niche surfer Wave Issue 181

WPA Launched; Spam Update is Over; Update Winners and Losers So Far; Wikipedia's Reliable Sources List; WordPress 6.5; Content Marketing Trends; YouTube Requires AI-Labels; and Much More!


My journey as a web publisher, content creator, topical map creator, and any of the 20+ other things that I do on a daily basis can be a lonely one.

I’m often sitting in front of my computer by myself and staring at a screen.

Do I have a team of people I work with? Yes. Do I have other web publishers that I talk to regularly? Yes. But it’s still just me - a single, shining star in the vast night sky - easily overlooked..

But when other stars start shining, collectively they make people stop and take notice of the brilliance. The stars create constellations and galaxies that people are in awe of.

That’s why there are thousands of clubs and associations of like-minded people who join together to support each other and have a larger, united voice in their industries.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one for small to medium web publishers that are not large media conglomerates controlled by private equity - until now 🎉 

The Web Publishers Association (WPA) launched this week with the driving force of Anne Moss from

I’m proud to be one of the first board members of this incredible initiative with other amazing publishers and creators. The collective experience of board members run the gamut of everything digital, including:

  • Bloggers

  • Affiliate marketers

  • Email newsletter publishers

  • Journalists

  • YouTube and video creators

  • Podcasters

  • Social media influencers

We’re looking to build a vibrant community of like-minded online publishers and content creators with the WPA. Think of the WPA like any of the trade associations, unions, chambers of commerce, and even those school clubs.

Together, we will get seats at the table to have a voice. We’ll be able to learn from each other. We’re no longer alone.

We’re starting this WPA journey with a fundraiser to lay the groundwork for the non-profit, covering everything from legal fees to community-building initiatives.

Your support, through a contribution of $300 (or $250 with the discount code: SURF50OFF), will not only solidify the foundation of the WPA but also grant you access to over $1200 worth of training materials and exclusive discounts curated by our board members and friends.

We know times are tough too, so there are many other ways to support the WPA, listed on this page. Even if it’s a couple social media posts to raise awareness, I would love it!

While membership details are being figured out, do know that your $300 contribution will go towards any membership fees too.

These contributions are straight to WPA. The board members are not receiving any of the funds. In fact, we’ve all personally contributed funds for the first $25k of expenses to get the non-profit incorporation and more started.

Join us on this quest to unite web publishers so there is a supportive community and louder voice in the conversation. Together, we’re not just stars in the night sky; we’re shaping the WPA constellation that’s the future of web publishing.

Use the coupon SURF50OFF for $50 off the regular contribution of $300.

Help spread the word and contribute in other ways through this page.


Read Anne Moss introducing the Web Publishers Association in this blog post. Learn more about why what drove her to start WPA and the fundraising efforts to help support the web publishing community.


Google updated their Search Status page to show that their spam update ended on March 20, 2024. As a reminder, the new spam policies were for scaled content abuse, expired domain abuse, and site reputation abuse (which starts May 5th).

Lily Ray tweeted a sample of winners and losers from the March Core and Spam updates so far. Here’s one of the images below. Have to love that Google’s own domain has a 999% change so far:


Glenn Gabe introduces Wikipedia's Reliable Sources list to assess the credibility of websites. The list classifies websites from "Generally reliable" to "Blacklisted” and can serve as a benchmark. This list is updated by Wikipedia editors and offers a unique perspective on site reliability, similar to the insight provided by Google's Quality Raters.

The list is a living document, with scores evolving based on Wikipedia editor consensus. He suggests checking where a site is cited across Wikipedia for additional perspectives on its content's use and trustworthiness by using the insource command to find specific citations.


SEO Ripples


The upcoming release of WordPress 6.5 brings a slew of new features and enhancements. WPBeginner details the anticipated changes, including a Fonts Library for theme customization, Custom Fields for Blocks, Plugin Dependencies management, and significant improvements to the Block Editor.


Ankit Vora explores the top content marketing trends for 2024 and beyond, offering insights to help you stay ahead of the curve. Here are some of the trends discussed:

  • Supporting Employees’ Personal Brands

  • Optimizing for Search Generative Experience

  • Developing a Podcast

  • Focusing on Video Content

  • Prioritizing Short-Form Video Content

  • Experimenting with User-Generated Content

Isa Lavahun explores the powerful impact of inclusive marketing on link building and SEO. By targeting diverse audiences, businesses can enhance their backlink profiles, build trust with Google, and ultimately drive revenue. Lavahun emphasizes the importance of updating personas, engaging with different archetypes, and being authentic in inclusive strategies.


