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  • Google & Google & Google, Oh Reddit! - niche surfer Wave Issue 177

Google & Google & Google, Oh Reddit! - niche surfer Wave Issue 177

Google vs Indie Sites; Google + Reddit; Recycling Content; Google Image Bias; Google Discover 101; and Much More!

FIRST …

Google’s usually one of the main topics discussed week-to-week, but this week has been on another level.

There’s the Reddit SERP dominance, Reddit partnership, and Gemini’s bias in AI image and text generations (both stories below).

If I were on Google's PR team, this week would have been a marathon of damage control, with no sign of slowing down as we head into next week.

And if I were an engineer at Gemini, I'd be holding onto my seat rather than jumping ship amidst the turmoil, knowing the job market might not be so welcoming to the Google AI name right now.

But remember - Time Heals All Wounds.

It’s just a news cycle. Google will release more algorithm updates. Gemini will see improvements, and Google will continue to try and do the right thing.

Give it time to play out. The chaos is fun and interesting for a bit. It might even get your blood boiling.

Voice your opinion where necessary and get it out of your system, then let the dust settle. Immediate reactions won’t change the waves overnight.

What you can do is to keep learning. Now’s a great time to do that.

Reinforce and expand your foundations. Without it, you’re going to miss out on the innovative opportunities that present themselves every day.

Learn how to create newsletters. Learn Facebook Ads. Learn how to train your own AI models.

If you don’t have a solid base, you’re going to be chasing what others’s insights rather than carving your own path.

If you’re always chasing, you’re always going to be behind.

It's by thinking ahead that you truly get ahead.

CONTENT CREATORS

Scott DeLong has had a lot of success with newsletters and fine-tuned his process to be repeatable. He’s now teamed up with Jon Dykstra to offer his Million Dollar Newsletter Formula.

If you had read his Niche Creator Interview, you’d know he’s had some success with 3 multi-million dollar exits and several 6-figure site sales.

If you’re following other newsletters or on social media, I’m sure you know that many people are starting and expanding their newsletter game.

Give yourself an edge with Scott’s Newsletter Formula.

SEO

Gisele Navarro and Danny Ashton for HouseFresh, dive into the troubling trend of Google's search algorithm favoring big media publishers' product recommendations over independent sites like theirs.

Their critique focuses on how these large publishers often recommend products without thorough testing, relying instead on paraphrasing marketing materials and Amazon listing information. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Big media publishers often produce subpar product recommendations without actual testing.

  • Google's algorithm updates and Product Review Update have not significantly leveled the playing field for independent sites.

  • HouseFresh's hands-on reviews and testing practices contrast sharply with the superficial review tactics employed by larger publishers.

  • The dominance of big publishers in search results undermines consumer trust in online product recommendations.

  • The article calls for a more equitable application of Google's guidelines to ensure quality content, regardless of the publisher's size.

My Take: They’ve done some nice research here. Beyond the now-standard “big publishers ranking for topics that have nothing to do with them,” they also show clear examples of lazy and haphazard writing (or more copying + pasting) like promoting products from bankrupt companies.

Google’s Danny Sullivan responds to the Housefresh article on X and says “The article suggests we do some type of "manual check" on claims made by pages. We do not.”

My Take: Well, DUH. Google doesn’t do manual checks anymore because they fired the Quality Raters when terminating their contract with Appen. Plus, I doubt they did it anyways for big sites, so that’s even more reason to get rid of their Raters. Raters might have been instructed to go to smaller sites and since the algos are rewarding bigger brands, the Raters aren’t needed 🤔

The big news of this week is the Google and Reddit partnership, along with the Reddit’s IPO filing. Google is paying $60M for access to Reddit’s Data API (a steal in my eyes).

In return (unofficially), Google gives Reddit a cr*pload of organic traffic AND an opportunity for Reddit to finally IPO. If it wasn’t for Google’s Updates the last couple years, especially in last few months, they probably wouldn’t be IPO’ing just yet.

But thanks to their Q4 2023 with the increased Google traffic, they’re looking for a $5B valuation with the IPO. That’s down from the $10B valuation in their last funding round in 2021 (total raise is ~$1.3B). And only 1/3 of their desired $15B valuation from their first IPO filing in 2021.

