A Google research paper named Generative Models are Unsupervised Predictors of Page Quality paints a negative connotation of SEO practices. It has a section named "attempts at search engine optimization (SEO)" which says, "documents that attempt to perform SEO tend to be flagged as very low quality."
This paper was first highlighted by Roger Monti who asked if this research paper is what the helpful content update is all about. I do think Roger is right here, it does seem like, at least in part, this paper does describe a lot of what the helpful content update is about.
The section goes on to read, "This is intuitive since these texts tend to simply string a series of keywords together and are therefore incoherent. Furthermore, we found a moderate number of product pages and professional profiles that also attempt to perform some form of SEO. We observed that media-centric domains, such as image hosting domains, often contain incomprehensible embedded text, possibly for SEO."
Pedro Dias, former Google spam fighter, now SEO, noted this on Mastodon and said, "This is an unfortunate wording from Google on their research “Generative Models are Unsupervised Predictors of Page Quality” whitepaper. It clearly casts SEO widely as spam and a contributor to “low quality”."
Pedro isn't wrong, but John Mueller of Google tried to downplay it by saying, "I think one of the challenges is that "good SEO" is essentially invisible: it's a well-structured site, it has good content, people...
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