Melissa Rice (00:00):
All right. Well, for those of you who might not be familiar, this is SEO for Bloggers, our monthly webinar. Hello. And today marks our 37th episode. Yay! I just turned 37, so I feel really on-trend. It just happened. I know we’re all really excited to be here at the Summit, so it’s been such a pleasure to meet some of the faces that I recognize and some new ones. But yeah, we’ve got our experts here, Arson and Casey, you were just watching. And Andrew from NerdPress. And yeah, I’m Melissa Rice, by the way, I don’t think I mentioned that. I’m the host. But we have got a lot of stuff locked and we’re going to be talking about all sorts of SEO topics right now, and really taking out this final episode here on our final day with a bang. And a lot of, it depends, because if you know, you know. And just a huge thank you for everyone joining us here and at home because we’ve got our Zoom attendees too. Hello, everybody.
And yeah, we’re going to start by addressing some burning questions about the latest Google update. And then we’ll segue into some other SEO questions and reserve the end of this episode for live Q&A from our audience here and a couple questions from our virtual attendees. Dan in the back will be helping out with that. Hi, Dan.
So we’re going to play a favorite game of ours. What’s it called, guys?
Melissa Rice (01:35):
It Depends. So if you hear any of the panelists say that today, raise your hand and we’ll give you some cool merch. Okay? All right, let’s get this started. Casey, first question, what transpired during Google’s helpful content update, and what are the reasons behind the apparent emphasis on platforms like Reddit and Quora?
Can you repeat the question?
Melissa Rice (02:02):
I think you know the question. I think you’ve heard the question too much.
The helpful content update. It was a dark and stormy day. I remember well. I was taking the kids to school, and the bus started out of nowhere. Boom! Hit my site straight on. Terrible. Terrible.
Melissa Rice (02:21):
Was this also in the snow?
Anyway. So, with the helpful content update in Google’s own words, their goal is to elevate underserved results in the search results that have been languishing apparently below many of your sites in the room, unfortunately. The whole point of the helpful content update was to elevate what they call hidden gems. And here’s the thing, the hidden gems component hasn’t rolled out yet. What had gone happen, what has been happening with the last couple of helpful content updates is Google is going through and evaluating sites based on an undiagnosed set of criteria. I just had an article that you guys have linked to, that we’ve seen here. I analyzed about 400 plus sites. Frankly, they were all over the place, but a lot of the issues that we’re finding myself, Marie Haynes, Glen Gabe and others, they come down into a very small selection of criteria. The first one is the fact that there seemed to be a lot of UX-based issues.
A UX-based issue can be anything like an inability to pass Core Web Vitals, which is part of the page experience algorithm. It could be excessive interstitials, it could be excessive ads, it could be the wrong kind of ads. For example, we saw a lot of sites who made it hard to find content on the page. They either had their jump buttons taken over by their ad companies, jumping them to an ad. They’d close their table of contents to make it hard to find the signposts that they were using to navigate the post. They were running more than the average density of ads, which is funny because what is the average density of ads? Well, we know that it’s probably not 28% and 30, because a lot of sites that were running that got hit. But we don’t know necessarily what an optimal approach is from that regard, so it’s something that we’re working through. And again, the whole point of this change by Google was to try to elevate a better experience to users. And I think the jury is at us whether or not they really succeeded at doing that.
Melissa Rice (04:17):
Awesome, thank you. Arson, for you, what’s the best course of action for those were hit by the helpful content update?
I don’t know. Do nothing.
Melissa Rice (04:28):
Be more helpful.
That was very helpful, thank you.
Melissa Rice (04:32):
I don’t know. Casey, what’s the procedure?
Donate to charity. What we’ve tried to do is, again, and we’re not trying to be glib about it. We know that this is a serious situation. We really have to make an honest inventory of our sites. If I provided a recipe that meets the needs of my users, it shouldn’t have a lot of fluff, it should not have a lot of superfluous information. It should be easy for us to discern what the intent behind the recipe is. I don’t need four photos of the finished dish. I don’t need to provide a list of equipment that we all know that the average kitchen already has. Maybe I’m only going to put equipment in my post if we know that the average kitchen doesn’t have it, like an ice cream machine. You guys all have ice cream machines. I’m very upset about that, by the way.
We really want to make sure that we’re focusing on bottom-line usability for the blogger in everything that we do. We had a lot of complaints about why did Google elevate Reddit and Quora threads to the top of the search results. Because they were able to go there and find what they were looking for very quickly. And Google realized that that was a behavior that they were seeing over and over again, and now you’re going to see a lot more of that in search results. So we really have to start putting ourselves in the footsteps, in the shoes of our users, and asking ourselves, “Do I really have the most useful beef Wellington recipe on the planet? Or do I need to take out these 200 words on why Lord Wellington died of a doubt?”
