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Google’s Search Generative Experience: The Grim Reaper of SEO-Dependent Business?

Disclaimer: This is a Heroik style, No-Bull💩, deep-dive, and our hot take opinion on the latest circus act that is the “Search Generative Experience” (SGE). Unless stated otherwise, this is an opinion piece based on speculation and analysis of multiple data points and perspectives. Also, this is meaty, high protein, and comprehensive. There will be adult language, and concepts that may trigger the very fabric of your being. Viewer discretion is advised. Finally, this is long one so you are encouraged to skim the subtitles and bullet points, and get what you need and can use from the article. We won’t be offended. We want you to walk away informed, and encourage crucial and critical conversations.

Hold onto your hats, because Google has just decided to flip the SEO world on its head, again.

This time, they're rolling out the red carpet for their shiny new toy: The Search Generative Experience (SGE). And by "red carpet," I mean they're laying down a minefield for anyone who thought they had SEO figured out. So strap in folks, because today we're diving headfirst into the chaotic, ever-evolving world where Google's latest brainchild, the "Search Generative Experience," is stirring up the pot. Yes, the same Google that's probably the reason you found this blog. Irony? Maybe. But let's cut through the digital jungle with a machete of snark and see what treasure—or doom—we can uncover.

Enter the Arena: Google's Search Generative Experience

For the uninitiated, Google's Search Generative Experience is like if Google Search and a chatbot had a baby, and that baby was raised by the entire internet. Essentially, it's Google's way of saying, "Why give you a list of links like some digital librarian when I can just answer your question directly?" It uses AI to digest the query, hunts down the information across the web, and spits out a synthesized, cohesive response. Sounds neat, right? Well, if you're a business that's invested blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention countless dollars) into SEO, you might want to sit down for this.

The Good, The Bad, and The SEO-Ugly

First off, let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It's that mystical art form that involves appeasing the Google gods with just the right keywords, links, and content so that your website ascends the search engine rankings like it's climbing Mount Olympus. But what happens when Google decides it's tired of being just the middleman? What if Google becomes the oracle that doesn't just lead you to the answers but gives them to you directly?

Just the Facts Jack: Where and What Will Change

  • 80% of web searches are subject to be replaced with the new AI results. An estimated 80% of searches on the web are informational questions such as “how do I”, “why is”, “who done it”, etc. These kinds of question based searches are first to be subjected to the new AI responses from Google.
  • Google’s algorithm for search is apparently shifting dramatically, especially with regard to Your Money Your Life (YMYL) Content. YMYL refers to content that has the power to influence a major decision related to a person’s money or their life (which is basically anything and everything worth talking about on the web). It Includes just about everything of value under the sun: shopping, news and current events, Government, legal and politics, medical science and health safety, financial information for groups (including groups based on religious affiliation, ethnicity, veteran status, and other parameters).
  • This content is subject to a vague, subjective guideline of “avoid misinformation or misdirection”, which has been repeatedly shown to be “whatever the powers that be deem as misinformation” The big takeaway here – Anything that has the power to influence a person’s health, finance or politics, is subject to Google’s editorialized opinion on what makes for quality content and meets their standards to appear in what little remaining screen real estate is left for search results, let alone to be the linked or cited authority in Google’s new AI driven search results. (see the Gemini release)
  • The SEO landscape we knew is about to undergo a radical transformation. Gone are the days of strategizing to rank among the top 10 organic links. In the SGE world, a single AI-crafted answer will hog the spotlight, making it harder for diverse voices to be heard and leaving many to wonder about the fate of content democracy.

In Heroik’s opinion, it is a safe bet that whatever ranking conditions that make up Google’s new AI/search algorithm, will likely feature a continuation and expansion of political activism that has long been suspected under the tech giant’s hood, and most recently questioned from their Gemini AI rollout (with highly questionable success).

