Jennifer Jones-Mitchell was joined on today’s Human Driven AI podcast by Winston Burton, SVP, SEO of Acronym to discuss the impact of GenAI on SEO, content, search ranking, keywords, automation, and more. You may also watch the conversation here.
The Discussion Includes:
- The overall impact of GenAI on SEO – now and in the future.
- How marketers can supercharge campaigns through AI automation.
- Does AI-generated content help or hurt a brand’s SEO.
- How do Search engines recognize and response to AI-generated content.
- If Content is the new Cookie, how does AI impact content?
- Winston’s top practical tips for marketers on leveraging AI in SEO.
This is a don’t miss episode for all marketers, advertisers, public relations pros, and anyone else who wants to make sure their brand connects with the right audiences through all search engines by leveraging Generative AI.
Listen to the Podcast Here:
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Here is a Video of the Conversation:
Here is the full transcript:
Welcome to Human Driven AI. I’m Jennifer Jones Mitchell. Let’s get into it. Today we have an exciting show. We have an amazing guest. Winston Burton is the SVP of SEO at Acronym. He’s a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal and he is one of the leading voices on SEO today. So Winston, it’s so good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Winston Burton (00:27.966)
Yeah, pleasure, pleasure’s all mine. I appreciate the time this morning and looking forward to having a fruitful discussion.
I’m excited! I mean, I know generative AI in SEO is a huge topic, but let me just start by asking you to give us just some insight into the overall impact of GenAI on SEO.
Winston Burton (00:49.998)
So to be honest with you, it’s definitely impacting everything we do, right? There’s new tools that are coming out. Like honestly, I can’t even keep up, but it’s definitely impacting things from three perspectives, right? Making us quicker, more efficient and smarter, right? A human could only interpret, you know, a certain amount of data. Why a computer could interpret things and analyze things at a much faster rate. I think it was like petrobites or something I’ve never even heard of before that. Computers are allowed to process information, which is of course, much quicker than a human could do. So it’s definitely changing things from an overall content perspective. A lot of agencies are starting to use from a content ideation standpoint, AI to help with finding ideas, what should I write about? Again, it helps pick things a lot quicker than if you were to do your standard keyword research and say, okay, Let’s say if you’re in the banking industry, what are the five tips to get a savings account or checking account or something like that? It’s definitely helping from that. In addition to short form content, definitely AI is great. For example, it takes an SEO anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to craft a good title tag and that description and some short form body content takes an SEO anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to craft a good title tag. The other could do that in two seconds, right? You just gotta edit it, you know, make it your home, make sure it’s useful, make sure it’s relevant and covers the brand voice and really what you’re trying to get across. So it’s definitely doing a lot of those things and taking the, I don’t wanna say the work out of work, but it is kinda taking the work out of work, right? It’s making us more efficient so we can focus on both our strategy and really getting things that really matter.
Yeah, I love that. I agree. I mean, I’m using it constantly, not just like you said, to create content, but to generate ideas and strategies and, you know, even things like how do I get more backlinks? I’ll ask chat.jpt that and it’ll give me recommendations. And I think that’s key because so many people are only using it to generate content rather than actually strategize. And that’s to me where the greatest strength is. But you mentioned content.
Winston Burton (02:54.375)
Winston Burton (03:07.372)
Now, as long as I’ve known you, you have said content is the new cookie. So does AI then supercharge that content?
Winston Burton (03:13.867)
Winston Burton (03:20.218)
I would say to a certain extent because you can get content a lot quicker. Whether it’s quality, that’s kind of questionable depending upon who you ask. I mean, Google came out with the helpful content update. It’s all about giving users what they need, what’s relevant to them, and what’s going to satisfy the information need. Nine times out of 10, you ask chat GPT or whatever kind of AI, large language model you’re using a question. It might not be factual. It might not be…
you know, exactly what you need. So you’ve got to kind of take it with a grain of salt and use it to your advantage and say, okay, it created this content, you know, in a fraction of, you know, a second, but I need to make it my own, right? I need to edit it. I need to make sure it’s grammatically correct. It’s factual, et cetera. So I think it helps from that perspective. But again, you got to do the fact checking, right? And if you don’t do that, you’re just putting, I don’t want to say crap, but if you’re putting garbage on the web.
You’re not going to rank well because it’s not going to satisfy users and needs.
