Does ChatGPT spell the end of blogging?
This new technology is no doubt scary to a lot of people. It is already very disruptive and has already impacted blogging. So, in this article, I'm going to boil it all down and share with you what I see coming to the blogging world, just how ChatGPT and other AI content engines (such as Jasper.ai and Copy.ai) are going to impact blogging, and how bloggers can benefit and use the technology to stay relevant and continue to thrive in the future.
In case you’ve missed it, ChatGPT is an AI tool you can interact with in a dialogue. You ask it questions, and it provides answers. I think it’s awesome, and began using it recently to help me write copy for several website projects.* If you watch YouTube, you already know there are many cool things ChatGPT can do, like writing computer code and writing full essays in any style you like. But like everyone, I'm a bit concerned about some of the use cases here and ways that it will allow people to circumvent, or get credit for, words they didn’t actually write. Educators and teachers throughout academia remain in a near-panic as they face this sudden and explosive use of expert systems. It is likely unleashing unfaithfulness on a grand scale. But is it plagiarism? I don’t think so since, in my experience using it, ChatGPT is only as good as the provoking questions you ask it. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes. Plus, and we get into further below, it’s not going to do you any good as a blogger to just state facts and rehash something Google has already seen a dozen times if, by blogging, you hope to increase your authority and relevance and, ultimately, traffic.
Bloggers are wondering what the long-term effects and impact ChatGPT will have and what the continuing advancements in AI will have on the future of SEO. That's a big question, and frankly, none of us really know the full scope of how AI, in general, is going to change things or already has.
So first, let's talk about SEO. What's the impact on actual search? There are two areas where I see the biggest change coming for SEO. The first one is in actual user behavior; as AI becomes more powerful, I can see people leaning on them far more for a lot of really fact-based and information-based answers to their questions. Where somebody today would go to Google and might search for a question like, what are the key differences between vinyl and wood flooring, as I did myself recently. In Google, you get a slew of links you have to sort through. In the search results, at the top on the first page, we get a definition right there as a rich snippet, as well as just a whole bunch of content about flooring, links to videos, and a slew of advertisements enticing me to click on them. But in using ChatGPT when asking the question, I get a direct answer:
There are several key differences between vinyl and wood flooring:
- Material: Vinyl flooring is made from synthetic materials, while wood flooring is made from natural wood.
- Cost: Vinyl flooring is generally less expensive than wood flooring.
- Durability: Vinyl flooring is more durable and resistant to scratches and scuffs than wood flooring.
- Installation: Vinyl flooring is typically easier to install than wood flooring and can be installed as a floating floor, while wood flooring must be nailed or glued down.
- Maintenance: Vinyl flooring is generally easier to clean and maintain than wood flooring, as it does not require regular refinishing.
- Appearance: Wood flooring has a natural and classic look, while vinyl flooring can mimic the appearance of wood but with a less realistic look.
- Environmental Impact: Wood flooring is a natural, renewable resource, while vinyl flooring is a synthetic, non-renewable resource.
Not bad. I got the answer I was looking for.
Like a conversation between two people, the answer provokes more questions. So, I can go further and dive deeper into getting more relevant information by asking ChatGPT, for instance, what the difference in cost is. It is meant to be like a conversation with an expert. This illustrates the real power of ChatGPT for bloggers, I think. It helps us think through what's relevant and what a curious mind wants to know.
So here’s the answer from ChatGPT to that question in that conversation:
The cost difference between vinyl and wood flooring can vary depending on the specific products and brands you are comparing, as well as the cost of installation. Generally speaking, vinyl flooring is less expensive than wood flooring. Vinyl flooring can be found for as little as $0.50 per square foot, while wood flooring can cost upwards of $4.00 per square foot. However, it is worth noting that the cost of high-end vinyl flooring can approach the cost of some types of wood flooring. Additionally, it's important to consider that wood flooring is known for its durability, which can be a cost-saving factor in the long run.
This level of sophistication of AI in tools like Siri and Alexa, your personal assistants, where they can provide you with this level of answers, where you don't have to use specific voice commands, but rather a normal, natural dialogue, is powerful. I can see these kinds of things making Google search engine results basically becoming obsolete.
The one thing currently that is really lacking in ChatGPT is getting pictures and videos into the conversation. There are none. I don't think we're very far off, however, based on watching the speed of AI’s development before this becomes a capability of this AI engine. Already we have some AI tools drawing pictures. For instance, try Lensa on your mobile phone, which takes selfies to a whole new level and enhances them to look like superheroes. (See https://prisma-ai.com/lensa.)
