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What is an AI Overview in Google, and what does it mean for my website?

AI, News, SEO

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Google AI overview may 2024 targeted seo news

Targeted SEO Insights May 2024

At Targeted SEO, we keep our finger on the pulse of the latest developments in SEO and search. We also think it’s really important to us to keep our clients updated about what we do and how we do it. SEO is not a dark art and we’re here to lift the veil on our tools and techniques. 

On 14 May 2024, Google made various announcements, including more on their Search Generative Experience trials, which will now be known as ‘AI Overviews’.

True to our word, here is our summary on AI Overviews and what it might mean for users and website owners. As always, please feel free to drop us a message if you have any questions or further talking points.

What’s going on?

  • Over the past year, Google has trialled AI-powered search results within its test environment, known as “Search Labs.” 
  • This was known as Search Generative Experience (SGE), but as of this week, it will be referred to as an “AI Overview”. 
  • An AI Overview is powered by Google’s AI software, Gemini, and answers search queries by curating information from sources across the web. 
  • In an update this week, Google says it has begun rolling out AI Overviews for all users in the US and aims to do the same for billions of global users by the end of the year.
Google AI overview search results

How is an AI Overview different to regular search results?

  • The search engine results pages (SERPs) we know and love currently consist of paid ads, website links, snippets, ‘also asked’, and other media that point to the sources of information.
  • The goal of an AI Overview is different: it aims to answer search queries within the SERP, so the user doesn’t necessarily have to visit the source, i.e. click on a website.
  • AI Overviews may present information as blocks of text, a direct answer, or a concise summary using AI. It’s likely to still present links for further reading.
  • AI Overviews will most commonly appear in response to ‘complex’ search queries, i.e., those that contain multiple keywords or questions that start with user intent, such as “I want” or “How can I?”
  • Current search results are likely to evolve to include AI Overviews; however, the features that do appear will continue to be determined by the intentions of the query (for example, showing maps for queries that mention a town or city).

What does this mean for users?

  • No doubt AI Overviews will speed up searches for specific information, saving users time and effort, however…
  • AI has improved exponentially but still makes mistakes – so expect some interesting results as it continues to evolve! 
  • Users should (continue to) verify the sources of information and not rely solely on AI-generated results.
  • We expect Google to release more information on AI Overviews as it becomes more widely used and users provide feedback.
Google AI Overview on mobile

What does this mean for SME website owners?

  • While this news may ring alarm bells for business owners concerned about a drop in website traffic, Google has insisted that during testing, users were more likely to click links appearing in AI Overviews than standard results.
  • Google has stated that website owners need not do anything new to help their websites appear in AI Overviews.
  • It will continue to use and rank websites that provide ‘people-first’ content, i.e., helpful, reliable, and created with the user in mind, rather than content that is created purely to manipulate search engine rankings.
  • Content creators should continue to focus on E-E-A-T principles, a Google-coined acronym that stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Targeted SEO’s response

  • Business owners shouldn’t panic about this new development. Google’s intentions haven’t changed – they still value informative well-built websites with a high level of UX (user experience).
  • Technical SEO for fast-loading, mobile-friendly sites with clear content structure becomes even more important.
  • High-quality content remains king.
  • Fortunately, at Targeted SEO, quality content has always been at the core of our strategy. So we will continue to create engaging, brand-enhancing, user-driven content that Google is likely to index.
  • We are proud of our experienced, in-house content team, which continues to explore AI’s capabilities while adding value that only human writers can.

Finally,

  • We predict that even if website traffic starts to decline or fluctuate with the advent of AI Overviews, website engagement will grow. Those clicks will become more valuable, driving higher-quality, organic traffic to your site that is more likely to result in conversions.

AI and SEO Questions?

If you have any questions about the use of AI in search results, reach out to Targeted SEO by contacting us here. If you have suggestions for further updates from us, please let us know!

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About Targeted SEO

Targeted SEO is a specialist search engine optimisation company based in Southampton. We focus on developing websites which grow in organic traffic, resulting in more leads, online enquiries and sales for our clients.

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