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13 Effective (And Low-Cost) Ways to Promote a Product



13 Effective (And Low-Cost) Ways to Promote a Product

Promoting a product while low on cash—every company goes through this phase.

But the good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get your product in front of the right audience.

We’ll start with things you can do for a product launch and move on to promotion tactics you can use at any stage. 

1. Build excitement on social media 

Social media can be used for pre-launch marketing in many ways. 

For example, if you’re launching something you know people are going to be super excited about, you can capitalize on that by “leaking” product information before the launch. 

This will help turn that potential demand for a solution into anticipation for your product. 

Even simple means can do the job here, such as a countdown to launch day or a special pre-launch giveaway. 

Pre-launch giveaway example

One important thing to note is this tactic has little chance of succeeding if you have zero networking. 

However, this is something you should definitely try out:

  • If you have at least some following on social media. 
  • If you’re an active member of relevant communities. 

2. Send PR notes to industry websites 

Oldie but goodie. A PR note, aka press release, is an official statement delivered to members of the media. It’s used to share something newsworthy with the aim of securing media coverage.

Brands have been sending out PR notes before you and I were born—and it still works today. 

Why? Part of the job of news websites is to inform their readers about new and exciting products they can use to help them at work or make their life simpler—and that product could be the one you’ve been developing. 

News based on a press release

The key to this tactic is to send your press release ahead of your launch to give journalists time to prepare. 

Moreover, you may want to shortlist a few important media outlets and offer them to be the first to get their hands on the product. 

To learn the art of creating and distributing PR notes (and get a free template), check out our guide: How to Write a Press Release

3. Launch on a listing platform

Product Hunt, AlternativeTo, Hacker News. These are some of the listing platforms you can use to tell the world about your product. 

They’re great for product promotion for two reasons: the community and the distribution mechanism. 

When adding your product to those platforms, you’re not launching to the void. People gather around those platforms to see new products, try them, and share their experiences. And when you launch something users truly appreciate, you get rewarded with more exposure on the platform. And so, the cycle continues: more viewers, more comments/upvotes, more exposure. 

Product stats on Product Hunt
Product Hunt helped us promote our free Webmaster Tools.

Some other benefits of listing platforms: 

  • Feedback – If you want to learn how to improve your product to get more customers, you’re likely going to get some. Of course, everybody will be able to see the comments, so keep in mind this is a double-edged sword. 
  • Credibility – The platforms act as social proof that can build trust in your product.
  • Virality – In the best-case scenario, your product becomes really popular, and the community starts to recommend it outside the platform. 

Check out Product Hunt’s case studies. They show how the above benefits helped grow popular products like Notion and Loom. 

While most listing platforms will have that same community aspect, they will have their differences and unique features, so make sure to learn a bit about them.

For example, Product Hunt gives you the ability to advertise on its platform, while AlternativeTo allows you to list your product as an alternative to a staple in the industry and piggyback on its popularity. 

SERP for "photoshop alternatives"
Photoshop alternatives get an estimated 6.5K searches in the U.S. alone every month. Some of that search volume goes to products listed on AlternativeTo.

4. Partner up with influencers 

Influencer marketing is about working with popular internet personalities to promote your brand’s message, products, or services.

Just to be clear, not all influential people in a given niche will be open for sponsored content. But for those who are, and there are a lot of them, sponsored content is one of the monetization methods without which their channel probably wouldn’t exist. 

There are influencers “suitable” for just about any kind of budget and most industries. Since we’re talking about low-cost tactics here, I’d recommend reaching out to nano and micro influencers. 

Five types of influencers

Their reach may be relatively low, but they may sit in the right niche for your product and have a strong engagement with their audience.

As a matter of fact, even big brands work with micro influencers. For instance, Peugeot, the European car manufacturer, invited micro influencers to the Brussels Motor Show to share their experience and promote the brand (case study). 

Micro influencer campaign example

While we’re talking about costs, it’s worth mentioning that some influencers may be open to non-cash compensation, such as:

  • Sponsoring a giveaway for their audience. 
  • Receiving freebies/swag. 
  • Getting invites to exclusive events. 

There are all sorts of ways an influencer can promote your product. These include hosting giveaways, doing product reviews, sharing your best content, or just doing product placements. And they don’t necessarily need to be one-off campaigns. They can be the start of a long business relationship. 

How do you find the right kind of influencer? Luckily, there are tools for that: Social Blade, Heepsy, and SparkToro, among others. 

Next, you need to vet them in terms of things like recognition and resonance, reach out, and develop an influencer agreement. We share some tips on how to go through all that in our guide to influencer marketing for beginners

5. Create an optimized landing page 

By an optimized landing page, I mean a page optimized for search engines like Google. 

