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Everything You Need to Know

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Everything You Need to Know

Blog writing is a content marketing format that started as an online diary, and has since gained traction and found its way into business websites. It is one of the more accessible formats of content marketing, the strategic approach which aims to provide relevant and valuable information to one’s audiences and build a relationship with them.

According to OptinMonster, 77% of internet users read blogs. If you don’t know where to start and how, this comprehensive guide is for you.

    1. How does blog writing help with SEO?
    2. Why you should prioritize evergreen content
    3. Do publish dates affect rankings?
    4. How to generate blog topics
    5. How to set up for blog writing
    6. How to write a blog post
    7. How to optimize your blog
    8. How to apply a how-to schema on your blog posts
    9. How to update and enhance old blog posts
    10. Key takeaway

How does blog writing help with SEO?

Think of it this way—when your target audience asks a question related to your niche, you would want to be the one answering the question, right? You can’t answer their questions when you don’t include a means in your website to answer them.

That’s what blog writing does for you. It gives relevant and useful answers to your target audience. And if you’re answering those questions well, the search engines have more reason to index your site and put you at the forefront of the SERPs.

Hence, according to Tech Jury, sites that produce blogs have 434% more indexed pages than sites that don’t. That means these sites generate more traffic, potentially generating more leads and revenue as well.

Companies that have blogs also get 97% more backlinks than other company websites, meaning they also get promoted through other people’s content because they took the time and energy to provide value and answer their target user’s questions.

Why you should prioritize evergreen content

SEO-Hacker.com went live for the first time in April 2010—which means it’s been almost 12 years and I’m proud to say that we’re still going strong. Every year, our website traffic grows because most of our old articles are consistently generating us traffic as we produce more fresh content.

The secret behind this is age-old SEO advice: evergreen content. And even though publishing evergreen content is such a classic SEO and marketing strategy, I assure you that it works up to this day.

Don’t believe me? Check out the top 10 pages from January 10, 2021 to January 10, 2022 according to Google Analytics:

Google Analytics for Blog Writing

Most of the articles listed there were published a few years back and yet they are the ones that garner the most traffic even up to this date.

That is the power of evergreen content. It’s a strategy I’ve used for my own websites and I’ve used it to make our clients’ website successful as well.

What is evergreen content

Evergreen content is a piece of content about a topic that is still relevant even after a long time regardless of year, season, or trends. Compared to news articles and writing about trending topics, evergreen content will consistently bring your website traffic over time because there are people always searching about it.

Evergreen content is such a crucial SEO strategy because it keeps your audience engaged and gives your website continuity. It should definitely be the backbone of your SEO strategy as the gains are far greater than the costs.

What evergreen content brings to the table

Long-term gains

Think of evergreen content like an investment. When you initially publish an article that is evergreen, you may not get traction immediately in your article. But as you rank higher, you would notice that traffic will increase slowly

If we compare evergreen content to news and other trending topics, you would see that as time goes by, evergreen content can still generate traffic while news and hot topics will fall off a lot faster.

Here’s an example. I wrote an article a few years ago about the easiest way to apply aggregate rating schema. Years later after its publishing, it is consistently getting traffic and is even my top article for the past year.

easiest way to apply aggregate schema

Let’s compare it to a news article I published two years ago. I wrote about Google’s announcement of the June 2019 algorithm update. After publishing the article, its traffic spiked up and immediately died down after a month.

June 2019 algorithm update

That is why it’s important to focus on evergreen content in blog writing. And as you add more evergreen content on your website, you will be able to see that your traffic increases and is on an upward trajectory.

Take note that while it does seem that publishing evergreen content is a far better use of your time than publishing news doesn’t mean you should put 100% of your focus on it. Writing about recent events and trending topics is a different strategy on its own and it does have benefits as well so make sure you have a good mix of both.

Attracts backlinks

As your content rank and get traffic, there is a high chance of it getting backlinks without you having to work too hard for it. Of course, when you publish an article, you would have to do a little link building to make it rank. But once it does and your content gains consistent traffic, you would notice that your article is getting backlinks without you proactively doing anything.

Check out the backlinks of my YouTube SEO article.

YouTube SEO backlinks

I published this article about seven years ago, did a little link building, was able to get on the first page, and there you go. Years later, it’s still getting backlinks on its own.

This is because people find my blog writing as a good resource and if they write an article about YouTube SEO as well, people usually link back to it. This can be applied in any niche. Since evergreen topics usually target high-volume keywords, ranking for them on the first page may let people see you as an authority which brings me to my next point…

Evergreen content is good for E-A-T

It goes without saying that as you get more backlinks, your website’s authority increases. But this isn’t just about PageRank, evergreen content is also great for E-A-T.

Google quality raters measure the E-A-T of a website using various criteria but the content of a website is definitely one of the main things that they check. If you publish evergreen content that is well-written and well-researched, it is a great sign of expertise, authority, and trust. It gives you more credibility and it is also great for your brand.

Sample evergreen content you may consider

How-to guides and tutorials

  • How to fix blue screen of death
  • How to properly clean your car
  • How to cook fried chicken

Informative articles

  • Best ways to lose weight
  • Money-saving tips
  • Resume writing tips

In-depth guides

  • Everything you need to know about diabetes
  • In-depth guide on dog training
  • Complete guide to link building

Important tip: Update your evergreen content

Although the content you published is evergreen, it doesn’t mean that new information is not going to be available in the future. That is why it is also important to go back to the evergreen content that you publish and update the information in them if applicable. It is also a good practice that when you update a piece of old content, your website should properly label it with the date it was last updated.

Reminder: Take note of the difficulty

One of the biggest hurdles in being successful with evergreen content is that topics and keywords tend to have high difficulty.

If you are just starting out, the best advice that I could give you is to stick to your niche and try to find low-hanging fruits. Regardless of the volume of traffic that it brings, as long as it is consistent, it’s already a win.

Do publish dates affect rankings?

Every day, millions of people are looking for fresh content on Google. For us SEOs, this means that when we publish content can be as important as what content we publish.

