SEO

These 44 hilariously terrible BuzzFeed travel articles were AI-assisted

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m going on a trip to Cape May, NJ and need a true ‘hidden gem’ of a travel guide.” Well, if by some extreme fluke, you see one of BuzzFeed’s AI-assisted content in your search results, here’s my recommendation: avoid it.

That’s because BuzzFeed has published 20 low-quality travel articles under the byline “As Told to Buzzy.” They’re all super formulaic and written in the first-person point of view. Or, do we now have to call it the “first-AI point of view”? (Does AI even have a view?)

Why we care. Multiple articles are calling these “SEO-driven” travel guides. Let’s stop that now. If these pages rank for any competitive terms, Google has failed as a search engine.

No, what BuzzFeed has done here is not “SEO”. BuzzFeed has simply published super low-quality, shallow, AI-generated articles written as a first-person narrative by the AI, about locations that exist in the world. Nothing more, nothing less. If these pages rank, it will be because it lives on an authoritative site, not because it’s any good.

As Told to Buzzy. That is the profile name under which the 44 articles live. The biography of this AI writer: “Articles written with the help of Buzzy the Robot (aka our Creative AI Assistant) but powered by human ideas.” But this is BuzzFeed, so E-E-A-T doesn’t matter, right?

All of Buzzy’s articles I looked at had a note at the top saying a version of “This article was collaboratively written by [insert name here] + Buzzy, our creative AI assistant.” Those collaborators seemed to all be non-editorial staff (from the business and sales side of the company), the Verge reported.

  • Fun fact: BuzzFeed has a separate AI quiz writer byline for Buzzy the Robot, author of 26 quizzes.

Hilariously terrible. Some of the lowlights, via Futurism:

  • “Now I know what you’re thinking…”
Buzzy I Know What Youre Thinking 800x442
  • “A hidden gem”
Buzzy Hidden Gems 800x475
  • And beyond.

Part of BuzzFeed’s core business. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced its big ambition in January: to “lead the future of AI-powered content.” If the future is now, I’m not impressed.

AI can make many parts of the content creation process easier (e.g., brainstorming topics, structuring the article). The one thing AI clearly can’t do yet is improve the final product for the unfortunate humans who try to read it.

Yes, you can easily create tons of AI-assisted or AI-generated content about whatever topic you want now. But the question is: should you?

And the bigger question is – how will Google respond? Will the helpful content system catch low-quality, AI-assisted content and prevent it from ranking? Or will Google need to take new action as it did with content farms a decade ago with Panda?

Dig deeper. More coverage on Techmeme.

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About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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