An optimized page is set up to rank for relevant keywords and generate free, passive, and consistent traffic. It’s just like the landing page for our free website traffic checker, which was optimized for, you guessed it, the “website traffic checker” keyword. It ranks in the top 10 for this keyword and over 400 other relevant keywords. 

Organic keywords report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Taking all keywords together, Google sends us about 31,000 visits each month without any ad spend from our side. 

Organic traffic data, via Ahrefs

The key to optimizing a landing page for SEO is finding a relevant keyword with the right kind of search intent. This means that the current SERPs for this keyword should imply that the searcher might be looking for a page offering a product and not, say, curated lists of products or guides. 

Let me unpack this with an example.

Below you will find a comparison of two keywords. The one on the left shows a strong presence of product landing pages—a good sign you may rank for this with a product landing page. The one on the right shows no product landing pages. Thus, trying to target that with a landing page is not impossible, but certainly hard. 

Search intent comparison of two keywords

Here’s a breakdown of how optimizing a product landing page works:

  1. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to find relevant keywords that imply that the searcher may be looking for a product 
  2. Design the page for search intent; include information that should be helpful for the reader
  3. Optimize on-page SEO technicals (such as title tag, URL, and images) 
  4. Add relevant internal links
  5. Build backlinks

Head on to our guide on optimizing landing pages and learn all the details. 

6. Promote to your existing audience 

Got some social media following or an email list? Great! Use it for promoting your new product.

These contacts already know your brand, and that’s the first step to them becoming paying customers. 

On top of that, if you already have some satisfied customers, chances are they’ll be interested in the next product just because they liked the previous one. Statistically, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60%–70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5%–20% (source).

To illustrate, Apple values returning customers so much that it offers to buy back their old iPhones.

Apple trade-in program for returning customers

A couple of things to keep in mind when promoting to your existing audience. You should: 

  • Consider segmenting the audience before messaging them. You may want to craft messages adjusted for the stage of the buyer journey
  • Be careful with any special deals for selected groups; instead offer something for everyone. 
  • Follow up with the most engaged people directly. People who gave you constructive feedback or were vocal about new features are the ones you’d want to message directly. 
  • Be prepared to pay for reach boosts on social media. They likely won’t cost you a fortune, but don’t expect to reach your entire following for free (social media doesn’t work that way anymore).
  • Make sure your followers and subscribers are not the last to learn about something. 

7. Create educational SEO content 

Educational SEO content is content designed to rank in Google and show users how they can benefit from your product at the same time. 

This kind of content promotes your product by bringing free, passive traffic from search engines to your website. 

The key here is organic traffic potential. While typical educational content can be created around any topic that supports product adoption, for SEO content, you need keywords with search demand to start with.

For example, since Ahrefs is an SEO tool, we can create educational SEO content for topics such as keyword research, link building, technical SEO, online marketing, and so on. 

Traffic Potential of keywords, via Ahrefs

When you add up hundreds of keywords together, you get a considerable sum of consistent traffic that brings you visitors even years after publishing the content. 

Creating content like that follows the same, typical search engine optimization path:

  1. Find good keywords
  2. Create quality content
  3. Build links to it

The unofficial fourth point of that list is “wait.” Because the downside of optimizing for search engines is that it takes time to rank—typically three to six months. So while this is a great way to promote your product, it probably shouldn’t be the only one. 

Also, the thing is this: If you don’t try to rank for your relevant keywords, your competitors will. And if so, you’re going to miss out on all of that traffic. So check out our guide to SEO content for beginners and learn how to bring home some of that search demand. 

8. Leverage affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing is when a third party (the affiliate) promotes a product of the merchant (you) and earns a commission. 

There are basically two ways you can go about this marketing tactic: 

While the latter option allows you more customization and you won’t be paying anyone any fees, the first option is probably the best choice for beginners. It’s less time consuming, less prone to errors, and it can likely be the most cost effective (fees are usually low, and you won’t need to build any infrastructure). 

Prepare to hand out from 5% to even 50% of the revenue you get through affiliates. This may sound expensive. But remember: You don’t need to pay up front, and the affiliate does all the work. 

Plus, until that affiliate makes a sale, that’s basically free promotion. 

How do affiliates promote products? Similarly to influencers, they create the kind of content they are best at and distribute it on various channels. 

Some of the most popular affiliate content formats are how-tos, tutorials, and reviews. Here’s an example from the prominent finance blog, Making Sense of Cents. 

