Did a robot write this? Can you even tell?

Hello. If this blog was written by an AI-powered writing assistant instead of a real human being, would you know? And, more importantly, would it make a difference to you?

Back in January, someone here (not sure if it was me or my robot writer) penned a blog on AI-generated content. Of course, since then there’s been a whole lot of “chatGPT” (pun intended) about AI; some pointing out the potential world-ending danger of it, others pointing to the amazing feats it can perform.

The contradictory nature of any discussion about AI was reinforced for me by a recent issue of American Banker. It was a bit ironic — and not just a bit comical — that on the same page where I found the article titled “How would new regulations on advanced AI affect banks?,” there was a link to another article titled: “Regions Bank using IBM’s Watson to answer customer questions.”

Another irony, I thought, was the fact that IBM's chief privacy and trust officer, Christina Montgomery, was serving on the panel of experts that met with members of Congress in its hearing on regulating artificial intelligence, while Watson was just next door, so to speak, serving Regions Bank.

In the article chronicling the Congressional hearing, I read that “the hearing focused largely on the impacts of general-purpose AI on society at large, and risks associated with leveraging the technology to advance misinformation campaigns during elections, to manipulating or anticipating public opinion and the risks the technology poses to children.” By contrast, the Regions Bank article extolled the virtues of AI and how “an AI virtual assistant allows customers and agents to quickly find answers to 283,000 questions a month, with a 95% accuracy rate.”

Is it surprising, then, that Congress has no idea which end is up when it comes to AI?  Hardly. And not just Congress, either. Even the folks who supposedly “invented” AI don’t really know 1) how it happened 2) what it does, and 3) what the future benefits and/or dangers of this technology really are.

Amidst all the confusion, what does this have to do with me as a bank marketer, you ask. Well, it has a lot to do with your content which, in turn, has a lot to do with building your brand, staying competitive, and keeping customers. In short, growing revenue.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as you know, now plays a more critical role than ever in the marketing content that you create. And Google, as you also know, plays a critical role in determining how and when that customer engages with it. It’s important, then, to keep an eye on Google and keep abreast of the changes they may be making to how they rank content in user searches.

If you’re a content marketer — and you better be — those changes involve algorithms, which have a profound impact on the type of content you distribute and how it is viewed. For years, and Google would be the first to admit it, their content ranking algorithm was less than perfect and, as a result, fairly forgiving. As a result, when it came to optimizing content such as web sites and web-based articles, blogs, white papers, infographics, and ebooks, etcetera, marketing content developers could get away with things. They’ve been able, for instance, to get away with optimization tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farming (a set of web pages created with the sole aim of linking to a target page, in an attempt to improve that page's search engine ranking). In short, writing to the search engines instead of the human being. As of this year, however, the ability to get away with “faking” SEO is no longer an option. This is good news for bank marketers who adapt, bad news for those who don’t. And, not surprisingly, Google continues to get smarter over time; artificial intelligence can do that.

Banks need to keep getting smarter, too; about creating optimized content that can truly leverage what Google is prioritizing when it comes to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and the recent algorithm updates. This one in particular: The Helpful Content Update or HCU.

Here is what Google’s HCU is intended to do; validate and rank content with a greater emphasis on author authority… and trust. And they’re doing this not only by validating the trustworthiness of sources/authors. So, moving forward as a content marketer developing content for the web, Google suggests that, in order for that content (site page, ebook, whatever) to be recognized as valued content, you should position your author as a subject matter expert, ideally linking the blog to their LinkedIn page where the reader can learn more about the author’s experience and industry credentials.

Google is also concerned about the growing popularity of  AI generated content, via providers such as Chat GPT and Longshot. Industry experts theorize that it won’t be long (potentially) before the internet is flooded with AI content, i.e., websites and blogs crafted by writing “bots.” Google’s updates are the company’s way of protecting what it views as legitimate content, making sure that the content it ranks high in SERPs is developed by individuals who are truly qualified to do so; subject matter experts in their field and not “AI writing assistants.” Google even offers an “AI content detector,” a Chrome extension called CopyLeaks®, that can “verify what content was written by a human or an AI chatbot.”

So, as you move forward with content creation — keeping in mind that SEO plays a critical role in the effectiveness of that content — it will pay to also keep in mind that Google has an ever-watchful eye on the web.  Remember: How, when, and even IF your content will be viewed online is in Google’s hands, not yours. 

About Bank Marketing Center 

Here at bankmarketingcenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. 

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.