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Why SEOs Need to Embrace AI

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Why SEOs Need to Embrace AI

The author’s views are entirely their own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

It’s no question that the AI conversation has dominated the SEO community during the last year. The implications of this new technology are both extremely exciting and a little scary at the same time. At Go Fish Digital, we’ve been following these trends closely and refining our processes around the possibilities that AI brings.

Within both the SEO and larger technology communities, there is a huge discrepancy of opinions.

Many are weary of the implications and skeptical on the long-term benefits for marketers.

Some believe that this is a passing trend similar to voice search.

Others believe that this is a revolutionary technology that will impact every aspect of search in the future.

Out of curiosity, I performed a poll on my Linkedin page. I asked if SEOs thought that ChatGPT was going to disrupt SEO:

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that ChatGPT is going to change our industry. I tend to agree with them. As a community, we need to be getting prepared for the imminent changes that AI is going to bring.

SEOs need to embrace AI

I believe that as a community, we need to be paying attention to this generational technology. While the tools certainly have their shortcomings, the outputs they’re producing already are nothing short of impressive. These tools will allow us to become more educated, more efficient and more technical.

It’s important that we not only keep in mind where these technologies are today. We must understand and expect that these tools will get exponentially better over time. The performance of GPT-4 is already significantly improved from GPT-3.5

Thinking about a 5-year time horizon, these tools will advance far beyond what we’re seeing in today’s versions. This is why SEOs need to be adopting these technologies right now. The ones that do, will be well-positioned for the future of marketing.

Improving our SEO efficiencies

Back in March, I was curious as to how many SEOs were utilizing ChatGPT in their day-to-day workflows. Despite the fact that it was relatively new, I wondered how quick SEOs were to adopt using it:

A poll on LinkedIn on how marketers integrate ChatGPT in their day-to-day work

To my surprise, 52% of respondents already claimed to be using ChatGPT to help with regular SEO tasks. This poll was conducted just 3 months after it’s initial release.

This makes sense as there are a lot of really great use cases for SEO tasks that we do on a daily basis. By using AI technology like ChatGPT, you can significantly improve the efficiency at which you’re able to work on some of these tasks.

A simple example is keyword research. With ChatGPT, you can immediately create large seed lists of potential keywords that have semantic relationships to the core topics that your website is trying to compete for.

Tom Demers recently wrote a great guide on Search Engine Land where he walks through his process of using AI for keyword research. In the guide he shows multiple examples of how he was able to use different types of prompts to directly identify keywords or find sources to mine for query opportunities.

He even showcased how he was able to export data from third-party SEO tools and bring it into a table format within the ChatGPT interface:

ChatGPT integration with third-party SEO tools

Content ideation is another great example of a tactical task that ChatGPT can leverage. Here I prompted ChatGPT to give me 30 different topic ideas about “The Metaverse”. It delivered them in about 30 seconds:

Prompting ChatGPT to give topic ideas for content.

If I ran a technology blog, I could vet that against existing content on the site and find gaps where search opportunities might exist. Even if there was no direct SEO value, these topics still help position us as a topical authority in a particular content area.

You could even use ChatGPT to optimize your site’s content at scale. Tools such as GPT For Work allow you to connect to Google Sheets to the ChatGPT API. This allows you to feed in dynamic prompts and get the output back in Google Sheets.

As a result, you could create thousands of title tags and meta descriptions. You could give a site a baseline level of optimization with about 30 minutes of setup:

Using Google Sheets with the ChatGPT API to create title tags

From a tactical perspective, there are so many use cases for ChatGPT to help with SEO.

  1. Keyword research

  2. Content ideation

  3. Content evaluation

  4. Schema generation

  5. Featured snippet creation

  6. Title tags and meta descriptions

  7. Ideas for new content sections

  8. Readability improvements

While there are many resources available, Alyeda Solis wrote a fantastic guide on the different use cases for SEO.

If you’re performing SEO in any capacity, it’s very likely that you can find a use case where your day-to-day efficiencies can be improved by utilizing some of these processes. This will allow us to produce a more efficient output and spend time working on initiatives that are less prone to automation.

Enhancing our knowledge base

I believe that only looking at strictly tactical implementations would be using AI far within its limits. There are many other great applications for the SEO community beyond that.

