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Google brings AI to search—what nonprofits need to know

There seems to be a new announcement about AI every day, so it can be challenging to keep tabs on what matters and what’s chatter. But we just got a big piece of news that will affect nonprofit marketers and fundraisers. 

 Google announced how generative AI will be applied to Google Search at their Google I/O event, and they’re calling this feature Search Generative Experience (SGE). 

Tumblr: Image

While it’s still in the experimental phase, you can sign up to be on the waitlist for this new way to search here.

What does SGE change about organic search?

Google is claiming that SGE will allow users to:

  • Ask entirely new types of questions that you never thought Search could answer.
  • Quickly get the lay of the land on a topic, with links to relevant results to explore further.
  • Ask follow-up questions naturally in a new conversation mode.
  • Get more done easily, like generating creative ideas and drafts natively in Search.

SGE is also giving Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) a completely new coat of paint.

Original SERP:


Result for a generative AI search for e-bikes

As you can see from the image and animation, the organic 10 blue links are being pushed down below the fold in favor of the generative AI result. In some cases, the sponsored links (paid ads) are as well.

This is Google’s answer to the partnership between Bing and ChatGPT that’s attempting to eat into Google’s search market share.

So far, Google is only calling this a feature, and not every search query will spark a generative AI answer. Specifically, any sensitive subjects—like health and finance—will avoid AI interference. But Google executives have been clear that they “see this as a foundational and long-term change to how people search.”

How will SGE affect nonprofits?

While this appears to be a sudden and seismic change, Google typically takes their time in rolling out these types of features. Nonprofits may not be affected by this immediately, but keep an eye on these three areas …

  • Organic and direct traffic: The easiest metric to spot whether your organization is affected will be your Organic and Direct traffic metrics. If there is a steep or sudden drop in either, it could mean the keyword/phrases that were originally ranking on a SERP are now being served in a generative AI response. If you see a big drop happening over the next few months, it’s time to investigate further.
  • Paid search: Google also mentioned that while this experiment is ongoing, Google Ads will still be served, and there will be no way to track ad performance OR opt-out of the generative AI results. This could have an adverse effect on the performance for:
    • PPC
    • Google Grant
  • E-commerce: During the presentations, Google mentioned their Shopping Graph populating the generative AI results frequently—this is a data set Google pulls from their Merchant Center. If you’re currently selling products in a digital store, it may be worth having the discussions of integrating that store-front with Google Merchant Center.

 Change is good, but it’s not always easy. Google has consistently been refining its Search platform while always remaining mindful of its financial success.

Ultimately, Google is unlikely to introduce changes that would adversely affect paid search—its primary revenue source. In 2022, search ads made up $162.45 billion of their $279.81 billion revenue (58.1%).

Additional resources

Mitchell Chokas

Mitchell Chokas has been guiding organizations through the fog of search engine optimization (SEO) since 2017. As SEO Supervisor at RKD Group, he helps nonprofits maximize their website traffic through dynamic SEO strategies that adapt to the ever-changing landscape of organic search. Mitchell loves the challenge that SEO brings in trying to match the psychology behind search intent to the science of algorithms.

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