Google’s March 2024 Search Update: The Battle Against AI-Generated Content

Google's massive March 2024 search update takes aim at AI-generated "copycat content." The search giant expects this update to reduce unhelpful, low-quality content by 40%. This update is part of a broader effort to combat content spam, as Search Engine Land reports.

Three Practices Google Now Considers Spam

Google's update targets three practices the search giant now classifies as spam.

1. Scaled Content Abuse

Scaled content abuse refers to mass-produced content created to game rankings, whether AI-generated or human-written. Google is cracking down on content that provides little to no value and is designed solely to manipulate search rankings. This includes content generated by AI tools without human oversight or curation.

2. Expired Domain Abuse

Expired domain abuse involves repurposing expired domains to host low-quality content in an attempt to manipulate rankings. As Chris Long, VP of Marketing at Go Fish Digital pointed out on LinkedIn, this tactic has gained popularity in the SEO world over the past 12-24 months. Google aims to end this practice by punishing clearly irrelevant domains when comparing their old content to new content.

3. Site Reputation Abuse (aka 'Parasite SEO')

Site reputation abuse, also known as 'Parasite SEO,' involves piggybacking on trusted sites' authority to boost thin content. This often takes the form of hosting low-quality content on high-authority websites to gain ranking benefits. Google's update specifically targets this practice, aiming to remove the incentive for using reputable sites to rank low-value content.

The consequences of relying heavily on AI-generated content are already becoming apparent. Chris Long shared examples of sites that have been completely removed from search results overnight due to their aggressive use of AI-generated content. These sites received "Pure Spam" notifications in Search Console, indicating manual penalties from Google.

Copycat Content Antidotes: Data, Perspectives, And Insights

Google is open to automation when used thoughtfully to enhance quality. The key is creating people-first content based on original research, fresh perspectives, and subject matter expertise.

As our CEO Ty Magnin notes: "The recent Google update reinforces what we've been saying for years: AI-generated content is not a silver bullet. To succeed in the evolving search landscape, content teams need to focus on creating genuinely valuable, original content that reflects their unique expertise and insights. Anything less simply won't cut it."

Our 2018 article "Copycat Content: SEO Tools Got Us Here, Humans Will Get Us Out" argued that the antidote to lookalike content is injecting data, insights, and angles only your brand can provide.

Some of our key recommendations from that piece include:

  • Draw upon your personal interests, qualifications, and education to offer expert insights.
  • Harness proprietary data to lend authenticity to your insights.
  • Anchor your content in real-world stories and experiences that can't be easily replicated.

Google's latest update reinforces this ethos. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to ditch the "Ultimate Guides" and embrace content with novel ideas, rigorous analysis, and real-world insights. Your audience—and Google—will thank you for it.