Will Google Penalize AI Content? No, But There’s More To It

Updated on September 13, 2023

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 other tools.

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.

But let’s dive deeper.

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.”

Google Webmaster Guidelines Before UpdatePin

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:

Spammy Automatically Generated ContentPin

Back then, Google’s stand was clearly against AI-generated content. This is where the misconception of Google hating AI content comes from.

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.

Many people assume that they hate any content produced by artificial intelligence, period.

Google Search Liaison‘s Danny Sullivan has also said that it’s because most AI users try to manipulate search rankings and not for the human reading experience.

How Is AI-Generated Content Against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?

AI-generated content isn’t actually against Google’s webmaster guidelines, as shown above.

But using it inappropriately for the sole purpose of getting higher rankings without prioritizing a reader-first approach is. 

Unsurprisingly, they have strict criteria for what constitutes acceptable content and here are some reasons why most AI-generated content is not:

Lack of Originality

AI programs are programmed to generate text based on existing sources, often lacking creativity or insight into a particular topic.

All it does is take what it learns and spits out something similar.

This makes it difficult for search engines like Google to determine whether the information provided is accurate or valuable enough for users to find useful.

Keyword Stuffing

Another issue with AI-generated content is its tendency towards keyword stuffing and unnatural language use.

Since most AI programs are programmed using keywords, they overuse them to make their output more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This practice goes against Google’s guidelines as it creates an artificial ranking boost rather than providing real value for readers.

Unnatural Language

Additionally, many AI programs struggle with natural language processing (NLP), resulting in sentences that don’t flow naturally or sound robotic.

Another big no-no according to Google’s webmaster guidelines.


Since most programs rely heavily on existing sources when generating new text, there’s always a risk that some of this material may be copied without proper attribution or permission from the original author(s).

Not only does this go against copyright law, but it also violates Google’s webmaster guidelines which require all webmasters to provide clear credit where due when using other people’s work on their sites.

Ultimately, any AI-generated material should adhere closely to Google’s webmaster guidelines if you want your site ranked highly in SERPs and avoid potential penalties down the line.

Does Google Penalize AI Content?

We already established they aren’t completely against AI content. But Google does detect it, only those that try to game the system to rank higher with zero thought for readers.

Doing so is against their spam policies which will result in it being flagged as spam and receiving a manual penalty.

But honestly, I’m a little skeptical about the practicality unless it’s a page that has been reported multiple times.

Else, I doubt they have time for that.

How To Avoid Penalties When Using AI-Generated Content?

If you plan to use tools that can generate content automatically, by all means, go ahead. 

But if you want to avoid penalties, prioritize original and high-quality content for readers while demonstrating E-E-A-T.

Here is what that acronym means:

  • Experience: Do you have first-hand or life experience with the topic?
  • Expertise: Do you have the necessary knowledge to create content about the topic?
  • Authoritativeness: Are you a well-known or credible source that has covered the topic in-depth and gotten approval from others in the form of backlinks?
  • Trust: The combination of the 3 criteria above will add to your assessment of trustworthiness. In other words, is your website accurate, honest, safe, and reliable?

Google has also provided additional guidance by thinking in terms of Who, How, and Why.

Basically, the “Who” part is covered by E-E-A-T. Here is what the remaining 2 means:

  • How was the piece of content created? They want to know the level of AI involvement that was used. So adding AI disclosures and author bylines might also be a good idea.
  • Why are you making the content? Are you trying to be helpful to users or simply get more search traffic? And if you use content automation tools for the latter, that’s gonna piss Google off even more.

Implementing these concepts and frameworks when using AI-generated content will make you less likely to be penalized by future-proofing your AI-content for SEO.

Will Google Penalize AI Content (FAQs)

Are AI Content Writing Tools Safe To Use?

AI content writing tools are generally safe to use as long as you don’t publish the raw output. Automatically generated content usually doesn’t provide the depth required to satisfy Google’s helpful content requirements. And you don’t want to be on their radar or affected during the next core update.

Is AI Content Bad for SEO?

AI content is not bad for SEO if appropriately edited to provide readers with the most valuable and useful content possible.

To Sum Up

Google will not penalize you for using AI content if you follow the guidelines layout by them.

You use their search engine, so be smart and follow their rules.

That being said, their position could change anytime, as evidenced by last year’s changes.

One core update is all it takes to throw your pure AI content website to oblivion.

So be smart and use these tools sparingly and avoid the following:

  • Automatically generated AI content to manipulate search rankings
  • Not demonstrating E-E-A-T

Use them to ASSIST and not replace you.

Let me know how you approach AI content on your websites in the comments!

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About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings as a creator while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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