How can you prepare for Google AI Overview (SGE)?

Top 5 Takeaways to Optimise for Google’s AI Overview (SGE)

  1. Google’s AI Overview, provides concise, direct answers to search queries, aiming to replace the need for scrolling through multiple SEO-heavy pages.
  2. SEO will continue to be important so focus on optimising your website by using best practices
  3. Create content that is niche, adds substantial value and offers unique insights to get an AI Overview snippet. Use schema markup to enhance visibility
  4. Create conversational-style content
  5. Building trust, authority and credibility are critical for AI Overview features. So, adhere to Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines

In 2016 Google CEO, Sundar Pichai gave the world a glimpse into the future of the search giant by proclaiming “We will move from mobile-first to an AI-first world.” Since then, the company has been on a fast track to transform the role AI plays in our lives. Yet, the launch of ChatGPT has pushed Google to fast-track its AI ambitions leading to the launch of Google AI Overview, otherwise known as Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Google’s AI Overview (SGE) is like having a smart assistant when you search. Rather than scrolling through several pages of overly optimised SEO nonsense, you get a quick, easy-to-understand summary right at the top of your search results. The concept is a welcome solution for end users. After all, when searching for a simple salmon recipe it’s not uncommon to spend 15 minutes wading through several paragraphs about where the fish originates from, why Victoria Beckham eats it every day and the names of all her kids. Nobody really cares.

Yet, Google’s AI Overview, will give you a direct answer to your query, complete with sources, and sometimes even throws in some extra context for a deeper understanding. However, whilst this is great for end users, it’s likely to have a negative impact on traditional search results. It’s estimated that traditional search engine results could lose 15% to 30% of traffic to AI Overviews. Therefore, it’s imperative for SEO’s and webmasters alike to understand how they can prepare for the future of search.

AI Overview is under development

AI Overviews (SGE) have received bad publicity, so will it last?

Optimising for AI Overviews (SGE) is crucial to maintaining organic search engine traffic. Despite the initial negative publicity surrounding Google’s AI Overviews, it’s unlikely Google will halt its efforts to integrate AI into its search engine.

After Google released AI Overviews, social media platforms became engulfed with stories of the mistakes the tool was making. For instance, it allegedly told one user that they should eat rocks at least once per day as they contain vitamins and minerals.

Whilst this is clearly not good for Google and delivering on their promise of enhancing trust in their search results, it is a signal of the immaturity of their AI Overviews rather than it being a failure. As Liz Ried, Head of Google Search explained these results are a result of “data voids or information gaps.” Since “how many rocks should I eat a day” is a silly question, there is not a lot of information about it on the internet. Consequently, these results were generated from satirical blogs or comments.

Moreover, with the rise of AI search engines like Perplexity, there is increased competition for search engines like Google. Therefore, it is in their interests to make AI Overviews work.

If I optimise for SGE, can I still keep my existing web traffic?

Your web traffic is unlikely to remain exactly the same. Optimising for all possible permutations is nearly impossible, as Google AI Overview (SGE) results show that answers can vary based on the exact question asked. Moreover, one of the largest investigations into the impact of SGE found that 64% of the 100,000 keywords studied had either an SGE answer or a “generate” button. Interestingly, the most frequently linked domains in these answers were platforms like Quora and Wikipedia.

However, it is important to note that AI overviews do not signal the end for traditional search engines. Nor will it see all your SEO efforts going to waste. As Google’s Head of Search outlined, AI Overviews work differently from chatbots like ChatGPT. Those chatbots generate “an output based on training data.” Conversely, Google’s AI Overview is integrated with Google’s “core web ranking systems” and identifies “relevant, high-quality results from (Google’s) index.”

Therefore, Google’s AI Overview needs webmasters to continue creating content. AI Overviews are based on the search results that already exist in the search engine. As we previously outlined AI search engines won’t replace Google. Instead, they will be expanding the search industry making SEO significantly more complex.

