While the industry reels from artificially intelligent (AI) tools like ChatGPT, Tim Jones of True Digital firmly predicts: SEO isn’t going anywhere, for The Drum’s Predictions Deep Dive.
Let’s start by addressing one thing about ChatGPT: it will not be replacing the SEO industry. The technology is spectacular, but the content it generates remains (for the moment, at least) superficial.
With most queries, we find it’s able to create something that has the look and style of a genuine piece of expertly written content; something that will impress a novice on any topic. But its output has flaws that can be seen through by someone with real subject matter expertise. It’s proficient in “fluent bullshit”, as The Verge aptly described it.
Good SEO, like good marketing, is not superficial. It demands original, strategic thinking and the ability to creatively join dots in ways that we haven’t yet seen from ChatGPT. Ask it to generate campaign taglines, website copy or product descriptions, and the results tend to be too clichéd or generic to provide any competitive advantage to a brand.
So, we don’t think that seasoned SEO professionals will be entrusting their digital content creation to ChatGPT anytime soon. But that’s not to say it isn’t a tool that will become an invaluable part of the SEO toolkit.
As much as we might hate to admit it, digital marketing isn’t all strategic planning and creative brilliance – there’s still a range of tasks that can be sped up, improved, or completely replaced by a tool like ChatGPT.
ChatGPT and Google’s guidelines
ChatGPT opposes everything that Google asks for in user-friendly website content; it wants uniquely written copy that illustrates a business’ experience, expertise, authority and trust signals (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). These four signals are what Google uses to rate a website’s quality, so it would be a massive risk for organic performance to rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to create website content.
AI doesn’t have the interpersonal understanding of who your business is, why customers should choose you, or most importantly, why they should trust you. That’s why it can’t replace your content-writing team.
Will ChatGPT replace Google?
Brand bias exists in search engine marketing. Consumers are looking for a credible source to answer their query; if they see a brand they trust below an unrecognizable URL in the search listings, they’re more likely to click on the brand they know.
AI can’t claim the real-world experience, or provide trusted opinions, that established brands can. It can only advise and inform, and even that to only a certain degree. While it can crawl reviews, it could never provide an opinion-based answer that is sought for when it comes to a lot of searches.
Why would you trust AI to tell you where to travel in South America, when you could hear directly from travel bloggers who have been there? Could AI tell you the best type of running trainers to buy? It’s unlikely. You’d want to look at reviews from experienced runners.
While AI can’t replace the skills and human intelligence of content writers, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used at all in the SEO industry.
ChatGPT applications for the SEO industry
We’ve all been there with writer’s block: a sudden inability to think of any related topics to add to your content. You can ask ChatGPT to suggest related FAQs and topics to give you ideas about what else you could include. And then you can use those insights to create the content that your consumers are actually looking for.
New to SEO, or looking for a free keyword research tool? ChatGPT can list every related keyword to pretty much any search query imaginable. Again, there are limitations. It won’t be able to show the deeper SEO insights that a comprehensive SEO strategy requires, such as search demand and search trends. But, that’s not to say this couldn’t happen in the future.
Is it just the beginning for ChatGPT?
The sophisticated technology of ChatGPT has already been used for some pretty incredible applications, and not just in marketing and technology. From debugging code to creating workout plans, it’s garnered so much attention that it’s nearly always at its workload capacity.
It won’t be replacing Google, or the skills of content writers or SEO strategists anytime soon. But we’ll all be paying attention to what’s next from ChatGPT.
For more on AI, SEO, and other acronyms, check out our Tech Predictions hub.