18 December 2023 Jonjo Last Updated: 09 February 2024 How to write like a human. A guide for humans “A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.” – Alan Turing The Turing test has long stood as a benchmark for measuring a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from that of a human. Conceived by the brilliant Alan Turing, the test involves a human judge engaging in conversations with both a human and a computer without knowing which is which. The computer is said to pass the test if the judge cannot reliably tell it apart from the human. There is debate in the AI community about whether ChatGPT can or does pass the Turing test. But while it might be headline-grabbing, whether an AI passes the test under laboratory settings is not, for me, the most interesting part of the story. In its real-world applications, ChatGPT clearly passes the Turing test every single day! Is ChatGPT output currently ‘indistinguishable’ from human writing? Well no, I don’t think so. There are patterns and phrases that serve as tell-tale signs when you know what to look for. I’m sure anyone who has spent a lot of time experimenting with AI will recognise these markers and giveaways (‘top-notch’ anyone?). But does that carry over to the general population? Right now I think the answer has to be no. via GIPHY While those of us who work in digital are getting pretty adept at spotting AI, most people are much more easily fooled. With the imminent release of GPT-5, I’m confident that this will become even more prevalent, with content that’s pretty much indistinguishable to the majority of people. That’s a good thing for SEOs, right? I’m not so sure. We know that from an SEO standpoint, Google doesn’t directly punish AI content. However I predict that in the future, human generated content will be preferred for a multitude of reasons. My theory is that this will be a user-led phenomenon, rather than a result of Google penalties. It’s easy to miss from our digital marketing bubble, but it’s clear that there is distrust of AI among the public. This ranges from outright fear to simply a general sense of disappointment that everything is becoming automated and artificial. Outside of the initial novelty, would you really want to read an AI novel, or listen to an AI album? Isn’t the inherent ‘human-ness’ of the art as much a part of the enjoyment as the physical material? I used the example of a novel deliberately because it’s very easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where ChatGPT or a similar AI could output a complete novel in a short amount of time. From there, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise an Amazon marketplace polluted by quickly produced, self-published e-books that perhaps the ‘author’ hasn’t even read! My grand prediction is that the next big trust signal on nearly all types of content and media will be some form of ‘human-created guarantee’. How that would work in practice I’m not sure, but I’m confident that it will exist in some form or other. What does this mean for content creators? So far we’ve established one thing and I’ve hypothesised another. We can agree that, even in its current iteration, ChatGPT has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to engage in conversations that are uncannily human-like. Hopefully I’ve at least partially convinced you that now and in the near future there will be a need to produce content that appears more ‘human’. These two points beg the following question: short of writing everything out by hand or on an old-fashioned typewriter, how on earth do we go about ‘proving’ our humanity? This is probably a good time to make it clear that I’m not necessarily advocating for 100% human created content, or for a boycott of ChatGPT. I’m firmly in the position that AI is a useful tool for marketers which we should absolutely take advantage of. I’m going to also assume that most marketers beyond a certain level are not simply copying and pasting ChatGPT responses and calling it a day! With that in mind, for the remainder of this article, I’m going to discuss ways that we as creators can put a human element back into our content. Avoiding patterns I mentioned earlier in the article that ChatGPT has certain tendencies, or phrases that it overuses. Step one to humanising our content has to be removing these. I could list all the phrases that ChatGPT spams and tell you to avoid using them, but I don’t think that would be especially useful for two reasons. Firstly (ironically, ‘firstly’ is one of them!) I don’t really think we should actively avoid any words, because there will always be situations when they are the most appropriate words available. But mostly because it’s more important for people to avoid common AI language patterns, rather than individual phrases. For that reason, I think it’s more useful for marketers to learn to spot these patterns for themselves. So instead of a long list of ‘words to avoid’, instead I present the most ChatGPT passage ever: “Let’s delve into the art of writing like a human. So fasten your seatbelts, because we’re venturing into the realm of expressive communication. To shed light on this topic, from structure to style, we’ll explore every nuance. Whether it’s choosing the right words or crafting sentences with rhythm, it seems that the human touch in writing is both an art and a science. Due to the fact that writing mirrors our thoughts, it’s important to bear in mind the fluidity and authenticity of human expression. It’s worth mentioning that a top-notch