On May 10th, Google had its big annual conference, called Google I/O, where it announces all the exciting things its working on and plans to release throughout the year.
This year, the focus of 90% of what they presented was AI. (No surprise there, really, given all the developments in AI over the last 6 months.)
In the next two episodes of the podcast, I’m going to summarize all the exciting new updates coming from Google in 2023.
In this episode, I'm talking about 3 big changes to the way Google search will work and a bunch of new AI features coming soon to the Google ecosystem within things like Gmail, Google Docs, and more.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode! And stay tuned for part 2 coming out next week.
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Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for this episode today.
This Wednesday, May 10th, Google had its big annual conference, called Google I/O, where it announces all the exciting things its working on and plans to release throughout the year.
This year, the focus of like 90% of what they presented was AI. (No surprise there, really, given all the developments in AI over the last 6 months.)
In the next two episodes of the podcast, I’m going to summarize all the exciting new updates coming from Google in 2023, including 3 big changes to the way Google search will work and a bunch of new AI features coming soon to the Google ecosystem within things like gmail, google docs, and more.
Of course, the bigger picture here that a lot of people are thinking about is like hmmm… how will these changes, especially the changes to the way search works and looks, impact us, as online business owners. So we will chat about that in this episode as well.
So let’s start with the topic most relevant to my audience – changes to Google search.
Upcoming changes to Google search
There are three big changes I want to highlight for you and discuss.
#1) Generative AI box at the top of the search results
The first change is definitely the biggest. Google is working on a new type of search that they are calling the Search Generative Experience (SGE).
And within the search generative experience, there will be a generative AI answer to your search query that loads at the top of the page, above the regular organic search results.
The problem Google is trying to solve:
- When you have complex questions, it can be hard to find a direct answer in Google.
- You have to click around through a bunch of results and try to syntehsize the information into something useful.
For example, you are planning a trip for your family. You have two kids under three and a dog. You want to know whether Bryce Canyon or the Arches would be a better vacation spot for you.
With the new search generative experience, which is not publicly rolling out yet, only available via waitlist right now, you can type that exact question into Google and you will receive an AI generated response at the top of the search results, giving you a concise and specific answer to your question.
Essentially, the AI will comb the internet, find the most up to date information that can help answer your question, and summarize it for you in a snippet of text at the top of the search results.
On the right hand side (or underneath the answer, on mobile), it will include a few links to helpful resources on the web in case you want to learn more.
If you click an expansion button in the top right corner of the AI answer, Google will also show you all the sources it used to generate your answer, in case you want to take a deep dive into the topic.
Google specifically said that they are trying to highlight expert sources and first hand experiences on the topic, so content from those types of creators will likely be featured in the links area. So for the camping example, it gave links from the national park service and a mommy travel blogger who shared her first hand experience camping in these locations.
If you scroll down past the gen AI box, you will also find the regular search results.
As of right now, this type of generative AI response will not appear for all search queries, just the ones where Google thinks an AI response will be more helpful than what is currently in the search results.
They are also being cautious about using this for YMYL topics and will not show gen AI responses for health or financial topics at this time, probably because the potential for harm is too high. They will also not show an AI snapshot for any explicit or dangerous topics
They also say they will not give an AI generated response when they don’t feel they have enough data to give a confident answer.
For product searches
You will still see sponsored shopping product ads at the top of the SERPs, but underneath that, you will see the generative AI snapshot.
So if you search for, say, “bluetooth speaker for a pool party” it will show sponsored products, then in the gen AI box it will give you a summary of the most important factors to consider when choosing a product and then a list of various products that meet your needs, including images of the products, key features, ratings, pricing, and links to buy.
And the cool part about the gen AI box is that if you have a follow up question, you don’t have to go all the way back up the search bar and start your search again. You can ask the gen AI box a follow up question right there on the page and it already knows what you’re talking about.
So you could say, which one of these has the best battery life? Or, which ones come in blue? And it would be able to tell you.
Google also played what seemed like TV commercial, highlighting the AI capabilities within Google search.
In that video they showed even more interesting examples of how the AI snapshot can help you directly within search.
For example, you could ask google to compare two restaurants you were thinking about going to and it will bring up a side by side, table-like, comparison.
Then you could ask it to add a third restaurant to the comparison and it will just add a new column for that restaurant too.
So I think this is super super interesting and WILL have a huge impact on publishers and online businesses.
It is important to note that this feature will not apply to all types of search queries.
So if you create health-related content on YMYL content, you may be slightly insulated from this still since it seems like Google is hesitant to use generative AI responses for any queries that could significantly impact someone’s life.
And Google also points out that the aim of the generative AI responses within search is not to be conversational, like BARD or ChatGPT, but to be more factual, pointing people to relevant resources.
