According to John Muller, Google’s Search Advocate, all content generated automatically using AI writing tools is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and is now considered spam.
Mueller says that all content written by AI falls under the category of auto-generated content, which could lead to a manual penalty. This topic was addressed during a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout in response to a question about GPT-3 AI writing tools. As Google's Search Advocate, John Mueller shares so many SEO insights and assists, SEO professionals each week by answering their questions in a live Q&A during his office-hours hangouts.
There’s a debate in the SEO community about the use of GPT-3 tools and whether they’re acceptable from Google’s point of view. But first, let’s look at Mueller’s response to the question about how Google views the use of these tools.
Regardless of the tools used to create it, content written by machines is considered automatically generated by Google. Mueller clarified how Google’s position on auto-generated content has always been clear:
"For us, these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning. And people have been automatically generating content in lots of different ways.
And for us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do those kinds of things.
My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the old-school tools, but for us, it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam."
Official Google Guidance on Automatically Generated Content
Here is what Google says about automatically generated content in their Google Search Central documentation.
Automatically generated (also called "auto-generated"-content) is content that’s been generated programmatically. In cases where it’s intended to manipulate search rankings and not help users, Google may take action on such content. Some example cases include, but are not limited to:
Can Google Detect AI Generated Content?
A follow-up question is asked regarding Google’s ability to identify content written by machine learning tools. Can Google understand the difference between content written by humans and content written by machines?
Mueller makes no claims about Google detecting AI-written content automatically. Although, if Google’s webspam team happens to find it, they’re authorized to take action on it.
"I can’t claim that. But for us, if we see that something is automatically generated, then the webspam team can definitely take action on that.
And I don’t know how the future will evolve there, but I imagine like with any other of these technologies, there will be a little bit of a cat and mouse game, where sometimes people will do something and they get away with it, and then the webspam team catches up and solves that issue on a broader scale.
From our recommendation, we still see it as automatically generated content. I think over time maybe this is something that will evolve in that it will become more of a tool for people. Kind of like you would use machine translation as a basis for creating a translated version of a website, but you still work through it manually.
And maybe over time, these AI tools will evolve in that direction that you use them to be more efficient in your writing or to make sure that you’re writing properly like the spelling and the grammar checking tools, which are also based on machine learning. But I don’t know what the future brings."
Mueller clarifies Google doesn’t take into consideration how the AI writing tools are being used. Using them in any capacity is considered spam, he adds.
"Currently it’s all against the webmaster guidelines. So from our point of view, if we were to run across something like that, if the webspam team were to see it, they would see it as spam."
What Does This Mean to Webmasters, Bloggers, and Affiliate Marketers?
On the release of this news in March 2022, many webmasters, bloggers, and affiliate marketers made different reactions and statements on this matter.
"It’s true I think AI can create better content than most low rate writers. I think people miss the point here, I’m not bashing the software. I’ve happily used it to create great work. Of course, you have to fact-check and edit your work carefully still but it fills the gaps nicely.
The problem is if Google implements some kind of detection into their algorithm then a lot of sites are going to suffer. Some justified and others not so much.", says Previous_Street7814 via Reddit.
"Good content is hard to find. I've stopped visiting more than half my usual sites because they are losing quality. Look at the train wreck that happened at Cracked in 2017, they fired 25 staff members, and the site tanked hard. I'm just starting to see it recover a little but it is mostly dead because people wanted the real writers they had not clickbait.
AI articles are spam and at the end of the day plagiarism, for most websites paying under 0.05 per word they give equal quality but those sites aren't looking to have people coming back to their site repeated, they are selling one and done. This means you don't advertise on them because they aren't a trusted site just a search result. Content is everything.", says Unquietmammal via Reddit
"I think AI has a place to create a framework for a post, you then fill in the gaps.", says Smiffy via Reddit.
"How are they going to differentiate AI writing from human writing? I can write a sentence in my own way and let one of the AI writers create one on the same subject. Humans wouldn't know the difference.
I think that this is Google's way of just stepping in and making noise on a trending topic. That's like Google trying to figure out if I used Grammarly or ProWritingAid for cleaning up my articles.", says Dennis M Francis via Reddit
Apart from the big doubts saying that Google isn't able to detect AI content. We believe that it can or it will be able to do so very soon. This is because there are a bunch of GPT — 3 detector algorithms being released by several AI research institutes and organizations. Common GPT — 3 detector tools that have been released by AI research institutes include;
A webmaster on Reddit had a comment on these GPT — 3 detector tools:
So this proves that in the near future, Google could start digging down on AI-generated content. However, their decisions on whether to wipe out such content, regulate it, or wipe it away are not clear at the moment.