Google: AI Content Has No Ranking Magic Powers

Jul 19, 2023 - 7:41 am 10 by

Google Robot Writing

Danny Sullivan, Google's Search Liaison, responded to Vox Media's story where Merrill Brown, G/O's editorial director claimed that AI content is currently "well-received by search engines." Sullivan said, "It's still not correct that AI content will be "well-received by search engines," at least for us."

Sullivan went on to explain on Twitter that "There's lots of AI content on the web that doesn't rank well and hence isn't well received" by Google Search. "AI content has no magic ranking powers," Sullivan said.

Only "if content is helpful, then it might succeed," but not because AI wrote it does it mean the content is helpful.

Sullivan wrote to the author, "FYI about this part: "he’s learned that AI content 'will, at least for the moment, be well-received by search engines'." This isn't correct. Our systems are looking at the helpfulness of content, rather than how it is produced," Danny Sullivan clarified.

"We'd encourage publishers, however they produce content, to ensure they're making it for people-first," he added. "Producing a lot of content with the primary purpose of ranking in search, rather than for people, should be avoided. Sites producing a lot of unhelpful content not intended for people-first may find all of their content less likely to be successful with search," he said.

Note: I updated the headline of this story to be less confusing - sorry about that.

Here are those tweets:

To be fair, I didn't read Peter Kafka's line as saying all AI-content is received well by Google Search. Just that Google Search is open to saying AI-content can rank well if it is quality.

As Google's Sullivan wrote before on explaining the who, how and why on AI content that if you do all of that and the content is generated to help people, then it might do well. But if you are using AI to write content to just rank in search, then it might not do so well.

In any event, I think this is just a matter of Sullivan trying to clarify some confusion but I don't know if the article is saying what some are thinking it is saying. No, Google does not rank AI-generated content better because it was written by AI.

Here is the debate on that part, but it is just for fun:

Danny wanted to point out this clarification:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: Later today the NY Times wrote Google Tests A.I. Tool That Is Able to Write News Articles - here is Google's response:

 

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