Affiliate marketing example

9. Get featured in directories, rankings, and reviews 

The demand for top products in any category is consistently high. You can see that in search queries. Here are some examples: 

Volume in the U.S. and global volume of sample keywords
Volume in this case refers to the search volume in the U.S., and GV refers to the global volume.

This means a lot of people are already looking for products like yours. 

But the problem is the ranking difficulty for these search queries will be too high to try to rank with your own content. Because these kinds of queries are usually dominated by authoritative websites with tons of backlinks. 

Solution: Get included in what’s already ranking. It’s your shortcut to the #1 page on Google for all of those hard-to-rank keywords. 

Of course, this is easier said than done. It all depends on how good your product is, and the editors will always have the final say. However, what can definitely help is to work on your pitch: 

  • Show them why your product is a serious contender in comparison to what they already have on the list
  • Make a strong case of why their audience will love your product
  • Flash the recognition you already got 

Also, note that people don’t just look for the “best” products. They also look for products that fill a specific need: for beginners, for marketers, for teams, under $100, etc. 

Those keywords will likely have less search demand but could still have a high conversion potential. You can use a keyword research tool to find these keywords first and then pitch the sites that rank for them. 

Keywords showing search demand for specific type of software
Data via Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

You can also find great opportunities if you follow links to your competitors. Here’s how it works in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

  1. Enter your competitor’s URL 
  2. Go to the Backlinks report
  3. Enter the word “tool” in the Ref. page URL filter 
  4. Set the mode to Group by similar and sort the pages by Page traffic (to show the pages with the most organic traffic first)
  5. Open referring pages and see if you can get a good angle to pitch your product 
How to find pages to pitch by tracing backlinks


You can also turn on the “Dofollow” filter to prioritize pages that are likely to give a “followed” link, which will have a bigger impact on SEO than nofollow links. 

"Dofollow" filter in Ahrefs Backlinks report

Guest posting or guest blogging is when you write for other blogs. 

Guest post example

The trick here will be to pitch only those topics where you can naturally feature your product. You don’t need to make the entire article literally about your product. A good, contextual mention can also create awareness about your product. 

Another thing to consider when guest blogging is the SEO aspect. In fact, a lot of marketers pursue this tactic only for the links. 

This means you can prioritize websites that can give you a good link. 

Six traits of a good link

You can learn how to tell the difference between high-quality and low-quality links in our full guide to link building. But for now, let’s focus on arguably the two most important link quality factors: authority and relevance.

While relevance is something you can quite easily infer from the topics that the site covers, authority is not that transparent. 

To get a good idea of a site’s authority, you’ll need an SEO tool. You can use Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar as you use Google or check each site you want to pitch for free with our website authority checker

Website authority checker by Ahrefs

11. Pitch yourself as a podcast guest 

Using podcasts as a promotional tactic works similarly to guest blogging: You talk about a topic relevant to your product, and that gives you an opportunity to introduce it to the audience. Plus, you can land a quality link too. 

Podcast example that acts as product promotion

But the difference here is that the mere fact you’ve been invited to star on a podcast makes you and everything you do interesting. So I’d say it can help to generate awareness of your product even if it’s mentioned only in the description of the episode. 

That said, the best podcast topics will be the ones that:

  • Appeal to the podcast’s audience.
  • Haven’t been covered already.
  • Align with your experience.
How to find the best podcast topics

And here’s a neat trick for finding uncovered topics (courtesy of Respona): use Google search operators. For instance, AND "omnichannel marketing" shows that this topic hasn’t been covered by the host of the show. 

Using Google search operators to find uncovered topics by any podcast

12. Introduce a referral program 

A referral program is a marketing tactic that encourages users to advocate your product in exchange for rewards such as cash, freebies, or product upgrades. 

You’ve probably heard about some big companies like Dropbox, PayPal, or Uber using referral marketing. But don’t think this tactic is only restricted to big companies like them. In fact, referral programs were implemented in the early stages of these businesses and were found to be a crucial factor in their growth.

PayPal referral program: 2001 and now
PayPal in 2001 (left) and now (right). Even after over 20 years, it still uses the referral program.

Statistically, a referral from a friend, family member, or colleague is one of the most effective ways to acquire customers since word of mouth is one of the most trustworthy marketing channels (source). 

It can also be one of the most cost-effective ways to acquire customers, but it all comes down to the cost of your program. 

To make your referral program successful, you need to consider three things.

First, the attractiveness of the reward. What will be more attractive to your users: a discount on their next purchase, an upgrade, or maybe a charity donation? Consider also two-way rewards: for the referrer and the referee. 

