What Would You Do? - niche surfer Wave Issue 173

To Update Or Not To Update Content; Why Google Ranks AI Content; 404 Page Tips; Internal Link Mistakes; What is Spamdexing; and Much More!


We all know that updating pages isn’t a hard decision when you’re not ranking on Page 1. But…what if you’re already ranking really well?

Imagine your SEO Guide article is already ranking #1 for “SEO,” but there’s new information you want to add.

How do you update it without losing the #1 spot?

You start thinking about it and you’re not completely sure how much to change, what to change, or if you should update it at all.

Here are some details to consider:

  • You’re ranking Number 1 for the search query “SEO”

  • You have a DR 95 site

  • Your page’s word count is 8,000+

    • Featured snippet page is 1032 words

    • Number 2 is 4093

    • Number 3 is 947 words

  • Image of the Top 3 “SEO” SERPs with DA, Est. Visits, Social Media, and Backlinks data from Ubersuggest Extension.

With all that information, what would you do?

  1. Update with the freshest insights, keeping the word count and core content stable.

  2. Overhaul the piece, stripping away any redundancy or dated info, resulting in a leaner word count from 8k+ to a little over 3,000 words.

  3. Do nothing until the ranking changes.

How many of you would go with Option 2?

I’m guessing most of us would go with Option 1 if it was only those 3 options.

But Option 2 is what the team updating that content decided to do - Google. The Google team responsible for updating the content discuss what went into their decision in their latest Search Off the Record podcast.

It’s an interesting listen because they concede that deciding to go from 8k to 3k words is going to hurt their rankings. But they say they accept the ranking fluctuations because it’s better for users.

I find it funny they say that considering the stakes

If their revenue or salaries depended on ranking highly and driving organic traffic, would they and their stakeholders still accept the ranking fluctuations.

So always take what Google and their employees say with a grain of salt. That’s the same with anyone out there offering advice (including me).

Always do your own homework and research to find your own SEO strategy.

Now then, onto the rest of the newsletter and the great stuff shared this week on the interwebs…

Jon Dykstra and his partner, Oliver, have released the Content Conveyor Belt management system built on Notion.

The system contains templates galore for everything when it comes to managing your content, writers, editors, social media, etc. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in creating my internal systems when it comes to managing my sites, content, and team.

Definitely check this out if you don’t have that many systems in place already. These are great to get you started and will save you hundreds of hours.

With processes in place, you get your time back to focus on the most important thing - growing your earnings.

Another big plus is you get 1 year of the Fatstacks forum access. It’s a popular forum that you can only get if you purchase his full course, which isn’t available now.

Sales close on Sunday, Jan. 28th, so check it out now.


Google’s SEO Starter Guide is getting a refresh. Have you ever wondered how the Search team plans and writes such a document? In this episode of Search Off the Record, John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Lizzi Sassman discuss which topics are still relevant, the right level of detail for a starter guide, and whether or not including anti-patterns in documentation is a good idea.

Kristi Hines dives into the subject of AI-generated content's placement in Google search results, addressing concerns that these pieces are unfairly prioritized over original journalism. Contrary to claims of preferential treatment, she clarifies that Google's algorithm assesses content based on recency, quality, and relevance, without regard to whether it's AI-produced or human-written. Some of the key takeaways of why AI content ranks:

  • Recency: Freshness of content is a significant factor, especially for news-related searches.

  • Domain Age & Backlinks: The age of a domain and its backlink profile can contribute to its authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of Google.

  • Relevance: The relevance of content to the user's search query is crucial.

  • Crawler Access: The accessibility of a site to Google's crawlers affects how well and how quickly content can be indexed and ranked.

  • Topics API: As part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, the Topics API helps in classifying a user's interests based on their browsing activity. While primarily designed for ad targeting, it's speculated that such classification might influence content ranking in certain contexts, like Google News.

Ana Ristic outlines key indicators for a quick site health check, focusing on crawlability, indexation, and common issues like robots.txt, noindex tags, and XML Sitemaps. Some of the top elements mentioned:

  • Crawlability and Indexation

  • Robots.txt and Noindex Tags

  • XML Sitemaps

  • Internal Linking and Site Structure

  • Structured Data and Image Optimization

Brodie Clark's discusses eCommerce SEO and the dynamics of ranking in organic product grids. He offers many insights, detailing influential ranking factors and providing a free analysis template. With real-world examples from various countries and an in-depth analysis of trends, this guide is a must-read for anyone keen to understand and conquer the realm of organic product grids in digital marketing.

SEO Ripples



Ellie Wraith dives into the often-overlooked world of 404 pages. She highlights their importance in user experience and brand perception, detailing how well-crafted 404 pages can manage user frustration, redirect lost visitors, and even boost customer retention.