AI Chat: The New SEO Overlord

SEO strategies are about to become as relevant as a Blockbuster membership card. With AI chat predicted to hijack 80% of Google searches, those carefully keyword-optimized articles are about to feel lonelier than a MySpace page in 2024. Informational queries, the bread and butter of SEO, are now in the hands of chatbots who couldn't care less about your keyword density.

The Black Box Bonanza

Transparency and Google have always had a love-hate relationship, where "love" means Google loves keeping everyone in the dark. SGE appears to be no exception. The specific criteria for what makes it into this elite club of AI-generated search results are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Combined with Google’s other AI, predictive analytics-woven product of Google Analytics 4, this hits like a 1-2 punch to the average content creator. It’s like a force field of obfuscation, and cloak of invisibility for Google to hide behind for as long as possible.

Want to know what gems of a social credit score you need to align with Google's ESG and DEI fantasies to make the cut? Good luck for now. Google's black box is the new VIP section, and not everyone is getting past the velvet rope.

1) Impact Numero Uno: Bye-Bye, Organic Traffic

Remember organic search results? Those were cute. Google's new SGE is about as organic as a hot dog at a baseball game. If your business model is as SEO-dependent as a plant is on sunlight, you might want to start looking for some artificial light, because the shade is coming. Google's essentially saying, "Thanks for playing, but we're changing the game now. Your top-ranked content? Adorable, but we'll take it from here."

If Google is serving up answers on a silver platter, fewer people will click through to actual websites. For businesses that thrived on page views and ad impressions, this could be the equivalent of going from a champagne shower to a drought.

Remember the days when getting on the first page of Google was like getting an invite to the coolest party in town? Well, those invites just became a lot more exclusive.

2) Impact Numero Dos: The Death of 'Content is King'

For years, the mantra of digital marketing has been "Content is King." Well, it might be time to dethrone that monarch. If Google's AI can just synthesize the essence of your content without sending visitors your way, then what's the point? It's like spending hours cooking a gourmet meal only for someone to summarize it in a tweet, and give it away as free samples for their recipes. Your hard work, your voice, your brand—reduced to an AI-generated blurb in service to Google’s brand not your own.

3) Impact Numero Tres: The Monetization Meltdown

Let's not forget about the moolah. A lot of online business models are built on the premise of traffic leading to conversions, subscriptions, or ad revenue. If your SEO strategy was your main hustle for attracting eyeballs, you might find yourself scrambling for a new game plan. It's like having a billboard in the desert—impressive, but not doing much if no one is driving by.

The Silver Lining (Or Is It?) – Time for Some Tough Love

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. Google insists that this new model will actually help users find reliable information more efficiently. Just kidding! Listen up, you lazy f*cks. Google is trying to sell you some bullshit that their new AI model will actually help you find good information more efficiently. Yeah, right. For you as the consumer, this might seem cool – as long as you're down to let Google decide what you really want to know. But for businesses, this is a giant wake-up call that relying on SEO is like building your f*cking house on quicksand. Google controls the whole game, and they can change the rules whenever they want.

Here are 5 things to chew on that may help you navigate this storm:

1) This draws attention to the risk of being a platform bitch.

The big vulnerability here is being dependent on platforms you don't control. The upside is that there has never been a better time to get off that dependency train and manage your content, communication, and distribution yourself – out of the greedy hands of the tech giants.

Even the big guys like Apple got bitten by platform dependency when they cut off Google's user data. That led to Google creating their shitty "predictive" analytics model in GA4 that's central to this whole drama playing out.

A quick history lesson on why Google's new AI is desperate bullshit: As web usage shifted to mobile and social media took over, Apple became the gatekeeper since they controlled the mobile devices. To give you an idea, mobile traffic is probably 94-98% of your total traffic now. And Apple devices make up at least half of that.

When Apple blocked Google from snooping on that mobile user data, Google lost their free supply of actual user behavior data to analyze. They could no longer claim to really understand what people were doing online.

That's what forced them to create the garbage "predictive" analytics in GA4 – just guessing people's behavior with an AI model instead of real data. For big, high-traffic sites that predictive model might be halfway useful. But if your business relies on accurately measuring visitor behavior, trusting Google's stupid guesses is like going into surgery with a drunk surgeon.

