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With the help of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, we know that automatically generated content is a no-no.
But when Google announced its new update in 2022, it seemed to have changed its mind.
This has been a trending topic in the SEO community. And the buzz surrounding it still hasn’t died down.
However, it is still unclear how Google’s algorithms would detect AI content or if it’s even possible.
So can Google detect AI content?
Yes, but it’s not so clear-cut.
Let’s dive deeper.
What Is AI-Generated Content?
Before we delve in, let’s first look at what AI content actually is.
AI content is any deliverable created using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
These little robots take in your initial input and create something similar to its training data set.
Some examples of AI content are the following:
They can also do coding, machine translation, fact-checking, and help with stock market predictions.
Their ability to produce all these things with just a few clicks makes it so powerful and a little scary.
No wonder this technology is buzzing, especially in the content marketing and SEO communities. Imagine writing long-form articles and web copy in just seconds.
You might think that would be a dream come true for content marketers.
That’s what I thought too.
But Google frowns upon auto-generated content, and you’ll see why.
After trying several AI writing tools, I can say that sometimes it’s hard to tell whether humans or AI wrote the content.
But can Google detect AI-generated content, and will they penalize you?
Here’s what I know so far:
So Can Google Really Detect AI Content?
My answer is YES. Google can detect AI content.
It’s debatable, but let me explain.
In this interview with John Mueller, Chaubey specifically asks if Google understands the difference between human content and human content.
Mueller said, “I cannot prove it.“
Though Mueller can’t give a definitive claim that Google can, in fact, automatically detect content generated by AI.
But he did say that if it all falls under spammy automatically-generated content, the webspam team will flag it as spam if they come across it.
Their answer is not definitive, so it is more of a “read between the lines” situation.
But the takeaway from this video is that it’s more of a cat-and-mouse game.
Many people assume that they hate any content produced by artificial intelligence, period.
Google Search Liaison‘s Danny Sullivan has said that it’s because most AI users try to manipulate search rankings and not for the human reading experience.
So why do I still think Google can detect AI-generated content?
Let me ask you one simple question.
If AI detection tools can already do it, what makes you think Google can’t?
It sounds like what he’s saying is “We can detect AI content, but I’m not going to disclose how because you are just going to find another way to game the system rather than taking a user-first approach.“
Will Google Penalize AI Content?
No, Google will not penalize AI content as long as it’s not considered spam and is useful to users.
Many big companies have used machine learning tools for years to create content, even before ChatGPT or Jasper AI.
Search Engine Journal’s Senior Managing Editor Miranda Miller’s comments also covered the usage and treatment of automatically generated content.
If Google wanted to penalize AI content, they would have already done so, and most websites will be affected.
They clearly understand that technological advancements have made avoiding AI use extremely difficult.
Not to mention, they are also using AI themselves.
It would be impractical and hypocritical of them to prevent usage.
Is Google Against AI-Generated Content?
Google is not against AI-generated content anymore, but they were.
Their webmaster Guidelines, now called Google Search Essentials, were updated in the last quarter of 2022.
Previously, the guidelines stated that you should avoid publishing ‘automatically generated content‘.
It was later changed to avoid ‘automatically generated content intended to manipulate search rankings‘.
Now, Google Search Essentials’ definition of spammy automatically-generated content changed to:
Back then, Google’s stand was clearly against AI-generated content. This is where the misconception of Google hating AI content comes from.
But with the new updates and John Mueller’s answers from the Q&A session, it seems Google has ‘softened’ its stance against AI content.
John Mueller even said you could use AI if you are running out of ideas or need inspiration for titles and meta descriptions. But still discourages blindly using content generated by AI.
How To Avoid AI Detection by Google
Here are some tips to follow if you want to avoid AI detection by Google:
1) Make It Feel Like a Human Being Wrote It
An AI-generated text lacks personality and creativity. It also sounds too robotic.
Have you ever come across content that sounds monotonous and emotionless? Most content written by AI sounds exactly like that.
It isn’t interesting to read, and you’re more likely to skip it, right?
So try to add your personality to the text to make it sound more like you. Make your audience feel like they are talking to YOU.
You’ll publish the content under your name, after all.
Remember that paraphrasing and translation tricks will not make your text sound more human. What you are doing is just shuffling words around.
Google is smart. You know that.
2) Check if the Content Is Accurate
Any information generated programmatically isn’t accurate. This is one of the major drawbacks of AI.
You still need to put in much work by researching and fact-checking. Your credibility and trustworthiness will be at risk if your content contains wrong information.
