Can Google Detect AI Content? Here’s What You Need to Know (& How E-E-A-T Ties In)

As technology continues to evolve, the way we create content has to change along with it.

Case in point: Google recently revised its E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) guidelines — and, hand-in-hand with that, Google reps have stated that AI-generated content is allowed in search engine results.

But can Google detect AI content? And does it matter if Google knows an AI wrote yours?

In short, YES to the first question, and NO to the second. Google can detect AI content, but it won’t affect your rankings as long as your content is created for people first and foremost, not search engines.

What matters is the intent and guiding hand behind your content creation, NOT the method you used to create it.

In this post, we’ll explore exactly how AI content creation affects SEO. We’ll also look at Google Liaison Danny Sullivan’s take on AI content – and why that stance might just be paving the way for an entirely new approach to online marketing.

So, if you’re curious about how Google can detect AI content and exactly how this works – keep reading!

What Are Google’s E-E-A-T Guidelines?

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s a set of guidelines from Google that are used to evaluate the quality of content on websites.

google E-E-A-T definition

Google first introduced the E-A-T guidelines (minus the second “E”) in 2018 as part of an effort to improve the overall quality of webpages and make sure they meet certain standards.

What Are the Changes to E-E-A-T?

Google has made several changes to its E-E-A-T guidelines over time. These include:

  • Authors must have expertise in their subject matter.
  • Authors and websites must provide evidence that supports claims made on pages.
  • The information must be up-to-date and accurate.
  • Sources must be verified when possible.
  • Sites must be transparent about who owns them and provide contact information if necessary.

But the newest change, effective since December 2022, is the addition of another letter “E” to the beginning of the well-known “E-A-T” acronym. This second “E” stands for “Experience.”

Generally, this means Google is putting more emphasis on first-hand experience backing up content creation. For most content topics, the person creating it needs to have some kind of relevant experience to accurately talk about it.

An example Google gives of low- E-E-A-T content is a restaurant review written by someone who has never eaten at that restaurant.

How Does This Affect AI Content Creation?

What does all this have to do with AI content?

Plenty.

With the introduction of ChatGPT in late 2022, the conversation around AI writing software exploded.

Suddenly, the content marketing industry was faced with the incredible capabilities of AI – good enough to replace general content writers. (I saw this myself when I found a new AI tool that blew me away.)

Naturally, people had questions.

  • How could people NOT use this technology in their marketing when it’s so good, and could save hours of time and oodles of money?
  • If they did, would Google penalize them?

Danny Sullivan, Google Search Liaison, responded to these questions on Twitter and based his answers on Google’s updated E-E-A-T guidelines.

Thus, we’ve come full circle. Let’s dig into what he said and why AI content is now permissible in search engine results and rankings.

content at scale

Danny Sullivan’s Take on E-E-A-T and AI Content Creation

First, why do we care so much about the words of Danny Sullivan?

For starters, he’s a renowned expert in the field of search engine optimization (SEO). He has been researching and writing about SEO for over two decades, AND he represents Google officially.

TLDR; His insights into Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines and AI content creation are invaluable to entrepreneurs, founders, business owners, and content marketers who want to maximize their website visibility on Google.

What Did He Say About E-E-A-T and AI Content Creation?

It all started with a user question on Twitter. Someone asked what we were all dying to know: Is AI-generated content permissible in certain cases (for instance, when its output is edited and “backstopped” by human writers)?

Danny Sullivan responded with a definite “yes.”

BUT, he clarified that ANY content written to help people has the potential to rank. Even AI content, when created and guided with that intention, is fair game.

At the same time, ANY content written just to earn search rankings is an issue – even if it was written by humans.

danny sullivan on twitter - ai content is allowed

To sum up, Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines require expert knowledge and human judgment when creating content for websites.  As long as you’re focused on creating helpful, people-first content that adheres to those guidelines, using AI content generators to aid you shouldn’t be an issue.

