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8 Experiments To Improve Organic Traffic

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8 Experiments To Improve Organic Traffic

Imagine the results you could achieve if you knew the Google search algorithm.

Just think of the organic traffic you could drive to your site if you knew exactly what Google was taking into account when generating search engine results, the precise amount each factor plays on rankings, and precisely what it would take to get to the top. 

But of course, Google would never let you see behind the curtain. Not only could a bad actor use this information for nefarious purposes, but it would take all the fun out of search engine optimization. 

So instead, every time there’s a new algorithm update, it’s up to us to figure out what exactly has changed and how to best leverage this to our advantage. 

And because we in the search engine optimization world are a community, we tend to figure these things out collectively. 

And because there are no (or very few, anyway) absolute answers, a lot of optimization comes down to best practices, theories, and outright guesswork. 

Luckily, there’s a great way to determine if these theories are based on reality or just sheer conjecture. Of course, we’re talking about experimentation.

(Insert mad scientist laugh here.)

Before you get carried away and rush to put on your safety goggles and lab coats, relax. No bubbling beakers full of mystery liquids are involved, and your risk of accidentally creating a monster is very low.

(I would say zero, but I’ve seen the “Terminator” series, and it never explicitly says that a search engine optimizer didn’t create Skynet, so let’s play it safe.)

All your SEO experiments can be done from your desk chair’s comfort (and safety). 

But before we dive into those, let’s first talk about how to test your SEO.

Steps For A Successful SEO Experiment

Thankfully, we don’t have to develop an entirely new framework for devising, conducting, and measuring our SEO tests – we can repurpose the scientific method you’re probably already familiar with. 

Been a while since high school chemistry? Don’t worry; these five steps are sure to sound familiar:

  1. Make an observation. (E.g., my site is not on the first page of Google search results.)
  2. Ask a question and form a hypothesis. Is my meta description optimized for ranking? If I write better meta descriptions, it will improve my ranking.
  3. Gather data. Upon changing these descriptions, track the change in ranking position and site visits.
  4. Analyze the data. Create tables, graphs, and diagrams to help you understand the link between what was changed and changing results.
  5. Draw conclusions. Does the evidence support your prediction? Why or why not? Was site traffic increased due to your new meta descriptions, or did you also receive national news coverage during your testing period?)

You’ll want to do what marketers call A/B testing for accurate results. This means creating two versions of the same page, with only one difference, so you can see which gets the better response. 

Before you start, keep one thing in mind: Incremental changes are essential. If you go wild and change all of these at once, you’ll have no idea which one(s) is making a difference. 

Play it slowly and be patient. Test one, then wait for the results before moving on to the next. This will give you an obvious idea of what you need to do moving forward to ensure you’re always claiming front-page real estate.

With that out of the way, here’s a look at eight different things you can test to improve the ranking of your site:

1. SEO Title

Have you ever written what you thought was an amazing page title, only for Google to rewrite it in search results? That usually happens when the search engine doesn’t feel like your title was a good reflection of the page’s content. 

But you can change this anytime you like.

And even if Google does replace the one you created, Google’s John Mueller confirmed the original title is still used for ranking purposes. This means even if you’re getting your SEO titles changed, it’s still a good idea to try to optimize them.

Here are a few things you can test to see if they generate results:

  • Include your target keyword.
  • Change their length (shorter is not always better).
  • Experiment with brand name positioning or remove it altogether.
  • Get click-baity (e.g., Do you want to lose 20 lbs. fast?).
  • Add published date to demonstrate information relevancy.
  • Get creative (people love what’s new and whimsical).

2. SEO Meta Description

Now, wait just a minute – you’re probably saying right now – Search Engine Journal has been clear that Google hasn’t used meta description in its rankings since sometime between 1999 and 2004. 

Put down your pitchforks. Just because they aren’t a direct factor in SERPs doesn’t mean meta descriptions aren’t an essential SEO element. 

For example, they can help improve your click-through rate, compel searchers, generate brand exposure, and help differentiate you from the competition. And all of these impact user behavior, which is a signal that Google factors in. 

There have been entire articles written about creating awesome meta descriptions. But for our purposes, here are a few things you can A/B test to see if you can improve your organic traffic:

  • Try different lengths. Traditional SEO wisdom suggests character count between 156-165 – see what works for you.
  • Add keywords.
  • Change your tone. Generally speaking, your style should match your brand’s voice, but for a specific page, maybe this isn’t the case.
  • Get specific – are you getting a lot of visits from one long-tail keyword? Add that to your meta description. 

