niche surfer - Wave Issue 171

Topical Map Podcast; More Verge vs SEO; To Do or Not To Do Author Bylines; GPT Store Launched; Create Linkable Assets; YouTube SEO; and Much More!

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A couple days ago, I had coffee with Jacky Chou from Indexsy, Dom Wells from Onfolio, and George, an affiliate marketer here in Taipei.

If you haven’t watched any of Jacky’s daily videos from the last couple months, there are a lot of good tips in there. One of the things he’s been talking about is Partnerships with high DA sites.

It’s a great strategy. You find a high DA site and partner with them to allow you to publish affiliate content on their site. I know there are some in the niche surfer Discord who are doing it too.

If you’re able to lock down a site, it’s a win-win for both sides. You do all the content and publishing, they do nothing except lend you their domain. In return, they get a share of the affiliate revenue.

It’s a form of parasite SEO that has more legs than the one-off articles you can get on sites like

There are as many ways to crack the SEO nut as there are nuts in the forest, and this partnership approach is one of the more creative ways I’ve seen lately.

So stay sharp. Keep your ears to the ground and your mind open. Every conversation, every shared coffee could lead to the next big breakthrough.

Keep listening, keep learning, and keep growing—just like the content you cultivate.

If anyone reading this has a high DA site and not sure what to do with it, let’s talk! 😀 


I was just on the Doug Show with host Doug Cunnington. We get into all sorts of different things with topical maps, internal links, Google updates, AI and content creation, and so much more.


In the latest Verge article on Google, Mia Sato dives into the influence Google's search algorithms have had on web content and design. The article reveals how websites increasingly prioritize SEO strategies to rank higher on Google, often at the expense of user experience and content diversity. She goes step-by-step creating a lizard blog and articles based on best practices.

This transformation of the web into a uniform landscape, driven by the need to appease Google's algorithms, has led to an influx of content that prioritizes visibility over quality. She also touches on the role of generative AI in content creation and its potential impact on the future of SEO and online information accessibility.

And as an answer to the article…Google Search Liaison’s (aka Danny Sullivan) response is covered in this next article —

Matt Southern covers Google’s Search Liaison debunking the common SEO “myth: Google does not use author bylines as a ranking factor. Southern clarifies that while bylines serve the reader, they have no direct impact on search rankings.

My Take: Why did I highlight “myth”? Because as much as Google and its pundits want to say bylines and authorship aren’t ranking factors…the reality is different.

In a Tweet thread from James Dooley, he shares that many sites have been getting these Author Transparency Manual Actions.

source: Twitter/X

And if you read the description of the “Transparency Issue,” you’ll notice what it says:

Your site appears to violate our transparency policy and lacks clear dates, bylines, information about authors…

Yes, the same “bylines” that it claims is not a ranking factor, but is a factor when it comes to Manual Actions, which “can see reduced display features, lower ranking or even removal from Google Search results.”

So Google is saying “bylines are for readers and not us,” BUT we’re not ranking you because you don’t have “clear dates, bylines, information about authors…”

While Google most likely won’t go searching to verify an author’s credentials, they will use the information provided on the page, site, and other pages/sites they have in their database.

So the more out there, the easier it is to verify. Google even has a Topic Authority patent that covers how they determine authority in authorship across documents. Too lazy to find it now, but it has “Topic Authority” in the name.

Why do you think topical coverage and topical maps are so important?

Then there’s also the Search Quality Rater Guidelines that tell their raters about rating authorship…so yeah… 🤔 

Do I think you need author bylines/bios on every page? No. Use common sense here. Product pages, category pages, privacy policy - Authors don’t matter for those types of pages and they’re never used anyways. But when it comes to blog articles, especially in YMYL, you’d better have authors there.

Barry Schwartz explores Google SGE's new feature: a search carousel titled "Here are some products to consider." It displays a variety of products from multiple vendors, directly integrating with the Google Shopping graph. By clicking on these items, users can easily navigate and engage with different shopping options.

Laurence O'Toole explores the significant changes in SEO due to Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE). Conducted in December 2023, this extensive study analyzed the effects of SGE on 1,000 commercial terms, providing a detailed look at how AI-integrated search results are reshaping organic rankings. Here are five key takeaways from the research:

  • Dominance of SGE in Search Queries: SGE elements appeared in 86.8% of all search queries, with a mix of a small generate button (65.9%) and a pre-populated SGE element (34.1%).

