On May 10th, 2023, Google announced its AI-powered SGE (Search Generative Experience) was coming to Search Labs as an experiment. 

At the time, the plan was to officially roll out SGE sometime in early 2024 after months of experimentation and data-gathering.  

This set the SEO world ablaze with anticipation (including us) about how SGE would alter the search landscape and potentially trigger the SEO apocalypse. 

January 2024 came and went, and nothing happened. Google was notoriously tight-lipped about the issue, and some assumed that they had canceled it outright. 

Here we are almost exactly one year later, and Google’s AI-powered search features have officially arrived. 

During Google’s annual I/O developer conference, newly appointed head of Google Search Liz Reid outlined the company’s new generative AI features on May 14th, 2024. 

The most noteworthy announcement was the AI Overviews from SGE are now an official part of Google Search. 

Besides that, Google discussed a whole host of other AI-powered features for its search engine, so there’s a lot to unpack. 

Stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about Google’s new AI transformation. 

What are AI Overviews?

AI Overviews first appeared in SGE’s testing phase in Search Labs. 

Certain search queries will now trigger an AI-generated summary at the top of the results page. 

The AI Overview will:

  • Answer questions 
  • Educate and inform users
  • Cite sources from the web for further reading
  • List local businesses and products

The Overviews are now live, and you may have already seen them in action if you’ve been on Google recently. 

Here’s an example of an AI Overview for the long-tail keyword ‘is broccoli a healthy food?

As you can see, the AI Overview appears at the very top of the search results page (SERP), and it directly answers the question posed by the keyword. 

It also provides several online resources for further reading, and you have the option to ‘Show More,’ which reveals more educational information generated by the AI:

Here, we can learn more about the health benefits of broccoli, some preparation methods, and health concerns. 

Also, notice the tiny carrot by each paragraph?

Clicking on them reveals links to more online resources for further reading (these are also the pages the AI summarized to provide the overview).

As you can probably imagine, getting Google to cite your content in its AI Overviews will be a huge deal in SEO moving forward. 

In fact, it may replace targeting the #1-ranked organic position since it’s pushed further down the page (more on this below).

Which Types of Searches Trigger AI Overviews?

At the I/O developer conference, Liz Reid noted that not every search query will trigger an AI Overview, even though the feature is becoming increasingly more common. 

Reid claims that AI Overviews are typically reserved for more complex questions. 

Every time that you make a Google Search now, the algorithm makes a judgment call on whether the query warrants an AI Overview or not. 

So far, only certain types of queries trigger AI Overviews, so let’s take a look at them. 

Complex questions 

One of the main appeals of integrating LLM chatbots into search engines is their ability to understand complex questions and requests. 

This forgoes the need for ‘search engine speak,’ where users search for content by using brief phrases and keywords. 

For instance, a Google search of the past would look something like this:

Best pizza restaurant round rock tx

With Gemini (Google’s AI), users can use more natural-sounding queries like this:

What’s the best pizza restaurant in Round Rock, Texas?

In fact, users can get even more complicated with it and include specific requests like:

‘What’s the best pizza restaurant in Round Rock that’s no more than a 10-minute walk from my house?’

These complex keyword strings are the most likely to trigger an AI Overview. 

Informational searches

Lots of informational queries now trigger AI Overviews, and it’s pretty clear why. Gemini can provide direct answers to common questions, which are what most informational keywords consist of. 

If you’re looking to educate yourself about a topic or answer a question, don’t be surprised if an AI Overview pops up. 

Here’s what happens when we search for the health benefits of chamomile tea:

What’s concerning for SEOs is that informational queries like these used to be perfect for driving traffic to their blog posts. 

Informational blogs draw in users at the top of your sales funnel, and they’re excellent for building awareness and brand loyalty. 

While many users will now get the information they need from the Overview, there’s one ray of hope. 

Each Overview will cite several online resources, which can still allow users to experience your content. 

Commercial searches 

Searches with commercial intent mean the user is interested in making a purchase but wants to weigh their options first. 

These types of queries can trigger AI Overviews that provide detailed information about what the user wants to purchase. 

The Overview also cites several online resources and includes a brief description of each. 

Here’s an AI Overview that was generated for a user searching for iPhones near their location in the UK:

What Types of Searches Don’t Trigger AI Overviews?

Not every search query triggers an AI Overview, especially:

  • Transactional searches. Whenever a user has transactional intent, it means they’re ready to make a purchase right then and there. As such, the queries are often highly specific and brief (such as ‘buy Mac Mini M2’) – so there’s not much use for a detailed AI Overview. 
  • Navigational searches. During the conference, Liz Reid explicitly stated that navigational queries will not trigger AI Overviews. The example she provided was, “If you search for Walmart.com, you really just want to go to Walmart.com.” Since the query is so straightforward, there’s no need for a lengthy AI-generated overview. 
  • Your money, your life (YMYL) searches. Google also stated that AI Overviews would not appear for YMYL searches (topics that relate to healthcare and finances) due to the possible legal implications if the information provided is inaccurate. However, this seems to be something they’re still working on, as AI Overviews are appearing for some YMYL queries (see below). 

As you can see, this YMYL query triggers an AI Overview, so Google still needs to work out the kinks. 

An Overview of Google’s Other AI-Powered Search Features 

Besides the AI Overview, Google has other AI-powered features that it’s adding to its search engine. 

One of these is the ability to ‘adjust’ AI Overviews to simplify the language or break things down in more detail. 

The feature isn’t ready for official rollout yet, as it’s coming to Search Labs in the U.S. first. 

