55% of Google SGE and organic search results are aligned – Varn Health Research 

Varn Health Research has found that AI-generated responses in Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) overlap with standard organic search results 55% of the time. 

We’ve extensively researched and explored Google SGE, which you may have also seen referred to as AI Overviews, uncovering how its results reflect organic searches for the same queries, and explored the likely implications this may have for the future of SEO in healthcare.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is an experimental feature, and as Google SGE/ AI Overviews continues to evolve, these results may change over time. 

What is Search Generative Experience (SGE)?

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an experimental update to the result pages that uses generative AI to present search results in a new way. SGE leverages large language models (LLMs) to provide a more nuanced and intuitive search experience. 

We have shared a breakdown of what SGE does below: 

  • Provide summaries: By using AI to analyse search results, SGE can then generate summaries at the top of the SERP. This summary aims to give you a quick overview of your search topic with sources on the web which are referenced so users can click through for more information if they’d like to. 
  • Conversational search: Without having to retype your entire query, SGE allows you to ask follow-up questions related to your search. This can be helpful if you’d like more in-depth information on a specific topic. 
  • Tailored results: SGE considers your location, search history and other factors to fully personalise your search results and make them relevant to you specifically. 

How does organic search compare to SGE results?

As the new capabilities of SGE start to take hold in search, many businesses are understandably concerned about how it could affect their organic search ranking. At Varn Health, we’ve conducted our own research into SGE, and how often its results overlap with standard organic search. This research aimed to better understand and assess whether SGE processes search queries in the same way we have come to know with organic search.  

In January 2024 we used a VPN set to California, USA, to conduct a comparative analysis between standard organic search and SGE results, across a variety of different search terms and phrases. Although a small sample size, we were able to discern a notable trend: there’s a significant overlap between the content within organic search results and SGE. More specifically, 55% of our searches led to URLs that were also used for the same query in SGE. 

What does this research mean for the future of SEO and healthcare websites?

For businesses concerned about how SGE could impact efforts to rank organically, fear not. As the chart above shows, the percentage of keyword searches we did, that saw no overlap between organic and SGE searches, is very similar to those searches that we did that did overlap in some way. 

If we saw no overlap in the SGE and organic searches, we would be concerned that content best practices and efforts taken to optimise our webpages, may need to be drastically looked at. However, it appears that the ranking factors employed in both SGE and general search algorithms must be similar in some way. 

Furthermore, the use of AI-generated responses in health queries has sparked significant controversy due to the importance of accuracy and reliability in medical information. That’s why at Varn Health, we will continue to analyse how and why these SGE results are decided so that we stay ahead of the SEO curve and can assist our clients in the best possible way, in line with all of the continuing SGE and AI updates. You can read more about Google SGE / AI Overviews is, how it works and what makes it different to standard organic search in our blog.

As search engine algorithms evolve and user behaviours shift, staying abreast of emerging trends and insights is essential for maintaining a competitive edge in the online landscape. 

If you’d like to discuss Google SGE, AI or anything else relating to how we can help improve and protect your online rankings, get in touch with Varn Health and we’d be happy to help. 

Article by:
Technical SEO Executive
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