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“Google is at War with Affiliate Marketers” Mordy Oberstein’s Key Insights to Win at SEO



"Google is at War with Affiliate Marketers" Mordy Oberstein's Key Insights to Win at SEO

Is Google at war with affiliate marketers?

Head of SEO Branding at Wix and SEO Consultant for Semrush, Mordy Oberstein, joins the podcast today to share his high-level perspective and valuable insights to help you mitigate risk and save your rankings.

In the last 12 months, there have been core updates, review updates, and spam updates. And he believes it’s important to look to data for patterns to better understand the SEO ecosystem.

In his roles, he has access to huge swathes of data, and to help site owners succeed, he has a vested interest in unpacking what Google seems to value in the content it rewards.

Here are just a few examples of important recommendations he shares in the interview:

  • Read the content of competitors who outrank you after an update to understand what replaced you.
  • Use the brand sniff test to determine if your content is of high quality.
  • Use internal linking and semantic understanding to build topical authority.
  • Hire a content marketing agency if needed to help translate your expertise into digestible content because readability is important for user experience.

He also discusses the continuing rise of AI-written content that is largely generic using similar language structures. And how adding real human experiences is key to providing unique insights and quality content.

He even offers a great example people can use in product reviews to accomplish this.

But Mordy says quality is a domain-level analysis, not just at the page level. And so, to improve domain-level quality scores, it is important to focus on technical health, content, and user experience.

Predicting and understanding user needs is crucial.

He believes quality content means targeting the audience and offering the right amount of nuance to predict their needs.

And while links are a secondary signal, they may become less important as Google gets better at understanding content, with relevance and domain quality playing a more significant role in ranking in a scenario where content is generic across the web.

He does believe that leveraging AI can help automate tasks that were not possible before though.

AI can be used for research, understanding topics, organizing information, rewriting content, and automating tasks like writing headers and product descriptions. However, users have become more skeptical of web content due to issues such as data privacy and fake reviews. As a result, the bar for acceptable content has risen, and web content creators need to up their game.

So if you’re a site owner or online content creator, you’ll definitely want to check out the full interview and take lots of notes!

Topics Mordy Oberstein Covers

  • How he got into SEO
  • Data insights
  • SERP volatility
  • Adapting to updates
  • Analyzing what Google wants
  • How to improve content
  • Importance of domain-level quality
  • Unpacking ‘helpful content’
  • Citing sources
  • Understanding your user’s needs
  • Micro-intent
  • Human experience insights
  • Tips for sounding human
  • Importance of links in the age of AI
  • NLP
  • Recommended applications of AI
  • How web content is evolving
  • And more!

Links & Resources

Watch The Interview


Jared: All right. All right. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Baen, and today I’m joined by Morty Stein. Morty, welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. Yeah, great to have you on board. So just to give you, make sure I introduce you and your, your title and, and what you’re here with.

You’re the head of SEO branding at Wicks. You’ve been there for a while. You’re also, you’re the host of a podcast, so that kind of puts me in the hot seat here a bit. I gotta make sure I’m on my A game. You host the the CRPS Up podcast, and that’s crp spelled like an s e o would spell it. S e r p. Man, I’m really excited to have you on board today.

Mordy: Yeah, I’m excited to be here. Let’s do 

Jared: this. Great. So, I mean, obviously we got a lot of stuff to talk about in terms of what Google’s doing, s e o, how it relates, what you see at the scale you see it at, give us some background if you can, though, before we dive in, catch us up to who you are as a person to your background and, and, and what you’re doing 

Mordy: today.

So I’m a big baseball nut. I also happen to do SEO on the side when I’m not talking about baseball. Okay. Well, I’ll 

Jared: work all my baseball references in that I can. Perfect. 

Mordy: It’ll be a real home run. Sorry, I I apologize for that. You’re good. I started off, well, I, it’s took my third career already. I started off, I, how I got into seo.

I was a teacher at one point in Baltimore City and I ended up working for a. Educational software company writing educational pedagogical materials for them. I have a very strong writing background and at one point they said, Hey, could you write our online content? You weren’t the only native English speakers in the company, could you?

I’m like, I could write anything. And they said, great. Can you get organic traffic? I’m like, yes. If I knew what it was. And, and that’s how I got into seo. One thing led to another and I started working for a company called Rank Ranger as their content manager. They’re an seo rank tracking tool. Eventually, I, I, I worked, I’ve worked at Sim Rush before as the head of communications.

I’m now at, at wics. I’m doing a lot of brand marketing around positioning the, the platform for seo. So I’m basically an SEO nerd 

Jared: by all accounts. I mean, that’s quite a, quite the resume for someone who didn’t start with really an SEO background, then to be at Sim Rush and at Wicks. And, I mean, I know the platform you guys are building out from a learning standpoint over at Wix is.

Very impressive. Yeah, thank you. Reminds me of the early Moz days, to be honest with you. Yes, thank you. You know, it has, it has a very moss like feel to the learning center, which I took full advantage of when I was learning seo. Yeah, yeah, yeah, same. So anyways, you’re doing some really impressive stuff.

Mordy: Thank you. I try, 

Jared: I so, I mean, let’s set the stage here like this cuz we’re gonna dance around a bunch of trending topics right now and. I don’t think these topics are going to age out quickly, so I think that whatever this comes up in your feed, it’s gonna add value, but they are the topics. Dejour, I mean, maybe before we dive into that, give us some insight into the visibility that you have in the space.

You know, so people can kind of understand the, the value your perspectives is gonna have. I mean, At wics, what kind of website volume are you seeing? And, and, and just I, I’d like to get a little bit more behind that before we dive in. Okay. 

Mordy: So on the particular topics that we’re talking about today. So one of the great things that working at multiple SEO platforms is a huge amount of data.

So ring tracking tools SEO tools, they track websites, they scrape the web for a lack of a better way of putting it. And they have an enormous amount of data. And one of the interesting things you can do with such data is sort of track ring volatility. Which is why these platforms generally have some kind of rank volatility, we call them weather tools.

There’s a summer sensor, for example. It’ll tell you, you know, when there’s more volatility, less volatility, that kind of thing. And one of the great things that I can do is dive into what’s actually happening. The, at the, you know, the web level. I hate putting it that way because even the biggest SEO tool, it’s a very, very small fraction of what the web actually is.

But you got a, a flavor or a taste of what’s happening. Across the web, you can dive into different verticals. I love particularly diving into websites and what’s happening with, with their traffic. I still consult for so much. So I have a a special secret sauce behind the scenes dashboard where I get the track.

A lot of these things. So if you’ll notice, like if if Barry Schwartz, for example, is writing a, a post about what happened, the last update and the level of volatility, the whole quote, data from Sun Rush, that’s, that’s me writing that, that summary for Barry sending him over the data. So we can talk about what’s happening, shared with the industry.

So I guess that’s my, my qualifications for, for doing this. That’s my license, I guess. 

Jared: Well, we don’t, since we don’t really have licenses in this industry, I’d say that’s a pretty darn good license. I mean the, the Samra sensor is a great segue because it, it, like you said, I mean, it, it tracks the volatility or the change in the rankings, and that’s oftentimes, Not only a precursor for updates that are getting released or non announced updates, right?

Because there’s, there’s just, cuz Google doesn’t announce it, doesn’t mean they’re not constantly tweaking their algorithm. And then obviously inside of an update, we often get a lot of. What, what are called tremors or Yeah. You know large scale shifts during an update. Should a, like, just a very high level question.

If I own a website and let’s call me a content producer or an affiliate market or something, how closely do you think I should be paying attention to? Cerp volatility daily fluctuations in rankings, like weigh in on where I need to be involved in this and where I don’t, especially with the volatility nowadays with Google.

Mordy: It depends. It depends on what you’re gonna do with the data. I’ll say like there’s no harm in in looking at it, you know, every couple of days kind of thing. I don’t think you look at it daily. If there’s an actual update that you know is going on, so maybe like getting a sense of what’s happening each day.

Maybe there’s a benefit to that, but every couple of days, whatever it is, I think there’s value if you use it as getting a general understanding of what the ecosystem is. And I, I talk about this a lot where the, the ERP or Google or even being on the other surf, the surgeon is they’re ecosystems, they’re living, breathing dynamics.

And it’s really important to understand like what are those dynamics? If you’re noticing, hey, What are, you know, there’s a lot of small volatility going on right now. I remember looking a couple of months ago, like looking at a bunch of websites, and you could see in the, in the long term rankings, you know, their, their average rankings, just levels of, of, you know, ups and downs every once in a while.

