Update 9/11/23: Before you dive into this helpful article, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, with the rise of AI like ChatGPT, which has the ability to write blogs and content for you, Google came out with a press release in February of 2023. In this PR, Google announced that AI-generated content is not against Google’s guidelines. However, spammy content written by AI for the purposes of manipulating SEO is still considered spam and is against guidelines. Google recognizes that in this new AI world, it can be beneficially used to our advantage. So, as long as you use it to create “helpful content,” no, you are not breaking any rules. Read more here.
Enter a topic, set your parameters, and… boom. You’ve got a full-length blog post without typing a single sentence.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) content writing is a new hot topic within the content and copywriting world due to its ease and accessibility- giving busy writers a break from the sometimes mundane task of researching, topic generation, and well… writing.
But is AI content writing paving the way for a brighter future in marketing? With content-first marketing strategies creating a high demand for writing, is this the solution? When used correctly- it might be.
When not used correctly, AI generated content and artificial intelligence content writing can cause drops in traffic, visibility, and even manual action penalties from Google leading to whole domains not being shown in search results.
Continue reading this article for more information on how you can use AI-generated content to work smarter while staying informed to avoid going against guidelines.
AI Copywriting tools use machine learning software to gain information on a given topic and produce content based on a set of parameters. Using predictive software, full sentences and topics are crafted. Neat, right? You add the keywords and some more specifics, and the bot does the rest.
There are different types of AI writing software that can assist with your digital marketing strategy. For example, autocorrect and autofill are versions of AI-assisted editing tools. Next time you use Grammarly or let your phone add an apostrophe or comma, that’s AI at work.
But there are more extensive tools that have the capacity to create full-length blog posts, website copy, or even messaging. In fact, there are even companies out there creating software that allows AI to write a novel for you.
Can Google Detect AI Content?
During Google’s SEO Office Hours in April 2022, John Mueller answered the question as to if AI-based writing tools were against Google’s guidelines and what Google’s “official” position on it is.
Mueller responded by stating that rules on automatically generated content (AGC) have been against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines since the beginning. He also claimed that he can’t confirm or deny if Google can distinguish between human and AI content, but it is considered spam.
Google does offer documentation on their Webmaster Guidelines for a definition of AGC. In short, they touch on the following as violations:
Content that is written for keywords and not the reader.
Can include keyword stuffing
Auto-translated content from one language to another without a human to verify accuracy.
Mixing different content of the same topic from other sources together to create copy without any added value.
What’s the Risk of Being Penalized for Auto-Generated Content?
As Mueller stated in April’s SEO Office Hours, Google has not officially stated that they have a way of finding AI content. Many machine learning algorithms are capable of producing content that reads smoothly, will no grammar errors, and has accurate information. To the naked eye, many AI writers may appear to be human.
There is no algorithm that can flag specifically “AI” written content. However, Google’s algorithms can pick up on spammy, nonsensical, and incorrect content.
In general, your risk of being penalized for auto-generated content is low. This depends on how you use the tools, more so than if you’re using them in general.
✅ Do you use AI copywriting software to assist with keyword research, drafts, outlines, grammar, and readability? You’re likely in the clear!
Try reading your content out loud to ensure it flows well, and always double-check sources and information if you had AI do research for you.
❌ Do you use AI copywriting software to write content for you, with little optimization or editing? You might be at risk of being penalized.
Avoid using AI tools to do the work for you. While this software is intended to make our lives easier, using an AI copywriter can cause more harm than good. You risk getting in trouble with the search engines, lowering your traffic, losing customer trust, and even potential revenue.
Simply put- Google wants expert and trustworthy results that help users find answers to their questions. While there might not currently be a way for algorithms to detect AI-written copy, if it’s against Google’s guidelines, there probably will be eventually.
Additionally, we can’t forget that Google still has manual action penalties.
Google Search’s Manual Action Penalty
Human reviewers at Google surf the search engine to review websites to ensure they follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Once manual action is taken against your site, it’s likely that the page and or whole domain may not be indexed- yikes!
If Google has an algorithm that works, why have human reviewers?
Google released a statement on the reason for still hiring humans to check their search engine. In short, Google picked up on the fact that people were manipulating websites and posts (blackhat SEO) to rank at the top of the search engine results page (SERP)- fast. Spammy websites can clog the results page quickly and make for unhappy users.
These techniques meant that reputable and trustworthy websites were being pushed to the bottom of the SERP or not ranking at all. So, in short, Google uses manual action reviews as a way to double-check that the algorithm is working as it should.
