Google’s update targets spam, but marketers can still use AI to create content

Google’s latest core update took direct aim at generative AI spam, so can marketers still use generative AI to create content? In short, yes.

The new core update focuses on decluttering spam from search. Google is targeting sites using generative AI to mass produce low-quality content. Marketers can still use ChatGPT to draft content, but shouldn’t publish the raw output from these tools, according to Lily Ray, vice president of SEO strategy and research at Amsive.

The new core update is actually good news for marketers using generative AI responsibly. Ray said marketers using generative AI to analyze or improve existing content, generate FAQs, and create rough drafts are in the clear with this update. However, there’s a chance marketers using generative AI responsibly are impacted in the short term as Google refines its algorithm, warned Michael King, founder and CEO of iPullRank, but they likely won’t be affected long-term.

“If you are doing something bad, you should probably stop doing that bad thing,” King said in reference to the content mills being targeted in this update.

“There are a lot of people that call themselves SEOs that I think of more as scammers,” said Ray. But some reputable marketers have also been using ChatGPT to cut corners in favor of increasing output volume, and that will need to stop, she said.

Marketers already following Google’s guidelines don’t need to take action. These marketers will benefit from Google targeting spam, leaving room for quality websites to rise to the top of search results.

What kinds of spam will Google’s core update target?

  • Low-quality content at scale: This is the generative AI spam mass created by chatbots with no human editing or cleanup.
  • Site reputation abuse: Many reputable sites have subdomains that they use to hawk affiliate links in order to take advantage of SEO for sponsorship dollars without vetting the content.
  • Expired domain abuse: This happens when someone buys an abandoned, high-ranking domain on which to post low-quality content.

It’s unclear if Google can actually detect AI-generated content. But it can identify content that summarizes existing content and websites creating content at an unreasonable scale. That’s how Google can target mass-produced generative AI content.

There’s another upside. Google’s update will also give paid search ads a boost. US search ad spend will rise 12.4% to $127.84 billion this year, per our October 2023 forecast. With Google losing share as more search spend comes from retail media, the company needs to retain as much search ad spend as possible. That starts with healthy search results. “That’s how they make their money,” said Ray. “I was surprised to see how long this took, but I’m really excited to see it kick in.”

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