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Three must-have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under 30 minutes

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Three must-have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under 30 minutes

30-second summary:

  • If conveying the value to C-suite wasn’t challenging enough, SEOs are now having to deal with the GA4 shift
  • Does your SEO reporting take hours or days? Is it too detailed, or not detailed enough?
  • Buy back some time for a cuppa and a catch-up, use this super-detailed guide that will save you hours and get you the most effective GA4 reports

Have you experienced this… desperately trying to find where your favorite GA3 reports are hiding inside the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

The process can feel daunting for all teams–including SEO teams looking to trace the impact of their search engine optimization efforts on the website’s overall performance. That is because many GA3 (also known as Universal Analytics) reports are either difficult to locate or need to be custom-built from scratch inside the new GA4.

That’s where these three reports come in!

Here are the three GA4 SEO “P” reports we will be creating together in GA4

1. SEO Pages report

Which of our web pages are successfully ranking in the search engines and generating the most traffic, conversions, and sales for the business? With this report, you can instantly pinpoint the pages that need more “SEO” optimization so you can increase your website’s traffic, conversions, and sales.

2. SEO Profiles report

What locations, interests, age groups, and other characteristics define our SEO audience? With this report, you can confidently define or redefine your ideal customer–so you can attract more of them.

3. SEO Paths report

How do our organic search traffic visitors navigate our website? What is their most common path to conversion? With this report, you can quickly discover and remove any roadblocks that are preventing your visitors from converting into leads and customers.

So we’re all on the same page: Throughout this article, I will use the phrases SEO traffic, organic search traffic, and organic traffic synonymously. They all mean people who typed a query into Google, looked through the unpaid (non-ad) search results, and then clicked through to your website.

Step 1: Create your SEO Pages report

One of the time-saving beauties of Google Analytics 4 is the Explore feature which allows us to create fully custom reports from scratch. We will use this feature to create our SEO Pages report. Quick note: Google has announced a new landing page report in GA4 that you can use to build this report as well. For now, let’s keep going with the quick and easy steps outlined in this article.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu
  2. Click Blank. On the next screen, click Blank
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Blank, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Name exploration. Under “Variables” change the Untitled exploration to SEO Pages. You have now named your report.
  2. Create Organic Search segment. Click the + sign next to “SEGMENTS” > User segment > At the top, change the segment name from “Untitled segment” to “Organic Search Traffic” > Add new condition > search for and click on First user medium > click Add Filter > select contains > type and select organic > Apply. You have just created a segment (or filter) that automatically only displays information about your organic search traffic in the report you’re about to create.
  3. We’re going to bulk-add: Now that you have created your organic search traffic segment, it’s time to build a custom report, then apply your segment to it. In the coming steps, we will bulk-add all the metrics and all the dimensions we will need for all three SEO “P” reports.
  4. Add Landing Page dimension. Click the + sign next to DIMENSIONS > in the search box, type landing page and when it appears, check the Landing Page + query string box.
  5. Add additional dimensions. Repeat the previous steps by searching for and checking the checkboxes of the following dimensions:
    1. Device category
    2. Browser
    3. Country
    4. City
    5. Type “demographic” and check all the demographic dimensions you want to report on, such as Age, Gender, and Interests. Note: For these selections to report any data, you will need to enable the Google Signals functionality in GA4 which you can do by opening another tab and going to Admin > Data Settings > Data Collection > Get Started > Continue > Activate. Be sure to read Google’s policy to ensure that it complies with your organization’s privacy requirements If not, skip this bullet.
  6. Import all dimensions at once. After the final dimension’s checkbox has been checked, click the Import button to bulk-import all of the dimensions into your exploration report.
  7. Add Entrances metric. Click the + sign next to METRICS > in the search box, type entrances and when it appears, check the Entrances box.
  8. Add additional metrics. Repeat the previous steps by searching for and checking the checkboxes of the following metrics:
    1. Entrances
    2. Views
    3. Views per user
    4. Engagement rate
    5. Bounce rate
    6. Conversions
    7. Session conversion rate
    8. User conversion rate
    9. New users
    10. Returning users
    11. Total users
    12. eCommerce revenue (if you have an eCommerce website)
    13. Optional step: Add other metrics–If you prefer to use different metrics than the ones listed above, GA4 makes it very easy to do so. Just leave the search box blank and use the “All” column to expand and add additional metrics you’re interested in. Hovering over a metric shows a definition of the metric, which is very helpful. You are free to do this now, or later. For now, let’s keep going.
  9. Import all metrics at once. After the final metric’s checkbox has been checked, click the Import button to bulk-import all of the metrics into your exploration report.
  10. Name the report. Rename the Free form report to Landing pages by clicking and typing over it.
  11. Add dimension to the report row. Double-click the “Landing page + query string” item under DIMENSIONS > this will add it to the “ROWS” section under the “Tab Setting” section.
  12. Add metrics to the report column. One by one, Double-click the following items under METRICS and they will be added to the columns of the report we are building: Entrances, Views, Views per user, Conversions, Session conversion rate, User conversion rate.
  13. Change cell type. Under the “Tab Setting” section, scroll down and change the Cell type to Heat map.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Pages report.

