Google is in trouble.

by Jim May 29, 2024

Hi Rankers! This week I’ll go over the recent mishaps by Google, specifically focusing on their latest venture, AI Overviews. You will learn about the background and implications of these AI-driven results, Google’s struggle to retain users amidst rising competition, and the broader impacts on publishers and e-commerce sites. Additionally, we emphasise the importance of focusing on customer needs over search engine optimisation.

What I learned

  • Google’s AI Overviews and their unintended consequences.
  • The SEO community’s reaction and Google’s response.
  • The impact of AI Overviews on e-commerce and online publishing.
  • Strategies for maintaining customer focus amidst changing search engine dynamics.

Transcript

Hey, welcome back, Rankers. How are you going? More Google stuff-ups this week. Hot on the heels of their stellar stuff-up of Gemini, where they released a product that wasn’t really tested by the looks of it, they’ve actually done it again. This time with a thing called AI Overviews. The SEO community on X.com has been talking about this for quite some time. You can just go and search for AI Overviews and see some of the most hilarious results you’ve ever seen from a search engine in my lifetime.

What Are AI Overviews?

In my opinion, AI Overviews are simply a result of Google losing traffic to tools like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing Co-pilot, maybe Perplexity, but certainly DuckDuckGo and a few of the others. So, Google’s been losing traffic to competitors for a while. Last year, they brought out the Helpful Content update, which seemed to be an effort to tidy up some of their horrendous results that we’ve seen for years. You’d have to wade through maybe five or six really long articles full of pop-ups and ads just to get to the titbit of information you wanted, when all you wanted was an answer quickly.

ChatGPT came along in December 2022 and changed that landscape forever. Google has been seeing a steady drop in usage since then. The Helpful Content update came out in September last year to tidy up the results and reward content that would presumably get to the answer quicker and make it better for users. This has been ongoing this year, causing many sites to lose a lot of traffic, mainly affecting publishers, which is not our audience, so we haven’t really talked about it much on this show.

The Failure of AI Overviews

AI Overviews seem to be replacing what Google was trying to do with their so-called zero-click results. Ironically, when you Google zero-click results, you get results that keep the user within the Google search environment, speeding up the answer process. They’re using AI Overviews to take that to the next level. Unfortunately, it has been a spectacular failure. If you like a good laugh, some of the results have been hilarious.

Google’s been using AI to take information from other sites, which some would say is stealing content. The internet community has responded in kind by posting ridiculous results on sites like Reddit, which Google seems to be taking content from, leading to absurd answers. Google has said these results are great and that most people like them, but they’ve started to roll back some AI Overview results due to an outcry from SEOs and publishers who fear this could be the death of many publishing sites. Google has learned from all these publishers and is now using their content to answer questions, reducing traffic to these sites.

The Impact on E-Commerce

We didn’t see this with our clients when Google ranked a site number one for a featured snippet; they ended up getting more traffic. Google claims the same is true with AI Overviews, but I’ve seen zero evidence to support that claim. We’ll have to wait and see because Google has said you’ll be able to see if you are getting traffic from AI Overviews inside Google Search Console.

This situation smacks of Google panicking. A viewer I spoke to earlier this week said they never thought they’d see Google threatened this quickly, nor did I. But that’s how fast things can happen on the internet—a better technology comes along, and people flock to it. This is particularly true with tools like ChatGPT, which I use every day to get up to speed quickly on complex issues.

How will this affect e-commerce? Probably not in a big way right now. Google is saying they will be adding advertising to Google AI Overviews, which will be interesting. However, I don’t know whether we’ll see it in Australia because of the bad press it’s getting in the US. I think we’ll eventually see something, but it will be toned down and rolled back a lot.

Focus on the Customer

For e-commerce sites, lead generation sites, or business sites in general, just keep focusing on the customer. Yes, be cognizant of having a far sight and ticking all Google’s boxes, but remember, Google is not your customer. Make sure the number one thing you’re doing is focusing on the customer. Avoid thinking, “What should I be writing for Google?” Instead, write for your users. This could be product information articles or product descriptions. We’re doing a lot of rewriting product descriptions to help users more.

The upshot with Google is that they recognize this, see that users like it more, and rank you higher, sending you more traffic anyway. Always remember to focus on the client and the customer. What do you need to deliver to them? What do they need to find out quickly? Cognitive load is the killer of conversions. The longer the cognitive load, the more load you put on a person in trying to make decisions, the fewer conversions you’re going to get.

Whether it’s a slow page load time, difficulty finding a link in a menu, shipping information, or finding out the cost of shipping, all these things affect your sales. It’s no different than going into a physical store and not being able to speak to someone or finding out what you need to know quickly to make a purchase. Always keep that in mind before you think of Google.

Please like, share, and subscribe. If you have something you want us to cover, have a look at, or if you’ve seen some of these AI Overviews that I haven’t shown in this video, please share them in the comments on YouTube, link to them, whatever. I don’t care. Or on LinkedIn, if you’re watching this on LinkedIn, or on the X platform or Facebook. Thanks very much, and we’ll see you next week. Bye.

« | [fbcomments]
Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
ErrorHere