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What Does Google’s AI Overviews Feature Mean for Content Marketing?

A woman smiles as she sits at her laptop at a coffee shop

If you’ve searched for anything on Google in the past month or so, you’ve probably seen AI Overviews’ summarized results at the top of the page. The new feature uses Google’s Gemini model to skim the Internet, as well as generative AI technology from ChatGPT, to compile conversational answers to queries.

Content marketers are eyeing many AI tools, but when it comes to AI Overviews most have two questions:

  • How can our brand get its content to appear in an AI Overview?
  • Can our team use AI Overviews as a source for content creation?

While we’ll answer both of these questions, let’s explore AI Overviews’ introduction to the world of search.

AI Overviews: Initial responses 

Soon after AI Overviews’ launch in the U.S. in mid-May, major news outlets around the globe were reporting problematic responses. Two of the most widely circulated concerns revolved around the tool recommending that humans eat one rock per day for its health benefits and that adding glue to pizza sauce was a safe method to keep the cheese from sliding off the slice. 

By the end of the month, Google responded in a blog post, citing the two results as isolated examples, insisting that those were uncommon queries and “not representative of most people’s experiences.”

Google’s explanation? 

The model is integrated with Google’s core web ranking systems and designed to perform traditional search tasks, such as identifying high-quality results from the company’s index. Because the feature provides relevant links alongside the text for users to learn more, these top web results are sometimes pulled from popular satirical sites (The rock-eating advice, for example, came from The Onion). 

As for other strange and erroneous responses, Google explained:

  • Some were faked screenshots. 
  • Some were caused by nonsensical new searches aimed at producing erroneous results. 
  • Some were due to misinterpreting queries.
  • Some were due to misinterpreting a nuance of language on the webs.
  • Some were due to not having a lot of great information available.

Google’s improvements to AI Overviews

Google did learn from the feedback and made more than a dozen technical improvements after determining patterns that it got wrong in the design. Here are a few that the company implemented immediately.

  1. Better detection of nonsensical queries
  2. Limited inclusion of satire and humor content
  3. Limiting user-generated content that could offer misleading advice
  4. Adding triggering restrictions for queries where AI Overviews weren’t helpful
  5. Adding additional triggering refinements for news and health, “where freshness and factuality are important” 
  6. Taking action on AI Overviews that violate content policies (e.g., information that’s obscene or potentially harmful).

Although Google reports that only one in every 7 million unique queries with AI Overviews violates content policy, the company says it will remain vigilant in monitoring feedback and external reports.

How can brands get their content to appear in an AI Overview?

For those wondering how to get your website or other content to appear in AI Overviews’ search results, consider these tips:

Lean into images, videos, and infographics

AI Overviews’ carousel panels use visuals, which can grab users’ attention. Be sure to embed optimized YouTube videos on your website and embed keywords in video titles, descriptions, and your YouTube channel.

Any images should be optimized for fast loading, as well as descriptive alt text and relevant file names. Infographics, too, can make it easier for AI Overviews to analyze and the visual can draw users to your results.

Optimize long-tail keywords

Just as you’d optimize for voice search, research keywords to identify long-tail search terms and frequently asked questions related to your content to make it more discoverable. If you’re missing content that answers commonly queried keywords or phrases, be sure to create it. 

Update online profiles

Optimize your Google Business Profile and other profiles with current information, keywords, and optimized photos. 

Strengthen local SEO

Add local keywords to your content to boost the chances of being found in location-based searches.

Optimize your website’s links

To help AI Overviews find and show your website in the results, use link anchor text. Hyperlink to text describing the link you’re leading readers to.

Beef up credibility with experts

Subject matter experts can boost your content’s credibility, adding expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to your SEO efforts.

Check your structured data

Validate the structured data on your pages to make it easier for search engines to find and understand your content. Updated and properly implemented structured data can increase the chances of AI Overviews featuring your content in the results of a query.

Can our team use AI Overviews as a source for content creation?

Given the possibility of AI Overview providing incorrect information, marketers shouldn’t rely on them as their main source of information. If you’re writing a blog post, for example, use AI Overviews as a starting point, but double-check any important facts or statistics with reputable sources. 

As Google works out the kinks in AI Overviews, content marketers should stay updated on changes to the feature. In the meantime, turn your team’s efforts into boosting your chances of turning up in any search results for this top-positioned response.