And they’re like, you know, May, 2021 and making up the month, I remember the time. All of a sudden, a certain time period hits, you know, it’s March, 2022 and there’s like fluctuations. You see it in the site’s rankings every day. That’s important to know because if you start seeing, there’s a lot of like, you know, let’s say you’re looking at it monthly, like, oh, we lost rankings.

Oh no, what happened? Well, yeah, you lost rankings because the report compares the the, the first day of last month to the first day of this month, and you’re happy to catch it on a downswing, but if you wait until tomorrow, it’ll be just fine. So it’s important to understand like what’s happening in the ecosystem so that you understand how to interpret data.

It’s also really important to understand in terms of what you can expect outta rankings, how they’re going to behave, what Google’s perhaps looking for on how to predict certain things. So I, I know for a particular website, and it does, I, there are my opinion, there are websites that get stuck in certain patterns for whatever reason.

And I know with this particular website, if I start seeing really sharp, like, you know, major losses, major gains back and forth for a couple of days in a row, there’s probably a bigger update coming soon after. And I’ve seen it a few times with this website. It’s a little bit anecdotal, but it’s my, my personal take on it.

And they’re like, okay, if I see that happening, don’t freak out. There’s an update, it’s gonna hit, let’s see what happens. And even if it does hit. Like I was working on a, with a site, it got, I must say, clobbered, but it lost some important rankings during the, the the March 20, 23 core update. Mm-hmm. I’m like, oh no, it’s so annoying.

Why this page is great. That page is great. The site’s great. What’s going on here? But you have to give it time because actually with the recent April, 2023 reviews update, even though it’s got nothing to do, With reviews at all. They’re not even on the same, the same CRPS as websites that talk about reviews.

It saw restoration. And Glen Gabe has a great article about this, that sometimes these sort of, these, these algorithms sort of get locked in together and, and they, and piggyback is a bad word, but they sort of get like interweaved and interwoven. So you have to give it time. It’s worthwhile to track.

But be patient with it. Like understand the ecosystem, but don’t react just because you see certain data or certain patterns happening. 

Jared: I retweeted that exact article from Glen Gabe. Nice. And it’s the perfect segue because man, you hit the nail in the head like I want to ask you and just cut to the chase here.

So we’re, we’re recording this in May of 2023, and I can look down my my piece of paper here. In the last 12 months, we’ve had core updates, which are typically released two, three times a year. We’ve had review updates, which used to be called the product review updates, and now have been expanding and evolving.

You touched on the fact that review updates no longer, definitely no longer just impact review URLs. They’ve expanded that. We have the spam update. We had a singular, or maybe there’s been two helpful content updates. Yeah. And yeah, I’m probably missing a couple other classifiers of updates. But really we’ve, we’ve got so many types of updates now, and even inside of them, it’s very difficult to understand now you have access to a lot of data and a lot of reporting.

So how does somebody. Interpret the ups and the downs of that and use that to fuel changes to their website. Broad question. I know, but if I’m in the washing machine of updates and yet starting to, trying to stay on track with my publishing schedule, my topical silos, my back, you know, my, my back links, my, my media mentions all this stuff.

How do I, how do I stay on board with all the updates while also staying on track? 

Mordy: Yeah, it’s a really, really, really good question. And this goes back to again, understanding what’s happening in the ecosystem. For example, the helpful of content updates, a great example of this. There’ve been two updates to that update, but it actually is an update that works in, in real time.

It’s, it’s always present and it’s always looking at websites. And then once you pass a certain threshold, either of going back into the quality side of things or the, or if you go on the other side where the dark side of not being quality, you could be impacted by it. And that’s why really we’re understanding the ecosystem comes in.

Like, for example, I’m trying to think, I think it was in LA was in 2022. So I wrote so much the state of the search report. And one of the things we actually looked at was how powerful were the core updates over time. And if you look from the Google start running, this series of core updates we’re in core updates forever.

But what we call now the modern era of core updates since 2018, less and less and less and less powerful until actually the, in the most recent version that Marcus Tober wrote. Which you got. It was just released, I think, I think today or yesterday when, when we’re recording this, that the March, 2023 core update was way bigger than the more recent ones over the last two years.

So that’s an interesting question why that’s happening, but understanding the ecosystem that the core updates might not be as impactful, and that what we’re looking at is more of like a real time kind of algorithm where things are constantly changing. That’s important to understand because you’re going to see constant vis volatility in a, in a lot, in a lot of, for, for particular keywords or particular websites or particular URLs, whatever it is.

And what you, I think what you need to do is realize when a pattern is locked in and when it’s not locked in. And once you can determine whether or not the ranking trajectory is locked in, this is how Google’s now relating to this website, which by the way, can take months. You can take a good month or a month and a half, even two months to really, really see what’s happening, depending upon, again, what’s happening out there in the, in the ether, like again, I just mentioned we had a, a March core update.

Then April review, update. In that kind of ecosystem, you’re talking about a two month period where you can not, it might, you might not really be able to see what’s exactly locked in, what’s not locked in, but let’s assuming you’ve able to determine, okay, this is a new way Google’s ranking this page for this keyword.

Now what And what I like to do, if you can, this is my personal, everyone’s got a different flavor of doing this, is seeing what replaced me. Yeah. Yeah. What did Google now put there and what’s different? Is it an intent issue? Like if it’s, say it’s a it’s a query like buy a new laptop and I have re I’m an affiliate site and I have review pages, like reviewing all these laptops, do Google replace me with product pages?

Perhaps there’s an intent shift, right? Google’s like, ah, no one wants to know about reviewing the product. They just wanna buy the product. So you’re out. That’s an obviously a difficult scenario. Unlikely in that, for that particular keyword, by the way. Or perhaps like, there’s different content out there.

The, the, the way that you’re an affiliate you’re doing a, you know, product review of laptops and another review page outranks you now, or multiple review pages now outran you, whatever it is. And that’s why it’s really important to keep track of your competitors. You can see, okay, these guys were ranking, you know, number 20 and now they’re ranking number two, and now I’m ranking number 20.

What happened? So, so once you understand like, wh what, which competitors are now ranking, one of the things that I think that SEOs tend not to do is they’ll go look at the pages. They’ll, they’ll look at like the title tag, the headers, the, the links, the internal linking, all that, all that good stuff. But you actually have to read the content and you have to like read what’s actually on the page.

And this goes back to what I saw during the 20 the February, 2023 product review update or to post for surgeon and journal about this. And again, when it, when it comes to algorithm updates, one of my points is that look for consensus. If Glen Gabe is hawking about something and Lilly racing sing the same thing, and Marie Hane is saying the same thing, EDIA saying the same thing, you know, that’s, that’s probably what’s going on.

Because each one of us is like a very, very small sliver of a sliver of a sliver of what’s actually happening in, in the algorithm. But one of the things that I saw, and I think other people saw this in similar things, was Google’s gotten better at being able to pick up actual experience. Meaning if you actually use, in this case, you actually use the product.

And they’re better able to understand language profiles, like first person I, we, they, and not just that like it’s op, that’s like an easy one to fake. But then in combined with the language structure of being able to think and realize, wait a second, this page has a greater, greater likelihood of actually being written by somebody who actually used the product versus somebody who didn’t use the product.

So if you go through and you see the content that’s ranking better, Really kind of reflects something like that where the content is just different. There’s a, a different level of quality to the product, meaning the product in this case, meaning the content itself, not the product and the product review.

You, you probably want to do that, like Google has said, and I know ESCOs have debated this, and is the core updates, is it about tech seo? Is it about links, is it about this, is it about that? And I’m not saying it can’t be those things. I, I’ve quoted Glen, I’ll quote Glen Gay for the third time, fourth time today.

Throw the kitchen sink at it. You never know what’s gonna move the needle. But Google’s guidance has said that these updates are about content. It’s about content and quality of content. So I suggest you look at the quality of content. And my, my litmus test for this is think like a brand marketer, as somebody who also does brand marketing and loves brand marketing.

You ever go to a webpage and, and in three seconds flat, you know that this is crap. You just looked at it, you read a couple of lines. It’s crap. If that’s how you feel about your own content, that’s probably how the surgeon feels. So give it the brand sniff test. If the tone is right, if the level of depth is right, if it comes off as there’s something good about this page, something intangible, then you’re probably on the right track.

