Gone is the August Core Update, but now the September Helpful Content Update is here!
But really, it’s been one large update since the March and April Updates. Google didn’t really let up any as there were many changes in the SERPs and its features over the summer that kept the volatility trackers on alert.
It’ll be interesting to see where the ‘unhelpful’ and ‘helpful’ content land after the September Update. Do read the info below and follow the links for more.
There were more changes this time around it feels like as Google tries to resolve some of the gaps in the algorithm.
Google also addresses AI content by removing the “written by people” phrase when describing helpful content in its documentation.
Lots going on this week, so that’s it for me!
NICHE SITE SUMMIT
Jon Dykstra is hosting the first-ever Niche Site Summit on October 24th and 25th. Best of all - it’s FREE!
The summit features 25 successful niche site owners who will spill the beans on their traffic and income-boosting strategies. I’m one of the 25 too!
I’ll be sharing insights on finding content gaps on your site through topical maps!
Google has rolled out a fresh update to its "Helpful Content" system as of September 14. The primary focus is an "improved classifier" designed to sift out content that doesn't actually help people but is just written to rank in search engines.
There were also a number of changes made to the official helpful content page too (found here):
Third-Party Content: Google added guidance about hosting third-party content on your main site or subdomains, recommending that such content should be blocked from being indexed if not closely supervised. (Going after Parasite SEO?)
Self-Assess Your Content: Google introduced advice on self-assessment. If you suspect a change in traffic might be due to this update, you're advised to review and possibly fix or remove content deemed unhelpful.
Expert Review: The document now includes the term "or reviewed" in the written by line about whether the content is written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast in the subject matter.
Date Changing: A new point about not simply changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content hasn’t substantially changed has been added.
Adding/Removing Content: Google warns against adding or removing large amounts of content solely to improve search rankings, stating that this tactic won't make your site seem "fresh."
These updates give more insight into what Google considers "helpful," making it essential reading for anyone serious about SEO and content quality.
Oh, and what does Google think about AI-written content? Check out this screenshot of a change in the documentation that goes from:
BEFORE: “…helpful content written by people, for people, in search results".”
AFTER: “helpful content created for people in search results.”
In case you missed it, “written by people” was removed.
Source: Search Engine Land
Mordy Oberstein dives into the nitty-gritty details, making it clear that this update was far from straightforward. Unlike previous updates, this one didn't show the typical surge and spike in rank volatility, making its behavior peculiar. A few highlights:
High Volatility in July: There was already a significant increase in rank volatility in mid-July, even before the August update rolled out.
Relative Impact: While the August update showed higher peak levels of volatility, this doesn't necessarily mean it had more impact than the March 2023 update due to already high baseline volatility.
Ranking Shift Severity: The August update moved URLs roughly 3 positions up or down, more than the 2.7 positions in the March update. Nearly 11% of URLs that were beyond position 20 moved into the top 10.
Complexity of Measuring Impact: Determining the actual impact of a Google update is a complex, nuanced task involving multiple metrics and data points.
Lily Ray shares her analysis of the of winners and losers from the August 2023 Core Update using Sistrix visibility. Reddit.com was the big winner among large sites with a 64.68% increase in visibility. Other large-site winners were cambridge.org, wiktionary.org, and britannica.com.
Some of the large-site losers were wikipedia.org, youtube.com, amazon.com, and walmart.com. Smaller sites that had large percentage drops were overstock.com, newsdirect.com, planetofhotels.com, and yarnspirations.com.
Ross Simmonds has a new Whiteboard Friday video that's all about turning your old, forgotten content into something useful again. We've all been there—you spend time and resources creating content that eventually ends up collecting digital dust.
Ross lays out ways to breathe life back into these underperforming assets so they can start pulling their weight in your digital marketing strategy again through social media, infographics, emails, and video content.
Joshua Hardwick shares his comprehensive guide to conducting a content audit. It provides a systematic process with a handy template, to identify and improve weak content.
Key takeaways include the importance of having a list of pages and a robust audit process, the efficacy of applying the 80/20 rule to focus on top-performing pages, and how to integrate real traffic data from Google Search Console. The guide offers actionable steps based on yes/no questions and suggests immediate ways to implement the necessary changes, making it a turnkey solution for sprucing up your content.
Dana Nicole talks about evergreen content and its sustained traffic, higher ROI, and natural ability to accumulate backlinks. In this in-depth guide, she discusses the benefits, popular formats, SEO value, and the need to for updates.
Andy Crestodina dives into how to leverage ChatGPT to improve your website's rankings. Instead of outsmarting algorithms, the aim here is to refine content quality and visibility. Few key takeaways:
SEO Edits: Use AI to recommend changes that make your URL more relevant to its current rankings.
Title Tag Optimization: Improve your title tags for higher click-through rates.
FAQ Content: Use SERP data and AI to add relevant FAQ sections to your webpages, improving content depth.
