The show started with a Twitter update that could benefit e-commerce merchants. The hosts then moved on to the open secret of Google Search, testing the new featured snippet layout, ‘brand story snippet,’ LGBTQ+ owned attribute to business profiles, and much more!
Noteworthy links from this episode:
- Twitter announces Product Drops for merchants
- The Open Secret of Google Search
- Google Search is Dying
- Twitter removes nofollow attribute from links in tweets
- Google testing new featured snippet layouts
- Google Tests Two Rows Of Brand Story Boxes Under A Snippet
- Hyphens Still Recommended Over Underscores In URLs For SEO
- Google adds LGBTQ+ owned attribute to business profiles
Transcription of Episode 434
Ross: Hello, and welcome to SEO 101 on WMR. FM episode number 434. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte.
Well, our kids are just about done at school eh?
Scott: Emma’s done tomorrow, I think, is her last day.
Ross: Mine are tomorrow as well.
Scott: Yeah, it’s my last day too. I’ll be back in September.
Ross: That would be nice. I miss those days. Of course, at the time, we didn’t really understand just how awesome it was. At the beginning we did, but remember like halfway through the summer, you’d be bored silly sometimes.
Scott: Yeah, sometimes. What I would give to be bored silly these days. It just doesn’t happen. Not even just work stuff, it’s like life is just crazy. Everything in life is just busy.
Ross: Yeah, this is our heyday, we have lots of stuff to do. Anyway, there’s a lot to share. It’s been a busy couple of weeks with SMX Advanced having happened and it was a free one this year. Online, which had countless people, I’m sure, attending. I wonder just how many people who signed up actually went and used it.
Scott: What are you hinting at Ross?
Ross: Well, I know many of my crew were signed up, but didn’t use it, that will hopefully change. But it’s just so typical, you know, when something’s free, you’re like, “Oh, I’ll get to it.” But when you pay for it, it is a little different.
Scott: Last year, we paid for it and I sat through the whole two days worth of seminars and did it in real time. This year, it was free. I’ll go to the website soon and I’ll check it out. I know for sure I will, we’ve got till the end of August for those that have signed up and not gone yet. You have till the end of August to access all the material, and I’ll do it. 100% I’ll do it. Procrastinating a little.
Ross: Don’t get me wrong, I only listened to one of them. I only watched one. One that was particularly interesting to me. It was about how to prepare for Google Analytics 4. Mostly, I was just looking for anything I didn’t already know, because we’ve done fairly extensive research on it. There wasn’t much we didn’t know but it’s always encouraging to listen to another expert and make sure that what we’re doing is right. Anyway, it was good. SMX Advanced was, probably will soon be again, my number one attending conference, the one I get to actually attend. It lost a little luster because that was one of the few times I got to see John. He’s not going to those anymore, unfortunately.
Twitter announces Product Drops for merchants
Ross: Alright, well, we’ll start off with a little non-SEO news, Twitter of all things. Tell us a little bit about this.
Scott: I think it might have some implications for SEO maybe. But I figured I’d include it. So Twitter has launched or is about to launch something that’s the first of its kind in social media, allowing people to do product drops for merchants. So this kind of confused me at first, I had to read through it. But this is how it’s gonna work, basically, if you are an e-commerce site, you can put up a tweet about an upcoming product launch, whether it be a new product or something that’s going to be back in stock that’s maybe been unavailable for a while. A Remind Me button will show up in that tweet. Then your followers can click that button to be reminded of when that product becomes back in stock. They can also learn more about the details of the launch, price description, whatever you want to put in there. Then after they put the Remind Me button, they will get a push notification 15 minutes before and then again at the time of the product drop. Then that link, that notification will have a link directly to the shopping page on the merchant’s website where you can then go and purchase the product.
