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Making a List, Checking It Twice Like 🎅 - Wave Issue 162

Google Rater Guidelines Updated; SiteStripe Madness; AI Search Engines Uprising; Email Marketing Trends; and Much More!


Black Friday is upon us and my inbox has exploded. I’ve been sick this week too, so my inbox is still unruly.

But I’ll be going through it to search for the best deals that matter to us and will send them out in the annual BFCM email mid-week next week!

Now’s the time to do a couple things…

1. Make your list and check it twice

With all the BFCM deals out there, it’s really, really easy to get FOMO and overbuy. I’ve done it way too many times!

The way I do it now is to create a list of all the attractive deals to me and ones I think will help me become more efficient and increase my ROI. 

Then I walk away to let the list sit there for a day. I’ll come back to it and realize that I don’t need half of it. I rinse and repeat the process a number of times.

Even then, I’ll still end up with deals that I barely use 😆 

But the one thing that is always needed is learning. That’s one I will always take advantage of with BFCM deals. 

For example, Matt Diggity’s Affiliate Lab (11/24-27) and Mushfiq’s various courses (11/20-27), including Website Flipping. 

Education is always the best ROI. 

Topical Maps Unlocked anyone? 

Get 30% Off with the code: BF23.

Tools help you get things faster. BUT if you don’t know what the end product is supposed to be, you won’t know whether tools are good or not. 

2. Cancel last year’s BFCM accounts

This is a very important step. 

If you subscribed to any discounted annual plans, you’ll want to cancel them because they may either renew at non-discounted prices or you got it due to FOMO. 

And if you want keep a subscription, see if you can renew it at the discounted price. Or you can always cancel and purchase again with a different email. 

So that’s it. The 2 big things I do this time of year.

Look out for my curated list of BFCM deals in a few days to help you start Step 1!

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These offers are valid for the next 24 hours. Get the deals today.

I personally use both of these and highly recommend them. I also refer Clockwork Copy to topical maps clients who are looking for quality human-written content.


“As of November 16, our Search Quality Rater Guidelines have been updated to simplify our guidelines. Specifically, we've simplified the "Needs Met" scale definitions, added more guidance for different kinds of web pages and modern examples including newer content formats such as short form video, removed outdated and redundant examples, and expanded rating guidance for forum and discussion pages. None of these involve any major or foundational shifts in our guidelines.”

I copied one of their paragraphs since it describes exactly what’s covered. It’s something good to go through yourself because of all the examples they give on their “Needs Met” scale definitions. You also get insights into how Google looks at user search intent. Here’s an example:

source: Google

And yes, you can put the PDF into a custom GPT to get insights, but be sure to look at the PDF yourself because you’re not going to see everything in context. Get the full PDF here. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable also has a list of past versions here.

Google’s Brad Kellett introduces Google's latest experiment in Search Labs: Notes. This feature allows users to share their expertise directly on Search, offering human insights alongside web content. It aims to provide helpful tips from both experts and everyday users, enhancing the relevance of search results with personal experiences and advice.

Users can customize their contributions with text, stickers, photos, and soon, AI-generated images. Kellett emphasizes Google's commitment to maintaining quality and safety through algorithmic protections and human moderation.

SEO Ripples

  • Barry Schwartz reports Google's new ranking improvement, hidden gems, which now surfaces personal insights and experiences from social media, blogs, and forums. This update, part of Google's core ranking system, aims to highlight more authentic and helpful content. It’s distinct from the helpful content update, focusing on first-hand knowledge and experiences, potentially affecting search result rankings.

  • On X/Twitter, Google SearchLiaison explains the imperfections in Google Search results, their ongoing updates to enhance these results, and the need for better guidance for creators. They admit “Google’s results aren’t perfect. We do make mistakes. We don’t always get it right. We’ll never get everything right” and “We do have lots of ranking updates coming".”

  • Google explores how SGE integrates AI into search to offer creative, specific gift ideas, from culinary tools for home cooks to inventive kits for young aspiring inventors. It also highlights new features for apparel shopping, including AI-powered image generation and virtual try-ons for a more personalized experience. Do we still write those “10 Amazing Gifts for Moms” articles?

  • Google introduces Course Info Structured Data - add structured data like pricing, educational level, ratings, and duration to improve course visibility in search results. The article explains the use of Google Search Console for verifying and monitoring this data, ensuring courses are more effectively showcased to potential learners.

