Many businesses and organizations are embracing AI in content marketing for its cost efficiency, scalability, and ease of production.
There’s just one problem…
Google is taking a hard stance against it, confirming AI-generated content is spam.
Additionally, there are other serious drawbacks and issues organizations should understand before adding it to their content strategy in 2023.
In this blog, I’ll dive more into the pros and cons of AI in content marketing, Google’s opinion on the matter, and risk-free alternatives to AI content.
- What is AI content?
- Can Google detect AI-generated content?
- Does Google punish sites with AI content?
- Disadvantages to AI in content marketing
- Benefits of using AI generation for SEO
- Better alternatives to AI content (Google approved)
- Risk-free ways to use AI for content marketing
AI-generated content is digital copies such as blogs, eBooks, landing pages, articles, product descriptions, and everything in-between generated automatically through machine learning algorithms.
In order to work, AI content generation tools such as ChatGPT and CopyAI need prompts and that is where the human input comes in.
Marketers can input descriptions such as keywords, short paragraphs, tone of voice, and any other key elements they need to include before the AI tools generate the content.
It is a newer tactic, with many marketers trying to learn more about the impact (positive and negative) it will have on content.
Just take a look at the Google Trends chart for "AI content" and how it's dramatically risen in the past year.
Can Google Detect AI-Generated Content?
Yes and no.
Google is constantly evolving its platform. They continue to develop and tweak new algorithms to detect AI content creation.
Google detects spammy automatically-generated content by checking for...
- The quality of the content
- Common inconsistencies and patterns within AI-generated content
- Sentences stuffed with keywords and no educational value
- Content produced from scraping RSS feeds
- Copy stitched from other websites with no editing or new ideas
In short, Google flags content that matches a common structure found within AI writers.
However, as new advanced text generators come into the marketplace such as GPT-3, it is becoming harder for search engines like Google to detect synthetic content.
During a Google Search Central office-hours hangout, Google search advocate, John Mueller describes the current situation of detecting AI-generated content as a "cat and mouse" game.
By this Mueller means, the more Google advances its algorithm to flag AI content, the more developers of these tools find ways to cheat the system.
Though, my bet is on Google to win this battle.
The search engine has always found ways to identify and penalize Black Hat SEO tactics. I expect this will be no different.
For this reason, I would discourage heavily using AI in content marketing strategies because it will eventually come back to bite you.
Recommended Reading: 9 Ways to Get More White Hat Backlinks for Your Website
Does Google Punish Sites with AI Content?
During the same office-hours hangout, John Mueller stated that AI-generated content is considered spam.
Moreover, it is against Google guidelines, as stated in their spam policies.
But, as we discussed in the previous section, Google cannot always detect AI in content marketing...yet.
So, how can they penalize it if they can't always detect it?
Since its inception, Google has always recognized high-quality content.
The search engine encourages organizations to publish people-first content that demonstrates experience and trustworthiness.
But, in many instances, AI writes content to manipulate search rankings.
That is a direct violation of Google's spam policies and will be flagged if not edited by human writers.
Therefore, to not be penalized by Google, content marketers must still revise the auto-generated content and add their unique perspectives for it to be worthwhile.
Disadvantages to AI in Content Marketing
Most marketers think AI-assisted content creation is a faster way to create content, but hardly anyone talks about the risks involved.
And as with any new technology, you have two camps with conflicting reactions — the overenthusiastic early adopters ignoring the drawbacks and the risk-averse individuals dissenting it for fear of the unknown.
So, what is the best approach?
The secret is to understand the challenges and know how to embrace these transformative technologies.
Outside of Google de-ranking sites with synthetic media, here are other negative impacts of AI in content marketing.
1. Google rewards user experience above everything else
In August of 2022, Google’s released its latest helpful content update highlighting, "helpful content written by people, for people."
It also states to "avoid creating content for search engines first".
This means that search engines prefer human-written content that provides a better user experience while adhering to SEO best practices.
And most content marketers agree.
Recent studies show 58% of marketers said “original written content” is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos.
AI-generated content is often generic and needs more originality and personalization to rank as well as the content written by people.
Anyone who has delved into SEO knows that Google rewards websites with better user experience, so if your AI-generated content is not up to par, it could negatively affect your website's performance.