This one kind of resonated with me a little bit because I had been trying to get a PlayStation 5 for my son, and definitely not for myself at all. It was impossible because if anyone’s out there aware of PS5s right now, they’re impossible to get. Anyway, so I’ve been trying. I’ve been following this guy on Twitter and he would post every time they made a product available at Walmart or Costco or wherever. But by the time you click on the link, usually the product was already sold out because there’s that delay between the e-commerce site and this particular Twitter feed. I did manage to get one so that was cool, but it took a long time and a lot of tries but this will actually help expedite that because you’re going to get it directly from, say Walmart when they want to launch a new one. You know it’s going to be there when you click the notification. So I think that could be pretty good for a lot of these e-commerce sites.
I was thinking about it from another perspective and that’s if you’re trying to build your Twitter following. If you are selling a product that’s really high in demand and hard to get, you could have a link, “follow us on Twitter to be notified instantly” and put that on your out of stock page. Or if you have a press release or something about a product launch that’s coming out, you can put a link to your Twitter within the product launch, press release, and people might try to follow you in order to help get these product drops. So I don’t know, I think that can be leveraged a bit there for social media. Not really an SEO thing but I think there is some overlap there.
Ross: Yeah, and typically, I think it’s a good thing to add for the show because typically, this kind of thing does really well at the beginning. Then when people get bored with it, it doesn’t. So take advantage of it immediately. There’s always some risk involved but I think minimal in this case, and you might be able to ride the wave. So if you have any kind of e-commerce, check this out.
Scott: I would say especially if you already have a strong Twitter following. You know, it might be pretty beneficial.
The Open Secret of Google Search
Ross: Awesome. Alright, into SEO news, there was an article I read the other day from The Atlantic. It’s called “The Open Secret of Google Search.” What I guess triggered it was the author’s own experience trying to find information, which he found full of garbage, really kind of auto generated or seemingly auto generated pages, you know, maybe created by AI, whatever, as it turned out, it might be other things, but it just wasn’t very good quality. He wasn’t impressed and then I guess he found this article by DKB, I’ll post the link within our show notes. It talks about how Google search is dying. This other person talks about how you know, if you want to find something, and you want a really decent answer, type the search and then add ‘Reddit’ at the end. He says that’s where you’ll find a lot of the great stuff, and he’s dead serious. I can’t fault him for that. There’s a lot of times where I’m looking for something and I’m sent to Reddit. So it really is a great platform. I wish John was here for this because Reddit was part of the company he worked with. It’s actually one of their properties. So I’m sure he would have interesting things to add. It is another good article. I haven’t read all of it. But what I’ve read I’ve liked, I want to look at it. It’s a pretty scathing review of Google these days, and was written on February 15.
But back to the main article here that was just launched a couple days ago, The Open Secret of Google Search. Having all of this information intel, he launches into kind of this rant. (the Atlantic writers are really good so it’s not so much a rant,) but he gets into why it seems to be true that the open secret of Google search is that it is dying, or that it’s just not as good quality. Thankfully, he didn’t just leave it at that, he got into some interesting stories from people who are SEOs, interesting stories from other people who’ve tried to use Google, etc.
But one of my favorites was a guy by the name of Verbit. I don’t know if that was a pseudonym, I can’t remember but he talks about his “soul crushing job” at the HOTH. It’s an SEO company that has been controversial in the past. They, I would say, are not white hat from what I’ve seen. In other words, they probably go into the gray area to perhaps black I don’t know about that. Not going to put my word on that. But I’ve heard enough times that people don’t like using them, some people do. In this case, Verbit worked for them. “He had to write up to 10 posts a day on subjects he knew nothing about. Quickly, he started repurposing old posts for other clients’ blogs. ‘Those posts that sound like an AI wrote them? Sometimes they’re from real people trying to jam in as many keywords as possible,” So he ended up quitting the job after a year, and he described the industry of search gaming as a “house of cards.” Those are his own words — house of cards. I want to get back to that in a second. Now, thankfully, they did ask Danny Sullivan at Google. I’ll quote him again here, “Sullivan believes that some of the recent frustrations with Google Search actually reflect just how good it’s become.” (this is Danny speaking) “We search for things today we didn’t imagine we could search for 15 years ago and we believe we’ll find exactly what we want,” he said. “Our expectations have continued to grow. So we demand more of the tool.” The author says “It’s an interesting, albeit convenient, response.”