If you feel like, eh, you know what? Let’s be honest, probably not. This feels like an affiliate page and it feels like I’m just driving the affiliate sale here without a offering actual value. Then that’s probably how Google’s interpreting you. Let’s 

Jared: talk to the person out there who is reviewing products and actually, you know, getting them in their hands and reviewing them, or actually hiking the trail that they’re reviewing or actually going to that hotel in Lisbon Portugal and reviewing it, right?

But they’re not ranking well or they’re getting hit in these updates. These people, by all intents and purposes, They’re like, I have the E in experience, but it’s not translating. Mm-hmm. What are some things that these people can look to improve upon in order to rank better when they actually are checking the experience box?

So I’ll say 

Mordy: two things in this case. One is like there is SEO stuff you, you have to do. For example, interlinking. Creating a, creating, and I say interlinking, I don’t mean just like, okay. Yeah, it’s like checkbox interlinking, but you’re trying to do is create semantic understanding. Like you want Google to understand for this topic, I’m relevant.

So imagine you had a, a website that was, I don’t know, you sell tickets like the, you know, events and you’re writing a blog post about reviewing microwaves. You might have the best content about reviewing microwaves on the planet. But it’s out of context. Mm-hmm. And the overall user experience, where you want to go to the next page is the user could be like, confused, Google, why the hell am I here?

This website is selling me tickets to Guns and Roses. It doesn’t really tell me about microwaves outside of this one page. So that sort of semantic understanding of, of what this website is that is topically relevant, interlinking, creating clusters, all that good stuff is really important. So that’s one.

The second thing is you might have great experience in whatever it is. You just might be a really terrible communicator of that. Fair enough. Which is also a possibility, right? Which is where writers get paid to write. So one thing you might want to do if you’re just like a terrible writer, which which happens, is you could hire a content marketing agency to take your expertise and to be able to translate that in a way that’s digestible, usable, and communicable.

Which, you know, I think is the right way to use a content expert as opposed to saying, Hey, content expert. I know you’re in Nebraska. You know nothing about hiking you and Tibet. But could you write an article about hiking in the Himalayas? That’s I think, how we, sometimes we think about content marketers where the real way I think of using content marketers, I have the expertise.

I don’t have the time or the resource or the ability to translate that into actual content. Help me. So that might be a good time to go to an SEO or a content writer to help you. 

Jared: Yeah. I remember one of the first websites I worked on was a tech site, and it was clear that the person who was writing it.

Was definitely an expert in, like, like you said, like laptops and various graphic cards and all these things. And it, but, but the readability was atrocious. It was just a wall of text. Yeah. Yes. You know, long, long paragraphs. Heaven forbid you loaded on mobile. I mean, you wouldn’t even see the bottom of the paragraph.

You know and so a lot of these. You know, things were, even, even in that case, the writing wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t readable. Like you just walked, you just approached it and you’re like, I can’t, I can’t handle this, and you’re gonna 

Mordy: bounce. It’s so on target. So on target, I, I feel that a million percent, it’s like when you have a professor in college or whatever, and I’m, I’m sure they’re brilliant, but like they’re the worst teacher on the planet.

Jared: I had, same thing. I had many just on a webpage. 

Mordy: Yeah. Yeah. That’s basically my entire educational experience. 

Jared: I went to one of those colleges. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Okay. So those are some really good points, and I, I hope everybody listening hears that, you know, there’s the experience factor, and you’re saying that’s becoming more and more important.

Google’s more and more dialed into that. But then there’s also, you might have the experience, but you still could fail with a lot of the SEO side of things or with the just. Branding readability we’ll call ’em ethereal aspects of the, the 

Mordy: content itself. Yeah. I think usability is a major, major part of seo.

Google recently had his whole snafu with the page experience update. They took it off of its page where they have ranking system. It’s that a ranking system messages like, oh, It’s not a real thing anymore. And Google’s like, no, we’re still a ranking signal. Just they’re separate. They’re not part of the same system.

They’re all different signals from different parts of the algorithm, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But as part of this whole scenario, Google updated the guidance on the helpful content update to talk about page experience. And you would think, okay, call rev vitals, blah, blah, blah. And that is there. But when it talked about page experience, it also said, how easy is it to access the main content of the page?

So what Google’s defining as page experience is really in my mind, usability. How usable is this page? So imagine you have two webpages. They have basically the same content. They could, let’s imagine a crazy scenario where they both have the exact same content. You went to whatever AI tool and it spun out the exact same content.

Don’t do that, just scenario. And what one, one author decided, you know what I’m gonna reformat, I’ll make a bullet points, I’ll put some headers in. And the other author said It’s the same content, but it’s not gonna format it at all. Hmm. Which page should rank the first? Yeah. Right. So usability is, is part of the equation.

So again, like you may have that great experience, you may have the great content if it’s not usable. I think Google’s looking 

Jared: at that. Let’s talk about the idea, and you referenced it a bit earlier. Let’s talk about the idea of your website. Having almost like a quality score. And I, I don’t want to get into, you know, whether Google scored websites and like, you know, what’s your da?

Yeah, exactly. We can get into the DA and the DR and the Yeah. The idea of page, page rank from any year. I, I’m really just talking in general about, One. One side of it says if a page drops, you go, you evaluate that page. You look at that page for what it’s worth. You evaluate it up against the competitors and all the things you’ve talked about.

There’s another argument that’s emerging that talks about Google looking at an entire site, and that when it’s very clear, we see like there are oftentimes in core updates or other updates where, yeah, it’s not on a page level, like no domain website. Boom. 80% of the content just dropped. Is that a, is that Google really working on this website as a whole?

And then how do I, it’s one thing to improve a page. How do I improve my website’s quality score, air, air quotes for those listening on the 

Mordy: podcast. So you’re, you’re, you’re like, you’re hitting a pain point. So I felt like, you know, gun Gabe and I go back and forth in our dms, like, we can’t believe it’s like still a question because SEO’s like, oh, it’s all at the page level.

It’s all at the page level. Before I get into what Google’s actually said, like let’s stop and like analyze the logic of that. I go to a website. Now Google’s job is to get me to a quality result, but what they really want to do, let’s put into a business perspective, they want me to have a quality experience that when I decide to go to a search engine, again, I don’t go to Bing.

So that eventually I’ll hit a scenario where there’s a query while I’ll click an ad. Like that’s, that’s what fundamentally they want to happen. Mm-hmm. If they send me to a website where one page is great, and then the next page that I click on, I get, we talk about bounce rate. I gotta, you don’t want me to bounce, you want me to go to the next page?

Well, that next page is absolute crap. Is that, does that qualify as a good experience? That’s gonna get me to go back to Google to do another search, to eventually click an ad? No. So, logically speaking, Google needs to be concerned about the website at at, at the domain level. When it comes to quality.

Mm-hmm. It’s just a very logical point. Google said that, they said this repeatedly, and I don’t know why SEOs don’t believe them. It’s in the guidance on the helpful content update. And Google said this in other places as well. Quality is a domain level analysis because of what I just said. 

Jared: So I heard somebody from Google at, I believe it was Pubcon this past year, say that it’s very difficult for a website to recover when the helpful content classifier of poor quality gets placed on them.

Matter of fact, I believe I’m not overstretching in that. That person from Google said you might never recover or fully recover. Once that class, I believe. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was Gary. Yeah, it was Gary. So Gary Eels, and I don’t wanna, I should have pulled it up. I didn’t know we were gonna kind of go this route on the podcast.

I should’ve pulled up the exact quote, but we talked about it in a, in a, in a past podcast, so I remember it. But what are, who is that being the scene setter? What are the things we can do to improve domain level quality scores in terms of recovering from 

Mordy: an update? It’s so funny cuz I’m gonna, I’m not trying to plug my, like, my podcast here, but Crystal Carter and Right.

Crystal’s the head of communication, SEO communications at wic. So we’re like the, the SEO team handling the our, our podcast. Mm-hmm. We were just talking about doing an episode. Don’t steal this idea. We didn’t do it yet. 

Jared: Okay. Don’t worry. What this, this podcast won’t come out for a while, so you’ll probably be able to sneak it out Perfect.

Or the one even hits the airwaves. Perfect. 

Mordy: Okay. I was really worried for a second. What is helpful content? And it’s such a broad question. I don’t wanna, you know, it’s a whole, it’s a whole topic into itself, but, and I’ll, I’ll quote Crystal on this. It’s not just content, it’s also the technical health of the website.

