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  • Abel Miranda

How Google SGE Could Impact Small Businesses in Local Search

After undergoing major changes in 2023, Google's search algorithm and search engine will be undergoing even more major changes in 2024. The biggest change is Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE for short). It's slowly being introduced to personal Google Chrome browsers - not those with company emails - and you have the option to turn it on or off for now since it is still in experimentation mode.

What is Google SGE (Search Generative Experience)?

In a nutshell, Google SGE will introduce AI search results to Google's search engine, but it isn't the only search engine to do this- Bing introduced AI search in early 2023 with ChatGPT.

On the other hand, Google uses Gemini (formerly Bard), its very own AI language model competing with ChatGPT.

What Does This Mean For Website Traffic?

Websites of all sizes could see a decrease in organic traffic in this coming year, some more than others- depending on what keywords you are ranking for and what type of business you are.


The goal of SGE is to provide consumers with direct answers instead of a results page full of links like we regularly see now. This means fewer clicks in search results because searchers will be getting their answers without having to scroll.

What Does This Mean for Local Businesses?

Google's SGE will impact search results as a whole, including local results- in other words, the map pack, which are the top 3 maps results that pop up within organic results. This could mean trouble for businesses that aren't already investing in SEO.

But it's not all doom and gloom if you are a small, local business. There will still be opportunities to be discovered.

  • For example, this new search experience could provide more search visibility if you aren't highly ranked within the Google Maps results. Let's say I'm a consumer and I'm searching for a place to eat that has a modern feel with vegan options. Google's AI will grab data from surrounding Google Business Profiles that include this information- whether it's from photos (yes, photos), reviews, or the services you list in your profile.

To visualize this new concept, let's take Marketing Empire Group- I searched for "best marketing agency in Temecula" and we happened to come up first.

AI-generated Google search result for the query "best marketing agency in temecula"

As you can see, Google's AI gathered data from various sources about marketing agencies around Temecula, CA, but chose Marketing Empire Group as its best marketing agency in Temecula on data gathered from its Google Business Profile, website, and more than likely other credible sources.

What Can I Do To Make Sure I Get Found?

Optimize Your Google Business Profile

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an optimized Google Business Profile. This may not seem as important as sticking keywords into your website, but it will play a critical role in helping your business gain visibility.

Having an optimized Google Business Profile means filling it out to be as detailed as possible. this includes, but is not limited to:

  • Filling out your Business information as detailed as possible (business name, hours, description, opening date, etc.)

  • Choosing your business categories- both primary and secondary (if applicable)

  • Filling out the services section- bonus points if you can choose the ones that Google already has populated in its database

  • Adding products to your "Products" section. If you're a service-based business, you can still add your services as 'products' to this section!

Once your Business Profile is set up and optimized, there is not much to do to maintain it:

  • Add photos or videos

  • Keep getting reviews!

  • Offer posts- for those who have monthly specials or ever have sales for products or services, this is a perfect way to broadcast those offers in case a consumer looks through your Google Business Profile

Keep in mind that these are not the only things you can do within a Google Business Profile, but they are the most prominent items you should take care of.

Have a Well-Optimized Website

Your Google Business Profile shouldn't be your only focus, your website should also be optimized for the keywords you want to target. Do not overlook this. Google will likely be pulling from multiple sources to gather information about businesses, including websites! Check into our blog post about how to optimize your local business website if you're unsure of what that involves.

The overarching goal is to make both your Google Business Profile and website a trove of valuable information that Google's AI to use to potentially get you discovered. If your business offers high-quality content, then you have a higher chance of showing up in AI-produced search results.

Use Structured Data To Make Your Website Easier to Understand by Search Engines

This might sound like gibberish, but structured data, more specifically markup, can make your content easier for search engines to understand. From your homepage to FAQ page to blog content, adding schema can significantly increase your chances of being featured in rich snippets, which directly answer user questions within search results.

Google SGE AI search result for the query "how long is a marathon"
Here is the AI-generated answer from Google's Generative AI

For example, I searched "how long is a marathon" in Google's new SGE interface and I got an AI-generated answer (above) as well as additional questions in the "People also ask" section (below). The sources of these answers most likely have highly valuable & accurate content as well as structured data on their websites.

People also ask search snippets for the Google search query "how long is a marathon"
Here is the "People also ask" section of the same search results page

All in all, it's not a direct ranking factor but schema markup can prove to be extremely valuable, especially with this new Google search experience.

Who Will Be Affected by SGE The Most?

Many websites could see a significant decrease in traffic, especially those that rely heavily on articles or blog posts for website traffic. Other types of websites that might take a hit are local businesses- that hurts to say. But the truth is those who don't adjust to AI and ignore the advantage it could bring in digital marketing could be left behind.

It may sound crazy and this is just my opinion, but we could see a decline in people using search engines to search for things. The replacement? The very thing we are talking about- AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Gemini.

Once more people find out they can get an immediate answer from one source rather than a list of different results, they could be more inclined to use AI.

There are other possible downsides to this implementation like the possibility of producing inaccurate answers to users, websites losing traffic, and people finding a way to manipulate the system just for traffic, but we can get into that another time.

Overall, There Is Much Opportunity

Despite the potential challenges SGE will bring to websites that are already competing to rank in Google's top search results, this can potentially give otherwise invisible businesses some well-deserved shine.

But that's only if you commit to revising your SEO strategy for SGE- which essentially boils down to providing high-quality content on your website and detailed information on your Google Business Profile.

If this is news to you and you're not sure how you stack up, contact Marketing Empire Group to see how we can help you optimize for AI! Google SGE is still in the beta phase for the most part, so it's not too late to change up your marketing strategy.

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