Google has updated its helpful content guidelines reflecting a greater acceptance of AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated content. What does this mean for content creators and does it suggest that Google wants you to roll out content more quickly with AI tools? Let’s get a bit more critical to uncover what the update would mean for content generation.
We have always known that Google has over the years emphasized the importance of content written by humans. But its recent content guidelines update has changed this position from “helpful content written by people, for people, in search results” to “helpful content created for people in search results.”
Obviously, Google recognizes the role AI generated content should now be playing on content creation and the impact it has on users and the results they find in its search.
But the reality again is that AI generated content can have some issues. They are often monotonous and can be riddled with repetitions which could make them really artificial. However, AI generated content is unavoidably playing a greater role today and failing to acknowledge this fact will amount to being unrealistic.
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So what does Google expect in “helpful content created for people in search results”?
Google’s Definition of Helpful Content for People in Search Results
In Google’s words, helpful content for people in search results means content that meet the expectations of its users in terms of providing answers to the questions they seek.
Google states the purpose of its helpful content policy thus:
“The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”
You will observe that there is no specific reference to content generated with artificial intelligence. So it does not really matter the tools you deploy for content generation, what Google wants is content that meet visitors’ expectations.
Google’s Policy in Relation to AI Generated Content
Google is very explicit in its definition of high quality content and states that it does not matter how the content is produced, what counts is that it is of good quality. Here is how Google puts it:
Google’s ranking systems aim to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of what we call E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
So, obviously, Google is not asking you to leave your content generation to AI tools and not bother about its quality. Google is equally not expecting to you to roll out huge content every minute because they have become easier to create with AI tools. Google is still strongly focused on how your content solve the problems of visitors by providing answers to the questions they ask. This assessment is guided by how Google assesses your expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
We should further explore these areas.
How Google Assesses Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trust in Content Generation
This subject was discussed by Google’s John Mueller and was dispelled as irrelevant. Mueller says those signals used to be there but they are longer relevant. According to him, there is nothing like that anymore.
However, when trust factors like the expertise of an author is part of a content, one cannot rule out the fact it evokes assurance and confidence in the minds of readers and this can be useful for user experience which remains a key Google ranking signal.
Google’s John Mueller has repeatedly stated that content creators should focus on user experience and generate content that meet the expectation of readers.
It is worthy to add that not every content require an expert for it to be considered to be high quality. However, in certain industries like healthcare, psychology, finance, business and several others, content from experts are considered more reliable and believable and will be more useful to a user that one coming from an unknown freelancer. While John Mueller is saying this is not a necessary ranking factor, the effect it could have in building user confidence and enhancing user experience is something that makes it worth considering.
So here is how you can improve the expertise communication in your content development:
Relevance: Because Google analyses the content of a web page to see if it contains the content a user is looking for using texts, images and videos, you should make your content as relevant to search intents as much as possible.
Originality: Be creative and original in writing. The importance of this can be useful when you are the first to publish a content. Where there are several content discussing the same topic, the date of first publication can help Google determine which is more authoritative and should be first served to users. Google will usually presume that the first content to appear on the issue is like one that comes from the expert and authority on the subject matter.
Effective Communication: How well does the writer communicate the message or properly controls the context of the discussion through effectively communicating with the users. Clear and authoritative communication will convey a sense of expertise of the subject matter and boost user experience.
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Google’s Recommendations on the Use of Automatically Generated Content
Google acknowledges testing this system for years and acknowledges that automatically generated can speed up the process of content generation. Further acknowledging that content impact rankings, Google warn against using automation tools to generate content just for the purpose of ranking advantages. Don’t try to test whether or not you can be caught trying to take advantage of their system because they will certainly catch you sooner or later.
How Google Evaluate Content Generally
Google evaluate content by looking at who created the content, how it was created and why it was created.
Who Created the Content
Who created a content can really be helpful to readers when it comes to technical pieces like health advice, construction, finance and business, and other specialized areas. It may be less relevant to consider who created a content in situations like reporting an accident that demands emergency response. An accident will be news and may go viral but no one will be interested in who is reporting and what will matter most s that the scene is properly captured and the details provided to help rescuers locate the site and provide help.
How Content was Created
How a piece of content was created should be helpful for users to evaluate its usefulness. A good example would be user reviews. Machine generated user reviews distort the reality, is deceitful and cannot be trusted. Users want to know that a review was made by an actual user and such reviews should guide the user in its decisions, for example, a purchase decision.
When it comes to content generation in general, it wouldn’t matter whether it was generated via automated tool of written by human. What will count is its usefulness.
Why was the Content Created
The purpose for which a content is created is essential for Google to determine its usefulness. Of course, there are lots of spammy content out there which Google strongly condemn. You will also find a lot of comments which are not intended to provide useful information to users but only intended to get a link to a website. These are not considered as helpful content and only hurt the websites involved.
Google suggests that your content creation efforts should primarily be to help people. So, again, it does not matter how you generate your content, the key issue here will be how much it helps people address the problems they face, learn new things and or even buttress a point. Google wants to see that your content is helpful.
AI generated content can make things really easy and speed up the process of content generation but it a machine driven system and therefore has the risk of being monotonous and unnatural. A good way to deal with this is to read the automatically-generated content and improve its context and language to make it more relevant and for it to serve its purpose to deliver on the expectations of readers.
Let it be further noted that AI generated content will not replace and not intended to replace human writing but complement and simplify the process of content generation.
The key point here is that your content should be good for users and deliver on their expectations. It wouldn’t matter how the content was generated.