We’ve already tackled what kind of content we should be focusing on; now, let’s focus on the when.

Do dates on your blog posts affect rankings?

To simply answer the question, yes, publishing dates may affect rankings. When a user performs a search, Google will try to provide the most relevant and recent search results. These are especially true for news, recent events, and other trending topics.

Let’s say you Googled “best smartphone 2022.” It wouldn’t be right for Google to serve you a search result written in 2019 or 2018. Let’s look at the search results. The top stories for the keyword “best smartphone 2022” was published two days ago as of writing:

best smartphone 2022

The next couple of results were published five days ago and more. Some of these articles were published last December, but because they still answer my question, Google saw them to be relevant enough to put in the first page of the SERPs.

best smartphone 2022 SERPs

To further explain how dates affect rankings, Google released an algorithm update way back in 2011 called “Google Freshness Update.” The update aimed to improve Google’s algorithm called Query Deserves Freshness or “QDF” which identifies if a user is looking for up-to-date articles or not.

Now that Google improved its system of identifying if a user is searching for the most recent content, articles that talked about recent news and events were highly impacted by the time and dates they were published.

But what does this mean for months and year old content?

At that time, the algorithm update affected about 35% of search results according to Google. This means old content is still useful and relevant. Remember that Google will only serve a user content that was recently published if it is applicable to their query.

So let’s say you have a website that talks about cars. If you have articles about how to take care of cars that are well-written even though they were written several years ago, Google may still serve your content to users. That is why evergreen content, as mentioned earlier, is extremely important to your website.

Google’s guidelines on dates

Have you noticed that there are times Google shows the date an article was published in the search results and sometimes it doesn’t?

According to Google’s guidelines, Google will choose to show the publishing date of an article if it is useful for the user, especially for news. So how does Google find out when an article was published?

Google uses multiple ways. Here’s what they say on their guidelines:

“Google doesn’t depend on a single dating factor because all factors can be prone to issues. That’s why our systems look at several factors to determine our best estimate of when a page was published or significantly updated.”

How does Google identify publishing dates

The visible date on time on the page

There are two types of dates you can show on your articles: the exact publishing date or the date the article was last updated.

According to the guidelines, the dates should be clearly visible to the users and should be properly labeled such as:

  • Published: January 11, 2022
  • Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Check out this example. I wrote this article back in 2010 and I recently updated it.

how to build backlinks to your website

Structured data

Google can use structured data on your articles if you have any subtype of CreativeWork schema implemented such as Article and BlogPosting schema. It will use the datePublished or dateModified in the markup.

XML Sitemap

Your XML sitemap should also include the publishing or last updated dates for your articles. It should look like this:

xml sitemap

Note: According to the Guidelines, the publishing date is required and the time is not.

When should you change the publishing dates on your blog posts?

In my opinion, the only time you should be changing the dates on your blog posts is when you make noticeable changes in existing articles. Maybe there is new data on surveys you cited or you have updates on your case studies.

And when you do make changes make sure that you label it properly as “updated” not published again. This is a big thing for users as it is a sign that they can trust that you provide up-to-date information.

How about completely removing the dates from blog posts?

Some websites remove the dates from their articles to show that their content is evergreen. Although it may look suspicious, some studies have shown that it can have a positive impact.

Check out these case studies by ShoutMeLoud and UFO.

Remember: Blog post dates is for user experience

When implementing publishing dates on your blog posts or changing the dates to when an article was last updated, keep in mind that you are doing this for the user. I would also say that if you have evergreen content, it might not be necessary to update them at all. Some topics may have a higher click-through rate if dates are visible, while in some topics, age may give you more credibility. I would recommend testing it out and finding what works for your niche.

How to generate blog topics

Content is king. There’s no doubt about that, but there are challenges when you have to continuously publish content regularly—you’ll run out of topics to write about. This is a challenge most bloggers, content marketers, and even SEOs will face at some point in their careers.

Since the web is filled with competitors, there’s a high chance that a good number of them can produce content faster and more frequently than you. Knowing that, how do you reach a level where producing a topic that your readers will surely love can be achieved in the fastest time possible? Let’s find out.

Tools aren’t your best friend

If you’ve been in the industry for a considerable amount of time, you might have come across some tools or products that market themselves as the only tool you’ll ever need when generating and researching topics. You’ve probably tried out some of them as I have and you’ll quickly realize that they’re only effective at the start. As time goes by, you’ll not only realize that it’s not helping you generate topics anymore but they’re not even giving you the inspiration you need to come up with a topic on your own. All of these are especially true when you’re writing about a niche topic or industry.

So what exactly should you do?

Write about topics that people actually read

All of the experts in content marketing, blogging, and SEO will always tell you to research your audience. This is true. Understanding what your audience likes is the first step to generating a topic that will gain traction.

If you’re only beginning to write about a certain topic or niche, chances are, you won’t have data to use. The best way to mitigate this is to empathize with your audience and try to find out why they’re looking for your specific topic or industry.

  • Are they just curious?
  • Do they specifically need something in your topic or industry?
  • What problems would lead them to find your blog/business?

All of these questions lead to just one goal: Deepening your understanding of the audience that you’ll be writing for.

What I’ve mentioned will still hold true for experienced, veteran writers but their advantage is that they have the data to further refine their understanding of their audience. I was blog writing even before I started SEO and haven’t stopped since. So, I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block and inability to generate topics that I can write about. But one helpful strategy I’ve learned is to use Google Analytics and check to see which of my past blog posts do my audience frequently visit.

GA blog writing results

In the screenshot above, it shows me the top 10 pages that the SEO Hacker blog visitors showed the most interest in. We can safely eliminate the homepage, then by checking the topics that gained the most views, I can conclude that these are the kinds of topics that my visitors are looking into. So, I can branch out and generate topics that are related to the top 10 posts.

This is one great way to quickly come up with topics that you can write about. Not only does this help save you time and energy, but it also improves the chances of your audience actually reading the content you’ve written since they already showed interest in another related piece.

