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Chat GPT & SEO – a match made in heaven or a recipe for disaster? Let’s find out.

Since launching back on the 30th of November 2022, ChatGPT has forced marketing professionals and SEO specialists to re-examine their approach to SEO.

So, what exactly does the AI content generator mean for SEO and the broader digital marketing community as we move into a new AI age? Here’s an early look and our 2c on the topic.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat bot capable of answering questions and even wrangling together some pretty impressive content has once again brought into the spotlight the changing role of content in digital marketing.

As an SEO Agency, we’ve had the last few weeks to play with the latest iteration of Chat GPT’s AI (in between intermittent outages due to extreme usage) and get a feel for the AI text generator. In this article, we’re going to provide some insights into the merits, drawbacks, and potential pitfalls that loom large as AI text generators continue to evolve.

Was This Article Written by Chat GPT?

Perhaps the best question that you could ask at this point, who is actually writing this content? It’s not Chat GPT, it’s us (the Safari content team) writing this. To be honest, we have no doubt that Chat GPT could answer a lot of the questions below and, for the sake of an example and some context, we are going to include an image under the first question of “What Is Chat GPT?” with an extract from Chat GPT that shows what would be written for that very question.

For all of the reasons that we cover below, the extract from Chat GPT will be posted as an image in this article – not a block of text on the page.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence text generator developed by OpenAI that launched on the 30th of November 2022. Chat GPT is capable of generating content across a range of subjects that is both informative and reads as if it has been written by a human. Chat GPT is based on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 language model which is an improvement on the GPT-3 language model which launched back in 2020.

Chat GPT uses machine learning algorithms to analyse a large set of text data. Once that data has been interpreted (in a matter of microseconds), the program then generates coherent text matches the input commands. Some of most common inputs for Chat GPT include:

• What is X?
• Create a list of the top 10 X
• Write a sentence about X that includes information about Y and Z
• Write me a poem about X, that mentions Y and Z
• Write a letter to X explaining that role of Y and Z

Chat GPT can perform the same basic functions as a chat bot and answer questions that draws from known information or knowledge. Chat GPT can come unstuck when you ask for information about topics that require subjective thought patterns.

chat GPT text writing example

When did Chat GPT Launch?

Following a rather low-key launch, the marketing and SEO community quickly caught wind of the program – as did the mainstream media.

A tweet from Elon Musk at 6.48am on the 4th of December declared:

“ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI.”

Given that Musk is one of six founders of OpenAI – startup that developed ChatGPT, it should come as little surprise that Musk is a big fan of the technology.

What Is the Primary Function of Chat GPT?

The primary function of Chat GPT is to generate text that is logical, coherent, and reads like it was written by a human. GPT-3.5 technology is a big leap forward for AI text generators and can help with a range of mundane writing tasks such as translation, summaries, online chat bots, and topical research.

GPT writing technology draws from large sets of data to create text with natural flow, language, and sentence structure.

How Is Chat GPT Different to Other AI Text Generators?

The sheer quality of text that Chat GPT is creating is what has left most people astounded. For those in the marketing or SEO community, the idea of AI text generators is not new. Whether they have been used as research tools, or whether they have been used (incorrectly) to generate large blocks of website content – most professionals will have some experience with AI text writing tools at this point.

Chat GPT brings AI writing technology to the main stream and improves on the quality of existing AI content generators.

Will Chat GPT Kill Google & SEO?

In theory, the notion of an AI-powered tool that can answer simple question would surely undermine the future of Google. We certainly think that Chat GPT has the potential to take a chunk of Google’s knowledge seekers, however, Google is more than just answers. It’s a day planning tool, a guide that helps you get from A to B, an impartial space for journalism, the largest hub of e-commerce – and much more.

In our estimation, Chat GPT has the potential to take some market share from the search engines, but at this stage, the functionality and use cases for Chat GPT and Google are quite different.

In reality, we think the biggest users of Chat GPT will be university students and marketers who use the AI platform as a content research tool.

Invariably, there will be a handful of students and marketers who use the AI technology as a replacement for writing. But take it from us, universities will quickly (if not already) be using GPT detection technology to weed out this practice. As for marketers, well, refer to the next question.

Can Google Detect AI/ChatGPT Written Content?

In a word, yes – Google can unequivocally detect content that has been written by a human vs. content that has been written by AI.

Like we mentioned above, AI content is not new. However, the technology is continuing to progress at a rapid rate which means that Google (and other search engines) are moving fast to ensure that AI produced content does not litter the search results.

Should You Use ChatGPT for SEO Content?

We cannot say this any more clearly – NO. You should not use ChatGPT to write your website copy or blog copy.

As an SEO team, we have spent a good amount of our time and effort in 2022 trying to recover websites that published AI content on their website’s. Not only is AI content extremely difficult to index (get Google to show in their search engine), but it also doesn’t rank well when it does.

While Google doesn’t impose a manual penalty against websites that use AI generators like Chat GPT for SEO, we believe that they may be soft marking a website when it is determined that they are using AI content. That means it becomes more difficult to rank human written content in the future once Google has marked the website as a previous publisher of AI.

Again, we must stress that this is based off a small testing pool with limited A/B testing, however, we have noticed it is difficult to recover and rank these websites with the normal course of good quality content.

What Happens When You Try to Rank AI Written Content?

Generally speaking one of two things will happen:

  1. It does not index. Google will crawl the page and you will see the “Crawled – Currently Not Indexed” notification in your Google Search Console for this content.
  2. The page might index; however, it will drop in and out of index regularly and will be extremely volatile.

Will There Ever Be a Time When Google Ranks AI Content?

Without a crystal ball, it’s hard to know what the future of AI content and SEO will look like. However, at the moment, Google remains firm on the matter. AI-generated SEO content falls into the category of “spam”.

Here is what Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller said during a Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout in April 2022 when someone asked whether Google treat AI content differently to old-fashioned article spinners:

“For us these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning.

And people have been automatically generating content in lots of different ways. And for us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, or looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do. Those kind of things.

My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam.”

Going Into 2023 – Should ChatGPT Be Part of Your SEO Stack?

Yes and no.

Should you be using it for research? Yes! If you are a content writer, Chat GPT can be a valuable research tool for gathering information (remember, always check your sources before publishing), as well as gathering topical knowledge in the same way that content writers currently use Google.

Should you be using it as a content writer? No! For all of the reasons that we outlined above, Chat GPT SEO is not a thing. Writing content with Chat GPT may seem like an enticing way to “game the system” and produce content at scale, however, it is going to do more harm than good. We would strongly recommend against creating AI written content for SEO and crosschecking any “content writing” that you receive from an SEO Agency or Content Marketing Agency with a free online GPT tool detector tool to ensure that they are not using it to replace human-written content.

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