With the right strategy, your web traffic may significantly improve. Each industry and niche will experience different impacts, making it crucial to prepare by optimising for AI Overviews.

How do I prepare for AI Overviews (SGE)?

We have outlined some key steps to undertake to make sure you are ready for Google’s AI Overviews (SGE). To get web traffic in the future, it’s essential to not only focus on your traditional SEO practices but also on how you get your content seen with links to your content in the AI overviews.

The following steps outline how you can prepare:

1. Focus on improving your traditional SEO efforts

In a study of SGE, it was found that 85.5% of links in Google’s AI Overviews were to domains in the top 10 search results. Therefore, if you are not SEO-optimising for traditional search engines, you need to start.

Google’s AI Overview is based on its core search ranking and quality systems. Simply put, that’s their current search algorithms that include factors such as PageRank and Freshness. Therefore, you need to have:

  1. Consistent search volume
  2. Several high-volume keywords ranking in the top 10 search results

For example, imagine you have a website that sells cutting-edge wearables. This could include wearables to monitor your metabolic health to your heart rate variability. To sell these wearables to consumers, you will need content that features in the top 10 Google results. If you don’t you won’t be found.

A good SEO strategy will need articles that provide consumers with useful insights like how they can improve their metabolic health. This will position you as a thought leader. Ultimately, this is what Google’s AI Overviews want. When someone asks about how they can improve their metabolic health, they want to generate answers from experts.

But, remember, whilst you might have several PhDs and industry awards you are not an expert in the eyes of Google unless your content is ranking well. A high ranking for many of your content pieces will provide strong signals to Google’s AI Overviews that you are worthy of inclusion.

However, even if you are SEO optimising today, this should continue to be your focus. It’s impossible for anyone to know how AI Overviews will impact search results exactly. So, continue building a strong basis.

2. Determine the impact of AI Overviews (SGE)

As we move forward, and Google’s AI Overviews get rolled out it will be important to understand it’s impact. This can be achieved by performing an SGE audit.

However, given Google’s AI Overviews is still new, there are no tools on the market that can perform this audit automatically. Therefore, due to the manual nature of this step, focus on your web pages that are driving your organic traffic. To perform an audit:

  • Extract a Google Analytics report of your page traffic before and after the introduction of Google AI Overviews.
  • Track and compare your Google search positions, average click-through rates (CTR), and monthly visits before and after AI Overviews.
  • Identify if your pages are included in AI Overviews and determine the type of AI Overview featured.
  • Evaluate if the AI Overview answers users’ needs and whether it links to your site.
  • Analyse the potential for traffic erosion by comparing pre-and post-AI Overview performance metrics.

3. AI Overviews (SGE) want niche and unique content

Given the breadth of information available online, it is difficult to rank highly in search engines. However, original content about a niche topic can get you featured in Google’s AI Overviews.

For example, since Antlerzz is a digital marketing agency for health brands, we monitor and analyse search trends related to health. These insights are unique and not widely available. Our report into NMN supplements found there had been a 480% increase in online interest in the UK. As we can see from the screenshot, this has been featured in Google’s AI Overview.

One effective method can be to provide data insights that your organisation has captured. If this is suitably different and adds extra insight to other articles available, you may get your content featured. Moreover, the more niche your content, the more likely users will click on the link provided to your article. There is an increased chance that they are looking for something specific and will want to explore more about the topic in your article.

4. Add additional value for information gain

Imagine you sell heart rate monitors via your website. If every article you produce merely rehashes product features or explains the importance of heart rate, your readers won’t gain much insight. It’s not only dull but also readily available elsewhere on the internet. However, if one of your articles delves into interpreting heart rate data to enhance workouts, it adds substantial value. This is particularly true if it includes insights gleaned from testing your heart rate monitors. This concept is known as information gain: the value of new insights compared to what you already know.

In 2022, Google successfully patented a new algorithm focused on information gain scoring. This method evaluates search results based on various factors, including the added value of information. It’s highly likely that this patent, or a similar concept, will be integral to Google’s AI Overview.

