What is AI content & does it harm SEO?

AI-generated content is when content is created for you by a machine and often includes written content like blog posts, articles, social media captions and marketing copy. Right now, it does require some human input to fully work, like providing a prompt, a description or parameters. Whether the input is a keyword, phrase or short paragraph depends on what the content will be. 

It’s a pretty grey area at the minute, due to the eventual intention of AI content – to eliminate the need for human actions completely during content production. While we can admit it’s rather cool that we can get non-humans to perform these tasks for us, if not done correctly, it can cause drops in visibility, traffic, and even lead to Google penalisation.

Let’s look into the world of AI-generated content and examine its benefits and risks, and find out whether it’s a help or a hindrance to SEO.

 

What are the benefits?

AI content does have a few advantages, and (it obviously goes without saying) if done right, can be very enriching to brands and marketers:

Reduces writer’s block

If you’re struggling with a piece, and putting pen to paper is not happening, AI tools can be a helpful way of giving you a nudge to get started.

Can help you with new content ideas

Even more so when you’re using a content idea generation tool. If you’re not, seeing how it could write or structure a long-form article may give you a new perspective if you’re not feeling too creative.

Saves you time

And of course, saving time, equals saving money.

Can be used for a variety of content styles

Note that content quality can vary. For example, in the past, it’s not been the best at long-form content. Instead, shorter pieces of copy, like social media captions have been better and more succinct. (Still not perfect, though. Which leads us on to our next point.)

Can create first drafts of copy

Writers can then expand on the rough template, giving it a more “human”, emotive, and relevant edge. Again, this is also good for time shortages and dealing with writer’s block.

Content created by AI can improve over time

As the tool gets used to the type of content you want to create, it will improve its copy as you continue to use it.

 

What are the risks?

Despite some of the advantages above, AI-generated content is *not* perfect, and there can be many disadvantages:

It’s not “human”

Like we said before, AI tools can’t fully understand the emotions and motivations of humans. Which means the copy created isn’t at a level that can be resonated within the same way that actual human-written content can. 

It can’t pick up certain nuances of language

This means that mistakes are almost guaranteed when trying to detail info to an audience.

It’s not perfect

AI content may not read succinctly, plus, it can even share the wrong information. Which means a real copywriter will have to work through it. Not only does this take time (if you’ve used an AI tool because you don’t have time to create said copy, it’s a kick in the teeth really), but the AI content could do a significant amount of reputational damage if it goes live and factual errors or simple mistakes are made throughout. Plus, a lot of long-form content generated by AI tools has proven to be repetitive and monotonous.

It has trouble speaking to a particular audience:

AI tools don’t have the capacity to be able to understand the language of certain industries, such as the medical world, for example. They’re not fluent in such jargon, which means they can’t dig further into what’s being said.

Not all AI content tools are up to date:

If you’re using a tool that hasn’t been updated, or hasn’t been “trained” in a while, it’s not going to be able to write about anything that’s happened since, or the present day.

AI-generated content is against Google’s guidelines, apparently:

According to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller, content created using AI tools is considered to be spam, which could end up in a manual penalty. However, without assistance from human reviewers, Google’s systems may not be able to detect AI content.

It lacks SEO optimization:

Unlike human copywriters who can strategically weave in keywords and optimize content for search engines, AI-generated content often falls short of meeting the crucial demands of effective SEO.

 

What’s considered a violation?

We’ve condensed what Google considers a breach of its guidelines, and if your content is found to encompass any of the below, the search engine has the right to take action against you. This includes:

Content written for the keywords, not the reader

This includes keyword stuffing, grammatical errors, and non-sensical language.

Auto-translated content

This means pieces of copy that have been changed from one language to another without human intervention to verify the accuracy.

Mixing different content

This suggests pulling information from different sources to create copy on the same topic, but without it adding any extra value, for example, text generated by scraping data from Google search and HTML code.

 

What’s the risk of being manually penalised by Google?

We’ve learned that there’s no algorithm at Google that can flag AI content. However, we know that they can detect spammy copy and content that’s incorrect. While your risk of being caught out for using AI tools is mostly minimal, if you use them with integrity, you’ll likely be fine:

Do make sure you use AI tools as if they’re assisting you

Have them help you with keyword research, grammar, drafts, outlines and readability. But don’t publish without manually going through the content. Make sure you read it aloud to make sure it flows naturally. Plus, you should always double-check your sources and any info in the copy to make sure everything is accurate if you had an AI copywriting software do research for you. 

Don’t use it to write content for you without editing or optimising it

This is when you’re at risk of being penalised by Google. Basically, if you use AI tools to do all the work for you without inspection before publishing, it can do more harm than good. You’re risking lowering your traffic and losing customer trust, plus even compromising potential revenue.

The reason for this is that Google expects trustworthy, authentic, and expert results that help users find quality answers to their questions. And with AI content being against Google’s guidelines, chances are, there’ll be a way for algorithms to detect it in the future. Bottom line, don’t try to cheat Google – you’re not gonna win.

 

What’s the deal for copywriters – will it become an automated profession?

Some copywriting areas have already become more automated through AI writing tools development. However, like we said, it currently lacks the empathy and emotiveness that is required for successful copy. Before copywriting becomes fully AI-dependent, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Google’s John Mueller has predicted that over time, AI tools might “evolve in that direction”, and that they’ll be used to improve efficiency in writing or to “make sure that you’re writing in a proper way.” This includes the “spelling and the grammar checking tools, which are also based on machine learning.” However, Mueller admitted that he doesn’t know “what the future brings there.”

Plus, some people believe that AI will never be able to capture or replicate the quality of a real writer. Whether it’s adapting to a client’s tone of voice or adjusting our language to connect with different audiences, quality content has to balance a lot of different components to become successful.

 

Bottom line – should AI stay or should it go?

Remember, it’s quality over quantity, and an incredible piece of content will always outshine and outperform super long pieces of low-quality copy. While AI content can be a helpful tool for writers when it comes to improving their copywriting, creator and marketing skills, if used incorrectly, it can be the opposite. Because we all know that going against Google can be detrimental to your website – whether it’s losing traffic or being indexed entirely.

Ellie Mckenna

Content Executive

MSc Digital Marketing & Communications. All things pattern and design. Find me eating pizza in a floral print 🌸🍕
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