7 SGE Optimization Strategies to Help You Harness the Power of AI Search

AI Search

So you’ve heard that Google has ushered in the next era of Search with Search Generative Experience. 

But what does that mean for your business? What happens to the SEO strategies you’ve spent years curating to rank higher on Google Search?

Not to worry. Just like Google’s AI-powered search results, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about SGE and optimization strategies you can use to harness its power. 

Google has been using Machine Learning and Language Learning Models to power Google Search since 2001. However, its latest iteration threatens to upend the SEO landscape. 

In this blog, we explain the implications of SGE for Search and suggest the best SGE Optimization strategies you can use to appear on the renewed Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). 

What is Search Generative Experience?

Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a next-generation Search tool that uses Artificial Intelligence trained by Large Language Models (LLMs) to answer search queries best suited to its users’ contexts. 

Google has used simple AI tools for more than two decades to improve its users’ Search experience. If you’ve ever searched for “healthcar” and Google has corrected it to “healthcare,” instead of showing you pictures of ambulances, you’ve already used an LLM-powered AI search engine.

The latest iteration, SGE, takes Search a step further. It is no longer a tool that merely answers user queries with incredible accuracy. Nor is it confined to leading users to PAA (People Also Ask) questions like it used to be. 

Search Generative Experience

Search now uses LLMs and AI to combine user history, context, available information and wide-ranging sources to deliver the ultimate Search experience. It is an interactive experience—the answer to every search question differs depending on the question’s context and the user who asks it. 

Consider the search results for the same query as above but with the deployment of SGE:

search results for the same query as above but with the deployment of SGE

As you can see, the page shows only two sources instead of the top 10 hits. While SGE’s new features offer other advantages, businesses must adopt SGE Optimization Strategies to fully utilize them. 

In the last section, we will discuss the best SGE Optimization strategies you can use to unlock the full potential of generative search. 

Cats on the Moon – SGE Dead on Arrival?

AI-powered chat and search engines have taken the internet by storm. ChatGTP became the first company to reach a million users in five days. Google Lens witnesses more than 12 billion visual searches a month.

Some even argue that the AI bubble is already bursting. This might be related to Google telling its users that astronauts have encountered cats on the moon or suggesting they add glue to their pizza for a better texture. 

However, Google responded quickly with several improvements to AI-powered Search. Sundar Pichai, its CEO, said in an interview that users “respond positively” to AI Overviews, which provide accurate summaries for their queries. 

The stance of Google executives and the 100 things it announced at its 2024 Annual I/O Conference suggest that Search Generative Experience is here to stay. 

Isn’t SGE Just Like Zero-Click Search?

Zero-Click Search refers to Google’s attempts to provide useful answers to user queries without forcing them to click on a particular website. This feature minimizes the incentive for websites to purposefully mystify answers or ask leading questions to generate traffic.

The idea is to solve user queries on Google and only lead users to further pages for more detailed information or vertical experiences.

Here’s an example of a Zero-Click Search page: 

Zero-Click Search page

As you can see, the page comprises an immediate answer, PAA questions below it and a knowledge panel on the right. Besides telling users about Oprah’s age, the page tells them about her family, life and books. Thus, a Zero-Click Search is a more engaging way to initiate vertical experiences. 

Search Generative Experience will take this process one step further. It will not only give users information about Oprah’s age, family, history and books but also direct them to how they can learn more about her life. What book should they read first? What show should they watch to understand Oprah’s life? What did Oprah say on her 70th birthday? 

SGE, with the help of AI, will ask and answer all these questions and more! It will even cater the websites to the user’s history to best initiate a vertical experience. SGE will undoubtedly increase user traffic, especially if your website mentions Oprah!

SEO and SGE – How are they Different?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the tool Google currently uses to rank websites displayed to users who use Google Search. 

SEO ranks websites based on three variables: technical requirements, spam policies and key best practices. If your website follows these three requirements, it will likely show up when the intended users search the keywords for which you have optimized.