Ross: Marie Haynes, one of the better writers and interesting SEOs out there, I like her content and stuff, talks about how the younger generation is searching really differently these days. They almost speak to Google like it’s a person. It’s true. It’s a good point. I see my kids doing that all the time. They ask conversationally, a question. Whereas we think in keywords. I mean, we’re still getting better results, I think, but Google is adapting to that next generation. And it’s an important point. What does that mean for SEO? That’s a whole ‘nother debate. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I guess that comes back to the question, is SEO a house of cards? You know, is this all gonna fall apart? I was talking to Scott about this, and let’s jump into it now. Well, what do you think, Scott?
Scott: SEO has definitely evolved a lot in my 20 years, and it will evolve a lot more, but there’s always going to be the need for SEO. I guess AI has its place and AI is evolving. I don’t want to say that a computer is going to steal my job someday but I guess that is a possibility. But even that, it’s still SEO, it’s something doing SEO. You need somebody to direct the AI on what you want to have done. There’s always SEO, there’s always keywords, even if you’re not optimizing for a keyword, you know, you have to have the language and the concept and the theme.
Ross: Or whatever language, it’s got to have some subjective theme.
Scott: Exactly. And if people are searching to say, like, “Google, can you order me a pizza from that place I like” and Google’s got to figure it all out from there, as opposed to me saying order a pepperoni pizza from such and such. The way you search, sure that’s going to change but that would change the way you place content on a website and the type of content you have and all things. There’s always going to be some level of hands-on work needed. I just don’t see how it could ever collapse and be unnecessary.
Ross: That was a good example he gave though, and it does actually pose some problems. I mean, if Google becomes that good at just understanding what a person wants based on their past experiences, then what makes it true is that if someone has found a particular product or company, and they buy from them, maybe more than once, the chances of a competitor showing up again, is going to be almost nil, because they’re going to go with what you’ve done before. Now, you know Google’s going to monetize it somehow so that competitors can still get in there. That’s the way they make their money. From an SEO perspective, yeah, it could get much more difficult and it’ll just mean that all your money is going to be laid on that first search. Trying to take away business from someone is gonna get a lot harder. Really, it’s just gonna be up to them making mistakes, I guess. One thing though, you mentioned was about AI and I thought this was pretty funny. I had no idea about this. It’s another article worth reading that they linked to from this. This is a quote, “The problematic effects of increased AI inference over time are easy to imagine (while I was writing this article, a Google researcher went viral claiming he’d been placed on administrative leave after notifying the company that one of its AI chatbots—powered by different technology—had become sentient, though the company disagrees).” Reading the article, it’s a little creepy. His job was to actually analyze the content coming out of this chat bot, to make sure that it wasn’t racist or biased based on the content it has, like racially biased or I forget the other one but there’s a lot of different biases that can cause problems. And he actually had this conversation with it, and it had changed his own mind about a particular opinion he had. He was just awestruck by it. He felt like he was talking to a real person. So yeah, he’s gone all out. He did get put on administrative leave before this, but because he said this, which is weird, I don’t know why. He must be very passionate about it and then he decided to go public. It’s fascinating stuff, all this AIs, I don’t think we can conceive of what it’s going to do. This is going to be a game changer when it kicks in. If something does become sentient…who knows?
Scott: You’ve always got people who have to flip burgers and deal with the fryer. I guess I can always do that. If I have to, I’ll find something to do. But I’m not holding my breath or packing my bags.
Ross: It’s a really good article, and I highly recommend people read it. I don’t agree with everything in it but that’s a sign of a good article. It’s supposed to be a mix.
Alright, let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about Twitter and a fairly big change in how it’s linking.
