Google Search really has gotten worse. It’s not just you.


Has your Google Search experience changed for the worse? You may not be alone.

This revelation comes from a new study by German researchers from Leipzig University, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. The researchers posed the question “Is Google Getting Worse?”, examining 7,392 product review queries on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo for a year.

In response to these product-related searches, the researchers discovered that “a torrent of low-quality content, especially for product search, keeps drowning any kind of useful information in search results.” A significant amount of results found in response to such queries were “outright SEO product review spam.”

The research showed that spam sites are hyper prevalent, showing up at the top of Google’s rankings in what is “a constant battle” between the sites and search engine. In other words, they write, “search engines seem to lose the cat-and-mouse game that is SEO spam.”

“SEO is a constant battle and we see repeated patterns of review spam entering and leaving the results as search engines and SEO engineers take turns adjusting their parameters,” reads the report. Despite Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo taking down spam, the researchers stated this only results in “a temporary positive effect.”

However, the report did show that Google results did improve “to some extent” between the start of the researchers’ experiment and the end. Still, they found “an overall downwards trend in text quality in all three search engines.” With the presence of AI-generated spam, this is only likely to get worse, the research warns.

“We conclude that dynamic adversarial spam in the form of low-quality, mass-produced commercial content deserves more attention,” wrote the researchers.

As reported by 404Media, Google being flooded by spam is being noticed by other researchers. Search Engine Land, for example, declared that Google was overcome “by a massive spam attack” in December 2023 – one that lasted for days.

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