Ultimately, I see ChatGPT significantly impacting SEO in how the search engines like Google handle the content that's out there. When any new tool is invented that can make content creation easier, there are a lot of content creators who are going to use it to excess. And Google has openly stated they do not like AI-generated content. The buzz is that Google will somehow be able to detect AI-generated content by perhaps adding a watermark to it somehow. How this can even be possible is a mystery, but with AI moving at the current pace, a major task force has probably already been assigned. The net effect will ultimately be that AI won’t be ranked well in the search results. But at this juncture, this is only conjecture because, so far, Google doesn't have a programmatic way to identify AI-generated content, especially as the content gets better and more natural and human-sounding. So that means that Google will have to continue to rely on other factors and probably increase this reliance to determine what content is likely to be authoritative and accurate. You might wonder why Google doesn't like this kind of content. Frankly, it shouldn't really matter, right? As long as the information is accurate and relevant to the reader. However, I think Google knows that when AI generates content, the factual accuracy of that content is highly questionable in many cases. That might be true for many bloggers too, but I digress. I think the main reason is that with AI, it's hard to identify the sources of that information with real people. Suppose Google can identify the creator of that content, the writer, the author, for instance, who it's being attributed to and views through all of the different factors in the algorithm, that the writer is authoritative on the subject. In that case, Google can, with a reasonable level of certainty, trust the information that's being provided, again, without a real source to pull that from. An AI could be telling you anything, and you might believe it's true as a reader, especially because it writes extremely confidently.
Before I discuss other changes that I think will come, specifically to blogging and content creation as a result of AI, I want to mention the limitations of AI.
First of all, AI-generated content, at this point, really isn't new. The best it can do is look at a past data set and aggregate that information, and in some cases, potentially learn from that information and apply what it knows about one thing to a synonymous or analogous to another similar thing. Let me go further with this thought.
While ChatGPT is capable to some extent of taking something from its dataset, recognizing that this is the same or close to in nature to something else, even though it's a little bit different, and applying what it knows to this subject matter to the other thing. The net effect is that when it doesn’t know the answer, it still will provide an answer, and it provided those answers with a lot of confidence.
ChatGPT certainly does not have all the answers we’d hope to get from an expert. In fact, it's lacking a lot, which leads to the biggest limitation of AI, which is that it is incapable of having a human experience. There are a lot of things that people ask about that bloggers write about and create content for, where the human experience is a necessary part of the answer. The AI, at its best, can aggregate responses from other people and generate an answer that it thinks is probably accurate. So this is a huge limitation. It causes us to rely still on an actual person, for instance, to give us product reviews, whereas ChatGPT can't test anything. ChatGPT can't give you an opinion on which is the best product, especially for a specific situation. The best it can do is give you the specs and maybe aggregate customer reviews if it has access to those. Providing subjectivity associated with any subject is purely human, even though ChatGPT can probably interject some opinions built into the answer; it is not genuine or from a source you know to be trustworthy. Opinions based upon actual experiences from a source you trust cannot be a part of ChatGPT’s answer. AI can't experience what humans do; therefore, its answers are based mainly on facts it finds and not emotional experiences easily relatable to a fellow human.
The best it can do is tell you what a bunch of other people said. And if blogging were to die, where would you get the information about that? It's a paradox. There must be people creating content for the AI to continue having something to pull from. It has to pull inspiration from things that humans have already created before.
This brings up a particular unique quality about humans. We never like things to stay the same for too long. Look at clothing, look at music, look at everything that we do of any sort, and at popular culture. It is constantly changing. New trends are coming every year, and probably micro-trends within every year. Things are always changing because we get bored as soon as they get stagnant. Now, could an AI drive the next trends based on the cycles of the past? Quite possibly. But the AI's not going to know if those new styles look good or if that kind of music is something people are going to really like because the best it can do is compute. We process those things and decide what we like and don't like.
So now, let's come back to blogging. First, let's answer the question, is this going to spell the end of blogging? I've kind of already answered that. No, we need content creators. The world will always need content creators. I think that some changes are coming to blogging and that there are certain kinds of content bloggers have been creating for a long time. There will be no point in mundane content creators rehashing the same stuff in the coming days. But there's a lot of content I think still will have a very strong position, not just for the next couple of years, but probably indefinitely.
So, what is changing? Obviously, the really simple fact-based questions are probably questions that bloggers shouldn't focus on anymore in their written content. That doesn't mean that the response post is dead. Many bloggers write where they're answering specific questions, usually in about a thousand words, which, believe it or not, is a relatively short blog post. Bloggers can still answer specific questions, but they’re probably not going to spend as much time answering questions that are very much fact-based that an AI from its data set can very easily provide a good answer to. For instance, when answering the question, what's the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork? if you ask ChadGPT, it provides all the same answers that any blogger can, with one exception. Chat GPT currently doesn’t provide images or videos, which could be very helpful in this case. I think anybody writing blog content is just aggregating stuff that other people have already written about. If it’s factual, nothing new content may be deemed mostly worthless. And it's only going to get worse because AI can do a far better job of it than any single individual can.
