Ever since Google announced they’re experimenting with generative AI in the search interface, have you been worried about the fate of your SEO efforts? I know I did. The collective anxiety among SEOs and webmasters was obvious. It felt like our countless hours of hard work might vanish into thin air, uncited and uncredited.
But I have some good news for you today. It’s official – Google Search Generative Experience will include links to webpages.
However, the interface has changed a lot with the Google SGE, so you’ll have to forget about the old link format we’ve all gotten used to.
In this article, I’ll tell you where links will be placed in Google Search Generative Experience. But even more importantly, you’ll learn about the potential impact this new search engine with generative AI may have on your website’s online visibility.
Table of Contents:
- Why Did Google Decide To Add Links in Search Generative Experience?
- Forget About Old Link Formats – Here’s What User Interface Will Look Like
- Will Your Hard Work Go To Waste With Generative AI in Google Search?
Why Did Google Decide To Add Links in Search Generative Experience?
The integration of generative AI into the search landscape was a revolutionary move by Google. It promised quicker answers and a more streamlined digital experience for users. However, every coin has two sides. The immediate aftermath of this announcement was an outpour of concerns from SEOs, webmasters, and content creators like us. The primary bone of contention? The glaring absence of links in AI-generated answers.
As the owner of an SEO agency in Chicago, I totally understood negative reactions. Content is not just a medley of words. It’s the result of rigorous research, meticulous planning, and endless hours of dedication. When Google’s AI started providing answers without directing users to the source, it felt as if our contributions were being overshadowed. Google was even hit with a huge lawsuit for scrapping content without consent.
As the negative feedback spread louder, Google decided to find the middle ground. They started looking for a solution to tribute content creators while still delivering on the promise of generative AI capabilities.
Over the past few weeks, Google embarked on an extensive testing phase, experimenting with three distinct link formats. The mission was to identify which format resonated best with users and provided the most seamless search experience.
And now it seems they’ve found it.
Forget About Old Link Formats – Here’s What User Interface Will Look Like
Google is shaking things up, leaving behind the traditional blue underlined links. Instead, their chosen format in the Search Generative Experience involves arrow-down buttons next to each sentence. As you click on these, you’ll see link cards leading to webpages that have been used to generate answer.
Desktop users will have more link cards in the top right corner. These links will lead to other authoritative sources where you can find in-depth information.
Below the AI-generated answer, you’ll have several options for asking follow-up question.
It’s a sleek, intuitive design that promises to modernize the user’s search journey while keeping the essence of organic links alive.
Local Results Will Have More Link Cards in SGE!
It seems like local results will have more link cards than non-local ones in Google SGE. Andy Simpson was the first to spot this. He didn’t just keep it to himself; he posted a video on Twitter (X) showing these extra link cards in action. They’re not just below the listings – they’re also at the top right, easy for users to spot and click.
But here’s the thing: Google is always testing and tweaking. So, whether this will be a permanent feature? We’ll have to wait and see. But for now, local businesses have a little more to be excited about in the new search layout.
There Will Be Search Ads Too
Ads aren’t going anywhere in the new Google Search Generative Experience. Just like in the standard Google Search we’re all familiar with, you’ll find Google Ads in this revamped experience. And, for clarity, they’ll be marked with the black “sponsored” label. If you’re running ads on Google Search, brace yourself: they might just pop up in this new layout as well.
Now, if you don’t want your ads to appear in Search Generative Experience, hold that thought. Currently, there’s no option to pick where your ads appear. But remember, we’re in the early stages.
Will Your Hard Work Go To Waste With Generative AI in Google Search?
The arrival of the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) isn’t the apocalypse we may have first anticipated. If anything, it’s more of an evolution—a new frontier.
First things first, we’re a long way off from SGE becoming the sole face of Google search. The classic search experience, which we’ve come to know and master, isn’t packing its bags just yet.
The new experience, although different, still echoes the quintessential Google vibes. It’s evident that Google envisions SGE as a deeper exploration tool. From what I’ve seen so far, it feels like Google still wants users to dig deeper into sources. This means your mission will be to secure a place for your website on link cards that appear in the new user interface.
Although I initially saw Google Search Generative Experience as a threat, I now see it as an opportunity to reach potential customers in a new, refreshing way. SEO will become harder, but if you keep producing high-quality content, your online presence shouldn’t be endangered.