OK. We’ll admit it. ChatGPT is pretty cool.
Code writing, translation, problem-solving, content creation – all impressive.
However, there’s one task that ChatGPT is being hyped up for and it’s falling flat: keyword research.
But, they should be providing a proviso…
It could be a chat-astrophe!
While ChatGPT can be a handy free add-on for your SEO toolbox, it’s not a substitute for your go-to standard keyword research tools.
“Don’t use ChatGPT for SEO keyword research unless you love wasting your time!”Nathan Gotch – Gotch SEO
OK, we gotcha Gotch!
So, why exactly does ChatGPT fall flat when it comes to keyword research? Why would so many “experts” suggest using the AI platform if it’s such a big waste of time?
In this article, we explore the pitfalls and alternatives.
- ChatGPT is lauded for various tasks like code writing, content creation, but falls short in keyword research.
- Despite the hype, using ChatGPT for keyword research is not recommended as it’s not a replacement for dedicated keyword research tools.
- SEO professionals should exercise caution and not solely rely on ChatGPT for keyword research tasks to avoid wasting time.
What is keyword research?
In the digital marketing realm, effective keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy. It’s the compass that directs your content. Keyword research is a fundamental SEO task that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines.
Simply put, the aim is to figure out what people are searching for, then create webpages that target these words and phrases.
This helps in crafting a more effective SEO strategy, as you’re creating content that meets the needs of your target audience. It’s not a guessing game. Through keyword research, you can a better understand the preferences and concerns of your market, allowing for a more targeted and efficient approach.
AI enters the arena
The advent of AI tools, like ChatGPT, promised a revolution in this crucial task, automating the drudgery of keyword research. However, as with any revolution, it’s imperative to tread with caution.
Yes you can use ChatGPT for basic keyword idea generation. For instance, if you’re writing about “sustainable ecommerce,” you can prompt ChatGPT with:
“Provide keyword suggestions for a blog post on sustainable ecommerce.”
And these are the types of results you’d get…
Looks helpful, right?
We are getting suggestions like “Eco-friendly Shopping”, “Green Ecommerce Practices” and “Environmentally Friendly Checkout Processes”. However, it won’t provide search volume or competitiveness data, which is crucial for effective keyword research.
From the top ten results suggested, 60% are for search terms with zero Google searches per month in the UK (according to the Google Keyword Planner tool):
- Sustainable Ecommerce – 40 searches pm
- Eco-friendly Shopping – 30 searches pm
- Green Ecommerce Practices – 0 searches pm
- Sustainable Packaging Solutions – 110 searches pm
- Carbon-neutral Shipping – 50 searches pm
- Eco-friendly Product Sourcing – 0 searches pm
- Sustainability in E-retail – 0 searches pm
- Environmentally Friendly Checkout Processes – 0 searches pm
- Circular Economy in Ecommerce – 0 searches pm
- Renewable Energy for Online Stores – 0 searches pm
Is this really enough information to base a blog post on? Or an SEO campaign? Or to start a business?
Do you really want to spend the next six months trying to rank for the phrase: Environmentally Friendly Checkout Processes?
When someone tells you they’ve done extensive keyword research using ChatGPT 😜 pic.twitter.com/2hcSGE5m7E— Sara Millis, Freelance Content Writer (@IndieLifer) September 27, 2023
OK, calling ChatGPT “pants” is a little harsh
But it did give us the opportunity to use a fun feature image!
The suggestions from ChatGPT could be helpful. We have to say that. And there are many positive reasons why the platform is great. There is a free package, it’s a useful brainstorming partner and it’s easy to use
“Using ChatGPT for SEO essentially gives you an additional employee to brainstorm ideas with,” says Neil Patel. “And that employee happens to have instant access to content all across the internet.”Neil Patel
However, even with instant access to every scrap of content across the web, you need to dig deeper.
Solely employing ChatGPT for keyword research may lead to misdirected efforts, squandering valuable time and resources on campaigns destined to underperform.
While you chase after ill-advised keywords, your competitors might be capitalising on the real opportunities, leaving you in the digital dust. Dive into the subsequent sections to unveil why ChatGPT might not be your SEO knight in shining armour, and why proven keyword research methods and tools shouldn’t be ditched altogether.