Secondly, be careful about the cost of the reward to your business. PayPal basically gave out cash for signing up because the company figured out it’d be less expensive than ads. Indeed, it led to rapid growth, but you can imagine how much they spent without a promise of revenue. It’s a better idea to reward users who perform a specific action closely tied to your revenue. 

Also, consider the customer acquisition cost (aka CAC) of other marketing tactics. Use this as a benchmark; ideally, you want to keep the CAC of your referral program lower than other tactics. 

However, discretion is advised here. If you see that the users who come via referrals stay longer or spend more, a higher CAC could be justifiable. 

On a last note, referral programs may be tough to operate without dedicated software that generates referral links and allows you to track them. So consider a tool like ReferralCandy or Viral Loops

13. Show what early adopters say 

Last but not least, you can share positive feedback from early adopters of your product.

This way, you’ll build social proof that will establish your credibility and increase the likelihood of people signing up for your product or even buying it. I’m talking about sharing:

  • Quotes
  • Rankings
  • Awards 
  • Case studies 
  • Photos and videos from customers 

Some popular spots for placing social proof are sign-up forms, pricing pages, and product feature tours. But you can also experiment with their placement and see their impact on conversion. 

Customer testimonial example

It’s great if you have testimonials from high-profile influencers or celebrities, but the truth is the voice of “regular users” matters too. I’d argue that a product’s ability to consistently meet the needs of its regular users is more valuable than a few endorsements from famous people.

Final thoughts 

If you can’t spend a lot of money on product promotion, don’t fret. You’ll find more than enough ideas that don’t rely on ads.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to give up ads completely. Something you can consider is reinvesting part of your revenue to try advertising tactics such as: 

  • Advertising on non-obvious platforms like Quora (case study). 
  • Targeting niche keywords with low cost per click but possibly high business potential.
  • Using dayparting (available in Google Ads). 
  • Optimizing conversion on your landing page. 
  • Increasing ad quality score to reduce the cost of bids.

Got questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter or Mastodon.

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How To Become an SEO Expert in 4 Steps



General SEO

With 74.1% of SEOs charging clients upwards of $500 per month for their services, there’s a clear financial incentive to get good at SEO. But with no colleges offering degrees in the topic, it’s down to you to carve your own path in the industry.

There are many ways to do this; some take longer than others.

In this post, I’ll share how I’d go from zero to SEO pro if I had to do it all over again. 

1. Take a beginner SEO course

Understanding what search engine optimization really is and how it works is the first state of affairs. While you can do this by reading endless blog posts or watching YouTube videos, I wouldn’t recommend that approach for a few reasons:

  • It’s hard to know where to start
  • It’s hard to join the dots
  • It’s hard to know who to trust

You can solve all of these problems by taking a structured course like our SEO course for beginners. It’s completely free (no signup required), consists of 14 short video lessons (2 hours total length), and covers:

  • What SEO is and why it’s important
  • How to do keyword research
  • How to optimize pages for keywords
  • How to build links (and why you need them)
  • Technical SEO best practices

Here’s the first lesson to get you started:

Lesson 1: SEO Basics: What is SEO and Why is it Important? Watch now

2. Make a website and try to rank it

It doesn’t matter how many books you read about golf, you’re never going to win a tournament without picking up a set of clubs and practicing. It’s the same with SEO. The theory is important, but there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty and trying to rank a site.

If you don’t have a site already, you can get up and running fairly quickly with any major website platform. Some will set you back a few bucks, but they handle SEO basics out of the box. This saves you time sweating the small stuff.

As for what kind of site you should create, I recommend a simple hobby blog. 

Here’s a simple food blog I set up in <10 minutes: 

A blog that I set up in just a few minutes. It's nothing special, but it does the jobA blog that I set up in just a few minutes. It's nothing special, but it does the job

Once you’re set-up, you’re ready to start practicing and honing your SEO skills. Specifically, doing keyword research to find topics, writing and optimizing content about them, and (possibly) building a few backlinks.

For example, according to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, the keyword “neopolitan pizza dough recipe” has a monthly traffic potential of 4.4K as well as a relatively low Keyword Difficulty (KD) score:

Keyword metrics for "neopolitan pizza dough" via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerKeyword metrics for "neopolitan pizza dough" via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Even better, there’s a weak website (DR 16) in the top three positions—so this should definitely be quite an easy topic to rank for.

Page from a low-DR website ranking in the top 3. This indicates an easy-to-rank-for keywordPage from a low-DR website ranking in the top 3. This indicates an easy-to-rank-for keyword

Given that most of the top-ranking posts have at least a few backlinks, a page about this topic would also likely need at least a few backlinks to compete. Check out the resources below to learn how to build these.

