Artificial intelligence isn't coming. It's already here.
Whether you're just learning about AI or already writing with it, it's hard not to wonder how this technology is going to change your industry and affect you personally. I want to share some of my thoughts about where I think this trend is going.
One word of caution – my predictions are not for the faint-hearted: AI is going to put many writers out of jobs and cause a lot of competition for content marketers.
But don't worry, it is not all doom and gloom. I'll help you get prepared for the challenge.
Ready to get started? Let's get to it!
It's too soon to mourn for them, though. Until AI becomes a mainstream tool for generating SEO content, some SEO writers will make a lot of money.
In the past few years, many freelance writers have turned to artificial intelligence to produce vast amounts of content. Why wouldn’t they? After all, Google ranks machine-generated articles alongside real ones and the demand for content is high. This means freelancers will be making more money than ever before. A more important question is – for how long?
When you outsource SEO content to humans, the final product is likely to be of low quality. It won't contain your expertise, it will repeat what has already been said many times elsewhere, it won't provide much value to your target audience, and it can contain factual inaccuracies.
Google isn't smart enough to vet every claim in every article, so this content can still rank well on the search engine.
When you ask ChatGPT or GPT-3 to write human-like SEO content about "How to do Y," or "What is X," it will do so in minutes and produce content of the same quality that an average SEO writer would. Attention! Make sure you don't do it in one shot; ask ChatGPT to generate separate paragraphs, then stitch them together wisely to make the result more accurate and compelling.
If SEO writers continue using AI to scale the production of low-quality content, they will be replaced with artificial intelligence very soon. A subscription to an AI writing tool is cheaper than paying a human writer. Companies will employ editors to oversee the AI-generated content, ensuring it's high quality, and Google is unlikely to label it as spam.
John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, recently stated that content automatically generated with AI writing tools is considered spam by the search engine’s webmaster guidelines.
Google wants to ensure that users have a good experience with their search engine, which comes from quality content. By labeling AI-generated content as spam, Google is saying that this type of content is not up to par. But is all AI content inherently bad? And can Google detect it flawlessly?
My answer to the first question is no, not all AI content is bad. In fact, AI can help content writers create grammatically accurate content, overcome writer's block, come up with original ideas on topics they have little experience with, rephrase sentences to reflect a unique brand voice, and overall – improve the quality of content.
Speaking of Google's capabilities to detect AI-generated content, I have doubts here as well. Google has been quite successful in fighting content generated by means of spinners. It penalizes websites that plagiarize content by replacing words or phrases with synonyms.
Google can detect spun content. But it'll be much harder for the search engine to differentiate between AI-generated and human-written content. AI writing tools aren't just rewriting articles by replacing words with synonyms. They're creating new content that looks and feels like human-written content. As AI is further developed, it will be harder to detect "automatic content" in its writing.
Despite this, I wouldn't recommend relying entirely on an AI content generator to write SEO-optimized articles. In May 2022, Google's core algorithm update seemed to penalize content that was written fully by artificial intelligence.
Going forward, it's likely that Google will continue improving its algorithms to detect copycat content produced by AI-content generators. AI tools that are trained to cover specific topics might produce homogeneous content on a large scale. When there is a sufficient amount of data for Google to analyze, patterns will emerge. If a significant portion of the internet reads uniformly, Google may adjust search results to ensure accuracy.
To avoid penalties, companies and SEO experts should work with human editors and fact-checkers to optimize their AI-generated content. The demand for highly skilled human writers and editors will increase.
AI tools can handle writing tasks, but they can't replace the expertise of a skilled writer. A house built without an architect's guidance is likely to have structural issues. Similarly, AI-generated content produced by someone who isn't trained as a writer may lack substance and won't effectively convey the intended message.
Without a doubt, AI writing tools will automate some parts of the writing process. Because of this, the role of content writers will shift from creating content toward providing directions, ensuring quality, fact-checking, and building credibility.
Here are my predictions on what roles writers will play with AI on stage:
Writers will turn into strategists to develop a distinct brand voice and point of view, determine what topics to write about and how to fit each article into a broader marketing strategy. They will conduct original research in order to learn something new about the world that AI cannot reveal.
Their ultimate goal will be to create and distribute content that meets the needs and interests of their target audience and achieves the desired business objectives.
Or simply editor will edit content generated by AI to achieve the desired quality and avoid inaccuracies. Like QA specialists in software development, content quality assurance managers will develop requirements for content and verify if AI-generated text meets these requirements. They will identify what makes high-quality content, and develop a set of guidelines that describe how to achieve it with AI. They will help train AI programs to produce high-quality content.
By combining the strengths of AI for scaling content production with the quality assurance provided by human editors, companies will likely find the best solution to their publishing challenges.
As artificial intelligence becomes more widespread, both Google and readers will become more skeptical of unknown authors and place greater trust in individuals or institutions with a reputation for being genuine experts in a given niche.
Author authority is something that's been around for years. While it's not clear whether it directly influences Google's rankings, it's obvious that users prefer authoritative sources, and they will prefer reading content written by real people rather than automated software.
Credibility will be one of the most important factors in content marketing success and companies will likely seek content authored by subject matter experts instead of recent college graduates without any expertise in the subject matter.
AI is too good to ignore. All types of marketers will use it to automate this content production process. With AI, copywriters will generate infinite variants of copy for ads and landing pages, social media experts will speed up the creation of on-brand social content, content writers will quickly brainstorm ideas for their articles, and email marketers will generate catchy email subject lines in a fraction of the time. AI writing tools will gradually become part of the everyday routine in most organizations.
Companies that care about content quality will use AI as an assistant, and not a substitute for human writers. At the same time, teams with poor content quality standards will use AI to speed up the production of low-quality content, leading to greater competition among companies on search engines.
As more and more companies will be able to create AI-generated SEO content, this content will offer less value, even if it's longer and more comprehensive than its competitors. To stand out, companies will be looking for differentiators to make their content more valuable and less likely to be replicated. Personal opinions, case studies that stem from experience, original research, contrarian points of view, and interesting angles will become the next frontier for content marketers.
AI will force companies to get more creative in their content marketing efforts and make quality a priority. In the sea of copycat AI-generated content, quality will become a differentiating factor.
Remember when everyone was writing “Ultimate guides,” “X tips” listicles, and "How to do Y" articles? This content dominated the search (and it still does), and that's why everyone was writing it. But today, this content is a commodity. It doesn't bring any value.
Smart companies (eg. First Round Review, Intercom, McKinsey) had started investing in thought leadership content years before OpenAI released GPT-3.
Thought leadership content isn't easy to replicate, and natural language generation can't create it. This type of content doesn't necessarily need 3000 words to be able to rank well on search engines. It doesn't repeat Wikipedia. What it does is share your unique insights and opinions, contain research in data that only you have access to, and tell stories from your personal experience.
With GPT-4 on the horizon, more companies will be using thought leadership to make their content more effective.
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