First of all, as with many SEO messages, there is nuance here. It is ok to use AI tools to assist in creating content, but you can’t expect results if you rely totally on them. It may not be fair, but as we move forward in the world of AI, Google and Bing are essentially copying off of your test paper to present their own content. But at the same time, they need your fresh, unique, and “helpful” content to rank highly in order for their AI to be valuable. As we move forward, we may find that search engines present more AI responses to basic questions. Small business customers that truly need help with a problem are still going to have to go to a website or local listing to convert via a phone call, form fill, or online purchase. In fact, just a few days ago Google specifically addressed making “authentic” content to succeed.
What Gets You Rankings and Exposure?
The fundamentals of SEO are still the same. Every year or two we see new ways to try to exploit the system, and the search engines adapt. AI content is just the next version of this. But think about it. If everyone is using AI to rank for the same phrase and AI simply takes the content that ranks highly for that search term and mushes it together to rephrase it, you are going to end up in a cycle of “re-mushing” the same words over and over again. Search engines know this and that is why in the good old “Content is King” world of SEO, information gain is key to setting yourself apart from your competitors. That means adding value and “helpfulness” to the mush. You can use the tools to get you started, but then add your knowledge, voice, and helpfulness to give your users a unique and quality experience on your site. Set it and forget it AI content will not rank over the long haul.
Does Generic AI Content Work Now?
Sometimes it does, which can be infuriating, when you are doing the right things and you see people taking shortcuts and outranking you. For the long haul, pure AI content will not help you. If your site is full of it, once Google gets smarter in their algorithm, as they have already proven they can do with other ways to “cheat the system”, your whole site may fall off the cliff. If there is very little competition for a term, AI content may still be the best content to speak specifically to the issue, and therefore it may rank. Being AI doesn’t make it against the rules, but the generic nature of AI content means it likely won’t have “information gain” or content that differentiates in a competitive landscape.
The other factors still matter too. Links, speed, user experience, and authority. The core pieces are still there and part of the algorithm, but when it comes to the content side of things, it will be more important than ever to stand apart and add valuable content to users that truly shows you are an authority and expert in that topic area. Once a potential customer is on your site, you want to have content specific to them that answers all of their questions, so they don’t have to leave. Content should speak to all of the different types of users that might be visiting. Different geographies, user types, and levels of knowledge should all be accounted for. As in many cases with SEO, the generic answer is only going to work in very low-competition markets. So if you think AI is the best pathway to your small business SEO success, just know it takes more than spitting out mush to the user. Google and Bing may get away with it, but we can’t.