Right. So if you, what, for example, if Google, if Google said they keep getting 500 errors, they’re not gonna keep going back. Right? Right. If there’s, if there’s, you know, Broken links all over the, it’s just a bad experience for the user. From a technical point of view, it’s painfully slow. I’m not even talking about passing core.

It’s just like there’s seals, things are shifting all over the place. You can’t even click on a damn button. All of that represents the website and the quality of the website. Right. Then obviously there’s having all of your ducks in all, there’s all texts on images, all of the things. And then there’s the, there’s the content itself and the experience itself, right?

Is the, does the site structure make sense? Is there logical connections? Can I move from one page to the next page? Well, like if, is there interlinking makes sense? Are there, I would even say, are there links, external links? Because I look at links very differently than most people. I look at ’em as like citation, right?

If I’m, imagine I was writing a doctorate thesis, going back to college again, a bibliography. If I’m gonna, I have to source. And or I use to look at it pedagogically as a former teacher, if I want the, my, my student who’s reading this content to understand the concept that I’m talking about, but I can’t explain that concept right now, link here, go explore that concept, right?

That’s a quality experience. And then there’s the content itself. I, I’m what Google said, what I mentioned before about the usability, how, how easy to get to the main content of the page. Are there 5 million ads they have to click through? Just to get to that, that, that, that part of the page where I actually want to get at, not good.

Right. And then there’s the content itself. Now, how do you want to define quality content when you’re talking about the words themselves? And that’s a hard question. I’ll say like the now or down two things. One is that it’s targeted to the audience, which goes against every SEO’s, you know. Hair on their body.

Like, no, we don’t do that. We, we try to grip as much keyword search volume as possible, as much traffic as possible. Dare we target the audience with specific nuanced content, but it’s tar. It’s that making sure that that piece of content actually speaks to your target audience. And part of that, or you wanna say secondarily to that, is that I, I’ll define quality content as being nuanced and that, that, and it depends, right?

Because it could be completely too nuanced. If you ask me, you know what is I don’t know, what is rocket science? You’re asking, you’re looking for a very basic, I’m, I’m, I’m a 12 year old. I’m looking for a very basic under what is rocket science? If I started going into quantum theory about two nuance.

So it’s the right amount of nuance for the right, for the right audience, but having that nuance of being able to, to offer something that hits their, the user’s need in a substantial way. And, and I, I try to define it by predicting the need. Like if you want to think of like, what’s a good piece of content, it’s a content that predicts the need of the user.

So if your user’s a 12 year old trying to understand rocket science, what might they need? Well, they’ll probably need a picture or two, they’re 12 year olds. They might even need a video. They might need, like, you know, a, you know, quick, you know, blurbs of definition, whatever it is. If, if I’m talking to astrophysicists, What are their needs going to be?

Oh yeah. And I think that, by the way, and goo, I, I wish Google would do more with this than they, I think they haven’t, cuz I think they’re lost in the AI world. But Google mum multitask unified model, which we get, which Google has basically talked a lot about in terms of, okay, I can, I can combine text input with image input.

So I don’t know. I think the example they gave is, you know, I, I have a piece of my bicycle that’s broken. I don’t know what it’s called, but I know I need to get it fixed so I can take a picture within Google lens and then write how to fix, and Google can combine the picture, realize that’s the chain, and say, here’s the results on how to fix the chain.

Mm-hmm. So there’s a lot of talk around that, but one of the things that gets overlooked with Mom is what Google One, Google gave their initial example about it is that it breaks down topic. So I think that one of the original queries that Google give is an example, had to do with hiking and preparing for a hike.

And Google showed you how like mom can parse out, prepare, what does it mean to prepare for a hike. And pre, so as a hope refinement around being able to parse out topics or keywords or phrases becomes more integrated into the algorithm. That will mean that you predicting and parsing out the needs around a topic gets input into your, your content strategy.

I’ll give you an example cause I know it’s very thorough. Baseball nut, right? So I, I I have a piece of content of Go to Yankees game people search for go to Yankees game. I have a piece of content that ranks for go to Yankees. Game. Yankees are our baseball team. In case you don’t know, you’ve been living under a rock and you don’t like baseball.

What I would do as a content person or as an SEO in this case. Okay. What does that like, predict? What are the needs of a user? Who’s going to a hinky game? Is it just to get tickets or is how do I get there? What are the, what are the, what’s the etiquette? Can I wear the other team’s jersey or will I get my ass kicked?

Is a neighborhood safe at night? How much does food cost? Can I sneak in food? Is that bad at all? The vari? Cause I don’t wanna pay $20 for a hot dog, right? All of the, the predictive needs of the user. That’s good content in my mind. 

Jared: I l I I really, I’ve never thought about the point you brought up and I, I kinda wanna underscore it like, what is rocket science and am I writing this for somebody who is trying to get their PhD in rocket science and is Googling for some references?

Or am I writing this for a 12 year old? Like our kids who are going, man, what is rocket science? And they need pictures. And those are two vastly different articles. But that is a metaphor is really incredible because if you wrote an article about what is rocket science for a PhD and the, the general user that’s searching are 12 year olds, clearly Google from signaling and from even if they ever get that into the top 10 results is gonna figure out that that’s the wrong.

Type of query for what the general searcher is, is yeah. Is doing. And you might pop in and just look at your article in isolation and say, man, this is the, the piece on advanced level rocket science. And yet never ranked because you missed the intent at the level of intent. The level of depth. Very, very fascinating to think about because it, it makes total sense.

Mordy: Yeah, it’s a really good, and we, we’ve, we’ve come like full circle, right? Content that’s really good, but not ranking. And I know we think of intent, like there’s, there’s a commercial intent and navigational intent and we have the four intents, but there’s really micro intent. Let’s say it’s informational content, but okay, but what kind of information do I wanna do?

I need, like what’s the micro intent of that? And I think it’s a really unexplored or untalked about topic in seo. 

Jared: Mm. Yeah, that’s that’s, that’s a good one. That’s another podcast episode there too, by the way. So you’ve, you’ve mentioned a couple times wouldn’t be a podcast in, in 2023 and beyond if it, if we didn’t talk about it.

So let’s wade into the AI conversation and let’s talk about Google specifically and their, I I don’t, I’m gonna give you a really open-ended question on purpose cuz I just want to see where you run with it. But I’m gonna input 

Mordy: into an AI chat and come back to you with an 

Jared: answer. Okay, well if you start typing now, you’ll get an answer and I’ll drag the question out so you have a good answer by then.

Appreciate it. That’s a little joke at how long it can take some of those things to spit out content. Like, you know, where do content and affiliate marketers specifically need to be thinking about AI and where do they not need to be thinking about ai? 

Mordy: Such a loaded question. I know. And so, 

Jared: AI is not.

I’m letting you decide which way we go with this, and then I’ve got a lot of questions we can get into. 

Mordy: Okay. AI’s not going away and I’m a, I’m a, so I gone to SU for the contents. I love content and I hate because of that. I hate ai. I don’t hate ai. I’m down on ai. I think it’s like, yeah. Stupider than humans.

We’re just saying a lot. Yeah. Sorry. One of, one of the things that I do wanna say though is it’s not going away. And it, there are ways to properly leverage it. We actually did a recent webinar with Mike King and Ross HUDs about, about ai and Ross put it in a really nice way. If you give the AI borders and confines and, and, and, and structure, it’s probably gonna do something pretty good.

If you take it, Hey, here’s a paragraph write me header. That’s probably up. Its, its, its, its alley if you say, Rent me a pax about this. It’s like very open-ended. That’s probably where to get into trouble if you’re an affiliate marketer. Again, Google’s coming, I, I hate to put it this way, but Google’s coming after you because we have been screwing up the webinar of my honest opinion for a very, very, very, very long time.

We don’t have, I’m not saying Yeah, a little bit, and I’m not blaming anybody. We’re just kind of like, you know, there’s an incentive cycle. We’re we’re, you know, we’re going with it. Which is, you know, fine. But now that incentive cycle is starting to change because Google is changing, user expectations are changing.

I think there’s a whole conversation about like, you know, the Google results not as good as they used to be, and I think it’s got less to do with Google showing less quality results and more people waking up being like, yeah, the internet is crap. So I think leaving it like, leave it aside for the algorithm equation for a second.

Your users are expecting something different from your content fundamentally, or from web content, fundamentally. And I think that’s very particularly important for our affiliate marketers to realize from the algorithm point of view, it doubles back on what we’re talking about with expertise and. I think one of the ways that Google is and is going to double down on looking at how do we sort of sift out this AI ish kind of content, which is very similar in Google’s.

