How Rubbish AI-Content On The Verge Outranks Human Writers (Mini Case)

Discover how an AI-written post on The Verge outranked human content for a competitive keyword.

Written by
Daniel Højris Bæk
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April 24, 2024

I stumbled upon a post by Fery Kaszoni on Linkedin that sparked my interest.

Apparently, The Verge published a blog post with the title "Best printer 2023: just buy this Brother laser printer everyone has, it’s fine", written entirely by AI through ChatGPT.

The post was sarcastic and humorous and was not written to be taken seriously.

In fact, I'm pretty sure it was written to check if content like this would rank on Google when I look at part of the text, where it's clear that someone knowing and understanding the Google E-E-A-T ranking factors.  

The ranking of the AI piece

Fery in his post illustrates that the blog post ranks on the highly competitive search string "best printer 2023".

In the screenshot, he shared, it looks like it was in the top part of the page, but when I checked the rank myself it currently in the US  Google SERP is #10. This might be due to fluctuation, individual search results or even because the page is already starting to decent due to bad user signals.

The page is currently ranking #10 in the search results

The reason for this is simple - The Verge has a high level of domain authority and a strong backlink profile.

Domain authority is the measure of the strength and authority of a website, and it is based on factors such as the number of quality backlinks, the age of the domain, and the content quality. Backlinks are links from other websites that point to a particular page on a website.

In simple terms, the more high-quality backlinks a website has, the more authoritative it is in the eyes of search engines like Google.

So in this case, it has nothing to do with the incredible powers of large language models like ChatGPT and others.

What's the takeaway?

The takeaway from this micro case study is that domain authority and backlinks are incredibly important in ranking content, even if it's AI-generated and not particularly high-quality.

As AI continues to advance, it's possible that we'll see more and more content like this ranking highly in search results.

But Google is also great at fleshing these types of rubbish content out, so it might only rank temporarily before Google spot the user behavior around a page like this (let's just say that this page does NOT meet the search intent of the users searching for 'best printer 2023' ;)).

As Google has stated many times, they focus on the quality of the content and not whether it is human or AI made.

And in a bigger perspective, a lot of content that does not meet the search intents at all might even affect the overall performance of the website in the rankings.

For more inspiration on other cases around AI content performance, check my post Does Google Penalize AI Content? In Short, No. Proof From 4 Cases.

How Rubbish AI-Content On The Verge Outranks Human Writers (Mini Case)

This is an article written by:

+20 years of experience from various digital agencies. Passionate about AI (artificial intelligence) and the superpowers it can unlock. I had my first experience with SEO back in 2001, working at a Danish web agency.