From queries to conversions: Unpacking Google's move down the sales funnel
Find out how the changes coming to Search impact your brand's visibility and bottom line.
Updated February 27, 2024.
Forget everything you know about Google Search.
Google is experimenting with new features that use cutting-edge generative AI to transform how you find information. Now, you can have interactive conversations with Google to refine your queries, ask follow-up questions, and receive custom responses with text, images, products, and more.
This evolution presents new opportunities for brands as Google reaches further down the sales funnel to close sales directly from Search. Let's explore how Google's new AI-driven Search brings products closer to buyers and what the implications are for brands and publishers.
Google's AI-driven Search experience reaches further down the funnel
Through the integration of their Search Generative Experience (SGE), Google can better understand what users are looking for and provide more specific results.
When looking to make a purchase, users will see a snapshot of products that match their needs based on Google's Shopping Graph, which has over 35 billion product listings. The product info includes key features, the latest reviews, ratings, prices, and images.
For example, if you're a parent looking for the best training bike for your child, you can use a much more specific query than just "bike for 5-year-olds."
Maybe you're looking for something durable but lightweight with training wheels. Google can piece together results that fit those parameters—almost like an actual conversation with a sales assistant.
You can even ask follow-up questions to further refine and customize the results to your needs.
This interactive, conversational approach reaches much further down the sales funnel toward an actual purchase decision.
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How to prepare for Google's AI-powered Search
For brands, Google's increasing ability to drive sales presents a major opportunity for visibility and revenue. More searches from users with clear purchase intent can lead to more qualified traffic.
- Optimizing your product information: Focus on optimizing titles, descriptions, and images so that they're easily discoverable and represent your product accurately.
- Creating middle-of-the-funnel content: Middle-of-the-funnel content like reviews and comparison articles can help Google and your customers better understand your product.
- Structuring product data: Organize information about your products (key features, pricing, ratings, etc.) so users can easily read and compare online listings.
The challenge is providing the depth of information that a customer may need to make that final decision without visiting your website.
Affiliates and comparison sites may not survive
The threat for affiliates and comparison sites is getting left behind as Google reaches down the funnel. For example, if a user is looking to book a flight, Google may just allow them to purchase tickets in the AI snapshot without requiring an actual site visit.
Similarly, if an in-depth review site provides the definitive buying guide for a given product—for example, the best smartphones on the market—Google can analyze and display key elements of its comparison without the need to visit the original article. This reach toward a direct conversion puts many current business models at risk.
In these cases, affiliates and publishers of social media content lose traffic, potential conversions, and revenue they previously captured from such buyer-intent queries. There is a real danger of Google repurposing unique value they didn't create without proper compensation.
» Learn how to master the conversion funnel
Risks and the need for responsible AI
Google has to provide the most relevant, useful results to searchers while maintaining a healthy web ecosystem. As they reach deeper down the sales funnel, they risk undermining websites currently making money from commercial queries.
Google's constant and main priority has always been to provide the user with the best search results, but ultimately Google is loyal to Google. They can cut other websites out of the funnel if it means beating ChatGPT.
This highlights the need for responsible AI development with appropriate regulation and oversight. As innovations like conversational search promise immense consumer value, they also pose a threat to existing business models and consolidate power in big tech companies.
Policymakers need to encourage specific guidelines and accountability around compiling third-party work and learning from user data. Ultimately, responsible AI is good for both consumers and businesses in the long run.
» Discover how AI changed Google's relationship with publishers
The future of Search and sales
Google's new AI-driven Search experience changes how users find products online. For brands, this is a chance to connect more directly with consumers, as Google has a better understanding of user intent and facilitates sales.
However, it also poses risks to traditional online business models because Google can now provide comprehensive results directly in Search, potentially bypassing external websites.
Providing unique, high-value value is key to staying ahead. The next few years promise immense change and keeping a close eye on Google will help brands and publishers plan effectively.