A few ways AI can work for you

Although I’m excited to let you know about the publication this month of the fifth edition of my textbook on creating digital content, “Writing & Editing for Digital Media,” it is one of the stark limitations of the medium that this brand-new edition fails to meaningfully address the potential impacts of artificial intelligence. 

ChatGPT hurtled into our collective consciousness in November-December last year, just as the book was going to press, leaving time only to insert a mention.

Fortunately for me and hopefully for you, as well, this column runs every other week and just days after it is written, allowing me to present here what I am sure I will include in the sixth edition of WEDM in the next year or so, specifically, how to put AI to work to optimize the big search engines. For this helping of alphabet soup, we take SEO and add some AI.

Because it is the AI generator we thus far are most familiar with, I’ll focus here on ChatGPT, which I’ve really enjoyed exploring. Most recently, I used the free tool to help me appeal our recent property tax assessment, an exercise that made the news locally. I asked the generator to create a draft of an appeal letter, to do a comparative market analysis of our house, and to parse the obtuse jargon used by the tax office. (How do they sleep at night?) ChatGPT successfully completed all three errands.

Instruction on how to better maximize SEO has been in all five editions of WEDM going back to the first one in 2008. Here, now, we add the rather robust capacities of AI. My operating Sumptionon here is that you already have a website with content you wish to become more prominent in user searches for the stuff you sell. 

Ripe for the picking

Some of the low-hanging fruit here is entering that great content you already have into ChatGPT’s query box using prompts such as, “Could you please create a list of keywords or search terms for what follows?” (I know it’s a bot, but I try to be polite.) This exercise will generate top-shelf keywords, and keywords are the gold standard currency of digital realms. They appear in hashtags, meta tag content and headlines, to name just a few applications. 

If you consistently use the same accurate key words, each and every one of those uses further optimizes your search rankings.

Another rather pedestrian application is using ChatGPT to summarize your content, setting the parameters for these summaries in any way you prefer. Ask for, say, a 150-word summary in the form of a bulleted list, then present that condensed, bullet-form version online as a pull quote, abstract or summary. 

Art by Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan, CCO Public Domain

AI generators are (much) better at summarizing text because this distilling is the very heart of what they are designed to do. And, because they are natural language processors, the results often require very little editing. 

Once you have your approved list of keywords, use them to populate web page title tags and meta descriptions, both of which influence search rankings and click-through rates. By supplying ChatGPT with the approved list, the generator can provide you with a draft of a meta description and a title tag in seconds. 

It’s been astonishing to me to see how little context ChatGPT needs to return meaningful results, which also underlines the fact that the better your prompts, the better your results. 


You can also reverse-engineer content using the keywords you either already use or discover with a generator. For example, ask ChatGPT for keywords related to a handful of keywords you are already using, which is a shortcut for doing your own web searches for what other players in your category are using.   

Back in January, I wrote about ChatGPT’s utility in generating content ideas. “Imagine Siri and Alexa leaving the house to get their Ph.D.s in everything, then coming home to live in your computer and wait for your next writing or knowledge task,” I wrote, signaling AI’s potential on the front end of content development. “It will be something like hiring an above-average wordsmith and creative, but without ever having to hear demands for pay raises, complaints about coming in on a Friday, or threats to unionize.”

In my admittedly limited experience with the generator so far, its primary value has been at the front end of projects as a kick-start, an icebreaker, and a way to prevent writer’s block. These bots are really good at getting the creative process started. Look back to that earlier column to see some specific examples of story ideas and even the first drafts of stories that ChatGPT “wrote” for me. 

As you consider what content to create, even one good story idea can feed and morph into different sorts of content, all of them leveraging the same keywords. A web story appearing with some video or photography can easily be re-purposed into a blog post, distilled into a tweet with links, and promoted via Instagram and Facebook. It can publish in a newsletter or as a stand-alone email. 

For that same story idea, ChatGPT can help you write a video script, a press release, and, back to the beginning of this column, all of the summaries you might need to push on social.

Charts, charts and more charts

A few other content areas in which the generators can help are writing advertising copy, including calls-to-action, as well as FAQ lists and product and service descriptions. The same keywords developed for SEO should be used in these writing activities. 

Getting ideas for advertising copy is perhaps the simplest of these, and FAQ generation is not far behind. But, the streamlining of product descriptions strikes me as potentially the most valuable of all. 

I can remember so many furniture market cycles at Furniture Today for which we writers had to generate massive indices of all the new product coming at the next market (or, more accurately, what manufacturers at least said was “new”). We called them “charts,” and we were convinced no one read them beyond checking the entry for their own line. 

So many charts. Each and every March. Each and every September. Charts, charts, charts. (Shout outs to Powell, Jeff, Lee, Sheila, Larry, Tom, Heath, Nancy, and in memoriam, Susan.)

The tedium proved mind-numbing. How many ways can you meaningfully trumpet the functionality of an entertainment armoire or the dazzle of inlaid veneers? 

ChatGPT could have taken the tedium out of generating all of these pithy product descriptions, and ChatGPT will never complain about yet another furniture market cycle, nor will it take a really long lunch to avoid resuming its tasks. Not that we ever did that. 

If you’re using your keywords correctly, supplying them to ChatGPT in your queries, the results are going to be laced with those same keywords and, therefore, will further maximize your SEO in what might be described as a virtuous cycle. 

Metrics for success

Do anything in social media and soon you will be interested in analytics. I’ll save this topic for a larger discussion because these metrics are the proverbial weeds, but suffice to say here that ChatGPT is an asset in this realm, as well, especially in presenting the data in ways “lay people” can access and understand. 

Well, that’s plenty for now. The range of potential applications here is rather astonishing, and they are all basically free. 

What’s more, these activities produce ever-better results as you gain more experience writing the queries and seeing what kinds of results the generators can instantly provide. Find the person in your organization who loves language, who enjoys exploring the power of words, and set them loose. It will be this blend of human expertise and AI-driven natural language processing that will rule web, digital content creation and search.

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll covered the international home furnishings industry for 15 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He chairs the Department of Communication at Berry College in Northwest Georgia, where he has been a professor since 2003.

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