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Google Merchant Center Policy Says AI Generated Reviews Are Spam

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Robot Reviewing Food Google Logo

Google has posted a new policy saying AI-generated reviews are against its policies, disallowed and considered spam. If you find such content, Google said you must mark it as spam in your feed with the is_spam attribute.

Google posted the update over here, it reads, “Automated Content: We don’t allow reviews that are primarily generated by an automated program or artificial intelligence application. If you have identified such content, it should be marked as spam in your feed using the is_spam attribute.”

How does one identify if user-generated reviews are generated by AI is another story. But if you are posting your own reviews using AI, you must mark them as spam if you are using Google Merchant Center.

Now, Google Search has been very lax about content generated with AI in general. Google is okay with content being generated by AI as long as it is useful and helpful. This policy somewhat goes against that, although, these are reviews and I guess Google expects humans to leave reviews, not robots.

Google also clarified its other policies, here are those clarifications:

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  • Spam: We don’t allow spam content. Ensure any content known to contain irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text is marked as spam in your feed using the is_spam attribute.
  • Dangerous products or acts: Don’t submit reviews of regulated products that can cause damage, harm, or injury. For example, don’t submit reviews of guns, tobacco products, or regulated drugs. Additionally, don’t include content that depicts or provides instructions to complete activities that are dangerous and/or widely illegal.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses or URLs: Don’t submit phone numbers, email addresses and links to other websites in the review content.
  • Personal and confidential information: Don’t submit reviews that contain personal information, including but not limited to full names, credit card information, national insurance number, driving license information, etc.
  • Keep it clean: Don’t submit reviews that use obscene, profane, or offensive language or include content that depicts scenes of violence, serious injury or death, contains personal attacks, or are defamatory.
  • Conflict of interest: Don’t submit reviews that were paid for or are otherwise inauthentic. Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. We remove reviews that we believe have conflicts of interest and/or have been written by employees or people with a vested interest in the product. Only submit reviews that were honestly solicited from customers who made a purchase.
  • Illegal content: Don’t submit reviews that contain or link to unlawful content, such as links that facilitate the sale of prescription drugs without a prescription, illegal drugs, counterfeit products, or illicit weapons. This content is not allowed.
  • Malware & Phishing: Don’t submit reviews containing links to malware, viruses, or other harmful software. We don’t allow phishing or other content that harms or interferes with the operation of the networks, servers, or other infrastructure of Google or others.
  • Copyrighted content: Don’t submit reviews that infringe on others’ rights, including copyright. For more information or to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request, review our copyright procedures.
  • Trademark infringement: Don’t submit content that uses a trademark in a way that’s likely to cause confusion about the origin of the product being reviewed.
  • Plagiarism: Don’t submit reviews containing appropriation of content created by another person or entity.
  • Sexually explicit material: Don’t submit reviews that contain sexually explicit material. We also don’t allow reviews that sexually exploit children or present them in a sexual manner. For this type of content, we remove the review, shut down the product reviews feed, and send a report to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and to law enforcement. This content is not allowed.
  • Hate speech: Don’t submit reviews that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Violent language, terrorist content, or content intended to incite and encourage violent acts or extremist behavior, are not allowed in reviews.
  • Cross promotion of other products/websites: We don’t allow reviews that include promotional content for other unrelated websites, products, or services. If you have identified such content, it should be marked as spam in your feed using the attribute.
  • Off-topic reviews: We may remove reviews that primarily seek to discuss other topics unrelated to the product itself. This includes comments about shipping and delivery, experiences with particular retailers, political or social controversy, attacks on others, or don’t represent a first-hand experience with the product. This also includes merchant responses to reviewer comments.
  • Impersonation: We don’t allow reviews from people claiming to be someone that they aren’t.
  • Language: Reviews should be submitted in the original language they are written in. Google will display reviews in the original language with an option on the Shopping page to be translated to the user’s language.
  • Duplicate content: Each review should only appear in one feed and only once in that feed. If a review applies to multiple variations of a product, this should be designated by including multiple unique product identifiers and URLs with the review. The same review shouldn’t appear in feeds from different retailers. The retailer should own the review and shouldn’t send Google content syndicated from other sources. In the case of duplicate reviews in multiple feeds, we may blocklist one or more of the reviews or entire feeds.

Finally, Google posted guidance on how it can enforce these policies:

  • We use a combination of automated and human evaluation to ensure that content and reviews comply with our policies. Our enforcement technologies use machine-learning algorithms to help protect our merchants and users by keeping our shopping platforms safe. More complex, nuanced, or severe cases are reviewed and evaluated by our specially trained experts who conduct content evaluations that might be difficult for algorithms to perform alone, for example, because an understanding of the context of the piece of content is required.
  • We take action on content and reviews that violate our policies. This may include disapproving violating content or a violating review, as well as issuing warnings or suspending accounts for repeated or egregious violations. We take repeat violations of our policies seriously.
  • When an image is flagged for a policy violation, we will now also block the associated review content.

