Two marketing professionals stand in front of an oversized laptop displaying Google Search results with an AI Overviews box. The professionals are studying this display intently.
June 27, 2024

The Impact of Google AI Overview Search Results on Digital Marketing

AI certainly isn’t a new addition to search engines, but Google’s new AI overviews have many marketers on edge. 

We’ve seen this coming for a while, going back to last year when Google announced its foray into AI search results, dubbed the Search Generative Experience or Google SGE. It’s finally here, under a new name but with the same digital marketing worries. 

Visibility is key to driving awareness, click-through rates, conversions, and revenue. But with new AI overviews taking up a significant portion of SERP real estate, how will the performance of high-ranking organic results change? And what broader impacts can we expect on the world of SEO and digital marketing?

Here’s everything digital marketers need to know about the form, function, and impact of Google’s newly unveiled AI overview search results.

How Are AI Overviews Changing Google Search?

You may be inclined to think of AI in search engines as a means of obtaining quick, simple answers to questions. However, there’s much more to this new feature.

This latest upgrade takes Search one step closer to becoming a full-fledged AI assistant. Yes, the customized Gemini language model newly incorporated into Search pulls information from various sources to provide fast, comprehensive answers, but Gemini’s multi-step reasoning ability lets users take their queries even further. 

Instead of searching “pizza near me” and inspecting results for the menu items you want and the distance from your current location, Gemini now lets you search for “top-rated Thai chicken pizza within walking distance of University Heights” and provides a detailed response. 

We’ve all used Search to find the information we need to create a plan. But now, the latest improvements are designed to allow Search to build the plan for us. The examples Google called out at I/O 2024 included vacation planning and meal prep. 

Expect Search to continue growing to cover a broader range of even more dynamic use cases as Google and its competitors continue working to bring the first true AI assistant to market. As the technology advances and users become more familiar with AI overviews, the feature’s impact is sure to expand. 

Why Are Digital Marketers Concerned About AI Overviews?

Two web pages displayed side by side, with the page of the left displaying Google Search results with an AI Overviews box and the web page on the right displaying standard Google Search results.

AI overviews definitely provide value for searchers, so why are marketers feeling so uneasy about the new feature?

Let’s start with the obvious: search visibility

Although the AI overview won’t appear for every search, when it does, it’s displayed right at the top of the results page, taking up valuable real estate. 

That means the top organic results are pushed further down the page, requiring users to scroll to find listings that were previously featured near the top.

Considering the information presented in the AI overview could satisfy a user’s search intent, it’s widely expected that CTRs will decrease on SERPs where an AI overview is present.

Previously, Google has said AI overviews are not designed to replace existing web content, but to provide fundamental information while encouraging users to explore further. However, depending on the comprehensiveness of the AI response, a user may not need any additional details, resulting in a dreaded zero-click search.

Yes, AI overviews do include three links, but these links aren’t always the source for the overview’s answer. What’s more, the three links won’t necessarily be the top-ranked organic listings, either, which means lower-ranked pages could leapfrog sites that have done the work necessary to climb to the top of a given SERP.

Search visibility isn’t the only concern for brands leveraging organic search as a growth driver.

Since the advent of Google’s Helpful Content System, many brands have embraced selling through helpful content by becoming a trusted resource—a go-to site for information, questions, and of course, the products and services that capture revenue.

But Search’s new AI overviews threaten that positioning. 

For example, the ability to plan your next vacation using Search alone is an enticing proposition for users, but travel brands like Expedia, Travelocity, and Hopper only see an impending decline in market share. 

Similarly, while letting Search handle your weekly meal prep is quite convenient, the food bloggers of the world expect to see declining traffic. 

If you can do it all on Search, why even bother with other sites or apps—especially if you’re concerned about how they collect and use tracking data?

It sounds like AI overviews are a severe disruption to the ecosystem, right? That disruption will only be felt more widely as AI overviews show up on more SERPs. 

However, even with all of this in mind, organic search is still a viable, highly efficient, highly scalable channel for the vast majority of businesses. Before making any moves, it helps to understand which searches are impacted the most by AI overviews. 

What Searches Are Impacted by AI Overviews?

Consider for a moment that the query “buy a snare drum” shows a normal SERP, free of any AI overview, while the query “how does a snare drum work?” produces an AI overview result. 

Do you notice the difference between these two searches?

For now, AI overviews appear to target informational search intent only. Users with navigational, commercial, and transactional intent are largely unaffected—and so are the brands looking to engage with them, with content marketing as a notable exception.

That means current SEO and digital marketing best practices are still valid. A natural, robust backlink profile is more crucial than ever, and high-quality on-page content is key to driving results—especially when it’s optimized for AI overviews.

But because this AI Search upgrade is so new, we can safely assume it will evolve as time goes on. In fact, it already has, in response to screenshots of strange, misleading answers that went viral in late May 2024, shortly after launch.

“From looking at examples from the past couple of weeks, we were able to determine patterns where we didn’t get it right, and we made more than a dozen technical improvements to our systems,” Liz Reid, VP and Head of Google Search, said in a blog post

Reid went on to outline four specific improvements:

  • Better detection of nonsensical queries that shouldn’t show an AI overview, with limited inclusion of satirical and humorous content for responses.
  • System updates to limit the use of user-generated content, which could offer misleading advice.
  • New system to trigger restrictions for queries where AI overviews proved unhelpful.
  • New triggering refinements for health topics as a means of quality protection. Strong guardrails already existed for news and health topics, Reid said, and Google aims not to show AI overviews for hard news topics. 


