Q3 was actually a bit much. Could we chill on the algorithm updates please?
Wait, what’s that?
Luckily, Google wasn’t the only one who was busy during Q3. We’ve published 18 lessons in the last three months, including:
- Video lessons from Andy Crestodina on how to perform a content audit, how to see how much search traffic is going to a page and how to use Path Explorations in Google’s TOTALLY UNCONTROVERSIAL AND UNIVERSALLY LOVED new Analytics platform
- A lesson on Finding untapped keyword opportunities from Nik Ranger
- A video lesson from Ryan Sargent and Megan Skalbeck from the Verblio team, where they walked us through how they’ve been using AI content to drive serious local SEO results – and how you can follow in their footsteps
- Lessons on How to use ChatGPT to rank in the local pack (fast) and How to use ChatGPT to 10x your content output (without sacrificing on quality) from Wes McDowell
- A lesson from Brian Dean on how How he Grew Exploding Topics from 0 to 400,000 Monthly Visitors
- An AI Wake-Up Call from Mike Schwarz
- Founders’ Live Q&As with Nick, Ian, and Matt in July and September
- A Reviewing a Target Backlink Domain 101 lesson from Morgan Taylor
- The first part of a video course on how to perform a successful site migration from Austin Mullins
- A three-part course on using Google Trends for SEO from Danielle Rohe
- Lessons on using Python to access APIs, cluster keywords, and make your data marry up and perform an internal link analysis from Jess Peck
To help you catch up on anything you missed among all the algo updates, we’ve pulled together a refresher on the hottest takes and smartest content from the world of SEO from the last three months…
The most popular stories from our Rich Snippets newsletter
Get up to speed with the ten most popular links we shared in our weekly Rich Snippets newsletter during Q3 2023:
Jess Peck is a SEO turned Machine Learning Engineer – and she’s damn good at it. She’s also a damn fine writer.
“I’m not an ML pessimist, but I am a human pessimist. When people are given easy ways to do things, they will do them those easy ways. If you give someone a tool that will get them 80% of the way there, that job will be done at 80%.”
Generative AI has no grasp of facts, and humans fed a steady diet of genAI content are set to follow suit.
How does Generative AI (AKA three Furbies in a trench coat) work? Jess answers that.
Why should you care how it works? Oh, honey. She’s got you there too.
Is the tech industry going to get a harsh reality check as Open Source, AI, Copyright, and Labor enter the arena for an all out brawl? Place your bets.
The headline isn’t hyperbole nor is it hopeless. Read the article for receipts and ways to be responsible.
Content that isn’t crawled can’t be indexed. Content that isn’t indexed can’t rank.
Unfortunately, a few too many folks took those two true statements and concluded more crawl equals more rankings.
It’s like a recipe reel that gives the whole family diarrhea.
Luckily, Jes Scholz is one of those silly folks who appreciate nuance. Her article Website Crawling: The What, Why & How To Optimize is a leisurely stroll through clear common language, pragmatic prioritization, and actionable steps.
Remember kids, Google doesn’t crawl your site to be altruistic and liking bacon doesn’t constitute a personality trait.
Catch this one for answers to user-submitted questions that range from genuinely helpful to monosyllabic.
Questions answered include:
- Is a “guest post” (to gain a backlink) against Google’s guidelines if I’m writing valuable content?
- How does one reduce the likelihood of Google choosing their own meta-descriptions for websites?
- Is there a way to specify search engine bots not to crawl certain sections on a page?
- When I search for my website on Google Search, the first result is a product page and not my welcome page. Why?
- Why are my pages getting de-indexed after submitting them for indexing in SC? I’ve done this multiple times now.
And the undisputed highlight: the funniest 11 seconds of SEO advice you’ll ever hear.
noun (informal) anxiety that another exciting or interesting BrightonSEO panel may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
In September, all our favorite marketers poured into the UK coastal town to learn, network, and learn not to network with seagulls.
You know what pairs well with (warranted) BrightonSEO fomo? Speaker decks.
For that extra authentic feel, pair your deck binging with Kelvin’s Spotify playlist.
The brilliant Lily Ray did us all a solid by tirelessly analyzing sites that were hit by September’s HCU and sharing the highlights.
Along the way, she couldn’t help notice they’ve got a few things in common, including…
- A homepage that gives no context about what the brand is or does
- A spray and pray content strategy
- Being an affiliate site, not an affiliate business
- A lack of transparency around who wrote the content
- Dated design and poor UX
- Broken, unoptimized navigation
Your website get hit? It might be time to get back to SEO basics.
It’s been less than a year since the Internet Engineering Task Force declared Robots Exclusion Protocol internet cannon. After 20 years of robots directives and .txt files, they were becoming a proper standard.
