Why AI tools for content writing shouldn’t be abused – or feared

  • Olly Green
  • Read time: 8 minutes
A robot typing at a desk in a library

Generative AI will continue to develop and improve over the course of 2024 and marketers must learn how to leverage such tools effectively – or risk being left behind.

The use of AI when it comes to content creation is becoming ever more commonplace across the marketing industry, and swathes of generated text is further expanding an already bloated internet landscape.

It is therefore more pertinent than ever for marketers to create content that stands out from the crowd – in the eyes of both search engines and readers.

Finding the right balance between quality and quantity will be increasingly crucial, and a lean towards the latter could result in an ineffectual dependence on AI.

However, there is certainly scope for AI to aid the pursuit of quality content, and completely avoiding the proverbial elephant in the room will only serve as a disadvantage in a highly competitive space.

A report published by IBM's Institute for Business Value, titled ‘5 trends for 2024’, addresses the rise of AI and how it is likely to impact businesses over the course of this year.

“People who use AI will replace people who don’t” is cited as one of the trends, underlining the importance of man and machine working in harmony – not competition.

“Can we help our workforce trust their new teammate, AI, as it helps them with day-to-day business processes?” the report questions, reiterating that automation is here to be utilised, rather than to replace us.

More importantly, it is added that “uniquely human traits such as creativity (the skill business leaders see as most valuable by 2025), nuanced decision-making, and empathy will become even more important.”

As this article will further explain, that forecast is particularly relevant and reassuring for content writers who may feel AI is somewhat breathing down their necks.

“Right now, with limited foresight, 87% of CEOs expect job roles to be augmented rather than replaced by generative AI,” a survey included in the IBM report revealed. This indicates that although leaders accept significant changes to job functions are inevitable, they aren’t willing to sacrifice the invaluable human touch.

This mindset seems particularly wise when it comes to marketing and content creation.

AI content and SEO

AI and human emotions

AI hallucinations spoil trusted content

AI content marketing – striking the balance

AI content and SEO

For modern day digital content writers, the SEO value of content is an integral factor in determining the success of a blog post or any piece of copy for that matter. You may produce an intricate, well researched blog article, but it will be of limited use to your site if it is languishing on the lower reaches of search results pages. 

If there is such an outcome after pouring blood, sweat, and tears into an article, the temptation may be to turn towards AI to streamline the process.

A robot offering to help a person working at a computer

As AI-generated content appears exponentially across the internet, Google has been forced to clarify how it is viewed by its ranking systems. In the latest guidance on Google Search Central, the concept of banning AI-generated content has been dismissed: “For example, about 10 years ago, there were understandable concerns about a rise in mass-produced yet human-generated content. No one would have thought it reasonable for us to declare a ban on all human-generated content in response.” 

Instead, Google has further tailored Search to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) - regardless of how it is produced. 

However, it is reiterated that using automation “to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results” violates spam policies and will be flagged by Google’s SpamBrain system. 

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that any content you are publishing retains that human edge in order to separate it from search-rank seeking spam. 

By all means, AI can be utilised for ideation and even for writing the basis of your content, but it is vital to meticulously sub edit any generated text and be certain it is offering value – and originality – to your intended audience. 

AI and human emotions

While making content visible on search engines is a primary goal for writers, it is equally important for posts to retain the audience it has been put in front of. There’s no point topping the search rankings if readers take one look at your content and decide it is of no use, untrustworthy, or both. 

Again, human influence is vital here to certify that any blog post or article is functional, whether that is offering insight, selling a product, or telling a story that will engage readers and ultimately lead to a conversion. If a reader doesn’t feel the content they are viewing is relatable or relevant, the likelihood is that they will leave a website and never return.

An AI robot at a party

According to a Forbes Advisor survey, 54% of people believe they can tell the difference between content written by a human and that generated by automated chatbots. 

AI-generated content lacks the emotional and cultural understanding of a human writer, who can better understand the nuances of the specific topic and audience they are covering. They can then convey brand-specific messaging, using a consistent, engaging, and fitting tone of voice – all of which is crucial to forming a relationship with a reader and potential customer.

AI hallucinations spoil trusted content

There is also the consideration of AI hallucinations. This has been a common feature of generative AI, with baseless statistics and references being threaded seamlessly into content. At a glance, it sounds great and reinforces the points being made with seemingly hard evidence. But in truth, it is another potential stumbling block for a writer that is overly dependent on AI – all it takes is a lazy sub-editor and completely false information is published on your website. 

The modern-day reader is particularly wary of such an eventuality, and content will be more heavily scrutinised than ever amid the rise of AI. According to the previously mentioned Forbes Advisor survey, 76% of consumers are concerned with misinformation from AI tools. 

To have the best chance of guiding your reader towards a conversion – and meeting Google Search’s trustworthiness requirements - AI must at best be treated as an untrained newcomer to your team. Triple check everything it produces, add the nuance it simply cannot, and if it is going to stick around, explain that nuance through feedback and future prompts. 

AI content marketing – striking the balance

In summary, using generative AI can vastly increase content output and won’t necessarily harm a website’s search ranking – but that doesn’t mean it should be used for quantity. 

Instead, focus on how it can enhance the quality of content. Generative AI can supply ideas and structures for blog posts and articles that you otherwise would’ve overlooked – it can be invaluable when it comes to writer’s block. You can even allow it to write those concepts into complete text, but remember, the onus is on you to sculpt such responses into something that is resonant of your brand. Search engines and, more importantly, readers will not be fooled.

A robot and a person on a seesaw

Prompts and feedback will provide you with a better starting point, but ultimately only you will truly understand the fine distinctions of your brand and how that is conveyed through a unique message, tone of voice, and story. 

The challenge for marketers will be determining when to call upon their new AI teammate to aid that cause – and not being afraid to do so when it is suitable. 

Turning a blind eye to such innovative technology could be as equally damaging as becoming over-reliant on it. Striking a balance will be fundamental to content creation in the coming years. 

If your content marketing efforts are stuck in a rut, and you need a fresh pair of eyes, get in touch with our team today.

Studies from McKinsey, BCG, Morgan Stanley

About the author

Olly Green

Olly Green, Content Lead

Our Content Lead graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in Sports Journalism in 2020. Olly gained his grounding in content over three years as a professional sports journalist before joining Herd to utilise his wide-ranging writing skills in a marketing environment.

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