How We Rank Many Websites for AI Overviews

Table of Contents

Helpful Summary

Looking to Learn About AI Overviews? 

Google started pilot testing AI overviews with a few users some months ago. And it’s been a bit of an identity crisis: first, it was called the Search Generative Experience (SGE), then AI results, and a few other names before they settled on AI overviews

On May 14 at Google I/O, they announced that this feature would be rolled out to users in the US, with plans to expand to other countries later.

We know you have lots of questions about AI overviews. In this Embarque guide, we'll answer as many as we can. Most importantly, we'll cover what this means for SEO and how you can take advantage of it. 

But first...

Why Trust Us? 

AI overview might be trendy now, but we've been in the know since its pilot test days. We have been proactive, experimenting with ways to position ourselves and leverage them. And guess what? This has paid off big time. 

We've secured spots in AI overview carousels for ourselves…

…and for our clients.

And you know, these positions mean massive impressions, clicks, and traffic. 

The bottom line? You can trust we have all the intel you need to know about Google’s AI overviews.

Here's a video version of the topic we'll delve into:

What are AI Overviews? 

Google AI Overviews are AI-generated summaries that appear on top of your search results. The goal? To provide a concise overview of the topic at hand, drawing information from various sources on the web. Here’s an example: 

The overview also includes a carousel with links to the various sources Google used for its answers. As you can see, our agency, Embarque, is one of the sources used in the overview above. 

Google has also hinted at some exciting features for the AI overviews.  One of them? You’ll be able to further simplify the summaries with three different modes—original, simpler, and break it down.   

You’ll also be able to create plans with Google. Here’s an example of how that works:

Another cool feature coming up is the ability to conduct video searches

Let’s say your laptop displays an error message. 

You can simply record a video to search on Google. Within seconds, you’ll get an overview containing the solution—which might or might not be accurate (take it with a pinch of salt). 

There’s just so much to unpack. 

What Queries Get AI Overviews? 

Just a few months ago, there were AI overviews for almost every query imaginable. We even tried something as absurd as "What color is the sound of Tuesday" and somehow, it has an overview.

 

In fact, ZipTieDev estimated that as of February, around 90% of queries had AI-generated summaries. You sometimes had to click "generate" to see them, but they were there. However, this percentage has steadily declined over the months.

Source: ZipTieDev

Right before finally launching the feature, Google reduced the percentage of queries with overviews to around 42%. This means fewer queries trigger overviews.

So, it's a bit of a guessing game—your query might have a summary, or it might not.

Things became even worse after launch—the number of queries getting overviews has further reduced (drastically). 

And there’s a reason for that…

Google’s AI Accuracy Issue Strikes Again…

Some of the AI-generated overviews are just plain awful. 

For example, look at this overview generated for “What are the most common jobs a parrot can do.” (Google’s got jokes, we can’t deny.) 

(…maybe a parrot can do SEO too?)

Also, did Google just recommend adding glue to a sauce? 

Unsurprisingly, users have started looking for ways to disable overviews in their search results.

Source 

What’s Google’s response to this? They've started removing AI answers for more queries, further reducing the number of queries with summaries. 

However, we expect the number of queries with overviews to increase again once these issues are resolved. 

But even then, don’t expect overviews for: 

What Does AI Overview Mean for SEO? 

Much like featured snippets, AI overviews also show up in position zero. 

They even appear above featured snippets on queries that feature both elements. 

So, they naturally cut down the traffic going to organic search results.  

After all, if readers can find all the information they need in the overview, why would they bother scrolling down to organic results? 

You might make a solid case if you say “to get a second opinion.” But let’s be real here, the traffic for that search will be taking a tumble nonetheless. 

Do you know the biggest gainers out of all these? Websites that get featured in the AI overview carousel—this spot. 

So, instead of getting caught up in the debate about removing AI overviews, the real question should be…

How can you take advantage of them?

How Can You Take Advantage of Google AI Overviews?

Or let’s rephrase that a bit—how you can get your website into the AI overview carousel? Good question! Here are some steps to follow:

1. Find Relevant Queries for AI overview 

Currently, it’s hard to predict which queries will get AI overviews, but in a few months, almost every query will have one.

The only thing you can do for now is to search for keywords you already target (or plan to target) and see if they have an overview. If they do, check if your website is cited in the carousel already. If not, let’s get to work!

Websites get featured in the carousel for a reason—they provide specific queries and answers that Google used to generate its AI overview. Your job now is to 

This works like magic. 

So, first, click on the featured website. This automatically takes you to the section Google extracted insights from. 

For example, when we clicked on AmericanEagle in this overview…

 

…it took us to this section

 

Take note of the query (what is high ticket digital marketing) and the answer provided. Your goal is to outdo that. 

If you scroll down in the AI overview, you’ll also see some follow-up queries. These can also help you land a spot on AI overviews. 

 

2. Check the Traits and Formats of The Answers

Next, you need to analyze the formats and traits of the answers. 

Format could be

The idea is to use the exact format and traits that the answers appear in because that’s what Google prefers. For example, if Google prefers list formats for a specific query and your answer is in paragraph form, your chances of getting a carousel spot diminish.

Trait involves things like: 

3. Insert the Queries and Answers Into Relevant Pages

The next step is to implement the queries and their answers. But where? You have two options: 

  1. Add them to an existing page that shares a similar topic and intent.
  2. Create a new page focused on the query and other closely related keywords. 

You can add the queries to subsections or FAQ sections of these pages. 

But here’s the most important thing—the page has to perform well to get an AI overview spot. Ideally, it should rank in the top 1-15 on Google SERP for your target keyword.

Why? According to SERanking, 85.5% of AI overviews link to websites from the top 10 organic results. 

And we did some digging ourselves. 

Take MentorCruise, one of our clients, for example. 

We’ve helped them rank comfortably #1 for the keyword — what is the best mentoring service? 

So, as you can see. It was easy to get a spot on SGE.

CleanVoice too? 

They rank in the top 10 for “What is the best tool for AI podcast mixing ”

…and unsurprisingly, they have a snippet position 

So, if you include the query and answer on a well-ranking page, securing a spot in the AI overview becomes much easier. Just submit the changes via Search Console to speed things up.

But suppose it’s a new page or an existing page that’s… not quite there yet. You still need some general SEO work to boost its performance. This is a very broad topic, so we won’t be going into that in this guide. We have a detailed SEO guide that covers all these strategies and more. Be sure to check it out after this!

Still, here’s a high-level overview of what the “general SEO works” typically involve:

Get Ahead with Google AI Overviews

Wondering who will be the biggest winners in this whole AI overview update? Websites that know how to play their cards right. 

But as you can see, everything eventually boils down to your website’s and the target pages’ overall SEO health; they have to be in tip-top shape for you to get a chance of showing up in AI overviews. 

And we totally get it—SEO can be soul-crushing. That's why we're here to help. If you need a hand optimizing your website to drive massive growth and revenue through SEO, consider an agency like Embarque.

AI overviews are just one part of what we do. Clients like Cleanvoice, SignHouse, and MentorCruise have seen their traffic and revenue soar by 3x, up to 60x after working with us.

Want results like that? Book a strategy call with us today!

Julian Canlas

I’m Julian, one of the co-founders of Embarque, which offers productised SEO content marketing services. I’m an SEO content strategist by trade. My line of work involves creating a top-to-bottom SEO content strategy for brands based on their current needs and how well they’re attracting clients through organic search.

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