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  • May the 4th Be With You (and the Rebrand) - digital surfer Wave 187

May the 4th Be With You (and the Rebrand) - digital surfer Wave 187

March Core Update Reviews Galore; Google Losing Market Share; Forbes is Scared of Coupons; OpenAI Gets Sued Again; How to Contact Reporters; and Much More!

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digital surfer is officially here!

The rebrand has been a long time coming, but not much is changing besides the name. It’s still the same great news and resources every Saturday.

I do have some things in the pipeline, so I only plan to bring more value to the community.

The key things that have changed:

digital surfer logo

Nothing drastic like Twitter → X 😆 

The only thing you need to do:

Be sure you mark this email important or whitelist it by creating a filter for the [email protected] email address. Tell your email provider that you want to surf the digital waves together (guide on how to whitelist in Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Proton, and others).

Gmail Example: Click to Mark This Yellow for ‘Important’

For the next few weeks, you may get these emails from either [email protected] or [email protected] because beehiiv still has their email warming feature whenever domains are changed.

Before I end this - pop quiz!

What’s the new name?

digital surfer!

Who’s a digital surfer?

You are!

Have a great weekend and rip those digital waves!


🚨 Learn what you should be doing - Topical Maps Unlocked.


Glenn Gabe explores the complexities and challenges faced by websites during the update, which saw shifts in site rankings over a 45-day rollout period. He gives a summary of what the Core Update is supposed to do and what we should know:

  • Integration of Systems: The Helpful Content System is now part of Google's core ranking mechanisms, affecting site-level evaluations.

  • Site-Level Impact: Understanding the broader influence of Google’s site-level quality algorithms is crucial for diagnosing ranking changes.

  • Counterbalancing Effects: Multiple systems within Google's core rankings may counterbalance each other, affecting the final site scores.

  • Continued Volatility: Many sites continue to experience significant ranking volatility post-update, especially those that were previously hit by the September HCU (below).

  • Importance of Feedback: Glenn encourages site owners impacted by these updates to provide feedback to Google, which can lead to algorithm adjustments.

On social media, Glenn Gabe has also been sharing visibility numbers for 380 sites he’s been tracking. Unfortunately, 270 of them have dropped 90% since the September HCU.

Mordy Oberstein dives into the nuances of measuring algorithm changes, emphasizing the movement in lower-ranked sites and discussing the update's unique characteristics:

  • The update's analysis is challenging due to its prolonged rollout and the integration of previous updates like HCU.

  • There was a significant percentage of URLs moving into the top 10 that previously did not rank in the top 20.

  • The update had a substantial qualitative impact on specific sites, suggesting that it was heavy-handed in its approach to positions 6-10 on SERPs.

More Thoughts on Google Updates

Here’s a collection of more articles on the Google Updates and its effect on SEO:

Gisele Navarro updates what else they’ve found out, including behemoth publisher Dotdash Meredith implementing a “keyword swarming” strategy to outpublish smaller sites. Then there’s Google pushing high-priced products through the big media sites ranking highly:

What HouseFresh is doing now that Google has crushed their search rankings - they are not giving up. Instead, they're doubling down on their mission to uncover and expose scam products.

They plan to actively call out inferior products recommended by big media sites and use various platforms to spread their message and keep their content circulating. This strategy is aimed at creating a ripple effect to get noticed again in Google searches by leveraging the platforms' emphasis on fresh content.

My Take: Great research here like their last one. But do want to add that “keyword swarming” isn’t anything new. Big, medium, and small publishers have been doing this for quite some time. I’ve done it myself and I’m betting you have too. It’s basic competitor keyword research, especially on sites that are smaller than yours.

One thing I do like is how they’re not quitting and even showed how their new strategy of being in the SERPs with different content is starting to work.

George Nguyen shares some of the SGE x SEO insights from the SEOFOMO Meetup in NYC. They explore the changing search dynamics, especially in ecommerce and publishing sectors. There’s a need for SEO professionals to adapt swiftly to stay competitive. Some of the key takeaways:

  • AI Summaries in Search: Google's AI summaries reduce the need for users to click through to content.

