If you haven't heard of ChatGPT in the past few weeks, where have you been?
What is ChatGPT?
Part of Open AI, ChatGPT is a chatbot that interacts with your questions in a conversational way.
Who is Open AI?
Open AI, an artificial intelligence research laboratory based in San Francisco, claims to conduct research in the field of AI, with the primary focus of promoting a friendly AI that benefits humanity. ChatGPT is one of Open AI’s projects, along with others you may have heard of such as DALL-E, an AI system that can create realistic images and art from a written description.
When did the ChatGPT software launch?
ChatGPT launched on 30th November 2022. Over one million users registered to interact with the service within the first five days of launch.
What can this AI chatbot do?
ChatGPT is currently free to use. It interacts with you to provide content on any subject. The internet’s biggest brains have already put ChatGPT to great use. In this article we’re going to look at just a few of the great things ChatGPT can do.
Writing website content using ChatGPT
Writing copy for a website can be time-consuming when approaching the project from a standing-start. Using ChatGPT allows us to generate ideas to kick-start the process. By asking the right questions we can receive content suggestions from ChatGPT, particularly when looking to create the structure of a blog article.
ChatGPT will write the full page for you if you ask it to, but we don’t recommend doing this for a number of reasons which we’ll get to later.
Using ChatGPT to generate keyword ideas
Let’s say we want to create a blog article for a business who provide waste management services. We can start by asking ChatGPT to provide us with some keyword ideas.
Let us start by asking “Provide me with 10 SEO keywords for a waste management website.”
Great, ChatGPT promptly returns the 10 keyword ideas I have asked for, and even comes with a caveat that the trend and target audience may change. This is helpful.
You can ask the same question multiple times and you will always receive different answers.
Let’s pick out one of those keywords and ask ChatGPT to come up with some blog ideas for us…
“Give me 5 blog article ideas for: Solid waste management consulting”
ChatGPT responds with 5 suggestions, and they’re all good! ChatGPT picked up on the word “consulting”, and returned ideas relating to a waste management business, which shows a level of intelligence in the chatbot.
Not only has ChatGPT returned five good suggestions, it also elaborates on the headlines to explain what the content of the article could look like.
Now we can choose one of the suggestions and take it further to create the structure of our content.
Let’s pick one of the suggestions and ask ChatGPT to create the structure for our new blog article: “Blog outline for: Maximizing Recycling and Reducing Landfill Waste: Best Practices for Businesses”
There you have it! ChatGPT has returned the structure for our blog article. Now it’s over to you to write the content for each heading.
You can also ask ChatGPT to change sections, or to answer using a particular tone. For example we can ask ChatGPT to add a serious tone to the replies, or to reply from the point of view of someone with a high or low IQ.
Using ChatGPT to help with SEO content
Now that you have your article written, you can ask ChatGPT to write your article meta data (this is the content Google uses to display an overview of your article on the search results page).
“Write me an SEO page title for the above content in a way which will encourage click-throughs”
ChatGPT returns an engaging page title along with an explanation of why it has returned this particular result.
We can ask ChatGPT to change the tone of the response.
“Change the above SEO page title so that it reads as as friendly and inviting”
Let’s say we’re happy with our new article and it’s is live. We’ve got a bit of traffic and we’d like to optimise the article to rank for more keywords. We can ask ChatGPT to help us find similar keywords for our article…
OK so that wasn’t great. Poor actually. Let’s help ChatGPT understand a little more what we’re expecting…
Much better, and now we have some ideas of how we can optimise our content.
It’s important to mention that all of the answers returned from ChatGPT should be sense-checked. For example, there is every chance the content suggestions are outdated or factually inaccurate.
At the time of writing, the data used by ChatGPT is only as recent as 2021, so it’s already a couple of years out of date. It is possible to integrate ChatGPT with Google for real-time results, but we’ll leave that for another day.
Let’s move on to see what else we can do with ChatGPT. If you are using ChatGPT to discuss multiple subjects in a single session, it’s advised to ask ChatGPT to start a new conversation, otherwise previous questions could influence future answers.
“Let’s start a new conversation”
Can ChatGPT help web developers?
The answer is yes, and it can do some pretty cool stuff! We’re going to look at something fairly basic below, but we’ve seen some good examples from simple HTML page structure and PHP requests through to scripting full SQL database.
According to Open AI, ChatGPT has over 175 billion parameters. We need to remember that so many data sources cannot possibly be verified. We know that anyone can post anything on the internet, and that the internet has a lot of misinformation.
A quick MySQL database lookup with ChatGPT
Let’s start with a basic database lookup where we want to export all customers who have subscribed to our newsletter.
“I have a MySQL table called customers, with a column called newsletter where 1 = the user is subscribed and 0 = not subscribed. Write me a command to filter subscribed users in the customers table”
Pretty cool! The first command will indeed filter my database table to display only subscribed users.
Can ChatGPT write front-end code?
Let’s say we want to create a new form for our website which allows visitors to subscribe to our newsletter.
