Google’s search experience scrutinized for surge in low-quality content and SEO spam

In a recent investigation conducted by researchers from Leipzig University, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Google’s search experience is under scrutiny due to a surge in low-quality content and SEO spam, notably in product-related searches. The study sheds light on the ongoing battle between search engines and spam sites, revealing the challenges search engines face in keeping up with evolving SEO strategies.

SEO Tactics vs. Search Engines

During the year-long study, the researchers focused on product review queries, analysing 7,392 of them. The findings unveiled a concerning trend: a rise in affiliate links coupled with a decline in content quality. Manipulative SEO techniques employed by websites to secure higher Google rankings were identified as a contributing factor.

Quality Decline in Product Reviews

Despite Google’s ongoing efforts to improve search result quality, experts note a downward trend in recent years, exacerbated by the emergence of AI-generated spam, necessitating more comprehensive measures to counter this dynamic threat. As a consequence of the perceived decline in Google’s search engine effectiveness, users are exploring alternatives like Kagi, Searx, Qwant, and DuckDuckGo in search of higher-quality results.

Alternatives Amid Google’s Downfall

Complaints about irrelevant and low-quality content dominating Google’s search results are becoming more common, prompting users to seek superior alternatives. Responding to the study, a Google spokesperson stated, “This study’s focus on product review content doesn’t fully represent the overall quality and helpfulness of Search for the billions of queries we handle daily,” Mashable India reported.

The spokesperson emphasised specific improvements made by Google to address the identified issues, highlighting the study’s acknowledgment that Google outperforms other search engines. Despite some improvement noted during the researchers’ experiment, the study warns of an overall downward trend in text quality across all three search engines, a trend that may worsen with the increasing presence of AI-generated spam.

The researchers concluded, “Dynamic adversarial spam, in the form of low-quality, mass-produced commercial content, deserves more attention.” This concern aligns with observations from other researchers, including Search Engine Journal, which reported a significant spam attack overwhelming Google in December 2023, lasting for several days.

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