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Your Survival Guide to SEO in a Rapid Google Update World With Gael Breton

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Want some expert help reaching your online marketing goals?

Authority Hacker co-founder Gael Breton is back on the podcast to shed some light on the ever-changing SEO landscape.

Google’s Helpful Content Update (HCU) had a big impact on many niche sites, and so Gael dove into the data to decode what is and isn’t working to share some pretty surprising insights with us.

He first discusses the evolution of SEO practices, emphasizing the challenges of creating content based solely on search intent and the need for more user-friendly and engaging content.

As a heads up, there is currently a special deal on Gael’s Authority Site System right here.

And he has some great examples of sites doing this that have grown traffic by as much as 2000+% despite the updates.

These aren’t your typical niche sites publishing 3000-word ‘SEO’ articles based on what existing articles say.

They’re doing real reviews, including tons of visual content to be more like a ‘comic book’, and being rewarded for it.

The role of YouTube and social media in building credibility and trust with real people is also discussed, and Gael emphasizes the increasing importance of transparency and identity in your online presence.

Of course, the impact of user-generated content (UGC) on Google is also discussed, including probable future changes in the SERPs and potential effects on site traffic.

Overall, it’s an important discussion about the online marketing business model, its ongoing evolution, and what we should all likely be doing to adapt, overcome, and ultimately succeed.

Enjoy!

Watch The Interview

Links & Resources

transcription

Jared: All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today, we’re joined by Gail Breton with authority hacker Gail. Welcome 

Gael: on board. Well, thanks for having me. I was on this podcast like years and years and years ago, but it’s been a long time, uh, I dropped by, so I’m always happy to be here.

And, uh, I just wanted to say you’re doing a pretty good job with the podcast. I listen to it regularly and, uh, I quite enjoy it actually. 

Jared: Well, I’ll throw it right back at you. I’ve, I’ve told Spencer this before, but you know, over the, over the years and years and years, uh, the two podcasts I would.

Routinely listen to week in and week out, our authority hacker and niche pursuits. So you guys, you and Mark were foundational in so much of what I’ve learned about online marketing over the last, I mean, I dunno how long you guys been doing it for. I, I was gonna say decade. ’cause that’s how long this podcast, 

Gael: 13 years.

Seven, eight years maybe something like this. So, 

Jared: yeah. I mean, man, I’ve, I’ve, uh, I’ve gotten a lot of value from you guys. It’s an honor to have you guys on. Oh, last time it was you and Mark, I think just this, this time it’s just you today. So we’re just gonna have just the Gale special. 

Gael: Yeah, let’s do that. I mean, Mark’s just already on, uh, like we’re shooting these before Christmas, right?

So Mark’s already on Christmas break. And that’s why I’m the only one, uh, keeping the lights 

Jared: on. Yep. You’re the only one there. Well, it’s okay. I, I, I, I feel pretty comfortable with just you. Uh, we’re going to talk a lot today about. I mean, we were saying before we start recording, like, we’re going to talk about the helpful content update.

I mean, as we go in now to 2024, when this podcast is being released, um, you know, I won’t overbury the lead on it. Like it’s on everyone’s mind to some degree and everyone in some way has been impacted. So that’s what we’re going to dive into. I mean, I’m going to guess the vast majority of people know who you are and about authority hacker, but if you could just.

For the one or two people listening that kind of don’t know your background, just catch us up really briefly on yourself. 

Gael: Really quickly, I’ve told that story a million times. So basically we, we ran an agency with my business partner, Mark, for about four years, we had 35 staff. We used to be the, kind of like the back office to a lot of bigger agencies in, uh, like we were in Budapest and we had, we were the back office of a bunch of agencies like Australia, London, et cetera.

We worked for big brands. I did work for Macy’s, 99designs, Flippa, uh, Nigel Lawson, Expedia, like, We’ve done a bunch of work on big brands, basically. Uh, and that usually the agencies would just throw the stuff at us that they couldn’t handle themselves. So that used to be the most difficult stuff. Uh, we were just that, that back office.

And so it made us quite creative on the way we approach SEO. Um, but eventually we. We got a little bit tired of client work, you know, it’s like if we did too good, we got fired because they didn’t need traffic anymore or like they need to grow anymore. If we did bad, which happened as well, uh, we also got fired.

So we felt like it’s like the, you were incentivized to be mediocre forever. Uh, and it wasn’t very fun to us. And so we started building our own sites with the profits of the agency that went pretty well. Um, we did like, we built a couple, then people started asking us how we do things, et cetera. You know, at that time there was like black hat, white hat, but like, no, like, like white hat was like big agencies, people with big budget.

And then black hat would be like people on, uh, Wicked Fire and Black Hat World basically. Uh, and we wanted to be these kind of like practical, like as close to white hat as possible, but open minded, let’s just say like on buying links and things like that, et cetera, in terms of like being realistic. So we kind of like filled that gap in the market, talking to like smaller publishers.

Uh, Spencer was there too, but, uh, it’s like, it was basically, uh, Spencer, maybe Matthew Woodward at the time. And then Autoriahika, eventually as people asked us more and more content, we started making courses. Uh, the first course was like five videos. Today we have more than 600 videos. So there’s a lot. Uh, and we constantly update that.

So like, while I’m not as active on YouTube as many people, I’m pretty sure I should. More videos than, than most people, uh, that you, you find YouTube, except most of our stuff is found behind the paywall basically, and comes out as courses and so on. So, uh, Authority Hacker now is pretty much a training company.

That’s most of our income. We do make affiliate revenue as well. We do SEO. We do all of that, et cetera. We do a lot of the stuff that, Uh, but the way we monetize is mostly, uh, selling, uh, courses and, uh, we have a cool community, you have a masterminds, we have all of that. And we have a podcast, uh, that, uh, is, I would say quite similar to what you guys do at news proceeds as well.

Jared: Podcast is great. Um, I think you guys are up to, we’ve gone for the, every we’ve gone this year, we added a second podcast to cover the news. So you guys, I think are every other week now, right? Is that the podcast? 

Gael: Okay. So I was telling you before the call, like, I don’t like to talk when I have nothing to say.

Uh, it’s like, it’s not my personality. Like I see a lot of people like, like shouting a lot on social media right now, just like being all over and putting a lot of content out there. I like to like be quite precise and have some value to add. And if I have nothing to say, I’ll just shut up, you know? And, and like weekly podcasts with just Marc and I felt like a little bit too much.

Uh, we started doing more guests now. It’s like, I’m trying to do like. I’m trying to do guests, but like, kind of like debates with people rather than like, what’s your life story, ? It’s like, I feel like, uh, it’s like, it is, it is like I’m trying to, like, I’m trying new things. I’m trying to new, new spins on the interviews and not just the classic podcast interviews and having fun with it.

And that was been, that’s put, that was a lot of fun. Now, with the interviews, I may be considering going back once a week, but like, yeah, I think once every two weeks, uh, has been, uh, good for us in terms of like being more. I think more value to people’s time was less time taken from them basically. 

Jared: Yeah.

It’s a, it’s, it’s a delicate balance. I can tell you that from experience. Yeah, 

Gael: exactly. It’s like, especially when it’s just Mark and I, it’s just the two same people. Yeah. Like eventually, um, like you don’t want to be like that. Person that repeats the same story for the thousandth time. You know, 

Jared: I couldn’t agree more.