2. Lacks unique insights and opinions
Creativity and originality make content more engaging and shareable, which are crucial metrics for success.
On the contrary, AI relies on web data and algorithms to create content.
As a result, it lacks the unique insights and opinions we bring as human writers to make the content interesting and exciting.
Unique content requires:
- Re-evaluation of status quo based on new information
- Personal experience
AI lacks emotional intelligence and a sense of human behavior to create insightful content.
So, if you’re looking to generate unique content that challenges the status quo, AI is not a great addition to your 2023 content marketing strategy.
3. Still requires the human touch
Although AI in content marketing saves time in the initial stages of content creation, it still requires human input to read through the content and ensure quality.
It is only through adding a human touch that AI-generated content can become truly engaging and valuable.
Benefits of Using AI Generation for SEO
AI-generated content can be valuable in several ways when used correctly. I'll list a few below.
1. Quick and easy
AI content generation is a fast and effortless solution for creating content. It is much more time-efficient than writing content from scratch.
In fact, 88% of marketers find that AI tools save their company time and money.
The average person spends about 4 hours writing an article.
At the same time, AI technology can generate an entire article in a few minutes, allowing you to create content in a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually.
When you multiply the quick turnaround by the number of articles, AI tools can help you produce more content.
With that being said, human intervention is still necessary.
As we discussed earlier, Google can easily detect poor-quality content.
If you are churning out hundreds of AI-written articles without adding your unique opinions, do not expect to rank high (or at all) on the search engine results page.
2. Low cost
Hiring quality content creators can cost up to a few hundred dollars.
The price varies on factors such as:
- Length of the article
- Number of pieces needed
- Level of expertise required
- Turnaround time and more
But, given the high-ranking results of human-generated content, this cost is worth it.
However, AI content generation saves on labor costs.
Some AI writing tools are free, while others use a monthly subscription pricing model with charges of around $100 per month for a higher volume of content.
3. Takes writer's block out of the equation
Writer's block can be a significant hindrance for content marketers.
It can be challenging for writers to generate content about a subject they have little to no knowledge about.
When using AI in content marketing it takes the pressure off of staring at a blank screen with no idea where to being.
It provides a great starting point for content creation as these tools can help generate outlines and key points to help the writer determine what to include in the content development.
Recommended Reading: Defeating Writer's Block - How One Survey Can Deliver Endless Content
Alternatives to AI Content (Google Approved)
As a marketing manager for Drive Research, I see the value AI can provide to businesses.
However, the idea that Google does not approve of AI content creation discourages me from wanting to dive head-first into this new wave of copywriting.
Julia McCoy of Content Hacker said it best in her article, Google Confirms AI Writing is “Spam”; Should You Play with Blog Writing AI?
McCoy writes, “Google can easily differentiate between high-quality and low-quality content."
She goes on to say, "If you’re churning out AI-written blogs without much editing or intervention, you’re swimming in low-quality content that Google will absolutely de-rank.”
Luckily, there is still a unique strategy that speeds up content creation while still producing unique, quality articles that Google approves: content surveys.
Allow me to explain. 🤔🤔
A content survey involves surveying a target demographic to easily repurpose the findings into shareable pieces of content: blog posts, press releases, website copy, whitepapers, reports, etc.
As the sponsoring brand, you have 100% access to unique insights that no one else on the internet has.
This eliminates the fear of publishing plagiarized content, a risk associated with using AI-generated tools.
Other benefits of content marketing research include:
- Quick process – Typically 2 weeks to collect survey responses.
- 100% unique content – Market research reports are filled with free content you own and can repurpose.
- Publish the right content – Understand exactly what topics your target audience is searching for so you know what keywords to incorporate into your content.
- Earn more backlinks – Original research is the biggest driver of backlinks compared to other types of content.
Additionally, here is an excellent breakdown that compares the differences between content produced by AI tools and content produced with online surveys.
If you are interested in commissioning a content survey, Drive Research can help.
Our team partners with various business types across the country to conduct surveys for lead-generation content.
Here are real studies our content marketing research company has completed.
1. Content survey with freight shippers
For this particular content survey, we were hired by Flock Freight, a shipping and logistics company.
We surveyed transportation buyers, load managers, transportation managers, VPs of supply chain, directors of transportation, and logistics managers.
The main goal of the project was to reveal new data in a downloadable report with actionable insights to help shippers overcome common challenges.
