Why You Should Reconsider Using a Robot to Boost Your Local Search Optimization and SEO (for Now)
If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard about AI copywriting in the past few months, we’d have enough to buy every employee a Twitter Blue subscription with change to spare. AI copywriting isn’t something that just writers and content creators are talking about.
Entire organizations – from CEOs all the way to entry-level marketers – are curious about the potential of artificial intelligence as it pertains to writing company communications, crafting email blasts, developing social posts, and, of course, creating keyword-rich longform blogs.
For those who have not yet had a chance to play with one of the many AI copywriting platforms available today, they are admittedly quite impressive. Using a combination of machine learning and natural language processing software, AI is capable of understanding how text should read based upon the parameters it’s given. With the simple input of the type of content you want to generate, the AI copywriter can crank out a draft in less than a couple minutes. Further, you can provide it with additional guidelines pertaining to tone, style, local search keywords, and other attributes.
So, does this mean the robots have finally arrived to take our jobs?
No, not exactly. Although AI will certainly have a place in the future of marketing, human beings will remain essential in the creation of original copy that’s on-brand and factually accurate.
The following are the top five shortcomings we noticed when testing AI copywriting platforms.
#1 – AI Doesn’t Research
AI copywriting software gleans its information from the millions of web pages that make up the internet. The user sets the parameters for what to write about, and the AI copywriter fetches the relevant info about the topic and spits out content. However, there’s one small problem. AI doesn’t perform research by going to the most authoritative sources. It pulls from the entire internet, looking for patterns based upon its algorithm and trained models.
The AI copywriter gathers information faster than anything we’ve ever seen, but gathering information is not the same thing as research curated from high-quality sources. Considering the amount of misinformation and outdated information floating around on the internet, it’s essential to have a human copywriter involved who can discern a reliable source from a bad one.
#2 – AI Doesn’t Fact-Check
Not researching is bad enough on its own. To add another log to the problem pile, AI copywriters also don’t fact check. We found this out by requesting the AI copywriter to develop a longform blog about a certain electric vehicle that’s been available on the market for about two years. We requested the AI platform compare the trim levels for the 2023 model in the blog.
To research, a human copywriter would simply gather all the relevant information from the automaker’s official website. As the adage goes, we want to hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth.” The AI copywriter, however, uses different methods.
The 2023 model of the electric vehicle we requested AI to write about comes in eight different trims. For unexplained reasons, it only located and wrote about three of those trims. Further, there were several inaccuracies found in the AI-written content pertaining to performance metrics, maximum range, and even pricing. There were many instances where a certain metric was assigned to the wrong trim.
Another peculiar thing we noticed is that AI has a hard time wrapping its proverbial brain around dates. For instance, in the content it generated for us, it wrote that the 2023 model of the EV will be released to the public in late 2021. It also encouraged buyers to act now by citing a specific tax write-off benefit that expired two years ago.
Granted, this is probably something that AI will get better at in the future. Not every piece of information it pulls is wrong. However, the fact that some of it is inaccurate means that every statistic, feature, and product detail must be double-checked – and potentially rewritten – by a real live human being.
#3 – AI Brings No Style or Creativity to the Table
One of the most interesting (and frustrating) parts of testing the AI copywriter was trying to get it to not sound like a Wikipedia-regurgitating robot. By default, AI copywriters lean toward the generic, flavorless end of the style spectrum. Most of the content it generates hits the palette like dry toast sans jam, which may work for corporate communications, but not necessarily marketing copy.
Trying to get the AI copywriter to exhibit anything remotely resembling creativity or originality is all about the prompt it’s fed. However, no matter how specific the prompt is, the AI copywriter only seems capable of delivering close approximations or bad impersonations. It never quite sticks the landing, as demonstrated here:
Does this sound like Bond? Maybe a little. The first couple lines have a note of Connery about them. Beyond that, the piece is less 007 and more of a generic overview of the vehicle. We get broad descriptors like “state-of-the-art technology” and “a wealth of cutting-edge features,” which are two phrases that have been done to death in the luxury vehicle world.
By no means is the copy bad. It’s just not very original or compelling. AI could have written that the new Aston Martin is the golden gun of sports cars or that the sound system hits harder than Oddjob’s bowler hat. As synonymous as Bond and the Aston Martin are, we expected less run-of-the-mill results.
Author’s note: We tried several different variations of prompts to coax the AI into demonstrating creativity or some semblance of outside-the-box writing. It’s clearly not ready for that just yet.
#4 – AI Doesn’t Have an Eye for the Details or Nuance
Copywriters are storytellers. A good story consists of several elements working together – narrative, voice, tone, structure – but the thing that really sells a story are the details. If we happen to be writing about coffee, we can’t just say the product tastes like coffee.
Coffee is a symphony. It can have earthy, nutty, or fruity notes. It can be overtly bold or weak. It can be artificially flavored to taste like raspberry, dark chocolate, or a glazed donut. All those little descriptors help form a picture in the reader’s mind.
AI has a hard time handling details and nuance. When feeding the AI copywriter a topic, it will spit out information, but not necessarily information with noteworthy details. By comparison, if you instruct it to include a detail, it has a tendency to mention it far more times than necessary. Or it will use the detail in the wrong context.
Essentially, AI can be counted on to deliver the gist – the broad strokes, as it were – but a human being will be on the hook to paint in those important missing details.