Everyone was already skeptical of GA4's fuzzy math. So Google rushing out this new AI search product reeks of a desperate distraction from how shitly GA4 performs. It's like burning down a building to cover up a bank robbery you just committed.

2) You're in the milk business ,genius. Get MOOvin!

The digital economy is all about attention – controlling it, directing it, monopolizing user behavior and actions. Attention is the new milk. And as a content creator, you're just a dairy farmer giving your milk away for free.

You create the content that captures attention and drives consumption. And until now, you've relied on advertising and Google search to distribute that content "milk" to the masses. SEO was just optimizing for Google because they had a monopoly on search.

Google got to have their cake and eat it too. They took all your premium milk content for free to fuel their machine. But they didn't have to pay you the content creator – just dangle the hope of some web traffic as long as you followed their rules.

Free isn't free, A-holes, and it never was

Google provides tons of "free" services like web search, browser, email, etc. But free is deceptive here. The real transaction is you get access to those free digital tools as long as you pay Google with your data – your milk.

It's 2024 now. What is Google providing you in exchange for endlessly milking you for data? Not a whole lot.

All that content you let Google crawl and index is now being used to train AI bots that suck away attention from your business. The whole relationship has flipped to 100% benefitting AI training, while giving about 0% in return for your content promotion.

That's a f*cking raw deal for any business. We'll see how the leal challenges play out, but this paradigm shift should scare even the biggest tech players.

3) Two big lessons:

  • Own your infrastructure instead of renting it.
  • Control your own distribution instead of giving it away.

It's time to get your digital shit together, own your digital real estate and assets, manage your own communications and distribution channels on a centralized platform. Don't pat yourself on the back for handing over the keys to someone else.

When tectonic industry shifts threaten the giants, you know it's time to go full homesteader to insulate yourself. Build your own unified workspace with integrated AI tools that you control – your own self-contained hub connecting out to other platforms as you choose.

4) Less junk content for the robots

As old SEO models go extinct, we'll see less crappy robot-optimized content and more focused, quality work on the web. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll now see more robot generated content designed for humans, but that’s much preferred to all that keyword stuffed, generic bullshit.

The travel bloggers, adventure writers, and others who’ve been phoning it in for the past few years, resting on the laurels of SEO, will now have to brush off the dust and hustle harder than ever before. This market shift is a tsunami.

5) Back to the bookstore & publisher model?

Before self-publishing and SEO made optimizing for robots the norm, a handful of major publishers filtered what content reached the masses. They had skin in the game with the quality and success of what they chose to publish.

In this new era, we are likely to see consolidation of distribution to new, trusted curators, influencers and distributors with real audiences could be the new content filters and gatekeepers. Having your own broad audience and email list will be hugely valuable. If you don’t have that – it’s time to invest in building it.

The Reality Shift for SEO Gurus and Marketing Experts

To all the SEO experts out there reassuring their clients that it's business as usual: Who are you kidding? Telling businesses not to worry about SGE is like telling someone not to worry about the rising flood while their house is already underwater. It's not just a change; it's a paradigm shift, and sticking your head in the sand isn't a strategy.

To all the marketing experts talking about leveraging SGE to their advantage – Open mouth – insert foot. Where’s your skin in the game?

Here’s how “using SGE as an advantage” translates to Heroik ears: “Deepen your dependence on Google’s products in ways that continue to weaken your digital sovereignty and cost you even more money, for the reach and impact you once received organically and for free.” This is profoundly bad advice from people without skin in your game, with stakes being sky high. Business reflects politics I suppose. But advice of this ilk comes from the same marketer class who told all the print media outfits to go all-in on Facebook by natively posting content on the platform instead of linking back to your website. That resulted in the accelerated extinction event of legacy media outlets. Sure it made Facebook a lot of money, and the end user stayed on the platform but those businesses and jobs disappeared forever.