#1) They want to reduce the number of steps people need to take to find the information they want on Google and make it easier and more intuitive to use.
#2) They want the information the AI snapshot provides to be high quality and accurate.
#3) They still want to draw attention to content on the web, just make it easier for people to do a deep dive on the topics they’re interested in. They state in their announcement that they still want to send traffic to websites and they still want to display ads in the search results.
Right now, the search generative experience is just in a testing phase, so if you want to put yourself on the waitlist to try it out, you can do that at g.co/labs and sign up for the Google Search waitlist.
#2) “Perspectives” tab added to Google search in the coming weeks
In the coming weeks, you will start seeing another new feature rolling out within Google searc.
When you search for topics where Google thinks you may benefit from hearing the experiences of others, you will see a “perspectives” option in the search results.
This will appear both as a tab at the top of the search results (in the same location where image, video, maps, etc. tabs currently are) and as a carousel feature in the main search results as well.
If you click “read more” within the carousel or if you click on the Perspectives tab, it will bring you to a new window of the search results where it will ONLY show you long form video, short form video, images, and posts from discussion boards, Q&A sites, and social media platforms.
They call it the perspectives filter.
See what’s so crazy about this filter? There are NO blog posts within this section of the search results!!
This is likely part of Google’s intention to make Google search more “visual, snackable, personable, and human”. It’s a super super interesting development, so let’s flesh out an example to see how it works.
In Google’s announcement, they used the example search query “how to make friends in a new city”
The content shown in the perspectives tab includes reddit threads, long-form YouTube content, TikTok videos, Quora posts, YouTube Shorts, Tweets, and forum responses on niche-specifc forums.
In this particular search query example, there were 14 results shown on the perspectives page.
- 4 TikTok videos
- 3 Reddit posts
- 3 Long form YouTube video
- 1 Quora post
- 1 YouTube short
- 1 Tweet
So if you want to boost your chances of showing up in search, it makes sense to create these formats of content in particular.
Keep in mind that this won’t apply to ALL types of search queries, but will when the searcher would likely value hearing personal experiences and perspectives.
For example… on one of my blogs I have a blog post answering the question whether or not a certain food is low-fodmap.
That type of search query is a pretty cut and dry fact based response, right? It’s not an opinion. It’s unlikely that a perspectives tab would be shown for that type of content and it doesn’t really lend itself well to repurposing on social media. (People don’t go on social media to look for facts, they go to see opinions, personal experiences, and form connections usually.)
In contrast, I have other content on my site where I am comparing certain products. When people are considering whether or not to purchase something, the DO typically value reading or watching real life opinions and experiences from real humans.
I think what Google is trying to do here is help surface content that is clearly created by humans, since at this point in time it’s much harder to use AI to create video content or social media content or forum posts.
I think the idea may be that with the huge influx of AI generated content, having a human element is valuable and massively increases trust in many cases. So Google wants to get ahead of the game.
They don’t want to fall behind and only be a search engine that gives people text results, when recent data has shown that more and more younger users are increasingly using other platforms like TikTok to search for information and recommendations in short-form, easy to consume formats.
Obviously, there is a place for both longer form and shorter form content, but it’s super interesting to watch Google acknowledge this trend in real time and start embracing short form content in a way it never has before.
So my best advice is if you do a google search right now for some of your target keywords and see and a “discussions and forums” carousel shows up in the results, or as you’re typing the search query, a suggested search term with “reddit” appended at the end pops up, or if short or long form video appears in the search results, that’s a sign that those queries may be the ones that will soon also have a perspectives tab, so creating more perspectives optimized content on that topic, beyond just your blog post, may be a good idea so that you can continue to perform well in ALL types of search.
#3) Changes to the helpful content ranking system
Google is also acknowledging that sometimes the best answer to a search query can be located in hard to find places, like a comment on a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or inside an article with unique expertise on a particular topic.
They announced that they are adjusting their ranking system to soon show more of these “hidden gems” in the search results, if they think that including them will improve the results
They specify that they are putting a greater focus on content with *unique expertise and experience*.
They say that in the coming months, they will be rolling out an update that more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view so that that type of content can rank better on Google.
What does this mean for publishers and online businesses?
Oof, there is a lot to unpack here!
So let’s go over my initial thoughts…
#1) We need to figure out how Google chooses its recommended sources in the gen AI snippets so we can optimize for the links inside those.
The world is not completely falling apart for SEO.
Although gen AI answers will almost certainly reduce the number of clicks to people’s websites for search queries in which they appear, there also may be NEW opportunities to have your links appear in MORE unique and specific search queries.
