How Google’s AI Overviews Will Change the Internet 

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Google AI overviews

The long-awaited Google I/O development conference came to a close last week. The conference was packed with announcements about Google’s Gemini AI models and other AI innovations - from the launch of a Gemini 1.5 Flash model to a new AI Google video generator called Veo

Amongst all the new technologies and AI tools demoed during the conference, however, a new feature for Google Search called Google AI Overviews stood out like a sore thumb. 

Not just because of how much of a pivot AI Overviews is from Google’s long-standing search business, but also because of the impact the feature will have on how people search for information online, demonstrating the real threat of AI one day replacing the search engine as we know it. 

But what even is Google AI Overviews, and how could it impact the way search and the internet work?

This article tells you everything you need to know about Google AI Overviews, including what it is, how it works, and how it will change Google search and the internet as we know it. 

What are Google AI Overviews?

Google AI Overviews are summaries of search results generated by artificial intelligence. Launched on May 14, they are designed to help people quickly grasp a topic by combining information from various sources, including web pages in search results and Google's own knowledge base.

AI overviews are placed at the top of the search results page above human-written results. Powered by Google’s Gemini language model, the information they provide is scraped from the web pages below them, which are cited as sources in the overview.

For example, if you wrote “how long does it take to bake a cake" in Google search, you’ll see the answer summarised in a couple of sentences generated by Gemini. 

what are google ai overviews

Underneath this AI-generated summary, you'll see links to all the resources used, which you can click to check out the websites where the information is pulled from.

Google is currently expanding access to AI Overviews to bring them to more users. You can also opt into the "AI Overviews and more" experiment in Search Labs to see them on more searches and access additional generative AI features.

How Do Google AI Overviews Work?

Formely known as Google SGE (Search generative experience), AI Overviews use generative AI to scrape information from various web pages on the internet and provide a concise overview to answer your questions. 

They use Google's Gemini aim to give you a quick understanding of a search topic by presenting key information so you don’t need to scan through articles to find the answer you’re looking for.

Read: Is Google's Gemini Better than ChatGPT? A Comparison

AI Overviews then include links to the web pages where the information came from, so you can explore the topic further if you want.

From our testing, AI overviews only appear to cite the two highest-ranking articles below it as part of their response. This ranking is, of course, determined by Google’s separate search algorithms which rank pages according to how helpful it perceives them as. 

Who has access to AI Overviews?

In its latest Google I/O conference, Google announced that AI Overviews would be available to hundreds of millions of users in the US from May 14, with more countries coming soon. Google expects to make AI Overviews to be available to over a billion people by the end of the year.

Google started testing AI Overviews in 2023 with people who signed up in Search Labs, where Google experiments with possible search capabilities. Back then, it was part of a program called Search Generative Experience and required users to opt-in to see them. 

What do Google AI Overviews mean for SEO?

The impact of Google's AI Overviews on SEO is uncertain. If users find the information they need directly in the AI Overview, they might be less likely to click through to your website. This could lead to lower traffic for your site and damage your SEO efforts. 

For those that produce high-quality, informative content, however, Google’s AI overviews could be a major SEO opportunity. 

what are google ai overviews seo

Overviews also seem to prioritize concise, informative answers that can be easily cited, so websites with content that's not well-structured or lacks clear explanations are less likely to appear as a source.

However high-quality content from credible sources is likely to be favoured, and in-depth, informative content that tackles specific aspects of a topic is likely to become more valuable.

Can you turn off AI Overviews on Google?

As of May 2023, there currently isn't a built-in way to completely turn off AI Overviews in Google Search. Google removed the option to disable them through Search Labs when the feature was rolled out fully and hasn't offered a way to get rid of them since. 

While there’s no official way to disable AI Overviews, you can remove them by using the “web” filter option on Google. Click on the “more” tab just below the search bar and click “web” to see only traditional web search results without AI Overviews.

If you use Google Chrome, you can also find extensions specifically designed to hide AI Overviews, which work by modifying the code of the search results page to hide the AI Overview section. 

So if you're a Chrome user and don't want AI Overviews, this extension removes all AI-generated summaries from your Google search results. Be cautious when installing extensions and only use them from reputable sources in the Chrome Web Store.

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