Artificial Intelligence is being adopted super-quickly at the moment, and one of the questions we are frequently asked is “how will the use of ChatGPT affect my organic search engine rankings?”
Google and Microsoft are already heavy users of AI themselves, so there is no need to worry that they’ll become “AI-haters”. The foundations of search engines remain the same – their AI crawls website content and ranks pages based on relevancy, authority and helpfulness to the searcher.
So, what will change?
The types of content that Google, Bing etc value will adapt – crafted content demonstrating uniqueness, timeliness and personality will become more highly valued :
“As a result of the AI evolution, there is an exponential increase in the amount of AI-written, low-value content. And, in response to that, Google is prioritizing first-person, credible, personality-driven content.” Aja Frost – Hubspot Global Director of SEO Growth.
Key SEO (search engine ranking) strategies for 2023
There are basically 2 overarching areas for content production to consider :
Create content designed to be found by AI driven search
Search engines are looking for the best answer when a searcher asks a question, so factual answers are key. FAQs, How to Guides and other content providing clear, concise answers to specific questions will help you get found.
Compete on quality over quantity
Google have recently added “Experience” to their E-A-T principle – they are now seeking out Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust.
8 guiding principles to protect your organic search engine rankings in the age of AI
1. Write for your audience.
Search engine ranking algorithms are designed to weed out content irrelevant to a user search query, so avoid generic AI generated content, and focus on content which is tailored for your target reader. Create target personas for you and your team to pinpoint who they are writing for so that your content has consistency across channels.
2. Create and curate your content.
AI generated content is formed through rapid assessment of existing content, reworded to answer your brief. It’s very clever … however it is, by its very nature, content reproduction.
So, develop content that AI systems can’t generate on their own, such as research based content, case studies, surveys or other original articles sharing unique information.
3. Show the person behind the words.
We have a saying at WSI, that people are still dealing with people, even when they are interacting with each other through technology. So, whilst AI is getting better at simulating tone of voice, it is (as yet) unable to create content that deals with emotions or personal experiences. So consider how you show proof of a human behind the words e.g. thought leadership pieces, opinion pieces, writing in the first person, adding author bios or LinkedIn links can be techniques to use.
4. Focus on experience.
Of course, content should be visually appealing, well written and easy to understand, but it should also be designed to encourage user interaction. Cost calculators, Design your car etc are good examples of content types that ChatGPT cannot generate.
Polls, quizzes and user comments are also good indications to Google that your content is not AI generated. They also encourage ongoing interaction with your site, which indicates to Google that the site is up to date.
The new Google Analytics 4 platform has been designed to help businesses understand more clearly how users are interacting with their site. There is a whole new section of data that measures “engagement” for businesses to explore and respond to.
5. New news.
AI generated content is created from URLs that the AI tools have “scraped”. This means that the AI content is less likely to be completely up to date. To weed out AI generated content, regularly updated pages will start to rank higher in the regular search engine results, as Google et al value websites which they can see have been recently refreshed and are up to date. Good examples of real-time updates are foreign exchange calculators and weather forecasts.
6. Use long-tail keywords.
Long tail keywords may not be used by searchers so frequently, but they do demonstrate a stronger intention (so have a higher chance of converting). As more and more content is generated, search engines will increasingly use long tails rather than generic keywords to match an answer to a search. Consider “Dog food” vs “Dog food for my 6 month old puppy”. Don’t forget to optimise your images with long-tail descriptions too, as increasingly search engines are showing images in response to searches.
7. Structure your site data.
This one’s more technical – it’s all about making sure that your site is set up to comply with search engine best practise so they find it easy to “read”. As examples, make sure your metadata complies with latest guidelines and that your sitemaps are up to date.
8. Domain authority.
The more backlinks your site has from relevant, higher ranking sites than your own, the better “authority score” it will win from the search engines. Having a strategy to earn high quality links from reputable sites will earn you external ranking signals, as Google sees these as votes of confidence from other relevant businesses.
The world of generative AI is moving super-fast, in the Digital Marketing industry it’s being called a revolution. No matter what you call it, we can expect the SEO algorithms to change frequently and rapidly over the short to medium term in response – check out Google’s latest blog to see their latest thoughts.
Whether you are adopting AI to support your content creation or not, it’s time to revisit your content and SEO strategies in order to protect your organic search engine rankings.
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