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Jul 9, 2024 | 4 minute read

Google’s AI Overviews: The Early Impact on Commerce Rankings

written by Bryan House

Google has been slowly and cautiously rolling out AI overviews for search results over the past few weeks. Instead of relying on a list of links to get to a desired search result, some users now see generative AI-powered summaries at the top of their search rankings. While early inaccuracies (e.g. suggesting adding glue to pizza) caused Google to cut back the volume of AI-generated search results, experts still believe that these summaries will have a massive impact on search rankings.

According to Gartner, traditional search engine volume will decrease by 25% by 2026, with search marketing losing ground to AI chatbots and other virtual agents. In commerce, specifically, several SEO experts have evaluated the initial impact of Google AI overviews on search traffic. An early analysis by ​​Bartosz Góralewicz found:

  • 16% of commerce searches returned an AI overview in the results
  • 13% of total search volume from the search engine goes through AI overviews
  • 80% of sources don’t rank organically for the query
  • Sources that originally ranked 1-3 in search results only had an 8% chance of being used in an AI overview.

Regardless of how quickly Google AI overviews hit mainstream search results en masse, it’s a smart idea for retailers to get their product detail pages in order to make the most of Google’s latest shopping search engine results pages (SERP) changes.

Preparing product detail pages for AI overviews

In the next few months, we are likely to see even more evolutionary search changes. In classic Google style, these will likely be difficult to predict. In the race to keep up with Amazon as a primary commerce search engine, Google has already made major changes to its shopping SERPs earlier this year. Now you’ll see filtering options on the left sidebar when you search for products or brands, which refine the product tiles and carousels that are featured front and center. These tiles pull in essential information from product detail pages, including structured content and reviews.

AI overviews will only make the role of product detail pages more important. As SEO expert Aleyda Solis noted, Google AI overviews act to accelerate the commerce buying experience, showing a carousel of clickable product images. These images expand to trigger a product knowledge panel, drawing in information from product detail pages, including user reviews. The big idea? By the time a buyer reaches a retailer’s website, they’ll already be high intent and primed to buy.

To respond to these consistent changes, retailers will need to be nimble about testing and validating the search results for their product detail pages. For example, SEO agency RE:Signal recommends the following enhancements to product pages to maximize performance:

  • Optimize structured data: As we’ve advised before, structured data makes product detail pages “readable” by Google — including information such as product name, price, key attributes, description, etc. As RE:Signal notes, this data will become even more important to getting featured in rich results, including those front-and-center product carousels.
  • Use high-quality images: Better images improve your chance of ranking in rich results. These images must include structured data, including descriptive titles, file names and alt text.
  • Work to get more reviews: Customer reviews are preferred by Google, so be sure to ask customers to review your products. Remember, however, these reviews need to be marked up with structured data to rank effectively with Google.

Many legacy commerce platforms don’t make it easy to update or change your product detail pages on a regular basis, which is essential for staying relevant and maintaining search rankings as algorithms change. We’ve worked to make this process much simpler with Elastic Path Product Experience Manager, so you can quickly extend product data from the catalog to the frontend.

The structured data extensions in place within your templates in Product Experience Manager make it possible to connect your product attributes to your search keywords. Overall, it becomes much simpler to add structure to your product landing and detail pages, following structure and using robust product content and detailed product attributes. These details help search engines interpret the content of your product data, giving your products a higher chance of ranking in the SERP — regardless of whether it looks like today’s product carousel or tomorrow’s AI overviews.

In addition, Elastic Path Studio, our no-code frontend and shoppable landing page offering, comes with built-in SEO tools and tracking. With Studio, when you launch new products and spin up new sales, you can also quickly build visually appealing, SEO-optimized landing pages that are competitive within SERPs even in the age of AI.

Gartner MQ: Search and Product Discovery

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