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Google Algorithm Update Focuses on Quality, Targets AI-Generated Spam Content

Last Updated May 4, 2024 10:42 AM
Samantha Dunn
Last Updated May 4, 2024 10:42 AM
Key Takeaways
  • Google announced changes to its search algorithms on March 5th, with the latest update that took effect on April 5.
  • This aims to improve the quality of content in search results but may affect search rankings of AI-generated content.
  •  AI-generated content does not currently have widely used watermarks, but there are other ways that Google can identify this.

The latest Google update specifically targets poor-quality content as the search engine aims to keep the lowest-quality content out of Search.

Unfortunately for many generative AI users, this can penalize poor-quality content identified through patterns visible in unedited AI.

Increased Scrutiny of AI-Generated Content

Google’s recent update has introduced more rigorous checks to identify and penalize low-quality AI-generated content that doesn’t meet its quality standards.

According to the company’s updated spam policies , “our ranking systems are designed to prevent low-quality content from ranking highly in search results. These updates enhance our ability to act more decisively under our spam policies.”

New Study Highlights Impact on AI Search Rankings

A small study  conducted by researchers using Originality AI shows how Google’s algorithm distinguishes between AI-generated and human-authored content, revealing a clear preference for the latter in its search rankings.

The research analyzed 487 high-competition Google search results to assess the authorship—AI vs. human—behind the content. Findings from the study indicate that a staggering 83% of content in the top 5 search results is generated by humans, suggesting Google’s algorithms favor content that is not AI-generated.

How Google Detects AI-Generated Content

While there is no official confirmation from the search engine, it is believed that Google can apply its advanced pattern recognition  to spot repetitive phrases commonly found in AI-generated content.

Josh Benaron, Founder of Irys, spoke with CCN to highlight how Google may apply machine learning to detect poor-quality AI content. He says that one key approach is to analyze patterns that are often unique to AI, such as certain syntactical uniformities or a lack of nuanced human insights.

Abrupt shifts in topic or illogical content flow may indicate AI involvement as well as unnatural language usage. The algorithms are tuned to pick up on the unusual choice of words or awkward phrasing characteristic of automated content generation.

SEO experts should watch out for excessive use of keywords, known as ‘keyword stuffing’ which is another red flag that Google’s updated algorithms are designed to catch.

“Tools and algorithms, including those developed by companies like Google, employ advanced machine learning techniques to scrutinize these patterns. Google, for instance, may use its vast data analysis capabilities to detect anomalies or repetitive patterns indicative of AI generation. Additionally, metadata analysis can also play a crucial role, where timestamps, editing history, and other data points are evaluated to determine the origin of the content” Benaron adds.

Implications for Content Creators and SEO Practices

These updates have significant implications for SEO strategies and content creation practices. Content creators are urged to focus on generating high-quality, engaging, and informative content that adheres to Google’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) criteria.

This includes demonstrating firsthand experience and expertise in the subject matter, and ensuring content is authoritative and backed by reliable sources.

Google’s emphasis on combating AI-generated spam also includes a mobile-first indexing approach, reflecting the growing trend of mobile device usage. This means that even AI content should be optimized for mobile devices to avoid being delisted by Google.

Can Content Creators Keep Ahead of the Updates?

As Google intensifies its focus on high-quality content, the challenges and solutions in distinguishing AI-generated material from content created by humans may be more important now, while the technology is still not a precise science.

While the proliferation of AI content has led to increased traffic and visibility for many websites, Google’s latest algorithm updates serve as a reminder of the importance of quality and originality in digital content creation.

Content creators who rely heavily on AI to produce content at scale must reconsider their strategies to align with these new updates to maintain or improve their search rankings.

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