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The 5 Best Ebook Formats for Marketers [Free Templates]

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You may just be getting started with ebook creation as a marketing tool or reconsidering the role of ebooks in your existing content strategy.

Regardless of where you are in the process, you’re likely asking yourself an important question: What are the best ebook formats for your marketing library? This is a valid question because the ebook format you choose will determine the success of your efforts.

Here, we’ll cover all ebook formats and how to choose the best one for your project. We’ll also explain how HubSpot’s ebook templates can help you achieve your marketing team’s lead generation goals.

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Ebook Formatting Templates

First up, download our kit of ebook templates so you can get an idea of the ebook formats that are available to you.

Featured Resource: 36 Free Ebook Formatting & Creation Templates

ebook format templates from hubspotDownload Your Free Ebook Templates

Our collection of 36 free ebook templates will help you create and format your ebook content for an incredible reader experience in Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, and Google Slides. You can format your ebooks to best suit the needs of your marketing team and the preferences of your content readers.

Best Ebook Formats for Content Creation

If you’re a content creator, here are the ebook formats you should consider first.

1. Adobe InDesign

ebook formats for content creation: adobe indesign

Adobe’s advanced design software gives content creators a myriad of options for creating and formatting their ebooks.

These advanced features do come at a price, but experienced marketing designers rely on Adobe InDesign because of those features.

Click Here to Download 6 Adobe InDesign Ebook Templates.

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Pros

Adobe is known for being feature-rich. As a result, you can expect your ebooks to look their best when made with InDesign, as you’ll be able to create and incorporate original design elements right into your document.

Cons

For an inexperienced designer or the marketer who just needs to release a serviceable ebook, the bells and whistles that InDesign offers might not be necessary. InDesign’s interface and usability aren’t the most straightforward and could require you to put in more effort than is needed for your final deliverable.

2. Google Slides

ebook formats for creation: google slides

Google Slides is a simpler tool for making an ebook compared to InDesign. The fact that the ebook lives online means you can collaborate in real-time with your team members to make a fantastic deliverable. Oh — and it’s free, which is helpful if you have a limited marketing budget.

Click Here to Download 6 Google Slides Ebook Templates.

Pros

Google Slides is a great tool for marketers who need to make a good ebook quickly, especially if you’re working alongside team members and sourcing feedback from them. Google Slides’ interface is arguably more straightforward than InDesign’s, meaning you can move and edit creative elements faster if you’re new to both tools.

Cons

Because Google Slides is primarily a presentation tool rather than an ebook creation tool, you may miss out on some necessary features that would help make your ebooks attractive enough to warrant your leads’ attention.

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Conversely, you might need to make design elements elsewhere, such as an Adobe software tool or Canva, and later import these creative elements into your Google Slides deck. This could create an inconsistent creation experience if you need to track down design elements after you’ve created them.

3. Microsoft PowerPoint

best ebook formats for creation: powerpoint

A slightly more advanced option than Google Slides — but not quite as advanced as Adobe software — PowerPoint is another presentation-making platform that can be used to design an ebook.

Pros

PowerPoint has some features that Google Slides doesn’t, such as better effects for designing. PowerPoint is also an offline software, meaning you can build your ebooks without Wi-Fi.

Cons

PowerPoint is a paid software instead of a free tool available in Google Workspace. You also won’t be in sync with your team if you’re collaborating with them on edits and additions. Lastly, while it has better creative features than Google Slides, it doesn’t come close to the advanced features of InDesign.

Click Here to Download 6 Microsoft PowerPoint Ebook Templates.

Best Ebook Formats for Consumption

The ebook formats in this section are best for content consumption as you can embed links, mimic a real book, and spice up your content. The formats include:

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1. Interactive PDF

best ebook format for consumption: pdf

The best ebook format for ebook consumption is an interactive Portable Document Format (PDF).

PDFs are the go-to option for content marketing ebooks for many reasons. Among them are the consistency of their design and readability on different devices.

We at HubSpot use PDFs for our ebooks because we can embed links to relevant pages and sources in them. We can also upload them right into our content library and trust that the design will appear as intended, even if our leads open the ebook in Chrome, Safari, or Preview. The document will also appear the same if they open it on their phones or on a desktop device.

The interactive nature also means we can include an open text box for readers to complete an activity in the book (like in our Content Marketing Workbook). Another plus? Readers can complete the activity in whatever application they’re consuming the content.

2. EPUB

EPUB, short for electronic publication and saved with a “.epub” file extension, is another way for you to save your ebooks.

