robot hands typing on a keyboardIn the world of search engine optimization (SEO) where “Content is King,” artificial intelligence (AI) has opened the doors to a whole lot more content.

In many ways, that’s been a good thing. It’s allowed businesses to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, it’s also made the creation of online spam much easier too. So much so that Google results, and the internet at large, have begun to suffer.

But now Google is fighting back.

Let’s explore the depth of the AI-generated spam problem – and the moves being made to stem the tide and improve things once again.


The Mixed Blessings of AI-Generated Content

At first, the emergence of AI-generated content felt like a kind of internet revolution, set to change things for the better. But, just like revolution, the explosion of AI content has reached a turning point.

The rise of AI content, unfortunately, has been matched by a rise in content abuse.

Mass amounts of low-quality, AI-generated, keyword-stuffed content has been dumped onto the web. This has resulted in useless gibberish that’s gumming up search engine results with nonsensical filler. It’s became all too clear lately that AI, for all its gifts, has led to some unexpected and very unwelcome consequences:


A Big Chunk of the Internet is Now Garbage

Over half of all sentences published online have been translated into multiple languages. Why? AI is being abused to create poor-quality content at a massive scale – which is then translated into other languages as a quick n’ dirty way to create clickbait across the globe.

There are now whole regions of the internet that are almost impossible to navigate because they’re stuffed with nonsensical “copies of copies” of bad translations of content that was already low quality to begin with.

This overwhelming flood of machine-written content is even impacting Amazon, where AI-generated books have flooded the online retailer. It’s becoming more difficult than ever to determine if the book you’re buying was actually written by a human.


shelves of books at the library



A.I.-Generated News Sites

With misinformation continuing to be such a hot-button issue across the multimedia landscape, a flood of AI-generated fiction is being unleashed, making it harder than ever to find the actual facts.

There are now a staggering 794 news websites spanning 16 languages (and counting…) that appear to be almost entirely generated by AI.

Some of these sites are publishing hundreds of articles every day. And many are putting out deliberately incorrect information – like obituaries for famous people who are, in fact, not dead. Amazingly, some of these fake news stories come with a critique from a strange source – the AI itself.

Instead of creating the entire fake article, the AI sometimes cuts in with a message: “I’m sorry, I cannot complete this prompt as it goes against OpenAI’s use case policy on generating misleading content. It is not ethical to fabricate news about the death of someone…”

Still, as laughable as some of these attempts at fake news may be, they seem to be a warning sign of things to come. Turbo-charged by AI abuse, misinformation is going to continue to be a problem.


AI Learning is Compromised

One of the big gifts of AI is how quickly it creates detailed content. But where does it get its information?

AI systems are trained on huge amounts of human-made content, usually scraped from the internet. But what happens when most of the internet is no longer human-made. What happens when it’s mostly AI-generated gibberish?

Nothing good.

Researchers liken it to “Mad Cow” disease. Just as feeding cows to other cows led to a horrifying brain eating pathogen, training AI on mass amounts of data created by other AI is similarly destructive. It’s a self-consuming process that results in lower and lower quality outputs.


A.I. generated image of dusty old computers


Google’s Offensive Against Digital Decay

Fortunately, Google is drawing a line in the digital sand.

The world’s largest search engine recently rolled out a major update aimed at tackling the low-quality content epidemic head-on.

First off, the update introduces significant algorithmic improvements to Google’s core ranking systems. This is designed to better identify and showcase the most helpful, relevant content on the web – while also lowering the visibility on unoriginal, repetitive content in search results.

The new update also deepens Google’s definition of spam, identifying 3 new forms currently clogging up the internet:


1: Scaled Content Abuse

Scaled content abuse involves the mass creation of content (both AI-generated and human-generated) aimed at manipulating rankings. Google is intensifying efforts to identify and penalize filler content that offers minimal value, and has been created solely to skew search rankings. This of course targets AI-generated content lacking human oversight or refinement, improving the chances that what we read online isn’t just a flimsy wrapper for keywords.


2: Site Reputation Abuse

Sometimes, good websites might also host low-quality content from third parties, aiming to leverage the site’s strong reputation. This can confuse or mislead visitors who expect better content, leading to site reputation abuse (sometimes referred to as “Parasite SEO”), where low-quality content rides on the authority of trusted sites to get a ranking boost.


3: Expired Domain Abuse

Expired domain abuse is a manipulative practice where scammers dig up old domains that have expired to host low-quality content. Again, this is an effort to unfairly manipulate search engine rankings. This technique exploits any remaining trust and authority these old domains might have built up in their active years. Google’s plan is to compare the relevance and quality of old content with the new content they currently host.


robot hand points to a graphical depiction of the internet


Parting Thoughts

As Google keeps refining its criteria for what constitutes quality online content, it’s more important than ever to concentrate on developing content that’s timeless and irreplaceable by AI-generated material. This means creating valuable, original content that genuinely reflects your brand’s unique interests, expertise, and insights.

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