Insights from Ansa's Revenue Council: Don't Get Left Behind—How to Prepare for Google's Search Generative Experience

7 min

Introducing the Ansa Revenue Council Go-To-Market Playbook Series

This is the first installment in our new Go-To-Market (GTM) Playbook series, designed by Ansa to equip operators with actionable steps, pitfalls to avoid and best practices to more rapidly scale their business.

The following article is a short excerpt taken from Ansa’s SEO playbook as part of Ansa's library of marketing, sales, pricing and channel playbooks. Ansa’s portfolio gains access to this comprehensive library of additional resources that explore GTM topics in greater detail. These resources cover areas such as pricing strategies, strategic partnership development, testing new marketing channels, scaling sales teams and their operations, and hiring top talent. Our portfolio also benefits from ongoing coaching and consulting from The Revenue Council, a group of experienced industry leaders who have built customer acquisition engines from startup to IPO at industry leaders like Snowflake, Elastic, and GitLab.

This article is by Ansa Revenue Council Member Eli Schwartz. Eli is a seasoned SEO expert with over a decade of experience. He boasts a successful track record guiding leading B2B and B2C companies. His data-driven strategies have demonstrably improved organic search presence for clients like Shutterstock, WordPress, and Zendesk. At SurveyMonkey, he not only built their SEO team and launched their first Asia-Pacific office, but also transformed their organic search from a minor contributor to a key revenue driver. Eli’s expertise extends beyond individual clients, as evidenced by features in major publications like TechCrunch and

Google Introduced Generative AI for Search at I/O 2023

At their annual Google I/O event last year, Google introduced the concept of generative AI in search results. Highlighting advancements in AI, they discussed leveraging this technology to "supercharge" search. This announcement signaled Google's exploration of new ways to utilize AI for a more comprehensive search experience.

Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) Beta and Potential Impact

Following the initial announcement, Google launched a limited beta program for their Search Generative Experience (SGE). They are reportedly planning a wider rollout following Google I/O on May 14th, 2024. This launch may potentially impact website traffic depending on the industry, monetization strategy, and SEO targeting of the buyer's journey.

Volatility in results

Over the first few weeks, the frequency at which SGE was triggered automatically was constantly in flux. There were categories where SGE showed up automatically one day and didn’t appear even as a “generate” box the next day.

Even the SGE responses themselves were in flux, with the same query repeated and giving different results.

According to many reports, Google planned to launch SGE soon after opening the beta, as Google is the kind of company that does not shy away from launching less-than-fully-baked products. (As an exclusive Android user since the first version of the phone, I have experienced firsthand how Google bugs might have impacted a product because they are quick to release it.)

Roadblocks to launch

Google was held back from launching fully for three distinct reasons:

  1. Cost
    1. Every single SGE query uses compute power that is significantly more costly than the database lookup of a traditional search
  2. Legal concerns
    1. There are unanswered questions about the liability of AI content
    2. There are allegations of plagiarism that have yet to be resolved
  3. Monetization
    1. Going all in on SGE means less room for ads, and this will impact revenue

Questions remain

This will fundamentally change Google as we know it, and most of the world has no idea. Once it happens, you can expect a massive outcry in the media about lost traffic and how unfair it is, but it will be too late to pivot.

Now is the time, so here’s what you can do.

Buyers don’t change only funnels do

First and foremost, put this change in perspective. Yes, traffic will change, but the number of potential customers will not. If you are selling cars online, the number of car buyers will not change just because of a search layout change. The same applies if you are selling a digital product like software. The number of people benefitting from your solution is fixed regardless of how Google looks to users.

Transition to new KPI’s

This means you first need to shift your KPIs away from what they are today. Of course, this will need to change if you are using traffic and rankings as a metric. A #1 ranking will not have anywhere near the CTR it does today once it gets shoved down the page by an SGE response. Additionally, traffic as a whole will automatically shift downwards with the change in page layout.

This doesn’t mean you're doing SEO incorrectly, but you must change your measurements.

Since tracking might not be in place immediately with Google Search Console, you might not even know what an organic click is. Start preparing for that today by looking at logs and setting a baseline on Google referral and direct traffic. Then, you have a number to subtract if there’s a substantial change in these channels.

Ultimately, there will be less traffic coming from Google if queries are satisfied without a click, but that shouldn’t change the conversion mix that much if you are showing up in SGE.

If you aren’t already measuring conversion from search, start doing that today. Yes, it’s hard, but it does not mean you can ignore it.

Pivot strategies to the mid-funnel

More important than tracking performance, most people will need a complete strategy pivot.

Writing content about keywords doesn’t make much sense if users are going to search for those keywords and not click. As I have written in the past, the best strategy is likely to target the mid-funnel. An SGE response will likely take up the broad top-of-funnel queries. The users will be informed more about the product category of their searches and, from there, make more informed queries that are lower in the funnel. This is where you want to build SEO efforts.

Additionally, with SGE, more non-branded searches will be answered by an SGE response so that the next query might be branded. Start now if you aren’t yet measuring and taking credit for branded searches today.

Build brand citations instead of links

Generate citations about your company and products to aid those branded queries. This means that links will count far less, and the new link-building will be brand-building—no hyperlinks necessary.


Lastly, and potentially most importantly, communicate this massive change to internal and external stakeholders. There are many unknowns about what will happen, so you likely can't communicate a solution.

Still, you can preempt surprises by informing those who need to know about this massive change. Traffic will change, data sources will break, and reporting will be challenging. Communicate all of this in as much detail as you can. Your role as the person guiding this massive change is more critical than ever.

Change is good

The world of search is changing, but it is better for the user, which means that if you focus on satisfying the user, you are still in the right place.

SGE is a funnel change, not the death of SEO. No matter what the user uses to pull content and choose what they want to see, SEO is necessary to facilitate that. Google may die, and ChatGPT will rise, but the SEO team still needs to ensure that content and websites are visible in whatever the search platform is.

Don’t be afraid of change. Welcome it. the playing field has been leveled, and you will always win if you target the user.

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