It’s cutting down. It’s following those best practices that we’ve been talking for the last 37 episodes. It’s stop over-optimizing. Just be useful with your content. Don’t chase the rankings. If you’re stuffing keywords… There’s all kinds of trigger, right? There’s a bunch of triggers for helpful content.
I mean, the article that we did that I kind of went into goes into it in detail. But we’re seeing a lot of cross-niche content where people are writing this content because a tool is telling them to write this content and because they think they can rank for it. Now, I know that’s strange, but this is literally Google saying, “Stop writing content you want us to rank you for. Write content for your users and we’ll rank it accordingly.” And that’s hard for a lot of content creators to accept because they want to write what they want to write.
Melissa Rice (06:57):
Andrew, what do you think? Are there any other key focus areas?
I think one thing that we haven’t been talking about as much is that the Apple content update is a site-wide signal. And so right before this, I pulled up, I just searched Google for their developer docs to see what they say. It’s always good to go to the source. And Google publishes all this stuff. They actually tell us what they’re trying to do. So, I want to read two paragraphs from it. Don’t worry, it won’t be long. “The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google search, which includes Discover. The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people. Any content, not just unhelpful content, on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall, is less likely to perform well in search.”
Let me say that again because it’s a mouthful. “Any content, not just unhelpful content, on sites determined to have a relatively high amount of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in search. Assuming there’s other content elsewhere on the web that’s better to display,” which in this room there probably will be, right? Because it’s a pretty competitive niche. So your unhelpful content is hurting your helpful content, is what they’re saying, right? Because it’s site-wide. So I think [inaudible 00:08:07] was going to post the link to this in the chat for you. Or you could just search “Google for developers helpful content update.” This was published also, or last updated September 14th. So this is fresh.
So, you need to be looking at your site holistically as a whole. And then Casey’s been pushing this for a long time. Tend to the weeds in your garden, get rid of all the unhelpful content. It’s not just like, “Ooh, this post that dropped,” it might still be helpful, but if your unhelpful content over here isn’t helping, then it’s dragging everything down.
Melissa Rice (08:34):
It’s weighing it down.
The helpful content update really does operate like basically every other update that Google has that’s Quora-related, which is that it grades a site on an individual page level, but it penalizes at the host level, site-wide. So, like I said, use the content gardening. Just like we can’t let weeds take over our garden, if we don’t pull them out, they’re going to kill all our flowers, it’s the same thing with the content garden that is your site. We really want to go in and police that as much as possible.
And Louisa covered this in her module about pruning content. And it’s about finding that balance, right? If majority of your content on your site is just not there, it’s not helpful, it’s not doing much for you, it’s going to weigh everything out. It’s just like that balancing act, right? So you got to be careful about that.
Oh, more into the mic. Okay.
Melissa Rice (09:26):
I know there will be some questions, which we’ll get the mic around at the end for that. But we’re going to segue into some other SEO questions that we received from our Zoom registrants. Okay. So, Casey, holidays are around the corner. Are you ready?
Melissa Rice (09:42):
How can publishers stand out during the holidays with their content?
Well, first of all, I am personally behind… I’m trying to mount a campaign and make Candy Corn Day a national holiday. So, there is a petition in the lounge. I’d like all of you to sign up before you leave. Thank you.
But yes, for holiday optimization, our goal, first and foremost, is to find and do a content inventory of what performed well last holiday season. What can we find previously that we now know we can update based upon all the awesome nuggets you’ve learned this year, and specifically the last couple of days here? What can we do to feature that content specifically now and going forward? As I tell bloggers all the time, especially the ones that we’ve all visited with today here, I would literally not even consider publishing a ton of new content, if any content, between now and the end of the year. Because I know you have plenty of content, that if you do not make time to get to it now, you have to wait an entire another year for its seasonal relevancy to come around.
So, why do that to yourself? Just go ahead. We know what worked well last year. Let’s revisit that, make sure it’s expanded, make sure it’s… Maybe it doesn’t need to be expanded. Maybe it needs to be reduced down based upon what you’ve learned and really lean into seasonality as much as possible.
Melissa Rice (10:55):
Okay. Andrew, what is one of the biggest technical mistakes bloggers commonly make, and how should they fix the issue?
Okay, so I’ll admit I got this question in advance, and I was sitting in the back of the room thinking, “What is the biggest thing?” And everything I could think of, I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s going to be like two people in the room, and this other thing is going to be two people in the room.” So there is no one thing that one size fits all. I will say, especially if you’re starting out, not having good hosting is a big one. Not having a good theme is another big one. But those are the two big hurdles that we see. But I have another technical issue that’s not directly SEO that I’m seeing over and over and over again with a lot of people, and that is about security. Use strong passwords. Please.
Melissa Rice (11:38):
Password123, not okay?
It’s not. Butterfly*! is not a good password.