1. Training cut-off limits and outdated information
A significant limitation of using ChatGPT for keyword research stems from its training cut-off, which ended in September 2021.
This means that ChatGPT’s knowledge base is frozen in time as of that date, and it does not have access to any new information, trends or developments that have occurred post-September 2021. This is particularly concerning for keyword research, a field that thrives on real-time, up-to-date data to identify current trends and consumer interests.
ChatGPT can provide suggestions based on the data it was trained on, but it cannot provide updated keyword suggestions that reflect recent market dynamics or consumer behaviour changes.
For instance, if there’s a new trending topic or a shift in industry jargon after September 2021, ChatGPT would be oblivious to these changes, and its keyword suggestions would be outdated or irrelevant.
While there’s a workaround by giving ChatGPT access to the web to fetch updated information (Bing now runs on GPT-4), it’s not a seamless solution. It requires an additional step and doesn’t change the fact that the core model itself is working with dated information.
The essence of effective keyword research is to tap into current and emerging trends to capture the target audience’s attention and meet their evolving needs. With a training cut-off that leaves it in the past, ChatGPT’s keyword suggestions could potentially mislead marketers and SEO professionals, steering them towards keywords that no longer hold relevance or value in the current market scenario.
Moreover, continually having to bridge this information gap by providing web access can be cumbersome and may not always yield accurate or useful results.
This disconnect from real-time market dynamics significantly hampers ChatGPT’s effectiveness and reliability as a tool for keyword research.
2. Dependency on accurate prompts
The efficacy of ChatGPT in keyword research significantly hinges on the accuracy of the prompts provided.
Unlike seasoned SEO experts who can intuitively navigate the nuances of keyword research, ChatGPT strictly adheres to the input it receives. A vague or ambiguous prompt often leads to a list of irrelevant or off-topic keywords.
The quality and relevance of the keywords generated are a direct reflection of the clarity and specificity of the prompts given. This heavy reliance on prompts may pose a challenge, especially for users unfamiliar with formulating precise and effective prompts for keyword generation.
3. Limited context understanding
ChatGPT’s ability to comprehend context is somewhat elementary, especially when faced with complex or nuanced queries.
Unlike human SEO experts who can infer meaning from a broader context, ChatGPT’s responses are confined to the immediate scope of the prompt. This limitation often manifests in keywords that are either irrelevant or misaligned with the intended context, thus requiring additional human intervention for refinement.
The deficiency in context understanding not only hampers the quality of keyword suggestions but also extends the time and effort required to attain a satisfactory list of keywords for SEO purposes.
4. Search demand discrepancy
A pivotal aspect of keyword research is gauging the search demand to ensure that the SEO efforts align with what the audience is actively searching for.
If you sell sheds and there are a thousand Google searches every month for “pink garden sheds”, it’s something you should look at. However if there are just ten searches, you might give it a miss. A decent keyword research tool can shed some light on this quandary.
ChatGPT falls short in this area.
The AI may churn out a list of long-tail or “easy-to-rank-for” queries, but these might not resonate with actual search demand. Without the ability to check the pulse of current search interests, the keywords generated could lead to a road less travelled by the target audience, rendering the SEO strategy ineffective.
This discrepancy underscores the importance of having real-time data and market insights, which are glaringly absent in ChatGPT’s toolkit.
Please try and keep in mind when you're giving out your super-engineered-prompt hacks for ChatGPT to do your SEO keyword research, that it's just making stuff up that sounds good and it's not actually based on what people are searching for. 🤡 pic.twitter.com/aLJ9dWDNk9— Mark Williams-Cook (@markcandour) October 6, 2023
5. Keyword difficulty analysis void
Keyword research tools provide more than just search volumes. Value, trends, SERP features – there are a plethora of helpful metrics at your fingertips.
One of the most important metrics is keyword difficulty. In the battlefield of SEO, understanding how competitive a keyphrase is to rank for is akin to knowing your enemy.
It’s a critical facet that helps in prioritising keywords that are not only relevant but also attainable in terms of ranking.
