Study Finds Google Reduces AI Summaries in Search Results

  • June 20, 2024
  • SEO
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Recent research indicates that Google’s AI-generated overviews have experienced substantial modifications since their initial introduction.

The investigation conducted by SE Ranking scrutinized 100,000 keywords and discovered that Google has significantly curtailed the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when these overviews are presented, they are now more exhaustive compared to their previous iterations.

The research delves into which topics and industries are more prone to receiving AI overviews. It also examines how AI snippets interact with other search elements such as featured snippets and advertisements.

Below is a summary of the findings and their implications for your SEO strategies.

Declining Frequency of AI Overviews

In stark contrast to figures from the pre-rollout phase, only 8% of the analyzed search queries currently generate an AI overview.

This marks a 52% reduction from the levels observed in January.

The author of the study, Yevheniia Khromova, interprets this as an indication that Google is adopting a more cautious approach. She explains:

“The pronounced decline in the presence of AI overviews likely signifies Google’s efforts to enhance the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated responses.”

More Detailed AI Overviews

Although the incidence of AI overviews has declined, those that do appear now offer more in-depth information.

The average length of these texts has increased by nearly 25%, averaging about 4,342 characters.

Another significant change is that AI overviews now tend to link to fewer sources, generally including just four links upon expanding the snippet.

Nevertheless, 84% of these overviews still incorporate at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The likelihood of an AI overview appearing varies by industry.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology are the most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Conversely, sensitive fields such as healthcare, legal matters, and news reports have a minimal chance of displaying AI summaries, registering less than 1%.

Search queries that are longer, averaging around ten words, are more likely to generate an AI overview, indicating a 19% probability, suggesting that AI summaries better serve complex informational needs.

Search terms characterized by lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click rates are more inclined to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics of AI Overviews

The research uncovered that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, frequently sourced from the same domains.

Approximately 87% of AI overviews are now co-presented with ads, up from 73% previously. This statistic suggests an intensified competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews yields several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk of Traffic Losses: With fewer searches triggering AI overviews that directly respond to queries, organic listings are less likely to be downgraded or experience reduced traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews predominantly appear in the relationships, food, and technology sectors. Publishers in these areas should be particularly attentive to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-Form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become more extensive, companies may need to create more comprehensive content that surpasses the information provided in the overviews.

Looking Ahead

Although the frequency of AI overviews has declined recently, it would be premature to assume this trend will persist.

Undoubtedly, AI overviews will continue to evolve over time.

Monitoring these developments closely, experimenting with different adaptation strategies, and adjusting your approach as needed will be crucial.


Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

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