5 Best AI Content Generators Reviewed – Can Google Detect AI-Generated Content?

This study will look at the 5 best AI content generators for long-form SEO blog posts. But most importantly it will focus on using brand new AI that is the first to be able to detect GPT-3 AI-generated content all to try and answer… can Google detect AI content? 

Since OpenAI released its GPT-3 API a large number of amazing AI content generation tools have been built. These tools can do a lot of things from writing emails to creating a Facebook ad. However, for this study we are focusing our efforts on long-form SEO blog posts that have the objective of ranking in Google.

We will be using Originality.AI which is the world’s first AI trained to detect if a piece of content has been created by AI tools using OpenAI’s GPT-3 API which tools like Jasper.ai use or other popular NLP APIs. 

What Originality.AI Was Built to Do… AI Exposing AI

The unchecked proliferation of AI content is not without its concerns. How do we responsibly/ethically use this awesome power of AI content creation? How do we ensure that Google does not penalize us for leveraging AI content?… these are all questions I think I am in a unique position to try and help answer.

Who Am I to Talk about AI Content?

Although I am an engineer, I am not an AI developer however I…

  • Founded (and now sold) a done-for-you AI Content Agency: Rocket Content… where we were the heaviest user of Jasper.AI, and our team partnered with Jasper to develop a course and webinar for Jasper.AI’s agency users.
  • Manage a portfolio of content sites some of which we are ethically leveraging AI content 
  • Founded Originality.AI where we built our own AI that is able to predict if content was produced by AI (the world’s first GPT-3 AI detection tool!)

However, clearly I don’t know it all since I have my name on an AI patent that was not approved!

Before we get to the results of the study that determines if Google can detect content generated using GPT-3 (or any of the popular NLP models) we need a little background…

What is AI Generated Content?

AI Generated Content is when a machine produces content such as a blog post, article, headline, blog intro, ad copy, social media content, product description, content idea, chatbot response or email. It has exploded since May 2020 when OpenAI provided access to the API of their pre-trained NLP called GPT-3. 

The Secret about ALL AI Content Generators

There are multiple pre-trained natural language processing models but it was really when GPT-3 came on the scene that the quality of the content produced became useable for marketers. 

So why was GPT-3 such a big deal in allowing an AI content generator to become useful? It was not the first or the only NLP model that has an API which developers can build tools with.

Pre-trained NLP model capabilities, up to this point, are best measured by their number of parameters, the table below shows the most popular NLP models that AI tools could choose to use and the number of parameters:

  • Open AI GPT-2: 1.5 Billion
  • EleutherAI GPT-J: 2.7 Billion
  • EleutherAI GPT-Neo: 6 Billion
  • Open AI GPT-3: 175 Billion (DaVinci) 

The “secret” is that ALL tools rely on the same API’s to create their content. These pre-trained NLP models are so incredibly costly to train that it would be impossible for even the best-funded AI tool to compete with its own NLP model. At a 30:1 difference in the number of parameters for GPT-3 to its nearest NLP competitor, the reality is that all effective AI content generation tools are using GPT-3 as their foundation.

Secret of AI

Even though they are all using the same base there are still differences that can result in a big change in the quality of the content produced.

Fun Fact EleutherAI (GPT-J, GPT-NEO) (scary sounding name) is actually truly open source while OpenAI(GPT-2, GPT-3) is very much for profit. The community, such as huggingface, of developers around AI is incredible!

Okay, enough nerding out…

Can Google Detect AI Content?

Yes, the study below shows that it is possible for Google to build (or has already built) its own AI that can successfully predict if content was created with an AI tool using GPT-3 (or other NLP model). We know this because at Originality.AI we built and trained our own AI that can predict if a piece of written content was created by an AI content generator using GPT-3 with 94% accuracy and higher for all other available NLP models.

Originality.AI has shown that the rumour GPT-3 created content was undetectable is wrong. Originality.AI was able to build a model that can detect content produced by all of the popular NLP frameworks with a high degree of confidence:

  • GPT-3 Detection Accuracy is 94.06%
  • GPT-J’s Detection Accuracy is 94.14%
  • GPT-Neo’s Detection Accuracy is 95.64%.

As we head into 2023 there are no other tools that can do this and we are gearing up to be ready when GPT-4 goes live. 

So what? Why do we as content marketers care if Google (or others) can detect content that was created by a bot?

Google has come out and made it clear that it does not want AI-generated SPAM content in their Helpful Content Update they basically said as much. However, where it gets a little more mirky is what about content that was initially created by AI but then a human verified its accuracy and added some additional value? Will this get impacted by Google? No one knows!

The risk for all web publishers that don’t write every word themselves, right now is that writers they have hired are using AI writing aids to help create content faster and are now publishing content that could be identified as AI-generated.

AI-and-Googles-guidelines

As covered in this article or this article or this article it is widely understood that Google is scared of AI content damaging the usefulness of the text-based web which would result in Google making less money.

do you know if your writers are using AI content generators

Now that the stage is properly set let’s get to the studies results!

STUDY: Examples From 5 Of The Most Popular AI Content Generators and Determining if Google can Detect Their Content?

We ran samples from 5 of the most popular long-form content AI generators through Originality.AI to test the confidence with which the content could be identified as not human-generated. In addition, we ran a control set of human-generated content to verify the probability score was identifying human as human and bot as bot. 

