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Can Google Keep Up With AI-Generated Content? March Update Says Yes

Thursday 28 March 2024, 11:20PM

By News Online

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What's happening? Google's March update just nuked low-quality content from its search results, and AI-generated sites were the biggest victims. It's an update that targets poor-quality content (see examples here), and it packs a punch. Google has removed 40% of poor-quality content from their index, and most of these removals happened algorithmically. I'll explain why that's a big deal in a sec.

Almost 100% of the websites removed used AI-generated content. To the point where Google felt these websites were trying to abuse the search engine - which is likely true.

Websites are being removed without a human ever getting involved. Google is responsible for referring over 60% of website traffic. So, if you're going to cut websites off, you'd better make sure you're doing it right. It shows that Google has a LOT of confidence in their spam detection AI. And it shows, so far, that Google will keep up with the flood of AI content coming out.

Google claims they did not target AI content specifically. But the writing is on the wall. Content that is copied, poorly written or offers little value will struggle to get cutthrough. And right now, much of the AI content being generated doesn't make the grade. AI generated content will get better, but it has a long way to go.

Why is this important? Google has been under fire with many asserting that Google organic search results have decreased in quality. Commentators suggest that Google have a bias towards bigger brands, while they assert overall web content has decreased in quality. The truth is likely a combination of these two factors, but regardless, Google only makes money if we trust their search results.

So, this is a huge corrective step to try and clean up those search listings. This move is unsurprising but the lengths it went to is what caught people off guard. By and large, the update made it clear to people that these tactics may work in the short term but are unlikely in the long.

Kim's thoughts: Google has survived over the past 20 years because it has always strived to maintain the helpfulness and quality of their search results. And with that quality maintained, they have sold ads on the back of these search results.

But now, as technology has advanced, we're discovering new and arguably better ways of searching, retrieving and analysing data. It would take a shift like this to unseat Google and that's why we see heavy investment from them into their own GenAI, Gemini.

Things are changing rapidly with the advent of Gen AI because it's driving new types of searches and search (or answer) engines, i.e. Perplexity. If Google wants to remain relevant, ensuring its search results remain top quality is a high priority.

Sam Altman, on a podcast with Lex Friedman recently has suggested that there's little point in creating another Google.

"The thing that's exciting to me isn't that we can build a better version of Google. But maybe there's a much better way that we can help people synthesise information. How do we help people get the information they need in new and interesting ways."

 - Sam Altman on Lex Friedman podcast (Paraphrased).

Google is picking up its game because this is the first in a series of battles in the near future.