Human vs. AI-Generated Content for SEO
Lately, it seems like everywhere we look, someone is discussing artificial intelligence (AI).
Last year, AI-generated art had a polarizing effect on the art world, raising concerns about copyright issues, data protection, and the validity of AI generation as an artistic medium.
Then in late November of 2022, ChatGPT launched and quickly gained attention as an automatic written content generator. With the imminent arrival of Google’s AI chatbot, which its developer has labeled ‘sentient,’ and several other content-generating bots on the horizon, it’s safe to assume AI tech is more than a trend.
Maybe you’re thinking This is great! Our marketing resources are limited, so we can use an AI content creator for all our website SEO and blog post needs. In a lot of ways, AI is changing the game for content generation, but there are things you should know about it before you use it to fill your site.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re new to AI, or maybe you only ever thought it was something from futuristic fantasy films, you’re not alone. The reality is artificial intelligence, and machine learning, have been slowly incorporated into more and more of our daily lives, even without us knowing it.
Artificial intelligence is a form of machine learning that allows computer systems to simulate human intelligence processes. AI text generators get smarter the more they are used for learning, the same way humans do from studying. They have a base knowledge, of course, which is anything available already on the internet–so basically anything.
Likely, this technology is already part of the things you interact with every day. Here are a few examples of how machine learning is incorporated into some popular applications that may be part of your workflow or social media scrolling:
- Gmail finishes your sentences
- Spotify generates playlists you love
- Alexa and Siri answer your questions
- Netflix recommends shows and movies
- YouTube suggests videos to watch next
- Apple unlocks the iPhone by scanning your face
This is all artificial intelligence and just a glimpse of the extent AI has on our day-to-day.
How is AI Used in Digital Marketing?
In digital marketing, AI can be used to personalize advertisements, enhance creative possibilities, and improve user experience (UX), among other things.
Here are some specific examples of digital marketing machine learning in action:
- Recommend products or brands that are relevant to a user
- Retargeting efforts that follow a user from device to device and channel to channel
- Automated bidding for more efficient spending in programmatic advertising auctions
- Creating customer personas based on demographics, pain points, and online behavior
Additionally, AI can be used to generate ideas, images, and copy for website search engine optimization content marketing campaigns.
How Do AI Content Writers Work?
AI content writers generate text after someone inputs a topic, request, or question. They do this by scanning all materials available online related to the topic. The more AI assistants are used to scan the web and data, the more they learn to output natural-sounding and relevant language.
Most AI content generators use the Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) autoregressive language model created by OpenAI. The term autoregressive refers to a model that predicts future content based on past content (i.e. existing content and data available on the web).
Is Auto-Generated Content Plagiarized?
Now that you know automatic content sifts through existing data to create its output, you’re likely wondering if this output is technically plagiarized. Auto-generated content is not plagiarized. These systems do not copy and paste any content, but rather string together completely original text based on information that is already available.
Rest assured that the content you prompt an AI bot to generate does not already exist somewhere else on the web, and that means you could, in theory, paste it directly onto your blog and website.
But should you? As AI content becomes more accessible and ubiquitous in the digital world, there’s an entire conversation to be had about use cases and ethics that we’re seeing rise alongside it.
Does AI-Generated Content Need to be Proofread?
Despite the instantaneous benefits AI-generated content can provide, it isn’t perfect. Artificial intelligence can access a global network of information within milliseconds, but the output may not be 100% accurate.
This is because AI writers are unable to express doubt. So when they dump a written press release based on a human’s prompt for one about a specific event, names, dates, locations, and other information may not be correct.
AI tries hard with available information, but it still makes mistakes. This is a good thing because it means humans still have one up on the robots, but the downside is that you will need to proofread AI-generated content for accuracy.
How Does Auto-Generated Content Rank in Google Search Results?
New AI content generators are popping up every day, it seems, and along with them are the APIs that promise to improve your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) using AI. But Google is catching on to these new techniques, and the search giant may not be supportive of what generators provide.
In the summer of 2022, Google released a spam update meant to prioritize “helpful” content. In the announcement, Google urges content creators to focus on people-first content, not content created for search engines.
Using SEO best practices that add value to the content without overloading on keywords and content that doesn’t add value, your website can rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
Here’s one of the topics Google’s spam filter now screens for:
- Are you using extensive automation to create content on many topics?
Doesn’t that sound like a direct reference to AI-generated content? Well, it should, and the ranking of AI content on the SERP has already been affected.
The Effect on SERP Ranking
New York Times bestselling author and SEO wiz Neil Patel saw the effect in action by watching the position change of his 100 AI-content-generated websites. About half of these websites had no edits made to the AI content. The other half had some modifications by humans (i.e. adding word count, modifying meta tags, and adding internal and external links).
After Google’s spam updates, the websites without human modification saw between a 31% and 73% drop in traffic and an average of 7.9 positions dropped in ranking. The websites with modified content saw an average of 42% drop in traffic and 3.3 positions dropped in ranking
The findings are intriguing, but do they imply that Google can detect which content is generated by artificial intelligence and which is human-written?
Can Google Detect AI-Generated Content?
So will Google rank AI-generated content, and should you be using content generation tools for digital marketing? There really isn’t a straightforward answer.
We know that Google is actively developing its own content generation AI, called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), and could release it to the public later this year. Will it prioritize AI-generated content from its API above other automatic content? It’s not totally outside the realm of possibility.
What Google does detect is spammy auto-generated content. This includes content that doesn’t contribute anything new to the conversation or isn’t original, thus, it doesn’t add much value for users. Content that lacks value and usefulness will rank poorly on Google, whether it’s created by artificial intelligence or humans.
How to Responsibly Use AI Content on Your Website
AI is actively changing what we know about society, the economy, our careers, and the capabilities of AI in general. By transforming creativity and communications, auto-generated content is throwing digital marketing for a loop.
Incorporating AI content into your website should be done responsibly. Laws are developing in the United States that require webmasters to disclose how AI was used or if the content is AI-generated without any editing.
Take a resolve to be transparent and authentic about the way you use AI in your website’s content, and you shouldn’t run into too many issues. Take it at face value, and you might end up dropping your ranking position and publishing inaccurate content.
Want to have a conversation about how AI can be used for your website’s SEO specifically? Send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or set up a free consultation.
What is AI content writing?
Artificial intelligence content writing is the text that is automatically generated by a computer system based on a user’s prompts.
Is AI-generated content as good as human-written content?
AI-generated content is created much faster than most humans can write, but it has the risk of containing inaccurate information and grammatical errors.
Is AI the future of content marketing?
AI will certainly play a role in the future of content marketing, but it may not be the best choice to use exclusively due to the way search engines identify content quality, helpfulness, and usefulness.
How much does AI content cost?
Many AI copywriting tools are free, and others charge a fee based on word count.