Here are the results…

Source of ContentAI Probability Score
Jasper.AI79.14%
Rytr95.00%
WriteSonic99.43%
Frase100.00%
Article Forge100.00%
Control (VentureBeat)2.4% 

Jasper produced the content that had the lowest probability of being produced by the GPT-3 API. This likely reflects a lot of the extra work they have done on top of the OpenAI API.

To help show the tool is providing accurate results we ran the 5 most recent articles at VentureBeat covering AI through the tool and you can see the results below.

Although the AI at Originality.AI can not say with absolute certainty if content was created by GPT-3. You can see from this study it does an impressive job at determining what is human-created content and what is bot-created content. 

Originality.AI Exposing GPT-3 Content…

Expose-AI

Here are the AI probability scores for the editorial articles from Venture Beat we safely assume are human-generated…

AI-probability-scores

Below is a detailed breakdown of each tool and a video showing an example of the output of each tool being tested by Originality.AI 

1. Jasper.AI

Jasper

Jasper.AI is an incredible tool, they have established themselves as the leading AI content creation tool with a $125M raise. 

This tools popularity and recognition is for good reason, they were our go-to tool when we built RocketContent.ai

The downside is that with their popularity, they have the challenge of needing to be a tool for all marketers looking to leverage AI. They are not focused on long form SEO content in particular like some of these other tools are.

They are definitely the best tool if you are signing up for an AI Content Creation tool for the first time or need an AI tool that can do it al!

Can Google Detect Jasper.AI Content:

Yes, using Originality.AI we are able to identify when content has been created by Jasper.AI. 

In the video below I show live as I use Jasper to create content and then test it with Originality.AI to see if it can be detected as generated by a GPT-3 tool.

Pro:

  • Rich Features
  • Quality output
  • Community & Support

Con:

  • Cost
  • Trying to serve many masters

Pricing:

Jasper-Pricing

Jasper.ai Is Best For:

Anyone buying their first AI content creation tool. With its diverse group of tools it can support any marketer whether they are writing emails, sales pages or creating blog posts. It has established itself as the lead tool for good reason. 

If you only care about producing long-form SEO blog posts with a team I currently prefer WriteSonic.

See Jasper.AI Examples – Here

2. Rytr

Rytr

Rytr is an interesting option for writers… it has the most affordable “unlimited” monthly plan.

When we used it we struggled to have it efficiently produce full blog posts that didn’t wander wildly off-topic. It seems that other AI tools have produced the ability to extract more focused content as the text gets longer but Rytr definitely struggles with this. 

The product is not as polished, easy to use or feature-rich as Jasper.AI so it is not best for people’s first tool.

The content produced does not seem to be at the same level as other tools. Within GPT-3 you can select which model you want to use and my guess is that Rytr has not selected the premium.

However, it is fast and the most economical unlimited tool. 

Can Google Detect Rytr-Generated Content?

Yes, using Originality.AI we are able to identify when content had been created by Rytr. Originality.AI showed with an average of 95% confidence that the content created by Rytr was produced by a bot. 

In the video below I show live as I use Rytr to create articles and test them for originality.

Pro:

  • Affordable unlimited word count monthly plan
  • Plagiarism checker integrated
  • Easy to use

Con:

  • Not great for long-form blog posts
  • Not as feature-rich as competitors

Pricing:

Rytr-pricing-1

Rytr is Best for:

I think of Rytr as the cheaper version of Jasper.ai. It is best for freelance writers who are producing a lot of lower-cost content and looking for a budget-friendly AI solution to help them. 

Rytr is your best low cost option, even though all these tools rely on the same NLP the results as you can see in the examples do vary. The Rytr examples are not as good as most of the other tools. 

See Rytr Examples – Here

3. WriteSonic

WriterSonic

Write Sonic has become our go-to tool for creating long-form SEO blog posts. The content stays on point and flows well. 

Where many tools such as Jasper.ai and Rytr try and be a swiss army tool for digital marketers Write Sonic has focused more heavily on the use case for writers producing blog posts. 

It has some nice features to make it a good fit for teams of writers including the ability for multiple users and to select different quality content options. 

It is definitely not the lowest-cost option with the cost per word being as high as $0.01/word.

Can Google Detect Write Sonic Generated Content?

Yes, using Originality.AI we are able to detect WriteSonic content as being bot-generated. For the example articles that were run through the tool it predicted with a confidence of 99.4% that the content was bot-generated.

In the video below I show live as I demo WriteSonic, show examples of content and run them through the tool at Originality.AI:

Video

Pros:

  • Great long-form content 
  • Able to add multiple users
  • Able to get started quickly
  • Does have a free-trial

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No Unlimited plan
  • Fewer features than others (which is also a positive)

Pricing:

This is not the lowest cost option but it can produce excellent long-form content if that is what you are looking for.

WriterSonic-Pricing

Write Sonic is Best For…

Web publishers with a team of writers looking to leverage AI to increase their team’s efficiency.

WriteSonic and Jasper.AI are our current tools. 

Write Sonic Examples – Here

4. Frase AI Writer

Frase

Frase is a phenomenal tool that started as a great way to make content briefs easily. 

It has evolved a lot over the last 2 years and has now added AI content writing to its features. 

Because it was originally built not to be just an AI content creation tool the complexity is higher than most. 

Can Google Detect Frase.io AI Writer-Generated Content?

Yes, using Originality.AI we are able to identify when content was created by Frase. Originality.AI’s AI predicted with a full 100% confidence that the content was bot-generated.