We’re not targeting AI content, I believe then because it’s very similar to just targeting your usual piece of crap content, five ways to build links that everyone’s been done before. Right. It’s very, very similar and in in, in my opinion, the language structures in both AI written content and in those kind of pieces are very, very, Rudimentary and I’ll, I’ll take it from a product review update point of view, or now it’s a review update point of view.

If I have a vacuum I’m reviewing vacuum cleaners and I never use a damn thing, so I’m gonna write something like yeah, it’s great on carpet, or a wonderful on dust. But if I actually used it, I might write something like, it’s great on carpet except when it was pet hair cause that gave me a really hard time.

Forget, like, forget everything. Those two language structures are fundamentally different and it’s really easy for a human and it’s kind of exactly the wheelhouse of machine learning to profile that. That’s literally what machine learning is built to do. It’s a profile, shit like that. I don’t think I e curse in the podcast, so I’ll rephrase it.

Crap like that. If your language structure doesn’t lend itself towards expertise and experience, if not now, at some point it’s going to, it’s going to hit you. And AI can’t do that. It can’t offer that level of experience. A rich hate of Tatum had a great threat on Twitter the other day where he is showing, you know, how ai you can ask it things to mimic experience.

Like, yeah. Write me a post and be like, what was it like to drive a Ford Mustang? But even the experience that it’s offering is very cliche, very generic. You as an actual person have used or you driven, the Mustang can offer a level of look. There’s nothing inherently valuable and experience per se.

It’s that the experience allows me to have unique insights. So if the experience you’re trying to fudge with ai. Does it offer unique insights? What’s the le what’s the level of value of having the actual experience? So it’s not like experience for the sake of experience is experience for the sake of unique insights.

So the AI cannot do that. It, it will never be able to do that. So you might be able to do things like headers, basic product descriptions, helping you write some things, get ideas. There’s, there’s ways to leverage ai, but that fundamental thing that’s going to differentiate you and the rest of the pages out there.

Is that unique experience for unique insights, which I don’t know how you use an AI or anything other than actual unique experience to do that. 

Jared: It reminds me of a bit of a story. I used to be a semi-professional speaker a while back. Good. That you have a podcast lends itself well. Yes. And you know, one year I went on tour and I did the same talk.

In, I don’t remember, 50 cities. Amazing. And yeah, it was like to the point where you’d wake up in the morning and kind of go, where am I today? And you didn’t know for a little while, but speaking of repetition, I got in the habit. I mean, I could deliver that talk, including the jokes, including the Yeah.

Euphemisms, everything with my eyes closed, like by the end of that tour, I, I wouldn’t even have, I, I literally didn’t have to look at a screen or a prompter. I could, I could do it word for word. And you could tell that it was starting to sound robotic. It was starting to sound like I didn’t have passion, and towards the end I actually had to plan mistakes.

Mess up. Yeah. Ums. I had to actually shift the story to make sure it was authentic. Otherwise it just sounded very robotic. And as I heard you talking, it, it sounds really interesting. It sounds like as I’m, as I’m writing a review on a Ford Mustang, I need to talk about how I bang my knee when I get in.

Because I’m six five. Yes. Which I’m not six five. Yes. So I never had that problem. But you know, like I need to talk about how you know the stick shift sits in a awkward place compared to the last Ford Mustang I drove. Like, are these the types of ways that we communicate in a way you talked about, you talked about how machine learning can pick up on a natural language.

Versus a AI language. Are these the types of things we’re supposed to do or give us some other tips to how to ensure that we don’t sound like what a robot can sound like it. 

Mordy: It’s, it’s literally that. Like if you used, I was review looking at a, they were like pet carriers or, or whatever it was. And, and one of the websites that did well, the last product review update, not the last review update, it’s so confusing.

Last product review update they wrote something that, Yes, they have like, you know, the, you know, the usual pros and cons list they wrote as a, as a pro, like great smell when you open it out of the box. Like that new product smell. Yeah. Oh yeah. Like, that’s awesome. Like I, you just, I, I from just that either you’re the most creative person on the planet or I know you actually used the stupid thing because who else is writing something like that?

Jared: I think and kind of going down that road let’s talk about the role that links play as it relates to AI and content and quality and all that. Like do, because I’m gonna put pose a theoretical here because content could start to sound more similar as a result of AI and its entrance in the coming years.

Does that increase the importance of links to distinguish your content or does it actually go the opposite way and say that Google’s gonna double down on some of the content things we’ve already talked about and differentiating on that experience level and on that 

Mordy: uniqueness level? So my opinion is, is the, is the latter, right?

So links are a secondary signal. I know everyone loves links. Links, links, links, links sl. And Google keeps saying they’re not as important as it used to be and no one believes them. But I think it’s true. And I’m not saying in every particular case, like certain cases, like links are incredibly important.

Yeah. However, there’s a secondary signal, right? It’s only like if Google could understand the content perfectly, like you and I could, would it bother with links? Like the only reason you have a link is because Google can’t do that. It’s a secondary signal like, well, we don’t really understand it, but everybody else likes it.

It must be good. But if Google’s getting better, better, better at actually understanding the content than logically speaking, the level of authority that links tend to give would be less. And I think that’s what the same thing with, with where we’re going with the AI content. I think we’re, I I, we’re more looking at like a doubling down on things like the domain overall.

If you see things like there’s so much content, it’s very similar and sometimes it actually may make sense. I know that people disagree with me about this. They have disagreed with me about this, where I’m writing a piece of content about what is a snow tire. Very short definition, you know, a rudimentary piece of content.

But what is a snow tire? I’m probably not gonna have anything in there that has it been done as a human forget ai. A million times over before, and I may not need to, and I may not want to imagine that we now use AI to write that piece of snippet level content and everybody’s using that same AI to write the same thing, and it’s all pretty much the same content across the web.

Say hypothetical scenario, how does Google decide which page to rank? They’re all pretty much the same. Well, let’s make it a little hyperbolic. Let’s just say I have a website that talks all about tires and have a website with the same content about snow tires, but they talk about magnets. I’m looking at a magnet for, that’s why I’m randomly bringing up magnets.

Which website again, we talked before. Does it make sense to rank obviously the one that’s topically relevant about tires? Cuz I want, if I want to go, if I’m looking at the query, not as what is a snow tire, but if I zoom out and abstract out. And I look at the query as this is a person who wants to learn more about tires.

The site that talks about one page about tires and the rest about magnets makes no sense to send them to. So relevance, domain, relevance, domain quality. The, the, the quality of the site overall plays a significant role when looking at a scenario where content might be more generic across the web, which is what the health of content is doing, which I think why the health of content is a way of.

Combating AI content in theory. So I think it’s a double downing on content, not on links. 

Jared: I read that article that you published on Snow Tires. Ha, I make you sound so authoritative when I say, I read the article you published on 

Mordy: who’s No Way you read it, like it was 20 pages long. Even the guy who edited George Wyn, who was sort editor the w EA hub, it’s like, do you ever write anything?

It’s not 20 pages long. I’m like, Nope. 

Jared: Let’s see if you still agree with me after my next question. Then, Right. You talked, you talked on this article about the, we’ll call it the natural language processing, and you actually put different articles written by humans and AI into this, and actually I think you made ’em purple, if I remember correctly.

You pulled out the different words Yeah. That were evident of humans writing it. It’s interesting that you, you kind of talked about that because just last week on the podcast, I had someone on who shared their story about recovering from a Google update. They got crushed by the May, 2022 update. And they saw recovery.

Oh man, I, I, I, I have a little bit of history with that update as well. And then they recovered throughout the March, 2023 update and the April review update of 2023. Right. And one of the things they talked about and I’d love to get your take on it because it seems to have some relation, is they talked about how they took their content and they actually put it into Google’s N L P.

Natural languaging processing to understand the weight that Google was putting on different phrases, entities, and words. And then kind of reflect back and say, is that the weight of this? Or it is it, is it not the weight? Do I have the weight wrong? And then they talked about how moving sentence structure around moving word choice around actually change the weight of what Google saw the relevance of the word is.

Yeah. And so I’m just curious, like you, you talked about that in your Snow Tire article, and is this the level of depth we need to go to, to make sure that Google is truly seen our content as unique? I think 

Mordy: so. And if you’re in a competitive, like it all depends, like if you’re in a less competitive landscape, you’re trying to rank for, you know you know, what’s the best soil for planting potatoes on Mars.