3. Get an entry-level job

It’s unlikely that your hobby blog is going to pay the bills, so it’s time to use the work you’ve done so far to get a job in SEO. Here are a few benefits of doing this: 

  • Get paid to learn. This isn’t the case when you’re home alone reading blog posts and watching videos or working on your own site.
  • Get deeper hands-on experience. Agencies work with all kinds of businesses, which means you’ll get to build experience with all kinds of sites, from blogs to ecommerce. 
  • Build your reputation. Future clients or employers are more likely to take you seriously if you’ve worked for a reputable SEO agency. 

To find job opportunities, start by signing up for SEO newsletters like SEO Jobs and SEOFOMO. Both of these send weekly emails and feature remote job opportunities: 

SEO jobs in SEOFOMO newsletterSEO jobs in SEOFOMO newsletter

You can also go the traditional route and search job sites for entry-level positions. The kinds of jobs you’re looking for will usually have “Junior” in their titles or at least mention that it’s a junior position in their description.

Junior SEO job listing exampleJunior SEO job listing example

Beyond that, you can search for SEO agencies in your local area and check their careers pages. 

Even if there are no entry-level positions listed here, it’s still worth emailing and asking if there are any upcoming openings. Make sure to mention any SEO success you’ve had with your website and where you’re at in your journey so far.

This might seem pushy, but many agencies actually encourage this—such as Rise at Seven:

Call for alternative roles from Rise at SevenCall for alternative roles from Rise at Seven

Here’s a quick email template to get you started:

Subject: Junior SEO position?

Hey folks,

Do you have any upcoming openings for junior SEOs?

I’ve been learning SEO for [number] months, but I’m looking to take my knowledge to the next level. So far, I’ve taken Ahrefs’ Beginner SEO course and started my own blog about [topic]—which I’ve had some success with. It’s only [number] months old but already ranks for [number] keywords and gets an estimated [number] monthly search visits according to Ahrefs.

[Ahrefs screenshot]

I checked your careers page and didn’t see any junior positions there, but I was hoping you might consider me for any upcoming positions? I’m super enthusiastic, hard-working, and eager to learn.

Let me know.


You can pull all the numbers and screenshots you need by creating a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account and verifying your website.

4. Specialize and hone your skills

SEO is a broad industry. It’s impossible to be an expert at every aspect of it, so you should niche down and hone your skills in the area that interests you the most. You should have a reasonable idea of what this is from working on your own site and in an agency.

For example, link building was the area that interested me the most, so that’s where I focused on deepening my knowledge. As a result, I became what’s known as a “t-shaped SEO”—someone with broad skills across all things SEO but deep knowledge in one area.

T-shaped SEOT-shaped SEO
What a t-shaped SEO looks like

Marie Haynes is another great example of a t-shaped SEO. She specializes in Google penalty recovery. She doesn’t build links or do on-page SEO. She audits websites with traffic drops and helps their owners recover.

In terms of how to build your knowledge in your chosen area, here are a few ideas:

Here are a few SEOs I’d recommend following and their (rough) specialties:

Final thoughts

K Anders Ericsson famously theorized that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a new skill. Can it take less? Possibly. But the point is this: becoming an SEO expert is not an overnight process.

I’d even argue that it’s a somewhat unattainable goal because no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. That’s part of the fun, though. SEO is a fast-moving industry that keeps you on your toes, but it’s a very rewarding one, too. 

Here are a few stats to prove it:

  • 74.1% of SEOs charge clients upwards of $500 per month for their services (source)
  • $49,211 median annual salary (source)
  • ~$74k average salary for self-employed SEOs (source)

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A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI




A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

Today, ChatGPT celebrates one year since its launch in research preview.

From its humble beginnings, ChatGPT has continually pushed the boundaries of what we perceive as possible with generative AI for almost any task.

In this article, we take a journey through the past year, highlighting the significant milestones and updates that have shaped ChatGPT into the versatile and powerful tool it is today.

ChatGPT: From Research Preview To Customizable GPTs

This story unfolds over the course of nearly a year, beginning on November 30, when OpenAI announced the launch of its research preview of ChatGPT.

As users began to offer feedback, improvements began to arrive.

Before the holiday, on December 15, 2022, ChatGPT received general performance enhancements and new features for managing conversation history.

Screenshot from ChatGPT, December 2022ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

As the calendar turned to January 9, 2023, ChatGPT saw improvements in factuality, and a notable feature was added to halt response generation mid-conversation, addressing user feedback and enhancing control.

