How Will AI Overviews Impact the Industry? Insights by Pedro Dias

  • July 3, 2024
  • SEO
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Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically Search Generative Experience (SGE) and the new AI Overviews, have been at the forefront of technological discourse since OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022. This event marked a significant milestone, making Generative AI accessible to the broader market through a user-friendly interface.

Post ChatGPT’s release, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry has been in a state of flux, endeavoring to understand the extent to which search behaviors will change and the consequent impact on organic search traffic.

A pertinent question arises: Will we witness the estimated dramatic declines in click-through rates?

Google’s objective is to seamlessly integrate Generative AI into its search functionality to provide enhanced answers. As per Google’s own statement:

“Sometimes you want a quick answer, but you don’t have time to piece together all the information you need. Search will do the work for you with AI Overviews.”

However, practical application has highlighted significant debate and unpredictability in results. Instances have been reported where the AI has provided incorrect or absurd advice, such as advocating dangerous activities—e.g., running with scissors, taking a bath with a toaster, or using glue on pizza.

Google continues to refine its AI Overview (AIO) functionality. A recent study by SE Ranking (June 19) indicated a reduction in AIO appearances in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) from 64% to 8%. Similarly, BrightEdge reported a decrease from 84% to 15%.

Google is also experimenting with how AIO results are displayed in SERPs. Notably, the latest iteration includes citations in the top carousel.

The rapid adoption of Generative AI is causing unprecedented disruption in the SEO industry. Key issues under discussion include the extent of content plagiarism by AI and the necessity for SEOs to pivot their strategies.

In a conversation with former Google employee Pedro Dias, I sought his insights on these developments:

Your Perspective on AI Overviews, Their Impact on the Industry, and Future Direction

Pedro shared his thoughts:

“As I’ve reiterated, Google aims to function as your personal assistant rather than just a reliable librarian. This shift implies that instead of merely directing users to information sources, Google intends to perform the analytical work on users’ behalf.

If our content only provides basic answers, it becomes susceptible to disruption. We must focus on delivering more than quick answers and cater to users’ deeper informational needs.

Google’s ambition to act as a personal assistant revolves around providing instant answers. Consequently, AI Overviews represent an evolution of instantaneous responses.

To capitalize on quick answers, site owners should also develop comprehensive content, directing readers to in-depth resources, ideally gated to preserve content value.

Building resilient communities aligned with our brands, beyond offering mere snippets or instant answers, is imperative.

The trajectory of AIO remains uncertain, influenced by Google’s iterative testing and format experimentation. AIO will undeniably alter search behaviors.

Historically, SEO relied on directing users via ten blue links without instant answers. This approach garnered substantial traffic, often from non-customer queries seeking basic information.

Distinguishing between instant-answer traffic and genuine content consumers is crucial. Efforts should focus on creating valuable content for users willing to engage deeply rather than those seeking quick summaries.

Like the disruptions caused by the internet in the music and publishing industries, SEO faces transformative changes—a question of when, not if.”

Leveraging AIO and Google to Cultivate a Content Community

Pedro and I discussed the strategic approach for leveraging AI and Google to foster a well-targeted content community:

Pedro explained:

“Understanding how much discovery traffic Google might absorb is variable across industries. In sectors like legal or accountancy, professionals serve as gatekeepers of intricate knowledge, with AI offering broad information but specialists still necessary for nuanced cases.

SEO professionals should develop content encompassing broad concepts accessible by AI, while gating specific, detailed content for dedicated audiences or clients.

Businesses must strategically decide what to provide freely and what to retain as premium content. AI widens the gap between general knowledge and specialized insights.

The middle ground is shrinking, leaving a clear distinction between professionals and general information seekers. Recognizing where you fit will guide your adaptive strategy.”

Enduring Principles Remain Constant

Anticipate ongoing Google experimentation before fully integrating AI into SERPs and SEO. Amidst this transformation, focusing on fundamental principles will provide stability. Building direct user relationships remains a cornerstone.

For SEO professionals, this period demands shifting focus from high-volume keyword traffic to enhancing user journeys and relevant content interactions. High-traffic keywords are increasingly obsolete, necessitating more effort for fewer, but higher-quality, clicks.

Special thanks to Pedro Dias for sharing his expert insights, and for joining me on IMHO.

Further Resources:

Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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