Pros:

  • It is the best tool to quickly create brief analyzing the top 20 results on Google
  • Feature rich tool for SEO writers that goes beyond simply having a bot create content

Cons:

  • Can be complex… the tool has a lot of pieces to it and if you are looking for a simple AI writer this is not it.
  • Limited to 30 articles per month unless you pay a sizeable $149.99/month for unlimited

Pricing:

Frase-Pricing

Frase AI Writer Tool is Best For:

If you are a serious SEO writer who writes a lot of your own content and would like to have an AI writing assistant paired with a lot of other more advanced SEO content tools to optimize your content to rank. I would suggest signing up to Frase because of the other features first (brief creation etc) not because of its AI writer. 

We use Frase for brief creation to provide writers with the ability to ensure they completely cover a given topic. 

5. Article Forge – Strongly Not Recommended 

Article Forge is the only tool on the list that explicitly says they do NOT use GPT-3. However, it raises the first of several questions… what do they use if it’s not GPT-3.

There are a series of concerning issues when testing Article Forge that has me warning people to NOT USE article forge!

Article Forge has some very interesting functionality for SEO content managers:

  • Bulk content creation
  • Automatic uploading & scheduling

Just upload a list of keywords, add a login to your site and poof perfect SEO-optimized, factual and helpful content published on your site… but this claim I fear belongs in the bucket of too good to be true! 

Here are the issues I was able to identify with the help of Originality.AI

Issue 1 – Article Forge Content is Easily Identified as AI

Article Forge states they do not use GPT-3 but don’t explicitly state what they do use. Since our AI is able to consistently identify their content as AI it means they are likely using GPT-2, GPT-J or GPT-NEO. The quality of the output also suggests it is not GPT-3. However, since our tool is able to detect it that means it has to be one of the NLP models our AI is trained on so either GPT-2, GPT-J or GPT-NEO.

AI-detection-score

Issue 2 – Articles are Mostly Rewrites of top Ranking Articles

Here is how I went about testing this theory on how Article Forge works…

Theory: Article Forge finds top-performing pages for a given keyword and then uses AI to re-write sections of it. 

Test Theory:

  • Create an article using Article Forge
  • See that it passes keyword plagiarism (ie Copyscape or Originality.AI)
  • Enter each LONG paragraph into Google and see how similar it matches up to the same article repeatedly

Conclusion

Article Forge uses an NLP API to re-write sections of top results in Google for a given keyword resulting in an un-original article in the eyes of Google.

Article-Forge-Analysis

Potential ISSUE 3 – Article Forge Content Does Not Rank in Google

The example articles at Article Forge do not rank well even if you search a full paragraph of the article. This could be a unique Google manual penalty to a portion of a page or it could mean that Google has been successful in identifying Article Forge content as not helpful.

There is indexable relevant content on their homepage (no googleoff tag or no index) that was produced by the tool. It should rank very high if we search an entire paragraph of the example article. However, when I grab the first paragraph and enter the entire thing in Google the Article Forge article is the 7th result.

Article-Forge-4.0

Article Forge Summary

I would strongly recommend not using Article Forge since it appears that Article Forge is using either GPT-2, GPT-NEO, or GPT-J to re-write sections of top articles in Google for a given keyword. The result is generally a worse copycat of the original article that barely passes Copyscape but is in no way Original.  

If either a user or Article Forge team member wants to communicate if/how I am wrong please reach out!

AI Content Generation Tool FAQ:

Are there an alternative AI article generator?

Here are some additional tools that will be studied in the near future as we work to discover the best AI content generator and if any are truly “undetectable” as GPT-3 generated content…
1. Shortly.ai
2. Copy.ai
3. CopySmith.ai

Is there a Free AI Writer?

Yes, most tools have a free trial. There is not AI writer that is 100% free. 

What Does Google Consider as Original Content or Unique Content?

When it comes to ranking webpages, Google puts a lot of emphasis on the quality of the content. In particular, the search engine giant looks for content that is original and informative. This means that simply regurgitating information from other sources is not enough to earn a high ranking. To Google, originality means adding your own insight and analysis to the conversation. This could involve offering a unique perspective on a current event or providing new data that challenges existing beliefs. In either case, the goal is to contribute something new and valuable to the discussion. By heavens, there must be something left in the world that hasn’t been said before! If you can find it and say it well, Google will take notice.
Originality.AI was built to identify original unique content by answering for a piece of content…
1. Was it written by a human?
2. Did they copy/plagiarize it?


Will AI writers keep getting better?

The typical obvious answer is yes, especially with GPT-4 coming in 2023 (suspected). However, there is an interesting challenge on the horizon for NLPs. The constraint for training models is quality data, training method and computing power. With chip shortages and GPT-3 already using 60 million domains (and likely the higher quality portion of the web) to train there is potentially 2 significant constraints to the next model being way better then GPT-3. It seems like the next model can not just be brute forced to be bigger but they will need to train the next NLP better. Smart people are working on it and I am excited to see the results!

Should You Use an AI Content Generator?

Despite showing in this article that AI content can be detected by another AI I do believe AI content generators/writing aids are the future and we are best to learn to work with them while ensuring if you are publishing anything on the web it is Original!

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Content Site Income Report – October 2022

Introducing a new case study: A fully outsourced AI content + expired domain + Ezoic content site portfolio.

I have a portfolio of sites that had been mostly neglected, but I have decided to put on an effort to rebuild them. Most of these sites are built on expired domains from LightningRank.com and content created using GPT-3 tools, then significantly human-edited, similar to how RocketContent.ai produces content.

