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How Nick Musica Managed To Grow a Site to 185 Million Pageviews a Year


How Nick Musica Managed To Grow a Site to 185 Million Pageviews a Year

Curious to learn how a site grew to 185 million pageviews a year and why it lost 40% of traffic within a week?

In the latest episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast, Nick Musica, the former SEO and Content Director of DMV.org joins us to discuss the site’s incredible rise (and subsequent fall).

Nick joined when the site was generating 85 million pageviews a year. And over the next several years, he continuously helped to avoid plateaus with the strategies and tactics he shares today.

The talk is wide-ranging and goes in-depth into many things owners and managers of small and large sites need to consider.

Topics include:

  • The importance of building a brand
  • Site architecture
  • Canonical tags
  • How to handle Google Search Console errors
  • Crawl budget
  • And more…

So if you’re planning to grow an authority site and want to avoid some common mistakes, you’ll definitely want to give this a listen!

Topics Nick Musica Covers

  • Nick’s background in SEO
  • What DMV.org is
  • Pros and Cons of using a .org domain
  • Sub-domains vs. sub-directories
  • How to manage tons of content
  • Thin content
  • Technical and content updates
  • Your page speed vs. your competition
  • The importance of technical audits
  • Crawled not indexed pages
  • Focusing all content through an ‘aboutness’ framework
  • Affiliate strategies
  • Why they lost 40% of their traffic overnight
  • And more…

Links & Resources

Sponsored by: Stan Ventures

Watch The Interview

Read The Transcription

Jared: Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits Podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today we’re joined by Nick Musica with the let’s see, founder and c e o of Optics Inn, which is a small s e o agency. But we are talking today about your time as formerly as the s e o and the content [e-postskyddad] Welcome Nick.

Nick: Thank you, Jared. Yep. Yep. Excited to chat with you and, and and the audience today. 

Jared: Oh, we have such a good story today. It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be really fun if, if you like to nerd out on some crazy growth, some crazy website growth in the back of seo, and then some some, some real drama perks, pitfalls along the way.

Some great success along the way. This is a. Really fun story we have in front of us. Why don’t you give us a little, little bit, bit, bit of background on you. I know you’re doing an SEO agency right now, but maybe catch us up to your background and, and obviously we’ll pick up the story for your time at at, at the D M V 

Nick: website.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So I, I’ve been working in SEO since 2003. I co-authored a book with Sherry Throw in 2009, mapping usability and SEO together. Spent a, a brief semester at nyu teaching at the graduate level. Mm-hmm. , but most, most folks, most folks know me for the work at D org because of, because of the conversation we’re gonna have here.

But, but I started my own agency in 2019, right before the pandemic. Yep. I found myself sitting alone talking to myself a. With the exception of talking to cats just before everyone else 

Jared: was you. Yeah, we, we, the thing about starting a business is it’s often very lonely and then Covid is often very lonely as well.

You kind of double down on it. . 

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so when, when I saw Covid hitting, my first thought was, oh great, everyone’s gonna have to adjust like I did. Let’s see how that works out. Yeah. And, and we have . That’s a good point. 

Jared: I, I I work, I worked from home prior to that, and so when everybody was this whole work from home craze, I was like, if you need any tips, I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I’m a, I am a professional work at Homer

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. We sounds like we both suffered through it, before everyone else 

Jared: did. So we did. So we did well, you, you got a story background. Why don’t you launch us off and, and again, if you haven’t, haven’t been the site we’re talking about today is dmv.org and your time there, you were there quite a while.

When did you start with them and why don’t we pick up the conversation there? 

Nick: Yeah, for sure. So even before I started, the site was registered in 1999. Wow. Right. So it’s been, it’s been out for more than a minute. I got there in 2012, so there are multiple iterations between 1999 and 2012. So when I got there, the site was getting approximately 85 million visits a year via seo.

No paid social. I mean, there’s not a whole lot of social activity around . Yeah. Getting your license, right? Like there’s just not a 

Jared: lot. So not a lot of selfies being taken in the DMV line. At least not good 

Nick: ones. Right, right. Got my license today, like not so much. Even kids say just sort of don’t really want to get their license like I did minimally.

So when I joined the company, there was about seven full-time employees, W twos, 10 90 nines, whatever it was, but about seven of us. Okay. And fast forward six years later. We went from 85 million to 185 million visits a year, largely through seo. Wow. And, and, and literally the week after I left, I got a text from my former manager saying, so you’ve been gone for a week and overnight we lost 40% of our traffic, 

Jared: which quantifies in the tens of, tens of tens of millions gone overnight.

Nick: Yes. So there were multiple rounds of layoffs. And so from the perspective of employment growth, and so Spokes can do their own math around how much the company was making. Right. So imagine if you will, we went from seven employees to 40, lost 40%. And I can’t confirm or deny this next statistic. But if you go on LinkedIn and start searching around for who’s working where, there’s probably about three full-time employees.

Jared: Do you know anything about where the site is today? Is it still, you know, in the millions of page 

Nick: views? I’m making a guess based on third party data. I’m making a guess about 12 cm rush, let, let’s say 12 to 15 million. 

Jared: Yep. Okay. Okay. So a rise in a fall. And we’ll get into the fall as well if you want.

Sure. Some interesting storylines , I, there’s some fun screenshots you shared with me that I, I think a lot of people will be interested in, but we’ll get to that. I mean, when you arrived there 85 million pages a year. I just did some math on my phone. It’s about 7 million pages a month, so that’s some serious traffic.

Before we get into some of the things that you were a part of that grew the site so dramatically, help us understand the dmv.org website and then its relation, its relationship to the D M V. And if you’re, if you’re listening across the globe, the D M V is the United States Department of Motor Vehicles.

I think I have that right. Like you said, it’s, it’s not exactly well loved not necessarily their fault, but nobody likes to go and, you know, re-register their license or, you know, and they’re, they’re known for long lines and these sorts of things. What’s the website’s relationship to the D M V itself, the actual government institution or whatever.

Nick: Zero relationship. If you go to the website there is, or at least minimally used to be a big banner at the top where you would typically find a display ad. But on this website it was, we have no relationship with the government at all. This is a privately owned company. 

Jared: Yep. Okay. So none. Okay. So what was the goal of this website?

Just to help people out with their D M V questions or what, what, you know, what was the foundation of it? 

Nick: Yeah. The, my understanding from my time being there, it, the origin story is there was a family that registered, the domain brothers worked together to get traffic. One brother made a bet with another one that he could meet certain metrics.

And, and so he did within some period of time, which I think it was half of what they agreed to. Wow. And, and then it took off from there. And, and to your, to your point, right. So the DMV is sort of the, the general term for things these days. In New Jersey for example, it’s, it used to be the dmv, now it’s the b c Motor Vehicle Commission.

Oh. And, and every state has. An agency, maybe two agencies. In California, where I am there is the dmv. It manages your car and the driver in Texas, I forget the name of the agencies, but there’s one agency for the driver. There’s one agency for the car. So it’s different. So if you were to move to another state, don’t assume it’s the dmv, it could be a different agency, but largely folks search for DMV or an equivalent of that.

And we aggregated 50 states together on one website. The idea was make it easier for folks to navigate the things they need to do when they go to the dmv. And arguably we did that. Regardless of the traffic drop, we, we did that. I worked with the content folks. We had a great process. We did what we had to do.

It was easier to do research and distill the important information down for states such as California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, where there’s a budget for the D M V, shall we say, right there. All the information’s largely there, most of it. Other states with less of a budget, Alabama, Mississippi, et cetera, don’t have as much of a robust, robust website.

So, so we were able to answer the questions better, faster, better organized on the page as much as we were able to by looking at the other websites and rewriting the content and, and structuring in a way where it was more findable and easy to, to 

Jared: underst. So I guess maybe the first question that comes to my mind as we’re talking about this, and maybe you’re gonna talk about it later, so, so tell me if, if you are, but I, I guess they surround the proverbial legalities of using D M V, for example, in the U R L and as the name of the website, and kind of answering these government related queries, if you will, like how we talk about trademarks every now and then again in websites and, and, and how that can come back to bite you.

How it is often very confusing to be quite honest with you. What is an act of trademark? What is it? So it, it kind of just all relates to that big, that bigger question. And how did you guys kind of manage that and, and, and talk about that? 

Nick: Yeah, so I, I can answer from the perspective during the timeframe that I was there, right?

And, and keep in mind I got there 2012 and, and it started in 20 1999. So a, as far as I know, there was no issue with any lawsuits around the domain name. Not a lawyer also. Totally. It’s all public. It’s all public domain information. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s the government, right? So if you go to census.gov, all that information can be used on your website, structured any way you want to.

Yep. Create a fun graph because it’s typically a big table, right. So it, it’s the same spirit as that. However, this is a little different because dmv.org, even today, if you were to say blah, blah blah.org with something that sounds official, there’s a whole lot of confusion around that. If you were to take a look at the backing profile of this website, you can make an argument, and this is one of the conversations internally was while we try to be clear, we have the banner at the top.

We’re very clear of who we are from our perspective at the time. We benefited from the confusion. Mm-hmm. . There’s, there’s at least one news clip that I can remember where abc, N B C, whatever it was, and the anchor says, blah, blah, blah. The government website [e-postskyddad] . Yep. Okay. All right. And this is how it happened.

Okay. At le, at least from a backlink 

Jared: perspective. Yeah. Well, I mean, I would probably be a bit confused. You know, especially if you are, you talked about it, you have a different budget, you have different people on your team than the state D M V does, and you can probably over time as we are seeing outrank them for a lot of their queries.

And one very easily might assume that if they’re ranking number one, you got d DMV in the name, that’s the source. 

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. And, and if you were to break down the query types, navigational, informational, and transactional, but some folks call a navigational branded query. Same, same. We were outranking the state DMV websites On the daily, yeah, on the daily.

Jared: It’s so amazing. Well, let’s talk about let’s talk about when you got there and you know, I, I just, I want to hear some of the nitty gritty on the, on the, how you grew this site, how you Yeah. Worked with the team. You had a healthy supply of content writers when you arrived. I think you said you had five or five or 10 when you, when you got there.

And again, it’s October, 2012 was when you got there doing about 85 million page views a year at that point. Let’s talk about, you know, what it looks like to manage a site like that and kind of what you did to get a, a handle on what a site like that was doing, because you probably had a, a period of time where you had to really better understand what that traffic was doing on a site before you could kinda come with a plan of attack.

Nick: For sure, for sure. So I, I got there now. I was, I was focusing on seo. There was a content director at the time, so I was just the SEO guy. And we had, we had three websites, but they were called the website. So there was www dmv.org. There was local.dv.org and there was search.dv.org, but they were all the website right in, in SEO land.

Those are three different websites. Yep. But, but when you’re technical and managing the domain, it, it turned into the website. And so that’s how it was referred to in some circles for some period of time. And I fully understood what that meant when I made a request for the DubDubDub site for the canonical tag and somehow it landed on my request, landed on the local.website.

Oh, what? I didn’t. Right. So here’s, here’s what I understood after the fact was the robot’s txt file and some other like a site map, were, were shared files across quote unquote the website going between the sub domains, correct? Yeah. So the same robots txt on dub dub dub dot. Local dot and search dot dean org.

So if you said, exclude this directory on one one, we’ll call ’em a subdomain. It exclude the same directory from the other two. 

Jared: But Google’s crawl bot loved that confusion. . Yeah. 

Nick: So here’s, here’s how that presented. So I made a request for an adjustment to the canonical tag on dub dub dub I can’t remember what it was, but the result of it was on local is essentially every page got canonized to local.tv.org.

Oh, okay. Right. So within Not good not 

Jared: good. Yeah. You’re new to seo. That’s, that’s bad. . 

