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How ChatGPT Will Impact Copywriting & SEO

April 11, 2023

I recently shared about the basics of ChatGPT and some interesting observations about ChatGPT as a copywriter. But I wanted to get a lot more specific about how I think ChatGPT (and AI in general) will impact the industries I work in.

Not only copywriting and content writing, but SEO, too.

After all, I know some folks out there are wondering whether they’ll soon have jobs (unthinkable! … or is it?). And perhaps some companies are wondering if ChatGPT could possibly do the work of a writer or SEO expert for a fraction of the cost (you wish, jellyfish!).

Firstly, I should say that although I probably am an expert at my job as a copywriter, I am not by any means an expert on AI. I’ve written about it here and there as someone who mostly writes for tech companies. I’ve played around with it fairly extensively (as I shared in those previous blogs). But take anything I say with a grain of salt and do your own digging.

Anyway… here are my thoughts on how ChatGPT and AI could impact copywriting, content writing, and SEO in the next little while…

If You’re Reading This, You Are Not Normal

No offence or anything, but I suspect that you (like me) are a bit of an oddball. You probably live and breathe tech more than the average person. You very likely run a business online or at the very least, spend a huge portion of your time working on the internet in your day job. You probably tend to play around with shiny new things a lot and tend to be an early adopter of new tech. Otherwise, you’d probably be doing something else right now instead of reading this article.

You and me? We are in a bubble.

AI might feel like it’s everywhere right now, but for the average person, it’s not on their radar.

Most people are blissfully unaware of what’s going on and will remain so for many years. Aside from a few scary sounding news headlines that they won’t fully comprehend.

It’ll Become Mainstream, But When?

Now this is just a suspicion, but based on what I know about human behaviour, most people will probably stick to what they know for quite a while longer. I can guarantee that some will deliberately resist adopting new technology even if it’s right in front of them (just like self-serve checkouts).

This means that a large portion of products, services, and their consumers will continue as-is for the foreseeable future, and may perhaps just shift slowly over time. That being said…

Eventually, AI will probably be as mainstream as the internet and smartphone. In fact, it’ll be so mainstream that it’ll be a default feature and perhaps we won’t even talk about it. The phrase “AI” will probably become as relevant as saying the “WWW” part of a URL. It’s hard to say what the timeline for that will be, but what I really want you to focus on is this:

As a copywriter or SEO professional, it might feel urgent and fast-moving to you right now, but it probably won’t be that way for your clients. Most probably won’t understand AI for quite some time. And they certainly won’t expect you to embrace AI overnight. With that being said, don’t stick your head in the sand.

How SEO Might Change

I’ve seen loads of conversations about how some of the technical tasks of SEO professionals might be done by AI, but that’s not what I’m interested in. I’m curious about something much bigger…

What if people turn to ChatGPT with their everyday questions instead of Google? What impact would that have on website traffic, keyword optimisation, and all the work people have put into creating quality user experiences on their sites?

If we were to see a shift in user habits, businesses would need to adapt.

Here are a few very speculative thoughts on what might happen…

Search and AI Will Become Intertwined

Already we’re seeing Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing enter the market as (currently inferior) versions of what ChatGPT is doing. It makes sense that search engines will enhance their capabilities with AI. Meanwhile, many ChatGPT users are finding they are turning to the chatbot for answers instead of opening up a search engine.

Maybe they won’t become intertwined… maybe they’ll become synonymous.

Basic Content May Struggle to Get Traffic

We may see less traffic from search engines to blog articles that answer people’s how-to questions or provide general knowledge. Ya know, the kind of quick, low-stakes info people will find it more convenient to get from a bot. Although this has already been happening for a while, with Google’s featured snippets sometimes displaying summarised answers within search results.

Quality Matters More in Search

Google will prioritise content created by humans over AI-generated content to protect the user experience and ensure quality results. In fact, they have stated that ‘Text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience’ goes against their search guidelines. Regardless of whether Google can automatically detect AI content (they have not confirmed) quality content and great user experiences will always win when it comes to showing up in search (nothing new here).