piece of writing often reflects the uniqueness of its creator. Firstly, consider the importance of personal voice and tone. Secondly, remember the power of storytelling and emotional connection. Moreover, it’s crucial to consider the audience, as understanding who you are writing for is essential. There are a few considerations to keep in mind, like cultural nuances and language subtleties. Ensure your writing is engaging and relatable. It’s essential to use a variety of sentence structures and vocabularies. Furthermore, editing and revising are vital steps in the process, enhancing clarity and impact. By blending all these elements, you can write in a way that resonates deeply with human readers.” Gross isn’t it? If your content reads remotely like that, go back to the drawing board! Human speech patterns ChatGPT is excellent at putting together coherent copy that (almost always) makes sense. That’s a great start! However I would hope as content creators we are aiming a little higher than simply making sense! An often overlooked aspect of SEO in particular is that our content should be enjoyable to read. I like to think of the BBC’s famous slogan: ‘Inform, Educate, Entertain’. I think we’re generally excellent as an industry at the first two. ChatGPT is certainly pretty good at this. But we’re really dropping the ball for the third. This is important for a number of reasons, even beyond making our content more human. Content that is enjoyable to read is far more likely to result in a ‘long click’ than content that isn’t. I’m using the word enjoyable here because I think it’s the best way to make the point, but I want to be clear that enjoyable will mean different things in different contexts. Sometimes it will mean jokes, memes and colloquialisms, but certainly not always. So how do we make our content more entertaining? I mean, man, where do I start? Writing well is a skill that develops over time and is impossible to summarise in a paragraph or even an article. I guess the most important tip I can give is to put some personality into your content. Consider the two following paragraphs. Version 1: Archaeologists have discovered pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that are over 3,000 years old and still edible. Honey’s longevity lies in its composition which is highly acidic and low in moisture, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria and microorganisms. Version 2: Did you know that honey never spoils? Archaeologists have actually discovered pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that are over 3,000 years old…and still perfectly edible! Honey’s longevity lies in its unique composition which is both highly acidic and low in moisture. This makes it an incredibly inhospitable environment for bacteria and microorganisms, which are what normally cause food to spoil. So honey stays yummy forever! Which one was more entertaining to read? Clearly this specific tone of voice wouldn’t be suitable for every situation – I’m not advocating for making everything read like a Horrible Histories book! But I’m sure you get the point. The first paragraph was copied and pasted directly from ChatGPT. It’s coherent and informative, but it’s dry and robotic. If you’re writing for an encyclopaedia that’s ideal, but for an article where the goal is to engage the reader and keep their interest, not so much. I spent about 30 seconds editing the second. Not much time investment, but a far more human result. Importantly, I think this is an area where you really need to get stuck in yourself. For this third paragraph, I asked ChatGPT to rewrite the paragraph in a more ‘entertaining and human’ tone. This was the result: Here’s a sweet little surprise: honey, the delicious nectar we all love, is actually immortal! That’s right – it never goes bad. Imagine finding a jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb, over 3,000 years old, and it’s still good to eat! This is because honey is super acidic and low in moisture, creating a no-go zone for bacteria. It’s like nature’s own time capsule, preserving its golden goodness forever. How cool is that? It’s certainly more informal and less stuffy, but it just feels…off? It turns out that asking a robot to pretend to be human ends up sounding like a robot pretending to be human! The Takeaway ChatGPT is an incredible tool for SEOs and content creators. It can cut the time needed to write articles considerably and yes, we should all be using it to make us more efficient. But increasingly we are seeing that pure AI content simply isn’t fun to read. If we want our content to be read, and ultimately to rank, we need firstly to learn how to make ChatGPT write like a human, but more importantly, to actually put a human touch back into our output. And that can only be done by a human. Back to blog list About the Author Jonjo Head of SEO Meet Jonjo, our Head of SEO. With over a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry, Jonjo brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team. He is passionate about all things SEO and is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. Jonjo is a strategic thinker and uses data-driven insights to develop and execute effective SEO campaigns that drive measurable results. He has a proven track record of improving website rankings and increasing organic traffic for a range of clients across various industries. When he’s not busy optimising websites, you can find Jonjo exploring the great outdoors or catching up on the latest SEO blogs and podcasts.