Search engines like Google and Bing are planning to incorporate AI-generated content into their search results so it’s no surprise that user signals could become a more important ranking signal. In fact, it’s generally accepted in the SEO community that search engines currently track user signals when they are navigating the search results, resulting in measurable metrics that can determine the success of a particular search for any given user.
Whilst Google search results are, and have been, utilising AI for a long time, Bianco believes that the only thing changing now is how search results will be represented – “Any absolute prediction on what comes next will be a complete fabrication”.
Igaming challenges with SEO
Much like other industries, the igaming industry has its concerns over AI taking tasks away from humans, and how this will impact the overall quality of content. But Bianco believes this doesn’t have to be a concern because after all, “AI is not a replacement for humans”.
“The introduction of a robotic presence onto factory floors did not necessarily lead to the immediate displacement of human workers. While it is possible and does occur in certain cases, it is not a universal outcome.”
“Surprisingly, technologies that are often labelled as labour-disruptive can, in fact, safeguard and generate employment opportunities. AI can replace mundane tasks with tasks that require more skills.”
Whilst AI undoubtedly speeds up processes, analysing data quickly, relying solely on AI algorithms for SEO can be risky. Algorithms can change and an overemphasis on optimisation for algorithms might neglect the human aspect of content creation. Operators should strike a balance between AI-driven optimisations and delivering valuable, user-centric content.
As Bianco notes, “Expecting out-of-the-box AI SEO solutions to boost you to first position in the market will reduce in effectiveness as user bases scale. When we started GainChanger, we envisioned providing our proprietary tech to all.
“But the more we chewed on the idea, the more we realised that, if everyone has access to the same tech and processes, the competitive edge is eliminated which is why we converted our business model to an SEO tech agency.”
The implications of SEO without AI
According to a study by BrightEdge, at the beginning of 2023, 58% of marketeers planned to incorporate AI in their content – compared to just 10% in 2022.
The biggest advantage is that AI-powered tools can conduct comprehensive tasks by analysing vast amounts of data. This helps operators identify high-value keywords and uncover emerging trends, allowing them to optimise their content accordingly and stay ahead of the competition.
With Google softening its warnings against using AI-generated content, there are still operators that are using more traditional SEO strategies to get ahead of their competitors.
For Bianco, this no longer works, “I would say that the old school style of SEO is no longer reaping the same rewards in high competition markets,”.
“Successful SEO strategies for operators, on highly regulated and competitive markets require a full-stack marketing strategy in collaboration with affiliates, PR, media buying and full support from tech. It’s important to create those all-important marketing mix links and user traffic signals.”
AI can help with this by generating content ideas, writing drafts and even optimising content for SEO. Its natural language processing capabilities can help operators in the processes related to producing high-quality, relevant content that resonates with their target audience and performs well in search engine rankings.
Bianco underscores this, “A few generic areas where you can implement AI into your processes and benefit from cost savings would be SEO brief templates, content analysis versus search engine guidelines and data categorization.”
Getting SEO right: Knowing your toolbox
Whether you’re onboard with AI or not, it doesn’t replace the need for a full SEO strategy and data-driven process. Rather than focusing on the tools, Bianco recommends focusing on the process.
“SEO is a collection of processes defined through the experience of claiming positions on keywords in SERPs. SEO professionals tend to get too caught up in the new ‘shiny’ things rather than focus on the processes which generate results.”
Part of the problem is that businesses are spoiled for choice, with scores of tools available to help with content guidelines, taxonomy, predictive analysis and data categorisation but operators should heed caution against adopting a tool simply because AI is the new buzzword.
“Determine the processes which are resource and time intensive. If an SEO team focuses on determining whether AI features in a particular tool can help automate, streamline, or reduce the time it takes to run processes currently, then they can evaluate if the output is similar or better to using people. This enables the SEO team to roll out processes that are more efficient and scalable.”
AI algorithms can analyse large volumes of data quickly and potentially accurately. It all goes to enabling operators to gain insights into SEO performance, identify patterns and make data-driven decisions faster to refine their strategies and achieve better results.
Spot the difference: Human generated content vs AI generated content
According to Hubspot, of 1,350 marketers surveyed, 48% use generative AI to conduct research. Generative AI is advancing and developing all the time so is the line between human-generated content and AI-generated easily identifiable?
“The content industry is in flux. Content writing as it existed [just] a year ago is no longer the content writing reality we live in today. Not because the technology didn’t already exist but, with the release of ChatGPT, there was a noticeable increase in the adoption of this technology.” Bianco explains.