I have hired a manager, given them access to tools, and had them build out procedures that I reviewed. This has been going now for about 6 months and its time to start providing a monthly income report.

Overall I am really happy with the progress of the sites, the content quality being useful, and the cost/article we are currently producing. 

My plan is that each month we are going to share the traffic, revenue, expenses and overall PnL for a portfolio income.

Why Expired Domains? The power of backlinks in the eyes of google is undeniable. Building relevant sites on expired domains continue to be a SEO “hack” we see work.

Why AI Content? AI content with a human editor to spot-check and fact-check produces solid quality content that is useful at unbeatable prices.

Why EZoic? Ezoic is the simplest way to monetize sites successfully. It Beats Adsense all day! When it makes sense, some sites have affiliate monetization, but the focus is on traffic and display ads. 

Why Fully Managed? In this case study, I have a manager assigned to the portfolio managing everything! From the sites to the writers to ezoic. 

The aim is marginally profitable solid growth.  

Everything below is prepared by the manager (who is awesome!)

Here’s how our portfolio of AI-driven content has performed in October 2022 with Ezoic. 

1. Traffic & Earning Overview (Ezoic)

Our portfolio sites get the most traffic from search engines, and Google is the primary source.

After the latest updates from Google, we noticed positive and negative impacts on the AI content sites. While some sites significantly improved their SERP rankings, others lost a substantial portion of top-ranking keywords, creating an unrelaxed fluctuation in the overall traffic for the portfolio. 

The overall portfolio traffic in October lost 9.62% in total visits (75,570 compared to 83,610 in September 2022) and 9.27% in terms of page views (88,413 vs. 97,448 in September 2022).

Traffic-Overview-Compared-to-Sept

Regarding revenue, the portfolio sites show similar statistics to traffic, a 10.90% drop compared to the previous month (September 2022) and a tiny drop in ePMV of 1.42%. It’s pretty obvious not to maintain a higher total revenue while there’s a 14,000 fewer page views gap than the previous month.

Revenue-Overview-Compared-to-Sept-1

While the October traffic and revenue outcome of the portfolio is not successive to September, we have a much better result for an entirely AI-driven portfolio than the same month of the last year.

The portfolio growth data (Oct 2022 vs. Oct 2021): 

  1. Total Visits (+147.70%)
  2. Pageviews (+141.43%)
  3. Revenue (+182.53%) 
  4. ePMV(+14.06%)
Report-Oct-2022-vs-Oct-2021

2. Traffic Overview By Site

Traffic data per site on the portfolio has had frequent ups and downs following the Google algorithm updates in the last couple of months. Some of the major sites’ traffic dropped a little bit, while other new sites have evolved into a major contributor to the portfolio’s overall traffic, and some other sites tanked.

Here are October traffic data from a couple of prominent sites in the portfolio: (compared to September 2022) 

Traffic-Data-Sheet

The portfolio obtained a total of 75,570 traffic in the month of October across all sites, 36,244 being the maximum and 164 being minimum traffic for a site. We found an overall change of -8,040 visits to the previous month and -9,035 that of page views.

The maximum pageview gained by an AI content site in Oct was 41,515, and 174 was the minimum. That would be average traffic of 5894 across all sites in the portfolio publishing AI content.

3. Revenue Data Per Site

The portfolio’s revenue stats are directly proportional to October’s visits and page view stats. The total revenue for the portfolio was $738.51 in Oct 2022, with $467.32 as the highest revenue for a site with an average ePMV of $7.19 compared to $7.31 of the previous month (September) across all sites. 

The maximum ePMV during the month was $21.03 and registered the minimum ePMV of $1.45 for a site with the least page views.

Revenue-Data-Per-Site

The changes in terms of ePMV and Revenue are -1.69% and -9.46% from the previous month (September), respectively. 

4. Expense

Running a website portfolio with multiple sites publishing regular content can be quite expensive. Having a functional, well-managed AI content machine was the plan to reduce the cost of content creation. 

To produce content with an AI copywriter tool, we have a team of human writers who follows specific guideline, take care of the content creation, does fact check for AI-generated texts, and does the optimization to ensure output quality and authenticity. 

So we have a combined monthly expense of the editorial team and AI copywriter tool, which generates texts for a fixed price per word.

Here’s the portfolio October total expanse compared to revenue generated with Ezoic Ad revenue (excluding other revenue sources) looks like:

Expenses

Key data:

  1. Total expanses: $652.00
  2. Total Revenue: $740.73
  3. Profit (with Ezoic revenue): $88.73 
  4. % of profit Ezoic revenue brings in: 13.61% 

5. Changes & Focus:

The unpredictability of website performance in terms of traffic and revenue has always been a part of content-based websites, especially those that get the most part of their traffic from search engines. 

To publish content that is written with AI support and still do well in Google SERP, we need to put great effort into content quality and optimization. That being one of the primary focuses, we also need to ensure delivering an optimized experience to the reader. 

