Do I Stay in the Game? digital surfer wave 189

Google AI Overview Backlash; Remove Content From AI Overviews; OpenAI Spring Updates and Leaked Deck; Optimize Videos; Situation Content; and Much More!



Yes, John Mueller said that. He said it in response to an Eli Schwartz quote: “SEO will never die until users stop searching…”

Sorry John, but SEO won’t die because people will always be searching for information.

The way people search changes, but that also means the way people optimize for how to be found also changes.

And even if he only meant that the term “SEO” was created with search engines in the 1990s, it’s still highly unlikely that SEO will ever die.

With the internet and AI now, there will always be “search engines” and there will always be a need for optimization.

With that said, the specific methods and best practices for “SEO” will continually change.

And don’t think that there’s only one definition of SEO either. Is there any social media platform that does not have a search engine? There’s a version of SEO for every one of those social platforms.

New search technologies, tools, and features will continue to be released. Are you willing to keep up and continue optimizing your methods? Yes or No?

When the number of people who answer “No” to that question is 0, that’s when I’ll say SEO is dead.

So don’t worry. There will always be SEO.

The better question to ask yourself is: Do I want to stay in the game?


The main highlight from Google I/O this week is the introduction of AI Overviews, which simplifies searches by providing quick, AI-generated answers and links to further information.

Danny Goodwin highlights several concerns floating around the web such as reduced user satisfaction and the negative impact on publishers and advertisers. Lots of interesting information here 🧐📉

My Take: The backlash has been quick from users, including those who are not in the digital marketing space like we are. Take a look at what’s trending in Google Search’s autocomplete for these two queries: “turn off” and “google ai overview.”

‘turn off’

‘google ai overview’

Reminds me of this - New Coke was one of the “most memorable marketing blunders” when introduced back in 1985. They changed the drink formula and the backlash was swift. It only took 79 days before they brought back the original formula in the form of Coca-Cola classic.

Now, the situation is different since Google isn’t a soda, but it is similar because they’re not giving searchers a way to turn AI Overview off, so it’s forced upon you. There is the “Web” filter hidden behind the “More” button, so there is that.

I saw some people saying to turn it off in “labs,” but it’s been released now and not just a “lab experiment.” If you’re in the US, you can test it by opening a new browser window in a new profile that doesn’t have labs turned on and you’ll still see AI overview in searches.

Glenn Gabe of GSQi shares how to use 'preview controls' to remove your content from Google's AI Overviews - nosnippet, data-nosnippet, and max-snippet. Glenn explains the steps and potential impacts on your search visibility and clicks, emphasizing that while these methods are effective, they come with trade-offs.

  • Nosnippet: Completely remove snippets from search results. Effective but could decrease click-through rates.

  • Max-snippet: Limit the snippet length in search results, including for images, videos, and more.

  • Data-nosnippet: Exclude specific pieces of content from snippets while retaining others

Patrick Stox and Joshua Hardwick have a good overview guide on the ins and outs of redirects. They break down when to use them and their impact on SEO. Whether you're consolidating duplicate pages, merging websites, or updating your URL structure, you'll find actionable advice on choosing the right type of redirect and best practices to keep your SEO intact.

My Take: I usually do htaccess redirects, but this article doesn’t get into too much detail here because that’s a guide itself. Here’s a Semrush htaccess guide on redirects that’s pretty good.

Mackenzie Pelletier from Orbit Media Studios shares insights on translating vs. localizing content, managing updates, and optimizing for SEO. With tips on design considerations and cost-effective tools, you’ll be better equipped to expand your site's global reach.

Mackenzie Pelletier from Orbit Media Studios breaks down the essential steps and tips for creating a multilingual website. From the differences between translating and localizing content to managing updates and optimizing your site for SEO, she offers a lot of practical advice. There's also a dive into design considerations, so your site looks great in every language.

SEO Ripples

  • Is there a new local SEO ranking factor: service areas? Darren Shaw suggests that setting service areas on your Google Business Profile might now influence rankings, noting improved visibility in targeted regions.

  • Barry Schwartz shares insights from Google's John Mueller on recovering from the September 2023 helpful content update. If you've implemented fixes, expect noticeable improvements with the next core update. Patience is key, as recovery might take time, but changes should soon become apparent.

  • Google's Danny Sullivan addresses community feedback on the March 2024 core update, acknowledging areas for improvement but cautioning that changes won't happen overnight. He emphasizes better recognition of quality content and improved guidance - “That maybe you could go into Search Console and if you have an algorithmic action, you'd see a notice just like if you have a manual action.”


OpenAI introduced their new GPT-4o AI model (o is for Omni) with the ability to interpret and generate text, audio, images, and video in real time. It’s a step towards more intuitive human-computer interactions.

