Will Google Penalize AI Content?  

Will Google Penalize AI Content?  

By Sara Meier

July 18, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere now. It gives you shopping recommendations on your favorite website, tells you about traffic jams on your commute, and corrects your spelling when you write an email.  

Now, some businesses are turning to AI to generate content for their websites. As of this writing, at least 12% of businesses create content using AI writing tools.  

Before you start generating AI content for your business website, you need to know how it will affect your website’s rankings in search results and whether Google can detect AI-generated content.

Google’s Stance on AI Content 

Google is constantly updating its algorithm for its search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to stay on top of the changes so you know what you can post without getting penalized. 

Google’s current policy on AI-generated content rewards high-quality, helpful content that fits its E-E-A-T format: Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. As long as a site publishes high-quality content, Google doesn’t take into account the content creation process. 

ChatGPT is an example of a critical tool used to produce automatically generated content. While this can save time, it is important for a human to edit and review the draft to ensure the content is helpful, reliable, and puts accuracy first. Trying to get higher rankings with poor-quality content is easily recognized and penalized by Google’s algorithms.

The Rise of AI-Generated Content 

AI technology has exploded in the past year, driven largely by greater computer processing power, an increase in businesses investing in the technology, and the huge amount of data available for training models. For small businesses, the main value of AI lies in its ability to automate. With AI, small businesses like yours can publish more content, more often to answer your customers’ questions and convince them to choose your services. 

AI tools like writing bots improve your efficiency and productivity by speeding up the writing process. You can also integrate AI into your website design to personalize your visitors’ experiences by showing them content they’re interested in. 

Content Quality and Ranking Factors 

When you’re considering generating content with AI, remember that according to Google, content quality is more than just the text. According to Google’s webmaster guidelines, high-quality content includes the entire website, from the layout to the design to how fast the page loads.  

Your visitors’ complete experience on the website — including relevant content that informs and answers questions — affects where your site ends up on the SERP. There are other factors to keep in mind that may help your rank in the SERP, like user engagement signals and backlinks.  

Engagement Metrics and User Signals 

User engagement signals are signs that visitors to your site are getting value from your content. These signals include actions like sharing content on social media, liking it, or commenting on it. Google says engagement signals factor into website rank, though it won’t say how important they are.  

Using AI to generate helpful content can help personalize and tailor content to your visitor’s interests. It can also assist in improving the user experience, raising your engagement signals, and possibly improving your site’s ranking. 

Backlinks and Trust Signals 

Your web content must be reliable and factual, whether you’ve used AI content generation tools or written by a real person. As more auto-generated content hits the web, the audience will scrutinize content more before they trust it, so you’d better get it right.  

One way to do this is to have authoritative backlinks from outside, credible sources. Backlinks represent a vote of confidence from an independent entity and are an important way to build trust with your audience.  

Preparing AI Content for Google’s Algorithms 

AI-generated content should follow the same best practices as human-generated web content: 

  • The content should show E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 
  • It should be useful and engaging for your audience. 
  • It shouldn’t be duplicate content. 
  • Local businesses should have local backlinks. 
  • Businesses should include hours of operation, contact information, and driving directions. 
  • Your content should be useful, easy to understand, and not be keyword stuffed to avoid violating Google’s spam content policies. 

Fortunately, you can ensure you comply with these best practices by always having a real person review any AI-generated content before you publish it. 

Content Originality and Uniqueness 

AI writing tools can plagiarize or duplicate content, both of which can result in Google deprioritizing your site. If you use AI-generated content, use content checkers to make sure your content is original. Read through your content before publishing to ensure it’s accurate and high-quality. Better yet, if you don’t have time to do this, hire a content writer

Structuring AI-Generated Content for Readability 

Since your website is meant for humans, your content should be easy to read. Include the following elements to make it easy for the eye to follow: 

  • Headings and subheadings 
  • White space 
  • Bullets or numbered lists 
  • Short paragraphs 

Use active voice for clarity and include keywords where you can — but remember to write for the people reading your content, rather than for the search engines.  

Potential Risks and Mitigation Strategies 

Relying on AI tools to write content may save you time, but can also open you up to potential risks such as bland or uninteresting content, unintentional plagiarism, and AI hallucinations — where writing bots make up content. Whether you use AI to help with content writing or rely on a personal touch, you should monitor your site’s performance and gather use feedback to determine where you can improve. 

Monitoring Content Performance 

Is your content performing? Find out by monitoring your web traffic, sales, conversions, social media engagement, and how well your website ranks. You can do this yourself with DIY tools like Google Analytics, or you can hire a partner to help.  

If you do find issues with your site — like low traffic or low conversions — or you think you’re violating one of Google’s policies, address it immediately so you won’t run the risk of hurting your search ranking. 

User Feedback and Improvements 

Build your local business by gathering feedback from customers. Feedback tells you where you’re doing well and where you need to improve, while also giving you credibility online. Gaining online reviews can improve your SEO ranking while providing valuable social proof to local customers who are looking for a reason to choose you over a competitor. 

AI Does Not Replace Human Writers 

Whether you’re a fan of AI-generated content or not, what’s important to remember is that AI content writing tools do not replace the work of human writers.  

AI content generators are useful tools that can save you time, speed up your writing, and help generate ideas. However, AI doesn’t replace human writers and editors. AI doesn’t know your customers and what they’re interested in. It can’t take the place of a person who knows your business and how to write content that answers your customers’ questions. 

Do you need assistance with your content strategy? We’re here to help! Socius has a team of writers who are experts in content for the healthcare, home services, and home improvement industries. We’ll make sure you have the compelling content you need to engage customers in your local area. Book a call to get started today.