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Key Trends & Opportunities In Search

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Key Trends & Opportunities In Search

Optimizing your site and webpages for search is complex enough without the additional regulatory concerns and other challenges inherent to the financial industry.

Digital governance, consumer privacy and trust, information accuracy, and the rapid pace of innovation in the sector are among the going concerns for financial brands.

Whether you’re in insurance, banking, wealth management, mortgages, fintech, or another facet of the financial services industry, there are some additional issues to work into your SEO strategy (on top of general SEO best practices).

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key trends that leaders in marketing and SEO need to keep an eye on in the months and years ahead.

You’ll also find proven tips throughout to help improve the efficacy of your efforts to rank higher in search, convert more searchers to customers, and protect your brand while enhancing your online visibility in search.

1. Digital Transformation Is Driving Evolving Customer Needs

Even prior to the onset of the pandemic, Adobe’s 2021 Digital Trends: Financial Services & Insurance in Focus report found that 54% of financial services and insurance firms surveyed had reported unusual growth in digital/mobile visitors in the six months prior to that early 2021 survey.

Then COVID-19 changed everything.

Customers’ informational needs and the ways in which appointments, consultations, transactions, and contracts were handled changed almost overnight as much of the world went into lockdown.

Fintech and the promise of decentralized finance via cryptocurrencies had already shaken up antiquated, paper-based legacy systems and the pandemic accelerated the pace of change by years.

Adobe’s survey also found that 61% of retail banks said legacy systems were a top challenge holding their marketing and customer experience organizations back (followed by workflow issues for 44% and a lack of digital skills/capabilities for 42%).

Screenshot from Econsultancy, January 2022.

Operational costs for fintech brands may be up to 70% lower than traditional banks, thanks to their lean operating models and structures.

Even so, says KPMG’s Anton Ruddenklau, Global Co-Leader – Fintech:

“Before COVID-19, we were already seeing an increase in the corporate venture arms of the large banks actively buying up promising fintechs and start-ups. As we emerge into the recovery and beyond, we can expect this to accelerate.

The incumbent giants are likely to acknowledge that they need a greater degree of scaled collaboration with fintech players to bring more digitized services and benefits to their customers.”

Fintech is not a clear winner in the search space by virtue of its digitized services and benefits; not by a long shot.

We’ve moved beyond all transactions and inquiries taking place in person or over the phone.

Today, financial services customers expect self-serve options at every stage of their journey, from discovery and comparing their options through consultation, transaction, and service.

Brands that are best able to meet these expectations and customers’ increasing informational needs are best-positioned to succeed in search.

How you convey these offerings in organic and local search is key.

Financial brands not only have to create the best experiences but be able to demonstrate to search engines that they are the best answer to relevant queries, as well.

Tips And Takeaways

Leverage Proper Schema Markup For All Webpages

The most commonly used Schema types in banking are Articles, Image Objects, and FAQ.

Though not specific to banking, they help search engines like Google to better understand your content.

Make Sure You Know Who Your Competitors Are

It may not be who you think.

In addition to direct competitors in your space, you may also be competing against industry publications and media, regulatory bodies and other informational sources, local businesses, YouTube channels, podcasts, and more for share of voice in the SERPs.

Conduct Surveys And Analyze Your Seo Data For Customer Insights

Consumer-centric media and ecommerce experiences have raised the bar as far as what consumers expect of content personalization.

They now expect that the technologies they interact with will programmatically learn their preferences and tailor the experience accordingly.

2. Your Opportunities To Appear In The SERPs Are Growing

As Google strives to better understand searcher intent and provide better answers to increasingly complex queries, we’re seeing more differentiation than ever in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google’s new Multitask Unified Model, or MUM, technology is already in play.

MUM enables Google to better understand content in different languages, formats, and content types.

Now, we’re seeing new results types being tested, such as this enhanced Autocomplete box that adds an extra dimension to the results, depending on what Google perceives the searcher’s intent to be.

Optimizing for Featured Snippets is a best practice that can present valuable opportunities to expand your presence in search.

Structuring and marking up content in specific ways – as a numbered or bulleted list, or table, for example – can help Google understand when your webpage might be a good candidate for a featured snippet.

Research by BrightEdge (disclosure: my company) shows that the SERPs for financial services queries tend to contain a variety of universal listing elements depending on the type of query.

We’ve seen that higher-funnel, “I-Want-To-Know” queries like [best investment apps] and [how to invest] bring back Quick answers boxes and People Also Ask dropdowns, for example.

Understanding which SERP features are available by keyword and search intent is essential for this strategy.

Incorporating original, high-quality video and imagery in your webpage content gives you more opportunities to appear in rich results, as well.

And in local search results (the Map Pack), we saw the addition of new attributes for various sectors of the financial services industry added throughout the pandemic

Which Google Business Profile attributes are available to your listing depends on its primary category.

Banks, insurance agencies, and mortgage brokers, for example, can use attributes for online appointments, appointment links, ATMs, drive-thru services, and more.