I mean, like people ask, like, I was just telling you, I’ve recorded a lot of podcasts this week. And it’s from a, uh, a taxing standpoint from like, just talking a lot. It’s one thing, but the niche pursuits podcast every Wednesday, we just release interviews. And so really the star of the show is the guest.

You and Mark are the ones doing all the content for the most part. So it’s a much different amount of prep. 

Gael: Actually, it’s a lot of notes and a lot of prep. Like a podcast episodes, maybe two. Two to five hours of preps quite often, actually. So, yeah, 

Jared: well, it’s good for people to know the behind the scenes.

Um, what they probably want to hear about though, is, uh, our topic of the day, which is the helpful content updates. So just a quick overview again, if you’ve been living under a rock in the digital marketing world for the last four or five months, mid September, the helpful content update rolled out. Um, it was not the first rollout of it.

It rolled out for the first time, actually about a year prior to that. Um, August, September of 2020, it wasn’t that 

Gael: impactful at the time. Right. It’s like, it’s like, it was a bit scary. Like the way that what it was scary and everyone was like super scared. Then it rolled out. It was like, Oh, that’s it.

Remember how 

Jared: the buildup, like people were like deleting mass content three days prior to it being rolled out. I think it was the first, uh, pre announced rollout they’ve ever done. If I remember correctly. And we were all like, what the heck? This must be big. If they’re telling us they’re going to, yeah, people got scared.

Yeah. People got scared in an amount that did nothing. So we didn’t pay attention. And then this one happened. And it turned out that maybe this was the one they were anticipating a year ago, because this one was big and it was landscape shifting. I mean, we’re going to talk today about it from the lens of affiliate marketers, content creators.

I know a lot of people listening will maybe have an e commerce brand that saw very different impacts from the helpful content update, but certainly people with, and I’ll just say it from the outset, people with the classic. Quote, unquote niche site saw massive impacts. And so we’re going to just kind of wade into that today.

Gael: Yeah. And most people saw a negative impact, right? It’s like, clearly that wasn’t, that wasn’t something that was positive. Uh, et cetera. But I think like, I think you, you’re categorizing HTU, uh, like you’re saying HTU, but really a lot is happening on Google right now. It’s not just HTU, right? There’s like, there’s been three core updates together with that one.

There’s been a spam update. There’s been the last ever product. product review update as well that they said it’s the last time they announced it. So now it’s going to be part of a core algorithm updates, basically. Like it’s like, it’s going to be baked in. So you will understand even less what’s going on.

Uh, and so, so like a lot has changed and a lot of people got hit by the core updates too, actually, like maybe not individually. Each update was not nearly as impactful as the issue. But like, if you add up all the three. That rolled out consecutively. I would say a lot of people who complain about losing traffic recently have been affected by these updates quite a bit as well.

And so I think what we’re really talking about is what happened on Google in the last six months, you know? Yep, exactly. 

Jared: Yeah. So you had an August core update, a September HCU, an October core update, a November core update, a refused update, and a spam update. I mean, that’s at least five updates in the last four or five months.

Yeah, 

Gael: and then they were really long as well, so they were heavy, like, they were the longest they’ve ever been, um, like, so, some took over months to roll out, which was, which had never seen, been seen before, you know, usually it was like, you know, 10 days to two weeks, something like this, um, so, this is quite interesting, it’s like, you’re, you’re wondering whether it’s like, are they doing more processing on one side, but Like, are they doing more work per page they’re analyzing, or is the index that much bigger due to AI span, basically?

Um, it’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s hard to tell, uh, probably a little bit of both, right? It’s like, um, like HCU particularly and, and potentially product review update, et cetera. My guess is they’re applying, you know, recent breakthroughs in AI. Two, uh, ranking factors, basically they’re trying to, to have, imagine like AI pretends to be a quality writer and tries to write your page.

Maybe not all your pages, maybe a sample of the pages on your site attributes, a score to them. And then based on that, you’ll get a ranking multiplier on your rankings, basically. And then they, they’ve prompted the LLM against, I don’t know what the prompt is, but you know, they give it, they given it some criteria to look for and they think it’s good enough.

So something like that’s probably happening. It’s, it’s so. Coincidental, all these updates just together with like the changes in AI, et cetera, and them also building like Pound 2. It’s probably based on Pound 2, these updates, but now they released Gemini as well. I think they have Gemini Pro in, uh, involved.

Gemini Ultra is coming, uh, next year. And so like, yeah, it’s, there’s something to do with AI probably behind the scenes. And that’s how Anticipated Google, we use AI is to make it ranking factors and basically pretend. to be a human quality writer and evaluate websites to try to be, to understand content.

Problem is we know, we know AI hallucinates a lot and makes a lot of mistakes. Uh, we see that as well in Google results right now with, for example, like, uh, you know, you get a lot of like, like, for example, I was checking this tweet from travellemming, right? Travellemming. com is a really, really good travel site that lost a lot of traffic recently.

An example of a great site that definitely should not lose traffic is high quality. People should check it out. And it’s, uh, and, and they, they lost all traffic, but they didn’t just lose traffic from losing positions. They lost traffic due to Google popping features on the top of the SERPs. Uh, so for example, when you were looking for like, uh, things to do in Seattle, like Google took Like the, essentially all the items of the list post and show all these items above them.

So less people click on the results. So it’s like, even if you rank high, and I’ve seen that a lot with these updates where is the, the structure of the sub that has changed rather than like even the ranking sometimes where there’s just like a lot more people also ask a lot of new, new widgets, all of that, et cetera.

And that you might check your rank tracker. You’re like, I’m number one. And then you check your webmaster’s console and you’re like, Oh shit, my traffic’s down 25 percent or something. It happened to us as well on Toy Hacker. Like we have a lot of listicles and then Google’s taking these list items and just making the list on Google, for example.

Um, so yeah, it’s like something like that’s happening right now. Uh, obviously there’s a big problem with spam right now on Google. Like a really, really, really, really big problem. It’s the worst I’ve seen it in years. Uh, and, and I think Google is aware because you know, you know how, you know, Google is aware of the problem is, uh, the tone that Denis Sullivan takes on Twitter when he replies to people, you know, it’s like when he’s arrogant, then they probably, they probably think you’re wrong.

And they just like, like, you know, niche site owners are trying to just make as much money as possible when they’re trying to understand the problem and actually like, um, Try like they’re trying to, to, to talk to you and ask questions, et cetera, and say, they’re going to report it to the search team, et cetera.

You know, there’s a problem. And that’s exactly the tone they’re having right now on Twitter. So clearly they understand that there’s a big problem with the, with the Parasite SEO, especially like now Parasite SEO is, is insane. Like. They’re like, I’ve found pages on the heart association, like heart. org, like ranking for CBD gummy keywords, uh, Google translate pages are ranking for illegal porn keywords right now.

Like really, like really illegal stuff. Like I’m not even going to say on the podcast, but like, think about the, the most horrible stuff you can think about in porn. Google translates ranks for that right now. Um, like people done that with Google groups, et cetera. Uh, Harvard has been hacked as well, et cetera.

Like. 

Jared: We talked about Harvard in the news last week. Exactly. 

Gael: Spammers are finding ways basically like Google has punished small sites and they’re like, fine, we’ll just find a fine, like bribe our way through bigger sites and then they’re just basically ranking and then Google potentially. And I think that gives us a hint, like if Parasite SEO works so well, it’s like they’ve probably, uh, they’ve probably given way too much weight to domain authority and the authority of the domain in general, right?