Although we can discern where AI overviews will likely appear and for which queries they won’t, we also expect this landscape to shift as further refinements are made and Gemini is made more capable. 

That means careful keyword research remains a vital element of any digital marketing strategy. If you determine a targeted keyword will generate a SERP featuring an AI overview, you’ll need to take a few steps to optimize specifically for that circumstance.

How Can You Optimize Your Site for AI Overviews in Search?

A desktop computer displays web code, showing a website being optimized for Google AI Overviews.

AI in search engines is not going away, so rather than resist change, embrace it. In fact, embracing AI in SEO is easier than you might think, as the disruption only solidifies long-held SEO best practices. 

1. Start with the Basics: Fundamentally Sound SEO

Trying to optimize for AI overviews without first applying the fundamentals of SEO sitewide is like trying to ski moguls before you’re comfortable on black diamonds: You won’t see great results.

AI overviews are here, but that doesn’t mean the basics of SEO are going away. 

Conduct thorough keyword research, optimize your pages to satisfy search intent and deliver a world-class UX, then diligently build high-quality backlinks to increase authority. 

Think of these fundamentals as the bare minimum necessary for your site to perform well in this new era of AI overviews. 

2. Strategically Design Pages and Structure Content for AI Overviews

Because AI overviews provide direct answers to questions, if you want your content to be featured, you should design it to do the same thing. 

The simplest way is to use questions for your H2s—perhaps you’ve noticed a trend as you read this piece—and provide the answers in the subsequent sections. 

Don’t forget about E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Use these Google quality rater guidelines to evaluate your content during the creation process. As you review, keep in mind that Google wants to feature content that’s helpful, accurate, and comprehensive.

Beyond the content itself, contemplate the structure of your pages. If your goal is to achieve online visibility through industry-leading thought leadership, consider creating topic overview pages in alignment with AI Search’s ability to respond to complex queries involving multiple steps. 

With pages designed to take users through your entire funnel, you could stand a better chance of seeing those pages featured in AI overviews for the keywords most valuable to your brand.

3. Create High-Quality Content Worth Community Discussion

Google often pulls content from Quora and Reddit for AI overviews, and these sites routinely rank highly in organic results for informational queries. So, working to get your expert-written, world-class content featured on these sites—ideally, in an organic fashion—can work wonders for your brand’s overall visibility and boost your chances of being featured in an AI overview.

A word of caution: Don’t use generative AI tools to produce this content. Clearly, AI has come a long way—otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But no matter how robust their training data, AI writing tools are still no match for humans with years or decades of industry experience and expertise. 

The content you promote should be produced by your most knowledgeable team members and edited by your best content creators, with a focus on accuracy and quality. Incorporate your most valuable keywords as anchor text with links to your priority pages, which of course you’ve already designed to satisfy search intent, deliver an outstanding UX, and drive conversions.

4. Emphasize Technical Optimizations

In this new world of AI overviews, who even has time for mundane little things like meta descriptions, image alt text, and page speed optimization? 

Answer: You do—at least you should. Otherwise, don’t expect your site to deliver the digital growth your organization needs to scale.

At the end of the day, no matter how deeply integral AI becomes to Search, Google still has to crawl each page on your site before indexing, which means you still have to do the necessary work to tell those crawlers what each page is about. 

If you have robots.txt issues, lack a schema, or use the same meta description for dozens or hundreds of pages, you must resolve those issues before you even start optimizing for AI overviews. 

5. Don’t Settle for Half-Measures

Maybe you’ve encountered an issue that you don’t know how to handle, or you don’t understand how a console error is impacting performance. You’ve consulted your dev team, and they’re stumped too. This means you should ignore it, right? What might seem like a small error could impact your site in big ways. Don’t settle for half measures and know when to call in help.

You might be surprised at how partnering with a trusted digital marketing agency can not only maximize your site health but also drive revenue and brand growth.

Does it sound like SEO is a lot to handle these days? Well, it is, and with new advances like AI overviews—not to mention the rest of the announcements that came out of the Google I/O 2024 developer conference—digital marketing is only becoming more complex by the day. 

Enterprises are quickly discovering that building out their own in-house teams is neither the quickest nor most profitable means of driving digital growth. That’s why they partner with VELOX Media. 

Seize Emerging Opportunities with VELOX

Five marketing professionals holding journals and clipboards stand confidently in front of a web window displaying Google Search results.

If the proliferation of AI overviews tells us anything, it’s that the world of digital marketing is changing at breakneck speed. Edging out your competitors requires leading business intelligence, a tailored growth strategy, and expert implementation of proven techniques.

VELOX is a revenue-focused, full-service digital marketing agency with a track record of exceeding client expectations. We’re also recognized as a Google Premier Partner among the top 3% of agencies worldwide.

Don’t wait for your competitors to appear in AI overviews before you decide it’s time to act. Contact VELOX today and see how sustained search engine dominance can drive exponential growth.

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