Nick: Yes. We, we, we essentially said, take these a thousand pages and attribute all of their equity to one page on the website. That was essentially, The non-directive, right? Cuz canonical tech should not be a directive because people screw up their website, enter exhibit A, we screw up the website, right?

and oh boy, we, we lost, we lost traffic overnight. So it goes up and then it goes down. And then it took a while to find, because I didn’t make the request. So what am I looking for in the changes, you know, week over week on the push it wa it wasn’t the canonical tag. I finally found it and then I got to learn, oh, this is what we mean collectively as the website.

Got it. Now I’m understanding it. So that was, that was a humbling moment. , what did you do 

Jared: that, I mean, that’s amazing you found it because you’re right. Like that’s like looking for a needle and a haystack to some degree. Especially when you don’t even know what the needle you’re looking for is. 

Nick: Yeah, so there was a big conversation with Dev around what were the shared files across the websites, what does that mean?

Let’s get ’em parsed out between the different sub domains. Because DM, www dv.org needs its own robots txt, local dot needs its own t robots txt, et cetera. So once we’re able to detangle that, we had more solid technical architecture. And so that was, that was step one. Step two was fix the canon canonical tag on local dot, which, which wasn’t a whole lot of traffic relative to dub Do, do however you still want your traffic back.

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So it took about two weeks at the time, once we fixed the canonical tag on local dot for the traffic to start to come back and it did. 

Jared: Taking a brief step back, just so people can learn from this, sure. Most people aren’t managing websites that are getting millions and millions of page views. It, there’s a, a healthy use case here to learn from.

I think we all understand to some degree why a site might use architecture where you folder different content or different spaces of the website. So you might have dmv.org/local/you know, the rest of your URL string, and that can be done to help Crawlability help navigability help, you know, with dividing the content accurately.

Talk about why a website would benefit from having these sub-domains. Versus maybe the approach I 

Nick: just outlined. Yeah. So for, and, and let’s take it in the context of dmb.org and then we can apply it to anything else we want, right? So and, and there’s also a, a, a third piece in there, which is search dot, which we had search results in this search results, which as, as per Google, not a great idea, right?


Jared: and, sorry, I, I keep laughing, but , 

Nick: there were multiple things to fix, which is why we went from 85 to 185 million visits a, a year, right? It was, it was, it was very good. And we solely sort of bullied the algorithm to some degree because of 50 states collapsed into one and because of the confusion with all the links, right?

So all that was at play. However, going back to the original question, what’s the benefit of a subdomain versus a sub folder, et cetera? For this website, for the size of the website, the cleaner, the architecture is, The, the more thought I would argue you have to give into, is it gonna be a sub-domain or is it gonna be a sub directory?

Also for, for www d.org, there was a lot of questions, how do I get my license? How do I renew my license? How do I sell a car, whatever. It’s, how do we get a title? Very information centric. Local DOT was focused on very specific locations of DMV offices of insurance agents, things like that. So they were, they were, other than the technical, technical concern around the size of the website and the cleanliness of the technical architecture, there was also a question of the audience.

Where, where do these people want to go? Right? If you have everything you need and you wanna go to the dmv, here’s a website. You can go do that. So, so you have size of website and cleanliness. You have, who are these people? What are they trying to accomplish? And then you have the different types of websites.

One’s an informational website, one’s a directory website, 

Jared: right? Yeah. And that’s, that’s a great point to bring up. You’ll see that a lot where I suppose you kind of hit to nail on the head. It’s, it’s, it’s intent-based and, and when they intent, it’s so wildly different and the size of the site is justifies it.

That can be why you would go sub-domain versus sub-folder. 

Nick: For sure, for sure. I, and, and based on what I’ve seen, we’ll say in the past five-ish years, folks who are first come to their domain, Be it take a look at weed maps. They do some amount of work in cannabis and related topics. If you take a look at weed maps, they started as a directory.

They piled on products, they piled on information. If you take a look at healing maps, which is more psychedelic in nature, they started with directory information, right? So it can be done. You don’t need to separate those two things out, however, coming in late into the game, but there’s, if there’s more than three players in this space, it’s, it’s gonna be a harder time.

Or if you’re not Yelp, it’s gonna be a harder time. Yeah, that’s a good point. 

Jared: So these are some of the technical challenges that you were up against. And you know, I mean, I’m just curious, what other tips could you share with us about managing. Large volumes of traffic and, and URLs at scale that, you know, all of us can learn from.

Obviously the majority of us aren’t touching websites that size, but I’ve already, I already feel like you’ve shared some really amazing little insights about how big small technical things can turn into . 

Nick: For sure. For sure. So I, I would say this, what my first year, year and a half there was just cleaning up the technical, that’s all it was.

3 0 1 s were getting cleaned up. If there were 3 0 1 loops or, or chains, they were getting cleaned up. We had interstitial pages when folks were clicking on a link and they were about to go offsite. That was a 3 0 1. We had, we made a lot of money on car insurance. We also had a lot of car insurance in state result pages.

Those were all available to Google. It wasn’t necessary. Hmm. We, we had my, my favorite page on the website was snowmobile insurance in Hawaii. Right, because what would ha We had some logic. It was very smart, it was very well done, but also not perfect. So, you know, there was, there was logic where we would have the same topic.

Then you molted out by 51 states. We included DC as a state, but what that meant was snowmobile insurance in all states, including Hawaii. And so my job was not only cleaning up technically, but also trim out this thin content. My, my nickname by a gentleman who I used to work with for a couple years was Choppy Chop.

You would have project meetings and I would come in there and he is like, what are we deleting today, Nick? I’m like, we’re gonna find out. And I probably deleted 500 pages. I don’t know. I’m making it up at this point. It’s been a while, but 500 pages over a year and 

Jared: a half. What type of content approach had been taken when you, when you got there?

You talked about thin pages. Yeah. And the fact that you guys earned a lot from car insurance, which I want to get into your monetization. Yeah. Angles in a little bit. I mean, was this a, a website that relied on a lot of informational content to drive its traffic more transactional pages or some of these almost programmatically created pages?

I’m curious about how this site was almost built from a content structure 

Nick: standpoint. Yeah, it was one part programmatic in terms of creating topics out. So a topic was driver’s license in state, for example, or snowmobile insurance in state, state, state, and bracket state is a variable. And, and then we would write content around it.

When I got there, all the content was written. It wasn’t great. It was, it would, but it didn’t need to be great at the time. There was no website like this that existed and there was enough of good enough content that the results came in. However, however, this is the right, this is the type of content where, because of the programmatic, there was snowmobile insurance in, in Hawaii.

That had to get taken out of the, off the website. There was also a lot of content that was at a date. Things change. Agency names change. Like I said in the top of the conversation, New Jersey used to be D M V, now it’s N V C license ages change. There was not a quote unquote graduated license 20 years ago.

Now, there is, there were, there weren’t times where you couldn’t drive your license at nine o’clock with kids in the car with a permit. Now there is. Right? Right. So, so it had to be maintained, which is part of this whole Skip. Fast forwarding to today, this quality content perspective. Are you maintaining your content?

If you’re not maintaining your content? That’s a quality score issue. 

Jared: A lot of the updating, it sounds like, wasn’t happening until you arrived, so you were also kind of championing not just technical updates, but content updates along 

Nick: the way. Yeah, so at, at, at one point, I, I became the, the director of Content and seo.

So when I first got to the company, there were two or three writers who were going through the content. When I went downstairs in our office and, and started to manage both content and seo, there were somewhere depending on the day, seven to 10 folks in content, and, and we went through every page of the website.

Wow. The most important pages. A k a, the ones that were getting traffic, the ones that were getting revenue and just kept on going down the. 

Jared: What does it look like to manage a site that has that much traffic? What are some things that happen on a site that size that maybe smaller sites don’t run into?

And I’m thinking in terms of, you know, optimizing for, for page speed when you have so much content on the server. I’m talking about images and all the internal linking and just some of these things that we probably don’t even consider at scale. 

Nick: Yeah. So, and we talked about this before we start to record, and the problems you see with a hundred page website are not the ones you’re gonna see with a hundred thousand page website.

They’re, they’re just not, you can have a ton of inefficiencies at a hundred pages and it’s sort of okay. You can sort of, Google can modelle through your website and, and figure out what the best pages are as per its algorithm and, and rank them accordingly. However, at some point your technical gets to be very, very important.

You want that thing streamlined as best as possible because the time that Google takes to go to. A hundred, hundred thousand pages or whatever the magic number is, it’s gonna have to pick and choose where it spent its time. And if you waste your crawl budget, you just may have taken out 50% of your pages that Google didn’t even get to a hundred pages.

Not so much. Google’s gonna through, gonna get through all of them. But that’s one of the issues when we talk about, when we talk about page speed, one of the conversations that we used to have internally, but I don’t hear out in the world, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it, is yes, page p page speed is important.

It’s one of, are, are we still saying 200 signals for, for argument sake? Say two. I’ve heard 300 lately. . Okay, alright. One of 300 signals. Right? So what? But it has to be contextualized. It’s you versus your competitors, right? So it’s not me versus Amazon. I, I’m not in the business of Amazon. So when we took a look at our site compared to the California D M V, Texas, dmv, et cetera, et cetera, that’s how we start to understand how we ranked against those sites from a paid speed perspective.

And it was late in the game. It was probably 2018 or 2017 when display ads first got on the website. And that’s a big hit to page speed. Yep. Big hit, right? So we, we, we, we were a, we were a private company. We, we made a lot of money on on partnerships and with plugins, with JavaScript, for example.

State agencies did not, that that wasn’t their business model, their page fee was always going to be better, always. So we did what we had to do to make our site the best version of what it was, and ideally it was close to the page fee that those other websites. 

Jared: The largest site I’ve ever worked on, I think was about 60,000 page views.

I, I have an agency as well, and we don’t normally work on, you know, sites larger than maybe five to 10,000. Not page views, sorry URLs I, I, sorry. 60,000 URLs. And I, you know, man, you hit the nail on the head. Like even just going from a 5,000 URL site to a 60,000 URL site, there’s just so many different things you have to pay attention to.

I can only imagine on a site the size you are working on. 

Nick: It’s yeah. So we, I, I use Screaming Frog as a, as a desktop tool. Yeah, right. But I would it would fail , it would fail on this website, I’m sure. And, and I love the tool. I, I use it today. I, I use it with, with a bunch of my clients in my own work.

However, with this website, we used Deep Crawl, which was fantastic. You can set it up, you can create the you know, weekly, monthly, whatever was gonna be crawls. You can see the, the crawl up crawl. You can see where things broke. And for a website like this, and this is true of any website anywhere, there’s, there’s no, there’s no owner of the seo.

There. There may be someone who talks a lot at a lot about it at nauseum, right? Like this guy. But the, the idea of doing that is to get everyone to understand their place in terms of this thing that we call seo. And did you SEO it, right? Like, it’s such a terrible phrase, but did you SEO it? Well, how that relates to images is, did you, did you just grab it off of iStock and dump it up?

Well, that’s a, that’s an image for print. What does that mean? What’s that gonna do to your website in terms of file size? You do it that five times you’re gonna kill Google. So you need to be able to learn SEO from your own perspective. And so we had a wonderful technical team. They, they knew the value of seo, the entire company knew the value of seo, so everyone was well aware of what it meant.

And, and we had a very cross-functional company where if folks would. Get educated on everything everyone was doing. It was really quite fantastic. 

Jared: Couldn’t agree with you more, man, I, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve, you know, delivered a site audit and, and the subsequent repairs we did. But the first thing is, okay, we’ve, we’ve fixed all the images and gotten them to the proper size, but mark by words, this problem will literally happen tomorrow if you don’t deploy these changes to your standard operating procedures for how your whole content team does images or else you are gonna call me in a month and say that we have images that are, you know, too large or something like that.

So that buy-in, I mean, otherwise you’re just fighting uphill battle. 

Nick: Yeah, I, I had a client tell me once, well, can you QA the changes. I don’t, I don’t understand. I, I, everything is laid out clearly. Is the document not clear? Oh, no, the document’s really clear, but my problem is I don’t trust the people who got us into this situation to q they qa their own work to get us outta the situation.

