If you pay attention to SEO, you already know all about ChatGPT.
So far, it’s been the biggest SEO story of 2023, and public interest in its potential isn’t going away. While AI for SEO has been a popular topic for years, ChatGPT looks like the first version that actually holds real promise.
That’s why our marketing team recently sat down to discuss whether or not you can really use ChatGPT for your website’s SEO.
…and, more importantly, whether or not we can fire our SEO team.
Can You Use ChatGPT to Create Content for SEO?
ChatGPT can assist you with your SEO content creation by performing specific functions such as writing SEO-focused blog posts, articles, and landing pages.
However, many SEOs are also reporting that they're using this popular AI technology to do more in-depth work like the kind of research required to create content Google likes, carrying out necessary keyword research, coming up with content clusters, and more.
We'll dive into how effective ChatGPT is at this in a moment.
Because while ChatGPT can definitely be a valuable asset in certain SEO content creation scenarios, it definitely has some limitations.
Can ChatGPT Do Effective Keyword Research for SEO?
Let's start with the obvious one.
Keyword research is essential for ranking your webpages, but it's also a prime candidate for outsourced work.
Does that mean you can outsource it to ChatGPT?
In short, no.
First of all, remember that ChatGPT is limited in terms of its knowledge base.
As far as it knows, what was popular in September of 2021 is still popular today.
That’s already enough of a problem, but there’s also no way for ChatGPT to sync with updated information from an SEO platform like Ahrefs of Semrush.
That said, you can try using ChatGPT for brainstorming.
Try asking it:
- For a glossary of words or phrases related to your keywords
- For high-level topics and other more niche topics related to your keywords
- For categories and subcategories related to your products or services
- Questions that a potential customer might ask
Play around with these strategies a bit to see what approaches hold the most promise for your business.
What About Meta Tags?
You could use ChatGPT to do things like write your Title Tags, H1s, and Meta Descriptions, but I wouldn’t place too much stock in AI for these purposes.
Creating these important pieces of SEO content is something you should only do after you’ve reviewed what’s working best in the SERPs for your most desirable keywords.
Does Google Care About AI Content?
Given how much emphasis Google places on the importance of helpful content from experts, you’d think that it would have no patience for anything created by actual robots.
But so far, the evidence is clear: Google doesn’t care if AI makes your content.
In fact, the search engine giant has even published official guidelines for using AI.
So, as long as your users find it helpful, Google will happily reward your AI efforts.
And people don't seem to care a whole lot, either.
Just look at Buzzfeed, which recently admitted that they would be using ChatGPT to produce content and assist with brainstorming.
The announcement led to a huge jump in their stock, at least in the short term.
Of course, if you want to publish content that positions you or your brand as a reliable, thought-leading authority, you probably need to be careful with how much of those thoughts you're getting from ChatGPT.
There’s also a big difference between putting lots of thought and effort into using ChatGPT to produce content and simply using AI to mass publish pages without much consideration for your audience.
Here’s an example of what the latter looks like:
This is not where you want your SEO efforts to lead…
A good rule of thumb is probably that ChatGPT should supplement and assist your SEO work, not handle all of it from start-to-finish.
But let's keep looking at other important SEO tasks you might be able to outsource to ChatGPT.
Using ChatGPT to Write Your Blog Posts
ChatGPT can definitely write a blog post for you. Give it a prompt and you'll get an article in a matter of seconds.
Of course, if your goal is organic traffic, you probably already know that this approach may not be extremely effective.
Some companies may be able to see results from ChatGPT's blog-writing efforts simply because they've already established themselves as recognized authorities in their industry.
But that's also playing with fire. Publish enough generic content and your authority will dwindle.
And if you are still fighting for that foothold in your field, basic blog posts from ChatGPT isn't going to do you any favors.
A better strategy is to use ChatGPT to create the outlines you need to create blog posts that your audience and Google both like.
So, let's get into that next.
