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Google Rolls Out AI-Powered Overviews in US Search Results

AI Overviews

At its annual I/O developer conference, Google unveiled plans to incorporate generative AI directly into Google Search.

According to Liz Reid, the company’s new Head of Search, AI Overviews will be available to hundreds of millions of searchers by next week. Added to this, AI Overviews will soon launch in more countries and will be available to more than a billion users by the end of the year.

During her speech, Reid said that:

“Now, with generative AI, Search can do more than you ever imagined. So you can ask whatever’s on your mind or whatever you need to get done — from researching to planning to brainstorming — and Google will take care of the legwork.”

In addition to AI Overviews, Google is rolling out new Search Labs AI features, including multistep reasoning capabilities, planning capabilities, AI-organised search results and a new Google Lens ask-with-video feature.

What are AI Overviews?

AI Overviews were first introduced as part of the Search Generative Experience in May 2023. Initially, it was an opt-in within Google Search Labs. However, Google did begin testing AI Overviews to a subset of users in March 2024. We blogged about this (and some of the hilarious results it threw up) at the time, and you can read our analysis here.

Put simply, AI Overviews provide users with answers to queries using generative AI (they’re powered by Google Gemini). Users then see a few snippets of an answer above Google’s usual organic results. It looks something like this:

Image courtesy of Google.

Will I See AI Overviews for Everything Now?

At present, AI Overviews are being rolled out to US users only (although they’ll likely come to the UK before the end of the year).

In addition, US users will not see AI Overviews for all of their searches. This is because Google says AI Overviews are reserved for more complex questions where Google feels it can add value beyond the search results. This means that if Google doesn’t believe that an AI Overview will add additional value, it will not include one. That said, Google will not say what percentage of search queries will generate an AI Overview.

Has Google Improved Accuracy?

Last month, we blogged about the accuracy of SGE. Since, there have been even more examples of Google’s AI getting things spectacularly (and worryingly) wrong. For example, AI recently advised that the best way to quickly pass a kidney stone was to drink two litres of urine:

Amazingly, as this was noticed by someone outside the traditional ‘SEO community’ and they have a large following, this post has been viewed nearly two million times.

This is, of course, problematic. As Lily Ray has pointed out, even if only 0.5% of all AI Overviews are incorrect, Google receives 8.5 billion searches per day. So if Google rolls out AI Overviews/SGE to 30% of the world this year, the technology will generate 12,750,000 bad/incorrect/harmful answers every single day!

That said, searchers can report harmful and inaccurate AI Overviews by clicking on the three dots at the top of the AI Overview.

What Does this Mean for Brands and Marketers?

At present, this remains to be seen. Although many within the SEO community believe that AI answers will lead to a reduced number of clicks, Google claims that this isn’t the case.

Sadly, it may actually be tough to tell, too. This is because although Google will begin reporting AI Overview impressions and clicks in its Search Console reporting, it won’t distinguish those generated by traditional search and AI Overview. As a result, there will be no way to see if your site was referenced in just AI Overviews, if there was an impression for just AI Overviews and a click for just AI Overviews.

Due to this, it feels a little like Google is hiding something from site owners and content creators. For example, are the click-through-rates from AI-powered answers not healthy?

For what it’s worth, Hema Budaraju, the Senior Director of Product, Search Generative Experience, Google says that AI Overviews generate a higher click-through rate than traditional web search results. But, if this really is the case, it seems odd that Google will not share the data.

For now, with the roll out underway, we may simply have to wait and see what the implications are.

Concerned about the complications that may arise from AI Overviews? Get in touch with our organic search experts today. We can guide you through Google’s ever-shifting updates and help you craft a targeted search strategy that drives real results. 

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  • Marcus Hearn

    Marcus has spent his career growing the organic search visibility of both large organisations and SMEs. He specialises in technical SEO but he’s obsessed with curating strategies that leverage expertise and unlock potential.

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