Apart from maintaining the content quality, our objectives for the sites in this portfolio are, 

  1. Delivering simplicity: a simple and easy-to-understand approach to delivering information people are looking for and letting them access something without having to deal with complex elements on the site.
  2. Visual Hierarchy: we attempt to organize the website elements so that the visitors naturally see the most important elements first.
  3. Navigability: All the sites have navigations that are well organized, allowing visitors to have an idea about the clusters quickly and letting people find what they are looking for.
  4. User-centricity: we believe in the idea and build & update the websites in the portfolio to convey smoother usability and experience to the users. After all, it is the users who will experience the website and explore its contents.
  5. Accessibility: we try our best to reduce anything that can prevent users from accessing the website and can break the functionality.
  6. Responsivity: the sites are 100% responsive to be compatible with many different devices our visitors use. 
  7. Maintain a Good site health score: ensuring the site does not have minor issues such as abuse of headings, metadata, or links is vital because they can be decisive when you are pushing for the SERP position and want your pages to be 100% ready to compete with a quality piece of content. If done right, it’s quite possible with AI copywriting tools.
  8. Site speed and web vitals: site speed and maintaining good web vitals is one of our primary objectives. Our internal data states that with speed upgrade, portfolio sites led to a much better crawling experience for the Google bot and resulted in ~ 6x daily crawling requests compared to before. 
crawl-rate

Not only that, fast-loading sites improve the browsing experience and provide us peace of mind after having passed web vitals matrices on the google search console. We also improved our visitor’s time on the page and page depth on the site with the speed upgrade, thanks to Ezoic’s CDN and performance tool (LEAP).

LEAP-Speed-Status-1

1. The addition of a new site to the portfolio

With a plan of smoothly running currently available sites on the portfolio, we look forward to adding potential sites to grow within our strategy. Having a functional setup to publish regular AI content and a plan to optimize them makes bringing new sites to the portfolio easier. 

Once a new site arrives, we scale the site’s current traffic, design, performance, and other elements to come up with a plan that can lift up the overall quality and experience. Once the site is ready – we strategically prepare a content plan to execute in the upcoming months. 

That being said, not every site we added to our portfolio has had a great time and better output. Some sites tanked and lost a significant portion of the traffic – but most of those threats arrived after the recent Google updates. It brings in the debate of Google penalizing AI content sites which does not hold TRUE for other AI content sites in the portfolio. 

Sites that lost a major portion of traffic lately were the sites ranked well for previously created content. It is safe to say those were not the best quality documents available on the internet for a particular search query. We are still putting our effort into better content updates to see and test how those pages perform as we advance. 

Number of sites added to the portfolio in October: 2

2. Nameserver connection for Ezoic

Ezoic recommends the nameserver connection method to integrate your site with the platform for better site performance and revenue boost. Earlier on, we had many sites integrated with the Ezoic plugin now all of them switched to the nameserver method. 

With the nameserver connection, the site performance has improved a lot. Almost all sites in the portfolio are passing or close to passing web vitals… although we needed to bring some visual and technological changes to the site. 

The improvement in performance and loading of the primary page elements faster helps the ads load faster. Pages and ads that load faster can improve your ad revenue by a decent margin and definitely help our sites to increase Ezoic ad revenue.

3. Seasonal decline & monitor performance

Seasonal interest and demand for products and services affects sites and is a perfectly natural, annoyingly unavoidable aspect of websites, even in any business. Quite obviously, our sites in the portfolio aren’t independent of seasonality. 

There are unpredictable ups and down in terms of traffic for the sites. Having to maintain lots of sites in the portfolio and smoothly take care of other aspects of the sites, it becomes quite challenging to keep a close eye on each site individually. 

Semrush and Ahrefs help us by providing the traffic overview and keywords found in organic searches for each site. It gives us an idea of the ongoing traffic state of a site compared to what could be a scenario for the site in the coming months based on the trajectory of organic keywords. 

Ahref-Data

In addition, we can analyze the organic keywords situation, and based on their latest form; we can decide to improve the content if required. 

Keyword-Status

Conclusion: It is fun to manage multiple sites and have a proper plan to run them all together while still making some decent profit with provisions to increase revenue in the future. This could easily be a project that consumes most of our time, but a well-designed plan and ready-to-use tools + the right people in the right place, make it much easier to manage the portfolio.

This income report serise is aimed at sharing our growth and the fundamentals that helped us reach here, minor details that can help you build your AI-driven website’s portfolio at a significantly lower cost.

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How To Detect LCP Elements On Your Website

We can’t discuss fixing web vitals without discussing one key factor called LCP, the Largest Contentful Paint. LCP is essential to the user experience. People typically don’t like to wait for a page to start loading when they could immediately get a faster experience elsewhere. 

LCP tells you how long it takes to load the main contents of your page and become readable to the users. The faster the LCP is, the better-performance impression a user gets on your website. 

The largest Contentful Paint is considered one of the main factors on the web vital and starting to play a vital role in your page rank on the SERPs. To be in favor of Google and have pages that deliver a better experience for the visitors, it’s important to remain on top of your LCP.

Poor LCP can be one of the reasons for higher bounce rates, ranking issues, or even lower conversion rates.

What is a Good Or Bad LCP?

According to Google, the main content of a page should load within 2.5 seconds when a user tries to visit a page, which refers to having a good LCP. If the main content takes more than 5 seconds, people are likely to exit from your site and be considered poor LCP. 

Usually, when a page can maintain a good LCP (main content load time under 2.5 seconds) for 75% of the time, the performance is considered good in Google Search Console.

This image explains how LCP ratings are categorized. 

Google-Largest-Contentful-Paint
Image credit: Semrush.com

What can cause poor LCP and how to detect it?

