Semantic SEO; Penalization Mistakes; On-Page SEO Mistakes; GA4 Engagement and Bounce Rates; Link-Building Workflow; and Much More!

Issue 2


All's quiet on the Google Helpful Content Update front. Not hearing much about ups and downs.

Maybe it's a relatively tame update that's going after the egregiously bad sites - whose owners are quiet and not public, so you wouldn't hear about them.

Or maybe the meat of the update hasn't been released yet. If they're going to do it, no better time than this weekend.

The update announcement went out on Thursday, August 25th, when they quietly updated the blog post about updates. There was no Twitter announcement like they usually do.

Maybe they released a small portion of it on Thursday to see what kind of effect it'd have and then release the rest during the weekend.

I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case because this release would probably involve a lot more of their AI and machine learning than other updates.

The previous 3 Product Review updates would be the closest to analyzing content and deciding its usefulness, so they've had 3 trial runs.

I would consider those 3 updates to be smaller components of this update. Each with some dramatic ups and downs, and plenty of complaints. It wouldn't surprise me if the noise is what has made this update release slower.

When you look at what the focus of the helpful content update is, then the product review updates they've been pushing out starting December 2021 start to make more sense - especially for those asking "I don't have a product review / affiliate site!"

With each update, Google asks "Is this site providing value to the user?" There's no way one single update would be able to answer that question. It would take multiple iterations and building in bits and pieces.

Google updates are not silo'ed off from each other. They build on top of each other.

Is this Helpful Content Update the final culmination? Heck no. My guess is it's only Stage 1. Remember, they're continually working on their own AI technology - MUM. Until MUM can provide searchers the answer itself, Google won't be done with these updates.

Google is shoring up the many shortcuts people take when building sites. There will still always be exceptions and sites not getting "caught," but the majority will have been hit.

Instead of finding shortcuts, keep building your sites out and publishing great content. Focus on creating great sites and content for users and you'll be fine in Google's eyes.



This week's Niche Creators are Xiao Ming and Zak Kann! Ming shares his niche site journey on YouTube and Zak is active sharing on Twitter.

I also owe last week's Niche Creators - James Brockbank and Joe Davies - a big apology for messing up the links last week! Here are the correct links, so you can read them if you haven't read them yet:


There is a lot of confusion around crawl budget so Martin, Lizzi, and Gary from Google Search Relations are here to bring clarity for everyone unsure about it.

  • Are you worried about your website not being crawled quickly?

  • Not sure what consumes and wastes your crawl budget?

Learn when you should and shouldn’t be worried about your crawl budget. This episode covers misconceptions and frequently asked questions concerning crawl budget.

Have you got your website penalized recently? Or do you want to avoid Google penalties? In this video, Matt Diggity covers what NOT to do to keep your website's organic traffic.

  • How to Know if You Were Penalized

  • What Google Penalties Are & How to Avoid

  • Algorithmic Updates

  • Manual Penalties

Even the smallest on-page SEO mistakes can have a negative impact on your site's performance. Brian Harnish writes about factors you must pay attention to if you want to compete in the SERPs. Some of the things he covers:

  • Duplicate Content

  • Broken Images and Missing Alt Text

  • Poor Quality External Links

  • Poorly Structured Internal Links

  • You Haven’t Optimized a Slow Page Load Speed

  • Using Temporary Redirects Instead of Permanent Redirects

  • There Are Too Many Links On The Page

  • Poorly Optimized Title Tags and Meta Descriptions


Marcin Gorczyca at Onely shares some good insights into the use of SEO texts on real estate websites. SEO text is supposed to provide Google with enough relevant keywords to make the focus of a given category clear. But does it really improve your ranking?

Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Out of the top 15 real estate websites in the U.S., 13 use SEO text on their listing pages.

  • Out of the 13 domains, 11 use auto-generated SEO text.

  • Two out of the top three websites ( and don’t use standard SEO text but use the lower parts of the page for heavy internal linking.

  • Before 2020, changes to SEO text were more impactful than they are more recently.

