niche surfer - Wave Issue 148

106 SEO Statistics; HowTo and FAQ Changes; Brian Dean Method; Amateur Keyword Stuffing; $2000 AI Clones; Brand Authority; and Much More!


Lots of great news and resources this week, so I won’t say too much here - just 2 things:

  1. $50 off Topical Maps Unlocked ends at 11:59pm EST - 15 hours from when this email was sent. Use code: Q2WIN50.

  2. I’ve been sharing more on X (Twitter) since I wasn’t too active for the last month or so. Most of the tweets lately have been on topical maps and simplifying it to help people wrap their head around it. Follow me on X for more - @yoyaoh.

Let’s get to rest of the good stuff now!


Gael Breton talks to Brian Dean about how he built his site to a DR 90 on Ahrefs’ domain rating. Key takeaways:

  • Backlinko went through 3 phases: blogger/solo phase focused on growing email list, team phase with editors to create megaguides, and utility site phase with content hubs. He adapted the site as blogging and user behavior changed over time.

  • He simplified his approach over time, realizing many SEO tactics were just "training wheels". Now he doesn't do much on-page SEO or outreach.

  • He focuses on creating the best content possible without worrying about SEO tactics. This results in more engaging content.

  • He looks for content templates that can scale, like list posts. New templates help drive more traffic when old ones run dry.

  • Maintaining quality at scale is challenging. He still personally reviews all published content to ensure it meets his high standards.

  • For statistics pages, he chose less competitive keywords without the word "statistics" to rank for. This tactic is getting more competitive but still effective.

  • Links matter more than on-site content for authority. Google sees you as an expert based on what others say about you, not just your own content.

  • He predicts search will have two interfaces - LLMs for doing things and traditional search for finding information. Each tool will be used for what it's best at.


Here’s the transcript if you prefer reading it. Some of the highlights:

  • How many URLs can a sitemap index file have? Up to 50,000 URLs.

  • Why is my site not ranking despite low competition and good SEO? As a restaurant, does using the right ingredients and cooking in a clean kitchen mean you'll get a lot of customers?

  • How can I see if my newly bought site has a penalty? See the current status of manual actions in Search Console, once you've verified ownership of the site. Manual actions that have expired or which are resolved are not listed there.

  • For the structured data on a French website, should we write the opening days in English or French? In short, even if your site is in another language and you show the opening hours in that language, then for structured data you would use the names in English.

The Semrush team just dropped a treasure trove of 106 juicy stats. Let's unpack a few standout figures for our digital aficionados:

  • Less than 1% of folks venture onto the second page of Google results. First page or bust! (Backlinko, 2023)

  • The pages boasting the most backlinks typically steal the top spots in Google's rankings. Time to up that link-building game! (Backlinko, 2020)

  • Over 70% of shoppers whip out their phones to shop online. Mobile-first isn't just a buzzword; it's the reality. (Semrush, 2023)

  • A whopping 91% of businesses have jumped on the video marketing bandwagon. YouTube, anyone? (Wyzowl, 2023)

Google has made some tweaks to their HowTo and FAQ rich results:

  • FAQ Rich Results: Google's now only showcasing these for well-known, authoritative government and health websites. If you're not in those categories, your FAQ rich results won't be displayed as often. But don’t rush to remove that structured data from your site; it doesn’t harm your search experience even if it's not in use.

  • HowTo Rich Results: These will be visible just for desktop users. Even with mobile indexing, ensure the mobile version of your site has the right markup if you want them shown on desktop.

  • Search Console Reports: The changes will show up in metrics for FAQ and HowTo appearances in your performance reports.

  • Global Rollout: This isn’t a ranking change, but expect it to take effect globally over the next week. However, some users might not see it right away due to a small holdback experiment.

Scott Moses gives a broad overview of topical authority and how to construct it effectively. Key things covered:

  • Topical Authority Defined: Mastering a topic boosts your website's search ranking across its entirety.

  • Benefits Beyond Rankings: Gaining Topical Authority reduces reliance on backlinks and offers competitive advantage.

  • Outsmart Bigger Competitors: Detailed content and Topical Authority allow you to outperform larger sites.

  • Research Methods: Utilize knowledge panels, keyword suggest tools, competitor data, Wikipedia, and AI for insights.

  • Implementation Simplified: Leverage AI to aggregate and analyze data, saving time and refining your strategy.

