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Mastering AI Overview SEO: 7 Strategies for Success

Discover how to optimize for Google AI Overviews with 7 key strategies. Learn about potential impacts on SEO, and new opportunities for eCommerce.

Simon Oeltzschner
Simon Oeltzschner

May 29, 2024

Mastering AI Overview SEO: 7 Strategies for Success
11:58

 

As AI continues to revolutionize the digital landscape, Google is testing a groundbreaking feature known as "AI Overviews". AI Overviews aim to enhance user experience by providing quick, comprehensive summaries of multiple search results in one place. In this article, we delve into how AI Overviews work, their implications for SEO, and 7 strategies to optimize your content for better visibility in this evolving search environment.

What are Google AI Overviews?

AI Overviews are concise summaries of search results created through the use of artificial intelligence. These overviews consolidate information from multiple web pages to provide users with a quick and comprehensive understanding of a particular topic.

Powered by Google’s Gemini language model, AI Overviews draw on vast amounts of data to ensure accuracy and relevance. By combining insights from various sources, they deliver a more rounded view than traditional search snippets. One of the sources of information for AI Overviews is Google's Knowledge Graph, which provides natural language responses and links to webpages.

How Do Google AI Overviews Work?

Google’s AI Overviews utilize generative AI to extract and synthesize information from a diverse array of web pages across the internet. This approach allows the AI to provide users with a succinct yet thorough understanding of the search topic at hand. Google's "search generative experience" offers more personalized and comprehensive search results, significantly impacting SEO strategies.

The key features are:

  • Adjustable AI Overviews: Options to simplify language or add detail.
  • Complex Question Handling: Multi-step reasoning for complex queries.
  • Planning Capabilities: Helps create plans for meals and vacations.
  • AI-Organized Results Page: Categorizes results under AI-generated headlines for inspiration.
  • Video Search Assistance: Allows users to ask questions with video for troubleshooting, available.

In general, Google's systems determine automatically when AI Overviews are displayed by analyzing the user’s search query and intent. These summaries appear in Google Search results when the system determines that a user is seeking a quick and comprehensive understanding of information from multiple sources. This automated process ensures that AI Overviews are shown when they are most likely to benefit the user’s search experience.

Will Organic Traffic go down?

The rise of AI Overviews in Google Search has sparked concerns about a potential decline in organic traffic. As AI-generated summaries provide users with quick, comprehensive answers directly on the search results page, there may be fewer incentives for users to click through to individual web pages. This shift could result in reduced organic traffic for websites, especially those that rely on providing simple answers to more informational queries. The clickthrough rate for such queries will thus likely decrease by over 50%.

However, the impact on organic traffic may not be uniformly negative. While some sites might see a decrease in traffic, others could benefit from the increased visibility and credibility of being cited in AI Overviews. Here it should also be noted that since Google is heavily reliant on external content, ultimately it cannot have an interest in fully eclipsing its content creators and advertisers.

AI Overviews and Copyright?

The emergence of AI Overviews raises significant copyright concerns, particularly regarding the use and attribution of original content. As AI systems scrape information from various websites, the potential for content being used without proper credit and/or authorization increases and may lead to infringements on intellectual property!

While in their current form, Google's AI Overviews do list links to their source pages they are however quite vague on what exactly was being cited. If this format does not change, it is my opinion that it may well end up being litigated in the courts due to possible copyright issues. Potentially also for this reason, Microsoft's bing.com is already using in-text citations in addition to the more general links.

AI Overview Source Links:

AI Overview source links

vs.

Bing AI Search Result Links:

Bing AI Search Result Links

One way or another, Google and other search engines will have to implement policies to respect copyright laws and protect creators' rights. By doing so, they can foster a more transparent and equitable ecosystem where content creators are fairly recognized and rewarded for their contributions. Ongoing dialogue between developers, legal experts, and content creators will also be crucial to navigating the complexities of copyright in the age of AI.

False Information in AI Overviews

One last thing that should also be pointed out is that at this stage, AI Overviews are not always accurate and have in fact produced some rather unfortunate results in a number of cases. Especially in the early stages of rollout, AI Overviews should thus be handled with care.

AI Overview wrong information

New Opportunities for eCommerce with AI Overviews

While the introduction of AI Overviews might initially seem concerning for publishers due to potential reductions in attribution, especially eCommerce sites like those of our clients can find specific benefits worth highlighting. Brodie Clark points out that one significant advantage is the increased prominence of free product listings via Shopping Feeds on Google's "Merchant Center". For many eCommerce sites, these free product listings have demonstrated exceptionally high click-through rates (CTR), and with AI Overviews, Google is making these listings even more prominent.

eCommerce Opportunities with AI Overviews

The placement of free product listings higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) within AI Overviews presents a substantial SEO opportunity for eCommerce sites that effectively manage their product feeds, structured data, and optimization strategies.

