Google Talks About The Use Of AI Images On Webpages
Google’s Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller discussed using AI images on webpages in a recent Search off the Record podcast. Given how Google treats AI-generated text content, some of their perspectives may appear surprising.
John Mueller emphasized the inherent limitations of AI image generator technology.
Generated Content Automatically
Automatically generated text content is prohibited for use in Google search except in the limited context of manipulating search results.
According to Google’s guidelines on autogenerated content:
“In cases where it’s intended to manipulate search rankings and not help users, Google may take actions on such content.”
According to Google’s John Mueller, AI-generated text content is considered spam:
“For us these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning.
My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam.
…But for us, if we see that something is automatically generated, then the webspam team can definitely take action on that.”
And perhaps due to the rapid pace of technological evolution, there are some gray areas within Google’s prohibitions on auto-generated content.
Using automatic text translation to generate content, for example, is against the guidelines unless the content is reviewed and curated by a human.
The guideline mentioned above on autogenerated content prohibits auto-translated content with the following statement:
“Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing.”
Google also allows for the automatic generation of meta descriptions, presumably because meta descriptions are not used in ranking.
“For larger database-driven sites, like product aggregators, hand-written descriptions can be impossible. …programmatic generation of the descriptions can be appropriate and are encouraged.”
So, Google does not prohibit AI content in general, only in specific circumstances.
AI Generated Images
Given that AI-generated content may be eligible for ranking in Google Images, one might assume that AI images on webpages are also prohibited. But this is not the case.
Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller discussed using AI-generated content on Google hypothetically and agreed it was fine.
They stated as follows:
“Lizzi Sassman: Hey! So just to kick us off, I know that you’ve been doing a lot with DALL-E in the Craiyon site, and all these kinds of places to get fun images.
And I was wondering what would you say to using DALL-E to generate images for our site, Google Search Central, if we just started piping that in to refresh our images across the whole site– what would you say to that?
John Mueller: That would be an exciting move.”
Mueller expresses reservations about using AI for images only when depicting something that should be an actual thing, such as a screenshot.
Mueller went on:
“I think the tricky part would be if you’re showing screenshots of specific things, and you’re piping that into some machine-art-generated thing, then maybe you don’t necessarily get actual screenshots.
Lizzi Sassman: It could go into an interesting direction. Okay, so it sounds like you’re bought in. Would you do this?
John Mueller: I would try it out. I mean…
Lizzi Sassman: You don’t want to tell me no?
John Mueller: I’m not going to say “no.”
I have no idea what it’d look like. Maybe it’ll look really cool. Or maybe for Halloween, we could do that.”
AI-Generated Content’s Limitations
John Mueller’s only reservation about AI images is that the technology is based on image datasets, so the ability to generate an image is limited to what’s in the library of images it was trained on.
Lizzi and John carried on their conversation:
“I think one of the tricky parts with all of these tools is it builds off a known library of images.
And if there are not enough images reflected there, then whatever you ask is kind of very vague.
So I tried a lot of SEO terms once, and most of the time when it would recognize that this is something like marketing SEO-oriented, it would show me a graph of, like, some bar charts with a line graph drawing up, and it’s like, “This is SEO.”
It’s like, “Well, it’s kind of like… it’s…”
Lizzi Sassman: That’s like your opinion, man.
John Mueller: Yeah. Exactly.”
Are AI Images Ok Right Now?
The use of AI images on a website appears to be permissible.
Although autogenerated text content is prohibited/limited for Google Search ranking, no similar prohibition or caveat was discussed regarding AI-generated images and Google Images ranking.
With the information EverRanks has compiled about Google’s use of AI images on webpages, you should have new optimal ways to boost the ranking of your articles.
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