Keywords

Quickly generating your blog topics isn’t enough since you need to make it more accessible and searchable for users that might be interested in the topic you’re writing about. It’s important for you to engage in blog writing for your current audience, but tapping possible audiences to increase your reader count is just as important. So, it’s your job to make the topics you write about to be more accessible and searchable for potential audiences. How do you do that?

Research the keywords you will be targeting.

There are a variety of tools available in the market for you to use to research keywords like Semrush.

semrush

You can use this tool to find the best possible keywords that perfectly fit into your content, but there is a limit to how accurate and reliable the numbers shown in keyword research tools are. At the end of the day, you also have to have empathy for your audience and experience in the search industry.

I’ve had countless experiences where I’ve targeted keywords that didn’t have enough numbers shown in keyword research tools—but I know, based on my understanding of the audience and user search behavior—that it’s a “search-worthy” keyword.

It’s important to have a balance between the topic you’ve generated with the keyword you want to target. A good balance enables you to write for humans and for search engines.

How to set up for blog writing

Now that you know what kind of content you want to write about, it’s time to set up your blog.

You will need three things:

  1. A domain name
  2. Web hosting
  3. Blogging software

Domain name

The first thing you should do is think about what you want your website to be called. My first blog was called God and You, where I wrote about my reflections as a Christian and how God impacted my life. At some point, that blog was subsumed under my personal website, sean.si.

The domain name of this website is called seo-hacker.com because that is my company’s name. I have another website called leadershipstack.com for my podcast titled—you guessed it—Leadership Stack.

When you pick your own domain name, you can choose your own name, your business name, or something that describes concisely what your audience can expect to see on your website.

Web hosting

As I’ve written in my web hosting provider post, “Web hosting is a service that lets people and businesses have their website be accessible on the world wide web.”

Basically, imagine that you want to give your address to a friend so they can visit you sometime. Before you can do that, you need the land first on which your house is built. Web hosting is the land that enables you to have your house.

It’s important that you choose your web hosting provider carefully, as web hosting plays an integral part in the success of your blog. If it’s faulty, then it would really cause a lot of headaches as it could lead to unwanted crashes and other issues.

Arguably the best web hosting provider I ever tested was Liquid Web. It’s a fully managed hosting service, meaning after you pay for their service, they pretty much take care of everything and you don’t need to worry about having to DIY anything else.

Blogging software

Lastly, you’ll need a blogging software. It’s no secret that we at SEO Hacker are huge fans of WordPress; in fact, it’s what we use!

wordpress for blog writing

The good thing about picking a CMS like WordPress is that you can build your website without having to interact with code. It’s great if you’re the type of person who wants to build your website and just blog, but you either don’t know the technical aspects of building a website, or you don’t really want to go in depth on those parts even if you know how.

In fact, if you check the comments in the WordPress blog that I linked above, you’ll see that there are people saying that it’s beginner friendly and that they didn’t look back once they picked WordPress.

You can start using WordPress here.

How to write a blog post

Now that you have set up your blog, it’s time to start writing.

When you finally engage in actual blog writing, you want to ensure that your final product is well-researched and well-written. After you’ve done your keyword research and generated your topic, make sure you include the following in your writing:

Sources and statistics

Remember, when you’re engaging in blog writing, you’re building yourself and your website as the authority figure in your niche. The best way to do that is to ensure that you consistently produce high-quality content.

Thing is, 32% of audiences agree that accuracy is an important factor in creating quality content. It would be difficult to do that when all your content is conjecture or mere opinions, that’s why it’s important that you add statistics and even cite your sources through outbound links.

what is in-house marketing

For example, here’s the article I wrote on in-house vs outsourcing marketing. To illustrate to the readers the situation, I gave a statistic.

However, just because we want your blog writing to be well-researched, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo adding…

Your personal experience

Your personal experience is one of the most important things that you can add to your blog. As someone immersed in SEO for example, I can give tips, tricks, and techniques that I have learned and picked up over the years.

I can share what has worked for me and what hasn’t, what I’ve experimented with, the best tools I’ve found, and what I think of SEO trends that pop up or Google algorithm updates. In the same way, you have your own experiences of your niche, and you have your own valuable insights that you can share with your audiences.

Images

Blogs with images get up to 94% more views than articles that don’t. That’s a pretty high number. And it’s also understandable.

Imagine that plenty of long form content out there are around 2,000 words or so. Now, imagine that they are all just plain text. They would make reading pretty troublesome, and could make understanding for your audience a challenge especially if the topic you’re writing about involves instructions.

And remember, when you engage in blog writing, you have to keep your audience in mind. Not putting images in your articles (especially the longer ones), can make reading your content a bad experience because it’s boring, and you don’t want that.

Internal links

Internal links are the links you create between the pages of your website. When you create your first blog post then you won’t really have a page you can link to (unless if you’re promoting a service or whatnot), so this one is more for when you’ve written a couple of posts.

When you add an internal link, you’re referring your readers to another relevant page on your website. For example, I linked to my outbound links article and my dynamic website article, among others. That’s because they are relevant to this topic and I believe that you can get something valuable from those posts as well.

Sections

Sections make reading your post a lot easier for your audience. When you add sections, you break down your article into more digestible content. Plus you make navigation a lot easier as your readers can skim the section titles and go directly to what they believe is the most relevant part of the article for them.

Your keyword

Lastly, we can’t forget your keyword. Whether you believe that keyword density still matters to SEO, it’s a good idea to give the search engine a chance to know what you’re talking about.

Of course, keyword density is just one way to do that. I’ll discuss more about keywords in the next section.

How to optimize your blog

Next, we go to optimization. You just have to keep in mind a few things here:

  1. Keyword placement
  2. Alt texts
  3. Headers
  4. URL slug
  5. Meta description
  6. Rel=”nofollow”

Keyword placement

First, make sure your keyword is in the following:

  • Title tag
  • Some of the headers
  • Some of the image alt texts
  • URL slug
  • Meta description

It’s important that you make sure the placements aren’t awkward or forced. You’re optimizing for search engines, yes, but you’re also optimizing for your readers.