I told you that in confidence.
Head over to Wells Fargo. So, because of what we do at Nerd Press, we see a lot of our clients’ passwords. They’re sent to us securely. That’s another tip: don’t email passwords because email is not secure. Generally, you should not share passwords. But we see them and I’m like, “Oh, man, that’s the name of your site, plus the year of your kid’s birthday.” So use strong passwords that should be like 14 random characters. And don’t reuse passwords across other sites. This is very important. Especially as phishing attacks are increasing. You’re probably getting lots of spam on Facebook trying to get you to click a link. And if you reveal your password, if you are tricked into giving away your password on one site, if that password is used elsewhere, you can get into a lot of trouble.
And the other thing I want to say is to use two-factor authentication and make sure you lock down your email address. Because if somebody can hack your email, they can reset your password everywhere else. And that would be an epic disaster. And if they take over your site, that’s going to be really [inaudible 00:12:45] for your SEO.
Melissa Rice (12:45):
Quick question. Do you suggest updating it every so often? Changing?
I don’t care about that recommendation. As long as your password is very strong and unique, with 14 random characters, I don’t see a benefit to changing it. I do recommend using a password manager to help you keep track of this. One password, or dash-
And [inaudible 00:13:04] 01 is still good.
What’s your password? What’s your password?
Password. With a zero instead of an O.
Password123. Okay. That’s the other thing. Using a zero instead of an O or a 1 instead of an L, yeah, I think the hackers know that trick.
I think it depends on a lot of things.
Right here, Leslie, Madi.
Melissa Rice (13:29):
Madi’s on it.
Melissa Rice (13:30):
Right here. Thanks, Madi.
Raise your hand. Raise your hand. All right.
Melissa Rice (13:37):
Nice. Very good. So, thank you. Okay, can you explain the concept of content clustering and its role in SEO and content organization?
Right, so I went over this, I went over this,
We’ll recap it.
It’s basically creating content that supports a bigger, broader topic. So let’s say soup recipes is your cluster, it’s your category, that’s your pillar. And then under it you have potato soup, chicken soup. So you’re just basically filling that silo with content that supports that bigger, broader topic. And the more of that you do, and it makes sense and it’s good quality, Google will over time determine that, “Hey, you’re an expert on this, or you have a lot of content, a lot of assets on this particular topic.” And that just has a really interesting byproduct because of everything that happens along with that, the internal linking that comes from the breadcrumbs. If you’re properly structured, making their way down, making their way up, just reinforcing that topical focus. Over time, you’ll notice that it’s easier for you to rank for the topic of soup because you have a topical depth now on your side. So that’s what it is. It’s not a very difficult concept. You can create clusters with roundup posts. You can create clusters with just regular page. It doesn’t have to be your category page. It’s just that’s what category pages kind of are already, right? They’re the filler pages for your silo of content. So if you start treating them that way, they will start working for you that way.
Melissa Rice (15:07):
Excellent. And I think you might have covered this a little bit, too, but Casey, what’s the best way to get picked up by Google Discover?
Send them candy corn.
Melissa Rice (15:17):
Shower them with gifts.
The problem with Google Discover is that their own documentation is very sparse. There’s literally two requirements to get into Google Discover. Number one, you have to have high quality compelling images. Number two, those images need to be a minimum of 1200 pixels max width, means that anything smaller than that is not necessarily given priority. Well, I know most of you in the room have already done both of those two things and you still don’t generate discover traffic. So there is no, unfortunately, secret sauce or anything else you can really do other than kind of hope that one of your recipes goes viral or that there’s a topical match with one of your web stories or something takes off that is literally, it’s no rhyme or reason, but it is pretty hilarious how some sites can do 30 to 50,000 sessions a month on web stories and other sites are lucky to break a thousand or 1300 with dozens of web stories. So it’s no rhyme or reason there, unfortunately.
Melissa Rice (16:26):
Okay. Andrew, what does the future of blogging look like with ai?
With AI, it depends.
Melissa Rice (16:36):
Bring out a sweater.
Melissa Rice (16:44):
Okay. Yes. Right there. I saw her. I’m calling it. Okay. I’m the host.
Yeah, you’re in charge here. We all know that.
Melissa Rice (16:53):
Madi, where are you?
Raise your hand. Raise your hand.
Melissa Rice (16:56):
We got plenty of stuff, you guys.
So, what does the future of blogging look like with AI? Artificial intelligence? Okay, so if you asked me that question back in March, I would’ve run screaming from the stage. I think we all would’ve thrown our laptops and flipped the tables over, and freaked out.
