Introduction to Google’s Generative Search Experience

Google SGE screenshot

Google’s Generative Search Experience (SGE) is a new feature that uses artificial intelligence to generate informative answers to search queries. It is still in beta testing, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way people search the web. You will see it in some results, be given the opportunity to generate in other circumstances or you might see a more traditional search return. This will change as the feature gets more fully deployed which is expected to happen sometime in 2024.

For businesses’ search presence, SGE presents both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, it could make it more difficult for websites to rank for high-volume keywords, as Google may be able to provide users with the information they need without them ever having to click on a search result. On the other hand, SGE also creates new opportunities for websites to be featured in Google’s search results, and to provide users with more value.

How SGE Works

SGE uses a variety of AI techniques to generate answers to search queries. These techniques include:

  • Natural language processing: SGE is able to parse and understand the meaning of search queries, even if they are complex or ambiguous.
  • Machine learning: SGE has been trained on a massive dataset of text and code, which allows it to generate answers that are both informative and accurate.
  • Knowledge graphs: SGE uses knowledge graphs to understand the relationships between different entities, such as people, places, and things. This allows it to generate answers that are more comprehensive and informative.

How SGE Impacts SEO

SGE has a number of potential impacts on SEO, including:

  • Increased competition for high-volume keywords: As Google is able to provide users with the information they need without them having to click on a search result, there will be increased competition for high-volume keywords. This means that websites will need to produce high-quality content that is more informative and engaging than ever before.
  • New opportunities for visibility: SGE also creates new opportunities for websites to be featured in Google’s search results. For example, websites may be featured in SGE’s answer boxes, even if they do not rank for the specific keyword that the user searched for.
  • A greater emphasis on quality content: As SGE is able to generate answers to search queries, Google will place a greater emphasis on the quality of websites’ content. Websites that produce high-quality, informative, and engaging content will be more likely to be featured in SGE’s results.

What sem[c] Is Doing to Help Our Clients Get Ready

Some best SEO practices will continue to be important for SGE:

  • Produce high-quality content: This is more important than ever before, as SGE is able to generate answers to search queries without requiring users to click on a search result. Websites need to produce content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to the needs of their target audience.
  • Use structured data: Structured data helps Google to understand the content on websites. This can make it more likely that websites are featured in SGE’s results. SEO consultants can help their clients to implement structured data on their websites. Google has recently stated that this will not be a determining factor by itself.
  • Optimize for conversational search: SGE is designed to answer natural language queries. This means that we will help our clients to optimize their websites for conversational search. This can be done by using natural language keywords and phrases in website content, and by creating content that is structured in a way that makes it easy for Google to understand. AIs like Google’s Bard, Bing GPT4 Chat and ChatGPT are helpful in this proces.


Google’s Generative Search Experience is a powerful new feature that has the potential to revolutionize the way people search the web. sem[c] is staying on top of the potential impacts of SGE, and we are prepared to help their clients prepare for it. By producing high-quality content, using structured data, and optimizing for conversational search, sem[c] is helping our clients to succeed in this new era of search.

If you have any questions about SGE and the impact of AI on search returns please contact sem[c]

Ads + AI

Google has always presented their search ad offerings with the underlying premise that more clicks are better for your business. But, of course, you buying more clicks is also better for their business. The caveat to this is that not every click does your business any good. If a click is off-target, it can be not only valueless, it can be expensive–for you. Google, of course, gets paid either way.

Google Ads is mixing in some artificial intelligence with your keywords. You’ll see this when you notice that a search term triggered a click, but it doesn’t match any of your keywords. Obviously, you should investigate this event. 

A Google search of that unrecognized search term will reveal one of a number of things: 

  • The search term may be the name of a company or person offering the same products or services that you do. 
  • It might be the name of a branded product that’s offered by other businesses like yours. 
  • It could be a more generic type of product or service which is offered by businesses similar to yours.

The art to crafting a cost-effective Ads campaign is to reduce the number of off-target clicks. With the introduction of their quite clever AI-keyword-adding, Google is definitely getting you more clicks. However, you need to determine if any of the above scenarios do your business any good. Is your Ad strategy to get clicks from someone searching by the competition’s name, and not yours? If so, your landing page needs to be written to that specification–a more general landing page will likely not suffice.

By using AI to introduce new keywords, Google may actually be reducing the relevance of your Ads, while increasing the number of clicks you pay for. In any event, the process of evaluating these AI-added keywords creates a larger dimension; in turn, your evaluation process provides free training to Google to improve their AI for them.

Does Google’s use of AI help you or hurt you? It could go either way. You should make an informed decision about the best use of your PPC dollars. Contact us at, and we’ll devise a strategy to put Google’s AI to work for your company’s benefit.

Do you know these seven things about your website?

