ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence (AI) content generation tools have sparked a flurry of excitement in recent months, with suggested uses for the technology including everything from writing code to choosing stocks. Even Google itself is rolling out AI to its core search engine, though only to a small number of users at this stage. But what exactly is ChatGPT – and what impact will it have on how marketers produce online content?
Essentially, ChatGPT and similar tools such as Bard are chatbots that use AI to answer prompts entered by users. ‘GPT’ stands for ‘Generative Pre-trained Transformer’, which is a type of large language model – an algorithm that has been trained on large amounts of text so that it can understand language and produce written content. This ability to produce large amounts of content quickly has huge implications for the future of copywriting, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and marketing more generally.
When ChatGPT-4 (the latest version of the technology) launched in March this year, we started looking into the tool’s potential to assist our marketing activities. But rather than diving straight in and using AI content tools for everything, we trialled ChatGPT on very specific tasks, such as:
And its number 3 on that list, content generation, that prompts the most complex discussions about ChatGPT and AI content tools. The most important questions we think marketers should be asking themselves about this type of software are:
So, let’s look at each of these questions in turn.
The answer to this question is yes and no. ChatGPT’s understanding of language and grammar enables it to take keywords and incorporate them into fluent copy that makes sense. But good SEO is not just about keywords – it’s also about giving your users content that’s readable and engaging. ChatGPT has the ability to mimic different writing styles, so it is possible to train it on your brand’s tone of voice, but it’s important to remember that ChatGPT’s output is based purely on the content it has learnt. It can only make predictions based on the data it has been fed; it’s not inherently creative. So, when it comes to writing in a particular style, AI can do an impression of a brand’s existing tone of voice, but it cannot develop something new – or not yet anyway.
Google’s current guidance states that AI content won’t be penalised in rankings purely because it’s AI-generated; after all, the search engine rewards plenty of automated content, like sports scores and weather forecasts. And if you’re worried that this new way of generating large amounts of content will result in a sudden rise in spam, you don’t need to be – Google remains confident in its ability to identify spam:
“Using automation—including AI—to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies… We have a variety of systems, including SpamBrain, that analyze patterns and signals to help us identify spam content, however it is produced”
It’s the intention behind using an AI tool that still matters most. What content writers will need to focus on is: ‘E-E-A-T’: expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Need a simple rule to work by? Use AI to help your audience directly, not your rankings. If you succeed in that, better rankings will follow automatically.
To answer this third question, we conducted a little experiment. We gave ChatGPT a prompt and ran the resulting copy through an AI content detector. We then edited the paragraph and ran it through the AI content detector again, testing how much editing we had to do before the AI content detector determined that the copy had been written by a human.
Read on to see the results…
ChatGPT prompt: Write a paragraph on how ChatGPT has the potential to change the world of marketing
ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing in numerous ways. Its ability to understand and respond to natural language enables it to engage with customers in a personalized and human-like manner. This can enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty. Furthermore, ChatGPT can generate new ideas, refine existing content, and even write drafts, saving marketers time and effort. ChatGPT can also help marketers conduct market research by analysing customer behaviour and preferences, providing valuable insights that can inform strategy and decision-making. Finally, ChatGPT can help marketers optimize advertising campaigns by generating ad copy, testing different ad formats and placements, and tracking performance metrics. In all these ways and more, ChatGPT has the potential to transform the marketing industry, making it more efficient, effective, and customer-centric.
AI detector score: 91% (correct, it’s written by AI)
Edited version – attempt 1:
Tools like ChatGPT have the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing in numerous ways. Their ability to understand and respond to natural language enables them to engage with customers in a personalized manner, enhancing the customer experience and helping to build brand loyalty. ChatGPT can help marketers optimize ad campaigns by generating copy, testing advert formats and placements, and track performance metrics.
What’s more, ChatGPT and similar tools can generate new ideas, help to refine existing content, support with market research and analysis of customer behaviour, and offer insights that can inform strategy and decision-making.
ChatGPT has plenty of potential to transform the marketing industry and make it more efficient, effective, and customer centric.
AI detector score: 50%
Edited version – attempt 2:
AI content generation tools like ChatGPT have the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing. ChatGPT’s ability to understand and respond to natural language prompts can support marketers as they attempt to engage with prospects and customers in a personalised manner, ultimately improving the customer experience and helping to build brand loyalty. ChatGPT can also help marketers optimize ad campaigns by generating copy, testing advert formats and placements, and tracking performance metrics.
ChatGPT and similar tools can also generate new ideas, help to edit and refine existing content, support with market research and analysis of customer behaviour, and offer insights that can inform strategy and decision-making.
Ultimately, AI content generation tools have plenty of potential to transform the marketing industry, making it more effective, efficient, and customer focused.
AI detector score: 4%
Our thoughts on this experiment
It took two attempts at editing and rewriting an AI-generated paragraph so that it passed a detector test. Whether this is time well spent is very much up for debate, especially given that search engines aren’t currently penalising creators for using AI content.
In terms of making your content readable, engaging and on-brand, you will probably find it essential to make small tweaks to your AI copy – generating large amounts of content using AI and adding it to your website in its unedited form will ultimately not be useful for your users, and that’s where Google will eventually start to penalise you. What we think ChatGPT excels at is providing ideas for content – ideal for copywriters and marketers suffering a touch of writers’ block.
One thing is certain: you definitely need to check any ‘facts’ that appear in AI content, as there are multiple incidences of ChatGPT inventing things or getting them wrong.
Our take on AI content here in the jungle is this: these tools work well for specific and limited uses, basic idea generation and help with beating writers’ block. But there’s simply no substitute for the creativity of a human brain. What makes your content compelling, engaging, and useful to your audience is your expertise and brand personality.
Marketers, copywriters, social media executives – each member of your team brings their own interests and individuality to their role. Very often, it’s our mistakes that lead us to create our best work; as the saying goes, writing is re-writing. It’s often in the editing process that a better idea will occur to you, but you wouldn’t have arrived at that idea without your initial draft. AI content tools work by predicting; they can’t innovate or add ‘the human touch’. This will be especially important as we all get more and more used to the ChatGPT tone of voice that could threaten to overwhelm us this year.
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