Creating Custom Content Using AI

November 2017

robot working at keyboard

Image: iStock

Everyone working in custom content creation is aware of AI infiltrating the industry. We now have machines that report news and design web sites using algorithms, templates and artificial intelligence (AI) software tools. AI is a way for writers, editors and designers to reduce production costs while raising productivity. It can speed up research, improve accuracy, and refine and track target audiences. But this approach still has its limits.

The above paragraph earned high marks with an SEO analyzer. Why?

  • The focus keyword (AI) appears in the first paragraph of the copy and, as a bonus, the first sentence.
  • A meta description also contained the focus keyword.
  • The title contains the focus keyword.
  • The paragraph contained outbound links. It would be even better with a few inbound ones, but there are limits when working with just 68 words.
  • The title is an optimal length.

Here’s the thing: This is a really boring opening. The title isn’t clever either. I would much rather approach the subject of search engine optimization with an anecdotal lead — a brief story to arouse your interest instead of just punching items on an SEO checklist.

When SEO works well

At its heart, SEO is about analyzing and configuring a site’s architecture to attract algorithmic attention. It has very little to do with great, even good, writing. That’s one reason companies often turn over keywords to a skilled writer to creatively infuse them into copy. From there, it’s passed on for an SEO review. SEO experts are not typically great content producers, but they are well versed in the language of search. Together, the pairing of creativity and SEO produces the right alchemy of the poetic and prosaic.

This is the rub with SEO. Writers too often must compromise what makes their work unique in order to satisfy SEO experts’ quest for page rankings. Otherwise their great work gets buried and a company’s business solutions remain hidden.

What’s this have to do with AI

As stated earlier, more organizations are adding artificial intelligence into their corporate communications toolkits. In some ways, AI tools can help improve SEO without compromising on content, though AI still isn’t great at nuance or wordsmithing.

That doesn’t mean machines or robots, so to speak, will take over the roles of writers, editors, and designers. But AI can amp up content production and the accuracy of data-driven pieces now common in content marketing. Remember too humans must develop those algorithms and set up those narrative templates. And creatives still top the custom content stack when it comes to incorporating empathy and context in any deliverable.

That’s why, if I had my druthers, this piece would have opened with a quick tale about the time SEO enthusiasts at a small media company noticed people didn’t use punctuation during Google searches. They suggested editorial teams follow suit in their copy. After a short but heated debate, common sense and editorial credibility prevailed. In time, so did a sounder SEO strategy.

—Anne