AI-Generated Content Hit Hard by Google Core Update

18 March 2024
by Lee Tadd
3 mins
AI-Generated Content Hit Hard by Google Core Update

Google has decided to tackle spammy, low-quality content with its March 2024 Core Update, and the big losers so far have been websites that use AI to generate their content.  

The focus of this update is to devalue or remove entirely unoriginal and low-quality content, which, of course, fits with their mission statement. 

The significant change appears to be the update to their spam policies, which targets scaled content abuse — automated content produced at a large scale. This change is likely why we are seeing the greatest impact on websites overusing AI-generated content. 

Case Studies 

The update, which started around 5th March, is expected to be rolled out for the remainder of the month, so we have yet to realise its full impact. 

However, two case studies on the core update have highlighted its significant impact on websites that use AI-generated content.  

A study by Niche Site Metrics looked at the index status of 49,345 websites and found that 1.7% (837) were deindexed as a result of the core update. 

They also found:  

  • Over 20,756,785 monthly organic traffic visits disappeared.
  • An estimated monthly loss of $446,552 (approx. £350,000) in lost display ad revenue. 

These findings match those of a recent study by, which examined the extent to which the deindexed websites used AI-generated content. 

This study found that 100% of the websites had AI-generated posts; of those websites, 50% used AI to generate 90-100% of their posts.

What the Update Means for Website Owners 

If Google is targeting automated content, then it is safe to assume that they are prioritising high-quality, human-generated content.  

The website owners with the biggest challenge now are those who have created their content using AI or have used a content or SEO agency that provides AI-generated content. The greater the use of this content, the more severe the impact will be from this core update.  

If your website contains AI-generated content, you will likely have seen, or will soon, a drop in organic traffic and ranking. To rectify these problems, you need to take the following steps: 

  1. Perform a content audit to find all AI-generated copy penalised as low-quality and spammy.
  2. Rewrite and replace the identified content using a human, and ensure it meets Google’s standards (i.e. original, high-quality, high-value, and benefits the target audience). 

In this respect, following Google’s guidance on how to create helpful, reliable, people-first content is advised.

We Warned You 

Using AI was an industry trend that offered short-term gains in cutting the cost of content generation and speeding up its delivery. Unfortunately for those who ran with it, not all trends live up to their hype, and they did not look beyond those short-term gains to identify the potential consequences that are now in motion. 

Thankfully, at Atlas SEO, we decided to stay away from using AI to generate our content. We know the value of human-generated content and have always believed that Google will penalise AI-generated content someday. 

In two articles I wrote last year, I warned about the potential consequences of embracing AI to generate content: AI and its threat to authenticity and SIGMA 2023: How the iGaming industry views AI and its role in content generation

In these articles, I warned that:  

  • AI-generated content is too focused on short-term gains and ignores potential long-term issues that could be disastrous for SEOs.
  • The companies using AI-generated content most intensely will feel the most significant impact in their SERPS.
  • AI-generated content is simply not good enough. Human involvement is still needed to weed out factual errors and improve readability. 

And boy, did those potential short-term gains prove to be the wrong choice. And surprise, we’ve just witnessed a significant impact in the SERPS for websites that have utilised AI the most. 

Does AI Have a Future in Content Generation? 

There may be an argument that AI could have a place in the future of content generation, but it is not good enough in its current state. If or when the technology is good enough to produce high-quality content, Google may decide to place value on it. 

However, in this scenario, the concern remains that content produced at scale is problematic. But with a tool that can create content at volume in such a short timeframe, will that temptation be too much for some? It would just be another element to consider in your content strategy.

Content marketing

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