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Will AI Overview Be The “New Coke” Of Search Engines?

For more than 20 years, the Google Search results have been basically the same. You type something into the little box and you get 10 blue links with some minor tweaks along the way. Until now.

When Google first announced its Search Generative Experience (SGE) feature, the digital marketing world buzzed with excitement- even before any of us really knew what it was. All we knew was that change was coming and it could be big!

Supposedly, SGE was an AI tool that could provide valuable insights and help us better understand complex topics and queries. Unfortunately, as many of us have discovered, SGE has fallen woefully short of its promises, leaving SEO experts and general users alike deeply disappointed.

What is AI Overview?

Google’s AI Overview, known prior to launch last week as SGE (Search, Generative Experience), is an AI-powered tool designed to provide users with concise summaries and insights on various topics and queries.

Launched in 2023, SGE was touted as a revolutionary feature that would leverage Google’s advanced language models and vast knowledge base to offer valuable, informative overviews on a wide range of subjects.

The idea behind SGE is simple: users can enter a query or topic into the search bar, and Google’s AI will analyze and synthesize relevant information from across the web to generate a comprehensive, easy-to-understand overview. This overview is then presented as a featured snippet at the top of the search results, providing users with a quick, digestible summary without having to sift through multiple websites and sources.

Google positioned SGE as a powerful tool for researchers, students, professionals, and anyone seeking to quickly gain a broad understanding of a topic before diving deeper into more specific resources.

With its ability to process and distill complex information, SGE promised to save users time and effort while offering valuable insights and context.However, as we’ll explore in this post, SGE has fallen short of these lofty promises, leaving many users and industry experts disappointed with its performance and limitations.

A Corporate History Of SGE/AI Overview

Here’s a brief history of how and why Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) came into being. If you hate history, skip to the next section, but you might miss something.

Google has been working on incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into its search engine for years, with the goal of better understanding user intent and providing more relevant and personalized search results.

One of the key driving forces behind the development of SGE was supposedly the increasing complexity of user queries and the need to provide comprehensive answers, rather than just a list of web pages.

As users became more accustomed to conversational assistants like Siri and Alexa, there was a growing expectation for search engines to offer a similar experience – the ability to ask follow-up questions, get clarification, and receive direct answers.

Additionally, with the rise of mobile devices and voice search, Google recognized the need for a search experience that could adapt to different contexts and user behaviors. SGE’s ability to dynamically generate and present information based on factors like location, search history, and browsing behavior was seen as a way to address this need.

The technical foundation for SGE can be traced back to Google’s work on language models and natural language processing, particularly the development of large language models like BERT and LaMDA. These models, trained on vast amounts of data, enabled Google to better understand the nuances of human language and generate more natural and coherent responses.

The concept of SGE was further solidified with the issuance of Patent US11769017B1 in 2022, which outlined the methodologies and mechanisms for creating a “Search Generative Experience” that could provide dynamic, personalized, and engaging search results.

Overall, the development of SGE represents Google’s ongoing efforts to leverage AI and machine learning to improve the search experience and stay ahead of evolving user expectations and technological advancements.

The Real Story (Or What It Seems Like)

While the story above is factually accurate, Google has used AI in their search algorithm for years. Rankbrain has been behind the scenes of search and part of what connects searchers with results since 2015.

In November of 2022, the earth shook when Open AI launched Chatgpt. Soon after, they forged a relationship with Bing and this sent Google into a downright tizzy.

The leaders at Google issued a red alert and cranked up their efforts to avoid losing search market share. The fear was that people would flock to Bing because of their use of AI in the search results. So, they got aggressive about launching something similar because, let’s face it, losing market share is bad for any company including Google.

But, in the time between Bing’s relationship with Open AI and the complete launch of AI Overview, Google doesn’t appear to have lost search market share. At least not significantly. More so, Bing doesn’t appear to have gained much market share either, so the question is, “Should Google even bother launching this?”

It’s a fair question because it could be the “New Coke” of search engines. In fact, the real question is whether or not AI Overview will cause people to move away from Google as their search engine and adopt either other competitor search engines or AI search engines like Perplexity AI or

Our Opinion Of AI Overview

Look, we’re just one company. You can accuse us of having a vested interest, but at the end of the day, we’re end users of search engines just like you are, so we’re allowed to have our opinion. Here is ours:


While SGE was available in Google Labs for months before the actual launch, those of us that opted in could see how there were seemingly random links, videos and more just after you entered your query. If you scroll past that, you got the “People Also Ask” section followed by the 10 or so organic links.