Yeah, I mean, I completely agree with you. I’m telling everybody all the time that you want to think of Gen.ai as giving you that first draft because you cannot go with that draft. To your point, there could be incorrect information. Certainly it could be just not great information. Yes, because it’s all trained on the internet, which is full of bias. So, yeah, naturally.
Winston Burton (04:33.855)
You’re in a lot of bias as well.
Winston Burton (04:43.418)
Exactly, exactly. And not everything you hear on the internet or see on the internet is truthful, right? Yeah, it’s like my 15-year-old son, like I tell him something, he’s like, well, Google says this. And I’m like, wait a minute. Google’s great, but all that information that Google’s bringing back is not 100% accurate. So you’ve got to take some things with a grain of salt. Some things are good. But again, it’s the internet. So you’ve got to use wisdom.
Absolutely. Well, let me ask you this, because there is some confusion. I have heard from some people that Google will penalize, recognize and penalize AI generated content. And then other people say it doesn’t. So what’s the truth here?
Winston Burton (05:26.958)
So from my perspective, honestly, I think something is going to come sooner or later because again, a lot of people are just taking things straight from ChatGPT, straight from Jasper or whatever, whatever large language model they’re using and just placing it on their site, right? Again, going back to the helpful content update, if it’s not helpful, it’s not useful, it’s not relevant, you’re not going to rank well, right? Google has so much end user data. They know specifically what people want and what people need.
And again, if your content doesn’t meet those quality standards and give people what they want, you’re not going to rank well. You can’t just create content just for the sake of creating content, right? You got to create content that’s really going to satisfy some of these information needs. So if you’re not doing that, then you’re really not going to rank well.
Yeah, AI or not, if it’s not valuable, yeah. Okay. What about with keyword optimization? Does AI really help with that in terms of getting real-time data and feedback and being able to then adjust and assess quicker?
Winston Burton (06:15.494)
Winston Burton (06:31.65)
So I would say yes and no. So a lot of the AI out there right now is not in real time. The thing, the differentiation between Google and excuse me, Bard and chat GPT is of course Bart is using Google system, right? Which is bringing information back from the web. So I guess you could say that’s kind of real time versus chat GPT, that language model is kind of inhibited and stopped at 2021. So anything, if you were to ask, you know, chat GPT any questions on 2023 data, they’re going to give you the response, hey, I can’t go back. I can’t get that information and I only have information up to 2021. However, there are some plugins that you can integrate with ChatGPT to make it crawl the web. So in essence, it’s real time if you put in that plugin and that plugin is getting information directly from the internet as it happens, but straight out the box, it’s not going to be real time. And again, you’ve got to…you know, check that information.
What plugins do you like that do that?
Winston Burton (07:36.59)
Um, honestly, I honestly, I have not played around with that plugin too much. Um, a lot of it is like, from my understanding is from like WordPress and things like that, and there’s a couple other plugins that honestly, I just haven’t played around with it yet.
Okay, I know I’m using Yoast has got a new feature there that does that. check it out, let me know what you think.
Winston Burton (07:55.781)
Okay, great. Yeah, no, absolutely. I’m not really big on WordPress. I’m more of an enterprise level guy. I don’t really use WordPress too, too much, but it’s okay from my perspective. It’s not the most user-friendly thing in the world. But again, that’s just my own humble personal opinion.
No, I definitely agree with that. Well, okay, so I know that Google just announced this, I want to make sure I say it right, search generative experience, which shows contextual video and images as part of AI generated search results. What does this really mean?
Winston Burton (08:39.574)
So basically we’re in an age of visual search where typically going back to five plus years ago, the search would just be just 10 blue links or things like that. It’s dramatically changed. You have imagery, you have video, you have all these things that are coming into the search and the results. And again, it really depends on what you’re intending. So for example, my 15 year old son, he likes to cook, right? So if he wants to say, okay, how do I make a Jamaican beef patty, right?
he wants to see a video on how to actually do it. So, you know, a text, something like a text form, probably not gonna give you what you need. We’re in an age of visual search where, you know, if you could show, okay, these are the ingredients, this is how much you need to put in, this is how you set the time for the, you know, the oven or whatever you’re using, then that’s gonna go a long way because it’s a lot of, you know, things that you could visually see. And as humans, we like things that move, we like things that, you know, are different. So, instead of the same boring 10 blue links. Actually, it’s not even 10 blue links anymore. Google introduced the scrollish pages now. So if you look in the SERP results, you’re going to get a ton of different results. So I expect click-through rates are definitely going to change, depending upon the query, because again, it’s not just limited to 10 blue links anymore.