Why you need to know:

After a particularly difficult SEO setup it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time cleaning up after web developers… especially those who mistakenly claim that they are “SEO experts”. This assignment brought to mind the definition of “expert” as being made up of “X, the unknown” and “spurt, a short burst”. In this project the developer had seemingly done everything he could to tie the client to his company’s accounts. The WordPress website was dependent on paid plugins that belonged to the developer, NOT to the client. When the developer was removed as administrator his company’s plugins disappeared and crippled the site. Even the Google Analytics was his account, not the client’s. The website was almost perfectly booby-trapped.

This kind of behavior by a developer represents a conundrum for me because web developers that don’t claim to be SEO experts are the absolutely best fit with sem[c] as alliance partners. Virtually every business website will benefit from professional SEO. Many SEO clients will, sooner or later, want or need a new website design. While a deep understanding of web development is critical to the successful practice of SEO the two areas are really quite different.

One of the biggest differences is in the area of graphic design. Recently new designer interfaces like Divi, PageLines and others have become popular for the freedom and ease that they offer graphic designers to create visually elaborate websites. This graphical freedom comes at a cost. By injecting additional code into every page these design layers dilute the optimization of every page and can slow site performance. From an SEO point of view the graphic design of a typical site is only part of the user experience and can impress nobody unless there is traffic to the site. Graphic design does not drive traffic to most websites. On the other hand, graphic design that loads a webpage too slowly or is confusing will quickly drive visitors away before they take any action that benefits the business that owns the website.

sem[c] has tested and implemented highly technical accommodations to mitigate a lot of the SEO problems introduced by easy-design software tools–but not every design can be fully corrected.

There are a few things that you should talk about with your web developer:

WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Dashboard

  • Is your site developed in WordPress? If not, how is it built?
  • Does your site rely on any paid subscriptions that are not in your name?
  • What is your site’s result at  and what can be done if the result is poor?


In addition, you should have the administrative usernames and passwords for:

  1. Your domain name(s) registrar. This is where your domain is controlled and the fees are paid. Any and all domains should all be in your name not the developer’s.
  2. Your web hosting accounting. This should also be in your company’s name
  3. Your Google account that is the owner of your Google Analytics.
  4. Your paid advertising accounts. sem[c] always create these in your name. Many other companies do placement under their accounts. Their self-serving practice prevents you from directly accessing important information about your advertising.

If you or anyone you know needs assistance sem[c] has a long and successful history of solving problems related to websites. Visit for more information or just contact us now.

A new (and free) emailer for Gmail

Optimizing Gmail with sem[c]Use Gmail to drive traffic to your business’ website

At sem[c] we firmly believe that your business’ website is the nexus of your online presence. You have more control about the content, presentation and resulting data with your website than any flavor of social media or search engine. Email can be a great way to get people to visit your website. Gmail has been sem[c]’s goto email client for many years. We especially like the ease of Contact management.

A new Chrome plug-in lets you use your Contacts for emailing marketing

sem[c] has tested the  Sendtu plug-in which installs easily, gives you a wide variety of templates to modify, has many reporting options and, importantly, let’s you send emails to groups of your contacts in a way that you have already chosen. Other types of email marketing programs can be great but there is always a great deal of maintenance necessary to keep bounced emails and unsubscribes synchronized between any email marketing program and Gmail.

Sentu appears in your familiar Gmail interface:

Sendtu by sem[c]


The dropdown menu gives you the choices of Templates, Editor, Emails and Reports:

Sendtu menu by sem[c]

The Themes all support rich media and give the viewer an option to open the email in a browser for email clients that don’t support HTML. After you finish preparing your email, Sendtu allows you to send a test to make sure everything’s working. You add the recipients to your mailing list either from your Gmail Contacts or individually if you prefer. As soon as you press “Send” your email gets added to the Reports:

Sendtu Reports by sem[c]

Clicking on the email title displays a detailed report on clicks generated by the links within your email:

Sendtu detailed report by sem[c]


All in all this represents a very elegant, usable and useful tool to add to your marketing arsenal. It’s powerful and the price is right (free). If you’ve tried other approaches to email marketing and found them to be too much work from the standpoint of contact management or too expensive Sendtu is something that you should take a look at.  If you have any questions or would like some help with implementation please Contact sem[c].

The SEO of Speed and Security

The SEO of Speed and Security

“What is SEO?” I ask, rhetorically.

The most common answer: “You know, keywords and stuff…”

SEO in 2017 will involve much more than keywords, although they are still definitely part of the mix. Google has been penalizing sites that don’t render properly on small screens like phones for some time. Part of that usability standard is the speed with which the site loads. You really don’t want to see this for your site:

SEO speed problem

As in most optimization items this is something that you probably already react to when you visit a site. How long do you stick around if the site doesn’t load right away? A couple of seconds? Five? Would you wait for 10 seconds? You know that if it takes too long you will decide at some point that it’s not working and leave. Google’s algorithms work the same way.