Oh, oh, okay. Well that makes sense, , 

Jared: thanks. Hey, you mentioned crawl budget earlier, and it was on my list of things I wanted to ask you about. What sort of tips can you share with us about crawl budget, optimizing crawl budget, again at the size you were at? I’m sure some things don’t apply to smaller sites, but nonetheless, you’ve gotta have some great insights into how to maximize the, the amount of pages Google can crawl at a time, you know?


Nick: Yeah. So I, I, I would start with this was, this was the biggest site I worked on up until that point in my career and, and it still is. And so I had a lot of working theories. You know, I studied, I went to the conferences took all the notes. Applied them as, as per my websites at the time, whatever, what, whichever website I was working on.

This was the first website where I could work on it and actually apply my theories. So, and, and see what would happen. Because I would say, well, chances are if we do this, this is what’s gonna happen. So the reason I bring that up is it’s a play, right? I was just able to prove those things out on this website.

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But they are at play with other smaller websites. Mm-hmm. , right? They may not be as critical, but they’re absolutely at play. So in terms of crawl budget, think about it this way. If you have a hundred pages on your website and you have some amount of duplicate pages because you’re your URL string, because mixed cases, because there’s another sub domain out in the world, whatever the reason is, Google’s only gonna get to so many of those url.

and some of those URLs are gonna be duplicate pages, which means it doesn’t get to all the other good pages. So you need to keep your, your technical extremely clean. Make sure you, your 3 0 1 s are one to one. Make sure you limit your 4 0 1, your 400 s. Make sure you’re, you only have one website. Is it H C T P?

Is it a c TPSs? Is it dub dub dub? Is it nonw Dub Dub? It doesn’t happen a lot these days, but I do find, and this is part of the technical audits that we do, I, I do find that there’s more, more of these older items that typically don’t show up. They, they do find they’re way into the system. So folks, and, and a lot of it’s the server you choose today.

Mm, mm-hmm. . So a lot of folks should, should take a look to see what’s going on, to make sure that they have one u r l to host one piece of content. And that’s an over overly simplified statement, but that’s, that’s the idea. 

Jared: There’s a lot of, we’ll call it, you know, errors that get reported in Google search console.

Smaller sites don’t tend to flag quite as many, but as your site gets larger, even into just maybe 500 to a thousand pages and above. And while we’re talking, I just pulled up Google Search Console for one of the larger sites we work on, and I’m seeing, you know, and this is a site that you know is is not being ignored, right?

But I’m seeing redirect errors excluded by no index tag page with redirects not found. 4 0 4 alternate page with proper canonical tag, crawled, not indexed, discovered, not index, et cetera, et cetera, which are the big ones that people should be paying attention to, smaller or large site. 

Nick: Yeah. It’s a, it’s a terrible answer.

It’s a, it’s a trick question and a terrible answer. Right. So it’s, it is a bit of a trick 

Jared: question. , you caught 

Nick: me. Yeah. It, it depends, right? So, so I’ll, I’ll bring up a couple examples that I’ve seen re more recently. I think it’s more relevant to folks who are gonna be listening. So we, we’ve been producing a lot of content for one of our clients, and the first 30 pages were great.

Next 30 pages less, less great. The next 30 pages not as, not as great. Digging into search console, seeing some of their old pages on the website. They’re, they’re not great. They’re, they have not been crawled, they’ve not been indexed, or maybe they’ve been crawled or indexed. E either way, they’re, they’re, they’re not getting traffic.

Mm-hmm. it, it’s not, I’m sorry. It’s not, not indexed. It’s been crawled, not indexed. Crawled, 

Jared: not indexed. Yeah. And that’s one of ’em. 

Nick: Yeah. Thank you. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And, and what it is, is it’s, it’s a bunch of terrible content. It’s not good. It’s, it’s duplicative. It’s, it’s, it doesn’t serve. The intent of the page.

And so what that does, it, it, it essentially drags down the value of the other pages we’ve been creating. So you have this, you have this imbalance of quality where a little bit of good pages was great, but if you want, if you wanna get the, the credit for these new pages, you’re, you’re producing after the original bunch, you gotta do something about this thing over here, cuz it’s bringing down the weight of things.

So that’s take, take a look If you’re gonna see a, a bunch of, there’s some natural lag and everyone has it with very good websites. From what I’ve seen there, there’s a lag of some amount of pages, not just not getting into the index. I don’t know what it’s about, but there’s, but it seems natural.

However, if you start to see patterns, if you start to see things in bulk from this perspective, crawled, not indexed, most likely a quality issue or there’s some type of redirect at play there, there could be something that’s not ideal. The, the other thing that. Google Search Console is good for, but also not good for is it gives you a sample and search Con, Google’s trying to show you patterns.

So while something will show up in Search Console, it may not be an issue. It just happens to fit a pattern from their perspective. So Software Fours used to be one of those things before, before they had the actual category for software oh four s, right? There would be pages that show up as 4 0 4 s. I’m like, it’s not a 4 0 4.

Mm-hmm. , why is it right? And so it would be, well, because it’s a thin page, it thinks it’s a 4 0 4 in some way or another. So E, even if it’s, even if it’s a pattern and it doesn’t map to what Google is saying, chances are you should fix it because it’s a problem for Google. So take it seriously. See what you can.

And, and just make sure you, you, you get it outta that Google, Google universe and then, and, and make your site healthier. 

Jared: Yeah. Great. Great tips. Okay back to the website, back to DMV org. We, we’ve talked a lot about your first year or two there and, and really what you were focusing on. What did you, what did you guys do to get the growth and maybe in subsequent years to get it to where it was when, when you, when you did leave, I, I think you said 185 million, which is, yeah, I mean, that’s approaching, you know, 13, 14 million p page views a month.

Nick: It was pretty fantastic. And it took a while to kick in, right? So for the first year-ish it, it was only up a little bit. You know, going, going through the archives, I’m just gonna refer to my notes here. We went from roughly 85 million visits to 95 million visits year over year. The first year, 10 12.

It’s not a lot of growth. I mean, it, it is, it’s also not, and, and from that, that point, it starts to really increase. Cuz, cuz the technical, it’s, it’s really what it came down the first couple years. I attribute the technical to, to being the growth. However, after that, literally every page on the website was scrutinized, was rewritten and, and, and just simply made better.

We also, and I mentioned it earlier, we, we took search.db.org out of the equation. So search dot db org essentially crawled and scraped everything on dub dub dub as its own website. Mm-hmm. . And it would be found for very strange things. So I’m, I’m, I’m gonna make a terrible example cuz I’m good at mixed metaphors and terrible examples.

If one page had blue and another page had giraffe on it and you search for DMV blue giraffe, it would, this website would show up. Search dmv.org would show. Right. However, so other than just a bunch of nonsense that it could rank for, the only thing that it would rank for was by default because of how it was created, was anything on dub dub dub, which means it was competing with dub, dub dub.

Right. It was just a weaker version of it. So we took it outta the equation. 

Jared: This is the type of cannibalization that is bad, you know? Yes. I mean, there’s theories about whether cannibalization really actually is bad or not. This is an example where I think no matter which side of the fence you sit on that argument.

This is a bad example of where, because you have one page that’s clearly weaker than the other. For sure. Yeah. 

Nick: If, if you’re, if you’re dilemma today around cannibalization is I have two pages that rank for the same term. Enjoy it while it last. Great. Fix the problem when it shows up. Yeah. Right. But, but for this, this was clearly scrape our own content.

And create a website out of it. We, what are we doing? We’re computing with ourselves. So we took it outta the equation and that gave us a huge pump as well. Hmm, 

Jared: okay. Okay. You talked about how you went back and just every page was heavily scrutinized. What were, what were the type of things you guys were doing to take it from a, you know, thin page?

I’m using air quotes for those people who are listening from a thin page that wasn’t of high quality and, and improving it. I’m just, I’m just interested, like, what were the things you guys were paying attention to? What were the things you were doing to bring the page quality up? 

Nick: Yeah. It fell into a, a few categories.

One were one was simply pages that didn’t exist. Like they keep, I keep bringing up the Hawaii snowmobile insurance. Like, it, it’s not a thing. So if, if, if it’s really just not a thing in the world, remove it. Just take it off the website. There were also a bunch of articles that weren’t relevant, one of which was, and I kid you not, was about.

How to how to cheat the h o v lane and cheat, let me rephrase, . We weren’t encouraging people to cheat the, the H O V lane, however, we reported on folks using a dummy in the seats, ah, in the, in the passenger seat to cheat the h o b lane . 

Jared: Right. , I’m guessing that might’ve been heavily searched term. 

Nick: Yeah.

And if you could, if you could imagine the the blow up dummy from the movie airplane , that, that was the image in the article. So we’re, we’re gonna take that out. Right. So, so there was a lot of thinning out content, just that just wasn’t applicable. And we had a process for doing that. So this, this, this may be helpful to dig in, to dig into a little bit.

So we had, we had a concept that we kicked around. It was called Bowness, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. What is the site about? So we, we had to determine what we were gonna write about and what we weren’t gonna write about. We’re gonna maintain certain content, we know it’s cords of the company, how to get your license, how to get your, your registration, et cetera, et cetera.

But then there was a bunch of all good ideas in the spirit of brainstorming that would show up and people expected their act, their, their ideas to be acted on. Well, it has to fit a certain framework. So we created, we, we created a, an about this framework. So our definition of about this was an engagement with the DMV before, 30 days before and 30 days after it, it was, it was a visit, but sometimes in some states, people get a piece of mail, right?

That’s what happens in California. Did you want your registration for your car? You bet. Here’s, here’s the, here’s the check and I get in the mail. So it was an engagement with the dmv. So if it mapped two 30 days before, 30 days after engagement with the dmv, it was part of our about this. And then it would still have to be scrutinized smart.

But what, but what we weren’t gonna do and if you can imagine a bullseye, right? This is the focus of the website. It’s about you and your car, and then a balloon’s out from there. You could, because you and your car, you could argue driving gloves were part of that equation. Yep. Well, it’s not, it’s too far out.

It’s too far out, right? So what are, what are the, you need to def define? We defined the rings and then went further out from there to understand what was in scope and what was outta scope for us. So for folks building their website today, like not every good idea is a good idea. You, you, you should have a theme.

You should be known for something and using dv.org as the example here. If you take, if you were to run that website through the three query types, navigational, transactional, and informational. Well, as soon as we got hit by an algorithm update, because we are not the D M V, we lost all navigational searches.

They were just gone. We, we outranked the California DV and a bunch of other DMVs on the daily, and then we didn’t, and that was the, that was the 40% drop overnight. So if you don’t wanna lose navigational slash branded queries, you need a brand. You need to stand for something. You need to be the guy or the company behind X, Y, and Z.

If you dilute yourself too much or if you use generic terminology, chances are you’re not gonna be known for anything and you don’t have a brand. So it’s a long-term play versus we’ll say SEO tactics. 

Jared: Hmm. It’s great insights. I think that applies to almost every website at every level as you are mapping out where you’re going.

I I really want to get into this story of what happened a week after you left, but I have one more topic I wanna ask you about. Okay. Then, then we’ll, we’ll get to, then we’ll get to the, the crazy drop in traffic monetization. We haven’t talked monetization and I’ve been holding off on it. On purpose, I want to, I want to hear about how you guys monetize this site and any insights that you learned through, I mean, my goodness, the testing that you must have been able to pull off with that kind of traffic you Yeah.

I’m just sure that you guys really had some great monetization going on. We, 

Nick: we had a very talented team and so we, we did a lot of things. Well monetization was one of them. We had a gentleman who was running our AB testing, conversion optimization. Did a great job, fantastic job. But here’s an important thing to note with this website.

We never took a single credit card, not once. It was all through partners. We had, it was a, it was a content play. It was an information play. We wanted to help people with their, with their task. Also, sometimes helping people with their task is giving them the chance to transact with something as it relates to their tasks.

So there are companies out there who will sell you cheat sheets around practice tests. So you, you, you can download their cheat sheets, you can take the practice tests, and we, we partner with those folks. Those other folks will help you get your, your passport when you’re in a pinch. Other folks will help you get your license when you’re in a pinch I’m sorry, your registration when you’re in a pinch.

