Since the public launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, the world of search engine optimization (SEO) has exploded with talk of using it and similar artificial intelligence (AI) tools for anything from crunching data to writing blog posts. Here at ROI Revolution, we’ve been monitoring the news and testing some of the more popular tools so we can understand the current state of AI with respect to SEO and how the future of using AI for SEO may unfold.
SEO rules and best practices change often because Google constantly tweaks its algorithms and introduces new technology into search. While Google isn’t the only search engine, it is by far the most popular and impactful one, taking 92.58% of the search engine market share in December 2022. Bing came in a very distant second with 3.03%, and Yahoo! claimed 1.24%.
Bing recently announced it will incorporate ChatGPT into its search engine results pages (SERP), but has not given specific details yet, including a launch date.
Smart SEO professionals will look to Google for guidance on how to use emerging technologies like ChatGPT, and as its guidelines are issued and discussed by Google’s spokespeople on social media, we take note.
We will keep this article updated with the latest developments as they become available, so bookmark this page and check back for new information regularly.
What Google Says About AI for Writing
The background for this article really started in December when Google added an E to E-A-T in the Search Quality Evaluators Guidelines. This announcement made it clear that raters are looking for experience in addition to expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in webpages that answer user queries. By adding personal experience to the equation, we believe Google is clarifying what it’s looking for in product reviews and possibly preparing for an inundation of web pages written by artificial intelligence tools.
Earlier this year, a discussion on Twitter resulted in Google spokesperson Danny Sullivan reiterating that Google wants to rank content that is written for people, not search engines. When asked about Bankrate’s use of AI for writing content on its website, Sullivan’s response was:
“As said before when asked about AI, content created primarily for search engine rankings, however it is done, is against our guidance. If content is helpful and created for people first, that’s not an issue.”
Taken as a whole, recent statements on the subject from Google’s search liaison team and on its developers’ blog point to using caution when considering whether to employ chatbot writing on your website.
Our SEO Team’s AI Writing Experiments & Results
Over the last two months, our team has experimented with chatbot writing tools, including ChatGPT and Jasper.ai, with mixed results.
Jasper.ai leverages Open AI’s GPT-3 models (DaVinci) through API to produce content using their own prompts and sequences. ChatGPT is currently direct-access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT model.
With any computer system, what you get out of it is determined by what you put into it, and these technologies are still in their early stages of development.
ChatGPT is limited by the recency of the data it uses to produce answers to prompts. Even after a January 2023 update, it only has data as recent as 2021, so using it to write about current events would be useless at best and disastrous at worst because it has been known to fabricate research, facts, and events. In fact, when asked to site its sources after giving writing prompt results, it confidently sited sources that did not exist!
Google wants trustworthiness, and made-up sources do not scream “trust me!”
When testing Jasper, we found its blog writing style at about the level of a high school senior answering an essay test question, and it also tended toward questionable creativity. One test asked it to write a blog post about chopping wood in the voice of popular television show host Mike Rowe, and the results were laughable – unless you happen to be Mike Rowe. Here’s an excerpt from that test:
Are you ready to tackle splitting and seasoning your own firewood? Follow Mike Rowe’s tips on cutting logs using a log splitter as well as seasoning methods and get ready to enjoy all those cozy winter nights around your fireplace!
Needless to say, Mike Rowe did not personally provide tips on splitting firewood. It is possible Jasper misinterpreted its own parameter of “in the voice of” to mean label it as this person’s opinion, or it fabricated the origination of the tips on its own. Either way, the results bring us back to the question of trustworthiness.
Based on these findings – the lower quality of the output and whether it is trustworthy – and Google’s guidelines, our team’s current recommendation is to avoid using these tools for writing page content.
Potentially Good Uses of ChatGPT for SEO
There are some safer ways to use tools like ChatGPT for SEO tasks. For example, you can use them for brainstorming blog topic ideas. Our prompts resulted in ten ideas in just seconds, and you can always ask for more. In our trials, we noticed that the more specific the query (like one that included a name brand), the less helpful the results were, while general prompts had the most potentially useful ideas. You may need to tweak the prompts several times to see results you can use.
Keep in mind that if you ask an AI tool for blog post topics, you’ll still want to check relevant keywords for search volume and make sure the topics will be helpful to your website users. You might also need to change the voice of the topic to match your brand’s.
Another safe use of ChatGPT is creating regular expressions (regex) for mining data in Google Analytics – potentially saving you time working on the more technical aspects of SEO.
ChatGPT is also adept at organizing compiled data into tables. You can ask it to create a list and a brief description about each and then ask it to be a table format. The table above shows the results of asking ChatGPT for a list of literary genres and their descriptions presented in a table format.
Tying It All Together: Using AI & ChatGPT for SEO
Should website owners use AI tools for SEO? As is typically the case in the world of SEO, the answer is “it depends.” The faster technology advances, the more important it is to keep up with the latest guidelines. The ROI Revolution SEO team will continue to stay on top of AI news as it relates to the future of search engine optimization. Check back often!
For more of the latest updates on SEO, check out some of our recent blogs below. And if you’re interested in connecting with our SEO experts to explore the growth opportunities we could uncover for you, send a message to our team today!
- January 2023 SEO News Recap
- Optimizing Your Website With Schema Markup
- Exploring Content’s Role in a Google Algorithm Update
- OpenAI, ChatGPT.
- Statcounter, Search Engine Market Share Worldwide.
- Google Search Central Blog, Our latest update to the quality rater guidelines: E-A-T gets an extra E for Experience.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Reiterates Guidelines On AI Written Content After Bankrate AI Content Writer Gains Attention.