In case you haven’t heard, artificial intelligence (AI) programs can now write online content well enough that readers have trouble distinguishing it from content that was written by a human. In the span of just a few months, AI-generated content went from unusable to being good enough, stylistically, to cover up gaping substantive holes. Now, AI programs can produce content and answer questions with an authoritativeness that makes it tough to tell if it is right or not.
It’s a weird time to be alive, and things are evolving at light speed.
Here are 5 developments that we think are going to happen regarding AI-generated content, search engine marketing (SEM), and online legal content marketing.
1. AI Content Struggles to Break Into the First Page of Competitive Searches
Generally speaking, AI programs “write” online content by reading articles similar to the prompt they are given, predicting what the next word will be, and then building sentences based on those odds. The results are, sometimes quite literally, a string of the most commonly used words for the given context.
That’s why AI-generated content is so hideously boring to read after about 500 or so words: It is perfectly predictable by design. None of the words surprise you. The reading experience becomes unbearable for longer articles. They put you to sleep.
Additionally, AI-generated content does nothing but synthesize what is already out there. It is limited to analyzing the word patterns of existing content. It cannot create anything new.
Similarly, content produced by AI programs cannot have any expertise in the topic being covered. Even if some of the content that it is analyzing was written by knowledgeable professionals in the field, that expertise is diminished by all of the other content that the AI program looks at. As we learned in our article about ChatGPT, AI programs get things wrong. They get things wrong because they cannot tell reliable information from unreliable information while they go about mimicking word patterns. This trend is disturbing, particularly in fields like the law where the information can affect peoples’ lives.
These 3 issues – the bad reading experience, the inability to add value to the internet, and the inability to distinguish facts from lies and misinformation – make AI-generated content inferior to well-written and informed content written by a human. They also fail in some of the most fundamental aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), such as scoring well in certain reader metrics.
As a result, we think that, as more and more websites turn to AI-generated content to churn out blog posts and targeted pages, site owners are going to find that those articles just don’t rank well in the search engine results page (SERP), particularly for competitive search queries.
As more content on the internet gets written by AI-generating machines, this is going to get even worse because…
2. AI Content Eats Itself
As the technology stands right now, AI-generated content is doomed to fail by design. It creates content by reading what is already out there. Inevitably, these programs will start using AI-generated content to inform themselves while writing the next article. The word prediction process that they use to create content will get skewed by the articles that they have already written, solidifying certain word patterns as “correct.” Over time, AI-generated content is going to become more and more predictable and boring. It’s also going to make the same factual errors more and more often as it sees more existing content parroting the same mistakes.
Basically, AI copywriting programs are, by design, slowly ruining the quality of the information on the internet in an attempt to make writing it quicker, easier, and cheaper.
We look forward to the moment when AI pioneers realize that artificial intelligence is better suited for doing tedious and mundane tasks that sap precious moments from our lives, like cutting vegetables, folding clothes, or doing the dishes.
3. Site Owners Complain About Plagiarism
Pirating content is a core component of SEO and online marketing: You see that the business law firm down the road has an article on oral contracts that is ranking well, so you write your own page that covers all the same information, add some more details, publish it, and take over the top slot. So long as you’re not copying and pasting the other firm’s content, this isn’t just acceptable – it’s exactly what search engines want you to do. It is arms race like these that slowly improve the value of the content on the web.
What AI programs do is different. There is the pirating, but there is none of the value-adding.
We think that this difference is enough to justify site owners complaining about the plagiarism of their content.
4. Site Owners Given Ability to Block AI from Reading Their Site
In response to these complaints, we think that site owners are going to get the power to block AI content creating programs from “reading” their websites. How they get this ability, we’re not sure. It could come from:
- Federal legislation
- Search engines
- The AI-generating programs
- A third party business
We’d be stunned if Congress managed to be the first to act. Absolutely stunned.
We’d also be surprised if the companies behind the AI-generating programs voluntarily offered a way for website owners to keep their content writing machines out. These AI programs rely on unfettered access to generate their product.
We think that it is far more likely for search engines or a third party to come up with an app, a website plugin, or some code that blocks AI writing programs from crawling a site. If a third party created it, we would expect search engines to, at the least, encourage its use. We also think that the site owners who are the most likely to utilize such a tool are the ones with the most informative sites on the internet. Because this threatens the quality of the AI-generated content, we would expect there to be an arms race between whoever provided the blocking tool and the companies behind the AI writing programs, similar to the arms race right now between online advertisers and adblocking devices.
5. AI and Search Engines Drift Apart
Over the long run, we expect to see search engines and AI slowly become two different ways to experience the internet.
On the one hand, search engines will retain their current role as indexes – sites that let you enter a query and they will spit back links to the most relevant and important pages on the web. There will be AI-written content in the results, but it won’t rank well for competitive searches and so will be used less and less.
On the other hand, there will be AI sites that you can visit to use artificial intelligence to perform certain tasks, like draft an email, provide recipes for the content in your refrigerator, or cheat on a high school essay.
How This Will Affect Online Legal Marketing
We think that AI will be a new front in online legal marketing, just like:
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing (SMM)
While AI content will not perform well for SEO or SEM, it could be useful for keeping social media accounts churning out content.
Meanwhile, marketers will figure out a way to inject ads and sponsored content into AI-generated products. Take, for example, this AI-generated recipe program. For around $1 (it’s in Euros), you type in a bunch of ingredients and it gives you a recipe and the instructions for how to make it (even cooler: it’s multilingual and will respond in the language you used). We guarantee you that this program, or one like it, will soon be free to use but will tell you to use certain branded products in the recipe that it provides.
For attorneys, you will probably have the opportunity to purchase an endorsement for certain types of tasks or prompts given to the AI program. For example, we expect that you could soon pay for an AI program that has been asked, “If I have been charged with a crime, how do I defend myself in court?” to respond with a list of instructions and then include a call-to-action like, “For more help, call The Law Firm.”