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Julia McCoy, of Content at Scale, on SEO in the age of AI-generated content

I was delighted to speak recently with Julia McCoy, President and Partner at Content at Scale, an Austin, Texas-based agency specializing in AI and SEO content. Julia will be presenting at the upcoming BrightonSEO conference in San Diego this month, and I wanted to get a preview of the topics she’ll be speaking about and also get her thoughts on where SEO is going in the age of AI-generated content.

Julia and I discuss the evolving landscape of AI in content creation and its relationship with SEO and touch on concerns about AI-generated content being penalized by search engines, particularly Google. Julia maintains that one needs to apply a “human touch” to create high-quality content whose non-human origin is “undetectable.” She emphasizes the importance of creating content for humans first, and highlights the role of AI in improving efficiency in content creation.

We explore the potential future of AI in generating visual, audio, and video content, including the challenges of deep fakes and trust-building with consumers, and talk about how AI can augment and enhance human work, rather than entirely replacing it, leading to improved productivity, better client relationships, and more time spent on higher-level, creative tasks.

The conversation turns to common SEO mistakes related to AI. Julia emphasizes that one major misconception is underestimating the capabilities of AI in content creation. Some assume that hiring a human writer is automatically better than using AI, but Julia emphasizes that advanced AI tools are fully capable of generating high-quality, “undetectable” content. Another SEO mistake is relying on AI-generated content for specific fields, such as health information and legal opinions, where AI “hallucinations” can produce incorrect and potentially harmful information.

As Julia observes, human writers often have blind spots with respect to correctly implementing SEO formatting conventions into their texts: “What you run into with humans — especially human writers — is a lack of knowledge around SEO formatting. SEO formatting is tough to get right if you’re a writer, because most writers like to go down rabbit holes. I’m a writer — I do that myself. But the rabbit hole is not what Google wants. Google wants targeted clear, concise content on that topic. So AI can actually be a better vehicle for getting to that end goal of well formatted, concise, well-written content, with the caveat being that you have to edit it and ‘humanly optimize’ it to make it your own.”

We touch on the potential improvements that could be made to AI tools such as ChatGPT and Bard, with ChatGPT currently being better for ideation and Bard performing better in terms of factual accuracy. Julia shares examples of AI hallucinations, emphasizing the need for human oversight and critical thinking when using AI in SEO and content creation. The interview concludes with a discussion of what Julia is excited about for 2024 and beyond.

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