Welcome back to SEO101 on WMR.FM. Hosted by myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing, and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte.
Twitter removes nofollow attribute from links in tweets
Ross: What’s happened at Twitter?
Scott: Yeah, so your links count now. Can you imagine that? Twitter has removed the nofollow attribute from links found in tweets and bio links and other links. I don’t know what other links there would be. But whatever other links are there, no more nofollow on them. So Twitter added the nofollow back in 2009 to bio links, and then about a year later added them to include tweets and other sections. Last week, around June 10 or so, they removed the nofollow. That could end up being a big deal. You know, I suspect that there’s a possibility Google will still treat them as nofollow links. Even though they’re not technically nofollow. I think that’s probably what will happen. But I also have to wonder what negative repercussions this might have on Twitter, because now you’re gonna get the spammers like, “Hey, these are dofollow links now,” are we going to see this onslaught of new Twitter accounts and link spamming and all that kind of stuff for people that think maybe Google will follow the links and count them for SEO? Maybe?
Ross: There’s always gonna be a moron or two out there. But I figure ultimately, Google’s gonna make up its own mind. Some may be followed. Some of them may count as credit. But ultimately, I think they would stick with the status quo. I believe they were only taking it as a hint. We talked about that, I don’t know how many times over the years, but nofollow just seemed to be a really weird thing to add. It was them trying to push their agenda on people. “Put the nofollow on so you can prove to us that you know our rules and that you aren’t trying to manipulate us.” Do your own job and figure it out.
Scott: They really did it to try to kill monetization on websites. That’s why they did it.
Ross: They tried. I know it did damage a lot of things but anyway, it was quite a mess. I wonder what kind of research has come out already for this?
Scott: I didn’t find anything new since Barry (I think it was Barry) posted the article about it. That was about 12 days ago, I didn’t really see, I didn’t dig super deep for it but I didn’t find anything else. It kind of surprises me, though, like Google will probably continue to treat them as nofollow and there will probably be no fallout from this. But why would Twitter remove it? They had to have made a conscious decision to remove the nofollow. I wonder why. It’d be interesting to find out what their reasons were to that if they just think it doesn’t matter. Yeah, I don’t know. Seems like a strange move without any kind of reason.
Google testing new featured snippet layouts
Ross: It does. Next story here: Google’s been testing new Featured Snippet layouts. We’ve actually got two segments here on snippets. They’re really messing with stuff. These are again, just examples of work in the wild, them testing things. I don’t believe we were able to emulate any of these and make them happen for us. It’s not uncommon in Canada here. But who knows, again, the stuff is being tested. I don’t like what I see. In this case, up to four snippets are being shown in a single search result on mobile. That’s a crammed piece of poop. I don’t need to see that man. Just go with one. They were so tight, I couldn’t get the entire title. I don’t know. Just the whole thing didn’t look nice. I’m hoping that’s not something they’re gonna stick with. It’s a grid type format, two by two.
Scott: It did really look ugly. There were two there. Most of them were like you said – two by two grid, some were above each other, just like a normal result, kind of, but it’s annoying. Like in the example of Search Engine Land, the example they used was, “Can you give Allegra to dogs?” In all four of the examples of the Featured Snippets, everything’s truncated with, you know, the “…” Like the answer is truncated, the link title is truncated. It actually makes the Featured Snippet almost useless. You’ve got to click to the site, although I guess if you’re the site owner with that snippet, that’s a good thing. But if you just want to find your answer in Google and not have to click through to a website, you’re not finding it, you know, so I feel like there’s not a lot of value in it.
Ross: They should rotate. Maybe two and just rotate them on loads.
Scott: If you’ve never had the Featured Snippet and now, suddenly, you’re part of that two by two card pack or whatever you want to call it, I guess that’s good. But as a searcher from that perspective, it’s just a mess, I think.