How to read your SEO Pages report

What the SEO Pages report tells you

Because the SEO Pages report uses the Organic Search Traffic segment that we created, here’s what the report tells you: The pages of your website that are responsible for generating the most organic search traffic, conversions, and sales to your business. (You can change the time frame on the left to adjust to different periods.)

Now what? 

Are these the pages you expected? Any pages glaringly missing from the report? This report helps you quickly pinpoint the pages that need more “SEO” optimization.

How? Because if you notice that key pages of your website–perhaps your core product pages, your main service pages, the big blog post your team spent weeks on, etc.–are missing from or are near the bottom of the SEO Pages report, this means those key pages are likely not ranking well in the search engines when your prospects are “googling.”

This tells you that it’s time to optimize these pages so they can start generating more traffic, conversions, and sales for the business. If you’re not sure how to optimize your web pages, see SEO Sprints on SprintMarketer.com.

Bonus Tip: Sorting

If you want to sort the report by another metric other than Entrances–for example, conversions–simply drag that metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.” In doing so, you will be able to quickly report on which pages of your site are responsible for generating the most conversions from SEO traffic.

Step 2: Create your SEO Profiles report

Because we’ve already created the SEO Pages report, we will use a shortcut to create the SEO Profiles report. Let’s dive in.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu.
  2. Duplicate the SEO Pages report. On the next screen, find your SEO Pages report > click the 3 dots to the right of your SEO Pages report > select Duplicate.
    GA4 SEO reports - SEO Pages
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Duplicate, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Rename the duplicated report. A new report will appear and it will be named “Copy of SEO Pages” > click the 3 dots to the right of that report > select Rename > change the name to “SEO Profiles” > Submit.
  2. Create your Device category report to profile the devices your SEO traffic uses to access your website.
    1. Open the report. Click on the name of your SEO Profiles report to open it > now it’s time to modify our dimensions so you only see the dimensions that give you insight into the “profiles” of your SEO visitors.
    2. Remove old dimension. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over the Landing page + query string dimension located under “ROWS” > then click on the X to remove it from the list of dimensions. This will make your report “disappear” because there is no dimension selected, but not to worry–we will bring it back right away.
    3. Add new dimension. Double-click the Device category dimension. This will move the Device category dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column. Voila, your report has now reappeared.
      GA4 SEO reports - adding new dimensions
    4. Rename your table. Now that your Device category report has been created, you need to change the name of the table from Landing pages > Click on the words Landing pages > type “Device” > click Enter on your keyboard.
    5. Sorting. I prefer to sort this report by Total users so I can know the device preference of my individual users–this way, I’m not sorting by Views, Entrances, Sessions, or other metrics that may be inflated by a small number of users who visit frequently. To sort the report by Total users, simply drag the Total users metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.”
    6. You’ve created valuable data. Your new Device category report gives you insight into the profile of your SEO traffic by telling you their preferred devices (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.). This is helpful in case your website experience is faulty or glitchy on certain devices, in which case if that device shows up near the top of your report, it should be a priority to fix those issues.
  3. Create your Browser report to profile the browsers your SEO traffic uses to access your website.
    1. Duplicate. Creating this report will be a breeze because you only need to duplicate the previous report and make some quick changes. Click on the arrow next to “Device” > select Duplicate
    2. Rename table. A new table will appear. Let’s rename it > Click on the words Device in the new table > type “Browser” > click Enter on your keyboard.
    3. Remove old dimension. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over the Device category dimension located under “ROWS” > then click on the X to remove it from the list of dimensions. This will make your report “disappear” because there is no dimension selected, but not to worry–we will bring it back right away.
    4. Add new dimension. Double-click the Browser dimension. This will move the Browser dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column. Voila, your report has now reappeared.
    5. Sorting. Make sure your table is sorted by Total users. If not, here’s how: To sort the report by Total users, simply drag the Total users metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.”
    6. You’ve created valuable data. Your new Browser report gives you insight into the profile of your SEO traffic by telling you their preferred browsers. This is helpful in case your website experience is faulty or glitchy on certain browsers, in which case if that browser shows up near the top of your report, it should be a priority to fix those issues.
  4. Create your additional profile reports. Follow the steps in bullet 5 to create tables for all the additional dimensions such as City, Country, Age, Gender, Interest, and any other dimensions you may have added in Step 3 when you created your SEO Pages report.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Profiles report.