Let’s reiterate:

  • Always, ALWAYS ensure your AI content tools are guided with an expert human touch.
  • Edit and fact-check AI content thoroughly.
  • NEVER publish unedited, untouched AI content.
  • Always create content with the intention to help people, whether a human writer or an AI wrote the first draft.

google guidelines for spammy auto-generated content

Source: Spam policies for Google web search

Want to learn how AI content creation can fit inside your overarching content process? Want to see the exact methods, systems, and tools I use to publish content week after week, month after month? You need my Content Process Blueprint.

content process blueprint

Can Google Detect AI Content?

Since Google allows AI content, that must mean they can detect it pretty easily – right?

Correct: Google has become increasingly adept at detecting AI content.

It uses a variety of techniques to identify and flag machine-generated content, including natural language processing (NLP) algorithms that analyze the text for patterns and syntax that are common in computer-generated writing.

Google also looks for certain words or phrases that are often used by AI systems, such as “according to research” or “data suggests.” Additionally, it can detect when the same sentence structure is repeated multiple times throughout an article (another red flag 🚩).

Here’s an example of unedited content created with the AI tool ChatGPT. To a trained eye, it’s obvious a bot wrote this:

ai written content about pillar page

What Are the Risks of Publishing Unedited AI Content?

There are major risks involved if you attempt to publish unedited AI output.

AI-generated content is easy for Google to detect.

How does it do it? By analyzing the text for unnatural patterns, such as excessive use of certain words or phrases.

For example, if too many keywords or repeat sentences appear too often in your content, this could trigger red flags with Google’s algorithm and lead to penalties.

On top of that, artificial intelligence systems lack creativity and originality. For instance, the unedited output may be lacking natural transitions between sentences and paragraphs, sound generic, or have a robotic feel that’s easily identified by any smart human.

To make up for that, many AI tools use templates or specific language patterns to make the text sound more natural. But Google can quickly identify these patterns through analysis of multiple pieces of content.

Additionally, if you’re using automated tools like spinners or rewriters on existing articles without adding any new information or insights of your own, then this could be seen as plagiarism. (Strike two from Google. Cue penalty. ❌)

Another risk associated with using AI content creation for SEO purposes is that the value will be missing for readers who visit your website looking for useful information about a particular topic.

Instead, they’ll find a mountain of robotic mumbo-jumbo, easily discernible because humans are intuitive about language. We can tell if an unaided robot wrote your copy!

So if your blog and website are plastered all over with poorly-written robotic copy – any human with a higher reading level is likely to bounce quickly, never to return.

Google Can Detect AI Content, But Helpful Content Creators Shouldn’t Be Worried

In a nutshell, Google’s revised E-E-A-T guidelines have opened the door for AI content creation.

Danny Sullivan has made it clear that they are open to allowing this type of content on their platform. It remains to be seen how this will affect SEO and other aspects of digital marketing in the future, but one thing is certain: AI-created content can no longer be ignored as a viable option for businesses looking to grow and scale their online presence.

As long as you create quality content that provides value to your readers, there should be no issue with using AI-generated material — so don’t worry about whether or not Google can detect it!

Do you want to learn how to use AI-generated content to grow your business? I teach you how to leverage the right technology in my Content Process Blueprint.

It’s all part of establishing a smart content marketing process with the right tools and systems — which I also lay out in this extensive resource. 📋

Let me guide you through utilizing artificial intelligence in your digital strategy today — it’s part of the modern content marketer’s process for creating profitable content.

Download the Content Process Blueprint today.

content process blueprint

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an 8x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As the VP of Marketing at Content at Scale, she helps marketers achieve insane ROI (3-10x their time back at 1/3rd the cost) in a new era of AI as a baseline for content production. She's been named in the top 30 of all content marketers worldwide, is the founder of Content Hacker, and recently exited her 100-person writing agency with a desire to help marketers, teams, and entrepreneurs find the keys of online success and revenue growth without breaking.