Artificial intelligence (AI) for content creation is in the hot seat right now. Its promise of faster workflows and cost savings has made it an attractive option to many. However, some fear it comes at the cost of quality, empathy and even search rankings.
And with that comes the question: “Should we label AI generated content?”
This is what marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) pros at a recent Tokyo SEO conference were asking.
Gary Illyes, Search Analyst at Google, said that “it is not necessary,” but if you think disclosing that information is helpful for your users, you can do so.
While this sounds like a lousy response, this is actually part of Google’s long-term stance on the issue. We’ve also recently covered how Google doesn’t care about how you produce your content. Instead, they’re ranking all of them based on its quality guidelines called E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
So, is this good news for AI in content marketing? Let’s discuss.
In this blog:
Google’s Stance on AI Content Creation
First, take a look at Google’s official statements about AI-generated content.
From Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan’s November 2022 tweets:
“We haven’t said AI content is bad. We’ve said, pretty clearly, content written primarily for search engines rather than humans is the issue. That’s what we’re focused on.”
He also explained that you shouldn’t hyper-focus on AI content generation tools. Instead, you should put more work into producing helpful, reliable, people-first content.
On February 8, 2023, in their updated help document:
“At Google, we’ve long believed in the power of AI to transform the ability to deliver helpful information.”
This is then followed by a reiteration of their ranking and helpful content systems. These systems rely on the quality of content rather than how it was produced.
In their whitepaper titled “AI Policy Agenda for Responsible Progress in Artificial Intelligence,” published on May 19, 2023:
“AI also promises to help increase productivity despite growing demographic challenges.”
Their whitepaper outlined policy recommendations on approaching AI technology to improve quality, safety and reliability. Still, it didn’t mention how AI generated content will be penalized in search rankings.
Gary Illyes’ statement on labeling AI-generated content, June 16, 2023:
“We do not label it as AI-generated content. Again, it’s not whether the AI
The Present: E-E-A-T Guidelines
Notice a trend? As you can see, Google isn’t on a mission to wipe out AI generated content from its search engine results pages (SERPs). In fact, they’re constantly reminding everyone to use AI for better content quality responsibly.
You can use Google’s search rater guidelines so you know how they assess your content, including the E-E-A-T framework:
Display personal and first-hand experiences on your topic. Content that benefits significantly from experience are reviews of restaurants, hotels, products and other reviewable items.
Google looks at readily available information about the author. Does their expertise line up with what they’re writing about? If yes, you will likely rank higher than someone with no demonstrable background or expertise.
Are you a go-to source for a topic? While there are no official “sources” on a subject matter, Google typically looks at your backlinks, citations and other signals to see if you’re an authority.
This is an amalgamation of the three other factors. The level of trust needed depends on the content you’re creating. If your content involves YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics, then Google requires a higher level of trustworthiness.
Brandon George, Thrive’s Director of Content, has this to say about AI and Google compliance:
“The most risk-free way to consistently rank high on Google and other search engines is to have humans who are experts in their field write content with a level of depth that is high-quality and checks all the boxes in terms of the E-E-A-T guidelines.”
Ultimately, SEO content writers and content creation services must think about one thing: content quality. Is it helpful, relevant and unique? While AI content generation improves your output, you must be wary about sounding robotic and producing generic content that doesn’t add value to your readers.
“A human is going to be able to hit those marks much more consistently than AI alone,” George said.
“Using AI alone isn’t something we’d recommend, and Google has consistently discouraged that approach from an SEO standpoint.”
The Future: Google’s AI Content Policy
Content optimization for SEO is an ever-evolving endeavor, primarily because Google is constantly fine-tuning its algorithms. Since AI in content marketing is a growing concern, Gary Illyes revealed that Google is having internal discussions for an AI content policy.
• Someone at the SEO conference asked him: “What would Google do if an experience (which is important in E-E-A-T) is created by AI even though it is not actually experienced?”
• His answer: “We are internally discussing how to respond. We will announce when we have a policy that can be made public.”
What’s clear in his statement is Google’s awareness of the issue of accuracy and hallucinations that AI content generators are prone to. While no additional details were divulged, it’s clear that Google is serious about regulating AI-generated content to protect its users from harm.
Google also released its Search Generative Experience and Bard for beta testing, meaning they see AI content generation as a part of our future. Furthermore, Google is gearing toward responsible AI use. In fact, Google published its Generative AI Prohibited Policy as part of its Privacy and Terms. Inside, Google laid down the limitations of using their generative AI services.
We should see a similar policy on AI content creation in the future: how it’s treated, what it should be used for and how you can leverage it responsibly.
Expert Tips To Win the Algorithm
That’s about it with Google’s stance on AI content. What’s your next step?
Whether you’re working with SEO content writing services right now or doing it yourself, you’re probably thinking about future-proofing your strategy.
