The rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) has been at the forefront of technology advancements, pushing boundaries and impacting various industries in a multitude of ways. Among these, the link building industry is on the verge of a significant transformation, fueled by the emergence of generative AI technologies like GPT-4.
This article explores the potential influence of generative AI on the link building landscape, including the benefits, challenges, and ethical considerations that come with embracing these cutting-edge tools.
From automating content creation to identifying high-quality linking opportunities, we will delve into how generative AI has the potential to redefine traditional practices in the link building industry, while emphasizing the need for a strategic approach to maximize efficiency and maintain ethical standards.
Did that intro bore you? Did it sound a little different from my other content? Or just a little “off”?
That’s because I didn’t write it. Neither did any other human. ChatGPT wrote it.
But here’s the thing: It took ChatGPT less than 10 seconds to write that intro.
And if you look closely and think critically, you’ll see that it’s better than about 90 percent of the content you see on the internet.
A few months ago, no one even knew what ChatGPT was. People thought generative AI was a gimmick that produced laughably bad outputs. And that was true.
Now, the game has changed. And it IS going to change the link-building industry.
But not in the ways you might imagine.
Below, I’ll walk you through all the ways link building will change thanks to ChatGPT and advancements in AI technology.
ChatGPT is an AI model. A company called OpenAI developed it.
It’s meant to help users with a wide variety of language-based tasks: answering questions, giving ideas, compiling information, writing web content and even coding.
OpenAI released ChatGPT in late 2022. Since then, it released another version based on a new iteration of the GPT language model: GPT-4.
I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT since it first came out. And let me tell you: It was impressive at first. But it got A LOT better with GPT-4.
And that happened in just a few months. This is going to keep happening. It’s going to keep getting better.
I totally get why people are worried. If you’re a writer, for example, you’re worried that ChatGPT (and AIs like it) may one day be able to produce better content for you — at a fraction of your price and in a fraction of the time.
If you’re a developer, you’re worried it’s going to learn how to code better than you. Faster and cheaper, too.
Almost any industry where you use your mind could face similar impacts. I’m no psychic — I have no idea what’s going to happen in terms of AI’s impact on various fields of work.
But I’ve been doing link building for a long time. And I think we’re DEFINITELY in for some changes. On the other side of those changes, though, we link builders are going to be better.
We’re going to get our jobs done faster. We’re going to build more links. We’re going to scale. Because the smartest of us will embrace AI and its power to make us superhuman.
Before we go any further, we need to clear something up: Is it even safe to use generative AI like ChatGPT in any SEO-related context?
A few months ago, the answer was no. That’s because Google’s stance on AI-generated content was completely against it.
(Google never said you shouldn’t use AI for other purposes, by the way. They just didn’t want spammy AI content littering the internet.)
But guess what? ChatGPT changed things. Now, Google has softened its stance on AI-generated content.
I won’t make you read their new guidance. It’s pretty boring. But here’s the takeaway:
“Appropriate use of AI or automation is not against our guidelines. This means that it is not used to generate content primarily to manipulate search rankings, which is against our spam policies.”
In other words, if what you’re producing with ChatGPT is genuinely helpful and unique, Google doesn’t really care that you used AI to do it.
So let’s put that to bed. I’ve heard a TON of people say Google is going to penalize everyone who is using AI right now. That’s their way of avoiding a difficult topic.
Google has made it clear that they still prioritize quality. They don’t care about AI in particular (although they are weaving it into their own systems at a rapid pace).
So far, we’ve mostly talked about online content — not link building, specifically. That’s because content is central to the link building equation:
Guest posts are content. You have to have content on your website for people to link to it. Great content attracts more backlinks.
Other websites have to have content in order for you to get niche edits.
You get the idea.
But link building is also MORE than content. It’s about processes. Research. Intuition, even.
ChatGPT isn’t GOING to change all of that. It already has.
We’ll get into use cases in a moment. But for now, is ChatGPT and AI in general going to change link building?
Yes. Without a doubt.
But does that mean link building will be irrelevant in six months, a year, five years (pick a time frame)?
Google and most other search engines still rely on links as key indicators of quality in their algorithms. That’s not going to change any time soon.
And if everyone starts using AI to aid in the link building process, we’re all on equal footing. We’re all using AI (and those who don’t will fall behind).
How do you stand out in a world where EVERYONE is using AI to build backlinks? By adding a little human brain power to the mix.
We’ll all be AI-assisted. And those of us who embrace the technology early will rise to the top of the new normal in the world of link building.
Believe me: I’m not anti-AI. In fact, I’m for it — when it’s used responsibly.
What we DON’T need is AI polluting the already-polluted internet with more crappy content. What we DO need — at least in the link building industry — is a way to scale.
So, let’s look at some use cases. Here are some ideas of what ChatGPT can do for link builders:
I love this use case because I HATE making content briefs.
In case you don’t already know, content briefs help (human) writers understand the type of content you want them to create. They cover things like keywords, word count, tone, approach, topics to cover, what not to cover, and much more.
And they take a lot of time to create.
But ChatGPT can create content briefs in a fraction of the time it takes a human. And they’re pretty damn good.
They do need some touch-ups to make sure the details are all right. But you can easily save 20 minutes per content brief if you let ChatGPT help.
Pro tip: Take some time to “train” ChatGPT on what you typically include in a content brief. You can even paste an entire content brief you’ve created into the tool. Then ask it to remember what you’ve included and include those items in future content briefs.