Certain Information is Best Discovered Through Search

As far as I can tell, people would likely still use Google to search for and compare products and services specific to their needs. And to find in-depth information about really important stuff, to ensure they get it from trusted sources. So, this type of content and copy will remain absolutely valuable and well worth optimising for search.

Brace for New Blackhat Techniques

I’m sure we’ll see the blackhat SEO folks try to “game” the AI at the expense of quality, audience-focused content. For instance, if they publish enough niche websites that state a business is the best business (to drown out the competing content that says otherwise), would the AI accept that as the truth?

And please, let me be clear that I do not endorse this so if you try it, please don’t credit me.

ChatGPT’s Impact on Copywriters

Yellow paper organised in the shape of a chat bubble

Flowing on from the above points, I also have a few ideas about how ChatGPT (and other AI tools) might impact copywriters and content writers over the coming years…

Less Content Drafting, More Content Editing

Already, ChatGPT is quite good at research and creating outlines (even though it’s not quite human enough for proper drafts). Perhaps in future, writers will direct the content and then edit whatever rough draft is produced by AI, rather than writing from scratch.

Scale Up Quality Content

I suspect that we’ll see an increase in quality at scale because good writers can produce content more efficiently in a way that wasn’t possible before. Perhaps writers will also be able to use AI to add value to what they’re doing with very little extra effort. For example, efficiently generating secondary pieces of content, like featured images, infographics, snippets, videos, and summaries.

Personalise at Scale

Perhaps we’ll see an increase in copy personalisation at scale, with AI tailoring some or all of your content to the characteristics and needs of each unique visitor. I know there are already tools with similar capabilities, but I can see how this is about to get a lot more sophisticated.

Brace for AI-Generated Content Detection

I also imagine we’ll see businesses using tools to detect whether the content they commission from writers is human or AI-generated (a little bit like how some might use Copyscape to detect plagiarism). This is already happening, but currently, the tools are highly inaccurate and generate a lot of false positives and false negatives.

At this stage, writers should assume that any attempts to pass off ChatGPT content as original will be found out. But also be prepared to educate clients that AI detection tools won’t necessarily give a meaningful result.

Create More Conversion and Brand-Focused Copy

I don’t see Chat GPT massively impacting conversion-focused copywriting or brand-focused copywriting.

It might help with some of the research process (e.g. summarising interviews with users/customers, analysing competitors, generating ideas), but I don’t see it producing anything that will come close to competing with the strategic human thinking and writing that goes into website copy.

Create More Original Content

As I mentioned in my previous blog, AI tools only produce content from what’s already out there on the internet. It can’t create new stuff, but you can.

So, writers should interview subject matter experts, collect real data, and find new stuff to bring into your content that no one has done. Find new angles and blend together interesting topics in new ways.

This will make your content far more interesting and valuable to readers. And even if AI scrapes your content and someone else reproduces their own version, there’s always an advantage to being the first one to talk about something.

Keep Doing Your Best Work

As a copywriter, I’m not worried about AI because it doesn’t even come close to what I can do. The only thing it does better than me is speed and (therefore) quantity. But in an age where quality is everything… the human writer is going to come out on top. And good writing is always in demand.

Of course, I do think some content writers may be in trouble — but only those that work in the high volume, low quality space (AKA content mills). If that’s not you, I hope you’ll stick around.

May the Best Writing Win

AI might be changing our world but one thing will never change: the best writing will always win. Especially when it comes to engaging and converting audiences and showing up in search.

So, I guess my advice to copywriters who are concerned would be… take a good look at your writing processes to see how you can bring in more originality, quality, and trust. Don’t let AI tools distract you too much, but don’t be afraid to play around with them.

Keep working on your craft and look for opportunities to improve efficiency and add value with AI.

If you can do that, I think you’ll be fine.

🙂 Angela

P.S. I just know I’m going to look back on some of this and cringe at how much I got wrong. But it’ll be an interesting snapshot of an interesting time to be alive, in any case!

P.P.S. Let me know if you agree/disagree about any of the above predictions… or if there’s any considerations I’ve left out.

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