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  • I Miss You Already, Update Me - niche surfer Wave 186

I Miss You Already, Update Me - niche surfer Wave 186

Core Update Is Done; Giant AI Models Are Done; HERO Has Arrived; AI Agents; Creators And Brand Culture; and Much More!

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45 days later, the March 2024 Core Update is complete!

That wasn’t even the longest update either. The longest one in the modern era that Google’s tracking on their Google Search Status Dashboard since 2020 is the Page Experience Update for Mobile in June 2021. That lasted 79 days 😲

The December 2022 Helpful Content Update is now the third longest at 38 days to finish.

Besides learning that this update was the second longest, what else was learned from it? Absolutely nothing.

Ok, not really, but here’s the thing. The next few days and weeks will be plenty of speculation and analysis about what Google was targeting. Expect a barrage of theories—some claiming success by following specific tactics, while others point out exceptions that challenge them.

There are no guarantees when it comes to SEO, Facebook, Pinterest, newsletters, etc. There are plenty of people talking about how something is working for them or not working for them.

Treat success stories and failures as case studies to learn from. They’re valuable opportunities to add to your knowledge base. But don’t treat them as hard rules.

You can try what they tried and if it works for you, great! If something doesn’t work, then don’t think that it’s the same for everyone. There could be so many reasons why.

There are about 400 computer science graduates every year at MIT. Do all 400 of them have the same success? Nope.

Even though they learn the exact same information and processes, there are so many other factors at play that make each student’s journey unique. If you get a chance, read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers because it speaks to that and the factors that can’t be controlled.

But what you can control is the effort you invest to learn and experiment. No one else can do it for you.

That said, I’ll give you one tip:

Get yourself a topical map.

Often pigeonholed as a tool just for websites, topical maps are invaluable when planning a cohesive content strategy across all marketing channels.

Topical maps lay out the topics relevant to your target audience, no matter the channel you’re using to connect with them. It will unify your brand across platforms and set you up for long term success.

Using topical maps for omnichannel marketing has been on my list of lessons to do for Topical Maps Unlocked 2.0 (when I can finally get to it).

So do listen, read, and watch what others are doing to help them market and get eyeballs. Take notes. Try different things to come up with your own results. Use all that information to craft a strategy that works best for your situation.

And the time is almost here - Niche Surfers will become Digital Surfers starting with next week’s wave on May The 4th (Be With You 🌟 ).

The emails will be coming from [email protected] - so be sure to add it to your white list!


They announced the update is finally over and shared a couple links to go along with it. The first is a ranking feedback form where you can enter in a search query and tell Google what pages you think should be in the top 10 results.

Do they really expect not to get spammed themselves? Or maybe that’s the point. Let people voice their thoughts, and have these submissions sit there like we do with our Gmail’s ‘Promotions’ tab emails?

source: google.com

They also updated their guide on debugging drops. It’s a pretty good guide overall on using Google Search Console and comparisons to look at various things.

But then there are things like the bottom-left chart below where they say it’s a “Technical issue across your site, changing interests.” I’m sure those are possibilities, but I’d put these above those two:

  • Stagnant site with no updates, so other, fresher, better content is outranking the site.

  • Getting hit by announced and unannounced updates continuously.

source: google.com

I don’t know all the changes that were made, but Roger Montti has a good article on the changes to the Google Ranking Drop Documentation - including this nugget about removing hope of a reversal:

“The documentation previously said that most traffic drops can be reversed and that identifying the reasons for a drop aren’t straightforward. The part about most of them can be reversed was completely removed.”

- Roger Montti

Edward Zitron tells all about Code Yellows and the dramatic downfall of Google Search with the man behind its demise, Prabhakar Raghavan. Edward exposes the toxic growth-at-all-costs mentality that plagues Google and the tech industry, shedding light on how user experience takes a backseat to profit.

There’s more to the article’s aftermath with Barry Schwartz grabbing comments around the web, including Google’s response, which had nothing concrete to refute claims.

My Take: This has been getting around all week as a shocking expose. But it shouldn’t be a shock if you’ve been around for the last few years and seen how the SERPs have changed. Google’s a public company and it has to please its shareholders, so it’s going to do what it can to generate revenue. They just announced Q1 earnings and revenue was up 15%, thanks to Search and YouTube.

At a recent search conference in Bulgaria, Google's Gary Illyes recently confirmed (but later said he shouldn’t have) that Google needs very few links for ranking pages and made links less important.

My Take: 🤣 I mean…really? I can only assume that the algo now considers so many more factors compared to 10-15 years ago that links have less weight. Going from 99 to 98 is still “less” important. If links weren’t important, they also wouldn’t have to worry about “site reputation abuse” and give their buddies 2+ months advance notice.

SEO Ripples

  • In the final episode of How Search Works, Gary Ilyes takes a closer look at the components that make up search results. He breaks down the anatomy of a search result and where the information is grabbed from like meta tags.