ChatGPT reached a staggering 100 million users just two months after its launch and is set to stay. However, according toBianco: “It’s anyone’s guess where we will land a year from now. One thing is for sure, low-quality, cheap content writers have almost been eliminated in some languages.”
His observation that human-edited content looks like the “more probable direction the industry is heading towards” will undoubtedly have writers worried.
“Copy-pasting content from ChatGPT is rarely going to satisfy your quality standards”.
However, while AI can assist in content generation, it can lack the creativity and unique perspective that human creators bring. Authenticity and originality are vital for engaging users and building a strong brand, something that is needed in the fiercely competitive gambling world.
“I do believe that search engines have a unique opportunity to reward expert authors as we wait and see how AI content is rewarded in the long term,” he notes. “Just copy-pasting content from ChatGPT is rarely going to satisfy your quality standards.
“To test this out, ask the AI to write an important email for you. Before sending it, how much do you need to edit the text?”
The ethical landscape: AI vs SEO
Beyond the creation of content, there are certain ethical discussions around the use of AI and especially the potential implications it could have on SEO. Black hat SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing or content automation, can harm the user experience and lead to penalties from search engines.
“AI’s not going anywhere,” says Bianco, “The problem with systems like search engines, is that people trust the top position. Therefore, when the top authoritative source at position one is replaced with AI answers which aren’t edited or validated by real people, the probability of AI misinformation or ‘AI delusion’ at scale becomes a real worry.”
So, can AI and the likes of ChatGPT work with SEO professionals and Google as opposed to fighting them?
“The debut of Google’s reaction to ChatGPT began on an awkward note when their unveiled chatbot, powered by artificial intelligence, provided an incorrect response in a promotional video.
“As a result, investors reacted by erasing over $100bn from the market capitalisation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”
Search engines are seen as a gateway to trusted sources of information and this could eventually detract from their business model if AI answers to questions are not factual.
“On the flip side, AI content is not the result of human input alone, but also publicly available content, intended to be presented to real users, not train an AI model. The better AI gets at compiling information and presenting it to the user in the search results, the less motivation the publisher would have to generate unique content, because they would generate less of their main reason for existing – relevant web traffic.”
It’s quite clear that relying solely on AI algorithms for SEO can be risky. Algorithms can change, and an overemphasis on optimisation for algorithms might neglect the human aspect of content creation. Bianco believes that operators should strike a balance between AI-driven optimisations and delivering valuable, user-centric content.
“The silver lining is the better AI gets and the sooner a balance is struck between facts, web traffic and training models, the sooner new and scalable online resources can benefit everyone.”
The future – will AI become the norm?
Ultimately, SEO is all about going above and beyond the competition, and integrating AI will help operators get to this goal faster. The potential pitfall? They will need to adapt to ever-changing strategies as the search engine landscape constantly changes.
“It’s not only something which will be used in SEO alone, but any profession which can benefit from data categorisation, labelling and process simplification. Marketing as a profession, will definitely integrate AI in different areas of the marketing tech stack.”
Does that mean that Google’s time as the number one search engine might now be up with the AI evolution? With Microsoft announcing new plans that are set to take 2024 by storm, SEO consultancies like GainChanger must stay ahead of the curve.
“Google has dominated the search engine industry for over a decade,” he explains. “It’s only natural that over time competitors will claim market share. But Google’s market share is so large, that their dataset is just superior. Even if other models are better, data is still king and right now, Google serves over 80% of all desktop searches.”
The larger threat to search engines as a whole is changing user behaviour. People will never stop searching for answers to their questions but the way they source the answer is shifting.
“Search results on Google have mostly, in presentation, remained unchanged for over a decade. People’s habits and attention are shifting to novel social technologies, as are their content consumption habits. Attention spans are shortening year on year and short-form video content seems to be the new go-to channel for the youth to get answers to their questions.”
Leveraging on-trend AI in SEO strategies can bring numerous benefits such as enhanced content research and efficient data analysis. However, operators should be mindful of potential drawbacks, including overreliance on algorithms, ethical considerations, lack of creativity and potential bias.
By embracing AI as a tool, focusing on user experience, staying informed and monitoring performance, operators can effectively navigate the evolving landscape of AI and SEO for their strategies. GainChanger is perfectly positioned to do so.
Sean Bianco, Co-Founder at GainChanger