Skip to main content

Brian Dempsey doesn’t mince words when asked if we are at a crossroads concerning the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on marketing.

“In the marketing world, those who don’t embrace AI as part of their overall process are going to be eclipsed by companies who incorporate automation into their service offering,” Dempsey says. “Part of this is because of the speed to market that AI enables and also the ability to provide more services with a smaller team.”

Dempsey has worked in digital marketing for 27 years. Bright Tribe, the Atlanta-based web design and digital marketing agency he founded, offers search engine optimization (SEO) review and management, ChatGPT advice for marketing efforts, website design, and social media marketing. The company focuses on empowering small businesses, and Dempsey knows firsthand what AI can do for such companies . . . because Bright Tribe is one. Regardless of how big or small your business is, the need to have your organic search and SEO efforts buttoned up has never been more important, and Dempsey is particularly focused on how new AI tools can help companies excel in this area.


In case, among all the recent talk about AI, you might have forgotten why marketing “basics” such as organic search are still vital to your business, let’s start with a reminder: research says that 53 percent of website traffic comes from organic searches, and SEO company Moz says that up to 92 percent of that traffic goes to results on the first page. That means if you’re not investing in SEO, you’re throwing away most of your online opportunities to be discovered. Dempsey adds that mobile searches make up more than half of global website traffic, meaning that being visible on mobile—where the search engine results page layout is even more condensed—is crucial.

“Focusing on SEO isn’t just beneficial; it’s imperative for any business that wants to thrive in the modern marketplace,” Dempsey says. “Without it, businesses miss out on a critical avenue for growth.”

The game has changed considerably in the nearly three decades since Dempsey began working in digital marketing, and that means the way we approach organic search has evolved as well. He points to the layout of Google’s search engine results page as just one example. Gone are the days of ads being in yellow boxes with basic blue links for organic results just below them. Today, your search results are a mix of ads, the Google Maps 3-Pack, and snippets. That’s before you even get to organic listings. For your business, this means that showing up organically now requires a strategy that allows you to appear in multiple areas. Dempsey uses the example of a land excavation company he recently worked with, for whom getting into the Google 3-Pack was a game changer.

“It wasn’t just about being found in organic listings; it was about maximizing visibility in every part of the page,” he says. “We achieved this by optimizing their Google My Business profile, strategically gathering reviews, and building local content to boost their organic local SEO.”


So where does AI come into play in all this organic search/SEO results talk? To understand it better, try putting yourself in the shoes of a consumer. This should be easy, because you undoubtedly are one. In your day-to-day use of web browsers such as Google, you have likely noticed (or maybe you haven’t) that the search results popping up from what you type in are smarter and more personalized, almost like they know why you are searching for whatever it is you type in. Maybe this scares you, or maybe it just helps you find what you are looking for more quickly. Either way, you have AI-based search to thank (or blame). Dempsey says that AI-based search is revolutionizing our access to information by making it more conversational and context aware. For consumers searching for goods or services online, this manifests itself in how we interact with our search engines.

“It’s like having an informed conversation rather than throwing keywords into a search engine,” Dempsey explains. “AI search tools understand the intent behind our questions and can pull from known information to provide more personalized answers.”

He points to a recent personal experience in which he was searching for information on a medical question. To get the answer, Dempsey bypassed Google and instead used ChatGPT, the chatbot started by OpenAI in late 2022. ChatGPT didn’t just spit out links for Dempsey to sift through—it also engaged him in a dialogue, improving the quality of the information he received.

“It even suggested angles I hadn’t considered, enhancing my understanding of the topic,” Dempsey says. “This experience underscores the transformative potential of AI search for us as consumers and as marketers. It’s a stark reminder that we need to think like our audience. AI doesn’t just answer our questions; it often knows what we need before we fully articulate it. That’s the future we’re stepping into, where AI shapes the search landscape by being interactive, intuitive, and insightful.”

That’s because AI-powered search engines know not just what we are looking for, but also why we are looking for it and even the context behind our searches. They can even use our past search behavior to predict what information will be most helpful to us moving forward. In this way, AI’s impact on search tools is refining how these platforms understand and anticipate customer behavior and preferences. Dempsey uses the example of a customer who frequently searches for eco-friendly products. An AI-powered search tool could learn from this and prioritize content that highlights sustainability in that person’s queries.

“Even if a user doesn’t search for ‘eco-friendly floor-cleaning products’ and simply enters ‘best floor-cleaning products,’ because of their past behavior looking for sustainable products, eco-friendly products could be prioritized in search results for them,” he says. “As marketers, understanding this shift enables us to create content that resonates more deeply with our audience’s values and interests, improving our visibility in search results and enhancing user engagement. In essence, AI is bridging the gap between the vast amount of content available online and the specific needs of individual users, making it essential for marketers to leverage these insights to craft more effective, user-centric campaigns and content.”


To varying degrees, all of us have been told how AI will change our lives by taking away our jobs or creating robots that will rule the world. AI in the context of organic search and SEO is slightly less dramatic. It’s a suite of tools and capabilities that can change the game, but not always in the manner you might expect. When it comes to creating content, many companies have used AI to quickly produce generic content from generic prompts, but Dempsey says that prioritizing quantity over quality—or word count over the value being delivered in the content—is a mistake. A lesson to heed: generic content created by AI without a customized touch won’t perform well from an SEO standpoint.

