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What a Google Engineer Thinks People Are Misunderstanding About SGE

The cool part about having a decent audience and following is platforms keep you in the loop when it comes to marketing.

Mainly so they can get feedback…

Luckily over the years, we have been able to give platforms like Google and Facebook feedback based on what we are seeing in the market and they in turn do the same.

In which they give us feedback on what’s changing and their perspective on things.

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I was lucky enough to sit down with an engineer at Google and discuss SGE.

What is SGE?
Before we go into the misconceptions people may have, let’s first break down what SGE is.

SGE stands for “search generative experience”.

In essence, Google is leveraging AI to help people get more out of every single search that they run.

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In Google’s words, with SGE people will be able to:

Ask new kinds of questions that are more complex and more descriptive.
Get the gist of a topic faster, with links to relevant results to explore further.
Get started on something you need to do quickly, like writing drafts or generating imagery right from where you’re searching.
Make progress easily, by asking conversational follow-ups or trying suggested next steps.

So now that you know what SGE is, let’s go over what people are getting wrong.

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What are people getting wrong about SGE?
There were 6 things that many don’t understand with SGE.

So, let’s dive into each of them.

#1: Google isn’t trying to answer all questions.
The goal is to help uncover insightful insights and helpful content for users in fewer searches and fewer clicks.

If a question is basic and black and white like what’s 2 + 2, Google wants to answer those questions, but in most cases, they already do without SGE.

Answering questions for people is complex because there are different opinions on many topics and there isn’t always one clear answer.

In other words, there isn’t always a “right” or “wrong” approach.

An extreme example of this is Covid-19.

Do you still need the vaccine? Or do you not?

There are a lot of different viewpoints, facts, and data on both sides.

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#2: Google and any other platform will struggle to provide 100% accurate information.
You see a lot of misinformation in the SERPs and Google has been trying to solve this since Google was born.

It’s hard, and for that reason, they know it would be hard to always provide you with the 100% correct answer.

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Not only is it due to data sources being off, but it’s hard to determine which ones are accurate and inaccurate.

Plus daily more information is being published on the web. Some of it is accurate and some is inaccurate.

When you look at signals like backlinks, social shares, or event comments, in many cases both the accurate versions and inaccurate versions get attention from people.

People determine what they perceive to be real and accurate for them.

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#3: SGE will, not impact all queries.
For example, in categories like health or finance, they don’t want to mislead a searcher or give bad advice that can harm their life.

Now this doesn’t mean SGE won’t be leveraged for all categories, it just means they have to be careful.

Google cares about a searcher’s well-being and they want to provide the best experience for them.

Giving a searcher bad advice that can affect their health negatively or giving them financial advice that causes them to lose their money isn’t what they want to do.

This was pretty clear even before I talked to the engineer as they introduced Your Money, Your Life a while back.

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Nonetheless, it just emphasizes that their goal isn’t to take clicks away from a website, it’s more so to just help a user out.

#4: Google will not be able to predict what you want to buy anytime soon.
Google isn’t a mind reader.

So having no search results and just showing the exact product you want to buy is very unlikely. At least for the majority of the queries that people perform.

The best way the engineer put it was… “Neil, you are married, right? How good are you at predicting what your wife wants at any given moment… and you know her well and live with her.”

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Heck, even I don’t know what I want all the time.

But for some weird reason, people assume AI is so powerful that it can know what you want before you even want it.

That’s not the case.

#5: SEO won’t be dead, it will change.
Because Google’s goal isn’t to provide answers for most queries, but instead just to help uncover helpful information and insights, they don’t see a scenario where search results just disappear.

Mainly for some of the reasons above, such as not providing people with the wrong information or being unable to fully understand all of the content on the web.

In their words to the DOJ…

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We do not understand documents, we fake it.

How will things change? Well, time will tell.

It’s so new that they don’t even know all the answers.

#6: The future of SGE is unknown.
This is a big experiment for Google and it takes many years.

Just like self-driving cars take time.

They need more time to drastically improve the technology and they need time to figure out how it impacts users.

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But what people assume is that SGE will change everything.

Or that AI platforms like ChatGPT and Bard will replace search.

However, there is a use case for multiple platforms and models.

Just like how Facebook, Instagram, Snap, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and X all exist together.

It’s the same reason why everyone hasn’t stopped using search.

There is a purpose for many platforms depending on the use case. And time will tell how each platform adapts.

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Conclusion
The last thing you should worry about is SGE.

Some marketers are worried it will kill their traffic.

Google’s goal isn’t to kill your traffic. It’s to provide the best experience to searchers, including you.

Google has consistently driven more traffic to websites each year since its existence.

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Now will it affect your traffic, for some queries?

Yes! But it won’t for all.

What you should focus on is delighting your visitors.

If you do that, your site, and your traffic should do well in the long run.

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