Google’s AI Overview compiles snippets of information from diverse websites. To be featured, you can’t simply replicate information found elsewhere. It’s akin to impersonating Justin Bieber and expecting global fame — sorry, but Justin won’t lose any sleep over you stealing his fans. Therefore, for the heart rate monitor company to stand out, they must enhance their information gain scoring by offering new insights and reports.

5. Keep your content fresh

In 2023, Google was at it again by obtaining a patent for how they can use large language models (LLMs) in the AI Overview. The patent outlines that instead of relying only on old data, AI Overviews will use a method called Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) to get fresh information from websites.

Whilst the patent outlines how Google could use multiple LLMs, this does indicate that the AI Overviews will factor in whether the content is new or static. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep revisiting old content and keeping it up to date.

The best way to do this is to focus on content that is already ranking reasonably well. For instance, if you have an article about the importance of Zone 2 running, go back and include some data insights you have collected about its impact on marathon running times. Not only is it unique and adds value but it also means it is fresh insight. This can then be updated on a periodic basis.

6. If you sell online, enhance your structured data for Google Shopping Graph

Google has stated, “SGE is built on Google’s Shopping Graph.” The Google Shopping Graph is a machine learning-powered database that organises billions of product listings, providing detailed information such as availability, reviews, and specifications. It uses various different data points including images, product descriptions and YouTube Videos.

Google’s shopping graph plays a crucial role in the RAG method used by AI Overviews. The RAG method relies on relevant data to understand user intent and recommend the most suitable suggestions and products. So, for instance, imagine a customer searching for a fitness wearable. Choosing the right one can be tricky because individual fitness goals vary. However, with AI Overviews powered by the Shopping Graph, recommendations become more specific.

The customer can input contextual details like fitness goals, age, weight and gender. Based on the search query and user-provided context, the RAG method retrieves relevant product data from the Shopping Graph. This data might include features like VO2 Max, HRV tracking, battery life, or water resistance. The RAG method then uses this information to generate and refine product recommendations tailored to the user’s specific needs.

To optimise for Google Shopping Graph, you should implement:

  • Structured data optimisation: This is your pull strategy e.g. Google takes data from your website. Here you should add schema markup. This involves adding details like product identifiers, pricing, and reviews to your product pages. Go beyond the basics and include colour, brand, warranty, and other relevant attributes using schema.org’s vocabulary.
  • Google merchant center integration: This is your push strategy e.g. Provide Google with data about your products. Integrate your product feed with Google Merchant Center for AI Overviews so Google understands what your products are about.
  • Accuracy: Ensure all your data is up-to-date for optimal performance.

7. Implement schema markup across your website for Google’s AI Overviews

While structured data plays a crucial role in optimising product pages for Shopping Graph features like AI Overviews, its benefits extend far beyond e-commerce websites.  The integration of structured data can amplify the visibility of non-e-commerce pages and stores, increasing their likelihood of being showcased in Google’s AI Overviews and other search features.

Take, for instance, a scenario where you manage a health optimisation clinic, and among your services is brain health. By employing schema markup to designate your website content as “articles” or “FAQs” and integrating relevant health-related schema properties, you can provide Google with deeper insights into your expertise in brain health. This strategic approach enhances the probability of your website appearing in search results for pertinent queries and may even result in featured snippets or inclusion in AI Overviews, thus spotlighting your content alongside search results.

8. If they don’t trust you then Google’s AI Overviews (SGE) won’t include you

Trust is a key ranking factor for Google search engines today. However, to be included in AI Overviews it is likely this will become even more important.

Moreover, for certain topics like Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content, trust has a higher weight. YMYL refers to various topics including finance, legal and health. In Google’s SGE manifesto, they state that they hold SGE to an even higher standard when it comes to these topics.

For example, imagine you run a health optimisation clinic. One of your blogs outlines how someone can improve their NAD+ levels. If you want Google to trust your advice on how much NMN someone should take to improve their NAD+ levels, they will need to be sure your advice is based on science. If it’s not the results could be catastrophic for both the person searching and for people’s trust in Google results.