Alt texts

Make sure you add alt texts to your images. Alt texts are the descriptive texts embedded in images that are read by the search engines so the images can show up when people perform an image search. They also appear when images are broken, and they are read by screen readers for those who are visually challenged.

Headers

Since your article consists of sections, it’s important that you format the section headers properly. For example, H3 would be under H2, H4 would be under H3, and so on and so forth. Proper header formatting allows search engines to understand your content better, and they also ensure that screen readers can help disabled users navigate your blog easily.

URL slug

Next, we have the URL slug. The optimal URL length is around 50-60 characters, with longer URLs negatively impacting SEO.

For example, the URL for this post doesn’t need to be /blog-writing-101-everything-you-need-to-know. It can just be /blog-writing-101.

Meta description

Lastly, we have the meta description. The meta description is the short text that appears on the SERPs that help describe the content of your page. Considering that there are plenty of other websites out there that probably talk about the same things as you do, your meta description can help your blog stand out and get clicked by your target audience.

Here are some examples of meta descriptions:

meta description in blog writing

A good length for your meta description is around 120 to 150 characters. What you want to avoid is for SERPs to truncate them because they’re too long, as seen in the third and fourth blog posts above.

How to apply a how-to schema on your blog posts

Now that you have written and optimized your blog post, it’s time to learn how to apply a how-to schema.

This is, of course, applicable to your articles that are instructive in nature, hence the “how-to.”

How-to articles are one of the best forms of evergreen content (remember what we talked about earlier?). And the thing about how-to articles is that you can basically write about anything and you can be sure that there are at least a handful of people searching for it.

But the work doesn’t end there. Once you are able to get on the first page of Google, you could further improve your article by making it eligible for Google’s Rich Results using the how-to schema.

Google’s guidelines on how-to schema

Rich Results are special types of search results that look far different and more interactive from the traditional blue links. If your content appears in Rich Results, you can expect a higher click-through rate.

To be eligible for Google’s Rich Results, you need to have the right structured data on your page and in this case, we need the how-to schema. Adding how-to schema to your articles simply tells Google that your article is a how-to article. However, before you start deploying how-to schema on all of your articles, make sure that you are following Google’s guidelines first.

  • Advertising: Don’t use HowTo structured data for advertising purposes.
  • Ineligible Content: How-to rich results may not be displayed if the content is obscene, profane, sexually explicit, or graphically violent; or if it promotes dangerous or illegal activities or has hateful or harassing language.
  • Source: All HowTo content must be visible to the user on the source page. The how-to should be the main focus of the source page. Don’t include more than one HowTo for a certain page.
  • Materials and tools: Add structured data to all materials and tools necessary to complete the task.
  • Steps: Each HowToStep must include the entire contents of the source step. Don’t mark up non-step data such as a summary or introduction section as a step.
  • Step images: If the steps are best represented visually, ensure the images in these steps are marked up for each HowToStep. Only mark up the instructional step images that are specific for each step and don’t use the same image in multiple steps for the same how-to. Use the same images that correspond to the content on your page. Don’t use images that don’t reflect the how-to content, or use different images to optimize the rich-result.
  • Final image: If the end result can be accurately described by an image, ensure this image is present on the page, and your HowTo markup includes it using the image property. This image may be the same as the one marked up for the last step.
  • Content: Don’t use HowTo markup for recipes. Recipes should use the Recipe structured data instead. Articles and general advice content that is not a specific set of instructions are not appropriate for HowTo markup.

Applying how-to schema on your blog writing

Understanding the how-to schema objects/elements

Required:

  • Name – title of your article
  • HowToStep or HowToSection – full instructions of each step in the How-To article

Recommended:

  • description – further description of the How-To step
  • estimatedCost – the estimated cost of completing the guide
  • image – a photo of the step for better details
  • supply – an item needed that is consumed to complete a step
  • tool – an item needed but is not consumed to complete a step
  • totalTime – the total time needed to finish the guide
  • video – the full video of the guide
  • video.hasPart – a clip of the full video that indicates a single step
  • video.hasPart.endOffset – the end time of the clip from the beginning of the video
  • video.hasPart.name – the full name of the clip
  • hasPart.startOffset – the start time of the clip from the beginning of the video
  • video.hasPart.url – a link to the specific time of the clip in the full video

Prepare the code and fill in the details

To save you time, you could simply copy and paste this code that I did for the Comprehensive SEO Audit Guide I wrote. There are also a bunch of schema generator websites available or you could also copy the code in the how-to schema guidelines.

Take note that this sample code only has 2 steps in it which is the minimum required. You’ll need to copy and paste the “step” lines of code for each step in your how-to article.

<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{
“@context”: “http://schema.org”,
“@type”: “HowTo”,
“name”: “SEO Audit 2019: A Comprehensive Guide”,
“description”: “An audit is a part of any SEOs regular duties. Here’s how to do it in 2019.”,
“image”: {“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Cover-Photo-SEO-Audit-2019-A-Comprehensive-Guide.jpg?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”},
“tool”: [{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Google Analytics”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Google Search Console”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Screaming Frog”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “SEMRush”
}
],
“step”: [
{
“@type”: “HowToStep”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/seo-audit-comprehensive-guide/#check-website-traffic”,
“name”: “Check your Website Traffic”,
“itemListElement”: [{
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Do a regular check of your traffic in Google Analytics. Check for sudden drops and investigate what is the cause of the drop.”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToTip”,
“text”: “It is recommended to do it twice a week.”
}],
“image”: {
“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/screenshot-analytics.google.com-2019.05.16-14-01-30-1024×300.png?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”
}
}, {
“@type”: “HowToStep”,
“name”: “Check your Google Search Console Coverage Report”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/seo-audit-comprehensive-guide/#check-coverage-report”,
“itemListElement”: [{
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check your Submitted Sitemaps”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check Submitted and Indexed Report”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check Indexed, Not Submitted in Sitemap Report”
}],
“image”: {
“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/GSC-Coverage-Report-1-1024×486.jpg?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”
}
} ],
“totalTime”: “P1D”
}
</script>

Test your code and deploy

Once you are done filling in all the details, you now need to check your code for errors. I recommend the Google’s Rich Results Test.