The report serves as a form of lead generation because interested readers must provide their contact information in order to access it.
Additionally, the research was featured in other marketing outlets such as blog posts, webinars, and animated infographics.
Content survey with bank and credit union decision-makers
In this case, Drive Research worked with Brandpoint, a content marketing agency.
They were looking for survey data to provide insights into how to remain competitive among their top-performing industry: banks and credit unions.
Therefore, we created a content survey among marketing decision-makers in the financial services industry to collect feedback on their common challenges, future trends, budgets, and more.
Brandpoint repurposed the survey findings to create content that was more enticing to this target demographic, including a piece of gated content: The State Of Content Marketing For Financial Services [Research Report].
Content survey with U.S. consumers
Drive Research also conducts internal content surveys to reap the benefits of easy-to-produce content, increase pageviews, and earn more backlinks.
The topics our market research company has covered include:
- Coffee drinking habits (See findings)
- Interest in electrical vehicles (See findings)
- Returning to the gym post-COVID (See findings)
However, our most recent PR survey surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers on Black Friday shopping habits, purchases, and preferences.
Our Black Friday survey findings were repurposed into a press release, blog post, and animated infographic.
Through these deliverables, our research is featured on AOL, Yahoo Finance, Bankrate, and more – resulting in DriveResearch.com earning 30+ backlinks.
Additionally, the blog post has earned 4,000+ pageviews in under four months.
Risk-Free Ways to Use AI for Marketing
There are many ways to reap the rewards of AI content generators without getting penalized by search engines.
Though, always keep in mind that marketers should use these tools as writing assistants instead of solely relying on technology for all content creation needs.
For example, Capterra’s 2022 AI Marketing Survey highlights where companies are leveraging AI in their marketing strategies.
Top responses included:
- Email marketing – 63%
- Advertising – 58%
- Data analysis – 57%
- SEO optimization – 40%
- Content or copywriting generation – 33%
Here are more Google-approved examples of where you can use AI to speed up your marketing messaging creation process.
1. Ideas for blog topics and outlines
For writers having problems generating ideas for blog topics and outlines, AI-generated content can get them started.
The average person spends tens of minutes researching blog post ideas, which can be tedious and time-consuming.
AI technology can generate a list of blog post ideas in just a few seconds, saving you time and effort.
2. Product descriptions
AI tools are perfect for producing short-form content that doesn’t require more emotional intelligence.
Therefore, eCommerce brands that need to write thousands of product descriptions can do so in a much shorter amount of time. It makes a once repetitive, monotonous task more streamlined and efficient.
3. Meta descriptions
Another great way to incorporate AI into your content marketing strategy is by allowing these tools to generate meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are essential to optimizing your website for search engine rankings.
They provide a brief description of what a particular page is all about and help search engines understand your site's content.
AI technology can generate meta descriptions in just a matter of seconds, which is a great solution for businesses looking to increase their search engine rankings.
4. Social media copy
Marketers often rely on customer demographics to build a brand presence and drive more traffic.
Artificial intelligence tools can analyze demographics, preferences, sentiments, and customer behavior and recommend topics to include in your posts.
This information can help you tailor your campaigns to ensure better user engagement.
AI in content marketing is the latest addition to the tech stack that aims to eliminate the need for human intervention during content creation and production.
Many of its benefits include being quick and easy to generate, cost-effective, and helping to overcome writer’s block.
However, there are major issues that exist with AI content creation.
Google recognizes and promotes content that is unique, human-centered, and engaging to ensure a positive experience for its users.
Most AI models have yet to achieve this level of sophistication – making it easy for Google to flag and de-rank this type of content.
For now, marketers should use AI tools as writing assistants instead of solely relying on technology for all content creation needs.
Though, if you are looking for a similar solution to publishing content faster, consider utilizing online surveys.
Organizations can repurpose the findings into blogs, reports, and other types of custom content that Google loves – while also saving time and resources that come with writing brand-new content.
Contact Our Content Marketing Research Company
Drive Research is a national market research company that specializes in research-based content and research-driven content insights.
We work closely with organizations that are looking to use market research to drive content strategies.
Questions about how we can help? Want to talk about a project? Reach out through any of the four ways below.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at [email protected]
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.
Learn more about Emily, here.