Creating Blog Post Outlines
One important function that you can probably rely on ChatGPT for is creating outlines for blog posts. Over the course of an entire content strategy, this could save you countless hours of work and increase production to a powerful degree.
While tools like Clearscope and Content Harmony still have the edge, ChatGPT can do a fantastic job considering that it’s free.
Here’s a really simple way to do it:
- Search for your desired keyword
- Assuming the top search results are all similar blog posts, feed them to ChatGPT and ask what they all have in common - that’s your outline
- Then, ask ChatGPT to identify which articles cover any unique points - add all of those to your outline, too, so your blog post stands out more
You’ll still want to doublecheck ChatGPT’s work, but this will easily save you an hour compared to the time it takes to create an outline for your writers.
Can You Use ChatGPT for eCommerce SEO?
As we talked about in the video above, ChatGPT can help with eCommerce SEO, too, but you’re not quite off the hook yet.
For example, you can probably use ChatGPT to write content for your category and subcategory pages. The more of these pages you have, the bigger help this will be.
Obviously, you can test to see how well ChatGPT can rewrite what your competitors are using, too.
One thing you probably can’t do is use ChatGPT to create product descriptions. If your products existed in 2021 or there are sources you can pull from for this information, that might be possible.
But if you manufacture your own products and have your own SKUs – and are the only source of information about these products – there’s probably only so much ChatGPT will be able to do.
ChatGPT Can’t Write Sales Pages, But It Can Help
Sales pages are another area where ChatGPT currently falls a bit short.
The AI can't reliably anticipate your audience's pain points. It won't know how to use copywriting strategies to hone in on these concerns while also introducing your product or service as the ideal solution.
So, as with your product descriptions, you should still keep writing these on your own.
However, ChatGPT may be able to assist with brainstorming and coming up with information that could help lead to a buying decision. As we've mentioned before, you can use the AI to do research that you could then leverage in your sales copy.
Using ChatGPT to Rewrite and Edit Content
As we’ve covered, ChatGPT can rewrite content – whether it’s your own copy or from one of your competitor’s sites.
But there’s some fine print here.
Rewriting Entire Posts
ChatGPT can rewrite entire blog posts for you (kind of).
Maybe you want to do this because you worry past posts weren’t perfect English or needed a small tune-up where grammar is concerned.
ChatGPT can certainly help with this.
But what many SEOs are really interested in is using ChatGPT to simply rewrite a competitor’s blog post, so they can have all the benefits of optimized content without spending the same kind of time it takes to create it.
Imagine being able to just run through your competitor’s blog – one they might’ve been building for years – and having ChatGPT rewrite all of their best posts in a matter of hours. Publish to your site and reap all the benefits.
Unfortunately, ChatGPT isn’t there just yet.
If you ask ChatGPT to rewrite a blog post for you, it will essentially summarize the content instead. So, if you're targeting a 2,000-word post that’s doing amazing numbers, you’ll probably have to settle for a 600-word version.
It’s better than nothing, but it’s probably not going to stand the same chance of ranking well.
Plus, even if ChatGPT gets better about matching word counts, you still have to do all the necessary interlinking and outbound linking that optimization requires.
Instead of Having ChatGPT Rewrite Entire Posts for You…
One idea might be to feed ChatGPT the blog post you want rewritten in smaller pieces.
For example, you could simply have it rewrite a blog post by sections.
You could even give it specific keywords to use for each of these sections for a chance at even better optimization.
This would take longer, of course, but the result will definitely have a better chance of ranking in the search engines.
Given the last section, it should come as no surprise that ChatGPT LOVES shortening paragraphs.
It’s great at providing responses in fewer than 600 words – sometimes, whether you like it or not.
So, if you want summaries, you’ll love ChatGPT.
To be fair, this can be really helpful if you want to reference case studies, medical studies, long articles, or other content that would be time-consuming to read in whole and summarize.
ChatGPT can do it for you, so you have a quick summation to provide in your article.
Important Limitations of ChatGPT
Although ChatGPT has a ton of potential, we’ve also tried to be forthright about its limitations in this blog and our video above.
