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  • Surfers Ambushing the Digital Ocean - niche surfer Wave Issue 182

Surfers Ambushing the Digital Ocean - niche surfer Wave Issue 182

Bing Buys Google Ads; Google Taking Over Online Retail; Sora's Hybrid Creatures; Standing Out in AI Ocean; HARO Closing; Use Images Legally; and Much More!


Is SEO dead? Nah…but it’s definitely changing.

Are content sites dead? Nah…but it demands more effort and is harder to succeed.

Are humans being replaced by AI? Some…but only the ones who don’t learn how to use AI to their advantage.

Will a ChatGPT/Perplexity/Claude/Bard replace traditional search engines? Some…but only the ones who are stuck in their ways and don’t change.

Everyone’s taken a hit one way or another. I’m not an exception with my sites either. It sucks for sure, but the worst thing we can do is to wallow in the losses forever.

We need to get up, dust ourselves off, and do what we need to do to succeed.

We need to acknowledge the shifts, understand what’s happened, and brainstorm new ways to reach our goals of attracting visitors and driing revenues.

Think outside the box. Think differently. Just think.

There are people talking about going all-in on newsletters, buying social media ads/likes/traffic, posting hundreds of Pins per day, Rank and Rent, local, Reddit, Quora, Medium, etc.

No matter what it is, you need to look at what resources you have and think creatively of how to use them.

Some with the gift of gab and not afraid to go on-screen will go on YouTube. Some with cash-on-hand will go the route of social media ads. Some with no money will go on forums, social media, and other places to post.

A long (long) time ago, I wanted to be in advertising and marketing, creating clever ads like David Ogilvy. And one of the earliest examples of creative marketing that I learned about was ambush marketing during the Olympics.

The idea is for a brand to surround the Olympics with their advertising and marketing to be perceived as official sponsors. But in reality, they couldn’t or wouldn’t foot the high bill from Olympic sponsorship fees.

It’s also known as parasite marketing 😆 

Here’s an example of ambush marketing. Reebok sponsored the 1992 Olympics, so all the athletes wore Reebok jackets. But, Nike held press conferences for Olympic athletes under contract and had boards with Nike logos behind them for the cameras. They purchased billboards and murals on buildings with Nike athletes.

Nike was all around Barcelona where the Olympics were in 1992. That’s a lot of eyeballs and to the regular spectator, it would be hard to tell whether Reebok or Nike would be the official sponsor. Nike won big time, and with no big sponsorship fee either.

I’m not suggesting to break laws at all. But, I am suggesting to think creatively for new ways to generate traffic from your target audiences.

Understand the new landscape, like the Google updates. Look at how your specific industry, niche, and competitors were affected.

Look at everything objectively. Because many businesses were hit hard, there are a lot of debates out there. There is a lot of negativity, but don’t go down that rabbit hole.

Read the feedback and messages objectively. Then learn from them and see where the opportunities are for you specifically.

Always tailor everything to your situation. What works for someone else, won’t necessarily work for you. Being in the tech space is very different from being in the pet or recipe space.

Look at the NFL and their new kickoff rules that are drastically different from the past. Are those teams and players going to quit? Nope.

They’re going to read the rule book and work something out.

I’ve also decided on the new name for the newsletter going forward —

Digital Surfer

We’re surfing the digital world each week, so it only made sense!

I’m currently warming up the emails because it’s a new domain. Don’t want the domain and emails to be marked as spam right off the bat!

I’ve been wanting to do this for over a year, but couldn’t decide on a name and didn’t pull the trigger until now.

Talk about procrastinating…


Join other web publishers so there is a supportive community and louder voice in the online publishing space. The WPA wave is just starting and needs your support.

The WPA fundraiser is live and a contribution of $300 will help solidify WPA’s foundation. You will also get access to over $1200 worth of training materials and exclusive discounts from board members (I’m one!) and friends.

You can also use this code for $50 Off: SURF50OFF.