We partner with those folks. So e everything was a conversion off, off the site and we just partnered with a bunch of folks who had good products. So a 

Jared: lot of affiliates basically. I mean, to put it in a brass tack, 

Nick: that was it. We, we were, we were essentially a super affiliate because of the amount of traffic.

You know, we, we could, we could broker deals with folks who really wanted to be in our universe because the amount of traffic that we got and we had a vetting process, and if we had a partner come in, On a Monday and they stayed 30 days, whatever it was, we weren’t shy to challenge them with someone else who said, I bet I can beat them.

Okay. Well let, let’s see if you can, we had the traffic to get to typical significance to see what it would look like. Yeah. Was was it partner A or partner B or ad A with, right. With versus Ad B, whatever it was. We were able to do that pretty well. 

Jared: Any tips on things you learned from running these tests at scale?

I mean, I’m, I’m, I know comparing two different vendors is just a standard AB test, but more practical, kind of high level insights that you might have learned from anything from call to actions to placement to locations to that design. I, I’m just thinking out loud here. I’m not trying to yeah, I mean, tho 

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Nick: tell you which ones.

Yeah. Tho those are all relevant 100%. The, the biggest, one of the biggest battles that I recall internally was wanting to call it too early. because you, that the lines would start to go in certain directions and people were like, it’s obviously clear. Take a look. It’s been a week. We have it. And the conversation was it, the time doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re significant.

You’re seeing the timeline. That’s not, that’s not hitting the math we want, so let’s give it another week, another two weeks. We need to hit this number. And so once we hit significance, then we had our answer. But there was, there was always a gut reaction to, if it was, you know, a huge delta between the results to, to call it early.

And that’s just that’s just not how it’s done. You shouldn’t do that. 

Jared: The I have an undergraduate degree in econometrics, so the nerd in me wants to spend the next three hours talking about this, but it would just be me and you at the end of that too. . That’s great though. That’s really good. I, I think that, I mean, y you guys obviously had a, had a strong affiliate play.

You mentioned the car insurance. You mentioned all the different opportunities you had to partner with people. You also mentioned earlier that you started lacing ads into that. When did you guys put ads in the site, and was that a pretty big win or was that kind of a sub, a subservient to the, to the affiliate income that you earned?

Nick: Yeah, you know it, it was late in the game, I wanna say 20 17, 20 18, something like that. My recollection at the time was, it was, it was mixed because there were some partners that would take a hit, but overall we would have more. It. I think the biggest benefit was that it, it diversified our traffic or our revenue sources.

However, I, I don’t know exactly how much it Cannibalized or minimized partner relationships. I, I, that wasn’t my department and I, I would be speaking outta school to give a firm opinion on it. That’s 

Jared: fair. That’s fair. Yeah. I mean, there’s that debate that that lives on, but I mean, I’m sure that, like you said, the diversification was, was probably a, a big win even with some of the drawbacks.

Nick: Yeah. I, I do know, like if you’re working with AdThrive, one of these companies and you, and you go to put ads on your pages, they, they want to know cuz they want the, they want the, the prime positions, right? That like ad above the fold right here, you know, where all the eyes go. We want, we want our ad there.

We’re gonna make a lot of money. You’re gonna make a lot of money. What’s the value of this call to action? You should know the value of that call to ECMO before you replace it or challenge it with a, with a banner ad display ad, because those guys should be able to tell you out of the gate, we can’t meet a hundred dollars for, for whatever the, whatever the, the metrics are.

Like our math does not beat up your math. We, we know that it’s never going to. Or you should know that maybe the math will beat up your math and then, and then test your website. Well, let’s 

Jared: talk about what happened the week after you left and I mean, you left the site in twenty eighteen, a hundred eighty 5 million page views a month a year at that time.

I keep, yeah, going back and forth 185 million pages views a year. But but, but things changed about a week later. 

Nick: Yeah. So we, we got early signals, I think it was in July of 2019, I’m sorry, j July of 2018 where we were doing some amount of paid search and our ads stopped getting approved. We couldn’t.

We weren’t, we weren’t able to work as efficiently as we could with, with Google paid search. We talked to our rep, didn’t really have any good answers, but it, it became a constant issue. Ads would show, things would get approved. They would not then, they were not, they were paused. It, it wasn’t working out.

I believe it was September of 2018 where we got a, we got about a 15% demotion in seo. So that was noticeable for us. When we started to dig into Word Out came from, it was largely around the agencies that had good sites, the agencies that had budgets, California, New York, et cetera. So a better website beat.

Our website in that scenario. I remember talking to one of the executives and he said, well, well what do you think? And I said, well, it’s either an algorithm change where Google is deciding that we are fundamentally not the DM B and we shouldn’t be out ranking them. It’s, it’s one of the two, we just don’t know.

Yeah. One, one something we write out and, and the other is potentially catastrophic. So , right. I 

Jared: was gonna say you can’t change, I guess we’ll put that under the Google’s bucket of, I guess search intent. I, in that, in that if they, if they decide that search intent is for them not to land on your page, there’s, you can’t SEO your way out of that.

Nick: Well, I mean, I shouldn’t have a website called Ask Jared if people want to talk to you, . Right? Like it does, it doesn’t, it fundamentally doesn’t make any sense. Mm-hmm. , it doesn’t make sense. And, and I, and I say that firmly believing what we did was a service. We did, we did make things easier for people to navigate.

100%. I, I was wearing my little badge at one of the conferences one day and they’re like, I’d love your website. You were able to help me register my car. I had no idea. But then I read your website, fantastic. We did help people. And we are also not the dmv. We shouldn’t be out ranking them. So come January of 2019, I got the phone call, or, or the text from my former manager and he says, yeah, so it’s been, it’s been less than a week.

You’ve been gone and we lost 40% over. And I, I picked up the phone. I called him. I said, so like, are you, are you kidding? Or what, what’s going on? No, no, I’m not kidding. This is not something I would kid about 40% overnight. Okay. Well, let’s take a look. Did you, did you push something and it didn’t work out?

Tycka om 

Jared: what’s, is this that darn canonical issue again? . Yeah. Right, 

Nick: right. Who doesn’t know the technical? But when it comes right down to it, it was, it was Google saying you should not be outranking the state agencies with navigational or branded terms. 

Jared: And so you lost all navigational queries? Yes.

And that was the 40%. Was there any effect on the informational queries? Did Google still want to reward you as a helpful result when people clearly weren’t trying to go to the dmv, but were trying to learn about DMV topic? 

Nick: Yes. So, so think about it this way. And, and things changed over a couple years, right?

But it took a couple rounds for Google to really kick this website outta the algorithm because of the history, because of all the links, right? They sort of had to do something with their own algorithm to target. This is my theory. Yeah. Right? So when this, when this change came through, I was taking, I was taking a [e-postskyddad], dv.com, social security.org, right?

So all of these government agency names, not with.gov at the end of it, so.org, dot net, dot info, dot, whatever it is with agency sounding name. And they all got demoted to page two. So somewhere, I think is, is a line of code that says, if sounds like government and doesn’t sound like and doesn’t end in.gov, get out the way.

Right? Get out of the way. And so if it was a navigational query, California dmv, at least at the time it was California dmv 1, 2, 3, 4, et cetera, they intentionally took up the space. They wanted to push everyone down, which they’ve said. At least once or twice. We want diversity in the search results. We don’t want the same site showing up more than once.

Yeah. Well, except sometimes yeah, sometimes that’s true and sometimes that’s not true. So we were able to rank better for they were, at this point, they, they were able to rank better for informational queries. And things sort of normalized out. But over time, based on what I’m seeing there, there’s this long tail of losing traffic.

It, it doesn’t mean it’s not a still a viable business, it just means it’s not the business that I, that I knew that I worked in. 

Jared: You sent over a screenshot in our back and forth Yeah. A dubious honor of sorts to be included in the I believe it was the quality radar guidelines for Google, right?

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that was sort of funny to see that. And, and it wasn’t explicit around a, a website per se. It was in the context of local, but. The Quality Raider guides, to my knowledge, had never anything about the DMV before then. And magically after this website gets chopped off at the knees, there’s, you know, a sort, sort of a subtle cue 

Jared: to it.

It was subtle. It was subtle. But after the hour we’ve spent talking, I’m not sure how subtle it really was. . 

Nick: Well, anyone else will look at that and go, eh, okay. But when you’re, when you’re in it, you go, oh, oh yeah, that makes 

Jared: sense, . Yeah, now I get it. Yeah. It was basically an inclusion of, of, of talking about intent, I believe was the best way.

You know, Google’s addressing how a qual a quality rate would understand search intent. And they happened to use D M V as an example, which ironically, that example showed up subsequently, right after a lot of this demotion happened. , 

Nick: it’s, it’s some funny timing, that’s for sure. . 

Jared: Yeah. I mean, At one point, this site, I think you said was in the top 200 websites on the web in terms of traffic.

It was, yeah. Yeah, it was, yeah, absolutely killing it. It’s you haven’t been involved since 20 18 20 19, so, so obviously not a lot of insights since then, but. From a high level. I mean, it’s, it sounds like this site did so many things right. And not really by a fault of its own kind of got put back into where the new Google landscape has them.

Right. And I think if we just take that story as an aside or as a high level, I think a lot of site owners might be in a similar situation with so many Google updates. Right. And it’s hard to understand if you got penalized in an update versus maybe Google just taking away traffic from you that they no longer think applies to you.

They can feel the same, but maybe speak into that a little bit if you could your thoughts on if there are any differences there and how site owners can kind of process through a lot of these algorithm changes that are, that are happening thick and fast now. 

Nick: Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s so much going on at this point.

One way to take a look at it is do you have a brand or do you not have a brand? Right? You, you should be known for something. You, you, you should have an identity tied to yourself. If, if you’re going to, I’m, I’m gonna be harsh, and it’s not entirely inaccurate. But from one perspective, I think it is, given the 40% drop, if you’re gonna masquerade a round is something that you are not, then you can, you should expect the consequences of that, right?

Just that’s what this evidence speaks to. So if, if your website is best car insurance.org or something like that, it’s a query. It’s not a website. That’s not a company, it’s, it’s what’s some, right? It’s not a brand. So if you wanna do that, I mean, maybe it’s a short term thing, maybe you’re learning from your experiment, but I would not, I would not hang my hat on it at, at, at all.

Fa fast forward to just a couple weeks ago. AI content is looks really good, looks really intimidating from a content per production perspective. So what’s gonna happen with that? And there, then there’s gonna be some checks and balances around how do we sniff that out? What does it mean is equality, et cetera.

And even before that, part of the strategy of ranking in the top 10 is what did they do? How do I do what they’ve done better? And how do I add, here’s the most important part. How do I own my own? How do I add my own specific take on it? How do you actually make it better? Not just grab the five subcategories they mentioned on the one page, rewrite it better, no typos.

I mean, sometimes, sometimes a little bit better is actually a lot better. Mm-hmm. sometimes. It’s a crowded space and you better have a brand or else you’re not gonna be found next week. You need to stand for something. You, there needs to be a reason why someone has an affinity towards you and your website or else you are just playing the the Me Too game.

You’re just another candy bar on the shelf and you just may not get chosen at some point. 

Jared: Woo. Those are good words though. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot to unpack there. It’s very true though. Nick, this has been amazing. We could, we could we could have gone down a lot of rabbit trails and, and learned a lot, but I think that your story is just fascinating.

There’s so many gold nuggets there, and congrats on that. I didn’t say it earlier, but congrats on the growth. I mean, if you look at it percentage wise, it’s one thing, but if you look at it in terms of the millions of page views that you added, that is just an insane number. So congrats on 

Nick: that. Thank you.

It was a ton. It was a ton of fun. We had an awesome team. Yeah. What a 

Jared: fun, what a fun ride. Hey, where you, you’re doing Atco nowadays. Where can people fall along with what you’re doing? And if they want, maybe get in. 

