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SEARCHENGINES

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:

  • 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: July 23, 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 will not deprecate third-party cookies in Chrome, after delaying this process numerous times. Google Ads Editor version 2.7 is now out. Google Ads has a new Sitelinks interface. Google is testing larger sitenames and favicons. Google Search is showing video descriptions generated using A Overviews.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Won’t Deprecate Third-Party Cookies In Chrome


    Google has decided not to deprecate, do away with, third-party cookies in Chrome. This is something Google has been planning and testing for a while, delaying the efforts numerous times, and now ultimately deciding to scrap those efforts.

  • Google Ads Editor Version 2.7 Is Now Out


    Google has released version 2.7 of the Google Ads Editor. This new update brings a number of new features and also deprecates a number of features. New features include AI-generated assets, account level content label exclusions, account-level negative keywords and more.

  • Google Search AI Overviews Video Descriptions


    Google Search is testing using AI Overviews to provide video descriptions in the Google Search results. When you click to expand some videos, Google may overlay the video and its description directly in the search results. And that description may read, “AI overviews are experimental,” which means the description was adapted by Google Gemini.

  • Google Tests Larger Sitename & Favicons


    Google is testing larger sitenames and favicons again. You can see a considerably larger font used for the sitename (the link in the Google search result snippets) and a larger favicon being tested in the search results.

  • New Google Ads Sitelinks Interface


    Google Ads has a new sitelinks interface, and functionality, for Performance Max campaigns. The new recommended sitelinks features are rolling out, plus there is a new numbered layout for the sitelinks.


  • Google Soda


    Here is a photo of two cans of drinks, maybe soda or some other energy drink, that is branded with the Google Innovator logo and name. I found this on Instagram and thought it was unusual enough to share here.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

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: July 22, 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 new link citations in the AI Overviews. Google is also testing saving AI Overviews for later. Google is showing some AI-generated images in some knowledge panels. Microsoft Advertising is rolling out new brand lists in Performance Max. Bing is testing related searches at the top.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Tests Link Icon Citations For AI Overviews


    Google is also testing link icons in the AI Overviews to show citations for statements generated in the AI Answer. These links, when clicked, will take you to an overlay window that shows those links in a search result format page. No, clicking the link icon will not take you directly to the source but you will see the search result snippet.


  • Google Testing Save Button For AI Overviews


    Google is testing the ability to save your AI Overviews to your Google Interests section. If you are opted-in to labs in Google, and you see AI Overviews, at the bottom of the AI Overview, you may see a new “Save” button.

  • New Microsoft Advertising Brand Lists For Performance Max Campaigns


    Microsoft Advertising is rolling out brand lists for Performance Max campaigns. “Brand lists allow greater control over brand image and ad visibility, including the brands you don’t want your ads to be associated with,” Microsoft wrote in its help documentation.

  • Google Knowledge Panels Using AI-Generated Images


    Google is showing AI-generated images in some of the knowledge panels they show in Google Search. Google is not creating these images; they come from images on third-party sites. And honestly, I kind of like it, at least in some cases.

  • Bing Tests Related Searches At Top – Below Search Bar


    Bing is testing placing the related searches at the top of the search results page, directly under the search bar. The searches are exactly what you would see in the bottom but in a different format at the top.

  • Google Wooden Hive Tree


    I don’t know what this is, but I spotted this photo at the Google office in Kirkland, Seattle. It looks like some sort of wooden art, maybe of a tree, maybe of some hive, I am not sure.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

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

Billions Of Google goo.gl URLs To 404 In The Future

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Google Lazer Bounce

Google announced that it will stop serving the Google URL Shortener, so any URL that was set up to redirect using goo.gl, which Google stopped supporting adding new ones back in 2019, will also stop serving.

Starting August 23, 2024, goo.gl links will start displaying an interstitial page for a percentage of existing links to notify users that the link will no longer be supported after August 25, 2025 prior to navigating to the original target page. Then after August 25, 2025, the link will then 404 and not redirect to the right destination URL.

So any redirects you have pointing to your site using goo.gl Google’s service, will die and not be counted.

As Glenn Gabe noted on X, that means billions of URLs on the web will simply vanish and begin to 404. Glenn shared how Majestic knows of 3.6 billion goo.gl links 36 billion historical links in its database.

This is the Interstitial page shown for some goo.gl links starting on August 23, 2024:

Goog Gl Links No Longer Work

Here is the Majestic report from Glenn Gabe:

Majestic Goog Gl

Google wrote:

Over time the percentage of links that will show the interstitial page will increase until the shutdown date. This interstitial page should help you track and adjust any affected links that you will need to transition as part of this change. We will continue to display this interstitial page until the shutdown date after which all links served will return a 404 response.

Note that the interstitial page may cause disruptions in the current flow of your goo.gl links. For example, if you are using other 302 redirects, the interstitial page may prevent the redirect flow from completing correctly. If you’ve embedded social metadata in your destination page, the interstitial page will likely cause these to no longer show up where the initial link is displayed. For this reason, we advise transitioning these links as soon as possible.

Note: In the event the interstitial page is disrupting your use cases, you can suppress it by adding the query param “si=1” to existing goo.gl links.

Is this a pain for any of you? I personally won’t be asking anyone with goo.gl links to update them for me.

Forum discussion at X and WebmasterWorld.



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