More broadly available attributes enable you to share health and safety information, COVID-19 guidelines and safety measures, accessibility information, and more.

See the Complete Guide to Google Attributes for Local SEO to learn more.

Tips And Takeaways

Explore SERPs For Your Most Valuable Keywords

Look for opportunities to outrank competitors in unique SERPs features or by being the first-mover where opportunities for richer results may exist.

When Creating And Optimizing Content, Focus On Topical Relevance And Context

As opposed to making sure you use the keyword multiple times on a page.

Of the top 1000 banking terms, our research has found that pages that rank #1 use that top keyword just once, on average.

Context is more important than keyword density for banking.

Consider New Content Length Carefully

While we know word count is not a ranking factor, our research has found that the average word count for pages in the top three positions across the top 1000 banking terms is 1,240 words.

While this shouldn’t be considered a hard and fast rule, we do see more comprehensive content achieving higher rankings in this sector.

Be sure to analyze your own SERPs and aim to provide the most comprehensive and highest quality content for each target keyword.

3. Consumer Trust And Information Accuracy Are Increasingly Important In SEO

COVID-19 brought with it a massive transition to online and unfortunately, an associated onslaught of misinformation, cyber-attacks, scams, and fraud.

Bad actors raced to capitalize on increased online searches around and searches for payday loans, grants, jobs, and other help as consumers’ financial concerns grew.

In its pursuit to always provide the best answer for each query, Google has had its hands full algorithmically weeding out results that have the potential to negatively impact searchers.

Finance sites fall into a category Google calls Your Money or Your Life (YMYL), in which websites are held to a higher standard

A concept called E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – factors heavily into YMYL site rankings as Google aims to surface the highest quality answers in its rankings.

Google recommends that those in the YMYL category self-assess your content, asking, “Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?”

Tips And Takeaways

Get To Know Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines

Though not a ranking factor themselves, Google encourages content publishers to refer to this resource “for advice on great content.”

Incorporate Regular Content Audits And Updates Into Your SEO Strategy

Ensure that any outdated information is promptly removed from Google Posts, the blog, etc.

This is not only an SEO best practice but a regulatory requirement for many in the financial services sector, as well.

Don’t Ignore Your Presence In Social Media

When we look at who has the top share of voice for the top 1000 banking terms, Facebook is in the top 5 for organic winning many bank names and even non-brand terms.

Ensuring your profiles are complete and using targeted terms can give you another resource to win visibility in search beyond your website’s listings.

4. Finance Becomes Mobile-First

Visiting ATMs to withdraw for cash purchases, meeting up with a financial advisor, and visiting the local branch for lending needs are not yet obsolete but certainly giving way to more self-serve options.

Digital natives – that is, those who prefer to conduct their banking digitally and have no use for branches or offices at all – made up 32% of PwC’s 2021 Digital Banking Consumer Survey.

And often, consumers are conducting these activities on their mobile phones.

Retail banking has become an omnichannel experience for many.

And as McKinsey experts said in their article Transforming the US consumer bank for the next normal.

“To boost digital customer experience, banks need to design their solutions based on a deep understanding of what drives customer perceptions of convenience. For a long time, this meant a branch on every corner.

Today, while physical presence remains important, convenience also correlates with the ease, speed, and simplicity of an omnichannel experience.”

Google understands the importance of this ease of use, simplicity, and speed – so much so that its Page Experience update and Core Web Vitals metrics made meeting these objectives even more impactful in its search ranking algorithms.

Finance consumers are looking for intuitive apps, seamless cross-channel experiences, personalized service and offers, and near real-time decisions.

Transactions such as loan applications or mortgage pre-approvals that used to involve a series of in-person appointments and a great deal of paperwork can now come back in minutes.

It is imperative that the pages these tools live on and other informational content load near-instantly – or consumers will move on to the next result.

Tips And Takeaways

Mobile Security Is Mission-critical

With digital adoption comes enhanced consumer expectations that their privacy and financial data are being protected.

Optimize For Voice Search

With greater reliance on mobile devices and the proliferation of voice-enabled in-home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa, optimizing for these types of queries is key.

Fully 71% of consumers prefer to use voice for search queries as opposed to typing, according to PwC.

Voice-optimized content may differ in a variety of ways including structure, the intent being targeted, content length, format, and markup.

Measure And Optimize For Core Web Vitals

Your rankings will not suffer directly if this is not an area of focus. However, Google gives those who meet its CWV requirements a “boost” in search rankings and in competitive finance spaces, this could really move the needle.

Conclusion

Following Google’s best practices and keeping pace with algorithmic change is essential for SEO in the Financial Services sector.

It is also equally as important to ensure that marketers utilize market insights to stay ahead of category and consumer trends and automate to quickly fix site content for search compliance.

The competition is always high in the finance and banking sectors and with the rise of fintech, SEO can help financial brands stay on top.

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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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