Thousands of Search Engine Optimizers and millions of businesses keep up with the changing trends within these requirements to ensure their websites appear on Google Search. After all, one of the most important users of your website is the search engine that then shows it to the users. 

Search Generation Experience inaugurates a new era of Search. Google follows people, and just “knowing” is now boring; people want to play with knowledge and interact with it. 

It is no longer enough for you to include keywords in key places on your website. Nor should your website be understandable only by human beings. 

The aim is to make your website’s contents accessible to the algorithm that indexes it. Google’s algorithm, trained by large language models, will try to understand your website’s contents. It will then make the content accessible to the end users searching for the website’s contents. 

Two questions now arise:

  • How does the LLM train Google’s AI on which SGE depends?
  • How should you optimize your website to take maximum advantage of SGE results?

Let’s look at SGE’s features and discover how you can use them to improve your webpages’ visibility and traffic…

How will SGE Impact Google Search?

With SGE, Google wants to transform its users’ search journey. The goal is to move beyond answering queries and pivot users into an immersive search experience. For this, Google is training its algorithm to become a more engaging research tool. 

Google queries are now conversation prompts, not question-and-answer exercises. The basic answer to a user query will act as a doorway to a wonderland of sources, follow-up questions, useful links and creative suggestions. 

Let us examine the features that will help Google accomplish this.

AI-Powered Overview SGE Optimization

Users primarily use Search to get quick answers to their queries. Sometimes, users might not have the time or the patience to go through the top ten websites of the SERP and piece together an answer for themselves. 

Imagine a user asking, “Which hospital is nearest to me?” in a city they visit. This user would need to know not only what the nearest hospital is but also what services it offers and how to reach it as quickly as possible. 

First, the AI-powered overview will provide a direct answer with precise information to answer user queries. Then, it will direct them to more helpful links that are contextually related to the queries in varying degrees of importance. 

Thus, Google moves beyond zero-click searches that would have merely given the name of a hospital to a user seeking medical services. It can tell them which medical services the hospital can provide and how to avail themselves of them.

The AI Overview serves as a “jump-off point,” from which users can visit the sources of Google’s answers and discover content from different creators, service providers and publishers. 

Easier Follow-ups

A Search Generative Experience is like having a conversation with Google. Just like a real conversation can follow different paths, SGE can answer search queries that move in different directions with each new prompt. 

The most important thing is that users will not have to restate the context of their queries every time they refine their questions. For example, when searching for “Who is the American President?” followed by “Why is this?” users will automatically see the process that won Biden his first term in office. 

The refined question will generate a new Overview with helpful links to help viewers learn more about the topic. SGE’s ability to follow up and remember context will enrich user search journeys. It will also keep the user glued to a topic, arousing their curiosity with questions they may not have known they could/should ask. 

Vertical Experiences

Vertical experiences comprise several dimensions that a user must uncover. “Which bike is the best for hilly terrain?” or “Where is the nearest pet store?” are examples of Vertical Search Experiences. SGE will help users understand key considerations and product information in response to such prompts. 

The SGE will then create a “snapshot” based on the major factors that users should consider. It will also provide several product options in response to shopping queries. 

For every product, SGE will include:

  • Latest reviews, 
  • Ratings, 
  • Images and 
  • Pricing information. 

For this, SGE will rely on Google’s Shopping Graph, which houses over 35 billion listings. 

AI-powered insights for localized queries will provide easy-to-explore comparable options. Users can thus see which rooftop cafes provide the best combination of services or which pet store specializes in cat food. 

AI-powered insights for localized queries
Image Source: Washington Post

Creative Answers

SGE is all about moving beyond the first response to user queries. It aims to create an experience that will engage users and allow them to go beyond finding answers to their questions. It seeks to build an immersive Search experience. 

According to Google’s executives, this requires creativity in answers to user questions. Creativity is necessary when users ask Google for anniversary ideas or vacation suggestions. It is also true for queries asking for recipe options or means of entertainment in a new city.

Currently, Google balances safety and security for its users and creativity while gradually expanding SGE’s capability to provide creative answers to user queries. 

