There are three kinds of SEO: technical, programmatic, and editorial. Technical SEO is about setting up the right infrastructure for pages including page speed, internal link architecture, redirects, and so on. Programmatic SEO generates pages automatically from a database (e.g. a page for each address on a real estate website) and sometimes comes from UGC, user generated content. Editorial SEO is content written by a person about a set of topics to drive traffic around relevant keywords.
From The ultimate guide to SEO on Lenny’s Podcast.
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Which of the three kinds of SEO works best depends on the business, but these days editorial content performs the best. Previously, having highly optimized technical SEO with the right tags and keywords was enough to rank highly in search results, but not anymore. Not every company has a natural fit for programmatic content that matches what people are searching for (e.g. Zillow with a page for each address). However, every company can write editorial content.
AI augmented tools for creative processes like writing (ChatGPT) and drawing (StableDiffusion, DALL-E-2) establish a new baseline for content. This is a step change for many industries where the value will get competed away (e.g. everyone can compete in editorial SEO). That means that there will be an even higher premium for unique knowledge that is, by definition, not replicable by advancements in general AI tools.
Before investing in SEO, evaluate whether or not it has the potential to have a large impact on your business. Not every business benefits in the same magnitude from SEO. The way to tell is by seeing if there is already a big market and your site has existing authority.