• Home

  • Business growth

  • Marketing tips

Marketing tips

6 min read

How will AI change SEO content production?

By Briana Brownell · March 13, 2024
A hero image with an icon representing AI writing

I'm an entrepreneur and data scientist, so I always have a million different things on the go. One of those tasks is SEO-optimized content creation, so I've been trying to figure out how AI can help make my work faster and my output better.

In the 15 years I've been writing about technology and trends, I see this as one of the most significant moments that has the potential to permanently change the way SEO works. But maybe not in the ways we might initially think.

Far from rendering content obsolete, I believe AI will bring in a new era where content quality improves and becomes even more pivotal to the success of nearly every business. And because SEO isn't going anywhere any time soon, it's worth a look at how it's going to change.

SEO competition will intensify 

It will be easier to create content faster

If you think the current pace of content creation is fast, just wait until AI tools become part of everyone's everyday. As experts begin to leverage tools like AI writing and AI editing apps, content summarizers, and research tools—a learning curve that many are still navigating—AI tools will enable specialists to create better content faster.

When it's possible to create content of equal quality in half or even a quarter of the time it previously took, tackling even the most niche markets becomes feasible. And that means that there will just be more content out there, making it harder to differentiate.

But for nimble marketers, it also provides a possible new edge: an opportunity to quickly take advantage of new trends that bubble up on social media, or news events that impact your company, much more easily. The AI tools can quickly surface these trends, and you can create content around them faster.  

Smaller companies will be able to create and optimize more content

For a small company or scrappy startup, the costs and time commitment to create content can be prohibitive. AI tools, including text generators and content optimization software, will make it easier and faster, which means the total number of sites able to invest in creating that content will grow significantly. 

In some ways, this will level the playing field and mean that small to medium-sized businesses using AI will be able to afford to develop a compelling content strategy and optimize their content well for SEO. At the same time, this growing wave of content will mean trends will become even more influential—and competitive—and no longer the domain of just the biggest brands.

Content quality will increase

Quality expectations will increase as AI tools make some searches irrelevant 

With a possible deluge of AI-assisted content coming to the web, it's tempting to wonder if the overall content quality will diminish. But I think it'll do the opposite. 

Currently, the internet is flooded with articles offering generic advice, aimed primarily at generating ad revenue. Google shows outlets as diverse as Forbes, The Washington Post, and Popular Mechanics having top-ranked articles on how to paint a room or fix a leaky faucet, alongside articles from every paint manufacturer and a long list of interior design sites. Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Popular Science, and Variety all have top-ranked articles on the best home saunas. 

But when it's easy to get ChatGPT to give you tips for fixing your faucet, or when Perplexity can distill the content from relevant subreddits about what home sauna is the best, the bar will be higher to add value. That means that having a well-thought-out and unique perspective will be even more important. And that's something that AI can't fake…yet.

For search engines, this is a riddle—they'll need to figure out how to better surface quality content over any generic AI-generated content, or they'll become irrelevant. Google has already started this process with its March 2024 algorithm update.

A snippet of Google's March 2024 algorithm update

But astroturfed content on sites like Reddit is common, and fake reviews still get rated as very helpful, so it might get worse before it gets better. I expect this to shake out in the next year or so as people and search engines adjust to the new tools, hopefully pushing the average quality up.

It will be easier to get access to more, better, and broader information 

Doing research using the web is a slog, which means that creating any kind of content that needs good research is also a slog. But AI tools can help here, too, making it easier to summarize content to see whether it's worth reviewing in full.

Hallucinations, where the AI model makes up information, are still prevalent, but I expect this to continue to improve. And even still, in aggregate, the ability to quickly surface broad information can be undeniably beneficial. For example, AI tools will make it easier to identify new trends, including those emerging on social media. It will be easier and easier to quickly surface new ideas, analyze them, and see whether they fit within a company's strategy. That means you'll have more and better information that you can incorporate into the content you're creating, and ultimately make it more useful to your audience.

The humans vs. robots tension will remain

The human side will become more relevant…

In 2014, Bryan Kramer published the book There is no B2B or B2C: It's Human to Human. Since its release, marketing experts have discussed the rise of this H2H marketing replacing the B2B or B2C monikers that make the connection between vendors and customers cold and impersonal. 

The more we interact with AI, the more crucial the H2H approach will become.

This trend is accompanied by the public starting to become more aware of dubious marketing tactics. People are becoming more skeptical and adept at identifying fake reviews and astroturfing, making the authenticity of the human behind a message matter even more.

If you're just looking for information, receiving it in a formulaic, impersonal—dare I say robotic—manner is acceptable (as long as it's accurate). This is common in research reports and academic papers, where the goal is to convey information as clearly as possible without the need for creativity. But if your content is going to resonate and engage, it's essential to show the real person and personality behind it. That means you need to get voicey and personal. AI can't replace that. Originality will matter more, and indicating that you as a human did something will also be important to maintaining the site's credibility. 

Again, Google's recent algorithm updates reflect this—and I imagine we'll see search engines wanting bylines from trusted authors.

…but "writing for the robots" will always be part of the game

Even with high-quality content, you still need to get past the robot gatekeepers, who also judge your credibility. 

That means that if you're going to be found through AI tools and not just search engines, you have to convince these three intermediaries about your credibility and usefulness as a source: 

  • Search engines, which index and rank your site.

  • AI tools, which will decide which sources are most credible (and use them in the results when browsing).

  • Readers, who need to decide whether to continue to your site based on the AI tool's summary of the content you have on it (assuming they cite you).

The search engine's ranking algorithm is already one of the most important things to pay attention to when trying to get your content in front of the right people. But now, not only will humans be using search engines—AI tools will, too.

Generative AI tools have only recently gained the ability to search, and so there's still only preliminary information on how some of the major tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, and Perplexity search and distill content. Although it's reasonable to expect these to change with the dance between the tools' capabilities to browse and the content they surface through doing so, one thing is almost certain: like Google's ranking algorithm tries to provide the best content first, AI tools will try to provide the best answer to the user. (Whether it succeeds or not is another story.)

The search game, once dominated by Google alone, is likely going to splinter. Instead, there will be more robot gatekeepers to consider, including search engines like Bing, which already incorporates AI tools directly into its interface. We don't yet know which tool is going to come out on top, if it's going to be winner-take-all, or if several good quality tools will coexist. But regardless, the number of technology tools you'll have to pay attention to will almost certainly grow.

Navigating the new SEO landscape in the AI era

It's choppy waters right now for anyone looking to figure out how AI is going to impact them. But I believe that there are going to be some significant benefits to the way the web will be once AI tools become more popular.

In the evolving landscape of AI and digital content, there will be a delicate balance between catering to algorithmic gatekeepers and preserving authentic human connection. If we can get it right, we can make a future where digital content is both more accessible and more authentic, enhancing the richness and variety of information while reaffirming the value of genuine human insight. 

Related reading:

  • ChatGPT vs. Gemini: Which is better?

  • The best SEO tools

  • How does AI choose its sources?

  • Google AI Overviews: What you should know

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.

mentioned apps

Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign up
A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'