How to read your SEO Profiles report

What the SEO Profiles report tells you

Each tab of your new SEO Profiles report provides an insight into your SEO audience. For example, you know their device preferences, their browser preferences, their ages, their interests, their top locations, and more. (You can change the time frame on the left to adjust to different periods.)

Now what? 

With this information, you can confidently define or redefine who your ideal customer is and use this invaluable information to:

  • Rework the wording your use on your website so it’s more effective for this group
  • Redefine the audiences you’re using for your ads (if you’re running ads)
  • Update the wording you use in your offline messages to align with your audience and more.

Understanding who your audience is and speaking their language is a marketing superpower that can create emotional connections between you and your potential customers, and drive up conversions and sales.

Step 3: Create your SEO Paths report

IMPORTANT: Do you have events set up? This SEO Paths report requires that you have added events and conversions to your GA4 property. For example, have you configured your “purchase” or “lead” events so GA4 knows how to spot your conversions? If not, search for articles on this site, or see Analytics (GA4) Sprints on SprintMarketer.com.

 

In this step, we will build two powerful reports. The first one is your Traffic Flow report which tells you how all SEO visitors navigate your website, and the second is your Conversion Flow report which tells you how your *SEO visitors who converted into leads or sales* navigated your website.

Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu.
  2. Duplicate the SEO Pages report. On the next screen, find your SEO Pages report > click the 3 dots to the right of your SEO Pages report > select Duplicate.
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Duplicate, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Rename the duplicated report. A new report will appear and it will be named “Copy of SEO Pages” > click the 3 dots to the right of that report > select Rename > change the name to “SEO Paths ” > Submit.
  2. Open the report. Click on the name of your SEO Paths report to open it > now it’s time to modify your report. Let’s dive in.
  3. Start new report. Click the + sign next to the Landing Pages report > Select Path exploration.

  4. Click Start over. Click Start over to clear everything in the existing report.
  5. Delete old report. Click on the old Landing Pages report > click on the arrow next to its name < select Delete.
  6. Rename report. Let’s give your report a more intuitive name. Click on the words Path exploration in the report > type Traffic Flow > click Enter on your keyboard.
  7. Add new dimension. Double-click the Device category dimension. This will move the Device category dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column.
  8. Apply segment. Double-click the Organic Search Traffic segment to apply it to the new report (since we started over).
  9. Remove old metrics. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over Event count located under “METRICS” > then click on the X to remove it from the report.
  10. Add new metric. Double-click the Total users metric. This will move the Total users metric under “METRICS” in the “Tab Settings” column and apply it to your report.
  11. Build your Traffic Flow report. This report shows how your SEO visitors navigated your site once they landed on it. This is a fantastic report for confirming whether the path you think people should take is indeed the path they are taking.
    1. Set Starting Point. Let’s begin by telling this report what we consider a starting point for traffic to our website. Click Drop or select node inside the Starting Point text on the report > select Event name > select session_start

    2. Rename steps. Click on the dropdown menu under STEP +1 > select Page title and screen name. This will expose the names of the pages that your visitors visit during their session. The bigger groupings represent the most visited pages.
    3. Reading this report. For example, in the screenshot below, I can see that, for the date range selected, after leaving the Google Online Store, the majority of the SEO visitors navigated to the Home page followed by the Men’s / Unisex Apparel page, followed by several other pages. I now know that people go back to the home page when I don’t expect them to–which could indicate that the calls-to-action on the Google Online Store page may not be clear.
    4. Add more paths. (1) Double-click any blue bar to expose additional visitor paths and see how your visitors navigated from one page to another. (2) Hover your mouse over any blue bar to see that page’s visitor breakdown by Device category. See the screenshot below.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Traffic Flow report.

  1. Build your Conversion Flow report. This report is a superb companion to the Traffic Flow report because it shows how users who converted navigated your site before they converted. This is a fantastic report for verifying if the funnel you think people should take is indeed the funnel they are taking.
    1. Duplicate. Click the arrow next to the Traffic Flow report > Duplicate > Rename the new report Conversion Flow > click Start over to clear the existing report. It’s now time to quickly create your Conversion Flow report.
    2. Set Ending Point. Let’s begin by telling this report what we consider to be an ending point (conversion event). Click Drop or select node inside the Ending Point text on the report > select Event name > search for and choose the event that represents the conversion you’ve set up for your website, for example, purchase, generate_lead, or etc.

    3. Rename steps. Click on the dropdown menu under STEP +1 > select Page title and screen name. This will expose the names of the pages that your visitors visit during their session. The bigger groupings represent the most visited pages.
    4. Reading this report. For example, in the screenshot below, I can see that, for the date range selected, the weakest link in the checkout process is from the Shopping Cart to the Checkout. Now I know that we need to get better at encouraging people to check out once they’ve added items to their cart.
    5. Add more paths as needed. (1) Double-click any blue bar to expose additional visitor paths and see how your visitors navigated from one page to another.(2) Hover your mouse over any blue bar to see that page’s visitor breakdown by Device category. See the screenshot below.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Conversion Flow report.