  • Ad Revenue Concerns: The integration of AI in search results presents a challenge for Google to balance ad revenue against the efficiency of AI-generated overviews.

  • Strategic SEO Adjustments: There are still opportunities for SEO practitioners to leverage, such as optimizing for non-AI overview keywords.

  • Importance of Structured Data: As AI technologies rely heavily on structured data, its role has never been more crucial.

There’s a Statcounter chart that shows Google’s market showing falling to an all-time low of 86.99%, signaling the largest single-month decline ever recorded. Competitors like Bing and Yahoo are capitalizing on this trend, with Bing reaching a 13% market share in the U.S.

There are questions about the validity because the stats come from Statcounter, which must be installed on the website for the traffic to count.

My Take: Assuming the stats are calculated the same way every month, then there’s no reason to disregard their data. Similarweb and others will have other ways of tracking, so as long as they capture and analyze data the same way, they’re also valid. Just like any poll or survey, the data is dependent on the sample pool of people who provide the information.

Aira and Women in Tech SEO collaborate to share Technical SEO insights from nearly 400 SEOs. The report dives into the impact of AI technologies like ChatGPT on SEO practices and job security. It also addresses the economic challenges impacting SEO budgets. .

SEO Ripples

  • John Mueller says that while recovery after HCU and Core Updates is possible, it requires significant site improvements and might only materialize after a subsequent core update. No guarantees on timelines or rankings. Glad that’s cleared up.

  • Forbes' decided to permanently remove its coupon directory, signaling a 410 status code and stripping the navigation link. This action is a result of Google's upcoming enforcement of site reputation abuse policies.

  • Roger Montti discusses Google's Infini-attention, a new tech promising to enhance model capabilities by processing large data amounts with extended contexts. This "plug-and-play" tech could notably tweak Google’s SEO algorithms, improving how search systems handle extensive data sequences.

  • Jason Koebler discusses the burgeoning market for AI-driven manipulation on Reddit aimed at boosting product promotions and influencing Google rankings through "Parasite SEO". He shows how services like ReplyGuy artificially integrate product mentions into Reddit discussions, aiming to exploit its high Google visibility, despite Reddit's efforts to combat such abuses.

  • Google says they have significantly reduced the costs of its SGE AI Answers by 80%, addressing investor concerns about the financial burden. The reduction is attributed to hardware improvements and engineering innovations, ensuring efficient and cost-effective AI-driven search results.


Note: This links to VentureBeat’s article because the original OpenAI blog post is now 404( 🤔 ).

OpenAI announced a new partnership with the Financial Times that focuses on integrating FT's content directly into ChatGPT. This collaboration will see FT articles and summaries provided in ChatGPT responses, fully attributed to ensure transparency and quality in the AI-generated content.

Newspaper publishers in California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Minnesota and New York allege that their articles were used without permission to train AI models like ChatGPT. They also claim ChatGPT regurgitating information without attribution. All the papers are owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Anthropic introduced a Team plan and iOS app for its Claude AI. TheTeam plan has increased usage, access to Claude 3 models, and a 200k context window. It’s $30 per user per month, with a minimum of 5 seats. For comparison, OpenAI’s Team plan is also $30 per user, but you only need 2 seats to start with.

AI Ripples

  • ChatGPT.com is the new domain for the chat. It is replacing the subdomain: chat.openai.com.

  • Amazon released Amazon Q, an AWS generative AI–powered assistant for businesses. Q also makes it easier for employees to get answers to questions across business data, as well as being able to generate and test code.

  • OpenAI updated the data controls for ChatGPT Free and Plus users. Now, you can access your chat history regardless of whether you’re opted into training for model improvement. Temporary Chats are also available for one-off conversations that aren’t saved in your history.