One of the best use cases that we see many industries using ChatGPT for is to enhance their knowledge base. AI can be an excellent teacher when prompted correctly. It can summarize information exceptionally quickly and give it to us in an output that’s completely customized to our learning style.

For example, the late-great Bill Slawski used to analyze patents that Google filed for. These patents are more technical and Bill used a long-form writing style.

Bill Slawski's patents

We started testing running Bill’s patents through ChatGPT and prompted it to summarize core points. A successful prompt was “Summarize the whole article in 5 bullet points. Explain like I’m in high school”:

Asking ChatGPT to summarize an article

For my learning style, this allowed me to get enough detail to understand the patent and its implications without having the output oversimplify Bill’s ideas. If I was curious about any given idea, I could simply prompt ChatGPT to elaborate more and it would allow me to go deeper.

You could also get summaries from Google’s documentation. Here I fed it text from Google’s page on canonical tags and asked it to give me best practices.

Asking ChatGPT to summarize a page

How many of us struggle with technical SEO, web technology or understanding how search engines work?

With ChatGPT the work of great technical minds like Bill and Google’s documentation essentially becomes democratized. Now when you encounter an SEO topic that you don’t understand, you can use AI as a teacher.

Of course, there are drawbacks to this. These types of summaries might not fully represent an author’s work as content must be left out and elements such as tone of voice aren’t taken in to consideration.

However, as a whole, this is a very powerful thing. Now the knowledge base that exists around SEO is more accessible to the entire community.

Empowering a community of creators

Personally, I think the most exciting aspect of the implications of AI for the SEO community are the technical possibilities that it opens up. While many of us are technically minded, not everyone has a background in development.

ChatGPT is going to enable the SEO community to become creators.

With the right prompting, you’ll now be able to create code that you weren’t able to before. That’s going to significantly impact your effectiveness as a search marketer.

For example, Screaming Frog is now opened up so much more for SEOs. I recently needed to scrape the BreadcrumbList structured data of REI’s site. When doing similar tasks before, it’s taken hours of debugging, re-running crawls and even meetings with other members of our team.

I asked ChatGPT to create a Screaming Frog extract and fed it sample HTML. Within 5 minutes, I was able to get a working XPath that allowed me to extract exactly what I needed:

Asking ChatGPT to create a Screaming Frog extract

The process could be applied to many other tools. ChatGPT could help you create API calls, SQL queries, Python scripts and many other things. This will empower the community to create new things that might not have been possible for many people.

On top of one-off pieces of code, you’ll now be able to create tools that are fully customized to your exact needs.

I’ve never created a Chrome extension before. However, ChatGPT has the power to take the prompts you give it and turn it into a fully functioning extension.

With about 30 minutes of prompting and debugging, it was able to create a custom SEO extension that pulls data such as title tags, meta descriptions, H1s, URL and more:

Creating a custom SEO extension using ChatGPT

While there are great tools like this available, I could customize this extension to the exact specifications that I want.

You can even create tools that help improve your SEO efficiencies. My colleague Dan Hinckley was able to further iterate on this extension.

By connecting it to the ChatGPT API, he was able to create an SEO extension for our team that provides recommendations for title tags, H1, new content sections, and more:

1688405166 78 Why SEOs Need to Embrace AI

Now this gives the entire team at Go Fish Digital a new tool to use as part of their process. We can quickly find page-level SEO opportunities and can decide which ones are worth actioning on for a given recommendation.

I suspect that ChatGPT will produce other solutions similar to this in the community. By embracing the power of AI, SEO teams will be able to identify the needs that they have and create a solution that perfectly fits their internal processes.

Conclusion

To us, it’s clear that AI is going to have a significant impact on the SEO community. The data already shows that SEOs see these technologies as having the power to significantly disrupt the industry and are already incorporating tools like ChatGPT into their day-to-day processes. I believe the SEOs that adapt to these changes will be the ones that see the most success.

Marketers that are able to leverage AI to improve efficiencies, grow their knowledge base and build customized solutions to improve their processes will be well-positioned for whatever the future of search holds.

Chris will be speaking at MozCon 2023 this August in Seattle! Join us for inspiring sessions with our incredible lineup of speakers. 

We hope you’re as excited as we are for August 7th and 8th to hurry up and get here. And again, if you haven’t grabbed your ticket yet and need help making a case we have a handy template to convince your boss!

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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