I expect they won’t always be a problem, but here are some big ones you should know about before relying on it too much for SEO.
Word Count Limits
While there’s no official word count limit for ChatGPT, it certainly seems as though you arelimited to 4,096 characters when prompting ChatGPT. And ChatGPT also seems to have some limitations in terms of how many words it can provide in response.
To test this, you can ask ChatGPT to write you a blog post and insist it's at least 1,000 words. In my experience, no matter how emphatic you are, the AI will continuously fall short.
ChatGPT Doesn’t Know Anything After 2021
ChatGPT knows a lot, but it can’t tell you anything about the world after September 2021. That’s the limit of its “knowledge base.”
Depending on what kind of content you need on your site, this can be quite the limitation.
You can’t blog about reviews of the prior year or predictions about the one coming up. This also means no covering major developments in your industry that happened after 2021.
ChatGPT Can Make Mistakes
AI has a lot going for it, but as far as ChatGPT goes, it’s still very capable of making some glaring mistakes.
So, once again, you still need the human element.
If you're hoping you'll be able to use ChatGPT to simply prompt-and-publish, you're going to be very disappointed (and maybe even embarrassed).
ChatGPT Isn’t Worried About Plagiarism
A lot of SEOs are using ChatGPT to rewrite competitors’ content, so they can use it on their own sites. We’ll get into that a bit more in just a moment, but there’s one major drawback to this approach: ChatGPT will sometimes just reproduce whole sentences and pass it off as “rewritten.”
...that’s not what I meant and you know it, ChatGPT.
I've tested it multiple times and while it probably rewrites about 80-90% of the content I've submitted to it, there are times when it will leave whole sentences untouched. Sometimes, it returns entire paragraphs that haven't been rewritten at all.
So, while using it to rewrite content can still be incredibly helpful, consider using a tool like Copyscape to double-check that ChatGPT wasn’t cutting corners when creating your content.
What Does Chat GPT-4 Mean for SEO?
Yesterday, the newest version of ChatGPT debuted.
This new version boasts a whole host of new and impressive features. It’s also a lot “smarter” as proven by how well GPT-4 performs on a number of standardized tests (e.g., the ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, etc.) and more creative about problem-solving.
GPT-4 is also able to process visual prompts.
For example, if you show it a photo of various ingredients, ChatGPT can “recognize” those ingredients and tell you what kind of dish you could make with them.
It even has impressive reasoning abilities.
When shown a cluster of balloons tied down with ribbon and asked what would happen if someone cut that ribbon, GPT-4 rightfully responded that the balloons would float away.
That kind of logical reasoning is an extremely impressive evolution from the last iteration.
But what will that mean for using AI to do SEO?
It’s too early to tell just yet.
GPT-4 will probably be much more reliable for content production (though OpenAI admits it still has limitations and can even “hallucinate” facts), but it will probably take plenty of trial and error in the months to come before we get a real sense for how much GPT-4 is going to change the way SEO is done.
The Secret to Using ChatGPT for SEO Purposes
As ChatGPT continues to evolve – and it absolutely will – its impressive list of capabilities will expand, too.
Rather than viewing ChatGPT as an "AI SEO content creator" that can do everything for you in a matter of seconds, it’s probably better to look at the tool as more of an assistant – one that can help you with research, brainstorming, and summarizing content.
In this sense, it's important to approach ChatGPT as you would when delegating a task to an actual person, ensuring the task is suited to their skill set and providing clear instructions.
Along the same lines, it’s your job to figure out the best possible way to explain to ChatGPT what you want it to do. While it certainly has limitations, you’ll become one of them yourself if you get complacent about how to prompt ChatGPT with what you want.
And that’s the real secret here.
Because ChatGPT and other AI tools will get better and better, but the most successful marketers will be those who learn how to best use them. This will include getting creative about prompts and thinking outside the box in terms of what kinds of SEO tasks you outsource to AI.