3. Internal Anchor Text

You may know anchor text as the visible, clickable (usually blue) text in a hyperlink like this. 

Not only is this useful for giving additional context to users, but Google has confirmed: Anchor text helps it better understand a page’s content, allowing it to rank those pages for relevant searches. 

For example, in the paragraph above, “Google has confirmed” is the anchor text attached to the target link, which directs to a link proving that confirmation. 

There are several types of anchor text you can use, including those with exact or partial-match keywords, branded (Search Engine Journal), images, generic (“click here”), and naked links (https://www.searchenginejournal.com).

To experiment with the impact, internal anchor text can have on your organic traffic. You can try things like:

  • Changing their length (though shorter is often better).
  • Adding keywords, particularly low-density keywords.
  • Increasing specificity.
  • Changing them to be more target link-specific.

4. Schema Markup

Schema markup is a type of structured data used by Google and other search engines.

Following guidelines established by Schema.org, it is essentially a lingua franca for search engines. It’s an established standard that uses a unique vocabulary to help search engines more clearly understand your content. 

It’s used to create rich snippets for adding information about events, recipes, people, videos, reviews, and products, among other things. These, in turn, make your link appear more prominent in SERPs. 

And while schema is not directly factored into your ranking score, like SEO title, it can improve your click-through rate and impact your user behavior scores. 

Experiment with adding schema markup to your pages and see if it improves your results.

5. Images

A picture is worth a thousand words – everyone knows that. This is because humans are visual creatures. And web designers and SEO professionals have recognized the importance of including images on webpages for a long time. 

And it’s not just because they add visual interest and grab attention; they can also improve your search ranking.

Original (not stock), high-quality images optimized for SEO can reap the rewards. 

Here are some things you can try with your images to improve your traffic:

  • Add images. You should add images to every page. No one wants to read a wall of text.
  • Choose a different file name. You want to immediately make it clear to Google what your image is depicting. Try adding your keywords.
  • Change your formatting. There is no one-size-fits-all for digital images. You may want to change your file type depending on your image needs. JPEGs are good for larger photos. PNG files preserve background transparency. 
  • Compress files when possible. In general, smaller files are always better.
  • Ensure responsiveness. With mobile search being such an essential factor in modern SEO, you want to ensure your images always look great on phones and desktops. 
  • Add alt text if the image can’t be displayed for some reason. 

6. Headers

Your headlines and subheads give your page structure. This makes it easier for humans to browse and for search engines to understand what each section is about. 

Google’s John Mueller was very clear about this, emphasizing the presence of any headings, not just H1s, sends a strong signal about the page’s content. It would be best if you took special care with all your H tags, from H1 down to H6. This is because they also serve as an accessibility aid and navigational tool in addition to their structural benefits. 

Once upon a time, your headers were a massive factor in your ranking. But then, like always, people abused them, and Google started cracking down on keyword stuffing, overuse, and other dirty heading tricks. 

That said, while they are far from the only factor Google takes into account, there is no question they are essential.

Here are a few things you can play with to try and improve your SEO results:

  • Add more headings (except H1s). Improve the structure and clarity of your content by adding more subheads.
  • Try using them to break up blocks of text. No one likes massive text blocks. H2s, H3s, etc., are the perfect solution.
  • Add keywords. Like nearly everything else we’ve discussed, you should experiment with the use of keywords in your headings. 
  • Optimize for featured snippets. Grab attention and draw new traffic by claiming those special boxes on search results. Write your headers to land these.
  • Get creative. Try making your headings and subheads more interesting. 

7. Word Count

 You already know content is the essential thing in any SEO strategy. But you may not have thought much about how the number of words you use can impact your ranking and traffic.

While you shouldn’t expect word count to push you over the top and take you from page six to the top result, it can help define your site as relevant and valuable to a search query – and draw in readers. 

What do we mean by this? Again, it’s not a direct ranking factor, according to John Mueller.

With that said, longer-form copy tends to rank higher. This is because using more words provides Google with more information on what your page is about. 

And if these longer pieces are well-written (like the one you’re reading in the author’s ever-so-humble opinion), they’ll help establish you as an authority on the topic. 

And experimentation is easy. Take one of your existing articles or blog posts and duplicate it. On the second one, expound at greater length upon your topic. 

Please note, we’re not talking about using your word count tricks from college (e.g., “at a later date” instead of just “later”). Instead, you should expand on ideas and topics, add examples and cite additional sources.

Then, see which one performs better on search engines. Chances are, it will be the longer one. 

Read this piece for more on using word count for SEO optimization. 