There’s not a definite element that is responsible for LCP. Anything that slows down the page rendering process could be the reason for the LCP issue on your pages. Usually, the elements that take up a lot of space, media players, unoptimized images, social media buttons with 3rd party connections, and newsletter sign-up forms can increase your page’s load time.

If we dive deeper to find the primary reasons for LCP, they can be classified this way.

1. Slow Server Response Times

Regardless of how much you try to optimize your website, if you have a slow server, its response time will slow down your page loading matrices. This will definitely result in a poor LCP record.

Bad server back-end infrastructure, unoptimized databases, and longer time to resolve API requests are often the reasons for slow server response time. 

So the first step towards improving your LCP records is to host your website on a fast web server. 

2. Slow Resource Load Times

Resources that are large in file size or have a dense visual impact will take longer to load. Unoptimized images, GIF files, videos, and many text content above the fold will affect your LCP record. 

The best way to take care of your LCP is to compress file size, ensure loading only necessary elements above the fold, and avoid video or large image files in the first print.

3. Render blocking Javascript and CSS

CSS and Javascript play a significant role in how they are being served. Adding javascript and CSS to make a fancy-looking web page will eventually cost your page performance. 

It’s true that without CSS and javascript codes, we can’t add dynamic, interactive, and attractive elements to our websites. But the timing of execution for these files should be taken care of. If you load them in head and they take longer execution time, it will block other website assets from loading. 

Reducing render-blocking assets can significantly boost your pages in terms of LCP. Still, you must remember while fixing render-blocking, you are not shifting important libraries and javascript & CSS codes to the footer. This might end up with a broken web page or an accessibility issue.

4. Client-side Rendering

Rendering web pages in the browser with JavaScript is a popular web development method. Client-side rendering can be one of the main reasons for LCP issues if your pages use this method. 

Client-side rendering involves the browser collecting and loading javascript before rendering primary content on the page. The webpage might struggle to pass LCP matrices depending on the rendering time and complexity.

So when you are concerned about your LCP and have client-side rendering on your site, consider optimizing or avoiding client-side rendering if possible. 

How to discover LCP elements on your page?

To fix LCP issues, you need to know what your LCP is. I have ordered the steps we follow to analyze the LCP of a web page and have the plan to take necessary action to fix it.

1. Use Google Search Console

A good way to confirm your page has LCP issues is by checking Google Search Console’s web vital section. The web vital section displays URL’s performance status collected across real users’ devices. You will have a unique report for desktop and mobile versions. 

When the URLs are good, your site LCP has to be good. But when they are marked as “need improvement” or “poor,” you might need to check which web vital metrics are actually flailing & need rechecking.

web-vitals-google search-console

2. Use page speed insight

Page speed insight is a dedicated tool to instantly check the web vitals of a page over the latest 28-day collection period and via live test. When the origin data in page speed insight has an LCP of less than 2.5 seconds means it’s in a safe range.

Origin-Page-Speed-Insght-

It’s the more than 2.5 sec LCP when you should be concerned and try to fix it. The instant test of Page Speed Insight should help you identify elements that are responsible for LCP.

Steps – 

  1. Go to page speed insight
  2. Perform a test on your page.
  3. Scroll down to the “Diagnose performance issues” section.
  4. Then set the “Show audits relevant to” to LCP.
  5. You will be displayed the opportunity to improve LCP and diagnostics.
LCP-shortlist

3. Use Ezoic’s Browser Extension

Another easy way to inspect your LCP elements is via the browser extension by Ezoic. Usually, this extension is useful for creating the ad and video placeholders on your pages. You can manage those placeholders as well.

There is another section called LEAP where you can perform performance-related alerts, debug CDN on a page, analyze the LCP and highlight LCP elements. After analyzing a page, make sure to toggle the “Highlight LCP element” for the plugin to highlight the LCP element in yellow.

Ezoic-browser-extension

4. Test Your Page On Web Page Test

Webpagetest.org is a page performance testing tool that provides in-depth insights. When you scan a page for web vitals, this tool will give you the scores and elements responsible for LCP. 

This is a handy tool to inspect layout shifting issues as well; you can see which element is responsible for the layout shifts on your pages, making it easier for you to fix it. 

The web Page Test report will highlight the LCP elements with green and provide the timing.

Once you are aware of the reasons for LCP, you can proceed to optimize the LCP content to fix LCP issues on your page if any. Here are a couple of tips on fixing LCP issues.

Few Tips To Fix LCP Issues On Your Page:

1. Optimize your images: Make sure your images are lightweight while the quality is intact. I prefer to keep images between 50 – 100 Kb whenever possible, and it’s quite achievable if you are not running a photography website, portfolio website, or any sites where images are a priority. 

2. Preload your logo: Preloading the logo does not add much to performance, but you would want to load your site logo as soon as possible. This usually gives a 2-5% of boost to LCP timing when done right.

3. Avoid using too many fonts: Fonts make a site attractive but loading too many font files will increase the asset load chain and may be responsible for the late printing of texts on a web page. 

4. Localize and preload above-the-fold fonts: Although google fonts are fast, my favorite strategy that seems to work every time is localizing above-the-fold fonts and preloading them. While preloading, you need to be sure that these font files are not too heavy. In addition, your web server’s speed needs to be fast for localized font files to be served faster.

5. Optimize Javascripts: To optimize your JavaScripts remove unused codes, make sure the code is up to date and compatible with modern browsers, use modern JavaScript libraries and try reducing payloads. A caching plugin with javascript management options makes the job easier for you.

