Skip to main content

Generative AI in Search

How the Gemini model is transforming search for brands

What Is It?

Since its launch in 1998, Google has continued to expand and reinvent search possibilities through regular algorithm updates. This involves perfecting complex systems used to retrieve data from the search index to deliver the most relevant results for a query.

In its early years, Google made only a few tweaks to its algorithms. ‘Google Panda’ became the first major update of the modern SEO era back in 2011. Fast forward to today, and Google makes thousands of changes every year. Most are so minor that you probably don’t even notice them! Occasionally, however, the search engine rolls out a major change that significantly impacts SERPs.

On May 14, 2024, Google announced a big leap forward in the form of AI-generated summaries (previously known as Search Generative Experience or SGE). Powered by the new Gemini model – Google’s largest and most capable AI model designed specifically for search – this revolutionary update promises to transform the search landscape as we know it.

Whether it’s supercharging creative ideas or requesting help to tackle research, planning or brainstorming tasks, the new epoch of search promises to handle the heavy lifting for users – and brands.

Why Is It Important?

Generative AI in search is important for three key reasons:

1.      Improved information synthesis

Generative AI can analyse and combine multiple information sources to create one detailed, coherent response. This will help users get complete answers to complex queries on the search results page without needing to trawl through lots of different links​.

2.      Enhanced relevance and context

Generative AI understands the nuances of language like never before. It can therefore deliver answers directly tailored to the user’s intent​. It handles complex questions that require in-depth analysis and multi-stage reasoning.

3.      Increasingly personalised experience

Generative AI can tweak search results based on individual user preferences and their past behaviour, making the search experience more personalised and engaging​.


What Does It Mean for Marketers?

AI in search synthesises information from lots of different sources to offer users robust overviews directly on the results page. With this in mind, marketers must focus on creating high-quality content that AI can interpret easily. 

Ensuring content aligns with user intent will become key as we move into the future. For marketers, this means having a deep understanding of their demographic: how their audience speaks, what they search for, what excites them, and their pain points.

Generative AI’s ability to handle multimodal content means marketers are in the perfect position to diversify their content mix. Offering audiences a variation of short-form content, valuable long reads, beautiful images, and helpful videos with plenty of interactive elements will increase a brand’s chance of being featured in AI-generated results.


What is Tug’s Take?

Neil Goddard, Tug’s Head of SEO and Content, believes that Search Generative Experience could impact the industry in several ways. The most pertinent will be an increased emphasis on content quality.

“AI-generated summaries aim to provide comprehensive answers directly on the results page by combining information from multiple sources. To maintain and improve organic traffic, we’re encouraging our brands to invest in high-quality, well-structured content that genuinely meets user needs.

Tug’s SEO and Content teams are already helping clients improve their helpfulness and E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) signals to optimize for AI interpretation. This kind of futureproofing is crucial.

We have also developed our own tool that uses large language models to mine the intent behind keywords for any given audience type. This ensures the content we’re creating is subject comprehensive and aligns closely with audiences expectations.

We may also need to adapt our SEO strategies to correlate with SGE by optimising for long-tail keywords and more conversational terms since AI models are adept at understanding natural language semantics. Our aim is to create brilliant content that aligns perfectly with user queries.

When it comes to SEO strategy, we may need to pivot for SGE. This may include implementing and enhancing structured data to ensure content is accurately represented in AI overviews. This should increase the likelihood of our brands being included in Google summaries.

Consequently, we’re developing new ways of measuring the impact of our SEO efforts. In future, we may need to focus on enhancing visibility within AI overviews as well as on click-through rates. Tracking how often content appears in SGE-generated overviews will become a new indicator of performance in our Tug Tools suite.

Alex Pitt, Tug’s Head of Media, is also excited about the future of AI-generated search and the doors it will unlock for brands.

“Google is exploring new ad formats within SGE, which could offer media teams additional avenues for promoting content. These ads will be more contextually relevant than ever before but could also provide relevant ads higher engagement rates compared to traditional ad formats. Audiences who see a brand frequently cited in AI-generated summaries are likely to develop trust and recognition, potentially leading to increased brand awareness​.”


Moving into the future 

Generative AI in search will drive significant changes in how we practice SEO, with a stronger focus on content quality, user intent, and engagement metrics. Marketers and brands will need to stay agile and adapt to these changes to maintain and improve their visibility in search results.