ChatGPT for SEO: Guide With a Case Study
The world changed after OpenAI, an American artificial intelligence research laboratory, launched a new AI-powered chatbot in November 2022.
Every news website, social media, and content writing platform mentioned ChatGPT and how it helps people achieve X, Y, and Z.
By now, the hype around ChatGPT has slightly decreased, but people’s interest in the platform continues to grow.
As an SEO specialist and content writer, I am curious about using ChatGPT for SEO and its impact.
I’ve been skeptical about using AI tools for content creation and SEO because of Google’s negative attitude to AI-generated content and its massive spread on the web. That’s why it implemented several helpful content updates to eliminate shallow content from top search results. Besides, it has also made an official statement about AI:
“Using automation—including AI—to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.
This said, it’s important to recognize that not all use of automation, including AI generation, is spam. Automation has long been used to generate helpful content, such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts. AI has the ability to power new levels of expression and creativity, and to serve as a critical tool to help people create great content for the web.”
Despite Google’s straightforward message on the potential adverse effect of AI-generated content, website owners continue using AI to grow their websites.
In this article, I want to show you safe ways of using ChatGPT for SEO effectively, share my experience creating content with ChatGPT, and how this content performs in organic search results.
This article will be helpful for you if you are looking for ways to use AI effectively and are concerned about the possible impact of AI-generated content on your website growth.
Keep reading. I have shared lots of exciting insights here.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot designed to understand natural language and generate human-like responses to various questions and prompts.
According to OpenAI, ChatGPT uses a deep learning algorithm called a transformer to understand natural language and generate responses.
The transformer is a type of neural network that can process input text in a way that allows it to understand the meaning and context of the words and phrases used.
For example, when you ask any questions to ChatGPT, its algorithm breaks down the input text into smaller pieces called tokens, which it then analyzes to understand the meaning and context of the text and generate an appropriate response.
ChatGPT responses are generated based on the patterns and relationships its algorithm has learned from the vast amount of text data it was trained on. This is how it can generate human-like, relevant, and informative responses.
You might have already noticed that ChatGPT can be applied in many areas, from customer support, software development, and language translation, to content and image creation.
How to use ChatGPT for SEO
ChatGPT is not the first AI tool SEO specialists can use for research, content writing, and optimization.
SEO tools like Frase.io, or Jasper were developed to speed up SEO specialists’ work and quickly produce optimized content.
I even created a case study based on my experiment on the impact of AI-generated content on SEO. I picked two similar keywords for the investigation. Then, I created an in-depth and optimized article for the keyword “SEO for travel bloggers” that ranks 4th on Google. The AI-generated post optimized for the keyword “SEO for startups” ranks 39th in the USA, based on Ahrefs (data from April 7th).
I know many factors influence rankings, and this experiment might not be perfect. But my SEO experience proves that Google has already learned how to deal with shallow artificial content, the amount of which will only continue to grow.
Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to use AI tools to your advantage without any risk of harming your website. The following are a few cases of how I use ChatGPT for SEO. This way, I speed up my work and create helpful content aligned with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.
1. Get ideas to write succinct definitions
I’ve struggled to write clear and concise definitions. It seems ChatGPT can perfectly do it.
In the example below, I used ChatGPT to write a definition for this article. In the past, I had to review several sources before I could write a short and easy-to-understand definition.
ChatGPT for SEO saves my time!
2. Create meta titles and descriptions
As an SEO expert, I always create optimized and catchy metadata for my articles and clients’ content. I know that well-crafted meta titles positively impact CTR (click-through rate). That’s why it’s essential to spend a bit of time on metadata that will help your web pages stand out.
ChatGPT can create meta titles and descriptions based on your requirements. It also understands queries like “make it shorter” or “make it more catchy.”
When I run out of ideas, I use ChatGPT. It helps a lot, and there is no risk in using it for this purpose.
3. Generate ideas for FAQ
Most blog posts I write for my website or client websites have an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section.
This section usually covers popular questions users search for on Google. If you write helpful answers and add schema.org markup, Google can create a beautiful snippet for your article in organic search results, like this one:
Since I create a lot of content daily, I sometimes struggle with collecting questions and writing helpful answers. That’s where ChatGPT helps a lot!
I recommend using ChatGPT to get ideas for an FAQ section for your blog posts or landing pages. It’s not about coping/pasting ChatGPT solutions. You’ll add AI-generated content to your website if you do it this way. Instead, use ChatGPT ideas to create a helpful FAQ section.
Here is how I’ve done it when writing an article for one of my clients:
4. Save time researching data for content writing
Collecting sources for content writing can be tedious and time-consuming. Whenever I need data to back up my statements, I must review multiple websites.
ChatGPT can speed up this process by listing numerous sources from different websites.
Please, note that ChatGPT-3 cannot provide links to sources accurately. However, OpenAI claims this issue has been fixed in ChatGPT-4.