Ross: Yeah. I mean, we’re relying on Google to give us a good suggestion. They’re actually pretty good at it, for the snippets, I find. I’m happy to take a chance on that one. I don’t want to be given multiple options. I just don’t. I do believe there’s probably use cases where it would be helpful. I can’t see them right now. Lord knows there’s a lot of searches they do there.
Google Tests Two Rows Of Brand Story Boxes Under A Snippet
Ross: What’s the next one? Brand Story boxes?
Scott: Yeah, so it doesn’t really have a name and Barry was in his post saying, “I guess I’ll call it a brand story snippet,” but it’s not really a thing. And it was for a branded search. I don’t have it in front of me. For Zara, which I feel like maybe I’ve lived under a rock. I have no idea what this company is but apparently, I should know.
Ross: Fragrances and tableware, etc.
Scott: I guess I don’t buy a lot of fragrances. That’s probably why I did not know. If you do a search on Google for Zara, you get their normal listing like you would be used to seeing. Then there are two rows of four, I guess brand story snippets where you’ve got a thumbnail, a little square image thumbnail, a title, and a tiny logo and the link with the brand. So for instance, one of them is their social link and links to their Facebook page. One is to an article on Fortune. It’s mostly news stories that are brand specific. I haven’t seen this in the wild. Barry even noted in his story that he hasn’t seen it in the wild and he’s in the States, I’m assuming, he’s in New York, isn’t he? We’re in Canada, and we haven’t really seen it. So it’s obviously something that’s in a testing phase and not fully rolled out anywhere, I don’t think. Unlike the previous Featured Snippet thing that we talked about, I think this is probably good because if you’re searching for a brand, you know, anything non brand related is kind of irrelevant to your search.
Ross: I don’t like it when titles that add a lot of context are cut off. These ones aren’t so bad in this example, like “Zara is closing more than 1000…”
Scott: What are they closing? Bathrooms? Oh, no, that’s gonna be a problem.
Ross: Then another one is their home, their Facebook Home, and another one, “Zara head designer under fire” blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it’s not horrible but these are all desktop experiences. I don’t see a mobile version.
Scott: That’s a good point. There is no mobile snippet here. So it could be really ugly on mobile.
Ross: Yeah, if even possible, it might just look like what we saw with the other snippet, the new Featured Snippet layouts before, it might just be too cluttered.
Scott: You know, this ties in a bit as well to the conversation we had with Mike Blumenthal, three or four episodes ago about images. We’re seeing eight thumbnail images here and those images have to come from somewhere. And it all comes down to your image optimization and your open graph tags and your structured markup. It reinforces the importance of having good imagery on your website, because if you want it to be chosen as one of these, if you’re one of these news sites, and you don’t have a featured image associated with that article, you might not get the spot, but that might be the make it or break it to getting extra exposure with brand related stuff. If you’re producing content that is related to other brands.
Ross: And creating multiple versions of a particular image for social sharing is important and a pain in the arse. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. But it’s a necessary evil, especially if you’ve got any kind of news based site or e-commerce site where you know content will be shared. Keep that in mind. There might be some trial and error as these things are just being rolled out, or in this case tested, not officially rolled out. But the ones we saw looked like the images were fairly well scaled and cropped. I’ve seen some pretty horrifying crops and scales up before. One of the ones I saw one day was it cropped down to someone’s junk. I don’t need to see that. I bet the owner of that was pretty embarrassed.
Scott: That sentient AI is really trying to play tricks on us.
Hyphens Still Recommended Over Underscores In URLs For SEO
Ross: This next bit had me laughing, you put it down here but hyphens. Okay. So when you’re doing SEO and you’ve set up, let’s say you’re using WordPress or something, you can set up a permalink structure. In other words, you can specify how when new pages are added, this is how the address or the URL will look. You can put underscores or hyphens between words, if you want the words to show up. Well, in classic Google fashion, Matt Cutts told us to use hyphens back in 2007. In 2016, John Mueller said that underscores versus dashes just do not matter. Now, in 2022, Gary Illyes says to use hyphens.