How to read your SEO Paths report

What the SEO Paths report tells you

With your Traffic Flow report, you can now observe exactly how your SEO visitors experience your website and make fixes where unexpected behavior might be occurring.

With your Conversion Flow report, you can now observe the most common steps your SEO visitors take while converting into leads or customers–and you can use this knowledge to make fixes where unexpected behavior might be occurring.

Now what? 

How do our organic search traffic visitors navigate our website? What is their most common path to conversion?

Maybe you need to add a call-to-action on one of your drop-off pages, so visitors know exactly what their next step should be.

Maybe you need to add an upsell to your checkout process so you can increase your transaction value.

Maybe you need to remove or completely rework a certain page because it’s proving to have the highest drop-off rate in the funnel.

Understanding and removing roadblocks from your users’ experience is a powerful marketing technique that can help you generate more conversions and sales from your existing traffic without having to generate new traffic.

Let’s summarize

Google Analytics 4 can feel daunting for all marketers, and SEOs are no exception. But with these quick and mighty GA4 SEO “P” reports, those of us who manage search engine optimization campaigns can easily monitor and communicate the impact of organic search traffic on the business.

Bonus: Sharing your GA4 SEO reports

When you first create an exploration, only you can see it. Would it be valuable for you to share your 3 reports with other members of your team? If so, this bonus is for you.

Sharing your Explore reports

  1. Click on the report you want to share
  2. In the upper right, click Share exploration
  3. That’s it. Anyone who has a Viewer role (or higher) in your GA4 property will be able to see your report when they log in and go to Explore.
  4. If you’re not sure how to create Viewers or any other roles inside GA4, it’s very easy. Just go to Admin > click Access Management in the Account or Property column > Assign roles to new or existing members. If you get stuck here, check out this access management article from Google.

Exporting your Explore reports

  1. In the upper right, click Export data.
  2. Select the export format:
  • Google Sheets
  • TSV (tab-separated values)
  • CSV (comma-separated values)
  • PDF
  • PDF (all tabs)

When you export to Sheets, TSV, or CSV formats, all the data available in the selected visualization is exported. This may be more data than is currently displayed. When you export to PDF, only the data currently displayed in the visualization is saved.

Happy SEO GA4 reporting!


Mary Owusu is CEO at Sprint Marketer, Professor of Digital Marketing & Analytics, President-Elect at the Digital Analytics Association Board. Mary is also an ATHENA Award Winner and FOUR Under 40 Emerging Leaders (AMA).

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

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SEO

11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

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11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

ChatGPT produces content that is comprehensive and plausibly accurate.

But researchers, artists, and professors warn of shortcomings to be aware of which degrade the quality of the content.

In this article, we’ll look at 11 disadvantages of ChatGPT content. Let’s dive in.

1. Phrase Usage Makes It Detectable As Non-Human

Researchers studying how to detect machine-generated content have discovered patterns that make it sound unnatural.

One of these quirks is how AI struggles with idioms.

An idiom is a phrase or saying with a figurative meaning attached to it, for example, “every cloud has a silver lining.” 

A lack of idioms within a piece of content can be a signal that the content is machine-generated – and this can be part of a detection algorithm.

This is what the 2022 research paper Adversarial Robustness of Neural-Statistical Features in Detection of Generative Transformers says about this quirk in machine-generated content:

“Complex phrasal features are based on the frequency of specific words and phrases within the analyzed text that occur more frequently in human text.

…Of these complex phrasal features, idiom features retain the most predictive power in detection of current generative models.”

This inability to use idioms contributes to making ChatGPT output sound and read unnaturally.

2. ChatGPT Lacks Ability For Expression

An artist commented on how the output of ChatGPT mimics what art is, but lacks the actual qualities of artistic expression.

Expression is the act of communicating thoughts or feelings.

ChatGPT output doesn’t contain expressions, only words.

It cannot produce content that touches people emotionally on the same level as a human can – because it has no actual thoughts or feelings.

Musical artist Nick Cave, in an article posted to his Red Hand Files newsletter, commented on a ChatGPT lyric that was sent to him, which was created in the style of Nick Cave.

He wrote:

“What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work.

…it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.”

Cave called the ChatGPT lyrics a mockery.