However, ChatGPT stands on shaky ground as it offers no insights into keyword difficulty or competition levels. This void leaves marketers blindfolded, unable to strategise their SEO campaigns effectively.
Without the crucial knowledge of how competitive a keyword is, investing effort and resources is a gamble. Imagine signing up for a boxing match and not knowing who you’re fighting – it’s going be Iron Mike!
6. Inaccurate keyword sorting
The effectiveness of a keyword research tool is often gauged by its ability to sort and arrange keywords based on various crucial criteria like topic, search intent and predicted competitiveness.
With so many options and countless metrics, knowing what to prioritise first can be a monumental challenge.
When tasked with arranging keywords based on these parameters, the outcome with ChatGPT is far from satisfactory, showcasing a lack of understanding and accuracy in evaluating the keywords.
This inadequacy not only hampers the efficiency of the keyword research process but also necessitates additional manual effort to organise the keywords accurately, defeating the purpose of employing an AI tool for ease and efficiency.
7. Falling short on trendjacking
Trendjacking is a creative strategy employed by brands and marketers to tap into ongoing internet trends, hashtags, events or memes. This is an amazing way to find keywords that standard tools don’t know anything about yet (also called zero volume keywords).
By aligning their content or campaigns with what’s buzzing online, they can engage their audience in a contemporary and relatable manner.
For example, the number of people searching for “AI Website Analytics” has skyrocketed in 2023. Incredibly, website analytics is forecasted to be an $11.2B industry by 2027.
Any brands that can jump on this keyphrase early can put themselves in prime position to profit from what’s to come.
In this instance, explodingtopics.com is the source of this intel. However, there are lots of ways to access this info – such as social media, community-based platforms, news aggregators, marketing tools, traditional news outlets and networking events.
Newsjacking not only garners attention but also brings a conversation to your brand, helping you connect with your audience or target audience in a new, resonant way.
In the realm of keyword research, trendjacking can be a goldmine. Identifying and leveraging trending keywords can catapult a brand’s online visibility and engagement.
However, this is where ChatGPT reveals a critical deficiency. The model’s training data is static, with a cut-off in September 2021, rendering it oblivious to real-time internet trends and buzzwords. Unlike dedicated tools that can provide real-time insights into trending topics and keywords, ChatGPT is stranded in the past.
8. Alternatives to ChatGPT for keyword research
While ChatGPT presents a novel approach, as you can see, it falls short on several fronts when it comes to keyword research.
If this is your only keyword research tool at the moment, it’s time to tool up. Here are 10 alternatives that hold their ground:
- SEMrush – A comprehensive suite offering a plethora of SEO tools including keyword overview and magic tool for varied match types.
- Ahrefs – Known for its in-depth keyword insights and competitive analysis.
- Google Keyword Planner – Direct access to Google’s data, providing approximate monthly searches and related keywords. Free is you have an ongoing campaign with Google Ads.
- Serpstat – A full-service SEO suite with a focus on keyword analysis and competitor tracking.
- KeywordTool.io – Known for its volume of keyword suggestions and competitor analysis.
- Moz Keyword Explorer – Offers robust keyword suggestions and predictive metrics.
- Google Trends – A free tool for tracking keyword popularity over time.
- KWFinder – A user-friendly tool with a focus on long-tail keywords.
- SpyFu – Ideal for competitive keyword research and tracking competitors’ keyword strategies.
- Ubersuggest – Provides a wide range of keyword ideas and insights into competition.
These tools come loaded with features that not only assist in unearthing valuable keywords but also provide insights into competition, search trends, and much more, filling the void left by ChatGPT in the keyword research arena.
Arriving at our key conclusion
The allure of AI in simplifying complex tasks like keyword research is undoubtedly tempting. However, as highlighted in this guide, ChatGPT falls significantly short of a reliable solution due to its various limitations.
Its lack of real-time data access, inability to assess keyword difficulty, and the absence of human intuition make it a less favourable choice for serious marketers.
As the digital landscape becomes increasingly competitive, reverting to tried-and-tested SEO tools or engaging human expertise remains a prudent strategy. It’s essential to channel your efforts and resources wisely to ensure your SEO campaigns are not only effective but also competitive.
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