Scott: What do I do?
Ross: Yeah, I’ve never liked underscores simply because in a URL when URLs are naturally underlined, the blue links you see. If you have an underscore, the underscore disappears, you just see a gap. It’s like a space instead of a character showing up, and that looks awful. That’s mainly why I stick with hyphens. Stick with hyphens. I don’t see a reason why it’s a big deal.
Scott: It’s funny how this topic gets brought up every now and then. And here we are bringing it up, but I didn’t start it. I think one of the first SEO things, like the day you hired me, I learned two things that day, how to file a paper version of a contract, and to not use underscores, like those are the two things. And, man, I can do a mean filing job. Do you even print contracts out anymore? Probably not.
Scott: We don’t even have paper anymore. Don’t use underscores and you don’t see it a lot but every now and then, I still come across clients where they’re using underscores or spaces. They’re both terrible. Use hyphens. Google’s flip flopped on it a little bit here, but they’re back to hyphens. So don’t use underscores ever.
Ross: I’m sure if you went back to the time when we heard about this, we were chuckling about it too, saying that “stick with hyphens.” I mean, just how things are.
Google adds LGBTQ+ owned attribute to business profiles
Ross: Local SEO. This is just a little note here, but Google has added…so in Google Business Profile, if you’ve got a local business, and you’ve signed up and you’ve created your Google Business Profile, which you should, there are certain classifications or attributes in this case, that you can add to your profile. One might be ‘wheelchair accessible,’ or ‘bathroom on site,’ or whatever. But one of the new ones they just added is ‘LGBTQ.’ The idea here is that if someone has this on there, maybe that’s more appealing to a specific type of searcher. I think it’s great, have it there. What I don’t like is when they use the attribute to enforce a negative. Someone goes around and starts adding an attribute to people’s profiles saying ‘not LGBTQ.’ It’s like, what are you trying to say? That’s the reverse. Also I get ones, ‘not women run.’ That’s one someone kept adding to mine. I’m like, why does that matter? Put in ‘women run’ if it is women run, but why ‘not.’ Anyway, it just annoys me. It’s a bit of a wild west out there. I’m not sure if they’re allowing that anymore. It’s good to see though. I think this is a great addition.
Ross: One local SEO news point, whoo.
Scott: Hey, it’s more than last week.
Ross: And you, you were the king here. You talked to John!
Scott: I’m the Mueller file this week. So basically, I wanted some reassurance that I was correct about something and sometimes it’s just nice to reach out to somebody who can (but although based on the hyphen thing, I don’t know if I trust John as much anymore.) But we have a client and we found that a bunch of…this is a newer client, it’s not like I have missed this for years on end, a bunch of their inbound links were pointing to non-secure non-www version of their homepage, and then being 301 redirected as they should be. And my request to the client is that they work on getting these links changed so that they skip the redirect. I kind of wanted some reassurance on how important this is. And so I went to Twitter, like so many people do, and I asked John, not expecting a response. I said, “Is full credit given to inbound links that travel through a 301 redirect? Example: http://site.com links to http://here.com but that 301 redirects to https://www.here.com. How important is it to fix those source links?” I know it’s important, but this is what John’s response was, he basically confirmed my thoughts. And he said, “I wouldn’t see it as “full credit or not”, but rather – as mentioned in our docs – it’s a good practice for any move to update the important old links to point at the right new pages.” So it’s nice, he verified what I wanted. So when I go to the client, and say, “I want you to do this, but also John Mueller also wants you to do this,” maybe the client will be more likely to do it. The main reason I wanted reassurance in this case is this particular client of ours has a lot of very good links, like very, very good, good, good links that are pointing to the wrong version. It’s not just random people blogging about the witch, not that that’s bad. There’s some high power links that we want to get changed. So I wanted to back it up more than just like ‘I say, do it.’ I wanted someone else to say that as well. So there you go. If you’ve got inbound links from high quality sources that are then redirected, either put content there or get those links changed if you can.
