Google I/O Roundup: AI Overviews Begins US Rollout

16 May 2024
by Lydia Fox
5 mins
Google I/O Roundup: AI Overviews Begins US Rollout

Google announced at their I/O on 14 May that they would begin rolling out AI Overviews to searchers across the US, with more countries to follow soon. It’s estimated that it will be viewed by millions searching by the end of the week, with plans to be in the billions by the end of the year once roll-out starts in other countries globally.

This move is believed to be the renamed 'SGE', a project announced by Google to improve search through the use of Generative AI that all SEOs have been anxiously awaiting since the initial announcement in May 2023.

Google's new feature uses AI to summarise search results, providing users with concise information and links for further details. It will be interesting to see how this affects the user's search experience and what difference this will make to the SEO world going forward.

How will AI Overviews look and appear?

AI Overviews provides summarised results through the use of artificial intelligence. Their AI system now reads over search results for you in a matter of milliseconds and then provides you with a summary to piece together all the information, making search a much faster process. This result will also include links to learn more from the sources from which the AI has pulled the information.

AI Overviews will allow people to adjust the result they see by choosing to simplify the language or provide more detail, making information much more accessible to all. This update will be coming soon and will begin with only English queries in the US. 

Google also claims that AI results pages will be better organised when searching for inspiration, even when an overview cannot be given. For example, when looking for a new restaurant it will show both articles and personal reviews in an easily digestible format.

AI Overviews empower you to ask more complicated and specific questions and can piece together information from different pages to give you one straight answer, simplifying research processes. 

Google's example search is "find the best yoga or Pilates studios in Boston and show me details on their intro, offers, and walking time from Beacon Hill." 

The new results will not only give you top recommendations but will also provide map details to give you walking times, reviews, prices, offers and more. This means a user can get all their information at once instead of needing to perform multiple searches. 

Utilising video is another way that Google will be improving searches. For example, if you need product information, such as how to fix something, you can upload a video directly to Google with your question, and it will be able to review the video and answer directly. Where it can't, it will provide you with suitable search results to help. 

How will this affect SEO? 

Since SGE was announced, SEOs have been discussing how this will affect their website, clicks, and whether they will notice a drop in users as a result. 

Understandably, this concern has mostly come from businesses where information is the product, more than from e-commerce businesses and similar business models.

AI Overviews has already been used billions of times through experiments conducted by Search Labs, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from users.

Google's current reports demonstrate that while using AI Overviews, users are visiting a more diverse selection of websites, particularly when they’re addressing complex queries.

Additionally, their data indicates that the links included in AI Overviews gather more clicks and generate more traffic than if they had been included in traditional SERP results.

This is an interesting insight into Google's internal data, particularly as from a user perspective clicks and impressions will be reported within Google Search Console - but you won't be able to distinguish which clicks are a result of traditional SERPS or the AI Overviews feature. 

Thoughts on the Upcoming Changes 

I believe that content-focused websites will see varied results from this significant update. Many could likely see an uptick in traffic where they have valuable, well-researched pieces that previously may not have performed well or ranked lower than they should have. Those with less researched, mass-produced content are likely to see a drop – potentially severely. It will be imperative that sites ensure their content is high quality, an increasingly important priority ever since the release of the HCU update back in 2023. 

This also ties in with Google’s March 2024 core update, which waged war on websites with unoriginal, low-quality content. 

E-commerce sites will likely not face a significant change in SERP results, as shopping results will still appear within AI Overviews, providing their product matches the queries. 

As AI Overviews revolutionises search, the digital landscape braces for a seismic shift. Content creators are challenged more than ever to deliver quality and relevance. In this new SEO era, the battle for visibility will be won by those who prioritise informative and engaging content, setting a higher standard for online information worldwide.


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