Next on the AI Agenda: Google AI Overviews

As of late, AI has become an omnipresent piece of technology, infiltrating more and more sectors of modern life as its copious capabilities continue to develop. Whether it’s virtual assistants, chatbots, self-driving cars or even medical diagnostics – AI is certainly making its mark on contemporary society.

Next on the AI agenda, is Google search results. But what exactly are Google AI overviews, how do they work, and how will this new addition affect search engine optimisation (SEO)?

Google AI Overviews

What Are Google AI Overviews?

Google AI overviews are designed to improve the user experience and “take the legwork out of searching” by planning, researching and organising search results to help users find more relevant information in faster and easier ways.

To find out more information about Google AI overviews, click here.

Google AI Overviews what is SEO

How Do Google AI Overviews Work?

Using generative AI, the AI summaries provided by Google are powered by their custom language model, Gemini, which generates a ‘snapshot’ of text in response to your search query. Because Gemini is integrated with Google’s core web ranking systems, it is designed to carry out traditional ‘search’ tasks, such as identifying relevant, high-quality results from their index. 

Hence, the answers to your search queries within the AI snapshot, are generated and refined by gathering information from lots of different sources across the web. The snapshot also contains hyperlinks to these sources for more information.

However, these snapshots will not show up for every single search query. Instead, they will appear selectively, when Google determines that generative AI responses can provide users with especially helpful information. This could be in response to particularly complex queries, that would normally require multiple searches, in order to achieve the desired results.

Google AI Overviews Blackpool tower height

How Will Google AI Overviews Affect SEO?

Designed to increase ‘zero-click searches’, Google AI overviews could mean users will be able to find the information they need, quicker and easier, right at the top of their search results.

This could have a positive impact, if a website’s content is prominently featured or cited in a Google AI summary, as this could increase the website’s visibility and click-through rate (CTR). Google’s initial testing seems to confirm this. Hyperlinks cited within the AI overview are also likely to generate a higher click-rate, as well as an improved bounce rate, due to the summary providing a detailed description of the topic, before the user even clicks through.

While this all sounds great, unfortunately, there’s a catch. Google AI overviews appear above all other search results. This could negatively affect organic search traffic for websites ranking below the AI overview.

For example, on 5 June 2024, Reece Rogers from monthly American magazine, Wired, published an article about Google AI overviews using his original work in a summary, but bumping the hyperlink down in search results.

Rogers’ original article was one of six footnotes hyperlinked near the bottom of the results. The writer noted, “with source links located so far down, it’s hard to imagine any publisher receiving significant traffic in this situation”.

Search engine optimisation

How Well Have Google AI Overviews Performed So Far?

According to Google, via their Search Labs experiment, they have found that AI overviews have caused people to use Google Search more, and become more satisfied with their search results.

Although generative AI has been branded by some as a model that provides “deep-learning” and “high-quality” results, due to its experimental nature, there still remains a possibility of inaccuracies, or bias, within its generated information.

For instance, on Friday 31 May 2024, The Guardian reported that Google is set to ‘refine their AI-generated search summaries in response to bizarre results’. These bizarre results had gone viral, showing the tool misinterpreting information and appearing to use satirical sources to generate answers. 

Google released their own article, defending their newest AI creation, claiming that ‘novel searches’ and ‘nonsensical new searches, seemingly aimed at producing erroneous results’ were the reasons behind the tool’s misfortune.

Since this mishap, Google has stated that they’ve reduced the scope of searches that will return an AI overview, and added several restrictions to prevent inaccurate and satirical search results from appearing.

What’s Next For Google AI Overviews?

As part of a new project, Google Marketing Live, Google have announced recently that they’ll be testing Search and Shopping advertisements in AI overviews for users in the US. This includes new creative asset generation controls, immersive ad experiences, visual storytelling features, etc.

For example, if a user enters ‘how to straighten up your clothes’ as a search query, sponsored Google Ads for unwrinkling products will appear underneath the Google AI summary. According to Google, there is no action needed for advertisers to turn this on for their products/services.

To read more about Google Ads appearing in AI overviews, click here.

Google Ads

SEO for Digital Marketing

To ensure your website is following the best SEO practices, and potentially featuring in Google AI overviews, get in touch with us today to discuss how SEO digital marketing strategies can assist you in achieving your business objectives.

Take a look at what we do for the wide range of clients we have worked with here.