Issue #417

Sent to members on February 13, 2023

How Might ChatGPT Change SEO And Blogging?

A lot of people have been talking about ChatGPT lately. I even wrote about it here in The Edge, but with a big word of warning and basically calling this hype a fad.

But, I want to be crystal clear here…

When I said those words, I was primarily speaking to all of the hype about people using tools like ChatGPT to “produce” content and “write” blog posts. That’s a pretty stupid thing to do, for multiple reasons. It is a tool which must be used with your eyes wide open about the implications.

But, that’s an entirely different argument for how tools such as ChatGPT will change how people search for content.

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There’s no doubt that THAT is going to change drastically.

Bing (the Microsoft search engine not a lot of people use) just made news by solidifying their partnership with OpenAI and directly integrating ChatGPT into their search engine.

They’re even going so far as to integrate it right into the Edge web browser, enabling things like using ChatGPT inside the browser to do things. They gave a demo about using ChatGPT to summarize a PDF file. Super useful.

So, it had a lot of people then questioning the viability of Google. Was Google on the way out?

Hehe… nah. 🤣

Just because ChatGPT is the current thing doesn’t mean Google got caught with their pants down on using AI. Google has been in this game for awhile. They’ve just been really stingy about putting out public releases because of various risks. But, they’ve definitely been on it. And all ChatGPT did was spark an arm’s race.

So, now we have Bard.

A really stupid name, but Bard is basically Google’s version of ChatGPT. Thing is…

When Bard officially kicks off, it is going to have access to Google’s search index. ChatGPT, on the other hand, is currently running on non-current data.

The way I see it, Bard is going to be a real game changer despite the stupid name.

This is sparking an arms race as these tech companies are RACING to compete and gain the upper hand when it comes to this kind of use of AI.

It is going to change search. Quickly. And as content creators, it is worth thinking about how all of this is going to change our lives.

See, with these tools, the days of users dropping keywords into a search and getting links back to external sources (like our blogs) are limited. It will change quite a bit. Instead, AI will index what it has been programmed to consider authority sources… and will simply spit out answers to user questions.

People will be using search engines not only to find answers, but summarize them and digest them into succinct answers that humans can actually use.

Normal search results likely won’t go anywhere, but I think more and more people are going to come to rely on the AI layer to give them the TLDR on it because they don’t want to have to actually READ all that stuff. 🤣

So, content creation by real human beings – by us – will remain important. It will be what ultimately is fueling these tools with information.

Like normal, we’ll need signs of authority. We’ll need good information people will actually want to read and find valuable. I think a lot of the current ranking factors will continue to apply.

But… we will need to optimize for ANSWERS, not just keywords.

I think our content will need to be much more catered to answering human-phrased questions.

Frankly, this is a good idea even now. Just look at the “People Also Ask” section of Google SERPS. They are all plain-English questions. Not keyword phrases, but real questions.

I think this kind of FAQ-style content will be even more important in a world where AI chat is baked into search engines. While long-form content will still be a solid SEO asset, I think it will be equally effective to create human-optimized, shorter, answers-based content.

Another thing that will change is the increased need for optimizing for the user.

Now, optimizing for the user is already really important for SEO. I usually tell people that when you focus on optimizing for the human being and giving them the best information in the best possible way, then SEO often takes care of itself.

But, I do think this user-centric optimization will develop further to include things like emotion, intent and even bias. With all the information sloshing around, people tend to resonate better with information that resonates with their desires and feelings.

In that world, content that is written from the perspective of the VALUES of a target market will help this new answered-oriented search structure better match your content to the people asking the question.

Not only that, resonating with people in tone and values is going to matter A LOT when it comes to conversion – and ultimately getting people to enter your community. This way… when people do manage to arrive on your site, you’ve got a higher chance of earning the right to follow up with them.

Think about it…

With the current structure of search, we are given a list of links as a result. And we bounce in and out of them… looking for the best content. That kind of pogo-sticking in and out of search results means there is a bit of a long-tail on traffic. If your site gets ranked, say, in page 2 of the results… you’re definitely not going to get as much traffic as the top results, but you’re liable to get some.