Just a few weeks later, on January 30, the model was further upgraded for enhanced factuality and mathematical capabilities, broadening its scope of expertise.

February 2023 was a landmark month. On February 9, ChatGPT Plus was introduced, bringing new features and a faster ‘Turbo’ version to Plus users.

This was followed closely on February 13 with updates to the free plan’s performance and the international availability of ChatGPT Plus, featuring a faster version for Plus users.

March 14, 2023, marked a pivotal moment with the introduction of GPT-4 to ChatGPT Plus subscribers.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, March 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

This new model featured advanced reasoning, complex instruction handling, and increased creativity.

Less than ten days later, on March 23, experimental AI plugins, including browsing and Code Interpreter capabilities, were made available to selected users.

On May 3, users gained the ability to turn off chat history and export data.

Plus users received early access to experimental web browsing and third-party plugins on May 12.

On May 24, the iOS app expanded to more countries with new features like shared links, Bing web browsing, and the option to turn off chat history on iOS.

June and July 2023 were filled with updates enhancing mobile app experiences and introducing new features.

The mobile app was updated with browsing features on June 22, and the browsing feature itself underwent temporary removal for improvements on July 3.

The Code Interpreter feature rolled out in beta to Plus users on July 6.

Plus customers enjoyed increased message limits for GPT-4 from July 19, and custom instructions became available in beta to Plus users the next day.

July 25 saw the Android version of the ChatGPT app launch in selected countries.

As summer progressed, August 3 brought several small updates enhancing the user experience.

Custom instructions were extended to free users in most regions by August 21.

The month concluded with the launch of ChatGPT Enterprise on August 28, offering advanced features and security for enterprise users.

Entering autumn, September 11 witnessed limited language support in the web interface.

Voice and image input capabilities in beta were introduced on September 25, further expanding ChatGPT’s interactive abilities.

An updated version of web browsing rolled out to Plus users on September 27.

The fourth quarter of 2023 began with integrating DALL·E 3 in beta on October 16, allowing for image generation from text prompts.

The browsing feature moved out of beta for Plus and Enterprise users on October 17.

Customizable versions of ChatGPT, called GPTs, were introduced for specific tasks on November 6 at OpenAI’s DevDay.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, November 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

On November 21, the voice feature in ChatGPT was made available to all users, rounding off a year of significant advancements and broadening the horizons of AI interaction.

And here, we have ChatGPT today, with a sidebar full of GPTs.

ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAIScreenshot from ChatGPT, November 2023ChatGPT At One: A Year Of AI Developments From OpenAI

Looking Ahead: What’s Next For ChatGPT

The past year has been a testament to continuous innovation, but it is merely the prologue to a future rich with potential.

The upcoming year promises incremental improvements and leaps in AI capabilities, user experience, and integrative technologies that could redefine our interaction with digital assistants.

With a community of users and developers growing stronger and more diverse, the evolution of ChatGPT is poised to surpass expectations and challenge the boundaries of today’s AI landscape.

As we step into this next chapter, the possibilities are as limitless as generative AI continues to advance.

Featured image: photosince/Shutterstock

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Is AI Going To E-E-A-T Your Experience For Breakfast? The LinkedIn Example




Is AI Going To E-E-A-T Your Experience For Breakfast? The LinkedIn Example

Are LinkedIn’s collaborative articles part of SEO strategies nowadays?

More to the point, should they be?

The search landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, blurring the lines between search engines and where searches occur.

Following the explosive adoption of AI in content marketing and the most recent Google HCU, core, and spam updates, we’re looking at a very different picture now in search versus 12 months ago.

User-generated and community-led content seems to be met with renewed favourability by the algorithm (theoretically, mirroring what people reward, too).

LinkedIn’s freshly launched “collaborative articles” seem to be a perfect sign of our times: content that combines authority (thanks to LinkedIn’s authority), AI-generated content, and user-generated content.

What could go wrong?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What are “collaborative articles” on LinkedIn?
  • Why am I discussing them in the context of SEO?
  • The main issues with collaborative articles.
  • How is Google treating them?
  • How they can impact your organic performance.

What Are LinkedIn Collaborative Articles?

First launched in March 2023, LinkedIn says about collaborative articles:

“These articles begin as AI-powered conversation starters, developed with our editorial team, but they aren’t complete without insights from our members. A select group of experts have been invited to contribute their own ideas, examples and experiences within the articles.“

Essentially, each of these articles starts as a collection of AI-generated answers to FAQs/prompts around any given topic. Under each of these sections, community members can add their own perspectives, insights, and advice.

What’s in it for contributors? To earn, ultimately, a “Top Voice” badge on their profile.