  • Google pays Apple 36% of search ad revenue from Safari, amounting to around $18 billion in 2021. This disclosure, made during a Justice Department antitrust trial, highlights the long-standing deal between the tech giants and its significant financial impact.

  • Google claims that optimizing Core Web Vitals (CWV) has saved Chrome users over 10,000 years in page load time in 2023. But more than half of websites still don't meet CWV thresholds 😅 

  • Bing's new feature, "Generative AI Captions," uses AI to create search snippets. Bing's system, powered by GPT-4, tailors snippets to each unique query, offering relevant and concise content. These AI-generated snippets, distinct from webpage text, will be labeled for transparency. Bing also provides options to block this feature for website owners.

  • Yahoo is gearing up to launch a new search experience in early 2024, as revealed by Brian Provost, their Senior VP and General Manager. This update, initially featuring a redesign and rebranding, promises more advanced features rolling out progressively post-launch. Don’t call it a comeback!


Yep, if you’ve been using SiteStripe to get Images, you’re going to need to use their API to get the images now. Amazon’s SiteStripe page still shows the ‘Image’ and ‘Text+Image’ links in their screenshot, but the links are grayed out in the image.

source: Amazon

If you used SiteStripe to get your images, there are two companies out to help save you so much manual work of migrating:

Olesia Filipenko from Orbit Media Studios shares strategies to keep visitors engaged longer on your site. She into the importance of dwell time as a factor in Google's ranking algorithm.

Olesia also offers practical writing techniques, such as crafting compelling intros, structuring content for easy scanning, using internal links effectively, and incorporating custom visuals. These methods not only enhance user experience but also potentially improve your site's SEO performance.


Big news from OpenAI, folks! Jay Peters reports that Sam Altman, a key figure in AI innovation, has been fired as CEO. The board cited a lack of transparency in communications as the reason for this unexpected decision.

Meanwhile, Mira Murati (CTO) takes over as interim CEO. This move follows Altman's significant contributions, notably launching ChatGPT, which revolutionized the AI landscape.

Also interesting is Altman's venture into raising a fund for "hard tech." Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, reaffirmed its commitment to the company's new leadership (would they really say anything else?).

Kristi Hines is posting live updates on Search Engine Journal, so you can stay up to date with the latest.

Roger Montti gets into the rapidly evolving landscape of AI-powered search engines. He highlights how these search engines are challenging traditional players like Google, offering unique features and capabilities. He profiles six standout AI search engines, each bringing something distinct to the table, from privacy-focused approaches to integration of advanced language models for more nuanced search results:

  1. Andi Search - Offers a visually integrated AI interface throughout the search results and prioritizes privacy.

  2. Metaphor AI Search - Uses LLMs for "next link prediction" to surface diverse internet data, focusing on various categories like tweets, news, and research papers.

  3. Brave AI Search Summarizer - A privacy-first search engine that uses its own language models to provide search result summaries and webpage descriptions.

  4. YOU AI Search Engine - Combines a LLM with up-to-date citations, offering features like chat-based searches, image and content generation, and personalized machine learning.

  5. Phind.com - Markets itself as a generative AI search engine for developers and caters to a variety of complex queries.

  6. Perplexity.ai - A self-described answer engine that provides in-depth answers using updated versions of Google’s PageRank and LLMs, focusing on offering trustworthy and comprehensive responses.

AI Ripples

  • Mike Wheatley highlights Meta's latest AI innovations in image and video generation through its Emu platform. Meta has developed new tools for more precise image editing via text instructions and a novel method for text-to-video generation.

  • Google's anticipated AI model, Gemini, is facing a delay in its cloud rollout. Initially set for a November 2023 launch, Gemini's release is now pushed to the first quarter of 2024. The delay impacts not just the race with OpenAI, but also Google's other products like YouTube and Google Assistant, which were to benefit from Gemini's AI improvements.


Kaitie Frank explores the complex relationship between social media posts and backlinks in SEO. She clarifies that while social media links are typically "nofollow" and don't directly boost rankings, they play a vital role in enhancing brand visibility and trust.

She highlights the indirect impact of social media on SEO, noting its role in building online reputation as per Google's guidelines. She balances the advantages of social media backlinks, like increased reach and engagement, against their potential short-lived impact and algorithm dependency.


