Is your 2024 content strategy SGE-ready?


Author: Emma Sibbles, Head of Content, idhl

Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) is shaking things up, leaving marketeers and content creators wondering if their content strategies are still effective. While Google is still testing SGE and there is no official roll-out date, you’ll want to make sure you’re not left behind.

Let’s look at what you can do to make sure your brand is ready for when SGE rolls out.

What is Google's SGE and why should you care?

SGE is a major change in how Google delivers search results. SGE is AI-driven and looks to answer a search query as fully as possible, including answering follow-up questions that a user might have. It goes far beyond simply matching keywords to web pages.

Imagine searching for "best hiking trails". An SGE-powered search engine might not just list trail descriptions, but also provide curated content like difficulty levels, nearby campsites, and even reviews from experienced hikers.

This user-centric approach means traditional SEO tactics won't cut it anymore. Content that ranks well under SGE is informative, comprehensive, and caters directly to the user's needs. Ignoring SGE could mean your content gets buried deep in search results, leading to decreased website traffic and missed opportunities.

Benefits of an SGE-ready content strategy

Adapting your content strategy for SGE isn't just about future-proofing your brand.

  • Improved Search Ranking and Organic Traffic: By creating content that directly addresses user intent, you'll naturally climb the search engine ladder, leading to increased website traffic.
  • Enhanced User Engagement and Satisfaction: Informative, engaging content keeps users glued to your site. They'll find the answers they seek, fostering brand loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Thought Leader Status: High-quality, informative content positions your brand as a trusted authority in your industry, attracting new customers and establishing lasting credibility.
  • Increased Brand Trust and Conversions: Users who find valuable information on your site are more likely to trust your brand and convert into paying customers.

How to make your content strategy SGE-ready

What do you need to do to make your existing content strategy work for SGE?

1. Focus on user intent

It’s crucial to understand the deeper "why" behind your audience's searches. What information are they seeking? What problems are they trying to solve?

Conduct thorough keyword research that goes beyond keywords themselves. Utilise tools that reveal search intent, like answer boxes and "People Also Ask" sections. Analyse online forums and social media discussions to understand the language and pain points of your target audience.

2. Create content that informs and engages

SGE prioritises content that goes the extra mile. Focus on creating informative, engaging pieces like in-depth blog posts optimised for long-tail keywords, well-researched guides, case studies, and visually appealing infographics.

Become the go-to resource for your niche by creating content that is unique and genuinely useful rather than a generic rehash of what is already out there.

Look at your competitors. Are you adding value that your competitors are not? Brainstorm how you can provide better information. Maybe you can be more concise or add more depth.

Tell compelling stories, showcase real-life examples, and inject your brand's unique personality into all your content. Building trust and fostering a connection will keep users coming back for more.

3. Prioritise EEAT

We’ve been banging the EAT and then the EEAT drum for a long time now but it’s even more important in the new SGE-era. EEAT, or Experience – Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness, should guide the content you create.

When we start working with a brand, we audit their content and that of their competitors’, according to our in-house EEAT content matrix of over 31 metrics. This audit leads to a list of strategic recommendations, which provides a roadmap for how we will create quality content going forwards.

We know that Google values helpful content created by experts that users can trust. To stand out in the SGE landscape, you need to establish yourself as a topical authority and thought leader in your niche by showcasing your expertise, citing credible sources, backing up your claims with data, and featuring guest commentary from your stable of brand experts.

Google pulls content from reputable sites so make sure your brand’s online reputation is solid – think third-party reviews, case studies, and digital PR. Make sure your About page is accurate and up-to-date. Social media engagement and participation in relevant online communities further demonstrates your brand's authority.

4. Make sure your format works

When you’re researching your topic, look at the format that other responses use. Is information presented in a detailed guide, a table, a video, or an infographic? Make sure you present your content in the way your customers want to see it.

SGE prioritises clear, easy-to-read content so keep sentences short and simple. Use conversational language and address follow-up questions in the text. Make use of lists, clear headings, and quick definitions that AI will be able to pull from.

5. Research how visible your brand is in AI search

SGE uses Gemini, Google’s AI tool, so it’s worth finding out what Gemini knows about your brand, your competitors, and your industry. A good starting place is asking the tool, “What do you know about [insert brand name]?

Don't forget the technical SEO basics

While SGE prioritises user experience, technical SEO remains crucial. Ensure your website loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and utilises structured data markup to help search engines understand your content better.

It’s early days for SGE and there will be challenges for brands with this evolution of search but there will also be a raft of opportunities for those prepared to experiment and adapt to this new era.

If you want to talk to us about getting your content SGE-ready, or would like us to run an SGE x EEAT content audit on your site, get in touch.

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