Written by
Daniel Højris Bæk
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October 6, 2023

Google helpful content guidelines update underlines acceptance of AI content

Google's September 2023 update supports AI-generated content, emphasizing quality and user-centricity by removing "written by people."

Google helpful content guidelines update underlines acceptance of AI content

It's not important who has written content, but for whom it was intended.

Google's recent update of its helpful content guidelines in September 2023 has underlined the significant shift in its stance on AI-generated content, bringing clarity and assurance to SEO professionals.

This update not only reinforces Google's support for AI-generated content but also highlights the importance of quality and user-centricity in content creation.

The subtle yet significant change: the removal of the words "written by people", thereby indirectly endorsing AI-generated content if it is valuable and user-centric.

The newly updated guidance revolves around the mantra of "helpful content created for people in search results." The shift in wording may seem minor, but its implications are vast.

From Brodie Clarks Twitter/X post (referring to Barry Schwartz first spotting the change)

With the rise of AI writers and machine learning tools in content creation, the debate on the acceptance of AI-generated content vis-à-vis Google's guidelines has been ongoing.

And I still see many believing that Google will penalize their content if it's made by AI, contrary to more and more evidence by Google that it's not the case.

The Journey of Google's Stance on AI Content

The conception that Google was against AI-generated content began in April 2022 when John Mueller from Google suggested that AI-generated content might be viewed as automatically produced content.

This led to widespread speculation about Google's stance on AI content, causing ripples throughout the SEO community.

In October 2022, Google clarified its stance on AI-generated content by emphasizing that the problem lies not with automatically generated content itself, but with content that is intended to manipulate search rankings. This distinction was made in the updated guidelines, now known as Google Search Essentials. This shift in focus clarified the discussion surrounding AI-generated content and its acceptability within Google's guidelines.

Despite these guidelines, confusion persisted. This perhaps is why Google's recent update is so crucial – it clarifies the acceptance of AI-generated content, provided it maintains quality and usefulness for its audience.

Prioritizing User Value: The Essence of Google's Update

AI-generated content has been a point of contention due to concerns about the quality, relevance, and potential spammy nature of such content.

Yet, the crux of Google's update and its past guidelines remains the same: the focus on user-centric, high-quality content. The technology or means behind the content becomes secondary.

In essence, it's not about who or what writes the content, but how valuable that content is to its audience.

This is echoed in Google’s stance on "content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people." The goal is clear – to prioritize content that genuinely aids users, regardless of its origin.

Striking the Balance: Ensuring Quality in AI-Generated Content

Given this updated stance, there's a renewed focus on how to leverage AI for content generation without compromising on quality.

As outlined by the Google Search Essentials and emphasized by Danny Sullivan from Google, the key is to ensure that content, whether AI-generated or human-written, adheres to principles of E.A.T. (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).

It's about reverting to the basics of content creation: ensuring content is helpful, reliable, and prioritizes the needs and interests of its readers.

Questions like, "After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they've learned enough about a topic?" or "Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they've had a satisfying experience?" serve as a barometer to assess content quality.

Best practices tips when creating helpful content

Here are some best practices tips for SEO professionals when generating AI-generated content while adhering to Google's AI helpful content guidelines:

  • Leverage AI for keyword research, content optimization, and competitor analysis to gain valuable insights into keywords, search intents, and business benchmarks.
  • Use AI-generated content to produce high-quality, optimized content faster by analyzing user intent, search trends, and relevant keywords.
  • Take a holistic approach to SEO by considering both quantitative data and qualitative factors, combining the power of AI with creativity and intuition to create compelling and unique content.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing and focus on incorporating keywords in a way that enhances the overall quality and relevance of the content.
  • Regularly review and update AI-generated content to ensure accuracy, freshness, and relevance.
  • Focus on providing value, relevance, and a great user experience in your content creation process.
  • Write for your audience first and be original to avoid generating spammy or unoriginal content.

By following these best practices, you can create SEO-optimized content with AI while adhering to Google's AI content guidelines and providing helpful content for people.

Conclusion; Embracing the Era of AI-Generated Content

Google's September 2023 update may not have introduced earth-shattering changes, but it has underlined a significant point. The era of AI-generated content has not just arrived; it's being accepted and embraced. However, the timeless essence of quality, value, and user-centricity remains at the core of what Google and users seek.

While AI continues to revolutionize content creation, Google's update is a gentle reminder to creators: technology can aid, but the onus of maintaining quality rests with the content creators, whether human or machine.

And yes, of course, I'm happy to see that Google once again clarifies that it's the quality for the intended user that is of the uttermost importance. Not who or what made the content.

Google helpful content guidelines update underlines acceptance of AI content

This is an article written by:

+20 years of experience from various digital agencies. Passionate about AI (artificial intelligence) and the superpowers it can unlock. I had my first experience with SEO back in 2001, working at a Danish web agency.