Perfecting prompts for SEO content development
Unlocking the power of prompts is key to supercharging your SEO content strategy, according to Shelly Fagin, director SEO, growth marketing at Credit Karma.
Well-crafted prompts have yielded remarkable results for Fagin’s team, with website traffic experiencing an impressive increase of up to 30%. This is why she says that perfecting prompts is essential for ensuring generative AI tools like ChatGPT deliver the best output.
But where should SEOs start and what qualities make a prompt perfect – or at least good?
Here’s a recap of Fagin’s top tips from SMX Advanced, as well as some prompts she has used for maximum performance.
Crafting effective prompts is crucial for generating unique outputs. Always assume your competition is also using ChatGPT and that it learns from the prompts you provide.
To stand out, be concise, provide detailed instructions, and avoid overly complex questions that can lead to confusion and deviation from your intended point. As Fagin explained:
- Be concise: “You want to be specific. I’ve found breaking prompts down into sections helps here as well.”
- Be relevant: “You want to make sure your prompts are relevant as ChatGPT is very conversational. If we’re breaking them down, we want to try to avoid introducing unrelated topics, even accidentally and it can go astray in your answers.”
- Be focused: “You want to make sure you stay focused. This should be very similar to being relevant but in your prompts. Avoid open-ended questions or prompts that are too broad. We want to be as specific as possible.”
- Be defined: “Avoid technical terms that might be known to us, but maybe ChatGBT just isn’t as savvy on understanding the context behind the term or the jargon. Instead of using the term, just be very specific about what it means instead. You’ll get a better output.”
Content optimization, writing and/or brief preparation
Use this eight-step prompt strategy for producing unique, high-quality editorial briefs using ChatGPT:
- Identify primary query/keywords and content topic.
- Scrape Google search results.
- Search intent analysis.
- Audience analysis.
- Content summaries.
- Title and descriptions.
- Missing topics.
- Content outline.
She explained that breaking prompts down into eight steps has significantly improved output quality for her team, although they may expand the strategy to 12-15 steps in the future.
While it might seem time-consuming, she stressed it’s still more efficient than creating briefs manually without ChatGPT’s assistance.
Due to limited resources, Fagin’s team wanted to automate content generation as much as possible, so they started exploring different tools. She shared the three tools her team values most:
Search intent analysis prompting
“How could you not start any creative or optimization brief without understanding the search intent?” Fagin said. She uses the following prompt for ChatGPT when she’s trying to understand what people are expecting when searching for different keywords:
- “I am writing A blog post. I want to analyze the search intent for this search term on Google. The Google search term is [insert keyword]. I want to understand what people are expecting when searching for this term.”
Fagin advised the audience to take note of her prompts and use them for themselves.
Fagin said she uses the instructions below in the same prompt:
- “The titles of the current top 10 results have been provided below and can be considered for analysis. It can be helpful to understand what is currently appearing on Google Search [insert scraped page titles from Google search for the target keyword].”
ChatGPT then “inserts all of the scraped page titles that came from that first step that actually runs in the background.”
ChatGPT understands intent categorizations – similar to tools like Semrush or Ahrefs, and so its analysis can include an intent categorization section where the intent is divided into four parts:
You want ChatGPT to produce its answers this format:
- Search intent analysis: For each search title, determine what people are looking for when they are searching for the keyword and provide a classification by search intent.
- Intent categorization: Mention the four intents and provide reasoning on whether the search is suitable for that intent. And intent categorization.
Audience analysis prompting
Audience analysis helps you to understand what kind of reader you should be targeting, Fagin said.
To get ChatGPT to assist you with this when writing blog posts, she advised using the following prompt:
- “I am writing a blog article which is centered around the keyword [insert keyword]. I want to understand what audience to target in my blog post.”
Combine your knowledge of keywords with the insights you’ve gained from your search intent analysis, Fagin said. This analysis should encompass the ultimate search intent and specific audience information.
- Final search intent.
- Relevant insights about the audience.
- Gender breakdown of readers.
- Age range of readers.
- Geographic location of readers.
- Interest and hobbies of readers.
- List of longtail keywords to mention in the article for the target audience.
You can then prompt AI to analyze based on these findings.
Content summary prompt
You can use your own article as input. Alternatively, you can enter the URL of the article that currently ranks number one for your target keyword.
The goal is to outperform them, so you want to request a well-organized summary that covers all the essential topics, with a length between 500 and 1,000 words.
To do this, Fagin advised using the following content summary prompt:
- “I want to summarize an article on [insert target keyword]. The name of the article is [insert page title]. Provide a well-structured output that covers all topics mentioned in their articles.”
Title and description prompt
This aims to improve the title and meta description for your blog. Use elements from your existing title or the title itself.
