According to a recent McKinsey study, half of all major companies in the US use artificial intelligence (AI) in their businesses. Digital marketing is no exception. Still, there’s a huge debate on whether or not marketers should use AI-generated content.
But is it actually bad? Can it replace a team of copywriters? And, can it potentially ruin your business? Much depends on what type of content you write using AI tools. While it can streamline some menial writing chores, if you’re not careful, you can damage your brand.
What Is AI-Generated Content?
AI-generated content uses Machine Learning and Natural Language Generation (NLG) to create content without direct human engagement.
This goes beyond using writing tools to improve your writing (Grammarly, Spell Check, Hemingway Editor, etc.)
AI-generated content tools rely on AI systems like the GPT-3 language model (complex artificial neural networks) to create content that sounds more natural.
Examples of AI Content Tools
There are numerous AI-generated content tools on the market right now. These are the top 4 platforms digital marketing agencies and freelancers tend to use:
Mostly, these tools are designed to take over the writing process entirely.
Using a few keywords, headings, and some notes for context, they can create anything from meta descriptions to long-form blog posts.
They often position themselves as a way to keep writers from staring at a blank screen by creating enough text to guide the writer. It’s about streamlining content creation, not replacing it.
Still, this is very problematic.
In fact, AI-generated content is likely to create more problems than it solves.
8 Reasons to Avoid AI-Generated Content
If you’re on the fence about AI-generated content, you need to be careful. While there are some potential use cases for it, overlying on these tools can cause big problems for your brand.
1. It Violates Google Policies
In a recent SEO Office Hours, participants asked Google’s John Mueller about the company’s stance on automatically generated content.
“Google’s stance has always been clear from the start,” Mueller said. “If you’re using AI-written content, it’s the same as if you’re just shuffling words around or looking up synonyms. That means, for us, it’s still against the webmaster guidelines.”
Google search advocates have maintained fierce opposition to AI content creators.
Still, it remains unclear whether Google’s algorithms can detect the difference between human and AI-generated content.
Despite that, the company says it will use any means necessary to punish those who use it.
But can they find out if you use it or not?
In a recent study by Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, researchers could detect AI-written content.
They compared over 1,000 samples of human-produced internet content and 1,000 samples of auto-generated content. Ultimately, they found that each AI content company has a signature style that varies from human writers.
Yet, research team leaders admit they didn’t need sophisticated algorithms to sniff out the offenders. Rather, they could discover content written by a machine looking at “word counts and linguistic features in the text.”
2. It’s Harder to Rank After Helpful Content Update
Google rolled out the Helpful Content Update in August 2022. This update was to “ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
The key phrase here is “written by people.”
Google is not a fan of AI-generated content. It knows that people crave solutions designed by people, not machines. (Just think back to how frustrated you get when you contact a business and find yourself stuck chatting with a bot.)
Google is a business. Their product is their search engine.
For them to be profitable, they need people to use it. If people want content generated by real people with real solutions to their real problems, they need to show those results.
Otherwise, people will go elsewhere.
Google will continue to look for ways to identify AI-generated content and remove it from the search results. This means ranking that content will be harder.
3. It Leads to Low-Quality Content
There is a lot of poorly written content on the internet. AI-Generated tools pull content from what’s already published online. This increases the chances that it will produce subpar content.
Researchers note that GPT-3 follows a linear process. It doesn’t rewrite work in the same way a human can. The finished product can contain gibberish or lack coherence.
Worse, recent studies show that the more long-form content it makes, the more errors it creates.
These platforms cannot effectively fact-check work because that often requires niche expertise.
Finally, professional writers develop their craft over time. With experience, they can write a cohesive, fluid piece of content for a single audience in the right voice and tone.
This is not the case with AI-generated content.
Researchers from the University of Washington describe GPT-3 language models as “stochastic parrots because they echo what they hear, remixed by randomness.”
That’s not exactly how you want your final draft to sound.
4. It’s Often Inaccurate
AI-generated content often produces contradicting, inaccurate information.
In fact, computer science students from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, describe GPT-3 generated text as being “unmoored from reality.”
AI-content platforms lack reason. They’re unable to identify true, credible sources of information. It does not analyze and interpret research in the same way people can.
And the longer the content is, the more likely it is to have errors.
5. It Lacks Authority
AI content generators aren’t subject matter experts. They simply pull text from other sites and run it through a processor to create your content.
As a business owner trying to drive revenue with your content, you need to showcase your industry expertise. It separates you from competitors while building trust with your audience.
Without that sense of authority, your content will fail to move the needle.
If you’re not careful, you could end up creating content that reflects approaches or beliefs held by competitors. And that could damage your position as an industry leader.
6. It Can Damage Your Brand Reputation
Now, more than ever, people trust businesses more than governments. And if you damage that trust, you’ll likely lose that customer or prospect forever.
AI-generated content tends to have numerous errors. If you publish content with errors, it can backfire drastically:
- Damaged Reputation
- Content that doesn’t rank
- Ruined Credibility
- Lost customers and prospects
- Possible legal action
Every piece of content you produce is a reflection of your business. You need the most accurate and best possible content to reflect that image.
People are less likely to forgive errors. Using AI-generated content can force you to spend more time managing your brand reputation, trying to put out fires caused by AI inaccuracies.
7. It Creates Boring and Forgettable Content
People who know how to write for people can create content that captures interest and drives action. Content written by robots fails at this.
AI-generated content tends to be bland. It pulls details and information bites and dumps them into an editable interface.
These platforms aren’t sophisticated to use effective hooks that keep people engaged. And they cannot use complex copywriting tactics that convert traffic into leads.
The content ends up plain, dry, and forgettable. And if you’re trying to build an online presence, the last thing you want to be is forgettable.
8. It Requires Numerous Revisions
With everything mentioned before, it’s easy to see that AI-generated content needs thorough editing before you can publish it.
Sentences are often meaningless. Data is inaccurate. The formatting is off. It lacks authority, unique insights, and an angle that drives impact.
If you want to publish AI-generated content, you need to do a lot of work.
Often, you’ll end up rewriting a significant portion of the content. And if you put that much extra time and effort into editing the piece, you might as well write it from scratch.
What Do AI Writing Tools Succeed At?
AI platforms do provide some benefits, depending on your niche and your needs.
They’re effective at creating very short-form content. Writing product and meta descriptions is an often tedious process. AI tools can create mostly accurate short snippets quickly.
It can also help you write social media posts faster. These posts are short in length, so editing and perfecting them doesn’t take as much time as it would reviewing long-form content.
Some argue that it can help with writer’s block.
In most cases, you can avoid writer’s block by having well-designed outlines for blog posts and conducting thorough research before you start writing.
Best Alternative to AI-Generated Content
Sadly, many businesses rush into SEO and content because they feel like they need it to be successful. But that isn’t always the case.
If you run a smaller business with slim margins and you need revenue quickly, you may be better off running ad campaigns or conducting cold outreach.
Younger businesses should focus more on product development, customer service, and brand building.
Businesses that are positioned to invest in SEO, need to remember that the goal of content is to increase revenue. To do that, you need assets that speak to the specific pain points prospects and customers face.
It’s not about posting every week. It’s about reaching your audience in new, unique ways to help them solve their problems. Quality. Not Quantity.
To be successful, you need to coordinate efforts between your marketing and sales teams. And you need expert writers to craft quality content that reflects those needs. Plus, you need expert insights to ensure the content is unique and helpful.
All of this takes a carefully crafted strategy, approach, and expertise.
AI-generated content is nowhere near capable of delivering assets that meet these goals.