So, to get featured in AI Overviews you will need to double down on proving your content is trustworthy. One of the key ways to do this is to understand Google’s quality content guidelines known as E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). You can improve your content for this by:

  • Ensuring information accuracy
  • Verifying facts and sources
  • Showcasing relevant credentials and expertise
  • Including expert reviewers and author biographies
  • Incorporating external references and reliable sources

Moreover, a study performed by Princeton University researchers found citing sources, quotations, statistics and using an automotive tone are some of the highest-performing methods for getting featured in AI search generative tools like Google’s AI Overviews. In fact, using these methods can boost visibility by 40%.

Surprisingly, the study also noted that smaller websites benefit more when optimising for AI Overviews. This is because search engines include several factors like backlinks from highly authoritative websites which are not as easy for small websites to obtain.

9. Partner with authoritative voices to provide insights

Given the critical importance of trust and authority, consider building a network of authoritative voices within your niche. Imagine you sell at-home health tests. To enhance your credibility, partner with leading nutritionists, gastroenterologists, and wellness experts, and leverage the expertise of your in-house specialists.

Through these collaborations, focus on co-creating content where experts share valuable insights on gut health, dietary habits, and overall well-being. Additionally, conducting original research on topics like the impact of specific diets on gut microbiota composition can further establish your authority. Publishing these findings in peer-reviewed journals and sharing them on your platform will bolster your reputation as a trusted source.

Moreover, curate content from reputable sources, such as academic institutions and renowned health organisations. This approach will provide your audience with a comprehensive resource hub for all things related to gut health, solidifying your position as a go-to authority in the field.

10. Craft content for conversations, not queries

Search generative tools like Google’s AI Overviews focus on understanding user intent and delivering information quickly. Therefore, consider what follow-up questions your users may have and address their needs. Think of your content as a conversation starter, not just a specific answer.

For example, a sleep wearable company should go beyond keywords like “best sleep tracker.” The study performed by Princeton researchers found keyword stuffing was a lower ranking factor for search generative tools than metrics like trust.

Instead, focus on providing comprehensive guides on sleep optimisation whilst explaining the technology and benefits. Moreover, a key part of this strategy is to anticipate follow-up questions such as “What are the key sleep metrics for improved running performance?” and “What features should I look for in a sleep tracker?”

11. Focus on long tail keywords for Google AI Overviews (SGE)

To help facilitate conversations, focus your content research on long-tail keywords. In a study of 100,000 keywords, AI overviews were triggered in 31.8% of cases when there was a 9-word query. In contrast, two-word queries triggered an AI overview in only 17.1% of times.

The reason long-tail keywords can be so effective is that they are hyper-focused on addressing a user’s need and intent. Moreover, it’s likely AI Overviews will be used by consumers as a basis to delve deeper into a specified topic. For example, a sports performance clinic may use a long-tail keyword like “How do I improve my trail running times.” By writing an article addressing this query alongside several other follow-up questions their consumers may have like “how to adopt zone 2 running techniques” can help get the clinic featured in Google’s AI Overviews.

Moreover, using long-tail keywords will increase the chances of consumer clicking on the link provided. Not only are these people looking for deeper insights and interested in hearing your expertise but they are also more likely to convert into paying customers as they are looking for a specific solution.

12. However, keywords will no longer be as important for AI Overviews (SGE)

Stop keyword stuffing! While keyword research can still play a role, Google’s AI Overviews and other SGE systems, need more. Instead, you will need to focus on concepts, relationships, and intent. Since AI Overviews utilise RAG and semantic search capabilities to generate answers, understanding how AI interprets and connects different pieces of information will be crucial. This is because:

  • Context Matters: Keyword searches miss the mark if queries don’t perfectly match stored terms. Semantic search interprets meaning, retrieving information relevant to the user’s intent.
  • Complex queries: Keyword searches lack the understanding of synonyms and context that humans possess. Semantic search, on the other hand, maps queries to relevant documents through its grasp of semantics. This allows it to efficiently answer complex questions like “How many people are estimated to have low NAD+ levels?”
  • Enhancing generative AI outputs: Keyword searches may not provide sufficient context for high-quality generative outputs in RAG. For instance, imagine if someone asked AI Overviews about the new dietary guidelines to prevent heart disease. Keyword searches might return basic tips and general advice. Semantic search, however, can provide detailed information about recent research, historical dietary trends, and specific nutrients.

