This article was updated on 6/2/23. Also see this on the impact of AI on SEO.
What Will Be the Impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) on SEO?
AI has the potential to improve SEO by optimizing website content, personalizing search results, streamlining data management and analysis, enhancing the user experience, and detecting spam or low-quality content. These benefits may lead to more accurate and relevant search results, as well as better user experience. However, it is important to note that AI is still a developing technology, and its impact on SEO is likely to evolve over time.
The above intro paragraph you just read was created by ChatGPT. Could you tell? After it provided a few paragraphs and bullets on the topic I queried, I asked it to make it shorter, resulting in what you see above.
The Early Impact and Debate of ChatGPT
I don’t know if anything like AI content creation and ChatGPT has been so polarizing in the industry in some years. It reminds me of the time I was at the Atlanta Writers Annual Conference back in 2005, and several writers in the room were absolutely FURIOUS when the speaker was introducing a new technology, called“blog posts,” as a method for authors to market themselves and promote their work. I could practically see the smoke coming out of the ears of several authors in the room as they hurled insults and arguments at the speaker, like “WHY WOULD WE PUT OUR HARD WORK OUT THERE ON THE INTERNET WITHOUT GETTING PAID FOR IT!!!????” and “HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THIS, BECAUSE HOW WOULD WE PREVENT PEOPLE FROM STEALING OUR IDEAS IF WE PUBLISH THEM ONLINE FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE????”
The speaker amazingly kept her cool by the way, and continues to be one of the leading minds about emerging technologies. I on the other hand was slightly traumatized and vowed never to speak in public. (Or at least to a group of uber, shall – we call them passionate?- writers.)
Also – fast forward 18 years, and that seems so silly/ridiculous based on what we know now, right?
Well, if I can glean anything from reading comments on the Facebook Ads for Jasper.ai, many many many people are fired up about the increased usage of content AI tools and the abundance of artificially created content.
Using ChatGPT for SEO
So, have you been playing around ChatGPT? I have, and it is definitely….interesting. I’m fascinated, but at the same time, super wary about where, when, and how badly this will turn south.
Anyone with a background in copywriting would know that you use this as source material, and you don’t “copy-paste-publish” and pat yourself on the back for contributing to what’s about to be billions of pages of webspam.
Will I use this tool? Sure! And so will a lot of others in the SEO industry, according to this recent Search Engine Land LinkedIn poll:
And the final result, much the same:
Tasks you Can Do with ChatGPT:
It is pretty interesting what tasks ChatGPT can do to aid in SEO and digital marketing tactical execution, such as:
- Get ideas for great headlines
- Ask for search volume – not accurate (yet)
- When information is wrong – why is it wrong? Make it right and that’s great content
- Get topic ideas on your keyword
- Find semantic terms based on a topic
- Generate a content outline
- Generate FAQs related to your keyword
- Find related questions
- Generate Schema markup (I tested FAQ schema markup and it was spot on)
I tried several of these and while a few are far from perfect, some were pretty good.
The Scary Side of ChatGPT for SEO:
You can read the cautionary tale about this tool anywhere and everywhere and hear largely the same concerns, but here are a few additional thoughts I had:
- It generates content SO fast, you will be spoiled. When you go back to the Internet, to Google, to pulling up websites on desktop and mobile, it seems like they take so slowwwwww. I think we as consumers are going to get even more impatient with slow-loading sites. And you know what that means? As marketers, we need to double up on our efforts to improve site speed and performance. Because you can bet Google is going to, and they’ll reward sites that follow suit.
- With Google, you know you can’t copy/paste content you see directly in the SERPS (hello plagiarism and infringement!). With the ChatGPT interface, users will not emotionally feel that same inherent knowledge as the interface makes it so easy to copy. No bueno.
- Although the copy the tool wrote for me passed a plagiarism check, that isn’t quite the point. Most of this copy is going to be broad and generic, which Google HATES (more on that in a second). And besides that, apparently there is an algorithm watermark that can tell when content is written by AI, sooo, you have to use it strategically.
Tips For Using ChatGPT for SEO
Here are a few things I learned:
- The tool isn’t great for “newer” information. I looked up 2022 and 2023 SEO stats, and it came back and told me it only had information up to 2021.
- You need to know how to direct the questions, and tweak them if you don’t get a satisfactory answer, or if something is BS. Just like keyword research, feeding the right input in is critical. I tried a few different combinations of queries for certain topics, but didn’t come up with much that was valuable. (However, everyday I’m sure this thing is only going to get smarter.)
What Does Google Think of AI Content?
This answer can’t be any clearer about this: Google considers straight AI-written content as spam.
Here’s what Google says: “For us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, or looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do.”
Content written by AI falls under the category of auto-generated content, which could lead to a manual penalty.
Can Google detect this? Probably/maybe. Do you want to take that chance?
Here’s what they say: “And I don’t know how the future will evolve there, but I imagine like with any other of these technologies, there will be a little bit of a cat and mouse game, where sometimes people will do something and they get away with it, and then the webspam team catches up and solves that issue on a broader scale.”
Update: since this article was originally published, Google has somewhat changed their stance on AI-generated content (shocker). Google says it “will continue to take a responsible approach toward AI-generated content while maintaining a high bar for information quality and helpfulness in search results.” Check out their updated guidelines here. Essentially, there is a time and place for AI content. But if you want to be an authoritative source worthy of ranking at the top, you’re using AI strategically.
Final Thoughts: Is AI Content Good or Bad?
It is difficult to say whether AI content is inherently good or bad. Like any technology, AI can be used for both beneficial and harmful purposes. It is up to the people creating and using AI to ensure that it is used ethically and responsibly.
The above paragraph was written by ChatGPT.
Recommended Resources & Further Reading
There are great resources out there talking about ChatGPT and SEO (and more coming in daily!). Here is a list of recommended readings:
Happy ChatGPT’ing! If you haven’t given it a try, I suggest you go ahead, sign up (it’s free – for now), and start playing around. Just please don’t copy/paste/publish, ok?
SEO Essentials Mini-Course
Refresh your SEO skills with this 5-day SEO fundamentals mini-course. You'll learn the key pieces of knowledge marketers must have to master the complex world of SEO.
Latest posts by Jenny Munn (see all)
- The Impact of AI on SEO - June 2, 2023
- Your 2023 SEO Strategy Plan: 3 Factors to Consider - January 19, 2023
- ChatGPT for SEO: What’s Impressive, What’s Scary - January 13, 2023
That’s a fantastic summary. I think a big key to all of this will be showing personal insights that AI can’t handle (at least for another decade or so). When you dove into “It reminds me of the time I was at the Atlanta Writers Annual Conference back in 2005…”, that’s clearly something that AI is a very long way from being able to do.
Thanks so much, Mickey! And you’re right – storytelling is definitely going to be the differentiator throughout all of this.