Does Google Penalize AI Content? New SEO Case Study (2023)

We studied 487 search results to find out if Google penalizes AI content.

Here’s what we found about the top 5 ranking results:

Key Takeaways

  • The top 5 Google results scored 83% “Original” (according to
  • ~1,778 was the median word count for the top 5.
  • And the median DR for the top 5 was ~71.

For our case study, we looked at the most lucrative keywords according to Google CPC data.

Here are some examples:

This case study aims to see if AI content performs as well, better, or worse than original content.

Here’s what we discovered:

Top 5 Google Results Scored 83% “Original” (According to

We analyzed the top 5 ranking results for every keyword using (affiliate link).

Keep in mind that this is based on the likelihood that the content was created with AI.

In other words, it’s 92% likely that the top 5 results did not use AI to create the content.

The Top 5 Google Results Had a Median Word Count of 1,778

Backlinko’s massive case study found that the average word count for top-ranking results was 1,447.

We used the median in this case to eliminate outliers, but it’s within a similar range to Backlinko’s findings.

That said, word count itself isn’t a ranking factor.

However, longer assets are more likely to attract backlinks (which is a strong ranking factor).

This brings us to the next finding:

The Median DR was 71 for the Top 5 Google Results

No SEO case study is complete without including backlinks.

Unsurprisingly, the top-ranking results also have strong websites (from a link profile perspective).

Here’s the truth about the current state of the SERPs:

The best SEO content doesn’t always win.

What wins is website authority.

If you’d like to test this theory, create a brand-new website and try to rank for any competitive keyword.

I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you need proof, try it.

Does Google Penalize AI Content?

While this is a tiny sample set, it shows that Google’s algorithms favor original content (or the appearance of it). This doesn’t mean that Google penalizes AI content.

It just implies that Google shows a preference for pages with original content.

Keep in mind:

Google’s goal is to show the most relevant and helpful content for the searcher.

So, if you can achieve that goal with AI content, then go for it.

But remember:

Content is only one part of the SEO equation. You also need website authority to achieve long-term results (and ranking stability).

Thanks for reading! 👍

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