Erica Santiago dives deep into the evolving landscape of email marketing as we approach 2024. Leveraging her experience sending out Hubspot’s Marketing Blog email newsletter daily and a collection of over 51,000 emails, she identifies key trends that are shaping the way marketers approach email campaigns. Here are five takeaways from her analysis:

  • Data Protection and Privacy: She emphasizes the importance of complying with regulations like GDPR and offering easy unsubscribe options.

  • Shifting Metrics: Due to privacy updates like Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, traditional metrics like open rates are becoming less reliable. She suggests focusing on click rates, conversion rates, list growth, and ROI to gauge the success of email campaigns.

  • Niche Content: Personalized, niche-focused content is gaining traction.

  • Interactive Elements: GIFs and gamification are effective in making emails more engaging and memorable.

  • Personalization and Exclusivity: Personalized content, based on user preferences and history, is becoming more important.

Erica Santiago at Hubspot dives into findings from a Glimpse survey on email marketing. She reveals that multimedia emails, basic emails, and discount emails rank highest in engagement, while product announcements and article-style emails are less effective. Here are the types of emails:

Types of Emails That Get the Most Engagement:

  1. Multimedia Emails

  2. Basic Emails (not the plain text ones)

  3. Discount Emails

Types of Emails That Get the Least Engagement:

  1. Product/Service Announcement Emails

  2. Article-Style Emails

  3. Emails Promoting Contests/Competitions

  4. Educational Emails

  5. Event Announcements


The Semrush Team offers a comprehensive 10-step guide for crafting articles that not only attract organic traffic but also keep readers engaged. From identifying target audiences and keywords to conducting thorough topic research and creating compelling headlines, the guide emphasizes creating high-quality, SEO-optimized content.

It also covers the importance of engaging introductions, descriptive subheadings, and the inclusion of effective visuals and CTAs. The article concludes with editing and proofreading tips, highlighting the importance of polished, accurate content for building reader trust.

Nick Eubanks shares a guide for enhancing website rankings through proven SEO strategies. He dives into the essentials of SEO, from ensuring content is discoverable on Google to detailed best practices for on-page optimization. Some of the takeaways from the article include:

  • Utilize Google Search Console

  • Align with search intent

  • Implement strong internal linking

  • Create high-quality, human-written content

  • Monitor Indexing Issues

  • Create an XML Sitemap

  • Implement a Robots.txt File

  • Address 4xx Errors

Matt Diggity reveals his journey from earning four to seven figures monthly through SEO. Diggity emphasizes the importance of efficient work over perfection, sharing insights on content creation, niche selection, topical authority, and link building.

He advises against overthinking in SEO, encouraging focusing on producing good content quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Diggity highlights the significance of starting and learning from experience in SEO, rather than getting bogged down by seeking perfection.

If analysis paralysis is something you often deal with, this is a good video to watch.

Noah Learner emphasizes the importance of soft skills in enhancing an SEO's career. He discusses how these skills significantly contribute to salary growth and overall success in the SEO field. The five key soft skills:

  1. Critical Thinking: Learner highlights the importance of analyzing data effectively, creating hypotheses, and connecting analysis to action.

  2. Prioritization: He advises focusing on tasks that have high impact but require low effort, thereby maximizing productivity and effectiveness.

  3. Continuous Learning: Emphasizing the need for ongoing learning, he encourages SEOs to constantly expand both their technical and soft skills.

  4. Amplification: Learner suggests finding and nurturing one's unique way of sharing knowledge, whether through writing, speaking, or other forms of communication.

  5. Community Involvement: He underscores the value of community engagement in the SEO world, which offers collaboration opportunities and mutual growth.


Charles Floate shares insights from the Chiang Mai SEO Conference’s workshops, masterminds, and talks by Matt Diggity, Kyle Roof, Tim Soulo, Kazra Dash, Julie Adams, and many more.

At the same CM SEO Conference, Jaume Ros sought out the opinions and strategies of top SEO professionals for 2024 - Charles Floate, Gael Breton, Craig Campbell, Cyrus Shepard, and more.

They discuss the evolving SEO tactics for the upcoming year, especially in light of Google’s Search Generative Experience, diversifying beyond Google, with a focus on Amazon SEO and YouTube SEO, leveraging their high ROI and lower costs. They also emphasize the growing importance of AI in their strategies, predicting its disruptive impact on agencies.


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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