niche surfer - Wave Issue 164

OpenAI Drama Over(?); No ETA for Core Update End; ChatGPT Talks; UGC Improving SEO; Pagination Bad?; and Much More!

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Barry Schwartz reports the core update has now reached 22 days and the reviews update 16 days. Google's John Mueller admits to having no estimated completion date, suggesting the updates' durations are influenced by various internal factors and a cautious approach. Schwartz speculates that the updates might conclude next week, but this remains uncertain.

In the latest episode of "Search Off the Record," Martin, Gary, and John from Google's Search Relations team dive into often overlooked aspects of SEO. They emphasize the importance of balancing technical SEO with overall content quality. The team discusses common pitfalls in SEO practices and how to address them effectively. Here are five key takeaways from their discussion:

  • Technical SEO Is Vital, But Don't Overdo It: Ensure your site is accessible to Googlebot, but avoid over-focusing on minor technical details.

  • Content Quality Over Quantity: Concentrate on creating content that is genuinely helpful and relevant to your audience.

  • Understand the User’s Perspective: Approach your content strategy with the user's needs and search intent in mind.

  • Look Beyond Traffic Metrics: Assess the real value and relevance of your traffic, rather than just the volume.

  • Regular Site Maintenance: Regularly review and update your content to keep it relevant and high-quality.

Lily Ray explains the historical use of rel=prev and rel=next tags and their deprecation by Google in 2019. She provides three contemporary strategies for effective pagination, emphasizing the importance of accessibility for search engine crawling and indexation.

These methods include maintaining multi-page pagination with canonical tags, utilizing a "View All" page, and integrating a "View More" button or infinite scroll with the History API.

“Fixing pagination can create enormous benefits such as a higher crawl rate, a reduced crawl depth, and increased PageRank (SEO value) flowing throughout your paginated URLs and the content contained within them.”

Here’s a slide from her SMX Advanced presentation showing what pagination would show what your site looks like:

Lee-Anne Mulholland, Vice President of Alphabet Regulatory Response, Investigations and Strategy, discusses the conclusion of the trial between Google and the Department of Justice and State Attorneys General on Google’s blog.

She highlights how the trial affirmed Google's stance that its search engine success is a result of continuous innovation and quality improvements, not a lack of competition.

My Take: Basically a “Google is great and we’re innovators with a lot of people coming after us” article.

Bruce Clay discusses the crucial ranking factors for Google, emphasizing that content, technical aspects, links, and RankBrain play significant roles. Clay says that while content remains king, its quality is pivotal for Google's search results effectiveness. Technical factors like site crawlability and user experience are also crucial, as are the quality and relevance of links. RankBrain, a machine learning component, further interprets search intent.

SEO Ripples

  • Google announces the deprecation of the Crawl Rate Limiter Tool in Search Console, effective January 8th, 2024. They explain that due to advancements in crawling logic and alternative tools, this decade-old feature's utility has declined. Highlighting the improved automated response of Googlebot to server issues, they reassure that the minimum crawl rate will be adjusted to respect past settings.

  • Luca Tagliaferro's dives into the world of AI in SEO, showcasing real-world examples from LinkedIn, CNET, and Bankrate, among others. She examines how these companies are blending AI with human expertise for content creation, discussing the varying degrees of success and challenges faced. The Verge and ‘best printer 2023’ example has already been caught by Google when I tested.

  • Barry Schwartz reports on the recurring issue of Google Search displaying incorrect dates in search results. Despite improvements over the years, recent cases, highlighted by VentureBeat and Bill Hartzer, show that this remains a challenge for Google.


Amin Foroutan shares how to leverage Reddit's user-generated content for SEO insights. This guide provides a comprehensive method to automate data extraction and analysis using ChatGPT and Python. It covers navigating Reddit's API, crafting effective prompts for subreddit queries, and extracting frequently used words and phrases.


Georgi Todorov shares a practical guide for using keywords effectively post-research. He outlines a 4-step process, including SERP analysis, keyword clustering, mapping keywords to URLs, and setting up keyword tracking. Todorov emphasizes the need for understanding content types, optimizing existing content, and the importance of continuous tracking for SEO success.

Despina Gavoyannis offers a comprehensive guide for performing a competitive content gap analysis for SEO, including a practical template. The article covers finding keyword gaps, refining and exporting data, and implementing actionable tasks.

She covers identifying domain-level and page-level content gaps to outperform competitors in search rankings, underscoring the significance of detailed analysis and strategy in SEO.

Natalya Stecko highlights the often overlooked yet powerful role of user-generated content (UGC) in enhancing SEO. Stecko delves into various UGC forms like videos, images, and reviews, emphasizing their authenticity and trust-building capacity.

She provides insights into leveraging UGC for SEO growth, including incorporating it into landing pages and engaging with user communities to demonstrate UGC’s potent impact on brand credibility and online visibility.


