Future of Search: Google Announcement

by | May 28, 2024

Recently, Google announced a number of changes coming to Search, predominantly due to their application of AI.

We wanted to provide you with a breakdown of these changes as they are quite significant and will certainly impact search as a whole moving forward. It will be more important than ever to optimise pages, rank in positions 1-3, include product reviews, ratings, and people’s experiences for your products and services.

 

In This Article We Will Cover

  • Informational queries
  • E-commerce
  • Perspective tab
  • Helpful content algorithm
  • Tracking the impact of organic traffic

 

Informational Queries

Google showed us generative AI in action for an informational query:

This is like a supercharged featured snippet, only the text is generated by AI, rather than being a text snippet from a website. They have also brought in the top three results into this space right at the top of SERPs, instead of stacking them vertically.

“People Also Ask” questions are also linked below. It’s currently unclear if these will open up a generated response or take you to text answered by a website.

So we have potentially two areas where Google’s AI is answering questions for people rather than websites, the Featured Snippet and the People Also Ask areas. However, we also have the top three organic results ranking higher up the page.

At this point, it’s unclear how traffic will be impacted, it could go either way, perhaps depending on the query.

Underneath this, we have stacked organic results as normal, albeit below the fold, which given the space that ads currently take up, isn’t unusual.

 

Appearing in the top 3 results will become even more important than it is today.

E-commerce

For e-commerce queries, the SERP looks slightly different. However, the shopping carousel with sponsored products is still up top with a generated response from AI, that displays some text and recommended products to purchase.

When searching for a product, you’ll get a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider and products that fit your search. You’ll also get product descriptions that include relevant, up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices and product images.

When clicking on a recommended product, you’re taken to a side panel that shows the top three retailers, and information such as the price, delivery, offers etc. 

So this experience is quite different from now. Again, it’s unclear how traffic will behave as though there are changes, the presence of organic results is still as prevalent, they’re just shown differently. That being said, there are definitely going to be ways to ensure a presence at the top and within the side panel links.

  • Where schema would have been optional, we think it’s likely to be a requirement for appearing in the side panel and the overall reputation of the brand and reviews will be more important.
  • Having reviews, rating, and personal experiences will become even more important

 

A New Perspectives Tab

Given the huge emphasis on AI generation but an overall awareness of dissatisfaction from users moving to search in either Reddit or TikTok for more personal experiences, Google have introduced a Perspectives tab, which will display user-generated content including video. Tap the filter, and you’ll exclusively see long and short-form videos, images and written posts that people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites and social media platforms.

  • Creating and optimising your social media content for SEO will become more and more important to ensure your videos are coming up for the right searches.
  • Creating user-generated content will also play a larger role in search
  • Reviews that explain context, use and benefits are likely to become extremely valuable to help match with searches

 

New Helpful Content Algorithm Update

In addition to making it easier to find authentic perspectives, Google is also improving how they rank results in Search overall, with a greater focus on content with unique expertise and experience. The next roll out of the Helpful Content Update will more deeply understand content created from a personal or expert point of view, allowing them to rank more of this useful information on Search.

  • Ensuring your content is unique and sharing perspectives from your customers and experts, will become increasingly important as Google looks for new perspectives and human experiences as differentiators.

 

Tracking The Impact Of Organic Traffic 

In the same way that Dark Social exists, where you can be fairly certain that it’s had some impact on a purchasing decision, measuring it is difficult, measuring the impact of organic presence may also become difficult.

  • Therefore, measuring visibility is going to become more important to factor in as well as clicks and impressions. Given that these are new sections to Google SERPs, it might take tools that measure this a while to catch up so that we can measure this.

 

How The Changes Will Impact Your SEO

We don’t yet have the full picture on what SERPs will look like for many types of queries. However, product page optimisation will become extremely important as well as adding user experiences with well mapped out, personalised journeys. It is likely that the ability to leave reviews on product pages, articles and recipes will be pivotal as Google looks at brands for “human” content.

 

AI and Paid Search: The Benefits

AI has been a part of paid search for many years now, with features such as automated bidding and algorithmic ad testing being part and parcel of PPC in 2023.

These processes help to minimise the amount of time taken to improve performance, and to ensure that the right ad is being shown to the right query. A review of activity is still required and human intervention is an important part of a successful account, but the more mundane tasks are frequently completed using AI.

This automation has enabled marketers to manage large-scale advertising campaigns more efficiently and effectively. Google’s Smart Bidding, for a detailed example, uses machine learning to optimise bids for conversions and maximise the return on investment (ROI) for advertisers. This has resulted in significant increases in conversion rates and lower costs per click, and also delivers insights on what performance could be at different bid and budget levels, as seen below:

The benefits of AI are being experienced by advertisers and users alike today, and will continue to do so as long as people continue to interact with search engines in the same way they have gotten used to over the past 20 years.

 

AI and Paid Search: Where Will Users Go?

The big risk that AI poses from a paid search perspective is where ads will actually end up being shown.

If Chatbots become so powerful that users prefer them to searching manually through a search engine, where will ads be shown? What targeting will be used to display relevant ads to serve people’s problems?

These are unknowns and could pose risks to advertisers who rely on Google Ads to drive significant levels of relevant traffic to their site. When you consider that this is only the beginning of the people’s understanding of their own use cases for these AI tools, their behaviour is likely to change quite significantly.

For example, ChatGPT has released plugins that allow users to fine tune the outputs of their chats, for example with OpenTable, allowing them to book tables directly from the chat. This bypasses the need for a search engine in two ways; firstly the user interacts with the chat instead of searching themselves, and secondly, the user doesn’t need to leave to book the table that suits their needs at that time.

 

AI and Paid Search: Will It Be Cost Effective For Advertisers?

Another aspect is how much it costs a search engine to deliver an AI response to a query versus a standard search engine results page (SERP).

The computational input needed is far greater than a normal SERP, and therefore this might require more expensive Cost per Clicks (CPC) to make it a viable business model for the advertising platform.

With an increase in CPC, will this still be a viable channel for buying traffic for advertisers? If conversion rates do not match the rise in CPC, then it will start to become very difficult to generate a positive Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) to justify spending on the media in the first place.

 

AI and Paid Search: Our Take

While there will undoubtedly be challenges to the status quo of the major search engines of today through shifts in behaviour and how people interact with the internet, the future of AI and paid search does not have to be a sad one.

It might come in the form of new tools that offer advertising services related to the fundamental curiosity that drives people to current search 8.5 billion times a day on Google, or Google themselves develop with the shifting needs of its user base. They certainly have the resource and the firsthand data to deliver a solution to successfully incorporate AI and all of the opportunities it brings people.

One solution might be certificates for advertisers that let AI know that the business can cater to the needs of the user, and those with a certificate for a certain product or service will be eligible to auction for a user’s attention. It might be that searches are banded together into themes and these themes become the main way of targeting ads. It is exciting that such a fundamental shift is going to occur in a key part of our everyday lives.

 

However it happens, there will be a need to invest in ads to target people based on their requirements, and as custodians of these ad platforms, agencies like Silvertip will be on the forefront of that brave new world.