A thorough three-month study was done to see how AI-written content compares to content written by people for website rankings. This study was set up to keep outside influences minimal and to specifically focus on any ranking differences between AI and human-created content.
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- Human-written content generally outranks AI-generated content in SEO, according to a controlled three-month study.
- Rigorous methodology isolated the content type as the only variable impacting SEO rankings.
- Limitations exist, and future advancements in AI technology may change the current trend.
Methodology for Experiment Design
An investigation of Artificial Intelligence’s impact on SEO rankings demanded a meticulously designed methodology. The objective? Comparing the performance of AI-generated content to human-written content, in a controlled environment, while eliminating all extraneous influences.
The former case highlights the negative impact of AI content, and the latter shows the positive impact.
The initiation of this rigorous process involved the generation of an ‘artificial’ keyword. Real-world keywords, with their potential to introduce a multitude of uncontrollable ranking influences, could not be used. Hence, the deployment of ChatGPT, an AI tool developed by OpenAI, generated a unique term – “flemparooni.” Ensuing research confirmed that this keyword was not recognized by Google prior to the experiment.
Selection of appropriate domains for the test websites followed. The potential for domain-level ranking factors to interfere in the experiment led to another application of ChatGPT. A list of domains featuring made-up words was generated. This list then underwent a stringent filtering process involving SEO tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and Semrush, alongside Archive.org. The intent? Ensuring that none of these domains carried any historic external backlinks or rankings, or hosted any previous websites.
Further checks on Google’s index guaranteed that these selected domains were previously unknown to the search engine. With these measures, an assurance was in place. No historic or external ranking signals would influence the SEO rankings of the test domains.
Thus, this rigorous methodology paved the way for an experiment in which only one variable could potentially affect the SEO rankings – the type of content, whether AI-generated or human-written.
Content Creation and Implementation
Establishing a set of guidelines assures equal optimization for a target keyword in both AI and human-created content. Consistency in content length, keyword frequency and placement, overall sentiment, and the absence of internal or external links are key considerations in these criteria.
ChatGPT-4 generates the AI content, offering five variations consistent with the guidelines. Experienced content marketers create the human content using the same brief and optimization rules, without prior exposure to the AI content.
Upon readiness of all content, recognition tests are conducted using AI content detection tools. Initial tests reveal that the AI content goes undetected. However, subsequent retests detect the AI content more reliably, demonstrating the progress of these tools over a three-month period.
Publishing, Tracking and Analyzing
The content finds its place on test websites, utilizing a simple, nearly identical HTML template for each. Minor variations exist in font and background. Distinct C class IPs on AWS host each domain, ensuring uniform speed and performance scores. StatusCake conducts hourly speed and uptime tests, providing consistent conditions throughout the experiment.
To eliminate external influences on the test results, fresh domain names devoid of external backlinks and previous Google indexing are used. Simultaneous launch of all websites prevents age-related factors from influencing results. During the experiment, knowledge about and visits to these domains remain confined to the SEO company.
Semrush assumes responsibility for rank tracking and data analysis. A single Semrush position tracking campaign includes all websites. Daily tracking throughout the experiment provides the data, which indicates superior ranking on average for human-written content over AI-generated content.
Statistical Significance and Discussion
Validation of results is achieved through a Mann Whitney U test. This suggests a tendency for human-written websites to secure better rankings than AI-generated ones. However, in some tests, an AI website outperforms two human websites.
The experiment emphasizes that human-generated content typically secures higher ranking than AI-generated content. This discovery holds substantial implications for website owners, content writers, and SEO agencies, indicating a current trend where AI-generated content is less likely to outrank human-written content.
Limitations and Future Prospects
Inherent in any study are limitations. The utilization of an artificial keyword and a relatively small sample size may affect the relevance of these results. Additionally, the fast-paced evolution of AI technology could alter the scenario in the near future. The study does not consider the impact of human editing and refining of AI-generated content. Future studies may delve into these and other aspects, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of AI’s role in content creation and SEO.
A three-month study compared SEO rankings of AI-written and human-written content. The experiment ensured external influences were minimized. A made-up keyword and domains were used to avoid historic or external ranking signals. Equal content optimization was maintained. AI detection tools initially didn’t recognize the AI content, but later did. Tracking indicated that human-written content typically ranked higher. However, there were exceptions where AI content performed better. Limitations were the artificial keyword and small sample size, with the evolving AI technology potentially affecting future outcomes.
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