If you’re working in the SEO or content writing industry, this title might make you fret or rejoice. So, stick longer and see how exactly Google’s position has changed when it comes to content generated by artificial intelligence (AI).
How Does AI Work to Create Content?
Artificial intelligence has evolved tremendously over the past few years. It is now being used in a wide range of industries, including marketing where SEO specialists immediately seized the opportunity. With AI-based tools, such as Copy.ai or Jasper, content creation has become easier.
These programs do the writing work while the SEO expert, or any other user for that matter, tweaks the system and adjusts their preferences. In short, you tell the AI what type of content you need, and it writes it by fetching relevant sources from the web. The AI uses existing data to write content according to your style and SEO requirements.
This means more content is generated faster and with less human effort. It also raises concerns for content writers and copywriters who, like many other professionals, fear their jobs will become redundant with the surge of technology.
Google’s previous policies regarding machine-generated content tackled these concerns. The search engine disliked this sort of content, so to speak. So, it penalized it. Websites using automated content to improve their SEO or get more content at lower costs didn’t achieve a good ranking. Therefore, relying solely on automatically generated text beat the main purpose of ranking better on search engines. However, things are now taking a turn.
Google’s Initial Stand on Automatically-Generated Content
Google’s previous position regarding automatically generated content was firm. The tech giant was against it. Websites using it could easily get penalized by the search engine. Its analysis algorithms could spot this type of content and penalize it for its low quality. This has been the case with auto-generated content for years.
Ever since Google established certain standards for its website ranking strategy, there have been SEO experts who tried to beat the system. They were trying to achieve good rankings on Google with SEO-optimized, automatically generated content without actually writing anything.
The tools they used were taking pieces of content from existing websites. Then, they were simply scrambling it to create new texts. The result was often disappointing, to say the least. Those texts were sometimes meaningless for the readers and brought no value. They were simply there for SEO purposes.
Yet, we are talking about practices that were common years ago, since the beginning of the 2000s. Back then, they brought some results because Google’s algorithms weren’t very evolved either. So, the search engine could rank a website well for its SEO, regardless of the quality and originality of its content.
Again, we are talking about the old days when both SEO and Google algorithms had just a fraction of today’s complexity. Now, we are dealing with advanced algorithms that are constantly improved. The purpose, however, remains the same. Google’s aim is to show the most relevant search results based on the keywords people use. This translates into three main attributes:
- High quality
The current debate is whether AI alone can generate this type of content without human intervention. If so, is Google going to differentiate it from the rest of the content that’s written by humans? Also, will it penalize websites that use AI content to improve their SEO or simply speed up the content creation process? Read on and find out.
How Has Google Changed Its Stand on AI-Generated Content?
As artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly complex, its capabilities grow. This changes the way content generated by this technology looks and how it interacts with search engines.
If the main argument against automatically-generated content was its poor quality, this is not necessarily the case with the AI tools available nowadays. In the past, automatically generated content was simply a mix of the information already existing on Google. Compare it with a text automatically translated with Google Translate without being edited afterward and you’ll get an idea of how these texts looked like.
But just like automated translation tools, AI content generation technology is evolving, so the quality of its work is improving. As a result, Google is no longer against all AI-generated content. It now seems to accept it as valid and relevant content as long as it follows a set of quality standards. Websites in line with those guidelines can avoid penalties even if they rely on AI content.
According to Google’s guidelines, content must follow one basic rule – it should be created for people not for the engine’s algorithm. Whether this content is written by humans or generated by an intelligent machine is no longer relevant. What matters is the result and how readers perceive it. If the text sounds natural and it contains useful and relevant information, Google won’t penalize it even if it was not written by a person.
What Are the Limitations of AI-Generated Content?
As mentioned before, there are different reasons why you would use automatically-generated content for your website. One is to speed up the content creation process. AI tools can provide content in a fraction of the time humans require to generate the same text. Take for example ChatGPT. This is a chatbot created by OpenAI. It relies on the Generative Pretrained Transformer (GPT-3) language model when generating text responses based on users’ prompts. This is just an example of AI that can ‘write’ like a human. In fact, this bot’s primary function is to interact with customers as a virtual assistant.
Similar capabilities can be found in AI writing bots such as SEO.ai or Copy.ai. These versatile tools can write any type of copy from blog posts to ad copy, website copy, email campaigns, and anything in between. These AI writers have an undeniable appeal. Some claim they can write ten times faster than humans. That means getting ten times more content.
However, there are some limitations. Despite their capabilities, these are still tools that need to be handled by humans. To generate great content, you need to know what you want and give the bot the proper input. And this means having the human user in mind, not SEO if you want a good Google rank.
How Can You Use AI-Generated Content Without Being Penalized by Google?
Google is no longer against AI-generated content, but it doesn’t entirely welcome it either. Google’s current spam policies shed more light on what the search engine wants in terms of content written by AI tools.
According to these guidelines, automatically-generated text (which includes text written by AI) should be avoided if it is not written with the user in mind and has poor quality. Like before, these policies point out that Google is against scraped content generated through automation. This includes content that’s copied from other sources and only slightly modified by automated tools, without bringing anything new and valuable.
There’s an entire section dedicated to automatically-generated content in Google’s policy. There, you can see that spammy automated content is defined as content that’s generated programmatically and doesn’t contain any original information or added value.
This type of content is made for the sole purpose of manipulating search rankings. The bottom line is that it doesn’t help users, it only aims to help websites boost their Google ranking.
The search engine’s policy further explains what this content looks like by giving the following examples SEO experts and websites owners should avoid:
- Keywords-rich content that makes no sense to readers;
- Automatically translated content that’s not reviewed by humans;
- Low-quality content generated by automated tools, which include AI-generated content;
- Content generated through automated paraphrasing or synonymizing;
- Content created by scraping feeds or combining texts from multiple web pages, with no added value.
The Bottom Line
Using AI to generate content is not necessarily an issue anymore, as long as the result doesn’t fall into one of the categories above. Google doesn’t penalize content just because it’s written by an AI. As this technology evolves, the search engine might not even realize that the content was generated artificially. What it does spot and penalize, however, is poor-quality content written just for SEO.
One way to make sure your content, whether written by a human or AI, doesn’t get penalized by Google is to follow Google’s updated content guidelines. The introduction of these guidelines clearly explains what quality content should look like. In a nutshell, it is helpful content that demonstrates expertise and is written for people, not search engines.