What the new anti-spam Google update means for small businesses

Google is updating its search engine to combat spam, misuse of AI, and unhelpful results, underlining the importance of authentic content

Google is updating its search engine to combat spam, misuse of AI, and unhelpful results, underlining the importance of authentic content.

Google is taking an aggressive stance against artificial intelligence (AI) generated content in its latest update to the search results page, potentially creating hazards for small business owners who rely on market automation to optimize their web pages.

Using its prior experiences combating spammy or unhelpful search results, Google will soon begin removing pages that rely on a variety of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to appear in irrelevant searches, according to an announcement posted earlier this month. “This update involves refining some of our core ranking systems to help us better understand if web-pages are unhelpful, have a poor user experience, or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people,” the company stated.

One of the primary targets of this new update is marketing automation or, as Google called it, “scaled content creation.” Through AI or other means, many platforms have generated massive amounts of unhelpful content designed primarily to take advantage of the search algorithm rather than provide a service, negatively impacting the quality of the user experience. To address this issue and to direct users to authentic, human-created content more frequently, Google has started to de-index websites that have abused automation or SEO loopholes. Hundreds of pages with notoriously spammy or unhelpful content have already been wiped from the platform’s search engine results page in the days following the announcement, with more likely to follow.

So, what does this mean for small business owners? Since AI became accessible, many entrepreneurs have turned to automation to help them design web pages and digital content. Some platforms have implemented services, like GoDaddy’s Airo, that can create entire websites complete with images and text based on only a few user inputs. Even Google has launched its own AI (Bard). Should entrepreneurs now avoid these platforms in light of Google’s new update?

While Google is combating AI misuse, spam, and SEO manipulation, that does not mean that every website that uses automation or follows best practices to appear in search results will be marked for de-indexing. However, although Google’s focus appears to be on tackling the most prominent offenders for now, its aggressive new stance warrants caution for companies large and small.

But, instead of adopting new techniques, entrepreneurs should simply place a higher emphasis on the tried-and-true methods for gaining traction online. The most effective digital content, the kind that drives organic traffic, has always been authentic, consumer-focused, and helpful. Upholding these standards is no longer a recommendation; it is now a requirement. Going forward, small business owners must be intentional in their application of AI, automation, and SEO. Not only will this protect them from future, more restrictive updates, but it will also be more effective at boosting engagement than any amount of spam.

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