Note: While penalties can be accrued due to manual actions, human reviewers have no impact on search rankings.
Did May 2022’s Google Core Update Target AI-Written Content?
If you’re a part of the SEO/Content Writing community, you likely noticed an influx of unhappy posts following the conclusion of Google’s May 2022 Core Update. People mentioned that their organic rankings plummeted- websites going from consistent traffic in the millions monthly to practically 0.
While the answer is inconclusive, SEO specialists and content writers are skeptical as to if Google finally “caught on” to tracking AI-written content. While nothing has officially been released, it is safe to assume that those who relied on AI to write their content for them in bulk to quickly gain traffic and “cheat” the search engines may have been affected.
Following the Google Core Update rollout conclusion on June 9th, 2022, Google released the following statement: “There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven’t violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
Basically, Google is saying that if your pages are performing worse after the core update, it doesn’t mean that you violated the webmaster guidelines. Since auto-generated content is on that list of violations, if you didn’t receive an email or notification from Google, you’re probably in the clear!
It can be assumed that if your site heavily used AI content and it was hit hard by the Google Core Update in May, it’s likely not because Google found a way to track AI content. Rather, it could be because they found the quality, topic coverage, readability, or expertise to be poor.
Do you think that Google finally put its foot down on automatically generated content as a blackhat SEO strategy? Was AI content targeted or did traffic drop for other reasons? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Pros and Cons of AI Content Writing
Easy to use
Ability to personalize
Lacks the emotion necessary to understand target audiences
Against Google’s Webmaster guidelines
Does not do SEO
Should Marketing Agencies Be Using More AI?
The answer to this question depends on your specific needs as a digital marketer. For companies with the tools available to meet supply, demand, and quality standards, AI writing software might not be in your near future.
For companies who are just starting out, find themselves in a creative rut, or are looking to play around with content planning ideas, AI can be a good tool to use to your advantage.
Content writers, SEO specialists, and digital marketers alike should all generally stay away from AI-generated content when it comes to increasing content on your website or quickly increasing rankings & traffic.
Unfortunately, there is no quick solution to mastering SEO. Artificial intelligence may pave the way for a smarter future, but only if we learn to use the tools to the best of our advantage.
Tips on Using Artificial Intelligence for Writing Smart
Always fact check
Since AI assistants generate content from gathering information, it’s important to ensure it is correct. If need be, find external sources to back up the information.
AI assistants are a great option for those looking to polish their work into a finished product.
AI assistants are smart enough now to be able to determine the general readability of content. Marketers can use this to their advantage by ensuring that the copy is in the correct format, sentence structures, and reading level.
Some AI-writing software allows you to input a piece of text for new ideas or to rewrite content. This can be beneficial when repurposing old blog posts or looking for a second set of “eyes.”
Add a human touch
While AI is pretty great at writing, it’s not perfect. It’s important to read the piece out loud and make sure it sounds like someone wrote it. Make changes to the content where you see fit. Don’t neglect the “emotional” aspect of marketing.
Check for plagiarism
Most popular AI-generated content software is smart enough to avoid plagiarism and recycle data and information in a new yet readable way. Still, not all platforms are the same. Try running your content through a plagiarism checker (i.e., Grammarly).
Remember to add external backlinks where necessary
Even though AI may be able to write for you, the software will not optimize your article.
Maintain voice and tone
One thing an AI writer can’t do is match the unique voice and tone of your business or blog. If you use AI to assist you with writing content, make sure to go back and change the voice and tone. Voice is your brand’s personality, while the tone is how you communicate the voice to your audience.
So… What’s the Consensus?
Have you ever had an idea that you couldn’t put into words? Or experienced writer’s block? Are you overwhelmed with your workload? Have you considered using an AI writer for generated content?
Before giving any final thoughts, first, ask yourself why you’d like to use AI?
Is it to streamline a process? To edit better? To scout new ideas?
Or is it to quickly boost traffic? Increase rankings? Or even to avoid writing altogether?
Bottom line? It’s quality over quantity every time. A good piece of content will always outperform large quantities of low-quality content in the long run.
AI-writing software can be an excellent tool for writers to improve their skills and become better content creators/marketers. When used incorrectly, AI-generated content is against Google’s guidelines and can result in your website drastically losing traffic or even being indexed entirely.
RiZen Metrics is a full-service digital marketing agency in Scranton, PA, with hubs in Philadelphia (Fishtown) and New York City (SoHo). We’re committed to collaborating with you to create the best content marketing strategy for your company’s individual needs. With copy written by real humans and data to drive it- we can propel your business to new heights.