In a surprising turn of events, Sam Altman is set to make a comeback as CEO of OpenAI. Greg Brockman, a co-founder who resigned in protest against Altman's firing, will also be returning.

OpenAI is now working on forming a new board, including representatives from Microsoft, which has heavily invested in the company. Amidst the corporate upheaval, both sides have agreed to an independent investigation into the saga.

Here's a bullet list outlining the sequence of events as reported:

  • Nov. 17: OpenAI announces Sam Altman's departure as CEO.

  • Nov. 19: Microsoft hires Sam Altman and Greg Brockman for a new research unit.

  • Nov. 20: Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear is named as an interim CEO at OpenAI, among others.

  • Nov. 20: Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's chief scientist, expresses regret over his role in Altman's firing.

  • Nov. 21: OpenAI finalizes a deal for Sam Altman to return as CEO, with a newly restructured board.

If you want to see Microsoft’s internal memos, check out this article. Includes memos from the CTO Kevin Scott and CEO Satya Nadella.

OpenAI researchers alerted the board to a significant AI discovery, potentially threatening humanity. This revelation preceded CEO Sam Altman's temporary departure, underscoring tensions over harnessing AI advancements responsibly.

Some at OpenAI believe Project Q* (pronounced Q-Star) could be a breakthrough in the startup's search for what's known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), one of the people told Reuters. OpenAI defines AGI as autonomous systems that surpass humans in most economically valuable tasks.

OpenAI announces ChatGPT's new voice and image capabilities, enhancing user interaction. This update allows voice conversations with ChatGPT and showing it what you’re talking about with images. It's rolling out to Plus and Enterprise users, expanding the ways ChatGPT can assist in everyday tasks.

Anthropic released their latest update to their AI model, Claude 2.1. This release includes a larger context window (200k tokens), improved accuracy, and enhanced extensibility, including web interaction capabilities.

AI Ripples

  • Microsoft responds to a social media craze where users created AI-generated movie posters, mimicking Disney-Pixar style, featuring their dogs. Microsoft has since restricted using 'Disney' in its AI tool, likely due to potential copyright issues.

  • Amazon's 'AI Ready' initiative aims to provide free AI training to 2 million people globally by 2025. Workers with AI skills could see up to a 47% increase in salaries. Initiatives include new AI courses, the AWS Generative AI Scholarship, and a partnership with

  • Google Bard can now answer specific questions about YouTube video content. For example, users can ask for the number of eggs needed in a recipe shown in a video. This update marks a leap from merely locating videos to engaging in detailed conversations about their content.


Matt Diggity shares his fail-proof method for selecting lucrative niches for affiliate marketing. He emphasizes reverse engineering marketplaces like Flippa to understand niche profitability and competitiveness. Diggity highlights his approach's effectiveness with examples of his high-earning websites and offers insights into his Affiliate Lab course.

Emilie Martin compiles insights from Moz's presenters who discuss challenges, opportunities, and practical applications looking at the future of digital marketing and SEO in the age of AI. Some of the presentations:

  • Google vs. AI — Tom Capper discusses the impact of Large Language Models on Google, exploring the evolving search landscape.

  • How Content Is Evolving Thanks to AI — Ross Simmonds explains the positive evolution of content creation and workflows due to AI, emphasizing the need to embrace technological changes.

  • How to Create 8 Million SEO Test Ideas Using ChatGPT — Will Critchlow focuses on transforming SEO approaches from auditing to exploring, using ChatGPT for generating test ideas.

  • What GPT Means For Structured Data — Tom Anthony introduces the concept of 'context explosion' and discusses the potential of ChatGPT in refining search queries.

  • Harnessing Generative AI for SEO and Content Success — Alisa Scharf presents the PARS framework for using generative AI in SEO and content, addressing concerns about adherence to E-E-A-T principles.

Kate Ingham-Smith showcases 16 SEO courses. These range from beginner to advanced levels, covering crucial aspects like keyword research, content marketing, local SEO, and technical SEO. The courses, mostly available online for free, are ideal for individuals looking to upgrade their skills or embark on a career in SEO.


Shawna Newman shares her journey from skepticism to embracing AI content for niche sites. Initially opposed, Shawna's experiment with bulk AI content led to a site earning nearly $50/day. She details her methods, including using Koala for content generation and AdThrive for monetization, emphasizing the importance of adapting strategies in SEO and digital marketing.


Liam Carnahan shares valuable insights for those looking to enter the world of SEO freelancing. He discusses the importance of choosing the right SEO services to offer, building a strong portfolio, and strategies for finding leads.

Key topics include technical SEO, content creation, backlinking, and consulting. This comprehensive guide offers a roadmap for anyone aspiring to create a successful SEO freelance career, backed by practical advice and industry knowledge.


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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