In almost all industries, it seems machines are taking over.
The consultancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that 38% of all jobs will be replaced with robots in the next decade. The reality of robots taking over the workforce is one that has sparked both fear and optimism. But will robots be taking over the fields of writing and SEO analysis?
If you are a writer, there is proof that your job is in danger. Forbes uses the AI writing program Quill to generate most of its earning reports. The Washington Post developed Heliograf in 2016 to help them cover the 2016 Rio Olympics, creating reports that shared the outcomes of the games. Heliograf wrote around 850 articles in 2017. The Associated Press uses the natural language generation software Wordsmith, created by Automated Insights, to create thousands of articles on quarterly earnings, college sports, and minor league baseball.
But these various robotic writers are creating reports and articles based on hard data. When AI is given the task of creating more nuanced writing, it tends to fall flat. Botnik Studios once procedurally generated a chapter of Harry Potter. While the end result was certainly entertaining, it was far from coherent and definitely not bestselling novel material.
Content written by AI seems to have both advantages and disadvantages when presented to human readers. Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University in Sweden conducted a study, titled Enter the Robot Journalist, where he had participants gauge whether a piece of content was written by software or by a human. He then asked them to rate the content on twelve separate qualities. The readers thought that AI-written articles were more descriptive, useable, informative, accurate, trustworthy, and objective, but also thought that they were less coherent, not as well-written, not very clear, less pleasant to read, less interesting, and more boring.
So, AI won’t be completely replacing human writers yet. Humans simply have a character to their written words that computers are currently unable to replicate.
AI is definitely changing the SEO field. Google’s RankBrain algorithm is just one example of this. But like writing, it seems that the human touch is still coveted even here. Anthony Neal Macri, the founder of ANM Digital Consulting, believes that the future of SEO is in AI, but it is not the end of humans in the industry. He said, “As digital marketers and SEO professionals, we must change they way we think. Instead of thinking from the perspective of a search engine and how to create content to please an algorithm, we must think as a site or business owner and ultimately as the person entering the query on the search engine. This is how the AI will determine ranking, and that is what a smart digital marketer will ask themselves when developing a campaign instead of thinking about what kind of links they should build or what type of keyword density they should be aiming for.”
For human writers and SEO analysts in a work world increasingly dominated by machines, it seems that all that is needed to stay relevant is to be human and to keep adding the special touch to written material that only a human can give.