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Another reason why links remain important

As Google users, and particularly as Google advertisers, we do want the search results to remain good. What we probably can’t conceive is the effort that goes into ensuring this is the case, and how much harder it must be getting to do so. The amount of spam on the web is almost unimaginable now, yet we’d hardly know, thanks to the ability of the search engines to shield us from it.

There are all sorts of reasons why people put up websites full of nonsense, copied text and general rubbish. The problem is only going to get worse, as generative AI can now create sites with millions of pages of seemingly original material with just a single command.

Google’s ‘Webspam Report’ for 2022 describes SpamBrain, a machine learning system to launch algorithms that detect different types of unwanted content. Remember, search engines only have a certain ‘crawling’ capacity, and they can’t waste time on sites which contain nothing of interest. These need to be identified at a distance and avoided.

Astoundingly, according to the report, five times as many spam sites were caught than the year before, and there was a tenfold increase in the system’s ability to identify hacked websites. And “thanks to SpamBrain’s learning capability, we detected 50 times more link spam sites compared to the previous link spam update.”

The need to signal quality is why links from trusted sites are as important as ever. The impact of anything we can get should not be underestimated.