EPUBs rose in popularity after becoming a prominent ebook format for e-readers. But, given its accessibility on Apple macOS and iOS products via Apple Books, the format is also a viable — though somewhat limiting — option for content marketing ebooks.

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One unique feature of the .epub file format is its scroll ability. To mimic the reading of an actual book, readers can view one page at a time and must scroll or swipe horizontally. That’s in contrast to vertical scrolling with PDFs. The epub format gives your readers the feeling of reading a book as opposed to interacting with website content. However, this also means readers might have to do more work navigating the content and finding the information they need.

Additionally, video and audio files can be embedded in the .epub format, unlike PDFs, which means your readers can consume more interactive content without leaving the ebook.

If you’re tired of the PDF option and want to spruce up your content format, you can save your InDesign ebooks as a .epub file. Just be prepared for some readers being unable to read your content, which is something you likely don’t want to be the case. This is because the format is limited. For example, Amazon Kindle devices can’t read .epub files. Readers will have to convert your ebook into another format if they want to read it on their Kindles.

How to Choose the Right Ebook Format

The ebook format you choose directly affects how your ebook performs after publication. Here are a few tips to help you choose the correct one for your project for best results.

1. Consider your target audience.

Who are your consumers? This is the first question you need to answer before choosing an ebook format. Your content needs to be accessible to your readers. For example, if you’re targeting a huge audience, you’ll need to consider an ebook format compatible with several digital devices.

2. Decide how you’ll market your ebook.

How you plan to market your ebook is also a significant factor when choosing a format. When it comes to selling an ebook, you’ll be self-publishing because you need to quicken up the process. You can do so either on your own site, or on a platform such as Amazon.

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Self-publishing means you get to use your resources to market your ebook. Therefore, you’ll need a way to reach a huge audience, which may mean using an ebook format like AZW that’s compatible with different platforms. This will give you the highest level of flexibility in terms of the number of platforms that your audience can comfortably read your book.

3. Consider the nature of your ebook.

Another factor you need to consider when deciding on the best ebook format is its nature. Is it mostly words, or will there be graphics and images? Will you be adding helpful practical digital products like Google Sheets that readers will need to download? All of this will determine the best ebook format for your project. If possible, come up with a list of all the different types of content that your ebook will contain to ensure the ebook format you choose supports all of them.

If you’re selling an ebook containing digital images and illustrations with sound or video, you’ll need a format that supports these features. For example, the EPUB format supports videos, color images, and other interactive elements, while MOBI doesn’t.

Avoid the temptation of assuming what an ebook format will look like once you’re done. Sometimes, the end product can be very far from what you expect it to be, and correcting it will be expensive. Inquire and do thorough research on all features before settling for any format.

4. Consider the security or privacy of your ebook.

Writing an ebook from start to finish takes a lot of time and energy, so the last thing you want is everyone editing it once it’s released. This can have several implications for your brand. For example, your audience may end up receiving false information about your project, and the false content may give undesired results. If they’re editable materials in your ebook, ensure there is a way for the reader to create a separate document first to avoid editing the entire document. This also protects your readers’ privacy by preventing them from unknowingly filling in their personal information on a public document.

You also want to ensure the security of your ebook by preventing illegal sharing, printing, and copy-pasting. This is especially crucial for high-ticket ebooks, as it limits readers from sharing your content for free. If limiting sharing is important to you, it’s advisable to use a format like EPUB that’s protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). The latter locks files in a particular platform and protects them from illegal sharing.

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5. Think about the budget.

If you have two or more ebook formats that work well with your project, the best way to break the tie is to consider the cost. How much will it cost you to launch your ebook using each format? Is it feasible? In addition, consider how much it would cost if you wanted to expand. The best ebook format is cost-friendly at the beginning and in the long run. If it’s cheap initially but limits your growth, it’s not worth it. A good ebook format should not only make launching your product easier, but it should also be cost-friendly when you decide to expand.

Choose the right ebook format and get started.

There are several ebook formats in the market that are popular for publishing ebooks. However, like everything else in business, what works for one publisher might not be the best option for another. Take your time and research the features every format offers and see which one best fits your project.

In addition, consider the cost, the kind of content your ebook has, and most importantly, the delivery method that works best for your audience.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

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Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952

Methodology

The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


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The Current State of Google’s Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

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The Current State of Google's Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

SEO enthusiasts, known for naming algorithm updates after animals and embracing melodrama, find themselves in a landscape where the “adapt or die” mantra prevails. So when Google announced the launch of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May of 2023 at Google/IO, you can imagine the reaction was immense.

