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Should I use ChatGPT for keyword research?

AI head

Should I use ChatGPT for keyword research?

Since ChatGPT was launched by OpenAI two months ago, there’s been more of a buzz than ever about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in our lives. Some have reacted with apprehension, while others have expressed excitement at the opportunities machine learning is opening up for us.

This week, a Search Engine Journal article has listed some ways the chatbot may be able to help us with search engine optimisation (SEO). The second point on the list especially caught my attention, showing that ChatGPT is able to assist with keyword research, and correctly identified that “basketball” would be a more competitive keyword than “twine net”.

I tested it to see what it could come up with in terms of keywords for a pet shop:


These suggestions all seem sensible enough, acknowledging the sort of products a pet shop is likely to sell and the searches people are likely to make that relate to the shop.

Being critical, one might expect that the tool would work out that pet shops cater to a range of animals and mention some of them in the suggestions rather than repeatedly use the word ‘pet’. If you had a pet cat, for example, you would be more likely to search for ‘cat food’ than ‘pet food’, as the latter might bring up results about food for dogs, rabbits, fish and other animals that were irrelevant to you.

I have noticed that ChatGPT can be somewhat generic with its answers. For example, here’s what it gave me in response to a completely different query – a list of celebrities who like ice-cream:


Ice cream is great, of course, so all these celebs probably do like it, but the chatbot doesn’t give any evidence or reasoning for giving these names. In fact, it just looks like a list of some of the most searched-for celebrities. I decided to challenge it on one of them:


As it happens, a search for ‘Adam Sandler ice cream’ does bring up a story about him ordering a cone in a Toronto, but ChatGPT’s explanation is wishy-washy and certainly wouldn’t pass as an academic reference. I was hoping for something more specific that could be checked up on, such as a time and source.

This makes me wonder how much of what ChatGPT does is guesswork. Its ability to come up with well-written, coherent and even creative content is impressive in my opinion, but I think it falls a little short in giving accurate, verifiable answers at present. Another weakness is that it’s only able to use material on the internet prior to 2021 to generate its responses, so that Adam Sandler story would actually not have come into its reckoning with it being published in July 2022.

The Search Engine Journal article emphasises the importance of “human oversight” when using ChatGPT, and I think that certainly applies to keyword research. Right now, it’s a great source of ideas and inspiration, so as a starting point it might generate something you hadn’t thought of. If you expect it to do all the work for you though, you’re asking for trouble.

At Engage Web, we find AI interesting, but we will always use our own areas of expertise to make decisions that help you bring more business to your website. To learn more about what we do, why not contact us?

John Murray

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