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Home Blog Google SGE, AI Overviews & SEO: What Can Brands Expect?Julia Scavicchio By Julia Scavicchio Posted on Apr 4, 2024

Google SGE, AI Overviews & SEO: What Can Brands Expect?

Learn about Google SGE and the impact it may have on your site’s SEO. See how Google’s generative AI can affect organic performance (and what to do about it).

Image with a blue background featuring Gen3's logo, a search field, a microphone icon and the Google SGE's logo.

Last week, one of our clients asked us a great question about the AI results Google recently released to the public.

“What kind of impact are you expecting from this, if any, for our account?”

To answer that question, let’s first look at how Google SGE works.

What is Google SGE?

Google SGE – short for “Search Generative Experience” – first became available in the spring of last year. However, it was only rolled out to general audiences recently as AI overviews.

Google says they’re aiming to improve search with generative AI. These features are intended to “take more work out of searching.” They suggest this can help users “understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily.”

Naturally, site owners and businesses are concerned about how recent search engine changes and AI-powered search will affect their brand’s visibility.

Here at Gen3, our SEO experts have been testing and monitoring SGE’s impact in search results through the feature’s early release in Google Labs for the past year.

How do SGE and AI Overviews work?

SGE is a form of AI overview created through the use of generative AI. AI overviews work by combining knowledge panel data, Google search results, and a natural language model to generate an output. It is more beneficial to be featured in an AI overview than to be missing from one.

It is possible to exclude your site from this feature, which some news-based sites have done in order to maintain themselves as primary sources for news. However, for most sites, this feature extends our brand awareness in search results through mention at the top of the page.

The downside is that websites are likely to see a drop in traffic for branded terms as users find desired information about a brand or product before arriving on the brand’s site.

How have SGE and AI overviews affected our clients?

What we have found aligns with other industry sources.

  • AI overviews has the greatest impact on branded and product terms.
  • We can expect some traffic loss from branded queries and are actively monitoring these search queries for our clients.
  • Among our current SEO clients, we’re not seeing any immediate issues.

While monitoring SGE through Google Labs, we found one example where a brand had a high likelihood of traffic loss.

We noted SGE results for this brand were more informative than the brand’s own website. SGE responses also cited third-party sites as the sources of the overviews. This was due to the brand’s past strategy of focusing on third-party features to shape their identity. Had the brand instead created this content on their own site, we might expect to see a different outcome today.

This brand awareness strategy has a downside. Google may find other sites more relevant than the brand’s own site, even when people ask questions about the brand itself.

What’s our approach to helping brands appear in AI Overviews?

We have the following in mind to help brands appear in AI overviews:

  • Update Knowledge Panels and Google Business Profiles.
  • Create strong, informative on-site content to answer users’ questions about products.
  • Focus on improving site health to generate a better user experience and greater crawlability.
  • Publish branded content, such as an “About” page, to provide Google with the best source for information about the brand.
  • Create plans to get links from websites that have used AI summaries in their content.
  • Reach out to these sites to make sure they link back to your brand’s website.

Closing thoughts on SGE and AI overviews.

We have mixed feelings about AI overviews on our SEO team. In some ways, it clutters search results and pushes the best results even further down the page. In other ways, it can be very informative, offering quick answers that save users time while searching.

The greatest goal achieved by AI overviews is reduced friction in search results. By providing hyper-specific answers to queries, users no longer have to scroll endlessly when there is no “best” search result.

This new feature is likely a step towards opening the search box and encouraging users to search in unpredictable ways. In this case, user searches will contain increasingly obscure questions.

Google’s aim is to keep up with these requests through generative AI. As SEOs, we are likely to experience difficulty matching user queries to search volumes and will lean into our target audiences to form tailored content alongside customer care teams.

I attended MozCon last August, where we heavily discussed SGE’s expected impact. This was also the topic of a presentation I gave to our company internally when I returned. We will be at MozCon again in 2024 and look forward to bringing back more key learnings and predictions for our clients.

Rest assured; this is a topic we are very in tune with as we provide recommendations for our SEO partners.

Concerned about the effect SGE and AI overviews will have on your website? We’re a full-service SEO agency with experts who can help you navigate best practices and the necessary actions to grow and maintain organic visibility.

Contact us today to learn more.

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