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Data is crucial in the SEO field. We all know that. But, knowing where the data comes from is equally as important, I would argue, because sometimes there are outside factors you need to consider when using that data in decision-making. One of those outside factors is a popularity boom. I was reminded of this with ChatGPT. ChatGPT and AI, in general, are all the rage right now. But, AI, and the capabilities that ChatGPT offers, such as writing content, are nothing new. There is a wealth of AI writing tools that people have been using to create content for quite a while. So, what happens when a tool like ChatGPT comes along and creates a boom in your industry? Here are three things I’ve learned from the ChatGPT boom that you can apply to your product or service the next time you’re in this situation:
- Be mindful of monthly search volume
- Be clear on what you consider a competitor
- Use the boom to your advantage
1. Be Mindful of Monthly Search Volume
Most tools calculate monthly search volume over the past 12 months. That means that you can have 11 months of all 0s and then one month of 120 MSV and you’ll still come out with only 10 MSV. That kind of math isn’t exactly helpful when your industry becomes an overnight sensation and searches are through the roof. To add to that, a lot of third-party tools are fairly delayed in their MSV gathering, which makes understanding a keyword’s true potential even more complicated during a boom. Let’s take a look at a few graphs to demonstrate what I’m seeing:
Let’s start with the keyword “ChatGPT”. Via a third-party keyword research tool:This screenshot was collected on March 14, 2023, and shows 0 – 10 monthly searches. I, alone, have searched for this keyword more than 10 times in the past month. So, I know that there is more to take into account here.Next, let’s look at the source of all MSV data out there: Google Ads.
Now, this is looking a little more realistic. But, you still have to keep in mind that the 12-month variable is still coming into play here. Let’s look at the MSV trended out over time:Now we’re talking: over 20 million searches in February. This is the kind of data we’re looking for if we really want to know the true search potential behind a popular product like ChatGPT that exploded overnight. Now, let’s take a look at how this may impact you and your current targeting strategy.
A popularity boom can impact your targeted unbranded keywords, too
Now that we’ve seen the importance of knowing how MSV works and what a true boom can look like, let’s apply that to a more applicable, unbranded keyword that’s seeing a spike thanks to ChatGPT: “AI writer”. This is a keyword that I’ve monitored and optimized for for quite a while. And, thanks, in part, to the popularity of ChatGPT, this keyword is seeing a bit of a boom as well. Firstly, in our third-party keyword research tool, we’re seeing 3.8K MSV. Now, compare that to Google Ads, and we’re seeing a slightly different story, with 22.2K average monthly searches and some significant highs in the past two or three months:This keyword was already on an upward trend due to a new, growing industry. But, from October (the month before ChatGPT launched) to January, this keyword’s search volume has seen a 309% increase from 14.8K to 60.5K. The delay in our third-party keyword research tool’s MSV gathering is clearly impacting this quite a bit and missing out on this recent boom.This is great to keep in mind for both opportunity and reporting purposes, because an increase in clicks and impressions for a keyword that’s seeing a boom like this may not always be due to an improvement in performance – sometimes it’s just an influx in demand and you were in the right place at the right time. Let’s take a look at how that can look in GSC:Average position? Pretty stable.
Clicks and impressions? Wildly increased.
This is what happens when you’re already ranking for a keyword that’s impacted by a tool like ChatGPT.
2. Be Clear on What You Consider Competition
With the explosion of a tool like ChatGPT, related products, like AI Writers are likely quick to call them a competitor. And, rightly so, as ChatGPT may be taking quite a few customers. But, when you work in a field like SEO, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize: unbranded keywords. And, in this particular situation, there is a variety of high-volume unbranded keywords that ChatGPT could but hasn’t began ranking for (as of mid-March). Let’s stick with the “AI Writer” keyword from earlier:
This SERP representation of “AI writer” shows that Open AI and ChatGPT are nowhere to be found in the rankings. For a big-picture look, you can also use a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer > Organic Competitors > Top Competing Domains report to understand how much keyword overlap there is between a popular tool like ChatGPT and your site there are. And, in this case, I’m not seeing ChatGPT competing with any of the top AI writer tools out there. So, there’s not a whole lot to be learned from ChatGPT from just an SEO competitor standpoint.
So, is ChatGPT a competitor to the wealth of AI Writer tools out there? Yes, in a business sense. Are they an SEO competitor? I say, “No”. At least, not yet. Could that change? Absolutely.
3. Use the Boom to Your Advantage
We already saw what a boom in your industry can look like for relevant, unbranded keywords like “AI writer” above. This can have a positive impact on your site just by simply doing what you’ve already been doing (assuming you have an SEO strategy in place and are ranking for the right keywords). However, is there more you can do to leverage a boom like this to your advantage? Definitely.There are already ChatGPT-related keywords popping up with interest, such as “ChatGPT alternatives”. In February, this had over 6K searches. So, if you’re a ChatGPT alternative, this gives you the chance to target a growing, high-intent keyword. It should also reassure you that a tool like ChatGPT isn’t going to assert complete dominance over the industry. There are already people searching for alternatives.
Know Where Your Data Comes From
In summary, I encourage everyone to be mindful of where data comes from and to always remember to look past the numbers – especially when your service or product is trending. A ChatGPT-level boom like we’re seeing in the AI writer space is doing more than just shaking up the industry – it’s shaking up the data, too. So, it’s important to be mindful of that so that we’re telling an accurate and consistent story with our data.
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