The other day I reported how Google was showing featured snippets with overlays but some of those featured snippets were autogenerated web stories generated by Google’s own AI techniques. Well, after I covered it last night again at Search Engine Land and spoke to Google about it, it seems Google has deleted and 404ed those web stories.
Google has deleted over 20,000 of its autogenerated web stories and when you see them in the search results, desktop or mobile, they 404. I assume Google will soon remove them from search completely, if they continue to 404.
Brodie Clark and Glenn Gabe both confirmed with me based on their data that they all seem to be returning a 404 as of this morning. I guess Google decided to stop automatically generating their content and web stories based on what it finds on the web. I mean, as I said on Search Engine Land, if Google is going to start using AI to write content and then rank its own content – that just seems super wrong.
Crazy to see them 404 all of those AI web stories. And btw, I still see the lil wayne story ranking in a featured snippet, but when you visit, it’s a 404. 🙂 The contextual links are gone, though. pic.twitter.com/85nrbMrfXp
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 25, 2020
To be fair, I still see the contextual overlay links but now I need to click on them to trigger the overlay:
I still see the contextual links but I have to click on the dotted word to have them overlay now. pic.twitter.com/IOZvB5GBgJ
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) November 25, 2020
That was quick action from Google – but just don’t be surprised if we see a form of this return again – where Google builds its own content based on the content you write and ranks that content over yours. For now, it is gone and 404ed.
Forum discussion at Twitter.