Do ChatGPT and Bard spell the demise of SEO?

In November 2022, content marketers and search engine optimization specialists gasped for a moment. What fresh hell was ChatGPT? Is it going to take our jobs, render us useless?

The primary objective of SEO is to elevate a website’s position in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is how websites have been able to get discovered organically by high-intent visitors without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on advertisement.

So picture this: if AI-generated content consistently attains higher rankings than human-written content, will there might be a diminished necessity to optimize websites specifically for search engines? Possibly.

AI language models vs SEO

Currently, we have two top conversational AI language models; ChatGPT developed by Open AI and Bard developed by Google. Both of them are trained to be informative and comprehensive and able to communicate and generate human-like text to a wide range of questions and prompts.

These AI models are being used for a variety of purposes, such as customer service, sales, marketing, education and entertainment. We can use them to even generate text formats like poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, and more importantly, content for blogs, websites, etc. Thus paving the way for a valid fear in SEO content managers everywhere.

However, that fear was short lived. It was like a deja vu moment for most of us, because remember when Google Alexa came into the picture or even Tiktok? Everyone said it will kill search engines, and that no one’s going to use search now. Did it happen? No.

Similar to the California Gold Rush, hundreds of thousands of internet users flocked to the conversational AI language model. They asked questions and got answers, and posted on social media how it’s here to stay and take your jobs. If anything, however, it’s ChatGPT that got impacted negatively, not search.

According to a study posted by SimilarWeb, ChatGPT’s worldwide traffic dropped 9.7% and unique visitors were down 5.7% in June 2023. That’s a massive chunk.

So, as it turns out, the world isn’t exactly using ChatGPT for every search query it has. AI models lack in providing sources, sometimes hallucinate and give completely unverified and inaccurate information and numbers, and there needs to be a considerable amount of effort put into prompting these models for answers for certain kinds of answers.

Moreover, they are great at giving out general information, but subject matter expertise isn’t their forte.

How AI and SEO can strengthen content

But keeping all that in mind, it doesn’t mean SEO professionals shouldn’t get with the times and use the powerful capabilities of artificial intelligence to further the success of their websites and blogs. Rather than kicking AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard to the curb, let’s see what strengths lie in them and how they can be utilized along with human strengths to create a lasting and stronger impact.

In fact, incorporating AI-generated content into the workflow of SEO professionals can lead to more efficient content creation, improved user engagement, and better search engine rankings. Still, human oversight and expertise remain essential to ensure that the content meets quality standards, aligns with business goals, and resonates with the target audience. Here’s how both can work together.

1. Content ideation and planning

As a content creator for a platform that offers web3 learning courses, organic content has been an important way to get discovered. In order to do that, we need to keep coming up with unique content ideas that appeal to our target visitors, who are web and software developers.

And if you’ve ever talked to a content manager about how their job goes, they’ve probably told you that planning, ideating technical content can be a difficult, time-consuming task. This is where I have personally taken help from ChatGPT, especially to identify any gaps in our content.

The tool can assist in brainstorming content ideas based on trending topics, keyword research, and user intent. This in turn helped us generate a wide range of topic suggestions that align with the target visitor’s interests and behaviors.

Sometimes, I’ve also prompted the tool to give me outlines for the topics it recommended to me. And although the writing is done by humans, we have AI-generated outlines ready to go at any minute.

2. Keywords and content generation

Another really cool thing AI can do for you is to add your keyword clusters to your content. You can feed it with a list of your target keywords and ask it to integrate within your content in a natural manner to avoid Google penalties for over-optimizing. This can be a real time saver as you’ve done the majority of the ‘thinking’ work and now the AI model can do the more ‘laborious’ task.

Moreover, I don’t consider it cheating if you ask an AI model to provide you an initial draft for any written content. The model isn’t so sophisticated that it would get into the nitty gritty of a topic, moreover, it would be very difficult to capture your brand tone so you’ll ultimately be stepping in for edits. But what the AI model does is help you with a draft which you can edit and refine, format and add more relevant information to. You can especially use this for larger projects which require a high volume of content when you’re short on resources.

3. Rich snippets and schema markup

AI-generated content can assist SEO professionals in implementing rich schema and markup to enhance search engine results. Schema markup is a way to add extra information about your website to search engine results pages (SERPs). This can include things like star ratings, reviews, prices, and more. When search engines see this information, they can display it in a more visually appealing way, which can help your website stand out from the competition.

To begin with, AI models like ChatGPT and Bard can help one analyze content and suggest relevant schema markup opportunities based on the context of the content. And since these models can work with code, they can provide actual schema markup code for different types of content. This can include generating JSON-LD or Microdata code snippets that specify the structured data to be added to the HTML.

Finally, instead of manually doing it and wasting time, SEO professionals can input the content into the AI model and specify the type of schema they want to implement. The AI can then help map content sections to appropriate schema types and fields.

Parting words

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. SEO and AI can achieve wonderful things together — like optimizing existing landing pages and blogs, repurposing blog content for infographics, videos, podcasts, creating multilingual content and also optimizing it for voice search.

Time-intensive landing pages like local SEO pages which use the location of a place to target local audiences, can be created in the hundreds by AI models. Imagine having to do that from scratch.

So while it’s clear that AI isn’t harming SEO and the user’s ‘search’ behavior is a tad bit more difficult to alter, there are actually several benefits of combining it with AI. SEO isn’t going anywhere but so isn’t AI. Let’s make sure we use it to our advantage.

Author Bio:

Sinwan Zahid

Sinwan is a Founding Member and Content Lead at Metaschool, a Web3 Learning Platform.

She has a background in content creation and marketing and early-stage startups.