GPT-4o is faster and cheaper than models before it. For API users, it’s 2x faster, 50% cheaper, and has 5x higher rate limits to GPT-4 Turbo. It’ll also be available on the free tier of ChatGPT and have 5x higher message limits for Plus users. The Voice Mode they feature in their launch videos will be in alpha in coming weeks. Here’s their documentation on accessing GPT-4o in the different areas.

ChatGPT also got a data analysis upgrade. You can now upload files straight from Google Drive and OneDrive, interact with tables in real-time, and customize charts for your presentations. It’s still rolling out (I don’t have it yet).

My Take: I’ve been testing everything out and the speed/price/rate limits are all true, but the quality is up and down. The results from the API are on-par with gpt-4-turbo. But ChatGPT has gotten worse. Not sure if it’s just 4o or ChatGPT getting worse overall in the last few weeks for me. I’ve switched over to Claude 3 Opus for my coding tasks because it’s much better than any version of GPT-4 now.

Be sure you test models yourself and see what works best for your needs because results are different for everyone.

Don’t want to go through all the videos and articles for everything that Google showed off? The 100 things is an easy list of the highlights. A few of the big things announced that are not AI Overview:

  • New lighter-weight, faster Gemini 1.5 Flash model with 1 million token context window released.

  • Gemini 1.5 Pro model with 2m token context window has a waitlist.

  • Project Astra AI assistant preview - competing with OpenAI’s GPT-4o assistant.

  • New Image, Audio, and Video generation models and tools announced.

  • New Gemini 1.5 Pro tools for Google Workspace Labs.

  • New AI-powered Ask Photos experimental feature for Google Photos (I like this one a lot).


Mark Stenberg breaks down the details of OpenAI’s new Preferred Publisher Program that’s offering news publishers exclusive licensing deals, featuring guaranteed and variable payments for accessing their content.

It started back in July 2023 when an Associated Press licensing agreement was signed. OpenAI has “disputed the accuracy of the information in the deck, which is more than three months old.” Some of the key program details for publishers:

  • Priority placement and richer brand expression in chat conversations.

  • More prominent link treatments for publishers' content.

  • Financial incentives include guaranteed value (licensing payment) and variable value (based on user engagement).

My Take: So…you mean to say that OpenAI’s search engine has been planned since before July 2023 and it’ll be coming once they have enough data?

AI Ripples

  • Reddit and OpenAI are teaming up to bring AI-powered features to Reddit communities and ChatGPT gets real-time Reddit content. I wonder how Google feels because Reddit has also chosen to use OpenAI models in their tools 😂 

  • OpenAI researcher, Jan Leike, resigned from OpenAI. Leike, says that OpenAI has been prioritizing flashy releases over critical safety measures. This article sheds light on the internal tensions on balancing innovation and safety in AI development.


Michael Stelzner and Ben Amos dish out some actionable advice on optimizing your videos to reach your target audience effectively. They lay out a three-step framework focusing on crafting hooks that grab attention within the first few seconds, ensuring your content stays relevant to viewers at different stages of their journey, and maintaining engagement.


Mordy Oberstein shares how user-centric, situational content is reshaping search landscape. Through two examples—Bankrate and Yale Medicine—Mordy uncovers how considering the user's context and needs can boost search rankings. He suggests that Google is moving away from "sterile content" and rewarding content that anticipates and addresses the user's specific situation. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Context is King: Google's latest update favors content that addresses the user's specific context, moving beyond basic keyword optimization.

  • Bankrate's Strategy: Improved rankings by revamping content to be more user-centric, including adding key takeaways and expert insights.

  • Yale Medicine’s Approach: Focused on the user's journey and experiences, resulting in significant ranking improvements.

  • Goodbye Sterile Content: Traditional keyword-driven content is losing ground to more nuanced, situation-aware content

My Take: Is this what Google means when they say to “write for humans and not for search engines”? This is something I had already started doing with my writers since late last year with content on our new travel site. It is a site that hasn’t gotten hit (yet), even in the sea of travel sites getting hit. So maybe there’s something here? This doesn’t change the keyword and topical research that needs to be done, but it can definitely change the way you present content to visitors.

Combine the situational content with Ravi Pandya's article into what makes content high-quality. He touches on essentials from Google's perspective to aligning content with brand values. He sheds light on the importance of content that isn't just SEO-friendly but also valuable and engaging for readers. Some of the key takeaways:

  • Extensive Research: Know your topic inside out to create content that stands out.

  • Customer Needs: Identify and address problems your audience faces.

  • Information Gain: Provide unique insights not found easily elsewhere.

  • Expertise Showcasing: Reflect real-world expertise and first-hand experiences.