Bartosz Góralewicz reveals how SGE, affecting 87% of eCommerce searches, could disrupt online shopping by keeping users within Google's pages. He details the algorithm's preference for concise, readily available content and the potential challenges and opportunities for eCommerce sites. His analysis suggests that adapting to SGE could be crucial for maintaining visibility and competitiveness in the evolving digital marketplace.

source: onely.com

Roger Montti latest discusses the persistent challenge Google faces against AI-generated spam sites. Despite Google’s March spam update, these spam sites continue to dominate search results, outranking legitimate websites and content creators. He shows how these spam sites operate, their characteristics, and the frustration within the SEO and content creator communities.

Adriana Stein suggests how to adapt SEO strategies as Search evolves with SGE. She discusses shifting towards a multi-channel marketing approach and focusing on core E-E-A-T and quality content to maintain SEO performance.

My Take: SGE and AI chatbots are all new and change quickly. Keep producing great content. Imagine you were the reader yourself and ask yourself “would I read this article and find it good?”

And if you’re blocking certain crawlers like Google-Extended, don’t worry, it won’t affect your possibility of SGE presence. Blocking Google-Extended is for Google’s Bard and Vertex.

Glenn Gabe shares a Tweet of Bing '“driving users to Bing search results” by running Google Ads.

SEO Ripples

  • Google's Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, says ads don't directly affect search rankings. However, the balance between monetization and user experience is vital. Excessive or poorly placed ads could indirectly harm rankings by detracting from the user experience. He says sites can thrive with ads if they maintain a focus on satisfying page experiences. A must-read for anyone navigating the complexities of SEO and ad integration.

  • Marie Haynes explores how Google's helpful content system has evolved from a separate entity to being integrated into Google's core page-level assessment as of March 2024. This change means Google now uses a variety of signals to determine content's helpfulness, moving away from site-wide evaluations.

  • Google reveals six Google travel tools. From AI trip planning in Search to personalized Maps lists and style suggestions for your wardrobe, these features are designed to streamline your travel prep and exploration.

  • Google’s Search Off the Record podcast dives into Core Web Vitals and the new INP metric with Rick Viscomi, from the Chrome Web Performance team. John Mueller says “a big issue is also that site owners sometimes over-fixate on the metrics.” Then Lizzi Sassman adds that fast page loads mean nothing if your “words on the page are not good or the design is not good.” Transcript here.

  • John Mueller clarifies that Google’s documentation doesn’t say ‘About Us’ and Contact Us’ pages are necessary - BUT that doesn’t mean you should go removing them from your site!


OpenAI shows off examples of work that have been created working with designers, filmmakers, visual artists, and creative directors. Really amazing work here like hybrid creatures from Don Allen III.

source: openai.com

Kyle Wiggers dives into OpenAI's latest venture, the Voice Engine, a tool allowing developers to clone voices from only a 15-second sample. Despite its promising capabilities, the public can't access it yet. OpenAI wants to deploy this technology responsibly, considering its potential misuse in creating deepfakes.

Voice Engine is listed as costing $15 per one million characters, or ~162,500 words. That translates to around 18 hours of audio, making the price somewhat south of $1 per hour. That’s cheaper than ElevenLabs’ $11 for 100,000 characters per month, but Voice Engine doesn’t offer controls to adjust the tone, pitch or cadence of a voice.

AI Ripples

  • OpenAI is partnering with a small group of GPT builders to test earnings based on usage. They’re not currently accepting additional builders, but the current ones were selected based on popularity and engagement.

  • Natalie Fear discusses Google’s VLOGGER and the future with a “slew of soulless YouTube vloggers.” Google's VLOGGER can turn a single image into a realistic video without any training. The AI model also animates the subject's hand and body movements based on audio recordings, creating a natural appearance with blinking, gestures, and facial expressions.

  • Want to work for the US government? Biden orders every US agency to appoint a chief AI officer to “mitigate risks of AI and harness its benefits.”

  • OpenAI switched over to prepaid billing. No more monthly billing. As a thank you for building on the OpenAI platform, we are offering you a free $25 credit if you purchase at least $25 in prepaid credits by 11:59 PM PST on April 2, 2024. If you qualify to receive free credits based on purchasing credits since March 18, 2024, you will receive these credits by April 5, 2024.


Ryan Law challenges of differentiating human-generated content in an space dominated by generative AI's efficiency. He says that while AI can easily replicate and distribute existing information, there are unique strengths that humans possess which AI cannot emulate: experimentation, experience, and effort. Some of the key takeaways:

  • Differentiate content by creating proprietary data through experimentation.

