I’ve worked with many e-retailers throughout the years I’ve been in this business. And if there’s one thing most of them stink at, it’s writing content.
Most understand that unique, well-written, and useful content is a key to landing their site in the top 10 at Google, but they can’t or won’t write that content themselves. Many don’t even prioritize hiring someone to write it. So they have site pages that are either textually empty, with little or no copy to convince shoppers to buy. And more importantly, potential buyers aren’t even finding the site because there aren’t enough words (or enough unique content) on it to convince Google that it’s worth sending people to it!
Or they have well-written copy that has been provided by their vendors, but is used on every other website selling the same products. So there’s nothing unique that Google can read and use to perhaps boost the site above its competitors.
If this sounds like you, then you may be wondering if AI-generated content is a good idea for your e-commerce business.
Let’s take a look at what AI content is, how it’s generated, and how Google feels about it. Then you can decide if this is something worth considering as part of your e-commerce marketing toolkit.
What is AI-Generated Content?
AI-generated content refers to any form of content that is created using artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning. This can include text, images, videos, audio, and other types of media. (This paragraph was written by ChatGPT…can you tell?)
For the purposes of this article, I’m specifically talking about AI-generated text. This can take the form of:
- marketing copy on your homepage or landing pages
- SEO-optimized copy on your category pages
- product descriptions
You could even use AI-generated copy in your social media, printed marketing materials, emails, and more.
It’s interesting to note that this isn’t truly “artificial intelligence”. Don’t start worrying that we’re steps away from the Terminator movies. Instead, AI-generated copy is created using algorithms trained on large datasets of existing content, allowing the system to learn patterns and structures that it can use to generate new content.
How Do You Create AI Copy?
By now, you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT. It’s a free-to-use program that uses language learning models to “write” copy based on prompts. You can create an account on the ChatGPT website and start using it right away.
There are other AI authoring tools as well, such as JasperAI. The market will likely continue to grow as demand continues to build. For now, we’ll focus on ChatGPT.
The way you create the text is to give the tool a prompt. For example, this could be something like “Write a 300-word introduction about widgets.” ChatGPT will spit out roughly 300 words the introduce the concept of widgets.
Now, my example a pretty basic prompt. The better your prompts, the better the output. And you can fine-tune the prompts within ChatGPT. This can get very involved, and there’s an entire concept called “prompt engineering” that is all about optimizing prompts to produce the right output.
If you want to learn more, there are lots of articles online about ChatGPT, but I recommend this course from Do You Even Blog (affiliate link). It’s chock full of information about learning to use ChatGPT and related tools, and in my opinion, a time-saver over reading various blog posts.
How Does Google Feel about AI-Produced Content?
Back in mid-2022, Google came out and said that they were against AI-generated copy, so many people have been scared to use it. However, as of early 2023, they have backtracked on that stance. Now, they’ve made a clarification that they’re against spammy AI-generated content, or more specifically, “text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience.”
Basically, that means you can use ChatGPT and Google won’t like it, or you can use ChatGPT and Google won’t mind one bit…it all depends on your approach.
Should I Use ChatGPT for My E-Commerce Site?
If all you want to do is churn out content regardless of accuracy or quality, then the answer is a resounding no. You don’t want to increase make sure Google sees you, only to have them see that you’re putting out crap. There’s perhaps no faster way to a nosedive for your e-commerce business than to get penalized by Google!
But there is a right way to use ChatGPT in any situation. Here’s how.
Step 1. Work on your prompts. The better your prompts, the better the content will be. There’s way more to this than just writing a single question or request.
Step 2. Review the complete output provided by ChatGPT. Remember that the tool isn’t actually intelligent; it can’t use your product and respond based on its experience. Instead, it gathers data and produces words based on other words already published online. Those other words might be wrong! So in this step, you’ll want to delete or correct anything that’s downright incorrect, or clarify anything that’s vague.
Step 3. Rewrite as needed to sound like your brand voice. AI-generated copy is fine, but it’s not great. And if you have a specific brand voice – whether it’s technical or humorous or persuasive – your results may not reflect that style. Use the content generated as more of a rough draft.
Step 4. Use a tool like originality.ai (affiliate link) to test your copy. It does an excellent job of determining how likely a passage is to have been written by a human versus by a computer. It will even highlight which parts of the passage are likely AI-generated, which can tell you which phrases/sentences/paragraphs need to be massaged. (The tool also checks for plagiarism, which is super helpful for a variety of reasons.)
By now you may be thinking, “Why bother using ChatGPT if there’s still so much to be done by hand?” The first few times you do this, it probably will take just as long as if you wrote everything from scratch yourself. But as you practice, you’ll find that you get better with your prompts, and better at rewriting, and that your workflow is actually faster as a result.
Plus, it’s a great way to get past writer’s block!
Like it or not, AI copywriting is here to stay. It’s just too powerful not to have staying power. As such, it’s something you should definitely consider in your toolbelt if you produce any kind of written content.
Have you tried ChatGPT or similar tools yet? Have you actually published the content on your e-commerce site or anywhere else? Let us know in the comments below what your experience is.