Blog Insights
Will Google’s AI Overview Kill Web Traffic?

Last month, Google announced it would begin providing “AI Overviews,” combining their traditional search results with generative AI to provide a summary “answer” at the top of search results, rather than simply showing relevant links to search queries. 

The change, though not a surprise, raises concerns about potential drops in search traffic–if Google starts “doing the Googling for you” will traffic to websites plummet? Moreover, the question we’ve received from several clients and friends is, What should we do about it?

First, don’t panic

Google says that they are focused on “sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators” and we haven’t seen huge drops in traffic to clients’ websites overnight. They’ve also had to adjust and slow down the rollout. It may be too soon to tell, and in fact, the changes could be good for our mission-driven organizations with nuanced and complicated stories to tell. 

But, brace for change in your SEO strategy

The more people build the muscle of going to Google and getting an answer without having to click through, the more we may see the impact on search traffic. This user behavior began even before AI Overviews. A 2022 study by Semrush found that more than half of users didn’t leave Google after conducting a search. AI answers may become more prevalent and over time may have longer-term impacts.  

Tell your story, or AI will do it for you

It’s critical that you deliver your messages with high-quality content across channels. Google’s AI Overviews will only be as good as the data that trains it, and the more you can develop high-quality content, the better Google’s AI model will be able to articulate your issues, stories, and brand. In fact, the AI needs you to deliver more! Additional high-quality data is required for models to keep advancing, and research institute Epoch AI has estimated that AI companies could confront a shortage of high-quality textual training data as early as 2026. 

Further, even as we may see some larger impacts on traffic, people still don’t fully trust AI to give them what they need – especially on important issues like education, health, or equity. Those who are seeking valuable information will look to sources with authority, most especially our mission-driven organizations and leaders. 

Focus on building one-to-one relationships beyond your website

This change in Google represents a significant shift in how visitors are pulled into websites. As our clients and partners experience this shift, it will become more important to cultivate individual relationships through email, social, and other platforms. People will also be seeking out trusted voices as more and more content becomes driven by AI, and to break through that noise, you’ll need to have direct access. 

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