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  • Give Me The Good Stuff - niche surfer Wave Issue 178

Give Me The Good Stuff - niche surfer Wave Issue 178

Google vs Gen AI Conspiracy Theory; How HCU Could Evolve; Google Pays Publishers For AI Articles; SEO CTR By Page Type; Website Dead Ends; Free Data Sources; and Much More!

Google vs Gen AI Conspiracy Theory …

Google is purposely messing up generative AI product launches because the company secretly wants the tech to not catch on.

Alistair Barr explores this provocative conspiracy theory in her Business Insider piece because it could be seen that Gemini and other AI products are a huge threat to Google’s Search business. So they’re purposely trying to create a loss of trust in AI-generated anything.

Whether you believe it or not, Google is undoubtedly worried about their bottom line. But aren’t we all worried about our bottom lines?

Isn’t that why the uproar when HCU hit? When SGE launched? When (insert next major update) is released?

Those are all external forces you can’t control. The control you do have is on your own online business.

You control the content shared. You control the products sold. You control the user experience for visitors.

Focus on excellence. Delivering top-notch content or products ensures your audience keeps coming back for more.

Think about it:

  • Why did you hit that Follow button on social media?

  • Why did you bookmark that social post or webpage?

  • Why did you add that site to your feed?

  • Why did you invest in that online course?

  • Why did you buy that video game?

  • Why did you drive 30 min. to go to that restaurant?

Each decision was driven by the expectation of quality. You trusted these choices to be valuable, to offer you something great - whether for your time, your money, your learning, or your enjoyment.

If a product or service is crap, Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) says it best - You’re Dead To Me!

So before you hit that “Publish” button on the 100 AI-generated articles you didn’t check or edit or launch a new product/service - pause and ask yourself:

  • Does this reflect the quality my users/customers expects?

  • Will readers stay on the page and read more?

  • Will this diminish the trust I’ve worked hard to build?


Every piece of content, every product, and every service you offer is a representation of your brand. Make it count.

And I’m not saying to hit 100% perfect on everything.

I’m saying - don’t put out crap.


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Glenn Gabe dives into the potential future of Google's algorithm updates. He uses his expertise to speculate on how the helpful content system (HCS) could change, drawing parallels with historical updates such as Panda and Penguin. Lots of great insights here, including his what Google could do:

  1. The possibility of Google reducing the severity of the HCU classifier, making it less punishing but still impactful.

  2. A shift towards more granular targeting of unhelpful content, akin to the evolution of Penguin.

  3. Potential for the HCU to better target large-scale sites with pockets of unhelpful content.

  4. Changes in the weight of UX factors within the HCU, possibly making it less sensitive to aggressive advertising.

  5. A possibility of Google keeping the HCS as is if it believes search quality has improved.

Yevheniia Khromova shares a study on Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) snippets across 100,000 keywords in various niches. The SE Ranking team presents findings on how often Google opts for AI-generated responses, the average length of these snippets, the number of links included, and how these aspects vary across different niches. Key takeaways from the article include:

  • 64% of keywords analyzed feature an SGE answer or a Generate button, highlighting the prevalence of AI in search.

  • The average SGE snippet contains about 3,485 characters, indicating Google's preference for providing substantial content.

  • Most SGE snippets contain 8 links after expansion, with 85.5% linking to domains among the top 10 organic results, underlining the importance of ranking high.

  • Food and Beverage niches trigger SGE responses most frequently, suggesting niche-specific variability in SGE application.

  • Long-tail keywords are more likely to elicit AI-powered responses, emphasizing the value of detailed, specific content.

SEO Ripples

  • Barry Schwartz conducted a poll on X on how SEOs view Google. From 1,769 votes, 68% like Google less than before. This stems from numerous issues, including search quality complaints, search bugs, and the fallout from the DOJ investigation. Not really surprising 😅 

  • Google claims search quality has improved. Barry Schwartz dives into Google's post-trial debrief following the DOJ trial. According to Google, despite competition, their search engine remains top-notch due to relentless innovation and a focus on enhancing user satisfaction. Google says their IS score continues to increase. But of course, that’s Google’s internal "information satisfaction" (IS) score to measure its success.

  • Albert Gouyet from BrightEdge offers updated analysis on Google's SGE. He highlights the increased frequency of SGE results, the preference for opt-in user experiences, and the experimentation with new formats and interactive elements.

  • Kristi Hines reminds everyone of Google's plan to discontinue websites made via Google Business Profiles in March 2024. She explains the transition process, including a temporary redirect to Google Business Profiles until June 10, 2024, and touches on the importance of choosing a new website builder for continued online presence and SEO effectiveness.

  • Roger Montti highlights John Mueller addressing a Reddit query about the impact of 301 redirects and 410 error responses on crawl budgets. Mueller clarifies that crawl budget concerns mainly affect massive sites, suggesting that the real problem might be the perceived value of the pages by Google, rather than technical crawl budget constraints.

  • Google Search is testing a new carousel feature called "Popular opinions." It displays articles with people's opinions on products or other topics. The results look like review articles with affiliate links.


Scott DeLong’s Newsletter Playbook - This offer ends at midnight on Sunday, March 3rd PST. About 39 hours from when this was sent out.

Display Ad Daily - The Niche Twins, Keith and Mike Donovan, created a handy page that displays the newest sites added to Mediavine and Raptive’s sellers.json files.


Evan Bailyn breaks down the average conversion rates by page type, such as location landing pages, industry-specific landing pages, case studies, FAQ sections, thought leadership articles, hub pages, and white papers. It's shines a light on what kind of content tends to convert the best and offers practical tips on how to boost SEO conversion rates for various types of pages. Key highlights include:

  • Location landing pages have a conversion rate of 1.1%

  • Case studies stand out with a 3.5% conversion rate

  • FAQ pages convert at 2.7%.