My Take: He discusses using AI for topic organization but there’s not much meat there, so you’ll want to find other sources - like Topical Maps Unlocked 😉 But really, you’ll want to take SERPs into consideration to avoid keyword cannibalization.

SEO Ripples


The Keyword Insights team released some new features with the V3 release. There’s an improved user experience and workflow, enhanced keyword discovery, expanded SERP similarity up to 6 keywords, and more. They’re also working on their AI writing assistant to complete the workflow.


Kavi Kardos from Moz shares a process that helps overhaul and optimize a content library for better SEO and user experience. The 4-step process involves auditing issues, planning a new structure, migrating content carefully, and redesigning the site navigation and templates.

Danny Sullivan, Google's Search Liaison, posted a PSA on Twitter that you should not delete old content from your site because you think Google Search doesn't like old content. He said it is not true, Google Search can find older content to be helpful. So don't delete helpful old content.

The PSA is partially in response to CNET deleting thousands of old articles to try and game Google Search. They’ve been creating AI articles since 2020 and been caught with lots of incorrect information, so it’s good they’re cleaning that up.


John McAlpin dives into the capabilities of OpenAI's ChatGPT Code Interpreter with 5 specific SEO uses:

  1. Visualize internal linking

  2. Perform server log analysis

  3. Identify themes in keyword research

  4. Optimize titles and meta descriptions

  5. Automate redirect mapping

Not completely up to speed on Generative AI, Large Language Models, Transformer Models, BERT Models, and other related topics? Google has 10 mini-courses for you to learn from!

Learn how to clone your (or anyone’s) voice, knowledge, and personality. Then chat with it anywhere, like inside Telegram.

AI Ripples


Moz recently launched Brand Authority, a new metric that measures online brand strength on a 1-100 scale. The metric leverages Moz's search data and algorithms to help marketers assess marketing gaps, prospect value, and media influence.

Moz also published a list of the top 500 US brands ranked by Brand Authority along with the announcement. Sadly…no niche surfer 😢 

Gordon Donnelly reveals how email, when done correctly, can achieve conversion rates at almost double the rate of paid search ads. He shares a few strategies, including:

  • Newsletters

  • Discounts for Newbies

  • Gated Content

  • Contests & Giveaways

  • Exit Intent Pop-Ups

Marketing Ripples


Georgi Todorov shows how to find high-value "money keywords" for SEO using LowFruits. Key takeaways:

  • Focus on keywords with purchase intent, not just volume.

  • Use tools like LowFruits for extensive keyword research and SERP analysis.

  • Start with seed keywords based on your offerings.

  • Narrow down keywords using filters for search intent.

  • Build keyword clusters instead of pages for every individual keyword.

  • Consider low-volume keywords if they have transactional intent.

  • Research customers directly via surveys to uncover content ideas.

Mateusz Makosiewicz dives into why some content ranks higher in search results - search intent. Stay ahead in the SEO game by understanding the "why" behind search queries. Some of the highlights:

  • Search Intent Decoded: Discover why search intent drives SEO success.

  • Creating Relevant Content: Learn how to tailor your content to match what users want.

  • Three Cs of Intent: Get acquainted with Content type, Format, and Angle.

Once you understand your main keywords by optimizing for search intent, get your related keywords.

Related keywords aren't just synonyms; they're the puzzle pieces that connect to your main keyword. Search engines use them to grasp your content's context. Get strategies to find these gems and optimize your content for a wider audience.


Jenny Abouobaia explores 10 methods that bloggers are using to cash in on their passion. From affiliate marketing to sponsored content, she covers the pros and cons for each approach. Key takeaways:

  • Studies reveal only about 5%-8% of bloggers actually earn a full-time income.

  • The big bucks can come from ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, services, products, and more.

  • Guide includes choosing a profitable niche, leveraging SEO, building an email list, and expanding through additional channels.


Looks like AI has taken down another content agency. I didn’t see any news of it, but then saw this LinkedIn post about WordAgents having been sold.

David Peterson, the now ex-COO of WordAgents, shared an account of his journey as the first COO at WordAgents. Despite initial success, the rise of AI threw a curveball in the content marketing game and “rewrote the entire playbook.”

WordPress updated to 6.3 and Yoast gives us a summary of the key highlights: revamped site editor, a slew of fresh design choices, plus heightened performance and accessibility.


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


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