AI (artificial intelligence) content has become more and more popular in the digital world. AI reaches across several forms, including text, image, video, and audio generation. With how all-encompassing AI has become, the question of “Should I use AI content instead of human-generated content?” is raised.
Google periodically comes out with updates to its algorithms, making it a constantly evolving platform. With the constant changes, the approach to your strategy has to change, as well. At PDM, we have seen first-hand how AI content and Google algorithm updates can change the quality of business for clients.
An example to highlight is one of our clients at PDM. In the screenshot below, you can see that the client was consistently ranking between 3,000-4,000 organic keywords every month. Right around September of 2023, the number of keywords ranking dropped to under 2,000.
Google Algorithm Updates
In the same month of September, Google announced a new update called the “Helpful Content” update which was a major change to the algorithm for how sites are ranked. This update included several changes to promote better quality content on sites. The updates included the following areas:
- Loosening the guidance on machine generated content
- Hosting third-party content on subdomains (or on main domain)
- Offering additional guidance on what to do if your site loses traffic from a Helpful Content update
In essence, the update pushes original content created for people in search results, where before it had to be created by humans, for humans. Hosting third-party content is still encouraged by Google, but it now needs to be closely related to the purpose of the main site’s content. The content written on pages should be updated regularly and be fresh without “faking” it. Using AI to update and create content is an option, but it often backfires because AI has a hard time with creating natural sounding and looking content.
This update on Google would explain why this client saw a sudden drop in Google rankings in September. It is likely that the content on the site is now viewed as less helpful by Google and is in need of some changes.
Google has its own suggestions on how to handle your site if your rankings have dropped after the update. Here is what the experts had to say:
“If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful.”
Reviewing your site yourself is beneficial so you can determine, from your customer’s point of view, if your content seems unhelpful. AI doesn’t have the ability to determine what content is helpful or not as it is produced. In fact, AI content in itself is often seen as unhelpful by the humans viewing it.
Why You Shouldn’t Use AI Exclusively
Content that has been generated by AI is often seen as unhelpful for several reasons. AI content can be rigid and robotic, which usually does not flow well for humans reading or looking at the content. AI can also create content that does not match what the viewers want to see, such as writing a blog about the benefits of exercise when the viewer searched for a blog about specific exercises to strengthen your knees. While the content may connect vaguely, it does not match with what exactly the viewer was searching for, which tells Google to rank the content lower.
While Google may not be requiring content to be produced by humans now, there is still a fine line between utilizing this technology and overusing it to the point where it is actually hurting your business.
There are some services available out there that will develop an entire site exclusively using AI, requiring no human-generated content. While this may be an easy option upfront, we highly recommend not using this approach when creating content for a site. Without the element of humans, AI doesn’t always translate well.
Benefits of Using AI Content
Using AI for all content creation can be tempting for some of the following reasons:
- Time-saving: AI can produce quality content in a very short amount of time compared to the speed at which a human writer creates content.
- Consistent Quality: AI operates based on real-time algorithms and rules so the content produced by AI is usually a consistent quality.
- Inexpensive: AI content creation is relatively cheap when compared to human-written content. Many AI systems are free or inexpensive to use, which could save money upfront for users.
- Scalability: In a short amount of time, AI can create an unlimited amount of content which allows individuals to create large amounts of content with relatively little work.
The Role of Human-Generated Content
At PDM, we know that AI can be helpful but it should not be relied on exclusively for content creation. Human writers and content creators offer several advantages that AI simply does not. Here are some of the most important factors to consider about human-generated content:
Ability to Fact-Check
A drawback of AI is that it will give you whatever content you want, even if the content is incorrect. Humans can fact-check information before publishing it to ensure no false information is spread, which builds trust between a business and their clients. If clients or potential clients visit your site and see that you are an expert in your field by not having false information, they are more likely to give you their business.
Adaptable Writing Style
Another benefit of human-generated content is that the writing and design style can be adjusted to fit the specific business. Content that matches the tone and voice of a brand is vital because it targets a specific audience that will hopefully become clients at some point. Humans can produce content that not only informs the audience but also engages the audience so the content resonates with them.
Humans bring creativity and emotions that are hard for AI to replicate. AI doesn’t understand different audiences, specific language to the area, context, and cultural context like humans do. Being able to connect with a specific audience and create relevant content is what Google likes to see, and human-generated content will be rewarded for connecting with the searchers.
SEO performance is significantly impacted by AI content. Algorithms are able to detect if content was written by humans or if it was created by AI, and human-generated content generally ranks higher in terms of SEO. Similar to what has been mentioned, humans know what other humans want to see, which helps them create content that is relevant. AI can often create content that doesn’t match what real people are looking for, which can hurt SEO rankings.
While AI generated content can be less expensive initially, human-generated content is a more cost-effective solution. Customers tend to trust content created by humans more than content created by AI, which leads to customer loyalty and trust for businesses with human content. Being able to use emotion and creativity can lead to sustained audience engagement, growth, and retention, which results in a greater ROI than AI content.
What Google Has to Say About Content Creation
While we prioritize quality, human-generated content at PDM, you don’t have to take our word for it. Google has emphasized the importance of this type of content in the following statement:
“Google’s ranking systems aim to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of what we call E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years.
Focusing on rewarding quality content has been core to Google since we began. It continues today, including through our ranking systems designed to surface reliable information and our helpful content system. The helpful content system was introduced last year to better ensure those searching get content created primarily for people, rather than for search ranking purposes.”
Google has not come out with any statements that lean one way or the other when it comes to AI vs. human-generated content, which is why it is important to incorporate both. While AI has its respective benefits, no AI system can replicate the quality of content produced by humans. Analyzing and updating the content on your site yourself regularly shows Google that your content is high-quality and worthy to be shown to searchers.
Choose Performance Driven Marketing
PDM knows all the latest updates to Google and other search engines to give our clients the best chance at ranking high on search pages. Through our team of writers, developers, designers, and account managers, we produce content that cannot be replicated by AI. Contact us to learn more about our marketing approach and how your business can benefit from our services.