Melissa Rice (17:12):
Everybody was freaking out because AI was going to take over everything. It was going to replace all of us. ChatGPT had just come out last November and Google barred, and we’re getting AI in the search results, so people aren’t going to click through is the mad panic. I’m not worrying about that anymore for a couple of reasons. One is if we stop creating new content, the AI has nothing to ingest and work from because AI is not artificial general intelligence yet. It doesn’t create, it predicts based on what we’ve, all the inputs that have been put into it. So we have to keep giving it input ultimately for it to continue producing output. So I think there’s an incentive in the world to keep creating good human-based content. So that’s one of the things. The other is I don’t think there’s an incentive for Google to keep people just on the search results page.
I think they want to send people over to sites because Google has their hands in advertising. That’s how they make their money. So when ads are served on your site, Google’s getting a piece of that. So it’s not in their best interest to prevent traffic going to your site. So I think the economic interests are such that it’s not going to be a problem. For me, I use ChatGPT all the time as a writing partner, as a writing tool. I love it. If you’ve ever received a fun email from Nerd Press that has lots of great in sync puns chat, GPT probably helped.
Melissa Rice (18:32):
It’s so good at puns.
It’s really good at combining words into cool things. So personally, I’ve used it to enjoy writing again, particularly when I don’t want to send an email blast out and I have to. And if you’re stuck on a blog post where you’re like, “Okay, I feel like I’m just stuck on how to write this paragraph,” take what you’ve got, put it in chat GPT and say, “Hey, please rewrite this to simplify or add this bit of information.” And you probably don’t want to take what it spits back out. But it’s a really good sounding board. And sometimes I’ll pull a sentence out or I’m like, “Oh, that phrase is good,” and it helps get me unstuck. So I think people are seeing that AI is really just a tool for us to use to continue to create.
Melissa Rice (19:10):
We had an episode on this with Brett Tacky, right? And he made a great analogy where he said, “It’s like the guy in the conference room who just comes up with a crazy idea, but everybody uses that idea to kind of riff off of,” and I love that analogy because it really is, like you said, you just bounce it back to you and it kind of gets your creative juices flowing. Everything needs a human touch.
Yeah. One trick: if you’re trying to write headlines, you can say, “Write 20 headlines using this keyword phrase,” and see what it gives you. And most of them will be crap. So you have to then be the judge and the filter. But headline number 17, you might go, “Oh, that’s perfect.” And then you just grab it.
Melissa Rice (19:45):
Yeah, I like that.
I would say I would just interject and just make sure that you are polite. Remember, sir, you say please and thank you when you use ChatGPT, just in case. Just in case, okay.
Melissa Rice (20:05):
Definitely. Okay. Arsen are sharing backlinks with a group frowned upon. What are best practices, if any?
Yeah, good question. So we had N on yesterday, and it’s fine as long as it’s not your only type of link-building you’re doing. So you want to create diversity within your footprint because that’s what a healthy natural footprint looks like, right? It’s not the same link over and over and over. A lot of the back in the day, when we tried to game the system, we used to look at what happens naturally. How are links built over time for bigger sites, and what happens? And it’s all kinds of links. You have good-quality links. You have crappy links, it’s a mess. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. And if you are going to try to do something like that, you want to make sure that if you’re already building links, you’re not just earning them. You want to make sure that you’re diversifying. You don’t want to do the same thing. So it’s good. It will work until it doesn’t. But the good news is that unless you’re doing something really crappy, Google just is going to ignore it.
Melissa Rice (21:08):
Okay. Casey, what’s the best approach for demonstrating EEAT as a brand-new or seasoned food blogger? Suggestions, tips?
As a brand-new food blogger? Well, it’s funny because EEAT in many cases is all about how others perceive you. I am not up here because I’ve told myself that I’m an SEO expert. We’re up here because the people have told us we’re SEO experts. And so it’s very similar when you are an author to a blog. We need to seek out cheerleaders whenever possible to reinforce our existing expertise. If they tell us by linking to us and saying things that we’re good at what we do, that is a replicating signal that Google can pick up and run with. So, as a new food blogger trying to establish some authority, I would really spend a lot of time filling out that about me page. Really, be your biggest cheerleader initially. What is it that separates you apart from anyone else? Why are you just so incredible that people should stop and work with you as a brand or visit your content?
And I would really network initially, try to find, join a mastermind, find a couple cheerleaders of your own who will link back to you regularly or who will be fans of yours and tell others that, “Hey, if I’m looking for a gluten-free recipe, this is one of my first stops.” Or, “If I’m looking for someone who has firsthand knowledge on this topic, this is one of the first places I’m going to go.” And that is going to lead to other things on your site. Hopefully, eventually it’ll lead to press mentions, brand links, other things. But a lot of it is just you being the loudest person in the room initially and then seeing where it takes you.
Yeah. I’m going to quickly chime in on this. So a hundred percent, if you’re just starting out, focus on those external activities. I mean, obviously do still work on your website and do all the stuff that you need to do, but go out there, get interviewed, volunteer.
