ChatGPT continues to be a hotly-debated topic for PR and marketing pros, and for good reason. The tool has forced the industry to rethink their content strategies, including how, if and when they should incorporate AI-generated writing into their plans, and whether the ethical concerns raised could impact those strategies.
Marketers are also now asking themselves how AI-generated content could impact SEO efforts. In short, according to Google, it doesn’t—just as long as you’re not trying to manipulate rankings or results. To the surprise of many digital marketers, last month Google published its guidance about AI-generated content, pointing out that its focus continues to be “on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced.”
While this direction is relatively straightforward, there are several nuances that marketers should consider.
Quality Content Counts
ChatGPT should be compared to how writers would use Wikipedia to source content—it’s a great starting point in terms of initial research, but it shouldn’t be overly relied on for creating quality original content. The tool isn’t perfect, and biases, simplifications and inaccuracies could raise eyebrows.
Notably, ChatGPT’s training data cuts off in 2021, making it “unaware of current events or trends” after that point. It also has no external capabilities to fact check, so it is unable to confirm data for accuracy via third-party verification. This regurgitated content could impact rankings negatively as it is not original or verified—thus not providing real value to the end user.
All that said, we can expect ChatGPT and other AI-based tools to continue to improve their processes in an effort to increase the credibility and accuracy of the content they generate. In fact, ChatGPT recently announced the availability of supporting plugins to help the tool “access up-to-date information.”
Additionally, in December, Google released its “Helpful Content Update,” an expansion of its ranking system for rewarding quality, high-value content, which will continue to be in place as organizations figure out how to publish content using AI tools.
The content qualities called out by Google are referred to as E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness). The key takeaway is that the more unique, direct experience input you can insert into your content, the more Google will promote it within the search results based on its E-E-A-T standards.
We’ve all made the sarcastic remark, “It’s on the Internet, so it MUST be true,” when finding something so outrageous online that it is (or should be) unbelievable. However, many of us “accuracy scoffers” may fall into the trap of plugging a topic into an AI tool and taking the results at face value. Bad idea.
ChatGPT primarily pulls general information from the prompts entered, which may lack the nuance and context needed to make some statements accurate or relevant. Additionally, AI is created by humans, which can inherently incorporate biases people have.
As Google noted in its AI-Generated Content guidance, accuracy plays a critical role in its rankings: “On topics where information quality is critically important—like health, civic, or financial information—our systems place an even greater emphasis on signals of reliability.”
Your clients are the subject matter experts who should add their own insights to the AI-generated content created. The careful review and editing process will go a long way toward creating user-first content that can drive sustainable traffic over time.
How AI Tools Can Help SEO Processes
While specific content generation that adheres to Google’s guidelines may not be their strength, AI tools can be used to help create other efficiencies in your SEO processes and strategy. ChatGPT could be used to create various meta elements like a title tag and meta description for ideation after the content is complete.
Some tips to consider to improve search results:
- Be clear: AI tools will not understand your keyword strategy. Be clear in your prompts with specific keyword phrases to use.
- Be specific: Share specific details like character count limits to ensure you’re getting outputs that you can use or easily modify.
- Educate the tool: Provide two or three strong examples of what you’re looking to land more useful results.
Because ChatGPT is still in its early stage, some of these issues may continue to self-correct in future iterations of the app. But for now, it’s important to lean in to your clients’ expertise and use AI-generated content only as a helpful tool—not a standalone content creator.
Keep in mind that regardless of the author (AI or otherwise), the crucial point to remember is that content will only perform well if it’s valuable to the end user.
Matt Raven is VP of Digital at Look Left Marketing