Oh, it’s been a hell of a year though.
RF9303 was published in September 2022. November saw ChatGPT’s launch – which sent every other tech company into a mad dash to release their own version.
Large Large Models are trained on publicly available datasets. And the problem is that none of us had considered how to opt-the-f-out of that because it had simply never been a problem – or thing – before.
This is why content creators and copyright holders from Sarah Silverman to Getty Images are suing purveyors of generative AI.
Google’s astute lawyers are aware of the issue, which is likely the force behind VP of Trust Danielle Romain’s post to the Keyword blog:
“As new technologies emerge, they present opportunities for the web community to evolve standards and protocols that support the web’s future development.
One such community-developed web standard, robots.txt, was created nearly 30 years ago and has proven to be a simple and transparent way for web publishers to control how search engines crawl their content.
We believe it’s time for the web and AI communities to explore additional machine-readable means for web publisher choice and control for emerging AI and research use cases.”
The post links to a form users can use to sign up to “join the web and AI communities’ discussion”.
The big buzz on social after September’s HCU was that some legit travel blogs were absolutely whomped in its wake.
The delightful Dan Taylor grabbed a random sample of 150 travel blogs and analyzed them to see what’s going on…
And actually found more travel blogs benefitted from this Helpful Content Update than saw a decline, with 54% seeing a MoM increase in estimated organic sessions overall compared to 45% seeing a decrease.
He then took us on a deep dive into what to do if your travel blog has taken a hit off the back of this HCU, including leaning into Perspectives (which we’ve heard Dan talk about before).
A useful read even if you don’t run a travel blog 👀
As we creep ever closer to SGE’s official launch – like the Titanic towards that fateful iceberg – three questions weigh heavy on our minds:
- If and when Google SGE goes live, how will it impact organic traffic?
- Will our traffic drop, and if so, by how much?
- And what can we do about it?
While the rest of us were below deck being drawn like one of Jack’s French girls, Gilad David Maayan has been diving deep into the data.
And he’s resurfaced with the answers to those three burning questions with a veritable treasure trove of graphs, real-world examples, and Excel templates.
Key takeaways include:
- It’s possible to estimate how much traffic you’ll lose or gain from Google SGE right now (with Gilad’s open SGE Impact Model)
- In a study of 23 websites, the aggregate organic traffic drop as a result of SGE was 18-64% (with some websites gaining as much as 219% in traffic and others losing as much as 95%)
- It’s possible to optimize pages to appear in SGE snapshot carousels (and Gilad shows you how)
Check this one out and you might just fit on the door after we’ve hit the iceberg.
We’ll never let go, we promise!
The way Jamie groaned opening Twitter to see post after post of folks sharing their handles on a new social media platform.
She groaned so hard a fog horn and a busted shopping cart wheel stopped to make sure I was okay.
It’s the perfect time to make a play for social media market share. In July’s Megamind meltdown, Elon Musk decided it was big brain energy to block Google from crawling Twitter.
Within 24 hours, Twitter visibility on Google dropped 32%.
Then the dodo realized that the big brands who paid for ads on the platform might not like their accounts being… invisible.
The bird is on fire again. Brilliant time to make a move.
Yippee! Mastodon didn’t quite work as well as we’d hoped and BlueSky is still invite-only. Maybe this could be the SEO Twitter refuge we need!
Nope, it’s Facebook in a crappy mask – and you have to use Instagram to create an account.
Oh, and Threads really wants to get to know you. Data that “may be collected and linked to your identity” includes:
- Health and fitness
- Financial info
- Contact info
- User content
- Browsing history
- Search history
I don’t care if you “have nothing to hide”. Hiding and choosing not to participate in a platform notorious for exploiting user data are two different things, my friend. Ask the EU – which does not yet have Threads (what with all their pesky data privacy laws).
The hottest topics in our Slack community
As you can probably imagine, plenty of chatter in our exclusive Slack community revolved around picking over the wreckage left by the seemingly endless algo updates.
But other highlights included…
Our impromptu poll on how many TTTers have had a side project before:
Which inspired another impromptu poll on how many domains folks owned (which Sean “won” with a whopping 320 registered domains):
And it was interesting to hear the community’s takes on whether they’re blocking OpenAI from crawling their sites. Opinions ranged from “my recommendation for the time being is to pretend it doesn’t exist” to “there’s zero upside and plenty future risk, so that’s an easy block for me”.
Last but not least, big shoutout to David Bell for perfectly articulating why so many SEOs hate Webflow:
That’s all folks!
And if you missed them the first time round, don’t miss the insights from our quarterly highlights from Q2 2023.