Our Predictions for How SGE (AI Overviews) Will Impact Search

AI Overviews (formerly SGE) will revolutionize search. Intergrowth's Managing Partner, Pat Ahern, outlines what this means for you.

People discussing the impact of Google's SGE
NOTE: On May 14, 2024, Google publicly released SGE in the U.S. and renamed it “AI Overviews”. We’ll leave most of this article unchanged from when it was originally published in March 2024.

Google first announced the beta version of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May 2023.

Many began to speculate that this, combined with ChatGPT, would be the nail in the coffin for SEO.

“This will be the end of SEO” became common chatter across SEO communities.

The thought process: if Google can generate an AI response to answer search queries, users won’t need to click on external websites to find what they’re looking for. If users don’t need to click on external links from search results, revenue generated by SEO will dry up.

Will SGE change the way SEO works? Almost definitely.

Will SGE result in the demise of SEO? No.

Here, we outline the potential ways SGE will impact businesses. We discuss:

  1. The types of search results that will see the largest impact from SGE
  2. How SGE will impact businesses
  3. What you should be doing to prepare for SGE
Sidebar: jump down to our FAQs for a deeper overview of SGE, how to enable SGE, etc.

What Types of Search Results Will See the Largest Impact from SGE?

Three types of search results will see the largest impact from SGE:

  1. Quick answers
  2. Hyper-long-tail queries
  3. Product/software comparison queries

1. Quick Answers

Quick answers will die in a world where SGE exists.

“Quick answers” are search queries that imply a user is looking for a 1-2 sentence, objective truth. For example, someone going to Google to type in the phrase “how many people live in Colorado” likely only wants a concrete number.

Today’s search results already give that quick answer through the following SERP feature:

seo sge predictions quick answers

SGE will expand the prevalence of these auto-generated answers and dilute the value of blog articles about Colorado’s population even further.

Articles focused on ranking for these types of queries will lose most of their organic traffic potential as AI-generated responses give searchers answers in search engine results pages, without requiring them to visit an external website.

2. Hyper-Long-Tail Queries

Today, hyper-long-tail queries rarely give searchers what they’re looking for.

Picture going to Google and searching: “What’s the best Mexican restaurant in Denver for families with a casual atmosphere?”

Google would show several articles about the top Mexican restaurants in Denver, several restaurants near your physical location in Denver that mention the words “family” or “causal atmosphere” on their Google My Business page, and a link to Yelp’s directory page for “Mexican restaurants in Denver.”

None of these are great answers to what you’re looking for.

SGE has massive potential to solve this search dilemma by providing 2-3 recommended restaurants for you to visit based on its analysis of those restaurants.

This is a huge upgrade for users and a massive opportunity for businesses.

3. Product Comparison Queries

Try Googling “best razor blades” or “best accounting software.” Chances are, your search results will consist of the following:

  • 1-2 Amazon category pages (if searching for a product)
  • Several review aggregators (like G2 and Capterra if searching for software)
  • Comparison articles from massive review sites like Wirecutter, Nerdwallet, etc.
  • 1-2 subreddits comparing the product
  • A few smaller industry-specific publications offering in-depth comparisons

SGE can already scrape the internet and pull together abridged product/software comparisons for these queries.

Some traffic will still go out to these sources. However, a larger percentage of searchers will skip over these review sites and go directly to the websites of the recommended products/services.

The Future Business Impact of SGE

SGE Will Cripple Publisher Businesses

SGE will decrease the number of people who click on a web page from search results.

Fewer people clicking on web pages means less ad revenue for software/product review platforms and industry blogs that write detailed comparisons.

More searchers will skip over publisher sites to go directly to the products/software that SGE recommends.

SGE Will Hurt Those Reliant on Ad Traffic

As stated above, SGE will decrease the number of searchers who click on a page from search results. This means less traffic for publisher sites that sell ad inventory.

Businesses reliant on ad traffic will face more competition for a smaller amount of ad inventory, and prices will increase substantially.

For those reliant on ad traffic today, here’s how to win at marketing in the AI era.

