How is Google changing SEO in 2024?

What is Gemini AI?

With Google’s mass-rollout of Gemini, Google will drastically change SEO in 2024. The first thing you need to know is that Gemini is the name of Google’s AI. It’s multi-modal (meaning it can work across different modalities: images, videos, text). It’s way, way more advanced than Chat GPT. Put simply, it can process larger amounts of information and has a bigger context window. In fact the largest content window of any chat bot. The context window is the limit of how much information the AI can “remember”.

How is Google search changing in 2024?

The way that Google will serve search results to its users is changing. This means that instead of serving website pages as the initial search result, they will start to use Gemini to respond to online searches by displaying their Search Overviews, previously known as Search Generative Experiences instead.

What are Google’s Search Overviews?

Google’s Search Overviews were previously known as Search Generative Experiences (SGE). They’ve been renamed Search Overviews and are starting to be rolled out across the USA with the rest of the world to follow.

Check out the image below to see what I mean:

A screenshot of a Google Search Overview
Caption: Screengrab from Google I/O 2024 conference

To be honest, as a user. I think it looks pretty handy. I’m here for it. Anything to make this busy mum / biz owner’s life easier. Right?

How will Google’s Search Overviews change your business SEO strategy?

Firstly don’t freak out. If you’ve been investing time and money into creating epic content to support your SEO strategy, don’t stop. 

This rich content helps to provide a better on-site experience, giving your customers more information that helps encourage them to convert once they’re on your website.

In my opinion  there is still value to creating this kind of content on your website to improve the user experience. And you still need to be creating ongoing content for Google to continue to index your page.

There will also still be website pages displayed when you use Google search, so there is still a point to ensuring your business ranks in these results. This isn’t changing.

However, let’s state the obvious first. The search overview is going to take up more of your first screen real estate. This leaves less website results visible on the first page of results (usually the space that all businesses are vying for visibility on). Arguably, making SEO even more important.

Previously we tried as marketers to capitalise on customers’ search intent by answering key queries in on-site content, allowing our websites to rank more highly for these key terms, with the goal of capturing a greater percentage of these users. 

Think of website pages you might have that answer queries like:

  • What do I need to bring to my wedding dress fitting?
  • Easy ways to pack for an overseas holiday with kids
  • How to master Sydney style

As Google continues to roll out Gemini AI and the changes to search, it will become increasingly important that your business focuses on the other elements of SEO such as technical SEO and your back-link strategy to gain reputation in the eyes of the SERPs. This will help your website pages to rank more prominently. This is even more important with fewer spots on Google’s front page.

What can business owners do to try and optimise their SEO strategy in light of Google’s recent changes?

Increase Focus on Technical SEO

It’s worth focusing more closely on technical website SEO to ensure that you’re doing everything you can from a technical perspective to ensure the best chances of success.

Think of it like this. As it becomes harder to rank for the content on your pages, let’s shift the focus to what’s happening behind the scenes and make that 11/10 awesome.

Technical SEO encompasses a variety of things. I like to think of it as optimising your website content for the robots that crawl your website, rather than the humans that are reading it.

The two main things you can focus on to improve your technical SEO without investing in a technical SEO expert are:

1. Your website’s user experience

2. Your core web vitals

This translates into things like:

  • Site speed
  • Mobile optimisation
  • Content organisation

Want a way to instantly see how you are performing? You can carry out a free site speed test on Google and SEMRush have a great free technical SEO audit tool that you can utilise.

Create complex, relatable content.

Multi-step reasoning will become dominant as Google tries to reduce the amount of time we spend in the SERPs (search engine result providers – think Google, Bing). 

The goal in their words was to help users find all the information they needed in a single search. So rather than search for activities for kids in London then carry out a separate search for family-friendly restaurants to visit on the same day, they want to enable you to search for all those things in one go.

For example: Find me activities for a day trip to London for my 6 year old child and give me a list of restaurants we can have lunch at nearby with walking distances from the activity to the restaurant”.

Pretty cool, right?

In simple terms, multi-step reasoning is a more complicated multi-step search. To use the example cited by Google’s Head of Search Liz Reid: “find the best yoga or pilates studios in Boston and show details on their intro offers and walking time from beacon hill”

This search is obviously involving many separate search queries

1. Best yoga or pilates studios in Boston

2. Intro offers at yoga or pilates studios

3. Walking time to studios in Boston from beacon hill

If you’ve naturally been creating interesting and engaging content, and thinking about long-tail search queries, then the chances are you’ve already been creating comprehensive content to engage your customers. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Big gold star to you. ⭐️

What do you need to know about SEO in 2024 as a retailer?

As an ecommerce and retail specialist agency, it’s important to address the unique challenges faced by product-based businesses as Google extends its use of AI in search results.

Introducing: Google’s Circle to Search.

Already available on Android. Circle to search means that you can basically circle a product in an image and search for places to buy that item (or similar ones).

Personally, I’m here for it. How many times have you seen a product in an image on Pinterest or Instagram and wanted to get the same thing for your home or your wardrobe? Right!? 

Google’s circle to search increases the importance of optimising the visual content on your website for search.

Here’s two ways you should be optimising the visual content on your website for search:

  1. Providing content-rich visual experiences on your website. For example videos that explain how a product can be used or videos showing how the clothing on your website looks when the model is wearing it. (Please don’t start cramming your websites full of huge image files as it starts to reduce load time and can negatively impact your user experience – there’s a fine balance to strike).
  2. High quality imagery that effectively represents your products. One crappy picture doesn’t cut it and specifically creating your own imagery if you are a multi-branded retailer (rather than using the supplier provided imagery) would be beneficial.
  3. If you’re not already including metadata for your website images and videos, you should start, like yesterday. It’s not just for SEO, but metadata like ALT text can help ensure your website is accessible. In my opinion, if you’re not providing accessible experiences in 2024 I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.

In conclusion, the way that we carry out SEO and search engine marketing is going to change for good with the introduction of Google’s new Search Overviews and AI generated search experiences. As of 2024, Google makes up over 84% of online searches this is why we have such a focus on Google when we look at SEO.

It would be foolish for businesses to ignore these changes and not inform themselves about how SEO is changing, but I believe that if you are carrying out SEO best practices across your business, for the most part you will be doing what you can right now to mitigate any negative impact of the changes.

At the risk of being that annoying marketing person. Content really does seem to be king. We’re all going to be creating more and more content across all of our platforms. It’s quality, relevant content executed brilliantly that will get you results whether it’s SEO, social media or email.