In April 2022, Search Advocate John Mueller said that auto-generated content is a form of spam that could result in penalties if brands regularly use it to create content. This drove countless agencies and content departments away from artificial intelligence (AI) to avoid harming their search rankings. However, by February 2023, Google needed to clarify its stance. In an official guidance, the search giant explains that AI has a place in the content process — as long as the quality of the content doesn’t suffer.
What does this mean for your search efforts and content team? It is possible to use AI, but you should be mindful about how you incorporate it into your organization. Here is what Google has to say about AI and a few best practices you can follow to stay on its SEO good side.
Don’t Forget to EEAT
Telling search and content teams to focus on quality is a good start, but that concept can be vague. Writing quality varies from blog to blog, and many AI tools can match the tone and flow that professional content creators embrace. To address any confusion, Google uses E-E-A-T to specify exactly how teams can evaluate quality content. Here’s what it stands for:
- Experience: there is first-hand information and life experiences from the writer.
- Expertise: the writer is qualified to discuss the information covered.
- Authoritativeness: the writer or publishing website is a leader in the industry.
- Trustworthiness: the website is reputable, so the information can be believed.
EAT has been around for a few years, and it is easier to point out content mistakes that don’t align with these guidelines. For example, you wouldn’t take diet advice from someone who isn’t a certified nutritionist – they lack expertise. You also wouldn’t seek out a cooking blog for information about changing your car’s oil. That blogger isn’t a car authority.
Experience is the latest E to be added to the EAT acronym, making it EEAT. When someone actually shares something they went through or learned in a specific way, they are sharing a human experience. This is a key differentiator compared to AI-generated content, which pulls the experiences of others across the web and summarizes them in one article.
The Focus on Quality Is Not New
This stance on EEAT content isn’t any different from Google’s previous statements on the subject. This isn’t even a particularly punitive stance but rather a practical explanation of how to stand out. For example, there are 17,600 new car dealers in the United States as of 2023. Most of these dealers have active websites and blogs, which means they are competing against you for visits and engagement.
For example, if your company writes a blog post titled “Why December is the Best Time to Buy a Car,” it is highly likely that another dealership across the country is publishing the same content. Google evaluates websites’ authority and content quality to see which of the same articles should rank the highest.
Identifying which piece of content is best becomes increasingly complicated with AI tools. This is because generative AI pulls existing ideas from across the web. If 100 dealerships use AI to complete the same blog post prompt, there will likely be 100 nearly identical articles on the web. None of those posts will rank highly because there isn’t one that stands above the rest.
Your company can absolutely use AI to streamline the content creation process, but the final product needs to be unique and useful to readers. This is what will elevate it above thousands of poorly written or AI-created posts.
AI Tools Serve as a Starting Point
The guidance from Google highlights how AI tools can be useful to reach your target audience. You can incorporate AI to get started in the writing process and scale your overall efforts in several ways. Here are a few things to try:
- Ideation: use AI tools to develop blog post ideas related to a specific topic or keyword.
- Research: learn more about certain topics by asking AI tools to generate answers about them.
- Outlines: ask an AI generator to write a blog post about a specific topic to see what sorts of subheads are used and which topics are covered.
- Knowledge Gaps: Use your own expertise to see what AI tools are ignoring. This allows you to create in-depth content that isn’t so available across the web.
Look at how K-12 schools across the country are treating AI if you need an example of how you can use these apps without replacing the human element. Kids and teens will use this technology anyway, so it’s up to educators to create meaningful assignments with them. Any student can use AI to summarize the plot of The Wizard of Oz, but it takes a human element to connect the themes of friendship and bravery to personally lived experiences.
Within your content team, you can absolutely use AI to create generic blog posts that are available anywhere across the web. However, it’s up to you to elevate it and publish content that stands out above the rest.
Elevate AI Content With Your Experience
As you get more comfortable with the AI-generative tools available, you can start to develop a writing process within your content team. For example, you might start with an outline generated by an AI system and then fill in subheads with in-depth information, personal responses, and rich insights. Here are a few elements you can add to your articles to make them stand out.
- Quotes: interview your sales team, service technicians, and other in-house experts. Quotes add personal elements and experience, expertise, and authoritativeness to your content.
- Statistics: look for recently shared and relevant data that supports your content. These insights can back up your claims and strengthen your written arguments.
- News: tie your blog content to relevant news at either a local or national level. For example, if the first snowfall of the year comes early, how can car owners prepare? This makes your content timely compared to evergreen AI posts.
- Supplemental Media: share unique graphics, charts, and videos that are relevant to the content. This will make your articles more “sticky” because users will have additional information to review. Reduced bounce rates and increased times on-site are indicators of quality content.
You can see how adding these rich elements can take time. AI tools can generate dozens of articles daily, but that doesn’t mean you will significantly increase your publishing schedule. Instead, it means that your content team will spend more time doing meaningful work – from interviewing team members to conducting in-depth research – to elevate the content beyond what the AI generates.
Don’t Assume That AI-Generated Content Is Accurate
AI generation tools pull existing information from across the web and present it in your ideal form. Unfortunately, not everything on the internet is true or comes from a reliable source. Google warns content creators to fact-check AI-generated content to ensure the statements are factual.
Microsoft has a similar warning for publishers. “Information isn’t always up-to-date and accurate,” it says. “Keep in mind that AI writers use the internet for research the same as you and I do.”
Make sure that any claims that your AI tools make can be backed up by reputable sources (the authoritativeness and trustworthiness parts of EEAT). Along with checking for inaccurate information, look for outdated claims. Your AI content creator might pull from a blog post that was published a few years ago with information that is no longer relevant or true.
For example, refer to content published during the COVID-19 pandemic. If an AI tool reports information that was published in 2020, it might share policies that a company had in place during that time that were phased out as the pandemic ended. It’s not that the information is untrue, but it is simply outdated and needs to be removed.
If you discover incorrect content from your AI tool, consider making a blog post out of it. For example, you could write a post called “What AI gets wrong about X” and bust misinformation about car dealerships, auto services, and repairs.
Test AI-Generated Images In Your Content
There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to AI — and not just for your writing. You can also play with AI tools to generate specific images when there aren’t relevant options available on stock websites. Some sites allow these images to be used commercially, which can elevate the visual content you bring to your website.
As you explore using AI-generated images, decide how you want to source the pictures. You can tell readers that AI generated the image in the same way that you credit photographers from stock photo websites.
While Google has trained its algorithms to spot AI-generated images and writing, studies show that most people can only detect AI-generated content 50% of the time, which means that your audience might not know that any of your content was built with the help of robot tools. It’s up to your editorial team whether you partially credit the AI in the name of transparency before you publish the piece.
Choose a Trusted Content Partner to Stay on Top of AI Trends
Artificial intelligence is a part of our day-to-day lives, from the search algorithms that suggest TikTok videos to AI-generated content. You will likely encounter more AI tools as you expand your digital marketing efforts, especially if you are optimizing paid search campaigns and publishing SEO content.
You don’t have to be afraid of AI tools. Follow the guidance by Google and use these systems to assist in your processes. If you need help reviewing the latest AI trends and what Google means when using these apps, contact our team. We have dedicated AI specialists who can walk you through how generative technology works and how you can apply it. Contact our experts today and see how you can elevate (not replace) your search content creation with AI.