Image Generation

Image generation based on Generative AI has become increasingly popular. More than half of Americans who engaged with AI-generated art enjoyed it. 

SGE uses the power of Generative AI to allow users to create images in response to search queries. Google believes generating images allows users to gain inspiration while visualizing new ideas. 

Users can prompt Google to “paint a picture of an elephant scoring a goal while holding the American flag in its tusk,” to which SGE will respond with four images. 

This experimental feature will evolve based on user feedback and continuous testing. Image generation aims to provide users with novel ways of imagining their queries. 

Evolving Search Experience

SGE is founded on the idea of “extensive user research.” Google has constantly changed its Search UI based on what it has learned about user behavior over the years. 

Google started with:

  • Zero-Click Searches, 
  • Knowledge Panels and 
  • “People Also Ask” Questions, 

It now intends to move Search Experience in a new direction. In addition to an Overview-based on easy-to-access resources, Search will transition to a follow-up-based model to answer user queries. 

SGE intends to utilize considerately created call-outs and highlighted states, along with a UI that has easily visible links for its users to explore their queries further and enter the next phase of Search. To appear on the AI-powered SERPs, businesses will need new SGE optimization strategies. 

What are SGE’s Latest Features?

Google introduced the first version of Search Generative Experience as an experimental tool in May 2023. It offered only two features to its early adapters:

  1. The AI-powered Snapshot as a replacement for Zer-Click Search and
  2. An enhanced Shopping Experience based on Google Shopping Graph. 

Here’s what they looked like:

Source: Google’ SGE

After a year of feedback and experimentation, it introduced a new and improved version of SGE in May 2024. It is now more conversational, can reason better and helps users plan events according to their contexts. 

Let’s understand these new features and the possibilities they generate for your business…

Adjustable AI Overview

Users can now adjust the way the AI Overview appears. In addition to the “original” view, users can ask Google to make the Overview “simpler” or “break it down.” Each adjustment expresses the same information in different ways. Users can now choose how they want to understand their queries, making SGE a true revolution within the Search Paradigm!

AI Overview appears
AI Overview appears
AI Overview appears

For businesses, this means there’s more than one way of appearing on the Google SERP. Depending on how your webpage explains or expresses different ideas, Google will allow you to cater to unique audiences. 

Thus, SGE widens the scope for SEO because Google’s AI will classify the complexity at which your webpage operates. Your business will now only have to worry about catering to truly specific segments of users rather than predicting general user behavior. 

Multi-Step Reasoning

Another development is SGE’s multi-step reasoning capability. Google has integrated Gemini’s reasoning skills with SGE to create a search model that answers complex questions involving caveats and conditions. Here’s an illustration:

SGE’s multi-step reasoning capability
SGE’s multi-step reasoning capability
SGE’s multi-step reasoning capability

Instead of using different search queries to:

  • Locate a yoga or pilates studio in Boston,
  • Individually peruse their offers one at a time and
  • View directions to each studio separately,

Users can ask Google about yoga or pilates studios in Boston, keeping in mind their preferences and requirements. SGE will then give them a curated list of options fulfilling the users’ criteria, which they can compare. 

Such an immersive search experience means your business has less chance of missing out on a prospect because of low attention spans, mindless doom scrolling or too many choices. All you have to do is make your business visible to Google, and SGE will bring you your next customer!

Planning Capabilities

Planning requires pre-knowledge or information users might not have. Worse, they might not want to read through swathes of information to locate what they are looking for. SGE takes up this challenge and provides a planning module for its users. 

For instance, when asked to create a three-day meal plan for a group of people, here’s how the AI-powered SGE responds: 

SGE Optimization
AI-powered SGE responds
AI-powered SGE responds
AI-powered SGE responds

While prompting the AI to curate a meal plan, users can ask it to replace dishes or keep in mind dietary preferences. They can even make it replace specific dishes or add ingredients to their shopping lists. 

SGE bridges the gap between users with little time and businesses that provide useful information. It brings together users and businesses like never before by placing the right information in the right place – before the eyes of its users. 

