How AI-generated content can badly affect SEO
Updated July 14, 2023.
With the growing popularity of AI tools, many brands are leveraging their efficiency in mass-producing online content. Though this is undoubtedly a much simpler process, most brands don't quite understand the implications that AI-generated content can have on their SEO quality.
How is AI used to create content?
Brands primarily leverage AI in three key aspects of content creation:
- Generating new content at scale Entering a prompt into an AI tool (usually ChatGPT-based) is undoubtedly simpler and faster than producing content yourself, but the quality of AI-generated content varies greatly.
- Discovering relevant data Brands employ AI to find facts, figures, and other relevant information.
- Editing content This is a great way to cut down the time it takes to edit large amounts of content at a basic level (such as spelling and grammar), offering a much more cautious and controlled approach to using AI.
Even large brands are using AI to generate content
A simple Google search on AI marketing or AI content generation will yield a plethora of resources on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and particularly YouTube about how to use AI in content generation. The rapid changes in the market mean that companies, particularly content-focused ones, will have to adopt AI technologies to remain relevant and competitive. AI is inevitable; even large publishers like Bankrate are beginning to utilize it in their content creation process.
Pros & cons of using AI to generate content
- Content creation becomes accessible to anyone with an online device
- Risk of the hyperinflation of generic and valueless content
- Less personal and unhelpful content is devalued by Google
- Low-quality content hurts overall SEO quality
The convenience of AI is similar to the rise of fast food chains like McDonald's: it's a readily accessible, uniform, and quick solution. However, just as the long-term effects of consuming fast food weren't immediately recognized, the long-term impact of AI-generated content on the internet remains uncertain. If users can obtain the same answer from an AI-powered tool like ChatGPT, they may begin questioning the need for search engines like Google or Bing.
Google's algorithm can exclude low-quality content from its index
So, what is Google's response to AI-generated content? Looking at the past can give us some clues. There was a time of prominent content farms, groups of inexpensive labor from around the world generating content at a low cost purely for SEO. This is not a new challenge for Google; the algorithm has been battling low-quality content for over a decade, and it's only the scale that has changed. Despite being a massive company, Google has finite resources, meaning that they need to have a simplistic solution for dealing with these junk pages; and they do.
In general, these pages end up in a category called “Crawled - currently not indexed,” meaning that Google has chosen to exclude these pages from its index and prevent them from being discovered through organic search. It's not just about the content lacking a unique value proposition or offering nothing new, but about its overall usefulness.
To give you some perspective, a large publisher like Forbes or Wall Street Journal might be crawled by Google hundreds of thousands of times every day. With almost 2 billion active websites and millions of new ones created daily, it wouldn't be practical for Google to crawl and index every page. Therefore, Google's approach to dealing with these low-quality pages is straightforward: it just doesn't index them.
» Learn more about how Google is handling the AI content surge.
Most companies using AI to create content are committing SEO suicide
The current hype around AI content generation, similar to the cryptocurrency and NFT hype, is unsustainable. Over-reliance on AI for content generation, particularly without enough oversight or responsibility, will flood the internet with low-quality content. Google, designed by people to mimic human thought processes, will disregard entire websites filled with uninteresting, valueless content. Consequently, these websites will get a low overall score, and Google will not index any of their pages.
Even individual pages that offer interesting, unique, and helpful content by Google's standards might be excluded from indexing if the rest of the site has a low score. In the long run, SEO is a long-term investment. It's not just about individual articles but the entire website's reputation, authority, and quality score.
Brands still require content for every aspect of their marketing, be it notifications, SMSs, emails, or even images. The need for content isn't changing, but the way content is created has already changed. Brands need to invest more in high-quality content—more expensive, but certainly more valuable. Even if the quality of AI-generated content improves, it must still offer a unique value proposition and be genuinely helpful to your audience.
AI can be used responsibly to create content that helps SEO
To put it simply, all the content you produce needs to be helpful and valuable, with original ideas. Even if the quality of AI-generated content improves, it must still offer a unique value proposition and be genuinely helpful to your audience.
It's possible to use AI responsibly in content creation, but the process must be thoughtfully handled. For instance, at Entail, we use AI for bulk content editing and enhancements, clearing out the basic and time-consuming tasks like correcting spelling and grammar, not for creating the content itself. The ideas, messages, and content we present are expert-driven, not generated by AI platforms like ChatGPT.
» Learn how ChatGPT is rewriting the rules of content marketing.