A Storefront for Robots

The SEO arms race has left Google and the web drowning in garbage text, with customers and businesses flailing to find each other.

Google Search’s dominance has created a cottage industry of SEO professionals who promise to share their lucrative tricks to climb to the top of search results. From YouTubers to firms peddling proprietary tools, SEO hustlers propagate a never-ending stream of marketing content that floods Search. Some companies sell tools that allow marketers to mass-produce and distribute blog posts, press releases, and even robot-narrated podcast materials, with the purpose of creating backlinks — a signal that Google uses to rank content in Search. Small businesses must decide if they’ll try to learn SEO practices themselves or pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have a marketing firm do it for them.

While other platforms are still nowhere close to overtaking Search, entrepreneurs like Dziura, who sells feminist gifts, are taking note of how people are (or aren’t) using Google. Now, any retailer, big or small, can add more text to their website without a team of copywriters, and given AI’s tendency to generate falsehoods, there’s even less guarantee that what consumers are reading is real. It’s why people append “reddit” to the end of searches — they want an actual answer or opinion, not one mediated by a search ranking algorithm.

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