To Be Fair To Google, They’re Fighting Titans For Relevance in the Age of AI

As stated before, 80% of web searches are…or should I say were, informational in nature. As OpenAI, Microsoft, Anthropic and others provide new solutions to user questions, 80% of those search results are now subject to be replaced by AI. That’s a huge chunk of change that hangs in the balance for not just Google, but all the business models dependent on an SEO strategy.

By the way, it’s not just organic search results, it’s all that ad revenue from all the mechanisms revolving around web search as well. So Google is in the fight of its life in one of its core product lanes.

The problem is they appear to be effectively cannibalizing their customers (and their customers’ content for training) in what feels like a cloud of geek speak and shroud of complex obfuscation so that no one realizes it. So now, apparently, everyone in the SEO game is getting thrown under the bus to prop up Google’s survival and revenue channels.

  1. Google appears to be training the AI on SEO content. If true, this comes off as the ultimate slap in the face, as if to say “Thanks for propping up the Google brand over your own.”
  2. How it all works, where guesswork and editorialization happens are kept hush hush. Google used to be a neutral arbiter with a more intellectual, rational and transparent approach to search engine results. Fighting off the continued gamesmanship along with the political activist values of the company, you can easily see how it influences the search engine. This appears to be only the latest iteration.

You can bet YouTube is On the Horizon to be Impacted

Google is in no rush to ruin YouTube, but with Apple, Microsoft, TikTok and others, it seems the likely next target in the coming months ahead.

Google – Defensive Much?

It’s worth noting that the timing of this upheaval and the appearance of the almost “coincidence” (not Google’s political lobby) of TikTok potentially being banned in the US and Apple being accused of violating antitrust laws…seems more than coincidental, but that’s a story for a different day. Clearly, Google isn’t taking the paradigm shift lying down. They’re attempting to adapt, and have a clear interest in trying to slow the competition and upstarts.

So, What's the Game Plan For Your Business?

If you're feeling the heat from Google's latest move, it's time to adapt or face extinction.

  • Diversify your traffic sources. This is easier said than done. It’s time to pivot to a platform-independent, integrated strategy, and more of an omnichannel approach. The high-cost of all your eggs in the Google basket are adding up. And the “experts” that dismiss this approach are almost ALWAYS those whose own business model is dependent upon platforms like Google and Meta (including derivative SEO heavy platforms such as HubSpot and SEMrush). Yeah we’re naming names. Don’t limit your business because of their limited toolset. Put yourself in a flexible position where you have time to analyze and adapt, and room to maneuver. Heroik is absolutely biased in this approach, because we’ve advocated for it from the start.
  • Build an email list. Unlike SEO, email wasn’t concocted or controlled by a single entity. Email is the gold standard in the Age of Inflation. You want direct relationships with customers and prospects. The age of trusted middle-men platforms is over (not that they should have been trusted in the first place).
  • Engage directly with your audience on social media – GET IN THE COMMENTS SECTIONS! Stir the pot. Make waves. Use profanity. Show that you’re human. Explain yourself, in alignment with your brand.
  • Create content for HUMANS first. You should be creating content that's more compelling than your business card. It should be so compelling, so uniquely you, that people will seek it out regardless of Google's AI summaries.

In other words, don't just play the game—change the game.

If this is the first you are hearing of this – you might want to sharpen your axe and fire your SEO guy, or at least have a talkin’ to with your marketing team. Maybe it’s time to add a Heroik pro to your roster so you don’t miss these critical insights and nuggets. Or at the very least subscribe so you never miss one again!

The Bottom Line

Google's Search Generative Experience is a wake-up call for businesses that have been riding the SEO wave. It's a reminder that in the Digital Age, change is the only constant. So, instead of mourning the SEO strategies of yesteryear, it's time to take control of your digital destiny, deploy an integrated strategy that will allow you to innovate, pivot, and find new ways to connect with your audience. Because at the end of the day, no algorithm can replicate the human touch. And that, dear readers, might just be your ace in the hole.

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