Looking to revamp your Contact Us page? Shelley Walsh shares 44 examples to inspire you. Discover key elements like easy navigation, clear call-to-actions, and user-centric messages. From minimalist designs to personalized interactions, these examples offer inspiration for creating an engaging and efficient page.


Text-to-song. I mean, it’s awesome. Here’s the very first song I made.

YouTube introduced a new tool requiring creators to inform viewers when content, possibly generated by AI, could be mistaken for real. This move aims to enhance transparency and trust between creators and their audience.


Six researchers from various universities (like Georgia Tech!) explore approaches to improve content visibility in generative search engines in their 19-page paper. Through systematic testing with GEOBENCH, a diverse benchmark, they demonstrate up to a 40% increase in content visibility.

Optimizing content for visibility in generative search engines requires a nuanced approach due to the unique nature of these engines. Here are five key tips to improve content visibility:

  • Incorporate relevant citations and quotations by credible, authoritative sources.

  • Focusing on unique and technical terms relevant to your content's topic can help increase its visibility.

  • Improving the readability and fluency of your content can make it more appealing to generative engines. Clear, concise, and well-structured content is more likely to be featured prominently in search engine responses.

  • Optimize for user intent behind queries and tailor your content to address their needs effectively. Generative engines aim to provide personalized responses, so optimizing your content to align with user intent can improve its visibility in search engine results.

  • Stay updated with changes in generative search engine algorithms and continuously evaluate the performance of your content. Regularly updating and optimizing your content based on insights from analytics and user feedback can help maintain and improve its visibility over time.

My Take: Well…it sounds an awful like plain old SEO, doesn’t it? It’s a really interesting paper though if you’re into research.

AI Ripples

  • Benj Edwards reports that OpenAI might release GPT-5 this summer, promising significant improvements over GPT-4. He reports that some enterprise customers are already testing demos of GPT-5.

  • Surprise, surprise (or probably expected) - OpenAI’s chatbot store is filling up with spam. Kyle Wiggers discusses the proliferation of spam and copyright infringement within OpenAI's GPT Store. Despite efforts at moderation, the platform is inundated with dubious chatbots, including those promoting academic dishonesty and copyright violations.

  • There might be a potential partnership between Apple and Google for Gemini to power iOS 18's AI features. Apple would potentially use its own LLMs for on-phone processing, but anything that’s outsourced to the cloud would be Gemini.


Vince Nero interviews Brian Dean discussing SEO strategies and link building techniques. Some of the key takeaways:

  • Algorithm Updates: Brian emphasizes focusing less on algorithm changes and more on creating user-centric content and building an authoritative brand.

  • Link Building: Despite its susceptibility to manipulation, links remain a crucial ranking factor, requiring nuanced approaches for maximum effectiveness.

  • Digital PR: Leveraging data and compelling narratives can yield valuable coverage and backlinks, particularly for new sites.

  • Skyscraper Technique: While the original approach may have evolved, aligning content with user intent and search preferences remains pivotal for success.

  • Data Studies: Brian advocates for investing in high-quality data analysis, emphasizing the importance of budgeting and strategic partnerships for impactful studies.


Sydney Go breaks down the intricacies of YouTube AdSense, guiding creators through setting up accounts and maximizing earnings. From ad types to payment processes, she covers every step to help you monetize your videos.


Jared Bauman interviews Kyle Roof in the evolving landscape of SEO, focusing on the importance of EEAT. Kyle emphasizes the significance of showcasing genuine human experience and expertise on websites, advocating for first-person language, author bios, and validating experience through linking.

He discusses how user-generated content (UGC) can be utilized to demonstrate experience and trustworthiness, highlighting platforms like Quora and Reddit. Kyle also discusses how recent Google updates have shifted towards favoring tangible businesses and eCommerce sites, emphasizing the importance of building trust and authority while updating content and monitoring SERP changes.


Authority Hacker takes a look at some of the Winners and Losers in this update. Some of the sites mentioned:


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