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How Do AI Overviews Affect Organic Traffic? (And How to Respond in 2024)

Meet AI Overviews (formerly Search Generative Experience or SGE) from Google.

With some sites expecting up to a 60% decrease in organic traffic, AI Overviews promises to affect search, making it imperative for businesses to understand how SGE affects organic traffic — and how to respond.

Keep reading to learn more about SGE’s organic traffic impact and steps to take now!

How will AI Overviews affect organic traffic?

In search, placement is everything. Repeated studies show that higher rankings increase traffic numbers — 68% of users click on the first five search results. With AI Overviews estimated to create a 140% decrease in organic visibility, it’ll naturally decrease organic website traffic.

Why do AI Overviews affect organic traffic?

AI Overviews have an average height of 1764 pixels. For comparison, the average screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

AI Overviews will affect organic traffic for a few reasons, including the following:

  • Purpose: While Google wants to “continue to connect people to the richness and vibrancy of content on the web,” it also wants these snapshots to “help people quickly get an overview on a topic, with factors to consider and helpful information,” which alters the typical user web journey.
  • Placement: AI Overviews appear before organic search results. In some cases, these snapshots appear before or after paid ads (as an aside, Google is developing ads for these AI-powered snapshots).
  • Size: Google developed AI Overviews to “help [people] get more from a single search.” So, these snapshots have an average height of 1764 pixels. For comparison, the average screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

With priority placement, plus an immense size that summarizes and guides a user’s journey, AI Overviews act more like an answer engine than a search engine, which affects organic traffic — something that is more than a metric to businesses but a lifeline for business.

How will AI Overviews affect other organic metrics?

AI Overviews will do more than decrease organic traffic — it’ll also decrease metrics associated with organic traffic, like organic revenue. With fewer site visitors, fewer people can convert into followers, leads, or customers.

Because of this expected impact, businesses should consider:

  1. Optimizing for AI Overviews to maximize potential traffic
  2. Investing in conversion rate optimization (CRO) to improve on-site conversion rates
  3. Building omnichannel strategies to leverage multiple channels to generate online revenue

Of course, these changes require leadership buy-in, which is why it’s so critical to start educating leaders about AI Overviews or Search Generative Experience. With a better understanding of it and its potential impact on digital marketing channels like search, leaders can sign off on the next steps.

How much will AI Overviews affect my organic traffic?

Understanding how much AI Overviews will affect organic traffic for your organization starts with completing an impact assessment. However, research has shown that some industries will experience a more significant impact from Search Generative Experience, including:

Industry % of queries with SGE
Healthcare 76%
Ecommerce 49%
Technology 48%
Insurance 45%
Education 44%
Restaurants 36%
Entertainment 36%
Travel 30%
Finance 17%

While viewing the above data, keep in mind that AI Overviews are undergoing rapid updates, which means the industries affected can change rapidly.

How to prepare for AI Overviews

Now that you understand how SGE will affect organic traffic, learn how to prepare for Google’s AI Overviews:

1.     Manage expectations

First, prepare to manage leadership’s expectations when it comes to search traffic.

Complete an impact assessment (check out this free template) to understand better how AI Overviews will affect your business. Focus on your organization’s most valuable keywords to generate an accurate assessment.

Based on the assessment, create new performance benchmarks, such as organic traffic growth.

Remember to include visuals when presenting this information to leadership — some might have never heard of Search Generative Experience or AI Overviews. These visuals can help demonstrate the “why” behind SGE’s organic traffic impact.

You’ll also want to outline how the team plans to respond (check out the tips below for guidance).

2.     Improve SEO rankings

Sites that practice search engine optimization (SEO) tend to appear in AI Overviews, plus rank well in Google Search results. That’s why it’s critical to continue investing in SEO and growing your SEO rankings.

SGE “is rooted in our [Google’s] core Search ranking and quality systems.”

For confirmation, Google states that SGE “is rooted in our [Google’s] core Search ranking and quality systems.” These systems include familiar and new ranking factors, like PageRank, Helpful content, and page experience.

Target on-page, off-page, and technical SEO with optimizations like:

  • Creating helpful, original content that aligns with your target audience
  • Improving the on-page user experience, like through page speed improvements
  • Developing shareable, unique tools, research, or studies that attract backlinks

Learn more about improving SEO with our free on-page SEO checklist!

3.     Optimize for AI Overviews

Companies with a well-optimized SEO program should also start optimizing for AI Overviews. These optimizations often align with search engine optimization.

Effective optimizations that we’ve discovered include the following:

Learn more about how to feature in AI-powered snapshots with our walkthrough on how to rank in AI Overviews!

4.     Leverage conversion rate optimization

With AI Overviews expected to decrease organic traffic, improving website conversion rates is even more important. Conversion rate optimization can help. With an effective CRO program, it’s possible to surface quick wins for generating more leads and revenue, like:

  • Improving site or page usability
  • Optimizing the checkout process
  • Incorporating trust signals, like certifications and reviews
  • Streamlining messaging for improved clarity

There are plenty of conversion rate optimization tools available, as well as professional conversion rate optimization services if searching for professional help. Remember that working with a professional often results in faster gains because of their experience.

5.     Diversify marketing channels

Next, focus on creating an omnichannel marketing strategy, which can leverage channels like:

  • Paid
  • Email
  • Social
  • Online marketplaces

Establishing an omnichannel marketing campaign takes time and expertise, but it’s critical when considering the deprecation of third-party cookies and the development of Search Generative Experience.

With omnichannel marketing, it’s possible to create a more fluid (and more effective) buyer journey.

Adapt to Google’s AI Overviews with award-winning experts

AI Overviews promises big changes for search traffic, from decreasing online visibility to lowering search traffic. With a proactive approach, though, businesses can begin improving SGE rankings and expanding their traffic sources.

Get started with the above tips! Or, begin working with award-winning experts by contacting us online today! With our AI Overview optimization services, we’ve developed a proprietary approach for improving AI Overview visibility.

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