We live in a time of rapid technological progress and artificial intelligence (AI) is a prominent player in the arena. AI has crept into every corner of our lives (from self-driving cars to mobile phone voice assistants), so it's no wonder that it's also being used in content creation. Using AI, anyone can create articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and landing pages in an instant. The technology can save time, increase productivity, and rapidly increase the amount of content on our websites. While AI is starting to dominate content creation, we are also starting to worry about how AI-written content could potentially negatively impact our website. Is there a downside to letting Artificial Intelligence write our texts for us? The most common concern relates to search engine optimization (SEO). What happens if Google and other search engines start "penalizing" websites that contain AI-written content?
What is AI-written content?
Let's first clarify what we mean by AI-written content, namely any content created using artificial intelligence (AI). Right now, the most popular AI tool is perhaps ChatGPT, but many people are probably also familiar with JasperAI, Copy AI, WriteSonic, Bard and others. Since AI can understand and follow grammatical rules, recognize patterns, and absorb directives, the technology can create the texts we want. The rapid development has meant that the texts generated by AI have quickly become more realistic and convincing.
The obvious benefits of AI-written content are that texts can be generated very quickly and in large volumes. The texts can be tailored to specific audiences based on data and it is only natural that companies are jumping on this opportunity to create more content, faster and more cost-effectively. But is this a good idea? SEO, search engine optimization, is about getting a website to rank high in search engine results, usually Google as this is the most used search engine. With SEO, we want to increase our website's visibility and attract more traffic. So how is our website affected if Google chooses to look down on content that has been created by a machine and not by a human?
What does Google say about AI-written content?
In 2022, Google's Search Advocate, John Mueller, announced that content automatically generated by AI writing tools is considered spam and is against Google's guidelines. The effect of this would be that AI-generated content counteracts all SEO efforts, which is of course directly harmful to the companies that have started to rely on AI-written texts. This position resulted in a debate about, among other things, whether Google can detect AI-generated content, as well as the fact that many companies were already using AI-generated content without affecting their SEO. Google later revised its position and now states that the search engine will always reward unique and high-quality content that demonstrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness (E-A-T). This is regardless of how the content has been produced.
Google's own guidelines clearly present that there is no policy against AI-generated content and that texts are not penalized because they are automatically generated. AI can and "may" be used to create useful content, as long as it is not used for the purpose of manipulating the search engine. In summary, Google's guidelines can be interpreted as meaning that AI-generated texts will not be discriminated against because they are AI-generated, but low-quality content (regardless of how it was produced) that violates Google's spam policy will be penalized.
Can AI-written content replace the "human touch"?
Even if Google and other search engines do not choose to penalize AI-written texts, there is still some uncertainty among many. To what level should I rely on the ability of AI to produce my content? How highly should the human factor be valued? Above, we introduced the concept of E-A-T, which stands for "Experience", "Authoritativeness" and "Trustworthiness" and means that Google rewards content that comes from credible sources, is knowledgeable and adds value to the visitor. With this in mind, it is a good idea to always ensure that text produced by AI is relevant to your target audience. Do the texts meet your requirements in terms of engaging content? Are the insights presented by the AI in the text valuable to your customers and potential customers? And has the tool understood your specific tone of voice and how you want to communicate with your audience? In addition, the SEO aspect is very important to keep in mind. Although AI can generate search engine optimized content, you may need to ensure that keywords and search phrases are used correctly. An additional factor that makes it important to check all AI-written content is the risk of plagiarism. When AI retrieves information, it does so from various internet sources and obviously you don't want to risk blatantly copying something from someone else without referencing the original source.
There are certain aspects of writing that, at least for now, AI has difficulty replicating. The human factor includes the ability to exhibit personal experience and to recognize subtle nuances in language and context that can be challenging for an AI. This means that while AI can be a very powerful tool for generating content, we should be aware of its limitations. At the time of writing, it may therefore be a good idea to use AI-written content to complement human-created content rather than replace it entirely.
The future of AI and content creation
With the rapid evolution of technology, we will certainly see an increasing use of AI in content creation. AI can potentially create more personalized content, based on an individual's behaviors, preferences, and past interactions. It can also create more diverse content, including video, audio, and interactive experiences. But we will also need to get better at integrating human oversight and creativity to ensure that AI creates relevant, quality content that complies with the applicable rules and standards.
So far, human insights are crucial to creating content that is engaging, relevant and valuable to visitors. Google's algorithms are continually becoming more sophisticated and strive to be better at rewarding content that provides real value to users, rather than content that is only optimized for search engines. Thus, human insights and expertise will continue to be important in creating content that can rank high in search results. At the same time, while AI can help optimize content for search engines, it is important to see AI as a tool to complement human-created content, rather than replacing it altogether.