It’s been a wild ride in digital content (and I hope y’all SEO professionals got some sleep lately). 


First, AI Overviews completely overturn the search model seemingly overnight. The optional Search Generative Experience (SGE) became the basically mandatory AI Overviews, challenging how companies could guide users to their sites (and grab those traffic numbers) as Google goes zero-click.


And immediately, people started getting pizza sauce recipes with an eighth-cup of Elmer’s Glue. Amid mass hallucinations and citations from Reddit shitposters, AI Overviews is already undergoing a massive internal overhaul. So, it remains to be seen how long and how much impact it’ll have on your content and SEO plans.


Speaking of SEO, this week, we also saw documentation leaks from Google Search’s internal engineering team regarding how Search ranks sites. SparkToro’s Rand Fishkin did his best gumshoe reporting to confirm the documents’ authenticity and details. Read his full post to see every revelation. The jury’s out on exactly how much SEO practitioners have gotten right or wrong, but it’s hard not to question Google’s transparency around SEO activities and algorithmic ranking decisions.


In short: Whew.


An environment of rapid change can leave even the most enthusiastic agency leaders wondering if selling content production and management to clients is worth it. The content ocean has gray clouds rolling in, and it can be rough sailing. Still, I believe high-quality, in-depth content matters — and it’s a valuable offering for any client willing to invest in building their brand, establishing expertise, and closing longer, more in-depth sales cycles.

What these sudden changes and revelations teach us, however, is that getting great content found amid these choppy AI seas is the challenge to solve. Therein lies a gap that PR agencies — with practiced hands in media relations, content creation, and relationship-building — can fill.

Will AI Overviews Help Your Get Found Online?

This “AI searches and summaries” conversation feels similar to the voice search bit from a few years ago. Tech like Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri was meant to lead us into a voice-powered future, so we had to ensure content was optimized accordingly. 


To date, Amazon’s own documentation shows people use their voices to do three things:

  • Play music
  • Set timers
  • Control lights


Siri is doing somewhat better but mostly delivers weather reports, driving directions, and news headlines.


I don’t know if AI Overviews will revolutionize internet navigation or revert to a smaller subset of information management, like voice search. But organic reach will still depend on meeting Google et al. where they are, and the search titans are shoving us into an AI world.


I recently reviewed Google’s early comments around AI Overviews. I was unimpressed by a seeming lack of consideration for how people actually navigate the web and how the guiding hand of AI could alter that. My optimistic side hopes for easier, faster, more informed online search experiences. I want to believe AI will help people discover the most compelling and thoughtful voices hidden by the search algorithm of yesteryear, and that outstanding content will be rewarded commensurately.


But I’m human and ease tempts me. If I’m on a tight deadline or not deeply invested in the outcome, will I really interrogate the results Google offers beyond the top fold? How often will I be good with “good enough”?


For now, Google says with AI Overviews, “people are visiting a greater diversity of websites for help with more complex questions” and “links included in AI Overviews get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query.”

Early third-party studies have found only slight correlations, contradictions, and no clear answer on AI Overviews’ impact on site traffic and performance. (No surprise, as we’re still so early in this experiment). We’ll have to wait and see — ideally, after Google sorts out goofball, “eat a rock a day” AI answers (though they may never be able to).

Good Writing Still Wins

Where does this leave content and PR agencies creating it? You’re often asked to craft more top-of-funnel content (informative blog posts, pitched thought leadership, etc.), and you sell those packages to interested clients.


This usually entails helping clients get this information found. Their buyers must see, be amazed, and engage more deeply with it. Unfortunately, Google has made breaking into top spots tougher if you’re unwilling to pay. AI Overviews probably won’t change this reality, especially as Google Search struggles to manage its own efficacy.


So, how do you help clients’ buyers find their content amid all of this?


Great SEO practices partly answer this challenge. The Google documentation leaks will take more unpacking. For instance, it doesn’t address how Google’s move toward E-E-A-T affects content ranking (nor does it share how factors are ranked and weighted, for that matter). But nothing in the documents changes the need for writers trained in digital content creation.


I also agree with Google that more complex questions require compelling content that investigates ideas and demonstrates clear expertise. That kind of writing requires a team knowledgeable about the industry, capable of extracting unique insights and ideas from clients, and equipped with storytelling tools to weave compelling narratives.

Essentially, good writing isn’t going anywhere.

PR Agencies: Help Your Clients Get Found Online

So, where do PR agencies fit into this conversation? Your role is to produce and champion good writing in ways that offer more value to your clients and help them get found. That includes:

  • Guiding your clients toward creating thought leadership that actually leads.
  • Pitching that thought leadership to the communities where clients’ buyers thrive.
  • Helping clients develop communities that get excited about their content.
  • Upselling content that addresses customer challenges further down the funnel.


Agencies can offer stability to clients who are sailing these churning content oceans. Your ability to tell stories, reach audiences, and manage relationships provide paths for your clients’ best ideas to get found.


That’s how you and your clients survive and thrive through a tumultuous digital content world (no matter what changes search engines and outlets throw at us).

This article first appeared in my newsletter, The Executive’s Guide to the Content Galaxy.