Google On AI Content: Think About The Who, How, and Why For Your Content

Feb 9, 2023 - 7:51 am 37 by

Google Ai Writer

Google's Danny Sullivan reiterated that when it comes to AI content, Google is fine with it, as long as the content is useful and written for people. If you are using AI to write spam, then that is against Google's guidelines. But Google also added a new section to the people-first content section on "who, how and why" with your content.

Most of this is about reiterating what Danny Sullivan of Google said a month ago on the topic of producing content using AI. In short, Google doesn't care who writes the content, machine or human but rather if the content is written to help people and for people.

If you produce content, either by humans or machines, to manipulate search, Google will detect it (eventually) and take action.

What is interesting is with this clarification from Google also updated its people first content page to recommend you think about explaining to people who, how and why of the content. Danny Sullivan said none of this is required to rank in search but it may make sense to explain this with your content, depending on the type of content. This is how Google put it on this page (copy and paste):

Ask "Who, How, and Why" about your content:

Consider evaluating your content in terms of “Who, How, and Why” as a way to stay on course with what our systems seek to reward.

Who (created the content):

Something that helps people intuitively understand the E-E-A-T of content is when it’s clear who created it. That’s the “Who” to consider. When creating content, here are some who-related questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it self-evident to your visitors who authored your content?
  • Do pages carry a byline, where one might be expected?
  • Do bylines lead to further information about the author or authors involved, giving background about them and the areas they write about?

If you’re clearly indicating who created the content, you’re likely aligned with the concepts of E-E-A-T and on a path to success. We strongly encourage adding accurate authorship information, such as bylines to content where readers might expect it.

How (the content was created)

It’s helpful to readers to know how a piece of content was produced: this is the “How” to consider including in your content.

For example, with product reviews, it can build trust with readers when they understand the number of products that were tested, what the test results were, and how the tests were conducted, all accompanied by evidence of the work involved, such as photographs. It’s advice we share more about in our Write high quality product reviews help page.

Many types of content may have a “How” component to them. That can include automated, AI-generated, and AI-assisted content. Sharing details about the processes involved can help readers and visitors better understand any unique and useful role automation may have served.

If automation is used to substantially generate content, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the use of automation, including AI-generation, self-evident to visitors through disclosures or in other ways?
  • Are you providing background about how automation or AI-generation was used to create content?
  • Are you explaining why automation or AI was seen as useful to produce content?

Overall, AI or automation disclosures are useful for content where someone might think “How was this created?” Consider adding these when it would be reasonably expected. For more, see our blog post and FAQ: Google Search’s guidance about AI-generated content.

Why (was the content created)

“Why” is perhaps the most important question to answer about your content. Why is it being created in the first place?

The “why” should be that you’re creating content primarily to help people, content that is useful to visitors if they come to your site directly. If you’re doing this, you’re aligning with E-E-A-T generally and what our core ranking systems seek to reward.

If the “why” is that you’re primarily making content to attract search engine visits, that’s not aligned with what our systems seek to reward. If you use automation, including AI-generation, to produce content for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings, that’s a violation of our spam policies.


There, that is the copy and paste part.

Google also published a set of FAQs around AI content and Google Search, here is more copy and paste:

  • Is AI content against Google Search’s guidelines? Appropriate use of AI or automation is not against our guidelines. This means that it is not used to generate content primarily to manipulate search rankings, which is against our spam policies.
  • Why doesn’t Google Search ban AI content? Automation has long been used in publishing to create useful content. AI can assist with and generate useful content in exciting new ways.
  • How will Google Search prevent poor quality AI content from taking over search results? Poor quality content isn’t a new challenge for Google Search to deal with. We’ve been tackling poor quality content created both by humans and automation for years. We have existing systems to determine the helpfulness of content. Other systems work to elevate original news reporting. Our systems continue to be regularly improved.
  • How will Google address AI content that potentially propagates misinformation or contradicts consensus on important topics? These issues exist in both human-generated and AI-generated content. However content is produced, our systems look to surface high-quality information from reliable sources, and not information that contradicts well-established consensus on important topics. On topics where information quality is critically important -- like health, civic, or financial information -- our systems place an even greater emphasis on signals of reliability.
  • How can Search determine if AI is being used to spam search results? We have a variety of systems, including SpamBrain, that analyze patterns and signals to help us identify spam content, however it is produced.
  • Will AI content rank highly on Search? Using AI doesn’t give content any special gains. It’s just content. If it is useful, helpful, original and satisfies aspects of E-E-A-T, it might do well in Search. If it doesn’t, it might not.
  • Should I use AI to generate content? If you see AI as an essential way to help you produce content that is helpful and original, it might be useful to consider. If you see AI as an inexpensive, easy way to game search engine rankings, then no.
  • Should I add author bylines to all my content? You should consider having accurate author bylines when readers would reasonably expect it, such as to any content where someone might think, “Who wrote this?” As a reminder, publishers that appear in Google News should use bylines and author information. Learn more on our Google News policies page.
  • Should I add AI or automation disclosures to my content? AI or automation disclosures are useful for content where someone might think “How was this created?” Consider adding these when it would be reasonably expected.
  • Can I list AI as the author of content? Giving AI an author byline is probably not the best way to follow our recommendation to make clear to readers when AI is part of the content creation process.

From my original story, Danny Sullivan replied on Twitter referencing the previous comments they said about using AI to write content. He said, "As said before when asked about AI, content created primarily for search engine rankings, however it is done, is against our guidance. If content is helpful & created for people first, that's not an issue." Danny added that the "key to being successful with our helpful content system -- and if it's not helpful content, the system catches that." Then he references the Google spam policies where he said, "Our spam policies also address spammy automatically-generated content, where we will take action if content is "generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience."

Finally, he goes to the new EEAT guidelines and writes, "For anyone who uses *any method* to generate a lot content primarily for search rankings, our core systems look at many signals to reward content clearly demonstrating E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness)."

Google did note that trust is the most important part. Can you trust AI written content? SEOs trust AI content less and currently most won't recommend it.

Can AI have "experience" with a topic? Danny told me that not all content needs to have all E-E-A-T and most content won't have it all. But trust is the most important part.

Google wrote, "Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years." "For example, about 10 years ago, there were understandable concerns about a rise in mass-produced yet human-generated content. No one would have thought it reasonable for us to declare a ban on all human-generated content in response. Instead, it made more sense to improve our systems to reward quality content, as we did," Google added.

Clearly, Google is not going to ban AI content from search. Google will rank the AI content that hits the marks it is looking for with quality. So even though AI can quickly, cheaply and effectively produce a ton of content fast, Google's search algorithms will consume it and rank it alongside its human counterpart.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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