Google targets AI spam and low-quality content in its latest search algorithm overhaul



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Summary

Google has announced changes to its ranking algorithm. These are intended to rid search results of bad content and combat the sharp rise in generative AI spam.

Google is trying to reduce low-quality content in its search results by making changes to its ranking algorithms. These are designed to downgrade the display of content that merely summarizes other content or is created with the help of generative AI tools.

According to Pandu Nayak, vice president of search at Google, these changes have enabled the company to reduce the amount of “unhelpful content” by up to 40 percent. The initiative includes three specific types of behavior that Google considers spam and wants to downgrade in search results. The first is the mass distribution of low-quality content; the second is the abuse of a site’s reputation by hosting questionable content; and the third is the abuse of expired domains that are filled with low-quality content and then given preferential treatment in search results.

One example is the website gameishard.gg, which used generic AI content to reach a large audience overnight through Google channels such as Search and Discover. In a similar case, the Polish company “TS2 Space”, a provider of satellite-based Internet, achieved millions of hits within a few months through AI spam. Since February 2023, the company has published more than 300,000 blog articles written by AI in several languages, covering topics ranging from satellite phones to city tours. While some articles cover topics relevant to the company, it has broadened its focus to include a wide range of content not necessarily related to its core business.

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Google to fight AI spam – not AI content

AI spam poses a challenge for Google because such sites can sometimes publish hundreds or even more than a thousand articles per day, significantly increasing their visibility in search engines. However, Google has stated that it does not want to devalue AI content across the board but rather will judge it based on its usefulness. These changes are a step in that direction.

Google will give sites that abuse their reputation 60 days to change their behavior before the ranking changes take effect. All other changes will take effect immediately.

But the challenges for Google are far from over: The debate over AI-generated content has only just begun, raising questions about how to protect the web from being flooded with AI content while the company itself builds SGE and Gemini.

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