Melissa Rice (23:18):
Podcasts, all of that. Create a cookbook. Somebody earlier was talking about this: create a cookbook. Just be out there, do a cooking class for elementary school kids, whatever it is, get some coverage.
Awe. So sweet.
You want a hug?
You’re allowed back on the playgrounds.
Yeah. And just to add to that-
You can surely see the difference between the two, right?
Show of hands, how many of you have contacted your local ABCMBCCBS affiliates and pitched a cooking segment? That’s right.
There you go. I’m going to tell you in San Diego, they can’t find people to fill the slots. They literally I see requests for it all the time. So…
Melissa Rice (24:08):
They’re hungry for it.
Local channels. Yeah. Easy peasy.
Impressive. Who’s your writer?
I’m sorry I got interrupted.
Yeah, definitely do that guys. Reach out to the radio stations as well. Reach out to the affiliates.
[Inaudible 00:24:30] to your time.
You already got a sweater. In the back. In the back. In the back.
All right, Marissa.
Melissa Rice (24:30):
I just want to add some basic stuff that I talk to a lot of publishers who are like, “I hate writing about myself,” and they don’t want to put it out there on the about page, but get a good picture of yourself, of you looking at the camera and smiling. I cannot tell you how much of a difference that makes because when somebody comes to your website, they want to know who they’re reading. And so you need to demonstrate through the things on your website first and foremost that you are an expert and you have experience and they should trust you and you’re in authority.
So, how can you demonstrate that? Use your full name. Use a good picture. If you put time into a good profile picture of you in the kitchen, it shows that you’ve been doing this, right? If it’s just like this random picture of you at a bar with your friends because you like how you’re smiling in that picture, it doesn’t convey the same kind of expertise unless of course, you’re writing about cocktails. So, if you’re really uncomfortable writing about yourself, then my suggestion would be make a list of things that are your accomplishments and feed it to ChatGPT and say, “Hey, please write my about page based on this.”
Melissa Rice (25:32):
Or have your best friend write it and then just change it to first person.
Sorry. It doesn’t even have to be related to food, right? We have a client, I show her page, London Brazil, was it…?
Melissa Rice (25:46):
Evolving table. Check out her about page. She’s a dentist.
Melissa Rice (25:50):
She’s a gold star standard.
And has an MBA and it’s a food blog. I show her about page to everyone. It’s just so nicely organized. She’s linking out to places where she’s been cited. She’s linking out about her culinary journey, where she studied, all the other places where she publishes stuff. It’s just like it’s there. It’s connecting the dots for Google. It’s those entities that we want to connect, right? “I am this person. Here’s a link to my… A place that I can verify like LinkedIn, I write about food. Here is my column,” whatever, foodpub.com. Connect those dots for Google. And the more of that you do, the bigger the EEAT signals will be.
Absolutely. Sorry, you paused and I was going to jump in. So now you pause. One other little technical thing: at the top of your post, right below the post title, it has your byline, right? Don’t use the name of your site, like “my site, my food blog is eating rules.” I don’t want it to say “by eating rules.” I want it to say “by Andrew Wilder.” And then that should link to my About page. Always.
And a lot of times, you’d be like, “Oh, well, it’s in my recipe card,” but you don’t have a recipe card on all of your posts. Don’t rely on that.
The recipe card and the recipe post are separate entities to Google. So if that’s news to anyone, just understand different algorithms affect both. So we definitely want both of those linked individually to the person whenever possible.
Yeah, and if it’s in your sidebar, it doesn’t matter also. It has to be, it needs to be that authorship, that byline. [inaudible 00:27:20] I mean, yeah, absolutely. You can. As long as it matches up in your about page.
Melissa Rice (27:23):
What did she ask, though? Because they can’t hear.
Oh, the credentials. She’s asking if you put your credentials. Like if I’m an MD, right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. As long as it matches up with you’re about.
Yeah, as long as you actually are a doctor.
Melissa Rice (27:35):
Don’t lie. All right, well, we’ve got enough time now to get the mic through the audience. Chandice?
Speaker 11 (27:48):
You guys can share.
Melissa Rice (27:48):
If anybody’s got a question, just raise your hand in the back.
I see Marta; Marta’s ready to troll us.
Speaker 5 (28:04):
Question for those of us who may write recipes that are ethnic from different countries: I’m hearing a lot about titles and keyword searches. What’s the best practice should we write? And I know what part of what you’re going to answer is, what is your user looking for? However, for those people that didn’t grow up in a certain culture but are looking to reconnect with their culture from their ancestors, they may be looking for the recipe in English, but native people may be looking for the recipe in their native language. What is the best practice? Should we put both names of the recipes in the title or just one?
I got it. We’ve had these cases, so definitely don’t put both in the title, right? But use one, the one that you’re trying to target the most. So I would assume English because if you still want that search engine traffic. But then also have “about this recipe” at one of the first sections on the page and give a quick explanation because I’m almost 80% sure that the majority of your recipes do need an explanation of the top to clear confusion.
