Content in 2024 – why bother with SGE on the horizon?


To paraphrase 90s one hit wonders Smash Mouth “The SGE starts coming and it don’t stop coming”. It’s definitely coming alright.

SEOs’ up and down the land are all preparing for the seismic change this new search technology is going to have on brand and client websites. Look at any legacy SEO publication like Search Engine Land or SEO roundtable and you won’t be able to get far before you’re hit with an article warning you about SGE. 

Indeed several agencies and publications have started creating SGE readiness audits to try and show clients they’re on top of the situation (they’re not, no one is. It’s going to be wild) but really, no one can properly gauge the impact of this update until it hits. 

Batten down the hatches, storm SGE is coming. 

But this article isn’t concerned with weathering this search tsunami. There are plenty of articles out there that already cover this. Check out my 2 cents here if you’d like to get prepped: Search generative experience and the new SEO battlefields

What I really want to cover in this article is the likely questions and pushback SEOs are going to get from higher-ups whenever SGE drops. 

Those annoying questions from your ever-flighty, give me it in 3 sentences, skim reading, no knowledge CEO. You know the ones: Can we just stop content production then and save money? Won’t it be easier to double down on paid marketing now? Yadda yadda yadda.   

These questions are just as inevitable as SGE itself and answering them robustly could be the difference between your company having an SEO team and it being put on the scrap heap. 

Ok, that might be a bit dramatic but as SEOs we need to have answers to these questions to make sure our business leaders are focused on the right things and not worrying unnecessarily about organic traffic and content plans. 

So, what are the likely questions you’ll face and how can you combat them?    

Likely stakeholder pushback to SEO: the 3 arguments you need to counter

A group of “Steak holders” discussing SGE. Apologies in advance for the nightmares

1) Why bother with informational content anymore, people can get their answers on the SERP?

What’s the point in content anymore? Barely anyone reads it as it is so why have it when they can get all their answers directly from the SERP? 

It’s a valid question to be fair. What’s the point of informational content when it’ll just be scraped and regurgitated on the SERP. 

For me I think the crucial point people miss when they roll out this argument is that SGE needs a library of content to function. If it can’t read content on your site it’s going to completely ignore your brand and offering.

SGE does cite its sources and if you want your website referenced by SGE you still need content on your site. 

In a nutshell informational content is vital for getting your site found by SGE not to mention the additional experience and trust signals a body of content sends to Google. 

Also, if someone does land on your site to complete a product journey your content can really help push them over the line towards a sale or delight that user with additional resources once they’ve purchased a product.

Content on your site still have a vital role to play for you brand in several different ways. Don’t discount it simply because SGE is going to use it.  

2) If SGE is going to take over organic search we should just double down on paid advertising, right?

Looks like the jig is up. How can organic content compete anymore and why should we bother? Let’s just reallocate the money we’re paying freelance copywriters in the paid marketing channels. That’ll solve this problem right? 

The above is another likely statement from a CEO you could find yourself picking apart once SGE arrives on UK shores. From the CEO’s point of view you can understand where they’re coming from. But their above stance misses one crucial thing that a lot of non-SEOs tend to forget. 

SEO is still used to drive site visitors to commercial pages. It can be easy to see all the blog content SEOs churn out and think it’s an exercise purely for the awareness end of the marketing funnel but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Now more than ever we need to be optimising our landing pages for SERP. These pages are our key revenue drivers and they need to be fighting as best as they can to get in the SGE results and in the good old-fashioned, blue link SERP. Don’t forget, customers still need to complete their purchase journeys on your site. So make sure your landing pages are visible. 

On a quick side note too: SGE is going to tear up the SERP page conventions for more than just organic search results. Sponsored posts and paid links are going to face the cosh too. This means we can’t just rely on moving to paid advertising to solve all our SGE problems.   

3) Can’t we just incorporate our own ChatGPT chat box on our site and get rid of all the content pages we have?

Can’t we just make our own Chatbot? Can we use ChatGPT on our site? It can’t be that hard can it? 

Like the dreaded statement from upper management “just make it go viral” incorporating a LLM onto your site is more complex and involved than they can really comprehend.

Image taken from this page: Link

Now, I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. In fact, adding a chatbot to your site that can interact and help customers is going to become very powerful in the near future. 

But the crux of the problem is: you need to train that LLM on a library of content and guess what…

Your articles are that content. This isn’t actually a problem if you’ve already got a large bank of content on your site. All you need to do is make sure you don’t delete it if you do incorporate an LLM chatbot. 

Don’t forget LLMs still need to learn and consume content to work. So you need content on your site to function. You could train your chatbot on a library of content that isn’t accessible on the web but there’s a myriad of other SEO benefits to having that content live on your site. It builds trust, helps with internal and external linking, and can improve your site’s authorship signals. 

So all-in-all, if you’re going to use an AI chatbot on your site there isn’t really a downside to keeping your content live too.     

How to stress the continued importance of SEO in 2024

SGE is going to be a big change there’s no doubt about that. But trying to hide or minimise its impact will only land you in hot water with your c-suite. The best thing I think you can do is be transparent in regards to the upheaval you’re likely going to face and schedule regular meetings with your leadership team to discuss, explain and mitigate their worries around SGE whilst also continuing to highlight how your SEO efforts are adding value to your business. 

It won’t be an easy road. We’re all still pretty much in the dark in regards to the impact SGE will have until it lands. But the best way to show your value is by being proactive in your communication and planning for SGE. Keeping ahead of the developments in the SERP and reacting appropriately to changes will make sure SEO has an important place in your company for years to come.