Related insights

Content like blogs and web copy form the most critical element of any SEO strategy, as it is packed with keywords that help to drive more search engine traffic to your website.

Writing a blog for your website used to be quite a time-consuming task – multiple hours spent researching, writing and refining your piece to make it compelling, easily digestible and grammatically correct.

Sure, there were quite a few AI-powered tools that could help you increase content creation quality and speed: at Traction we’ve used AI marketing assistants like Jasper, Jarvis, Morph and from day one. We even used generative AI, with its ability to write 1000 words in a few seconds, before it went mainstream.

Nevertheless, generative AI like ChatGPT has been a game changer. It seems to be the ultimate SEO hack, allowing anyone to produce good quality content, in a few keystrokes, for exactly zero dollars.

But if you use ChatGPT to write a blog, do you risk hurting your SEO efforts? It’s a question we hear a lot at Traction, and here’s our answer.

No, AI content will not hurt SEO… as long as you’re careful

Just a few months after ChatGPT was released into the wild, Google officially announced its position on AI-generated content: it would continue “rewarding high quality content, however it’s produced”.

Google ranks its search results based on what it calls E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Provided a piece of content is original (i.e. not plagiarised), of high quality (readable, well formatted, grammatically correct, etc.), and is able to demonstrate E-E-A-T, Google simply doesn’t care how it was made, as the search engine prioritises value to the reader.

But Google’s approval of AI-generated content comes with a few key asterisks:

  1. Don’t change how frequently you publish content

Google is always on the hunt for spam. Its “scaled content abuse” policy is of particular concern to anyone using AI to generate content – if Google senses that a lot of blogs have been published in a short amount of time, it could think that you’re trying to manipulate the search engine algorithm, and could therefore penalise what it sees as suspicious activity.

So, while ChatGPT has made it quicker and easier than ever to write a blog, you should stick to the same publishing schedule you always have: daily, weekly, whatever it may be. If you go from publishing one blog a month to publishing a few every day, this deluge of AI-generated content could harm your SEO efforts.

1. Bring healthy scepticism to ChatGPT content

Google’s focus on E-E-A-T should be front of mind whenever you generate content with AI. Large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT don’t ‘think’ – they work by predicting the word that is most likely to come next. This can lead to some interesting results – what AI companies generously call ‘hallucinations’, but what would be better described as outright lies – see the multiple lawyers who have unwittingly submitted fake cases and citations.

If you don’t carefully read, edit and refine a blog that has been generated by ChatGPT, you risk publishing made up stories, facts and stats, or publishing outright nonsense, which can seriously damage how Google views the E-E-A-T of your site.

2. Don’t make it obvious that your content is AI-generated

Our recommendation to anyone publishing AI-generated content is that you avoid explicitly stating that you are doing so, for two reasons:

a) Many website visitors will have reservations about reading content generated by AI.

b) While Google’s current position is that it doesn’t care how high quality content is produced, there’s no guarantee that stance will stay the same in the future.

Speaking of which…

AI-generated content may not be safe forever

Time for a bit of editorial. I personally believe that search engines will eventually treat AI-generated content differently to content written by a human. Here’s why.

LLMs have been fed huge amounts of text pulled from the internet, and they essentially recycle that content. When you ask ChatGPT to write a blog, it uses all that it’s learned from relevant reference material to create something readable and believable.

In short, these systems are incapable of original thought, which ultimately goes against Google’s stated goal of promoting quality content high in expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. If we just keep recreating what has already been created, content will become less informative and trustworthy over time, particularly if ChatGPT begins to train on text that it generated itself.

There are already a wealth of AI detector tools that can identify ChatGPT-generated text with a high degree of accuracy. So, while your website may not be penalised for AI content right now, that could change sometime soon.

How to use ChatGPT to write blogs

Anyone with an OpenAI account can now produce a blog in seconds, so the question isn’t “can I?” – it’s “should I?”

At Traction we don’t recommend publishing content that has been entirely generated by ChatGPT, for the reasons stated above: the risk of hallucinations, the lack of original thought, and the potential for future Google penalties.

But while ChatGPT is not the answer, it is part of the solution, and you can certainly use generative AI as part of your process, just as you’ve probably spent years using other AI tools like spell checkers. ChatGPT can be hugely helpful, particularly in the initial stages of blog writing. We regularly use it for:

  • Ideation and topic generation
  • Research (being careful to find original sources for everything)
  • Crafting blog frameworks and outlines
  • Checking spelling and grammar

Many users get ChatGPT to write an entire blog, which they then rewrite in their own style and add their original thoughts and opinions to.

How Google will replace third-party cookies in Chrome

Until now Google’s advertising business has been heavily reliant on third-party cookies, so when it became obvious that the cookies had to go, the company worked hard to find replacements. The solution came in the form of Privacy Sandbox: a project that aims to strike a balance between the needs of advertisers and the privacy concerns of users.

As part of Privacy Sandbox, Google developed six APIs that could mitigate some of the issues of third-party cookie deprecation for marketers and advertisers. From Google:

  • TopicsGenerate signals for interest-based advertising without third-party cookies or other user identifiers that track individuals across sites.
  • Protected Audience: Select ads to serve remarketing and custom audience use cases, designed to mitigate third-party tracking across sites.
  • Attribution ReportingCorrelate ad clicks or ad views with conversions. Ad techs can generate event-level or summary reports.
  • Private AggregationGenerate aggregate data reports using data from Protected Audience and cross-site data from Shared Storage.
  • Shared Storage: Allow unlimited, cross-site storage write access with privacy-preserving read access.
  • Fenced Frames: Securely embed content onto a page without sharing cross-site data.

You must offer value to the reader

SEO success is built on delivering value to the reader. It’s a simple idea that can get lost amongst all the other tricks, techniques and tactics of SEO: the keyword research, the metadata, the backlink building and more.

If your AI-generated blogs simply regurgitate old ideas, you aren’t offering your readers anything that they can’t find elsewhere.

This is why we put such a focus on thought leadership at Traction. If you use your knowledge and experience to give your website visitors unique and valuable insights, you’ll build up your E-E-A-T, you’ll rank higher, and you’ll drive more high quality traffic to your website.

Think of the questions that customers seem to ask over and over again; the ones that they might struggle to find answers to online. This blog is an example: we hear the question “will AI content damage SEO?” all the time, so we’ve written – yes, written, not generated – an article to share our thoughts and opinions.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve hopefully found the value that you were hoping for.

Will AI content damage your SEO performance? No, it won’t right now – at least if it’s done right – but it might in the future. If you want help navigating that future, and generating more business through quality content, our expert Traction team is here to help.

Share this article