It’s kind of like a, a by product of that. It’s the, the, the, and, and as a result, like people realize, oh, this is that easy, you know? Uh, this reminds me of my early days in SEO, you know, we used to rank What we call the web 2. 0 pages. So that would be like pages on screedoo. com and, uh, uh, things like that.

And then scan them with a little Weebly. Yeah, exactly. Then you do a bunch of social book marking to it. It would just rank, right. And so like, uh, but like clearly that’s, that’s going to be a sign that Google’s going to have to address, like maybe like evaluate sites based on sub folders and sub domains, et cetera, something like this.

Like maybe the core of the site is going to just rank the same. So I can’t imagine them taking too much traffic away from the big sites. Like, let’s not be. Uh, let’s not hope too much, but at the same time, I think the sub folders, the sub domains, et cetera, if they are being abused, I think they might actually be, uh, they might actually like be evaluated like separately from the main domain or, or lose quite a bit of authority from the main domain, basically.

Jared: So with everything you just went through, I mean, you like just took us through like a year of Google and all the challenges right now from parasite SEO, from spam rankings, from. You’re right. A much broader topic. We didn’t even talk about UGC yet. No, and it’s on my list to talk about UGC, but I don’t want to.

There’s already so much to touch on there. Like, does, from a very high level, and you can choose to go with this any way you want, does Google have it out for a classic niche site? 

Gael: I don’t think, I mean, I think they might have had before all of this. And now they’re like looking at what they landed. And they might, they might change their mind.

You know, I wouldn’t be surprised. Like I wouldn’t be surprised to see some head rollings at the top of Google right now, to be honest. Um, like just, just for the situation they put themselves in. It’s their main cash cow search. Like it doesn’t matter. AI, et cetera, doesn’t make them any money. Uh, the cloud business makes some money.

Uh, and then the rest is just the advertising business. And it’s, it’s largely driven by search. And YouTube’s pretty strong as well right now. But you know, that’s where the money is coming from. So it’s like, um. No, I don’t think so. The problem is, here’s my, my main gripe with Google, is that they invented search intent, uh, a long time ago now, a couple of years ago.

I mean, like, really, when I started SEO, it was all back links, right? So you could write anything about whatever you wanted for an article, and if you managed to get links to the article, you would, you would rank. Then the problem is, 2016 election, fake news became a big thing. Google had to start fighting fake news and started being liable for ranking essentially fake information against big keywords.

Uh, so that’s when the Medicare update came up, et cetera, et cetera. And that’s when search intent became really, really, really strong. The problem with search intent is that it trained SEOs to write Semi content, like you wanted to rank on Google, you looked at the top pages and you did something quite similar.

And then you had tools like Surfer or Page Optimizer Pro, et cetera, that essentially helped you optimize for that. And so for years, we’ve all been writing the same content. We’ve been copying each other and doing the same stuff. And to be frank, as a user, it’s not very fun to read this content. It’s pretty, it’s pretty shit, right?

Um, so most of the sites that we’ve built, most of the sites that have tanked with these updates have been built on this model, basically, or like revamped on this model. And I think Google has started to tune off search intent and, and, and rely a little bit more on user metrics. Uh, and then, well, nobody, like when you’re, when you’re on your phone, when I’m on a 16 screen on my phone, I don’t want to read a 3000 word poorly formatted article.

Uh, with just H2s and, and, and paragraphs. It’s very boring. Like it’s, there’s, there’s no way I’ll go on TikTok and I’ll just search for that instead, you know? Uh, and so, and so Google, I think is actually, and I’ve seen some glimmers of hope here because I’ve seen some niche sites, and I’ll give you some examples in a bit if you want, um, that are not high authority, that are one man band and have been growing.

You know, triple, quadruple, sometimes thousand percent traffic this year by not doing what the rest of the SEO industry has been doing in terms of creating content, it’s almost like we’re kind of regressing back to. Another way of creating content. And the problem is, well, we’ve all, we’ve all been, Google has trained us and rewarded us.

We’re kind of like dogs you’re trying to train. You know, it’s like you do, you do the search into an article. They give you a treat. Bam, here’s some, here’s some, uh, here’s some traffic. Do, do the perfect search in an article. Here’s some traffic. And so, and then Google turns around and then everyone’s like, nah, you guys should write for people, et cetera.

I’m like, what the fuck? Like you’ve told us for years. I mean, you’ve rewarded for years, not doing that. You’ve rewarded for years. Like doing. And so I, that’s, that’s the problem we’re facing now. It’s like, we have entire websites built on this model that are now essentially rules. Like, actually, that’s not the best way to make content.

They finally realized that and they’re moving up. And so let me give you some example of sites that have grown a lot that I don’t know if we can, can I show my screen here? Oh, sure. Go for it. Okay. Let me just, uh, open up quickly and then I’ll show you like an example. Open an Ahrefs. 

Jared: Podcast host as a guest.

You’re like, I’m just going to go ahead and share my screen here. 

Gael: It’s like, yeah, it’s like, uh, I’m not allowed to show you the notes. You hit the nail on 

Jared: the head. I mean, for years it was, if it’s a listicle that ranks in Google, you have to write a listicle to rank, right? 

Gael: But not just that, like you have to write it with the same items and everything, like you have to do that.

If 

Jared: you don’t mention in your product review, one of the brands that everybody else mentions, because you don’t think it’s good. Maybe you think that that brand isn’t good if you don’t at least mention it and talk about it, you won’t rank. And so it’s this fascinating juxtaposition that it’s like, if I want to give an honest product review and I don’t like this product, I want to talk about it.

But if the top 10 results in Google currently have that, I have to put it in there or else the way that Search Intended is designed will keep me out because of that reason alone. 

Gael: And the way they fight fake news is through consensus as well. So if like, if 10 affiliates say the product is great, even though it may be shit, if you say it’s shit, you don’t rank, you know, because you don’t match the consensus.

So it’s like, it’s a big problem. So this site, I like this site. This site is like, uh, it’s DR23. We’re not talking about big DR, right? Um, this is a guy that has a YouTube channel and then just reviews flights when he flies. By the way, he has a blog role on the homepage. I remember when issue came out and it was like, Oh, the blog role on the homepage.

Like, but look at how he writes his content. I mean, it’s literally, I call it a comic book, you know? Yeah. Do you, do you see like this content? Right. And now let’s look at his Ahrefs. That’s his traffic this year. He started the year. I mean, let’s put one year, not two years. Uh, he started, yeah, at 56K traffic and he’s doubled his traffic this year through the updates, basically.

Um, and he, like, he doesn’t write like SEO content at all. He writes like comic books, first hand experience, EAT, all that stuff. And then it’s easy to read, like it’s, it’s TikTokable, you know what I mean? It’s like, I’m scrolling and I’m just going through, I’m just reading these things and I’m getting the whole story thing, basically.

Uh, that’s 

Jared: one example. Yeah, for those who are just listening and not watching, it’s very much just single sentence, lots of pictures, extremely obvious that this person is taking photos as they go about their, their travels and not trying to write an optimized article. 

Gael: Exactly. Uh, I want to show you another one that I have interviewed on our podcast, uh, and that is naplab.

com. Naplab is a classic affiliate site who, and he’s the, uh, 40. So we’re not talking about big size up. The mattress affiliate niche is one of the most competitive niches out there. Like it’s very competitive because it pays a lot of money. When you make a sale, you can make three, sometimes three, 400 per sale, right?

