Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) is poised to shake up search results and disrupt many ecommerce businesses reliant on organic traffic. Powered by large language models and AI, SGE provides direct answers to searches without requiring users to click through to other sites.
For ecommerce stores dependent on organic clicks, especially informational research queries, SGE represents a seismic shift in how they will need to approach on-site content and SEO. Here’s an analysis of five key ways Google’s AI-generated search results could impact online retail stores.
- Google’s new Search Generative Experience powered by AI may reduce clicks on generic informational queries as it provides direct answers. This will lower organic traffic for some retailers.
- New optimization factors could emerge specifically for ranking highly in SGE results.
- Search queries about recent news may see less immediate impact from SGE. Timely, in-depth content will retain importance for now.
- Evergreen pillar content remains crucial for establishing overall topical authority, even if it drives less direct traffic. Thin content libraries will hurt perception.
- With AI technology improving, generic or low-quality content will diminish in value. Unique, high-production value content with exclusivity and utility will be imperative.
Reduced clicks on informational content
One of the most significant impacts of SGE for ecommerce sites is that it will likely reduce clicks from informational research queries. In the past, these types of queries were major drivers of traffic for retailers:
“dry shampoo vs shampoo”
“how to choose suit jacket size”
“What are the pros and cons of front-load vs top-load washing machines?”
Rather than needing to click through to evergreen comparison articles and buying guides, Google’s SGE will now generate direct answers to these questions right on the search results page.
For example, searching for “dry shampoo vs shampoo” may produce an SGE box with the following answer:
With the ability to synthesize the answer from multiple sources, users have less need to visit retailers’ sites for generic informational content. This represents a major shift in click behaviors that could substantially reduce organic traffic from certain research-focused keywords.
- Lower organic clicks and traffic from broad informational queries where SGE can provide answers directly.
- Generic comparison articles and “evergreen” informational content will become less important for directly driving clicks and sales.
- Focus will shift to creating truly unique, high-quality educational content that SGE cannot easily replicate.
The SEO factors most important for ecommerce SGE results
Another impact for ecommerce SEO will be determining how to optimize content specifically to rank highly in SGE featured boxes. Google’s algorithms will likely consider certain factors when deciding which content to pull into the AI-generated results.
My thoughts on what will likely be important ranking factors are strong E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust) signals, relevance and intent matching, the quality of the content such as the accuracy of the information, and whether the content is easy to read and understand.
Identifying additional optimization “signals” for SGE will become crucial for ecommerce SEO success. For example, comparison review articles may need:
- Comprehensive product coverage – 5+ products compared
- Specific product feature comparisons in table format
- Clear “Winner” conclusion or product recommendations
- Higher word counts – 2,000+ words
- More external citations and quotes from experts
As we SEO professionals test and learn what content format, style, and attributes help rank for SGE, new best practices will emerge.
- New on-page and content optimization factors may emerge specifically for ranking in SGE results.
- Increased importance of specific types of content, such as comparisons, product recommendations, and conclusive answers.
- Higher production value, citations, and authority signals will be needed to rank highly.
Less immediate impact on news and recent queries
While informational evergreen content will be disrupted, SGE may have less immediate impact on searches related to recent news, releases, and trends.
Searches related to very recent events are less likely to have existing definitive sources ready for Google’s AI to synthesize. While the technology is rapidly evolving, answering emerging queries requires more context and confidence.
As such, ecommerce sites producing timely, in-depth content on recent announcements may maintain their organic visibility and clicks – at least in the short-term before AI advances further.
- Queries on new and trending events could still drive clicks to recent, high-quality content.
- Timely, in-depth product coverage will retain importance for organic ecommerce traffic.
- But this window of opportunity may diminish over time as AI comprehension improves.
Enduring need for evergreen topical content
Even if evergreen informational content drives less organic traffic, it will still serve an important purpose for ecommerce sites – building authority and relevance.
For example, though fewer searches may convert on “best running shoes” articles, that foundational content reinforces a site’s expertise on the topic holistically. This accumulated topical authority can benefit product and brand keyword rankings.
Having comprehensive educational materials also adds credibility for visitors who do click through from SGE results to your product pages. It demonstrates your in-depth knowledge even if the initial click comes from Google’s answer box.
- Evergreen “pillar” content remains crucial for establishing overall authority.
- Thin or disorganized content libraries will hurt perception of expertise.
- High-quality content builds consumer trust and confidence.
Greater focus on content quality and uniqueness
With Google’s AI getting better at understanding information directly, producing generic or low-quality content will become less impactful. To stand out, ecommerce content will require more unique value, utility, and production polish.
For example, a simple 1000-word “buyer’s guide” may no longer attract clicks or establish much authority. But an interactive guide with videos, quizzes, 3D visuals, and other engaging elements could become a powerful differentiator.
Likewise, for product reviews, standing out may require genuine lab testing data, exclusive hands-on insights, and professional photography vs opinions.
- Generic or thin content will diminish in value for creating a competitive advantage.
- Unique, high-quality content will be imperative for earning clicks and consumer trust.
- More investment into production value, exclusivity, utility, and creativity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Google’s new AI search reduce my ecommerce site’s organic traffic?
In my opinion, probably. Google’s SGE will likely reduce clicks and traffic from generic informational queries it can directly answer. But opportunities remain in areas like recent news and high-quality content.
What type of content will be most impacted by Google’s AI search?
Evergreen comparison articles, buying guides, and other generic informational content will see reduced clicks. Google can synthesize answers without needing users to visit your site.
How can I optimize my ecommerce content for Google’s new AI search?
Focus on unique, high-quality content with exclusive information. Add more comprehensive comparisons, product recommendations, and visual media. Boost production value and authority signals like quotes and citations.
What ecommerce content will retain importance in Google’s AI search era?
Timely, in-depth content on new product releases and trends may still drive clicks before AI comprehension improves. Evergreen pillar content also remains crucial for overall authority.
What’s the best strategy for ecommerce SEO success with Google’s new AI search?
Providing genuinely helpful information through exclusivity and utility will be key. Brands that evolve to give customers what AI search engines cannot will continue to thrive.
While SGE poses disruption for ecommerce sites dependent on organic traffic, it also presents opportunities for brands able to pivot into the demands of an AI-driven world. Companies that evolve to provide customers with genuinely useful information when they need it will continue to thrive in the years ahead.