Watch out, Google. There’s a new player on the search engine scene.
Sure, you’ve heard this before, but this time it’s serious.
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a large learning model focusing on language.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) and massive amounts of data, it can interact with users in a conversational manner, answering follow-up questions, acknowledging mistakes, rejecting inappropriate requests, and even challenging incorrect premises.
While this OpenAI-developed chatbot isn’t a direct competitor for Google, per se, it is changing the way searches are performed. And this will dramatically alter the shape of search engine optimization.
In this piece, we’ll look at this technology and discuss innovative ways forward-thinking search engine optimizers are already using it to perform their roles.
What Can You Do With ChatGPT?
We’ve only begun tapping into the potential for using machine learning and artificial intelligence in SEO and marketing.
ChatGPT is capable of participating in discussions and answering questions in a manner that’s very close to a human.
It can write essays, fictional stories, poems, and even ad copy – which is enough to make professional writers like me a little worried.
It can be used to create content accurately enough that the New York City Department of Education has already banned its use amidst fears of cheating.
But more than content, ChatGPT is smart enough to be used to write meta descriptions or debug code. At the moment, using it for coding is a lengthy technical process, but it seems safe to assume that it will become much easier as the learning model grows larger.
It can also be used as a search assistant, providing answers to queries in clear and concise formats to save users from combing multiple web pages to find answers to their questions.
For example, if you’re looking for a recipe for beef wellington, rather than sorting through a dozen blog pages and scrolling past a longwinded story about how the blogger’s grandmother once prepared this dish for Winston Churchill, ChatGPT gives you a list of ingredients and preparation steps.
As an SEO professional, this may sound a little scary.
But embracing AI technology rather than worrying about it could be a good move.
There are many ways you can use it to streamline your work and make redundant or repetitive tasks more efficient.
Let’s look at how cutting-edge SEO pros are already using ChatGPT.
Ways That SEO Pros Are Already Putting ChatGPT To Work
1. Creating Content
Creating content can be a hassle, particularly if you don’t have a skilled (and humble) writer like me on staff.
Can ChatGPT do this for you? Well, it can, but you should probably avoid using it to write webpages and blog posts.
In 2022, Google Search Advocate John Mueller said in no uncertain terms that the search engine views content created using artificial intelligence to be spam, a violation of the company’s guidelines.
At the moment, Google algorithms can identify and penalize AI-generated content, even that which uses anti-detection algorithms.
You should always use human oversight when working with AI.
However, everyone can safely use ChatGPT to create content for social media posts, email pitches, landing page copy for PPC, or even ad copy. It can also be a great brainstorming tool.
I asked ChatGPT, “What is SEO?”
In response, I received three well-written paragraphs providing an overview of search engine optimization.
As long as you’re careful, ChatGPT could help streamline many redundant content tasks like ad variations, but you must always carefully check any generated content, as it may contain inaccuracies.
2. Keyword Research And Analysis
Okay, so you’re not willing to risk the penalties of getting caught using ChatGPT to create content. That doesn’t mean you can’t leverage its power as part of your content strategy.
ChatGPT makes keyword research practically effortless.
All you need to do is open the chatbot and type in a few of your target keywords, and ask for related ones. ChatGPT will crank out a list of related keywords based on its understanding of search results.
To try out this functionality, I searched a list of keywords relevant to a banking software provider.
A short while later, the chatbot presented me with a list of keywords and phrases that might have taken me much longer to come up with via traditional keyword research.
You can also use it to determine the competition for various keywords.
For a high-level example, I asked it to determine whether “basketball” or “twine net” would be easier to rank for. We already know the answer, but it was nice to see the chatbot reinforce that.
3. Content Strategy Development
Okay, I’ll admit, this one blew my mind. I wouldn’t even have thought of it had I not seen this tweet from Joe Speiser:
6/ Outline your content marketing strategy
As an example,
I’ve asked Chatbot for an AI SaaS content strategy.
It’s fairly basic,
But you can ask Chat to extrapolate on each point until you’ve got a detailed roadmap. pic.twitter.com/QxcvKNHJNK
— Joe Speiser ⚡️ (@jspeiser) January 2, 2023
That’s right. You can ask ChatGPT to outline a content marketing strategy for you.
