As artificial intelligence technology continues to develop and find its way into more and more tools, we don’t really need to be asking the question of “should we be using AI for ___?” any longer. With the hundreds of powerful tools currently available, the better question is to ask “how”.
In this guide we’ll teach you everything we know about using AI for Search Engine Optimization so you can settle on the right strategies and tools to help you create valuable, ethical work for your sites.
Table of Contents
Overview of AI and SEO
Before we get into specific tools and methods, we need to cover some basic but important questions about the nature of AI itself. Once we as SEOs are aligned on these topics, we can more effectively and ethically use AI in our work.
AI is especially worth paying attention to within the context of SEO because it’s already being used in services and tools we all interact with, and it will only become more prevalent over time. Google already uses AI in its products (Search, Maps, YouTube, Lens, and more) and has given us a glimpse into the generative AI feature that will roll out to search in the near future.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence is a broad term referring to technology that aims to perform “intelligent” functions such as learning and reasoning. There are many different kinds of AI, but a typical goal of this kind of technology is to be able to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and quickly generate actionable next steps based on its interpretation of that data. AI can even measure its successes and failures in order to improve its ability to interpret data and generate insights.
How will AI affect search?
While Google has used AI in its ranking algorithm for years, we’ll soon be seeing generative AI (capable of generating text, images, and other content) make its way into the user side of the search landscape.
Google’s upcoming Search Generative Experience (SGE) will synthesize the information from pages in its index and provide its own unique results and answers to user queries. And Bing, the second most popular search engine, currently licenses OpenAI’s ChatGPT to offer AI-powered results that anyone can start trying out right now.
We’ll also see people who normally would seek information on traditional search engines moving to AI specific tools like Google Bard and ChatGPT.
Is AI used in SEO?
AI tools are already being implemented by many SEOs in order to help them work more efficiently. As you’ll read in this article, AI tools can aid in many tasks like keyword, audience, and topic research, as well as process automation and technical SEO. Since we’re still exploring the frontiers of AI use in Google Search and SEO it’s important to exercise caution and work responsibly, but it’s safe to say that we’ll continue to see it used more and more frequently.
How will AI impact the future of SEO?
No one can predict the future, but based on what we know about AI, SEO, and Google, here are some of the ways we anticipate that AI will impact the future of SEO:
- AI results on search will take up lots of page one real estate and will often provide answers to users’ queries without them needing to visit a site. Google has a long history of using rich results and featured snippets to answer queries directly on the results page, and a 2022 SEMrush study showed that zero-click searches accounted for 25% of desktop searches and 17% of mobile searches. AI use in search will continue that trend, driving down click through rates on organic listings, as the users’ questions may be answered without needing to visit a site.
- As Google continues to develop the way in which it uses AI in Search, SEOs will need to be flexible and open minded in regards to how they approach strategy.
- In the same vein, SEOs should start thinking outside the box in order to show up on AI-driven tools like voice search with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant or visual search like Google Lens.
- Google’s SGE seeks to better understand user intent and match it to results with the most appropriate context, which is a goal that Google has had from the beginning. It’s long been Google’s advice to create content based on topic relevance and value to the user instead of using a keyword-driven approach, so we expect to see more marketers jump on this approach that forward-thinking SEOs have been using for some time.
- We expect Google to continue to double down on E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) as the way of separating quality content from poor content, especially in a world where generative AI and large language models can produce instantaneous written content in bulk.
- Responsible SEOs will undoubtedly continue to find ways to harness AI tools to work more efficiently in a way that adds value to the site and the user experience.
- Irresponsible SEOs may use AI to create high volumes of low quality content without proper fact checking and user consideration.
Should you use AI for SEO?
AI isn’t going away, and the benefits of using this technology shouldn’t be ignored as some passing fad. It’s time for every SEO to get comfortable incorporating AI tech into their work flows. Keep reading to explore what some of those strategies can look like.
