Google I/O 2024—And What the Future Holds for Local SEO

Over the past 25 years, Google has continually revolutionized the way we search for information, always aiming to provide reliable information swiftly. Now, with the integration of generative AI, Google Search elevates user experience even further: at Google I/O 2024, the company unveiled its vision for local search.

What is Google I/O?

Google I/O, short for both “Innovation in the Open” and “Input/Output”, is an annual developer conference where Google unveils new features, hardware, and software. Besides showcasing Google products, the event also includes sessions on key industry topics, offering insights and education to developers and tech enthusiasts.

At Uberall, we have several observations and thoughts on where the future of search might be headed. However, it’s important to recognize that any discussion on the future of search and its implications for SEO remains speculative at this stage. With that in mind, let's explore five key observations regarding AI and search.

Generative AI in Search: Let Google Do the Work for You

Google’s new customized Gemini model brings advanced capabilities to Search. Combining multi-step reasoning, planning, and multimodal functionalities with Google's robust search systems, this model promises to streamline the search process, allowing users to focus on what they need rather than how to find it.

#1 AI Overviews

Google SGE is officially rolling out as "AI Overviews," starting this week in the U.S., with more countries to follow soon. This feature has been a hit among users participating in Search Labs experiments, providing quick summaries of topics along with links and current offers for deeper exploration. The tool is set to enhance user satisfaction while driving traffic to a diverse array of websites, benefiting publishers and creators.

Uberall Blog Google IO AI Overviews

AI Overviews for Local Mobile Search

AI Overviews on mobile local search will take over the screen, providing place recommendations neatly grouped by categories. For example, a search for a restaurant will present top options organized by themes like “Live music,” “Romantic,” “Rooftop,” “Kid-friendly,” “Loud,” and “Quiet.” This categorization helps users effortlessly find venues that match their specific preferences.

Customized AI Overviews

Soon, users will even be able to customize their AI Overviews, simplifying language or breaking down information further. This feature, coming to Search Labs for English queries in the U.S., will be especially useful for newcomers to a topic or for explaining complex subjects to children.

Uberall Blog Google IO Customized AI Overviews
Potential SEO Impact

The introduction of enhanced AI Overviews in Google Search significantly impacts SEO by prioritizing concise, informative content. Websites that provide clear, well-structured information stand a better chance of being featured in these overviews, driving more traffic and engagement. Optimized Google Business Profiles, maintained local landing pages and a spotless online reputation are now more important than ever.

"As Generative Search and Google Ads increasingly dominate the searcher's screen, organic results might be pushed further down, possibly reducing organic traffic to websites. This change could mean location marketers will need to rethink the role of Google Ads in their search marketing strategies. Adapting to these shifts is key to maintaining online visibility and achieving continued success."

Christian ArriolaProduct Enablement Manager, Uberall

#2 AI Organized Search Results

To inspire creativity and streamline idea generation, Google is introducing AI-organized results pages. These pages will categorize search results under AI-generated headlines, offering a diverse range of perspectives and content types. This new feature will soon be available for searches related to dining, recipes, and other lifestyle topics.

Potential SEO Impact

The introduction of AI-organized search results requires websites to diversify their content types and ensure they cover a broad range of perspectives. This will help in capturing traffic from various categories and improving overall search visibility.

The Continuous Log of Google Search Changes

#3 Complex Queries

The Gemini model's multi-step reasoning capabilities enable users to ask intricate questions in a single search. Whether it's finding a yoga studio with specific amenities or planning a detailed itinerary, AI Overviews will handle complex queries with ease. This feature will soon be available in Search Labs for English queries in the U.S.

#4 Visual Search with Video

Recognizing that not all questions can be easily articulated in text, Google is enhancing visual search capabilities with video. Users can now search using video clips to receive AI Overviews and troubleshooting steps for various issues.

For example, if something is broken, users can upload a video showing the problem, and Google will identify the issue and provide solutions. This feature will soon be available in Search Labs for English queries in the U.S., with plans for broader regional expansion.

Potential SEO Impact

The new video search capabilities mean that video content will play a more crucial role in SEO strategies in general. Brands and businesses should focus on creating high-quality, informative videos that can be easily identified and used by Google's AI to provide solutions and answers to user queries.

"Companies that are deploying best practices for local search ranking are already well-positioned to compete. Google is building these models based on information they already have about business and consumer behavior."

Krystal TaingVP Solutions, Uberall

#5 Planning Capabilities

Google Search is evolving to assist with planning tasks directly within the search interface. From meal planning to vacation itineraries, users can generate and customize plans based on their preferences. These features are available in Search Labs in the U.S., with more categories and customization options coming later this year.

Potential SEO Impact

Google's enhanced planning capabilities, such as meal and trip planning, highlight the need for comprehensive, well-organized content. Websites that offer detailed guides, itineraries, and structured plans are likely to see increased traffic as users rely on Google to streamline their planning processes.

Uberall Blog Google IO Planning

Integration with Retailers and Grocery Stores

AI Overviews can now assist with meal planning by providing detailed recipes and the option to add ingredients directly to your favorite store's shopping cart. If users like a meal plan, they can simply click "Add to cart," and Google will handle the rest, streamlining the shopping process.

"It's crucial for businesses to provide highly optimized, compelling content that piques a searcher's curiosity and encourages them to click through to their site for a deeper understanding of a topic. In this new SEO era, producing user-centric, engaging content isn't just a strategy, it's a necessity for success."

Christian ArriolaProduct Enablement Manager, Uberall

Navigating the Future of Search: How to Prepare for AI Overviews

There is much to unpack, and many questions that will be answered in due time. It's important to stay calm though, and understand that Google aims to maintain a thriving web ecosystem by incorporating diverse ideas and information from publishers, creators, government entities, and businesses. After all, this rich content is what fuels Google's search and generative AI experiences.

We recommend to:

  • Understand the Impact: Recognize the potential impact of Google's search generative experience (SGE) on your organization. More than half of the search results–particularly in the finance and insurance sector–may be AI-generated, altering user search behavior and interactions.

  • Optimize Business Information: Ensure your business information is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date across various publishers and platforms. This includes managing Google Business Profile listings, user reviews, and other sources that Google's AI may pull from to generate search results.

  • Focus on Reputation Management: With AI models contextualizing content from reviews, prioritize reputation management. Enhance your online presence and credibility by actively managing and responding to customer feedback.

  • Leverage Structured Data: Organize your website data using structured data markups to provide additional context about your offerings, such as offers, products, branches, FAQs, and reviews. Ensure your webpages are optimized for search and are regularly updated to reflect current information.

  • Create Fresh Content: Invest in creating fresh and relevant content that aligns with user search intents and helps you rank well in AI-generated search results. Keep your website content up-to-date and regularly publish informative content that addresses user queries and needs.

  • Prepare for Change: Embrace change as a constant in the digital landscape, and proactively adapt your SEO strategy to stay ahead of evolving search trends. Stay informed about Google's updates and innovations in AI search to ensure your business remains competitive and visible in search results.

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