  • Significant Shift in Organic Listing Positions: The introduction of SGE elements pushed the No.1 organic listing down by approximately 1,562 to 1,630 pixels. This shift, about 1.5 times the height of a typical viewport, drastically lowers the visibility of top organic results.

  • Diversity in SGE Content: The SGE content post-click included an average of 10.2 links from 4 unique domains. Surprisingly, 93.8% of these links originated from sources outside the top-ranking organic domains.

  • Impact on Featured Snippets and Universal SERPs: SGE's implementation has displaced featured snippets and other organic results significantly, suggesting a potential decline in their effectiveness and visibility.

  • Changes in SEO Strategy: The study highlights the need for SEO agencies to adapt strategies in light of these changes, emphasizing the importance of featuring in generative results.

Padrig Jones, along with contributors Christine Skopec and Connor Lahey, cover various aspects from general search statistics to specific details on mobile and desktop searches, consumer behavior, local search dynamics, paid search effectiveness, and the growing trends in visual and voice search. Key stats in the article include:

  • Google processes 5.9 million searches per minute, translating to over 3.1 trillion searches annually.

  • Top-ranking organic search results on Google have a 22.4% click-through rate.

  • 63% of Google searches in the U.S. are conducted on mobile devices.

  • Google dominates the global search engine market with a 91.54% share.

  • Most Google searches are three to four words long.

  • Featured snippets appear twice as often on desktop as on mobile.

  • 50% of the U.S. population uses voice-enabled search each day.

SEO Ripples

  • Danny Sullivan, Google's Search Liaison, announced upcoming changes to improve search results quality. Responding to examples of spammy content, Sullivan reassures that Google is aware and actively working on solutions. This update aims to tackle issues like incoherent websites and misleading .edu sites in rankings, promising a cleaner, more reliable search experience.

  • Google is letting certain sites delay the phase-out of third-party cookies until December 27, 2024. This offers a reprieve for marketers reliant on these cookies for targeted advertising. The article details the eligibility criteria and application process for this temporary allowance, stressing the significance of adapting to upcoming changes in digital marketing.

  • Glenn Gabe shares a useful SEO trick in his latest article. He explains how to use the data-nosnippet attribute to control Google search snippets. That can help prevent sensitive, misleading, or irrelevant content from being displayed in search results. It’s a good read for site owners who want to enhance user experience and manage their brand image effectively in search results.

  • A Reddit user noticed hundreds of thousands of spammy backlinks to their site from AI-generated blogs. John Mueller clarifies that these links, which might not even be AI-generated, can be safely ignored. He reassures that Google's algorithms have evolved to neutralize such links, rendering them ineffective in influencing site rankings.

  • In March 2024, websites created using Google Business Profiles will be discontinued. Visitors will be redirected to the Business Profile instead. This temporary redirection lasts until June 10, 2024, after which a 'page not found' error will appear. Google advises updating your Business Profile with a new website link, and making necessary changes to ads and domain redirects to ensure a smooth transition.

  • John Shehata reveals Google's Perspectives search feature shows Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit as top sources, highlighting their significant influence in Google's news landscape. Dive into Shehata's analysis for a closer look at the digital media giants shaping the online news experience.


OpenAI launched the GPT Store, a new platform for exploring over 3 million custom versions of ChatGPT. Accessible to ChatGPT Plus, Team, and Enterprise users, the store features a variety of GPTs for different needs, from AllTrails' personalized trail recommendations to Canva's design tools. ChatGPT Plus users can build their own GPTs without coding skills and share them in the store. The platform includes a revenue program for builders and enhanced controls for enterprise customers. Check it out at


Lazarina Stoy compares GPT-4 and Google Cloud's machine learning APIs fare in various SEO tasks. The focus is on tasks such as semantic analysis, classification, translation, and image understanding. Key areas tested included:

  • Understanding Text, Entity Recognition, Syntax Analysis

  • Grouping Text (Clustering and Classification)

  • Image SEO

  • Content Transformation

  • Content Localization

Marie Haynes explores significant updates to Google Assistant and its integration with Search. She details using the updated Assistant, highlighting its ability to provide more relevant, voice-activated search results. She contrasts the differences between Google Search and Assistant, emphasizing the latter's evolving role as a more interactive, personalized tool.

She also touches on the potential of Google Bard, within Assistant, suggesting a future where AI-generated answers and traditional search results coexist.

