ChatGPT and Google. What’s the Verdict?

Emma Grant

Head of SEO

Results-driven Emma heads up our SEO team. A champion of best-practice SEO strategies for search engine success that lasts and delivers best value, Emma’s work focuses on boosting clients’ online visibility with the ultimate goal of increasing sales. Emma applies her extensive skill and experience to create strategies that pay off quickly for faster results. She knows precisely what to do to reduce clients’ paid ad spends for greater profits, and how to boost organic leads for better long term return on investment. After close of business, when she’s not organising exciting travel adventures, you may hear Emma strumming classical guitar tunes or working on her jazz riffs.

Very much the subject of the moment – and of great debate – Artificial Intelligence is the technology that’s taking the world by storm. And it was perhaps the launch in 2022 of ChatGPT that has fuelled what could be considered the biggest discussion of the century so far. Especially in the world of SEO, where ChatGPT and Google seem to be going head to head in the popularity and ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ race.

ChatGPT and Google

But rather than exploring how ChatGPT and Google are becoming competing entities, we thought it would be more valuable, for businesses looking to boost their online visibility at least, to start the conversation by looking at whether the generative AI bot can be used safely in SEO campaigns to improve Google rankings.

With this in mind, one of the biggest questions has to be, is ChatGPT safe for SEO? Which leads us to also ask, does AI content rank, and can Google detect Chat GPT content? And importantly, does it actually matter?

What is ChatGPT and why is AI all of a sudden the topic of conversation?

As we explored in our what you need to know about ChatGPT post, ChatGPT is the ground-breaking, conversational, artificial intelligence-powered chatbot designed by OpenAI.

It’s a large language model (LLM), trained on gargantuan volumes of data from around the web, creating an ability to undertake a huge amount of tasks, such as:

  • Conversing in human-like form, responding to questions and instructions
  • Writing articles, social posts, song lyrics, poems, letters and recipes whilst matching tone and style
  • Writing and editing code

It can even respond to feedback on its answers, and revise them there and then.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it? That something non-human can actually achieve all of this?

At its core, ChatGPT is artificial intelligence. And that’s something that’s become a bit of a bone of contention. Pioneers in the industry have quit jobs over their fears of where it might lead. Other commentators are calling for regulation and official guidelines.

Some, such as Goldman Sachs, believe that if generative AI lives up to its hype, then Europe and America’s workforce ‘will be upended’. The global bank believes that as many as 300 million jobs could be lost or at least reduced by AI.

Naturally, as an agency providing managed SEO campaigns for clients, we wanted to know whether AI (and ChatGPT) would take over our role, or at least influence the way we work.

And it has. But only on a productivity-enhancing basis. We’ve been embracing the AI revolution, but with a core focus on optimising productivity by using AI-powered tools to automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows. Which of course has resulted in benefits for our clients.

But when it comes to actually replacing human roles with AI, that’s not going to happen within our teams. Because as useful as AI and ChatGPT may be, we believe they are nothing without human creativity rolled in. And in any case, when it comes to ChatGPT and whether it’s valuable for SEO, there is plenty to be cautious of. Which leads us neatly into the question, is chat GPT safe for SEO?

ChatGPT and Google

As useful as AI and ChatGPT may be, we believe they are nothing without human creativity rolled in.

Is ChatGPT SAFE for SEO?

ChatGPT has its uses for SEO. Yes, it can suggest blog topics and give you keyword ideas and help to analyse them. It can give you blog title ideas, write meta descriptions and conjure up outlines for posts.

But – and this is REALLY important – you have to be careful not to rely on it outright for input.

As we explored previously, ChatGPT has its limitations. And it’s not backwards in coming forwards about those limitations, saying before you get started asking it anything:

“ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.”

You also need to be wary of the fact that it may occasionally (in its own words):

  • Generate incorrect information

And how would you know unless you checked? It’s such a confident responder to your questions, and doesn’t give you any citations or resources to show where it harvested the information it’s presenting you with, so you would be forgiven for taking it at its word.

Publishing incorrect information doesn’t just risk reputational damage. It can also be an insurance hazard in terms of professional indemnity.

As our Head of Content said in our previous ChatGPT post, when you’re writing an authority piece from scratch, you cross reference several sources to check the validity of the facts. But ChatGPT doesn’t do that.

It’s hard enough coming up against conflicting sources when you’re compiling a piece of content and having to get to the bottom of which is the right information. But if you use generative AI to produce an article or blog, bearing in mind that the datasets behind LLMs are brimming with conflicting evidence and unreliable conclusions, it becomes that bit harder to work out what’s right and what’s wrong.

