Do AI Content Writing Tools Actually Work?
Work with AI Content Writing Tools in 2023, But Don’t Expect Them to Do the Actual Work
How does a mind that is born to write compare to a ‘mind’ that’s programmed to write? If you’re a skilled content writer, take a deep breath. AI content writing tools aren’t going to take your job anytime soon.
However, if you rely on them too much, you should lose your job, for 2 reasons: 1) It’s unlikely you have the content writing skills necessary to outwrite most AI and 2) Relying on AI too much to assist in the writing process hinders many important content writing objectives.
Despite the increase in sales of AI content writing technologies and their undeniable value in the content writing process, they still have a long way to go if they want to imitate world-class, or even elite writers in both short and long forms of content writing.
As someone who has made his living for nearly a decade in both professional writing and the digital marketing industries, I feel that an objective, unbiased blog post addressing the viability of these AI content writing tools is necessary. As robust and empowering as writing AI has become, it’s just like any other technology in the sense that the ways in which its users interface with it is a better determinant of its efficacy than features inherent to the AI itself.
Thus, the purpose of this post isn’t to debate whether a world-class copywriter is superior to the best content writing engine. Instead, we seek to inform marketers and businesses alike in learning what a proper interplay of a top content writer’s skills look like when working with (not against) AI content writing technologies.
How Content Writers Should Work with AI: a Case Study from the ’90s
We look to the world’s most famous board game as a backdrop for the first ‘man-vs-machine’ battle in which a human being ‘lost’ to AI to illustrate how writers should use AI to improve their content production process.
While it’s been almost exactly 25 years since Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in history, lost to the 20th century’s strongest chess-playing computer engineered by IBM, Deep Blue, this event clarifies how marketers should develop their content strategies in the presence of newfangled AI writing tools.
When Kasparov lost to Deep Blue, chess players (Kasparov included) didn’t quit playing chess: instead, they relied on chess-playing computers to improve their preparation for matches against other players, because chess chess engines could prepare them for real matches against other human beings and strengthen their ratings. Working with chess-playing computer engines hasn’t only improved humankind’s chess-playing ability, it’s expedited the learning process for players of all skill levels, from beginner to Grandmaster.
Therefore, much like the changes chess has experienced due to the rise of AI, I believe the answer to working with content writing AI is neither black nor white. Rather, content writers should work with AI, not against it, to improve their craft. In doing so, content writers should understand the limitations and strengths inherent to content writing AI in 2022 and beyond, particularly in relation to their own skill levels, which vary drastically across the industry.
In general, the shorter the amount of text and copy needed, the more you can rely on AI content writers, but you should never rely on them completely in place of an actual content writer. Likewise, the less sophisticated your target audience or consumer, the more you can rely on the AI to do some of the heavier lifting in content creation. However, if we had to peg AI-generated written content somewhere on the continuum of what constitutes weak, average, and great written content, it’d fall under the category of a sophisticated typist. You can learn more about how we peg these categories of writers (and writing) in our “What Makes Great Writing?” blog post.
Drawbacks of Relying Too Much on AI Content Writing
While we acknowledge that only a technophobic marketing luddite would refuse to work with these tools at all, claiming that AI content writing technologies aren’t without their drawbacks is inaccurate.
These drawbacks, however, and as we’ve already pointed out in an earlier section of this post, are drastically mitigated by savvy content writers who understand and work around the limitations of AI content writing.
No AI is a panacea to all problems imposed by finding successful marketing initiatives, particularly when it comes to content writing. We needn’t look any further than inspirobot.me (a free ‘aphorism’ AI-generator) to showcase just how far off course these technologies can take writers and content production teams. If you’re trying to coin great inspirational quotes, you’ll still have to rely largely on human wit for that process, or you’ll end up with insurrectionary gems like ‘Defeat administrations.’
Purely AI-generated Written Content is Against Google’s Guidelines
One of the central objectives to any content writing strategy is to rank organically in search results for major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Therefore, following the guidelines for producing content on these platforms is necessary to any content writing plan. Just how important are Google’s Webmaster Guidelines? Well, it’s safe to say the Pope is to Catholicism what these guidelines are to digital content writers.
So, unless you want your content indexed and filed away into oblivion, you better follow these rules. But don’t just take our word for it. Other experts agree. Several months ago on April 6, 2022, Matt G. Southern, noted in a Search Engine Journal Article that Google Penalizes AI-generated content, stating explicitly that it’s against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. These guidelines, as the canonized standard after which all search engine ranking factors are modeled, are also paramount in establishing a profitable SEO framework for your business outside the production of written content.
Google’s rationale for penalizing websites relying too heavily on AI content writing tools is self-evident. At best, these tools aren’t really “writers.” They’re more aptly described as generators or spinners, thereby making them less effective in delivering valuable search experiences to search engine users.
