Google to Start Clearing Search Results of Junk Content

Google is updating its search ranking algorithms to reduce the prevalence of low-quality content that is created specifically for search engines rather than for the user, reflecting a bid to combat low-quality and unoriginal content. The latter is also influenced by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, a field in which Google has contributed significantly.

The problem has been exacerbated by aggressive search engine optimization (SEO) methods, in turn, seriously degrading the quality of search results. SEO strategies—such as generating large volumes of content to improve search ranking or creating websites to cater to specific search queries—have led to an overflow of low-quality content. Studies conducted by Leipzig University, Bauhaus University Weimar, and the Center for Scalable Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence (ScaDS.AI) suggest that Google is losing the battle against SEO companies.

In response, Google has announced an overhaul of its core ranking algorithms, which is expected to result in a 40% reduction in useless content in search outcomes. The company also plans to address the misuse of website reputations, where platforms hosting quality content may also publish third-party substandard materials, profiting from their hosting reputation. Additional measures will involve downgrading domains with expired terms.

Google, however, refrains from attributing AI as the underlying cause of the problem. The tech giant vows instead to “combat emergent tactics“, such as “using automation to generate low-quality or unoriginal content on a large scale“. The specific tactics employed to generate substandard content remains unclear. It appears that Google is keen to avoid drawing attention to the negative aspects of the technology it is associated with—AI.

Google’s action follows the aftermath of numerous high-profile stories about ‘spam’ in search results. A social media post on a platform X narrated an ‘SEO Heist’, wherein a website utilized AI to replicate a rival’s content and successfully secured a higher spot in search outcomes, ‘stealing’ 3.6 million views. Another post on the product review site HouseFresh critiqued how Google doesn’t prioritize quality reviews; it instead allows major publishers to stuff the first few pages with low-grade articles featuring affiliate links.

Google acknowledges that its current policy does not penalize websites with AI-generated content, despite rising criticism from users and experts alike. If Google fails to take a firm stance on search quality, it risks losing users. If the top 10 links fail to meet their criteria, people may well switch to AI chatbots.

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