Here are four things you can do to achieve that.
1. Only Create People-First Content
Go back to your roots and remember why you’re creating content in the first place.
It’s not because you want to score some sales or achieve a vanity metric of first-page ranking. You want your content to be useful for your readers, and Google also wants that.
So, how can you do it?
Any decent content marketing consultant will tell you that people-first content is the way to go. Put simply, people-first content serves your readers first before Google and bots.
So, avoid writing for machines, even if you leverage AI in content marketing. This means developing through the eyes and hands of a human expert instead of relying too much on a bot.
“You want high-quality content on your site that is relevant to your target audience and solves their pain points but also is SEO-optimized with keywords,” George said.
Ken Romero, Thrive’s SEO Strategist, adds “it’s important to strike a balance by involving human expertise.” This ensures you integrate these three important aspects into your content:
• Quality: Content that is well-written, clear, concise and to the point.
• Creativity: Content that stands out and is engaging.
• Ability to connect: Content that solves specific problems and meets the audience’s needs.
For example, if you’re running an SEO content optimization campaign, think about what your readers want, your unique value and how you can help them. This way, you’re not just blindly producing crawler-optimized fluff, which will only hurt you in the long run.
2. Always Rely on Human Expertise
AI will never have the depth of humans: how they respond to nuances, integrate emotions and, most importantly, evolve with the times.
“To get the most of AI, it needs to be human-led and by someone with a deep understanding of content and all its nuances,” George said.
If there’s a recent development in search algorithms, human-led SEO content writing services are better equipped for success than those heavily relying on AI.
George warns that “AI recycles content by pulling from articles that have already been published.”
This means you can’t produce unique data and case studies that offer a lot of value while giving E-E-A-T signals to Google.
Similarly, AI doesn’t detect industry trends and will only generate up-to-date information if you input the right prompts and information. To do that, you’ll still need a human expert who knows what they’re doing when using AI in content marketing.
According to Don Gruspe, Thrive’s Demand Generation SEO Specialist:
“These are human qualities that cannot be replicated by AI and contribute to higher-quality content that favors Google’s standards, increasing their visibility on the search results.”
Using human knowledge (that evolves and adapts with the times) makes your content more “refined, insightful and credible, offering unique perspectives and establishing trust,” said Gruspe.
3. Watch Out for the Latest SEO and Content News
“You must stay up-to-date on the evolving AI policies because it’s ever-changing. Who knows where this will ultimately land in Google’s eyes,” George said.
Content optimization for SEO requires keeping tabs on what’s new and what matters. This includes working with a content marketing consultant and subscribing to marketing publications, like:
• Search marketing publications like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land
• SEO SaaS providers like Ahrefs and SEMRush
• Content marketing consultant companies like Thrive Internet Marketing Agency
These publications are either service providers or SaaS companies composed of experts and SEO content writers who deal with the latest in content optimization for SEO.
Keeping with AI news helps you “avoid penalties and adapt strategies to the changing digital landscape,” said Romero.
4. Responsibly Use AI-Generated Content
Cutting budgets and laying off workers to trade for machine-based SEO content optimization is never a good idea. So, don’t go out there using AI content creation services to beat the competition through overwhelming quantity.
“It would be highly irresponsible for a business to just produce AI content alone and use that on their website,” George said.
He also identifies AI gaps that human expertise and due diligence could fill:
• Non-empathy: AI tools don’t do well consistently writing with empathy and matching a target audience’s needs.
• Factual errors and limits on recency: Most models today are only trained on data through 2021 and 2022. So, they struggle with current events.
• Missing brand tones: AI tools today sound robotic and still struggle with consistently getting the right tone for your content.
Illyes also pointed out that Google’s machine-learning algorithms constantly evolve and learn how human-written content looks and sounds. So, it’s not far-fetched to think that Google will eventually catch up and penalize you because of poor content quality.
Instead, use these tools as your assistants, not as replacements. Also, consider the ethical implications of your content:
• Are you misinforming people?
• Do you replicate discrimination and bias?
• Are you relying too much on AI and cutting corners on quality assurance?
Think critically about your content generation process, and ensure the answers to these questions are no.
Leverage the Power of AI, Human Creativity and Expertise With Thrive
AI is an inevitable part of our future. Many people will use it, so how can you stand out? The key lies in knowing your content’s value and why you’re doing it.
Google’s upcoming AI content policy isn’t a harbinger of death for AI tools. We should see it as an opportunity to have an informed process of responsibly integrating AI content creation into our strategy. After all, tools can only be effective if we know how to use them the right way.
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency’s content creation services and way of digital marketing are informed by best practices, industry standards and ethical considerations. We don’t want you to use AI tools for the sake of cutting corners. We ensure they’re maximized for your success through on-brand content, research-driven strategies and sustainable SEO.
Talk to us and explore the possibilities with Thrive!