Since ChatGPT burst onto the scene, industry forums, news and experts alike have all been abuzz about what it means for the future of SEO.
As we figure this out, one thing we know for sure is that AI isn’t going anywhere. So, we can either be part of the AI revolution – or be left behind.
While AI is here to stay, we don’t see it ever replacing SEOs – or copywriters. As Doug, our Technical SEO Lead, covered in an earlier article, can we really trust an AI that has no lived experience? A machine can't replace the expertise of human writers and marketers.
But what it can do is help you work smarter. And freeing up time to be more creative, innovative, and productive can mean better results for clients.
AI and content
One way we’re trialling the use of AI here at Yard is exploring how it can help us be more efficient with content creation for optimisation purposes.
First, let’s take a quick look at Google’s thoughts on AI-generated content. Essentially, their guidance on this has been the same for many years – basically, if you’re using AI-generated content to “manipulate ranking in search results” then you’re violating their spam policies.
Google rewards content that’s original, authoritative, and high-quality. While content created by a tool like ChatGPT is technically original (in the sense it’s not duplicate), it is drawing from information and the opinions of others online.
That’s not necessarily a criticism, it’s what the tool is built to do. It often does it very well, and impressively quickly. But it can leave AI content at a deficit for those key Google content values.
So, let’s be real – copying and pasting directly from ChatGPT to a live page isn’t likely to get you anywhere in the long term. But Google also understands the power of AI. Within the same guidelines, they say they’ve “long believed in the power of AI to transform the ability to deliver helpful information”.
“Transform the ability to deliver” being the operative phrase here. Using AI to create content in its entirety isn’t only unethical, it’s also against Google’s guidelines. But we can use it as a tool to aid our delivery – allowing us to focus on creating high-quality content.
How AI can help with content creation
So, what are some ways we can harness the power of AI to boost our content creation efficiency? And what do we need to be wary of?
At Yard, data is at the heart of everything we do. The content work we produce for our clients is steeped in a data-led, keyword-focused strategy.
But for a more creative piece of content, it can be a little tricky to determine what angle to take from just a keyword set alone. That’s where ChatGPT can help.
When you’re brainstorming, it can be a great tool to support with idea generation. Feed it your keyword set, topic, target audience, tone of voice, purpose of article and ask it to suggest ideas.
Plus, if you’re having a bit of a mental block – we’ve all been there! – it can help get the creative juices flowing.
It’s worth bearing in mind here that ChatGPT is only as good as the information you provide. Getting your prompts correct makes all the difference to the output you get.
Working on a niche you’re not too familiar with? As well as using good old-fashioned Google for your research, ChatGPT can help too.
It can give you a variety of information about your topic such as its history, key statistics, and common questions. It’s essentially doing the same research process you are, just in a fraction of the time.
But as Lou, our Head of Digital PR, mentioned in her recent piece on digital PR and AI, there are limitations when it comes to using ChatGPT for up-to-date information. In ChatGPT’s own words, its “knowledge cut-off is September 2021”. Although, of course, this is only the state of play at time of writing. It’s not unfeasible to expect it to become more current with the rate AI is developing.
If you choose to use ChatGPT to speed up your research, ask for (and check) sources. And make sure you’re not missing any new information.
Creating an outline for your piece of content can help organise your main points so you write more cohesively. This is another area ChatGPT can help with – particularly for longform content where it might take a while to pull an outline together.
But before you simply ask ChatGPT to create a structure based on your topic, remember you get out what you put in. There’s still some manual effort involved here. As well as inputting all the information you’d provide for idea generation – like tone of voice and target audience – categorise your keyword set and provide the category list to ChatGPT.
It’ll provide additional context and ensure key themes for optimisation are included.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of using AI for SEO is its ability to do content at scale. When you’ve got multiple page titles and meta descriptions to create, this is where it can come in very handy.
Of course, meta tags are key to optimisation, so it’s important they’re done right. While we can lean on the power of AI to help create them, think of it as a first draft.
Using a Google Sheet plug-in such as ChatGPT for Sheets and Docs, you can set up your document with columns for the URL, target keyword(s) and prompt. With the click of a few buttons, you’ll have multiple meta tags.
The more detailed you go with your prompts, the more tailored your meta tags. But, with tests we’ve run in this area, ChatGPT doesn’t always get it right – even with the right prompts. Sometimes it went over the character limit, sometimes it flipped between UK and US spelling, and sometimes it got very repetitive. So, yes, very helpful, but always and only a first draft.
Using AI to help with content optimisation can absolutely enhance our efficiency, and ultimately improve results – if it’s used in the right way.
It’s important ChatGPT – and other AI content tools – are used responsibly, but they have clear potential to help us work smarter. As we’ve seen with our research and tests, there are limitations – but that’s why you use them to support, rather than replace, the skills of experienced SEOs and copywriters.
So, are you joining the revolution? Get in touch to find out more about how Yard is using AI technology to improve efficiency for our clients.