How and why Google punishes automated content

Steven Mike Voser
It's tempting to look to apps like Google Translate for your business' translation needs. However, publishing auto-generated content like this could have detrimental effects on your search rankings.

In today’s digital world, we’re always looking for ways to use machines to automate our processes. Hence, it is tempting for a business looking to translate or localize its content to consider machine translation apps like Google Translate. But what if we told you that publishing this kind of content could be detrimental to your search ranking?
Google has openly sworn to take a hard stance against automated content and translations. In this article, we explore just how the search engine giant punishes automatically generated content.


How Google treats automated content
Google has made it very clear that it takes action against low-value, automatically generated or content.
In a video for Google Webmasters, Matt Cutts (Google’s head of search spam) explicitly outlined how and why Google punishes poor, automated content.
The kind of content Google is targeting includes:

  • Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing.
  • Text generated through automated processes, such as Markov chains.
  • Text generated using automated synonymizing or obfuscation techniques.
  • Text generated from scraping Atom/RSS feeds or search results.
  • Content that has been stitched together from different web pages without adding sufficient value.

This boils down to Google’s mission to maximize user experience. You can find out more about this in Google’s webmaster guidelines, where it goes into more detail about the kind of content it doesn’t want to find in its search results.


Understanding Google’s mission
The best way to wrap your head around SEO “best practices” is to understand Google’s mission. Google (and other search engines like it) wants to present users with the best possible experience when conducting online research.
How does it do so? By offering the highest value results based on their search query. Hence, it becomes obvious that Google is going to reward the kind of content that provides the most value to its users. Therefore, the best way for you to climb Google’s search rankings is to create and vet the best possible content for a specific keyword or search query.
For a long time, quantity out ruled quality in the search engine world. But no more; today, the pages that rank the highest in Google’s search results are those that provide the highest value and most accurate information. So, that being the case, it becomes pretty obvious how Google treats auto-generated content.

Yuqo quotesThe only way to create multilingual written content that accounts for grammar, idioms, conventions, and context is to work with real, native human translators and authors.



The importance of human translation
No matter how advanced our tech world seems, we still haven’t developed an app or tool that can generate high-quality automated content. After all, that’s why copywriters and authors still have jobs in today’s increasingly automated work environment.
The kind of content Google wants to see in its results is hand-crafted and has been well-researched so as to provide maximum value for users. We, humans, are still the best, most reliable tool for creating that kind of content. That’s why human translation and writing services are so important.
We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating; writing and translation aren’t mathematical equations or scientific calculations. Instead, well-written translations and content are founded on a deep understanding of the subject, context, and language at hand. Machines simply aren’t capable of managing this kind of understanding to create high-value translations and/or content.
Don’t get us wrong; we don’t want to throw machine translations and automated content under the bus completely. Apps like Google Translate are great for situations when you need a fast, unofficial translation. However, don’t expect the app to find the best way to present your English marketing campaign in Russian.