niche surfer - Wave Issue 143

Google Systems Explained; Topic Clusters; Real Writers Are Essential; Digital PR; Broken Link Building; Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy; and Much More!


Riding the SEO Wave -

Just as a surfer waits for the perfect wave, we, as digital marketers, are always on the lookout for that ideal SEO trend or strategy. We look far and wide - Facebook groups, Twitter, online forums…

In the vast digital ocean, SEO is the undercurrent that keeps our brands afloat, helping us navigate the choppy waters. Just like the ocean, it is both a challenge and an opportunity.

The landscape changes with each algorithm update, much like the sea changes with the wind and tides.

As with any good surfer, mastering SEO isn't just about riding the waves—it's about understanding them. We need to read the signs, anticipate changes, and use the power of the current to our advantage.

For example, Google announced the extra E in E-E-A-T in December 2022, but were there signs that Experience would start to affect rankings? You bet. I noticed back in June 2022 where more User Generated Content (UGC) was showing up on Page 1 of the SERPs:

Those were some of the early signals of E-E-A-T and the Perspectives SERP Feature. Were there earlier signs? Most likely.

But those signs should tell you that there was more value going towards UGC. The strategy of going after only keywords that had Quora/Reddit/forums ranking on page 1 was ending. Those UGC-heavy sites also have a lot more backlinks going for them.

The key takeaway here is that Google is constantly tweaking and testing their algorithm.

It’s important to learn to read the currents and the waves that are building. Learn to observe SERP changes for how to adjust your strategies in the future.

The game of SEO is a continuous journey of learning, adapting and riding the waves of change. There will be waves that knock us off our boards and waves that carry us towards the perfect barrel. There are waves that seem relentless and daunting.

Whichever wave you’re riding on now, remember that it's just one in the vast ocean of opportunities. Behind it, another is already forming, ready for you to catch.

This is the thrilling, ever-changing ride that is SEO!

What’s your next wave? 🌊

Learn the Secrets to Create Topical Maps and Establish Topical Authority

Topical Maps Unlocked


John Mueller shares the latest updates across Search from Core Web Vitals, Search Console, Search Labs, and more. Find out how Search will use generative AI to give more information and context to your searches, if Search Console Insights supports users without Google Analytics, and more in this July episode of Google Search News.

Samuel Schmitt shares fantastic insights on structuring your website using topic clusters. It's a must-read for those planning to get their site SEO-sorted. Some of the key takeaways:

  • Your site's information architecture matters. Start by designing a great pillar page and related cluster pages.

  • Clever internal linking between your pillar page and the cluster pages boosts both SEO and user navigation.

  • Don't overlook the structure of your topic cluster URLs – even if SEO impact is minimal, it helps users navigate your site.

  • Human-centric SEO is vital. Your content should address each specific question in your audience's journey.

Learn more about how to create topic clusters / silos in my Topical Maps Unlocked course. I dig in deep into how to internally link, create/use anchor text, and the private community with loads of additional information you don’t get in the course.


Marie Haynes dives deep - very deep - on how AI is reshaping Google's search rankings. If your site's visibility has dipped, you might be under the influence of Google's 'Helpful Content System' or one of the other systems. She covers various systems and signals. Some of the key things she covers:

  • Quality Rules: Google uses machine learning to predict 'helpful content'. It's essential to align with their criteria for quality outlined in the Quality Rater's Guidelines.

  • AI's Influence: Google has become an AI-driven entity, using AI to improve their algorithms and enhance search results.

  • Significance of Signals: Google uses 'signals' generated by their AI systems, such as the Helpful Content System, as clues to determine the quality of a site's content.

  • Spam Detection: Google's SpamBrain AI system can identify sites that engage in manipulative ranking schemes.

  • Disavow Tool: If your site's ranking is falling, and you've built links for SEO purposes, consider using Google's disavow tool.

Note: You may want to have your Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console up while going through the article’s charts to see if you’re seeing similar things in your charts.

SEO Ripples


Debbie Arcangeles unpacks a big question and discusses why human writers are still needed, even though AI is all around us for content creation. Remember, AI tools are here to boost our productivity and efficiency, freeing us to focus more on our unique human strengths like creativity and storytelling. Key things to keep in mind:

  • AI can't replace the unique and valuable content that human writers create, something Google prioritizes.

  • AI is transforming the content writing industry, creating new opportunities for writers rather than making them obsolete.

  • Writers using AI must learn to effectively communicate their input to produce the best content.

  • Even with AI, research and technical writing skills remain crucial for producing accurate, high-quality content.


All paying API customers now have access to GPT-4!

Many people have been waiting for months on the wait list and they’re now letting “all existing API developers with a history of successful payments…access the GPT-4 API with 8K context.”

AI Ripples

  • OpenAI is facing multiple lawsuits regarding copyright infringement and privacy violations. These cases allege unauthorized use of copyrighted books for training AI models, and collection of personal data from across the web without proper consent. These legal battles could shape future laws and regulations around AI data use and policies, so they're worth keeping an eye on!


The FATJOE blog has an excellent guide on Digital PR to increase brand awareness and improve online reputation. It describes how Digital PR is an integral part of online reputation management, helping to shape audience perceptions and maintain a positive brand image. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Digital PR uses a strategic approach to build your brand's online presence and establish credibility, an effective method for acquiring high-quality backlinks.

