Google goes to war with web pages that hack search results
The Future. Google is targeting websites that try to take advantage of Google’s algorithm to appear higher in search results but don’t provide useful and original information. The change could radically upend the digital landscape (in a mostly good way) and may even put some clickbaity, SEO-driven publishers out of business. That’s the power of Google for you.
According to Insider, Google is tired of site gaming its algorithm. Here’s what the company is doing to stop their spread starting this week:
- Called the “helpful content” update, Google will derank web pages that overuse SEO or overload articles with irrelevant information just to show up higher in search results.
- It instead will “prioritize” web pages that come from authoritative sources, such as universities, government agencies, or other trusted outlets.
- It will also derank pages of review sites (such as products and movies) that aggregate content instead of offering original material.
Google thinks the changes will primarily affect sites that operate in “online educational materials, arts & entertainment, shopping and tech-related content.”
Companies won’t be able to repeal the derank decisions, but they can submit a question or complaint through Google Forums.
That’s AI-ok with me
While the goal isn’t to target specific sites, we can all guess a few that will take a hit because of the change… even well-known publishers, if their articles “fall within the rubric of low quality and unhelpful content that’s designed chiefly to game Google’s algorithm.”
Fascinatingly, Google won’t necessarily derank web pages that an algorithm has written. Recently, AI has been used to write stories that focus on data-driven content like stock prices or sports scores. Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, said that Google’s own AI would monitor whether that AI-written content was created to be helpful or just boost search results.
That’s right. The machines are policing each other now.