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Search will never be the same again. And it is happening right now, May 2024. Google’s live version of AI-powered Search is actively rolling out since May, 14th:

“AI Overviews will begin rolling out to everyone in the U.S. (…). That means that this week, hundreds of millions of users will have access to AI Overviews, and we expect to bring them to over a billion people by the end of the year.”

AI Overview is not just the Featured Snippet on steroids but a whole new way of engaging with Google and asking net-new complex questions.

Most important reads

What is Google’s AI Overview?

AI Overview summarizes search results for some search queries, right at the top of the page. The results are drawn from multiple sources, which are cited in a drop-down gallery under the summary. As with any AI-generated response, these answers vary in quality and reliability.

Google explains: This overview was generated with the help of AI. It’s supported by info from across the web and Google’s Knowledge Graph, a collection of info about people, places, and things. Generative AI is experimental and info quality may vary. For help evaluating content, you can visit the provided links.

Appearing in AI Overview

There are different ways for you to rank within the AI Overview.

1.- Your content

Similar to the Featured Snippet, AI Overview might pull from your content.

When searching for “Best examples of pillar articles”, Google highlights:

  • Drift: A chatbot guide
  • Wine Folly:  A “hub and spoke” style pillar page with multiple sections and internal links

These are examples discussed within our well-ranking article about pillar page examples for SEO.

2.- Panels

These are the most prominent links to your website. There are usually between 1 to 6 sources per panel. They often include the favicon, the title, the date, and a short description.

3.- Drop down link

Additional panels will fold out when clicking the dropdown symbol.

4.- Ads

Existing Search, Performance Max and Shopping campaigns will be automatically eligible to appear in Google’s AI Overviews (Source).

What does this mean for your startup today?

On the short term, you can expect:

  • Lack of data and visibility. We do not have good tracking for AI Overview – yet. The first tools are launching AI Overview tracking (e.g. SEMrush) but the data seems to be incomplete. The SEO tools crawl the web like a user who is not logged into their Google account. However, AI Overview is mainly shown to users who are logged in. Hence, today these tools tend to under-report the appearance of AI Overview
  • Likely a decrease in organic click-through rate even if your ranking position remains the same.  AI Overview is taking up a lot of real estate above the fold. Google says that people are more likely to click links in the AI Overview but that seems counterintuitive. At Flow, we are expecting more zero-click Searches, especially for top-of-funnel terms.
  • Not being featured: Currently ranking in Google’s top positions does not guarantee appearances in the AI Overview.
  • Misinformation: AI Overview might surface old branding or outdated offerings based on historical content and how others talk about you on the web.

Here is an example of where SEMrush indicates the absence of AI Overview whilst it is actually live when logged into Google. Additionally, Flow still occupies organic position 1 for “B2B marketing examples” but we are currently not part of the AI Overview.

In 2021, our client Betterworks transitioned from focusing on agile goal-setting software to offering a broader suite performance management solution to HR professionals. This shift required a complete overhaul of their keywords, content, and marketing campaigns. Their website and all owned social channels were relaunched, and marketing materials updated accordingly. Despite these changes, Search Generative Experience continued to describe Betterworks as a human capital management software emphasizing OKR features.

By updating the underlying sources, incl. third-party websites, AI Overview now describes them as intended:

Forecasting impact

At this point (May 2024), you want to start manual and qualitative testing of Search Results.

Use your top keywords/topics and check how often AI Overview appears. It is time-intensive work but will allow you to start forecasting potential organic traffic dips through decreased click-through rates. Aleyda Solis’s template is a great starting point here.

One tool that seems to be better at tracking AI Overview is ZipTie. It tracks based on Search Generative Experience (Google Labs). Give it a try, too!

Ranking in AI Overview and LLMs

The million-dollar question! How do you get featured in the AI Overview?

Firstly, the framework discussed in this article is not just about Google. The mechanics that push you to the top of Google’s AI Overview might also help with other AI-powered Search engines or LLMs leveraging the internet for their results.

SEO in 2024 means: Being recognized and understood as a brand entity by Google.

What is an entity in SEO?

An entity is “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.”  These are often characterized by name, type, attributes, and relationship to other entities.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a repository of information used to store entities together with their descriptions and attributes. The Knowledge Graph also structures the entities in a way that makes connections between entities and concepts. It allows Google to provide quicker and more relevant results.

Reminder: AI Overviews are generated with the help of AI. It’s supported by info from across the web and Google’s Knowledge Graph, a collection of info about people, places, and things. 

