AI has revolutionized the world of online search, offering countless tools for individuals and marketers alike to deliver top-quality content. From Open AI’s Chat-GPT to Google’s Bard, AI has taken the world by storm. Today, AI-powered SEO is also delivering results beyond the basic SEO strategies. Businesses, content writers, and marketers are taking advantage of this emerging super-smart technology and incorporating it into their online growth strategies. But the jury is still out regarding AI-created or assisted content’s ability to rank high on Google. While some remain skeptical, the facts prove that AI content can help rank on Google, and there’s a growing trend of utilizing it for SEO purposes.
We analyzed 1000 articles across five popular categories – Health & Fitness, Technology, Finance, Home Improvement, and Travel. The data used for our study was gathered from search results during a period of one month, specifically between October 23rd and November 23rd, 2023.
First, we tracked a total of 50 keywords, carefully chosen to accurately reflect the top searches in these specific categories.
We selected URLs for each keyword based on their Google ranking, beginning with the highest-ranked and descending. We carefully examined each URL to identify whether it was a blog. Based on this evaluation, we chose the top 20 URLs from each keyword that are classified as blogs.
Finally, we used the Originality.ai tool to detect whether our selected articles and blogs used AI. We concluded that content is AI-assisted if it showed more than 50% confidence that it was AI-created. For content with more than a 90% confidence level that it was AI-created, we concluded it to be AI-written.
AI tools use large language models, which are mostly systems designed to generate language in patterns similar to humans. In other words, the information is pretty much already available, and all AI does is pull from it to create or ‘write’ content. Similarly, any form of AI assistance regarding content creation follows the same pattern – pulling from already existing data or intelligence. Since it creates nothing new, there’s always the tendency of plagiarism, poor sentence structures, and potentially misinformation. These seeming shortcomings are some of the reasons why many have claimed that AI-written or assisted articles rank poorly on Google. But the facts say differently.
According to our research, nearly 4 out of 10 high-ranking articles on Google are AI-assisted, representing 35.8%. This statistic demonstrates the rising impact of AI on content ranking in Google. Of course, this in no way means that the articles were written or created entirely with AI. Editing, content structure, and research can all be performed by AI in varying degrees. As long as an article has any level of AI input, you can consider it AI-assisted.
This rising trend in AI-assisted content ranking high in Google search results is particularly evident in some content categories. For instance, the Home Improvement category has witnessed 56% of its content being AI-assisted, followed closely by Technology (40%) and Health Fitness (35%). Although the Travel category lags behind at 16.5%, it still shows an increased reliance on AI assistance.
Despite the varying degrees of AI growth among the different categories, the fact remains the same – that AI-assisted content is taking up much of the content creation space. That’s why the argument has always been about how well to incorporate AI into your content to improve its quality enough to rank high in popular search engines and not merely publish 100% AI content. But that’s not to suggest that fully AI-generated content cannot rank highly in Google; it can, and the next statistic proves it.
It should be noted that Google does not outright penalize AI content. Instead, it aims to promote responsible use of AI content alongside human editing, expertise, and experience.
Some clarity is important before moving on. There’s a difference between the AI-assisted content and the fully AI-generated ones. Some level of human collaboration is necessary in AI-assisted content. For example, a human can write an article and use AI software to optimize it in many ways. On the other hand, content fully AI-created content is autonomously generated by artificial intelligence without direct human involvement in the creative or optimization process. That means the AI will rely solely on its already available data to ideate or conceive and complete content.
With this clarity in mind, our research shows that AI fully generates 61% of the AI-assisted content. This trend is evident within the Health Fitness category, which has 65.7% of its AI-assisted content entirely generated by AI. Closely following are the Finance (65.1%) and Home Improvement (63.4%) categories. Additionally, both the Technology and Travel categories have more than half of their AI-assisted articles entirely generated by AI.
Considering that nearly 4 out of 10 articles that rank highly in Google search results have AI involvement and more than half of AI-assisted being fully generated by AI, that shows that AI content can help rank highly on Google.
Earlier concerns about AI-assisted content were about its inability to rank high in Google search results. Some suggested that automated content with little human input will struggle to compete with fully human-created content for space on the prestigious first page of Google search results. The result? Many content creators who had at first taken advantage of AI began turning away from it.
Again, our research has proven otherwise. Despite the concerns about low ranking, AI content appears on the first page of Google search results, and the following stats support this fact. Out of the 358 AI-assisted content detected, 204 articles were indexed within the top ten search results on Google, representing 57% of AI-assisted content appearing on the first page of Google search results.
For context, Google typically shows 10 search results per page, although this depends on the type of query. For instance, if a user searches for a specific product or service, it’s possible to see fewer than 10 results on the first page, as Google prioritizes relevance. Of course, it’s possible to get more than 10 search results on the first page, but that will depend on custom user settings.
Our research also found that 54% of AI-written content shows up on Google’s first page, which is only 3% less than AI-assisted content. But the fact remains the same – AI content appears on the first page of Google search results. Some niches or categories have higher chances of appearing on Google’s first page of results with AI content. For example, Home Improvement is the easiest niche to rank on Google’s first page, with nearly a third (29.4%) of AI content falling into this category. Technology, Finance, and Health Fitness follow closely with 22.1%, 21.1%, and 18.6%, respectively. However, Travel-related AI content is the most challenging to appear on Google search results’ first page, with AI content having only 8.8%.
The higher a page or content ranks on Google search results, the more traffic it gets. Studies show, for example, that websites that rank on the top of search listings get an average of 42% of the given search’s traffic. The second position gets 11% of the search traffic, and the third gets 8%.
Our research shows that 10.8% of AI content ranks first on Google search. Of course, this may not seem like much, but remember, we’re still in the early stages of AI content creation. Better tools and strategies will emerge with time, improving the quality of AI content and increasing its ranking.
The Finance category has the highest chance of ranking in the number one spot on Google search with AI content. Home Improvement and Technology both have a 22.7% chance of ranking at the top spot. Health Fitness niches prove challenging with only a 13.6% chance, while Travel (at 9.1%), once again, is the most difficult to rank first on Google with AI content.
It’s apparent from this study that AI-generated or assisted content can rank high on Google, including the number one spot.
The most important thing is that Google now emphasizes content quality more and not the production method. Your content should be coherent and accurate to achieve the best results in search rankings. As long as you create high-quality AI content that meets Google’s search quality rater guidelines, it can rank on Google. For reference, Google raters consider experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-E-A-T) when rating content on its search engine.
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