SGE Will (Indirectly) Impact Revenue for Some

Many businesses investing in SEO today will see their SEO traffic decline when SGE rolls out.

Those who lack a long-term belief in SEO or a clear picture of how SEO investments tie back to revenue will see search traffic decline, assume their SEO team is doing a lousy job, and cut that budget substantially.

SEO is a long-term investment. They won’t see an immediate impact of the SEO budget cut on revenue. This will lead many to think they don’t need SEO any longer.

Savvy competitors will continue investing in SEO, signaling to search engines that they are a reputable brand and an expert in their industry.

These competitors will overtake traditional organic search rankings and appear more regularly in SGE results because of this continued SEO investment.

The businesses that cut their SEO budget will appear less and less frequently in standard search results and SGE results.

Brands will be stress-tested on their SEO investment. Those who stick with SEO in the long term will benefit from SGE. Those who cut SEO investment at the first sign of negative traffic results will suffer long term.

What You Should Be Doing to Prepare for SGE.

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

Google might scrap SGE. Google might only roll out SGE for 10% of search results.

Or Google might roll out SGE for 80% of search results.

Here’s what we recommend doing to prepare for the future.

1. Discuss Strategy Internally

If you fall into the “publisher businesses” category, plan for what you’ll do if 50% of your customer acquisition from organic search goes away in the next 12 months.

If you work in marketing (especially SEO and content teams), communicate expectations to your company/clients.

Educational blog articles have long been the lifeblood of SEO reporting. Writing an article and discussing how much traffic it generates is a straightforward way to show impact.

SEOs and content writers need to prepare for a world where each educational article generates less traffic from search engines like Google.

Look for ways to prove your value outside of organic search traffic, such as revenue/leads generated by organic search traffic. Prepare those who oversee your marketing budget on how SGE could impact your business.

SGE won’t change the number of people looking to buy your product. However, it will shift how customers find you.

Assume SEO-centric content will yield half as much website traffic but double the value of each reader. Many users will consume less of your content before making a purchase.

2. Inject Nuance and Perspective Whenever Possible

Assume your SEO strategy will live and die by your ability to offer more context than an AI-generated summary.

Searchers looking for quick recommendations or brief answers to questions won’t need to click on a webpage. SGE will provide the short snippet they need.

You won’t be able to influence these users.

Shift your focus towards those who want more context.

If your business is built around providing succinct answers to queries, start incorporating your perspective into content to boost its value for readers who want more information.

Consider the user Googling “how many people live in Colorado.” A portion of searchers want more than a number. They want information about:

  • Why the population is booming
  • How the state’s housing and infrastructure has expanded to support the population
  • How major cities have changed with the population increase
  • What it’s like to live in different parts of Colorado.

Become the source that answers those follow-up questions and shares your opinions based on years of expertise.

3. Capitalize on SEO to Build Your Subscriber Sanctuary

Invest in content-centric SEO while the ROI is still massive.

Focus on building a content library to address the questions customers ask when trying to learn about your industry.

Critique industry norms and offer your unique perspective. Offer the best insights you can and give people a reason to subscribe to your insights via email, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Right now, 50% of all clicks from search results go to the top three results.

SGE will further consolidate the total addressable market for search to these top 2-4 results.

Your goal should be two-fold:

  1. Showcase your expertise to show Google you should be featured in SGE results. Succeed, and you capture the lion’s share of search traffic.
  2. Build a subscriber sanctuary — a loyal following that is excited to read your latest insights. This is your fallback option in case you don’t succeed in #1.

We recommend focusing on three types of content:

  1. Awareness Content — articles about topics people in your industry regularly search for information about. Use these articles to bring readers to your site from search engines, and within those articles, promote your Thought Leadership Content and Sales Centric Content.
  2. Thought Leadership Content — articles that offer unique perspectives, industry predictions, and proven processes. These articles position you as an industry expert worth listening to.
  3. Sales Centric Content — articles that make the argument for buying your product or service. These articles differentiate you from the competition, speak to your features, and answer common sales logistics questions (ex. what’s your return policy, what does the process look like after I sign up, etc.)