3) Offer Unique Value
After readers review your content, will they leave like they’ve learned something new?
Adding sufficient value to your content is what makes a reader come back again and again.
And this is what Google is asking from you.
Remember that Google will not flag content as long as it offers value to the readers.
4) Use an AI Writing Tool That Has Multiple Language Models
Most of the latest AI writing tools rely on readily available language model APIs like OpenAI’s GPT-3, GPT3.5, and ChatGPT.
This makes it easier to identify specific markers from their content output.
You want to use tools like Content at Scale, which uses a mix of different NLP algorithms, so there’s a more significant variance in the text and, thus, harder to detect.
I conducted a few tests to see which is the best way to make AI content undetectable. Have a read if you want to know more.
5) Prioritize Human Readers
It may feel like Google is playing with you with these changes and vague statements. But one thing is sure.
Their primary purpose will always be to provide users with the most relevant and highest-quality results.
They may change their mind about other things, but this is set in stone.
AI-generated content isn’t inherently wrong.
But if you use AI writing tools to generate content purely to boost rankings on the search results and not for human readers, you might be doing more harm than good.
Search engines like Google were made for humans, not machines.
Going back to the basics and following best practices for creating content is still the best strategy in this SEO game.
This way, you won’t run around trying to find loopholes after every update just to stay relevant.
And you won’t worry about your content getting flagged as spam.
6) Follow Google’s E-E-A-T Guidelines
Google’s E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. E-E-A-T is a guideline that Google uses to determine whether the web content is valuable to the readers.
Formerly called E-A-T guidelines in 2018, Google recently added a new letter for ‘Experience’. So if you want to create content that offers value and to avoid being penalized, follow this guideline.
As a writer or content creator, Google wants you to have at least some background about the content you are writing.
Whether it is firsthand experience or you are sharing a story from someone else.
If you are writing a product review, you should have tried the product you are writing about at least once.
You must have knowledge or skill about the topic you are working on.
People are more likely to trust the health advice of someone with a medical background than that of a casual blogger.
Your content should be authoritative and a credible source of relevant information.
This means building a topical map around all the subjects you cover.
Don’t forget that Google can’t “read” the content on your website but crawls it for information and makes connections through entities.
Google wants you to build trust among your readers and establish a reputable site.
You can do this by offering reliable information and proving that your business is legitimate by having the following:
Can Google Detect AI Content? (FAQs)
How Does Google Detect AI Content?
Google detects AI-generated content by using machine learning algorithms. These algorithms analyze signals such as text structure, grammar, and syntax to identify patterns indicative of AI-generated text.
This is my general opinion, and it has not been officially confirmed.
How Will Google Penalize Web Pages That Use Spammy AI Content?
If your content falls under their guidelines, the webspam team will impose a manual penalty. What those actions are is still unclear. But it will mess up your search rankings, that’s for sure.
Can Google Detect ChatGPT Content?
I believe Google can detect ChatGPT content if they want to by creating a detection system. However, there is currently no concrete evidence that they have one.
John Mueller never claimed that their systems could automatically detect content written by ChatGPT or any other tool.
Some experts believe that Google can detect unnatural language patterns generated by ChatGPT, which will be seen as spammy content.
Can AI Content Be Detected?
Yes, AI content can be detected. AI detection tools like Originality AI and Winston AI can detect AI content with scary accuracy. These are not 100% accurate, but they can help you better understand whether your material is at risk of being flagged as AI-written content.
Why Would I Want To Avoid Google Detection?
You’ll want to avoid Google detection because if your content is flagged as spam, it can affect your search rankings, and your hard work will go to waste.
To Sum Up
The bottom line here is that you should not solely rely on AI. You will always be more creative and better at producing unique content than any other AI tool.
The foolproof way to avoid getting penalized by Google is to search keywords that prioritize your readers.
This means taking a user-first approach and not creating content for the sole purpose of ranking.
Google may not be able to detect AI content now automatically. But their algorithms are constantly improving, and they will catch up eventually.
I hope this blog post answered your questions and cleared out some misconceptions.
If you have more questions, please comment below, and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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About the author
Brendan is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at brendanaw.com™, where he helps others succeed in the creator economy. Before launching his blog, he was the marketing manager at various E-commerce, NFTs, Crypto, Marketing Consultancy, Finance, and E-sports companies. He now works on his family’s luxury lighting business in Cambodia while documenting his journey as a creator online.
Learn more about me.