AI Overviews (formerly known as SGE) launch in Google Search

May 17, 2024

Collective Measures
On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, Google announced that AI Overviews would be launching in the U.S. during the week of the announcement, with more countries to follow.

AI Overviews (formerly known as SGE) launch in Google Search

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, Google announced at its annual I/O event that AI Overviews would be launching in the U.S. during the week of the announcement, with more countries to follow.

You may be asking: what are AI Overviews? Essentially, AI Overviews are the now-live aspect of Google’s broader Search Generative Experience (SGE), previously announced at Google I/O 2023. You can read more about SGE in our previous blog post about SGE.

AI Overviews are a search result that utilizes AI to generate content within a search feature. This search feature is not too dissimilar from a quick answer result that often appears at the top of the search results page. Below is an example AI Overview result.

As AI Overviews begin to roll out, it’s vitally important for marketers to stay up to date on what they are and how they may (or may not!) impact your brand’s search/discovery strategies. 

What we know today

  • Google announced the release of AI Overviews at Google I/O 2024, which has launched in the U.S. this week with more countries to follow
  • The search feature was previously named Search Generative Experience (SGE), but should be referred to as AI Overviews going forward
  • We expect some level of volatility within organic search results, and this will differ based on vertical and user query. That said, recent studies published within the last few weeks indicate AI Overview results have been gradually appearing less frequently
  • According to GetSTAT, the full AI Overview result appears just 6% of the time, whereas the “Generate” button appears 86% of the time and no result appears 8% of the time. The “Generate” button gives searchers the option to show the AI Overview or to keep it minimized and view the traditional search result instead

  • An early study conducted by BrightEdge indicated impact by vertical (see image below); however, it is still unknown how each vertical will be impacted by AI Overviews. That said, keep in mind that while some verticals may be impacted more than others, in its current state, a high percentage of results still require a user to select the “Generate” button in order to see the AI Overview result

  • There has been no information provided about paid advertising opportunities (how or where) within AI Overviews. However, given Google’s track record, we can anticipate paid updates to AI Overviews in the future
  • Tracking AI Overview visibility will be limited while SEO tools adapt and roll out new features. Google has stated that AI Overview metrics will be incorporated into Google Search Console; however, it is unclear if any segmentation will be included

Collective Measures’ predictions

As AI Overviews continue to roll out, there are three primary factors that we’ll be keeping a close eye on. 

  • Click-through rate: When Google rolled out quick answers in 2019, there was a notable decline in click-through rate. We expect to see a similar trend following the rollout of AI Overviews
  • Positions 1–3: Given the pending changes to the SERP, we anticipate that positions 1–3 (aka those that fall just outside of AI Overviews) will become even more important — and more competitive. With this in mind, best-in-class optimizations must be prioritized to potentially offset or impact clicks to ranking positions
  • Impact on relevancy and helpfulness: With AI Overviews, Google is making it abundantly clear what content is needed by topic to prove relevancy and helpfulness. Content creators can learn from AI Overview results to inform content creation and optimizations

What does this mean for marketers?

As AI Overviews roll out, there are key action items for marketers to take:

  • Take the necessary steps to understand the current organic performance baseline (impressions, clicks, click-through rate, traffic, conversions) and performance by segment (brand, nonbrand, page type, topic, etc.). And don’t forget to notify key stakeholders that the launch of AI Overviews will likely impact organic performance!
  • Closely monitor organic performance — especially during the weeks immediately after launch — to determine impact
  • To maximize your ability to control brand search results (and minimize the chance that AI Overviews pull from inaccurate third-party sources), conduct a brand audit and ensure you have content that answers common user questions
  • To maximize your ability to be pulled into AI Overview results, audit product/service pages and “how to”/comparison/FAQ content to ensure pages answer related questions 

That’s it for now, but rest assured, we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on this space and report back on news as it develops.