Although SGE has the potential to be a truly transformative force in the landscape, we’re still waiting for SGE to move out of the Google Labs Sandbox and integrate into standard search results. 

Curious about our current take on SGE and its potential impact on SEO in the future? Read on for more.

Decoding Google’s Defensive Move

In response to potential threats from competitors like ChatGPT, Bing, TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, Google introduced SGE as a defensive maneuver. However, its initial beta release raised questions about its readiness and global deployment.

ChatGPT provided an existential threat that had the potential to eat into Google’s market share. When Bing started incorporating it into its search results, it was one of the most significant wins for Bing in a decade. In combination with threats from TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, we see a more fractured search landscape less dominated by Google. Upon its launch, the expectation was that Google would push its SGE solution globally, impact most queries, and massively shake up organic search results and strategies to improve organic visibility.

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Now, industry leaders are starting to question if Google is better off leaving SGE in the testing ground in Google labs. According to Google’s recent update, it appears that SGE will remain an opt-in experience in Google Labs (for at least the short term). If SGE was released, there could be a fundamental reset in understanding SEO. Everything from organic traffic to optimization tactics to tracking tools would need adjustments for the new experience. Therefore, the prospect of SGE staying in Google Labs is comforting if not entirely reliable. 

The ever-present option is that Google can change its mind at any point and push SGE out broadly as part of its standard search experience. For this reason, we see value in learning from our observations with SGE and continuing to stay on top of the experience.

SGE User Experience and Operational Challenges

If you’ve signed up for search labs and have been experimenting with SGE for a while, you know firsthand there are various issues that Google should address before rolling it out broadly to the public.

At a high level, these issues fall into two broad categories including user experience issues and operational issues.

Below are some significant issues we’ve come across, with Google making notable progress in addressing certain ones, while others still require improvement:

  • Load time – Too many AI-generated answers take longer to load than a user is willing to wait. Google recommends less than a 3-second load time to meet expectations. They’ll need to figure out how to consistently return results quickly if they want to see a higher adoption rate.
  • Layout – The SGE layout is massive. We believe any major rollout will be more streamlined to make it a less intrusive experience for users and allow more visibility for ads, and if we’re lucky, organic results. Unfortunately, there is still a decent chance that organic results will move below the fold, especially on mobile devices. Recently, Google has incorporated more results where users are prompted to generate the AI result if they’d like to see it. The hope is Google makes this the default in the event of a broad rollout where users can generate an AI result if they want one instead of assuming that’s what a user would like to see. 
  • Redundancy – The AI result duplicates features from the map pack and quick answer results. 
  • Attribution – Due to user feedback, Google includes sources on several of their AI-powered overviews where you can see relevant web pages if there is an arrow next to the result. Currently, the best way to appear as one of these relevant pages is to be one of the top-ranked results, which is convenient from an optimization standpoint. Changes to how attribution and sourcing are handled could heavily impact organic strategies. 

 

On the operational side, Google also faces significant hurdles to making SGE a viable product for its traditional search product. The biggest obstacle appears to be making the cost associated with the technology worth the business outcomes it provides. If this was a necessary investment to maintain market share, Google might be willing to eat the cost, but if their current position is relatively stable, Google doesn’t have much of an incentive to take on the additional cost burden of heavily leveraging generative AI while also presumably taking a hit to their ad revenue. Especially since slow user adoption doesn’t indicate this is something users are demanding at the moment.

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While the current experience of SGE is including ads above the generative results now, the earliest iterations didn’t heavily feature sponsored ads. While they are now included, the current SGE layout would still significantly disrupt the ad experience we’re used to. During the Google I/O announcement, they made a statement to reassure advertisers they would be mindful of maintaining a distinct ad experience in search.  

“In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. And we’ll continue to uphold our commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results” – Elizabeth Reid, VP, Search at Google

Google is trying to thread a delicate needle here of staying on the cutting edge with their search features, while trying not to upset their advertisers and needlessly hinder their own revenue stream. Roger Montti details more of the operational issues in a recent article digging into the surprising reasons SGE is stuck in Google Labs.

He lists three big problems that need to be solved before SGE will be integrated into the foreground of search:

  1. Large Language Models being inadequate as an information retrieval system
  2. The inefficiency and cost of transformer architecture
  3. Hallucinating (providing inaccurate answers)

 

Until SGE provides more user value and checks more boxes on the business sense side, the traditional search experience is here to stay. Unfortunately, we don’t know when or if Google will ever feel confident they’ve addressed all of these concerns, so we’ll need to stay prepared for change.