For your business, SGE simplifies the game plan. Create simple and useful content that its AI can understand, and it will provide a window into your business for even the coldest prospect.

Brainstorming Ideas

SGE reveals its improved conversational nature best in its brainstorming capabilities. Searching for new ideas is hard for users. It is even harder if they are faced with several choices but don’t have specific knowledge or preferences. Google makes it easier for users to view results divided by category in response to such prompts. Here’s an instance Google provides:

SGE reveals
SGE reveals
SGE reveals

The AI-generated results:

  • Are easy to explore, 
  • Curate different categories and 
  • Provide a wide range of ideas to its users.

SGE’s brainstorming capability means your restaurant does not even need to specifically cater to people celebrating anniversaries. It will show up regardless if visiting your restaurant provides a novel and unique way of celebrating an anniversary experience. 

Because of Google’s AI Search, you now have to optimize your internet presence in a way that can capture its generative capabilities. It doesn’t matter if couples celebrate anniversaries at your restaurant. If they are your regular customers, it will likely show up because of SGE’s imagination!

Brainstorming will change how users can organically access your online business profile. If you can prove either existing footfall or potential novelty, it will enhance your presence. 

Multi-Modal Search

We constantly see and hear things that arouse our curiosity. It is no surprise that billions of searches utilize images or videos. Via SGE, Google uses enhanced video analytics to take visual search to a new level. 

Your gravy won’t take on the perfect color? The record player you bought at a thrift store stopped working? Curious about a cloud formation you see today? Just take a video and ask Google about it! 

What Shazam did for music and Lens for images, SGE will for video, sound or a combination of the two. 

SGE will:

  • Analyze all the elements in images and videos users upload to give them the most accurate and contextual response and
  • Help you identify problems, understand concepts and satiate your curiosity,

All at the sound of a voice or the tap of a finger!

Google’s new Search features give us a sneak peek into the revolutionary future of Search. SGE thus promises contextual information, conversational responses, and novel ideas for user queries. Mere answers to user queries will be a thing of the past.

7 Top SGE Optimization Strategies 

SGE is still in an experimental phase. Not all search queries that users type generate AI-Overviews or Snapshots. Further, traditional SEO strategies aren’t enough to ensure your webpage appears on SGE’s Search Engine Results Page. 

Therefore, you will need to adopt SGE Optimization Strategies rather than just conventional SEO strategies. There are several nuances you must consider while crafting these new strategies. Let’s look at some helpful tips to guide you through this transition.

1. Knowing When to Optimize is Key

The first point to remember is that not every query will return an AI overview. The number of AI Overviews generated for different queries varies by segment. For instance, Search Engine Journal found that queries in the Beauty, Automotive and Marketplace segments generated far more AI overviews than those in the Food, Health and Finance segments.

Thus, someone searching Google for Beauty or Automotive-related queries is more likely to see an AI overview than someone looking for health support or financial advice. This may change as Google’s algorithm learns more about the segments that returned fewer AI-Overviews. 

Thus, switching from SEO to SGE Optimization strategies at the right moment is important. From June 2023 to March 2024, 46% of Search Queries resulted in an auto-generated AI Overview. 27% of queries showed up with a “generate” button that then created an AI Overview on request.

If SGE isn’t actively covering your segment, your strategies will likely waste time and resources. 

Image Source: Search Engine Journal

2. Optimize Auto-Generated Queries

As of now, Google offers two types of AI overviews. The first kind shows up automatically when a user enters their query, and the second kind only shows up when users click the “Generate” button on the Google page. 

If crafting an SGE Strategy, the first step is to divide your desired keywords into two segments. Then, it is a question of understanding user behavior. Since SGE is a new trend, users likely won’t click on the “generate” button till it becomes more mainstream. 

To maximize return on investment on SGE strategies, prioritize those keywords for which Google automatically generates AI Overviews. If Google’s algorithm has already understood a segment and specific keywords, those are the spaces you should target for optimization. 