Ross: Yeah, and if you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t stress out. It is being passed along, it just loses a little bit here and there in terms of that authority. So it’s always ideal to have no redirects.
Questions from listeners
Ross: Okay, a couple of questions, a little longer show today, but I want to get to them this time. So we have one from Engravd. It’s a business and it says, “If a highly regarded website links multiple times to your website, is there a number of inbound links that are too many from one domain? Meaning will it be damaging to your website page rankings if you get to make inbounds even if it’s a good site?”
My quick answer is that I try to think about it as per domain. So if I get 100 links from one particular website, unless it’s something absolutely astronomical, like if I got 100 links from Forbes, yeah, those are great. Those are going to be super valuable. From an average website, though, pick the best page, the one with the most authority, and I bet you that’s the only one it’s really going to be giving you much benefit. What are your thoughts, Scott?
Scott: I totally agree with that. I don’t think there’s necessarily a bad thing with getting too many links from a site. You know, if you’re getting a site wide link from somebody naturally, you’re not paying for it and you’re getting maybe even millions of links from one website, I don’t think you’re getting extra value out of that. I don’t think it’s something to be super excited about. But I don’t think you’re gonna be harmed by that, unless of course it says ‘sponsored link’ and it’s obviously a paid link and you’re trying to do some gray hat SEO type stuff, I think you’re fine. But generally, you know, one or two links, as long as the content is quality is really all you need.
Ross: There was a time when people would give crap to website design companies for putting a link to their website in the bottom footer of every single page in all of their clients’ sites, because there was a perception that that was a way of link scamming. They were trying to get backlinks and it was driving up rankings. Well, the fact was, at that time, it did help. So it did look bad, but it doesn’t help any more. I mean, it’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t say it doesn’t help at all but I would say that Google is smart enough to now see the difference, and disqualify the value of some of those links on its own recognizance. Anyway, it’s just plain smarter and I don’t worry about that stuff anymore.
Scott: I would say too, though, if you are getting extra links from a website, there are situations where having more than one link would be helpful. Like, let’s say, Forbes is a great example, if you’ve got a really high power site linking to, and they write an article about a certain service you offer or product you sell. And then later on, they write another article about a different service or different product. You end up getting multiple links pointing to different products and service offerings from different pages or articles or whatever, from these authority sites. There’s still value in that. So if you have one link from one article in Forbes, I don’t know that I would say, ‘give up and don’t try to get others because others could still be’…So I wouldn’t stop at one, if you have opportunities to get more, but I wouldn’t push for site wide links and a sidebar or something because I don’t think there’s any value in that. I think they’ve got to be contextual. And you know, inline links, as we would say, to really have any kind of good value.
Ross: Also consider, remember the golden rule, it is not about search. I mean, hopefully you’re on a website that actually has traffic and the people are reading the article and come and check you out and like what you’re doing and hire you or buy your product or whatever it might be. So getting those extra links, or in this case, writing for an online magazine or being written about, it’s all good press man, unless it’s bad press.
Next question is from Jeremy Ginsberg. He says “I know what Google’s stance on AI generated content is, but I’m curious to know what others in the group think about it.” I didn’t get a chance to look at some of the comments. But I thought it was interesting to add. I mean, we’ve kind of talked about AI generated content today, but not really our opinion on it. What’s your first thought there, Scott? I’ve got a couple ideas.
Scott: I’m not against it by any stretch, if you can get AI generated content, providing you proofread it before just dumping it on your website. And you make sure it’s well written and it applies and it’s relevant. I mean, I know Google doesn’t necessarily like it, but I don’t really see why not. As long as it is good and relevant, and not just filler fluff. I would be okay with it. It just seems economically sensible if you’re able to generate that content.