There’s probably not a lot of other fools writing content about this besides. You, so you can write whatever you want probably. But if you’re in a competitive landscape, like you’re, you’re an affiliate and you’re competing with the wire cutter, yeah. Then yes. Like, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

So the example that you gave from my article was we have, there are tools out there that I don’t know how, you know, I don’t think they’re doing a perfect job, but they’re able to profile and say, you know what, like this. This phraseology here, most likely written by an AI writer. This one is probably written by a person.

And the same thing with entities and understand Google understanding things semantically. And I think it’s important to understand this, that sometimes Google’s well, well, well smart. But sometimes at the end of the day, like they’re a bot. And while you may have structured the article with the phraseology in a certain way where you thought like, yeah, there’s like, there’s clear connection like.

Entity Connection, semantic connection. I, I really, you know, built up the topic here to show like relevance around what I’m talking about. It may well be you have, but it also may well be that Google’s missing has a gap there and they’re not understanding it the right way. I’ve had this with indexing where like the, the post is a great post.

I, it’s like, like completely ignored the headers cuz I wasn’t really trying to rank, it’s a podcast thing that I was doing on the side, like when I Shoemakers kids Go shoeless kind of thing. Well, yeah, let me play around with this. I’m not being indexed. I don’t really plan on getting traffic, but let, let’s see what happens if I redo some of the headers and just make it a little bit easier for Google to make those connections.

And all of a sudden, yeah, boom, it was indexed in the state of the index. You have to kind of play around with it and see like, yeah, like move this, change that, update this, optimize that to make it a little bit easier for the search engine to understand like, this is what I’m talking about. And that’s a connection to this, and this is connected to that.

And this is the, the picture that I’m trying to paint because at the end of the day, they’re, they’re a machine. 

Jared: So we’ve talked a lot about AI’s role and how to make sure that our content is clearly delineated from ai, even if you use AI in some capacity to create content. Where, where are good opportunities out of the gate for content creators, affiliate marketers, web website builders in general to use ai.

Like what are, what are the right applications you think? Or the, the, the slam dunk home runs. There you go. I did a baseball analogy. Thank. Thank you. Although slam dunk is basketball at 

Mordy: home. I know, but I I I caught what you were 

Jared: saying. I’m trying, I’m trying so hard here to, to, to do it. So where are the home runs with with, with AI right now in an area that they can be put to full advantage?

I mean, there’s, there’s 

Mordy: all sorts of qua ways you could be creatively use it. I think I think there’s the latest solos as a whole, like post somewhere. I think it’s her. I could be wrong. I think No, it is definitely her of like ways to use AI for seo. And there’s some well smart ideas in there. One of the ways I’ve played around with this, I kind of wanna understand, like if I talk about you know, party planning, you could ask what are some entities related to party planning?

And it’s, it’s a great way to get some, some topical connection, topical ideas and see how, how a bot might understand a topic. It’s a great way to do keyword research. Like, you know, Cub Cuber stores are great, but you, what you’re generally trying to do there is put it in an input. They give you hope back, a, a smattering of information.

You’re trying to, to weed out what’s relevant to you. Where you can just ask chat G p t a particular question and get a particular output from it. So like those kind of ways are for research, understanding things, organizing information. That’s great. It’s slam dunk home run. Sorry I fell into your trap. 

Jared: I wasn’t gonna say anything.

I wasn’t gonna say 

Mordy: anything. Oh, I know. I was disappointed in myself. Oh man. Yeah. Or as I mentioned before getting like new ideas, rewriting things you knows, has a the SEO writing assistant tool and they’ve integrated chatt CHATT three into there. And what I’ll do is take, you take a paragraph of content, you think it sucks, you’re having writer’s block, rewrite this for me and it’ll give you three options away.

You rewrote it. So things like that. Writing headers. I think even one point John Mueller said, I, he imagines in the future there’s going to be tools that automatically can create headers for your title tags for you. I think doing things like that, assuming you obviously review them because who knows what nonsense is gonna come out of there, right?

Is, is is a way that you can leverage AI to, you know, automate some things for you that you weren’t gonna do before. Writing a product description and then optimizing it from there. If it’s a pretty generic, you know, write a product description for socks. All right. Yeah. Right. Ready for the socks. And you take that as a basis and then add in the, the, you know, the USPS about your socks versus other socks.

Mm-hmm. If you’re in the sock industry, I apologize for completely decimating the uniqueness of different pairs of socks. 

Jared: It’s okay. I’ve already been decimating various sports as we go here today. Yeah, 

Mordy: that’s, that’s fine. Like we might as well go at it, just 

Jared: pile on while we’re 

Mordy: at it. Let’s go after some cities we don’t like.

How about New Jersey as an entire 

Jared: state? There as it, I was gonna say, city or states? We could just go statewide if you want. Oh yeah. 

Mordy: Okay. How about Canada? Right? What kind of country is that? Okay. I’m like, we’re completely off 

Jared: the handle here. I was gonna say, I, I’m not sure if you’re a Yankees fan or not yet.

I didn’t get the, didn’t get the Yankee. Oh. I mean, I’m 

Mordy: definitely a Yankees fan. Okay. I’m from New York, so nothing outside of this, like outside of New York actually exists cause that’s how we function. It’s the Jersey 

Jared: reference. There it is. That’s the, 

Mordy: yeah, thank you. That’s the jersey also. Staten Island and Brooklyn are part of the same Jersey thing.

You could take that 

Jared: too. Yeah, I have a client in the that, that, that does have a market in the Staten Island, and I got in trouble for making some ill paid reference. I didn’t even know I was making, 

Mordy: it’s a dump. It’s literally, it was a garbage dump for 50 years. 

Jared: Well, I I was, I was schooled on, on, on the inner workings of Staten Island versus Manhattan.

Lemme tell you. Yeah, I mean, this hour is flown by. And just to kind of bring us back full circle, I, I’m, I’m really glad we just topically dived around and, you know, I think you said something prominent. I just want to get your final take on it before we close out. You made a comment, it was offhanded, but I wanna call it back out and have you give a final take on it.

You said Google’s basically at war with affiliate marketers and if they’re at war with affiliate marketers, how do affiliate marketers respond and battle back? 

Mordy: Do you want the answer that your audience are gonna like or want The answer that I think is the truth. I want the truth. I what I think is the truth is, and I think it’s not just, I’m not picking on affiliate marketers here.

I’m picking on just web content as a whole. Cause I think what’s happened is Google’s only as good as this technology allows it to be. So back in the day, you had Page and Patriot was so novel, but Pedro wasn’t fundamentally ranking great content. It was just better than the other search engines. So we got used to writing as web creators got used to writing content that aligned to what Google wanted of us.

Like we’re like children, okay, we do the bare minimum, like whatever we can get away with, we can get away with whatever. We can’t get away. That’s what we do. So if Google set the threshold down here, that’s what we did. And the, the problem is that there’s two problems, is that one the threshold of our users.

So users, people, he people. I kind of got, got used to that idea that web content is X, it’s this, it’s not great. It kind of serves my needs. It’s definitely not Faulkner, but what’s happened over time is that people have gotten fed up with this and, and it’s crap. And I think it’s a lot of do with things around data privacy fake content, review content being targeted with all sorts of ads, all that kind of like bad behavior.

That companies have done on the web have made people very, like my dad who knows nothing about anything, he’s like, he thinks so. Like what do you, what do you do for, you do computer stuff, right son? Yeah, I do computer stuff. He’s like, is this a real review? How do I try? It’s trickled down to him and 

Jared: I think this one I the same conversations with my dad.

It’s so funny you mentioned 

Mordy: that. Yeah. So if, like my dad is asking questions like the, it’s the state of. The web, and I think when we, as SEOs or digital marketers make fun of Google or whoever going in front of Congress and the ridiculous things, Congress asks these people, yeah, I think they ask TikTok like, you know, like, does, is, does TikTok work club connected to the wifi or something like that?

Or the, the, when Google came like, are you tracking me in my phone right now, right here? Like the ridiculous things that we are looking at and laugh. Yeah, my dad looks at that and goes, oh, I can’t trust Google. I can’t trust TikTok, and I can’t trust Facebook. And they become very skeptical about web content, which means the level of quality from a quote user point of view used to be down here, but now it’s way up here.

That’s one. So I urge you to leave Google aside because even if you rank and they get to your website and they look at the website, The user’s level of skepticism is through the roof at this point. So great that you got them there. But if you’re an affiliate, I’ll play into the affiliate like world. Is it the point to actually make the money not just rank?