This is the ChatGPT lyric that resembles a Nick Cave lyric:

“I’ve got the blood of angels, on my hands
I’ve got the fire of hell, in my eyes
I’m the king of the abyss, I’m the ruler of the dark
I’m the one that they fear, in the shadows they hark”

And this is an actual Nick Cave lyric (Brother, My Cup Is Empty):

“Well I’ve been sliding down on rainbows
I’ve been swinging from the stars
Now this wretch in beggar’s clothing
Bangs his cup across the bars
Look, this cup of mine is empty!
Seems I’ve misplaced my desires
Seems I’m sweeping up the ashes
Of all my former fires”

It’s easy to see that the machine-generated lyric resembles the artist’s lyric, but it doesn’t really communicate anything.

Nick Cave’s lyrics tell a story that resonates with the pathos, desire, shame, and willful deception of the person speaking in the song. It expresses thoughts and feelings.

It’s easy to see why Nick Cave calls it a mockery.

3. ChatGPT Does Not Produce Insights

An article published in The Insider quoted an academic who noted that academic essays generated by ChatGPT lack insights about the topic.

ChatGPT summarizes the topic but does not offer a unique insight into the topic.

Humans create through knowledge, but also through their personal experience and subjective perceptions.

Professor Christopher Bartel of Appalachian State University is quoted by The Insider as saying that, while a ChatGPT essay may exhibit high grammar qualities and sophisticated ideas, it still lacked insight.

Bartel said:

“They are really fluffy. There’s no context, there’s no depth or insight.”

Insight is the hallmark of a well-done essay and it’s something that ChatGPT is not particularly good at.

This lack of insight is something to keep in mind when evaluating machine-generated content.

4. ChatGPT Is Too Wordy

A research paper published in January 2023 discovered patterns in ChatGPT content that makes it less suitable for critical applications.

The paper is titled, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? Comparison Corpus, Evaluation, and Detection.

The research showed that humans preferred answers from ChatGPT in more than 50% of questions answered related to finance and psychology.

But ChatGPT failed at answering medical questions because humans preferred direct answers – something the AI didn’t provide.

The researchers wrote:

“…ChatGPT performs poorly in terms of helpfulness for the medical domain in both English and Chinese.

The ChatGPT often gives lengthy answers to medical consulting in our collected dataset, while human experts may directly give straightforward answers or suggestions, which may partly explain why volunteers consider human answers to be more helpful in the medical domain.”

ChatGPT tends to cover a topic from different angles, which makes it inappropriate when the best answer is a direct one.

Marketers using ChatGPT must take note of this because site visitors requiring a direct answer will not be satisfied with a verbose webpage.

And good luck ranking an overly wordy page in Google’s featured snippets, where a succinct and clearly expressed answer that can work well in Google Voice may have a better chance to rank than a long-winded answer.

OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, acknowledges that giving verbose answers is a known limitation.

The announcement article by OpenAI states:

“The model is often excessively verbose…”

The ChatGPT bias toward providing long-winded answers is something to be mindful of when using ChatGPT output, as you may encounter situations where shorter and more direct answers are better.

5. ChatGPT Content Is Highly Organized With Clear Logic

ChatGPT has a writing style that is not only verbose but also tends to follow a template that gives the content a unique style that isn’t human.

This inhuman quality is revealed in the differences between how humans and machines answer questions.

The movie Blade Runner has a scene featuring a series of questions designed to reveal whether the subject answering the questions is a human or an android.

These questions were a part of a fictional test called the “Voigt-Kampff test“.

One of the questions is:

“You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. What do you do?”

A normal human response would be to say something like they would scream, walk outside and swat it, and so on.

But when I posed this question to ChatGPT, it offered a meticulously organized answer that summarized the question and then offered logical multiple possible outcomes – failing to answer the actual question.

Screenshot Of ChatGPT Answering A Voight-Kampff Test Question

Screenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

The answer is highly organized and logical, giving it a highly unnatural feel, which is undesirable.

6. ChatGPT Is Overly Detailed And Comprehensive

ChatGPT was trained in a way that rewarded the machine when humans were happy with the answer.

The human raters tended to prefer answers that had more details.

But sometimes, such as in a medical context, a direct answer is better than a comprehensive one.

What that means is that the machine needs to be prompted to be less comprehensive and more direct when those qualities are important.

From OpenAI:

“These issues arise from biases in the training data (trainers prefer longer answers that look more comprehensive) and well-known over-optimization issues.”

7. ChatGPT Lies (Hallucinates Facts)

The above-cited research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts?, noted that ChatGPT has a tendency to lie.

It reports:

“When answering a question that requires professional knowledge from a particular field, ChatGPT may fabricate facts in order to give an answer…

For example, in legal questions, ChatGPT may invent some non-existent legal provisions to answer the question.

…Additionally, when a user poses a question that has no existing answer, ChatGPT may also fabricate facts in order to provide a response.”

The Futurism website documented instances where machine-generated content published on CNET was wrong and full of “dumb errors.”

