A recent paper from the Leipzig University, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and ScaDS.AI in Germany revealed that not only are there increased issues with Google search but also Bing and DuckDuckGo. The study looked at 7,392 unique search queries, generally in the product reviews category, where they scrapped the search results every two weeks between 26 October 2022, and 19 September 2023.
The study found that over time and with increasing adoption of AI-generated content, the spam problem across all search engines has become significantly worse. AI is able to generate SEO optimised content with far greater efficiency than any genuine business, ensuring that spam often ranks above real businesses. The study concluded “that dynamic adversarial spam in the form of low-quality, mass-produced commercial content deserves more attention.”
What can a regular business do to combat this AI-generated blight though? Unfortunately, the answer is manual action. If an algorithm could do away with the spam on search engines, Google would have done away with it already. The only thing that a business can do is manually check their listings and see if spam is overtaking them in rankings. If there is a sudden downward fluctuation, business owners need to detect and report the false businesses ranking above them. Automatic detection isn’t working for Google but manual reports is something that the search engine still takes very seriously.
This can be done easily enough for small or medium businesses, with only a handful of locations to monitor, but it can be an impossible task for enterprise level businesses. Large businesses can’t hope to manually check all their rankings, which is why it will fall on a combination of automatic detection and then manual reporting. DAC’s own Local Rank+ is designed to monitor keyword rankings on the hyper-local level, meaning that you will know when any individual location is suddenly crowded out by dozens of fake local competitors.
Google was so overwhelmed by a spam attack in December that it made headlines, the issue of fake businesses not just targeting individual categories but every online listing as a whole. An attack on that grand scale can see an immediate Google response but an attack on a specific city or single brand won’t even have the search engine take notice. Along with the detection of the issue first brought up by Local Rank+, business owners or DAC’s own Spam Reporting Services need to bring up the problem to Google. Only in this way can a business try to fight back against spam. Unfortunately, with spam so much easier to produce than genuine content, this is doomed to be an ever-present fight.