Look at how he writes his reviews. Like, first of all, everything, like, you know, you get your answer right on top of the, of the, uh, of the page. I don’t really have to read much. And all of his paragraphs are never more than like four lines ever. And everything is fully visual, right? Like, this is not written like an SEO article either.

Like, you know, an SEO article would be much more wordy. There would be a long intro, long outro. There would be like, uh, They wouldn’t make it as visual. You see what I mean? Like, it’s not an experience. It’s just A wall of text most of the time and he’s tested that obviously you can see how heavily he’s testing this he has this quantitative scoring system, like you can see on top of the page.

Let me just go back up. He has like you know for cooling 9. 5 motion transfer 10 etc and he wrote a whole system to essentially test every mattress. Now, let’s look at this site. Let me just grab the homepage.

This site started the year at 6, 200 traffic and finished a year at 132, 000 traffic. That’s a 2, 300 percent growth. And you can see every time one of these updates rolls out, he’s just fucking going up. It’s like every single time. And, and so it’s a different way. I’m going to stop sharing. Uh, one sec, coming back.

So like, yeah, it’s like, uh, I’m actually going to show some more, like we have a newsletter coming out, uh, and I’m going to show some more, but like, yeah, it’s like the size that you see winning in these updates, they don’t match the archetype of the classic niche site. Basically, they, they went like, so it’s funny because like on one side.

Google has all these spam problems, et cetera. I’m not taking that. I’m not saying Google’s great. Like they have big problems they need to solve. Uh, with AI spam as well. I can show you AI spam domains as well, if you want. Like that just publish straight up AI content and are going up, et cetera. But usually these things.

with time resolve themselves like it’s it’s like it has happened before that google had bad periods and it’s like yeah it might take six months it might take a little bit longer but eventually these things sort themselves out and these it’s rare to find a spam domain that has been around for five years like it doesn’t really happen right uh it it goes up and it just crashes but why i’m starting to find is these kind of like, I guess they call it hidden gems, hidden gem websites.

Yes. The hidden gem term. I guess that’s what they call it. Um, actually being rewarded for not following any SEO principles almost like for kind of like, like first of all, making the site an experience. So there’s always like a lot of visuals, et cetera. It’s not, it’s not just text. Basically text is the laziest way to pass information to people.

It’s also the least. authentic one. It’s the one you can fake the most. Um, and then, uh, and the, and the right, the, the other pages tend to be shorter and they’re just, they’re just much more fun to read. Like I actually bought products based on that because I thought it was a, it was a good site, for example.

And so. I think we might need to rewrite the, uh, the, the handbook on, uh, on writing SEO content, uh, at least for, for, for affiliate reviews, et cetera. Um, and it’s, uh, so like I’ve, it took me a long time to kind of like come to that realization because it’s like, There’s not like very few people build sites like that.

So it’s even though these people are seeing a big gain in, uh, visibility. Oh, I can show you another one, by the way. There’s another site called shavercheck. com. I’m not going to open it this time, but you check it out. It’s basically a single guy from Romania as one person. So small affiliate site. He ranks for best shaver, for example, best electric shaver.

I think he’s number two, uh, number one and two fighting with New York time. With a wire cut. Uh, and he’s the, uh, 29. Um. So like these are exact keywords you guys can go check it out. Uh, and he went up 233 percent this year. He went from 62k traffic to 145k traffic. Uh, so pretty good. But yeah, it’s like, I think we’re going to have to rewrite the book on like making a site.

I think the age of making, you know, a shitty review site where you never touch the product, never see it, don’t care. Um, this, this might come to an end to be honest. Um, but I think there is big efficiencies that still exist on this market. Um, if you’re just thinking in terms of building a website, it doesn’t look as appealing because obviously it’s more work, more money, more effort.

But. There are other opportunities. So, I mean, YouTube is one of them. If you’re getting your hands on the product, like you should have a YouTube channel. It’s kind of crazy not to make a YouTube video when you, if you’re actually going to this level of effort to build your site. But also you guys are doing the Amazon, um, influencer program, right?

Yep. And so why not, why not combine these two things to build your website, for example. And it’s like essentially build up these multiple. Traffic, like it takes more effort, it takes more money to create a piece of content and it’s going to require your first hand experience because it looks like that’s how the small sites can win today and, and I have multiple examples of that.

But on the other side, you are building YouTube channels, income from Amazon through the Amazon influencer program. And then you can obviously, and then you can also compete with big sites without necessarily having too much DR. These sites I shared, like, you know,

I’m not saying you don’t need links that they do have some links, um, but. It’s, to me, it’s pretty low DL, like the R29 is like, that’s where a site would be after one year that when I started working on it, for example, you know. 

Jared: You, I, I really, I want to double down on the analogy you gave, um, whether you meant to or not.

I think you did. So I’ll double down. You, you, you said like, we got ourselves into this when Google launched search intent. And so everyone listening who got slapped around in some of these updates, maybe feel a little bit. Forgiven because you, you have in many ways followed the model that’s been working in the last seven years and it’s Google’s fault.

Yeah, they moved the goalposts in essence, right? Like they changed the rules, right? Like we were, we were operating on, you know, you need goals to win and now it’s like, you need a different metric to win. And so for many of us, and I’ll put myself in that list, we’ve been doing it this way for so long, it’s difficult to unlearn what we’ve 

Gael: learned.

Exactly. And that’s why I like, I, it took me some time to like take some distance from the SEO committee because I feel the way we’re looking at the problem might just be wrong completely, you know? Um, and, and, and you, there are, there are counter examples, right? It’s like, like travel lemming, for example, the site I shared earlier.

It’s a great site. It’s still got, still lost a lot of traffic. Uh, another site that people take an example of it would be like RetroDodo, for example. RetroDodo is a, uh, retro gaming site. And, but they really test the products, et cetera. And it’s pretty good. But at the same time, like, you know, I, I, I was preparing for you to like counter, counter argument with this basically.

And so I went through RetroDodo, for example, and it’s like, while they do the hands on experience, they do all of that, et cetera. I believe their content is authentic. They’re still following the kind of like classic SEO posts, formats, et cetera. And it’s still very wordy and it’s still not necessarily, they learned SEO basically, it’s almost like it might, it might even shoot them in the foot in that way, um, because they, they, they, they still match these formats despite the fact that they are.

More authentic than most affiliate sites, and despite the fact that they have original images, etc. It’s like, the way it’s written, the way it’s put together, the structure of the article, with the headlines of like, you know, having the top 10 products, and having a buying guide, and having all of that, etc.

Um, my actually Might actually be hurting. I don’t know where Google draws the line. I just, it’s hard to tell, you know, 

Jared: that’s it. And we had Brandon on the podcast a year and a half, two years ago, whatever it was, and that’s kind of my point. So this is, you, you basically perfectly walked into it. Let’s I’m worried that let’s say that, um, let’s say I’m somebody listening and I’m like, okay, cool.

I’m. I got it. I gotta be all in on my niche. I gotta be all in. I gotta start testing the products. I gotta start using the products. Let’s say that I, I, I, I flipped that switch in 2024. I’m still concerned that I’ll be pretty content. I would still be concerned, yeah. That, that won’t rank because I, I, how do I unlearn what I’ve already known, even if I do all the things right.

