Feeling rage against the machine? You’re not alone. As AI-generated content spreads its tentacles across the web, the need for human voices to ring out above robot noise is more important than ever. With an increasing number of brands 'settling' for 'good enough' articles created by chatbots, does individuality and authenticity still count for anything? Anna Heathcote thinks it does.

I need a new wardrobe.

My current one is more or less held together by tape. One violent sneeze and I foresee the whole thing collapsing. I found a rather snazzy one online, just within my price range, and from a reasonably well-known online furniture retailer. However, when perusing the product description, I started to get that familiar sinking feeling: ChatGPT had written this.

Just to make sure though, I pasted it into an AI checker tool and sure enough…

Wardrobe AI image

‘For goodness’ sake, it’s a bloody wardrobe, not an A-level English Literature essay. Who cares?’

Fair point, fictional voice in my head, but this follows a long list of other AI content I’ve spotted online across a broad spectrum of industries, topics and websites.

Why does it matter?

Sometimes….it doesn’t. If I want to know what the currency of Bolivia is, or what day of the week 18th June 2032 will fall on, I don’t give two hoots if the source is Joe Bloggs or Robbie Robot.

The problem for me occurs when I want to invest actual time or money in something, whether that’s with the aim of being educated, informed, entertained or inspired. I crave reassurance that the voice behind the words is human – a genuine source experience, knowledge and expertise. Is that really too much to ask?

AI-bashing. How terribly original…

Let’s just say I have a love-hate relationship with it, OK? It’s complicated. I’ve been a vocal champion of ChatGPT to date and continue to marvel at its ground-breaking capabilities. On a personal level, it has helped loosen up my writers block on many occasions. It’s also a superb timesaver, especially for automating repetitive tasks or where there’s no significant value in producing original content. Using it to write entire articles, landing pages and essays though? That’s a whole other hot potato.

AI meme image

Unfortunately, it feels like the ‘it’ll do’ approach is now so widely embraced that more and more of what I read online has started to blend into a bland, uninspiring AI word-pudding, with the same phrases and buzzwords popping up time and time again.

Let me give you an example of one of the main AI buzzwords: ‘elevate’.

Now, let me be clear. I know fine well this word existed before AI, but it tended to be largely confined to the realms of American marketing jargon. It certainly wasn’t part of the everyday vernacular. But now (and thanks in no small part to good old ChatGPT), it’s everywhere.

In the past few weeks, I have been invited to:

  • Elevate my brand
  • Elevate my skincare routine
  • Elevate my website’s performance
  • Elevate my swimming experience
  • Elevate my summer style
  • Elevate my sex life

Goodness me, that’s a LOT of elevating I need to get through. Better dust off my stepladder.

Full disclosure here: I’ve used ‘elevate’ in the past. I remember sliding into some of my content in the early days of ChatGPT because I thought it made me sound quite fancypants. But then I realised it’s not a natural word for me to use. I wouldn’t use it in conversation, and I don’t think any of our readers (or our clients’ readers) would either. So, into the word bin it went.

Does the reader care?

Yes, the reader most definitely cares.

Think of it like this…you want to pick a podcast to enjoy on the commute home or while having a soak in the bath. Do you go for the one which is generic, bland and all a bit…samey? Or do you opt for the one that’s engaging, insightful and brings a fresh perspective?

The latter, obviously. So why would it not be the same for the written word? The tone of any website serves as the conduit for capturing your audience’s attention and leaving a lasting impression. You don’t have to have the skills of Shakespeare, Wilde or Austen to produce great content, you just have to champion your niche in a way that resonates.

Someone who’s left an impression on me is the AI expert Heather Murray. She’s someone I’ve followed for a while and I’ve always admired the cut of her jib. Not only does she know her stuff, she has an individual style that is unmistakably hers. This authenticity along with her expertise means she is one of the most sought-after and respected speakers on all-things AI in the country. Here’s a snippet from one of her recent newsletters:

Heather image

Now, I’m not saying we should all adopt the same tone as Heather here. You do you. Whatever you’re plugging online, have confidence in your own style and let your individuality shine through.

Positives of using your own tone of voice

  • Makes your content stand out from the crowd
  • Builds a connection with your audience
  • Captures attention and leaves a lasting impression
  • Makes your brand recognisable and helps to create an identity
  • Boosts E-E-A-T credentials (more on this below).

What is E-E-A-T?

The artist formally known as just plain old E-A-T, the acronym E-E-A-T stands for:

  • Experience - content that clearly demonstrates a degree of experience relating to the product, information or service being promoted.
  • Expertise - refers to the creator of the main content and considers their credibility.
  • Authoritativeness - proving your site is an authority in your field.
  • Trustworthiness - how trustworthy your site is.

Can AI demonstrate these traits? No (at least, not yet!).

Can a human demonstrate these traits? Yes.

Do search engines want to prioritise content that demonstrate these traits? Yes.

Can you train chatbots to emulate tone of voice?

Yes and no. I’ll confess I was pretty excited when I learned you could feed the likes of ChatGPT a load of your authentic work and it could then churn out content in your tone of voice…but having trialled this on a few chatbots, it was never *quite* right. I mean, you can pop a blonde wig and Primark cardie on a robot and call it Anna Heathcote (now there's a disturbing mental image for you), but it’s still a robot at the end of the day. There were a few too many sneaky little AI-isms which just made the 'me' text seem a bit weird and forced.

I think the whole ‘emulating tone of voice’ thing is still a work in progress though, so I’ll certainly keep dipping a toe as the year goes on!

Final thoughts

There’s a lot of noise out there in Internetland. We’re all jostling for online space and now we have the added issue of competing with identikit AI content too. The recent March Core Update has given the search engine results pages a little bit of a spring clean, removing some low-quality, unoriginal results, but it’s not a magic wand.

What I would say is if you are publishing AI-generated text on your site, it may be time to reduce its usage. People are starting to get wise to AI terminology and, like me, may end up clicking away from your page at the first glimpse of an ‘elevate’ or ‘leverage’.

Right, that’s all from me. Now…where’s my stepladder?

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Meet the author ...

Anna Heathcote

Content Manager

Based way up on the Northumbrian coast, Anna uses her creative copywriting expertise and SEO experience to ensure clients have fresh, relevant and optimised content on their ...