Reddit is letting their power users buy into the IPO, but they’re not racing to buy in to this “unwanted offer” 😂 

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Reddit for many years, and today we’re sharing a number of ways that we’re deepening our partnership across the company.”

“By making Reddit content and communities easier to find, we’re able to uphold our belief in the open internet while better serving current users and reaching new audiences.”

Roger Montti dives into the intriguing dynamics of Google's search engine, shedding light on why it appears to favor big brands and low-quality content. Drawing from personal anecdotes and industry observations, he highlights the evolution of Google's algorithms and their unintended consequences on content visibility. Some of the takeaways include:

  • Google's historical bias towards websites with high PageRank, often benefiting big brands.

  • The constant challenge of low-quality content and big brands overshadowing smaller publishers.

  • The influence of user engagement signals, like Navboost, in determining what content ranks well.

  • The concept of Familiarity Bias, where users' preference for known brands affects search outcomes.

  • The dilemma facing Google: cater to user biases or prioritize high-quality content, potentially at the expense of user satisfaction.

SEO Ripples

  • Gary Illyes from Google's Search team, breaks down how Google Search crawls, or finds and fetches web pages to display in search results. He explains the role of Googlebot, the importance of sitemaps for website discovery, and the intricacies of URL discovery, downloading, and rendering web pages.

  • Aaron Haynes dives into the dark side of SEO and Negative SEO. He explains negative SEO's definition, tactics, and Google's stance, providing insights into the different types of attacks.

  • John Mueller comments about removing or updating or blocking old content. He says it's the content creator's responsibility to decide the usefulness and relevance of their old content, not Google's. He suggests approaches like archiving without indexing to preserve potentially valuable content.

  • Danny Goodwin discusses Gartner's bold prediction: by 2026, traditional search engine traffic might plummet by 25% as people pivot to generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Claude for answers.

  • Thomas Barrabi from NY Post says watchdog groups have sounded the alarm on Google's continued expansion of its search engine monopoly, undeterred by the DOJ's ongoing antitrust trial. This includes embedding search results in TikTok, testing an AI tool to enhance search capabilities, and favoring its own services in search results, practices that raise significant antitrust concerns.

  • Barry Schwartz reports that Google's Danny Sullivan, the Search Liaison, announced forthcoming guidelines on the use of AI for SEO content creation. This move follows confusion over Google's stance on AI use in SEO, emphasizing the necessity for content to primarily serve users, not just search rankings.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

SEO Utils is a desktop app that gives you traffic analytics, backlink analytics, keyword research, keyword semantic clustering, content gap analysis, and many other tools. AI content writing and auto-indexing are coming too.

It’s inexpensive too, compared to many online platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush. It’s currently $28 with one year of updates and you will need to also pay for your own data use with the DataForSEO API. It’s not much at all and you can purchase credits through SEO Utils too in $10 increments for light usage.

This is very much a DIY app, but can save you a lot of money if you don’t need all the bells and whistles of other online platforms. You’ll need to do some technical setups to connect to your Google Search Console, but the guides are easy to follow.

CONTENT

Ann Smarty shares how to revitalize old blog content to drive conversions. She offers practical tips like enhancing best-performing posts through Google's Search Console and repurposing content into engaging formats such as visuals and videos.

Her approach includes utilizing ChatGPT for creating compelling calls-to-action and social media content. She shares many of her prompts here to get you started.

AI

Adi Robertson covers Google facing backlash for its AI tool Gemini's attempt at promoting diversity by inaccurately depicting historical figures, including Nazis, as racially diverse. Like this one below:

source: theverge.com

Google has given a “we’re working on it” statement:

AIPRM shares many insights drawn from over 100 ChatGPT statistics. They have some unique ones because it’s a popular Chrome extension for ChatGPT with many prompts. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • ChatGPT achieved a remarkable milestone, reaching 100 million users just two months post-launch.

  • The AI platform generates an average of 1.7 billion site views monthly.

  • ~64.5% of ChatGPT users are 18-34 years old.

  • ChatGPT's user base is predominantly male, accounting for nearly 59.7% of its users.

  • The program has been banned in seven countries, highlighting global regulatory challenges and access issues.

  • 8 of the 10 most popular ChatGPT prompts are writing-based ones with AIPRM users.

