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Are these SEO rookie mistakes costing your search rankings?

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Are these SEO rookie mistakes costing your search rankings

30-second summary:

  • SEO has increasingly become a key area of practice for businesses to gain visibility, however, if done wrong can stagnate or even sabotage your online visibility
  • From optimizing your website for the wrong keywords to putting too many keywords in the meta keywords tag or creating lots of similar doorway pages
  • We have listed the most common SEO mistakes to avoid and be future-ready

Through SEO, marketers can improve their websites’ rankings in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and thus reach top results.

While doing SEO, however, there are some common SEO mistakes to keep away from. In case of committing any of these mistakes, marketers might end up harming their search ranking and reputation.

Below are seven of the common mistakes that you must avoid.

SEO Mistake #1: Optimizing your site for the wrong keywords

The first step in any search engine optimization campaign is to choose the right keywords for which you should optimize your site. If you initially choose the wrong keywords, all the time and effort that you devote to trying to get your site a high ranking will go down the drain. What good will the top rankings do if you choose keywords which no one searches for, or if you choose keywords which won’t bring in targeted traffic to your site?

The good news is that there are some warning signs that say you’re maybe optimizing for the wrong keywords. Amongst these, we find the following:

According to Neil Patel, an SEO expert, and co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar:

If you go about optimizing site content for every keyword you can think of, chances are, you won’t rank highly in search engine results pages.

Worse, you’ll experience a high bounce rate, because search engine users who eventually find your web site will leave without doing anything that you want them to do.

….In fact, not optimizing site content for the right keywords will cripple your search engine rankings.

SEO Mistake #2: Putting too many keywords in the meta keywords tag

We often see sites that have hundreds of keywords listed in the meta keywords tag, in the hope that will get a high ranking for those keywords.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular opinion, the meta keywords tag has almost completely lost its importance as far as search engine positioning is concerned. Google does not use keyword meta tags directly in its rankings.

Hence, just by listing keywords in the meta keywords tag, you will never be able to get a high ranking. Since there is no correlation between the keywords you stuff into a Meta tag and your search engine rank. To get a high ranking for those keywords, you need to naturally add the keywords to the actual body content on page.

SEO Mistake #3: Repeating the same keyword too many times

Another common mistake that people make is to endlessly repeat their target keywords in the body of their pages and in their meta keywords tags.

Because so many people have used this tactic in the past (and continue to use it), the search engines keep a sharp lookout for this and may penalize a site that repeats keywords in this fashion.

Sure, you do need to repeat the keywords a number of times. But, the way you place the keywords in your pages needs to make grammatical sense. Simply repeating the keywords endlessly no longer works. Furthermore, a particular keyword should not ideally be present more than thrice in your Meta Keywords tag.

SEO Mistake #4: Creating lots of similar doorway pages

Another myth prevalent among people is that since the algorithm of each search engine is different, they need to create different pages for different search engines. While this is great in theory, it is counter-productive in practice.

If you use this tactic, you will soon end up with hundreds of pages, which can quickly become an administrative nightmare. Also, just imagine the amount of time you will need to spend constantly updating the pages in response to the changes that the search engines make to their algorithms.

Furthermore, although the pages are meant for different engines, they will actually end up being pretty similar to each other. Search engines are often able to detect when a site has created similar pages and may penalize or even ban this site from their index.

According to Google,

“…they (Doorway Pages) can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

Hence, instead of creating different pages for different search engines, create one page which is optimized for one keyword for all the search engines.

SEO Mistake #5: Using hidden text

Hidden text is text with the same color as the background color of your page. For example, if the background color of your page is white and you have added some white text to that page. That is considered a black-hat SEO practice.

Many webmasters, in order to get high rankings in the search engines, try to make their pages as keyword rich as possible. However, there is a limit to the number of keywords you can repeat on a page without making it sound odd to your human visitors.