“This approach reminds me of the content marketing boom, where the volume of content became the focus, leading to a deluge of generic, low-quality, unoriginal content online,” Dempsey explains. “When Google caught on, they refined their algorithm to prioritize quality, well-researched content, leveraging criteria like experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EEAT).”

Make no mistake: AI is now very good at creating content that sounds like it was created by a human. A 2023 study published in the journal Research Methods in Applied Linguistics asked 72 linguistics experts to differentiate between AI-generated content and human writing; the group could only identify AI-created content 39 percent of the time. So, is your job in jeopardy if you are feeding your family by creating content (such as copy) designed to perform well in organic search and bringing ROI to the brand you work for? Dempsey says not exactly. The difference, at least for now, is that AI lacks that unique human touch—the ability to incorporate personal stories, anecdotes, trust factors, and appropriate third-party links that resonate with readers and meet Google’s criteria for ranking content and, therefore, deliver long-term SEO results.

“Renowned entrepreneur Neil Patel and his team did a five-month study that showed that human-generated content significantly outperformed AI-generated content on the same topic, and the primary difference was the lack of EEAT factors in AI content,” Dempsey says. “This speaks to the ongoing need for real human copywriters and editors and why they should embrace the use of AI. It’s a tool, but to be truly effective for search, it requires a thoughtful human to polish it.”

The same holds true for choosing SEO keywords to help your organic search results. While AI can suggest keywords, Dempsey believes it does not replace the insights from SEO tools that provide real-time data crucial for decision-making. He sees AI as a tool, not a replacement for the nuanced work of SEO professionals.

“It’s our job to blend AI’s efficiency with the irreplaceable human elements of creativity and strategic insight to create content that not only ranks, but also resonates with users,” he says.

At Bright Tribe, Dempsey and his team use AI to help brainstorm ideas and outlines, evaluate authority sites, and see what competitors are up to—even in the drafting of content. When it comes to brainstorming, Dempsey says that AI delivers a never-ending well of ideas that he and his team would never dream up on their own. The content that is created from that process, however, does not deliver great SEO results unless it’s fine-tuned to the brand’s unique voice, value proposition, and specific insights. The “really cool part” of what experts such as Dempsey and his team can do lies in the creation of custom GPTs for individual clients. For nearly 18 years, Bright Tribe has been writing content for most of its clients—a tedious, time-consuming, and expensive process. Now, with CustomGPT, they have been able to streamline their own internal content creation and empower clients by developing custom GPTs so they can generate their own tailored content efficiently. It’s a win-win for agency and client that saves time and money. It also keeps everything in line with the client’s unique brand voice.

“This isn’t your off-the-shelf AI and generic ChatGPT prompts; it’s customized to deeply understand a client’s brand, their voice, their services, and their audience,” Dempsey explains. “It’s like giving our clients their own, brand-specific AI that knows exactly how to speak to their customers. This way, we’re not just guessing what works. We’re using AI to ensure we’re hitting the right notes every time. It’s a game changer for us and our clients.”

These capabilities of AI—its ability to quickly create content for us, its improved understanding of natural language, and its ability to use past search history to understand why we are searching for things—add up to organic search and SEO being not merely about keyword recognition anymore, but about genuinely understanding what people are looking for and providing that in a clear, useful manner.

“What AI is particularly good at is providing us with a wider lens through which to view a topic,” Dempsey explains. “It helps us dive deeper and think broader, and ultimately, it helps us to understand the hearts and minds of our ideal clients. By doing so, we can create content that strikes a chord emotionally and resonates on a more personal level. This approach not only elevates our SEO footprint by covering more ground but also drives organic traffic more effectively because it aligns so well with what our audience is seeking. When used creatively, it can significantly enhance the reach and impact of our digital content.”


Understand Your Audience and Your Brand

It’s crucial to deeply understand both your audience and your brand. You can use ChatGPT to help by asking it to ask you questions about your business and your target customers. This interactive process helps unearth key insights about whom you are serving and what sets your brand apart. Then, use ChatGPT to summarize this information, creating a clear profile of your customer and brand identity to guide your content creation.

Set Up Custom Instructions

Custom instructions in ChatGPT allow you to tailor the AI’s output to your specific needs. This includes setting the tone and style and incorporating the audience and brand insights you’ve gathered. To do this, click your name in the bottom left corner and go to Instructions to input these customizations. Here, you can add the detailed summary about your audience and brand from step one, ensuring every piece of content ChatGPT generates is aligned with your marketing strategy.

Don’t Generate in One Go—Iterate

Instead of generating your content in a single attempt, use ChatGPT to create initial drafts or outlines first. This approach allows for refinement and ensures the content remains focused and highly relevant to your audience.

Optimize Broadly

With your audience and brand in mind, use AI to explore and create content around a wide array of topics related to your offerings. This not only enhances your SEO but also appeals to a broader audience base, improving your online visibility. Your goal with SEO is to write real content, for real users, that provides real value. If you create generic content that mimics everyone else’s content, it won’t perform well.

Don’t Forget the Human Touch

While AIs such as ChatGPT, Claude, and Gemini provide a solid foundation, it’s crucial to infuse the content with human elements. Add personal insights and stories, and ensure the content meets the EEAT criteria: experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These are essential for creating genuine connections with your audience and boosting your credibility in search results.

This article originally appeared in FULL CIRCLE as syndicated content and is subject to copyright protections. All rights reserved. Image(s) used under license from Shutterstock.