CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Hot Topic: Will Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) Impact Your Firm’s Organic Search Traffic?

Google is reimagining how users search with its experimental Search Generative Experience (SGE), which utilizes generative AI to make searching more intuitive and help users understand information faster. With its ability to generate relevant content directly on the search engine results page (SERP) coupled with its intuitive nature and interactive style, Google SGE could significantly impact accounting firms’ organic search traffic if launched as is.

What is Google SGE?

Google SGE leverages various AI-based technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning to interpret and anticipate the user’s search intent and deliver comprehensive summaries and insights as AI snapshots at the top of the SERP. SGE goes beyond keyword matching to understand the nuances of a query, enabling it to answer increasingly complex questions. SGE also introduces a conversational aspect to searching, where users can engage with the search engine by asking follow-up questions or interacting with a list of related queries.

While it’s not yet available to the public, you can access SGE in Google Search Labs (currently available in the U.S.).

How could SGE impact my organic search traffic?

Google has historically given users answers to queries by directing them to websites with relevant content, thus taking them away from the SERP. With its robust AI-powered snapshots, SGE encourages users to stay on the search engine results page, which may result in more zero-click searches as users find what they need directly on the SERP.

Below is an example of an AI snapshot response to the query, “How to account for long-term contracts:”

As you can see, SGE’s AI snapshot dominates the top fold along with two corroborating sources. Google offers even more ways for users to stay on the page and interact with related questions and the ability to ask a follow-up, both above and below the featured snippet:

As you can see from this example, SGE has a vast array of resources in response to this query directly on the SERP, making it easy for the user to find their answer quickly. While this feature is great for searchers, it’s not so great for accounting firms, who typically leverage thought leadership to gain exposure and attract new business. Organic results are getting pushed lower down on the page, and if your content doesn’t appear within the AI overview as a corroborating source despite being highly ranked, your click-through rate will likely drop.

How to optimize content for SGE

Google holds SGE to a high standard and strives to give users reliable, high-quality information. SGE will continue to reward content that underscores Google’s E-E-A-T principle: experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. With the proliferation of AI-generated content online, it will become increasingly important for accounting firms to produce original, high-quality content aligned with a user’s search intent.

Here are a few ideas that may help your content rank better in SGE:

  • Ensure each piece of content on your website has an author and corresponding link to that author’s bio page
  • Optimize content for conversational queries by using an FAQ format that mimics the questions your audience is asking
  • Make your content highly readable by avoiding jargon and using plain language, short sentences, and bullet points
  • Create precisely targeted, comprehensive, and accurate content over generic information

Currently, there doesn’t appear to be a hard rule on queries an AI snapshot will appear for: according to Google, a snapshot will appear “when appropriate.” SGE is designed not to generate a response to explicit or dangerous topics or if there is insufficient reliable data available online surrounding a topic.

SGE: The future of search?

Google is constantly making changes to SGE, and we have yet to know the extent of SGE’s impact on organic search. Be sure to focus on SEO basics, such as aligning your content with the user’s search intent, checking your page loading speed, and including images and videos to help land in higher spots. It will be easier to rank in SGE if your content already ranks well. Until Google provides more detailed information, sticking to SEO best practices and producing content that resonates with your audience is the best approach.

About Megan O'Donnell

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