Google fails to downrank junk sites; Bing and Mojeek fare better

Understandably, I was bemused but then frustrated with the fake articles out there about the new Google algorithm update being created by me and named for me. (Even Perplexity has picked up this misinformation.) Of all those I found and reached out to, only one author—Shahid Jafar—had the decency to remove his article and apologize.

Shahid explained that he had found thousands of articles relating to this and based his on what he read. It’s easy to accept a sincere apology, which he gave, especially as you can see how his misunderstanding arose.

Shahid’s position is one of an innocent person suckered in by what Google has found for him.

I haven’t been able to find as many as he has, but there certainly are plenty, and Google had failed to show them when I did earlier searches. We know that they were doing the rounds in December when Google was coming up blank with results.

And maybe I should have been grateful that it didn’t—but now it has after two months of propagating, and it brings into question Google’s skills at downranking illegitimate websites and what is clearly “AI”- or LLM-written content.

A search for jackyan SEO Google nets the following.
Google search results
You’d expect Linkedin and this website to rank highly. We are credible. But then in positions 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 through 15 and 16 through 19 are fake sites authored by computer programs. There are more after that but the above serves my purpose for this post. (Entries 20 and 21 are hosted on Facebook.)

I doubt that any of these fake sites have many backlinks. I also find it difficult to believe that Google isn’t better at distinguishing machine- from human-written content. You’d expect the credible, linked sites to appear more highly, my blog, Mastodon, Lucire, JY&A (which have the search term from an RSS feed—remember those?), BikeGremlin, Reddit and Tumblr among them. These appear in the top 30.

I’m not arguing for big sites to appear first and small sites second. I’m asking for a level playing field based on credibility and content quality. Ranking because someone has gamed the search engine for the sake of instant answers, or because the text is all Semrush-pleasing, demonstrates the fall of Google search, a step behind malicious actors who they are all too happy to fund through advertising.
On this search, Mojeek found five results. The first is from this blog, the second and third are dead (admittedly it could do better at weeding these out), the fourth is from Michael Tsai’s blog where I had entered a comment, and the fifth is from a Google volunteer, Chuck, a.k.a. Nitecruzr, who actually sparked my de-Googling in 2009. It’s a reminder than Google evangelists do more at damaging their brand and putting you off than anyone. That incident was covered in Techdirt in 2010.

You could argue that Mojeek fared well only because its index is smaller than Google’s, and it hasn’t got round to spidering the crap. Or, maybe Mojeek’s algorithms are simply better at weeding it out.

Bing fares quite well. This blog in first and second, Shahid’s Linkedin post third, this blog again in fourth. It also, disturbingly, had Semrush ads appearing above and below these results with no sign that they were ads. That was page 1. Position 6 over the page is a fake result, others belong to Google itself, and 12th is a site called Techjackie, which could be legit (but anything that has so much on SEO always makes me doubt things).

There are too many links to Google for my liking, but the fake sites are blissfully absent. So good on Bing for weeding those out and not ranking them so highly.
Bing search results
I don’t wish this to be a search engine blog but I have tried Right Dao and Stract after reading Seirdy’s big search engine analysis. Right Dao needs work, but Stract is not bad. Its index is quite small but it’s a respectable start.

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