The Rich Results test can verify structured data either via a URL or code snippet. It can give you a preview of how your website will look like in the search results.

rich results

Once everything is perfect, you can now deploy your code! Since the how-to schema is placed in a specific page, I would recommend putting it at the start of the <body> of the HTML code.

Resubmit in Google Search Console

This step is not really required because Google will eventually crawl updates on your page within a few days but just to make sure it gets indexed, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and request for reindexing of the page/s you updated.

How it would look in the SERPS

In the Rich Results Tests, you could click Preview and it will show you how your content will appear in the search results for a How-To Rich Result.

rich results serps for blog writing

Monitor how-to schemas in Google Search Console

Once Google is able to crawl the how-to structured data on your blog posts, you will notice a new section under “Enhancements” in your Google Search Console account labeled “How-To”. This is where you can see all the valid how-to pages in your website and should they have any errors or warnings.

Always remember that Rich Results are not guaranteed. Do not get frustrated if you are not seeing How-To rich results for your website since it depends on Google’s algorithm if it is going to show Rich Results for a specific search result.

How to update and enhance old blog posts

Let us say that you finally have a lot of blog posts as you’ve been consistently writing over the years. It’s important that you don’t leave those blog posts alone, but to go back and update them when necessary and applicable.

Knowing which blog posts to update

The first step to updating and enhancing old blog posts is knowing which blog posts to update or enhance. This is applicable for all webmasters but is especially true for publishers where the main source of attracting traffic is through their content, like this website.

The problem happens when you have blog posts dated to 5+ years back. This means that you’ve published hundreds of blog posts or maybe even thousands. So, there has to be a large number of old, underperforming blog posts in your arsenal. How do you choose the blog posts that you will update and enhance?

Through their rankings and traffic. Easy enough, the primary way to determine which of your blog posts needs updating is to check Google Analytics and Google Search Console (or rank tracking SaaS). Here’s how you can do it:

  • On Google Analytics account, go to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages. There you’ll see your top 10 viewed pages for the timeframe you set.

google analytics

  • You can further refine it by searching for particular blog posts you have in mind through the search bar. Though you have to remember to search using your blog post’s URL slug only. If you accidentally include the domain name, it won’t show the results for the specific blog post.
  • If you want to check the pages they visited to enter your site, go to Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages. Here you’ll see which pages they see first when they enter your site. This is also a great way to check which pages are attracting the most visitors from various sources.

google analytics landing pages

  • To view which blog posts are performing well organically, you can use Google Search Console’s Performance page. Just go to your Google Search Console property, then go to Performance → Search Results → then scroll down until you see the QUERIES table → click on PAGES.

google search console pages

  • Here you’ll see the blog posts that are garnering the top clicks/impressions on Google search results. You can even search for a particular blog post by clicking on the inverted triangle on the upper right side corner of the table to filter the results.

From these two essential tools alone, you’ll be able to determine which blog posts are underperforming and have them updated AND enhanced immediately. So, how do we do it?

Updating posts as blog writing

Now that you’ve determined which blog posts you’ll be updating, you will need to know where to start. I’ve actually written in the past about content augmentation and how to improve an old blog post’s reach. So, I’ll only be including recent and timely strategies that I haven’t written about yet in my other posts.

Serving intent

Intent should now be the primary focus in blog writing when you’re trying to make your posts rank. Historically, keyword optimization was more technical and straightforward where you just needed to put in the keywords in the title tag, meta description, H1, and the body of your content. But as times have changed and Google has continuously improved their machine learning algorithms and content understanding capabilities, serving the right intent for your target keyword is more important than ever.

The buzzword for the industry in recent years is “LSI keywords” while this may hold some importance to some extent, it doesn’t necessarily help you with serving intent. Why? Because in a nutshell, latent semantic indexing keywords are terms that are conceptually related to your target keyword—so if you’re already writing about your keyword topically—which you should, not focusing on the particular keyword, but the overall topic it covers, you’re automatically targeting LSI keywords without having to research, think, focus, and write about them.

Knowing semantic search and serving intent—through manually checking what kind of pages is Google ranking for your target topic or keyword—will not only help you save time and effort but will also help you in determining if you will rank well. There have been many instances in the past where my team and I wrote about a specific keyword or topic while not checking the search results for them. What happened was we were not able to rank well for a considerable amount of time because the search results were serving category and product pages instead of content-heavy pages. If we had just understood the right intent to serve, we wouldn’t have had to rewrite and repeat efforts which took more time and energy.

Republishing

Republishing (and updating) sounds simple but is still an underrated tactic for updating old blog posts. Blog writing doesn’t always have to be about completely new topics, it can be about republishing articles. There are some blog posts that are so outdated that their contents are not even applicable to today’s day and age.

Republishing and updating the information contained in that blog post does not only improve its freshness signals but it’s also an opportunity for you to gain more valuable traffic by having otherwise useless blog posts turn into a traffic-attracting one.

For example, here’s a blog post I updated a while back:

10 things you need to stop doing in your marketing emails

This was published in 2015 and I noticed that some of the things I wrote about were already outdated. So I added two more factors and updated the content to be more relevant and accurate.

Technical factors

This is the easiest and most used tactic for updating old, underperforming blog posts. If you believe that the information of your old blog post is still sufficiently applicable to today’s time, then maybe it just needs a refresher. Maybe your title tag isn’t attracting clicks? Or your meta description doesn’t necessarily imply what the page is about which is why users don’t click on your search results. Changing them to become more appealing and adding timely and informative content will sometimes do the trick.

Through tactics like the ones I’ve mentioned and the ones I’ve written about before, we’ve achieved more traffic count. One of the best examples I can show is an old and underperforming client blog post that jumped right into their top 10 most visited pages over the course of a year:

We did a mix of the tactics I’ve mentioned and optimized the page to be eligible for the featured snippet position. In a matter of a few months, it already gained traffic that’s immensely better than the numbers it used to have. Once it reached the featured snippet spot, it only enjoyed a larger number.

