How SEO Will Shape the Future of Artificial Intelligence
You may have noticed that your website’s search engine results have started fluctuating in ranking since the start of October. That’s because it’s that time of the year again. Google released their October 2023 Spam Update earlier last month. Rest assured that this fluctuation is completely normal, as well are the periodic updates that Google rolls out. Wherever you land on SERPs, this update also provides an opportunity to test and see what continues to help you pull up in search results or you can reach out to an expert for SEO technical help. However you respond, what this new update does highlight is that there is a shift toward what Google is prioritizing, and how the algorithm will start sorting you out.
In September at Pubcon, Gary Ilyes, an analyst for Google’s Search team spoke about how linking is not a top three factor for search quality anymore. And with the recent update from Google, which illustrates exactly what they are looking for (or avoiding) when it comes to quality content, Google states that artificially and automatically generated content will be considered spam and deprioritized on SERPs. Other web pages and content that receive this stigma include:
- Hidden text and links that users can’t see but computers are able to discern.
- Extensive scraping of existing content from other publications.
- Pages that have distracting ads or provide poor user experience.
- Low word content, especially on affiliate pages that prioritize monetization instead of information.
- Factually inaccurate claims or webpages that mislead users.
But why label generated content as spam? With AI speculated to completely read through and learn from all human-written and publicly available content by 2026, there will be nothing left for computers to learn from. In fact, there is speculation that as much as 90% of all available content will be computer derived by 2027. With nothing new to extract, AI advancement will come to a grinding halt. One could only argue that Google’s latest SEO update with the emphasis on serving knowledge-rich, human-generated content over AI-generated content is meant to squeeze out as much quality content, written by people as possible.
The AI Threat to Originality
Did you know that AI can flip back and forth and translate between over a 100 languages in real time? It can write your resume, be used to draft legal documents, and GPT-4 can even generate a 60,000-word novel for you from a single prompt.
The evolution of AI in 2023 has been massive. When GPT-4 was dropped in March, it ushered in a new era of computer training possibilities. Prior to its release, the idea of AI reaching singularity was still a distant dream, but the rapid advancement since March left many as hopeful and in awe as those in fear and anger over what this new technology could hold. The internet is riddled with new apps using AI to create logos, websites, ghost write your next novel, and more. In fact, GPT-4 has been able to consistently score in the top 10% of a simulated U.S. bar exam, contrasted by GPT-3 which always scores in the bottom 10%. And unlike other predecessors, the newest AI has been multi-modal, able to take on written, visual, and spoken questions and prompts.
As AI continues its rapid evolution, the anticipation that AI will take over human jobs has of course been stifling. The initial hype has died down, yet persistent fears of becoming obsolete have continued. However, AI won’t be taking anyone’s jobs any time soon – as long as you’re open to working with AI and developing technologies. There will always be a human need to produce the algorithms, design and oversee the outputs, and deploy deliverables that AI cobbles together.
With Google’s update, the human-creative element is ostensibly necessary. What we call “AI” isn’t true artificial intelligence. It’s still learning and requires massive amounts of human input to continue developing at its current pace. The rate of rapid AI advancement has already slowed. There just isn’t enough content out there for AI to continue to learn and develop from. AI learns best from long-form writing, and while there are countless posts, tweets (X posts?), and other social media entries out there, in order to create interesting and relevant prose, AI needs more.
Content written from AI generators are already starting to become insular and self-derivative, recycling the same content, word choice, and voice. It’s not exactly easy for many to identify if something was produced by a computer. Such content is discernible, and it seems that Google can now determine whether something isn’t written by a human, penalizing the culprit for it.
Will Google’s updates kill or heal AI?
AI continues to consume massive amounts of information, allowing a fascinating paradox to emerge: the more AI learns, the less original content it can generate. If you are solely relying on AI for your design and copy content, you are already shooting yourself in the foot. We just aren’t at the place where AI can do it all, and we might never be if AI is unable to create unique content without direct human influence. Because Google’s new update will penalize you for generated content, it’s a good idea to check and see what you are able to rewrite or finesse to avoid a rapid drop in rankings. Why is Google adding generated content to its list for deprioritization? Perhaps it’s Google’s attempt to ensure there is still a steady, but small stream of reliable human-made content. Afterall, it seems counterintuitive to ding AI when Google has been developing their own AI systems, like Bard. Another likely answer is that Search still prioritizes heavily on websites that satisfies Google’s EEAT scores (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust) and AI hasn’t been reliable enough to garner user trust. AI has been touted as a useful tool to start your written work, but consistent criticisms are that it misquotes, produces inaccurate statements, or is wildly unpredictable with what it cobbles together.
Google’s SEO update represents a decisive step in the ongoing battle against AI-generated ‘spam’ and the quest for human created, high-quality content. By prioritizing human expertise and knowledge-rich content, Google is aiming to provide users with deeply informative and accurate search results.
My advice for content creators, especially in political agencies like mine, would be to push themselves to become more creative and more innovative. We cannot lose sight of “soul,” and we advise our clients to embrace authenticity and transparency, because the individual experience is what allows content to be created with the wonderful randomness that is so quintessentially human. Continue to show yourselves to your audience in an authentic way – being yourself will always resonate most with voters. Creativity is a competitive advantage, and the most creative candidates will win elections.
AI will continue to transform the landscape of content creation, helping humans to disseminate information. Like all great technologies, AI isn’t removing human interaction but instead, is providing ease. The future of SEO, our age of information, and AI is as exciting as ever before. And humanity, as the torchbearers of human expertise and creativity, are the ones that hold the key to keeping our digital ecosystem vibrant and original. Embracing our humanity to meet new challenges will lead to a brighter future—for candidates, voters, and all Americans.
Joyce Wong serves as Website Project Manager at Push Digital Group.