SEO Experts: Google's SGE might only affect a third of searches

Some queries don't trigger an AI answer in Google's new SGE. This blog post dive into which queries aren't affected and what this means for SEO.

Written by
Adam Villaume
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April 24, 2024

Search generative experience, SGE, is an experiment by Google on the path to building AI into SERP. Right now, there are quite a few very popular search categories where Google doesn’t generate an AI Snapshot.

This means potentially up to 70% of the queries don’t trigger an AI answer, according to some SEOs.

Example of the message you receive when an AI Snapshot isn't provided.

Of course, this number can and probably will change, but it is likely that some searches will be kept out of the hands of AI.

In the following, we investigate which areas aren’t affected by AI at the moment and analyze what this means for these types of websites moving forward.

What is SGE? The short version

Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) promises to provide users with quick and concise answers to their queries. At its core, SGE is an experiment by Google to utilize AI in search results.

Read more: How Search Generative Experience Will Impact SEO: 5 Insights

When a user types in a query, the AI generates a cohesive text summary from information gathered from several pages. The source pages are shown in a carousel to the side of the text.

Example of the SGE results box. Image provided by Google.

The generated summary, or AI Snapshot, is generated on most queries but not all.

We'll come back to that.

It's important to keep in mind that SGE is still an experiment and is not yet available to everyone. Currently, only people in the US with access to Google Labs can sign up for SGE, and only a few have gained access.

However, as development on SGE continues, it will become more widely available and feature-rich.

Only 30% of searches generate an AI answer

As mentioned, SGE is an experiment, and we should expect a lot of changes before general release, however, there are some searches that currently don't trigger an AI answer, and we expect many of them to persist through the launch.

This is because Google insists the AI answer is trained to a higher set of standards in cases where correct information is essential:

Screenshot from a guide on SGE by SEOforjournalism.

Generally speaking, questions that can be answered with just one sentence and sensitive questions are both categories that currently, for the most part, aren't answered by AI.

In a hands on-test by SearchEngineLand they conclude SGE doesn't provide an AI response in "many cases".

However, these queries are very popular. Things like navigational queries and dates, along with song lyrics, are all quite common queries. Some SEOs, Cyrus Shepard for instance, believe the excluded queries make up somewhere between 50-70% of all queries on Google.

If this is true, the new SGE feature only affects up to 30% of searches.

Cyrus Shepard are among those SEOs who believe many queries won't trigger an AI answer in SGE.

So before you go all in on optimizing your content for the AI Snapshot it might be an idea to check whether your topics fall into any of the categories that currently are left out of SGE.

SGE leaves out these 7 search categories

We have investigated which categories are left out of SGE, and below, you'll find a list of them. Do keep in mind that the list is viable to change. Also, some of the categories are left out completely, while others are only left out most of the time.

These categories don't trigger an AI answer in SGE:

  1. Quick answers like weather, dates, song lyrics, and more.
  2. Navigational queries like brand names where you just want a link to the main website mostly don't trigger an AI answer.
  3. Recipes seem to be left out completely at the moment.
  4. "Adult" searches (NSFW / Explicit / Porn).
  5. Sensitive queries related to gender identity, the holocaust, and the like.
  6. Some searches related to health and financial issues (YMYL), though not all.
  7. News – as in current news and events; things happening "now" are left out.

As you can see, these categories are widely used, and even if it's less than 70%, it's not difficult to imagine they take up a lot of the 8.5 billion queries Google answers per day.

How does categories left out of SGE impact SEO?

The short answer is that if a category doesn't trigger an AI-generated answer, then optimizing for the snapshot probably won't help your rankings.

Based on what we know right now, it's better to keep optimizing for traditional SERP instead.

"As Google enhances its search with AI, it's a challenging task for Google to always provide factual answers. Key regulators are closely watching. Not all searches will receive these smarter answers, so changes in the SERPs might be less significant than we think." - Torbjørn Flensted, Founder,

Please remember that SGE is still in development, and what triggers the AI Snapshot could change. Meaning it might not be necessary to optimize for AI search at the moment, but it might be worth the while a little down the line.

Some of the queries related to health and financial advice are actually included in SGE, which points to the possibility of more following as the technology is fine-tuned in the coming months.

At SearchEngineLand they found that some YMYL-queries were answered with AI and some were not.

On the other hand, we don't expect quick answers to be included at any time simply because there is no need. As every AI-generated response has a cost, it's in the interest of Google to only use AI when it generates a more helpful result than traditional SERP.

Whenever the result in traditional SERP already provides the answer in full, even without AI, Google is unlikely to use AI.

As we understand the reasoning behind Google intentions and the limitations of SGE our best guess is as follows:

  • Likely to be left out of SGE altogether: Categories 1, 2, 4, and 7. Due to search intent, explicit content, and the inherent difficulties with events unfolding in the present.
  • Likely to be included in SGE in time - at least to some extent: Categories 3, 5, and 6. Because some sensitive queries already are included, which indicates Google wants to include them, and the recipes are included in Bing AI searches, so why not Google?

In any case, it will be interesting to see how Google adjusts and develops the Search Generative Experience in the coming months and how this will impact SEO.

SEO Experts: Google's SGE might only affect a third of searches

This is an article written by:

Adam is an experienced content writer with a background in journalism and a passion for technology.