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Surviving and Thriving in the Age of AI Overview

Date published: June 20, 2024
Last updated: June 17, 2024

Search engines are seeing some of the biggest impacts of the AI revolution. Generative AI has breathed new life into smaller platforms like Bing. OpenAI is working on its own search engine. 

And Google? The biggest search engine of them all has upended the marketing industry yet again by introducing AI at scale in the form of AI Overviews (AIO). 

Let’s take a look at these new generative AI snippets at the top of many SERPs, why they’re important, and what you can do to make the most of them in your marketing strategy.

What are AI Overviews?

AI Overviews are Google’s official term for what it previously referred to as Search Generative Experience (SGE). After developing the AI search experience in its Search Labs since early 2023, Google rolled out SGE results to the public on May 14, 2024, and relabeled them as AI Overviews.

The new experience adds an AI-generated response to the top of the Google SERP. This takes several third-party search results and creates an amalgamated response that best answers a user’s query.

Google AI overview

Why Prioritize AI Overview?

AI Overview is a major turning point for online marketing. It takes a front-and-center position in the primary vehicle that drives so much activity across the internet. This is especially true for top-of-funnel (TOF) queries.

AI Overview can provide accurate, informative, and tailored results for basic questions. If someone needs to know a preliminary concept, such as “What is SEO” or “What does SaaS mean?” They can get a quick answer, and, in many cases, their search ends right there at the top of the SERP.

Fortunately, marketers can get in on the action right in the AIO. Google displays the primary sources that it uses to formulate an AI response in the form of “cards” that sit just under the initial response. In the search engine’s own words


“AI Overviews show links to resources that support the information in the snapshot, and explore the topic further. This allows people to dig deeper and discover a diverse range of content from publishers, creators, retailers, businesses, and more, and use the information they find to advance their tasks.”

We’re still learning how these links are selected. What we do know is that a large majority of carded AIO links were not top-ranking content. This indicates that AI Overviews operate with a different set of ranking factors from the traditional Google algorithm and anyone can show up in these snippets.

When you make it into an AIO result, it can lead to clickthroughs to your site. Even if that isn’t the case, it helps with brand recognition, which can build trust for later inquiries that move further down the sales funnel.

How to Make the Most of Google AI Overview

It’s easy to understand the game-changing nature of Google’s AI Overview. The question is: 

How do you get your content and links featured in AI Overview snippets? 

Google reports that its system automatically decides who ranks. It also says creators don’t need to do anything different and should just continue with business as usual. 

However, we’ve done some extra digging, and we think SEOs and marketers hoping to rank in AIO results can maximize their chances with a few basic steps.

1. Understand Where You Stand

Make sure you invest in AIO with a content plan in place. What are the keywords you’re targeting? Does AI show up for related queries? If so, what content is it pulling from? Compare this to the content you already have ranking. Make sure this is part of a holistic marketing plan that takes everything from social media to paid campaigns into account, too.

2. Optimize and Delete

As you review your content, consider what is and isn’t working. What pieces could use optimization to help them move up the SERPS toward that top AIO carded position? Are some pieces cannibalizing one another or failing to perform, in general? In that case, consider deleting them entirely.

3. Create Helpful Content

Never underestimate user intent. As you review your content, don’t just look at the stats. Consider how each piece is genuinely helping its target audience. Google’s Helpful Content update in 2023 put an added emphasis on content user value. Don’t sacrifice value for quantity. Make sure every piece you have ranking is clear and direct and leaves a searcher with a positive user experience.

4. Deliver Perspectives

In the past, 101 content has been streamlined and generic. Now, AIO is pulling on a growing number of perspectives and viewpoints to round out basic TOF information. In fact, user-generated content (UGC) is having a moment. Google is paying Reddit tens of millions of dollars per year to access its user data, which represents an infinite number of personal perspectives and insights. Add yours to the mix. If you have something unique to say, speak up. It will give your content a better chance to cut through the white noise.

5. Publish Original Data

Regurgitating existing information is no longer helpful. You might be able to present a basic concept better than the next guy, but you can’t outperform the tailored responses of an generative AI answer. Instead, look for ways to release your own owned data. Use research, polls, stats, and any other first-party data sources to help you stand out. This can go beyond AIO and even help you land helpful backlinks and meaningful digital PR.

6. Hone in on Your Specialty

What do you want to be known for as a company? Try to clarify and streamline this focus and then hone in on that message. Only publish content in the topical areas you want to rank for. Pushing into those niche messages will help Google recognize you as an industry leader worthy of AIO contribution.

7. Secure Backlinks

Backlinks have been the bread and butter of SEO activity for years — and they remain important in the age of AI Overviews. In fact, in light of the recent Google documentation leak, we now backlinks and link building are important ranking factors. This makes sense, as it indicates that a website is a trusted authority and resource. Keep investing in a backlinking strategy. These will continue to be important for a long time to come.

8. Analyze and Optimize

You saw this one coming, right? It’s always important to track and analyze your AI Overview initiatives over time. Watch AIO as it evolves and look at your marketing outcomes. Even if you’re doing well, consider how you can do better. Regular iteration and optimization are key to ongoing success.

Thriving in the Age of AIO

AI Overview is here and it is only going to become more embedded in the Google search experience. Are you taking advantage of it yet? Use the tips above to set the stage for AIO success — and remember to stay holistic in your approach. 

If you need help differentiating and optimizing your growth marketing goals, reach out for a free strategy session. Our team can help you stay up-to-date and optimized, even in a digital marketplace that is in such a constant state of evolution.

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