  • Leverage personal experience to add authenticity and depth.

  • Invest effort in creating complex, engaging content.

  • AI cannot replicate the unique insights gained from human experimentation and experience.

source: ahrefs.com

Chloe Smith dives into reading patterns for content optimization in this UX and SEO crossover. She covers three main patterns - F Pattern, Layer Cake, and Spotted - each offering unique insights for tailoring content to user engagement. She shares tips for each pattern to boost engagement so readers interact with the content.

Kristi Kellogg discusses the complexities of image copyright laws in the digital age. She covers crucial topics like copyright law basics, the fair use doctrine, and various sources for obtaining legal images, including public domain, Creative Commons, and stock photos.

There’s also no clear answer on AI-generated images because regulations and policies are still evolving.

Ryan Law dives into the nitty-gritty of content pruning with a focus on enhancing website performance by removing low-relevance or low-quality pages. He discusses its potential to improve organic traffic and overall site health, albeit with certain risks involved.

He breaks down the process into actionable steps—gaining stakeholder buy-in, deleting in batches, and strategically redirecting or repurposing content.

My Take: Make sure you do make a plan and strategize before pruning. Some people will just delete content that has no traffic. Not the way to do it. Always consider your site’s topical coverage and target audience.


HARO queries are simply moving to Connectively. The daily HARO queries email newsletters will be replaced with a new, searchable query feed in Connectively. HARO’s application will be sunset on April 2nd, 2024, so you’ll need to start logging into connectively.us at that point.


Sydney Go shares how SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) should be used together to bolster overall business growth. She emphasize the importance of aligning SEO's traffic-driving capabilities with CRO's focus on maximizing visitor actions. She serves up a roadmap for integrating SEO and CRO into a cohesive digital marketing strategy.

source: semrush.com

Raptive Rise is a new pilot program for sites starting at 50k pageviews, compared to their regular 100k requirement. It’s an invite-only program and shares 75% of the revenue with creators.

Sarah Perez covers YouTube's announcement that over 25% of its creator partners are now monetizing through Shorts. YouTube Shorts boasts over 70 billion daily views. The platform introduced monetization for Shorts creators in 2022, offering them 45% of ad revenue.


Glen Allsopp is back at it with his latest Q3 report of the web's biggest players in his latest report. He offers a treasure trove of insights for us to read and learn from, including:

  • NextDoor published 300,000 AI-generated pages that are doing well. Shows AI content still works.

  • Digital Brands’ affiliate and content sites are alive and well. Sites like HostingAdvice.com saw a 25% traffic and revenue boost year-over-year. Affiliate revenue for Women’s Health and Men’s Health are also up.

  • Daydream raised $2.5M to create a pSEO tool with AI.

  • 333 of the 522 content sites he tracks saw a decline in the past four months.

  • Coindesk, largest crypto news site at 6.3M visitors from Google each month, is purchased for $75M.

Originality.ai checked 1,446 deindexed sites after the March spam update and saw:

  • 100% of the sites had some posts that were AI-generated

  • 50% of the sites had 90%-100% of their posts as AI-generated

JC Chouinard reveals how using blacklisted swearwords can prevent articles from being indexed by Google and diminish reach on LinkedIn. By experimenting with an SEO jokes article laden with prohibited terms, he saw no Google indexing or LinkedIn engagement.

However, removing these words led to quick Google indexing and increased social media visibility. So, keep it clean, folks!


Authority Hacker’s Mark sits down with Pauline Dutheil, Head of Digital Marketing at RTINGS.com to take a look behind the scenes at what SEO looks like at one of the world's most loved review sites. The site consistently ranks number one or number two for consumer electronics product keywords.

With over 4 million monthly organic visits, RTINGS outperforms despite a Domain Rating (DR) of 75, competing against higher DR sites. They attribute their success to prioritizing user needs over search engine optimization, offering genuine value to users.


If you’re one of the 2+ million sites using Rank Math, make sure you update your plugin to keep your site secure.

Update your Astra theme too if you’re one of the 1+ million sites using it.


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