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Will AI-generated content affect SEO best practices?

Content marketers that want to embrace AI-generated content should know how the technology affects SEO best practices and new guidelines on AI tools from major search engines.

As AI becomes more useful and more available, content generated by this technology will become increasingly prevalent in marketing strategies.

For marketing teams that create content for their brands, search engine optimization (SEO) plays a key role. Many marketers may wonder what the relationship between SEO and AI-generated content will look like, and whether search engines like Google will change their guidelines for content to reflect this new trend.

In short, SEO's role won't change, but marketers' roles might.

Google's updated guidelines for AI-generated content

Google recently released guidelines for SEO and AI-generated content. These guidelines emphasize the importance of transparency and ensuring AI-generated content is unique and valuable for readers. Google said it will focus on de-emphasizing spam and promoting content that meets its criteria of experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Many of Google's guidelines also represent advice for organizations and content creators who handle AI-generated content. For example, content creators should disclose when they use AI to remain transparent and build consumer trust.

Large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT carry some risk of plagiarism, as the LLM might repeat verbatim some of the material it was trained on. Machine learning does not understand the human relevance of the content it processes. Content creators must disclose any content generated from tools built on LLMs to maintain their SEO rankings and avoid penalties from search engines.

Content marketing, management and creation jobs have changed with AI-generated content, including the need to validate and refine raw data provided by the algorithms. However, the core purpose remains the same: to provide original, valuable content that does not read like spam.

A chart detailing the steps of how search engine optimization works.
Google's updated guidelines for content, created in response to the emergence of AI content-generation tools like ChatGPT, will change SEO best practices for some organizations.

Risks of AI-generated content in marketing

While AI-generated content can lower costs and increase employee efficiency, it brings risks that marketers should consider before using AI-generated text, images and videos. These include the following:

  • Lack of creativity. AI-generated content often lacks creativity or originality. It might feel flat or nonhuman, which could lead to diminished user experiences.
  • Potential copyright infringement. Marketers should be cautious about potential copyright infringement, as AI algorithms may produce content that plagiarizes existing material.
  • Appearance of spam. The ease of automation with AI-generated content also raises concerns about bots generating low-quality information that users may consider spam. This can harm SEO rankings and damage a brand's reputation.
  • Loss of content relatability. Brands that post AI-generated content on social media platforms may struggle to maintain an authentic and relatable online presence. Currently, AI-generated content can be of wildly varying quality. For example, if a brand generates an image of people enjoying a party, a user could zoom in to see that one person's teeth look strange, while another person has extra fingers. This inauthenticity could turn users away.

Best practices for AI-generated content

To incorporate AI-generated content effectively into workflows, brands should take some time to build policies around the use of this content and maintain and update these policies frequently.

For example, brands should consider the following best practices:

  • Subject AI-generated content to human review and oversight. An AI engine can't see where it has strayed into the uncanny valley or where its content comes off as nonhuman and creepy. Brands should review the content to ensure it feels genuine and confirm that it's accurate.
  • Review content for plagiarism. Many generative AI tools like ChatGPT are trained on existing web content, so they may repeat content verbatim from other sites. Brands can review the content with plagiarism-checker tools such as Scribbr, Grammarly or Plagaware.
  • Set and follow editorial guidelines and standards. Brands can implement strict editorial guidelines and style standards to help maintain consistent and quality content. They can also include guidelines in AI prompts, so the tool can generate content that fits the standard.
  • Ensure content will resonate with target audiences. Creative team members can add a unique touch to AI-generated content and should be part of the reviewing process. This team can ensure content aligns with the brand's voice and resonates with the target audience.
  • Monitor content regularly. If brands monitor AI-generated content on a regular basis, they can also update how they interact with their AI engine and adapt to evolving trends and user preferences in content. Monitoring also helps them keep up with what is possible and recommended for prompt engineering.

Key takeaways

As AI-generated content becomes more common, understanding its effect on SEO best practices is crucial. If brands follow Google's guidelines and augment AI content with quality human oversight and plagiarism reviews, content managers and leaders can continue to maintain high SEO rankings.

AI-generated content creation can help a business, but it is not a panacea.

AI-generated content creation can help a business, but it is not a panacea. To have success with SEO and AI-generated content, brands should blend AI's benefits with human creativity and oversight. Together, this can maintain or enhance content's search engine performance and deliver valuable, engaging content to consumers.

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