6 min read

I've Given up on SEO in The Age of GPT

Your authenticity can never be replicated by a large language model (LLM), no matter how many parameters it was trained on.
I've Given up on SEO in The Age of GPT
Photo by BoliviaInteligente / Unsplash

There is no denying that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important for ranking in Google Search Results, but why bother when we have all this newly generated GPT content? Why put in the effort to find keywords to rank for and then use them in H2 headings, or make sure to use the SEO keyword or phrase in your opening paragraph? Why spend all this time when it's just noise?

I say it's noise because I've been experimenting with GPT-generated content on my various Internet properties. On Medium I posted GPT-generated satire stories that were funny but not popular. My favorite one remains the Ted Nugent one. On my other blog, I asked ChatGPT to write an article on how to use scale niche websites (another SEO trick).

I Asked ChatGPT4 To Tell Me How to Hyper-Scale Websites For Profit
ChatGPT4 is amazing technology and this post was entirely written by it.

Both articles were well written but definitely not in my voice. They're bland in style and something I would expect a computer to spit back at me. Of course, if you're an SEO guru that makes a living from clicks, then GPT might be the best thing for you. For the rest of the Internet community, it might now be such a good thing.

In my Navigating Through the Garbage Data World article, I wrote about how GPT-generated content risks becoming garbage data that future AI models train on. This, inadvertently, weakens the signal in a raging sea of noise.

There is so much content being generated every day that we humans can't keep up. This is a perfect use case for the machines to step into if you want to remain ranked at the top of Google, and that's exactly what's happening.

The reality is that SEO has become a constant arms race. Google makes changes to their indexing algorithm and every SEO professional tries to figure out a way to capitalize on it. That leads to the gamification of content and makes it harder to read or find anything on a website. The whole goal for any SEO professional is to get your site to rank and have people click on your links.

Your authenticity can never be replicated by a large language model (LLM), no matter how many parameters it was trained on.

Coupled with the fact that nearly every SEO-optimized article I come across is hard to navigate and find what I'm looking for, SEO professionals are doing their job. They're forcing me to stay on a site longer than I wanted to.

It also drives me crazy. Gone are the days when I can search for a well-rated recipe on how to make Mac and Cheese from scratch. Now I have to wade through multiple H2 sections with an image every 300 words or more on a 2,000-word article when a 500-word one would suffice. SEO has created content bloat and with the advent of SEO GPT-generated articles, the Internet will become a clogged cesspool of content.

Become a dentist, not an investment banker

Years ago I read Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Taleb. For anyone that likes reading about probability, distributions, and applications of mathematics to the financial system, it's a good book by a sometimes controversial man.

The two main points of the book are that human beings:

  • Overestimate causality, e.g., they see elephants in the clouds instead of understanding that they are in fact randomly shaped clouds that appear to our eyes as elephants (or something else);
  • Tend to view the world as more explainable than it really is. So they look for explanations even when there are none. (via Wikipedia)

The other (paraphrased) parts that aren't often discussed outside of Nassim's interviews are these:

  1. You should go to every party you can because you never know who you will meet and learn of new opportunities
  2. If you want to get rich, be a dentist instead of an investment banker

These two points are from my fuzzy memory but I'm often reminded of how important they are in my life. I'm not a dentist but I understand the sentiment of being the best dentist you can be. You should dedicate yourself to a valuable skill instead of relying on luck.

You should work hard on becoming the best writer and content creator you can be. Work hard on it if it makes you sing, and above all, be social. Go to parties and social functions. Talk about your work or that book you are writing. Listen to other people about the painting they created or the music they've written. I've met many interesting people and have made new friends that have opened many opportunities and doors for me.

What does this have to do with SEO GPT-generated content? Everything. Right now the Internet is taking sides. If you are a writer or content creator that's honest, genuine, and interesting, you have a competitive advantage over all the SEO GPT-generated garbage. Your authenticity can never be replicated by a large language model (LLM), no matter how many parameters it was trained on.

Granted the content waters will be muddied for a while as we start testing the limits of the Infinite Monkey theorem, but it's a great boon for smart content creators.

Why create content with the same style of content as everyone else? Why worry about GPT-generated content and how it affects SEO? If you ask me, I believe that SEO will matter less in the future. What will set you apart from everyone else on the Internet is for you to think different and be different.

Passion matters

My daughter wanted to be an animator. She's a very bright young woman with strong artistic skills. She taught herself basic animation and would make TikToks of her characters. Sometime during high school, she started to investigate what a career in animation would look like in college.

We were on a campus visit at DePaul University in Chicago earlier in the year when we stumbled across a guest lecture on animation. It was open to students and faculty, but they let us sit in and listen as she was accepted there.

The guest lecturer was from a small animation studio in Ireland and he gave a wonderful presentation. During the Q&A session, the topic of what students could expect in the field when they work in animation came up.

SEO and GPT have become noise, focus on your signal

Without skipping a beat he said, "Expect to be passion exploited." That elicited gasps from the students in the audience. The guest lecturer continued to explain that often new animators will be forced to work 16-hour days with low pay for the "experience" or "joy of working on a cool animation."

After the lecture, we sat down for lunch and talked about what we heard. She was disappointed because she believes she should be paid for her hard and creative work, not be exploited under the guise of "this is your passion."

We both agreed that passion does matter, but it's easy to be exploited. Passion is what drives a photographer to work harder to get the winning shot than a casual photo snapper.

Passion drives a writer to spend working into the wee hours of the morning, long after her bedtime.

Passion is what drives a woodworker to spin another piece of wood on the lathe and perfect his turned bowls.

Passion is what drives a programmer to build a coin-collecting app because he loves finding rare coins in pocket change.

Passion is, and always will be, what drives us forward if we truly want to make a mark on the world.

If you are passionate about your chosen craft then you know it's your work that speaks louder than any extraneous "stuff" around it. You realize that thrift and being unencumbered is what supports passion, everything else is just noise.

Your passion is the signal and it must be free of noise.

More signal, less SEO noise

I began this essay with the premise that SEO no longer matters in this GPT-generated content world, and I believe it to be true. SEO might be important and I would be remiss in discounting it, but I think what's more important is pouring your passion into your own generated content. What matters more is the signal you bring to the table.

Your hard work on your craft and the desire to be the best you can be can never be replicated by a machine. SEO and GPT have become noise, focus on your signal. Be authentic and speak your truth.

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