With real-world examples from brands like Mailchimp and Pixar, Ellie offers actionable tips to transform these error pages into an asset for any website.

There was also an article with 50 examples of 404 pages on Search Engine Land to check out for more inspiration.


Joshua Hardwick dives into the common mistakes when ChatGPT for SEO purposes. He emphasizes that while ChatGPT holds immense potential, realizing its true value in SEO hinges on understanding its capabilities and inherent limitations. He outlines solutions for three prevalent mistakes:

  1. Mistake 1: Asking it questions it doesn’t have the answer to

  2. Mistake 2: Expecting perfect results from your first prompt

  3. Mistake 3: Asking it to 'write an article'

OpenAI released new models, reducing prices for GPT-3.5 Turbo, and introduced new ways for developers to manage API keys and understand API usage. The new models include:

  • Two new embedding models

  • An updated GPT-4 Turbo preview model (supposed to fix the ‘lazy’ problem)

  • An updated GPT-3.5 Turbo model

  • An updated text moderation model


Hava Salsi shares 11 common pitfalls to avoid with internal links, from overlooked broken links to excessive crawl depth. Some of the mistakes discussed:

  • Orphan pages: Webpages with no internal links leading to them.

  • Misuse of anchor text: Overstuffing keywords or using non-descriptive phrases.

  • Redirect chains and loops: Creating unnecessary complexities in navigation.

  • Nofollow attributes in internal links: Mistakenly blocking link equity transfer within the site.

  • Excessive crawl depth: Burying important content too many clicks away from the homepage.

Kaitie Frank discusses the Google's Disavow Links Tool, emphasizing its cautious use. She guides readers through identifying and removing harmful backlinks, outlining steps, tips, and common mistakes, ensuring a healthier backlink profile and safeguarding SEO rankings.

Adam Steele sheds light on the shady practice of spamdexing. Steele takes you through the world of black hat SEO, where some attempt to game the system by manipulating search rankings.

He explains how these unethical methods, like content spam and link schemes, can not only harm your site's credibility but also attract severe penalties from search engines.


Vince Nero breaks down the new Google & Yahoo email requirements for 2024, emphasizing the need for specific authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) and user-friendly practices for all, with stricter rules for bulk senders.


Mateusz Makosiewicz shares every conceivable SEO variant into a comprehensive list, neatly categorized into core, technical, content, local/international, platform-specific SEO, and more.

Want to start an SEO agency? Pick your specialty from a list that includes:

  • Edge SEO

  • Headless SEO

  • Mobile SEO

  • International SEO

  • Yep SEO (yep…it’s an Ahrefs article)

The Backlinko Team shared an in-depth guide on Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business. It details the significance of a well-optimized GBP for boosting business visibility and customer engagement in local search results.

Learn how to set up, optimize, and actively maintain your profile, with practical tips on enhancing every aspect of your GBP to attract more customers and increase revenue.


Lem Park shares many data-driven insights from BrightEdge's analysis of 10,000 keywords across various industries the last three years. Here are five takeaways from the article:

  • Rapid Loading Times: Websites in the top rankings are loading faster than before.

  • Smart Keyword Utilization: A shift towards more natural content optimization is evident, with a decrease in keyword density and overall word count, yet an increase in on-page SEO scores.

  • Enhanced Schema Implementation: There's a noticeable uptick in the adoption and diversity of schema types, hinting at websites' efforts to provide richer context to search engines.

  • Focus on User Experience: Emphasizing the user experience is paramount, with a significant correlation between high Lighthouse Performance Scores and top-ranking positions.

Lily Ray analyzes the dynamic SEO landscape of 2023, highlighting the influence of generative AI tools on content creation and Google's organic search results. Key insights:

  • UGC & Social Media: Sites relying on user-generated content, like Reddit and Quora, saw massive increases in visibility.

  • Law & Government: Government-related websites, particularly .gov domains, witnessed notable visibility boosts.

  • Health & Nutrition: Authoritative health institutions and websites, including nih.gov and WebMD, recorded significant visibility increases, maintaining a trend of authority in the health sector.

  • Travel: Major travel platforms like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com experienced large visibility gains, although the growth was primarily concentrated among the top domains in this category.

  • Reference & Dictionary Sites: Reference and dictionary sites, particularly merriam-webster.com, saw substantial increases in visibility.


Google Chrome browser is getting experimental AI features to organize your tabs, create custom themes and get help with writing on the web.

The writing assistant will let you right-click on any text field or box while browsing in Chrome, select "Help me write," and then input a few initial words. The AI then springs into action and starts writing, whether it's drafting a detailed review, composing a friendly message, or crafting formal inquiries.


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