Strategy & Consulting

The future of search is here with Google's AI Overviews, and it will redefine the rules of SEO as we know them

Written by Pim van Helten on 3, Juth 2024

What if Google did all the Googling for you? The search giant is injecting AI into Search, and it’ll either make or break the internet forever. When it comes to AI, there’s been a deep tension between the potential it brings and the threats it poses. It’s wise not to overlook them or watch it from the sidelines, especially when it concerns the biggest source of traffic. 

After a year of development in Search Labs, Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) has arrived in the US, promising to revolutionize the way we seek information. During their annual I/O developer conference, Google announced that SGE, renamed AI Overviews, is now available in Search Labs for US users, with a global rollout on the horizon. 

While Europe might have to wait a little longer, that doesn't mean marketers can't get prepared for this game-changer. Let's dive into AI Overviews’ potential and challenges, and take a closer look at how marketers can leverage it to dominate the future of search.

How does it work?

The new AI Generative Search combines Gemini’s advanced assets with Google’s state-of-the-art search systems. In short, when users google information on the search engine, they are presented with an output from Gemini that thoroughly summarizes the most useful information for the topic of interest, followed by the regular organic search result. Supposedly, this new feature cuts through complexity by helping you find answers faster, even using tricky questions or videos.

Image by Google via

While this seems like a win for users, marketers should brace themselves for a significant impact on web traffic and take action sooner rather than later.

How will it impact organic search?

Google’s search engine results page (SERP) works like an ecosystem, one where whoever comes to the top is the winner. 

While Google promises to have the traffic’s interests in mind, it’s suspected that as a result of the introduction of AI Overviews organic traffic will decrease by 18 to 64% on traditional listings.  Some smaller businesses are already experiencing drawbacks, which likely means that AI Overviews is not doing its part in “protecting the ecosystem”.

Yet, according to Google itself, content and links within AI Overviews get more clicks than those outside… it’s basically a fiercer race to get Mother Google’s attention and access the VIP section. But if the value we get back isn’t guaranteed, then how and what can we trust?

For now, the answers we get can be as reliable as a Reddit thread - literally, that’s where some outputs are sourced. While I’m sure that Google's team will solve this issue soon as promised, I can't help but wonder how in the meantime this will impact some of the content creators who will be vilified by nonsensical claims.

That being said, this doesn’t mark the death of search engine optimization (SEO). It's more crucial than ever to understand user intent and create comprehensive content that caters to it. 

Here’s some advice to prepare for it

Since AI Overview is new and still under development, it may seem hard to approach, but it's not all doom and gloom. View it as an opportunity to explore a new way of searching. 

At the end of the day, AI Overviews is another way for Google to deliver the best results possible to their users, which is why investing in your user experience (UX) is still as important as it’s ever been and nothing to be taken lightly. 

A well-designed website complements AI Overviews by making it easier for users to navigate and find the information they're looking for even after they click through from the overview. Improving your UX can inform Google’s algorithm that your content is meeting user needs, hence making your website qualifiable for higher rankings. 

Here are 6 content marketing adjustments I recommend making to prepare for AI Overviews:

  1. Focus on high-quality content: Concise, high-quality content can raise your chances of making the cut and improve your search discoverability. Provide actionable insights, step-by-step guides, and practical tips that users can apply immediately. 
  2. Add rich media: Embed visual elements like videos, images, and infographics to complement your text. Adding these visual elements not only makes your content more interesting for readers, but it can also boost your SEO by increasing your chances of landing in rich snippets and knowledge panels.
  3. Optimize your webpage: Fast-loading pages are favored by both users and search engines. Make sure to optimize your load times by compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files. Strategically place your key information at the top of your page because that’s where AI is most likely to pull your content from.
  4. Refine your keywords: Target long-tail keywords to address the more nuanced information that users will be able to search. Optimize your content also for spoken language. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of queries and see how the tool responds.
  5. Use schema markup: Improve your semantic vocabulary to help the AI tool identify your content as relevant. Use schema types like "Article" or "FAQs'' to clearly communicate your content's purpose to search engines. You can explore tools like JSON-LD and Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to help you with this implementation.
  6. Leave your SEA worries behind: As far as search engine advertising goes, it appears that Google will maintain ads both above the AI-generated results and directly below them. This means that the impact on sponsored content should remain virtually unchanged. 

What’s next?

The world of search is on the cusp of a seismic shift, but this isn't the AI apocalypse – it's an evolution brimming with exciting possibilities. 

Sure, concerns linger about dwindling organic traffic. However, AI Overviews can be viewed as a powerful new lens, one that rewards those who prioritize user-centric content. Marketers who embrace this AI revolution and adapt to it will be the ones conquering the search landscape. 

Get ready to put more effort into making your content engaging than your competitors, but don't give up on pursuing your goals. Content is taking on a new importance, as users seek deeper understanding and engagement, so make sure to answer your audience's questions thoroughly. After all, if there is no useful and creative content out there, AI has little to nothing to build upon and present to your customers. 

To know more about how AI is reshaping the digital marketing landscape, head to our latest interview series and get firsthand advice from our experts who are navigating this new frontier.

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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