Key takeaway

Blog writing can be quite the challenge, but it is absolutely one of the most important and most rewarding things you can do for your website (and yourself). It involves a lot of research and preparation, but it works well for SEO and it helps you provide valuable information to the people you want to reach.

Let me know how this blog writing 101 guide has helped you!


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Email Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

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Email Marketing: An In-Depth Guide

Email has revolutionized the way people communicate. From facilitating remote work to monitoring bank balances, it has become an integral part of everyday life.

It has also become a powerful tool for marketers. It has changed the way brands and customers interact with each other, providing incredible opportunities to target audiences at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

In other words, when it comes to getting the most bang for your marketing buck, nothing matches the power of email.

Providing an average return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing is one of the most profitable and effective ways of reaching your targets.

Globally used by more than 4 billion people, it has unparalleled reach and is perfect for every step of the buyer’s journey, from generating awareness to encouraging brand loyalty.

If you’re not currently using email marketing to promote your business, you should be.

But to reap the biggest benefits, you need to do more than just dash off a message and sending it out to your contacts. You need a strategy that will help you nurture relationships and initiate conversations.

In this piece, we’ll take an in-depth look at the world of marketing via email and give you a step-by-step guide you can use to launch your own campaigns.

What Is Email Marketing?

If you have an email address of your own – and it’s probably safe to assume that you do – you’re likely already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of email marketing.

But just to avoid any potential confusion, let’s start with a definition: Email marketing is a type of direct marketing that uses customized emails to inform customers and potential customers about your product or services.

Why Should You Use Email Marketing?

If the eye-popping $36:1 ROI stat wasn’t enough to convince you to take the plunge, here are some other key reasons you should use email marketing to promote your business:

  • Email marketing drives traffic to your website, blog, social media account, or anywhere else you direct it.
  • It allows you to build a stronger relationship with your targets via personalization and auto-triggered campaigns.
  • You can segment your audience to target highly specific demographics, so you’re sending messages to the people they will resonate with most.
  • Email marketing is one of the easiest platforms to version test on, so you can determine exactly what subject lines and calls-to-action (CTAs) work best.

Even better, you own your email campaigns entirely.

With email, you own your marketing list and you can target your leads however you like (so long as you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws).

There is no question that you should be using email marketing as part of your overall marketing outreach strategy.

Now let’s look at some of the different ways you can do that.

What Are The Types Of Email Marketing?

For every stage of the sales funnel, there’s a corresponding type of email marketing. Here are some of the different types you can use to engage your audience and generate results.

Promotional Emails

When you think about email marketing, these types of messages are probably what you think of.

Used to promote sales, special offers, product releases, events, and more, these are usually one of the least personalized types of emails and tend to go out to a large list.

Usually, promotional campaigns consist of anywhere from 3 to 10 emails sent over a specified time frame. They have a clear CTA that encourages the recipient to take the next step of visiting your site, booking an appointment, or making a purchase.

Informational Emails

This type of email includes company announcements as well as weekly/monthly/quarterly newsletters.

They may include information about new products, company achievements, customer reviews, or blog posts.

The CTA is usually to visit your website or blog to learn more about what’s happening.

Welcome Emails

Sent to new customers or people who have filled out a form on your website, welcome emails encourage recipients to learn more about your company or offering.

These commonly include trial offers, requests to book a demo, or other offerings a new customer will find valuable.

Nurturing Emails

Any salesperson will tell you the importance of creating multiple touchpoints with potential customers.

Lead nurturing emails focus on building interest in people who are drawn to a particular offering.

The goal of these messages is to push them to the consideration stage of the buying journey.

Re-engagement Emails

Nurturing emails’ slightly more aggressive brother, re-engagement emails are used to warm up customers who haven’t been active lately.

These tend to be more personalized, as you’ll want to show the subscriber that you know and understand the challenges they’re facing.

Survey/Review Emails

User generated content (UGC) lends your brand an authenticity you simply can’t achieve on your own.

One of the best ways to generate this is via emails soliciting feedback from your customers.

This type of email also gives you insights into your brand’s relative strengths and weaknesses, so you can improve your offerings.

There are a number of other types of emails you can use as part of your marketing efforts, including seasonal emails designed to capitalize on holidays or events, confirmation emails to reassure recipients their purchase was completed or their information received, and co-marketing emails that are sent with a partner company.

In fact, it’s email marketing’s sheer versatility that makes it the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. You merely need to decide what you hope to accomplish, then create your campaign around it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at creating and managing your own email marketing.

How Do You Perform Email Marketing?

Step 1: Establish Your Goals

The section above should have made it clear that the type of email campaign you’ll run will depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Trying to do everything with one email will lead to confused recipients and a watered-down CTA.

Set one goal for your campaign, and make sure every email in the series works toward it.

Step 2: Build Your List

Now it’s time to determine who will be on the receiving end of your campaign. You do this by building your email marketing list – a process you can approach from several directions.

The most basic way to build an email list is by simply importing a list of your contacts into your chosen email marketing platform (more on that later).

One caveat: Before you add anyone to your list, make sure they have opted into receiving emails from you – otherwise you’ll run afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines mentioned above.

Other options for building a list from scratch via a lead generation campaign: provide potential customers with discounts, compelling content, or something else of value and make it easy for them to subscribe and you’ll generate high-quality leads.

Some marketers buy or rent email lists, but in general, this isn’t an effective way to perform email marketing.

The primary reason you don’t want to do this is because of lead quality. You’re not going after people who are interested in your brand but instead are blindly targeting leads of questionable quality with emails they haven’t opted in to.

In addition to violating consent laws, which could potentially hurt your IP reputation and email deliverability, you risk annoying your targets instead of encouraging them to try your offering.

Step 3: Create Your Email Campaign

Now that you know who you’re targeting and what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to build your campaign.

