Google Search Central regularly offers business hours on YouTube where anyone can ask Google experts questions during a video call, concerning SEO or Google search (crawling, indexing, duplicate content, pagination…). During a recent Google SEO Office Hour, John Mueller, Search Advocate, Web Trends Analyst at Google, claimed that content automatically generated using artificial intelligence writing tools is contrary to guidelines given to webmasters by Google and considered spam.
Google SEO office-hours hangouts are public and recorded, so everyone can benefit from the information shared. Anyone working on a website (site owner, developer, SEO) from beginner to advanced, can ask questions there, submit them in advance or join the live session. The videos are then available on the Google Search Central YouTube channel.
John Mueller, recruited in 2007 by Google, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst in Zurich, leads these office hours and answers questions. One recently involved Open AI’s GPT-3 writer tools.
GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is, as its name suggests, the 3rd version of OpenAI’s model, capable of generating text using pre-trained algorithms. The OpenAI team trained the algorithms with 570 GB of text data collected from the Internet, including open access data from Common Crawl and texts from Wikipedia. The GPT-3 can perform a large number of tasks such as semantic research, translate or summarize texts, write them or even generate computer code. Announced in May 2020, this autoregressive language model of 175 billion parameters was then the largest neural network ever created. It has since been surpassed by Deepmind’s Gopher, announced last December, which has 280 billion parameters.
There are discussions within the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or natural referencing community, on the relevance of the use of GPT-3 tools and on the other hand, if it can be accepted from the point of view of Google. For John Mueller, any content written by AI falls into the category of automatically generated content and could result in a manual penalty.
Auto-generated content violates Google’s webmaster guidelines and is considered spam
Regardless of the tools used to create it, machine-written content is considered auto-generated and as John Mueller pointed out, Google’s position on auto-generated content has always been clear.
In Google’s webmaster guidelines, it says ” Avoid using automatic content generation for the purpose of manipulating Google search rankings. »
John Mueller explains:
“For us, these would basically fall into the category of auto-generated content, which is what we’ve had in the webmaster guidelines since almost the beginning. People automatically generate content in different ways. And for us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you were just mixing words, or looking up synonyms, or using translation tricks that people used to do. This kind of things. »
He adds :
“I suspect the quality of the content might be a bit better than the very old school tools, but for us it’s still auto-generated content, which means for us it’s still contrary webmaster guidelines. We therefore consider it to be spam. »
To the next question, which was whether Google can detect AI-generated content, John Mueller answered:
“I can’t claim that. But for us, if we see something being auto-generated, then certainly the webspam team can take action on it. »
He concludes :
“And maybe over time these AI tools will evolve in the sense that you’ll use them to be more efficient in your writing or to make sure you’re writing correctly, like spell check tools and grammar, which are also based on machine learning. But I don’t know what the future holds. »