  • Thought leadership articles or blog posts offer a decent conversion rate of 2.0%

  • White papers lead the pack with a 4.6% conversion rate

  • Hub pages are the weakest at 0.5%

Andy Crestodina covers the common pitfalls that hinder website navigation and conversion rates. He gives examples of how to pinpoint and remedy dead ends in a visitor’s journey. From service pages that abruptly end without a call to action to blog posts that don't encourage further exploration. Key takeaways include:

  • Importance of adding clear calls to action on service pages to guide visitors towards conversion.

  • Utilizing internal links and related article suggestions to keep blog readers engaged.

  • Optimizing contact form thank you pages to further engage and inform new leads.

  • Leveraging thank you pages from various conversions as opportunities to provide additional value and encourage further interaction.

  • Addressing common site search issues to improve user experience and retain visitors.

My Take: This is a great look and something I definitely need to work on. What happens on the site after someone sends a message through the contact form? Performs a search? Signs up for the newsletter?

Edwin Toonen shares 10 tips and example prompts to leverage ChatGPT, Bing CoPilot, and Google Gemini to craft compelling content that also ranks well on search engines. From crafting the perfect SEO-driven prompt to enhancing SEO-friendliness, these strategies aim to refine AI-generated content to meet your SEO objectives effectively.

My Take: I already have prompts for content creation, but it’s always good to see more prompts and see if there might be things that might improve my own stable of prompts.

Looking for data for your next pSEO project or for a data-driven article, here you go. Julie Joyce shares a treasure trove of 28 free data sources. From Google's Dataset Search to the less-known but equally valuable datasets like Open Corporates and the World Factbook, her list spans various disciplines.


Mark Stenberg covers Google financially incentivizing news publishers to beta test an unreleased generative AI platform. Google is paying them to publish three articles per day, one newsletter per week, and one marketing campaign per month.

As part of the agreement, the publishers are expected to use the suite of tools to produce a fixed volume of content for 12 months. In return, the news outlets receive a monthly stipend amounting to a five-figure sum annually, as well as the means to produce content relevant to their readership at no cost.

My Take: So, let me get this straight - Google is asking news publishers to do what they say they don’t want in websites from publishers:

  • AI-generated spam content and sites.

  • Spinning content from others - no permission needed.

  • Steal content from others, we help you scrape.

  • No need to label as AI.

But there might be one piece of good news -

Google isn’t the only one pushing AI-generated articles. Matt Tutt found a LinkedIn carbon emissions article that is “Powered by AI and the LinkedIn community.” The article invented a study on smartphone carbon emissions from an authoritative voice in the space, Carbon Trust. When he contacted Carbon Trust about the study, it didn’t exist.

And as a final touch - Google is featuring the article and study as the featured snippet for the query "carbon emissions phone manufacturing".

Kristi Hines explains how advertisers can use AI tools like Microsoft Copilot to craft personalized and inclusive ad messages. She emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in advertising, advising brands to carefully consider the tone and feelings their ads convey to resonate with their target audience effectively.

AI Ripples


Joshua Hardwick swims in the murky waters of toxic backlinks and their actual impact on Google rankings. He incorporates insights from Google’s John Mueller and the results of SEO polls to question the real danger these links pose. Key takeaways include:

  • Spammy vs. Manipulative vs. Toxic Links: Understanding the differences is crucial for SEO strategy.

  • Penguin 4.0 Update: Shifted Google's approach to spammy links, aiming to devalue rather than demote.

  • Expert Opinions Differ: Not all SEO professionals agree on the impact of toxic backlinks.

  • Disavowing Links: It might be necessary in cases of manual actions or a large volume of manipulative links.

  • Proceed with Caution: Before using disavow tools, consider whether the links are genuinely harmful or simply ignored by Google's algorithms.

Sydney Go covers identifying and rectifying unnatural links. Unnatural links are essentially inbound or outbound links created with the intent to deceive search engines and boost a site's authority unfairly. Sydney details how these links can harm your website's SEO performance, leading to reduced visibility and potential penalties from search engines like Google.


Jason Feifer highlights an exciting LinkedIn algorithm change for how your best posts gain visibility. Dubbed "suggested post," this new feature aims to extend the lifespan of top content, allowing it to be discovered by targeted users for months or even years. LinkedIn is shifting its focus towards rewarding "knowledge and advice" over mere virality, promising a more meaningful engagement for users.


Si Quan Ong offers a goldmine for anyone eager to dive into SEO without spending a penny. He highlights ten courses that cover everything from keyword research and technical SEO to local SEO and advanced link building. These resources, ideal for beginners to advanced learners, are provided by reputable platforms like Ahrefs, HubSpot, and Google.

My Take: Even though there are a number of Ahrefs courses, it’s ok because Sam Oh is good at breaking SEO down for beginners. If you’re looking for more focused resources, you can also try LearningSEO.io that Aleyda Solis has put together from various sources around the web.

Sydney Go dives deep into Google penalties, aka manual actions, and outlines detection, recovery, and prevention. She covers the full spectrum of penalty recovery from identifying the cause of a manual action to addressing problematic webpages and links, and finally requesting a review from Google. Key takeaways from the article include:

  • Identifying and fixing the root cause of a manual action is crucial for recovery.

  • Best practices, such as creating high-quality content and maintaining a natural backlink profile, are vital for penalty prevention.

  • Technical SEO health, including page speed and secure protocols, plays a significant role in avoiding penalties.

Kari Dearie covers the essentials of the Google Local Pack in this beginner’s guide. She explains how this feature boosts businesses' local visibility by showing a map and top listings based on users' searches and locations. She also offers actionable tips on how to secure a spot in the Local Pack.


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