What’s ranking seems to be still such a vast departure and it’s almost like do I have to unoptimize my content after I’m done writing it in my typical way, you know, like, 

Gael: so it’s like we’re kind of like we’re kind of going through that. So, like, um, like, uh, we got quite lucky in terms of timing because we sold a bunch of project, like, at the end of the first half of the next.

Last year, so honestly didn’t plan on this, but quite lucky and, um, and we kind of like, we focused on rebuilding the editorial team for Atari Haka, which was a little bit in shambles, to be honest. Uh, and so it’s like, it’s something that we’re going through right now. Basically we’re like, Oh, we wrote something.

It doesn’t rank. What do we do? You know, it’s like, uh, what’s the plan? It’s like. Honestly, uh, now I’m just opening the post on WordPress. I’m just breaking it. I’m just like, I’m just like, I don’t care. I don’t care. This page doesn’t rank. Right. Let’s just like, like I use AI quite a bit to help me rewrite stuff, for example.

So it’s like, I’m not going to have AI write the content because I think it’s not very good to be honest, AI content at this point. Um, but I’m, it’s very good at like rewarding things, making things more concise, changing their tone, et cetera. Like doing this kind of like junior editor job. Uh, on existing content.

And so I, I often have it kind of like reformulate stuff, like take, uh, three big paragraphs and transform it into one small one, et cetera. Like, yeah, I had like a shit ton of screenshots on the page and, and like, and basically that’s what we’re doing. We’re just basically writing down an assumption. We’re like, this page doesn’t rank.

What if I made it more. Like, like, this comic, this idea of a comic book page is a very big one we have, uh, internally, where we want, like, people don’t read, basically. People, like, we want people to basically understand the story with just headlines and screenshots. Um, and it’s like, it’s like, forget, they don’t read the normal sized text.

They don’t do that. Same as sales pages, right? That’s how we build sales pages. And, uh, and so like, yeah, our editorial team knows about that, that, that comic book. And so, so we do that, for example. And so like very much like this, um, sense for the website. And so, and so go ahead. Sorry. No, go ahead. 

Jared: You have the comic book effect.

And I, my question on that is, I mean, going back to maybe the algorithm or just in terms of going forward, how important are user experience metrics going to be, do you think? Like, is it important that people scroll through your content and stay engaged? Or is it because previously that wasn’t that important previously, it’s like get the right words in the right spots on the right pages, make it the right length, make sure it has all the components internally link it together so Google can crawl around easier and understand what each page is about from the anchor text.

It’s all those things. Is it now more like, man, if they don’t make it all the way down your page consistently and they start bouncing the time on site, all these user metrics we talk about, like, is that increasing of importance? 

Gael: I mean, this is just speculation at this point. Like I don’t have hard data to say.

The only hard data I have is that out of the Google antitrust trial, a lot of stuff came out about Google using a lot more user metrics than they’ve said before. Um, I would be very surprised if they did not use Chrome data and Android data to me. That’s enough data to kind of like evaluate pretty much any site.

And, you know, for example, when you, you know, every month you get this report from such a such console that tells you about your top rising content, et cetera, et cetera. They give you the time on site, right? Like they give, they say, Oh, high time on page, et cetera. Where do they get that data from? You don’t put any code on your site with search console and they’re not supposed to use analytics.

Right. Um, so to me, that’s kind of an analytical 

Jared: code that goes on there. 

Gael: They shouldn’t, they shouldn’t use that data. So just, you should not collect, like if they did not. The only thing they can probably do is measure the time between people going to your site and going back to the self, but if they don’t go back to a self, how would they measure that?

Um, right. So to me, that’s kind of like, I’m like, Hmm, where is that coming from? Isn’t that from Chrome and Android basically? Um, and so. If they’re using it there and they’re showing it to you in GSC, it’s probably quite important. Um, so this is more like the assumption that we run, uh, like we run internally.

And it’s like, we don’t have to be right. We just have to rank under that assumption. It’s like, it might be something else, but I don’t really care if I’m right or wrong. I just care about having the right mental framework for the team. Right. Um, and, uh, and, and yeah, that’s, that’s something that we very, very much care about internally.

And one thing that I wanted to say. It’s like a lot of people kind of blame the difference between, you know, big publishers and small niche sites on links and authority, right? But one thing that big publishers consistently do a million times better than small sites is mobile experience. For example, um, the way the site looks on mobile, like I’m sorry, if you run Mediavine on AdStrive on default setting, half of your screen is ads at any time.

It’s shit. Uh, it’s bad experience. If I’m a user and I land on this page, it’s bad. I understand you make money. I understand it has high RPM. I say it’s very nice. You get, you make a bunch of money, et cetera. Um, but if I’m a user, I find, I’m basically thinking like if I’m not in SEO, I think I’m on a malware website, basically.

Um, and big brands don’t do that. They use ads, but not, not to that degree. They use it smartly. They have. They think about their placement. Um, elements are much more responsive and work better on mobile. They don’t like, you know, you don’t have your table shrinking all and you can’t read anything or it goes off the screen.

You know, you have, you start having horizontal scrolling on your page because you have one element scroll bar. Yeah. Yeah. And so like it’s done better and, and Google finished their transition to mobile first index in October. Right. Um, you know, it took six years, I think, for them to be mobile first. Um, but, but most people build their websites on their computer.

It looks decent on their computer, but most of your traffic’s mobile. And, and niche sites, people don’t spend enough time on, on UX and mobile in general. So there’s kind of two ways to go about this. It’s either you have a very simple site. So like this. Uh, since spotter site I showed you doesn’t have an amazing UX, but because it’s so simple, it’s like single column, whatever, like it works on mobile.

It don’t, but as soon as you start having comparison tables, as soon as you start having widgets that promote products, et cetera, and it starts, it’s not done well. Then, then in my opinion, that can affect your user metrics quite, quite significantly. And that might be a differentiator between the big publishers that have full time developers making the site good and the small size that, you know, DIY it and, uh, and all use pre made themes and it’s not done very well.

And, uh, and, and that might be a bigger differentiator than, uh, than people think that they kind of attribute to links, you know, 

Jared: it’s a good point. Yeah. And it’s, it’s how often are we guilty of not looking at our own sites on mobile for months and months on end. Right. Like you just don’t think about 

Gael: it and the walls of text on mobile They they’re like so much worse Like it’s like you scroll screens and screens and screens without a single image or anything is just like it’s boring like it’s awful No, 

Jared: it’s funny.

You mentioned it. I was actually at a christmas party a couple weeks ago and somebody was asking me like Oh, hey jared. What are you doing now? I was like, oh, yeah, I do. I run a marketing agency like oh cool What’s it called? They had their phone out and they look up my website now. We don’t even have ads on It’s just, and I’m like looking over their shoulder.

I’m like, Oh my gosh. Like the page they were on had three elements across the page on desktop and it didn’t stack vertically on mobile. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I haven’t checked that page. That’s one of our sales pages, you know? And it’s like, reminds me, like I made that page back in the summer, you know, and I haven’t gone and checked it on mobile.

Gael: Yeah, so like, for example, one thing that we do is, um, the aspect ratio of the images we use on our site, right? It basically never use horizontal images. Why? Because they shrink on mobile and you can’t see anything. You need to have a square aspect ratio or a total aspect ratio, because that way When they get on mobile, they become much more visible because the viewport of your phone is vertical, you know, uh, and so like a lot of little rules like that.