I imagine the majority of you are not in real estate, but the idea of SEO text is relevant for many niches.

Want to know how to optimize your content for search engine changes and get more traffic? Andy Crestodina shared his knowledge in semantic SEO, its benefits and drawbacks, and much more.

Semantic SEO is about optimizing content, not just for one specific keyphrase, but the broader topic. Rather than simply using the primary keyphrase in the title, header, and body, content is optimized by incorporating semantically-related phrases, questions, and subtopics into the article.


Joe Davies discusses 18 ways to build backlinks. Some you may have heard of and some you might not have. Here are some of them:

  • Skyscraper Content Technique

  • Listicles and How-Tos

  • Get Featured In Best X in Y Articles

  • Get Featured In Resource Roundups

  • Infographic Creation & Outreach

  • Give Out Testimonials

  • Get Reviews

  • Stockist/Supplier Links

  • Give Donations

A step-by-step guide to link outreach from Semrush. Their workflow covers:

  1. Content Creation and Unlinked Mentions Outreach

  2. Prospecting

  3. Gather Contact Identification

  4. Outreach

  5. Tracking

They obviously use Semrush tools, but there are many other tools out there that can do the same thing.


There are common web design mistakes that webmasters can make that impact SEO. Scarlett Pirie aims to outline these mistakes and offer solutions to them. Some of the things she covers:

  • Placing Content Behind Tabs

  • Confusing or Under Optimised Website Navigation

  • Infinite Scroll

  • Adding Text to Images Instead of Content

  • Intrusive Pop-ups and Interstitials

Competitor identification and competitor research is absolutely key to a good SEO strategy. Your real SEO competitors are the ones who target the same keywords, speak to the same audience, and solve for the same consumer needs. Lidia Infante walks through two approaches to find out who those competitors are.

Good article to help you get started with GA4 and the engagement rate and bounce rate. These metrics in GA4 are better than the UA metrics. You get a truer sense of whether your content is engaging to visitors. No longer will you have the 90% bounce rates (unless your content is really, really bad)!


This Old House is the online arm of the venerable home improvement brand, and it’s a great resource for anyone looking to tackle a home project.

Julia Jenkins takes a look at how the website drives its traffic and makes money.

Links can sometimes be a contentious topic in SEO, depending on the circle of SEOs you talk to. Dan Taylor conducted a survey of 203 SEOs about 50 backlinks that point to a travel website, asking 3 questions:

  1. Do you think the link is natural, or made for SEO purposes? (Artificial, Natural)

  2. Do you think the link looks like it could have been paid for? (Paid for, Probably not paid for)

  3. Would you disavow the backlink if the domain got a penalty? (Yes, No)

Some interesting results here. The most contentious link was one from the Huffington Post to the website in question, where 50% of respondents claimed it to be natural and the other 50% that it was artificial.

While this video is about SaaS SEO, I think there are so many great elements in here that are important for niche site builders too. Instead of SaaS tools, think of it as topics and building topical authority. A SaaS company's blog section are the low-competition keywords.

I get lots of questions on topical authority, site structure, internal links, backlinks, and how they all play together. The last chapter of this video has a great way of explaining how your site structure and internal links benefit from backlinks.

If you're not that experienced with SEO and starting out in your journey, this is worth 12 minutes of your time.


Dom Wells' company Onfolio Holdings Inc. has gone public, listing on the NASDAQ: ONFO, ONFOW. Onfolio is a portfolio of niche sites and eCommerce sites. Trading started August 26, 2022.

Why share this? It's news that you can for research and insights into helping you and your portfolio of sites. Since all public companies must file annual and quarterly reports, you have incredible access into sites, niches, and operations. Use that information when growing your own sites - what's working, what's not working, good niches, etc.



Be sure to also join others riding the passive income wave in the Niche Surfer Discord group.

Have questions? Reply or email me at [email protected]. I’d love to know what you think and if you have any ideas.

I’d also appreciate it if you shared it with fellow niche surfers.

Have a great week taking your niche sites to another level!

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