Battle of the Robots: AI Generated Content May Get Penalized
AI may be all the rage right now.
Even a presidential campaign is being driven by proposed counteractions to AI’s present and future effects on the economy.
Of more immediate concern to you, the marketer, is its effect on the content industry at large, and Google in particular.
There are a lot of bad actors out there – will those shady characters win the day? Or will Google remain the place to find quality content that solves searchers’ problems?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of AI
AI use isn’t inherently negative for content creation.
Some content follows a predictable structure – using machines to generate this type of content is a positive development. Examples include the deployment of chatbots to answer frequent customer inquiries and weather reports.
These acceptable use-cases for AI provides hints about its limitations. AI text generators rely on statistical patterns, but they cannot discern natural language, which conveys the actual meaning of words and sentences. Therefore, try as they might, AI is incapable of writing unique, engaging long-form content, such as thought leadership articles.
While some individuals are publishing machine-generated content with the simple goal of getting more traffic and revenue from Google’s SERPs, others are using AI for more insidious purposes. Fake news and Twitter bots are two such examples that may have severe consequences if left unchecked.
Historic Battles Between Google and Black Hat SEO Will Define the Future of Content
Unscrupulous players using black hat SEO in the marketing community, have been looking for ways to manipulate Google’s algorithm since the company became the leading search engine in the early 2000’s. It has always been a cat-and-mouse game with black hat SEO players finding “loopholes” to exploit and Google (usually quickly) closing those loopholes.
For example, “article spinning” became a widespread manipulation technique 10-15 years ago. It was done either programmatically (replacing several words with synonyms) or hiring writers to paraphrase existing content. Google largely eradicated this practice with algorithmic updates, most notably the Panda Update.
Keyword stuffing, which means excessively inserting keywords in an article, is another black hat tactic that Google has already sniffed out a long time ago. With backlinks playing a large role in Google’s ranking algorithm, many have tried their luck with spammy links (with diminishing success and potentially disastrous results).
What Does the Future Hold?
The overarching theme in the previous section is that Google’s tactics for detecting manipulation of its algorithm have advanced at a faster pace than the tactics of the black hat SEO. Few marketers would dispute that it’s harder than ever to game Google’s SERPs.
But is AI a different beast? Will Google struggle to keep it from polluting its SERPs with spam and generic content?
Researchers from Harvard University and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab have created a tool for detecting machine-generated content that hints at where this is all going. The Giant Language Model Test Room can tell if words and sentences are too predictable to be created by a human. (Will Knight, MIT Technology Review).
AI inherently can’t approximate the content produced by top writers. The best writers have unquantifiable skills including creativity, empathy, and a voice. These characteristics cannot be replicated by a computer that is unable to perform anything beyond rules-based logic.
Content Created by Humans, for Humans
The arms race between Google and shady marketers will continue ad infinitum.
But Google is an extremely successful company for many reasons, including a deep awareness of industry trends.
We can be sure that Google is taking a proactive approach to preventing machine-generated content from damaging the integrity of their search engine.
And if they don’t, Google will turn into a wasteland of useless and garbage content. The stakes are that high.
Steer clear of these AI vs. AI battles by using content created by humans, for humans.