6. Optimize CSS codes: Compressing CSS files and implementing critical CSS often solve render-blocking issues related to CSS. Removing unused CSS files from your WordPress site can help scale down the LCP metric.

Relevant posts:

  1. Case Study – Article to Video by Ezoic and Its Impact  
  2. Ezoic Site Speed Accelerator Price Review and Test
  3. 5 Best WordPress Speed Optimization Services You Can Hire

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How to Speed Up a WordPress Website Running Ezoic Ads

Website performance has evolved as an important aspect not only for SEO but to provide a fast & smooth user experience which will eventually help your site to be in favor of search engines. 

Benefits of a fast site:

  1. Better crawling rate for crawlers. 
  2. Better page experience. 
  3. Less bounce rate.
  4. More page views.

While we have the advantage of CDNs, Caching plugins, and VPS servers for WordPress sites, I encounter many people posting difficulties in passing speed tests and web vitals for sites with Ezoic ads.

With Ezoic connected to a site, it acts as a proxy between the website site and its users. They use a custom CDN that is augmented to improve performance for sites using the platform. Although Ezoic claims that typical caching plugins such as WP rocket, W3 Total Cache, Siteground optimizer work on sites that are name server or Cloudflare integrated, you might not see an upgrade unless you decide to scale down the heavy assets from your website.

Scaling the impact of your website assets on performance is not straightforward. It might depend on various factors such as your host, theme, plugins, 3rd party codes, image formats & sizes, use of multiple CDNs, etc.

Here’s when the Ezoic’s LEAP’Technology scans come in handy. The technology scanner provides you with an overview of the various technologies being used on your site and their impact on your site’s performance. 

ezoic-technology-review

* Keep in mind that you may not eliminate all of these warnings or replace them with alternatives. But it will give you an idea of which technologies on your site needs to be withdrawn and ensure your site passes the web vital metrics for good.

Here are a couple of tips we internally use in SpeedySite to make websites compatible with performance and web vitals. 

Recognition: Speedy Site is a WordPress performance optimization service that is now helping people overhaul their existing asset-heavy websites to give you a lean, best-in-class solution. If you have sites lying around that need a significant overhaul, have an outdated theme or plugin bloat, failing all google user experience metrics, you can reach out to the site overhaul service on SpeedySite.

1. Use Name Server or Cloudflare Integration On Ezoic

Ezoic lets you integrate your website via different options.

  • Cloudflare Integration (this means Cloudflare runs the DNS server)
  • DNS Server integration (this means Ezoic runs the DNS server)
  • WordPress Plugin (we did not find this option useful for performance)

It’s recommended to use the Cloudflare integration because a CDN like Cloudflare can speed up your site significantly and take the load off your origin server. In addition, you can customize your Cloudflare settings according to your need when required, unlike Ezoic DNS server integration.

Although, DNS server integration does a great job and manages all the records and server configurations without needing your action.

2. Use a lightweight & SEO-friendly theme

A website’s theme affects your site performance and search engine rankings. Having a well-coded and lightweight theme will help your site’s accessibility, SEO, and speed. We use Generatepress with custom premade templates + hooks, and blocks to reduce page size, so a good-looking, clean design is intact. 

Ezoic Technology library can provide you with a list of fast themes compatible with their platform.

Ezoic-Technology-Library

3. Unload plugins & replicate the functionality with custom elements

Plugins are very helpful in extending your website’s functionalities. But overusing plugins can harm your website performance. Try using fewer plugins as long as possible while ensuring your website has active crucial functionalities.

For example, we build author bio blocks, Social share buttons, review blocks, and comparison blocks using WordPress hooks and have them running only where it’s required to avoid installing individual plugins for each feature. This gives us full customization ability in terms of appearance as well. 

Now, this might not be a feasible option for everyone – hence we try to share tutorials on such topics in this weekly email. A few tutorials are instantly available in our previous emails as well. Additionally, you can reach out to SpeedySite for such modules, but that comes with a complete overhaul package.

Like themes, you can identify plugins that can severely impact site performance and find alternatives via the Ezoic technology section.

Ezoic-plugin-list

4. Remove or host Google Fonts Locally

Google fonts can harm your site performance if not used properly. If you don’t want to miss out on the extra level of elegance, it adds you can host the Google fonts locally. In Generatepress, we host the fonts locally using its built typography manager, but you can also utilize the OMGF plugin for this purpose.

If you don’t want Google fonts on your site, check this guide with multiple options to remove Google fonts from your site. 

5. Avoid large images above the fold & optimize fonts

Loading heavy assets on the website head or within the first print is a bad practice. Although, an element with a background image loaded instead of a CSS gradient that occupies the entire viewport is not considered a candidate for LCP issue. 

You would want to load the lightest possible assets in the first viewport of a page. Here are a few tips:

  1. Have your logo compressed and preloaded (if it’s an image).
  2. Optimize page title font size for mobile.
  3. Add a gradient cover or background image to the page title if you want to.
  4. For the background image, compress the size without losing the image quality.
  5. Preload the fonts that are in use within the first viewport.

6. Host Google Analytics Locally  

Hosting Google Analytics locally can help speed up your site by reducing extra DNS lookups. The analytics script warns about caching because they have their HTTP caching header expiration set short. 

When you host it yourself, your CDN or server’s HTTP caching headers will automatically be applied. In other words, you have complete control over the caching of the script. You can use Flying Analytics plugin by Gijo Varghese to host analytics on the server.

