Recently, Google unveiled plans for big changes in the way they present search results and how they’ll incorporate AI for a more interactive experience. We have already begun to get questions from partners and colleagues about what it all means. For background, here are a few snippets from a recent story in the Wall Street Journal:
“...the search giant is expected to debut new features that allow users to carry out conversations with an artificial-intelligence program, a project code-named ‘Magi.’”
“They would nudge the service further away from its traditional format, known informally as the “10 blue links,” according to company documents and people familiar with the matter.”
“Google search visitors might be more frequently prompted to ask follow-up questions or swipe through visuals.”
To be clear - it is impossible for us to interpret and predict how these changes might impact SEO and SEM strategies. Although there is a lot of “expert” commentary already, it is 100% speculation until we see a new SERP and analyze where clients and competitors come out. We go through this process regularly with the bigger algorithm updates, and we will do it again to protect the interests of our partners, as should any good marketer.
That said, we’re excited about what they’re describing here for a couple of reasons.
First, Google is suggesting that they’re working to better understand query intent. For both organic and paid search, this means better targeting and higher-quality traffic. If Google is asking follow-up questions to refine what information it shares, we can expect better engagement and conversion from pre-qualified visitors.
On the paid-search side, this is particularly exciting to think that there may be a host of new ad types and shopping experiences to work with in Performance Max as the SERP evolves.
A few things to remember:
- Google tends to make small moves to test user experience before big roll outs. We should see this coming with time to plan and adjust. Google is under pressure to counter the excitement of Open AI, but with $162B in ad revenue on the line, they can’t afford to gamble on huge changes overnight.
- Google may answer more queries in the SERP directly in the future, but it has been doing that for years with “Position 0” content. Our SEO clients and advertisers publish value-adding brand content and they sell products and services that are in high demand. It is difficult to imagine Google wants to prevent customers from finding them quickly.
- When Google takes credit for poor or inaccurate information it serves up directly, it’s worse than just delivering a bad link in search results. Remember how badly the Bard release PR was due to janky information.
An enormous part of what makes Google the vastly favored search engine is its ability to deliver the results we want quickly. If Magi starts answering informational queries directly in the SERP, and if those answers aren’t consistently accurate and relevant, Google will face a big credibility problem that could further threaten its market share.
This is an exciting time in search marketing, and we will be watching very closely as news and updates roll out. In the meantime, don’t panic!