The aim is to create better content that targets the keyword and outperforms the current one.
Fagin recommended using this exact prompt:
- “I want to optimize a blog article’s title and meta description. The current title is [insert title] and the current meta description is [insert meta description]. The article is centred around the keyword [insert keyword].”
Fagin stressed the importance of giving AI clear instructions and urged using one of the following prompts below for improved titles and descriptions:
- “Use the insights from the search intent analysis for the keyword. Give me 5 blog titles that are tailored towards this audience. The blog title should mention the keyword or variation of the keyword and stand out in the search results and be up to 60 characters long.”
- “Give me 5 meta descriptions for the article. Use the article summary provided below to produce meta descriptions. The meta description should mention the article keyword, be clickworthy in Google search results and up to 150 characters long.”
Fagin added that you can change and tailor these prompts as you see fit, depending on what makes sense for your brand and company.
Fagin then explained how to tell ChatGPT to format the results using this prompt:
- “Please answer in the following format.
Do this for each of the elements, title and the description, she said.
Missing topic prompts
You can also instruct ChatGPT to include additional information and what approach it should take for writing the copy, which Fagin said “really elevated our output”, using this prompt:
- “I want you to act as an SEO and a topic expert on [Insert Your Topic]. Your task is to add additional information in an article that is centred around the keyword [insert keyword].”
- “The article outline and content of the article that has been provided below. I want you execute these tasks in the following order:
- Suggest 10 new additional topics relevant to the keyword, and this new topic should enhance the article by providing more depth and value to our readers.
- Explain why each new topic is important and how it contributes to the overall understanding of the keyword.
- Recommend appropriate locations within the article to insert each new topic, ensuring A coherent and well structured flow of information.”
Content outline prompt
The prompt below tells AI to act as an SEO strategist with the goal of enhancing an existing article structure by including the topics previously identified in the outline:
- “Act as a SEO content strategist on [insert topic]. I am optimizing an article for the keyword [insert keyword] and I want to improve the current outline and insert missing topics within the current outline.”
Fagin explained there are even more instructions that can be used to improve content further still, which she said could be “really helpful” for editors:
- “Provide the current outline in a structured format with headings and subheadings. Separate the headings with lines and provide indentations for subheadings.”
- “Add the additional topics to the current article outline and suggest a new content outline in a clear and easy-to-follow format for the reader.”
- “In the new outline, mark which topics are new and which were existing in the previous outline.”
- “Provide any additional suggestions on how to improve the outline.”
General prompting tips
Fagin went on to share some useful advice to make your prompts more effective:
- Incorporate a surprising fact or statistic: “You always need to verify the accuracy. If statistics don’t exist or ChatGPT doesn’t find them, it will make something up. So make sure you have experts who are reviewing and verifying any kind of fact or statistic.”
- Ask it to use an analogy to explain complex concepts: “I am awful at analogies, so this has been a godson for me!”
- Ask it to act as a journalist, accountant, SEO, etc. “Whatever makes the most sense for your content in your topic, ask ChatGPT to write in that style.”
- Write in the voice of…: “A lot of companies have a voice for their brand – I know we certainly do. So you want AI to learn how you write and write in the style of your brand.”
- Ask for suggestions to improve the content: “Once you’re done, ask for suggestions on how to improve your content. These may not be great but you just never know.”
Warnings and disclaimers
While AI can boost your SEO strategy, there are still some concerns, Fagin said:
- “ChatGPT can sometimes write plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers, so please fact check.”
- “The model is often excessively verbose. It often overuses certain phrases, and it tends to restate things. So watch out for this.”
- “This should be pretty self-explanatory, but please invest heavily in expert editors to edit your copy to vet and verify your claims and any content that’s being produced by ChatGPT.”
- “Whatever you put into ChatGPT, it learns. And so it could potentially expose that information it’s learning to others. So consider a self-contained version for corporate privacy. That is how we work.”
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Key benefits so far
Fagin concluded her presentation by outlining the key benefits her team have seen since implementing the prompts she had shared:
- 6x increase in our brief velocity: “This honestly will probably continue to improve. Our copy-editing team has been at capacity for a really long time and we have a backlog. So we just haven’t had the time to create that many briefs. But I’m sure once we are able to have more resources, we will be able to increase our current velocity tremendously.”
- Improvement in overall brief consistency: “This process has been honestly life-changing because it allows us to hand off very consistent outlines and creative briefs to our editorial team, which I think has been just fantastic overall.”
- 30% traffic increase from AI briefs: “These are very early results as we switched over to utilizing our AI briefs in the last five months. We are very excited about the improvements and I expect that to keep going up.”
Watch: Perfecting prompts for SEO content development
Below is the complete video of Fagin’s SMX Advanced presentation.