Does Google Penalize Websites That Use AI to Write Content?

What’s your strategy for AI website content in your business? Are you all in? All out? Taking more of a wait-and-see approach? As generative AI evolves, most small business owners have more questions than answers.

The reality is that your mileage will vary based on your unique situation and your business goals. But to answer the question, “Does Google penalize websites that use AI to write content?”, we first have to get clear on some fundamental concepts.

Understanding AI content vs. AI copy

As a strategic business owner, you need to understand the difference between AI content and AI copy. Copy and content work together closely, and both should be seamlessly tied into your website branding strategy. But they have different goals, and require different skill sets. Here are the key differences:

  • Copy persuades and/or converts. It can help audiences think a certain way about a brand (brand copywriting), or take a specific action – like clicking to subscribe or purchase (conversion copywriting). KPIs are very concrete and easily measured.
  • Content entertains, educates, and/or inspires. You can build an engaged relationship with your audience through consistent blog, social, and other content. This is a long-term strategy, and its impact is less directly correlated to conversions.

Copy requires a level of strategy and human psychology that AI just can’t touch yet. While we don’t recommend AI copywriting for that reason, AI content is worth a closer look.

AI content and your EEAT score

At the time of this writing, Google remains the dominant search engine, accounting for more than 90% of the world’s search traffic. Its search ranking guidelines include a factor called Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). Those are the four qualities your content needs to demonstrate for a good EEAT score – which you need for a high ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Generative AI, however, can’t generate unique ideas or perspectives. What it does is synthesize a plausibly-human-sounding piece of writing, based on what’s on the internet already. AI content essentially just copies your competitors! This makes AI content a lousy way to differentiate your brand. Google decides you don’t have anything different or valuable to say, and sends you less search traffic. 

So at the end of the day, Google doesn’t directly penalize sites that use AI content. But the less-valuable content AI produces is likely to affect your EEAT score and Google ranking.

The right jobs for AI content tools

So does that mean you shouldn’t use generative AI at all in producing content? Absolutely not. We strongly believe businesses have to adapt as disruptive innovations change the landscape. Try delegating tedious or repetitive tasks to AI, freeing up time and energy for humans to do their strategic and creative work. For example, you might use AI tools to:

  • Research and list timely topics to blog about
  • Suggest outlines 
  • Iterate on ideas and phrasing
  • Proof and polish a first draft

Just make sure you at least have a human’s hands on AI content at the beginning to guide strategy, and at the end for quality control. Your content is too important to outsource completely to an algorithm, which will never feel or understand the kind of human connection your content needs to create.

Balancing content volume and quality

OK, but what about that consistent volume you need for content marketing to be effective? It’s true that using generative AI, you can quickly produce multiple blog posts focusing on specific keywords. And increasing the volume of your content does improve your site’s Text-to-HMTL ratio and trustworthiness, provided the content is relevant and well-executed

It’s also true that learning which inputs will get these new tools to create the right outputs is becoming its own industry. And you already have a job.

If you have limited marketing budget or staff bandwidth, it’s worth trying generative AI to help you produce content more consistently, and see if it boosts your digital marketing ROI. But as part of that ROI assessment, keep track of how much time you spend learning to use these tools. You may find that you’d rather put that energy into billable hours, and outsource content production to a human strategic partner instead. 

Getting help with your content strategy

At the end of the day, finding that sweet spot between a unique point of view in your brand voice, and producing content regularly and efficiently, is a balancing act. Producing more content only helps your traffic volume if you’re also addressing your audience’s questions and making a human connection. 

If you need help striking the right balance for your business, schedule a free consult with The Right Path Marketing. We’ll find a plan together that’s right for your business, and give you actionable steps to get started. 

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