In this blog post, we will look at the current state of AI in terms of creating SEO content. I will evaluate where it can help and identify where it is not quite ready yet. If you are interested in AI content, there are going to be a lot of interesting points in this post so let’s get started.
AI content writing is a topic that a lot of people are talking about. There are a lot of tools that are using more and more AI features e.g. Surfer, Grammarly, and even Google Docs have some AI writing features. Press “Tab” in Google Docs and/or GMail to see the predictive text feature.
A lot of people are seeing this as a way of creating content. A cheaper way for people to create websites that are tight on a budget is the promise of making a lot of money without spending a lot of money. But, today, I will walk you through some of my learnings while trying to use AI for content creation over the past few months.
The promise of AI writing
I think there is a huge discrepancy between what you read on the sales page of an AI tool and what it brings to your business. If you visit an AI writing tool website, at the first glance it looks impressive as to what it can accomplish.
It is quite difficult for beginners who have not used these tools or do not have the experience to gauge what they can get off it versus what the reality is.
Based on my understanding of using AI content tools, most tools are pretty good at writing short content and social media content. But, on the other side, if you want to write a full blog post, which is generally a more expensive option in most AI tools it is quite unlikely to meet your quality expectations at the current state.
When it comes to blog posts using AI tools all of them promise that they can help you with it. They have built-in integrations to make sure you have everything you need in one place. They intend to make things easier so you can scale your content but in reality, while writing longer forms of content e.g. blog posts it is far from qualifying as your first draft of quality content.
AI content – A content writer’s nightmare?
Generally, when content writers hear about AI content for the first time, they are likely to be excited about it, and the features seem magical. However, as the content writer works more with the AI writing tool, you realize it was not everything it promised.
The AI writing tool can give you a head start. But, it is still missing the key elements that add value and the content. AI writing currently falls short to establish a connection with a reader that a human has the ability to do with his/her content.
Use AI content for long-tail queries
AI content can be useful for writing on long-tail queries that have low or no search volume. When you write really long tail query content to cover an aspect that no one else has thought about writing, then AI content writing can come in handy. AI tools will showcase case studies of them successfully ranking keywords however, this will mostly be for long-tail keywords with low or no competition.
Depending on AI content writing to solely write great content for you is ideal, but not a realistic expectation. AI content tools on their own will not produce great content.
With content, you want to rank on Google. There are only ten spots on page one. So, if you have created good content, but others have created content that is slightly better than you, then you are not going to be there. Therefore, unless you create great content that ranks on page one, you are unlikely to gain meaningful results.
Decoding results from a survey on AI content
I conducted a survey to gather first-hand data on AI content. The question I asked was: For you, AI content is-
- Far from ready, it will take many years.
- Ready for production sites today.
- Probably good enough for sites in a few months.
- Basically used for content spinning in 2022.
From 120 respondents, the results were as follows:
- 81 people said it will take many years.
- 4 people said it is ready for production today.
- 7 people said it would be good enough in a few months.
- 28 people said it would basically be used for content spinning in 2022.
Use AI content to scale content output?
When I integrated AI content into the existing content workflow for one of my clients, the expectation was to scale content output to 5x. In reality, the productivity gain was approximately 30%. However, the content quality dropped by approximately 15-20%. Hence, even though I had 30% more content the chances of it performing well in Google dropped as the quality had dropped.
This ultimately became more cumbersome than the traditional content workflow where an industry-experienced writer would produce a lesser number but higher quality content.
Most of the time, our content writers would have to re-write the content suggested by the AI content tool. Additionally, there is a learning curve involved to learn how to use the tool properly. This actually takes more time than the traditional content workflow. It took my content team approximately 6 months to fully understand the tool and start using it to boost productivity.
I also needed to invest time to build templates and feed the tool with the right information. For a large-scale project juggling between multiple templates could be a potential challenge. It also requires a different kind of skillset to build out these templates which may not be possible for everyone to do.
Even experienced content writers may be great at writing content but they tend to struggle with technology. This is another drawback when you consider AI content writing to be the future.
AI content writing is almost like writing code. Where a content writer is expected to give a set of instructions in a language and there will be an output provided by the tool. If AI content writing becomes mainstream in the future, writers who can blend the experience of traditional writing and AI technology would be in high demand.
Impact on freelancers’ market
Freelancers have started using AI content writing tools. When you hire a content writer on platforms like Upwork etc. there is a chance they may write content using AI tools. There are even videos on YouTube teaching people how to use AI to write content and make money from it.
There was good and bad content before AI content came into existence. Buyers need to read through the content thoroughly that is shared by the freelance writer and access the quality of the writing based on their business expertise.
Detect AI content
AI tools are based on an open-source platform GPT suite. Recently, a GPT2 detector is launched that can identify whether a piece of content was created using an AI tool or not. Although, it is at an early stage and needs improvement, with time and machine learning this tool is likely to get better.
Google on AI content
Essentially, Google sees AI content as generated content and it is treated as spam content. Regardless, of whether it is good or bad it is treated as spam. Google is likely to release an algorithm update that weeds out all AI spam content and penalizes websites that have generated content using AI content tools.
At present AI writing tools generate low-quality long-form content. Google could add a layer to its algorithm and detect AI content used – Yes or No. Let’s say for the sake of this discussion, it hits websites that use AI content.
This is likely to be a bigger hit than on those websites where you have a few human writers that have written content but it is not great. The website where humans have written poor content will be hit but the overall impact would not be as severe as the other website that has written AI content.
Hence, freelancers or anyone relying only on AI content should not rest on their laurels. The focus should be to create great content that ranks well on Google and other search engines. You can use AI content to get a head start but it will require to be manually edited to add value.
AI content guest blogs
SEO experts are increasingly using AI content tools for guest posting. The content is unique hence, plagiarism is not detected. Hence, external websites that accept guest posts do not have issues accepting AI content posts. In the short-mid term, this approach seems to be working however, it is questionable from a long-term standpoint.
When can you consider using AI content?
Use AI content with tact. You can try AI content tools:
- If you want to write shorter form content e.g. text for CTAs.
- When you have a pre-defined content structure that just needs to be scaled.
- When you want to write social media posts AI content is helpful.
- Write marketing content for which you do not want to rank in search engines.
- Generate ad variants for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn Ads, etc.
- Email subject lines.