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How do you avoid a Google SEO penalty if you use Chat GPT?

Updated: Jan 19

Yesterday, I received some scripts for videos from a client who wanted to launch an online academy. They asked if we could produce the videos, and soon I noticed that the texts were very similar to something straight out of Chat GPT. How did I know?

Well, the scripts started with "Hey Folks" - a typical opener when using Chat GPT for writing without much customization. Moreover, the scripts were overloaded with superlatives and so-called spontaneous humorous comments. There was a distinct lack of authenticity.


The purpose of these videos was to increase the ranking of the website in question. Had I not intervened, it would very likely have backfired. But then, should you never use text from Chat GPT? The answer to this depends on how you use Chat GPT. As long as you use it as a guidance, little can go wrong. If you believe the platform can take your writing work off your hands, all the more can go wrong. So what is allowed and what is not allowed according to Google's SEO guidelines?


How are you allowed to use Chat GPT by Google?

Chat GPT is always allowed to be used as a tool by Google and there are several ways to do so. What matters to Google is that you do not use Chat GPT to populate your site with information that already exists. If you want to let Chat GPT do the work to rank better, you better put that out of your mind.


Google wants to find and present unique, in-depth information to its users. Since the rise of AI, they have therefore made the E-E-A-T principle very important within their algorithm. That stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. In simple terms, this means that Google will soon only rank articles where it is very clear that the author has experience with the subject, has built up proven expertise and can show this in the article, is an authority in the knowledge area within which the article falls and is reliable and therefore does not say nonsensical things.


With that in mind, you can understand that Chat GPT is virtually unable to satisfy this. The information is simply not accurate and in-depth enough in most cases. So what can you use Chat GPT for then?


Generate standard lists

Say you are writing an article about how the history of the USA has influenced contemporary culture. Then it's best to ask Chat GPT to generate a list of all the presidents, including what they were known for. This is general information and an addition, read enrichment, to your article and thus valuable. After all, it would be nonsensical for you to have to know that list by heart or copy over from Wikipedia.

Writing style suggestions

What I myself use Chat GPT a lot, almost daily even, for is asking for a writing style suggestion. Sometimes I write a paragraph and it says everything I want to say, but it doesn't flow quite right. Then I ask for a suggestion on how to say it differently and usually, after asking once or twice, something more readable comes out.



Very occasionally I write an article and ask to write it more narratively and even that can yield surprising results. It goes wrong when I ask to write something enthusiastic or humorous. It is not that I do not understand the humor of Chat GPT, but it is usually very bland or childish.


Additional information

Almost always when I have written an article or script, I ask Chat GPT what information is missing or can be added. The result is a number of suggestions that I may or may not consider and can add.


This is a handy way for me to make sure I don't get into tunnel vision and forget to address issues that are clear to me, but may not be to the reader or viewer of a video.


Generating titles

What I personally find Chat GPT very good at is generating titles and subheads. Sometimes I write something and then I wonder what a title could be that is catchy and summarises well what the article is about. When I ask for title suggestions, there is usually a title that I can adopt straight away or that inspires me to use it with some modifications.


Brainstorming

Sometimes I want to tell something about a topic, but I am not so sure what all I want and should tell about it to give it the right depth for the reader or viewer. Then I ask what Chat GPT would tell about this topic and that inspires me to start writing.


Sometimes sub-topics even come up that I haven't even thought about or know a little too little about and then I ask for depth on that particular sub-topic.


Logic check

In general, Chat GPT can think logically better than me. That says nothing about my intelligence, but all the more about the platform's superiority. When I finish a particular structure of an article or script, I regularly ask for a check whether the structure is logical. If suggestions are then given, I almost always adopt them.


Generating quotes

I love quotes and sometimes I look for just that one quote that fits a certain topic within a certain context and can't find it. For example, 'Do you know a quote that talks about runners being deadbeats in the workplace'. The result Chat GPT gave me was, "Haste is seldom good".


Translations

While Chat GPT is less proficient than professional translation tools like Deepl, it is very skilled at translating sentences or entire paragraphs so that it is more readable in another language. If you simply ask it to translate an entire article, it still tends to turn it into something completely different, so caution is advised here. 


Meta titles and descriptions

Your meta title and description should be short and to the point, but still persuade the potential reader or viewer to click on them. Generally, the results are more than good, but a human check is usually recommended.


Topic inspiration

I write on about 7 topics and every now and then I just can't remember what to say on a particular topic. By indicating which topics I have already written something about and what that article is roughly about, Chat GPT can give me suggestions of related new topics.


When can you get a Google SEO penalty from Google if you use Chat GPT?

Google does not like it when virtually the same content can be found in multiple places on the internet. If you use Chat GPT to generate a text and you don't check whether this text already appears elsewhere, you can be penalized for duplicate content. Rewriting that text a bit is definitely not going to prevent this!


From the E-E-A-T principle, what you say has to be factually correct. If you have worked with Chat GPT before, you will have found that this can be a bit of a problem when asking for input. Incorrect information can result in a penalty from Google. Of course, this does depend on what the topic is about. If you put your son's football match result online incorrectly, there are of course no consequences. If you accidentally spread the news that there has been an attack on Donald Trump, it becomes a different story again.


How can Chat GPT negatively affect your ranking?

As brilliant and useful as Chat GPT is, its use can also negatively affect your ranking. For example, in long articles, many prompts fall into repetition and sometimes the requested result consists of very long sentences. But that's not the only thing.


The language model used (in version 4) is very specific and still not how people write. Unless you do a lot of arts and crafts, Google will always recognize whether something is written by a human or an AI. There are tools that can prevent this, but they don't always work very well.


Besides, Google's main ranking factor is the quality of the content of an article or video. Chat GPT is simply not able to generate that quality (yet). As Chat GPT itself puts it when asked this question: `Although Chat GPT can write informative and coherent content, it lacks human insight, nuance and context that are often required for high-quality content. If your website contains lower-quality content, it can negatively affect your ranking."

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