The rise of AI platforms such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, Bing Chat and Jasper AI has seen a dramatic shift in the way that businesses are creating content for their websites. For a relatively low cost and with little effort, these platforms can create entire articles and website pages in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
With this ability has also come a heated debate: should you be using AI to create content for your business, and how will search engines such as Google react to this method of content creation?
What is Google’s official stance on AI-generated content?
Basically, it comes down to this: if you have used AI to create content that provides valuable, accurate information for your users, Google will allow you to rank well in the search results potentially.
Google explains in their article that they focus on the quality of the content and whether it demonstrates E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) rather than how the content has been produced. So, if you can use AI to create content that is helpful to your users and has relevant demonstrations of E-E-A-T, Google will treat the content the same as it does human-generated content.
Is AI-generated content against Google’s guidelines?
At this point in time, AI-generated content as a whole is not against Google’s guidelines. As Google explains, various methods of automation have been used to create content for a very long time, and AI is just the newest technology being used.
If you are using AI to create content with the sole intention of manipulating search results, then that may go against Google’s spam guidelines. However, if you are using it to create meaningful content that provides value to your users, it does not inherently go against the guidelines.
How does Google prevent spammy AI articles from taking over search results?
Google has been using a number of methods to attempt to reduce spam in search results for years now. Perhaps their most impactful has been SpamBrain, their AI-based algorithm created to identify and remove spam results from Google’s index.
These methods assess AI-generated content the same way as they do human-generated content and make sure that it doesn’t violate Google’s spam policies. If AI content is created with the intent to inform users rather than manipulate rankings or utilise scraped content, it should not result in a spammy search results page.
Do you need to declare when content has been written by AI?
Generally, this is not needed. However, Google suggests that it could be warranted if it is likely that a user has a need to consider how the content has been created. This is in line with Google’s guidelines for creating helpful content.
Is AI-generated content good for SEO?
As with most SEO questions, this one does not have a straightforward yes or no answer, but rather it depends on the specific situation.
If you are using AI to create content specifically to rank for particular keywords, it is unlikely to perform well. In general, Google advises against creating content that is just designed to rank well and gain organic traffic.
If you are generating content with AI that is unique, adds value to your site and helps educate and inform users, then the content may be good for SEO. Your site will still need to adhere to best practices and be optimised for technical and on-page SEO elements to rank well organically.
AI and creating content for “Your Money or Your Life” sites
If your site falls into what Google calls a “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)” site, you will need to take extra care when creating content. Coined in Google’s guidelines for search quality evaluators, a YMYL site is one where the information could have an impact on a person’s happiness, health, safety or wealth. That is, a person could be in some way harmed if the information that they receive is not accurate. Niches that fall into this category include healthcare, finance, news, and legal sites.
YMYL sites are held to a higher standard of accuracy than other sites and, as such, must more obviously demonstrate E-E-A-T. If you are using AI to create content for a YMYL site, it is vital that the content is thoroughly reviewed by a human with extensive knowledge of the topic to ensure the information is correct. Incorrect information can not only result in poor organic performance and poor user experience but can also have a lasting negative impact on the user’s life.
Overall, it is not recommended that you use AI to write YMYL content. However, it can be a useful tool for gathering ideas and potential outlines for content. It is vital that YMYL content is reviewed and created by humans for humans to provide accurate information and prevent harm.
So, should you use AI for your content?
It is ultimately your choice to use AI-generated content on your site. If you are following Google’s guidelines and your site is optimised for other SEO best practices, there is no reason that AI content can’t perform well.
However, just because Google is currently not penalising AI content doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. Google is constantly changing their search algorithms and processes, and things that were once acceptable and commonplace are now against best practices.
AI could be the next big thing that ushers in a new era of how we use search engines and how we create content. Or it could be like Google’s ill-fated Google Glass - which makes a lot of noise in the industry and is expected to change the way we live our day-to-day lives, but ultimately doesn’t live up to the expectations and falls flat.
As much as everyone likes to speculate about the future of AI and how it is changing marketing, the truth is that none of us has any way of knowing how this will play out.