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Google announces major shake up to search algorithm

In an effort to reduce low-quality articles and unoriginal content, Google is making big changes to its search algorithm.

A new core update to Google’s search traffic algorithm could have wide-reaching implications for SEO experts and copywriters.

The company is further boosting its low-quality downranking project that it began testing in 2022. In a statement that year, Google explained that it had ‘launched thousands of updates to Search based on hundreds of thousands of quality tests’ in which it hoped to rank higher quality content that wasn’t put together by AI.

Given the advancements of ChatGPT and DALL.E over the past twelve months alone, it’s no surprise that Google’s focus is to better separate AI-generated articles from genuine ones written by actual humans.

Google says that ‘this update involves refining some of our core ranking systems to help us better understand if webpages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people. This could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries.’

This is an important part of the algorithmic change, as many websites have historically created content and articles based on very specific keyword matched pages. Until now, SEO agencies have recommended that brands tailor their content to fit a certain niche.

These websites may see their performance take a hit.

However, this update could be more effective at snuffing out websites that have used AI to align their content around every possible variation of a specific keyword, which often impacts the efficiency, user experience, and relevancy of the actual information on the page.

In addition, Google stated that ‘based on our evaluations, we expect that the combination of this update and our previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.’

That is a big number that could cause sizeable overhauls to Google search pages. It may have wider knock-on impacts for SEO agencies and copywriters, who may need to tweak their methods in order to better leverage Google’s algorithmic rankings.

In the future, Google says it will be attempting to tackle AI mass-content generation even more. It claims to be ‘strengthening [its] policy to focus on producing content at scale to boost search ranking, whether automation, humans, or a combination are involved.’

It’s worth noting that Google isn’t inherently against AI as a tool. It won’t punish sites that use it to produce what it seems valuable content that’s focused on ‘people first’. It will, however, be targeting low-quality websites that prioritise nonsensical quantity over tangible quality.

The shake up is also attempting to tackle third-party companies that use high domain authority sites to link back to their own, low quality sites.

This could be website reviews, bot comments, and more. Google will be looking to seek these types of spam out and lower the author or company ranking.

Lastly, expired domains will be targeted. Occasionally, websites that are now defunct are purchased or repurposed to artificially boost search numbers for another company or brand. These are now considered spam according to the new algorithm.

We’ll have to see how effective all these changes are for copywriters and SEO experts, and whether Google’s intentions will translate in real terms.