In an answers-engine search, that long-tail is likely to shrink drastically. AI will use the BEST info (as it determines) and deliver the best results and the user is much less likely to look any further. So, optimizing to be one of those important sources will be highly important, but then when people DO manage to arrive on our site, we better find a way to connect.

The implication there is just that we’re going to need to continue to do what we have always needed to do: BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST.

The other thing about optimizing for humans is that human beings have the ability to make judgements based on EXPERIENCE. That’s something AI can never do. AI can only look at it’s existing data set, analyze the language, then use probability models to determine what the best answer is and spit it out.

You can see this now with some of the stupid, false answers that ChatGPT will confidently put out there.

But, human beings… we have the ability to factor in experience and judgement based on a lot of factors aside from merely probability. Which means these AI tools will be best used for dry information.

Perspective based on real human emotions and values and authority is something that AI can never, ever do.

Which is why blogging and content creation will never go anywhere.

In fact, I would optimize for this by not wasting your time blogging with dry facts. We’re not Wikipedia entries. AI chat tools will be able to pump that stuff out and users won’t even bother with your content.

We’re human beings. So, make sure you build personality into your content. Draw from your experience, your opinions, your perspective. You need to move beyond merely parroting information. That’s an aspect of optimizing for HUMANS that will only get more important.

So, let me summarize this into some bullet points on how I think SEO and blogging will be affected by these AI tools:

  • Blogging will be a great assistive tool for bloggers in some capacities. But…
  • Do not use AI to “Write” content as you will be downranked and penalized.
  • Optimize for answers. Provide solid answers to real questions.
  • Focus on building experience, personality, authority and real perspective into your content, rather than plain, dry facts that AI could easily pump out.
  • Continue to focus on conversion once people get onto your site in order to get them into your community.

AI tools will be an assistive layer over information. Some people will over-rely on that, to be sure. It will do best with dry, fact-based information. It will be highly useful.

But, the role of blogging will never go anywhere. Regardless of whether it is called “blogging” or not, real humans creating content based on their experience and perspective will never go anywhere at all.

Tech Talk

When it comes to building sales funnels with WordPress, I’m currently more of a Cartflows guy. But, there is competition and one of them is WPFunnels. And also interesting is that the team behind it just released their new marketing automation tool for WordPress called Mail Mint.

At first glance, it seems as if they’re aiming to be a direct competitor to FluentCRM. It honestly has a lot of similarities… almost like FluentCRM with a different user interface. I took a peak around the free version (their PRO version isn’t out yet) and it looks like a nice start. I know nothing about it and I know full well that I will continue to stick with FluentCRM, but this could be a tool to keep an eye on. Competition is always a good thing.

WordPress 6.2 is scheduled to be released on March 28th. GoDaddy has a writeup of what’s to come. Looks like most of it has to do with continuation of the development of WordPress’s built-in new site editor functionality. The plan, of course, is to be able to edit your entire site with the block editor, not just content.

Speaking of site design, a few words about your theme…

I know a lot of people are still using themes that are tough to modify. I have a few clients right now who still are and we haven’t made the shift yet. One I will be re-building this week since his old theme was outright discontinued. But…

There’s really no reason to use a theme which is tough to change anymore. So many themes either require you to hand-code modifications, install and modify child themes, or more. Or they come with little dashboards that allow easy things like selecting colors and fonts and options, but if you want to make REAL changes to your site’s design, you’re still looking at the nerdy experience of modifying child themes by hand.

These days, this isn’t worth it anymore. There are too many options available. Heck, even WordPress itself is getting into the business with their full-site editor.

In my opinion, it makes no sense at all to use anything but a theme with a full visual builder. This includes options like:

  • Thrive Theme Builder. A great theme platform.
  • Elementor + Hello Theme. You don’t need to use Hello Theme here, but it is a great starting point for using Elementor to design your entire site.
  • Bricks Builder. On my list to test this one, but looks promising.
  • Beaver Builder. Powerful. Not my favorite because I don’t like their UI, but still a powerful builder.
  • Astra Pro. Block-based theme builder.

You get the idea. If you do not know how to make full design modifications to your site, you need to get a tool that allows you to do it. If modifying your design would require you to dive into PHP code the old-fashioned way, it is time to get with the times.

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