Hmm. Well, what do you think, like, do you have one or two practical tips that marketers can do to really amplify their SEO through AI right now?
Winston Burton (10:12.866)
Definitely be as descriptive as you can. I know that if you don’t get specifically what you’re looking for, ask you chat GPT or whatever you’re using, do they understand what you’re trying to get, right? Always refine things and, you know, ask it to write it in a way that’s more human-like instead of machine language. So there’s a lot of prompts out there that, you know, you could definitely Google and research that you could access to write it as that you’re human, and then it’s gonna give you much more
better written language like it’s coming from conversational tone like I’m talking to you right now. There’s a plethora of AI checkers out there that you could definitely check. You copy and paste in your content. Writer.com has one, Zero GPT has one, CopyLeaks has one. There’s a bunch of different tools out there that you could check, and it’s going to highlight all this information. Again, what these AI tools are looking for is patterns. If it finds a pattern or certain words that humans don’t necessarily use, they’re gonna be like, wait a minute, this is AI generated text, right? And I’ve seen instances of that, some tests that I’ve ran myself that you’re like, okay, yeah, I could see the patterns analysis here, right? So they’re using predictive analysis to be like, well, okay, yeah, this word doesn’t really make sense. It’s based upon patterns and things like that and machine would like rather than, I would write or you would write. So definitely check those tools and it highlights those areas that are AI generated and then I would go back and just make it yourself and make it your own, right? And then you go back again, you know, once you 100% modify what they’re saying is AI driven content, let’s say if they’re giving the score of like 30% or 40%, you know, you go back and edit it, you run it again and make sure it really sounds good. It’s really, you know, useful from an end user perspective. It gives the audience, you know, what they need. It’s visual and things like that. And then you should be okay. And then I would go back and just make it yourself. And then you go back again, you know, once you 100% modify what they say here, AI should be contemplated.
Yeah, I think that’s interesting. I love what you said because it’s so true. Every time I see something that is so clearly AI generated, it’ll always have that “in conclusion.” I mean, nobody writes like that, right? As soon as I see that, I’m like, okay.
Winston Burton (12:23.722)
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
ChatGPT wrote this. Yeah, I think a big part of it though is what you’re saying too, is making sure it sounds human and in your voice. I’ve been trying to teach people how to train ChatGPT, Claude, Bard, all these tools, how to replicate in your writing style. It’s so important. It really is, and it’s so easy to do. Just a refresher for our listeners here. All you have to do is
Winston Burton (12:48.819)
Upload some of your writing or your client’s writing to the AI, ask it to analyze that writing, name it, and then from now on, anytime you say, take this and put it into that style, it’s named, it knows it. Yeah, right? And then, and it sounds human then, it sounds normal.
Winston Burton (13:13.195)
Exactly. No, absolutely. 100%. Yeah, it definitely does. Absolutely. Yeah, even if you take an article, like for, I’ll give you a perfect example, right? So I recently updated my search engine journal bio, right? So what I had was it was okay, right? I wrote it myself, right? Not the best writer in the world, but you know, I’m okay, right? So I got it rewritten by ChatGPT. I was like, wait a minute.
They use words like robust and all these things. I’m like, wait a minute, this actually sounds pretty good. So again, it wasn’t anything long form, like 1,500 words or something like that. It was short form, it was probably like 300 words, but the way they made it sound, I was like, wow, this is actually pretty cool. It really sounds good. They like Winston’s lustrous career. And I was like, wow.
Winston Burton (14:02.814)
I wouldn’t use those words, but it sounds good, right? So again, if you’re doing like a bio or something like that, you wanna make it sound as good as possible. Like, hey, this guy’s on top of his stuff. He’s been doing this a long time, work with the world’s leading brands and things like that. So AI is definitely good to kind of prop yourself up and do things like that.
You know, along those same lines, I think also if you include the audience who you’re trying to reach, it’ll write for that audience. And even the goals, you know? I’ve had things where I let it know, what is the CTA here? Am I trying to drive them to, what is the action I want them to take? When you put that in there, then that starts getting woven into the output as well.
Winston Burton (14:29.294)
Winston Burton (14:47.622)
Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. The refinement is extremely important. If you don’t get what you want, give it more data, right? Because again, it’s a language model, right? It learns. So the more input that you can give it to get specific on what you want, the better the response is going to be.