So if you’re trying to make money and the users are more skeptical than they used to, but you have to up your level of content the same time, the incentive cycle has changed in terms of the search engine. They’re much better at at understanding content. And the technology has changed and the bar has risen for what is acceptable or not acceptable, and we as web content creators are very slow to get around to that because it’s not a one fell swer Google.

It’s just killing off all the bad content. It’s slow progression over time. It’s like, you know, you throw a frog into to boiling water, it jumps out. Because it realizes what’s going on. You’re gonna cook me if you wanna cook a frog The way to do it, which I’ve never cooked the frog before, I’m Jewish. It’s not kosher, is you.

You take a pot of cold water, put the frog in the cold water and slowly heat it up until it’s dead. And I think that’s what’s happening. We are the frog and Google is slowly turning on the, the heat to the water.

Jared: That’s a good analogy. Harsh words. Justified. You explain it well. And I think that this episode is a really good deep dive into so many, the nuances that have gotten introduced. I, I don’t really know when it started, but certainly, you know, ever since 2018, the Google updates increased in frequency, increased in not severity, but when you look at it from a volume it’s, it’s con it’s confused everyone in terms of what to do.

So yeah, I appreciate it. We’re kinda focus. Right. Yeah, like, I mean, the medic update feels like the last update that I had, medic update a lot of clarity about exactly what Google was trying to do. Right? Yeah. And since then, it’s definitely been confusing. So having you come on, having people like you come on who have access to large amounts of data, have vast experience levels in seo, Not only on a nuanced level, but on a high level.

It’s just really great to get your, your take on a lot of these things. Thank you for coming on board. Sure. Where can people read more about snow tires and other things You’re, that you’re talking about these days over 

Mordy: the wick seo hubs We have a podcast that we do called Serves Up. We have a newsletter called Searchlight that comes every month.

We have articles from. The world’s smartest SEOs, not including myself, I would not include me in that conversation, but some actually well smart people writing articles. We have a monthly webinar series. We actually started a live SEO audit series with s ej. So a lot of great resources for you.

Check it out, see if you like 

Jared: it. Great, we’ll, we’ll include links to that and show notes also. Thank you. You should post on Twitter more. I enjoy when you, when you tweet and that’s how we got connected. But yeah I’ve definitely learned some things from you on Twitter as well. Thank you. So I’ll throw that shout out in as well.

Appreciate that. Marty, thanks so much. Our flew by. We’ll have to have you back again sometime soon. 

Mordy: Sounds cool. We’ll have to have you on the other side. 

Jared: All right. There you go. There you go. Until next time. Catch.

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The 10 Best and Worst States to Start a Small Business



The 10 Best and Worst States to Start a Small Business

There are many important things to consider when launching your own business or side hustle, and location is at the top of the list. Local and state laws can mean different taxes, zoning regulations and licensing requirements, so it pays to be strategic about your choice of state, city and even neighborhood, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Related: 5 Things Not to Do When You’re Running a Small Business

After all, some 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years of being open, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also found that 45% of businesses fail within the first five years. That number jumps to 65% after 10 years.

Capital on Tap, a company that offers a credit card and spending management platform for small business owners, analyzed BLS data to determine the percentage of startups that are still active after three years — and broke down the U.S. states with the highest and lowest chance of survival in three- and five-year time frames.

“There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., making up an enormous percentage of the economy, and as this number continues to grow, so will innovation and commercial drive,” says Damian Brychcy, chief executive officer at Capital on Tap. “This research should serve as a positive sign to entrepreneurs in the top ten states who are thinking about starting a business.”

Image Credit: John Coletti | Getty Images. Boston, Massachusetts.

Qualities of business-friendly states

Before diving into the data, it’s important to consider what factors make a state attractive for new business owners. And it’s about more than just starting a business. The following factors can help keep small companies afloat and lead to ongoing success:


Perhaps the most important factor of all, a business-friendly tax environment can keep costs down and put more money in your pockets. There are payroll, employment, income and corporate taxes to worry about, all of which can affect decisions around hiring and expansion. Some states also offer tax incentives for small businesses, which can remove expensive hurdles. Reviewing a self-employed tax schedule in your area can help.


If you want to run a healthy, growing business, you’ll almost certainly be hiring employees. The best states for small businesses will have a plethora of available talent and a workforce with high levels of college education. Starting a business near a college or university can also attract interest from recent graduates. This is especially prominent in the technology industry.


State policies regarding small businesses involve more than just taxes and deductions. Government programs can offer business owners grants and loans and incentivize investment from larger funders. Compliance is another factor. States can lower the costs of business by removing regulatory red tape, such as required government approvals or clearances.

Growth potential

You want to start your business somewhere it can thrive in both the short- and long-term. A number of factors can support this — for example, funding, investment in infrastructure and livability. A close proximity to sources of financing can help your company grow, as long as the area can support your workers and their families. States and cities with a low cost of living, good schools and solid infrastructure will not only attract talent but keep it.

U.S. states/territories with the highest rate of small business survival, per Capital on Tap 


1year average (%)

3year average (%)

5year average (%)









South Dakota












North Dakota
















North Carolina





With elite universities, a thriving tech hub, a strong economy and a highly educated workforce, Massachusetts tops the list. Nearly 82% of small businesses survive their first year. Boston is also a growing hub for STEM jobs and is home to many investors and potential employees. The state also boasts a strong Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) that provides tax and property incentives for job creators.


Not only does Wisconsin have a relatively low cost of living, but the state has one of the nation’s best public university systems (read: highly educated workforce) and a business-friendly government that offers tax credits, low-interest loans and grants to small companies. Wisconsin also runs a public-private capital initiative through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which recently announced a $100 million investment in the state’s startups.

South Dakota

Taxes are the big selling point for starting a business in South Dakota. With no corporate income, personal income, property or business inventory taxes, the state makes running a small company affordable for owners. The state is highly affordable and has very few regulations, both of which lower overall business costs.


Almost 81% of small businesses survive their first year in Minnesota, a feat that can be credited to the state’s supportive business environment, educated workforce and relative affordability for a high quality of life. Minnesota also has nine small business development centers throughout the state, which offer consulting, mentoring, networking opportunities and access to capital.


With a high quality of life and low cost of living, Iowa is an attractive place to start and expand a small company. One of the biggest factors is extremely low energy and utility costs, which is especially important for manufacturing. Iowa cities also offer property tax incentives for small businesses and some of the nation’s lowest workers’ compensation costs.

U.S. states/territories with the lowest rate of small business survival, per Capital on Tap 


1year average (%)

3year average (%)

5year average (%)





District of Columbia




New Mexico












New Hampshire
















Rhode Island





Less than 43% of new businesses in Washington are still running after five years, thanks to expensive real estate, complex regulations and the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage ($16.28/hour). The state’s business and occupation tax is also calculated based on gross receipts, not overall profits, so businesses with slim margins will especially struggle.

District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive metro areas in the country, both in terms of real estate and overall cost of living. That means high salaries and high rents for offices or storefronts. The city’s business income tax and regulatory requirements are also relatively high, both of which can cut into profit margins.

New Mexico

High unemployment rates and limited access to capital make New Mexico a challenging state to open a small business. Skilled workers are lacking compared to surrounding states, and complex regulations can be a burden for business owners. More than 23% of small businesses fail within their first year.


Although Florida claims to be a thriving hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the data tells a different story: More than 55% of small businesses fail within five years. One of the biggest factors is the increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes, which has led to rising insurance costs. This affects both the available workforce and a company’s bottom line as premiums skyrocket.


Almost 23% of new businesses fail within their first year in Nevada, and that’s despite no corporate or individual income taxes. Part of the challenge is local governments: regulations vary widely depending on your city of choice, with different requirements for specific licenses and fees. A heavy reliance on tourism can also backfire when travel to the state falls off, such as during the pandemic.

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How the Peak Travel Season Will Impact Payment Fraud



How the Peak Travel Season Will Impact Payment Fraud

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes an influx of vacationers ready to explore new destinations. As the summer travel season begins, businesses operating within travel and hospitality must adopt robust strategies to manage the anticipated increase in transaction volumes and fraud risks. These strategies must also effectively manage disputes and chargebacks during a peak travel period that’s expected to break records.

Americans are still choosing to prioritize their vacations despite challenges like international unrest and rising prices. Projections from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggest we’ll see a record-breaking summer travel season in 2024, with officials anticipating the busiest travel season ever.

