A tech bro is facing backlash online after claiming to have used artificial intelligence (AI) to steal millions of page views from a competitor’s website.
In a post on X last week, tech entrepreneur Jake Ward described the effort, which reportedly siphoned off 3.6 million clicks, as an “SEO heist.” SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a process involving the improvement of a website to increase its visibility in Google’s search results.
“We pulled off an SEO heist that stole 3.6M total traffic from a competitor,” Ward said. “We got 489,509 traffic in October alone.”
In subsequent posts, Ward stated that the process began with his team downloading the competitor’s sitemap—a file that details information about the contents of pages on a website.
Using that data, Jake Ward says he then turned all the URLs on the competitor’s site into article titles on his. The process was supposedly fast-tracked with the aid of AI, which helped generate roughly 1,800 articles in a few hours.
“18 months later, we have stolen: – 3.6M total traffic – 490k monthly traffic,” Ward said.
Ward ended his thread by urging those who enjoyed his content to give him a follow. But reactions to the post suggest that few saw the display in a positive light.
“This is ethically shitty, replaced good content with AI generated slop at the top of google,” one user responded. “But, the real villain is Google. ‘SEO optimization’ and AI content are terrible for the future of accuracy on the internet.”
Others argued that fears over AI have been largely focused on killer robots and weapons of war when instead they should be concerned about the stability and usefulness of the internet at large.
“This is what I’m on about. ‘AI Safety’ people have it all wrong,” another said. “They’re worried about skynet, when they should be worried about AI making it easier … to shit all over the information commons we’ve built over the last 30 years.”
Many also warned that the capabilities highlighted by Ward could signal a near future where the internet struggles to adapt to AI.
“1800 different webpages of completely useless AI bullshit created in a weekend, which will show up high in search results,” another X user wrote. “If you think searching for useful info online is harder than it used to be… it’s about to get a lot worse.”
Added another, “If you want to understand why the internet as we know it will be functionally unusable in a couple of years, this thread … is a great place to start.”
Despite the pushback, Ward seems undeterred. It remains unclear if Google is aware of the claims.
The Daily Dot reached out to Google to inquire about Ward’s thread but did not hear back by press time.