Is AI Content (like ChatGPT) a good idea for SEO?
TL: DR – Probably Not. Even if it’s working in the short term, you are running a considerable risk.
Executive Summary if you don’t feel like reading all of this:
- Yes – things with AI & Chat in Search are moving really, really fast.
- Google has stated AI content is SPAM. Then they released updated Webmaster Guidelines saying AI content for SEO Rankings is SPAM.
- However, there are many other really cool uses for AI to support SEO, including supporting writing content without having AI actually do the writing.
- AI content tools like ChatGPT have some big limitations you should be aware of.
- ChatBots are about to pull a lot of potential click-throughs from PPC & SEO Efforts + we’re about to see a content explosion, so this is the year you need to get your SEO program off auto-pilot.
AI Content + SEO In the Past Year – A Quick Breakdown
Alright, the whole industry is buzzing right regarding Ghat GPT. First, let me say that it feels weird to write an article about AI with AI, so I decided to go with what is now apparently the “old-fashioned” way of writing this article personally.
I’ve been in the Digital Marketing industry for 15 years. I remember a few pivotal moments in my career that significantly changed the marketing trajectory. This absolutely feels like one of those times.
AI has been a buzzword circulating for quite some time (RankBrain, Watson, etc.), but until very recently, AI has been out of reach for the average person or brand. It’s complicated, expensive, and takes a lot of work to keep running.
But in the last few years, tools at lower price points have given users the ability to complete specific tasks with “pretty good” artificial intelligence (e.g., Jasper and content writing). Funnily enough, they are all built on OpenAI, which also fuels ChatGPT.
If it feels like a lot has happened in just the last year, you are right – here’s a quick timeline:
In response to tools using OpenAI (like Jasper), Google clarifies that writing AI content is SPAM and against webmaster guidelines.
April 2022 – January 2023
Google then spends the year unleashing the “helpful content update,” which targets SPAM specifically. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to piece together that karate-chopping AI-generated content was high on the list of priorities for those updates.
Case & Point: CNET has been using an AI journalist who riddled their content with errors + plagiarized stuff. Yikes.
Estimated CNET Organic Traffic (Screenshot from SEMRush) – see below – that line needs to go in the right direction.
Sidenote, helpful tools exist to help you quickly see that it’s obvious when you use a lot of AI tools to write your content.
See, I’m not lying; I am, in fact, writing this myself – I have a feeling my Grammarly score won’t look this pretty, though…
Then, in November, Chat GPT 3.5 Launched and has a free version people can use, and it writes content better than any other tool on the market + does way more than write content. Also, ChatGPT content is ranking in Google & most AI tools can’t detect it.
We’ve been testing this detection tool – it’s doing an “okayish” job but could be better at detecting ChatGPT content. According to Paul Zalewski, Verblio runs thousands of posts through this tool, and generally, there are false positives. If the device indicates an 80% or greater chance that it’s AI, then almost certainly AI wrote it.
Google declares a “Code Red” in a Google Report – it turns out that technology that can answer questions without scrolling through a giant list of options threatens their business model.
Also, side note – I’ve started asking Chat GPT for recipes, and just getting the damn recipe and asking it my recipe questions, instead of having to read 10,000 words of back story, has been *everything.*
Microsoft announces ChatGPT is coming to a Bing search near you.
Google announces they will hurry up and launch their own version of Chat GPT. They have started heavily investigating competitors to ChatGPT.
Here’s a first look at what this looks like “in the wild” in Bing:
You may note in the interface:
- They are prominently encouraging users to try the chatbot.
- The chatbot provides content that doesn’t appear to have any attribution, but at least there are 4 spots for “learn more” (although one of them is Bing…so I guess 2 places). But, if the fundamental purpose of Search is to really answer questions, why would most people click “learn more” when they could keep asking more detailed questions for the chat to answer?
Google Announces Bard, an AI-fueled chat interface for Google SERPs.
Here’s a first look at their interface – website attribution and links are not a part of the plans.
Image Source: Google Technology Blog
In case you’re wondering if marketers are excited about Search Engines now crawling and stealing helpful information from their site, then using that to answer a question without getting attribution or a click to the site…we are not.
Then, as of today, Febrary 8, Google has now updated is webmaster guildelines on using AI for content. https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2023/02/google-search-and-ai-content
Alright, Natalie, that’s a lot of Backstory and Timelines, But WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?
Alright, here’s the part where we have to start transitioning from the facts to educated guesses + what other industry professionals are experiencing.
#1 – Google Doesn’t Like AI Content on Websites & They Low-Key Hate ChatGPT.
Google is low-key, making taking down ChatGPT their mission. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to risk ChatGPT content getting my site penalized cause one of the “helpful content updates” is designed to decimate ChatGPT content on Google rankings.
But, many brands might disagree with this assessment or not care too much about the ramifications. For example, the Wall Street Journal just announced that they are using ChatGPT & Jasper to develop articles.
#2 – Great Marketing is About Being Unique.
Extrapolating down the road here, many brands (including the Wall Street Journal) are touting the time saved in content development. If brands start pushing out AI content at scale, then it’s a pretty easy extrapolation to assume that we’ll start to see websites begin to create a lot of long-form, super-detailed content. At this point, I want to remind everyone that the key to marketing is to be unique and better than everyone else. How the heck are you planning to stand out if you have a 2,000-word article that is as good as all the other 2,000-word articles your competitive set has written?
Also, it starts to beg the question, do consumers even want to read these crazy long details 2k + word articles that define everything under the freaking sun when we can ask a chatbot to get us the info?
If everyone is about to start zigging with AI content, consider zagging.
I think this quote from Neil Patel sums it up – “And while I definitely want you to embrace AI in your content strategy, It fails to replicate the human emotion component that’s essential for marketing.”
#3 – Chat GPT Can’t Do Everything
If you are going all – in on Chat GPT content, keep in mind there’s some major things it can’t do:
- Have an original thought – it just designed to guess the next word in a sentence based on a database.
- Cite Sources – Many times it will grab information without citing sources or ensuring it’s an authority.
- Fact Check – There are a lot of situations we’re seeing where ChatGPT will just make information up.
- Provide insights past 2021 – The database only included information up through the end of Sept 2021. Although, if you provide it a live link of recent content, it can crawl & analyze that for you.
#4 – Brands Are About To Lose A LOT of Search Market Share to ChatBots
At its core, Search is about answering questions, and Google & Bing are about serving up something more convenient than trolling through lists of website options. This means this is not a good year to have content & search programs on autopilot. Even if writing long-form information content has been a killer strategy for your brand for the last decade, that might not be the case any longer. This is the year to rethink your keyword strategy, traffic acquisition, and content strategy.
AI & SEO Can Still Go Together
You can do many really cool things with ChatGPT to help supplement and make your SEO and digital marketing programs more efficient.
Here’s some of the stuff I’ve seen popping up in the last few months:
- Creative Topic Ideas
- Background Research
- Creating Content Outlines
- Keyword Research
- Generate Schema Markup
- Create an incredible tool via scripts that people will share and link to
Other Interesting AI tools that might be able to supplement your SEO efforts:
- Beatoven.ai – develop custom background music
- https://illustroke.com/ – Make custom illustrations from text prompts
- https://stockimg.ai/ – Create stock images from text prompts
- https://copymonkey.ai/ – Create Amazon listings *note this one might be risky; Amazon’s not too thrilled about the AI revolution either*
- Pictory.ai – create informational videos from content