As Google continues to evolve its algorithm and SERP (Search Engine Results Page), it’s important for you as a business to stay ahead of the curve to maintain and enhance your online visibility. Google’s latest update AI Overviews (previously called SGE) was announced during the Google I/O in May 2024. As well as AI Overviews, they released significant algorithm updates earlier this year that focus on spam content. This blog post will give you all you need to know about these changes and their potential impact on search engine results and website traffic.

What are AI Overviews?

It’s the next step in how Google is handling search queries. Powered by Google’s AI language model (Gemini), AI Overviews aim to generate a dynamic answer to queries directly in the SERP. The shift means users will be served overviews of aggregated information from multiple sources to provide a more comprehensive response to the users query.

What are the key features?

Dynamic Answers: Instead of static featured snippets, AI Overviews present dynamic AI-generated responses, providing a richer user experience. It’s designed to provide the user with a more informative and contextual experience.

Enhanced Commercial Searches: Direct product comparisons and offerings are being integrated within the search results.

Detailed Informational Responses: Users who are searching for more complex queries, will receive more comprehensive answers directly in the SERP, as opposed to the generic responses they have received before.

What have the impacts been on particular verticals?

AI Overview's impact varies across different verticals, with significant changes observed in sectors such as beauty, automotive and marketplace (see table below for further industries). These findings from a study of 500,000 queries as of May 7th 2024, saw the click-through rate of the beauty and automotive industries remain the highest, while publishers and hotel queries see lower engagement.

What strategies can we use to mitigate the impact of AI Overviews?

To adapt, businesses need to consider the following:

  • On-page structure adjustments: Reformat content into listicles, Q&A-styled responses and shorter sentences.
  • Enhanced structured data: Look to use structured data, in particular on product-related content, this will leverage Google’s merchant feed.
  • Strategic partnerships: We can collaborate with sites that are frequently used in the AI Overviews carousels, this should mitigate drops in click-through rates.

What do AI Overviews look like in the SERP comparison to the current view?
Current view:
AI Overviews:

As you can see, with AI Overviews triggered, the top position is pushed below the fold of the screen, with shopping links, article links and an overview allowing you to drill down further into the user's search.

The Core and Spam Content update.

As well as AI Overviews, Google has also rolled out big updates in March and May 2024. These focus on improving the quality of content on sites, as well as reducing spam.

March 2024 Core & Spam Update

The update introduced complex changes to how content is assessed by Google. They’re focusing more on how helpful a piece of content is and incorporating more diverse signals to enhance ranking systems. The update aims to favour more useful content and reduce reliance on a single signal which could potentially cause substantial ranking fluctuations.

Google also rolled out the spam update, which targets low-quality, unoriginal content and introduces new policies against abusive practices, which are:

  • Expired domains scaled content: This targets repurposed and outdated websites.

  • Site reputation abuse: Sites that manipulate reputation signals will be penalised.

  • General spam policies: Enhancing spam detection and removal mechanisms.

The goal of these updates is to reduce low-quality content in search results, they’re predicting this will reduce these by around 40%. This content could include a substantial amount of content produced by AI, such as ChatGPT.

Key takeaways:

  • Ensure the content you are delivering is original and offers lots of value. Avoid using ChatGPT and similar solutions to write content

  • Structured data is going to become more important than ever, make sure you understand this or are working with someone who does.

  • Where appropriate, look to reformat your current content into listicles, Q&A style responses and shorter sentences (this doesn’t mean change all of your content into this, only where appropriate and provides genuine value)

  • Look to collaborate with businesses that regularly feature in the AI-Overviews.

Please get in touch with us if you wish to discuss any of the above in more depth.

We’re working with clients to capitalise on these changes, where others aren’t.