Bloggers now need to create content that goes beyond facts that moves into the space of one’s expert knowledge that can only be gained through experience. This, too, moves into that realm of providing more than just the information. Moreover, providing some level of interest and entertainment also increases confidence in the information being provided. Original research, experiments, and testing of products side by side, where the blogger provides a cool experience for people, enhances the confidence level by seeing the process. By the audience getting to know the blogger as a person, with all their faults and differences and quirks, they build rapport, which AI-generated content can’t. So that's the first necessary change in blogging. You need to be personable and relate information that is the human experience, relying on less than just stating facts. In blogging, some types of content are just going to be less and less valuable, even though they're the ones being proliferated most.
The next one is that a lot of people will be relying on AI and generating massive amounts of content. First of all, most people are going to do this, and they're going to violate the terms of ChatGPT, which says that if you want to use their content in any publication, you have to state that it was AI-generated clearly. I don't think most people are doing that, however. But because of that and the changes that I mentioned coming to SEO and, you know, search engines like Google needing to weed out AI-generated content, content creators are going to have to put a lot more focus on building E E A T, which stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. And these are just those signals that we send to Google and to people that say that we know what we're talking about and that they should be listening to us for good reason.
Another change I see coming to blogging that ties into the last one is AI making it a lot easier to do some of the things that we already do where we do them faster and, in many cases, better. I believe AI using it as a tool, will help writers, in general, become better at what they write. I am not proposing using AI to generate your content for you, but if somebody who actually is familiar at all with the niche or subject matter they are writing about, using ChatGPT as a crutch to help generate better content, I think is going to help writers become better at their craft. It is also a tremendous tool for getting out of writer’s block.
But you can’t just trust it. Everything an AI engine writes needs to be verified and confirmed as to whether or not it’s true. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. If you don't know your niche very well and have to fact-check, everything said in a blog post, you're probably wasting a lot of time, and maybe you should not have started writing the blog post. In other words, using ChatGPT to help write an article you know nothing about will not work well. ChatGPT can help you develop ideas, but the ideas you decide to write about should be related to your expertise. For instance, let's say that you find a topic that you want to write about, and you want to write this article around other articles, so you have a good cluster of content. Asking ChatGPT what some related topics or keywords help fill in the blank. And you can get a whole bunch of results. You could give me 20 topics closely related to this one, and it will give you 20 topics. And you using your brain, can pick from that list and identify five or six maybes that you think are a good fit that you could write to support the primary article. Another great way you could use this is to develop title ideas. Titles are usually pretty hard for many bloggers who need help writing good titles. Using ChatGPT for YouTube videos as well is an excellent use of AI. It can spark some additional ideas for you that can be a bit more intriguing for a title. I’ve used ChatGPT often in those recent projects in just this manner. It certainly helped me write content much more quickly. But I still had to know what kind of titles work well to see which ones from this list could be useful. This, by the way, is another principle that's come to light due to this. Many people are concerned about coding jobs because ChatGPT can write code for you. Who needs a developer at this point, right? However, when it's written code, it's what you specify. Most wouldn't know what to ask the ChatGPT to do, nor would most know what to do with that code and how that one function fits within the context of generating a WordPress plugin or theme, for instance, because that's not most people’s area of expertise.
You still need someone who knows how to put the pieces together and what questions to ask, at least for now and probably for several years. I'm finding that principle to be true with many of what AI tools can do. The more knowledge we have, the better we can take what it provides, use it as inspiration, and put it into our content with the right context. I think if you asked AI to write you a great video script, cool, it could do that. But your video may or may not do that well without the human experience and personal interjections into the content. Personal experience makes life's mediocrity go from fair to great. The element of interjected, underlying emotion and our changing tastes and styles of the times are what change boring, irrelevant content into prose that inspires and excites us. And one last point. What inspires and moves us today won’t necessarily do the same for us 1, 5, 10, 20, or 100 years from now. In fact, it most likely will not unless you write like James Joyce and write something like Ulysses.
The point is, you can’t just post what the AI engine spits out and present it as is without first going through it entirely and making sure it says what you want it to and has your personal interjection of knowledge and expertise. Otherwise, it will not have any chance of lasting long or gaining an audience. This is what having this incredible tool, ChatGPT, now at our disposal, free to use as we decide, gives us. A chance to do better.
ChatGPT does not spell the end of blogging. While ChatGPT and AI engines like it are powerful tools for generating text, they will never replace the unique voice and perspective human bloggers bring to their writing. Additionally, blogging provides a platform for individuals and businesses to share their thoughts and ideas and interact with their audience through comments and other forms of engagement. ChatGPT can be used to assist in the writing process, but it cannot replace the human element that is an integral part of blogging. While AI tools still have a ton of limitations, they are still going to change the game. The best way to ensure we are relevant is to build up E E A T. Al engines like ChatGPT do not build a brand. They cannot build rapport. It will not make people want to return to your content because they trust you. Focus on that. Focus on building E E A T. Focus on generating original, unique content that goes above and beyond what an AI can do. If you can do this, you'll stay relevant as a blogger for a very long time.