High-quality content production is a key element of modern SEO strategy. If used carefully, AI tools like ChatGPT can be helpful, but if used incorrectly, they can cause a lot of harm. The world of digital marketing is rapidly evolving, and at UClimb we strive to keep abreast of trends and changes while avoiding the pitfalls that following every latest trend can easily bring.
With this in mind, please see below our comprehensive guide on the dos and don’ts of using ChatGPT for SEO content writing, complete with some advanced tips you may not have thought of.
Note: The use of these AI tools is still in its infancy, so we will be striving to learn more over the coming weeks, and may well feel the need to update this help guide in the near future.
ChatGPT is a highly sophisticated AI model developed by OpenAI. It’s designed to generate human-like text based on prompts provided to it. The model scrutinises the prompt, interprets its context, and produces a relevant response.
At the time of writing, it handles some requests really well, for example, it can produce a clear concise summary of a long piece of text you feed into it, and can give you a balanced overview of a topic on request.
However, there are other areas that ChatGPT still struggles with, such as coming up with strategic SEO-friendly blog topics in the first place (see example lower down this post to illustrate this). It also struggles with recent topics and trends, which is not surprising bearing in mind the current cut-off date of September 2021 for data input.
Another thing ChatGPT cannot be used for is an article that needs to have a specific viewpoint or opinion relating to your company viewpoint – it will tend to come up with bland content, so you will have to manually add-in your company’s take on this generic overview.
With this in mind, we currently regard ChatGPT as a great tool to accelerate the production of content, but it’s definitely not a replacement for high quality human copywriting, and every word needs checking by human eyes before publishing.
SEO Content Writing with ChatGPT
To utilise ChatGPT effectively for SEO content writing, you need to understand a few key principles:
Google Penalties and How to Avoid Them
In SEO, Google penalties are punishments handed out by Google to websites that violate its Webmaster Guidelines. These penalties can significantly affect search rankings. Therefore, creating content that sticks to these guidelines is paramount.
While ChatGPT produces high-quality content, bear in mind that Google values original, useful content. Simply churning out high-volume, low-quality content will not help the SEO. Be cautious of duplicate or spam-like content that could be flagged by Google’s algorithms.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
As the saying goes, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (aka GABO). This principle applies to AI models too, including ChatGPT. If the input (or ‘prompt’) you provide is vague or poorly constructed, the output may not meet your expectations. To get the best from ChatGPT, provide clear, specific, and well-crafted prompts. If the result is not what you hoped for, try telling the tool that, with specific examples of the bits you are not happy with, and you should be able to get nearer to the high quality result you had in mind on your subsequent attempts – this is known as ‘iterative optimisation’.
Writing Great Prompts
Generating effective prompts is crucial when using ChatGPT for content generation. Here’s how you can do it:
- Specificity: The more specific your prompt, the better the output. Instead of “write about dogs,” try “write a 500-word blog on the benefits of adopting rescue dogs.”
- Guidelines: Clearly specify the tone, style, or format if you have any preferences. See below AI prompts checklist for the main points to bear in mind.
- Keywords: If you are targeting specific keywords in your SEO content, use these in your prompts, but naturally and in context.
ChatGPT Prompts Checklist
- What: Define the task
- Who: State the target audience
- Where: Specify the context it will be used in
- How: Define the format it should be used in (bullet points, table etc)
- When: Define when it be used
- Why: Give an expected outcome or goal
In particular, if you are UK based, always request that ChatGPT writes your article in UK English, otherwise it will default to US English, complete with spelling differences and even different choice of words, for example: color instead of colour, optimize instead of optimise, leverage instead of harness, great instead of excellent, etc.
You can also specify a Flesch-Kincaid reading score within your prompt, which is an internationally recognised ease of reading measurement, 1 being extremely easy to read, and 12 being very hard with long sentences are long/rarely used words. See below for an example of different ChatGPT outputs when we asked it to re-write a section of our home page text with a Flesch reading score of 12, and then for comparison purposes, with a reading difficulty score of 1:
As widely proclaimed by Yoast, having a low Flesch reading score is better for SEO than a high one, however, for certain types of articles (and for certain company brands), a higher score may be needed than others.
- Use the latest version to ensure the best quality of content. At the time of writing, GPT-4 is the latest and best version, this is available to all paid subscribers of ChatGPT Plus. If you want the free version, you can use GPT-3.5, but be aware this version is more limited and less sophisticated.
