Google Search Generative Results (SGE) is changing real estate SEO in 2024 in two fundamental ways. The first is that the SGE result, generated by AI, interprets your search query and provides a good enough answer which results in a zero click search. Secondly the SGE section takes up a lot of space and shows above the traditional search results list. Far fewer users scroll down to the see the list and links shown at the top in the SGE section panels take most of the clicks.

In this article, we show how SGE sections vary with the results for 3 popular real estate searches and identify the SEO target positions that real estate websites need to rank in 2024.

SGE will change the search results page forever. December 2023 saw the end of SGE’s testing phase in Google Search Labs, and the technology is ready to go live in early 2024. Read this to start your preparation.

What is Google SGE and Why is it Important for Real Estate Agents?

Google SGE is so important for Real Estate Agents because the vast majority of property buyers and sellers search the internet to find both property listings and agents. Agent websites compete fiercely to be at the top of the search results list, but now they need to shift their focus to SGE optimisation in order to get enquiries and leads.

SGE is the name used by Google to describe the new search results user experience. In a practical sense, this is a large new section that appears above the traditional results we are used to. AI will aim to answer the user query and it will provide links to websites from where it has sourced the information. The organic list of results we are used to is pushed down the page, below the user’s viewport.

For Real Estate Agents whose websites currently rank at the top of Google’s organic search results, there is a high risk of losing a large proportion of your visitors. For those agents with websites not ranking right at the top of organic search results, there are new opportunities to gain traffic. 

At the moment, the top 3 organic results on a Google Search page receive more than two-thirds of the clicks . A snippet, which is a panel above the #1 organic search result, is the search result with the highest overall CTR.

In 2024 Google’s SGE will be adding many more panels to the top of the search results page, before you scroll to the list of websites.

These additional panels, built by AI, are going to tempt the user with dozens of alternatives links. These alternative links are opportunities for your site to gain more enquiries and conversions. 

And the old winners that once ranked at the top of the list will find that they are now a long scroll down with dozens of links above them.

What’s behind Google SGE?

Providing the best result to a search query is the foundation of Google’s business model and this is the next evolutionary step in that journey. SGE is Google’s new front end , a new design of search results with panels of information and links related to the answer to your query.

The content of these SGE panels is generated by artificial intelligence and Google is integrating Gemini, its powerful multimodal language model. Multi modal means that unlike chat GPT, Gemini is not limited to text. Gemini also understands images, audio and video. 

According to Google’s own blog their aim is "AI that feels less like a smart piece of software and more like something useful and intuitive — an expert helper or assistant." 

SGE is likely to evolve rapidly over the next months and as we see it applied to an increasing number of queries, we may also see new panels introduced and the arrangement and presentation of the panels on the page change.

We are entering a period of rapid evolution in search triggered by AI. Real Estate Websites will also need to evolve and adapt if they are to gain traffic from the changes. 

How does Google SGE affect Real Estate Website Traffic?

Google SGE will have a dramatic negative impact on the number of visitors to many real estate web pages for two reasons:

  1. Zero Click Searches 

SGE is more likely to answer a user query without them clicking on any link at all. At the top of Google’s new Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is an AI generated information panel that answers the user’s question. A 2022 study shows that 57% of mobile searches and a quarter of desktop searches are zero click searches. This number will only increase with SGE. 

  1. SGE page layout 

SGE changes the layout of the search results page by providing many more links in its AI generated panels to click before getting to the organic search results. This changes how we need to optimise our content. Ranking #1 in the organic list of results does not guarantee a position in SGE. 

Real Estate web pages that previously enjoyed high high rankings and traffic are likely to lose out if they are not optimised for SGE. A study by Search Engine Land shows the  expected traffic loss to be 18-64%, however the same study also shows traffic rising when sites are optimised for SGE. Currently these are models and based on some fundamental assumptions but there is unanimous agreement in all studies that websites will see a dramatic traffic drop if they do not adjust their strategies to the new AI search results.

It is worth noting that Google does not provide an SGE section above every search at the moment, quite often Google reports that there is currently no SGE result. However as SGE rolls out, we would expect it to be almost omnipresent.

Example SGE Results for Real Estate Searches

The SGE section is positioned above the normal search results you are familiar with in Google. 

Results that previously showed a map and businesses on the top, for example when you search a term like "real estate agent Ottawa", still show that map but it is pushed below the SGE section. This means that there’s a long way to scroll before you reach the organic list of results, so the #1 result is going to get a fraction of the traffic it once did. 

Searching for property for sale with SGE

The panels within the SGE section may vary depending on the search query. For example in the first image we search for "property for sale in faro algarve". 

We see the following panels in the SGE section:

AI generated response snippet

We see the AI generated response on the left side, in which the first panel is the AI snapshot, a snippet on top aimed at answering our query. This panel appears at the top of every SGE result. The pulldown menu button beside it reveals the same carousel as you see in the right hand column.

In the right hand panel is a carousel which shows 6 cards with links to websites, but only 3 are visible without pressing the scroll button. This carousel appears on the top right of every SGE search result and we can consider this to be the "prime real estate" on the search results page. 

The Carousel is made up of the source websites that the AI is using in order to create its answer in the Snippet and the Information Panel.

Information Panel

Under the snippet on the left is a panel with more information.The content of this varies across search terms as you will see in the examples below.  In this case it is giving us information about property types and their price ranges. 

Follow up Panel

Beneath these panels, we see some example follow up questions as well as a field where we can ask our own follow up question while keeping the context of the original search. This section also appears on every SGE search result.

Search for Real Estate with SGE

If we change the search query to "escazu costa rica real estate" the SGE Information Panel is not giving us property types but some average prices for areas in and around my searched location, the names of real estate agencies (without direct links to them) and the answer to a frequently asked question.

A search for a broker with SGE

In this next example, we search for "real estate brokers springfield, nj" and we see an SGE section with  the AI generated response snippet, Carousel, and follow up panel are there as before but the key difference is the Information panel. 

Google is now giving us links to specific brokers, review ratings and an AI generated sentence about each one.

The Best Place to Rank in SGE page for Real Estate Searches

There is no doubt that in the new SGE page layout, the key position that will get most traffic is the Carousel. 

The Carousel shows the web pages that SGE has used as a source for the data it has interpreted in the Information Panel.

  • Property for sale type searches
  • Real estate agent type searches
  • Information about the real estate process

Each type of search has its own information panel. So getting into the Carousel we need to ensure that our web page content is aligned well with the query. We’ll be talking about how to do that in our next article.

SGE for Real Estate SEO summary and conclusion

Google Search Generative Results (SGE) is a new feature that will be rolling out in early 2024. SGE will display AI-generated panels of information and links related to the user’s query at the top of the search results page, above the organic listings.

SGE will dramatically affect real estate website visitors

  • SGE will reduce traffic to many real estate websites because it will answer many user queries directly, without requiring users to click on any links.
  • SGE will change which websites gain the lion’s share of traffic because the links displayed in the new panels will take the lion’s share of traffic.

The best positions to rank in SGE:

  • The best positions to rank for are the Carousel so web pages need to show content that is aligned with the query.
  • The Information Panel may provide further links but this is dependent on the panel content displayed for the query.

Future of real estate SEO:

  • Real estate websites need to adapt to the SGE changes in order to maintain or grow their traffic.
  • Read our next article to discover how to rank in the SGE Carousel.