Our AI writing started out strong. Published on October 5, it immediately started ranking on page #1 in Google for the term “senior living community lead generation.” On October 6, it reached position #5 on Google desktop for “senior living SEO.” We noticed that this piece eventually reached spot number 1 on Google desktop by October 28. The piece then bounced between there and spot number 2 consistently for several weeks. On October 6 on mobile, this piece sat at #1 and featured a snippet for “senior living SEO.”
Our human piece went live on December 13, 2023. It started to appear in spots #11 and #12 just 4 days after it was posted. The next day, it hit spot #9, reaching the first page of Google, all within less than a week. By January 9, 2024, our team noticed this piece had jumped to spot #3 on desktop. By January 15, 2024, our team noticed that our human-written piece had unseated our AI piece on desktop, with the human piece reaching position #1 and the AI piece being pushed down to #2.
At the time of writing this case study (02/06/2024), our human piece sits at #1 on both Google desktop and mobile for our target keyword “senior living SEO.” The AI piece sits at #3 on Google desktop and #4 on mobile for the same term.
So, when it comes to AI vs human content, it appears that the human touch really does make a difference. That said, human-like content created by AI technology can also do well on Google, but it still requires human review and a little rewriting to reach these heights.
Limitations of Our Study
It’s important to note a few key weaknesses of our study. Perhaps the three largest factors that limit our study are the publication date of our pieces, their URL structures, and the limited scope of our study.
- Different publication date. Our AI piece went out two months earlier than our human piece, so it’s hard to factor in just how much time plays a role in rank when comparing the two pieces.
- Different URL structure. Our pieces were not filed under the same location on our site; our AI piece is a page, while our human piece lives on our blog. Whether this URL structure plays a role in rank has yet to be determined; we believe a future test run with these factors controlled for would help us better understand whether they played a major role in our study’s outcomes.
- Limited scope. The single-largest limiting factor in our study? The size! We only compared two pieces of content competing for the same keyword. While we plan to run more tests down the road (and hope you stay tuned for those results!), we know we can’t form any definitive conclusions off this case study alone.
Will Search Penalize AI Content?
AI is popular, but some have worried that using any AI-generated text on their website will mean penalizations from Google and other search engines. If you’re one of these folks, put your worries to rest. At least for now, AI is here to stay on Google. The tech giant has previously said that, so long as the content is high quality and does not abuse Google’s Terms of Service/spam guidelines, it will not penalize a site for hosting AI-generated content.
How Useful are AI Content Detectors?
Google may not care if a site hosts AI content, but educators, journals and news sites, and others might, especially when concerns of plagiarism are involved. Unfortunately, for shorter pieces, one study shows that human can struggle to distinguish between human and AI content creation. Human detection does get a little better when the pieces are longer, however, as AI can struggle with accurately writing longer-form content.
Since it can be harder for humans to determine what’s made by humans or algorithms, it may be more accurate (and faster) to use AI content detection tools to catch AI-generated text. Some popular AI checkers include:
- Copyleaks – Can detect content written by GPT-4, ChatGPT, Bard, human, or a combination of human and AI content. The free version is available in English, but upgraded features can check content in other languages. Copyleaks is a combination tool that detects AI and also includes a plagiarism checker and their new Grammar Checker API.
- Undetectable.ai – This tool is a little different from others on our list. It not only detects AI text, but also has a tool to “humanize AI text”… in other words, it helps AI text mimic human text better, helping it bypass other AI detection tools.
- GLTR (Giant Language model Test Room) – This tool is the result of collaboration from minds at Harvard NLP and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. It was only trained on GPT-2, so it may not be accurate at detecting content created using GPT-3, Bard, or GPT-4.
It’s important to note that while these tools offer great functionality to people like educators, they are not foolproof and have reported issues with delivering false-positive results.