Google AI in Search: The Risks and Opportunities

Rebecca Hughes, Head of Content Strategy,

In a nutshell

What's happening? Google has announced that significant changes to search have started rolling out in the US, with the integration of generative AI. ‘AI Overviews’ will be coming to other markets soon (including the UK). The exact date is unknown but we anticipate it rolling out globally by the end of this year. Want to see an example? You can see them in action here

So, how many searches are actually affected? It's been reported that around 14% of searches are affected, typically top-of-the-funnel informational queries.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy? Your agency should be closely monitoring the impact on your US traffic and looking for learnings that can apply to your SEO strategy. This is more likely to impact content performance than commercial page performance. There’s no action to be taken right now, but at 26PMX, we'll be keeping our clients updated as these learnings emerge.

The detail

  • Google's latest announcements at the I/O event introduced significant enhancements to its search capabilities with the integration of generative AI, referred to as Search Generative Experience (SGE). 
  • AI Overviews Rollout: Google has launched AI Overviews in the US, with plans to extend this to more countries soon. These AI-generated link cards, which appear within search results, aim to provide concise summaries of web content, enhancing user experience by delivering relevant information more efficiently. The links included in AI Overviews reportedly get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query, although specific click data won’t be disclosed in Google Search Console.
  • New Generative AI Experiences in Search: At Google I/O 2024, Google introduced new generative AI features that will soon be incorporated into Google Search, such as searching by video content and planning for more complex requirements using Google Maps. 

What’s the impact on organic search performance? 

Brands will need to adapt their SEO strategies to reflect the increasing importance of answering complex, multifaceted questions that generative AI tends to handle. 

There are several implications for traditional SEO. Here we outline some of the risks, as well as opportunities:


  • Website results may become less visible in organic search, negatively impacting overall traffic: With the introduction of SGE, the initial visibility of organic results might decrease. The generative AI Overviews take up significant screen space, often pushing traditional organic listings further down the page. This has been shown to affect the visibility of the number one organic result significantly, sometimes causing it to fall below the fold of the page, which means users need to scroll down to see it.
  • Top-of-the-funnel informational content is most likely to see traffic declines. Users may get all the answers they need on Google itself. 

Opportunities & Implications

  • Higher click-through rates for useful content: Despite the potential reduction in visibility for some organic results, SGE also presents opportunities. It could drive high-quality traffic to sites that provide in-depth and authoritative content. Google's generative AI prioritises high-quality sources and could enhance the discoverability of content that offers genuine value. Google has said that results included in SGE get a higher click-through rate than traditional listings. 
  • Emphasising content that aligns well with Google's E-E-A-T guidelines (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) will become even more critical. Additionally, optimising for conversational and natural-sounding content that answers broader and more complex queries could benefit from the AI's capabilities to understand and integrate context over multiple interactions.
  • Focusing on mid-funnel content, answering questions where users are more likely to click through and we’ll see the ROI. You may want to focus your content efforts on queries where a user is in the consideration phase and they are likely to need information that can’t be easily answered in an overview, or want to look at products onsite. 
  • Content optimisation for AI: The introduction of AI Overviews emphasises the need for high-quality, well-structured content that AI can easily interpret and summarise. Ensuring content is clear, concise, and directly addresses user queries will become even more crucial. This might involve optimising the first few lines of your articles or pages to catch attention and accurately represent the content.

Now is the time to be discussing the risks and opportunities with your agency. If you're looking for agency support, get in touch with our highly experienced, performance-driven SEO team today.

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