Will Google penalise AI content? Everything we know right now

If you’re a child of the 80s you’ll probably remember (if not, where were you?) the rise of co-op arcade games –  in particular versus beat-em-ups where you faced off against a series of opponents in a fight to the death. 

Although Google and AI weren’t selectable characters they might as well have been. Because, apparently, bad blood has been brewing between these mega-entities.

Will Google penalise AI content? The rumour mill is in full swing so let’s pick apart the facts and find out what’s really going down in Silicon Valley.

Google penalises poor quality content

And we only need to dip our toe gently into the gene pool of digital history to validate this. Back in 2011 Google unleashed its Panda algorithm in an attempt to punish sites with thin content.

Examples included:

  • Pages with sparse amounts of text
  • Content which lacked authority
  • Factually incorrect claims

So when people ask ‘will Google penalise AI content?’ Their question is valid and based on historical data (if you’re looking for another example read this article about the Penguin algorithm).

AI-generated content was once thin

AI tools like ChatGPT are highly advanced and can complete multiple complex tasks – including headline generation, keyword research, and coding – faster than any human.

Once upon a time, though, automated content was average – if not thin. And this made it prime fodder for a new Google algorithm (most likely named after an animal, suggestions on a postcard please).


Google’s stance has since softened

Google’s 2022 webmaster guidelines included advice about avoiding AI-generated content. Since then the internet giant’s views on the topic have changed and its guidelines updated. 

This isn’t surprising. Recently Google began inviting users to trial its new AI software: Bard. Creating an algorithm that targeted machine-generated content in light of this move would smack of hypocrisy.

Elon Musk requested a pause on AI

Will Google penalise AI in light of Musk’s public letter asking industry leaders to pause development on AI tools? His deep rooted concern – namely that machine-learning tools present an imminent threat – could set back AI development and render the penalisation argument redundant.

On the back of this, Geoffrey Hinton – a technology expert who worked at Google for over a decade developing its AI technology – resigned to talk about how we won’t ‘be able to know what is true anymore’ and that ‘not all of [AI’s] effects will be good.’

AI isn’t exempt from penalties

Google isn’t expressly against AI content. Rather it’s concerned with poor content that makes no sense to users but contains keywords. This means blogs, landing pages, and other types of digital collateral written by machines without human intervention will be penalised.

So the question is no longer ‘will Google penalise AI content?’ and instead ‘how can businesses avoid writing spammy content?’ The answer to which is: don’t use AI tools to write your content.

Tools like ChatGPT and Bard should instead be used to:

  • Research topics and trends
  • Suggest headings/outlines
  • Create approximate drafts

Despite this many businesses are using AI tools to quadruple output. The result is (at best) so-so content peppered with a few choice keywords that rapidly tanks and disappears from view.

Content farms and inexperienced business owners relying on machine-generated copy will lose out to savvy marketers who know which prompts to use and how to fact-check, copy edit, and humanise their AI-spun content.

There are no shortcuts. Achieving position-one in the Google SERPs involves painstaking research, agonising over keyword choices, and writing content that resonates with your audience. 

And once you’ve achieved pole position you must defend it. Because your competitors will be analysing your content for weaknesses – and doing everything in their power to dethrone you.

Content is our specialty…

So book a free consultation with one of our digital marketing experts so we can take your content marketing and SEO strategy to the next level.

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