What SEO Experts Are Saying About Google's 'AI Overviews'

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Martina Bretous
Martina Bretous

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Google released a ton of cool news at its annual I/O Developers Conference. But nothing got folks talking like their AI Overviews news.

What SEO Experts Are Saying About Google's 'AI Overviews'

Replacing Search Generative Experience (SGE), AI Overviews is expected to have a huge impact on organic traffic, particularly for publishers using an inbound marketing strategy.

Here’s what SEO experts are saying about it.

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Wait, what’s AI Overviews again?

AI Overviews is a new search feature on Google that provides AI-generated responses to queries.

Instead of having to click on a website to get the answer you’re looking for, Google will craft an AI-generated response and provide links meant to answer your query. The organic search results still appear, but they’re pushed down further on the search results page.

ai overviews example

Powered by Google’s AI model Gemini, AI Overviews has been rolled out to all U.S. users, with global expansion coming by the end of the year.

Google’s pitching this as a way to “take the legwork out of searching.” And late last week, they reported higher user satisfaction after the release of AI overviews.

In a blog post, they said clicks are higher quality, meaning people are finding what they’re looking for and staying longer on relevant web pages.

That said, users have experienced quite a few hiccups when using AI Overviews.

They’ve taken to Twitter and LinkedIn to share ridiculous answers they’ve gotten to common questions, including one viral AI Overviews answer recommending that folks eat glue and swallow rocks.

HubSpot’s SVP of Marketing, Kieran Flanagan, shared on LinkedIn that he believes Google rushed to add AI to get ahead of growing competitors like Perplexity and OpenAI.

kieran flanagan ai overviews linkedin postImage Source

According to Flanagan and others, that decision is only hurting Google’s reputation.

“I recognize the decision was largely optics for holding court against competitors, but as you are calling out, they should only have led with the AI once it was free from misinformation,” wrote one commenter. “But they couldn't wait … for fear of getting left behind.”

Google responded to this negative feedback, chalking most of those weird results up to good ol’ internet trolling.

However, they admitted that despite extensive red team testing, high usage did flag some areas of improvement. So, they’ve pulled back the feature on certain queries until further notice.

SEO Community Voices Concerns About AI Overviews

As you can imagine, this release has kept marketers and SEO experts busy for weeks, as they scramble to come up with yet another defensive strategy against the most popular search engine.

It’s already hard enough keeping up with Google algorithm changes. Now, there’s this feature that many are seeing as a traffic siphon, despite Google claiming the opposite.

Danielle Coffey, the chief executive of the News/Media Alliance, told CNN that AI Overviews would be “catastrophic” to their traffic.

“The little traffic we get today will be further diminished, and with a dominant search engine that’s cementing its market power, we once again have to adhere to their terms,” Coffey said. “This time with a product that directly competes with our content, using our content to fuel it. This is a perverse twist on ‘innovation.’”

Many experts fear small businesses will suffer the most. In an interview with The Verge, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he disagreed. He argued that AI Overviews will have the opposite effect.

“When you give people context, yes, there are times all people want is a quick answer and they bounce back,” Pichai said. “But overall, when we look at user journeys, when you give the context, it also exposes people to jumping-off points, and so they engage more.”

One concern experts have raised is the ability to attribute clicks to specific SERP features, like AI Overviews and featured snippets in Google Search Console.

When asked about offering more visibility into that to validate that AI Overviews creates more traffic opportunities, Sundar gave a rather evasive answer about balancing transparency without creating loophole opportunities.

What SEO Experts Recommend

The consensus among SEO experts is clear: AI Overviews will require brands to shift their content strategy, particularly for informational, how-to posts.

In an X thread, SEO expert Chima Mmeje says AI Overviews will “swallow up most top-of-the-funnel queries like ‘what is,’ ‘how to,’ and ‘why.’”

These are the ones most vulnerable against AI Overviews while perspective-driven, data-backed content will fare well.

Beyond that, many SEO experts are simply monitoring and auditing their content, as it’s still early days.

There’s no cut-and-dry method that will work, as Google never makes it easy on its publishers. The best place to start will be:

  • Performing a content audit to identify potential keywords at risk of losing traffic, particularly information-based posts.
  • Revisiting that content to optimize for this new landscape.
  • Monitoring performance and adjusting as needed.

Despite the current panic over this feature, experts like Ferdinand Goetzen believe AI Overviews will operate more like a featured snippet, just another SERP feature.

“AI Overviews are likely going to become a more dynamic replacement for featured snippets,” wrote the growth strategist on LinkedIn. “If you need to quickly convert recipe units, find out what the population of Singapore is or figure out how many hours you need to keep between paracetamols, it’ll do fine … but Google already solved that pretty well without generative AI.”

He adds that for folks looking to dive deeper, they’ll still rely on websites.

There’s still so much up in the air about how the search landscape will evolve, but it’s clear AI will be a huge part of it.

“Businesses will need to ride the wave. It will be a disruptive time for everyone who loves organic traffic,” wrote Flanagan on LinkedIn. “The one guarantee I‘ll make is that we’ll only see AI get more deeply woven into search, not less, regardless of how many funny memes are made about Google AI overviews' woeful results.”

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