  • User Experience: Ensure readability and usability with good grammar and visuals.

Erika Varangouli over at Wix SEO Hub introduces the Content MVP Framework, a strategy to help you create and rank content efficiently, regardless of your budget. Erika emphasizes the importance of knowing when your content is "ready enough" to publish and the iterative nature of content success.

Her framework involves steps like choosing a main topic, identifying subtopics, and defining a unique value proposition. By adopting this approach, you can maximize both your resources and results.

Sydney Go shares the basics of seed keywords and why they're important for your keyword strategy. She outlines five ways to find seed keywords, including brainstorming, Google SERPs, Google Search Console, forums, and competitor analysis.

My Take: This is one of the key things I do with many clients before we even start. We do ask for a seed keyword when people purchase a topical map order, but more often than not, I still work with the client to fine-tune it.

Andy Crestodina dives into the importance of updating old blog posts to boost SEO performance. He shares practical advice on why repurposing older content can save time and effort while achieving high-quality results. He highlights how updating articles can re-engage both search engines and readers. He offers a step-by-step guide on identifying which posts to update, the best practices for doing so, and how to ensure these refreshed articles get the promotion they deserve.

My Take: He also uses the term “nevergreen content,” which I hadn’t heard before, but love it. I’ve always said that there’s nothing is “evergreen.” Look at textbooks, even history textbooks. Why do publishers keep pushing out “updated versions” that cost $$$?


Dive into Vince Nero's guide on guest blogging. He shares seven steps to creating and pitching high-quality content that stands out in a sea of mediocre submissions. He emphasizes the importance of thinking like a content creator rather than just a link builder.

Michelle Garrett dives into the art and science of pitching journalists to get your brand's content in the spotlight. She breaks down what types of content journalists crave and what types to avoid, like salesy or weak content. Here are some tips she shares for winning media attention:

  • Do: Focus on thought leadership, customer stories, and original data for your pitches.

  • Don’t: Pitch salesy, undifferentiated, or AI-generated content.

  • Do: Identify and target publications that your audience actually reads.

  • Don’t: Use overused buzzwords, jargon, or unfamiliar acronyms.

  • Do: Build and nurture relationships with reporters; attend trade shows and reach out to journalists in advance.


SEO Utils - Lifetime deal will be ending in four days on Wed., May 22nd. I’ve been in regular contact with the developer, Phúc Lê, and he’s constantly making improvements.

For example, he just updated SERP Clustering to avoid the need for proxies. That was a sticking point for me, but now all you need is a DataforSEO account. Then you only pay $0.60 to SERP cluster 1,000 keywords. 🤯 

You don’t get the full dashboard of a LowFruits or KeywordInsights, but you also don’t need to create your own clustering solution with Python code.

It’s also been a useful tool for checking keywords, URLs, and domains. The bulk checks are especially useful. But do note that you’re still paying for your usage because you need to get a DataforSEO API account and key to get the data like backlinks, search volume, etc.

SEO Utils is a good middle solution for the more DIY crowd, but still want a good interface to get the information.

It currently starts at $54.99, but you can bring it down 20% to $43.99 with this exclusive code: TOPICALMAP20


The landscape of organic search traffic is evolving rapidly, with the recent Google HCU and Core March Updates impacting publishers. As AI Overviews become more integrated into search, this trend is poised to intensify, potentially further reducing search traffic to websites.

It’s clear that staying silent or acting alone won’t reverse these changes. However, unity in our community gives us strength. Together, we can ensure our voices are heard in a landscape dominated by technological giants. More than ever, a collective approach is crucial for navigating these challenges effectively.

The non-profit Web Publishers Association (WPA) champions this unified voice. We aim to be a proactive community of publishers leveraging our collective knowledge to adapt and thrive.

We advocate for fair and transparent search practices, aiming to sustain and even grow site traffic and revenue no matter the changes in the digital space. Let's turn these challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

Support our mission now at Web Publishers Association.


Get free stuff for referring friends and family to digital surfer!

  • Refer 3: Get a Twitter Shout-out

  • Refer 5: Get featured in an issue

  • Refer 10: Get One Ask Me Anything Question

  • Refer 50: Get 50% Off the Topical Maps Unlocked Course

  • Refer 100: Get a Free copy of Topical Maps Unlocked

You currently have 0 referrals, only 3 away from receiving Twitter Shout-out.

What Did You Think of This Week's Wave?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


Find me and others in the Digital Surfer Discord community.

I’d also love to know what you think and if you have any ideas for the newsletter. Reply or email me at [email protected].

I’d also appreciate it if you shared it with fellow digital surfers. Have a great week taking your SEO and digital marketing to another level!

Join the conversation

or to participate.