Google’s Autogenerated Content Ban and the Rise of AI Writing Tools

Written by: 
Molly Niemczyk

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs become more and more advanced, a conversation is brewing in the marketing realm about the use of language models to create content.

Countless questions have already been posed regarding the practicality, benefits, risks, and ethics of AI-generated content. No matter which side of the debate you may find yourself on, it’s important for marketers to know about all the potential tools at their (and their competitors’) disposal. If AI writing tools can be used to write ad copy or blog content, that could drastically change the marketing landscape.

On the other hand, “autogenerated content” is already banned on Google. Historically, this has been a way to prevent websites from manipulating search rankings by publishing nonsensical text that simply lists search keywords, with no regard for user experience. But, as AI language models become more and more sophisticated, the content they produce is nearly indistinguishable from the content a human might create. So, this raises the question: Is AI-generated content even allowed on Google? And how can Google detect whether content is AI-generated? Let’s talk about it.


What is an AI Writing Tool?

Before we dive into Google’s stance on AI, we need to define AI writing tools. 

AI writing tools are language processing tools. A human can feed the tool either instructions on what to write, or an initial prompt that the AI can then continue. One of the most famous language processing tool families right now is Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), which was designed by OpenAI. ChatGPT, a chatbot built on top of this language model, has recently garnered attention for its detailed and human-like responses.


Is AI-Generated Content Allowed on Google?

According to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller, no. Content that is automatically generated with AI writing tools is considered spam and goes against Google’s policies.

However, the answer is a bit more complicated than that. 

For one, AI has been used in the past to create content for Associated Press, Washington Post, USA Today, and other major publications. This is known as “automated journalism” and has existed for years, with seemingly no consequences from Google.

The other issue lies with Google’s potential inability to detect AI generated content, with or without the assistance of human reviewers.


Can Google Detect the Use of AI Writing Tools?

In short, it’s unclear. For years, there have been ways for Google to recognize and flag the tell-tale clunky text of autogenerated content. And human reviewers have always been able to step in to manually flag content as needed. But AI’s increasingly sophisticated language models will likely make it more and more difficult to discern what is written by an AI.


What This Means for Marketers

AI is developing at a rapid pace, and policies are racing to catch up. As of today, it is technically being treated as another method of autogenerating content by Google, and using AI to create content is not allowed. Google does not take into consideration how these AI tools are used, and bans them indiscriminately.

But, as Miranda Miller, the SR. Managing Editor at Search Engineering Journal, points out, the reality is that this technology is already being used in all sorts of ways without consequence. 

“Artificial intelligence is being used by media, universities, and other organizations for research automation and cross-referencing, crawling and classifying content in many languages to identify emerging trends, generating article and paper summaries, fact-checking, crunching data, and even writing full articles.”

Some might worry that this technology will replace copywriters or bloggers. Miller frames it differently; she treats AI as another tool in the belts of content creators, a way to improve their writing and overcome language barriers. Of course, this only addresses one potential negative consequence of AI; there are still issues of copyright, AI bias, and unintentional plagiarism that need to be addressed as the technology progresses.

Regardless, AI is here to stay, and only time will tell how Google’s policies evolve along with AI.  For now, if you’re a marketer, creating content without the aid of AI is the best way to prevent being flagged by Google.

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