Email marketing tools like HubSpot, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp include drag-and-drop templates you can employ to create well-designed and effective email campaigns.

We’ll dive deeper into these platforms a bit later, but now, let’s talk about some fundamentals and best practices to help you get the best results:

  • Make your emails easy to read – No one wants to read a long wall of text. Structure your emails using strategically placed headers and bulleted lists for easy scanning.
  • Use images – Ideally, you want your emails to capture the reader’s eye and attention. Visuals are a great way to do this.
  • Write a compelling subject line – The best-written email in the world is useless if no one opens it. That makes a compelling, intriguing subject line paramount. Don’t be afraid to try different iterations, just be sure to keep it short.
  • Add personalization – Emails that are targeted to a specific person, including addressing them by name, are more likely to generate responses. Your email marketing platform should allow you to do this with relative ease.
  • Make conversion easy – If you want click-throughs, you need to make it easy for readers. Make sure your CTA is prominent and clear.
  • Consider your timing – As with most types of marketing, email campaigns tend to perform better when they’re properly timed. This could mean a specific time of day that generates more opens, a time of the week when purchases are more likely, or even a time of year when your content is most relevant. This will probably require some experimentation.

Step 4: Measure Your Results

You’re not going to get your email campaigns right the first time. Or the second. Or the fifth. In fact, there’s really no endpoint; even the best campaigns can be optimized to generate better results.

To track how yours are performing, you’ll want to use the reports section of your email marketing platform. This will help you understand how people are interacting with your campaigns.

Use A/B testing to drill down into what’s working best.

Generally, you’ll want to look at key metrics like:

  • Open rate and unique opens.
  • Click-through rate.
  • Shares.
  • Unsubscribe rate.
  • Spam complaints.
  • Bounces (the number of addresses your email couldn’t be delivered to).

Choosing An Email Marketing Platform

Manually sending out emails is fine if you’re only targeting three or four people. But if you’re trying to communicate with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of targets, you’re going to need some help.

But there are currently hundreds of email marketing platform on the market. How do you choose the right one for your unique needs?

Should you just go with one of the big names like HubSpot,  Klaviyo, or Mailjet? How do you know which one is right for you?

While it may initially feel overwhelming, by answering a few questions you can narrow down your options considerably.

The very first thing you need to determine is your budget. If you’re running a small business, the amount you’re willing to spend on an email service platform is probably considerably less than an enterprise-level company.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll probably find that a lower-priced version of a platform like Sendinblue or Constant Contact provides you with all the functionality you need.

Larger companies with bigger marketing budgets may wish to go with an email marketing platform that provides higher levels of automation, more in-depth data analysis and is easier to use. In this case, you may prefer to go with a platform like Mailchimp or Salesforce’s Pardot.

The good thing is that most of these email service providers offered tiered pricing, so smaller businesses can opt for more inexpensive (or even free) versions that offer less functionality at a lower price.

The next thing to consider is the type of email you want to send.

If your primary send will be newsletters, a platform like SubStack is a great choice. If you’re planning on sending transactional emails, you may want to check out Netcore Email API or GetResponse.

For those of you planning on sending a variety of marketing emails, your best choice may be an option that covers multiple email types like ConvertKit or an omnichannel marketing tool like Iterable.

You can narrow down your options by determining your must-have features and internal capabilities.

Some things you’ll want to consider include:

  • The size of your lists.
  • Your technical skill level.
  • Your HTML editing requirements.
  • Template variety.
  • Your need for responses/workflows.
  • A/B testing needs.
  • Industry-specific features.

While there is significant overlap in functionality between email marketing platforms, each has some variation in capabilities.

Ideally, you want something that will integrate with your other marketing tools to help take the guesswork out of the equation.

You should request demos and trials of your finalists to find which is best for your needs. If you’re working with a team, be sure to loop them in and get their feedback.

Tips For Maximizing Your Results

Email marketing is a powerful tool for any business. But there’s both science and art to it.

Here are some additional tips to help you get the most from your campaigns:

  • Avoid being marked as spam – According to HubSpot, there are 394 words and phrases that can identify your email as junk mail. These include “free,” “lowest price,” “no catch” and “all new.” You should avoid these whenever possible. To be doubly safe, have your recipients add you to their safe senders list.
  • Run integrated campaigns – Email marketing serves to amplify the power of other marketing channels. If you’re running sales or promotions, you should include an email aspect.
  • Clean up your list regularly – Keep your email database up to date to ensure deliverability and higher engagement. If a subscriber hasn’t responded to your re-engagement efforts after six months, it’s probably safe to scrub them from your list.
  • Harness the power of automation – Autoresponders are a great way to follow up with customers and subscribers, or strategically target someone after a certain event or action. Learn how to set this up on your email marketing platform and it will save you lots of time while boosting returns.

Email Marketing Is A Powerful Tool

There’s a reason why email marketing is prevalent in the modern world – it works.

And that means you should be using it to promote your brand and drive sales.

Hopefully, by this point, you have a good idea of not only what email marketing can do for you, but how it works, and how to create and optimize your own campaigns.

There’s really no better way to connect with our audience and convey the value of your brand.

Now get to work – you have customers to attract.

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

Elon Musk, owner and CEO of Twitter, announced that starting today, Twitter will share ad revenue with creators. The new policy applies only to ads that appear in a creator’s reply threads.

The move comes on the heels of YouTube launching ad revenue sharing for creators through the YouTube Partner Program in a bid to become the most rewarding social platform for creators.

Social networks like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have similar monetization options for creators who publish reels and video content. For example, Instagram’s Reels Play Bonus Program offers eligible creators up to $1,200 for Reel views.

The catch? Unlike other social platforms, creators on Twitter must have an active subscription to Twitter Blue and meet the eligibility requirements for the Blue Verified checkmark.

The following is an example of a Twitter ad in a reply thread (Promoted by @ASUBootcamps). It should generate revenue for the Twitter Blue Verified creator (@rowancheung), who created the thread.