  • It encompasses a variety of activities, from content creation and newsjacking to relationship building with journalists, bloggers, and influencers.

  • It differs from traditional PR by focusing on online channels, allowing for more targeted, faster, and generally more affordable campaigns.

  • Digital PR works hand-in-hand with SEO, boosting online visibility and contributing to higher search engine rankings through backlinks.

Rachel Handley at Semrush explains what broken link building is, why it's beneficial, and a step-by-step guide to do it effectively. Broken link building is a tactic where you find dead links on other websites, then convince admins to replace them with links to your site.

She explains how to use Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool, but there are other ways to find the links too. Rachel's guide covers everything from identifying your own broken backlinks to evaluating link opportunities and reaching out to web admins.


Ever wonder how to create a full-funnel marketing strategy that really works? Bill Widmer breaks it all down from understanding what full-funnel marketing means, to mapping your customer's journey, choosing your marketing channel, setting your KPIs, and creating the right content.

A full-funnel strategy helps you reach more potential customers at every stage of their journey.

My Take: As AI grows and impacts the SEO and niche site worlds, it's even more important to understand and implement a full-funnel marketing strategy. It enables us to better align our content with the customer journey, increase brand awareness, and ultimately drive higher conversion rates.

Chalice Jones discusses Threads, an Instagram-based app focused on text-based chats, and how Meta's latest offering promises unique opportunities for brands to connect with audiences in new ways:

Source: Threads

  • Threads facilitates deeper connections with your existing Instagram audience and introduces you to new ones.

  • It's perfect if you have a strong Instagram presence and are seeking to broaden your reach.

  • Threads supports the ActivityPub protocol, making it interoperable with other apps like Mastodon and WordPress.

  • The primary audiences on Threads are extensions of Instagram users and potentially those switching from Twitter.

  • It offers brands the chance for highly developed brand personification.

Is it time to adapt your social strategy and incorporate Threads?

Michael Stelzner breaks down the concept of demand generation—a holistic approach to marketing that's all about understanding the customer's journey and leveraging it to generate interest in your products or services.

Knowing your customer's needs and motivations can help craft a cohesive marketing strategy, reaching not just the existing leads but also creating new demand.

Lead generation is about reaching people who are almost ready to buy. Demand gen, on the other hand, aims at people who aren't aware they need your product/service yet.

By understanding your customers' needs and behaviors, you can craft a marketing strategy that not only captures existing leads but creates new ones as well. It's all about delivering value and building trust with your audience!

Marketing Ripples

  • Amanda French shares how to leverage the power of YouTube Shorts for your site and brand. As our attention spans shrink, bite-sized content like YouTube Shorts are becoming critical in maintaining engagement.

  • Steve Paine at Sistrix takes a look at Elon Musk's recent measures and Twitter's visibility losing 32% in the U.S. within 24 hours. On the other hand, while Twitter has lost visibility, The Guardian, CBS Sports, and Instagram have all seen an increase in their search visibility.


Ricky Kesler from Income School shares seven ways to streamline your blogging process. These are tips that I use myself, including:

  1. Leveraging reusable blocks in WordPress

  2. Batch photos into a folder to use for posts later

  3. Have a content plan that you can go back to when deciding on what to write next - Topical Maps anyone?

  4. Batch your research - this is why I prefer to write the ultimate beginner’s guide initially for silos because that gives you the majority of information you need

  5. Automate email marketing

  6. Automate sales with info products

  7. Manage business email filters

Olga Zarr shares how to identify what keywords your website ranks for, why it matters, and the tools to get you there. She explains how to use Google Search Console and Google Search to check keyword rankings.


Matt Diggity experienced a sharp decrease in website traffic on an AI website he discussed before, but saw revenue increase from $8,000 to $20,000 per month, suggesting that traffic quantity doesn't directly translate to income. He talks about things he’s done after the hit to assess and prioritize for future growth:

  • Diagnosing Traffic Hit

  • Google Core Algorithm Update

  • Do All The Things

  • Content Audit

  • Keyword Cannibalization

  • Monetization

  • Exit Pop-Ups


Helen Pollitt discusses the importance of mutual understanding, clear communication, and collaborative work within company processes to keep a website healthy and traffic flowing. She offers practical advice to improve the working relationship between the SEO team and developers. Key tips:

  • Understand the developers' process

  • Analyze past mistakes

  • Train developers in SEO

  • Establish an SEO QA process

  • Get developers' buy-in with context and an SEO champion


One of the top stories of this week in our little corner of the world is the sudden insolvency (really, “Administration” in the UK) of the Make Lemonade Agency (previously Niche Website Builders).

The first notice was a notice on their website that Joint Administrators were appointed as of July 6, 2023. The following day, they sent an email out explaining the why and what happened:

“…the business landscape in our industry has been evolving rapidly, and the rise of AI content has significantly impacted us…our monthly revenues in 2023 have declined by over 70%, making the current business model untenable.”


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


My partner-in-crime in the LowFruits case study, Dim, started his newsletter a few weeks ago and has putting out some great information about how he’s recovered his sites.


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