Sometimes we do the images twice, even like we’ll make like images for mobile for desktop that are wide and on mobile, they will have a different version of the image that stacks up vertically actually. So like, um, a lot of these little things, I mean, I’m not saying you’re going to rank number one by doing this.

Uh, and I’m just saying that they kind of compound. It’s this 0. 1 percent optimization things, but like. These big sites, they all do this pretty well. I mean, people shit on Forbes all the time, but Forbes is great on mobile. 

Jared: I, I agree. We’ve talked about, um, user experience. So let me now ask another question.

Another high level topic. A lot of, again, I’m going to, I’m, I have to use air quotes now. I feel weird, but I just have a lot of website owners will love the model of publishing to the web and not having to do social media. Right. And so a lot of the conversation around the HCU is build a brand. You need to have social media traffic.

You need to have linking out to social media profiles that have activity and have engagement and a lot of website builders that listen to this podcast. And we’re like, do I have to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to do video, but I don’t even want to do. Facebook groups. And so how important do you think going forward, we have to pay attention to having social media components to our websites 

Gael: now?

I’m not sure if this, the social, I mean, in my opinion, if you’re a search engine, it’s quite hard to rely on third party data from social networks. You know, it’s like, um, it would either like, they would charge Google. Like Google is like one of the richest company in the world. They won’t give it for free, you know?

Uh, or they just straight up won’t let them have it. They get some, right? It’s like the LinkedIn profiles, for example, they do call like who your followers are, they get the follow account now, they show that, et cetera. Um, but my, in my opinion, it’s more like the search behavior around your brand terms that matters.

So like how many people search for your brand? Uh, the click through rate for branded terms, uh, that kind of stuff that, in my opinion, matters a lot. Like the sites that we have that have the most branded search are the ones that get swing, the least amount of swing from, uh, from updates, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be social media.

Imagine you do a great newsletter, for example, um, like it might. Trigger, uh, it might trigger that. It might trigger a branded search, uh, joining a podcast. Like maybe people are going to Google Autority Hacker after this podcast, right? Uh, I’m, even if I had no so active social profile, that would be, that would be helpful.

Now, the problem with social media is that Uh, I think EEAT relies quite a bit on, on, on these kind of like entities, you know, social profiles, et cetera. So like when you register your knowledge panel, for example, so I have a knowledge panel. I had to like, I went through the registration experience where you, you actually have to give your social profiles and everything.

And they use that to complete that actually. And, uh, and, and, you know, you use these, um, same as, uh, schema properties in order to basically link. All you, the places where you walk on the web, so that’s going to be your social media profiles, but also your top pages on other sites, et cetera. So Google kind of like understands it’s the same person.

And so having online presence is, is pretty healthy. If you’re a web publisher in general, it’s, it’s like, it’s weird not to be anywhere else. And, uh, and this idea of like, I’m not, I’m not sharing my identity, et cetera. Like it’s not going to fly on the internet anymore. Not if you want visibility, at least.

I think it’s like, you’re going to have to, and it makes sense, right? It’s like essentially Google exposes themselves. Like they’re liable if they push your content forward and you hurt someone. Um, and so like, it kind of, I think it kind of makes sense that the more visibility you get and the more transparent you need to be about who you are, at least you don’t necessarily have to be a big, uh, a big social media mogul or something like this, but like.

Yeah. So like showing who you are, who you like, what you’ve done online, if you walked, if you have a degree at university, if you have like a work page profile that is related to your, to what you do, if you have contributed in other places, et cetera. Yeah. It’s, I mean, that’s like, how can we give you any credibility?

If we don’t know who you are and, uh, and so it’s this idea of like anonymity. It’s interesting because they talk about it in the search writer guidelines. Actually, they actually say you can build that up as a person, as a pen name, but you need to build a reputation as that pen name. So it’s like, for example, Matt Diggity is not Matt Diggity.

It’s not his real name. But he’s built a reputation as Matt Diggity. People will search for him. He has social media profiles under that name, etc, etc. And so that allowed him to preserve his name while at the same time building that credibility and sharing, uh, an identity online that, you know, we can, we know who’s behind the content basically.

And so that’s an opportunity for people to do that if they don’t want to share their family name and things like that, but they will need to open up a little bit. And it’s like, you know, when we’re talking about first hand experience, it’s kind of weird to talk about your first hand experience and not show your Not sure who you are, basically.

The one case where I would potentially, uh, consider it, is like we had, we used to be in the VPN niche a long time ago, basically. We had a big VPN site that we sold. And, uh, and, and in the privacy niche, it kind of makes sense not to share your, your identity. Uh, same way, like no way people are going to give you their email to join your email list, right?

Uh, it’s like the last, this is the opposite of the idea of privacy. Um, and so, and so like in some niches it might make sense, but that’s literally like 1 percent of niches, 

Jared: I mean, man, a lot of what you’re saying harkens back to when we had Kyle Roof on the podcast, you had him on your podcast as well.

And I remember him saying something. I just want to see if like, maybe this helps bring it back full circle. He was saying like, Google’s not in the business of trying to figure out if your degree from Harvard or whatever Penn is better or worse. It’s just in the business of trying to figure out like.

Are you a legitimate person? Is there a legitimate person behind this brand? Um, can we trust this brand? And so perhaps going back to the social media conversation, perhaps social media has an importance, but only in the larger scheme of helping Google see that there’s real people behind the website that they can trust it in the vein of where we’re going with all this.

Gael: It’s more like social media allows you to build relationships with real people that then lend you credibility. Like it’s kind of like a two side effect thing. So it’s like, for example, we talked on Twitter and now I’m on this podcast. Uh, that’s a, that’s a perfect example of how, like, social media is not going to help authority hacker rank higher in this case.

It’s just that through appearing on this podcast, maybe that’s going to drive some brand searches and then like, it’s going to just build up the metrics around me because some people are listening and then they check it out. And so like, It doesn’t like, not everything you do in SEO has to have a direct effect on your rankings.

I think people are a little bit too, too narrow minded on this. You know, it’s like, it’s like Google’s trying to kind of like understand the, the, the bigger, the bigger picture here. And, and it’s like, you, you kind of have a chain of events that eventually will lead to an increase in rankings, but it doesn’t have to be the, what you did doesn’t have to be the cause of it.

You know, 

Jared: UGC, you, you teased it. You’re like, and we haven’t even talked about UGC. Let’s talk about it. I guess at the high level like I guess what I’d like to hear from you is Do we care, or do we wait and hope that what UGC’s role in the SERPs is blows over and changes? Like, do you think in 2024 we need to pay attention to this as content creators and website builders?

Or is it so difficult to pay attention to from our standpoint that we just wait and hope it goes away? Like, and I don’t want to be too pedantic about it, but how do we wade into this conversation when it’s so anti what we are doing as content creators typically? 

Gael: Yeah, I mean, it’s double standards as well, right?

It’s like, if you’re, if you’re like a post on Reddit, you don’t have to prove any credibility, but when you post on your site, you have to prove like a bunch of stuff about yourself. It’s like, how does that make sense? 

Jared: I have to update my content regularly to keep it ranking, yet a post on Reddit from 2010 can outrank me.

It’s, I mean, 

Gael: so they’ve just rolled out, so they’ve developed many things concerning UGC in terms of search features, right? So they’ve rolled out a new schema that allows to like tag, uh, like forums, et cetera, discussions. And now they’ve started to roll out a widget called forums and discussions. That shows Reddit and like, for example, for the size of like 1.