These are a few ways how I use ChatGPT for SEO content effectively. If I come up with new ideas, I’ll update this article.
How do you use ChatGPT for SEO? I am curious to learn your insights. Share your tips and tricks in the comments.
ChatGPT vs. Conventional SEO tools
As an SEO expert, I’ve tried various SEO tools for content writing, such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Frase.io, and CanIrank, to name a few.
These tools help SEO experts research keyword data, analyze website performance, and create optimized content.
When ChatGPT was introduced, many online marketers, including myself, started figuring out how to make the most out of ChatGPT for SEO and whether it could replace some conventional and expensive tools.
In my opinion, ChatGPT can provide great content writing ideas if the task is accurately communicated. However, it cannot help SEOs with keyword research and analysis (yet). It can’t analyze SERP because it does not have direct access to the Internet like humans. Instead, it relies on APIs and other software integrations to retrieve information from the web.
I’ve mentioned a few cases when using ChatGPT for SEO won’t be helpful. However, there are many other SEO-related tasks you can’t do with ChatGPT just yet, such as analyzing competitors’ websites or getting insights on how to improve your website’s content.
I primarily use ChatGPT for SEO writing. Therefore, I’ve noticed a few cases where ChatGPT differs from conventional SEO tools.
Can’t research keywords
If you’ve ever done niche keyword research, you know that analyzing metrics like Keyword Difficulty, Global Volume, and Traffic Potential is important.
Many decisions I make during SEO strategy preparation are based on the keyword data I get from Ahrefs and similar tools.
I’ve tried using ChatGPT to find keyword ideas, research semantically related keywords, learn what competitors rank for and optimize my content for target keywords.
Based on my experience and observations, it cannot manage keyword research and analysis tasks. I am referring to ChatGPT-3. Perhaps, the updated version will be able to handle more advanced tasks. We don’t know it yet.
An example below shows that I tried to get some keyword ideas for one of my articles about SEO for lead generation.
Instead of providing me with semantically related keywords, ChatGPT listed broad topics I could potentially cover in the article. However, it does not imply that all these topics are required to be included in the article. Besides, users’ search intent behind the “SEO for lead generation” keyword could be different.
So, instead of relying on the ChatGPT data, I used Ahrefs to collect keywords and analyze the competition.
Creates content that detectors can identify as AI-generated
Even though Google explicitly mentioned it is against AI content created to manipulate search results, content writers continue to do so.
There is no reliable and extensive research data on the impact of AI-generated content on SEO. So, no one knows to what extent AI-generated content can positively or negatively impact your website.
Based on my experience, several AI-generated articles won’t harm a healthy and well-growing website.
However, if most of your website’s content is generated, you will likely see a negative impact sooner or later.
Ahrefs has an insightful article on how websites with thousands of monthly organic search visits were entirely removed from Google’s index due to generated content.
If you want to know my opinion — it’s not worth it!
No one wants to read content written by AI. People want to hear from you and learn from you!
Besides, many AI detectors can already identify AI content pretty well, regardless of how human it might look.
In the example below, you can see how well an AI detector understands that one of my experimental articles was written with the help of ChatGPT.
In the following paragraph, I’ll share my experiment with ChatGPT for SEO writing and show you how AI content performs in search results.
ChatGPT for SEO case study
I am a big fan of running SEO experiments to understand Google’s algorithms better and discover new strategies. That’s one of the reasons why I created a personal website because experimenting with clients’ sites is not a good idea.
Since the launch of ChatGPT, I have been wondering if it can produce content capable of ranking high on Google. I agree that its content is not as good as that written by humans. However, so much garbage ranks well on Google, so why can’t ChatGPT’s content do it?
I ran an experiment to analyze the impact of ChatGPT’s content on organic search results.
Here is what I’ve done.
I picked a keyword, “SEO for contractors,” and asked ChatGPT whether it is a competitive keyword to rank for. Here is what ChatGPT responded:
Apparently, ChatGPT cannot analyze keyword potential. Therefore, I used Ahrefs to understand keyword difficulty and volumes.
Based on my SEO experience, I know that targeting low competition keywords increases the chances of ranking high on Google. I’ve been using this strategy to grow my website and clients’ websites, so I know it works well!
Ahrefs says “SEO for contractors” is a low competition keyword, with 4/100 keyword difficulty. If I were to create an article for this keyword, it would have ranked in the top 10.
This experiment aimed to understand whether AI-generated content can perform as well.
Even though Ahrefs showed me a few semantically-related keywords to include in the article, I wanted ChatGPT to collect these keywords.
As anticipated, ChatGPT collected topics related to the “SEO for contractors” keyword. They are relevant but might not necessarily answer users’ search intent.
After trying hard to get keyword ideas from ChatGPT, I realized it was a waste of time. It won’t be able to provide better keyword ideas.
