Here’s How Google Search Created the AI-Generated Content Problem

  • Google seems not to rank AI-created pages that it deems low quality.
  • Experts predict the web will be flooded with AI-generated content as technology improves.
  • Google’s internal technology may not be able to detect whether or not a page was written by an AI.

A few weeks ago, online marketer Neil Patel started noticing that some of the websites he tracks were seeing a major drop in traffic, some as much as 70%.

The websites were test pages he created and populated with AI-generated articles. And the declines came following an update to Google’s search algorithm from October designed specifically to root out spam. This was a follow up to an August update where Google said he was trying to downgrade the content he deemed it “unnecessary”.

Patel, who blogged about the experiencecame to the conclusion that Google had finally come for the bots and their AI-generated content.

This is a significant development for the web and a stirring controversy in the world of web traffic, where dozens of search engine optimizers (or SEOs) monitor and analyze every little move that Google brings to its search algorithm so they can advise customers on how to appear. near the top of the search results. But if Google does indeed declare a full-scale war on AI-generated content, it may be swimming against the direction content creation is taking and testing the limits of AI’s detection capabilities. Enterprise AI.

Experts say the web will soon be flooded with content assisted by AI, if not entirely created by technology. Businesses whose websites depend on traffic from Google have increasingly relied on AI to write content. This is especially common for e-commerce websites, which often have showcases for hundreds of products. Using technology to write articles about the various items so that they can be indexed in a Google search reduces the cost of operating labor to copy writers.

The trend has major implications for the future of the web, according to technology executives and search engine experts. The quality of AI-generated content, including text created with startup OpenAI GPT-3 technology, is often already good enough to fool human readers. If Google did nothing, the majority of pages people visit through Google Search could one day feature content written solely by AIs.

“AI has the potential to change search as we know it,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, former senior vice president of Google’s advertising team and co-founder of search startup Neeva. Signals that Google has relied on for quality like domain and links to it are “becoming less and less relevant,” he added.

So far, Google officials haven’t taken a firm stance on AI-generated content. In a statement to Insider, Google Research Officer Danny Sullivan said the company’s recent research updates focused more on weeding out pages that were created just to mess with the algorithm rather than on the penalization of pages created with AI.

“Our systems focus on the usefulness of content, rather than how it is produced. This allows us to consistently deliver high-quality results, while reducing all forms of unnecessary content in search, whether either created by humans or through automated processes,” Sullivan said.

But as technology improves and AI-generated content becomes more mainstream, Google will be increasingly challenged to address the topic more directly. Google states in its search guidelines that it searches for domains such as expertise, authority and reliability when it comes to ranking pages. For example, when a user searches for “how to improve a credit score,” Google will favor a site that has been publishing financial advice content for years over a new site that has a similar answer to the question.

Even if writers use AI in Google-approved ways by creating useful content with a human touch, it could create a giant rush to make articles as similar as possible. AI could refine the writing to make it search engine optimized, resulting in too many articles with similar content and quality, said online marketer and blogger Mike King.

“If anyone can create the perfect version of an article, how do you as Google determine which one should rank?” said the king.

Even if Google wants to downgrade AI-generated content, the growing sophistication of the technology could make that difficult to do. The next generative AI model will be higher quality and harder for an algorithm to distinguish from human-generated text.

Google still has the advantage at the moment. In the AI ​​vs. AI arms race, the search giant’s in-house technology is far more sophisticated than what’s commercially available, and that will allow it to stay ahead in detecting AI-generated text, a said Jeff Coyle, chief strategy officer at AI content company MarketMuse.

Of course, if Google sees AI as a major threat to search quality, it has only itself to blame. As one of the biggest funders of AI research and development, the company has done more for the technology than almost anyone else in the industry.

“It’s ironic that they even have to think about it because they actually created the problem,” King said.

Do you work at YouTube or Google? Do you have any advice? Contact journalist Tom Dotan via email at tdotan@insider.com or Twitter DM at @cityofthetown. Check out the Insider source guide for more tips on how to share information securely.

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