Nick: Yeah, for sure. And thank you. Optics in.com is my agency. We’re a small SEO agency.

We provide content, technical audits, links you know, we do all the SEO things. Also provide some coaching around folks who wanna do it for themselves. And the most recent thing that that’s exciting, assuming I actually do it, is I’m gonna produce an SEO class in 2023 with the learnings from things like this, from dean db.org to help folks who are managing a mature website.

And for folks who are coming out with their own website, their first website, second website, whatever it is, to avoid those pitfalls, to fast track the learning so they’re not swimming through a bunch of content. There’s a lot of good content out there. There’s also a lot of confusing content around seo.

So the idea is help folks get to their destination faster with this. 

Jared: Great. Okay. We’ll get a link to that in the show notes. Nick, thanks so much for coming by telling your story. It’s been really fascinating to hear about the site and about all the things that you did on it. Thank you again. Pleasure, Jared.

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7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for Research in 2023


7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for Research in 2023

There was a time when research meant countless hours spent in libraries, flipping through books and encyclopedias.

Then, almost magically, the internet revolutionized our ability to research, making information accessible with just a few clicks.

And now, you can use ChatGPT for research, taking it a step further, leveraging an AI-powered research assistant at your fingertips.

But to truly harness its potential, it’s essential to master the art of crafting prompts and knowing how to direct ChatGPT effectively.

That’s where this article comes in handy. We’ve compiled 7 amazing ways to use ChatGPT for research, helping you dig deeper, save time, and even some cash.

So if you’re ready to take your research game to the next level, then settle in and read on.

Using Chatgpt for Research: 7 Methods

These 7 methods apply to a variety of research topics and questions. Whether you’re summarizing dense content or pulling facts from statistical studies, ChatGPT can help you format research quickly:

1. Summarize Complex Information

Whether you have to write a research paper, complete a book review, or quickly grasp the concept of scientific research, ChatGPT is a helpful tool for demystifying complex information.

Students, researchers, and professionals in various fields handle large volumes of information. The more information available, the greater the need for a tool that helps summarize this information. The artificial intelligence model-ChatGPT uses natural language processing (NLP) to make summarizing quick and efficient.

You can also use ChatGPT for updating content that has irrelevant data by asking it to remove unnecessary parts.

It’s trained on a large dataset, and when requested to provide a summary, it fine-tunes on a smaller dataset to provide human-like responses. You can summarize content such as:

  • A literature review
  • Technical topics
  • Böcker

To summarize information you can write prompts that lets the AI model understand what you’re looking for. You can either paste the text and request a summary or type TLDR with the link to the article or book. You’ll be amazed by ChatGPT’s ability to respond with high-quality content in a matter of seconds.

2. Create Lists of Ideas

Du kan använda ChatGPT for brainstorming to help in your writing process. As the model is built on a large set of training data it is good at suggesting ideas and generating relevant responses.

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To utilize the tool, you first need a solid idea – this will define the way you will use the AI model to generate content. Then you can condition your prompts in the following ways to achieve the best set of ideas:

  • Ask for prompts on a specific topic that can help to deepen your research
  • Use specific keywords that direct ChatGPT in the right direction
  • Ask ChatGPT to list relevant topics so you can branch out from your original research
  • Write a brief sentence about the idea you have and ask for suggestions
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3. Find Gaps and Weaknesses in a Text

ChatGPT can function as an editing assistant when writing research papers. It can find any gaps in your content, which you can then use to improve the quality of your research.

ChatGPT is trained on a large language model, so it can easily identify and offer suggestions for improving your content. Its wide knowledge base provides useful points you can cover to increase the authenticity and depth of your research.

To use this feature, you can feed the outline of your research paper or paste the text in the chat box. ChatGPT will then develop ideas to help you write a well-rounded piece and save time. With this accessible interface, you don’t have to ask anyone else to go through your research!

1685650126 334 7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for

Want to try an all-inclusive AI tool that will take your research skills to the next level? Give Jaspis a try!

4. Generate Additional Research Questions

ChatGPT can also help you generate research questions. It uses its NLP capabilities to analyze a text and develop additional questions related to the topic.

These questions can be part of an initial research plan or as further discussion points within your project. Additionally, having a list of research questions makes it easier to track progress and stay on track with your research.

To generate questions, enter a prompt in the chat box describing your research topic. ChatGPT will then suggest related questions and topics to help you expand your current research.

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5. Generate Demographic and Persona Profiles

Research is about more than the topic at hand – it’s also about the people reading the content you’ve crafted from your research. So knowing a bit about your reader base can go a long way in telling you how (and what) to communicate to your readers.

Is this research meant for beginners without prior knowledge of a topic or for seasoned professionals?

Will it mostly be read by people of a certain age group, or are other factors at play, like income, opinions, or interests?

Using ChatGPT for research can help you answer all these questions.

To begin, enter a brief description of the target audience in ChatGPT’s chat box.

You will then get an AI-generated persona profile with data points such as age, location, gender, interests, and more. This information can be used to tailor your research so it resonates with the right people in the right way.

1685650126 775 7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for

6. Analyze Statistical Data

Statistical data can be hard to understand, let alone make insightful and helpful conclusions.

Luckily, ChatGPT can help you analyze and interpret complex data sets in seconds.

You can ask it to format scientific research and data in a variety of ways, including:

  • Isolating the most important piece of data
  • Organizing the data in a legible format
  • Analyzing correlations between different arrays of data
  • Writing a summary of the data

To use this feature, enter the relevant datasets into the chat box and let ChatGPT do the rest. It will quickly crunch through all available information, generate useful graphs, and identify patterns that are worth noting down for further research.

1685650126 87 7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for

7. Generate Content in the Tone of Reputable Sources

Research papers tend to be written in a formal, authoritative tone. If you want your content to be taken seriously by top publishers, it’s important that your writing is consistent with the standards of those sources.

Sounding authoritative is as much an art as a science, and using ChatGPT for research is all about getting that balance just right. There are plenty of ways to get ChatGPT to improve the quality of your content, from using its AI-driven grammar and spell check to generating content that aligns with the tone used by reliable sources.

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To use this feature, enter the text you want to be improved into ChatGPT’s chat box and ask it to be rewritten in a certain style.

You may ask the bot to write the content in the tone of a specific public figure respected in the industry or to align your writing with a particular publication’s style. You can also use adjectives and adverbs to give your writing a more authoritative vibe.

The bot will then generate content with the same authority level as expected from any highly-regarded source.

1685650126 606 7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for

How to Responsibly Use ChatGPT for Research: The Importance of Fact-Checking

7 Of The Most Effective Ways to Use ChatGPT for

While ChatGPT offers an incredible tool for research, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not infallible.

To use AI tools responsibly and ensure the accuracy of your findings, always fact-check the information provided by the AI.

By cross-referencing with reliable sources and verifying the data, you can maintain high credibility in your work while still enjoying the benefits of AI-assisted research.

This balanced approach will boost the quality of your content and help you create content that adds value to the world. And you may also want to check out our review of Longshot AI for a tool that attempts to help you with this process!

Final Thoughts: How to Use Chatgpt for Research

Leveraging ChatGPT for research can be a game-changer regarding efficiency and productivity. However, it’s crucial to maintain a balance between AI assistance and human judgment, ensuring that fact-checking and verification remain integral parts of the process.

One of the best tools for creating AI content with human-focused insights is Jaspis. This multi-purpose AI tool can make it easy to insert factual data and references into your work while still keeping the content engaging and concise.

Check out our Jasper AI review to decide if this tool suits your research needs.


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Hur Tony Hill ökade sin webbplats till 8 miljoner sidvisningar per månad efter att ha förlorat hälften av sin trafik till en Google-uppdatering


Hur Tony Hill ökade sin webbplats till 8 miljoner sidvisningar per månad efter att ha förlorat hälften av sin trafik till en Google-uppdatering

Ready to take a bunch of notes that could help give your site a competitive advantage in the SERPs?

Tony Hill joins the Niche Pursuits podcast to share his experience recovering a website from a Google update.

Tony’s been building niche websites since 2005 and is very familiar with core updates.

For instance, he had some health sites doing big numbers wiped out by the Medic Update. However, it was the May 2020 core update that was particularly devastating, causing his main 18-year-old site to lose almost half its traffic in just a few weeks.

To recover from the update, Tony and his 10-person team formulated a bullet-proof game plan to recover the site.

The strategy included a comprehensive process to improve the site’s existing 1200 pages.

They started by using Google’s NLP API to analyze their content and improve its salience score. They found that word order is crucial to help the algorithm better understand your content. So at the sentence, paragraph, and article level, they made a deliberate effort to put the subject first.

An academic tool called Sketch Engine also helped them to analyze language patterns in top-ranking articles on some of the biggest sites in the world. And found that using second-person language and specific, confident wording can improve content quality.

So Tony and his team then reviewed their content to make it clearer and more confident, using specific and directive language. They didn’t delete any articles but rather cut out fluffy sentences and paragraphs and added more information when needed.

Other specific tactics included improving readability, adding more visuals, and updating outdated information.

They also added more categories and subcategories to their website to help users navigate content.

By focusing on updating content one category at a time, they continuously experimented and tested to see what worked. They also read competitor’s articles word for word to see how they structured their content to make improvements to their own.

They also worked with expert writers and editors to ensure quality and establish a persona for the site. They also created a contributor’s page, an Ask an Expert section on the site, and paid experts to answer questions on Quora and Reddit.

He also made a point to flesh out the schema of every article, going above and beyond the typical author schema and entity data.

They also made great use of internal linking, aiming to include at least one internal link in every paragraph of an article, sometimes even linking to the same article twice in an article.

Considering their substantial success in Google Discover, they also analyzed their most successful articles and found that related topics were being featured, so they created new articles on related topics and grew their success in Google Discover.

And after a year of consistent effort and multiple Google updates, Tony’s site not only recovered its lost traffic but experienced significant growth, now receiving nearly 8 million page views per month.

Tony’s interview is a high-level masterclass in site operations and site recovery that can help site owners at all levels. The way he thinks outside the box to improve the strength of his content will not only inspire you to do the same but also give you actionable steps you can start using today!

Topics Tony Hill Covers

  • Building his first niche site in 2005
  • Google Updates
  • Prioritizing updates over new content
  • The history of his 18-year-old site
  • Importance of testing and taking action
  • Updating one category at a time
  • Comparing your content to competitors
  • Google’s salience score
  • Putting the subject first and foremost in your content
  • Adding more categories and sub-categories
  • Being direct and confident in your language
  • Use of experts and personal experience
  • Building out a complete author schema
  • Liberal use of internal linking
  • Google Discover tips
  • And lots more!

Links & Resources

Watch The Interview


Jared: All right. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Baumen. Today we are joined by Tony Hill. Tony, welcome. 

Tony: Hey Jared. Thanks for having me. 

Jared: Thanks for being on board. This is this is gonna be such a good one. I was telling you before we hit record, just how excited I am because this episode is going to be, A really good mix of tactical, know-how tactical approach that you took and then just a good shot of inspiration.

I think a lot of people are gonna be really inspired by your story today and and, and kind of what you made out of a tough situation. So anyways, cool. I’m just really excited to have you on, on board today, so thanks for coming. 

Tony: Yeah, for sure. 

Jared: So a meat and potatoes of today is how you recovered a website from a from an update, from a Google update.

But before we get into that, like give us some backstory. Set the stage not only for maybe what you were doing prior to building websites, but also leading us up to kind of the situation we’re gonna have in front of us 

Tony: today. Okay, cool. Yeah, so, you know, I launched my first niche website back in 2005.

I launched it with a coworker. He and I are working for a web design agency. And you know, we were tasked with helping clients with their seo and we had no idea what to do. And so I turned to seo book.com. I dunno if you’ve heard of that in Aaron Wall back in the day. I printed it out as a huge stack of papers like that and So just started going through it and learning everything I could about SEO and just fell in love with it.