Fixing a slow site can be a complicated process. First, you need to acquire some hard facts about your website. A site like can help. Here are the results from sem[c]’s site:

SEO of speed


As you can see the site has been highly optimized and is more loading quickly that 98% of tested sites. Our site was created in WordPress which has become a very popular website authoring environment. It has not been noted in the past for its speed, however. There are many adjustments that are necessary to get the site to load this quickly:

  • The WordPress theme is designed for speed
  • The site is hosted on a managed WordPress server
  • The site is behind a combination firewall and Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Numerous tweaks to code and content have been implemented

One adjustment that will be implemented next on our site is the security certificate. According to this article from WordPress an SSL security certificate will become necessary to even use aspects of WordPress beginning in 2017:

In addition, the Chrome browser will begin warning users in January when they request a non-SSL site:

Please note that each of the above two links are secured by SSL. Both of these sources are practicing what they preach about SSL and that leaves no doubt of its effect on SEO.

Achieving high quality SEO is a constantly changing target. It is not simply a matter of you picking a few keywords that you think might work. We can help you get your website the SEO speed and security that will benefit your business.

Get ready for the new year by contacting sem[c] today for an audit of your website’s SEO or to start a program to make it faster and safer.

Wouldn’t you like to know how Google works?

If you use Google (like most of us) you might wonder how it works.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 10.23.25
Google’s how search works page

Recently Rachid Guerraoui, professor at the Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, France wrote on a blog for the French newspaper Le Monde:

(base translation from the original French by Google Translate)

“What will happen if we search for Michael Jackson on Google? One sees links to pages about the singer: his life, his photos, videos, family, fan clubs, death, etc. All this seems very logical a priori. But if you dig a little, it should intrigue us. After all, there are millions of pages with the string “Michael Jackson” on the Web. Why does Google offer us nothing about Michael Jackson the carpenter in Dallas? Or Michael Jackson the singing teacher in San Francisco? If you were the carpenter, you might even be shocked to see no link to a page that talks about you, so that you have published dozens by including your name each time. Why such injustice?”

Professor Guerraoui goes on to discuss the “… PageRank algorithm, invented by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the two founders of Google, inspired by the work of Jon Kleinberg of IBM.  It’s the algorithm that creates what Guerraoui calls “injustice”, but does such a good job of finding the right information about the right Michael Jackson.

Google’s “…PageRank was originally the ranking of the results of the search engine Google. Today, more than two hundred other criteria are used to classify these results. The recipe is secret, which opens the door to all sorts of speculation on this ranking.”

You should know that while the formula is secret Google’s ultimate goal is very clear. According to Tamar Yehoshua, director of product management on Google’s search in an interview with Slate Magazine: “Our vision is the Star Trek computer,” she shot back with a smile. “You can talk to it—it understands you, and it can have a conversation with you.” Amit Singhal head of Google’s search rankings team confirmed this: “The destiny of [Google’s search engine] is to become that Star Trek computer, and that’s what we are building.”

Back to the present, there are a few things that are known about parts of Google’s original secret formula:

  • indexes pages by keywords
  • calculates a numeric score for each page relative to its content
  • the score is calculated in part by the scores of the links to the page
  • as of March 2013 Google had indexed 30 trillion web pages

The name “Google” is a homonym for “googol” the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. You can see that the current number of pages indexed fit comfortably inside the “Star Trek computer” that Google is building.

An article at lists some likely other ingrediants in the secret formula:

  • the freshness of the results
  • quality of the website
  • age of the domain
  • safety and appropriateness of the content
  • user context like
    • location
    • prior searches
    • Google+ history and connections

Professor Guerraoui continues:

“Intuitively, it is as if each page has a number of votes represented by its score, and could share their votes between all the pages that reference.”

He concludes:

“Lots of details are hidden from you. It’s scary to think that (in order to reproduce Google’s results) you (would need to) calculate the ‘fixed-point of a matrix equation with a matrix with billions of rows and columns.’ … Is this a big calculation? No! It’s really a very, very … very enormous calculation. And it takes a lot of computers to achieve it. And this is only one of the functions of a search engine …

It’s difficult to visualize the magnitude of just one component of the more than two hundred parts of Google’s algorithm. You don’t need to. Just call, email or search for us on Google. Knowing how to work with Google and other search engines is part of what we do.


SEO and other online channels: different parts of the buying process

SEO Marketing and sales expectations


Google has created a map of the buying process that positions each type of online channel in relation to a purchase:

SEO and the buying process graphic
Google shows where the influence of various channels is closest to the sale in the buying process.

You can click on the graphic to adjust the display to show how this relationship varies from industry to industry.

This quantifies the delay in time between marketing and sales. The effects of SEO take months to realize but its value is seen by its proximity to an actual sale in the chart. The only channel that is closer is a direct click which means the prospect can go to the URL of the item of interest directly.

We have seen a lot of consternation about the direct effect one can expect from social media marketing.  The chart proposes that it and display advertising are at the far end of assisting interaction whereas successful SEO and its benefit to organic results are closest to the last interaction or sale.