2 to 1. 5 single ranking, they show three to four discussions on Quora, Reddit and other forums, basically. Um, my guess is that this is going to be like featured snippet. So now it still happens that you have the forum discussion widget and then you have a Reddit thread ranking under, so taking even more space on the sub, right?

That’s what’s happening right now. My guess is it’s going to go like featured snippet. You know, for a while when featured snippet came out. You could get the feature snippet and you could also be the result under it, right? That used to be how it works. And then eventually they kind of like tidied it up.

And then when you have the feature snippet, you don’t rank on the SERP anymore. My guess is that’s what’s going to happen. Is they’re going to like, they kind of like testing, they rolled out the schema so that they kind of like, you know, mark it up on the SERP. So it looks nice. They’re testing it right now.

And eventually they’ll take all the Quora, Reddit rankings, et cetera, put it in that widget. And then give the space back to websites basically, uh, so that you still have this widget popping up, you know, similarly to people also ask, for example, but then your user, you’ll be able to choose, do I want a forum discussion or do I want a website and it’s just labeled properly.

And so like, it’s going to be up to the user to choose what they want, basically. 

Jared: That is a very interesting concept. It’s almost like what they did with how to schema, FAQ schema. They use that to build out blocks that they now feature in SERPs. And so you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re, because certainly, obviously people appending Reddit to the end of their searches is something that is significant and Google had to pay attention to.

And so they have to surface UGC to some degree, but. I see the logic in what you’re saying, and if that’s the case, then I guess we can kind of hopefully sort of try to ignore it in how it relates. 

Gael: I mean, it’s still going to be on the subs, right? You still have these new widgets, basically, like they will take like one, one, like one position of someone in that sub, basically, and these pop pretty often already, uh, but.

It, it will be in its own corner, I think, eventually. It’s just like, it’s like, it’s pretty new. Like this schema stuff is like, it’s two months old or less or something. And so like, and then this widget is like a month, something like it’s really quite new. Um, my guess is like by the middle of next year, Oh, this year, I guess.

Cause this is really, uh, this is going to talk ahead, right? This is going to be all like, kind of like, you know, consolidated into that widget. And then you will see Reddit lose. Organic positions, but appear more in his widgets basically, so they still get good traffic, but it’s going to recalibrate basically So but it’s just a speculation that like I can’t tell you for sure.

That’s how it’s gonna go, right? Yeah, but they did this for other features. So it’s like i’m just going by what they’ve done in the past 

Jared: um, let’s uh, let’s start to bring it home and I I mean, you know, you’re involved on social media a bit and you talk with a lot of site owners and you know, certainly throughout the weeks of reporting on the news here on the podcast, like we’ve kind of gathered a lot of different perspectives on this and man.

You see so many different approaches to responding to the HCU and its impact on people’s websites, right? Like you talk to people who honestly have just put their head in the sand and they’re like, since I don’t have any clear data on what to do, I’m not going to do anything and they’re just waiting.

You have people who are abandoning their websites and starting totally new projects. You have people who are going about their business as usual, hoping that something gets changed and what they used to do will just go back to working. And then you have people who are just kind of really pivoting and whether it’s going down this road of building a brand, you know, and like adding all sorts of extra components or going into their content and completely changing it, almost like you said, like kind of doing the anti ranking process.

Um, like, what would you be doing? Or, you know, what would you do right now? If you had a big website of yours that mattered to you that had gotten hit quite a bit by the H. C. U. or corresponding updates at the latter half of 2023. like, what would what would 2024 look like for you? 

Gael: It’s a hard one because I mean, I expect big changes in the next six months.

Like, it’s like just to address the spam issues. I expect Google’s going to change a lot, uh, including addressing parasite SEO, which I think is going to collaterally affect the big sites as well. Because, you know, it’s kind of similar, you know? Uh, so like this idea of like big size rank for everything might, might be different in a few months.

And so that makes it quite difficult to commit to big changes. Um, And the problem, I mean, well, like I’ve seen a lot of people affected by issue and one good thing is like a lot of people didn’t like, didn’t seem to have their new pages as badly affected, like when you publish new content as the ones that were hit by the update.

Basically, it’s almost like the site split into, you know, what the pages that were here before the update and then the new stuff, you know, so I would take the opportunity to experiment on new pages. Uh, and, and, and try new editorial processes. As I said, like this comic book process, like looking at sites that have grown massively last year, that against the odds, you know, like the kind of sites that I’ve been sharing and then try to mimic what they’ve been doing.

So for example, NapLab, uh, biggest growth site I’ve shown you that went from like 6, 000 to 140, 000 or something. Uh, Like their, their quantitative scoring review process is, is something I’ve, I’ve been really digging into because I think it’s done really well. It’s actually, I’ve made lessons, like we’ve just updated the Autorisa system and I’ve just made a bunch of lessons, templates for people, et cetera, following a lot of these things.

Um, and, uh, and it’s something that we’re implementing, for example, in our review process now, even though we’ve been doing okay. I mean, we’ve more or less doubled the traffic on AutoriHacker last year as well. Like we’ve done quite okay as well. Um, and, uh, but, but like. I’m not waiting to be hit to change things up basically.

Cause I see, I see how things are going. So like, yeah, if you are, if you got hit, I would say split your site into pages that got hit pages that like new pages and on new pages, experiment. Significantly. Stop buying shitlinks as well. A lot of people buy shitlinks. Um, like, I’m sorry, but it’s true. And it’s like, you see these sites I showed you, they’re low DR, they’re not doing link building.

Uh, they’re DR 30s, 40s, like, it’s, it’s, you don’t need more DR, you need a better site. Uh, and so, uh, and so that’s what I hear, but yeah, uh, and, and, you know, people often use buying links as a proxy to like, Oh, I’m improving rather than actually addressing the hard issues with their site, like the mobile experience, like the too much as too much, everything, et cetera.

But one most importantly, I mean, clearly, I think websites. They’re not going to get more clicks from search in the future, right? It’s like with SG, with all of that, et cetera. We’re clearly headed in a direction where websites are going to get less clicks, and it’s just a fact. So I would think very hard about the business model.

Like if you are an ads based website, To me that spells trouble if traffic drops quite a bit from search, right? It’s, it’s, it’s a problem. Uh, you, you, I don’t think there’s much you can do to make, unless you have incredible organic growth, which becomes quite challenging these days. Um, I don’t think there’s much you can do to, to, to fight that trend.

So the only, the only thing you can do is change the business model. And work on business models that make more money per visitor and don’t require as many visits. And usually that is building a real business behind your site that is selling stuff. Um, so it’s like we are known as like affiliate people, but the truth is.

Our model always had three stages and I feel it was just stage one out of three, you know, like when we go into like our mastermind level, like the people at the highest level, like we almost never talk about affiliate marketing, like everyone is selling stuff or doing things on a much higher level, basically.

And, uh, and, and we have many members that, uh, that do that and have done that really well. So I’ll give you an example of members, uh, of the, of the mastermind that are public about their site. So we can talk about it. This site’s called CoffeyNest. de. But they have the English version of it as well. It’s a coffee site.

A lot of coffee sites got hit. But these guys tripled their traffic, uh, like in 2023. But what they’ve done is they actually built a subscription coffee beans business on top of their review site. And now it’s becoming Their main business. So while they’re doing really well with SEO right now, they’re, they’re kind of like preparing for the future and understand that they should take the resources that they’ve built up now so that they, maybe they don’t just ramp up as many reviews as they can, but rather just sidestep and build a site business using that.