In short, the “automated content” policy is new, the other policies were just clarified.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 19, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google is testing more ad formats for its search ads. BingBot is testing new compression methods. Google said it is unlikely your rankings would drop just because you have two or more sites. Google says the indexing API might work for unsupported formats. Google said hyphenated domains are not bad by themselves. And I posted the weekly SEO video recap.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Advertisement

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.

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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 18, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google Ads notified advertisers that some ad customizers will stop working soon. Google discontinued the limited use video carousel markup. Google Maps has new directions and travel features, plus a bunch of new EV features. Google Notes on Search might not end in May 2024 despite what people suggest. Google Business Profiles asked businesses to register their defibrillators, their AEDs.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Notes On Search Won’t Necessarily Go Away In May


    There have been some people noticing that the Google Notes On Search labs experiment has an end date of May 2024 and thus they are expecting Notes on Search to be turned off by then. Just because it has that end date listed, it does not mean the labs experiment will end on that date.

  • Google Maps Releases New Directions, Travel & EV Features


    Google has announced a number of new travel features with Google Maps and Travel around driving alternatives, trains and buses, travel impact mode and then some new EV driving direction features. Google says these features are to give you more “sustainable choices.”

  • Google Ads Reminds Advertisers Some Ad Customizers Will Go Away May 31st


    On August 31, 2021, Google notified advertisers it would drop support for expanded text ads for responsive search ads. Google is now reminding advertisers that Ad customizers for text ads, expanded text ads and Dynamic Search Ads will stop serving after May 31, 2024.

  • Google Drops Video Carousel Markup


    Google has discontinued its support for video carousel markup and has thus removed it from its video structured data help documentation. Initially, Google tested video carousel on a limited number of sites and is now saying that it “ultimately found that it wasn’t useful for the ecosystem at scale.”

  • Google Business Profiles Register Your Defibrillator (AED)


    Google sent out emails a couple of days ago to businesses asking them to register their Automated External Defibrillator (AED) with Google Business Profiles. Google said, “you could save lives” if you do it.



  • Google NYC Earthquake Reaction Video


    A couple of weeks ago we had an earthquake in the New York region and I finally found a video from the Google NYC office of the reaction of some Googlers while the earthquake happened. These Googlers were recording a video and felt it but were unsure if that was a real earthquake.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Advertisement

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Advertisement

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 17, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


The Google March core update still is causing volatility and it is deepening. Google may make changes to the crawl stats report in Search Console. Google Search Console now shows unused ownership tokens. Google Maps will drop the review drafts. Google Add added generative AI for image generate for Demand Gen campaigns. Google Search is testing more sitelinks designs.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Deepening Google Core Ranking Volatility Hits Yesterday & Today


    I know we just reported on more volatility this Monday, possibly related to the Google March 2024 core update, but we are seeing even more volatility over the past 24 hours related to this update. This volatility shows deepening movement for those who were hit, which is incredibly sad in many cases.

  • Google Search Console Adds Unused Ownership Tokens


    Google Search Console has a new security feature under user and permission management to help you manage your unused ownership tokens. Basically, it helps you manage who has permissions to your Search Console profiles and who should not, maybe some legacy verifications.


  • Google: Should We Explain The Crawl Stats Report in Search Console


    Martin Splitt from Google posted a one-line question asking, “Should we do something to explain the crawl stats report in GSC?” This was posted on Mastodon, which has a small audience, but the responses were pretty good.

  • New Google Ads AI Generated Image Tool For Demand Gen Campaigns


    Google Ads announced that Demand Gen campaigns are getting generative AI tools to create image assets. This is rolling out to advertisers around the world in English with more languages to come later this year, Google said.


  • Google Tests Horizontal Lines For Sitelinks & People Also Ask


    Google Search is testing horizontal lines under the sitelinks and the people also ask elements in the search results. This is a long horizontal line that goes across the while search result snippet.

  • Google Maps No Longer Will Support Draft Reviews


    Google Maps will soon stop supporting drafting reviews for local business listings and Google Business Profiles. Google said that starting July 16, 2024, review drafts will no longer be supported.

  • Doogler In Google Play Area


    Some of you love photos of dogs, so here is another one of a Doogler, a Google dog, in a play area, at the Google office. This was shared by the Life at Google Twitter account.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Advertisement

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Advertisement

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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