Thus, in order to ensure that the human visitors to a page don’t perceive the text to be odd, but that the page is still keyword-rich, many webmasters add text (containing the keywords) with the same color as the background color. This ensures that while the search engines can see the keywords, human visitors cannot.

Search engines have long since caught up with this technique, and ignore or penalize pages that contain such text. They may also penalize the entire site if even one of the pages on that site contains such hidden text.

However, the problem with this is that search engines may often end up penalizing sites that did not intend to use hidden text.

For instance, suppose you have a page with a white background and a table on that page with a black background. Further, suppose that you have added some white text in that table. This text will, in fact, be visible to your human visitors, that is, this shouldn’t be called hidden text. However, search engines can interpret this to be hidden text because they may often ignore the fact that the background of the table is black.

In official guidance from Google, they state:

“Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

Hence, in order to ensure that your site is not penalized because of this, you should go through all the pages in your site and see whether you have inadvertently made any such mistake.

SEO Mistake #6: Using page cloaking

Cloaking, which is against Google’s webmaster guidelines, is defined by Google as follows:

“Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agents may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index”

People generally use page cloaking for two reasons:

  1. To hide the source code of their search engine-optimized pages from their competitors
  2. To prevent human visitors from having to see a page that looks good to the search engines but does not necessarily look good to humans

The problem with this is that when a site uses cloaking, it prevents the search engines from being able to spider the same page that their users are going to see. And if the search engines can’t do this, they can no longer be confident of providing relevant results to their users. Thus, if a search engine discovers that a site has used cloaking, it will probably ban the site forever from their index.

Hence, our advice is that you should not even think about using cloaking in your site and if you are already doing any cloaking and getting away with it, I guess you may have to be on the lookout.

SEO Mistake #7: Devoting too much time to search engine positioning

Yes – we lied. There’s another common mistake that people make when it comes to search engine optimization – they spend too much time on it.

Sure, search engine placement is the most cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site and you do need to spend some time every day learning how the search engines work and optimizing your site for the search engines.

However, you must remember that search engine optimization is a means to an end for you – it’s not the end in itself. The end is to increase the sales of your products and services. Hence, apart from trying to improve your site’s position in the search engines, you also need to spend time on all the other factors which determine the success or the failure of your website – the quality of the products and services that you are offering, the quality of your content, and so on.

You may have excellent rankings in the search engines, but if the quality of your products and services is poor, or you’re not producing high-quality SEO content, those high rankings aren’t going to do much good.


Jacob McMillen is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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Google Analytics 4 Features To Prepare For Third-Party Cookie Depreciation

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Google Analytics 4 Features To Prepare For Third-Party Cookie Depreciation

Google will roll out new features and integrations for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) for first-party data, enhanced conversions, and durable ad performance metrics.

Beginning in Q1 2024, Chrome will gradually phase out third-party cookies for a percentage of users, allowing for testing and transition.

Third-party cookies, which have been central to cross-site tracking, are being restricted or phased out by major browsers, including Chrome, as part of its Privacy Sandbox project.

The following features should help advertisers “unlock durable performance” while preserving user privacy.

Support For Protected Audience API In GA4

A key feature of recent updates to Google Analytics 4 is the integration of Protected Audience API, a Privacy Sandbox technology that is set to become widely available in early 2024.

This API allows advertisers to continue reaching their audiences after the third-party cookie phase-out.

What Is The Protected Audience API?

The Protected Audience API offers a novel approach to remarketing, which involves reminding users about sites and products they have shown interest in without relying on third-party cookies.

Screenshot from Google, December 2023google analytics 4 privacy sandbox protected audience API lifecycle

This method involves advertisers informing the browser directly about their interest in showing ads to users in the future.

The browser then uses an algorithm to determine which ads to display based on the user’s web activity and advertiser inputs.

It enables on-device auctions by the browser, allowing it to choose relevant ads from sites previously visited by the user without tracking their browsing behavior across different sites.

