Impact of Google’s AI Overviews Explained

Impact of Google’s AI Overviews Explained

Months after the launch of Google’s AI Overviews and the feature’s reduced visibility, we look at critical insights into its impact.

After Google announced “AI Overviews” at its annual I/O event, it was met with a gigantic response from people sharing screenshots of misleading answers generated by the AI feature. After the complaints, Google promised an improvement in AI Overview, explaining that the situation created was a result of fake screenshots. Months after the incident, AI Overview’s visibility in Google Search seems to have dropped, especially when compared to the Search Generative Experience (SGE) experiment launched last year.

BrightEdge, an AI-driven organic search, content, and digital marketing automation firm, has released new data from the BrightEdge Generative Parser™ on the AI feature by Google. Major findings include a steep reduction in responses containing AI Overviews, Featured Snippets serving as a strong predictor for genAI responses, and improvements in Google’s ability to provide precise responses and anticipate follow-up questions. 

Following Google’s official release of AI Overviews (previously called Search Generative Experience), marketers must take a vertical-specific approach to assess its impact. As AI becomes more predictive, optimising for the next question becomes a key priority for industry marketers in AI and Search.

“We are officially in the next chapter of search where AI gives opinions and recommendations that connect users to brands and websites. This represents the biggest paradigm shift marketers have faced in decades,” said Jim Yu, Founder and Executive Chairman at BrightEdge. “In the past, search engines would pull a lot of information and give you links. Now, AI helps do the searching, summarises the results, and provides an informative opinion. For brands, ensuring you are found and cited as an authoritative and trusted source and producing content that focuses on follow-up questions become the new top priorities.”

Since November 2023, BrightEdge Generative Parser™ has been monitoring AI Overviews (formerly SGE) and its development daily. This included regularly sharing updates and predictions with the marketing community. 

BrightEdge Generative Parser ™ has released some fresh and critical insights into what has happened since the launch of AI Overviews.

Google has gradually been reducing AI in search results from 84% to under 15%.

  • Historically, AI was present 84% of the time in opt-in or collapsed states.
  • Since mid-April, Google has slowly been removing Opt-in results to the point where they barely show up.
  • Today, AI Overviews are mainly collapsed in less than 15% of search results.
  • The likely reason is to reduce the risks of incorrect AI answers while refinements are made in a public environment.

Featured Snippets and questions are most likely to trigger AI, while local queries and site links are less likely.

  • Several different factors influence AI across all industries.
  • AI Overviews are 195% more likely to appear when Featured Snippets are present.
  • Questions are more likely to trigger an AI Overview.
  • Local queries are the least likely to have AI Overviews.
  • Sitelinks are also less likely to trigger an AI Overview. These results are usually associated with brand terms, indicating that Google is reducing the risk of providing misinformation for brands.

The presence of AI Overviews varies significantly by industry

  • 63% of keywords in healthcare show an AI Overview.
  • In B2B Tech, 32% of keywords show an AI Overview; in ecommerce, 23%.
  • Restaurants and travel show very few AI Overviews.
  • BrightEdge predicts this will change, and shifts will be rapid as many outliers exist by industry.

Google AI is getting better at giving precise answers.

  • The vertical space occupied by AI Overviews is now 20% smaller than what SGE occupied at the beginning of April.
  • This indicates that AI is getting more precise when generating helpful experiences.
  • This is likely because AI now caters better to people’s needs, such as looking for summaries, recommendations, or conversational experiences.
  • Ultimately, Google is getting better at selecting answers.