Absolutely. I think Gen. AI, it doesn’t understand nuance. Yeah, you have to really be specific and talk to it like a six-year-old. And really say, this is what I want you to do. Well, that’s cool. Well, what do you think is coming down the pipe in terms of Gen. AI and SEO?
Winston Burton (15:09.279)
Winston Burton (15:15.479)
Winston Burton (15:19.238)
Winston Burton (15:27.01)
Definitely, I would say more automation in terms of task completion, more specifically with Google, I would say. For example, and I think there’s some evidence of this now, you’re going to be able to book flights. You’re going to be able to book trips. You’re going to be able to book a restaurant at your favorite restaurant, wherever you’re located in the world. You’re going to be able to do that. It’s just going to get better, in my opinion. We’re at the stage of…
Winston Burton (15:54.434)
You know, think about the dot com era when it first started out. You have business people who kind of understand technology people, but you know, they made it work. Right. And hence where we are in the stage of the internet. So apply that to AI. We’re in infancy right now. Large language models are going to get better. They’re going to be specific models that are out there. They’re going to be trained in, let’s say, for example, you don’t want to get medical advice from chat GPT, right.
You want a large language model that’s versed and trained on medical language, the most updated standards, right? So you have these specific verticalized models that are gonna be experts and trained on all the expert data in this particular vertical, right? So that is sort of like a supercomputer, right? Where you’re gonna be an expert in all things because you’re trained on all these specific models, right? So that’s the future in my opinion, that we’re gonna get better and it’s gonna be more automated.
I’m waiting for the tool set to catch up. As I mentioned initially that a lot of people are just creating tools just to create a tool. One of the things you need to think about is what business challenge am I solving? How is this tool going to solve a business challenge that I’m currently not getting with writer.com or jasper.com or whatever kind of software you’re using? I think if you could verticalize it and differentiate your product in a marketplace, then you’re
Winston Burton (17:19.57)
I think you’ll definitely probably get more users and differentiate yourself, but definitely going to be a lot of automation. It’s going to get a lot better and it’s going to be a lot of task completion and things like that could be done.
So interesting. And yeah, I think you’re right on, it comes down to getting the right Gen.ai tech stack. That’s something I’ve been really working with clients to try to help them do. And I think the biggest surprise that they have is that it’s not always about the shiny new thing. Sometimes your existing tools now have so many Gen.ai upgrades added to them, right? Right?
Winston Burton (17:40.659)
Winston Burton (17:50.963)
Winston Burton (17:56.514)
Oh yeah, absolutely. Look at Grammarly, right? Grammarly is a perfect example. And I used it the other day and I’m like, wow, this is really good. I thought this was really good. And I’m like, wow, everybody’s integrating AI into their workflows and their processes, right? So, if you’re not doing that, and one other point I’d like to touch on, for people out there who think that AI is gonna take their jobs, hey, that could be a real thing.
Winston Burton (18:25.01)
If you don’t learn to use AI, I got news for you. You might not be marketable in the future. So I tell everybody, embrace this stuff. It’s not going away, right? It’s here to stay. It’s here to basically think about it as your personal assistant, right? It’s here to make your life a little bit better and a little bit easier and a little bit more efficient. So if you’re not embracing it and not learning it, then you need to start.
Oh my god, you’re so right. And I always say, and I know I’m not the only one who says this, but it won’t be AI that takes your job, it’ll be the person who knows how to use AI, who will? Yeah, and that’s where we are completely. And you brought up Grammarly, I don’t know if you’ve been in Canva anytime recently, but Canva now, remember how much time we used to spend formatting decks? Canva, you put in your bullet points, you tell it the audience the topic,
Winston Burton (19:00.858)
Exactly, exactly, absolutely.
Winston Burton (19:16.554)
it has your brand kit, it will make a PowerPoint for you. A beautiful PowerPoint.
Winston Burton (19:26.73)
Wow, yeah, it’s scary. Honestly, it’s scary, the stuff that’s out there. We were making a Gantt chart the other day and I was like, why am I doing this by hand in Excel? I look for AI presentation tools and I found some and I was like, this is not what I need. However, this one’s good and that one’s good. I’m like, wow, it looks visually appealing, right? State of the art. And I’m just like, it did that in a fraction of a second. I’m like, wow, this is just amazing. And again, we’re at the tip of the iceberg
Winston Burton (19:56.902)
what’s going to be capable in the near future. So I expect more great things to come.