Entities include:

  • People: An entity that represents a person, such as a celebrity, politician, or public figure.
  • Places: An entity that represents a physical location, such as a city, country, or landmark.
  • Things: An entity that represents an object, such as a product, 
  • service, or concept.
  • Events: An entity that represents a one-time or ongoing 
  • occurrence, such as a concert, festival, or sporting event.
  • Organizations: An entity that represents a business, non-profit, or other type of organization.

Being recognized as an entity

As Google’s tech gets more advanced, so do our strategies. It’s no longer as simple as talking about your brand on your website and a few social posts. 

It is equally important how others talk about you and where you are featured on the web.

Google has already been leaning into this concept with its “Sources from the Web” feature for the last 12 months.

You want to make sure there is alignment and consistency across the entire web.

This includes:

  1. Web properties that you can completely control such as the startup website.
  2. Social properties that you can update such as your LinkedIn company page, Crunchbase profile or Youtube channel.
  3. Third-party review sites where you can control the description and category (not necessarily the user-generated content of the actual reviews).
  4. Digital PR and media appearances to make sure you are part of the conversation where it happens, incl. news.
  5. Forums and user-generated content such as Reddit now have partnerships with Google and OpenAI to train their models on Reddit content.

Control the narrative across all web properties (not just your marketing site), and you indirectly gain more power over how search engines and LLMs understand your brand. 

Brand domination: Step by Step

I learned the term brand domination from Ross Simmonds. Alex Birkett has called it surround sound SEO. Rand Fishkin called it On-SERP SEO for years. Nick Eubans says SERP monopoly.

The idea is the same: 

You want to be part of the Search results – no matter the Search feature.

Meaning: You want to appear with your classic organic blue link and

  • AI Overview
  • Ads
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Featured Snippet
  • Top listing on review sites such as G2, Capterra or Trustradius
  • Included in the “Best x software” listicles
  • Featured in People Also Ask
  • Discussed in a Reddit thread

There is basically no way that Mailchimp will not make it into your consideration set for buying email marketing software. They appear with Ads, Organic results as well as within the AI Overview and Sources from the Web. They are also part of most review sites and listicles.

Brand domination at its finest:

1.- Brand audit and alignment

You can use our Branded Search checklist to get started. The audit allows you to review and update the web properties that are most easy to adjust: Your own website and socials.

2.- Diverse content types

SEOs love written content. But not every search intent and query needs an answer in the form of text. Lifestyle queries (“Taylor Swift”, “How to tie a tie?”) have featured images and videos for years. 

Now, we can see more and more of them for SaaS and B2B queries.

Now is the time to think about Search content more holistically! We want multimedia, we want subject matter insights, original stories, and expert experience. Google calls it people-first content.

3.- Mentions and features 

Imagine that you are MailChimp: You want to be featured in every discussion, every listicle, and every blog post about email marketing tools. 

It’s about creating a brand presence that’s impossible to ignore. 

Homepage links? Great. Because you ensure that you’re consistently mentioned in relevant, authoritative spaces. Whether it’s platforms like G2, TrustRadius, and Capterra, discussions on Reddit or Listicles, you want to be everywhere.

It is time for SEOs to collaborate with the corporate communication and PR team as well as customer success and product marketing.

The future of SEO

For years, SEO has been viewed as a technical discipline, shrouded in jargon and constantly changing algorithms. The recent past saw content take the spotlight as brands began to churn out as many blog posts as they could produce.

Today, SEO has evolved into a holistic approach involving content, site architecture, backlinks, and digital PR, all tied together by a cohesive brand voice.

In response to AI-assisted search, new trends such as Search Experience Optimization and Generative Experience Optimization (GEO) are emerging. These concepts focus on enhancing user experience and leveraging AI to optimize search interactions.

Regardless of what you call it, SEO and content marketing need to be deeply embedded into your overall brand strategy and go-to-market motion. By integrating these elements, marketing leaders can create a seamless, engaging experience for their audience and stay ahead in the competitive digital landscape.

Content marketing isn’t just about today’s website visit. It’s about being the first name they think of when they become ready to buy.

At Flow, we believe sustainable Search marketing is…

  • Integrated into your overall marketing and go-to-market strategy.
  • Human and focused on uniqueness, expertise and story.
  • Experience-driven and high-quality, original content.

With SEO-driven content marketing, we aim to make sales easier in the future.

Not sure about your next steps?

If you want to discuss how to change your SEO strategy based on the rollout of AI Overview.

Contact us

Author

Viola Eva
Viola is passionate about digital entrepreneurship, flow, and mindful marketing. As a marketing consultant and SEO, she has worked with clients ranging from individual digital entrepreneurs to software companies to multi-national corporates and government institutions. She is a speaker, educator, and specialist on all things SEO.
Flow SEO Blog

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