Can AI-Generated Content Hurt Your Search Ranking? [Insights from HubSpot, Litmus, Casted & 500+ Marketers]
AI is giving marketers a newer, faster, and easier way to create content. But will the convenience of AI
AI is giving marketers a newer, faster, and easier way to create content. But will the convenience of AI come at the expense of your search ranking?
After all, if everyone can use AI to create high-quality content at lightning-fast speeds, what will be the great differentiator in search results?
Here, we'll explore everything you need to know about AI-generated content — including how it performs in search results, its limitations, and tips for leveraging it.
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Can AI-generated content hurt my search ranking?
It's a question on every marketer's mind: should I use AI to create content?
In other words, Google is less concerned about how content is produced and more concerned with the quality of the content itself.
Published on an authoritative site
But here's the rub: AI-generated content may not check all those boxes.
“Now, more than ever, the value of content hinges on the authenticity of its creator and the underlying value, meaning, story, and perspective of the content they're creating,” Josh Blyskal, Associate Marketing Technical Manager at HubSpot, told me.
As the internet becomes flooded with AI-written content, the real hurdle is standing out from the masses.
The Limitations of AI-Generated Content
While AI can speed up the content creation process — which certainly has SEO benefits — it's not a self-driving technology.
For instance, many AI models cannot discern whether the information it collects from the web is correct or not. It may pull information that is inaccurate, unreliable, or even biased. In a similar vein, AI models rely on limited data.
ChatGPT, for example, is limited to data before 2021. If you ask it to write an article about, say, “The Top TikTok Stats of 2023,” it will generate an article with outdated data. Google will then prioritize articles with more current information, potentially impacting your search ranking.
Then there's the issue of duplicate content. Imagine thousands of marketers asking ChatGPT the same question and pasting its response into their content. When Google crawls these pages, it may determine that the content is unoriginal or lacking expertise.
This isn't to suggest AI-generated content is inherently bad. In Blyskal's own words: “If I read an article, liked it, derived value from it, and then discovered that the article was written by AI, would I care? I'm not sure I would.”
However, AI-written content alone may not be enough to compete in search engines. To stand out, you must combine AI with human expertise and perspective.
Tips for Using AI-Generated Content
1. Be transparent.
“While it may seem counterintuitive, being transparent with your audience about how you use AI is paramount for building trust, especially as we move into an AI-integrated world,” Kimberly Huang, Content Marketing Manager at Litmus, told me.
Even adding a simple line of copy that lets your audience know you leverage AI can go a long way in fostering trust.
2. Lean into thought leadership.
It's no secret that marketers operate in high-pressure, deadline-driven environments. While it's tempting to rely on AI for a quick content fix, this approach does little to foster genuine connections around your brand.
She told me, “Generative AI may offer a short-term solution, but it's not a sustainable means to champion your brand's story or build genuine customer relationships.”
“Instead, marketers should build their strategies around human-centric, authentic thought leadership content like podcasts, webinars, and video content. Then, amplify that content across all other marketing channels to extend their reach,” she continued.
3. Keep an eye on newly automated processes.
“Tools like ChatGPT are creating opportunities for automating and scaling processes that used to take a lot of time to complete,” Rory Hope, Head of Content SEO at HubSpot, told me.
“These automations can analyze content and improve insights, or produce content with the intention of ranking highly on a search engine,” he added.
For instance, marketers can leverage tools like HubSpot's Campaign Assistant to generate outlines and first drafts, enabling them to streamline parts of the writing process.
Another area is keyword research. Consider this: Meta doubled its monthly search traffic by using an AI-powered SEO tool to target non-branded keywords. It also conducted website audits — powered by AI — to remedy broken links, missing metadata, and slow page speeds.
That said, Hope cautions that AI still requires human oversight. He told me, “We should be experimenting with generative AI, but human SEOs should stay in the loop to review the quality of newly automated processes.”
Putting It All Together
To excel in this evolving SEO landscape, marketers should combine the power of AI with human oversight, expertise, and perspective. By putting high-quality content at the forefront, marketers can stay competitive in the next era of search.