The Robot Writers Are Taking Over! How To Win In An AI-Powered Web

Busiest robot in the office with a heavy workload on all of his six hands.

In this guest post, Zenith’s SEO group business director, Jack Telford (pictured below), says whether we like it or not, ChatGPT has ushered in a new age of the web where human-written content now battles with AI-powered competition for users’ attention…

On 1 December last year, a seismic wave shook the online world.

ChatGPT, the latest tool out of San Francisco start-up, Open AI was launched free to the public. Within five days the website had amassed a million users. In the week from 11-17 December, it trended ahead of Tik Tok in Worldwide search demand. This was a big deal.

What is ChatGPT?

In simple terms, ChatGPT acts as a virtual assistant which can communicate, generate readable text on demand and create original images and video for its users. In seconds, the platform can write content that might take a human several hours, with the output fully unique and almost indistinguishable from its warm-blooded alternative.

As well as churning out prose in a heartbeat, ChatGPT can operate across different styles and tones. So, (as my colleague discovered) if you want to compose a 200-word meeting request to your boss in the style of Snoop Dogg, the AI will be up to the challenge.

AI and digital jobs

The idea of Artificial Intelligence taking jobs is nothing new. What is new, however, is seeing a publicly available and widely used technology emerge with such a clear ability to compete with a large segment of our digital marketing workforce.

For anyone whose job is to create web content, this development has huge implications. If AI can write as well as you can, but quicker, without errors and for free, it’s hard to see why it wouldn’t be utilised. Similarly, if your business generates revenue from publishing editorial online, how can you ensure that your articles stand out against the incalculable masses of new AI content flooding search engine servers and vying for users’ eyeballs?

Sure, there are some weaknesses with ChatGPT’s current performance, but this is the very first iteration of AI technology to reach the masses. The bugs we see now are likely to be ironed out in upcoming years, with advancements accelerated by the massive commercial potential of a high-performing AI.

Why we should embrace this change

First off; we have no choice. Standing against a technological advancement with such immediate utility and promise would be swimming against the tide. Like all new advances to reach the masses, we need to work with, not against AI.

As with other technological innovations, the rise of AI doesn’t exclude the necessity for human input, rather it changes the role of the human. Calculators didn’t end mathematics, they accelerated it, enabling mathematicians to focus on bigger opportunities rather than getting bogged down in the basics. We should see AI content similarly, as an enabler rather than a competitor. ChatGPT, for example, may be well suited to writing an article, but less capable of coming up with exciting emerging topics or finding unique twists to attract your specific target audience.

Furthermore, there will always be some elements which can’t be effectively replicated by an Artificial Intelligence. Humans have lived experience, professional expertise, anecdotes and humour. We can communicate with cultural relevancy, emotional subtleties, and feelings. This is, and will continue to be, our USP.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that these AI tools’ pool of knowledge is limited to what others have already written on a topic. This is evidenced by the quality of output within ChatGPT. If you ask a common question, you will get a comprehensive response. The more specific you get, though, the vaguer and more unhelpful the outputs are.

How can we succeed as content producers in an AI-powered internet?

Search engines, our gateway to the internet, are battling as we speak to distinguish low-quality AI-generated content from the “real” human content they want displayed in their search results. To succeed in the future, we need to get ahead of this by doubling down on effective tactics for AI Internet success.

  • Choose topics carefully: Don’t focus on topics which are cluttered unless you are willing to invest heavily in succeeding there. Instead, find effective niches and white space that are free from AI-generated clutter and double down there.
  • Show your expertise: Google’s been focused on Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust (EAT) signals to ascertain content quality for a long time, and lately extended these to EEAT (extra E for Experience). These signals will become more important in the future, so the more you signify that content is written by a trustworthy, authoritative expert, the better.
  • Show you’re human: On the topic of Experience, search engines want to see content that’s written by experts with clear experience of the topic upon which they’re focusing. Signal this in content by calling upon experiential elements like humour, anecdotes, specific terminology, novel expressions, and personal memories.
  • Utilise AI to power your content: There are countless ways that AI can (carefully) be used on our own websites. From content ideation and coding, to writing, proof-reading, and formatting, the web is exploding with use-cases for AI assistants. There are too many examples for me to name – why not ask Chat GPT for some thought-starters? 
  • Remember other principles of web content success: SEO experts know it takes a lot more than a well-written piece of content to succeed online. Google looks at over 200 factors to determine what shows up in its search results, with everything from external links and mentions, to brand recognition and technical factors influencing rankings. As content itself becomes less of a distinguishing factor in establishing quality, it’s likely that these other factors will increase in relevance.

Whether we like it or not, ChatGPT has ushered in a new age of the web, where human-written content battles with AI-powered competition for users’ attention. But don’t despair. New technology always brings fear and uncertainty, until it finds its place in the new reality and pushes us into a better way of operating alongside it. There’s certainly no going back.

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Jack Telford Zenith

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