For example, it’s unlikely that you have a blog post that gives a specific comparison of whether Bryce Canyon or Arches are a better vacation spot for a family with young children and a dog, but if you DO have content that can help AI answer this question (or part of this question) it may still have a shot at being included in the recommended resources section or the expansion tab that links even more sources within the AI answer.
Google seems to be placing a lot of emphases on the importance of EEAT for getting spots in these answers, and especially the two “E’s”: expertise and experience. So lean into those concepts as much as possible on your website.
(And again, this is something I am really placing a lot of emphasis on inside the latest version of my SEO Made Simple course, which is coming out soon, so if you want to be notified about when the course is available, add your name to the waitlist at seowaitlist.com)
This is obviously going to be an emerging area of interest that we won’t be able to learn more about until this search gen experience is actually publicly available, so I highly recommend keeping up on these topics so that you are continuing to optimize for search as it changes.
#2) Google wants to help people find content that will genuinely help them, which can go beyond just the written word.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Google has already been including long and short form video and forum responses within the search results for some time now.
But this expansion into specifically highlighting those forms of content inside the “perspectives” tab is an interesting development.
I think the writing is on the wall and it’s pretty clear what we need to do to stay competitive and visible online.
It’s time to expand our wheelhouses and create our content in the formats that will genuinely help people the best. And which format is best depends a lot on the search intent.
For example, someone looking for a recipe may want a recipe blog post, a longer YouTube video, or a short form video showing highlighting the main steps.
Google understands this, so it shows all 3 types of content in the recipe search results for most of the high volume recipe queries.
Similarly, if someone looking for a comparison between two products they are considering buying, they may want a detailed blog post comparison or a long form video comparison, so both are generally included in the search results.
Clearly, there’s a time and place for a deep-dive article AND a 30 second short form video. How can you create both if needed?
Smart digital marketers will pay attention to these changes and pivot their content creation strategy to optimize for the type of content getting ranked within their niche.
#3) Online publishers who rely on advertising revenue and/or affiliate income may be in trouble.
Just like magazines declined as online publications boomed, now online publications may be in trouble as AI-generated content booms.
People no longer need to hunt for the information they need, they simply ask AI.
AI does the searching and consolidating for them and they may not want or need to look at the reference material very often if they trust that the AI system is using trustworthy and accurate sources.
I mean… how many times have you actually clicked a link to read a research paper referenced within a blog post? Not very often probably, right?? Cause you trust that the journalist read the primary source and summarized the key points accurately.
AI is essentially becoming the new journalist, and online publishers are becoming the new sources.
So… if publishers are no longer getting significant traffic from google searches and are unable to monetize as well from ads or affiliate links, what will happen?
This is purely speculation at this point, obviously, but let’s discuss some of the possibilities.
If organic traffic to websites is dramatically decreased, those businesses that relied on that traffic to monetize will NEED to get scrappy and come up with new monetization strategies and audience-building strategies or risk getting put out of business.
But this is a delicate tightrope for Google to walk…
They don’t want to make online publishing a non-viable business because their AI relies on publicly available content on the internet to answer questions. If no new content is being published, then AI will have nothing to work with and the whole thing implodes on itself.
So while I do think that many publishers will see traffic drops, I don’t think SEO will die completely. It will just change, and at this point in time, it’s still murky on exactly what that will look like.
For example, Google seems to be embracing the idea of serving up informational content via generative AI, but acknowledges that people still like to get opinions and hear real life experiences about stuff from other PEOPLE, hence the highlighting of the “perspectives” tab and giving people content that is clearly directly from other humans (like social media posts, video, or forum responses).
So I think Google is trying to find the balance of quickly and easily giving people the information that they want while also still connecting them with other humans and content creators.
How to brace yourself for the impact of AI
So what should you do, as a blogger and online business owner, to prepare yourself for these upcoming changes?
I’ve got 4 suggestions for you.
#1) Build a trustworthy, go-to brand around a specific topic.
Building an actual brand will allow you to pivot.
If you have a loyal audience, some percentage of them will continue to want help or information specifically from YOU.
If you previously relied on ad revenue to fund your business but you have built up a strong and loyal audience, you will likely be able to find other ways to replace lost income from ad revenue.
For example, you may be able to create a paid newsletter or membership site or launch your own products or courses that solve your audience’s biggest problems.
The main idea will be pivoting to focus on solving problems, rather than focusing purely on informational content monetized through passive means.
See how this all comes back to the main concept that your website actually needs to be SERVING someone?
If you’re not truly helping people in a clear and valuable way, BEYOND just providing information that Google can rehash for you, you may not have a viable business in the near future.
#2) Expand beyond just blog posts
With the new perspective tab, lean into being a trusted voice in your niche.
Answer questions / create content on YouTube and YouTube shorts, create short form video if the query seems like something where people would value first hand opinion and experience.
