How ChatGPT impacts SEO: A guide for enterprise local brands
OpenAI’s language model ChatGPT hardly needs an introduction. You’re likely already very well aware of its capabilities and how its transforming the way we draft content.
Since its launch, it has gone viral, and ChatGPT became the fastest-growing platform to acquire 100 million users in just 2 months. It’s commonplace to find machine-generated content peppered across websites, social media, and email newsletters.
ChatGPT is a conversational AI, meaning its machine-learning capabilities enable it to remember language prompts and generate answers fast. These features have already been exploited by SEOs for content and students for essays.
Some marketers are also using it to automate tasks such as keyword research or to simplify complex research publications. Others are calling it one of the most helpful planning tools ever to cross their desks. Conversely, Google’s rush to get its conversational AI, Bard, into the marketplace was not as well-received.
Is conversational AI the next Holy Grail in SEO, and should your company be looking for ways to put ChatGPT to work for you?
In this blog, we dive deep into understanding how ChatGPT works, the kind of risks and benefits you can expect, and some safe ways you can use conversational AI to improve your brand’s SEO strategy.
First, let’s look at what ChatGPT’s intended usage was and how it catapulted to the popularity it now enjoys.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is one of the most comprehensive language models ever made available to the public for free (although a subscription-based model has already been introduced). It was trained on massive amounts of text data that allows it to understand, interpret and respond with human-like language capabilities, then tested by humans to improve response quality.
ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for answering questions, translating over 95 languages, and debugging and writing code. It can also create outlines for blogs or presentations, and give you some starter content to build on for your marketing material.
Users can summarize long texts, quickly produce content, reduce research time, and automate repetitive tasks to free up time to focus on more creative pursuits.
But, before you start incororating AI content generation into your SEO strategy, first ensure you fully understand the technology’s merits and flaws before fully integrating it into your content marketing strategy. ZDNet provides a good resource here if you want to dig further into what ChatGPT is and how it works.
ChatGPT limitations and cautions for enterprise brands
As an enterprise brand, it’s crucial to understand the limitations and best practices related to ChatGPT before incorporating it in your search strategy. As with most newly introduced technology, proceed with restraint, especially in a field as crucial as SEO as you can’t risk tanking the organic traffic you already have.
Your marketing could suffer greatly if your AI content is classified as spam, according to John Mueller, Google’s Chief Webmaster. He notes that no matter how well-written or “human-like” ChatGPT’s content may become, it’s still AI-generated content — and therefore against Google’s spam policy. There are plans to include watermarks for output created by ChatGPT in the future, and the work is already underway.
Below are a few key limitations and precautions to consider before integrating ChatGPT into your brand’s SEO efforts:
Google’s focus on AI-generated content
One of the biggest concerns for enterprises using ChatGPT for content creation in marketing is search engines’ stance on AI-generated content. Since Google’s 2022 Helpful Content Update, the importance of high-quality, helpful, useful content has increased.
A “Code Red ” was issued at Google as a direct response to ChatGPT’s popularity, and the search engine aims to fight AI-generated content more vehemently. The search engine has clarified that enforcement related to AI-generated content is an area of focus. It classifies both the following as spam:
- Content created using AI tools but edited by humans.
- Fully AI-generated content.
Machine-generated content creates concerns about plagiarism, as both ChatGPT and Bard use the intellectual property of others to formulate their answers.
We have already seen reports of SEOs within SEO groups who have lost their website traffic overnight since deploying mass AI content. When in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This is particularly true and important for enterprise brands, who may be producing large amounts of content at scale across multiple local websites and landing pages. While it may seem the easy route to use AI to create content at scale, the impact of a spam designation could be wide-ranging and have serious implications for the brand.
Machine-generated content can regurgitate inaccurate information
One of the weaknesses of ChatGPT is that it can state false information convincingly. Businesses need to take extra steps to verify the information from the model and confirm its accuracy before publishing it. Having editorial controls and publishing permissions in place is essential.
Recommended reading: 7 Content Tips for More Effective Local Online Marketing
Businesses in regulated industries, where inaccurate information could lead to legal or financial consequences, should ideally have human fact-checkers for ChatGPT content — or avoid it altogether.
Google considers content in these regulated industries as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL), meaning that information could have serious implications for users and therefore is subject to heightened scrutiny. This includes fields such as finance, legal, and healthcare.
Even if your business doesn’t fall under this category, you may need to deploy fact checkers to protect your brand from the blowback of publishing incorrect information. ChatGPT has been known to create fake reports and scenarios in its responses, so it’s best to tread carefully.
ChatGPT amplifies bias
The model is trained on a massive amount of text data using machine learning models, and that content includes biases and stereotypes. As a result, its output can reflect these biases, which can be harmful and offensive – a very poor look for an enterprise brand.
Enterprises using ChatGPT for content creation must be mindful of this and take steps to mitigate the potential harm amplified bias can cause.
ChatGPT can produce outdated information
ChatGPT was trained on data only up to a certain point in 2021, meaning it isn’t current enough to provide insights to inform current marketing and SEO campaigns. It could result in outdated or irrelevant content. For SEO, in particular, it’s essential to rely on the most relevant and timely best practices to ensure optimal search rankings.
