You’d have to be a hermit not to realise that AI and automation are slowly taking over the digital landscape. It’s hard to find a digital industry that doesn’t rely on automation or machine learning in one way or another. And while some of us may find the idea of robots taking over our jobs nothing short of a dystopian nightmare rife with science fiction clichés, most of us have just come to accept the change for what it is: inevitable.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Web management, SEO, and digital marketing probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for automation. We rely so heavily on software and apps to carry the burden of data collection and mining that we would be pretty lost (or exhausted) without it.
Say what you want about those damn, dirty robots taking our jobs, you can’t deny that AI makes our jobs a helluva lot easier.
But is it really to completely take over? How much human intervention is required to keep things in check?
Let’s take a look at content automation.
What Is Content Automation?
Type “content automation tool” into Google and you’ll find a deluge of software that can generate, publish, and even schedule blogs, articles, social media posts, landing pages, and subtitles. Content automation is powered by AI and machine learning that develop rankable, optimised content on just about any subject.
Why Using Content Automation Makes Sense
The biggest benefit to content automation is that instead of paying a writer to create a blog post in hours, you only have to plug in your title and keywords and within seconds (or minutes, if you include all the fiddly bits), you have an original piece of work that’s almost ready to post.
Besides the time and cost savings, here are the benefits of using content automation:
While content automation sounds like a magical solution, there is one, big, fat, juicy problem:
It’s not that great…yet.
What it’s Like Reading AI-Generated Content
You know when you visit a wax museum and you’re walking past an almost-perfect replica of Elvis Presley and you’re both delighted and creeped out by how human the figure seems? But at the same time, you still know that it isn’t a real person?
AI-generated content is kinda like that. Our trusty robots are learning at an exponential rate, and while we can get some amazing content out of it (especially if you pay top dollar for the really good software), you can still tell there’s something off about it.
Why does that matter?
Mainly, it’s distracting. Comical, even. But also, sometimes the software doesn’t pick up on obvious editorial mistakes. Typos aren’t really a problem, but the devil’s in the detail, and you don’t want to leave your reader scratching their head when they see something like this:
Content automation is the way of the future, but is it the way of the future? In this post, we’ll discuss all the ways in which content automation is the way of the future and how it can be the way of the future for your business.
Why You Shouldn’t Sack Your Content Writers Just Yet
Don’t mistake calibre for word count. Most of the generated content I’ve edited in my career has had to be heavily cut down and reworked so that the end result doesn’t sound like the example above.
Because automation pulls bits and pieces of phrases from across the web, it will likely start sounding repetitive, or worse, nonsensical. If you’re going to use software to write the bulk of your content, you definitely want to make sure that what it’s producing actually sounds good. You’ll need a human editor to give it a final pass before posting.
At the moment, AI isn’t that great at producing really in-depth content. In its defence, it’s not designed to pump out 50,000-word research papers. Don’t expect it to produce something that relies heavily on scientific data or complex theories.
AI can only pull, regurgitate, and repackage content that’s already available on the web. The moment it starts generating new ideas and thinking for itself is the moment humanity will slip into an existential emergency.
Until that joyful day, if you want to challenge the scientific consensus on quantum mechanics, you’re just gonna have to do it yourself.
AI isn’t actually that bad at delivering bite-size content that won’t scare off the reader the second they land on the page. But a seasoned content writer will no doubt fine-tune it with hyperlinks, bullet points, images, and company references. For more on that, check out our On-Page SEO Best Practices.
One of the reasons we bother pumping out helpful how-tos, listicles, and articles is that they boost our credibility and encourage readers to share our work and increase engagement and exposure.
If everything you produce sounds like it was written by a Martian trying to pass off as a human, your readers and customers will start to question your authority.
Why You Should Embrace Content Automation
Now that I’ve effectively trash-talked my natural enemy, it’s time to offer a different perspective on AI-generated content.
Because despite its limitations, it’s actually really helpful.
Even though it may not always sound natural, you can rely on automated content to serve your SEO needs, which is a skill that not all content writers—even some of the best ones—have. So, if you manage to edit the content yourself and remove any obvious flaws, you’ll be pumping out optimised content that your website needs to please Google.
(By the way, I fully realise that this is horrible advice. You should always write for people, not search engines…but hey, we all do it!)
Whereas your content writer might produce a 1000-word piece in a few hours, automation can whip something up in just minutes. And it can keep going all day, all night, and into the weekend—just churning out article after article after article. And it doesn’t need bathroom breaks or holidays or a salary.
Getting extra help when you’re trying to scale your business just makes sense.
Not all software is the same, and sometimes it can fool you. You probably already have read automated content without realising it. Sure, there may have been an awkward sentence here or a bit of repetition there, but did you lose trust in the website? Possibly not.
If you plan on relying heavily on AI to do the bulk of your content, I recommend opting for la crème de la crème of apps so that you’re not spending all those freed up resources on paying someone to edit everything it produces.
Use Automation to Support (Not Replace) Your Content Team
At the time of this writing, content automation hasn’t quite reached the level of sophistication required to mimic all the nuances of language. But we’re really not that far. As I said, these things become more sophisticated the more we use them, so it’s only a matter of time before even the shrewdest of readers won’t notice a difference.
In the meantime, you can redirect your content budget for editing, fact-checking, or creating skyscraper content.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will be taking my pitchfork-wielding ass down to Silicon Valley.