How to use AI to help write SEO content for ecommerce

We’re all looking for new ways to automate and speed up certain tasks. Running an online store takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s no wonder that merchants are always looking for new ways to leverage technology to their advantage. 

One technology that’s really got everyone talking is generative AI. Especially over the last 12 months, it has been a hot topic in SEO and ecommerce - how can we use this growing technology to improve how we do everyday and long-term tasks? 

Today we’re going to talk about how generative AI works, its benefits and challenges, and some easy ways you can start to use it in your SEO strategy.

What is Generative AI and how does it work?

Generative AI is a type of machine learning based artificial intelligence that is capable of producing or generating content like text and images. They use huge amounts of data to learn how to create this content, in a way that feels nearly indistinguishable from human created content.  

At the moment, ChatGPT and GPT-4 are probably the most widely known examples of generative AI. GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer - these models use neural networks that allow them to analyze how words and phrases are put together, and then create their own coherent content. 

With text-based generative AI like ChatGPT, output content is generated based on a prompt. That prompt is usually given by a human user, and can be anything from a casual conversation to asking questions to writing a full article. The AI then uses all that data it’s learned from along with its understanding of human language to interpret the prompt, and generates content.

What are the benefits of using generative AI?

Generative AI’s ability to produce high volumes of content in mere seconds is of course very attractive to businesses. The idea that you can skip all the time-consuming work that can often go into content creation is appealing. After all, generative AI can draw on vast amounts of data at a speed and level of comprehension a human user wouldn’t be able to. This has the potential to change how we approach content creation in much the same way search engines like Google have changed how we view information gathering. Nowadays, Google is so commonplace that we think nothing of using it every day. The same may too happen for generative AI tools.   

The benefits to ecommerce and SEO specifically are that these tools make it easier and less time-consuming to come up with ideas, then critique, refine, and optimize them. These tools give you instant back-and-forth feedback, speeding up the content creation process and automating it to a degree. This leaves merchants with more time to focus on other tasks day-to-day that require more manual human effort and interaction. For example, generative AI could help to write a product description - it can help to optimize it for SEO, check it for tone if you give it some guidelines, and refine any other ideas you may have. Then you can get back to product development, research, and management. 

What are some challenges and considerations in using generative AI?

Just as there are benefits to new technology, there are always a few drawbacks. One of the biggest challenges at the moment revolves around the originality of content and the generation of unique ideas. Generative AI can create a lot of content, but ultimately it can only draw on the data it has access to and has processed. It cannot draw on experience, or come up with its own unique ideas. It can only pull from existing content for now, and this is of course a pretty big limitation. If you’re a merchant writing blogs to attract customers, being able to come up with new ideas, fresh content, and even expand on the ideas of competitors is a big part of that blog process. 

The other major concern for businesses is the overuse of and overreliance on generative AI. We mentioned earlier about how Google has changed the way we gather information, and in many ways it’s seen as a positive thing. However overreliance on search engines and instant information access has also had a negative impact on the way we store information. There are studies which suggest that while we can access information faster, it reduces the memory of that information. When we think about how this might apply to generative AI, it might be that people start to rely too heavily on these tools for content creation and therefore struggle to create content without the assistance of generative AI. What this can lead to is a world wide web where a good portion of the content we consume is unoriginal, and over time this will become less and less useful. 

This is of course on top of the ethical concerns over using generative AI. Currently, automatically generated content is considered spam by search engines, being a black hat SEO tactic to artificially gain ranking. However it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to detect this type of content, and generative AI will make it considerably harder. We’ve seen some movement from Google to try to strike a balance between “good” and “bad” use cases for generative AI. For example adding “experience” as a key consideration in whether content is worth ranking - something we’ve already said AI cannot achieve. At the same time, Google has started experimenting with generative AI tools to improve their user experience. 

How to use AI to write better SEO-led content for your store

Now that we understand the ups and downs and inner workings of generative AI, let’s get into how you can use it to enhance your SEO-led content. 

#1 - Keyword Research 

Finding keywords can be a lengthy process. You want to discover a range of short and long-tail keywords that will be relevant, while also balancing the level of competition to actually rank. Generative AI can help speed up that process, generating a list of potential keywords to explore. 

By feeding the AI with a list of keywords you already have identified, it can then produce another, broader list for you to investigate further. This will help reduce the time you spend on keyword research, meaning you can focus on creating the content needed to target those keywords.

#2 - Outlining Blogs

Blogs may be valuable for your SEO, but sometimes knowing how to get started is the toughest part of writing one. Generative AI can help come up with a basic or detailed outline based on what it has learned elsewhere. This gives you a valuable starting point that you can expand on, edit, and change to suit your own style and goals. 

Once you’ve made the outline your own, you can then use generative AI to bat ideas back and forth to help finetune your ideas.   

#3 - Content Optimization

Whether you’re writing a blog or populating a product page, you need to ensure that all your content is well optimized for SEO. AI can help with this task, sometimes finding areas for improvement that you may not have immediately considered. It can help with header tags, keyword placement, image alt tags, captions, and meta information. It can also help to ensure content follows basic SEO principles while maintaining the tone and voice of your brand.

#4 - Suggestions for rewriting 

Once you’ve finished creating some content for your store, it’s always valuable for someone else to check it over. Why not get instant feedback using generative AI? With these tools, you can have your content checked over along with suggestions to improve it. Those improvements could be for clarity, keyword inclusion, readability, or accessibility. Writing for SEO isn’t always about alt tags and page speed, it’s often just as important to ensure it reads well.

#5 - Help to balance SEO with what your customers want

Often when focusing on optimization, we get wrapped up in the technical details. This can make it hard to strike that balance between well-optimized content for crawlers, and what your potential customers actually want and need from your content. Generative AI tools can help you achieve this balance, by assessing and evaluating your content based on your audience and brand, as well as SEO principles. If your content feels too much like it’s trying to appeal to search engines, generative AI can offer suggestions for how to bring it back to appeal more to your audience. 

As technology grows and develops, it will inevitably change the way we do certain tasks. AI has a huge amount of potential to change how ecommerce merchants produce, refine, and publish content to their store. By knowing the benefits and challenges, you can start to see where it will be most useful and effective within your own store.