Key Features And Development

Key features of the Protected Audience API include interest groups stored by the browser, on-device bidding and ad selection, and ad rendering in a temporarily relaxed version of Fenced Frames.

The API also supports a key/value service for real-time information retrieval, which can be used by both buyers and sellers for various purposes, such as budget calculation or policy compliance.

The Protected Audience API, initially known as the FLEDGE API, has evolved from an experimental stage to a more mature phase, reflecting its readiness for wider implementation.

This transition is part of Google’s broader efforts to develop privacy-preserving APIs and technologies in collaboration with industry stakeholders and regulatory bodies like the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

The Protected Audience API offers a new way to connect with users while respecting their privacy, necessitating a reevaluation of current advertising strategies and a focus on adapting to these emerging technologies.

Support For Enhanced Conversions

Rolling out in the next few weeks, enhanced conversions is a feature enhancing conversion measurement accuracy.

enhanced conversion for webScreenshot from Google, December 2023enhanced conversion for web

Enhanced conversions for the web cater to advertisers tracking online sales and events. It captures and hashes customer data like email addresses during a conversion on the web, then matches this with Google accounts linked to ad interactions.

This method recovers unmeasured conversions, optimizes bidding, and maintains data privacy.

For leads, enhanced conversions track sales from website leads occurring offline. It uses hashed data from website forms, like email addresses, to measure offline conversions.

Setup options for enhanced conversions include Google Tag Manager, a Google tag, or the Google Ads API, with third-party partner support available.

Advertisers can import offline conversion data for Google Ads from Salesforce, Zapier, and HubSpot with Google Click Identifier (GCLID).

Proper Consent Setup

To effectively use Google’s enhanced privacy features, it’s essential to have proper user consent mechanisms in place, particularly for traffic from the European Economic Area (EEA).

Google’s EU user consent policy mandates consent collection for personal data usage in measurement, ad personalization, and remarketing features. This policy extends to website tags, app SDKs, and data uploads like offline conversion imports.

Google has updated the consent mode API to include parameters for user data consent and personalized advertising.

Advertisers using Google-certified consent management platforms (CMPs) will see automatic updates to the latest consent mode, while those with self-managed banners should upgrade to consent mode v2.

Implementing consent mode allows you to adjust Google tag behavior based on user consent, ensuring compliance and enabling conversion modeling for comprehensive reporting and optimization.

Consent Mode integration with CMPs simplifies managing consent banners and the consent management process, adjusting data collection based on user choices and supporting behavioral modeling for a complete view of consumer performance.

Durable Ad Performance With AI Essentials

To effectively utilize AI, marketers need robust measurement and audience tools for confident decision-making.

Google provided a general checklist of AI essentials for Google advertisers. In it, advertisers are encouraged to adopt AI-powered search and Performance Max campaigns, engage in Smart Bidding, and explore video campaigns on platforms like YouTube.

Google also offers a more in-depth checklist for Google Ads, Display & Video 360, and Campaign Manager 360.

google ads durable performance measurement aiScreenshot from Google, December 2023google ads durable performance measurement ai

More Ways To Prepare For The Third-Party Cookie Phase Out

As third-party cookies are phased out, it’s essential to audit and modify web code, especially focusing on instances of SameSite=None using tools like Chrome DevTools.

Adapting to this change involves understanding and managing both third-party and first-party cookies, ensuring they are set correctly for cross-site contexts and compliance.

Chrome provides solutions like Partitioned cookies with CHIPS and Related Website Sets.

At the same time, the Privacy Sandbox introduces APIs for privacy-centric alternatives, with additional support for enterprise-managed Chrome and ongoing development of tools and trials to assist in the transition.

As Google continues to update resources and documentation to reflect these changes, stakeholders are encouraged to engage and provide feedback, ensuring that the evolution of these technologies aligns with industry needs and user privacy standards.


Featured image: Primakov/Shutterstock

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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.


Featured image: Tada Images/Shutterstock



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