PPC – Oh, Brother: The Verge games Google again for ‘best printer 2024’

PPC - Oh, Brother: The Verge games Google again for ‘best printer 2024’


Technology news rag The Verge has published a 700-word article half-filled with content generated by Google Gemini and a heavy dose of sarcasm that has been outranking more in-depth, well-researched and arguably more helpful content written by humans at publications for the competitive query [best printer 2024].

Sound familiar? It should. We wrote about this exact same thing just over a year ago in How The Verge gamed Google with its ‘best printer 2023’ article.

Why we care. Google has been telling us to write for people, not Google, a lot lately. This article will likely infuriate many brands who invest time and resources into researching products, with the hopes of ranking at the top of Google’s Search results. Others will point to this as proof that experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness don’t matter.

Yet, the article ultimately does answer the question (“the best printer is still whatever random Brother laser printer that’s on sale”) – perhaps in the most ludicrous way possible.

The article. The title of The Verge’s April 2 article gives you a taste of what to expect: Best printer 2024, best printer for home use, office use, printing labels, printer for school, homework printer you are a printer we are all printers. SEO best practices? Not here.

Google Gemini. Last year, The Verge used ChatGPT to to generate half of its content. This year, that honor went to Google Gemini:

“Here’s what Google Gemini had to say when I asked it about Brother laser printers, which is not worth reading but which is by definition an incredible example of experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness because Google is synthesizing the entire web for this information, right? Isn’t that the whole idea of these LLMs, or are we just kind of fooling ourselves”

How it ranks on Google. I’m currently seeing the article in Position 2 (Chrome, incognito) on a search for [best printer 2024]. I’m seeing it in Position 1 (under SGE) when I’m logged in. Other have reported seeing it lower (Position 4 or lower).

Time will tell whether the ecosystem of content farms will do fake updates, as the Verge article put it, to push this article lower.

Google response. Google’s John Mueller was asked how articles like this rank so well on Google.

  • “People seem to really enjoy it,” Mueller posted on X.

This is probably an accurate statement. We know from the antitrust trial documents and the testimony of Pandu Nayak that user interactions (e.g., clicks) play a huge role in what ranks and what doesn’t. And The Verge may be a tech rag, but it is an authoritative one.

Little changed in a year. The Verge’s Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel told Search Engine Land a year ago:

  • “The web is about to be overrun with AI-generated content explicitly designed to game the algorithms. Me doing this is the least of Google’s problems. At least I’m being honest,” Patel said.

It would have been more surprising to Patel if this article wasn’t ranking. That was the point – and the problem – Patel was pointing out then, and it remains true in 2024.

  • “The architecture of the web is built to Google specifications,” Patel said. “Here’s the skeleton of every webpage and you put a bunch of stuff in there to prove you’re smart.”

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