Since the launch of ChatGPT in November, the conversation about the value of (and process to generate) AI content has accelerated from about 30 miles-per-hour to about 120 miles-per-hour. Before November, it was an important topic. Now it is THE topic and for a broader audience.
A central question in this conversation is: Can my company or organization use AI-generated content (which is fast and low investment) to populate my website and build SEO?
The answer to that question is: Probably not yet. And you’re asking the wrong question.
So let’s dig deeper to 1) reframe the question, 2) look at the implications if you use from-the-box AI-generated content, and 3) look at what potential value there may still be for AI-generated content to support your organization.
1. Reframe the question about using/not using AI-generated content on my website.
You may have been expecting a simple “Yes, the Google algorithm loves AI-generated content,” or “No! The Google algorithm will penalize all AI-generated content, so STEER CLEAR!” (We focus on Google, because even though Bing is charting new water with AI-generated SERPs that you should learn about, it is still a fraction of the search engine market share.)
So why am I not giving you one of those answers? Because Google cares less about AI vs non-AI content and more about helpful content. (In fact, Google launched a “helpful content” update in August 2022 to re-iterate this very value!)
Prior to very recently, Google did have fairly explicit guidance about advising content publishers to steer of AI-generated content. But really the reason why they gave that guidance is because the AI-generated content out there in the world was really not that helpful. After all, Google has been very clear about their value of expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. And there really wasn’t any AI-generated content that fulfilled those values.
Now the calculus has changed. (At least a bit.) It’s within the realm of possibility that AI-generated content could be much stronger than it used to be. And Google recently tweaked its guidance to emphasize that however the content is generated, it has to be helpful and provide value according to those guidelines.
So the question really is: Will AI-generated content be helpful to my readers and uphold Google’s values.
Which leads us to point two…
2. What are the implications of using AI-generated content?
Here’s the thing: AI-generated content is a lot better than it used to be. But it’s not on the same level as humans yet.
Some of the biggest criticisms of content generated by ChatGPT (and next generation versions used to power Bing’s new search engine) are that it sometimes has nonsensical answers, gets things wrong, and doesn’t add any new value to the conversation.
Guess what? Those are all criteria included in Google’s spam policies.
So even though AI-generated content is much better than it used to be and even though Google may not penalize the content just because of how it was created. It’s almost a given that publishing AI-generated content, as-is on your website will hurt your SEO.
3. Is there any value in using AI-generated content for my website?
There may be, as long as there is extensive human hand holding. Aka a writer. And a good one.
It may be a helpful writing tool to get some AI-generated content to start formulating ideas, or lists that a human writer then heavily edits, fact checks, and adds enough additional content that there is new value to the conversation.
But at the end of the day, the content needs to be helpful and uphold Google’s pillars of value. And right now it’s pretty much impossible for AI-generated content to do that all on its own.