#5 – Industry Experts Have Advised Against Using AI for SEO Purposes
When it comes to local search engine optimization and best SEO practices in general, human copywriters are mindful of some important rules and guidelines. We won’t bore you with all the technical mumbo-jumbo, but one major SEO guideline that’s remained consistent over the years is that search engines reward original high-quality content. That means it’s well written, informative, factually accurate, keyword-optimized, and delivers value to readers. Good copy satisfies search intent.
So, where does AI stand in terms of SEO writing? Can you feed it a topic and some keywords and expect it to fetch you blog?
Right now – no. A recent article published by Forbes on this topic revealed that Google won’t flag or penalize content that’s AI-generated. However, content that’s AI-generated and specifically intended for SEO will get flagged.
To quote Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison: “We haven’t said AI content is bad. We’ve said, pretty clearly, content written primarily for search engines rather than humans is the issue. That’s what we’re focused on.”
So, if you were planning to mass produce a bunch of SEO blogs via AI – think again. Google is on high alert for any nefarious tactics that may be used for local search optimization and boosting your ranking in the SERPs.
Any AI copywriting platform that claims AI-generated content is good for SEO should be taken with a huge grain of digital salt.
If You Can’t Use AI For SEO Blogging, What Can You Use It For?
We won’t lie – AI is going to establish a place for itself in the future of creating content. In fact, it already has. However, it’s nowhere close to the point where it can crank out perfect content without a thorough edit and round of fact-checking. Keeping that in mind, AI shows promise in the following areas of content creation:
Creating blog outlines: Whether it’s a new topic that you know nothing about or an old topic that you’ve been writing about forever, the AI copywriter is pretty darn amazing at creating outlines using very little information.
Email subject lines: Marketers know the success of their email blast campaign usually hinges on a perfectly crafted subject line. Fortunately, AI has a knack for cranking those out in the blink of an eye. Even if it doesn’t strike gold the first time, you’ll at least have a jumping off point.
Social posts: Building out social posts for the month can be a taxing affair, but this is yet another area where AI excels. Just feed it a few pieces of relevant info and watch it crank out a variety of ideas for posts that you can massage for your followers.
First drafts: If you’re the type of writer who struggles with the blank page, AI is perfect for creating first drafts in a flash. The only caveat is you’ll need to rewrite and edit until it resembles something completely original. Otherwise, the content won’t do you any good in terms of SEO and local search optimization.
Meta descriptions and title tags: Coming up with a bunch of meta descriptions and title tags is a grind, especially on large websites with lots of different pages. Fortunately, AI is a great tool for quickly churning out a few options with an ideal character count when you’re lacking inspiration.
The Verdict: AI is a Helpful Tool, but By No Means a Replacement for a Human
After running several tests, it’s clear that there’s a new sheriff in town in terms of cranking out content at high speeds. AI is lightning quick – no argument there. However, when accounting for all the fact-checking, sourcing, rewriting, editing, and optimization that must be done, the time-saving benefit of AI drastically shrinks. This is especially true for AI-generated longform pieces with lots of statistics and performance metrics to check.
It’s also worth noting that recent reporting on the subject of AI indicates that AI-generated content doesn’t technically qualify as ownable content. The U.S. Copyright Office has issued guidance that content created by AI cannot be protected by copyright law. The only way an individual, company, or brand can ensure they own their content is if it was created by a human. So, if any part of you was planning to crank out a bunch of SEO blogs using AI, don’t. SEO blogs must be created by a human to guarantee content ownership.
Although AI is off limits in terms of manufacturing SEO and local search engine optimization, we recognize it has several other merits in terms of creating outlines, executing menial tasks, and overcoming writer’s block. It’s a welcome addition to the writer’s toolbox, but it’s a tool that must be used with extreme caution. Too much trust or reliance on AI can lead to costly mistakes.
Longform content must also demonstrate E-E-A-T.
These are the search quality rating guidelines that Google uses to discern which pieces of content deliver value. Content that is simply a rehash of previously published content – which is what AI does – won’t be rewarded by Google. Only a human can deliver that.
Looking for Longform Content That Supports Your Local Search Marketing and SEO Efforts? Contact iFocus Today!
So, you’re in need of high-quality content and a website refresh that appeals to search engines and customers alike. Fortunately, iFocus Marketing has you covered on all fronts. As an award-winning digital marketing agency in Kansas City, we’ve helped clients boost their brand recognition and organic ranking with our three-pronged SEO strategy that focuses on:
- On-page SEO – Content marketing that increases your brand’s authority.
- Off-page SEO – Creating a Google Business Profile that drives traffic your way.
- Technical SEO – Cleaning up the issues that impact your site’s load speed and hurt your quality score.
Ready to see what’s possible? The best thing to do is to reach out to us directly for a free discovery call and audit. We’ll learn a little bit more about you and your business, conduct a deep dive into your current marketing strategy, and then circle back with a comprehensive plan that helps you meet your business goals and elevate the impact of your local search marketing. Contact us today to get started!
Brandon Tietz is a senior digital copywriter at iFocus Marketing with close to a decade of marketing experience. He has written for clients in retail, real estate, automotive, education, manufacturing, healthcare, consumer goods, and several other spaces. In addition to copywriting, he has authored books, published short stories, written for several online and print publications, and was named “Best Local Writer” by The Pitch for his debut novel. He’s currently living the dream in the ‘burbs with his wonderful wife and their two dogs, Dr. Croutons and Professor Pickles.