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Google On AI Content Adds Who, How, and Why With Content

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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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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 21, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google unleashed a new spam update – the June 2024 spam update – here is what we know. Google had a big indexing issue last night, that lasted several hours. Google spoke more about the images not showing up in search and that it is more likely a quality issue with your site. Google Local Service Ads will soon show on Google Maps. Google Discover is testing a floating search bar. Google Safe Search has a new set of FAQs. Plus I posted the SEO video recap – it was a busy week!

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google June 2024 Spam Update Takes Target


    Google has released a new algorithm update the search company is naming the Google June 2024 Spam Update. This update does not have anything new specific changes that we are aware of, like some previous updates. Google just wrote, “Today we released the June 2024 spam update. It may take up to 1 week to complete, and we’ll post on the Google Search Status Dashboard when the rollout is done.”

  • Google Search Bug: Not Indexing or Serving New Content


    Google Search may be having a new indexing or serving (or both) bug where it is now showing new content from sites that are creating new content. Sites like the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNN, Forbes, and others are showing very few new pages being indexed in the past hour by Google Search.

  • Local Service Ads Coming To Google Maps On iOS


    Google is notifying some advertisers that use Google’s Local Service Ads program that soon their ads will be shown on Google Maps. It will start with the iOS version of the Google Maps app and then expand to other platforms and surfaces from there.

  • Google Search Images Go Missing? Might Be A Quality Issue.


    For the past several months, generally around the helpful content update in September and the various core updates we had over the past several months, there have been complaints with image thumbnails for some sites not appearing in the Google Search result listings. Google responded again to the issue, saying it is not a technical thing for most sites but rather a quality issue.

  • Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Spam Update, Volatility & Indexing Bug, AI Overviews Tracking & FAQs, Google Maps Exploit, Google Ads, AppleBot & More


    We had a new Google spam update, the June 2024 spam update and what would be an SEO video recap within Google Search ranking volatility, at least this time it was on Father’s Day weekend. Google Search seemed to have an indexing bug last night. If your image snippets disappeared from Google months ago, it is likely a quality…

  • Google Posts Safe Search FAQs


    Ashwarya, the Community Manager for Google Search, posted a bunch of resources around Google Safe Search. He wrote, “We are going to help you out in every way possible. Here are a few articles to get you started on Safe Search.”



  • Google Tests Floating Search Bar In Google Discover


    Google is testing a floating search bar in the Google Discover results. So when you load up the Google home page on your mobile device and scroll through some Discover stories, the search bar sticks to the stop and floats over the stories.


  • Google Dublin Whiteboard Signage


    Here is a Google sign that is at the Google Dublin office which also is a whiteboard. You can write messages on the Google logo. I think this is old but I found it on Instagram recently.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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Google Search Not Indexing & Serving New Content?

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Google Logo Burning Ashes

Google Search may be having a new indexing or serving (or both) bug where it is now showing new content from sites that are creating new content. Sites like the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNN, Forbes, and others are showing very few new pages being indexed in the past hour by Google Search.

While all of these sites have produced dozens of stories in the past hour, most are showing 0 to 10 new content (URLs) in the Google Search index in the past hour.

Google has not posted any issue yet in its Search Status Dashboard and I do not see massive complaints yet but I received a notice on X about this (that post was deleted) but I still see the issue.

Here are some examples:

site:cnn.com – within hour – 2 results:

Google Cnn Index

site:wsj.com – within hour 2 results:

Google Wsj Index

WSJ down to nothing:

Wsj Hour

site:nytimes.com – within hour 10 results:

Google Nytimes Index

site:hollywoodreporter.com – within hour – 2 results:

Google Hollywood Index

site:forbes.com – within hour 0 results:

Google Forbes Index

Here are more examples of massive news sites not seeing much content in the Google index in the past hour:

Foxnews Google Index

Nbcnews Google Index

Apnews Google Index

Reuters Google Index

Cnbc Google Index

I often see indexing complaints about Google Search but I rarely see it on sites this big that produce a lot of content.

We last had a larger issue like this in January 2024, then in December 2023, October 2023 and then many more over the years.

Are any of you seeing this?

Update at 7:30pm ET: I waited over 30 minutes for this story to be indexed by Google and it was not. Normally this site is indexed within minutes of a story going live.

Ser Google Index Hour

So I checked Google Search Console and it said the page was crawled on Jun 20, 2024, 7:14:49 PM but the page was not in the Google index:

Gsc Not Indexed

Meanwhile, the live URL inspection tool says there is nothing preventing it from being indexed:

Gsc Can Be Indexed

I did request indexing manually to be sure – but still, not indexed.

Forum discussion at X.

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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 19, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google posted its FAQs on AI Overviews, asking why you can’t disable then. Google may be showing fewer Reddit links. Google explains when it is not a good thing when Googlebot is crawling you more. Google is testing 6 people also ask by default. Google launched menu buttons in the Google Maps results. Google AdSense has a new privacy and messaging feature for privacy rules.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google AI Overviews FAQs Including Why You Can’t Disable AI Overviews


    Google has posted a new document in its forums named frequently asked questions about AI Overviews. In this document it has a section named “why can’t I disable AI Overviews?” The answer is that Google’s “goal is to help people find the information they’re looking for quickly and reliably.”

  • Report On If Google Showing Fewer Reddit Links In Search?


    Some in the SEO industry have been asking if Google has been showing fewer links in its search results to Reddit over the past several weeks. So Mordy Obserstein pulled some Semrush data that showed a slight downtick in Reddit results in Google’s Discussion and Forums section.

  • Google: Two Common Reasons When A Spike In Crawling Is Bad


    Google’s Gary Illyes posted on LinkedIn with two common examples of when a spike in Googlebot activity, crawling, is a bad thing. The short answer is when Googlebot gets to crawling an infinite section of your site (like calendar pages that goes on forever) and when your site is hacked with a ton of new hacked pages.

  • Google Tests Two More People Also Ask Results (6 PPA)


    Google is testing showing two more people also ask results, by default, which is a total of six people also ask, instead of the typical four people also ask that Google would show in its search results.



  • Google Local Panels Gains Menu Button


    Google seems to be adding a “menu” button to the Google Business Profiles, the local panels, in the web search results. I think Google has tested this one and off over the years, but as Marcin Karwowski noted, it seems to be rolling out now to some businesses.



  • New Google AdSense Privacy & Messaging For Users To Opt Out


    Google has begun rolling out a new privacy and messaging feature for AdSense ads in some US states. This is to comply with California, Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, and Utah privacy laws. The feature allows the site to communicate to the user about opting out of the sale or sharing of their personal information.



  • Google Japanese Circular Keyboard


    Here is a photo from Daniel Waisberg’s trip to the Google Japan office, and it shows these circular Japanese keyboards on display. There are other items on display.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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