These days, it seems like artificial intelligence (AI) can do just about anything. For example, did you know that AI can automatically generate content for your website, blog, or social media platforms? At first blush, this might seem like a huge win for overworked marketing departments, or for small businesses that don’t have their own in-house content development teams.
While AI-generated content may offer some convenience, it doesn’t necessarily offer a lot of effectiveness. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. In fact, Google’s search engineers have been up-front about saying that AI-generated content is something to avoid.
AI-Generated Content as “Spam”
Just recently, Google’s John Mueller garnered some buzz in the digital marketing community when he dismissed AI-generated content as “spam,” warning marketers and SEOs not to even venture down this road.
Of course, in digital marketing terms, calling something “spam” is strong language indeed. For those who have been following the discourse over AI-generated content, however, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, Google’s webmaster guidelines have long listed AI-generated content as something that should be seen as squarely off-limits. As such, Mueller’s commentary is really just in keeping with the party line.
Further Context: Google’s Stance on AI-Generated Content
It’s important to note that Mueller’s comment was offered as an answer to a specific question; more precisely, how does Google respond to websites that host AI-generated content? His answer essentially says that Google’s algorithms respond to AI-generated content just as it would any content that is low-quality or perceived to be “spammy” in its presentation.
For further context, here’s what Google Search Central says about automatically generated content: “Automatically generated (also called “auto-generated”—content) is content that’s been generated programmatically. In cases where it’s intended to manipulate search rankings and not help users, Google may take actions on such content.”
Some examples of auto-generated content include:
- Content that is basically nonsense to human readers but contains a lot of search keywords.
- Content that has been translated without any human review.
- Text that’s been generated by scraping RSS feeds or search results.
- Text that combines content from multiple websites but doesn’t actually add anything valuable or substantive.
We might infer from Mueller’s comment that content generated by a computer program, without any human editorial guidance, also qualifies.
Weighing the Risks and Rewards of AI-Generated Content
So why exactly does all of this matter so much? Simply put, AI-generated content has been the subject of much discussion in marketing and SEO circles, precisely because it offers some unmistakable benefits. But based on Google’s comments and policies, these benefits have to be weighed against potential risks.
The Benefits of AI-Generated Content
First, we’ll be candid about some of the benefits of AI-generated content.
- Writing is time-intensive, but AI-generated content can cut down on this time commitment considerably. This frees marketers to focus on other valuable activities.
- Buying content, specifically by outsourcing to a freelance writer or a content development team, can be expensive. AI may be comparatively cheap.
- AI can also be an effective way to generate content ideas, or to bring up some fresh topics for your in-house writers to consider.
The Risks of AI-Generated Content
With all of that said, there are also some significant perils to using AI to generate content:
- First of all, AI is not nearly sophisticated enough to produce real quality. At the very best, the content you generate via AI will require some extensive editing.
- There is also a major risk that your content will be unoriginal, as AI essentially just spins content found at other online sources.
- Ultimately, the risk of running with AI-generated content is that you’ll sink time and resources into your website strategy, only to incur some steep Google penalties. And cleaning up these issues can be far more time-intensive and costly than just writing good, original content in the first place.
Our Take on AI-Generated Content
Ultimately, anything you do in marketing or SEO is going to entail some balance of risk and reward. Based on some of the clear public statements from the Google team, we believe that the risks associated with AI-generated content significantly outweigh the benefits.
Does that mean there’s no place for AI in the field of content generation? By no means. AI can be a powerful tool for kickstarting your topic ideation, or for pointing you down some new directions for in-house content development. As for simply running an AI program and then publishing its output to your website, however, we’d advise against it.
At enCOMPASS, we are dedicated to keeping up-to-date on all of the latest SEO and digital marketing developments, so you can stay ahead of your competition. If you have any questions, we’d love to chat. Reach out to the enCOMPASS team at any time.
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