The articles are indexable and are all placed under the same folder (

They look like this:

Screenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023LinkedIn content

On the left-hand side, there are always FAQs relevant to the topic answered by AI.

On the right-hand side is where the contributions by community members get posted. Users can react to each contribution in the same way as to any LinkedIn post on their feed.

How Easy Is It To Contribute And Earn A Badge For Your Insights?

Pretty easy.

I first got invited to contribute on September 19, 2023 – though I had already found a way to contribute a few weeks before this.

Exclusive LinkedIn group of expertsScreenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023Exclusive LinkedIn group of experts

My notifications included updates from connections who had contributed to an article.

By clicking on these, I was transferred to the article and was able to contribute to it, too (as well as additional articles, linked at the bottom).

I wanted to test how hard it was to earn a Top SEO Voice badge. Eight article contributions later (around three to four hours of my time), I had earned three.

LinkedIn profileLinkedIn profile

Community top voice badgeScreenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023Community top voice badge

How? Apparently, simply by earning likes for my contributions.

A Mix Of Brilliance, Fuzzy Editorial Rules, And Weird Uncle Bob

Collaborative articles sound great in principle – a win-win for both sides.

  • LinkedIn struck a bullseye: creating and scaling content (theoretically) oozing with E-E-A-T, with minimal investment.
  • Users benefit from building their personal brand (and their company’s) for a fragment of the effort and cost this usually takes. The smartest ones complement their on-site content strategy with this off-site golden ticket.

What isn’t clear from LinkedIn’s Help Center is what this editorial mix of AI and human input looks like.

Things like:

  • How much involvement do the editors have before the topic is put to the community?
  • Are they only determining and refining the prompts?
  • Are they editing the AI-generated responses?
  • More importantly, what involvement (if any) do they have after they unleash the original AI-generated piece into the world?
  • And more.

I think of this content like weird Uncle Bob, always joining the family gatherings with his usual, unoriginal conversation starters. Only, this time, he’s come bearing gifts.

Do you engage? Or do you proceed to consume as many canapés as possible, pretending you haven’t seen him yet?

Why Am I Talking About LinkedIn Articles And SEO?

When I first posted about LinkedIn’s articles, it was the end of September. Semrush showed clear evidence of their impact and potential in Search. (Disclosure: I work for Semrush.)

Only six months after their launch, LinkedIn articles were on a visible, consistent upward trend.

  • They were already driving 792.5K organic visits a month. (This was a 75% jump in August.)
  • They ranked for 811,700 keywords.
  • Their pages were ranking in the top 10 for 78,000 of them.
  • For 123,700 of them, they appeared in a SERP feature, such as People Also Ask and Featured Snippets.
  • Almost 72% of the keywords had informational intent, followed by commercial keywords (22%).

Here’s a screenshot with some of the top keywords for which these pages ranked at the top:

Semrush US databaseScreenshot from Semrush US database, desktop, September 2023Semrush US database

Now, take the page that held the Featured Snippet for competitive queries like “how to enter bios” (monthly search volume of 5,400 and keyword difficulty of 84, based on Semrush data).

It came in ahead of pages on Tom’s Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, or Reddit.

LinkedIn computer hardware installation collaborative articleLinkedIn computer hardware installation collaborative article

collaborative article exampleScreenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023collaborative article example

See anything weird? Even at the time of writing this post, this collaborative article had precisely zero (0) contributions.

This means a page with 100% AI-generated content (and unclear interference of human editors) was rewarded with the Featured Snippet against highly authoritative and relevant domains and pages.

A Sea Of Opportunity Or A Storm Ready To Break Out?

Let’s consider these articles in the context of Google’s guidelines for creating helpful, reliable, people-first content and its Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

Of particular importance here, I believe, is the most recently added “E” in “E-E-A-T,” which takes experience into account, alongside expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

For so many of these articles to have been ranking so well must mean that they were meeting the guidelines and proving helpful and reliable for content consumers.

After all, they rely on “a select group of experts to contribute their own ideas, examples and experiences within the articles,” so they must be worthy of strong organic performances, right?

Possibly. (I’ve yet to see such an example, but I want to believe somewhere in the thousands of pages these do exist).

But, based on what I’ve seen, there are too many examples of poor-quality content to justify such big rewards in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The common issues I’ve spotted:

1. Misinformation

I can’t tell how much vetting or editing there is going on behind the scenes, but the amount of misinformation in some collaborative articles is alarming. This goes for AI-generated content and community contributions alike.

