Google CEO Larry Schmidt recently made comments regarding the newly emerging AI industry, stating that the AI industry have to ‘make sure’ that the technology ‘doesn’t harm and only helps’. His comments are not surprising given that despite Google being one of the major players in the field, the technology also currently poses a huge threat to Google and the Internet itself.
Why? Because the way things are currently going, the digital world is being polluted at an astronomical rate with millions of pages of unchecked AI generated content and a similar number of fake photos and videos. A world full of misinformation will soon lose the trust of people. And if people cannot trust it, they’ll eventually check out. If that happened, Google, Facebook and all the other information based Internet companies would stand to lose… well… everything. And Google must know that if I know that.
In a landmark move recently, Google changed its webmaster guidelines making AI content acceptable to Google, provided it makes sense and is fact checked by a human.
We now have hundreds and thousands of SEOs around the world using OpenAI technology to churn out tens of thousands of articles of content per month. The biggest brag I’ve seen in SEO forums lately is 36,000 pages. This means that Google has to index and rank ten thousand times more content than before. And the Internet is expanding at a far faster rate than it ever has.
Now let’s think about that for a second. Tens of thousands – probably millions – of literally mindless articles every month. At that rate, these articles are not being reviewed by humans. It’s impossible. The SEO companies are simply copying, pasting and posting the output directly to the Internet. It might be right, it might be wrong. They don’t care. All they want it to do is rank. And it costs so little that it isn’t worth checking and doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work. It definitely won’t be an engaging read to Western audiences.
So we have a sudden explosion of millions of pages of text more than before.
But Google’s search results haven’t changed. There’s still a coveted number one position and the objective of SEO is the same as it has always been. So Google has a challenge ahead of it. They need to maintain the quality of their search results because despite everything that Google now does, the flagship product is still organic search.
What is Google’s position on AI? Yes, they developed Bard but they didn’t release it until pushed. There are also reports that they’ve created a number of other different AI products and not released them.
All search engines including Google rely on content. Both for their search results to meet the needs of their users, and also to tell them via quality and backlinks, which other content on the Internet is any good. So to now land in a position where content can be produced extremely quickly and for pennies, that doesn’t bode well for content having much value in the future. Nothing that’s cheap and fast has value. And if we follow that logic, it means that Google will either have to overhaul how it works from its very foundations. Or… figure out how to identify AI generated content and then discount it from their algorithms.
So, what if I was Google and I wanted to learn how to spot AI generated content? As a human, I can often spot it because it’s a dry read that looks a lot like a student who didn’t know what to write. It’s almost never confident and engaging, whereas the best human writing is. But it’s hard to describe that in equations so I can tell a computer (GoogleBot) what to look for.
The first thing I would want, in order to learn how to identify AI generated content is an unprecedented amount of AI generated content. I’d want millions and millions of pages of it. Because while it might not be so straightforward to spot single articles, it’s a fair bet that patterns might emerge if I can look at a hundred million pages of it.
And what’s the easiest way for me to get a hundred million pages of AI content? How about changing my webmaster guidelines and making it legitimate for every webmaster on the planet to begin generating and posting it.
I think AI content will more than likely prove to be a fad. There have been countless fads in SEO over the years. Tactics and strategies that worked for a year, maybe two, until one fateful Google update when they stopped working altogether. PBNs, text spinners, link cloud pages, almost every conceivable way SEOs could think of to manipulate search results. AI content is the latest.
So at present, we’re not using vast amounts of AI generated content. And we never post anything anywhere without reading it through and checking both that it’s correct, and second, that it’s something a human might want to read. Unless value is real and timeless, it will eventually be discounted.