What is Google SGE? A Guide for Nonprofits

Author information: Mollie Rogers , SEO Executive , Post information: , 5 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital products , PPC , SEO ,

The latest advancement in search is the new Search Generative Experience (SGE) update, which aims to revolutionise the way we interact with Google search results.

We believe this is the most significant and transformative development in Google Search in many years. In Google’s own words, Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an ‘early step in transforming the Search experience with generative AI’.

In this blog, we will delve into the exciting features and capabilities of the new Google SGE update, shedding light on how it improves the Google Search experience for nonprofits.

What is Google SGE?

Google launched their new “Search Generative Experience” (SGE) in May 2023.

Google SGE is a new version of their search results page, which shows AI-generated content in the results page. These answers are created by their own large language model – PaLM 2, which they then cross-reference with classic search results to make sure the information is as accurate as possible.

With this update, Google is trying to make the search experience better, by incorporating natural language understanding, improved context awareness, multimodal search, and other advanced features such as the new conversational mode.

Currently, these AI snapshot results are only available for users in the US – however, the SEO team at Torchbox has gained early access, and we’re using it to preview what these new search results could look like for nonprofit organisations in the UK. The new SGE search results are currently still in beta testing (as of July 2023) and are yet to be rolled out in the UK. SGE is still in beta, there will likely be lots of changes and updates to how the new Google search results will look.

What does the SGE update mean for nonprofits?

The new Google SGE update holds considerable significance for nonprofit organisations, as it enhances their visibility and accessibility to a wider audience.

With its emphasis on improved context awareness and personalised search results, the SGE update enables nonprofit organisations to reach individuals who are specifically interested in their cause or mission.

This increased exposure in search results can lead to greater brand awareness, increased engagement, and potentially more support from donations, volunteers, or partnerships.

Demonstrating real-life experience and knowledge is going to be more important than ever. Ensuring that both users and Google can see first-hand that your nonprofit organisation is an expert in the field, is going to be vital when trying to appear in the AI-generated snapshot.

Leveraging social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube is also going to be important with the introduction of ‘Perspectives’. Providing real-life experience through the use of video, forums and other social channels, will be key for improving your online presence in SGE results.

We are running a live webinar where we will be delving into what SGE means for nonprofits on the 26th of July, find out more and sign up.

How to sign up for Google SGE

Excited to see what Search Generative Experience search results could look like for your organisation? Check out this simple step-by-step guide to help you gain access to the beta version of the new SGE update and start experimenting!

  1. Download a free VPN (we recommend Proton or Tunnel Bear). Connect to the United States using the VPN
  2. Log in to Google Chrome using your personal Google account (work email addresses will not grant you access yet)
  3. Sign up for Google Search Labs here and join the waitlist.
  4. When you are granted access, enjoy exploring! You will need to use a VPN each time you try out SGE.

How Google search is changing with AI

The main ways Google search is going to be changing with AI include:

  1. Improved understanding of natural (conversational) language. Google SGE has the ability to respond to users asking questions or queries in a more conversational manner, and in chat mode. This enables users to ask questions in a more conversational manner, mimicking the way we naturally communicate or search Google via voice search. This enhanced understanding of user intent helps Google to deliver more accurate and contextually relevant search results to users.
  2. AI-powered snapshots. Google SGE generates AI-powered snapshots of information and insights that answer users' questions and queries. Unlike the current featured snippet, this snapshot will pull from multiple sources to provide users with the best possible answer to their search query. The answer will appear directly below the search bar with a coloured background to differentiate it from the standard search results. This AI snapshot is revolutionary in providing users with the most relevant information, as well as instant access to the ‘top 3’ sources of information at the click of a button.
  3. Vertical search experience. SGE will also be useful for information journeys relating to verticals, such as shopping or local searches, as there are sometimes several perspectives or dimensions to consider. SGE, for instance, aids in the discovery of insights to enable shoppers to make thoughtful, complex purchase decisions more quickly and easily. For product-related searches, Google SGE will generate an AI-powered snapshot of important factors to consider such as product descriptions that include relevant, and up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices and images.
  4. Comparative search results. The new AI-generated snapshot will now compare multiple businesses side by side, which is a particularly user-centred part of the new SGE search results. Instead of the usual ‘map-pack’ result appearing that shows the top 3 businesses ranked by the number of reviews and years of expertise, Google is showing users a range of sources for them to compare. For example, if someone was searching for ‘charity volunteering in Bristol’, Google will now show you comparative results, based on the predicted preferences of the user. This means SGE search results will be more about users finding what is right for them personally.
An image showing Google SGE’s Comparative search results. The new snapshot will compare multiple businesses side by side
Google is now showing users a range of sources for them to compare.

Introducing ‘Perspectives’ to search results

Another major upcoming feature in Google Search is the new ‘Perspectives’ tab, which brings social media, social video and forum content directly into the search results, crazy right?!

The purpose of the new ‘Perspectives’ feature is to help users in gaining a deeper understanding of topics by tapping into the experiences and viewpoints of others, infusing digital information with a more personal touch and supporting the new ‘Experience’ signal of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness).

Google highlights the significance of 'Perspectives' in elevating the quality of review content within search results, granting prominence to firsthand experiences and content authored by individuals who have in-depth knowledge on a particular subject.

For a more in-depth look at the new ‘Perspectives’ feature, check out our latest blog post, which explores the new perspectives update in more detail.

An example of the perspectives tab showing in Google search results on a mobile phone

What is Torchbox doing about the SGE update?

As we mentioned, earlier in this article, the new Google SGE update is currently in beta and is, therefore, being updated and changed regularly, providing different results daily.

We are regularly ‘testing’ this tool internally to see what has changed and how this could affect the nonprofit organisations that we work with. We are having regular internal discussions, to ensure every member of the team is up to date with the latest updates from SGE and how this could affect different disciplines.

In the digital marketing team, we are providing our clients with monthly updates on Google SGE and how this could affect their organisation directly.

We have also been working on a number of exciting and innovative projects including One-day innovation sprints to explore AI with a number of our nonprofit clients to explore the ever-changing landscape.

What are the next steps for nonprofit organisations?

To conclude, from what we have seen so far, the new Search Generative Experience (SGE) update elevates Google Search to new heights, bringing forth advanced features that enhance user engagement and deliver more accurate, personalised results.

With its new advanced features such as natural language understanding and improved context awareness, Google Search continues to be a powerful tool for accessing information in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

For now, we are embracing the new Google SGE update and finding out as much as we can about this update and what it could look like for nonprofits and search results in the future.

Author information: Mollie Rogers , SEO Executive , Post information: , 5 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital products , PPC , SEO ,