It's important to note that Google now shows different product listings at the top compared to the bottom of search results, prompting stores to adjust their strategies to secure these prime positions. Additionally, the current setup of AI Overviews gives preference to organic links over ads, a notable shift where AI-generated answers do not have ads placed above them. Although this may change in the future, eCommerce businesses should still closely monitor their merchant listings to capitalize on this evolving landscape.

7 Strategies for Optimizing for AI Overviews in Google Search

While according to Google Search Central, “There is nothing special for creators to do to be considered other than to follow our regular guidance for appearing in search, as covered in Google Search Essentials.” there are certainly a few promising ways of increasing the likelihood of getting into Google's AI Overviews.

1. Be More Specific with Your Content

Creating content that is specific and detailed is essential for success with AI Overviews. Writing comprehensive, topic-specific content that answers user queries thoroughly will help Google recognize the authority and relevance of your content. Showcasing first-hand experience and expertise can further enhance your content’s credibility, making it more likely to be featured in AI Overviews.

2. Think Topics, not Keywords

To succeed with AI Overview SEO, it is important to think in terms of topics rather than individual keywords. By focusing on broader topics rather than exact keywords, you can help Google link your content to relevant concepts, providing structure to otherwise unstructured information. This helps search engines better understand the context and relevance of your content, improving its chances of being featured in AI Overviews.

3. Links as Trust and Authority Signals

In a future where a large portion of content is generated by AI, the role of links in organic Google search rankings is likely to become even more important. As AI-generated content increases, distinguishing high-quality, authoritative sources will be essential for maintaining the integrity of search results. Backlinks, as a long-standing metric of credibility and trustworthiness, will play a vital role in this context. Websites with a robust backlink profile, featuring links from reputable and relevant sites, will stand out as trusted sources amidst the vast sea of AI-generated content.

Moreover, as AI overviews and snippets dominate the SERPs, the importance of internal linking within websites will also grow. Effective internal linking can help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your content, ensuring that your most important pages receive the attention they deserve. By strategically linking related content, you can enhance the user experience and guide AI algorithms to better recognize the relevance and authority of your site. As a result, a well-thought-out link strategy, both internal and external, will become a cornerstone of successful SEO in an AI-driven search landscape.

4. Use Structured Data and Citations

Implementing structured data is another key strategy to optimize for AI Overviews. Structured data helps search engines understand the context and relevance of your content. Additionally, using citations and references from authoritative sources can boost your content's credibility, making it more likely to be featured in AI-generated summaries. This not only enhances visibility but also builds trust with your audience.

Structured data for AI search results

If you want to check how your website is doing around structured data, you can try Google's own structured data testing tool.

5. Leverage Multimedia and Voice Search for Better Rankings

Leveraging multimedia elements such as images, videos, and infographics can make your content more engaging and easier for AI to understand and present. Optimizing your content for natural language and conversational queries can also improve your rankings in voice searches, which are increasingly used in conjunction with AI Overviews. By incorporating these elements, you can create content that is both visually appealing and highly informative.

6. Adopt an “Always-On” Mentality

Adopting an "always-on" mentality is crucial in the rapidly evolving search landscape. Moving away from reactive, manual processes to a more automated, technology-driven approach can help you stay ahead. Utilizing AI tools to monitor trends and adapt your strategies accordingly will ensure that your content remains relevant and competitive.

7. Monitor and Adapt to AI Overviews for Better Search Engine Rankings

Monitoring the performance of your content in AI-driven search results is vital for continuous improvement. By keeping an eye on how your content performs in AI Overviews, you can identify what works best and make necessary adjustments to your strategies.

content performance monitoring

This proactive approach will help you maintain and improve your search engine rankings over time. SEMrush for example has started tracking site's visibility in AI Overviews under "SERP features" in its position tracking report:

The Future of SEO with AI Overviews

What’s next for AI Overviews in Search Engines?

Looking ahead, AI Overviews are set to include additional features, with testing currently underway in Google Labs for English searches in the US. These future enhancements aim to provide users with answers to questions they may not have explicitly asked, further enriching the search experience. The global rollout of AI Overviews is expected by the end of 2024, potentially revolutionizing the way users interact with search engines.

The Impact of AI Overviews on Google Search and SEO

The impact of AI Overviews on SEO remains uncertain, but it is likely that high-quality, informative content from credible sources will be favored. As AI Overviews become more prevalent, creating content that is both valuable and authoritative will be essential for maintaining visibility in search results. These AI-generated summaries are prominently displayed at the top of the search results page, above human-written results.

Simon Oeltzschner

Simon is Finch's top SEO expert. He loves staying on top of the ever-changing industry news and trends. It's one of many traits that makes him great at his job.

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