CNET should have had an idea this could happen, because OpenAI published a warning about incorrect output:

“ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”

CNET claims to have submitted the machine-generated articles to human review prior to publication.

A problem with human review is that ChatGPT content is designed to sound persuasively correct, which may fool a reviewer who is not a topic expert.

8. ChatGPT Is Unnatural Because It’s Not Divergent

The research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? also noted that human communication can have indirect meaning, which requires a shift in topic to understand it.

ChatGPT is too literal, which causes the answers to sometimes miss the mark because the AI overlooks the actual topic.

The researchers wrote:

“ChatGPT’s responses are generally strictly focused on the given question, whereas humans’ are divergent and easily shift to other topics.

In terms of the richness of content, humans are more divergent in different aspects, while ChatGPT prefers focusing on the question itself.

Humans can answer the hidden meaning under the question based on their own common sense and knowledge, but the ChatGPT relies on the literal words of the question at hand…”

Humans are better able to diverge from the literal question, which is important for answering “what about” type questions.

For example, if I ask:

“Horses are too big to be a house pet. What about raccoons?”

The above question is not asking if a raccoon is an appropriate pet. The question is about the size of the animal.

ChatGPT focuses on the appropriateness of the raccoon as a pet instead of focusing on the size.

Screenshot of an Overly Literal ChatGPT Answer

11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT ContentScreenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

9. ChatGPT Contains A Bias Towards Being Neutral

The output of ChatGPT is generally neutral and informative. It’s a bias in the output that can appear helpful but isn’t always.

The research paper we just discussed noted that neutrality is an unwanted quality when it comes to legal, medical, and technical questions.

Humans tend to pick a side when offering these kinds of opinions.

10. ChatGPT Is Biased To Be Formal

ChatGPT output has a bias that prevents it from loosening up and answering with ordinary expressions. Instead, its answers tend to be formal.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to answer questions with a more colloquial style, using everyday language and slang – the opposite of formal.

ChatGPT doesn’t use abbreviations like GOAT or TL;DR.

The answers also lack instances of irony, metaphors, and humor, which can make ChatGPT content overly formal for some content types.

The researchers write:

“…ChatGPT likes to use conjunctions and adverbs to convey a logical flow of thought, such as “In general”, “on the other hand”, “Firstly,…, Secondly,…, Finally” and so on.

11. ChatGPT Is Still In Training

ChatGPT is currently still in the process of training and improving.

OpenAI recommends that all content generated by ChatGPT should be reviewed by a human, listing this as a best practice.

OpenAI suggests keeping humans in the loop:

“Wherever possible, we recommend having a human review outputs before they are used in practice.

This is especially critical in high-stakes domains, and for code generation.

Humans should be aware of the limitations of the system, and have access to any information needed to verify the outputs (for example, if the application summarizes notes, a human should have easy access to the original notes to refer back).”

Unwanted Qualities Of ChatGPT

It’s clear that there are many issues with ChatGPT that make it unfit for unsupervised content generation. It contains biases and fails to create content that feels natural or contains genuine insights.

Further, its inability to feel or author original thoughts makes it a poor choice for generating artistic expressions.

Users should apply detailed prompts in order to generate content that is better than the default content it tends to output.

Lastly, human review of machine-generated content is not always enough, because ChatGPT content is designed to appear correct, even when it’s not.

That means it’s important that human reviewers are subject-matter experts who can discern between correct and incorrect content on a specific topic.

More resources: 


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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

In this article, we’ll see how to find and fix technical SEO issues, but only those that can seriously affect your rankings.

If you’d like to follow along, get Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console (both are free) and check for the following issues.

Indexability is a webpage’s ability to be indexed by search engines. Pages that are not indexable can’t be displayed on the search engine results pages and can’t bring in any search traffic. 

Three requirements must be met for a page to be indexable:

  1. The page must be crawlable. If you haven’t blocked Googlebot from entering the page robots.txt or you have a website with fewer than 1,000 pages, you probably don’t have an issue there. 
  2. The page must not have a noindex tag (more on that in a bit).
  3. The page must be canonical (i.e., the main version). 

Solution

In Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):  

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Indexability report 
  3. Click on issues related to canonicalization and “noindex” to see affected pages
Indexability issues in Site Audit

For canonicalization issues in this report, you will need to replace bad URLs in the link rel="canonical" tag with valid ones (i.e., returning an “HTTP 200 OK”). 

As for pages marked by “noindex” issues, these are the pages with the “noindex” meta tag placed inside their code. Chances are most of the pages found in the report there should stay as is. But if you see any pages that shouldn’t be there, simply remove the tag. Do make sure those pages aren’t blocked by robots.txt first. 

Recommendation

Click on the question mark on the right to see instructions on how to fix each issue. For more detailed instructions, click on the “Learn more” link. 

Instruction on how to fix an SEO issue in Site Audit

A sitemap should contain only pages that you want search engines to index. 