And so my coworker and I were like, man, like why don’t we just try building our own website? We can rank it on Google, see what we can do, make, make some money through ads. I was aware of ads since, cuz I started, I. My very first website when I was a senior in high school back in 2003, and I set up absence on it and started clicking on it every day after school.

Earning, earning you know, maybe 20 bucks a day. I thought it was really cool until my account got banned a few months later. I got a lot of other people, I’m sure. So I learned my lesson there, but you know, so that’s how I got into it. And yeah, we started our, our first site together and we got into the medical niche.

And so we had a lot of health websites that we had built up. And, you know, back then it was pretty easy to rank websites. You just needed keywords sprinkled throughout. And not a whole lot of content, and it was easy to pop up as number one. And so, you know, I’ve been doing this for about 18 years now and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs.

I’ve been hit by all sorts of Google updates, from panda to penguin to the medic updates and core updates, and so, Yeah, I, I understand the, the peaks and the valleys of being in this business. And so I’ve had good days and bad days, and right now things are going well with my primary site and recovering from a core update.

And so I, I enjoy th those highs. I, I try to take time to enjoy it. It’s, it’s so easy. Just get to focus on the next thing and not to like stop and take a moment and celebrate some of the wins that come along the way. 

Jared: Take a moment to talk about maybe the current nature of, and this is just from your opinion, but the current nature of Google’s updates that happen.

And then kind of going back to more of the more the bigger, more landscape shifting type updates that happened that you mentioned Panda Penguin, the medic update, like mm-hmm. You know, you’ve been doing this for, for a long, a long time. How do, how does your approach to these updates kind of change as they’ve changed over the years?

Tony: Yeah. For one There’s a lot more nuance to it. You know, they, everyone, it was really more rare for Google to throw out an update within a couple weeks or even two updates at one time, like what they can do these days. And so it was a few times a year they’d have some big updates that we would be, have to be prepared for.

And. And, and there were less people you know, reporting and diving in on the details and sharing what they were learning. And so, and there were some forms I was a part of and tried to learn from. But now there’s just so much information out there and people sharing information, which is super helpful to, you know, try to diagnose and figure out what, what’s going on.

But right now, I mean, it just feels like everybody’s just getting slapped left and right constantly throughout the year. Trying to keep up with all these updates is, is crazy. And You know, it’s, it’s a little more nerve-wracking these days than it was back in the day with, you just don’t know what’s gonna happen.

I’ve seen great sites just tank, and then like a month later they’re right back up. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen some of those charts. It’s, they fall off a cliff and they just come right back up, fall off the cliff and right back up. And so my approach here is, you know, The, the long term for sure. I mean, already being, having one, one site in particular that I’ve been working on for 18 years, I just have a different perspective on how to approach the site as a whole versus someone who just started a site maybe in the last couple years.

That’s, you’re still so, so early in like that baby phase, that newborn phase almost. But I’ve got a grown adult now, eight, you know, 18 years and so. Yeah, there, it’s, it’s constantly evolving. If you were to go back to, you know the archive the archive org, I believe, and you can look up you know, screenshots of sites over time.

Yeah. And you can just see how my sites have evolved and, and so much since day one. And so it’s just that constant and never ending any improvement there that we’re focusing a lot on. And so just trying to find new, new things we can try and trying to find inspiration wherever we can. 

Jared: It’s so true that man, you have an 18 year old site that is absolutely fascinating in so many ways that you’ve been working on the same site in in one regard for that long.

Well, okay. Let’s we have a lot to get into today, so I don’t wanna, we can probably talk about the last 18 years of SEO for. At least half the podcast, which I would actually enjoy. But too many good things to, to talk through. You’ve been great about generating a really long list of the, the processes or the tactics you went through.

But before we get to that, let’s set the stage for this specific website we’re gonna be talking about, because we’re talking about how to recover from a Google update. Yep. Let’s talk about maybe where the site was, some of the, the, the, the makeup of the site prior to it getting hit by the update.

Tony: Yeah, you know, the site was in a place where prior to the update we were focused a lot on new content. You know, I, I can also suffer from shiny object syndrome and trying to tackle the next you know, big keyword that’s starting to pop up. And looking at my competitors and seeing what they’re doing, and there’s.

There’s always that gap between, you know, some of the topics they’re covering and what I’m covering. And so I want to close that gap, but I also want to, you know, post new content that they’re not posting yet. And so I think I lost sight on. Keeping up with the existing content. And I was too focused, put too much, too many resources onto the new content.

Mm-hmm. And so that’s once, once we got by the, the core update in May, 2022 I took a step back and I was like, all right, there’s something about our content here that Google doesn’t like. I cuz the entire site site just dropped. I mean, there were some sections and some articles that dropped more than others, but overall everything went down.

So fundamentally I knew. There’s just some lack of, of trust and maybe some freshness that Google’s looking for, and that we’re just not meeting that a as well as users, right? At the end of the day, look, you know, people who are visiting the site, I mean, they’re gonna want up-to-date information.

They’re gonna want information that’s helpful, that’s accurate. And for some, Depend on the niche that you’re in. Some niche requires you to update your content more than others. And so that’s the position I found myself in. And so that’s where you know, we pivoted and we took our, our publishing schedule for new content way down to just one day a week.

And the rest of the time we dedicated all of our. Resources towards going back through all of our existing content, one section at a time, one article at a time, one paragraph at a time, one sentence at a time, and in some cases, one word at a time. We got pretty detailed in how we approached it and looking at our content through a new lens.


Jared: us about the. Tell us about the like where the site was at prior to May, 2022. I mean, in terms of traffic numbers. Mm-hmm. Number of pages, number of articles you had, just to give people an idea of the scope and if you can, you know, tell us a little bit more about the niche it was in, even if it’s even for, from a really broad standpoint.

Tony: Yeah, for sure. So the site was doing maybe around two, two and a half million uniques a month before we got hit plus a, a lot more depending on how we were doing with Google Discover. So, you know, a lot of people know Google Discover that algorithm is closely tied to the, their core update algorithms for their primary search engine engine.

And so we were getting a ton of traffic from Google Discover anywhere from, you know, 10,000 people a day to a hundred thousand people a day if something really blew up and, and could discover. We have about 1200 articles on the site. It’s in the lifestyle category, and so we we’re focused a lot on texts, but as well as media.

So it’s very visual. But also there’s still a lot of, of details that we try to communicate through texts as well. So with 1200 articles yeah, that was. That was a lot to process and, and get through and look at. And honestly we haven’t even finished it cuz it was so big and we were just spending so much time on it.

But these days you know, bec once we recovered from the core update I was, I would be happy just to get my traffic back, but we ended up, you know, at this rate, I think 50, 60% higher than we we originally were. So I’m pretty stoked about that. So right now we’re doing. Close to 4 million uniques a month, over 8 million page views.

And we’re back in Google Discover. It’s not quite as booming as it, as it once was, but I’m, I’m starting to see some patterns in Google Discover that I am going to be focusing on and seeing what What I can get to, to work. I’ve already ran one test already, and, and it, it popped in discover and, and did pretty well send like, you know, 30,000 people to it.

So that part’s fun too. So those 

Jared: are some big numbers. I think that that’s one of the most important things to take away is I mean a larger site, 1200 pages is no simple feat to, to make updates too. But you were getting millions and millions of page views per month and then that just plummeted.

What kind of, what kind of plummeting happened? After the May, 2020, like how bad was it? 

Tony: Yeah, it was, it wasn’t as bad as when Covid hit, if you remember, in March and, and April of 2020. That just tanked completely. And so that was probably the worst day. So this, so this one may wasn’t quite as bad.

You know, we were able to, to keep things afloat, keep everyone on the team. We were, we were scraping by you know, just. Just losing like almost half our traffic, you know over the course of a couple weeks is pretty brutal. But you know, the nice part about running niche sites is that they can be pretty profitable, especially with pro with your margins there.

You know I d how much you’re investing in, in content and whatnot, but. So we were prepared for it. I, I wasn’t shocked and I’ve, I’ve gone through it before. I’ve seen, I’ve seen worse days. You should see the analytics on my medic medical websites. Those went from, you know we were doing 20 to 30,000 visits a day, and they tanked, you know, to, to maybe a hundred.

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So, oh my gosh. Yeah, 

Jared: that one was pretty, I remember the medic update that was absolutely life changing from a an SEO perspective. And I mean, if you happen to be caught up in that medical space, who it was, unless you happen to be lucky and have been doing the things that they now required, you were just Yeah.

Swept off the, off the map. Yeah, 

Tony: for sure. And you know, At that point, we were actually doing a lot of things that they were requiring before a lot of other health websites were. So we were getting our content, they were ghosts written, but they were then reviewed by a doctor and then reviewed by another doctor.

So peer reviewed or had another doctor just double checking everything. We had their names on the articles of, you know, who wrote it, who reviewed it. We had bios. We were doing all that back in 2015. It still wasn’t good enough. A lot of it, it just came to, you know, having that trust with your links and being one of those high level sites that, you know, you’ve got back links from the New York Times or WebMD, et cetera.

I mean, we just weren’t operating at that level. So I think that that was a big part of it too. I’d imagine the links are, At least back then and, and probably still now is a huge part of, at least the medical niche for sure. So, mm-hmm. We bowed out at that point, I knew there was just, there’s no way to, to turn this ship around if we were already com we’re doing a lot of things that Google was recommending and we still tanked.


Jared: That’s the tough part about updates though. It’s a good transition for us to talk about, you know, your site now and what you, the road you took to recovery. Mm-hmm. So let me use that as a transitional point. Before we go through every step you took, like how did you evaluate the site? That’s one of the hardest parts for someone, especially someone as you mentioned, who maybe is a couple years in on their journey.

And it’s very difficult to take a step back after getting hit by an update and say, mm-hmm what’s wrong and where do I need to go to go forward? Oftentimes you, you know, you. You kind of feel like the content’s pretty good. Mm-hmm. You see competitors that are ranking without many more back links than you, you, you know, see there’s all these feedback that you’re getting, whether from yourself or from third party data that would.

And make it kind of hard to understand how to set a plan and where to go. How do you recommend, or how did you analyze your site to come up with a list of things to do? 

Tony: Yep. So beyond just the basics of, you know, looking at Google Search Console or looking at Google Analytics to look and see which pages dropped, which categories or sections of the site dropped When it came to analyzing our, our content and what we’re doing wrong honestly, there were a lot of little experiments that I’ve been doing along the way prior to this update hitting where I would learn something from a form or from Twitter or a podcast and I’d be like, oh, I should try that out.

And so, I would test it on an article or two and then look back if I remember to see, oh, did do anything with the traffic, you know? And and then I just kept moving forward and trying different things. But I wasn’t consist one, I think the problem is that I wasn’t consistently looking back to see if those if those things moved the needle are not, are not and then also just taking, you know, good notes and.

Then also trying to out more than just one article. Cause sometimes you just get lucky and make some tweaks to an article and it pops up. Yeah. And then you tried it again on another one and, and nothing happens. And so there were just a lot of little things. So, I mean, I did take some notes along the way of things that I tried and I just went back through them like, all right, which of these, these things that I’ve tried that I could really.

Expand this and, and implement it in more articles and see what works. And so there were, honestly, there were like 30 things that I, we we’ve done over the last year or so. And it was frustrating because. We, we tried so many and like nothing was changing. I mean, there was a core update in last fall and nothing happened with that core update, but we just kept pressing forward.

So, you know, my advice is, at least what worked for me is taking notes on. What you’re learning out there, like through podcasts like this and, and implementing it. Try it on at least a couple of articles and see what happens. Sick notes on that. You know, what, what you tried the date you did it. Set a reminder on your calendar if you need to, to go back and, and check analytics and or your rankings to see if anything happened.

And honestly, in some cases, my experience, it’s nothing’s gonna move the needle until the next core update. And so that part, you know, Google’s a bit of a, a black box, and so it’s just a lot of, a lot of testing and experimenting and not just buying an SEO course and just perusing through it and not implementing anything, or you just do it half baked, you know you’re not fully implementing what they’re suggesting.