It gives users the option to decide how they want to consume information, either in a concise summary or detailed breakdown. 

It’s also a way of refining search results without having to conduct multiple searches. 

Here’s a look at the other AI-powered capabilities coming to Google Search. 

AI-organized search results 

Another planned but not-yet-released feature is AI-organized search results pages. 

What are those?

It’s where the AI groups search results into unique categories for easy filtering. An example would be searching for barbecue restaurants in an area near you. 

The AI will split the results into several different categories at the top of the page, such as takeout, delivery, and dine-in. 

Here’s what it looks like:


The pink buttons at the top of the page split the results into different categories, which some users may find convenient. 

Sponsored results are also peppered throughout the AI-generated results, as Google still wants to generate ad revenue. 

Multistep reasoning for search queries 

Google is adding multistep reasoning to its search algorithm, which means you’ll be able to ask Google questions that contain more than one request. 

This will save you the hassle of conducting multiple searches. 

When the feature goes live, you’ll be able to make a series of requests in a single query, and Google will understand each step.

An example would be asking Google to find a sports bar in your area that’s A) near you, B) affordable, and C) open late on Saturdays. 

As of right now, this feature is not live, but it’s coming soon to the U.S. version of Search Labs. 

Planning and scheduling capabilities 

Another AI-powered feature on the horizon is Google’s new planning capabilities. Users will be able to plan and schedule events, plans, and more straight from Google Search. 

For instance, you could ask Google to develop a 3-day meal plan for you, and the AI will handle the rest. You’ll get to see a list of recipes from across the web as a starting point, and you can further customize the results from there. 

Users also have the option of exporting the results into Google Docs or Gmail. 

You can coordinate plans with others, schedule a trip, and swap plan details with other options at the click of a button. 

Video search 

Lastly, Google is eager to show off Gemini’s multimodal capabilities, and the video search feature is set to do just that. 

Gemini doesn’t just understand text prompts. It can also see and hear, which means you can conduct searches through your video camera. 

The example Google provides is a user asking why their turntable needle won’t stay in place. 

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Once again, this is another feature that will soon be available on the English version of Search Labs. 

What Does This All Mean for SEO?

These AI-powered features certainly seem impressive, but what does this mean for the future of SEO?

After all, you’re here to market your products and services above all else. As we’ve been saying for a while now, generative AI does NOT mean the end of SEO. 

The search landscape has constantly changed and evolved since the beginning, and SEOs always find a way to adapt. 

AI Overviews are no different, as it’s only a matter of time until SEOs crack the code and discover the best ways to optimize for them. 

The downside is, at the moment, not much is known about how to optimize your content to appear in AI Overviews. 

Yet, we still have the data we’ve gathered from our rigorous experiments with SGE in Search Labs (more on this in a bit). 

First, let’s take a look at all the ways SEO is set to change from the adoption of generative AI. 

The diminished importance of the #1-ranked organic position 

Page real estate is one of the biggest issues SEOs have with AI Overviews. For queries triggering an Overview, it appears at the very top of the page. 

SERP features (featured snippets, knowledge bars, etc.), which used to appear at the top, will now appear below the AI Overview (if there are any SERP features, that is). 

Beneath that are the organic results, which have experienced quite the fall from grace. 

However, it’s crucial to note that not every keyword triggers an AI Overview (or a SERP feature, for that matter). 

A lack of data for analysis 

SEOs rely on tools like Google Search Console (GSC) to analyze their performance on Google, but they’re about to get left in the dark. 

Why is that?

It’s because as of now, Google has no plans to show impressions or clicks from AI Overviews in GSC, which is definitely concerning. This will make it even more difficult to determine what works when optimizing for AI Overviews. 

The rise of zero-click searches 

A zero-click search is an SEOs worst enemy. They happen whenever a user conducts a search but receives all the information they need on the results page, and doesn’t click on any organic results. 

SERP features like knowledge bars and snippets were notorious for causing zero-click searches in the past, but AI Overviews stand to make the problem even worse. 

How You Can Prepare for AI-Powered Search 

Okay, enough doom and gloom. We’ve been preparing for generative AI features in search engines since SGE’s announcement last year, and we’ve been running experiments ever since. 

One of our most important findings was that if you’re already ranking in the #1 organic position for your keywords, you’re more likely to get featured in the AI Overview. 

Why is that?

It’s because Google isn’t changing its principles regarding how it views quality, trustworthy content. 

As long as you create outstanding content for your audience that provides value, Google will want to direct its users to it. 

The best things that you can do now are:

  • Optimize for longer queries. Long-tail keywords are the way of the future since users will ask lengthier questions. Researching popular long-tail keywords and commonly asked questions in your niche and creating content around them will help you appear in the AI Overview. 
  • Focus on building lots of high-quality backlinks. As stated before, Google isn’t changing its principles related to ranking content. Google only ranks websites it trusts, and backlinks are how you form that trust. 

Besides that, you should stick with what’s worked in the past for your SEO. It’ll take some time for marketers to discover the best ways to optimize for the AI Overview, so don’t try to fix what isn’t broken until then. 

Thriving in an AI-Dominated Search Landscape 

Google’s new AI-powered features may have abruptly burst on the scene, but they weren’t without warning. 

We knew that Google had been planning on adding generative AI into the mix since last year, it was just a matter of when. 

Now that AI Overviews are here, it’s up to SEO experts like us to adapt to them.

Do you need help with your SEO in the age of generative AI?

Then don’t hesitate to check out HOTH X, our managed SEO service that takes the entire process off your hands. We’ll optimize your content for AI so that you won’t have to worry about it!