Melissa Rice (29:19):
Aren’t questions a great-
Melissa Rice (29:21):
That depends. Anybody else have questions? They are a great time for It Depends. Right? Yes.
Speaker 12 (29:28):
I think it was…
Melissa Rice (29:32):
Yeah, green jacket. Yeah. Yeah. I think Arson had a hard fix on his mic.
Speaker 13 (29:42):
Thank you. Okay, so I have two because I’m a microphone hog. First, if you were to put ads on your site, I know you said there isn’t a density that we should be going for, but what would you do?
It doesn’t have a website.
He keeps trying to take my mic away.
I would look initially if I wasn’t affected by the update. I wouldn’t do anything.
Melissa Rice (30:12):
Even if it’s high?
Yeah. Do you want it affected by the update? I would move on. Now the thing to understand here, hold this. Thank you very much, sir.
Melissa Rice (30:25):
Oh my gosh.
The thing to understand is it’s never one factor with these updates. When we’re surveying 400-plus sites, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of factors that go into determining this helpful content update. If you weren’t affected by the update and you’ve looked through over your site and you’re realizing, “Well, my ads are a little high, but that seems to be the only thing I can find.” If the ads look good to you and you haven’t gotten any complaints, you’re probably okay. But if someone visits your site, and I hope all of you are checking your ads regularly, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this live with the call, and they’ve been horrified.
So just understand what you have on your side at any point in time. If it looks heavy to you, then imagine how heavy it’s going to look to anyone else. 22% is pretty good. 26%, probably a little better. 28%, I would not do that. 30%, I can’t believe you’re got away with it. So that’s just something to be aware of. I know that we want to take advantage and our, we’ve always recommended that we raise our density during Q4, but considering the huge amount of people that were hit by this, maybe we need to pull back on that.
I like to do, on consults I like to do, let’s play this game called Count the Ads and just start from the top and just-
Melissa Rice (31:55):
Such a classic game.
On an actual phone.
Yeah, whatever. It doesn’t matter.
Because your users are on their phones, you’re on your laptop, right? So don’t forget to pick up your phone. Sorry.
No, but just you count and-
[inaudible 00:32:07] ads you saw this week.
Nothing, I haven’t looked. But if you’re scrolling, you’re like, you have an ad every paragraph, there’s a space between paragraphs and you have an ad, and that’s too much.
Melissa Rice (32:17):
Yeah, it’s frustrating when you’re on your phone. It really is. I can’t even find the jump to recipe button sometimes, and I’ll just forfeit where I’m at to just go somewhere else.
You’re pogo-sticking. When that happens, you’re showing signals that, “Hey, this is not good content.”
So, I know Casey’s been mentioning percentages. It doesn’t matter if it’s 28 or 30. That’s not the guideline. It’s… can you use your site on your phone? If you have to go cook the recipe, can somebody do it? Or is there a video popping up over the ingredients? Right? It’s very frustrating. So it all comes back to user experience.
Melissa Rice (32:49):
And you had two questions left.
Speaker 13 (32:50):
Yeah, my second one was, are web stories still worth it?
It depends. I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t looking. Did you catch it?
Melissa Rice (33:05):
She got it.
Have you had success with web stories?
Melissa Rice (33:13):
So we tried it for a little bit and we had some success, but then it just dies off. So-
How many people have the same story? Do you know why that happened?
Because Google’s trying to save amp.
There’s 500% more web stories now than there was 18 months ago, and there’s only so much space in the carousel. So unless it’s really freaking awesome, it’s going to be very hard to get those stories in. The most successful sites that I’ve seen with web stories were previously one out of every three web stories were drawing traffic and getting the carousels. Now I’m seeing one out of every 10. And imagine you’ve been doing that regularly and now you’ve accumulated 300, 400, 500. The record, by the way, is 838 web stories that I saw on a site the other day. That’s a lot of empty pages on a site doing absolutely nothing. So just go through them. I think I would never send someone to a web story on a site. So make sure that you’re not linking to them, but getting them to your site, that’s a completely different thing. And if you know that you can put together a nice holiday-themed web story that maybe you could retask as a TikTok or something else, how does that ticky-talkie thing work? I don’t know.
Melissa Rice (34:28):
And I would do that.
A quick show of hands: how many of you, as an end user, enjoy looking at and using web stories? Not a single hand in the room. Web stories suck, right?
Take that back to Google.
I’ll go on record. I hate them.
Take that back to the mothership.
That’s right. So that’s my answer.
Speaker 14 (34:55):
Okay, so mine’s on the authors. I recently had a site audit and he put my picture with the bio underneath every blog post. But I also have it in the sidebar.