I do too. It’s such an exciting time. Everything, like you said, is changing so fast. That’s why I think it’s so important that people do pay attention. They read human-driven AI, listen to the podcast. But you got to stay on top of it. I mean, even it’s my sole focus to stay on top of this. And every day there are so many new tools that I’ll write a blog post or put together some article or something.
Winston Burton (20:08.599)
Winston Burton (20:16.967)
Winston Burton (20:23.926)
something will come out that’ll almost negate what I just came up with. So now I got to update. But that’s what makes it exciting though, because it goes back to what you said at the very beginning, AI is solving business problems for us.
Winston Burton (20:35.094)
Winston Burton (20:41.132)
Winston Burton (20:46.31)
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, there was actually one that I found the other day that actually helps you find leads from a business development perspective. And I mean, that’s, you know, the, you know, one of the livelihood of an agency is, of course, to find, you know, new clients all the time. Right. And, you know, there’s different ways to do this now. It’s not about, you know, getting on the phone and calling people anymore. I mean, those are kind of techniques that used to be used in the past. Now there’s AI tools that are actually helping you find leads who are
Winston Burton (21:15.874)
for people who are actually in market. And that’s the key. I mean, we all get, you know, I can’t tell you as an SEO from LinkedIn, I get at least 50 emails about guest posts. And I’m like, guys, if you send me one more post about guest posts, it’s like, I would just want to delete my account. It’s like, it’s just got in that. And I’m like, I’m not looking for services, right? If I was, I would have reached out to you. So it’s always about finding people that, you know, are in market, which these tools are actually helping to do.
Yeah, exactly. And like you said, making us quicker, smarter, the amount of data that even like a chat GPT or a clod or bard, you can just put a question in there to say, OK, this is what my company does. What are my competitors doing? I mean, it will find those white spaces for you strategically to.
Winston Burton (22:11.638)
optimize white space and drive new sales and develop content around what your competitors are not talking about.
Winston Burton (22:21.726)
Oh, absolutely. I got a perfect example for you. And I’m glad that you mentioned this, right? So we’re talking to a prospect the other day, and one of the questions we asked, like, how’d you find us? And he was like, here’s a story for you. I use ChatGPT. So he put in, I forgot the exact query, but I think he put in like top SEO and CRO companies, right? And we came up and I’m like, wow, he used ChatGPT to get…
Winston Burton (22:47.382)
you know, some information, of course, you know, it was back in, you know, 2021. But the fact is that this is a different discovery channel, right? And user behavior is going to change. Right. So people are, you know, using, you know, chat GPT and Bard and, you know, other large language model platforms that are out there, it’s changing. So you want to make sure that you’re actually allowing them to ingest your content and not blocking it from them. So, you know, they could crawl your information and get your information.
Winston Burton (23:17.346)
So just shows you that like, wow, it’s really insane.
Yeah, and what do people need to do in order to make sure that these tools do crawl their content?
Winston Burton (23:28.034)
So I know that there was an article that came out the other day. I believe it was like Google Bart or something like that, where they’re saying that there’s certain like robots commands that you could put in to disallow them from crawling your site if you want them. Because the robots.txt files the way that search engines look for to see specifically, okay, what could I crawl and what can I not crawl? So if you’re like a large site or you have like a bunch of duplicate content or
Don’t block this content. You could read this content, not read that content, et cetera.
That is so cool. And yeah, it’s such a good example of using these tools because I know so many people think it’s just about creating copy or generating an image, but it’s not. You can have real conversations with these tools strategically.
Winston Burton (24:39.166)
No, exactly. Yeah, and I think you said it right previously. Audience, who’s your audience, right? If you know who your audience is, you know who you’re trying to target, you know what they need, then your message should be compelling. Whether it’s integrated media, you wanna attack them from all channels, SEO, PPC, display, programmatic, et cetera. It has to be consistent, right? And people see the consistent messages, then they’ll probably convert.
I love it. I love it. This is so great. Well, thank you so much for joining me on this, Winston. I really appreciate it. You too, man. Definitely. Thanks. Bye.
Winston Burton (25:13.314)
You’re welcome. Thank you. It was a pleasure to see you as well. Absolutely. We’ll talk soon. Take care. Thank you. Bye.
If you need assistance understanding how to leverage Generative AI in your marketing, advertising, or public relations campaigns, contact us today. In-person and virtual training workshops are available. Or, schedule a session for a comprehensive AI Transformation strategic roadmap to ensure your marketing team utilizes the right GAI tech stack for your needs.Read more: Generative AI’s Impact on SEO: HDAI Podcast with Winston Burton
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