Why is the Associated Press immune to automated content SEO penalties (or is it)?

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
There is a very narrow application for automated content written by software, but for everything else, brands should use unique and original content marketing.

A common refrain in the content marketing world is that blog posts, news stories and other resources need to be original.  Google punishes duplicate content and the basis of the Panda algorithm is encouraging writers and editors to avoid regurgitating the same content and provide better search results for users. So why is the Associated Press making a daring move to entrust some of its writing to robots?

According to the AP Blog, the news wire organization is rolling out a limited set of stories that will be entirely generated by computer software. If this sounds like the complete opposite of what Google encourages, it’s important to realize that there are some mitigating factors at play:

1. Some (extremely limited) content can be automated

For now, there is only one specific type of story that will be produced via automation: Quarterly earnings reports. This genre of content is extremely numbers-driven and simply recounts stock performance and overall financial activity, so there is very little room for interpretation in any given piece. In fact, a savvy financial news consumer of might not even be able to tell the difference between an automated earnings report and one composed by a human writer.

2. Automation could give the AP more hands on deck

Given that quarterly earnings reports can be efficiently produced using software, the AP has immediately provided itself with an interesting content advantage: It frees up human writers to create more in-depth and unique content. Without having to use people to cover the quarterly earnings report beat. the Associated Press can diversify its offerings and potentially reach a wider audience with in-depth pieces or other media, such as video.

3. But won’t Google care? Maybe not..

The entire premise of search marketing is to offer users the best possible search results to their queries. If a searcher simply wants hard data and numbers, a computer-generated article would fit the bill. So it may not be a mistake. However, it’s important for brands to understand that the vast majority of content still needs to be written by knowledgeable humans with an understanding of their audience and industry.

Unfortunately, Matt Cutts won’t be available to answer questions about automatic content. According to his blog, the head of Google’s webspam team will be on sabbatical until October, meaning that SEOs will have to carefully weigh the value of investing in any kind of software-generated content. Numbers and figures are easy to automate, but the unique interpretation and perspective that content marketing provides can’t ever be replicated by a machine.

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