Google Expands AI in Search: What Marketers Need to Know

May 15, 2024Lead Generation, SEO

It’s finally happening.

Google is launching AI Overviews in its live search results. What was previously coined Google’s “Search Generative Experience” or “SGE” is now AI Overviews and it’s launching in the United States this week with a further rollout worldwide coming soon.

It’s important to note that this will not impact all searches. Searches like brands and complex information will likely not be impacted for now.

The AI Overviews are very similar to what we were seeing in the beta SGE experience but it looks like Google has added a few more features to help users consume the information. Three tabs – Original, Simpler and Break it down – have been added to the overview results to further expand the content and target users looking for different content.

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How Will AI Overviews Impact User Behavior?

Search Queries Will Become Conversational 

Google is using its Gemini AI to better understand what users are looking for and how to serve up the content. Liz Reid, Google’s Head of Search, used this example to describe how she see AI overviews being the most impactful: “we can do things like ‘Find the best yoga or pilates studio in Boston rated over four stars within a half-hour walk of Beacon Hill.’” This is a big shift in how people use Google search today. Most searchers have been trained to search for general keywords and then get more specific. This pushes users to a more conversational search approach, one that they have become accustomed to when using tools like ChatGPT. 

 

Users will Likely Interact with AI Overviews First

As AI Overviews launches, searchers will be drawn to this new content. I think that when the launch happens we will see big impacts on click-through-rates because people are excited and interested by this new feature. This will likely simmer over time. As users become more accustomed to seeing the AI results, they will be less likely to use these results unless they are looking for really basic information or a singular answer to a question. 

How Should Search Strategy Change with AI Overviews?

SEO for AI Overviews Infographic
First things first, this is NOT an algorithm change. Google is not changing how it shows true organic content on a page, nor is it changing how it evaluates valuable information in the search results page. We as search marketers need to consider that there shouldn’t be a strategy to show in the AI results, which overtakes all other objectives. The core objective should still be to connect with consumers where they are in their learning or buying journey – not just show up in AI results.   

Consider What Queries Might Be Impacted

As AI Overviews rolls out, it’s critical that we stay data-first in our evaluations. So looking at what queries we assume might be impacted and ones that we see start to drop off in clicks will be the first step in understanding how our strategy might need to shift. Likely there will be a time of data collection and evaluation that needs to take place before major decisions are made.  Once you have identified what queries will be impacted, next steps will include determining if that search term is critical and if users still explore organic results below the AI Overview. These answers will lead to the next step.  

Adjust Content to Address Your Customer

After you evaluate the impacted content, you’ll want to determine how that content addresses your consumer’s needs and if it’s unique. Custom content that has a voice and a viewpoint will be absolutely critical in this AI world. If your site is full of ChatGPT content that is just regurgitation of well known information for SEO – you’re going to need to rethink your strategy. Content will need to be altered or newly written with the idea that you need to say something that a bot can’t collect from hundreds of other pages.   

Wait and See

This is the hardest part of any marketing strategy. Once AI Overviews are released, you need to collect data. Once you change your content, you need to collect data. All of this takes time. We need to be thoughtful and cautious about moving forward because this is unknown and will need evaluation.   

How to Leverage Your Search Agency

If your search partner is telling you to change everything you’re doing because of AI Overviews, run. If your search partner is saying SEO is dead and paid search is the only option, run. This is a moment of recalibration and evaluation, not a time to panic. Work with your search partner to understand trends and changes in YOUR MARKET not the entire world of Google. Make gradual and purposeful changes that are based on user data and search information – not wild theory.  If you’re looking for a search partner to get you through these wild times, feel free to reach out. We know this can be scary for digital marketers and we are here to be expert support during changing times. 

Are you a marketer looking to improve your SEO game. Chat with us to see how we can help. 

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