Artificial intelligence (AI) is already turning all kinds of industries upside-down. Is SEO next?
Probably not, at least according to Google Search Advocate John Mueller in a recent Google Search Central SEO hangout. That means all those ads you’ve been getting for Jasper and Ryter may be trying to lead you astray (surprise, surprise).
Bear with me — this is not simply the rambling of a freelancer who doesn’t want to see his livelihood threatened by the robots. I believe AI content can work for SEO in certain contexts. I just don’t think it’s going to replace real writers any time soon.
Let’s get into it: Does AI content work for SEO? Read on to find out.
AI SEO Content is Against Google’s Guidelines
Let’s start with the basics: In a recent Search Central SEO hangout, Mueller got a question about AI writing tools built with the neural network GPT-3.
His answer? It’s automatically generated content, which has been against Google’s webmaster guidelines for years. That means if Google detects AI-generated content on your website, you may get a manual penalty.
In other words, using AI-generated blog posts or landing pages on your website may put you at risk of losing key rankings or being removed from the Google index altogether.
Can Google Detect AI Content? Probably Not
There’s a big “however” to tack onto that warning about manual penalties: Google probably can’t detect AI-generated content automatically. That’s straight from Mueller himself, and he goes on to say that the future of Google and AI content is probably going to be like a “cat and mouse game.”
In that analogy, Google is the cat, and the latest attempt by AI content tools to evade the attention of Google’s very human, very real webspam team is the mouse. If your site happens to be in business with the next mouse to be caught, you can expect to feel the ramifications right in your rankings.
Is AI Content Good Enough?
So, Google probably can’t automatically detect AI-generated SEO content. To some, that may sound like license to proceed with a bunch of computer-written blog posts. But it’s important to remember that Google wants to rank — and is constantly trying to get better at ranking — the best content.
That’s the content that informs, entertains, engages and adds something new. Does AI-content live up to that particular qualification? Let’s have a look at what one of the most prominent AI content writing tools, Jasper, came up with to answer that question:
“Does AI content work for SEO?
There is no simple answer to this question since there are a lot of factors that can affect SEO, such as the quality of content, keywords, backlinks, and so on. However, if you create high-quality AI content that is relevant to your target audience, then it can certainly help improve your SEO. In fact, some experts believe that SEO content writing doesn't work for SEO.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating AI content:
- Make sure the content is well-written and free of errors. Poorly written content can hurt your SEO.
Find good keywords to target. You can use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and semrush.com to find keywords that are relevant to your business.
- Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions. This will help your content rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Promote your content. Once you've created great AI content,
- Use relevant keywords throughout the content. This will help improve your search engine ranking for those keywords.”
This is anecdotal evidence, but that’s … not good enough. If your friend said they wrote that and wanted your honest opinion, what would you say? It’s kind of fluffy. It veers off topic quite a bit. There’s a sentence that just stops, uncompleted. And it has no flavor or perspective.
Now, it’s impressive that a computer wrote it. It really is, but that content isn’t keeping a reader’s attention for very long, and it’s probably not impressing the search engines very much, either. It’s also worth noting that this copy is much, much better than the spam-regurgitating article spinners that plagued web content in the early 2000s. Still — not good enough.
Will It Get Better? Probably
AI content writing is an emerging field. It almost certainly will get better. That’s a good thing — especially because we know people are going to continue to use it no matter what Google says.
However, it would be a mistake to believe that getting better means that it will get smarter than Google. Google is also going to get better at what it’s trying to do over time. It always has, and there’s no reason to believe that the AI content writing companies are going to outsmart it.
AI Content May Have a Place in Your SEO Strategy
So far, this post has been a lot of negative talk about AI content as it relates to SEO, but I’m not completely against it. In fact, I believe it can play a time-saving role in the work of on-page SEO.
Take meta descriptions, for example. They’re short, Google often rewrites them and they’re essential to your SEO strategy. But you need a unique one for every page. I wouldn’t hesitate to pop a bunch of blog posts into a content AI and let it try to come up with some meta descriptions for me.
In fact, Google Docs can already do that. But what I would not do is let the AI write my descriptions and then publish them without editing. I would certainly edit them — not just for grammar and accuracy, but for their ability to really call the reader to action, which I believe is still a function of the human brain, not an artificial one.
I’ve also seen people using AI content writers to help them overcome writer’s block. They write in the AI dashboard, and the AI will add a sentence or two when the writer asks it to. It helps them get past whatever mental block was stopping them.
Those are just a few examples, but there are certainly more. AI may not be able to write great SEO blog posts from scratch, but it is an important tool.
AI Is Smart, But People Are Smarter (for Now)
I’m not qualified to speak about the future capabilities of AI, but I can say that, when it comes to web content meant to rank in search engines, people do it better — at least for now.
I’ll leave it there, and I’ll leave you with the sign-off Jasper’s SEO content writing tool came up with when I typed in “goodbye”:
“It was nice meeting you. I hope you have a great day. Goodbye!”