8. URL

Some SEO experts will swear URLs with keywords perform better than generic ones. Is this the case?

Well, yes and no.

On the one hand, Google has confirmed when it performs its initial crawl of a site, keywords in URLs help it understand what the site is about.

However, as this is only factored in when a new site is crawled, its role in an ongoing SEO strategy is minimal. 

But again, this doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage. Clear URLs create a better user experience and can be used as naked anchor tags much more accessible than one with 75 random numbers and letters tacked on at the end. 

Experiment with your URLs. Take some of your old, non-descriptive links and add keywords to them. Shorten long URLs.

If you’re worried about losing links from the old page, add a 301-redirect pointing to the new one. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New

Search engine optimization is a constantly shifting landscape. Changing trends can change how people interact with your website.

As algorithms change and new technologies emerge, your strategy needs to evolve. 

There has never been, and probably never will be, “set it and forget it” search engine optimization. It will always require forward-thinkers and people willing to experiment to find new ways to get their websites to the top of the rankings. 

Who says you can’t be one of them? Someone had to be the first to figure out that keyword stuffing helped rankings, and someone else had to figure out when it stopped working.

If you’re willing to experiment and try new things, you may find the next brilliant new strategy. Just don’t forget to share it with us.

More Resources:


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4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

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4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

In a significant leap in large language model (LLM) development, Mistral AI announced the release of its newest model, Mixtral-8x7B.

What Is Mixtral-8x7B?

Mixtral-8x7B from Mistral AI is a Mixture of Experts (MoE) model designed to enhance how machines understand and generate text.

Imagine it as a team of specialized experts, each skilled in a different area, working together to handle various types of information and tasks.

A report published in June reportedly shed light on the intricacies of OpenAI’s GPT-4, highlighting that it employs a similar approach to MoE, utilizing 16 experts, each with around 111 billion parameters, and routes two experts per forward pass to optimize costs.

This approach allows the model to manage diverse and complex data efficiently, making it helpful in creating content, engaging in conversations, or translating languages.

Mixtral-8x7B Performance Metrics

Mistral AI’s new model, Mixtral-8x7B, represents a significant step forward from its previous model, Mistral-7B-v0.1.

It’s designed to understand better and create text, a key feature for anyone looking to use AI for writing or communication tasks.

This latest addition to the Mistral family promises to revolutionize the AI landscape with its enhanced performance metrics, as shared by OpenCompass.

Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

What makes Mixtral-8x7B stand out is not just its improvement over Mistral AI’s previous version, but the way it measures up to models like Llama2-70B and Qwen-72B.

mixtral-8x7b performance metrics compared to llama 2 open source ai modelsmixtral-8x7b performance metrics compared to llama 2 open source ai models

It’s like having an assistant who can understand complex ideas and express them clearly.

One of the key strengths of the Mixtral-8x7B is its ability to handle specialized tasks.

For example, it performed exceptionally well in specific tests designed to evaluate AI models, indicating that it’s good at general text understanding and generation and excels in more niche areas.

This makes it a valuable tool for marketing professionals and SEO experts who need AI that can adapt to different content and technical requirements.

The Mixtral-8x7B’s ability to deal with complex math and coding problems also suggests it can be a helpful ally for those working in more technical aspects of SEO, where understanding and solving algorithmic challenges are crucial.

This new model could become a versatile and intelligent partner for a wide range of digital content and strategy needs.

How To Try Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Demos

You can experiment with Mistral AI’s new model, Mixtral-8x7B, to see how it responds to queries and how it performs compared to other open-source models and OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Please note that, like all generative AI content, platforms running this new model may produce inaccurate information or otherwise unintended results.

User feedback for new models like this one will help companies like Mistral AI improve future versions and models.

1. Perplexity Labs Playground

In Perplexity Labs, you can try Mixtral-8x7B along with Meta AI’s Llama 2, Mistral-7b, and Perplexity’s new online LLMs.

In this example, I ask about the model itself and notice that new instructions are added after the initial response to extend the generated content about my query.

mixtral-8x7b perplexity labs playgroundScreenshot from Perplexity, December 2023mixtral-8x7b perplexity labs playground

While the answer looks correct, it begins to repeat itself.

mixtral-8x7b errorsScreenshot from Perplexity Labs, December 2023mixtral-8x7b errors

The model did provide an over 600-word answer to the question, “What is SEO?”