It can be used to sort your keyword phrase list by search intent, for example, but if you use it to generate that list, you risk targeting terms that were popular a few years ago. Be aware that ChatGPT is not drawing current information from the open web.
Bard is designed to do this, but failed spectacularly in its unveiling when it incorrectly answered a question in its first public-facing demo.
Conversational AIs lack unique experience, perspective, and expertise
ChatGPT doesn’t have unique experiences, perspectives, opinions, or expertise of its own to share. It doesn’t have its own stories to tell, unlike human topic experts. It can only produce generic material by scraping other sources.
In a competitive market, average and generic content is insufficient to stand out in search results. Enterprise brands must take steps to ensure the content generated by the model is unique, offers a new perspective, and adds value to their target audience for it to be effective.
While ChatGPT is a powerful tool for generating text, there are several impediments and deliberations that enterprises need to consider. By being aware of these and taking steps to mitigate their impact, enterprises can ensure they are using ChatGPT effectively and efficiently.
How to (safely) use ChatGPT for SEO
SEO is an ever-evolving landscape, and staying ahead of the curve requires you to adapt to changing trends in technology — especially if they can expedite tedious & repetitive tasks.
ChatGPT is a tool that does just that. Here is how you can utilize it safely without incurring the wrath of search engines.
Writing and debugging code
You can use ChatGPT to write and debug code of any kind or create proper SEO Regexes, which can make a major impact for your technical SEO team. You can ask it to help you fix errors slowing down your website, for example, or even analyze those errors and determine why they’re happening.
Some SEOs have also been using it to write Python scripts that automate any number of tasks that SEOs need to do often. For example, you can use ChatGPT to analyze content from local Google Business Profiles in multiple regions for competitor analysis. You can also input code snippets, and ask ChatGPT to identify errors and suggest fixes.
Sorting and categorizing lengthy keyword and topic lists
Simplify your keyword research process by feeding keywords into ChatGPT and asking it to sort them into informational, commercial, or navigational categories. When you have thousands of keywords to sort out and use to create topical maps, this can create major time savings.
Writing SEO titles and meta descriptions
ChatGPT can help you write catchy and optimized meta tags for search engines. Input a keyword and ask it to generate a search-optimized meta title and meta description. The title suggestions can help you understand what direction your content should take — or simply help you create catchy titles, if you already have the direction covered.
Generating FAQs on any topic
Including frequently asked questions on your local landing pages and web pages is a great way to optimize your content for Instant Answers and Featured Snippets on Google. However, they require additional research and time to create.
ChatGPT can help you research the questions local consumers have on any topic. You can then use this insight to produce high-quality FAQ content that is both relevant and optimized for search engines.
You will still need to find and write unique answers, but whittling down potential questions with ChatGPT makes the process shorter.
Conducting competitor analysis
Use ChatGPT to reverse engineer your competitors’ SEO and content strategies by analyzing their websites, keywords, and content. This can shorten the time required to perform manual competitor research while fueling your local content strategy with relevant competitor data.
Understanding user intent and search queries
Understanding the user’s search intent for a particular query is one of the first steps in creating high-quality, keyword-rich content that ranks. ChatGPT can identify what users are looking for when they perform a search. You can then create content that matches their needs with this insight.
Best practices for using ChatGPT for enterprise local SEO
It’s important to follow the best practices to get the most out of ChatGPT for SEO. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Always conduct keyword research independently to understand what your target audience is searching for. Use the information to supplement the keyword list created by ChatGPT.
- Ensure that any content you produce using ChatGPT is accurate, relevant to your target audience, based on authoritative sources, and edited by human professionals. High-quality content is critical for attracting and retaining visitors.
- Ensure local managers and franchisees are given clear guidance on how the brand uses – and does not use – technologies such as ChatGPT. The best and most engaging content is rich in local information and unique to each location. It’s important to have publishing permissions and avoid publishing machine-generated content on brand location pages.
- Be aware of the limitations and deficiencies that mar ChatGPT’s usefulness for SEO, including the risk of inaccurate information and amplification of bias.
- Use ChatGPT to automate repetitive tasks, perform in-depth research, and simplify reporting only where it produces better results than your existing tools or platform. Unnecessarily adding another tool to your brand’s marketing stack can create inefficiencies and create headaches down the road.
- Experiment with specific ChatGPT use cases for SEO and measure the quality of the output before incorporating it within your content and technical strategies. Use ChatGPT for SEO tasks that don’t involve creating new content, such as writing and debugging code, sorting and categorizing keyword lists, and generating FAQs.
Concluding thoughts: ChatGPT impacts SEO for better and worse
Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way enterprise brands approach SEO, but it’s important to proceed with care. Don’t overhaul your existing content marketing and SEO efforts just yet. By being aware of the restrictions to its abilities, testing its use cases, and using it for specific tasks, you can reap the benefits of this innovative technology while minimizing the risks.
More helpful resources:
- Local Content Marketing Strategy for Enterprise & Multi-location Brands [Ebook]
- Local Customer Engagement Building Strategies [Blog]
- Level Up Your 2023 Content Strategy With Tactics that Convert [Watch the webinar on demand]
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