When a sitemap isn’t regularly updated or an unreliable generator has been used to make it, a sitemap may start to show broken pages, pages that became “noindexed,” pages that were de-canonicalized, or pages blocked in robots.txt. 

Solution 

In AWT:

  1. Open Site Audit 
  2. Go to the All issues report
  3. Click on issues containing the word “sitemap” to find affected pages 
Sitemap issues shown in Site Audit

Depending on the issue, you will have to:

  • Delete the pages from the sitemap.
  • Remove the noindex tag on the pages (if you want to keep them in the sitemap). 
  • Provide a valid URL for the reported page. 

Google uses HTTPS encryption as a small ranking signal. This means you can experience lower rankings if you don’t have an SSL or TLS certificate securing your website. 

But even if you do, some pages and/or resources on your pages may still use the HTTP protocol. 

Solution 

Assuming you already have an SSL/TLS certificate for all subdomains (if not, do get one), open AWT and do these: 

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Internal pages report 
  3. Look at the protocol distribution graph and click on HTTP to see affected pages
  4. Inside the report showing pages, add a column for Final redirect URL 
  5. Make sure all HTTP pages are permanently redirected (301 or 308 redirects) to their HTTPS counterparts 
Protocol distribution graph
Internal pages issues report with added column

Finally, let’s check if any resources on the site still use HTTP: 

  1. Inside the Internal pages report, click on Issues
  2. Click on HTTPS/HTTP mixed content to view affected resources 
Site Audit reporting six HTTPS/HTTP mixed content issues

You can fix this issue by one of these methods:

  • Link to the HTTPS version of the resource (check this option first) 
  • Include the resource from a different host, if available 
  • Download and host the content on your site directly if you are legally allowed to do so
  • Exclude the resource from your site altogether

Learn more: What Is HTTPS? Everything You Need to Know 

Duplicate content happens when exact or near-duplicate content appears on the web in more than one place. 

It’s bad for SEO mainly for two reasons: It can cause undesirable URLs to show in search results and can dilute link equity

Content duplication is not necessarily a case of intentional or unintentional creation of similar pages. There are other less obvious causes such as faceted navigation, tracking parameters in URLs, or using trailing and non-trailing slashes

Solution 

First, check if your website is available under only one URL. Because if your site is accessible as:

  • http://domain.com
  • http://www.domain.com
  • https://domain.com
  • https://www.domain.com

Then Google will see all of those URLs as different websites. 

The easiest way to check if users can browse only one version of your website: type in all four variations in the browser, one by one, hit enter, and see if they get redirected to the master version (ideally, the one with HTTPS). 

You can also go straight into Site Audit’s Duplicates report. If you see 100% bad duplicates, that is likely the reason.

Duplicates report showing 100% bad duplicates
Simulation (other types of duplicates turned off).

In this case, choose one version that will serve as canonical (likely the one with HTTPS) and permanently redirect other versions to it. 

Then run a New crawl in Site Audit to see if there are any other bad duplicates left. 

Running a new crawl in Site Audit

There are a few ways you can handle bad duplicates depending on the case. Learn how to solve them in our guide

Learn more: Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It 

Pages that can’t be found (4XX errors) and pages returning server errors (5XX errors) won’t be indexed by Google so they won’t bring you any traffic. 

Furthermore, if broken pages have backlinks pointing to them, all of that link equity goes to waste. 

Broken pages are also a waste of crawl budget—something to watch out for on bigger websites. 

Solution

In AWT, you should: 

  1. Open Site Audit.
  2. Go to the Internal pages report.
  3. See if there are any broken pages. If so, the Broken section will show a number higher than 0. Click on the number to show affected pages.
Broken pages report in Site Audit

In the report showing pages with issues, it’s a good idea to add a column for the number of referring domains. This will help you make the decision on how to fix the issue. 

Internal pages report with no. of referring domains column added

Now, fixing broken pages (4XX error codes) is quite simple, but there is more than one possibility. Here’s a short graph explaining the process:

How to deal with broken pages

Dealing with server errors (the ones reporting a 5XX) can be a tougher one, as there are different possible reasons for a server to be unresponsive. Read this short guide for troubleshooting.

Recommendation

With AWT, you can also see 404s that were caused by incorrect links to your website. While this is not a technical issue per se, reclaiming those links may give you an additional SEO boost.

  1. Go to Site Explorer
  2. Enter your domain 
  3. Go to the Best by links report
  4. Add a “404 not found” filter
  5. Then sort the report by referring domains from high to low
How to find broken backlinks in Site Explorer
In this example, someone linked to us, leaving a comma inside the URL.

If you’ve already dealt with broken pages, chances are you’ve fixed most of the broken links issues. 