So they’ve built an email list, they have an e com part of their site, et cetera. Kevin Espiritu as well, like probably the most successful member we’ve ever had, right? Uh, He now he’s fully Econos, but like he started as an affiliate site as well. If you go on Epic gardening is still very much an affiliate site, uh, when you go check it out.

And so, so, so like we could talk about tactics all day, but the problem is if the core business model has a problem, tactics are not going to save you. You need, you need to like be at the right place in the right time. And right now website owners have been spoiled with lots of easy traffic for years. Um, honestly, much more than people from social media have.

And, uh, and it’s like maybe people got a bit too accustomed to it and adopted business models that are not sustainable in these other conditions. And it’s time to, to, to like seriously start working on that in 2024, I think for people. And we’ve always encouraged people to do that. Yeah. 

Jared: Uh, it’s interesting.

And for those of you who are asking about e commerce, I, uh, not that you said this, but I do love the approach you’re saying about, Hey, like. E commerce is just an upmarket, you know, it’s moving up the food chain. Like e commerce brands have moved from affiliate, not saying they started that way, but instead of affiliating a product, they’re directly selling a product.

They are up the market from And 

Gael: you can partner with people as well, right? Like find a niche, e comm in your niche and like just make a deal with them. And then just like have them white label your e comm on your site, for example. So they can take care of the whole service, et cetera. And then you make sales for them.

And then it’s, it’s almost like an affiliate program, but running as an e comm, like in the eyes of Google, you’re an e comm, you know? Yeah. Uh, and, uh, and, and you’ll make more money. It’s like, then you can use your roundup reviews to place your products. Like we have members who are like pure e com. They’ve joined in age pro.

They were like, they never were affiliates. Right. But they’ve taken our affiliate templates and they write these on their e com site and place their products. And it’s always the highest ROI marketing they’ve ever done for their site, you know? Um, so it’s kind of like the other way around for affiliates.

I think if they also evolve their. Business model, they will eventually will be the highest ROI work they’ve ever done on their site. You know, it’s, 

Jared: yeah, I was going to say in summary, like the perfect conclusion, like we almost have to undo how we look at SEO content. And we also might have to undo how we look at affiliate marketing and change the approach we take to both writing the content, but also the approach we take to the business model.

Gael: Well, it’s like, I think marketing, I think would be fine. Look, uh, NAPLAB doesn’t necessarily need many, many visits to make lots of money. When you have products that make like high commissions, like you can absolutely build an affiliate business still today. And it’s like, you know, we talked about that mix of like building the site, building Amazon, uh, influencer program, being on YouTube, et cetera.

You can absolutely do that. But, oh, like that might be how you elevate your business model. You become this guy who just wrote. Random, random previews, just like Googling stuff. And that’s it to the guy who actually levels up their review process, starts a YouTube channel, uh, and joins the Amazon influencer program and merges all of that.

And that’s you leveling up your business model. Uh, and that is you making. More money with less traffic eventually as well, because you have all these other channels. So it’s like, it doesn’t mean you have to jump on Econ. I don’t say that. I’m just saying the business model has to level up a little bit, whichever, whichever way you’re going for, uh, doing this, you know?

Jared: So what is coming up in 2024 at Authority Hacker? And what are you guys doing over there? 

Gael: Uh, I mean, as I said, we’ve just updated, like, you know, a lot of this work was part of me updating our member area. As I said, like, I keep shooting videos, et cetera, but like, it really took me a long time to get my head around what’s happening with Google, uh, because it’s been very confusing, to be honest.

Uh, and, uh, but like now, yeah, like now we’ve, like, we’ve basically built a massive list of like winning sites. What’s happening, tested some stuff on our sites, got some results and eventually now we’re releasing the templates. So we’ve actually built full page templates for people like with all the pre designed stuff, et cetera, to do this quantitative scoring for roundup reviews, to do all of that, et cetera.

We’ve also made lessons to help you build a quantitative scoring review system. If you’re doing reviews, we’ve even made chat GPT prompts and. Custom gpts that helps you build that system with you actually Uh, so we built a bunch of like cool stuff for that. It’s like i’m i’m pretty happy with that After that, we are actually looking so as I said, we we got quite lucky selling a bunch of sites before that update Um and focusing on a toy hacker that has been growing But we know we are going to jump back in and we’re going to pick up some new projects So right now we’re actually working on like picking what the next projects will be There’s a chance we actually work on brandsnap.

ai. So we released that free AI tool last year. I remember that. Yeah. It helps you just find a domain name, right? It’s like, just say what your business is. It helps you find an available domain name using AI. And it worked pretty well, actually. People still use it. And so we’re thinking of like spinning it up into its own like small business, uh, and actually that would be also affiliate driven, but it would be maybe a bit more interactive than just a pure review site, you know?

Um, and so, uh, and so like that’s one of the projects we’re looking at and we have another project that we’re looking at as well. We have some partnerships with some companies as well. And then Autaria Hacker, uh, well, The rest of the training, it will really depend what Google throws at us. What I’m really big on right now is Notion, actually.

Um, like, we’re really big on execution. It’s like, SEO is very much an execution game at this point. It’s like, it’s been figured out how to do stuff. Although it needs to be re figured out. But the game is now getting people, like, a team of people doing this in an effect, efficient way. And outputting high quality work at scale, which is the biggest challenge of SEO.

And so I got really, really, really into Notion. I don’t know if you you’ve ever played with that, but it’s kind of like a sandbox tool. And it’s like, I build crazy databases with API connections and grabbing data everywhere, and like, it’s pretty cool. And so I think my next training on Autoyarker will be this kind of like advanced content system.

Uh, mixed with some AI stuff, I think, uh, and showing, showing where to use AI, not to make shit content, which most people do, uh, most people just want their, their one click article writer. That’s not how we use AI. Um, but there’s still big efficiencies that can be. Uh, achieved through it. So yeah, that’s pretty much what’s coming up.

And yeah, if you want to check the update, check out the hacker. com slash system. 

Jared: And we’ll get that link in the show notes. I was going to say, you guys, um, uh, uh, are always updating that. And I know have a promotion, uh, coming up, so thank you for coming on today. We could have, man, we could have talked, we could have done at least three hours.

We could, we didn’t talk about AI. We didn’t talk about content creation. We didn’t talk about efficiencies. These are all things I know you guys are, 

Gael: um, maybe I’ll come back, you know. 

Jared: What was it? Do it again. We’ll have to make it a part two here. Um, Hey, thanks for coming on. Uh, you know, wading into this topic of the really fastly shifting landscape we’re under right now is not a easy topic.

Yeah, it’s not an easy one to address. And, um, I told you beforehand, like, I really wanted to have you on to discuss this topic. And so, um, so we made it happen here. 

Gael: I hope it was valuable for people like I just hope like it’s like I’m trying to like, like, I don’t want to be the guy who repeats what you read on Twitter, you know, it’s like, I like to do my own research and testings and after that come out.

So I hope this was useful. 

Jared: Well, it’s gonna be well timed going into 2024 and Um, you know, again, you know, Gail and Mark do a fantastic job on their podcast. If it’s not part of your, your listen, um, your weekly listen, then you should go over there and check it out the podcast, but they have a lot of other things, including their trainings and their courses.

So Gail, thanks for coming on. Good luck in 2024 and we’ll see you around. 

Gael: All right.



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