Does AI content rank in Google?

Aug 29th, 2023

Whether you like it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way digital marketing works. From tools that can create hundreds of pages of relevant web copy instantly to AI-generated email campaigns that can be launched with the click of a button, work that has traditionally taken significant time and effort to complete can now be done in mere seconds. This raises a number of interesting questions. Chiefly: is the quality of AI produced work up to the same standard as its human equivalent? And, if not, does this even matter when it comes to commercial performance?

Using the world of content creation and copywriting as a focus point, this blog seeks to answer these questions. From explaining exactly what AI-generated content is to assessing whether or not it has the potential to rank on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and what its legacy might ultimately be in terms of SEO, carry on reading as we take a deep dive into artificial content creation.

As the name suggests, in this context, AI-generated content refers to text (or ‘copy’) that has been created artificially as opposed to by a human. Through the use of specialist algorithms and language models, AI content tools have the ability to generate copy that is coherent, contextually relevant and, in some cases, almost indistinguishable from that written by humans.

This technology has progressed hugely in a relatively short period of time. Although AI content tools have been around for decades, only during the last year or so have such tools been available en masse and on the commercial landscape. Tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard have revolutionised the copywriting industry in a matter of months, for example. Their ability to not only replicate human-like writing patterns and produce well-written copy, but also to do so at a much faster pace than their human counterparts, has altered the way many businesses view content creation. However, it remains to be seen whether AI-generated copy is merely a novelty-driven fad or a tool that will permanently change how businesses deal with content creation going forward.

At this point it’s important to remember that, when it comes to digital marketing at least, a great deal of the value good content can bring to an organisation or business relies on its relationship with search engines such as Google. After all, if Google does not recognise a piece of content as being of a good enough quality, its algorithms will not choose to feature it favourably in the SERPs.

This begs the question – is AI and SEO compatible? From the point of view of copy, the answer to this question comes down to how search engines are currently treating AI-generated copy.

Put simply, yes. AI-generated content can indeed rank on Google’s SERPs. This is because SERP rankings are still determined by the ever-evolving Google search algorithm. Currently, when it comes to ranking performance, Google’s algorithm primarily considers the quality, relevance and helpfulness to the user a piece of content brings when determining its position in search results. This means, in theory at least, as long as AI-generated content meets these criteria, it has a chance of ranking alongside traditionally written content.

This being said, it’s important to understand that AI-generated content does have its flaws and should be used cautiously. Just because AI has the ability to produce nuanced, contextually relevant content, this does not mean it will do so 100% of the time. Indeed, according to a recent study by Capterra, out of a sample size of 185 marketers, only a third found that the AI copywriting tools they had tested are successful at producing accurate or error-free text. This is to say, some of the time, AI-produced copy will lack depth, originality or accuracy. Naturally, all of these things can negatively impact their ranking potential.

Does Google penalise AI content?

On the face of it, no. Google does not directly penalise those sites that make use of AI content. However, websites that use AI content can be indirectly ‘penalised’ in the way of a lack of ranking performance if the copy fails to satisfy Google’s search algorithm criteria. As discussed above, if the content is deemed unhelpful, irrelevant or incoherent, it will likely not perform well. Of course, this is also the case if this poor quality content is written by a human.

The meteoric rise of AI over the past few years has naturally led to speculation about whether it will ultimately render traditional SEO practices obsolete. After all, if Google itself is investing heavily in its Bard AI tool, as well as a host of other AI-driven programs, logic would suggest AI is set to play a more prominent role in search engine optimisation in the future.

The truth is, we just don’t know to what extent AI is going to impact traditional digital marketing techniques. For this reason, right now at least, it seems most sensible to view AI as a tool that can be used to reshape and enhance SEO, rather than one that will spell the end of it.

AI can already be used to assist with various SEO tasks, including keyword research and content optimisation. As we have discussed, quickly produced AI-generated content can also be leveraged to scale-up content creation, freeing up time to focus on strategy.

However, on the flip side, it is important to note that AI is not yet a magic bullet. After all, even with the fantastic advances we have seen in recent years, it is still a tool that requires human oversight. While it’s true that AI can produce content quickly, it might lack the nuanced understanding of cultural contexts, emotions and creativity that human writers bring to the table. This can lead to poor SEO performance and what is essentially a false economy when it comes to content creation.

Here at Click, we understand the potential of AI and are always working on building AI tools into our existing processes. This is helping us to improve the fully bespoke SEO service we offer each and every client. However, we are doing so cautiously. At the end of the day, we will always place quality ahead of false efficiency when it comes to our digital marketing practices.

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