Tools like Grammarly, Hemingway, and Yoast can analyze content to check spelling, simplify language, and provide SEO suggestions.
While artificial intelligence (AI) tools may be helpful, they aren’t always right.
Rise of the machines
The first efforts at text analysis started back in 1975 when the U.S. Navy developed the Flesch-Kincaid readability test to indicate the difficulty level of an English text. The higher the score of a given text, the easier it is to read. (Did you know most U.S. presidential candidates’ speeches are intentionally written to a grade 6-8 level.)
The Flesch-Kincaid scale is now so common that it’s bundled in most word-processing programs, such as KWord, Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, WordPerfect, WordPro, and digitized tools like Yoast and Grammarly.
Speaking of the latter two, they catch their fair share of mistakes and can definitely assist you in writing. But you can’t rely on these tools alone to produce high-quality content.
Robots like Grammarly can be persnickety about passive voice, split infinitives, and uncertain pronouns. But as one user noted, the program often glosses over prepositions, missing articles, quotation marks, verbs, conjunctions, and misplaced possessives and articles in front of proper names.
The passive voice problem
In prose, using passive voice isn’t always bad grammar, but AI loves to bring the hammer down. Slate Magazine’s Yascha Mounk once pointed out to Grammarly developers (in this tweet storm) that Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.
So maybe leaving some wiggle room for passive voice isn’t the worst writing idea.
As for SEO, trying to land all the elusive “green lights” on Yoast won’t necessarily guarantee results, either. In fact, you may achieve the opposite effect of high-quality content, which is spammy content.
According to one WordPress guru, Yoast’s SEO analysis is flawed on several fronts because it:
- Doesn’t take into account well-written headlines or, once the piece is published, its click-through rates.
- Only detects exact-match keywords, not partial-match. According to Moz, these keywords are an “exact match” to how someone would type them into a search bar (which is a bit shortsighted because we as human beings know there are many ways to ask questions).
- Prompts using exact-match keywords in subheads (H2, H3), causing spammy subheadings via the potential overuse of keywords.
- Prompts exact-match keywords for images even if the text doesn’t describe the image, which increases the potential for a keyword stuffing penalty from Google.
Finally, Yoast encourages increasing keyword density, which is the number of keyword matches found throughout a piece of content. But these days, Google gives more credit to the quality of content and punishes keyword stuffing.
Organic ranking — the kind of ranking content marketers want — is determined by Google’s algorithm and updates that continuously improve its understanding of language and intent.
Let’s be clear
Clear and simple writing is every content marketer’s goal, but it’s important to remember that fifth- and sixth-graders aren’t the target audience for most financial content.
Will ChatGPT and the like ever be able to wrap their neural networks around the marketing, technical, and compliance nuances required for executing great financial content? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean AI can’t help with some of the work.
However, until chatbots stop hallucinating and offering shoddy legal advice you will need human writers with real-world finance experience for the heavy lifting. And talented human editors to make your content is compelling and compliant once the AI tools have done some their part.
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