Google issued a spam policy update and it looks like good news for content creators and consumers.
AI Content Is Taking Over
If you are in the business of creating content you have probably spent most of 2023 either worrying about AI or trying to leverage AI to take your content creation to the next level. If you are just a consumer of content you have probably come across some, or lots, of AI-generated content, from spam posts on Quora to viral pontiff pictures. Regardless, AI-generated content is now everywhere and Google is beginning to take notice.
Google Policy Takes Aim at AI
There is a lot of talk about how Artificial Intelligence will destroy search engines like Google. Although that might be hyperbolic there is definitely some truth to it. So it should come as no surprise that Google is tackling the issue head-on. In a recent policy update, the search engine behemoth has said AI-generated reviews will be flagged as spam.
Automated Content: We don’t allow reviews that are primarily generated by an automated program or artificial intelligence application. If you have identified such content, it should be marked as spam in your feed using the <is_spam> attribute (via Google).
For the time being the focus is specifically on AI-generated reviews but the writing is on the wall. Google does not value LLM or AI-Generated content. However, this update was not unexpected and ties in neatly with an experiment carried out by Aiifi SEO expert Fergal O’Shea.
AI Content Creation SEO Experiment
Earlier this year Aiifi published an article entirely written by AI, specifically by ChatGPT. This was intended to be the SEO equivalent of a control group in a scientific experiment. Everything else on Aiifi is human-generated and we wanted to see how this AI in Real Estate article would perform in comparison. After just three months we had a conclusive answer: In August Google de-indexed the article. Google does not give explicit reasons for de-indexing but it feels safe to assume this was related to their policy crack down on AI-generated content.
What Does Google Policy Update Mean for Creators?
If you are currently running an AI Content Factory then this is bad news - very bad news in fact. But for everyone else this is great. Rather than reward spam, Google will continue to index and promote useful, user-friendly, content that aligns with its E-E-A-T policy.
Why is Google Clamping Down on AI?
A simple glance at Google’s policies gives us the answer. A policy called E-E-A-T underpins Google’s approach to SEO. In order for content to rank, the author must demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). ChatGPT and LLMs in general have none of these attributes.
An LLM has no “experience” or “expertise” using the product being reviewed. Nor, in our experiment, does it have any “experience” or “expertise” in real estate.
Furthermore, LLMs are prone to what is often called “hallucinations”. ChatGPT has been shown on countless occasions to generate factually incorrect or nonsensical text. So from Google’s perspective, they are the polar opposite of “Trustworthy” and not deserving of ranking.
What Does this Google Update Mean for AI-Generated Content?
The takeaway for SEOs and digital marketers is clear. Human-written content that is rich in personal experiences and expertise will beat AI-generated content in the SERPs. This is based on our own experience and experiment here at Aiifi and matches Google's E-E-A-T policy and the August 2023 update to its product review policy.
That being said, we are still in the very early stages of LLM and generative AI. You can most certainly still leverage AI content for SEO purposes, but mass-produced LLM output is not a "hack" to rank on Google. The best thing to do is stay up to date on Google and other search engine policy and generate your own content accordingly. AI will have a profound impact on everything we do but do not lose sight of what makes your content valuable - for your readers and for Google.