Psst! Your GPT Is Showing: 5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Content Was Written by AI

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Think you’ve fooled the average reader into thinking your content is written by you, and not your trusty AI sidekick? Well, I hate to tell you this, but AI-written content is kind of easy to spot.

And if I can spot it, your clients probably can too!

strategists staff meeting with Ben Alan Christian and Mark

But Is it Bad That People Can Tell When Content Is Written by AI?

Getting help from ChatGPT isn’t, in of itself, a bad thing, but if your clients can pick up on the fact that your words belong to a robot, it also means that Google is definitely judging you for it. 

Google makes it pretty clear that it doesn’t care so much about how it’s written, but that it’s written to the standard of E-E-A-T

“Google’s ranking systems aim to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of what we call E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness…Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years.”

If we can detect your copy is written by ChatGPT without running it through some kind of detector, it probably also means that it doesn’t demonstrate E-E-A-T.

Being able to guess when content is copy-pasted from AI also means that you probably haven’t edited, formatted, or fact-checked it thoroughly enough. 

Can you spot the tells? Here are the most obvious signs you’re reading AI-generated content:


Exclamation Marks All Over the Damned Place!!

This is a common pet peeve of people whose jobs or hobbies involve a lot of reading! Exclamation marks are almost always unnecessary! No one likes to be yelled at, but AI hasn’t realised that yet!


I repeat: reading should not be an extreme sport!


Exclamation marks are used to drive home a point, but used too much or in the wrong context can be tiring and misleading.


As a reader, editor, writer, and human with the nervous system of a Victorian countess, my advice is to replace AI’s exclamation points with gentler punctuation.  

Repetition, Repetitiveness, Repeating Oneself

No, it’s not déjà vu. You’re just reading the same sentence you read a few paragraphs back with only one or two words changed.


Sure, it’s fine to circle back to the same points at the end of your page when you want to summarise everything, but there’s a difference between summarising all your points to strengthen your argument and speaking to people as if you’re a robot with a few wires loose wires loose wires loose. 


Anyone who puts out content with this glaring glitch in the Matrix isn’t editing their work as ruthlessly as they should. 


This is a bad habit that needs to be changed. You don’t want this type of thing to distract the reader from the actual content, but more importantly, you don’t want to lose your credibility.

chat gtp scrabble

Where's the Meat?

Try getting ChatGPT to dive into the nitty-gritty details of any subject, and you’ll notice that it doesn’t have much to say for itself besides regurgitating top-level content that a reader can find anywhere. 


Your content is supposed to bring value to the reader, and don’t forget that Google prioritises pages that are helpful, original, and truthful. 


Strictly speaking, no AI-written content is going to be original (another reason to edit anything ChatGPT says), but you aren’t going to prove your expertise on a subject if you don’t offer something new. 


Most of us can explain with some level of accuracy why birds migrate from cold to warm regions throughout the year. But only an expert can tell you the specific migratory habits of a local species; how their migrations affect their mating, sleeping, and eating behaviours, and how climate change is forcing them to adapt.


AI’s knowledge is stretched even thinner when it comes to niche technology, which, if you’re reading this, is your industry.  


Only you have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to add a little meat to AI-written content!

Similar Syntax

I weep for all the creative writers out there who have been usurped by the one-trick AI pony. 


AI-written content loves to follow the same sentence formula over and over and over again. It goes:


[independent clause], [gerund + dependent clause]


e.g. “Good writing skills are transferable across industries and roles, making them a valuable asset for anyone looking to develop their career or switch fields.” 


There’s nothing wrong with this sentence, but when this becomes AI’s only syntactical choice, that’s when we start to hear the robot behind the voice.


It doesn’t matter if it’s a 700-word novel or an instruction manual for your new air fryer, natural language is varied. Ask 10 people to describe chewing gum, and you won’t get the same answer twice. 


But AI has found its favourite syntax and it will take a heavy dose of prompting to change its mind.


A very obvious tell indeed!

Unnatural (And Annoying) Use of Adverbs

Stephen King has famously said, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”


I wouldn’t go that far (I think a gentle sprinkling of adverbs across the page is quite lovely, actually), but I do think that ChatGPT has absolutely zero chill when it comes to this part of speech. 


Whether it’s shoving all adverbs at the end of the sentence, or using the same word over and over again, it’s not convincing anyone.


What I mean to say is that by overloading your copy with an unhealthy amount of adverbs, ChatGPT is actually making your content sound unnatural at best and plain, old stupid at worst. 


Everything you put out should be consistent with your brand, so be mindful what kind of vibes your content is putting out there.

Where's the Humanity?

Madame Tussauds’s wax museum is a perfect example of how looking like a human isn’t enough to make you one. It also shows that no matter how life-like those creepy wax celebrities are, no one actually believes they’re real (except for maybe those who believe in lizard people).


For the wax statues, it’s the empty look behind the eyes. For AI-written content, it’s the lack of first-person perspective. 


There’s no first-person narrator, no space for anecdotes, no personal opinion—this goes without saying, right? It’s hard for Bard to show the reader (and Google) its expertise and experience because it doesn’t have any, but these two things are precisely what the search engine is looking for.


Obviously, not all human-written content is narrated in the first person, but you’d be hard-pressed to find human content that doesn’t give away the writer’s innate sense of personhood. 

How to Edit AI Content to Look Like You Wrote It

Yup, AI-written content is great for a first draft, but it still has work to do in the whole convincing-people-its-a-real-person department. What it’s capable of is amazing, but if you are using Bard and ChatGPT et al as your only content writer, you’ll have to do your part to make sure your content meets Google’s standards.



Here’s how to get started:

Review for Accuracy

Check the content for factual accuracy and ensure that all information is correct and current. That also means cross checking the citations and references. 


Our AI expert, Jo, loves to say that AI is confidently incorrect, so even if the dates, facts, and figures seem legit, don’t trust it!

Correct Grammar and Spelling

Proofread the text for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. FYI, its default English spelling is American unless you tell it otherwise. To save yourself time, set the prompt for your audience’s reading level. 


(And please, oh please, boot those gosh-darn exclamation marks off the page.)

Ensure Consistency

Cross reference the content against your company’s style guide. Everything your website produces needs to come from one voice with the same tone, style, and formatting throughout. 

Add Your Personal Touch

Load up the page with your own insights, experiences, and advice. You want to be the primary resource on this topic, which means your readers need a reason to trust you.


Adding in your own specialised knowledge will do wonders for your credibility, as will linking the page to your own author page.

Apply On-Page Best Practices

If you’re not working with a B2B SEO Agency to optimise your pages, you can still format your content to follow UX, CRO, and on-page SEO best practices, the latter of which we outline in this perfectly purple SEO infographic. Also read our guide to build a solid B2B SEO strategy.


Happy Editing!

Has ChatGPT lived up to its promise? Join the conversation on SEO Unfiltered
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About the Author
Picture of Genny Methot
Genny Methot
Genny Methot is Geeky Tech’s storyteller. She heads up our social media content, blog posts, and the Geek Speak podcast. Click here to learn more about Genny.
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