Perplexity and ElevenLabs have teamed up to generate daily episodes using both of their AI platforms. Episodes are drawn from Perplexity’s Discover feed and voiced by ElevenLabs’ voices.

AI Ripples

  • Google introduced Gemma, a new suite of lightweight, state-of-the-art open models for AI development, built with the technology behind the Gemini models.

  • The Google One Premium plan has a two-month free trial to use Gemini in Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Meet.

MARKETING

Glenn Gabe explores Google Notes, explaining how to locate them for your website and interpret what they reveal about content quality, user experience, and ad aggressiveness. He highlights the importance of real user feedback, now accessible through Notes, as a valuable insight tool for site owners.

Lazarina Stoy shares a comprehensive guide on conducting a YouTube SEO Audit for better organic search visibility. She covers everything from competitor analysis and channel performance to content strategy. Her approach is thorough, looking beyond simple tweaks to uncover deeper insights for growth.

Grace Frohlich explains how ChatGPT can identify user motivations and pain points for various stages of the customer journey. This process results in a comprehensive spreadsheet mapping out key search moments, offering a foundation for an effective content strategy.

EDUCATION

Clara Soteras dives into Google Discover for content creators and SEO specialists alike. She highlights the importance of Google Discover for publishers along with expert insights and practical tips for optimizing content to thrive. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Google Discover offers a unique opportunity to boost traffic by focusing on trending topics and understanding topical authority.

  • The quality and appeal of images play a significant role in capturing users' attention in the Discover feed.

  • It's essential to avoid clickbait titles and instead, craft headlines that genuinely reflect the content's essence.

  • Location targeting can enhance visibility in Google Discover, making geographical relevance a factor to consider in content strategy.

  • Adhering to Google's E-E-A-T guidelines and incorporating effective internal linking practices can significantly impact Discover visibility.

Adam Steele unpacks the surge of voice-activated searches (“Hey, Siri,” “Okay, Google,” and “Alexa”), highlighting its impact on SEO practices and digital interaction. From the convenience it offers users to the strategic shifts businesses must adopt for optimization, the article is a must-read for anyone keen to stay ahead in the digital marketing game.

Chris Haines offers up a comprehensive step-by-step approach for beginners. He emphasizes the importance of data-led, actionable, and persuasive reports, leveraging tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs' Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.

The guide covers everything from creating executive summaries to analyzing organic traffic, keyword rankings, links, and technical SEO, to evaluating content and competitors' performance. He also highlights opportunities for improvement and the importance of a clear roadmap, making SEO reporting accessible and impactful for showcasing your SEO campaign's success.

CASE STUDY

Cyrus Shepard shares a comprehensive analysis of how different on-page factors correlate with site performance post-Google updates. The study, covering August to December 2023, examines 50 sites affected by Core, Spam, Review, and Helpful Content Updates, highlighting the winners and losers of these changes.

Shepard delves into the intricacies of SEO, showcasing what factors contribute to a site's success or downfall in the wake of Google's algorithm tweaks. He covers things like the importance of user experience (UX) elements to the significance of original content and the pitfalls of excessive advertising. Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Fixed footer ads and video ads negatively impact site visibility.

  • Using first-person pronouns and showing first-hand experience correlates positively with increased traffic.

  • Stock images and a high number of ads are linked to decreased site performance.

  • Providing easy access to contact information positively influences traffic.

source: zyppy.com

Henley Wing explores the impact AI is having on the job market using Upwork's data. Wing's analysis reveals surprising resilience in several job sectors against the AI tide, alongside notable declines in others. His approach demystifies the actual versus speculated effects of AI on freelancing, offering a data-backed perspective on this evolving landscape. Key takeaways from the analysis include:

  • Writing, translation, and customer service jobs have seen the largest declines since the advent of AI tools.

  • In contrast, fields like video editing/production, graphic design, and web design are not only surviving but thriving, with notable increases in job postings.

  • The analysis suggests that while AI has significantly impacted certain job categories, others remain largely unaffected, possibly due to the unique skills and creativity they require.

  • Surprisingly, jobs in developing AI content, AI agents, and chatbots have seen a dramatic increase, highlighting a shift towards integrating AI in enhancing customer service.

  • Wing's work underscores the importance of adaptability and the evolving nature of job opportunities in the face of technological advancements.

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