Again, additional instructions appear as “headers” to seemingly ensure a comprehensive answer.

what is seo by mixtral-8x7bScreenshot from Perplexity Labs, December 2023what is seo by mixtral-8x7b

2. Poe

Poe hosts bots for popular LLMs, including OpenAI’s GPT-4 and DALL·E 3, Meta AI’s Llama 2 and Code Llama, Google’s PaLM 2, Anthropic’s Claude-instant and Claude 2, and StableDiffusionXL.

These bots cover a wide spectrum of capabilities, including text, image, and code generation.

The Mixtral-8x7B-Chat bot is operated by Fireworks AI.

poe bot for mixtral-8x7b firebaseScreenshot from Poe, December 2023poe bot for mixtral-8x7b firebase

It’s worth noting that the Fireworks page specifies it is an “unofficial implementation” that was fine-tuned for chat.

When asked what the best backlinks for SEO are, it provided a valid answer.

mixtral-8x7b poe best backlinks responseScreenshot from Poe, December 2023mixtral-8x7b poe best backlinks response

Compare this to the response offered by Google Bard.

Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AIMixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AIScreenshot from Google Bard, December 2023Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

3. Vercel

Vercel offers a demo of Mixtral-8x7B that allows users to compare responses from popular Anthropic, Cohere, Meta AI, and OpenAI models.

vercel mixtral-8x7b demo compare gpt-4Screenshot from Vercel, December 2023vercel mixtral-8x7b demo compare gpt-4

It offers an interesting perspective on how each model interprets and responds to user questions.

mixtral-8x7b vs cohere on best resources for learning seoScreenshot from Vercel, December 2023mixtral-8x7b vs cohere on best resources for learning seo

Like many LLMs, it does occasionally hallucinate.

mixtral-8x7b hallucinationsScreenshot from Vercel, December 2023mixtral-8x7b hallucinations

4. Replicate

The mixtral-8x7b-32 demo on Replicate is based on this source code. It is also noted in the README that “Inference is quite inefficient.”

Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AIScreenshot from Replicate, December 2023Mixtral-8x7B: 4 Ways To Try The New Model From Mistral AI

In the example above, Mixtral-8x7B describes itself as a game.

Conclusion

Mistral AI’s latest release sets a new benchmark in the AI field, offering enhanced performance and versatility. But like many LLMs, it can provide inaccurate and unexpected answers.

As AI continues to evolve, models like the Mixtral-8x7B could become integral in shaping advanced AI tools for marketing and business.


Featured image: T. Schneider/Shutterstock



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OpenAI Investigates ‘Lazy’ GPT-4 Complaints On Google Reviews, X

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OpenAI Investigates 'Lazy' GPT-4 Complaints On Google Reviews, X

OpenAI, the company that launched ChatGPT a little over a year ago, has recently taken to social media to address concerns regarding the “lazy” performance of GPT-4 on social media and Google Reviews.

Screenshot from X, December 2023OpenAI Investigates ‘Lazy’ GPT-4 Complaints On Google Reviews, X

This move comes after growing user feedback online, which even includes a one-star review on the company’s Google Reviews.

OpenAI Gives Insight Into Training Chat Models, Performance Evaluations, And A/B Testing

OpenAI, through its @ChatGPTapp Twitter account, detailed the complexities involved in training chat models.

chatgpt openai a/b testingScreenshot from X, December 2023chatgpt openai a/b testing

The organization highlighted that the process is not a “clean industrial process” and that variations in training runs can lead to noticeable differences in the AI’s personality, creative style, and political bias.

Thorough AI model testing includes offline evaluation metrics and online A/B tests. The final decision to release a new model is based on a data-driven approach to improve the “real” user experience.

OpenAI’s Google Review Score Affected By GPT-4 Performance, Billing Issues

This explanation comes after weeks of user feedback about GPT-4 becoming worse on social media networks like X.

Complaints also appeared in OpenAI’s community forums.

openai community forums gpt-4 user feedbackScreenshot from OpenAI, December 2023openai community forums gpt-4 user feedback

The experience led one user to leave a one-star rating for OpenAI via Google Reviews. Other complaints regarded accounts, billing, and the artificial nature of AI.

openai google reviews star rating Screenshot from Google Reviews, December 2023openai google reviews star rating

A recent user on Product Hunt gave OpenAI a rating that also appears to be related to GPT-4 worsening.

openai reviewsScreenshot from Product Hunt, December 2023openai reviews

GPT-4 isn’t the only issue that local reviewers complain about. On Yelp, OpenAI has a one-star rating for ChatGPT 3.5 performance.