While the earliest tools like WordAI were programmed merely for anastrophe, 2022’s tools, WordAI included, have acquired more lexically generative content writing functions, leading many misinformed marketers to overuse these tools and harm their SEO. If you’re in need of help with SEO as part of your digital marketing strategy, visit WordWoven’s SEO services page.
AI Content Writing Tools Can’t Do Original Research
Original research, which is necessary to the content writing process, is still a domain in which even mediocre content writers are superior to their AI counterparts. This is mainly because, aside from simple keyword research functions, original research for content writing isn’t a closed system (making it something for which it’s much more difficult to program functions).
AI Content Writing Tools Don’t Create ‘Complete’ Content
Overusing AI content writing tools in your creative process makes your content read cheaply and unprofessionally. Not only is any sophisticated reader able to see this, it is the hallmark of incomplete content. While lexically generative, many of these content writing AI tools have shallow understanding of their topics and idea productivity features. Therefore, overreliance on them will lead to nothing but ‘thin’ content, which major search engines like Google also penalize in search results.
AI Content Writing Tools Don’t Understand Content Writing and SEO. They Imitate Understanding
In 1980, Philosopher John Searle posited what has become known as the Chinese Room argument. In this argument, Searle contends that “a digital computer executing a program cannot have a mind, understanding, or consciousness regardless of how intelligently or human-like the program may make the computer behave. Searle illustrates this concept with a unique scenario, envisioning himself alone in a closed room with an English version of a computer program, which needs no further specification.
Moreover, this room is chocked full of paper, writing supplies, filing cabinets, and erasers. He receives a set of Chinese characters through a slot in the only door to the room, and proceeds to process them according to the computer program’s script, which involves producing Chinese characters as output, and he does so without understanding any of the content of the Chinese writing.
This scenario illustrates how the computer doesn’t understand the Chinese characters, but merely imitates understanding. This yields insight that an advanced content writer has an upper hand in understanding compared to an AI tool in the context of Searle’s Chinese Room Argument, because writers can rely on their own intuition and understanding of their customer personas to generate pageviews, blog subscriptions, and organic leads from their websites by tapping into a certain kind of consumer interest.
Problems with the Way Marketers Interface with Content Writing AI
As we’ve already mentioned, AI is not problematic for the value of marketers and content writing as long as marketers interface with the tools correctly. This correct interfacing requires a comprehensive understanding of AI’s limitations, strengths, and proper uses in the context of your marketing staff and budget. However, when the below instances occur, changing the way we interface with the technology, not the technology itself, needs protocol updating.
When AI Makes Things Easier, Its Shortcomings Are Overlooked
Like most forms of technology that reduce the amount of work and time that go into simplifying content writing, AI-generating content tools like Jasper and CopyAI have convinced many of those responsible for the marketing function in their organizations to fall victim to an insidious confirmation bias. A confirmation bias occurs when people are prone to believe what they want to believe, instead of seeing the more accurate and harder-to-acknowledge truth.
As marketers shoulder greater burdens of responsibility, work longer hours, and become increasingly burned out by the demands of their employers and sales teams, they’re increasingly tempted to rely on AI-driven innovations to manage their workload, even when they haven’t conducted the research necessary to ensure whether the way they’re using the tools will help them reach their marketing goals.
Thus, while many forms of marketing AI are scalable and effective, even savvy marketers fall prey to the belief that they can hire cheap AI bot to produce written content as if it was written by a top copywriting service. The consequence? Penalized rankings in search results per Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Overreliance on Content AI Hinders Customer Experiences
For example, one reason the perceived power of the written word has declined markedly in the content writing context is because unsophisticated marketers and consumers alike produce and consume too much machine-generated content, which raises bounce rates, reduces lead flow, and harms website subscription sign ups; the larger consequence of that mechanism being that marketers and target audiences alike infer that any writing process, including natural approaches and strategies for marketing-based writing, will always be ineffective and unhelpful. To hire a content writer who understands and works well content writing AI despite these limitations, visit our content writing services page.
Benefits of Using AI Content Writing Tools
Given the extent to which marketers have bought into the benefits of AI writing tools, we’ll keep this section comparatively short so we don’t riff too much on what’s already obvious.
Reduces Amount of Time Spent on Simple Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
While major AI content editing tools like grammarly still offer human editing services given AI’s nascent stage in the content writing process, reliance on these tools for correcting simple typos and mistakes expedites the content writing process immensely. However, if even grammarly offers human editing services, your staff will surely need a skilled human editor as well if you want your brand to be taken seriously.
Content Writing AI Can Reduce Writer’s Block
Any AI content writing tool that attenuates writer’s block will expedite the content writing process. Many of these tools have some acceptable content idea generating functions based on keyword lists you feed into their processors. However, hiring a writing staff that never gets writer’s block is still superior to coupling a writer with any of these tools, because the prior of these options is more cost-effective and leads to better top-of-the sales funnel written content.
Content Writing AI Helps Content Creation in Multiple Languages
Content writing AI can be a huge time-saver if your brand is global or international in markets with different languages. This, among other elements of how these tools are programmed, is a key benefit of natural language processing (NLP) technology.
