Since the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI, AI (Artificial Intelligence) has never been more popular and talked about. The new and innovative tool that operates using artificial intelligence, abbreviated as KI in Danish and AI in English, is simply amazing and an eye-opener for many AI skeptics around the world.
But what can AI and ChatGPT be used for, besides cheating on your primary or university exams? And specifically, how can you use ChatGPT to improve your SEO results without breaking Google’s guidelines and policies?
I will attempt to cover this and much more in this and several other articles that deal with AI, ChatGPT, and search engine optimization.
ChatGPT and AI are big topics these days, both in Denmark and worldwide, and also in the SEO industry, which is my passion and livelihood. Therefore, I found it natural to share some of my assessments, experiences, and tips for using ChatGPT when working with search engine optimization.
In conclusion to my introduction, I would also like to mention that despite the fact that I may seem quite strict and negative towards ChatGPT and AI tools, it is not because I have anything personal against new technology or AI specifically, but rather because I see many people who believe they have found a smart way to “cheat the system,” and in the end, they are actually just cheating themselves. So this article is meant as a helping hand, in the sense that I point out the errors and shortcomings that may arise from using AI and ChatGPT specifically.
I have personally been using artificial intelligence in my SEO work since before ChatGPT was released to the public and have since the release of ChatGPT on 30.11.2022, of course, extensively tested this tool for content production, coding, technical SEO, and other SEO-related tasks.
What Google says about the use of ChatGPT for SEO Google’s guidelines, documentation, and policies are quite extensive, but there is nothing specific about the use of ChatGPT, as Google’s guidelines are often written in a more general format and do not delve into specific cases such as ChatGPT and its properties. However, there are some direct and indirect guidelines and policies regarding the use of artificial intelligence, which you can read more about here.
Understanding Google’s view and interpretation of AI is essential if you want to use ChatGPT or other forms of artificial intelligence for content production or other SEO tasks, as it can help you avoid getting on Google’s bad side.
I have found both direct and indirect statements from Google Search Central regarding the use of AI-based tools like ChatGPT for content production of SEO texts and other text-based content on websites, which are:
- Helpful Content Update (indirect)
- Google spam policy (direct)
Below, I will share my findings and interpretations of what Google thinks about the use of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligences for content production specifically.
1. Helpful Content Update
Helpful Content Update was a Google update that was rolled out between August 25th, 2022 and September 9th, 2022, not too long ago. The update was not a “Core Update,” but just three days after this update, a “Core Update” was announced, which was said to support the values and parameters defined during the rollout of the Helpful Content Update.
The documentation for Helpful Content Update, which can be found on Google Search Central, contains a nice introduction that reads:
Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, we’re launching what we’re calling the “helpful content update” that’s part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. Below is more about the update and things creators should consider.
This quote from the introduction to the Helpful Content Update documentation page states that this update is part of a broader effort to ensure that Google’s users see more original, helpful content written by people, for people.
In particular, the last part, “written by people, for people,” is worth noting.
It should also be noted that this update comes shortly before the popular AI tool ChatGPT was launched on November 30th, 2022.
There are coincidences, and then there are market analyses and strategies – and if I know Google correctly, they are among the companies in the world that are most forward-looking when it comes to new technology – because if they fall behind, they risk losing their biggest source of income, namely their users of the Google search engine.
Therefore, there is no doubt that Google had seen ChatGPT coming from a distance and that long before the Helpful Content Update, they had updates in store that aimed to prioritize content written by people, for people – not machines.
Whether Google can detect auto-generated content produced by ChatGPT or other AI tools is one thing, however, it should be noted that ChatGPT is currently working on a digital watermark, also called a cryptographic watermark, which makes it easy for other artificial intelligences (like Google) to see where the content is coming from.
Another thing is that your writing habits on your existing content will differ from the content you have written yourself, and there is no doubt that Google can identify this, so if you start with auto-generated content on your website, Google will most likely smell a rat.
My assessment: I find it particularly curious that Google writes directly “written by people, for people,” and this is not the first time I have seen Google have such “hidden messages,” which later turn out to be a bigger and more significant thing. At the same time, I also see for myself that much more weight has been placed on quality content that I have spent a lot of time and energy on, rather than the SEO/affiliate texts I write in a hurry just to get more traffic.
Worst-case scenario: If Google ever chooses to say that auto-generated content will be punished, deprioritized, or otherwise have a negative impact on SEO, then one is stuck with one’s head in the mailbox if one has used ChatGPT or other tools for content production.
2. Google spam policy
In Google’s spam policy; Spam policies for Google web search, there is a section called “Spammy automatically-generated content” which specifically addresses the use of artificial intelligence for content production. More specifically, the section addresses the mass production of thin, poor, or useless content, as viewed by Google.
Screenshot of “Spammy automatically-generated content” in Spam policies for Google web search As seen from the excerpt from the Google Search Essentials documentation, there are many points that Google cracks down on when it comes to auto-generated content using ChatGPT or other content production tools (of which there are many).
But it is worth noting that there is not a single place in their documentation that says that content production using AI tools will or can be punished.
However, the goal of search engine optimization is not to avoid being punished, but to reach high in Google search results, and that is precisely what I will delve into here.
Because even though auto-generated content is “legal,” so to speak, according to Google’s guidelines and policies, it is not necessarily always a good idea. Now you may be thinking, why not? Well, let me tell you by sharing with you some of Google’s recent updates as well as some of the ranking factors that Google uses in its algorithm.
How can ChatGPT be used for SEO?
ChatGPT can be used for search engine optimization in hundreds of different ways and can be an extremely useful tool for anyone working with SEO.
Examples of how ChatGPT can be used for SEO include:
- Content creation
- Keyword analysis
- Schema markup
- Technical SEO
- Speed optimization
And much more. The list is long and there are almost no limits to what ChatGPT and AI can be used for to improve and optimize SEO.
However, even though I am listing a number of SEO tasks that ChatGPT can be used for, it is far from my recommendation, on the contrary. The use of ChatGPT and AI should be carefully considered and evaluated before jumping into it.
Because tools like ChatGPT are exactly that, tools and should help or improve the work you do, and many can get absorbed in new technology and the “WOW” effect of something they have never seen before, such as ChatGPT, and can easily end up spending more time creating less than they did before, because they work without structure and without a concrete goal with a new tool.
But of course, this is all just talk, so let me systematically go through why I do not recommend ChatGPT for all SEO tasks and which usage methods you should definitely avoid. I will not extend the article by going into depth on all the points I have listed, but will take some examples.