Consider answering questions on forums to boost your expertise and chance of getting your response featured.
Repurpose your content onto social media as well, since things like tweets can rank in the perspectives tab as well.
#3) Hold onto the audience that you have
The upcoming changes to search are yet another reminder that we don’t own the platforms that we use for organic growth, like search, social media, youtube, pinterest, etc. and that algorithm updates or user interface updates can happen at any time and they may have significant impacts on our businesses.
So how are you protecting yourself from that?
As you’ve probably heard me say many times before, building an email list is the best way to maintain a direct connection with your biggest fans.
It’s one of the few ways you can directly reach your people, independent of external algorithms.
Do NOT take that for granted! If you don’t have an email list, start one today.
If you have an email list but have totally been ignoring it, start coming up with a strategy to engage with your audience via email. It’s a high priority task to help future-proof your business.
#4) Harness the power of AI to create your own useful content or tools for your audience
Have you ever thought about how you can use AI to help your business, instead of fretting so much over how it may hurt you?
How might you use generative AI to build your own unique (paid) tools to help your audience?
As a real-life example of this, a business coach that I follow, Rick Mulready, is working on creating a very interesting AI chatbot experience based on his own content.
Rick has been business coaching for about 10 years and has a huge backlog of coaching calls, podcast episodes, and blog and social media content that explains so much of his advice.
Rick is currently building a custom AI chatbot that is trained SOLELY on his own content and materials. When the chatbot is available, you will be able to chat with this essential virtual version of Rick.
He’s calling the tool “Pick Rick’s Brain” and he will be charging a small monthly fee in exchange for the ability to chat with this custom chatbot where “Rick” can virtually “coach” you through your problems and questions.
This AI chatbot has been trained specifically on Rick’s content and fine-tuned to capture his, coaching style and voice. It can ask follow up questions to figure out exactly the type of help someone needs and then provide personalized recommendations based on the thousands of hours of content it was trained on, directly from Rick.
Now, I have no idea how popular this type of service will actually be… like how much of what people are willing to pay for with coaching is for an actual conversation with a human and how much will they trust the information that a chatbot like this might provide?
Time will tell.. But I think it’s a super super interesting idea and it might spark an idea for you right now if you’re listening as well.
You can also create customer service chatbots for your business, trained on a bank of FAQ that your customers always ask. This could be a way to reduce customer service costs and still help your customers on demand.
Another use case I could imagine, would be to create some sort of AI chat bot that can discover people’s interests and then use that information to send them down personalized email or content funnels.
Perhaps you could integrate AI into your paid course or membership and it can help create personalized roadmaps for people to follow that will show them exactly how to go through your content to achieve the outcome they want.
Now, this is obviously extremely exploratory still, and who knows what types of products or services will take off, but now is the time to experiment! There is so much to potentially gain and not THAT much to lose aside from your time and creativity.
I think the main takeaway though is that AI opens the door to an incredible amount of personalization in your business… so how can you capitalize on that to deepen your connection with your audience and improve the way you serve them so that they are happy customers that are more likely to stick with you?
Generative AI is the future, so I’d rather ride along with the wave rather than try to ignore it. Putting your head in the sand is a sure way to get left behind.
Adapting is where it’s at. Change is inevitable, we just happen to be on the precipice of big change in our industry. So what are you doing to adapt your business and potentially even thrive more than ever?
So wow, there are a lot of changes coming in the world of SEO but I also feel like we are on the precipice of really big change.
I feel like this is very similar to the moment when the internet first became available and allowed us to put all of the world’s information at our fingertips online.
Now, we have AI becoming available to help us organize and engage with that information in an entirely new way.
I don’t know about you, but I was pretty young when the internet first came about and didn’t really understand how big of a deal it was or how much opportunity existed at that moment.
So many people started online companies in the early 2000’s that are absolutely gigantic now and play such a huge role in how our world works today.
So… I’d encourage you to put your thinking caps on and think about how generative AI might change our world as well and brainstorm ways you can create new technology or services or features in (or even outside) of your current business and get in early on this new tech boom.
If you want to stay in the know with everything related to the latest Google, SEO, and AI updates and follow along as we all navigate this new online landscape together, definitely subscribe to this podcast on the listening platform of your choice so that you’re sure to get all the latest episodes.
If you want to learn more about how you can learn directly from me about all these upcoming changes and what to do so that you don’t get left behind, add your name to my waitlist at seowaitlist.com
That will add you to my email list so that you will be sure to get any updates about new resources, trainings, courses, consulting, or more that I may come out with in the future.
And if you’d like to continue this exciting conversation, the best place to do that is inside my free Facebook group, The Unconventional RD Community. Just search for The Unconventonal RD community on FB and request to join.
And as always, I hope you have a great day!!