You don’t need a byline with a photo under every post as it’s as long as it’s there and it’s just written by and it links to your-
Speaker 14 (35:19):
So [inaudible 00:35:18] Remove the one on the bottom?
It’s okay. You just don’t need it.
Is it hurting you? No.
Speaker 14 (35:25):
Okay. It’s just obnoxious because I’m on there more than I need to be.
Yeah, I mean, as long as it’s not like a 1200-pixel image and it’s this tiny and slowing things down.
Funny, you should bring that up.
Melissa Rice (35:40):
That’s an issue that she has.
Speaker 14 (35:43):
Right. But we won’t go there. Also, national Candy Corn Day is October 30th, in case you’re wondering.
Speaker 14 (35:57):
It’s already in there.
It depends. I’m just giving out shirts.
Melissa Rice (35:57):
Thank you, Madi.
Speaker 6 (36:00):
I have a follow-up web story question. So I have almost 300 web stories, and now I’m wondering, should I delete old web stories? Do they ever resurface randomly? We do sometimes republish old web stories that did well with a different title, which sometimes works.
Speaker 6 (36:16):
Yeah, different URL and different title, and basically everything else the same. And that seems to work sometimes, but yeah. Should I be deleting old ones or do they ever come back randomly?
I would prune them. Yes. I would go into your search console and do a six-month window, and count how many web stories actually had a click. And then anyone that didn’t have a click on that six months, you probably are good deleting right away and not worrying about. But yeah, focus on the seasonal ones first. If you think that you can republish them with a different URL, see if they can be refeatured, try it one more time, and then delete them after that.
Speaker 6 (36:50):
And if we’re republishing an old web story, should we delete the original web story? Or right now, we haven’t been; we’ve just been republishing them and then leaving the old one.
Oh yeah. I would either just re… Right? We can redirect the web stories?
Redirect the web story through YOSS, or just delete the old one.
Speaker 6 (37:07):
Another question there.
Speaker 7 (37:16):
Hi. Do you recommend blocking ChatGPT bot barred or et cetera, from crawling sites? Why? And if yes, how?
It really depends on you. Personally I don’t recommend it. I posted that in our Facebook group, so I’m on record saying that I don’t think it’s a great idea to block it because this is the way of the future. And like I was talking about the inputs into the system. This is coming. It is happening. And so we need to work within this framework, whatever that means, and it’s evolving. And if we’re here in a year, it’s going to be a very different conversation because they’re moving so fast. But I understand that a lot of people don’t want this being your original content being used as training data and the future is uncertain.
So it really is a call that you, as the publisher and the author, have to make. If you want to block, it depends on which bot, but you basically just need to add a. You just need to know how to add a line of code in your robots.text file to find a bot and say you’re not allowed to crawl it. And the legitimate AI tools are going to respect that. Google just announced a new bot name. It’s Google Extended, I think. Google-Extended. So you basically edit your robots.text file and say, “Hey, Google Extended, you’re not allowed to crawl my site.” But they created that bot name so that you’re not blocking the regular Google bot for regular search because you don’t want to block all of Google, right? That would be disaster.
We’re hoping, we’re hoping you’ll take this back to the mothership.
Melissa Rice (38:52):
Who do you keep pointing at?
A spy from Google.
Melissa Rice (38:56):
I’m like, who is it?
She hates me. She hates me. It’s okay.
Hey, that’s okay. You can work with me. It’s fine.
Every time we say something, she starts. So we’re hoping that we’re seeing, kind of already, that there’s citations to where the sources are coming from, where they’re putting in links to relevant content. So, especially for recipes, I think I’ve seen a few screenshots. I still haven’t been approved for it, but we’re hoping that they’re going to refine this enough to where they’re not going to be just stealing your content and repackaging it. And you’re going to get some credit and get some clicks because Google does depend on you guys for revenue and all of that. So…
Depends, yeah, Google, it depends.
Melissa Rice (39:48):
I think we had to give it to her because you just singled her out too much.
Give it to the Google Spy.
I would interject one thing really quickly about SGE. The current beta ends in December, so we are seeing everything going on right now. They’re collecting all the data. That’s going to end, and then after that, they’ll be determining what and what and where they’re going to roll this out. Because right now it’s only 5%, 7%. Okay. Just 7%. 7%. It’s a pretty low penetration rate right now, so it’ll be ramped up and rolled out fully after mid-December. But who knows what it’s going to look like? I was in the beta very early. Arson got in a little after. We’ve been able to submit feedback, so we’ll sh. No, no, goodness. But we’ll see what we see. I wouldn’t worry too much.
Melissa Rice (40:45):
Okay. Well, we want to reserve a couple of questions for our virtual attendees. So Dan, are you mic’d?
Speaker 14 (40:50):
I just have one more right-
Melissa Rice (40:52):
Oh, I’m so sorry.
