Google has always been a stickler for high-quality content. That’s why, in recent years, they’ve begun to penalize websites that publish low-quality, duplicate or auto-generated content. So, if you’re using AI to generate your website content, you may be wondering: will Google penalize my site?
There's no denying it; some writers really know how to manipulate you, especially when it comes to clickbait titles.
A recent example is an article Matt G. Southern published on Search Engine Journal in April 2022 that went viral throughout that AI writing community.
The article's bold claim headline "Google Says AI Generated Content Is Against Guidelines" certainly captured attention, and with over 93K reads and 3.7K shares, it's easy to see why.
In the article, Southern credits John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, with saying AI written content is considered spam and could lead to a manual penalty by Google's systems.
While you have to credit Southern with incredibly clever writing, you also have to ask yourself - is it true?
BTW - This article was a genius marketing move
The direct traffic generated alone is mind-blowing, and organic traffic is off-the-scale. List building through viral articles is the new normal - It's the power of content marketing.
Just look at that prominent 'subscribe' box waiting for you. And of course, prolific Google ads 😆
If I'd had $1 for every time this link has been shared with me, and my opinion has been sought, it would cover my monthly AI subs, that's for sure! Wondering how you can benefit from curating content like Matt's blog post? I'll show you here.
Google's position on AI-generated content
Southern gleaned this information from "a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout in response to a question about GPT-3 AI writing tools."
During the interview on the Youtube channel Google Search Central, Rohan Chaubey, moderator at Reddit, asks John Mueller to clarify his previous statement on Reddit that people should not be using GPT-3 AI writing tools, such as Jasper.
Muller's response is clear on the matter:
"If you're using machine learning tools to generate your content...it's still automatically generated content and that means for us (Google) it's still against the webmaster guide."
So whilst Southern's clickbait title is indeed true, the positioning of the article has caused quite a stir, leading to a flood of questions on the category of automatically generated content and indeed a plethora of shares for the article in question.
So, can Google really automatically detect content generated with AI tools?
Immediately after John Muller's response, Chaubey specifically asks, " Are you saying that Google is able to understand the difference between human and AI content?"
Mueller replies: "I can't claim that."
Making it clear that Google cannot detect ai generated content.
Southern addresses this later in the article, quoting SEJ's own editorial team member Miranda Miller as saying:
"I think the biggest takeaway from this particular Q&A is that Google’s algorithms aren’t able to automatically detect content generated by language models such as GPT-3".
So why is the same question being asked over and over again?
Will Google penalize my AI-generated content?
The short answer is no, at least not yet.
Google can't automatically detect content generated by AI and as such, can't penalize it.
However, that's not to say they won't in the future.
Muller has made it clear that Google consider AI-generated content to be against their guidelines and as such, it's possible that they will develop a way to detect and penalize it.
For now, though, AI-generated content is not something you need to worry about when it comes to Google penalties.
What you should be worried about though, is choosing the best content writing tools and making sure to create valuable, high-quality content.
How is automatically generated content against Google's Webmaster Guidelines?
Mueller claims that Google has always had a clear perspective on the subject:
AI-generated content falls into the category of automatic-generated content.
However, reading the advanced SEO documentation on Google's webmaster guidelines, clear examples are indicated:
SEO tricks like keyword manipulation - automatically generating content that the reader won't understand, yet it may contain search keywords.
Machine translated content - translation tricks like translating text automatically without human review or curation.
Content generated programmatically - generating text through automated processes, such as Markov chains.
Shuffling techniques - the use of automated synonymizing or obfuscation technologies to generate content (content spinning).
Combining content - scraping Atom/RSS feeds, different web pages, or search results to generate text.
Not providing sufficient value - when content from various web pages is stitched or combined without providing any additional value (cobbling).
See what I did there 😆 I used an automated tool to rewrite the guidelines. Will the Google Gods strike me down? Let's see.
What is a manual penalty by Google?
If you've been in the SEO world for any length of time, you're likely familiar with manual penalties.
A manual penalty is when Google reviews your site and decides to take action against it because it has found that you are violating one of its webmaster guidelines.
Manual penalties can be given for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to:
hidden text or links
unnatural links to your site
If you receive a manual penalty, it will be logged in your Google Search Console account.
Are AI content writing tools safe to use?
The short answer is yes. In the right hands.
Is AI content worth the risk?
The long answer is… it depends.
If you're a complete novice, however, using AI content writing tools to generate your content could do more harm than good.
Because if you don't know how to use the tool properly, you could end up generating low-quality, unreadable content that could get you penalized by Google. Plus, if your AI-generated content fails to entertain the reader or provide value, you're likely to see a negative impact on your website's traffic and engagement.
On the other hand, if you're able to use AI-generated content in a way that adds value for the reader, you may find that it can be an extremely valuable addition to your website. If you're an experienced member of the SEO community, then using an AI tool to generate content could help you save time and increase your productivity.
So if you're going to use an AI writing tool, invest some time in learning how to use them and make sure you know what you're doing.
What are the best AI writing tools?
If you're set on using an automated tool to generate your content, then there are a few options available to you.
OK, so there might be a little bias here, but hand-on-heart, Jasper is my #1 recommendation every time.
That said, I understand that everyone has different needs and budgets, which is why I work with you over in my Facebook group to help you find the right AI tool.
After Jasper, my top picks are:
One app for all. AI writing PLUS image and video creation, social publishing and scheduling, as well as team collaboration. Ditch multiple subscriptions and simplify your life with one app.
Founder Nico clearly knows his stuff when it comes to marketing, and has trained the CC AI to crank out high-converting, sales-oriented copy.
A newcomer, Scalenut delivers a combined SEO copywriting formula that is intuitive and easy to follow. That's why it's called Cruise mode!
A more affordable option that still delivers great results.
If you think grammar-checking tools are a waste of time, think again! The free version of Grammarly takes your human written content, ai written content, or your human reviewed and edited auto-generated content, and highlights any errors. You can also upgrade to Premium and check for plagiarism.
If you're not sure which AI writing tool is right for you, head over to my Facebook group and I'll be happy to help you out.
What to avoid when using AI tools for your content creation
As we mentioned earlier, it's important to avoid using AI-generated content in a way that could get you penalized by Google.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Make sure your AI-generated content is well-written and free of grammatical errors. Nothing will turn off a reader more than poorly written content.
Avoid keyword stuffing. This is when you stuff your content full of keywords in an attempt to improve your SEO. Not only will this irritate the reader, but it could also get you penalized by Google.
Make sure your AI-generated content is relevant and informative. Don't just create content for the sake of it. If your content isn't providing value, you're likely to see a negative impact on your traffic and engagement.
When used correctly, AI writing tools can be an extremely valuable asset for any content writer or SEO.
Just remember to use them wisely and avoid any potential pitfalls that would make Google react negatively towards your site!
AI writing tools can be a valuable addition to your content creation arsenal, but only if you know how to use them properly.
It's a cat and mouse game. Google is always changing its algorithm, so what's working today might not work tomorrow. The key is to stay ahead of the curve and be willing to experiment with new things.
Right now, be sure to avoid using such content in any way that could get you penalized:
Automatically generated text intended to manipulate search rankings
Using machine translation to produce a translated version of text without human interaction
Content generated programmatically, through automated processes
Shuffling words, using obfuscation techniques, and content spinning
Article text generated automatically as composite content from RSS feeds and search results
Generating articles that do not provide sufficient value to the reader
What are your thoughts on using AI writing tools for content creation? Have you had any success or failures? Let us know in the comments below!