More on these three content strategy components (plus two other types of content to consider) here.

4. Clarify Your Positioning in the Market

Invest more resources in clearly defining your positioning.

  • What makes you unique from your competitors?
  • What does your company do better than the competition?

Showcase those positioning statements everywhere you can, both online and offline.

  • Write about them on your blog
  • Incorporate them on your website (see Relevancy)
  • Showcase them on social media
  • Talk about them on podcasts.

The more you showcase this positioning, the more likely your friends, family, and customers will describe you this way.

Let’s assume you’re that family-friendly Mexican restaurant with a casual atmosphere.

Make it hard for Google to understand you as anything other than this.


SGE will radically shift SEO.

You have a unique window to prepare for how this might impact your business. Use this time to:

  1. Discuss internally how SGE could impact you
  2. Start building more perspective into your existing content
  3. Capitalize on SEO to cement your rankings
  4. Define and showcase your positioning.
Looking for an outside perspective from SEO experts? Learn about our SEO consulting services to see how we can help you navigate the waters of SGE.

Enjoyed the article? Subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest insights once a month.

FAQs About Search Generative Experience

What Is SGE?

SGE is a Google Search Labs feature that weaves generative AI into its search results. With this feature enabled, you can view a “snapshot” related to a query—generated using other top-ranking content on the topic.

SGE provides a quick response to often complex questions and queries, reducing the need to click on search results. It also allows users to ask follow-up questions in the context of the original query.

When did Google roll out SGE?

Google officially released SGE to the public in the U.S. on May 14, 2024. The platform announced its Search Labs functionality (i.e. launched SGE in beta) at Google I/O on May 10, 2023.

What types of results does SGE show?

Google’s SGE feature shows three types of results: AI snapshot, conversational mode, and vertical experiences.

Here’s a quick overview of each:

AI Snapshot

AI Snapshot results are similar to Google’s traditional featured snippets. However, rather than scraping responses from a single piece of content, the response compiles information from several sources and is AI-generated.

These snapshots provide key information related to a given search query. They may also contain links to related content for users wishing to do additional research.

seo sge predictions ai snapshot

Conversational Mode

Some AI Snapshots include a “Conversational Mode” in the form of follow-up questions to the original query. Google uses generative AI to create questions related to the topic that users may find interesting.

You can also upload a photo from your device or type your own follow-up question. As you ask additional questions, it’ll maintain the context of the preceding queries — taking you on a unique search “journey.”

seo sge predictions conversational mode

Vertical Experiences

Vertical Experiences are most common when searching shopping-related or local business queries.

Product searches may generate results with key factors to consider, reviews, ratings, product descriptions, and prices. Local searches may compile nearby results plus extra information—such as location descriptions, star ratings, and user reviews.

seo sge predictions vertical experiences

How do I enable SGE in Google Search?

NOTE: SGE will now auto-appear in certain search results in the U.S without requiring users to enable the feature.

Those located outside the U.S. can follow these steps to enable SGE in Google Search through Google’s Search Labs:

  1. Open Google Chrome. Ensure you’re signed into a Google Account and not in incognito mode.
  2. Open a new Chrome tab.
  3. Click the vial icon (Search Labs) to the left of your profile photo in the top-right of your browser.
  4. Turn “SGE, generative AI in search” on by clicking the toggle button.
  5. You’ll know it’s powered on when the “Try an example” button changes from gray to blue.

You can also enable SGE directly from this page by clicking the toggle button.

How often does SGE appear in search results (for those who opt into the beta testing)?

Twelve months into SGE’s beta release, we’ve found two small-scale studies on its prominence in search results. Both studies looked at 1,000 sample keywords across Google accounts that enabled SGE results. Put another way, they’re small sample sets.

  1. One study from September 2023 showed that an AI-generated snippet appeared in 77.8% of queries.
  2. The second study from December 2023 showed that an AI-generated snippet appeared in 86.8% of queries.

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Our Predictions for How SGE (AI Overviews) Will Impact Search