52% of consumers say they plan to travel as much in 2024 as last year, with another 40% saying they expect to travel even more. These prospective travelers already have significant budgets set aside for these trips.

Millennials and Gen Z are the driving forces behind this trend. People in this cohort tend to prioritize experiences over material goods and seek a healthy work-life balance to explore new places and cultures. They’re also heavily influenced by social media, where many influencers showcase travel as part of an aspirational lifestyle.

This surge in travel drives global business at every level of the economy, but it also creates a heightened sense of risk. For businesses, effectively managing fraud and chargeback risk year-round is crucial to navigating the travel space.

Let’s explore the best strategies and tactics for managing these threats, whether in-house, hybrid or outsourced, and why asking for help might be the most effective course of action this year.

Related: How a Bad Billing Descriptor Can Cost You

The challenges ahead

While a travel boom is fantastic for businesses and local economies, it poses significant challenges that underscore the necessity of comprehensive fraud and chargeback management. An exceptionally busy travel season can aggravate existing chargeback triggers already intrinsic to the travel space. We may see:

  1. Increased Transaction Volume. The sheer volume of transactions during peak travel seasons makes managing and monitoring every transaction closely difficult. This increased volume can overwhelm internal systems, leading to errors and delays in handling disputes, contributing to more chargebacks.
  2. Fraudulent Activities. Fraudsters take advantage of the busy season, knowing that the high transaction volumes can mask their activities. From fake travel deals to phishing emails, the types of fraud targeting travelers are diverse and sophisticated, increasing the likelihood of chargebacks from unauthorized transactions.
  3. Overbooked Flights and Hotel Shortages. High demand can lead to overbooked flights and sold-out hotels. When travelers are bumped from flights or denied rooms, dissatisfaction spikes. So, too, does the number of chargebacks as customers dispute charges for services they didn’t receive.
  4. Poor Customer Service. Understaffing is common during peak periods, resulting in longer wait times, unresolved complaints and poor service. Frustrated customers often turn to chargebacks to resolve their grievances when they feel neglected or mistreated.
  5. Operational Strain. Handling a surge in transactions requires a well-prepared operational setup. Without it, companies might fail to process payments and refunds promptly, further aggravating customers and leading to more disputes and chargebacks.
  6. Financial and Reputational Impact. Chargebacks result in financial losses due to refunds and fees. However, they also damage a company’s reputation with customers and hurt their relationships with financial institutions. High chargeback rates can result in higher processing fees and, in severe cases, the loss of merchant processing privileges.

Considering what’s at stake, you can see why it’s incredibly urgent to prioritize effective chargeback management. Aside from saving time and money, it can also help boost customer trust during the peak travel season.

Managing chargebacks: In-house, hybrid or outsourced?

Travel operators can adopt one of three chargeback management strategies to handle the increased demand and the potential challenges outlined above.

First, they can manage everything in-house. This involves maintaining a dedicated team to manage disputes, enhance customer support and refine fraud detection systems. While this approach offers direct control, it can be resource-intensive and requires constant updates and training to stay updated on new fraud tactics and regulatory changes.

A second option is to outsource everything. This allows travel companies to benefit from specialized expertise and advanced technologies without the burden of maintaining an in-house team. Third-party providers can offer scalable solutions, real-time fraud detection and comprehensive chargeback prevention strategies. However, it can also mean that merchants lack insight.

As a third option, merchants can try taking a more hybrid approach. Combining internal efforts with external support lets businesses leverage advanced technologies and knowledge from third-party providers while retaining some control over the process. This approach provides a balance between direct oversight and external expertise.

Related: How to Fight Fraud and Chargebacks Should Regulation Fail

Industry collaboration

As we gear up for a record-setting summer, it’s clear that improved industry collaboration could be the key to addressing fraud and chargebacks.

We could consider the transformative potential of open data and artificial intelligence (AI) within the tourism industry. Combining an open data strategy with AI can enhance decision-making processes, helping to personalize customer experiences and optimize operations.

By harnessing open data, businesses can gain valuable insights into traveler preferences and behaviors. This insight can be refined using AI to forecast trends and tailor services.

Related: Think You Can’t Win Against Chargebacks? Think Again.

Open data and AI will have a much more symbiotic relationship in the future. The kind of collective effort that open data demands will create a more secure environment for our customers and protect our businesses from the financial strain of chargebacks. These technologies promise to boost efficiency and innovation in tourism, help manage threats and enhance the overall travel experience.

Ultimately, travel operators need to be proactive. By adopting the right strategies and fostering collaboration across the industry, operators can thrive during this busy travel season and create a better experience for all travelers.

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How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow



How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” It seems obvious that keeping things simple will help your business succeed. And yet, it’s surprisingly difficult to do it.

If simplicity is this challenging, you need to be intentional to make it happen. That’s why many successful companies actively prioritize it as a value. Ikea’s focus on simplicity comes across in its designs, catalog, store experience and more. One of Nike’s 11 management maxims is “simplify and go,” focusing teams on moving fast to adapt to new technologies and fashions.

I believe that simplicity is a driver for genius innovation. In fact, my journey as an entrepreneur began with an idea to simplify a complex and bureaucratic process. Today, the success of that idea has created new challenges. We serve millions of customers across over 100 countries, with many different needs — to meet them all, we’d need a ton of different features. So, we have to find the simplest ideas that will improve the experience for the largest number of users.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Embrace Simplicity as a Strategy (and 3 Ways to Do It)

Simplifying innovation is a recipe for success

Some people think that to be an entrepreneur, you have to bring groundbreaking technological innovation to the world. But actually, there’s a lot of room to innovate on top of new technologies, simplifying them and packaging them for specific use cases.

If you think of two of the technology giants of our times, Google and Apple, neither of them invented their core technologies. Apple wasn’t the first company to create a home computer or cellphone, Google wasn’t the first company to develop a search engine. They made existing innovations simpler and more user-friendly, and it was a recipe for success.

This is particularly relevant right now in the middle of a revolution fueled by generative AI. There are definitely huge opportunities in creating new AI-driven technologies, but there are even more opportunities in finding ways to package these technologies into user-friendly software for specific use cases.

To do this, first master the tech, and then put yourself in the shoes of your potential user. Try to understand what is really useful about the innovation and what barriers people might face when trying to use it.

The key is to find a way to simplify the technology, making it easier for your target users to understand and adopt it. Do this, and you’re onto a winner.

Work smarter by simplifying communication

Another part of any business where simplification is super important is communications and processes. As companies grow, it becomes harder to get people on the same page or ensure continuity between departments. Poor communication creates misunderstandings, which can lead to mistakes. The more people involved in a project, the more likely it is that workflows will become complicated. This all slows things down, wastes time and restricts your ability to make an impact on the business.

Let’s start with communication. Using a single, simple language across the company is crucial for people to be able to understand each other. For example, try to use less jargon and fewer three-letter acronyms, or make sure to explain them if you do. By creating organized archives of historical documents and plans, you help onboard new people and anyone can find important information fast when they need it.

Create a culture of transparency where different departments share their plans with each other. Create frameworks to facilitate this, like quarterly reviews or roadmap deployments. It’s not possible for employees to be actively involved in everything going on in the company, but by helping everyone take part passively, you’re making sure they’re on the same page and can facilitate ideas and collaborations across teams.

When you do have to communicate, encourage your teams to do it in the most straightforward way possible. By simplifying communication and making it easy to understand, discussions are more focused and decisions are made faster.

Related: The Key to Effectively Communicating Important Messages Is All About Simplicity

Put simplicity at the heart of your product

A simplification mindset can also be applied to product development. By making small incremental changes, sometimes with test groups of users, you can use the inspect and adapt methodology to understand their adoption, as well as any issues, and innovate further accordingly. Every so often, you can combine all these small changes into a large product update that you roll out for everyone.

For example: A company added a lot of extra value to its product with new features and releases. In theory, this was great for the users, but some found the UI overwhelming and new pricing options confusing. To use a metaphor, some people are happy to be given ingredients to make their own meal, but most would prefer the chef do the cooking so they can enjoy the final result.

Having understood this through their feedback, the company introduced a change to its UI that helped users get the end result they wanted, without having to work hard to achieve it themselves. By simplifying, the company maximized the impact of the value of all the new additions to the product.

Related: Keep It Simple: Why Simplicity Is Key To Making Your Brand Win

Richard Branson once said: “Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.” Simplicity won’t come about by accident — you need to be intentional. You have to call it out and make it a focus for the whole company. You need to put it at the heart of everything. And when you succeed, the impact will be huge.

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