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Google takes aim at SEO-optimized junk pages and spam with new search update

3 mins

Daniil Bazylenko

Published by: Daniil Bazylenko

18 March 2024, 02:00PM

In Brief

Google is implementing a search quality update to address exploitative SEO practices affecting the value of its search results.

The focus is on refining spam policies and improving the search quality ranking of websites to combat low-quality or spammy content.

The update targets websites designed for search engines, aiming to downrank pages offering a poor user experience or crafted for specific search queries.

The role of AI in content creation is acknowledged, with a focus on combating abusive practices, including low-quality AI-generated content.

Google's update addresses site reputation abuse, expired domain abuse, and aims to minimize pages offering an unsatisfying user experience.

Google takes aim at SEO-optimized junk pages and spam with new search update

Google is rolling out a significant search quality update with the goal of curbing the exploitative practices within the SEO industry that have compromised the value of Google Search results. The search giant acknowledges the prevalent issue where consumer searches for product recommendations, reviews, deals, and discounts often lead to low-quality or spammy websites that fail to deliver on their promises despite high search rankings. This update, announced on Tuesday, primarily focuses on refining Google Search's spam policies and enhancing the search quality ranking of websites.

One of the key aspects of this update is addressing the challenge posed by websites specifically designed for search engines rather than users. Google aims to downrank pages that offer a poor user experience or those seemingly crafted to match specific search queries. The company estimates that, through this update and previous efforts, it can reduce the prevalence of low-quality and unoriginal content by a substantial 40%.

Although Google's official blog post doesn't explicitly mention "artificial intelligence" or "AI," the detailed post on Search Central reveals the significant role AI plays in content creation. The impact of scaled content creation methods that leverage automation is discussed, acknowledging the challenges in distinguishing between human-created and AI-generated content. The focus of the update, however, remains on combating abusive content creation practices at scale, irrespective of the methods used.

Google spokesperson Jennifer Kutz highlights that the update directly targets low-quality AI-generated content designed to attract clicks without providing substantial original value. This move aligns with Google's broader goal of minimizing pages that offer an unsatisfying user experience due to a lack of original content. The policy against content abuse at scale encompasses content generated by humans, generative AI, or other automated means.

directly address low-quality AI-generated content that’s designed to attract clicks, but that doesn’t add much original value. The updates will also address other types of content — content that may be primarily created by humans but that doesn’t add much value for users. The ultimate goal is reducing the presence of pages that feel unsatisfying, and lack original content

Jennifer Kutz

Furthermore, Google's update addresses "site reputation abuse," where a website featuring valuable content also hosts low-quality third-party content to confuse users and capitalize on the site's existing reputation. An example provided involves an educational website hosting payday loan reviews to gain ranking benefits. This move aims to counteract deceptive practices that impact user trust.

Expired domain abuse is another area Google intends to tackle with this update. This involves misleading consumers into thinking that new content is part of an older site, especially when domains are resold and repurposed to boost low-quality content and spam.

The announcement comes amid concerns raised by search marketers and independent niche-focused sites about the increasing prevalence of SEO spam and the negative impact on user experience. Google plans to enforce these changes on May 5, providing site owners with a two-month window to make necessary adjustments. If successful, this update could significantly enhance the credibility and usefulness of Google Search for consumers, aligning with the company's ongoing efforts to prioritize high-quality and valuable content.

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