Therefore, it’s critical to focus on user intent. There has been a rise in zero-click keywords and this will be exasperated with AI Overviews. Zero click refers to search results that provide answers directly on SERPs. Consequently, SEO tools are often outdated and lack the ability to understand what people are searching for and why. However, this may change as these tools become more advanced.

Therefore, shift your focus to understanding your target user base more effectively. Perform a psychographic analysis and try to research and create content around niche concerns that they have.

13. Improve content readability for AI Overviews (SGE)

Google’s AI Overview (SGE) is based on large language models (LLMs) like MUM, and PaLM2. These LLMs perform better when they are fed clear information as they align better with the algorithms and heuristics used to generate responses. Moreover, unlike humans, LLMs often don’t understand context or have common-sense knowledge. Therefore, consider using tools like Hemingway which can make your content more readable by simplifying complex sentences and enhancing clarity.

For instance, imagine a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) company that targets consumers interested in improving their metabolic health. Their content can easily become overly complex as they discuss various biomarkers. However creating content that is clear and easy to read, the CGM company can ensure that AI systems accurately interpret and present their information.

Just like with SEO for traditional search engines, having multimedia content including photos and videos can help you stand out. However, it’s unlikely this strategy alone will get you a Google AI Overview snippet feature. It’s just one of many elements you need to optimise for.

Google’s AI Overviews want to provide an enhanced user experience. Therefore, the ability to provide a user with access to an infographic or engaging video can help. This is because these visuals can enhance user understanding, engagement and click-through rates (CTR).

For example, an at-home hormone testing company is often faced with the problem of educating its audience. Their services are clouded in science and technical jargon. Yet, by creating an infographic that explains the significance of various hormone levels and how to optimise for them can be really powerful. These visuals not only make the content more engaging but also improve the chances of being featured in AI-generated search overviews.

While creating high-quality content and optimising your website remain the primary strategies for appearing in Google AI Overviews (SGE), there might be some value in exploring “best of” lists as a supplementary approach.

For instance, imagine you sell at-home health tests. At Antlerzz, we created one of the most comprehensive lists of the best at-home health tests that is available online. This list provides Googles AI Overviews with a great resource to recommend to potential customers.

Whilst this step doesn’t get your website a Google AI Overviews snippet, it can help increase your brand reputation and therefore improve website traffic.

16. Become a detective and look at the clues Google AI Overview (SGE) results give you

Whenever Google provides an AI Overview snippet, they will also provide you with several links. If you click on any of those links you will find the text, they have used to generate their response highlighted. This is a great clue to understand what type of information Google’s AI Overview wants. From here you have the option of either improving the highlighted text or adding additional insights.

In our article about NMN supplement industry trends, we can see that Google AI Overviews has highlighted text that mentions interest has skyrocketed by 480%. Therefore, if you wanted to get an AI Overviews feature for this topic, you could consider writing an article that provides supplementary insights. For instance, this could include how revenue and profit have risen across the industry or how many positive Twitter posts there have been over the same period. Moreover, if it makes sense to do so, you can include the most important text in your article at the top of your content. This may show Google’s AI Overviews that it’s an important point.

The most important thing is to identify the key questions your audience is asking and find out who is getting featured in AI Overviews for those results. This can become a great foundation to build your AI Overview content strategy. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the highlighted text might not be the sole factor influencing AI Overviews selection. Other factors like content quality and website authority play a role too. Therefore, you will need to perform a competitor analysis alongside this step.