“Code me a form to allow website visitors to subscribe to my news letter, with the fields first name and email address.”
Not bad, but not close enough. Let’s dissect…
The form action is correct, as it submits to “submit_form.php” which is where the form will direct to when the submit button is clicked.
ChatGPT has inserted
<br> tags, which is a line break. This is improper use of a
<br> tag. A
<br> is a line-break and is most often used in text to add a ‘soft return’, so we’ll ask ChatGPT to improve the format of the code.
We may also wish to add a checkbox for the website visitor to confirm that they wish to subscribe to our newsletter.
Let’s ask ChatGPT to polish this up…
“Do not use br tags, but wrap each label and input in an individual div. Add a checkbox before the submit button with a label of ‘I would like to subscribe to your newsletter’.”
Much better. ChatGPT has acknowledged my request to use
<div> tags in place of the
<br> tags, and it added the checkbox I requested. In terms of the HTML markup, it isn’t 100% perfect, but it will work.
ChatGPT also informs us that we’ll need some server-side logic to handle the form requests, which is correct.
Seasoned developers can code a basic front-end form in about the same time it has taken to ask ChatGPT to do the same task, but for those just learning to code, the chatbot offers a great way to understand different coding languages, from the basics of code structure through to SQL queries and even more advanced requests.
Can ChatGPT write back-end code?
Now let’s take a look at the server-side code required to handle the form request. We can ask ChatGPT in very simple terms: “Write me server-side PHP script for the above form.”
ChatGPT has really come into its own here! It provided the server-side code which handles the request when the form is submitted, along with an explanation of how it works. Let’s break it down…
The first part of the back-end code checks if the form is submitted. It takes the data (first name, email address and subscribe) and assigns them to variables. A variable is simply a value which can be used in several places.
The code generated includes validation to check whether first name and email address exist (that they have been filled in on the website), and if they are empty, it will return an error message.
It connects to the database and inserts the values into our customers table: first name, email address and subscribed; 1 for yes and 0 for no.
You wouldn’t necessarily add an entry to your database if the subscribe box isn’t ticked, but we are just demonstrating the powers of AI here.
ChatGPT also warns us that there is a security issue with the way the data is inserted into the database. This is very handy and again demonstrates how helpful the chatbot can be. We could go onto that next step, but in the interest of keeping your attention, lets move on…
Other important things to note when using ChatGPT
Below we’ll look at a few things you should consider when using ChatGPT, such as validating your data, and who owns it!
Why ChatGPT responses must be validated
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that the responses you receive from ChatGPT must be sense-checked. There’s a common example which has been highlighted by users which clearly demonstrates some of the flaws of ChatGPT.
“If I’m 30 years old and my sister is 25 years old, how old will we be in 20 years?”
The answer, of course, is I will be 50 and my sister will be 45.
ChatGPT has thrown up various incorrect answers to questions, including the sister becoming the older sibling. This common question has since been resolved, which points to Open AI responding to incorrect requests quickly, meaning data has been added since ChatGPT was launched to the public.
Where does Open AI get data from?
In short, the internet – and that’s why I keep saying you should check the responses you receive. We have already witnessed incorrect answers being worked out, as the age example demonstrates above.
What are the threats to ChatGPT?
To answer this question, we have to look at what services ChatGPT is disrupting, and one answer is Google. The ability to ask questions and get immediate answers, without having to click into and read numerous websites, is convenient.
Google’s own AI is rumoured to launch to the public in 2023. There is no set launch date at the time of writing, but we can only assume that Google will pull something out of the bag, and it will have everyone gripped.
We should also be careful when using ChatGPT’s responses in our work. According to Google’s John Mueller, “using AI writing tools violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
In short, Google may and will penalise your website if it detects your copy is written by ChatGPT or another AI service. We can’t argue with this decision because AI written content is an immediate threat to the copywriting industry. Additionally, we have found that AI generated content can be inconsistent throughout, and currently lacks the consistency of human-written content. That is not to say that AI written content will not get smarter – it will.
Another downside is the name. If it looks like a robot and it sounds like a robot, it’s a robot.
They could have given it a better name from the off, such as Marlon…
Who owns ChatGPT?
You might not be surprised to hear Elon Musk and Microsoft are heavily invested in Open AI. The company started back in 2015 as a non-profit organisation.
At the time of writing, Microsoft are in talks to raise their share in Open AI to 49%, with a $10 billion investment, leading to Twitter responding in its own brilliant way…
We’ve only scratched the surface of ChatGPT so far. In truth there is a whole bunch of stuff we can do with it, such as integrating with external APIs for more advanced results. We’ll write more on that in the future…
To end, I thought it would be fitting to ask ChatGPT to write the meta data for this blog post. I should clarify that this article is 100% human-written (if Google is watching) and no AI content is included, but after publishing the article I asked ChatGPT to write the meta title and meta description for the article. Below are the results based on the content of this article. Not bad!