Why It Matters


The insights from the Authoritas study hold significant implications for businesses, marketers, and SEO professionals. With the increasing prevalence of Google’s SGE, there’s a potential for disruption in conventional organic search rankings and traffic patterns.

Brands that have heavily invested in SEO efforts and attained top rankings for crucial terms may witness a reduction in visibility and click-through rates due to the prominence of SGE results.

Moreover, the emergence of SGE introduces a fresh wave of competition from unexpected quarters, given that most SGE links originate from domains beyond the top 10 organic results. This necessitates businesses to not only contend with their traditional competitors but also adapt to compete against a broader array of websites that garner visibility through SGE.

Given Google’s role as a primary traffic and lead generator for many businesses, any alterations to its search results can profoundly impact visibility, brand recognition, and revenue streams.


Leveraging Opportunities Amidst the Rise of SGE


As the prominence of SGE grows, it presents challenges and business opportunities. Here’s how you can leverage insights from the Authoritas study:

  1. Invest in comprehensive content: Given SGE’s preference for in-depth, informative content, prioritize creating well-researched articles and guides that offer substantial value to users.
  2. Include expert insights: Incorporating quotes, interviews, and authoritative sources within your content can enhance its credibility and increase the likelihood of being featured in SGE results.
  3. Enhance multimedia elements: Enrich your content with visuals, videos, and multimedia elements to captivate users and appeal to the SGE algorithm’s preferences.
  4. Build a strong brand presence: Establishing a robust brand presence across various channels, including social media, industry forums, and relevant websites, can improve your chances of being showcased in SGE results.
  5. Manage your online reputation: Given that SGE may feature competitors alongside your website, prioritize building a trustworthy brand and managing your online reputation effectively.


Anticipating Future Trends


The future impact of SGE hinges on user adoption and the perceived value of its results. Nonetheless, the insights from this study offer a crucial foundation for businesses and SEO professionals to navigate the evolving landscape.

By addressing the problems and capitalizing on the opportunities SGE presents, you can enhance your prospects for success in this emerging search environment. If you’re still grappling with these complexities, consider exploring our monthly SEO packages and tapping into our team’s expertise.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]