How will Google’s AI powered SGE impact the link building industry?

No Comments

Link building specialist Outreach Pro’s Oliver McAninch delivers his verdict on how Goolge SGE (Google’s AI powered search results) will impact the link building industry.

google sge ai steroid

Google SGE will represent the biggest change to Search in a generation

Google’s AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE) currently has everyone in a flap. From SEO agencies, to News companies, to Brands. It is presently being tested with a limited group of users, but from what we’ve seen so far, it could adversely impact brand visibility and organic search traffic.

In a nutshell, Google SGE answers users queries by taking relevant snippets from web pages, and displaying them at the top of the page. Sometimes eliminating the need for the users to even visit the site where the snippet was generated from. Not only that, but the AI generated answer takes up valuable space at the top of the search results page (sometimes pushing down the rest of the results below the fold).

However, personally, I don’t think SGE is as big a catastrophe as some people are claiming, but there will definitely be a choppy and sometimes painful transition period. Some publishers and brands will undoubtedly lose ground, but some will also win.

Authority and Relevance will still be key 

It may take a bit of time for Google to settle on the perfect formula, but I am certain that authority and page optimisation will become the biggest commodity to publishers. Google will continue to be under pressure to show diversity of information. However, link builders will need to be much more focussed on delivering their links and brands inside exceptional content.

On Google, users want to get to what they are looking for, as fast as possible. Google’s AI changes are aimed at increasing productivity, and delivering hyper-personalised results.  Whilst some people think that Google is trying to keep users on Google itself (in the same way that Facebook has), I think this is incorrect. Google’s success metric is to reduce the amount of time spent on each Google search, and deliver people to where they want to go, fast.  So traffic will be lost for some search queries, but people will be able to make more queries overall with their time.

We know from the past that productivity gains don’t result in people working less. So don’t expect time spent on Google to go down, just because people get where they want to go faster.

Google will still be driven by revenue

Ultimately, Google’s entire revenue model relies on sending traffic (via ads) to third party sites. So that will always dictate the end result of their search offer. If they created a platform where there is no need to ever navigate away from the top of Google, then their revenue model would be wiped out overnight. What we’ve seen happen over the last 10 years is the entire internet becoming more ‘pay-to-play’, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. I believe the endgame is to deliver search on steroids, to increase the overall number of clicks.  

This move is all about delivering higher productivity, allowing people to access more of what they are looking for. In essence, I think Google wants to simply increase the overall volume of search queries, and help people get to what they want faster.  So, imagine spending the same amount of time on Google, but spending less time on irrelevant junk.

The game isn’t over for news publishers

Importantly for News publishers, Google relies on the information it serves being relevant, up to date, and accurate.  Without high quality and up to date news, I don’t see that being possible or sustainable in the long term. I can’t see Google biting off the hand that feeds them, but I do see more turbulence for news publishers, and there will be winners and losers, as always.  But in the end, Google needs to ensure that it’s still worthwhile for publishers to publish on Google. Imagine if all news outlets simply stopped allowing Google to crawl their sites.

From what I’ve seen, at present SGE will pull the most relevant snippets from the content appearing in the top two to six organic results for its answers. But then it allows users to navigate to the exact spot on the page where the answer is pulled from.

Research circulating on within the SEO industry suggests that the typical composition of SGE results contained around 10 links sourced from an average of four different domains. This implies that brands may need to earn multiple links and listings within these AI-curated results to maintain visibility and traffic.

In addition, SGE frequently surfaces links and content from websites that didn’t appear in the top organic rankings – which means that quality and diversity counts.

All of this implies that the best thing to do is work for links on the best authority sites, and importantly, fully optimise content for an AI-powered world and get on top of schema markup.

How will this change the link building landscape?

For a long time, Outreach Pro has advised clients to steer away from producing low value content. Content that is simply a vehicle to deliver a link on a certain publication. As we see from services like Monster PR, link building works best when delivered inside useful, evergreen content, or in earned news coverage. This not only impacts the page authority, but avoids the prospect of the content (and link) not being visible at all.

If the content isn’t useful, and actually aimed at what people will search for, it’s likely that traffic to those pages will fall off a cliff, and ultimately could be de-indexed.

One thing about Google that hasn’t changed, yet, is that authority is largely driven by link infrastructure. Our advice is to spend your budget wisely by producing useful content and placing it on high authority sites.

With AI search, it’s clear that poor or unhelpful content will increasingly useless, and could even be punished.

How you can prepare for Google SGE

  • SGE appears to favours in-depth, informative content. This means that your businesses will benefit from investing in well written and well-researched articles that provide value to readers.
  • Focus on optimising your content properly, and marking it up with tight meta and schema.
  • Including expert quotes and authoritative sources within your content may increase the likelihood of being featured in SGE results.
  • Building a picture and narrative across multiple authority domains will increase your chances of appearing in SGE results.
  • Authority will be everything, so creating a trustworthy brand and and appearing on authority domains will cement your credibility.
  • SGE also searches images, so populating content with properly marked up images will help the discovery of your content.

About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts

Leave a Comment