  • Produce harmful instructions or biased content

ChatGPT may have vast knowledge. But what you can potentially gain from its knowledge bank, you are likely to lose in deductive reasoning. Yes, it can look up existing answers to already posed questions. But it lacks the cognition to tackle brand new questions. It’s certainly not a thought leader.

The bot tends to stick to responses that it has learnt are safe and uncontroversial. Which is not always helpful. Whilst no one wants to offend the next person, an open mind is vital if we are to share content that is balanced and covers all bases.

Google champions original, helpful and thought-leading content. And that’s only going to come from a source that doesn’t just mimic others. Original opinion, in other words.

  • Limited knowledge of world and events after 2021

ChatGPT concluded its ‘training’ in early 2022. Which means it knows very little about world events after 2021.

There’s nothing like out of date content to frustrate an audience. And there’s nothing like out of date research to skew SEO campaigns in the wrong direction.

When we’re planning our managed SEO campaigns, we need the most up to date research to go on. Working with keywords, competitor information and other facts based on data harvested months or years ago isn’t going to help anyone. But that’s what ChatGPT is using.

So, is ChatGPT safe for SEO?

We have to say no, not if you are relying on it without any human intervention. It lacks accuracy, context, independent view and is incomplete, which could render your campaigns, and your content, ineffective.

There are, however, other AI-based tools that are doing a great job of supporting SEO, such as Grammarly, which reviews spelling and grammar so that the content you publish is proof-perfect and therefore comes across as trustworthy.

And you can of course use ChatGPT for inspiration. But always be prepared to check your facts, and potentially rewrite the content to fit the necessary tone of voice and objectives.

By all means use it to improve time and resource management. But never rely on it as an outright alternative.

Does Google allow AI content to rank?

Google has been working on algorithms to detect AI-generated content for a long time now, previously outlawing it and labelling it as spam.

But the guidelines were updated in October 2022 with a revised approach. Now the focus is on the quality of the content, rather than how it was generated.

So, providing your content is written from a people-first standpoint, rather than with the sole intention of ranking, and it is accurate, helpful, up-to-date and engaging, then it should, in theory, rank equally well regardless of whether it’s AI or human generated.

Therefore, in answer to the question does AI content rank, there is no reason why it can’t, providing it’s been thoroughly human-checked for user intent, and all the facts verified.

The trouble with heading down the fully automated route with content production is that AI, as we’ve explored, has a habit of getting things wrong. It has even been known to make things up.

What is Google’s reaction to this internet sensation?

Google’s answer to ChatGPT is Bard. Bard is a chatbot which has, according to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, been designed to put the ‘breadth of the world’s knowledge’ behind a conversational interface.

Bard is similar in context to ChatGPT, but uses its own LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) conversational chatbot technology rather than the Large Language Model (LLM).

It will offer users the opportunity to engage in back and forth questions, but with the answers combined with traditional search results. So basically, the best of both worlds. LaMDA is designed to have more natural conversations, more like the ones you’d have with a fellow human being. And Google’s Bard has a far more recent updated knowledge base compared to ChatGPT, which we have already established is only good up to the end of 2021. In fact, Bard has access to the internet in real time.

Google Bard

Google’s answer to ChatGPT is Bard

Safe to say, ChatGPT is NOT replacing Google search. It works well as a question-answering chatbot and could be considered something of a personal assistant, helping you with everything from first aid to recipes.

But it’s not going to provide you with a list of local yoga classes. In fact, if you ask it for this sort of thing, it will direct you to Google (or other search engines) for the answers you want.

Chat GPT and Google

ChatGPT and Google – how will the future pan out?

ChatGPT will never replace Google. It is not a search engine, and there will always be a place for search engines.

Whilst it may respond in human-like fashion, ChatGPT cannot be relied upon for providing the level of accurate information, opinion or insight you would get from a fellow person.

Which means in terms of SEO, ChatGPT, or any form of artificial intelligence tool for that matter, is never likely to replace the likes of strategists, creatives and technical specialists. It can certainly help them do their jobs more efficiently, freeing them up to do what they do best, but the future of SEO certainly involves real people for the foreseeable. And Google search – and the importance of achieving top Google rankings – isn’t likely to budge anytime soon.

Discover Success with an Organic SEO Agency – Unleashing Forward-Thinking Managed Campaigns Award-winning Figment would welcome the opportunity to discuss your vision and help take your business to the next level.

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