And I’ve, I’ve done that all, all throughout the years. And so Just my encouragement for others to not do that and to actually take action and see it through I think is, is a big part of it. I mean, then the information’s out there, the knowledge is out there. I think just people really struggle taking action.

And where, where do you start? Like, I mean, honestly I just looked at what was the category on our site that was the, the lowest performing one. The one that we honestly neglected a lot and like, let’s just start there. That was our weakest link. So let’s, let’s focus on that category and then move on to the next one.

And so that’s what we’ve done. We’ve taken it one category at a time. Rather than like choosing random ones or the ones, even the articles that were the hardest hit, we still, there were some that we still haven’t gotten to and they’ve seen some improvements for sure, but they haven’t fully recovered yet, even from this past core update.

So, So we still have more work to do. And that was indicative to me that, alright, so there are these things that we’re doing that is tied to this core update because they’ve made Jurassic improvements in, in full recoveries versus articles that we haven’t touched. And they didn’t do that from this last core update.

I was gonna 

Jared: ask you about that. Yeah. I’m glad you pointed out. For starters and if you’re new hearing that like oftentimes you get hit hard by a core update, it’s gonna take another core update to recover. Not always, but that’s by and large. Typically what happens, and like you said, sometimes it takes a couple core updates.

Don’t know why I could theorize, but that’s not what people are here to listen to. So sometimes you can take a couple core updates. So even if you make a bunch of updates after a core update and then another one happens and you didn’t rebound, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what you did isn’t gonna work.

It sometimes just takes more than one core 

Tony: update. That’s right. Yep. That’s exactly what my experience was. So it’s just not losing sight of, of what it is that you want to implement. And you know, I’ve, I’ve got a team behind me. There’s 10 of us. And so it’s nice that we’ve, we set weekly goals. We hold each other accountable in that way.

And so when we’ve got a project, like we set it up as a project and we’ve, we’re tracking it and everyone has a role and like, We’re gonna see it through. So having that level of accountability has been huge for me personally. And so I know there’s a lot of people out there that are running their own site on their own, and they, that is one component that some people I’m sure are missing and that would really raise their game as far as, you know, taking action and, and holding themselves accountable.

And, you know, maybe that’s where they can join, you know, forums or mastermind group appears where, you know, they can have that accountability. 

Jared: That’s a good call. Yeah. Yeah. You can sit down, you can sit down and look and stare and analyze and run reports and sift through age refs or sim rush and pour over Google search console data.

But at some point, I, I kinda like what you said, like I just looked at the worst, the one that got hit the most and I started there. 

Tony: That’s right. Yep. You know, so I think. First and and foremost, the I’ll mention that, you know, our content has, was a mix of being written by experts, but also some freelance writers.

And so we, that was something else that I was looking at and, and reviewing our content, and I could see the weak spots in it. And so I know there are other, other site owners who write, just write content all on their own. And there are others that hire, you know, some writers to do it for them. And so it.

I think that’s where if you, either yourself or maybe someone else that, you know, ask them to read one of your articles and, and, and start there and, and give feedback. And honestly, you’ll start to see patterns. That’s, that’s what I’ve noticed. And so once I started seeing patterns where, like I sat down and I was reading these articles, I haven’t, I’ve never written and.

I’ve, I’ve scammed, I’ve skimmed them before. But they, before they were published, but I didn’t look at word for word. Mm-hmm. What exactly was being published, you know? And so once I took the time to read them word for word, and then I went to some of my top competitors, I, I looked at some of their articles and read them word for word.

I don’t, I mean, be. Before that, I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually read a competitor’s article. Every single word. Some of these articles are like 5,000, 8,000 words long. So I mean, it takes a while to get through, but it was an eye-opening experience, just reading their content and like literally I would have two windows open my, my article on the left and, and my competitor’s article on the right.

And just kind of going, going through and comparing and seeing like, okay, I, I see their approach there and, and, and how they, they. Put this paragraph together or structure the article or how they wrote, wrote this sentence. And, and they honestly, they did an easy, they did a better job at making content easier for people to read as well as I think for search engines like Google to read and understand.

And so that, that’s the trade off of when you have writers either who don’t have the full expertise or experience They, they can get kind of wordy cuz they’ve got, a lot of times they have a quota to meet. Right? And so they can put in some fluff sentences. So I saw a lot of that. And then we, we have experts who also write content but they’re not great writers, you know, and so trying to improve their writing as, as well, something that, that we focus a lot on.

Jared: Well, you published a really awesome breakdown of what you did on Twitter, and I’m gonna include a link to that specific tweet that you had in the show notes. So anybody who’s listening mm-hmm. Or watching, you can open that up. And I don’t wanna make you read it line for line necessarily, but maybe we could get into the tactics, like, and the exact set of things you did across the content to improve it.

And again, mm-hmm. I mean, it worked. It’s always hard to understand what of it was the, the key thing, probably all of it, or some collection of, most of it was the big, the big, the big driving force. But here we are, what, 11 months later, almost 12 months later. And you’ve had, you know a massive recovery.

But I, I’d love the detail and the depth you went into. Maybe we could start to, to walk through some of those different specifics that you did. 

Tony: Yeah, for sure. So. One of the, you know, I made a lot of updates to the content or my team really, they did so much of the work. But looking at how our. How we were writing our content I don’t know if you’re familiar with Google, is nlp.

They’ve got a, their API has a demo and you can pay, send content in there and it will analyze it and it will give it like a salience score. And that really is, is looking at. It’s gonna break down basically all your entities or all your topics or subjects in, in whatever content you give it. And then it’s gonna give it a saline score.

And that just really represents how important that particular word or entity is in the content. And, you know, I went through and started pacing in not the, well, I tried it with the entire article, but that wasn’t really the helpful. So I started pacing in just paragraphs of my, my content into, into their free demo.

And it was showing me. Entities that really, from my opinion, in perspective, were not what we were primarily talking about. But Google’s NLP and what, what they were trying to understand if, if they were seen in a completely different light. And so what I’ve learned is that words matter and word order matters.

And so we, again, I just started seeing patterns. So I would just take more and more paragraphs, put it into the demo, click the button, see what, see what it thought was the most important. Topic or subject of whatever it is that I had, paste it in there. And so understanding that, like, just tweaking some words, something the subject structure or the order of things made a drastic difference.

So, you know what, one it tip that I, that was really helped me is putting what, what are the subject of whatever it is you’re talking about in a, in a paragraph or even a sentence. Put it first and foremost. I mean, even in your article, you want your most important information up at the top. But even on a sentence level cuz it changes its meaning and understanding, not only for people, but also for for search engines like Ako who’s trying to understand what it is you’re talking about and the words you’re using.

Jared: So, and, and I’m familiar with nlp. I, I, I mean, just to be perfectly clear, you’re basically saying like, Hey, if we do a paragraph on horses the ordering of the words actually affected the type of horse entities or related entities that Google’s n l p picked up on and, and highlighted and, and gave a higher salience score for it.


Tony: that’s right. So the, so the example that I’ve shared in the past is. So say you’re writing an article about hiking, snow covered mountains. If you write a sentence that says it’s important to have a waterproof backpack when hiking snow covered mountains. Like if it’s important to have a waterproof backpack when hiking snow covered mountains.

If you run that through the NLP demo, it’s gonna tell you the most important topic or word is the waterproof backpack. And not the snow covered mountains, but the article, the whole intention is, you know, you’re writing about hiking in snow covered mountains. Like that’s the primary subject and the most important part of the article.

And, and really the sentence, but. The Google NLP is seen, that it’s the waterproof backpack is the most important. But if you were to just reverse the order of that and you say like, when hiking in snow covered mountains, it’s important to have a waterproof backpack, then that’s when the NLP tool will show you that snow covered mountains is gonna have the highest salience and, and as the most important part of that sentence and what you’re talking about.

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So yeah, the word of order Matters. It’s crazy. But that’s saying, I don’t want 

Jared: to get into like a specific like pin your backup against a wall kind of question because I’m, this is one of those, I’m sure the answer is, it depends the classic, but is it typically the case where moving, I mean, kinda like what you said, moving the most important words and moving the most important subject matter, front of the paragraph and front of the sentence mm-hmm.

Will typically have a positive impact on the salience score and thus what Google interprets that paragraph to be about. 

Tony: Yep, that’s right. And what it thinks it’s, and how it’s going to weight those words. Right? Cause it’s turning all those words into, into numbers. And it’s trying to figure out how they connect and, and what importance to give to it.

Yep. And you know what we also found that if you ever start a sentence with the word if I would actually move that to the backside of the sentence because generally you’re setting that up like you’re saying if, and then you’re setting it up for. Something important, and that’s at the end of the sentence.

And you wanna move that important thing into the beginning. And I think really that’s just helpful for, for humans as they’re reading and you’re saving them time and like you’re catching their attention with whatever it is that’s most important. Put that in the beginning of your article, but in the beginning of the paragraph, but in the beginning of the sentence, it’s 

Jared: like, my wife always says when you say the word, but in a sentence, you can ignore everything in 

Tony: front of it.

Ah, that’s a good one. That’s a good one. That’s a little bit more 

Jared: marital advice there though, but. Well that is a really, really fascinating tip that I haven’t heard, and my mind is already racing for all the different ways I write content myself that have probably confused Google over the years in terms of what I’m actually trying to talk about.

How did that roll out in a practical sense? Like were you rewriting. Paragraphs and sentences with this in mind and, and, and was it really just, let’s go back and really try to make sure were you we’re gonna get the salient score higher for the, the words and the phrases we want. Were you cross-checking that back into an lp or we’re using, were you using some sort of software?

A lot of us are familiar that like a surfer, SEO will have an lp as a part of their reporting and stuff. Like, I’m curious how you kind of started to roll this out at scale 

Tony: now. Yeah, I made my editor do it by hand. One paragraph at a time. They weren’t too happy, I’m sure, but they did it. They’re great.

Super helpful. Wow. But that was, that’s precise. They’re, they’re, they’re trained, you know, and they, they can spot it a mile away. And so sometimes it’s just a repetition of doing things for a while. And then at over time you’ll be able to spot that on your own. And, you know, we did the same thing with Hemingway.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Hemingway app. Mm-hmm. Great tool to help you really tighten up your sentences. Again, not make them too verbose, easier to understand. And so we did the same process. We took that paragraph from the Google NLP tool. We past it in Hemingway and followed all of its instructions.

And this was all be before chat G P T came out. And so now we’re saving a ton of time with a lot of this stuff because of a chat, j p t. 

Jared: I wanted to ask you about some of the other updates you made. And so I might ping pong back and forth if that’s okay. I’m just kind of, yeah. I’ve got your tweet up in front of me and I’ve got kind of starred the ones I really want to talk about.

Cool. Some of the things you talked about are actually adding the number of categories. Mm-hmm. To your website, and then also adding subcategories. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna say it’s heavily debated, but the, the idea of categories and how important they are is certainly something that a lot of people would put in the tertiary of importance, right?

Mm-hmm. But you seem to really talk about this and featured as something that was important. Why was that important and why did you feel the need to add triple the number categories? And then also it sounds like add subcategories. 

Tony: Yeah. You know, one of my top competitors has been doing this for a long time, and I thought it was crazy.

You know, those mega menus can be overwhelming. And honestly, I don’t know if how many people actually use the menu navigation. Like they’re usually, they’re landing on, on the article mm-hmm. From Google, social media, et cetera. And so they’re there to consume that particular content, but are they really using the navigation?

I, I don’t actually, I, I know and it’s, and it’s not too often. But what I found was if they do decide they’re using the navigation, then we’ve structured an order to the entire site in a very logical way. As far as how we wanted to break it down, depending on the different types. Of people that are coming to the site.

So depending on like, say their location or their, their age or their gender or their marital status, like there’s just all sorts of different aspects or attributes of people who just have a different background and, and maybe a different lens or perspective that they’re looking at your site through.