SGE strategies
Image source: Search Engine Journal

3.Top 10 Hits vs. SGE Sources

Authoritas found that most SGE AI-Overiews don’t cite the top-ranking organic SERP website as its source. This is both a boon and a bane for your business. 

On the one hand, it is an opportunity to take advantage of the disruption SGE brings to online visibility. Statista reports that 49% of users reacted positively to AI-generated searches. This means nearly half of Google users are not satisfied with the top 10 results they see. 

On the other hand, it means SEO and SGE Optimization strategies don’t correlate in ensuring visibility on Google’s SERP. Therefore, your strategy for generating organic traffic should move away from focusing on keywords to dealing with key problems. You should not focus on answering user queries but on generating problem-solving experiences. 

4. Prepare for Horizontal Scrolling

SGE presents another new challenge to Search Engineers – horizontal scrolling. If you see an SGE AI Overview, you’ll notice it only cites three to five sources in a horizontal line. 

Depending on your vertical, even though you rank in the top 10 websites on Google’s SERP, you might still not appear on the SGE page. Google’s new algorithm will likely build on its traditional EEAT model

EEAT stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. If your website ranks well against these four parameters, Google will likely show it on its SERP. A horizontal listing of sources will likely expand the EEAT paradigm. It will include Actionability and Simplicity so the AI Overview can deliver clickable information to its users. 

Thus, your aim should be to make your webpage actionable and conversational so that it accommodates horizontal listings and appears on SGE.

5. Merge SEO with the Power of SXO

We have seen that SGE threatens to upend conversion rates for current SEO strategies. If your webpage doesn’t show up on the SERP, you can’t convert prospects into leads. 

Several developers have suggested that Search Engineers and businesses pivot to Search Experience Optimization to counter this trend. SXO focuses on developing content and strategies for Search Generative Experiences. 

Common strategies include:

  • Tailor content for platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest,
  • Include images, videos and infographics for creative engagement,
  • Use structured data that makes it accessible for LLMs to read your webpage,
  • Utilize Google Knowledge Graphs to make the AI easily understand your content,
  • List products on Google Merchant and Google Shopping Graph.

6. Brand Recognition – Build by Collaborating

An important way to pivot to SGE Optimization is to collaborate with artists and influencers to boost your business’s online presence. This approach maximizes opportunities for visibility while mitigating risk by not focusing solely on a single strategy. 

Although this is easier said than done, optimizing SGE in this way will also affect your business’s organic growth. Such an SGE optimization strategy will create synergy between product, marketing and sales strategies.

7. Don’t Answer Queries, Create Experiences

We have seen that Google’s SGE can help users brainstorm new ideas and make plans. Both will require Google to incorporate how people think and ask questions conversationally rather than analytically. 

To answer complex questions and solve multi-step problems, Google will focus on content-heavy and context-rich websites. For instance, if your webpage teaches people how to tie a tie:

  • List the steps involved in tying a tie,
  • Show a video of a famous person tying the tie,
  • Create engaging visuals conveying the different styles in which a tie can be tied.

Another way of creating experiences is to focus on Long-Tail Keywords. These are keywords where competition is low, and the conversion rate is high. But with SGE, the competition for Long-Tail Keywords is likely to increase. You should optimize for both conversational and analytical ways your business can create problem-solving experiences for users. 

These seven tips will help you strategize for a time when SGE becomes prominent without compromising your current SEO strategies. You should ensure that your strategies work together to transition your internet presence from being oriented toward answering questions to solving user problems. 


People no longer ask simple questions that have dedicated answers. Instead, they are looking for the best way to solve a problem or a creative experience to understand a concept. 

Google is learning from this trend of people-to-machine conversations. SGE is the latest iteration of Search that incorporates this trend. It will radically transform the visual and technical aspects of Google’s Search Engine Results Page. 

Organic traffic will not only depend on keywords and content but will also encompass phrases and context. Your SGE optimization strategies must consider these trends and react positively to create memorable user experiences. 

The way forward is interactive and multi-modal. And it holds the promise of untold possibilities. At LeanSummits, we understand the needs of tomorrow and can help you engineer solutions to them today.