What To Know About AI & SEO
Was this blog written by ChatGPT? How would you really know? And what impact would it have on Oomph’s site if it were?
Yes, we know there are some great AI-detecting tools out there. But for the typical reader, picking an AI article out of a crowd can be challenging. And with AI tools like ChatGPT delivering better-quality results than ever, many companies are struggling to decide whether to hand their content and SEO reins over to the machines.
While AI can add value to your content, companies should proceed with caution to avoid some potentially big pitfalls. Here’s why.
Quality Content Is Critical to SEO
All the way back in 1996, Bill Gates said “Content is King.” This phrase became ubiquitous in the early years of SEO. At that time, you could rank well simply by writing about a search topic, then optimizing your writing with the right keywords.
Since then, search algorithms have evolved, and the Google search engine results page (SERP) is more crowded than ever (not to mention the new continuous scroll). While ranking isn’t as easy as it used to be, content – whether it’s a video, an image, a product, a blog, or a news story – still matters. When content ranks well, it’s an ad-spend-free magnet for readers that eventually become customers and subscribers. What else on your website can do that?
That makes your content special. It also puts a premium on producing a high volume of relevant content quickly. For years, brands have done this the old-fashioned way: with copywriters and designers researching, writing, revising, creating images, and publishing ad infinitum.
AI-Powered Content Generation Changes How We Make Content
There’s no point in denying it: AI will impact SEO. But it’s still up for debate just how deep that impact will be.
The rise of AI-powered language processing tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E makes quick content generation a reality. They can easily produce high-quality content that will likely only get better with time. ChatGPT can produce an article in minutes, not hours, and even suggest keywords for you.
For all those reasons, marketers have embraced these new tools – ChatGPT shattered records when it reached 100 million daily active users in a mere two months. As the saying goes, though, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should – especially if using it means compromising on quality or losing what makes us, well, us.
After all, AI is a tool, not a replacement human. If you’re considering integrating AI into your martech stack, here’s what to keep in mind.
4 Things to Know Before Using AI for Content
1. Google may ding you.
In August 2022, Google released an algorithm update called the “helpful content update.” You can read more on Google’s blog, but what’s important is this: Google prioritizes content by people, for people.
But Google’s stance does beg the question: Will they really know if you used AI to generate your content? Well, they do have a very special set of skills…
While AI content can be good quality and easy to read, tools like Crossplag’s AI Content Detector and OpenAI’s GPT-2 Output Detector can detect whether something is written by a human or by an AI bot. That comes down, in part, to the fact that AI lacks EEAT – experience, expertise, authority, and trust – which is not just a major factor in SEO, but a major reason why people consume content in the first place.
2. AI isn’t always accurate.
AI culls information from across the web, and it’s remarkably good at it. But aggregating massive amounts of information isn’t the same as fact-checking. AI tools often get it wrong – even with easily verifiable, fact-based questions.
Take the question: What is the largest country in Central America that isn’t Mexico?
Nicaragua is the largest country in the subregion, with a total area of over 130 thousand square kilometers, followed by Honduras, with more than 112 thousand square kilometers.
(Hint: Google is right)
This is a problem for your business and for your SEO. Accuracy is an important part of EEAT. It’s especially critical for “your money or your life” (YMYL) content, like financial or medical advice. In these cases, the content you publish can and does impact real people’s lives and livelihoods.
Spotty accuracy has even prompted some sites, like StackOverflow, to ban AI-generated content.
3. You don’t have the rights to your AI-generated content.
AI-generated content isn’t actually copyrightable. Yes, you read that right.
As it stands, the courts have interpreted the Copyright Act to mean that only human-authored works can be copyrighted. Something is only legally defensible when it involves at least a minimal amount of creativity.
We’re all familiar with this concept when it comes to books, TV shows, movies, and paintings, but it matters for your website, too. You want your content and your ideas to be yours. If you use AI-generated content, be aware that it isn’t subject to standard intellectual property rules and may not be protected.
4. AI-generated content can’t capture your voice.
Even if you fly under Google’s radar with your AI content, it still won’t really feel like you. You are the only you. We know that sounds like it belongs on an inspirational poster, but it’s true. Your voice is what readers will connect with, believe in, and ultimately trust.
Sure, AI may succeed at stringing together facts and keywords to create content that ranks. And that content may even drive people to your site. But it lacks the emotional intelligence to infuse your content with real-life examples and anecdotes that make readers more likely to read, share, and engage with your content and your brand.
Your voice is also what sets you apart from other brands in your industry. Without that, why would a customer choose you?
AI and SEO Is a Journey, Not a Destination
AI is not the end of human-driven SEO. In reality, AI has only just arrived. But the real opportunity lies in finding out how AI can enhance, not replace, our work to create winning SEO content.
Think about content translation. Hand translation is the most premium translation option out there. It’s also costly. While machine translation on its own can be a bit of a mess, many translation companies actually start with an automated solution, then bring in the humans to polish that first translation into a final product. If you ask us, AI and SEO will work in much the same way.
Even in a post-AI world, SEO all comes down to this guidance from Google:
“If it is useful, helpful, original, and satisfies aspects of E-E-A-T, it might do well in Search. If it doesn't, it might not.”
If and when you do decide to leverage AI, keep these tips in mind:
- Use AI to generate ideas, not create finished products. Asking ChatGPT to provide five industry trends that you turn into a series of articles is one thing; cutting and pasting a full AI-generated article onto your website is another.
- Fact-check anything and everything AI tells you. + Infuse your brand into every piece of AI-generated copy. Personal stories, insights, and anecdotes are what makes great content great.
At Oomph, we believe quality branded content is just one component of a digital experience that engages and inspires your audience.
Need help integrating SEO content into your company’s website? Let’s talk.