Speaker 14 (40:53):
Melissa Rice (40:53):
Sorry about that.
Speaker 14 (40:54):
So I’m curious if you have an opinion on this, but I’m curious if Google’s starting to rank Reddit higher in the SERPs, is there a way to use that as an advantage to be on Reddit, putting in these recipes and linking back to your site? Arson, it seems like…
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s the helicopter strategy. Is that what it was?
We’ll go with that.
Okay. It’s one either omnipresent or helicopters. They called it something. But basically, yeah, these are the tactics. So sometimes you’ll Google, I don’t know, best bikes for kids, and then you’ll have a New York Times article and you’re like, “Okay, I got to get on this list.” Right? So you’ll start hitting up the person that wrote that article, bribe them, lie to them, whatever, just to get in that list. Yeah, those are all strategies. They’re traffic-driving strategies. It’s not SEO, it’s marketing. But yeah, absolutely. If you can get on Reddit and you can get it to rank, I mean, we used to do this with Medium all the time because we knew Medium would rank, and I would just publish a post and then link to my client.
Speaker 14 (41:58):
Do you recommend something in Reddit having this secret Reddit username where you’re posting the whole-
Now you just want all the secrets. No.
Well, let’s see a show of hands. How many people in the audience actually have a Reddit account? Okay. So you know how Reddit works, which is they can sniff and be ungenuine a mile away. So Reddit’s a very hard community to, I wouldn’t use the word exploit, but certainly hard community to optimize for. So for example, you would have no chance, especially if you don’t have an earned account. You just have to build up a rapport. You basically have to share a ton of stuff before you even get a chance to have one of your post sticks. And then you have to determine what is the content being shared recipe-related. And emulate that accordingly and then see what you can do. But that could be done, but it’s a very slow process. And last I checked, all the Reddit links, they’re not all follow.
That was going to be my-
Yeah. It’s only for traffic. There’s no SEO. Yeah. It’s traffic backing.
Speaker 14 (43:05):
Melissa Rice (43:07):
Were you implying that you have to have a reputation as a Reddit user to be able to?
Melissa Rice (43:12):
Oh, okay. Sheesh. Okay. Dan, are you ready for us now? Have we got a couple questions?
Say it depends. Oh, right there. She got it. She got it. She got it.
Speaker 10 (43:26):
Let me try this one. Yes. Okay, so we have one question from Joe. I have old posts with internal links pointing to 301 redirects. Is it important to point these to the correct URL?
Yes. We call those internal permalink redirects, and it’s one of the easiest gains you can do for a technical SEO.
I just want to say it does not depend.
Speaker 10 (43:51):
Okay. We’ve got another from Andrea. Do you recommend deleting? We kind of touched on it already, but do you recommend deleting web stories after they have had their moment?
Melissa Rice (44:03):
Kind of answered that already.
Speaker 10 (44:05):
So they were getting traffic, but now the traffic is very low.
Burn them down.
Let it burn.
Melissa Rice (44:12):
Andrew said, “Burn them down,” for those who didn’t hear on Zoom.
That’s it? Only two questions? It’s like four people there?
Melissa Rice (44:20):
It’s okay. We’ve got three minutes there.
Speaker 16 (44:22):
Few more on here though. I think the audience still has-
Okay, you guys are here.
Melissa Rice (44:25):
Anybody else? Any lingering questions?
Come on. Three minutes.
Speaker 17 (44:31):
How do you feel about using AI-generated images if you want to fill something like “10 oils to use in cooking”? For example, should I go ahead and buy 10 oils and take the photo, or can I generate it and mention that it’s an AI-generated image? Because they’re coming out really good, and there’s some amazing tools out there. So I’m tempted, but I’m also scared.
I say go for it. I think it’s important, though, to be honest with your readers and say, “Hey, I generated this with Mid Journey or Open AI DALL E 2.” I saw another publisher recently. She had an ingredient shot and she forgot to put one of the ingredients in it, and she had it all set up. She broke it all down. She used AI to add the ingredient back in. How slick is that? But do be honest with your audience.
Melissa Rice (45:14):
Very cool. Well, we’ve got two minutes left, but we are actually having another webinar episode this month on the 18th. For those of you who are not registered, you can visit our website tophatrank.com. We have a resource page where you can sign up or follow us on social Instagram at top@rank. And yeah, that way, you can get all the newsletters when we’ve got our episodes coming. We also post recaps about a week out after with all of the things that are mentioned by the panelists, the resources, articles, you name it. So yeah, keep following us.
Melissa Rice (45:49):
Does anyone have one of the toddlers and drunk adult shirts with them? Can you pull that out? Anyone has one of those with them?
Yeah, stand up. We’ll model those. We still have several of these left. If anyone wants one, come see me in the lounge, okay. Thank you.
Speaker 18 (46:19):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you again to our panel.