  • Memory is now available to all ChatGPT Plus users. Using Memory is easy: just start a new chat and tell ChatGPT to ‘remember’ anything you’d like it to remember for use later.

  • Rumors suggest an OpenAI search engine launch is slated for May 9th. Barry Schwarz takes a look at the search.chatgpt.com domain in SSL certificate logs and the prep for an industry event on May 9th.

  • Benj Edwards investigates the hype around the "gpt2-chatbot," a mysterious AI model surfacing on LMSYS Chatbot Arena. He reveals its limitations and speculates on its origins, possibly as a secret OpenAI test. Despite hype, Edwards finds it less impressive than expected, suggesting that it’s neither gpt-4.5 or gpt-5.


Kristen McCormick outlines the marketing funnel and its essential stages from awareness to action. She offers strategies for each phase, helping you steer potential customers smoothly towards purchase.

My Take: A big part of the prep work before you do any keyword and topic research is to understand the marketing funnel. It’s going to help you know what topics you need to cover, content that you need to write, how to write the content, and how all the content links together to convert users to purchase or just stay on your site longer.

Andy Crestodina offers up how to use AI to identify and fill content gaps at every step of the buyer journey from awareness to conversion. He covers these key questions:

  • What topics are missing from the big blogs?

  • What keyphrases are missing from this blog post?

  • What articles are missing from my blog?

  • What topics are missing from this guide?

  • What answers are missing from this webpage?

My Take: If you know you’re missing things in your content or site overall, then this can be a good way to get part of the way there with AI. It won’t get you fully there because AI only knows as much as it knows and up to a certain date. Even real-time AI searches like SGE and Perplexity are limited by the sites that are ranking highly in their systems and/or sites that allow them the bots to crawl.


Ross Simmonds explains the value of strategic content distribution. Learn how to amplify, repurpose, and strategically promote your content across various platforms to see 10x more traffic. A couple of the actionable tips you can do now:

  • Utilize email personalization by segmenting your audience based on specific interests or behaviors to tailor your content and increase engagement.

  • Encourage word-of-mouth recommendations through social media by including a call-to-action in your content assets that prompts users to share, retweet, or comment, thus expanding your reach organically.

Dana Nicole shows how to improve your website's user experience by creating a custom 404 page in WordPress. She outlines three user-friendly methods to customize your 404 pages, helping to reduce bounce rates and keep visitors engaged by reflecting your brand's unique style.

source: semrush.com

My Take: Custom 404 pages are great to have, especially if you’ve made URL changes in the past history of your site or if you have VAs and others working on your site who aren’t as detailed with internal links. 404s aren’t just about saying “oops, sorry.” It’s about saying “Sorry, we can’t find that page, but here’s a good starting point.” Don’t let them leave.

There are a number of free site audit tools out there that will give you the 404 pages and dead links, including Ahrefs’ free Webmaster tools. Even if you don’t create your own 404 page, don’t let those links point to pages that don’t exist.


Vince Nero provides a comprehensive guide on contacting reporters for digital PR campaigns. He outlines practical strategies to find and reach journalists interested in your story, emphasizing the importance of targeting the right individuals to increase the likelihood of your content being featured.

My Take: If you’re interested in learning more about Digital PR, this is a good primer to get you started and understand what it takes.


Cuppa has pushed out many changes recently that replace the content optimization features of tools like Frase and SurferSEO. And they have added even more features like images and Zapier integration.

It’s BYOK, so you Bring Your Own API Keys. Cheaper than being charged per article or being limited to a certain number of documents per month.


The Web Publishers Association (WPA) website got updated with a lot more information on the fundraising campaign and what the WPA’s goals are in the short and long term.

There is a lot involved in starting up a non-profit and the funds will be vital to setting things up for the WPA to effectively advocate for publishers' rights, provide essential resources and education, and foster valuable networking opportunities within the global web publishing community.

I am a board member and along with the others, we are committed to ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the entire process. Your support and contributions are crucial in helping us achieve these milestones and shape the future of web publishing 🚀 


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