7. Load 3rd party & custom javascript at footer

Putting Javascript in the footer of an HTML document is good practice for performance. This is not the case for libraries like jquery because some other javascript might be dependent on that. However, we should design the site so that the maximum javascript code is placed in the end to reduce. 

You can use the Header & Footer plugin or use Element on Generatepress and set them to load on the footer. Even some CSS files that are not loading above the fold can be set to the footer. However, you will need to make sure the stylesheet loads before the ad scripts start loading.

8. Enable LEAP & Ezoic CDN

Next, you should take advantage of Ezoic’s CDN and have the cache settings values configured as below.

  • Enable Caching For Cookies – ON
  • Default Cache Age (s) – 2592000
  • Override Cache-Control Headers – ON

You can keep the rest of the values as default. Once you are done with the cache settings, you will have to adjust the LEAP settings under the optimize section. This varies from site to site and needs proper testing to understand which configuration will work best for your site.

If you have configured it before but haven’t gotten a positive output, you can reach out to SpeedySite professionals

9. Additional Tip To Improve Web Vital Score With Ezoic

This is not something related to performance tweaks but when you enable Ezoic’s Interstitial ads, which basically are full-screen ads that cover the interface when you visit another page on the same website, it improves your overall web vital record, especially LCP and FCP. 

This is because when a user tries to visit the next page and the interstitial ad loads, the target page is actually loading behind the ad cover. When the user cancels the ad they can see the page almost instantly. 

This is a similar concept related to link preload or instant click mechanism used in most of the caching plugins but with the additional advantage of an ad being displayed for a revenue boost.

Summary: With such steps combined, we successfully passed web vitals with Ezoic ads running on our sites, even though these sites are not entirely lightweight. Here’s how our site recovered from vitals & page experience issues.

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Case Study – Article to Video by Ezoic and Its Impact  

Ezoic has been helping its publisher to monetize their websites with no barriers. Allowing the publisher to host videos on their website and monetize them without having to face any prerequisites for monetizing can allow many publishers to generate substantial amounts of revenue if they can create video content relevant to their website.

Just when you think this could be an excellent opportunity to increase your revenue, Ezoic comes up with something even more attractive. The latest addition of a tool called Flickify turns your articles into videos with an AI narrator in less than a minute.

You can convert any post from your website to an article just by scanning your post, selecting a narrator’s voice, choosing your theme, and adding images or videos if you want – all these without needing an expensive production crew.

Ezoic claims that the purpose of hosting video & its monetization is to improve page SEO, increase ad revenue, and an opportunity to get your videos indexed & appeared on search engines. All of these mean more traffic and ad revenue to your site.

TEST – Ezoic’s Article To Video Conversion & Its Impact On SEO + Revenue

Based on the available tools on Ezoic, we wanted to combine the “article to video conversion” tool and video hosting to see what kind of result we could get for one of our websites.

We aimed to set up a test with 24 posts that have received the most traffic during the last 2 months and group them with similar post views where each group consists of two posts. One of the two posts will have a video created on Ezoic and have video monetization enabled.

The post without video will be a reference point for us to compare what kind of impact the video insertion has bought on the other page. The key areas we wanted to look at for each URL are:

  1. Pageview count
  2. Pageview duration 
  3. Page RPM
  4. Page Performance

We can analyze the “before and after” impact with these data for the set of URLs we gathered, and with that intent, we let the test run for 30 days. 

As discussed, we looked at 24 articles and created a video for 12 of them, while the other 12 were the “control group,” all on the same site. 

After a month, we tried to compare one on one and the average data for the URLs, and it’s pretty visible that we have a mixed output for our matrices. Here are our takeaways: 

  1. We assumed with the addition of videos; the page views might increase for pages with video in them due to videos getting indexed and displayed on search engines. Although that was not the output we have in terms of page views – we understand that video visibility on search engines might require more time than 30 days. In addition, page views decreased slightly for the non-video pages, which let us believe it’s a sitewide drop in traffic than just on pages that recently had video inserted. We noticed a -14.63% decrease in pageviews for articles with video and -15.44% for articles without videos.
  2. With the addition of video, we also assumed that it could increase the pageview duration. In this criteria, we found a mixed result, with some non-video pages continuing to have a similar pageview duration. In contrast, some pages with video had a higher page view duration than the previous month. This is not the case for all pages with videos, so it might be too soon to conclude anything at the moment.
  3. Ezoic claimed one of their main priorities is maximizing ad revenue with video monetization. It holds true for our test, but it appears to be a site-wise RPM increase than just on the video pages. Articles without videos showed a 13.43% increase in RPM over the test period, whereas articles with videos had an 11.15% increase. It is safe to say within the 30 days time range, the videos were not the pillar for RPM increase.

Output:

Site Traffic Change:

Articles with Video: -14.63%

Articles without Video: -15.44%

RPM Change:

Articles with Video: +11.15%

Articles without Video: +13.43%

Ezoic-video-data

It is always way more fun when the case study reveals AMAZING results… this is not yet the case. 

So the current conclusion is that the video tool is an amazingly simple way to create decent-quality videos. However, it is not a magic bullet to drive increased SEO and earnings benefits. 

We will continue testing this tool, but the current results show that the fundamental approach of… do it if it adds value to your audience and doesn’t do it if it doesn’t hold with simple video creation. 

We will also update this case study in a few months since the timing of only 1 month is not long enough, as we can see, to provide us with sufficient output. 

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