How to use AI for SEO
Now that we’ve examined AI and how it relates to Google and SEO in more detail, we can start to explore strategies SEOs can use to work smarter.
Specifically, AI tools can help SEOs:
- automate simple, repeatable tasks at scale to save time
- utilize scripts and coding languages
- gain quicker insights into an audience or topic
Remember, AI tools should be used as a supplement to your knowledge and expertise and not a replacement. As long as you’re doing your due diligence to create unique, valuable work, these strategies will serve you and your sites well.
Using AI for SEO keywords
You can start by providing a few seed keywords related to your topic or industry. AI tools such as ChatGPT can help generate related keyword ideas based on the phrases you provide. This is a quick way to generate topic ideas to leverage for deeper research on platforms such as SEMRush or AHrefs.
Using AI for content planning
Describe your topic, industry, and target audience that you want to revolve your content around. AI will give you talking points to help with content structure.
To take it a step further, you can prompt ideas to come in tabular form for all months of the year that can give you a draft of topics in a content planning-friendly format.
Using AI for content creation
You can prompt AI tools to expand on topics found during the content planning phase to better outline main topics and subpoints for your content piece. Remember, this should only be used to help spark ideas and research. Content from tools like ChatGPT shouldn’t be directly copied.
Using AI for title tags, meta descriptions, and headers
Describe the main topic and intent of the web page(s), and ask the AI tool to generate a title tag/meta description/header for that given web page. We have noticed that AI tools aren’t great at keeping certain content asks under specific character limits, so asking it for a “shorter version” or “a longer version” will often help get the drafted meta data or header closer to the desired length. Use those results to then help you write your own version.
Using AI to find backlinks
Explain the main topic of the website, the industry that it’s in, its target audiences, and what competitors are similar to that website. Including that context while asking the AI tool to generate backlink ideas ideas will help improve the accuracy of the result. Leverage this information with research conducted on dedicated SEO tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs can help you create a comprehensive list of potential potential backlinks.
Using AI for audience research
Describe your audience’s demographics, interests, behaviors, pain points. AI tools like ChatGPT will then respond with answers to attempt to reflect that audience’s perspectives. Ask the AI tool to elaborate on the questions you ask. This will usually lead to more varied and detailed answers that you can then use to further your research. With a better understanding of your audience, you can then develop personas that reflect varying consumer intent, and assign keyword groupings to those personas.
Using AI for transcriptions & summaries & summaries
Tools like Otter.ai transcribe text from uploaded videos or even live vide meetings. Tools like Otter.ai transcribe text from uploaded videos or even live vide meetings. ChatGPT offers ans an API that can connect to applications like YouTube. You can then leverage this connection to have it transcribe audio from the video you provide.
Additionally, for summarizing long-form articles, copy and paste the article into the AI ttool and ask for it to summarize the article. It will give an easily digestible version of the article.
Using AI for writing schema, regex, and code
Find a schema type that fits the webpage you want to markup and ask for the AI Tool to provide a template of that schema type. For example, if you can ask for an article json schema type with nested howto schema within it, and it should provide a pretty reliable template you can utilize.
You can utilize a similar process to create and understand regex patterns. Explain what text transformations you want to achieve with regex, or request explanations for components of regex patterns to better comprehend the problem at hand.
Using AI for spreadsheet formulas
You can request what sort of formula solution you are looking for in a spreadsheet by describing the problem, and the ideal result. AI ttools are fairly good at sourcing templated formulas you can use for your own needs. If you have an existing formula that isn’t working as intended, ask AI tools for a similar formula accompanied by the context you attempted to use it in.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve learned a good deal about how AI and SEO can work together in a way that’s good for users as well as your website. There’s so much more to learn about this topic as it evolves, so be sure to keep an open mind and continue to strive to use AI to produce quality work that resonates with both Google and your audience.
by Brett Woodward and Randy McFadden, Sr. SEOs at Two Octobers.