94% of Google SGE links are different from organic search results, study finds

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The AI-generated answers in Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) do not match any links from the top 10 Google organic search results 93.8% of the time.

That’s according to a new Authoritas analysis, which focused primarily on commercial keywords.

Why we care. Google SGE is expected to reduce organic traffic significantly to websites for many keywords because searchers will be able to get the answer directly in Google’s AI-generated answer. The one bright spot? Websites that can’t reach the top 10 of Google’s organic results might be able to appear as links within SGE.

SGE often gives links to content not in top organic results. According to the study:

  • In simple terms, when comparing the URLs that Google’s SGE content generates against the URLs that appear in regular (organic) search results, there’s a relatively low overlap. Only about 4.5% of the time does a URL in the generative content exactly match a URL in the organic results. An even smaller percentage (1.6%) matches at the domain level, meaning the generative content is from the same website as an organic result but not the exact same page. The vast majority of the time (93.8%), the generative content introduces URLs that are completely different from those in the organic search results.

And:

  • “93.8% of generative links (in this dataset at least) came from sources outside the top-ranking organic domains. With only 4.5% of generative URLs directly matching a page 1 organic URL and only 1.6% showing a different URL from the same organic ranking domain.”

Links in SGE. Overall, on average, SGE shows about 10 links, but only about four unique links. Also, the links in SGE answers come from four unique websites. This means that, on average, two or three links in SGE answers point to the same website.

Percentage of keywords with SGE results. SGE showed for 86.8% of the keywords in this analysis. That means 13.2% of keywords failed to trigger SGE content.

  • The Generate button version (where Google asks if you want to generate an AI response) of SGE appeared 65.9% of the time, which was more often than the Show more button format (where Google shows you part of its AI-generated response).

About the study. Data for 1,000 commercial keywords was collected, using data from a logged-in New York-based Google Chrome account holder, over two days in December 2023. It includes keywords in 10 categories:

  • Automotive
  • Ecommerce & Retail
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion & Apparel
  • Finance
  • Food & Beverage
  • Health & Wellness
  • Legal
  • Technology & Electronics
  • Travel & Hospitality

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About the author

Danny GoodwinDanny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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