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Artificial Intelligence and SEO

Okay, let’s delve into number nine on my list of 24 things to focus on in 2024. Here, we’re entering the realm of newer, more innovative topics. Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a significant area. It’s not merely a tool for automation and SEO; it’s reshaping the entire landscape. AI has become a major buzzword lately, and as an SEO professional, it’s important to understand how it works, how search engines are utilizing it, and how to apply it in your strategies. This involves enhancing content relevance, user experience, and, ultimately, your search rankings through a more intuitive and responsive SEO strategy that aligns with the advanced capabilities of modern search engines.

Common applications of AI-generated content include:

  • Blog posts
  • Post titles
  • Content outlines
  • Social media posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Product descriptions
  • Ad copy
  • Landing pages
  • And more…

An article on Shout Me Loud discusses these applications extensively, offering insights from Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search. This article provides valuable information about AI, including predictions and guidelines on avoiding penalties since, according to Google’s John Mueller, content generated automatically using AI writing tools falls under the category of auto-generated content, which could lead to a manual penalty.

I’m not advising against the use of Artificial Intelligence but cautioning against simply copying and pasting content as a shortcut to website creation. AI can be incredibly helpful in generating ideas and providing a structure for content creation. For instance, it can suggest numerous titles for a class or create an outline for a webinar, aiding in the content development process without outright copying and pasting. This approach ensures coverage of all bases in a helpful manner.

What does Google think about using artificial intelligence?

In November 2022, Google clarified its stance on AI-generated content, stating that it isn’t inherently bad. The issue lies with content written primarily for search engines rather than humans. Google is adept at detecting such content, so it’s essential to use AI thoughtfully.

AI is also beneficial for expanding existing content. For example, when redesigning an old website with limited original content, AI can be used to enrich the content base, making it sound authentic and improving its quality. However, it’s imperative to review and refine AI-generated content to ensure it doesn’t sound repetitive or artificial.

Google has long used AI, from RankBrain to BERT, to understand user intent and improve search relevance. This underscores the importance of meaningful context in content creation. Current tools like ChatGPT, WriteSonic, and SurgeGraph offer advanced capabilities for creating comprehensive content that needs to align with human intelligence and creativity for optimal effectiveness.

A real word experiment with AI

Neil Patel conducted an experiment with 100 sites using AI-written content. Some of these sites featured content exclusively created by AI, with zero human editing or writing, while others included content that was edited, polished, and fleshed out by humans. The analysis, which wasn’t recent but took place last year, revealed significant findings. Sites with content generated entirely by AI, without any human involvement, experienced a dramatic decrease in their online visibility.

They saw an average traffic drop of 77% and a decline of eight spots in search rankings. This demonstrates that purely AI-generated content, without any human input, does not add value to a site. On the other hand, sites that combined AI with human editing fared better, witnessing only a 6% drop in traffic and a decrease of about three positions in search.

These results underscore the importance of human intervention in content creation. AI can generate content, but without the expertise and experience that a human brings, the quality and effectiveness of that content are compromised. Patel acknowledges it’s too early to draw definitive conclusions from this experiment, but it appears that Google is taking measures to address the issue of AI-generated content. The key takeaway here is that relying solely on AI for content creation could be detrimental in the long run.

What does this mean for you?

The bottom line is not to use AI tools without incorporating some level of human interaction. AI can be incredibly useful for generating ideas and getting the creative process started, but it’s crucial to fact-check, add your own insights, and ensure the content reflects your unique perspective. While Google may not detect all AI-generated content, it has the capabilities to identify such content more effectively than most. Thus, I advise using caution.

If your content doesn’t need to be indexed by Google, such as a 30-day list of social media posts or a PDF download offered in exchange for email addresses, using AI poses no significant risk. For these types of content, AI can be a powerful tool to streamline the creation process. However, for content intended to be indexed and ranked by Google, adding a personal touch and ensuring it aligns with your authentic voice is the best direction to take.