In SEO, we’re always looking for new opportunities, new tools, and new trends to stay at the top of search rankings. Over the last couple of years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the dominating discussion topics in a wide variety of fields from ecommerce to SEO to even its place in education.
Over the past few months, we’ve continued to witness huge growth in the advancement of AI. In March 2023, OpenAI released GPT-4, considered a major breakthrough in language model AI. This new version is slated to be as much as ten times more advanced than GPT-3.5. Of course, this continues the debate of AI’s place in different fields, as tools like ChatGPT become so advanced.
We can’t cover every application for AI, so today we’re focusing on AI and ChatGPT’s roles in ecommerce SEO. We’ll look at breaking down what GPT-4 is, the concerns around AI’s use in SEO, and ways merchants can make use of these tools to enhance their SEO strategy.
What exactly is GPT-4?
GPT-4 is short for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4. These are large language models that use deep learning techniques to understand and generate human-like language. GPT models use a type of neural network called a transformer, which allows them to analyze the relationships between words in a sentence and generate responses that are coherent and relevant to the input. These models are fed huge amounts of data, everything from articles to books to websites. The more data they’re able to analyze, the better they are at understanding and producing content that is near indistinguishable from human-created content. And the more they interact with human users, the more they’re able to understand and produce natural language.
Here’s how ChatGPT and GPT-4’s creators OpenAI explain the development of their model:
“We trained this model using Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), using the same methods as InstructGPT, but with slight differences in the data collection setup.
We trained an initial model using supervised fine-tuning: human AI trainers provided conversations in which they played both sides—the user and an AI assistant. We gave the trainers access to model-written suggestions to help them compose their responses.
We mixed this new dialogue dataset with the InstructGPT dataset, which we transformed into a dialogue format.”
GPT-4 represents a major advancement in generative AI technology. According to OpenAI, "more reliable, creative, and able to handle much more nuanced instructions than GPT-3.5."
We’re already seeing varied applications for GPT-4 in a variety of contexts - Duolingo uses it for its "Roleplay" and "Explain My Answer" features to help their users with their language learning journey. And Stripe uses it for enhanced fraud detection and prevention. With more advanced technology comes more uses, and so it makes sense that those in ecommerce and digital marketing are looking at how ChatGPT and AI can be used in that context. After all, it can research topics, write to guidelines, and produce long-form content which is tough to tell apart from human-written articles.
What are the concerns about using AI?
There are a few concerns with using AI in the context of content creation and its implications on SEO. The primary concerns focus on the idea that if too much content online is created using generative AI, it will ignore the value of human experience and skill. After all, an AI doesn’t have lived experience with a given topic, it merely creates content using what it's learned from other sources. It can’t conduct its own research, it can’t interview people, and it can’t form opinions. So the content online eventually starts to feel recycled. We’ve seen some movement on this concern from Google who back in December 2022 released their new E-E-A-T guidelines, stipulating that experience was an important factor in content.
There are also ethical arguments being made around AI use in content creation. According to webmaster guidelines from Google, automatically generated content is considered spam and is therefore against their rules. In this case, where does content created using GPT-4 sit? And if the content becomes even more indistinguishable from human-written content, how can search engines actually determine authentic content from AI generated content? In some ways, content created entirely using AI could be considered no different to the kind of content many would consider black hat tactics.
Lastly, there’s a worry that businesses will become overly reliant on AI if it becomes overused. When you can just have a robot create all your content and optimize it for SEO, where’s the incentive for them to be original or creative? Google and other search engines value originality and usefulness when ranking content, so it’s possible that if businesses rely too heavily on AI they’ll start to see an opposite, negative impact on their SEO.
Can I use ChatGPT and AI to help with SEO?
The concerns around AI may lead you to believe that the answer to this question is no. However it's actually "yes" - there are definitely some great applications for ChatGPT and AI tools for your store’s SEO. 73% of consumers believe that AI can have a positive impact on customer experience, but 77% believe that it needs a human touch in order to provide a positive experience. 76% also say that if they sense disjointed communication with AI across channels, they’re less likely to trust and engage with a brand.
Therefore the key in using AI as part of your store’s content creation and SEO strategies is to use them as an enhancement tool, not as a catch-all solution. They should be used to enhance what humans can do with content, not replace them. The concerns around AI use are not to discourage the use of AI entirely, but to encourage responsible use. We’ve seen examples like Duolingo, Stripe, GitHub, and Microsoft, where it’s used in a way that enhances the user experience. The same too can apply to ecommerce stores.
There are a wide variety of applications for GPT-4 and AI, especially if you’re hoping to use it as part of your SEO strategy. What many of these applications focus on is speed and efficiency. Rather than spending a lot of manual time on certain tasks, you can get near instant feedback and assistance from an AI tool that will enhance your capabilities.
Keyword Discovery - Finding keywords is one of the most time consuming and tricky tasks in SEO. With AI tools, you can input some of your target keywords, and the tool can generate a list of potential keywords that you can investigate and evaluate.
Keyword Placement - AI can use guidelines around SEO optimization to check over pages and surface opportunities for keyword placement. You can simply give it the page, and any SEO guidelines you want to cover, and the tool may be able to highlight where your content would benefit from additional keywords.
Blog Outlining - Getting started with a blog article is often the most difficult part. Using a tool like ChatGPT, you can generate an outline for a blog topic, or even a first rough draft to get you started. You can then edit the blog, add to it, make it more engaging, and add your own experience and opinions. This speeds up the process, making content creation more efficient.
Researching - Need help researching for an article or content piece? AI tools can pull relevant sources and information from around the internet quickly, complete with links. Be sure to check these though in case the tool’s knowledge only extends to a certain period of time.
Competitor Analysis - Want to know what your competitors are doing well? Ask an AI tool to give a summary of what the page is doing right content wise. It won’t be able to comment on the performance of the page specifically, but it will give insight into things such as title tags, imagery, etc.
Product Descriptions - Crafting a great product description is essential to a product page. AI can help ensure your product descriptions are optimized, easy to read, and include your keywords in an authentic way. They can give suggestions, help with rewrites, and more.
Micro-Copy - There’s a lot of microcopy on a website, AI can help write this so you can focus your time on larger pieces of content that require more time and experience to create.
Blog Editing - Want to make sure your blog articles are optimized and ready to go? AI can check over blogs for grammar, assess the article’s reading grade level, and comprehension. These are essential for accessibility and usefulness, and therefore essential to your SEO. If you give it your target keywords, it can also determine if your content includes those keywords and provide suggestions.
AI is going to be a big part of the internet and ecommerce moving forward. Finding ways to incorporate it into your content in a responsible, strategic way will set you up for the future, and can alleviate common issues that many run into when writing for SEO.
AI is here to stay, and it will only grow from here. As further advancements are made, people will inevitably look for ways to use it to work faster and more efficiently. In the world of ecommerce and SEO, AI is a powerful tool that when used correctly can result in a stronger strategy, improved optimization, and a better customer experience.