  • Navah Hopkins discusses Google's IP proxy testing that involves a double proxy system to mask users’ IP addresses for enhanced privacy. That would shake up location targeting and click fraud protection as we know it.

  • Google's made a shift that's sure to cause a stir among digital marketers. Google Publisher Center will no longer allow the manual addition of publications. Moving forward, publications will automatically appear based on Google's algorithmic decisions. This change is part of Google's move towards using automatically created publication pages.

  • Google's John Mueller points out that splitting and merging sites take significantly longer for Google to process compared to standard site migrations.


OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, suggests that the era of giant AI models is coming to an end. Altman believes that future progress in AI will not come from making models bigger, but rather from enhancing them in other ways.

Scaling up models like GPT-4 has shown diminishing returns, leading researchers to explore new strategies and techniques. The future of AI development may involve new model designs, architectures, and tuning based on human feedback.

My Take: I do agree that it’s not all about size and I don’t think this was confirmed, but at one time ChatGPT 4 was really “dumb” and the rumor was they were testing multiple, small LLMs to users depending on queries. So if you were chatting about cars, you’d be using a model that supposedly was fine-tuned on the topic of cars. In my usage back then, it didn’t go very well.

Elon Musk going after some big money by raising $6 billion on a valuation of $18 billion pre-money. For comparison, OpenAI has raised $13 billion total over 7 rounds and Anthropic has raised $6 billion.

This is one of the better videos I’ve seen on explaining AI Agents if it’s something you’re interested in. Matthew Berman walks through a presentation by Andrew Ng (Google Brain, Coursera Founder) on Agentic workflows.

My Take: AI agents are something I’ve been playing around with for a little while and the iterative process produces much better results than zero-shot. If you’re serious about implementing AI into your workflows, you really should consider agentic workflows for the best results.

And don’t be afraid to mix-and-match LLMs. Claude is great at certain things and ChatGPT is great at other things. No single model is the best at everything.


  • Empire Flippers Valuation Tool has now included a way to estimate how much your Faceless YouTube channel and newsletter are worth. There are now 19 monetization types they’re helping people value..


Carmen Dominguez explains how integrating E-E-A-T can elevate your AI-generated content to meet Google's quality standards and resonate with users. There’s also a nice template that acts as a checklist of what to look for in your content:

source: moz.com

Chalice Jones at Amsive dives into brand culture and the central role content creators play in it. With user-generated content heavily influencing consumer purchasing decisions, she highlights the statistics driving this change: an influencer market projected to hit $35 billion and digital content creation expected to reach $27.3 billion by 2030.

She focuses on the importance of authentic connections between brands and their audiences facilitated by content creators who not only embody a brand’s values but also significantly impact its cultural identity and consumer trust.


The original founder of HARO, Peter Shankman, has now launched Help Every Reporter Out - HERO. Same idea as before with emails of queries sent to you each day. Sign up here for free.


Ankit Vora breaks down the key concepts of search engine marketing, including paid and organic strategies. Many people moving to improve their website's visibility, attract more traffic, and increase revenue with SEM techniques, so it’s a good time to get an overview.

The Authority Hacker guys talk about how they use Facebook to make money. They share insights on how they have been spending six figures a year on ads on Meta with a 2-5 ROAS, which means getting 2-5 dollars back for every dollar spent. They focus more on ecommerce than buying follows and sending traffic to your site for display ad revenues.

My Take: If you’ve done any dropshipping or ecommerce in the past, you have a great head start already. If you do want to learn more, go down those rabbit holes on YouTube and other forums. There’s a lot more information out there to go the next level on.

ByteDance, the parent of TikTok, would rather shut down the app in the US than sell it if forced by legislation. Despite TikTok's widespread use, it contributes minimally to ByteDance's revenue, and the company aims to protect its core algorithms.


James Brockbank is doing a new series where he and his team do a deep dive audit on different brands each week. This week is a UK ski and holiday brand.

If you need to audit your own site, these are always great to learn from because you often forget to look at certain things on your own site (happens to me all the time).


Dominic Woodman shares how to unify your SEO data sources, from logs to analytics, for better prioritization and insightful combined metrics. He discusses using traffic data for prioritizing technical SEO issues and how blending Search Console data with AdWords can refine your keyword strategy.

Dana Nicole shares a comprehensive guide on mastering your .htaccess file for better site management. Discover how to create, edit, and use .htaccess directives to improve site performance, plus heed Dana's advice on avoiding common pitfalls that could slow down your site or pose security risks.

My Take: .htaccess is not sexy so it’s not talked about much, but it’s an important part of managing a website.


Roger Montti explores the impact of updating to WordPress 6.4 on sites using the Oxygen page builder. He covers why legacy default themes are causing crashes and how developers tackled the issue. The solution recommended is to update Oxygen to version 4.7.1 before updating to WordPress 6.4.


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