The complaint:

yelp openai chatgpt reviewScreenshot from Yelp, December 2023yelp openai chatgpt review

In related OpenAI news, the review with the most likes aligns with recent rumors about a volatile workplace, alleging that OpenAI is a “Cutthroat environment. Not friendly. Toxic workers.”

google review for openai toxic workersScreenshot from Google Reviews, December 2023google review for openai toxic workers

The reviews voted the most helpful on Glassdoor about OpenAI suggested that employee frustration and product development issues stem from the company’s shift in focus on profits.

openai employee review on glassdooropenai employee review on glassdoor

openai employee reviewsScreenshots from Glassdoor, December 2023openai employee reviews

This incident provides a unique outlook on how customer and employee experiences can impact any business through local reviews and business ratings platforms.

openai inc google business profile local serps google reviewsScreenshot from Google, December 2023openai inc google business profile local serps google reviews

Google SGE Highlights Positive Google Reviews

In addition to occasional complaints, Google reviewers acknowledged the revolutionary impact of OpenAI’s technology on various fields.

The most positive review mentions about the company appear in Google SGE (Search Generative Experience).

Google SGE response on OpenAIScreenshot from Google SGE, December 2023Google SGE response on OpenAI

Conclusion

OpenAI’s recent insights into training chat models and response to public feedback about GPT-4 performance illustrate AI technology’s dynamic and evolving nature and its impact on those who depend on the AI platform.

Especially the people who just received an invitation to join ChatGPT Plus after being waitlisted while OpenAI paused new subscriptions and upgrades. Or those developing GPTs for the upcoming GPT Store launch.

As AI advances, professionals in these fields must remain agile, informed, and responsive to technological developments and the public’s reception of these advancements.


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ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

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ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

ChatGPT Plus subscriptions and upgrades remain paused after a surge in demand for new features created outages.

Some users who signed up for the waitlist have received invites to join ChatGPT Plus.

Screenshot from Gmail, December 2023ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

This has resulted in a few shares of the link that is accessible for everyone. For now.

RELATED: GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays

In addition to the invites, signs that more people are getting access to GPTs include an introductory screen popping up on free ChatGPT accounts.

ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive InvitesScreenshot from ChatGPT, December 2023ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

Unfortunately, they still aren’t accessible without a Plus subscription.

chatgpt plus subscriptions upgrades paused waitlistScreenshot from ChatGPT, December 2023chatgpt plus subscriptions upgrades paused waitlist

You can sign up for the waitlist by clicking on the option to upgrade in the left sidebar of ChatGPT on a desktop browser.

ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive InvitesScreenshot from ChatGPT, December 2023ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

OpenAI also suggests ChatGPT Enterprise for those who need more capabilities, as outlined in the pricing plans below.

ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive InvitesScreenshot from OpenAI, December 2023ChatGPT Plus Upgrades Paused; Waitlisted Users Receive Invites

Why Are ChatGPT Plus Subscriptions Paused?

According to a post on X by OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, the recent surge in usage following the DevDay developers conference has led to capacity challenges, resulting in the decision to pause ChatGPT Plus signups.

The decision to pause new ChatGPT signups follows a week where OpenAI services – including ChatGPT and the API – experienced a series of outages related to high-demand and DDoS attacks.

Demand for ChatGPT Plus resulted in eBay listings supposedly offering one or more months of the premium subscription.

When Will ChatGPT Plus Subscriptions Resume?

So far, we don’t have any official word on when ChatGPT Plus subscriptions will resume. We know the GPT Store is set to open early next year after recent boardroom drama led to “unexpected delays.”

Therefore, we hope that OpenAI will onboard waitlisted users in time to try out all of the GPTs created by OpenAI and community builders.

What Are GPTs?

GPTs allow users to create one or more personalized ChatGPT experiences based on a specific set of instructions, knowledge files, and actions.

Search marketers with ChatGPT Plus can try GPTs for helpful content assessment and learning SEO.

There are also GPTs for analyzing Google Search Console data.

And GPTs that will let you chat with analytics data from 20 platforms, including Google Ads, GA4, and Facebook.

Google search has indexed hundreds of public GPTs. According to an alleged list of GPT statistics in a GitHub repository, DALL-E, the top GPT from OpenAI, has received 5,620,981 visits since its launch last month. Included in the top 20 GPTs is Canva, with 291,349 views.

 

Weighing The Benefits Of The Pause

Ideally, this means that developers working on building GPTs and using the API should encounter fewer issues (like being unable to save GPT drafts).

But it could also mean a temporary decrease in new users of GPTs since they are only available to Plus subscribers – including the ones I tested for learning about ranking factors and gaining insights on E-E-A-T from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

custom gpts for seoScreenshot from ChatGPT, November 2023custom gpts for seo

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