Google sets the record straight on AI-generated content: Here’s what that means for you
February 14, 2023
Google has clarified what it thinks about AI generated content

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What does Google really think about AI-generated content? That question has long been the subject of intense speculation – especially for much of 2022 – with the search giant largely quiet on the matter. Until now that is. Last week it finally published a blog setting the record straight. In short, as we’ve long argued, Google has confirmed that there’s nothing wrong with AI-generated content. What matters is quality. Here’s a quick Q&A to get you up to speed.

What does Google’s announcement actually mean?

Fundamentally, not a lot. Google has always stated that content should be created for users and not search engines, that it should be original and that it should be of a high quality.

What’s clearer is that Google is less concerned with how it’s made. It doesn’t matter if it’s human-generated or AI-generated, what really matters is that its purpose is to help people find what they’re looking for online – and, to reiterate, not to “manipulate search engine rankings”.

Can I create AI content that abides by E-E-A-T?

As Google has explained, “high-quality content that demonstrates … expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness” (E-E-A-T) will always be rewarded.

That applies to all types of content, regardless of whether it’s human-generated or AI-generated. It’s also important to note that Google has made it clear that you don’t have to tick each of these aspects with every piece of content you create. Context matters. AI-generated content can certainly demonstrate expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in various ways.

Can I create AI content for YMYL (your money or your life) queries?

In theory, yes, but we recommend you approach this type of content with caution. You’d need to ensure that inputs used by the AI to create the content would need to be provided by a subject specialist and that the output would also have to be reviewed by an expert.

The reason for this oversight is that YMYL topics carry a “high risk of harm”. Meaning, if inaccurate, misleading or riddled with errors, this type of content can negatively “impact people’s health, financial stability, or safety”. In short, you shouldn’t rely on raw, unedited AI-generated YMYL content. It will always need to be thoroughly reviewed.

Does every piece of content require authority and authorship?

The short answer is no. When it comes to functional content, for example, product landing pages, it doesn’t matter if the content is human-generated or AI-generated, so long as it’s accurate, user-focused and well-written.

For example, let’s say you’re an ecommerce brand specialising in furniture and homeware. Your category pages, whether they’re about sideboards or, more specifically, red sofas, do not need to be created by a sideboard or red sofa specialists respectively. It’s unnecessary.

How do you ensure that AI-generated content is unique and of a high quality?

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that ensures AI-generated content is optimised and carefully produced – see here for more info – but generally speaking, you need to make sure it’s relevant to your brand and that it offers real value to your audience.

One way of achieving this is by providing AI with additional data points or context that it didn’t have access to previously. For example, you might train a model on your brand’s tone of voice and feed it information about your most popular products on your site. This ensures that the eventual output is relevant to your offering, is tailored to your style and helps your audience achieve their goals.

Do I need to tell my audience that content was generated by AI?

Yes … and no – there is some nuance here. For example, Google states that “AI disclosures are useful” where someone might be interested in how the content was created. Needless to say, this isn’t always the case.

Again, taking the above example of product pages for an ecommerce brand selling furniture items, it’s unlikely that someone in the market for a red sofa would be curious about the author of a category page in which a variety of red sofas were listed. All that matters is that the content is accurate and helpful – not who or how it was created.

Key takeaways

The recent explosion in interest in AI-generated content, amplified by the launch of ChatGPT in December 2022, has forced Google to clarify its position. While everything pointed in the right direction, details have been scant and queries abundant. Now, following the release of guidance, we now know that all Google is really interested in is high-quality, user-focused content that hasn’t been created solely to gain search engine rankings.

Which effectively means nothing has changed and that good, helpful content will always win out in the end, while bad, spammy content will see your organic performance dwindle, regardless of whether it’s produced by humans or machines.

So, if you’re going to invest in AI – which we’re fully onboard with, by the way – just focus on creating exceptional content that is engaging, helpful and original. Give your audience what they want and need and do it in a way that is better than the competition. And don’t take any shortcuts, especially if you specialise in YMYL content. Google will eventually take notice.

At Melt Digital, we’re on a mission to transform the way content is produced – think human-led, AI-powered. We believe this is key to helping businesses gain a competitive edge. For more on what AI can do for you, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you.