Onsite content is a fundamental pillar of SEO, alongside having a technically sound website and a strong, relevant backlink profile. Yet, it’s no secret that creating onsite content – specifically quality onsite content – takes time.
Many moons ago, at the start of my career as a copywriter, I was allotted 20 minutes to optimise a page and 30 minutes to create a brand new page of content. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that was even possible. What value could I possibly give in just 20 minutes, aside from throwing in a few keywords and hoping for the best?
But this battle has always been ongoing; the need to create quality, optimised content within tighter timeframes. As marketing budgets are squeezed ever-tighter in 2024, the pressure is on to deliver the most value for a client’s budget – so could the answer lie in AI?
In this article, I will highlight the implications of employing AI for onsite content, while also exploring strategic ways to leverage it to streamline your efforts.
From 20 minutes to 20 seconds?
Everyone is talking about AI at the moment, proving itself as far more than just the latest industry buzzword. There has been much talk about whether AI-generated content can help accelerate SEO efforts. Armed with a prompt and an AI content generator, the robots can make light work of even the largest content plan. But should we use it?
Technically, we can. Official Google guidance states:
“When it comes to automatically generated content, our guidance has been consistent for years. Using automation — including AI — to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.
This said, it’s important to recognize that not all use of automation, including AI generation, is spam. Automation has long been used to generate helpful content, as the ability to power new levels of expression and creativity, and to serve as a critical tool to help people create great content for the web.”
Google has reiterated that: “However content is produced, those seeking success in Google Search should be looking to produce original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T.”
But just how original is AI-generated content? If everyone decides to turn to AI to create their content, do we run the risk of websites awash with the same or very similar content?
The onsite content team here at Evolved decided to test it. We each asked Bard, ChatGPT and Bing to create a page about car leasing (our specialist subject!) for an imaginary company. Using individual accounts, we fed the tools two prompts; the first was a standard prompt that we all used and the second was a unique prompt of our choosing. The standard prompt we used was as follows:
‘Please write the content for the car leasing page of a car leasing website. The name of the company is Car Leasing Co. The content should explain car leasing, showcase available deals and include popular FAQ questions with answers at the end.’
Once we had all of the outputs, we ran them through a similarity checker to see just how different the content was, both between different tools and users.
Overall, the results of our tests show that generally speaking, AI produces content with a low level of similarity even when using the same prompt. For Bard and ChatGPT, the average similarity between the outputs was 5% and 3.25% respectively, with nothing more than a few phrases that were the same. But there was an exception…
When we compared all of the content outputs from Bing, the similarity between them was staggeringly high. On average, the content was 37.25% similar but some of the outputs we compared were as much as 75% similar – that’s three-quarters of the same content repeated across different outputs!
Now, the chances of multiple businesses using exactly the same prompt for the same AI tool are slim to none, but remember that this was an isolated test of four outputs per tool. If everybody in the car leasing industry used AI to create the content for their main leasing page, there is a much higher chance of seeing widespread similarities between the content.
Not only does this create issues with duplicate content, but it also creates a level playing field between you and your competitors. If you’re both offering the same thing, what reason does a customer have to choose you?
Are the robots coming for our jobs?
While there may be instances where you can use AI to create content for your website, blanket AI-generated content that has simply been cut and pasted across your site can lead to issues further down the line.
The outputs we generated during our test lacked some elements of experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) which, as we know from the recent stream of Helpful Content Updates, is super important for SEO performance. Here’s what we found:
- Experience and expertise – written by a robot, the AI-generated content lacks the experience and expertise element of E-E-A-T that you as a human have. Think of AI as a generalist whereas you and your team are specialists. AI may be able to provide the basics, but you should tailor the content to highlight your experience on a topic. This, in turn, will help to build trust with your customers.
- Authoritativeness – while we are seeing a rise in ‘written by artificial intelligence’ by-lines online, you can’t underestimate your own authority on a subject, especially if you’re well-established in your particular area and cited often as an expert. You simply don’t get this level of authority with AI content.
- Trust – all of the above helps to build trust between your business and your customers. Although improving all the time, AI isn’t infallible and the copy it creates can include mistakes that can potentially mislead customers and damage any existing trust you’ve built up.
How can AI support content creation?
It’s important to remember that AI isn’t the enemy. Used correctly and in line with Google’s guidelines, AI has the potential to streamline the entire content creation process, from brainstorming and planning to content creation (within reason!).
Here are our content team’s top tips for using AI to support onsite content creation:
Autumn, Senior Content Marketing Consultant:
“If I’m working on a content strategy and I’m on the fence about whether a page needs attention, I’ll run the URL through AI and ask it whether it satisfies the search intent behind a certain keyword. It’s a great way of quickly understanding the search intent behind trickier keywords”.
David, Content Marketing Consultant:
“Be specific with the purpose of your content when prompting AI. If you want to rank for a specific keyword, tell the AI that’s what it’s for. If you want to convert customers, tell it. If you need to meet guidelines like E-E-A-T or for the helpful content update, say that’s what you want.”
Jamie, Content Marketing Consultant:
“To save yourself time, think of an AI tool as another research avenue. If you’re unfamiliar with a subject and want to learn quickly, rather than using Google and trying to find an all-encompassing article, the AI can collate information from a number of sources in seconds, meaning you can take away a lot of the legwork in the initial research stage. Using phrases like ‘Summarise X in a few paragraphs’ or ‘Tell me about X in a bullet point list’ should get you the results you need to learn more about the subject.”
Laura, Head of Onsite Content:
“While AI can’t crawl specific sites or give you real-time SERP data, it can help you get a snapshot of the most popular topics on the SERP at a glance. For example, try asking it for the top 10 topics that appear as featured snippets on your chosen subject if you’re looking to understand what’s important to your audience.”
Chloe, Onsite Content Executive:
“AI can also be used to help plan a piece of content, producing a structure – including headings – to give you a simple guide to follow and build upon when writing.”
Despite claims that AI will replace copywriters, it’s unlikely that your new office mate will be a robot. When used correctly, AI can certainly make the lives of copywriters and content marketers easier, allowing them to deliver a greater volume of content within their client’s budget. We can’t leave it all to the robots though; humans are essential for making sure the content nails Google’s E-E-A-T principles.
Want to know more about how we can transform your onsite content? Get in touch with the team today.