Google putting copywriters to the test
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Google’s latest update: a turning point for AI-generated content?

Did the March and September algorithm updates change the digital landscape? The importance of quality and authenticity for AI-generated content.

In 2023, Google changed the rules of the SEO game.

 Or so you’ll hear from all the shouty marketing gurus on LinkedIn.

 But how much has actually changed? Does using ChatGPT to speed up content writing put your hard-earned search rankings at risk?

 If you’re a business owner, marketing lead or anyone who relies on digital content, listen up. The latest algorithm updates weren’t just another tweak, we now know important information how AI-generated content is perceived and ranked.

 As a B2B copywriter in the thick of it, I’m here to give you the cold hard facts (as much as I can…Google is notoriously vague).

 Let’s unpack what these changes mean for you and explore best practice for using AI.  

Decoding Google’s latest update

Last year Google made two much needed updates to its algorithm.

 Much needed for digital marketers anyway. Whispers were running wild on social media, forums and in masterminds about content written using AI dropping down SERPs (search engine results pages).

 And while Google didn’t confirm this at all – don’t believe anyone that says you can’t use AI to help with content if you want to get to Google Page 1 – it did shine a light on what factors are prioritised for ranking and some limitations of AI-generated content.

 Big shock: not much has changed.

 Google still wants to see evidence of E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. This is not new and should always be the priority for any B2B content you’re publishing, whether you’re chasing higher SEO scores or not.

The 2023 updates in a nutshell

  • Authentic content wins: AI-generated reviews will be flagged as spam
  • A human touch: human-like content will be prioritised
  • Quality: valuable, helpful content is best
  • Transparency: AI-generated content should be labelled as such
  • No to game-players: poor-quality AI-generated content used to manipulate rankings will be penalised

It’s safe to say Google will favour people-first content. But that doesn’t mean people-written content. The search engine looks for content that is genuinely helpful – that’s the whole point of searching, right?

Content that is written with a specific audience in mind, by an expert, on a site that has an overarching focus and that answers questions will always be promoted.

Ranking isn’t about who writes the content (human v robot), but the quality of that content. 

At the moment, many AI writing tools spit out guff that leaves a lot to be desired.

But as AI tools become smarter at mimicking humans and we become better at using them, the gap between us will close.

In the future, we’ll see more B2B copywriters turn into AI-editors. There are already a few jobs cropping up with this title, but only for specific types of content. AI can’t interview a subject matter expert or case study just yet.

What does this mean for you?

If 2024 is the year you want to start using those nifty robots to speed up writing your blog post, client newsletter or LinkedIn post, go for it.

If you’re already using them, you don’t need to be concerned about a drop in rankings…unless you’re producing rubbish.

 Quality content is the bedrock of any communications strategy.

 As a B2B, your content marketing should always be useful, valuable and demonstrate your expertise. Using AI should not alter that at all.

 To avoid a slip in quality, consider what you’re using AI for and how you’re using it. If your team are using ChatGPT to generate ideas, find information or produce content, make sure they’re doing the same.

 In my experience, AI can be good for helping with basic content needs. Simple blog posts, a LinkedIn post or brainstorming email angles.

 More detailed, complex pieces of content like case studies, website copy and white papers require research beyond AI capabilities. For this kind of copywriting, you’ll need to interview clients or experts, or think more deeply about the psychology of the copy.

 While you could use ChatGPT or similar to finesse your thoughts, I don’t recommend relying on it to write a whole piece of content from scratch. Plus, you’ll want to balance creativity and originality with more functional marketing materials.  

 Hot tip: add notes in your content strategy to show where AI can and can’t be used to write copy. This is particularly useful if you have a team, or regularly work with freelancers.

Bad AI-generated copy can get expensive

Recently, I was referred a new estate agent client who had paid a well-known London SEO company to develop their new website. As well as building the site, this company said they’d also do an SEO audit, provide recommendations and write optimised website copy.

 Why did they need me, I hear you ask? The copy was dreadful. The client was not happy. It became an unnecessarily expensive project for them.

 As soon as I was sent the 12 pages of website copy, I could immediately tell it was AI-generated. Sure, the copy was SEO-optimised, but it was robotic, didn’t make sense and was in completely the wrong tone for the premium brand.

 I recognised phrases that ChatGPT likes to use. It was in US spelling, for a British company…I could go on.

 For my client, the low-quality copy meant he had to spend time finding a new copywriter and pay me to edit (mostly rewrite) each page. He knew the risks he faced by not doing so: target clients being put off by a poor website, low conversions and Google deprioritising his content.

Guidelines for using AI from a B2B copywriter

I write copy all day every day. Plus, I work with a lot of content and marketing leads and constantly talk shop with other copywriters.

 I’ve tried and tested using AI tools for various kinds of content, so you don’t have to (you’re welcome. I wasted a lot of time).

 Since Google’s update, I haven’t seen much change at the coalface of SEO, but that’s probably because I already prioritise EEAT and recommend my clients do the same.

 One thing I have noticed? Duplicate content being published. Phrases that ChatGPT loves to use. UK companies publishing blog posts written with US spelling.

 Ok, more than one thing. Avoid falling into these traps by:

  • Fact checking everything that you use AI to help write
  • Making sure your AI is programmed to write in your business’ tone of voice
  • Only using AI-sourced quotes or facts from known experts
  • Not relying on AI to write about a new topic that is unrelated to your business – Google values authority
  • Losing your originality by getting trigger happy with AI
  • Writing robotic content (Google doesn’t love this)
  • Not pumping out lots of low-quality AI-written pieces to get to Page 1
  • Including a credit reference if your whole blog is AI-generated
  • Running your content through a plagiarism checker like Copyscape.

The long and short of it

Is that the latest Google updates shouldn’t impact your content strategy if you’re producing quality work.

SEO is ever-changing and it feels like every week there’s a new AI tool or update.

 But for now, if you focus on delivering value to your target audience, showing your expertise and producing human-like content, there’s no reason a bit of help from AI would harm your search engine rankings.

If you're looking for an affordable B2B copywriter, please contact me.

Written by

Caroline Voaden
Google putting copywriters to the test
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