- Don’t copy and paste straight into your website along with the formatting – this will pull over a lot of unwanted text styling from the ChatGPT browser window. Instead, paste the plain text, and then use the text formatting options available on your website CMS to reformat it and re-introduce things like headings, paragraphs, bold text, etc. Leaving the chatGPT formatting present could create display issues as it may conflict with your website’s default formatting options, and even if it doesn’t, the excess code clutter or ‘bloat’ will not help the page to load well, and could interfere with the SEO.
- Add the Chrome extension Web ChatGPT to pull in the latest internet information via Google Search, as shown on the video below:
A Case Study Example of AI Copywriting Limitations
By way of experiment, we tried asking GPT-4 the following question about a client of ours in the healthcare industry:
please come up with a blog topic for [client URL] that will deliver the maximum amount of traffic and online sales (signups)
In effect, we were asking ChatGPT to do keyword research, competitor research, think through the various options, and come up with a really high impact blog post!
The response we got was very unimpressive – a very bland broad article with no tangible value or relevant keyword focus, and containing the giveaway sentence:
This blog post explores the numerous benefits of online doctor consultations and highlights how platforms like [client name] are revolutionizing the healthcare industry, ultimately driving maximum traffic and online sales (signups).
Note the rather breathtaking simplicity of the AI model that simply included part of our prompt within the text: “to drive maximum traffic and online sales (signups)” – as though the inclusion of that was all that is needed to deliver online sales for our client!
Using the ‘iterative optimisation’ technique, we gave ChatGPT a 2nd chance with the pointer:
Please use keyword research and competitor research to come up with a better blog topic than that, we need to get high volumes of potential customer traffic. Please also let me know what keywords you have optimised the blog post for.
…but the results from this one were no better, and in the final summary of the article, it inserted the following text “By optimizing this blog post with keywords such as online doctor consultations, virtual healthcare, telemedicine, and accessible healthcare, we aim to attract high volumes of potential customer traffic” – again, a very unsophisticated way of trying to answer our request, in our opinion!
And the wide range of keywords it used all in the same blog post is not necessarily best practice either – in order to rank for this wide range of competitive keywords, much more segmented focussed content would have been needed, wrapping them all into 1 blog post is not a strategy that would currently work well for SEO.
By comparison, a 100% human-written article we wrote for this client, which compares their 3 biggest competitors in detail, rapidly ranked high on page 1 for the names of competitor names, some of which (like “boots online doctor”) have over 40,000 UK searches per month, and consequently large volumes of traffic and online signups can be traced within Google Analytics to this 1 blog post comparison article that we published.
In contrast, the bland topics ChatGPT came up with, e.g. “The Future of Healthcare: Connecting Patients to Online Doctors for Faster, Affordable, and Convenient Medical Solutions”, had little originality or value to the user, and were along the same lines as 1000s of other articles already out there on the internet, so would not have delivered the results our client wanted.
Whereas the competitor comparison piece was unique – as far as we are aware, no-one else had written one of these – and judging by the traffic it generated, and the resulting online sales, this content also aligned with what people were interested in – i.e. knowing the difference between the 3 main providers.
And our client’s services as a small independent provider also thrown in as well alongside was all that was needed to convert this article from being a helpful piece of information, into a sales-driving SEO content piece.
A classic example of how human SEO strategy is still far ahead of ChatGPT AI SEO strategy – for the time being at least!
Best Practices For Using ChatGPT For SEO Content Writing
Here are some best practices for harnessing ChatGPT (BTW, unlike the rest of this article, this concluding wrap-up is 90% written by GPT-4, with just a few human tweaks and interjections):
- Always review and edit the generated content.
- Don’t rely solely on AI for content creation. Use it as a tool to supplement your content strategy.
- AI copywriting is rapidly evolving, so keep up to date with changes and be aware of their impacts on SEO, and look out for Google algorithm updates that have an AI element to them.
- Use ChatGPT to generate ideas or outlines for your content, but don’t let it make you lazy, your creative human input will still be needed.
- Test different prompts and approaches to find what works best for you.
The advent of AI tools like ChatGPT opens new avenues for SEO content writing. With a strategic approach and understanding of best practices, ChatGPT can serve as a powerful tool for content generation, helping drive visibility and traffic to your site. However, the human touch remains vital in crafting a successful content strategy that engages readers and pleases search engines. In the end, SEO is as much an art as it is a science.