I’m a firm believer that truly great content needs a human touch. Excellent, creative human writers have nothing to fear from ChatGPT.
But writers who simply find an online source, paraphrase it and call that content writing do have something to fear.
(Sadly, that’s at least 75 percent of professional writers these days.)
That’s because ChatGPT can do that in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the mistakes.
Seriously. Try it yourself. Ask ChatGPT to write a basic informational article on a topic that’s been covered elsewhere.
You’ll get a decent first draft. Not a high-quality piece of content that’s ready to publish. But a first draft you can work with.
And you can use that first draft. You can edit it. Refine it. Add to it. And then you have something great.
Meanwhile, you’ve saved time and, probably, money. (ChatGPT’s paid plan is only $20 per month at the time of this writing.)
A big part of link building involves manual outreach. You might send dozens of emails a day:
These emails tend to be fairly formulaic. But they still take a fair amount of time.
You can probably guess what I’m going to say next: ChatGPT can speed this process up for you. Massively.
Just check out this prompt:
And ChatGPT’s answer:
It continues on for a bit. And honestly, it’s usable. I wouldn’t send it as-is. But I would tweak it and send it. And save myself several minutes of work in the process.
Those minutes add up.
What takes up the vast majority of a link builder’s time? For me, the answer is always the same: Filtering out the spam and finding high-quality websites to get backlinks from.
Seriously — it takes years to build up a cadre of sites that provide high-quality, reliable backlinks.
I want to make something really clear: ChatGPT CANNOT do the in-depth research and online footwork it takes to suss out the truly great backlink sources on the internet.
But it CAN give you some basic starting points. So if you’re entering a niche you’re unfamiliar with or simply need a little help getting the gears turning, ChatGPT is a fantastic option.
I put it to the test for the purposes of this article. I asked ChatGPT to “Please suggest five websites that could provide good backlinks for a law firm’s website.”
Here’s what it said:
Those are obvious to anyone who’s been in the legal SEO field for a while. And it’s easier said than done to get a link from the American Bar Association.
But it’s a decent list. And if I were completely new to the law firm link building game, it would have given me some solid starting points.
We won’t get into the great guest post debate here. For my purposes, guest posts can be done the right way or the wrong way. And I do them the right way.
But that means coming up with a TON of guest post topic ideas. These ideas have to be relevant to the topic at hand and interesting or unique enough to convince a website owner to publish them.
They’re not easy to come up with. But ChatGPT can do a pretty great job at generating guest post topic ideas if you give it enough context.
Here’s a simple prompt I used to ask ChatGPT to give me some ideas for guest posts for a law firm:
“Please give me five ideas for guest posts that could help a law firm website get backlinks.”
And it gave me five pretty decent topics:
Not only that — it gave a brief overview of what each guest post should be about. Here’s what it provided for the first guest post topic idea:
“Share valuable insights and advice on handling personal injury cases, emphasizing the importance of skilled legal representation and offering guidance on the steps claimants need to take for a favorable outcome.”
Not bad. And the topics would have been better if I had specified what type of law firm I was guest posting for.
If you give ChatGPT enough to work with, it can do basic reporting on your link building results.
For example, if you generate a backlink report in Ahrefs or Semrush, you can give the results to ChatGPT and ask it to summarize the progress or do basically anything with the data.
If you do a lot of reporting on link building, you can get creative with this functionality. And it can save you a ton of time.
ChatGPT is impressive. But it’s not the end-all, be-all of link building. Here’s what it can’t do (yet).
ChatGPT was trained on knowledge that was current as of September 2021. So if you ask it for information about a particular website, it won’t know anything about the last two-plus years.
That’s not super helpful if you’re trying to research backlink prospects.
Maybe my content standards are too high, but honestly: ChatGPT is NOT capable of creating ready-to-publish content.
It can do a lot of the work. But you still need a human editor to take it over the finish line.
It’s just boring. And lifeless. And lacking expert positioning. Who wants to read content like that?
I’ll grant that GPT-4 was a huge step forward. But even then, I wouldn’t be comfortable publishing anything ChatGPT gave me without heavily editing it first.
The content quality is one thing. But accuracy is another big one.
ChatGPT’s OWN interface has this little disclaimer at the bottom of every single screen:
“ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.”
You know when you’re thinking about asking a particular website for a backlink and something just feels off? Maybe it looks spammy or something feels missing.
It happens to link builders all the time. And we trust our gut to serve our clients.
The problem for ChatGPT is that it doesn’t have a gut to trust. It just has cold, hard facts. It’s a computer, after all.
So it can’t see those subtle signs of a bad link prospect. You still need a human to do that.
A big part of great link building is about making connections with people — website owners, journalists, bloggers, other link builders.
ChatGPT doesn’t make connections. It provides answers and completes tasks. And that’s great. It’s just not enough to build rewarding professional relationships — the kind that yield great backlinks over time.
The world is always changing — especially the world of link building. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen that AI is starting to make it change faster.
I don’t know what’s to come. But all signs point to continued progress with ChatGPT and similar AI models.
And I’m going to embrace that. It’s going to turn me and my team into link building superhumans (cyborgs?).
We’re already great at building incredible backlinks that get results. And we’re going to harness the power of AI to become even greater.
If you’re a link builder — or any sort of professional, really — you should embrace it, too.
Keep reading: Link Building for Beginners: What You Need to Know
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