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How Does Google Treat AI Content? One Marketer Sure Found Out

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Marketer Neil Patel just found out how Google treats AI content—and the results weren’t pretty.

Patel says he has “100 experimental sites that use AI-written content.” Some have content exclusively generated by AI, with zero human editing or writing. Others have AI content that humans edit, polish, and flesh out.

He analyzed how a recent Google spam update affected these sites. Here’s what he found:

  • The sites with content exclusively generated by AI (no human involvement) got crushed. They saw an average 17% drop in traffic and dropped an average of 8 positions in search rankings.
  • Sites with AI-written content, but some human involvement, fared much better. These sites saw a 6% traffic drop on average and a drop of about three positions in search.

Patel admits it’s still early to draw complete conclusions from this data. After all, the Google update rolled out a few weeks ago.

But, it seems likely Google is taking steps to address AI-generated content. The most recent spam update hit Patel's sites hard. And the recent "helpful content" update prioritized quality content written for humans.

The takeaway?

Purely AI-generated content could be a problem for your brand.

Why It Matters

In Episode 23 of the Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer and I talk about how you can expect Google to treat AI-generated content moving forward.

  • There is an AI arms race between Google and content creators. “Google appears to have found ways to know (or predict) if content was created by AI,” says Roetzer. “And [AI content tools] are getting better and making it harder for Google to know AI wrote something.”
  • And you do not want to get caught in the crossfire. “The moral of the story is: Don’t rely on AI to write your content purely,” says Roetzer. “It is increasingly valuable as an assistant to writing content, generating ideas, and developing drafts, but don’t remove the human from the equation.”
  • But you will be using AI for writing very soon. The benefits are too significant to ignore, so we’re all going to be forced to use AI tools if we don’t already. “[A 1,000-word blog post] can take me five to seven hours before I hit publish, upload, etc.,” says Roetzer. “I could absolutely see that entire process taking 30 minutes to an hour [with humans using AI].”
  • Here’s what AI-assisted writing could look like: You will tell AI to give you five bullet points on your topic, then receive them instantly, says Roetzer. AI will then write your first paragraph. You’ll prompt the machine for more content. Then you’ll read through and decide what to keep, what to omit, and where to expand on the AI’s initial draft.
  • Here’s what that means for you as a writer: “I think a lot of writers are going to spend more time as editors,” says Roetzer. You’re going to increasingly evaluate, rewrite, and alter content that is drafted by AI. “The process [of being a writer] is completely different [with AI].”
  • This is going to disrupt large content teams. “I think about brands that have dozens or hundreds of writers…you have to start thinking immediately about advancing and reskilling that team [to work with AI],” says Roetzer. If this is you, you have big decisions to make that impact content-focused human resources.
  • And most businesses today aren’t ready for this disruption. “We are not overhyping what AI can do. This is legit tech that does this stuff now, and it's only going to get better, and it's going to happen fast,” says Roetzer. “There are major decisions to be made [by brands around AI] and I don’t feel like people are ready.”

What to Do About It

Learn More About This Topic

PS — You can hear the whole conversation about this topic and more cutting-edge AI news in Episode 23 of the Marketing AI Show, out now.

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