OpenAI refutes The New York Times' lawsuit, asserting its commitment to ethical journalism and AI development. They clarify misconceptions about AI training, and address accusations of content 'regurgitation,' explaining the measures in place to prevent it. They highlight four points:

  • We collaborate with news organizations and are creating new opportunities

  • Training is fair use, but we provide an opt-out because it’s the right thing to do

  • “Regurgitation” is a rare bug that we are working to drive to zero

  • The New York Times is not telling the full story

AI Ripples

  • OpenAI launched ChatGPT Team, a new plan offering a collaborative workspace for teams, with access to advanced models like GPT-4 and DALL·E 3. This plan includes tools for project management, data analysis, and custom GPT creation, all within a secure environment. It also ensures business data privacy, as OpenAI doesn't train on user data. ChatGPT Team is priced at $25/month per user annually.

  • Getty Images and Nvidia launched Generative AI by iStock, a platform allowing users to create custom stock photos via text prompts. Using Nvidia's Picasso model and trained exclusively on Getty and iStock's creative libraries, this service is geared towards small and medium businesses needing specific stock imagery. With features like Inpainting and Outpainting coming soon, it promises more precise and efficient image creation for users, albeit with a legal indemnity cap of $10,000 per asset. Pricing will be $14.99 for 100 prompts, with each prompt generating four images.


Steve Toth shares how Bibi creates linkable assets in digital marketing. He emphasizes the importance of these assets in attracting natural backlinks, thus enhancing SEO and establishing thought leadership. The article details a two-phase process for generating and validating content ideas:

Phase 1: Explore & Brainstorm

  • Jot down all ideas without judgment.

  • Utilize tools like Ahrefs Content Explorer to explore related topics and trends.

  • Examples include analyzing diverse topics to stimulate a wide range of ideas.

Phase 2: Validation

  • Scrutinize each idea for feasibility, audience relevance, and brand alignment.

  • Ensure the content is practical and beneficial for the intended audience.

  • Consider factors like audience attraction, potential for conversion or branding, and resource availability for content creation.


First Page Sage breaks down the stages of the digital marketing funnel. It offers insights on optimizing each stage for better conversion rates. From the initial discovery on search engines to the final purchase decision, it covers key performance indicators, online locations, and strategies for each phase. This is great for anyone looking to improve their website's visitor-to-lead conversion process.

Yannick Weiler offers a comprehensive guide on optimizing YouTube videos for better ranking and visibility. It covers the basics of YouTube SEO, its benefits, and best practices for creating a winning SEO strategy.

He emphasizes the importance of keyword research, engaging content creation, and utilizing YouTube’s algorithm to your advantage. If you haven’t gotten started with YouTube yet, this is a good read to improving a YouTube channel's reach and engagement.

Nicola Agius reveals TikTok's ambitious plan to expand its ecommerce business in the U.S. and Latin America, challenging giants like Amazon. She explains how TikTok Shop, set to grow tenfold to $17.5 billion this year, offers a unique opportunity for brands to engage with the platform's massive user base. This expansion signifies a significant shift in online retail, with TikTok leveraging its popular short videos and live streams for a seamless shopping experience.


For his new SaaS tool’s website, Jaume Ros shares his SEO strategies in a highly competitive market. The focus is on the challenges of establishing SEO for a new domain for Here are the key takeaways:

  • Targeting High-Conversion Pages: Prioritizing the creation of bottom-funnel pages, like those for the main features of the tool, to boost traffic and conversions.

  • Programmatic SEO for Scaling: Exploring programmatic SEO to create pages at scale, inspired by successful strategies from competitors like Ahrefs and Semrush.

  • Offering Free Tools: Considering the introduction of free tools to attract traffic, based on analysis of competitors' offerings.

  • Content Strategy: Planning a blog strategy that leverages the company's agility to cover new, trendy SEO topics and potentially employing AI writing tools for content creation.

  • Link Building and Authority: Starting with basic citations and directory listings, moving towards product launches and affiliate programs to build links and establish authority in the SEO space.

My Take: Even if you don’t have a SaaS tool, this is still great for a niche site because we need to be treating every site as a business. Working on different ways to grow and get traffic is what it’s all about.


Andy Chadwick outlines a B2B keyword research approach for identifying highly specific keywords, particularly for healthcare professionals here. He emphasizes understanding the unique language and search behaviors of target audiences, providing a blueprint for navigating this complex task.

Chadwick's case study illustrates the critical thinking process essential for successful keyword research in specialized industries, offering valuable insights for digital marketing.

My Take: Even though this says it’s B2B, it’s really for B2C/DTC as well, because it’s about your target audience and what resonates with them.


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