Competitor Analysis: Use AI to identify content gaps based on what your competitors are ranking for.
Semantic Distance Analysis: Perform an AI-powered semantic distance analysis to refine your content strategy.
Shelly Fagin reveals many well-crafted prompts for content development during SMX Advanced. She says that a well-thought-out prompt can boost website traffic by up to 30% and offers an eight-step strategy to produce high-quality editorial briefs. She suggests tools like Streamlit, Github, and Selenium for automating processes and gives detailed examples for creating prompts in different SEO areas.
Her 30-minute presentation is also embedded in the article.
OpenAI admits AI writing detectors don't work, leading to false positives in education. They discontinued their own 26% accurate tool back in July 2023. OpenAI writes, "Additionally, ChatGPT has no 'knowledge' of what content could be AI-generated.”
Apple is pouring millions into AI daily, with projects spanning from advanced language models to visual intelligence. Their in-house model Ajax is said to outperform OpenAI’s GPT-3.5. Teams are also developing customer service chatbots and multimodal AI capabilities.
Researchers used ChatGPT to create an entire software start-up in just 7 minutes for less than $1 per project. AI bots filled roles like CEO and programmer, completing 70 software projects with 87% working flawlessly.
Amazon updates Kindle Direct Publishing rules to require authors to disclose if their content is AI-generated, following complaints of AI-written works falsely attributed to human authors. New guidelines define "AI-generated" and "AI-assisted," aiming for transparency. I set up a poll back in Dec. 2022 asking on Twitter if AI-created tweets should have a #AI hashtag - 70% of people said there was no need or didn’t care.
Adobe’s Firefly generative AI tools are now widely available this week after coming out of beta. Adobe is also introducing a new bonus scheme to pay its stock contributors for helping to train its AI models.
Growing demand for generative AI like ChatGPT comes with environmental costs. Built in Iowa, ChatGPT's data centers require large amounts of water from local rivers for cooling. Microsoft's global water usage spiked 34% in a year, largely due to AI research. Both companies are looking into sustainable practices.
Coalition of environmental and tech groups urge Sen. Chuck Schumer to address AI's climate impact. They demand transparent disclosure of energy use by large language models and rules to prevent AI-aided climate disinformation.
TIME unveils its 2023 list of the 100 Most Influential People in AI, featuring leaders from OpenAI, Google DeepMind, and more. Innovators, thinkers, and shapers in the field are also highlighted. I’m not on the list 😥
Rob Glover breaks down the ever-changing YouTube algorithm and times to get more views. He shares how the algorithm focuses on individual viewer preferences, rather than video popularity, and uses various signals like relevance and user behavior to recommend videos.
Key factors affecting video recommendations include content characteristics, recommendation location, and some uncontrollable external elements like competition and seasonality.
Adam Riemer just dropped his "7 Point Checklist To Find the Best Affiliate Programs" article. It's not just about high payouts or earnings per click; it's the data and fine details that make an affiliate program worth your time. Key takeaways:
Responsive Affiliate Managers
Live Chat & Traffic Leaks
Basic Tracking Test
Affiliate Manager Skill Level
Iky Pui Yee Tai discusses how to get your data featured in Google's Knowledge Graph using schema markup. Knowledge Graph has evolved to play a crucial role in SEO by providing semantically rich, connected information directly in search results. This not only elevates your website's authority but also potentially drives more organic traffic.
She emphasizes that mere presence on Wikipedia isn't enough to guarantee a spot in the Knowledge Graph; you need to correctly implement schema markup on your site. The article provides a hands-on guide for connecting different schema types, like Person and Recipe, to clarify their relationships, thereby enriching the semantic understanding of your web pages.
The Semrush team explores how topical authority can boost your rankings on Google. It's a must-read if you're in digital marketing, running a niche site, or managing an online business. Here's a few highlights:
Topical authority not only improves your standing in search engine results but also enhances user trust.
The article gives you practical tips on how to build it by choosing a specific niche and creating related content clusters.
It also highlights methods for measuring your success, like backlink analysis, and how to weave this strategy into your broader SEO and content marketing plans.
REFER NICHE SURFER AND GET REWARDS
If you’re enjoying niche surfer, I’d love it if you would share it with your friends! I’ve put together some rewards as well:
Refer 3: Get a Twitter Shout-out
Refer 5: Get featured in an issue
Refer 10: Get One Ask Me Anything Question
Refer 50: Get 50% Off the Topical Maps Unlocked Course
Refer 100: Get a Free copy of Topical Maps Unlocked
Refer 150: Get a 1 hour SEO 1-1 Coaching session with Yoyao
SURF WITH OTHERS
A couple good newsletters with great SEO tips:
LIKE NICHE SURFER?
I’d also love to know what you think and if you have any ideas for the newsletter. Reply or email me at [email protected].
I’d also appreciate it if you shared it with fellow niche surfers. Have a great week taking your niche sites to another level!