I don’t really envy the task of fact-checking what LinkedIn describes as “thousands of collaborative articles on 2,500+ skills.” Still, if it’s quality and helpfulness we’re concerned with here, I’d start brewing my coffee a little stronger if I were LinkedIn.

At the moment, it feels a little too much like a free-for-all.

Here are some examples of topics like SEO or content marketing.

misinformation example 1misinformation example 1

misinformation example 2misinformation example 2

misinformation example 3Screenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023misinformation example 3

2. Thin Content

To a degree, some contributions seem to do nothing more than mirror the points made in the original AI-generated piece.

For example, are these contributions enough to warrant a high level of “experience” in these articles?

thin content example 1thin content example 1

thin content example 2Screenshots from LinkedIn, November 2023thin content example 2

The irony to think that some of these contributions may have also been generated by AI…

3. Missing Information

While many examples don’t provide new or unique perspectives, some articles simply don’t provide…any perspectives at all.

This piece about analytical reasoning ranked in the top 10 for 128 keywords when I first looked into it last September (down to 80 in October).

Missing Information exampleScreenshot from LinkedIn, November 2023Missing Information example

It even held the Featured Snippet for competitive keywords like “inductive reasoning examples” for a while (5.4K monthly searches in the US), although it had no contributions on this subsection.

Most of its sections remain empty, so we’re talking about mainly AI-generated content.

Does this mean that Google really doesn’t care whether your content comes from humans or AI?

I’m not convinced.

How Have The Recent Google Updates Impacted This Content?

After August and October 2023 Google core updates (at the time of writing, the November 2023 Google core update is rolling out), the September 2023 helpful content update, and the October 2023 spam update, the performance of this section seems to be declining.

According to Semrush data:

Semrush data Screenshot from Semrush, November 2023Semrush data
  • Organic traffic to these pages was down to 453,000 (a 43% drop from September, bringing their performance close to August levels).
  • They ranked for 465,100 keywords (down by 43% MoM).
  • Keywords in the Top 10 dropped by 33% (51,900 vs 78,000 in September).
  • Keywords in the top 10 accounted for 161,800 visits (vs 287,200 in September, down by 44% MoM).

The LinkedIn domain doesn’t seem to have been impacted negatively overall.

Semrush dataScreenshot from Semrush, November 2023Semrush data

Is this a sign that Google has already picked up the weaknesses in this content and has started balancing actual usefulness versus the overall domain authority that might have propelled it originally?

Will we see it declining further in the coming months? Or are there better things to come for this feature?

Should You Already Be On The Bandwagon If You’re In SEO?

I was on the side of caution before the Google algorithm updates of the past couple of months.

Now, I’d be even more hesitant to invest a substantial part of my resources towards baking this content into my strategy.

As with any other new, third-party feature (or platform – does anyone remember Threads?), it’s always a case of balancing being an early adopter with avoiding over-investment. At least while being unclear on the benefits.

Collaborative articles are a relatively fresh, experimental, external feature you have minimal control over as part of your SEO strategy.

Now, we also have signs from Google that this content may not be as “cool” as we initially thought.

This Is What I’d Do

That’s not to say it’s not worth trying some small-scale experiments.

Or, maybe, use it as part of promoting your own personal brand (but I’ve yet to see any data around the impact of the “Top Voice” badges on perceived value).

Treat this content as you would any other owned content.

  • Follow Google’s guidelines.
  • Add genuine value for your audience.
  • Add your own unique perspective.
  • Highlight gaps and misinformation.

Experience shows us that when tactics get abused, and the user experience suffers, Google eventually steps in (from guest blogging to parasite SEO, most recently).

It might make algorithmic tweaks when launching updates, launch a new system, or hand out manual actions – the point is that you don’t know how things will progress. Only LinkedIn and Google have control over that.

As things stand, I can easily see any of the below potential outcomes:

  • This content becomes the AI equivalent of the content farms of the pre-Panda age, leading to Google clamping down on its search performance.
  • LinkedIn’s editors stepping in more for quality control (provided LinkedIn deems the investment worthwhile).
  • LinkedIn starts pushing its initiative much more to encourage participation and engagement. (This could be what makes the difference between a dead content farm and Reddit-like value.)

Anything could happen. I believe the next few months will give us a clearer picture.

What’s Next For AI And Its Role In SEO And Social Media?

When it comes to content creation, I think it’s safe to say that AI isn’t quite ready to E-E-A-T your experience for breakfast. Yet.

We can probably expect more of these kinds of movements from social media platforms and forums in the coming months, moving more toward mixing AI with human experience.

What do you think is next for LinkedIn’s collaborative articles? Let me know on LinkedIn!

More resources:

Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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