Other critical issues related to links are: 

  • Orphan pages – These are the pages without any internal links. Web crawlers have limited ability to access those pages (only from sitemap or backlinks), and there is no link equity flowing to them from other pages on your site. Last but not least, users won’t be able to access this page from the site navigation. 
  • HTTPS pages linking to internal HTTP pages – If an internal link on your website brings users to an HTTP URL, web browsers will likely show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

Solution

In AWT, you can:

  1. Go to Site Audit.
  2. Open the Links report.
  3. Open the Issues tab. 
  4. Look for the following issues in the Indexable category. Click to see affected pages. 
Important SEO issues related to links

Fix the first issue by changing the links from HTTP to HTTPS or simply delete those links if no longer needed.

For the second issue, an orphan page needs to be either linked to from some other page on your website or deleted if a given page holds no value to you.

Sidenote.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit can find orphan pages as long as they have backlinks or are included in the sitemap. For a more thorough search for this issue, you will need to analyze server logs to find orphan pages with hits. Find out how in this guide.

7. Mobile experience issues

Having a mobile-friendly website is a must for SEO. Two reasons: 

  1. Google uses mobile-first indexing – It’s mostly using the content of mobile pages for indexing and ranking.
  2. Mobile experience is part of the Page Experience signals – While Google will allegedly always “promote” the page with the best content, page experience can be a tiebreaker for pages offering content of similar quality. 

Solution

In GSC: 

  1. Go to the Mobile Usability report in the Experience section
  2. View affected pages by clicking on issues in the Why pages aren’t usable on mobile section 
Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console

You can read Google’s guide for fixing mobile issues here.  

8. Performance and stability issues 

Performance and visual stability are other aspects of Page Experience signals used by Google to rank pages. 

Google has developed a special set of metrics to measure user experience called Core Web Vitals (CWV). Site owners and SEOs can use those metrics to see how Google perceives their website in terms of UX. 

Google's search signals for page experience

While page experience can be a ranking tiebreaker, CWV is not a race. You don’t need to have the fastest website on the internet. You just need to score “good” ideally in all three categories: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. 

Three categories of Core Web Vitals

Solution 

In GSC: 

  1. First, click on Core Web Vitals in the Experience section of the reports.
  2. Then click Open report in each section to see how your website scores. 
  3. For pages that aren’t considered good, you’ll see a special section at the bottom of the report. Use it to see pages that need your attention.
How to find Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console
CWV issue report in Google Search Console

Optimizing for CWV may take some time. This may include things like moving to a faster (or closer) server, compressing images, optimizing CSS, etc. We explain how to do this in the third part of this guide to CWV. 

Bad website structure in the context of technical SEO is mainly about having important organic pages too deep into the website structure. 

Pages that are nested too deep (i.e., users need >6 clicks from the website to get to them) will receive less link equity from your homepage (likely the page with the most backlinks), which may affect their rankings. This is because link value diminishes with every link “hop.” 

Sidenote.

Website structure is important for other reasons too such as the overall user experience, crawl efficiency, and helping Google understand the context of your pages. Here, we’ll only focus on the technical aspect, but you can read more about the topic in our full guide: Website Structure: How to Build Your SEO Foundation.

Solution 

In AWT

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to Structure explorer, switch to the Depth tab, and set the data type to Data table
  3. Configure the Segment to only valid HTML pages and click Apply
  4. Use the graph to investigate pages with more than six clicks away from the homepage 
How to find site structure issues in Site Audit
Adding a new segment in Site Audit

The way to fix the issue is to link to these deeper nested pages from pages closer to the homepage. More important pages could find their place in site navigation, while less important ones can be just linked to the pages a few clicks closer.

It’s a good idea to weigh in user experience and the business role of your website when deciding what goes into sitewide navigation. 

For example, we could probably give our SEO glossary a slightly higher chance to get ahead of organic competitors by including it in the main site navigation. Yet we decided not to because it isn’t such an important page for users who are not particularly searching for this type of information. 

We’ve moved the glossary only up a notch by including a link inside the beginner’s guide to SEO (which itself is just one click away from the homepage). 

Structure explorer showing glossary page is two clicks away from the homepage
One page from the glossary folder is two clicks away from the homepage.
Link that moved SEO glossary a click closer to the homepage
Just one link, even at the bottom of a page, can move a page higher in the overall structure.

Final thoughts 

When you’re done fixing the more pressing issues, dig a little deeper to keep your site in perfect SEO health. Open Site Audit and go to the All issues report to see other issues regarding on-page SEO, image optimization, redirects, localization, and more. In each case, you will find instructions on how to deal with the issue. 

All issues report in Site Audit

You can also customize this report by turning issues on/off or changing their priority. 

Issue report in Site Audit is customizable

Did I miss any important technical issues? Let me know on Twitter or Mastodon.



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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


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