17. Provide short, specific summaries for Google AI Overviews (SGE) to understand

How you present your information can significantly impact your chances of being featured in Google AI Overviews (SGE). Google’s search algorithms leverage semantic textual similarity, aiming to understand if sentences convey similar meanings. This means clear, concise content directly addressing user queries is more likely to be recognised.

For instance, imagine you have a website focused on healthy eating. If a user searches for “benefits of eating oatmeal,” Google will prioritise content that directly addresses this question in a clear and concise way. For example, an article that clearly mentions it can lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Now, compare that to an article that also discusses the history of oatmeal and where it comes from. It’s not very clear and can become confusing.

Optimising your content for this example could involve:

  • A summarisation of the article: Summarise your article at the beginning, ideally with bullet points that directly answer the core question. E.g. the benefits of oatmeal are…
  • A well-written introduction: Briefly stating that oatmeal offers a variety of health benefits and then elaborating on those benefits throughout the article.
  • Clear subheadings: Use subheadings like “Improved Heart Health,” “Blood Sugar Control,” and “Weight Management” to highlight key benefits. This would be followed by short paragraphs to help Google scan your content quickly and efficiently.
  • Concise explanations: Provide short, informative explanations for each benefit, backed by scientific evidence where appropriate.
  • FAQs: Use this to address common user queries with concise answers to enhance the conversational style of your content.

18. AI Overviews (SGE) aggregate information. So, enhance your digital ecosystem

Since AI Overviews will aggregate information from several sources, it will be more important than ever to be present across different platforms. Moreover, the more positive interactions you create the more likely it is that AI Overviews will recommend you and generate positive feedback about your company.

For example, imagine you sell running apparel. If your social media presence is poor (e.g. have limited followers and engagement) and the only reviews that are ever left are when a customer is unhappy, it’s less likely AI Overviews will use your content as a source of authority. Therefore, focus on:

The future of AI Overview is not clear, but it will become important

19. AI Overviews (SGE) take information from Google Knowledge Graph and Panel

While not guaranteed, having a Google Knowledge Panel can significantly increase your chances of being featured in AI Overviews (SGE). These panels, displayed on the right-hand side of search results for many entities (companies, people, places), draw information from Google’s Knowledge Graph, a massive database about various topics. For example, Google “NHS” or “Bupa” and you will see the Knowledge Panel appear, giving you insight into both those companies.

However, getting a Knowledge Panel is not straightforward or guaranteed. The Knowledge Panel is typically reserved for well-known brands like those mentioned who have considerable online traffic.

So, getting a Knowledge Panel really should just be a part of your wider SEO strategy. However, if you do have a Knowledge Panel, it can significantly increase your chances of being featured in AI Overviews.

A lot of the information within Knowledge Panels comes from Wikipedia. However, getting a Wikipedia page is difficult. A review of their notability guidelines indicates only people or companies with “significant coverage” can have a Wikipedia page.

Therefore, focus on:

  • Getting press coverage
  • Creating company profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Google My Business
  • Build your website authority
  • Use organisation schema on your website e.g. name, logo, address, people etc
  • Build your social media presence and authority

This step is a long process and will depend on where you are in your journey. However, focusing on your website authority is strong advice for all companies regardless of whether they want to optimise for AI Overviews or not.

Why you should start optimising for Google AI Overviews (SGE) today

Google’s AI Overviews (SGE) represent the future of search. Optimising for them today is paramount for staying ahead. As these features evolve and become increasingly integrated into users’ search experiences.

By starting to optimise for Google AI Overviews now, companies can position themselves as leaders in their respective industries. The advice contained in this article is not only valuable for AI Overviews but also for Google’s current ambitions. Search engines want to provide their users with the best, most valuable insights and experiences. Therefore, creating content that aligns with user intent and preferences is critical. SEOs will need to embrace the changes AI is driving if they want to stay relevant.

The search industry is changing faster than it has in over 20 years. By failing to embrace these changes, you risk being left behind.

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