Experts Chime in on Search Generative Experience

Our team has been actively engaging with SGE, here’s a closer look at their thoughts and opinions on the experience so far:

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“With SGE still in its early stages, I’ve noticed consistent changes in how the generative results are produced and weaved naturally into the SERPs. Because of this, I feel it is imperative to stay on top of these on-going changes to ensure we can continue to educate our clients on what to expect when SGE is officially incorporated into our everyday lives. Although an official launch date is currently unknown, I believe proactively testing various prompt types and recording our learnings is important to prepare our clients for this next evolution of Google search.” – Jon Pagano, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

“It’s been exciting to watch SGE grow through different variations over the last year, but like other AI solutions its potential still outweighs its functionality and usefulness. What’s interesting to see is that SGE doesn’t just cite its sources of information, but also provides an enhanced preview of each webpage referenced. This presents a unique organic opportunity where previously untouchable top 10 rankings are far more accessible to the average website. Time will tell what the top ranking factors for SGE are, but verifiable content with strong E-E-A-T signals will be imperative. –Kate Fischer, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“Traditionally, AI tools were very good at analytical tasks. With the rise of ChatGPT, users can have long-form, multi-question conversations not yet available in search results. When, not if, released, Google’s Generative Experience will transform how we view AI and search. Because there are so many unknowns, some of the most impactful ways we prepare our clients are to discover and develop SEO strategies that AI tools can’t directly disrupt, like mid to low funnel content.” – Brandon Miller, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“SGE is going to make a huge impact on the ecommerce industry by changing the way users interact with the search results. Improved shopping experience will allow users to compare products, price match, and read reviews in order to make it quicker and easier for a user to find the best deals and purchase. Although this leads to more competitive results, it also improves organic visibility and expands our product reach. It is more important than ever to ensure all elements of a page are uniquely and specifically optimized for search. With the SGE updates expected to continue to impact search results, the best way to stay ahead is by focusing on strong user focused content and detailed product page optimizations.”  – Kellie Daley, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

Navigating the Clash of Trends

One of the most interesting aspects of the generative AI trend in search is that it appears to be in direct opposition to other recent trends.

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One of the ways Google has historically evaluated the efficacy of its search ranking systems is through the manual review of quality raters. In their quality rater guidelines, raters were instructed to review for things like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) in results to determine if Google results are providing users the information they deserve. 

In 2022, Google updated their search guidelines to include another ‘e’ in the form of experience (EEAT). In their words, Google wanted to better assess if the content a user was consuming was created by someone with, “a degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person has experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has firsthand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

Generative AI results, while cutting-edge technology and wildly impressive in some cases, stand in direct opposition to the principles of E-E-A-T. That’s not to say that there’s no room for both in search, but Google will have to determine what it thinks users value more between these competing trends. The slow adoption of SGE could be an indication that a preference for human experience, expertise, authority, and trust is winning round one in this fight. 

Along these lines, Google is also diversifying its search results to cater to the format in which users get their information. This takes the form of their Perspectives Filter. Also announced at Google I/O 2023, the perspectives filter incorporates more video, image, and discussion board posts from places like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora. Once again, this trend shows the emphasis and value searchers place on experience and perspective. Users value individual experience over the impersonal conveyance of information. AI will never have these two things, even if it can provide a convincing imitation.

The current iteration of SGE seems to go too far in dismissing these trends in favor of generative AI. It’s an interesting challenge Google faces. If they don’t determine the prevailing trend correctly, veering too far in one direction can push more market share to ChatGPT or platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

Final Thoughts

The range of outcomes remains broad and fascinating for SGE. We can see this developing in different ways, and prognostication offers little value, but it’s invaluable to know the potential outcomes and prepare for as many of them as possible.

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It’s critical that you or your search agency be interacting and experimenting with SGE because:

  • The format and results will most likely continue to see significant changes
  • This space moves quickly and it’s easy to fall behind
  • Google may fix all of the issues with SGE and decide to push it live, changing the landscape of search overnight
  • SGE experiments could inform other AI elements incorporated into the search experience

 

Ultimately, optimizing for the specific SGE experience we see now is less important because we know it will inevitably continue changing. We see more value in recognizing the trends and problems Google is trying to solve with this technology. With how quickly this space moves, any specifics mentioned in this article could be outdated in a week. That’s why focusing on intention and process is important at this stage of the game.

By understanding the future needs and wants SGE is attempting to address, we can help you future-proof your search strategies as much as possible. To some extent we’re always at the whims of the algorithm, but by maintaining a user-centric approach, you can make your customers happy, regardless of how they find you.

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