Ross: Whether or not that’s something that’s naturally going to happen right now. You know, the jury’s out. There’s a lot of issues with AI generated content, still. I’ve seen examples where it’s great. Well, pretty good anyway. But that’s definitely not the norm in my experience. So my stance is that it may have its place soon. Well, it will have its place soon and already is being used. But I mean, in terms of quality and something people want to see. It may have its place soon. It’s just that I question its value. If it’s not being written by a person, what’s the purpose of it? Is it just to add more content to a site? Or is it actually there to add value? And at that point, is that better done by a person at this stage? It’s an interesting concept, the whole thing. When I’ve seen it done, right, I’d be actually quite happy to have it on my website. I think FAQs, all that kind of stuff. I think it’d be great. You know, some of this filler stuff that we have to have on our website that’s typically tedious to do. It’d be fantastic if we could get AI to write this stuff for us or keep note of the questions that come into our email, and then add the new question automatically to our website or whatever. This sort of stuff would be really cool and I can see a lot of usages for it. But the jury’s still out on just how worthwhile it is. When you can still do much better yourself.
Scott: I had noted, you have AI generate the content, then you go back in and fix it. But there might be the flip side of that is you create content, and then give it to the AI and say, “Make this better” because not everybody’s a writer. I can write reasonably well, but I’m not the best. If I could create a blog post, or whatever, several paragraphs of maybe a few 1000 words piece of content, and I get it to a point where I think it’s really good, and then have an AI fix it and just tweak it and improve it, you know you’re gonna get the content that you want, but your grammar and maybe your reading level, and maybe you need to bring the reading level down or up or something, you know, and AI can help you fix it, improve it, but not fully create it. I think that maybe there’s a place there.
Ross: Yeah, and we’re taking the leap here thinking and talking about content in the form of articles and blog posts. There are different types of AI content. One of my coaches, she actually uses a tool that kind of blew my mind, and it blew her mind. She’s using it all the time now. She puts in essentially what she wants to say from a marketing standpoint and it comes out with advertising texts that she says are as good as what I could write. And it’s done. She just copies and pastes. I saw her do it, she ran it through me, I was kind of disbelieving it. I gotta say it was good. Amazing. It actually gets to know how you write. So it speaks almost as though it’s in your voice. It’s a little creepy. Oh well, it works.
Scott: You know, another really good example. I learned about this website, actually through SMX Advanced last year, and I just got reminded of it. The website is this-person-does-not-exist.com and it generates a photo of a person, like a headshot. But it’s not a real person. It’s just totally made up by AI. If you go there, I can’t tell the difference. I would never know it’s not hard.
Ross: Sometimes, it doesn’t do so well, and you can but I remember that there were some that were difficult.
Scott: But that might be great, because rather than going to, because that’s AI generated content, and rather than going to iStockphoto, I don’t know how you can use these photos legally that are auto generated. But having that type of tool, you could get photos of people for your website, which are often tough to get if you don’t have people to take pictures of. There might be a place for that type of content just as graphical support on your site.
Ross: There’s actually an example connected to that article. The open secret of Google search – there’s a connected article about AI. That guy who is saying it, he found that this chatbot had become sentient. Anyway, one of Google’s current efforts, which I have seen the results, it can actually create images based on the keywords. They’re amazing. It’s stunning. So that’s a really good use case for stock photography. In this case, they can literally generate that image and it’s mind blowing. You put ‘duck dancing,’ and it’ll do a duck dancing. Like however you imagined it. It may not be exactly it, but it’ll do what it thinks is a duck dancing. It’s astonishing how quickly it can do it and how well it does. Amazing. Anyway, we could talk about AI for days and days. There’s so much going on with it. I’m fascinated by it. I could never keep up on it actually, there’s just too much.
So on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Thank you for joining us today. Remember, we have a show notes newsletter you can sign up for at SEO101radio.com Don’t miss a single link and refresh your memory of a past show at any time. Have a great week and remember to tune in to future episodes which air twice a month on WMR.FM.
Scott: Thanks and in an effort to sound less grumpy, thank you for listening everybody and just know that we do appreciate you.