The question all the SEO nerds were asking was, “Where did these links come from?” It’s a solid question that hasn’t been entirely answered yet, but if you recall that point of SGE was to summarize web results for you, this means that Google is not only giving you the summary, but the links as well.

So, in effect, Google is offering me links followed by more links. Remind me why I need a section of links and suggestions followed by a section of links?

Breeds Mistrust

Why do I need Google to summarize things for me? Well, as someone that values my own ability to think critically, I don’t feel like I do. In fact, I have a fairly high level of mistrust for other people summarizing information for me. In anything, Google’s attempt to “help” me moves me a lot farther away from anything resembling trust in the summarized results.

Lack of Depth and Insight

One of the most glaring issues with AI Overview is its tendency to provide surface-level, generic information that lacks true depth or insight. Time and again, we’ve seen SGE regurgitate basic facts and definitions that anyone could find with a simple Google search.

For complex queries or niche topics, SGE often struggles to offer anything truly valuable or actionable.

Take, for instance, a query about “advanced link building strategies for e-commerce websites.” Instead of providing expert-level tactics and techniques, SGE might simply define what link building is and offer a few generic tips that any SEO beginner would already know. This lack of depth and insight is frustrating, especially for experienced digital marketers seeking advanced knowledge and strategies.

Inconsistent and Unreliable Performance

Another major problem with SGE is its inconsistent and unreliable performance. It’s not uncommon for SGE to produce wildly different results for similar queries, leaving users scratching their heads and questioning its credibility.

For example, a query about “the impact of voice search on SEO” might yield a detailed, well-researched response one day, only to be met with a vague, unhelpful answer the next time the same query is entered. This unpredictability makes it difficult to trust SGE as a reliable source of information.

Even more concerning are the instances where SGE has provided blatantly incorrect information or “hallucinations”. From factual errors to completely nonsensical outputs, these glaring mistakes delayed the launch of SGE/ AI Overview and if they continue will further erode confidence in the tool’s capabilities.

Drop In Traffic

It’s been the fear of nearly every SEO nerd and Google Adwords expert that the release of SGE/AI Overview would tank the website traffic for business websites. While this makes sense since users will have to wade through different sections to find what they want, there is no doubt that this will negatively impact business owners who rely on search traffic.

Is this the only reason we don’t like it? Not by a long shot

Online Feedback and Criticism

The disappointment and frustration with SGE are not limited to a few disgruntled individuals. A quick search online reveals a wealth of negative reviews and critiques from respected SEO experts, digital marketers, and general users alike.

From SEO Experts and Digital Marketers

Here are just a few examples of feedback we’ve seen around the web

“Google has surpassed themselves with #AIOverviews I didn’t think it was possible to have pushed a worse product live than GA4 (Google Analytics 4) after months of testing & feedback”. –Andy Beard

“So google now shows you an ‘AI overview‘, that they admit might not be accurate, before real results? luckily I was not in an emergency situation but imagine! I want to kill it with hammers” -Jane Mulcahy

“16 year Google veteran says Google’s current AI strategy is Google+ 2.0. A panic reaction to what a competitor is doing. Not something driven by user needs.” –Malte Landwehr

These comments summarize the basic tone of the reaction to the release of AI Overview.

Mr. Landwehr makes an interesting point that AI Overview may have been rushed to launch without fully taking into consideration how the release of an unpopular product could actually facilitate the very thing the leaders at Google wanted to avoid- the massive shift of users away from their beloved search engine.


While the idea of an AI assistant that can provide valuable insights and help us better understand complex topics is undoubtedly appealing, Google’s AI Overview (SGE) falls woefully short of delivering on this promise.

From its lack of depth and insight to its inconsistent and unreliable performance, AI Overview is off to a seriously rocky start.

While Google may continue to refine and improve the tool, for now, it’s best to approach AI Overview with caution and manage your expectations accordingly.

Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 15 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to interns and new employees, business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.

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Cliff Tillery COO
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 15 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to interns and new employees, business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.
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