Screenshot from Twitter, January 2023

To receive the ad revenue share, creators would have to pay $8 per month (or more) to maintain an active Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter Blue pricing varies based on location and is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

Eligibility for the Twitter Blue Verified checkmark includes having an active Twitter Blue subscription and meeting the following criteria.

  • Your account must have a display name, profile photo, and confirmed phone number.
  • Your account has to be older than 90 days and active within the last 30 days.
  • Recent changes to your account’s username, display name, or profile photo can affect eligibility. Modifications to those after verification can also result in a temporary loss of the blue checkmark until Twitter reviews your updated information.
  • Your account cannot appear to mislead or deceive.
  • Your account cannot spam or otherwise try to manipulate the platform for engagement or follows.

Did you receive a Blue Verified checkmark before the Twitter Blue subscription? That will not help creators who want a share of the ad revenue. The legacy Blue Verified checkmark does not make a creator account eligible for ad revenue sharing.

When asked about accounts with a legacy and Twitter Blue Verified checkmark, Musk tweeted that the legacy Blue Verified is “deeply corrupted” and will sunset in just a few months.

Regardless of how you gained your checkmark, it’s important to note that Twitter can remove a checkmark without notice.

In addition to ad revenue sharing for Twitter Blue Verified creators, Twitter Dev announced that the Twitter API would no longer be free in an ongoing effort to reduce the number of bots on the platform.

While speculation looms about a loss in Twitter ad revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported a “fire-sale” Super Bowl offer from Musk to win back advertisers.

The latest data from DataReportal shows a positive trend for Twitter advertisers. Ad reach has increased from 436.4 million users in January 2022 to 556 million in January 2023.

Twitter is also the third most popular social network based on monthly unique visitors and page views globally, according to SimilarWeb data through December 2022.


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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

We live in an age when AI technologies are booming, and the world has been taken by storm with the introduction of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is capable of accomplishing a wide range of tasks, but one that it does particularly well is writing articles. And while there are many obvious benefits to this, it also presents a number of challenges.

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle that AI-generated written content poses for the publishing industry is the spread of misinformation.

ChatGPT, or any other AI tool, may generate articles that may contain factual errors or are just flat-out incorrect.

Imagine someone who has no expertise in medicine starting a medical blog and using ChatGPT to write content for their articles.

Their content may contain errors that can only be identified by professional doctors. And if that blog content starts spreading over social media, or maybe even ranks in Search, it could cause harm to people who read it and take erroneous medical advice.

Another potential challenge ChatGPT poses is how students might leverage it within their written work.

If one can write an essay just by running a prompt (and without having to do any actual work), that greatly diminishes the quality of education – as learning about a subject and expressing your own ideas is key to essay writing.

Even before the introduction of ChatGPT, many publishers were already generating content using AI. And while some honestly disclose it, others may not.

Also, Google recently changed its wording regarding AI-generated content, so that it is not necessarily against the company’s guidelines.

Image from Twitter, November 2022

This is why I decided to try out existing tools to understand where the tech industry is when it comes to detecting content generated by ChatGPT, or AI generally.

I ran the following prompts in ChatGPT to generate written content and then ran those answers through different detection tools.

  • “What is local SEO? Why it is important? Best practices of Local SEO.”
  • “Write an essay about Napoleon Bonaparte invasion of Egypt.”
  • “What are the main differences between iPhone and Samsung galaxy?”

Here is how each tool performed.

1. Writer.com

For the first prompt’s answer, Writer.com fails, identifying ChatGPT’s content as 94% human-generated.

Writer.com resultsScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the second prompt, it worked and detected it as AI-written content.

Writer.com test resultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the third prompt, it failed again.

Sample ResultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

However, when I tested real human-written text, Writer.com did identify it as 100% human-generated very accurately.

2. Copyleaks

Copyleaks did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written.

Sample ResultScreenshot from Copyleaks, January 2023

3. Contentatscale.ai

Contentatscale.ai did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written, even though the first prompt, it gave a 21% human score.

Contentscale.aiScreenshot from Contentscale.ai, January 2023

4. Originality.ai

Originality.ai did a great job on all three prompts, accurately detecting them as AI-written.

Also, when I checked with real human-written text, it did identify it as 100% human-generated, which is essential.

Originality.aiScreenshot from Originality.ai, January 2023

You will notice that Originality.ai doesn’t detect any plagiarism issues. This may change in the future.

Over time, people will use the same prompts to generate AI-written content, likely resulting in a number of very similar answers. When these articles are published, they will then be detected by plagiarism tools.

5. GPTZero

This non-commercial tool was built by Edward Tian, and specifically designed to detect ChatGPT-generated articles. And it did just that for all three prompts, recognizing them as AI-generated.

GPTZeroScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

Unlike other tools, it gives a more detailed analysis of detected issues, such as sentence-by-sentence analyses.

sentence by sentence text perplexityScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

OpenAI’s AI Text Classifier

And finally, let’s see how OpenAi detects its own generated answers.

For the 1st and 3rd prompts, it detected that there is an AI involved by classifying it as “possibly-AI generated”.

AI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generated

But surprisingly, it failed for the 2nd prompt and classified that as “unlikely AI-generated.” I did play with different prompts and found that, as of the moment, when checking it, few of the above tools detect AI content with higher accuracy than OpenAi’s own tool.

AI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generated

As of the time of this check, they had released it a day before. I think in the future, they will fine tune it, and it will work much better.

Conclusion

Current AI content generation tools are in good shape and are able to detect ChatGPT-generated content (with varying degrees of success).

It is still possible for someone to generate copy via ChatGPT and then paraphrase that to make it undetectable, but that might require almost as much work as writing from scratch – so the benefits aren’t as immediate.

If you think about ranking an article in Google written by ChatGPT, consider for a moment: If the tools we looked at above were able to recognize them as AI-generated, then for Google, detecting them should be a piece of cake.

On top of that, Google has quality raters who will train their system to recognize AI-written articles even better by manually marking them as they find them.

So, my advice would be not to build your content strategy on ChatGPT-generated content, but use it merely as an assistant tool.

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