So, I moved to the next step — outline creation. That’s what ChatGPT can do well if you provide clear instructions.
This was the rough first draft generated by ChatGPT. The final structure differs because I tried my best to make ChatGPT optimize my article. It eventually did some optimization. Even though it’s not trained to do it well, ChatGPT can help you understand what on-page optimization is and how you should do it. However, it won’t be able to do it properly without you.
Here is what I eventually managed to get from ChatGPT.
I find one particular thing about ChatGPT exciting — it can mimic the tone of voice and the writing style of a specific content creator!
I provided ChatGPT with a few samples of my articles and asked to adjust the content. I was pretty impressed with the final result. The article was not dry. It had a personality behind it. I would have thought a human wrote it.
Mimicking someone’s style is a great and, at the same time, scary achievement of AI. We might observe how AI tools create content imitating famous writers in the nearest future. In my opinion, it’s not a positive sign. I wonder how far humanity will go with AI implementation in our everyday lives.
Eventually, I spent one hour trying to get an optimized article of 2,500 words on “SEO for contractors” from ChatGPT.
Here are some observations and issues I’ve experienced along the way. If you want to use ChatGPT for SEO writing, this information will be helpful for you.
- ChatGPT could only generate 600 words at a time, even though I asked for a 2,500 words article.
- ChatGPT’s article basically summarizes the information available on the Internet.
- ChatGPT does not include sources in the article unless you specifically ask to do it.
- It can analyze someone’s writing style. However, I doubt it can fully copy it yet.
- It can assist you with SEO optimization, but it won’t do the job instead of you.
As a result, I only got 1,200 words article from ChatGPT even though I requested 2,500 words several times. Since the competition for the “SEO for contractors” keyword is low, I decided to experiment with this word count.
I published an article on my website on March 9th, 2023. It’s available under this link.
Now comes the most exciting part.
How AI-generated content performs in organic search results
When I looked at ChatGPT’s article, I thought, “This content does not seem to have enough value and insights to read.”
Indeed, shallow content is one of the most significant disadvantages of AI tools. Why would anyone read your article if you did not dare to write it?
Considering this, I thought my article wouldn’t perform well in organic search results. I thought it would get a few impressions and eventually die.
Here is the data from Google Search Console about the “SEO for contractors” article performance. The report shows the article’s performance between 9th March and 9th April 2023.
- The article ranks for the target keywords.
- The article ranks 45th in the USA for the target keyword “SEO for contractors.”
- Impressions are not growing. The tendency is negative.
I believe the impressions will eventually drop to 0. That’s how AI content performs in organic search results today.
Here is another GSC screenshot showing how ChatGPT content performs over time. The content of this article was proofread and optimized. Furthermore, the article was published on an actively growing website. Unfortunately, it did not positively impact the article’s performance.
According to the screenshot, the article was published at the end of December 2022. Its impressions gradually dropped for several reasons, like the negative impact of AI-generated content and Google updates.
The article was slightly updated at the beginning of February 2023, but it did not help improve its overall performance.
As an SEO expert, I’ve seen a few well-ranking articles written by AI. However, the general tendency is negative. Content creators heavily rely on AI to speed up their work. Their goal is to deliver content. The majority do not think about the purpose of the content. You, the website owner, will have a headache dealing with the negative impact of AI-generated content later.
That’s why I recommend utilizing AI tools carefully and always using AI detectors if you work with freelance content writers.
Have you already dealt with AI-generated content? Let me know in the comments below.
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By the way, your article (https://selfmademillennials.com/contractor-seo/) ranks on page two, on 13th spot for “seo for contractors” on Google.ro
Good to know, thank you!
However, it ranks 32 in the USA.
Hello and thank you for your thoughts!
I started a website using ChatGPT generated articles for keywords that have good searches.
I just edited them to try fooling their own OpenAI Classifier text to consider them original.
I managed to pass from “Likely” to “Possibly” and ” Not clear” AI generated.
After 15 days and 14 articles created, the impressions were promising, reaching 83 impressions on one day, and up-trending.
But from day 15 to day 20 they decreased to flat 0 (83, 13, 1, 0, 0, 0).
I think this is the faith of this website and similar ones using just AI.
Thank you for sharing your insights, Florian!
AI-generated content behaves similarly even on established websites. I’ve seen impressions of new articles grow and then drop to 0.
I think website owners must be careful with AI tools because no one has thoroughly studied the impact of AI-generated text on SEO.
“AI-generated content behaves similarly…” as you say it’s problematic with this type of content.
Sadly and disturbing, on a different website, my other articles written by my own hands and not too creative brain 🙁 appear in text classifiers like AI generated.
I’m not a talented writer and use a common language, like ChatGPT does. It even surpass me on this matter.
Some article can be false positive labeled as AI and get algorithmically penalized.
Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy reading your posts