During the last year, the online world has been on fire with announcements of new AI-powered writing tools, and how they are revolutionizing content production. But like any new technology, this one is a double-edged sword.
The developers of AI-based writing tools promise that they can help you publish much more content with much less effort. But there’s a dark side: AI-produced content can cause Google to penalize your website. It may also be ignored by your target audience and damage your brand.
Here is a closer look at the promise and peril of AI-generated content, and our suggestions for a safe way to use it as part of your content creation and production processes.
What AI writing tools make possible
AI technology has been evolving for some time now. But with the release of the GPT-3 AI engine earlier this year, it has gotten dramatically better. A growing number of AI-based writing tools now make it possible to:
- Generate headlines and story ideas
- Write marketing copy for emails and landing pages
- Write long-form articles
Most of these tools require you to tell the AI engine what you want to write about, who your intended audience is, the tone of voice you want it to use, relevant keywords and other background information. You also need to prime it with some existing content – often copied and pasted from your website, for example.
The AI engine will then automatically generate content based on this input. At each step, you have complete freedom to edit or correct its output to suit your needs.
Potential risks of relying on AI to write content
While AI technology for writing content has come a long way in a short time, it still can’t equal or exceed human creativity. AI-generated content tends to be overly factual, mainly because it’s remixing, reinterpreting and rephrasing relevant content it has found elsewhere on the web. It isn’t able to create anything truly new.
In addition, AI writing tools don’t understand how to use analogies, metaphors, colloquialisms or cultural nuances to make their writing more interesting and engaging. As a result, it often comes across as somewhat bland, tone-deaf and lacking in emotional intelligence.
The challenge is even larger if you need your content to convey thought leadership, deep expertise and creativity. In almost every case, the value of words and sentiments coming from a human expert will always be greater than that of AI-based content.
All of this means that over-reliance on AI-generated content could potentially harm your brand. There’s never been a greater need for brands to differentiate themselves by communicating a unique point of view and expertise – to tell better, more compelling stories. That’s where AI writing tools tend to fall short, at least for now.
Search engine risks of AI-produced content
Another risk of relying on AI-generated content is that it can potentially harm your website’s rankings in Google. The search engine giant has openly stated that it considers machine-produced content to be spam. It’s not able to automatically detect machine-generated content - yet. But if its webspam team finds it on your website, they will penalize it with lower rankings.
Earlier this year, Google launched the “helpful content update,” which aims to discern which web pages and sites are the most helpful to visitors. To do this, it uses the criteria of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness to help it evaluate content. AI-generated content doesn’t usually score well on these dimensions, resulting in lower search engine rankings.
What roles make sense for AI writing tools?
There’s no question that AI writing tools can be used to augment the content creator’s efforts – suggesting new headlines and copy treatments, for example. They can be especially valuable to help content producers to sidestep writer’s block and to generate new content ideas. They can also be used to write the first draft of an article, which can then be reviewed and humanized by a content creator.
Other potential uses include:
- Streamlining your research
- SEO optimization
- Paraphrasing short passages of copy and checking for plagiarism
- Checking your grammar and spelling (we use Grammarly for this)
- Generating automated transcripts of interviews (we use Rev.com for this)
But they shouldn’t be used as a crutch to replace human writing or as a tool to mass-produce content in hopes of improving search engine rankings. Ultimately, these efforts are likely to backfire on you.
The bottom line
Even before the advent of AI writing tools, your content was competing for attention in a growing sea of “me-too” content. The challenge is about to get worse as a growing number of content creators use these automated agents to publish a tidal wave of look-alike articles, ebooks, social posts and more.
Your company and its content must shine forth like a beacon of expertise and value. The best way to do that is to combine the strengths of human creativity and AI technology to produce content that is relevant, engaging and, ultimately, helpful to the audience you seek to influence and persuade.
Want to explore more marketing technology, and how it can help you meet the needs of your ideal prospects? Read our analysis of intelligent chatbots here.