While it doesn’t return granular plans (though you could probably ask for those), it does provide a high-level set of tactics for content related to a specified field.
One caveat that springs to mind about employing a chatbot-created content strategy is the concern that your closest competitors may do the same thing. Thus, you’re all creating nearly identical blog posts about “the benefits of AI,” “how AI SaaS can improve efficiency,” etc.
4. Better Understanding Of Search Intent
To me, this is the single most interesting SEO-related potential presented by ChatGPT – its ability to drill down into the search query and look beyond the words to the intent of the search.
Yes, Google tries to do this, and yes, it has improved dramatically over the search engine’s lifespan – but to quote a tweet by Keiran Flanagan, “Google takes your query and attempts to answer it. ChatGPT takes your query and will often improve upon it.”
4/ Added Value:
In a bunch of examples, ChatGPT provides additional tips the searcher hadn’t considered
Google takes your query and attempts to answer it
ChatGPT takes your query and will often improve upon it
Great example from awesome study ran by @HelloSurgeAI pic.twitter.com/ZeDJGWP2VR
— Kieran Flanagan 🤘 (@searchbrat) January 3, 2023
While the beta version of this chatbot isn’t connected to the internet yet, it seems that the learning ability of ChatGPT will allow it to develop an exponentially greater understanding of what each search is seeking, sometimes even providing information the searcher didn’t know they were looking for.
As an SEO professional, you don’t need to be told that by shaping your content to answer a question better, you’ll shoot up the rankings. ChatGPT can help you do that.
5. Generating Good SEO Titles
Ask any writer, and they’ll tell you titles are one of the most difficult things to write, particularly for SEO purposes. All too often, they end up as dry things like “How To Build Backlinks” or some boring equivalent.
To spice things up, I asked ChatGPT to give me a list of titles for a page on backlinking, and it responded with ten options, all of which were more interesting than my “how to” line.
6. Composing And Managing Analytics Reports
For many marketers, reports and spreadsheets are the banes of their professional existence. But companies want data to prove your efforts are making a difference. That’s where ChatGPT can be a real game changer.
More than that, this functionality can help you identify new ranking opportunities you might otherwise have missed.
Let’s say you want to compose regular expressions for analytics reporting, but you don’t have a strong programming background. For example, maybe you want to filter a report using specific words to identify opportunities to expand your FAQs or how-tos.
ChatGPT lets anyone with a basic knowledge of how these expressions work use the chatbot to generate a list automatically.
Likewise, if you routinely struggle with Excel or Google Sheets (and who doesn’t?), ChatGPT can eliminate much of the headache from writing formulas and parsing data.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of how AI can help you in these processes, but if you want more information, Search Engine Journal’s resident IT guru Vahan Petrosyan has an excellent article that covers these topics in greater depth.
AI Presents A Brave New World For SEO
ChatGPT is an extremely impressive tool. And it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of what it offers and could eventually do in the future, particularly for SEO.
Just with the small sampling of the functionality discussed above, it could potentially save you hundreds of hours every year.
However, it’s not without its drawbacks. For one thing, as it is currently operating, it draws on data from no later than 2021, which means it’s unable to provide any information on current events.
It’s probably safe to assume that a later version of the chatbot will remedy this issue, but we still don’t know how long it will take for the AI to learn about new events and relate them to other topics.
Further, it is not 100% accurate and unbiased. Depending on its inputs, it can receive and thus repeat incorrect information, while the initial dataset it was trained upon may not be free from dataset bias.
Finally, being someone who grew up watching the Terminator movies, there is always the worry of ChatGPT becoming self-aware and enslaving humanity. To be on the safe side, I confronted it directly.
It “thought” for a suspiciously long time before returning this unconvincing answer:
The Final Verdict
ChatGPT is cool, and all signs indicate that it is only going to get better.
It shows the potential to make search engine optimization much faster and more efficient.
We must make all efforts to ensure it doesn’t connect to the nuclear arsenal.
Just kidding… kind of.
Featured Image: CHUAN CHUAN/Shutterstock
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