• AutoTL;DRB
    15 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:

    No, it’s not just you - search engine results really are getting worse as the internet is flooded with low-effort garbage from SEO farms and affiliate link sites, a group of German researchers has concluded.

    After pouring over countless links for the past year, the team has concluded everyone complaining about Google’s declining quality seems to be correct, and things are probably only going to get worse with the advent of generative AI - just like we predicted.

    Along with that, the researchers determined that all three search engines are prone to being gamed by large-scale affiliate link spam campaigns, and their efforts to subvert such manipulation through algorithm updates have, at best, “a temporary positive effect.”

    Google even claimed in 2022 that it was updating its algorithm to prioritize “people-first content,” but as the researchers found, those efforts have been in vain as SEO experts and spam factories have simply figured out how to game the newest tweaks to the system.

    Janek Bevendorff, research assistant at Leipzig University and an author on the paper, told The Register that it’s hard to say whether there’s an easy way out of the current online search predicament in which we find ourselves.

    “Affiliate marketing itself is in part responsible for what online content looks like now,” Bevendorff said, but noted that “banning it entirely is probably not a solution,” as many authentic sites use the tactic, and SEO optimization, as an important revenue stream.

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