It’s crazy to reflect back on the progress that AI has made over the past decade. Perhaps we knew that the age of self-driving cars was coming; maybe we suspected that the technology of home automation would one day be a reality.
What we didn’t expect, however, was how quickly AI and its associated algorithms have taken seats at the creative table.
We’re already seeing incredible artwork and music created by AI algorithms – and of course, AI-generated content runs the internet these days. But there’s a slight problem with that: Google doesn’t like AI content. And in some cases, it goes so far as to label AI-generated content as “spam,” removing it from its front pages completely.
If you’re a web owner or content writer using tools like GPT-3, then you’re likely wondering: can Google detect your AI content? Will you be punished for using AI to write your content? The answer isn’t completely clear-cut. Let’s take a look.
Over the last few years, some of the most impressive and capable AI-powered writing tools have been released. You’d be familiar with the main ones – Jasper.ai, OpenAI’s Playground, and Writesonic (among others). AI text generators are trained to emulate human writing, and the results can be astounding.
But here’s the thing: AI tools are only as effective as the people using them. Unfortunately, many AI-generated articles are written lazily and without any real substance. Add to this the repetitive and monotonous nature of AI-generated content, and the result is content that offers little value.
Understandably, Google is concerned that its front pages are being populated with low-quality ‘spam’ content. It’s easy to see where this fear comes from; search anything on Google these days, and the first few results are essentially low-substance variations on the same article.
The people who typically ask this question are those concerned about being penalized by Google. It’s a sympathetic concern; AI-generated content is a lot cheaper and takes less time, but is it worth the risk of being downgraded in SERPs?
A lot of the fear comes from a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout. In it, John Mueller (Search Advocate at Google) explained that the company’s stance on AI content is clear: they consider it spam. It isn’t welcome.
That said, there’s no magic tool to detect AI content with certainty. It’s impossible to trace copy-pasted text back to its source, so Google’s AI detection capabilities are limited. But you’re not totally off the hook.
Google has algorithms capable of picking up on things like:
- Repetitive phrasing and structures
- Lack of originality
- Low sentence variation
- Unusual word use
- Toxic backlinks
These are all features commonly associated with AI-generated articles. Google’s algorithms can detect them, and when they do, your page may rank lower than it would have otherwise.
Why Does Google Care So Much?
Though some might feel differently, Google isn’t out to villainize AI-generated content. There’s no vendetta against AI writers or content creators. Google’s primary concern is providing its users with the best online experience possible.
That means giving them access to original, high-quality content that actually adds value to their lives. It’s why Google has always been so adamant about regularly upgrading its algorithms to detect content that doesn’t meet its standards – AI-generated or otherwise.
Dave Rogenmoser, Jasper’s CEO, explains the situation well:
“If your AI-written content is low quality and doesn’t help readers, it’ll get dinged. If your HUMAN written content is low quality and doesn’t help readers, it’ll get dinged. How do you make sure you’re safe? Know your intended reader deeply. Write content that solves their needs and answers their questions.”
Google Can Detect AI Content – But Will They?
While it’s true that Google has algorithms in place to detect low-quality content, that doesn’t mean we’ll see drastic changes overnight. The company still partially relies on user reports and complaints.
So, why not run ‘helpful content’ algorithms across the whole search engine and automatically downgrade the articles that don’t adhere to guidelines? It’s not as simple as that. There are ethical considerations that come with such a decision, and the line between ‘spam removal’ and ‘censorship’ is a fine one.
To cut a long story short – yes, Google can detect low-quality content. There is every chance that your AI-generated content will be penalized if you don’t take care during the writing process.
You cannot predict how Google will respond to your content, so it’s better to focus on creating high-quality content that will appeal to readers. That way, Google won’t have any reason to take action – and your readers will be happy too.
How To Write ‘Helpful Content’
The best way to ensure Google won’t penalize your content is to write it with the reader in mind. Think about what questions people may have and provide answers to those queries within your article. Ensure that all of the facts you include are accurate and up-to-date, and if possible, back them up with research from reliable sources.
When you’re using AI tools, there’s always the lingering temptation to value quantity over quality. Resist it! Your tool can technically write the whole article itself, but it shouldn’t be allowed to. Here are some of the best strategies for avoiding this trap:
- Do your own original research. We all know by now that AI tools can’t state reliable facts to save their lives.
- Come up with the structure yourself. Yes, AI tools can come up with a basic structure for you, but it’ll be repetitive and derivative of other pre-existing articles.
- Add enriching imagery and useful links. Demonstrate to Google that you’re attempting to create a valuable resource for readers.
And of course, it pays to invest in an AI detection tool as a means of double-checking your work. You can also run your content through a plagiarism checker to make sure you’re not inadvertently copying someone else’s work.
Check Your Content With Originality.AI
Just as Google has its methods for detecting low-quality content, there are tools available to help you check your own work.
We’ve designed Originality.AI to help you check content for plagiarism and low-quality writing. And before you raise a brow, AI detection tools have gotten results with up to 95% accuracy – so it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Google isn’t trying to villainize AI writers or content creators; they’re just looking out for their users’ best interests (and attempting to keep the internet free of pollution where possible). Try Originality.AI to make sure your content is up-to-scratch and you won’t have to worry about Google penalizing it.