Content Writing AI Simplifies Repurposing and Curation
One of the key components to achieving enough volume in both written content and non-writing forms of marketing content is having a dialed-in and simplified process for never duplicating research or creative efforts. Content AI helps in this process significantly by showing writers how to interpolate existing assets around new, albeit relevant keywords to the intended audience.
AI Content Writing Tools Write Faster than Most Human Writers
In general, these tools produce writing more quickly than a human, but they don’t write faster than WordWoven writing staff. Another variable to consider when selecting either a content writer or a content writing AI technology for your business is the kind of content writing you need produced. The quicker you need the content, the more acceptable it is to rely on AI content writing tools. Just don’t expect a tour de force in quality, as quality is hard to come by in the context of speed.
Key Caveats in Using AI Content Generators
While there are demonstrable drawbacks and benefits to using AI writing tools, there are also a couple of important caveats to keep in mind. If you’re worried about prices and are considering using AI content writing tools in place of professional content writers, be sure to read the next section. If you want more info on how our prices compare to these tools, visit our content writing services home base and request a quote for a content writing service or project.
Comparing AI Content Writers and Human Writers: 4 Quadrants
While AI content writing tools may seem attractive in their price compared to hiring a top SEO freelance content writing agency, there are 2 caveats to relying on these sorts of tools based on price, your audience, and other factors.
1) These tools are more aptly described as content spinners or content idea generators than they are writers. Thus, there is a significant shortage of skills these AI writing tools have in contrast to an experienced and skilled content writer, and that becomes evident when small businesses rely on these tools to publish written content, as they’re only capable of writing thin content.
2) There is a significant difference between the quality of AI generated content tools’ writing and the writing of an expert web content writer. Generally speaking, this difference in quality becomes increasingly apparent the longer a piece of writing is and the more intelligent your intended audience. If we were to put this information on a 4-quadrant graph, with the length of the written work as the x axis and the intelligence of your readership/customer persona on the y axis, quadrants 1, 2, and 4 would warrant the exclusive use of a skilled content writer, or primary reliance on a skilled content writer in conjunction with an AI writing tool.
Quadrant 3 – The Only Quadrant in Which a Skilled Content Writer Should Rely on AI
Quadrant 3, however, which signifies an unintelligent audience and short-form content writing (think content writing for feature snippets, headlines, or subject lines), would enable you to rely almost exclusively on an AI content writing tool, provided you’re okay with mediocre quality and the content itself is not published on the web. Why not use an AI content writing tool for publishing writing on the web? Read section 3 below.
Don’t let the droves of organizations publishing online content with AI content generating tools fool you: content writing is a legitimate skill that machines are not yet fully able to replicate in the most skilled freelance content writers and agencies. Not only is AI-generated content against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it detracts from the perceived efficacy of content writing’s utility in the digital marketing world.
While AI content writing tools have some utility in the simple aspects of content creation, any brand with serious intent to sell products and services must still rely on a professional content writer to execute the content writing process. So, if your goal is to use a content writer for SEO purposes, relying on an AI tool without the intervention and editing of an actual content writer will hurt your website’s ranking in the search results.
Applying Closed System Functions (AI) to Content Writing Processes (Partially Closed Systems)
Writing is neither a fully closed system nor fully open system. It’s described more accurately as a closed system within a range of open systems. For example, the English alphabet is a closed system. However, neither grammar nor the entire collection of words in a given language are closed systems decipherable by an engineered mind (an AI content writing tool), for contextual reasons.
The contextual interfacing of the 171,000 words in the English language with various style guides and grammar rule books is still far too complex. For example, take a closer look at the featured image of this blog post. 2 of my favorite grammar books and all of the index cards upon which I scrawled every word I didn’t know in the course of my 25-year history as an avid reader.
Since becoming less of a technophobic luddite, I’ve compiled an additional set of new words I’ve learned into a Word document, which is now 50+ pages in length with a single-spaced, 6 point font. So yes, it’s safe to say I’m obsessed.
However, that’s aside from the point: English is so complex and nuanced that any attempt to program all of its elements into a closed system (a category under which most AI falls), would result in nothing more than undercutting the bandwidth and therefore power of the written word as a medium of expression and communication.
Content Length and Audience Education Determines How Much You Can Rely on AI
The longer the content is, the less you can rely on AI writing tools to produce it at the necessary level of quality. However, the less sophisticated your audience, the more amenable they’ll be to AI-generated blog posts and articles. Similarly, the more skilled a writer is, the less they need (and can benefit from) AI content writing tools.
In conclusion, AI content writing tools used to compose blogs, articles, and other forms of online SEO copywriting are still leagues beneath what a master SEO copywriter or content writer can do, and this is unlikely to change within the next decade, perhaps even longer. Remember, work with these tools, but don’t let them do too much of the work for you, or the entire purpose of content writing for your business (gaining organic online visibility), will be undercut, and as a sunken cost.