And so we started to break down and create all these categories to help really. Narrow it down our content so you can, you can find it in various ways. So, you know, we have, we have articles that are in multiple categories, and so you’ll, you’ll see, you’ll, you’ll see them, let’s see, yeah, several places.

So yeah, we probably went from maybe 10 categories, like primary categories to, we might have like 50, 60. I mean, it’s huge. The menu’s huge. And again, we use subcategories as well. You’re just further breaking it down. And so a lot of it is redundant. And, and some of this I was afraid of like cannibalizing some of the articles because there are some articles.

Yeah, there are some articles that are basically it’s targeting the, the category as well. And, but they’re not really competing in Google. Google knows better that the article is gonna be more helpful for, for people than say the category. So it, we’ve kept those index in Google and they, it, because I think they serve the user well for those who are trying to navigate the site and, and cuz people can approach something from different paths.

Kind of like, you know, hiking, snow covered mountains. Like you, there are different paths you can start and there probably just isn’t one path. And so being able to be a guide for our readers depending on what path they come from to get them to where they want to go. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

Jared: Yep. Okay. Very good.

Wow, that’s interesting. Let’s see. So we, we talked about a lot of the specific nuance updating you did to the articles. Was there anything else as a part of your article process and your article update process that you were doing beyond the NLP type of 

Tony: stuff you talked about? Yeah, there are a couple other things that were very eye-opening.

So I, I got curious. I learned about this tool called Sketch Engine, and it’s primarily used academically to understand language and words. But what I was able to do is I got curious and I took some of the biggest. Keywords out there. I’d say like you know, best mattresses or like best CR credit card you know, some different medical conditions or like, you know, laser eye surgery.

I took some of these big keywords where some big sites like New York Times, Forbes you know, Healthline, et cetera. That were ranking number one for these huge keyword that, you know, a lot of ’em, they mean they’re gonna require a high eat from Google to rank. And so I took their, a lot of their number one rankings.

I took their content from their number one rankings, and I ran it through this tool and created basically this cor corpus of all these words. And it what showed me. The words and phrases that they were using the most, and I started to see some patterns to it of specific words and phrases that I realized like, you know, I think an expert like this is one that these are phrases that an expert would say.

And then, you know, two, the. The, the language that they were using was more like second person language than say first or third person language. So it felt like they were, as you were reading their articles, they were talking to you, not just to people, to a group, but they were talking to you. And so that was eye-opening to, to see some of.

The, the words that they were using and the phrases they were using and how confident they were in their language. So saying something like, you know, you can probably do that a few times a week is a little vague. And, you know, if, if that’s something that your doctor is telling you and they’re prescribing you some medication, like that’s kind of, kind of sketchy right.

But instead they would say, no, you must take this at five milligrams. Two times, at least two times a week. Right? So they were very specific and clear on how much and the frequency. And so that was another pattern that I noticed. And so that’s where we were going back through our content and looking at how can we be clear how can we be, be, be more specific and use more confident words instead of saying you you can try or maybe, or consider.

And instead using words that overall just came, come across as more confident and be more directive you could say. And 

Jared: you’re in the lifestyle niche, so you’re talking about being very directive from a lifestyle perspective. Right. This doesn’t, you’re saying it didn’t just apply in your analysis to say a medical query or a scholarly query, but really that mm-hmm.

That was consistently coming out of Yeah. All of these big publishers. 

Tony: Yeah, for sure. I mean, and even if you’re like, you’re in the travel niche, if you are, if you, you had a great experience you know, at a, a tea shop in, in London and you’re gonna say like, you have to try this particular tea, right?

Like, just even that excitement. And passion for it and just how confident they were at a sense, a strong signal just to the, to the human of like, okay, this is, this is something that’s worth me trying. Just how excited and confident that they were in it. So I think that could apply in all sorts of niches.

Jared: Let me ask you about your evaluation of the content and if you, if you ended up pulling any articles. And deleting them. If you ended up combining any articles or on an article level, like did you delete swaths of an article and rewrite it or, because so far what we’ve talked about is a lot of like real updates to the way stuff is written.

Mm-hmm. Which is, I’ve loved it. I’m just wondering like actual content wise, did you delete any, remove any, whether it’s U R L related or specifics inside of an article? 

Tony: Yeah, we didn’t fleet any of our articles. There were a few that we had redirected cuz we thought that they were a little redundant compared to another article.

But for the most part we kept everything. And so we just went through and yeah, we, we cut out the fluffy sentences and the fluffy paragraphs, like just looking at asking ourselves the question like, is this really helpful? Or are we just gibber gibbering. You know and so yeah, we deleted a, a lot of paragraphs and a lot of sentences.

But then we also added in more, more information. And, and again, we work with, with experts that produce most of the content these days on our site. And so Once I had to figure out what it, how we wanted, what kind of information we wanted to include, how detailed we want to be. And then I like created examples to send to our, our expert writers of like, here’s, here’s a way to approach the writing going forward.

And here’s some examples and could give them that template so that they can, they can run with that. And then we still have an editor who receives all that and just double checks everything. And so yeah, it was just painstaking of just going through one, one sentence at a time, you know, but I, I think, I mean, you know, this, this is my livelihood, right?

So and supports 10, 10 people. And so, you know, we took it pretty seriously there. And we knew like this could take a couple years to get through. And so it was, I was pleasantly surprised to see that, you know, we maybe got halfway through this, through this process to start to see a recovery there.

Jared: How did you know this was the right approach? You know, because it would be so much easier to you know, build more back links to it you know, delete a lot of the content mm-hmm. And start writing new content with a better perspective. It would be like, those are easier solutions. Right. This is so, like you said, painstaking.

Mm-hmm. And. Expensive, probably because of the painstaking nature to it. Like what, I’m just curious why you were so confident that these things would have this positive impact, which clearly they’ve had. 

Tony: Yeah. You know, there’s always that mom test that you can apply. Like if you were to show your mom one of your articles on your site, would, would you be proud of it?

Would you be proud to show your mom? And so as I was reading through some of these, my answer was no. Like, I, I wouldn’t and so. That was a big, just a big part of realizing you know, I want to publicera stuff that I’m proud of. And that just trusting my gut on what that means and what that looks like, you know and looking at competitors and like, how can we do it better?

And so really just using, I mean, It was taxing just on, on, not only on the soul of losing so much traffic and revenue, but taxing on the brain on just going through all these details. And yeah, just looking at through that lens of, am I proud of his work was a big part of it. 

Jared: Yeah. To some degree, the more painstaking the process, probably the more you do really wanna consider getting help.

You know, because if it had just been you for a year now doing this mm-hmm. You know, I mean, you might not have made it. You know, the human nature is, you know, you, you might stumble along the way, but getting help kind of helps that process get done because until you get it done or until you get enough of the articles done, you know, you’re probably not gonna see that recovery.

Tony: Yeah. Yep. And there was just so much that I learned through that process. I just, I challenge anyone to go through and read one of the articles word for word. Maybe take it one paragraph at a time, put it through the Google NLP demo tool and I, I, and do it through for several articles. There was just something that, it just started to change my mindset and how I was seeing the content.

And that just, just comes through practice and repetition. 

Jared: I wish I didn’t have two meetings right after our recorded, because I would be doing that right away maybe tonight. There you go. So going back to, to some of the things that you shared in your tweet that you updated four or five of them certainly seem to have a a Google e a t.

Or e e a t Now that switched halfway through your update process. But you know, like just going through some of the things that you mentioned you created a contributor’s page. You created an ask the expert section. You paid an expert to answer harrow questions. You paid an expert to answer questions on Quora and read it on behalf of the site.

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Let’s talk about some of these things. They, they kind of point back to this e E A T concept and, and kind of how you analyzed and, and how you went about doing these 

Tony: things. Yeah, so the site has primary persona for it. It’s, it’s not me. My face and name isn’t on it. You know, this is a site that I think we’ll be going for a long time and relatively low-key person.

And so don’t really put myself out there. But, you know I felt it was important to work on the authorship of. That persona. And so being able to, to get the name out there beyond just our site, and that’s something I’ve learned along the way of just doing this for 18 years is like I’ve hired writers.

I’ve put their names and their pictures on, on the site before, but they come and go and what if I need to go back and update that content? And they’re not available. To update it for me. So then what do I do? Do I like have to scrap the whole article or do I have a new one come in and just put their, and now put their name on the article?

Well, if there’s a lot of weight to that person and that authorship and their credibility on the web, then I just lose it if I take down their name. And and so that’s where I’ve decided that I’m gonna have a persona that can la last forever to, to a degree or at least for a long time, for several decades.

And so everything, you know, essentially is, is ghost written. But it’s, they’re written by, by experts there. So yeah, but I think, but, you know, setting up the profiles on, on Cora and Reddit under this author’s name and Payne and Expert to answer those owner answered questions, questions There was a lot of good questions that stuff that, and those, those sites that I just haven’t seen before.

Cause I’m so focused on the keyword tools, right? And, and, and, but it’s a little different coming from, from people. And that’s actually one of the things that my to-do lists for this next year, is that have our own form submission people to, to ask their own questions. And we had to ask the expert section, but those were just questions that I got from like, people also ask or keyboard tools like sim rush But really I, I, I think questions are getting longer, more nuanced over time.

For a lot of niches. And so I think we’re gonna, we’ll start to see those when we just open up the doors and have users reach out to us directly with their questions. And so, yeah, you know, finding experts, I was able to find ’em on Upwork and, you know, I’m gonna niche where, you know, they’re blue collar experts.

They need to be licensed for a lot of what they do. And so that’s where I just can’t find anyone off, off the street to who, who, who claims to be an expert. And so there is a level of information that they’re going to share. That just comes from you know, that educational background that they had to go through.

Yeah. Does that, does that answer That one was there, were there some more? 

Jared: No, that’s great. Yeah, no, that’s really great. I you know, a lot of people like you said, that they’ll, whether they put their name or not on it they don’t necessarily go to that nuanced of a level to make sure that Google has a, mm-hmm.

We’ll call it a trail of breadcrumbs, I guess, about this person, fictitious or not on the web. Mm-hmm. So that was a 

Tony: key part to that as well, is. Then I updated the schema on every article. For, I have a, I have an author’s schema and it shows author’s name. It shows it has a link to their bio on the site, has a link to their LinkedIn, but also it has, it links to their Quora profile and links back to their Reddit profile.

So Google can make that connection that this is the same. Same. 

Jared: Good. Oh, very good. Yeah. We had cow roof on a while back talking about, Hey, you know, you gotta have all this stuff dialed in. You can’t. Yeah. Yeah. Give it to the chance that, you know, Google hopefully connects all the dots for 

Tony: them. Yeah, yeah.

You really gotta feed them to, to help, to remove the ambiguity to it, you know to really make things extremely clear. And so there’s no question. And so, yeah, I went crazy with, with schema over last year. We probably have three times the amount of schema on every article than any of our competitors.

Even when we have you know, contributors, like we interview a lot of. Experts for our articles. And so we feature their, their name in, in there and we link to, you know, like their LinkedIn profile. But we also do that with Schema. There’s a co-author. Schema field that you can fill in. And so we put it in their information as well, just again, to make that, that connection of course.

And we ask that they share the article from their end, and so they can, they can have that connection back from like, say like LinkedIn or social media platform. But yeah, I went crazy with, with Schema. I learned a lot from Kyle Roof as well. So he was a great, great source for that 

Jared: information. On the schema note, I mean, not to get too into the weeds, but were you adding more types of schema to your articles or, or maybe and were you filling out the schema more in depth?

You know, because there’s a lot that say a generic SEO plugin will pull in automatically, but it mm-hmm. Really often doesn’t go into depth in terms of all the different fields you could add to the schema. 

Tony: Yeah. You could really go crazy with it. Another important one that we started to add to it was entities.

So there’s a cool tool called Text razor. Text razor.com. And you can paste in an article and it will show you all the entities that it finds, and it will give you at least the Google ID for that entity and Google’s entity database, as well as a link to the Wiki data. And so we would figure out for each of our article, like what were the top two or three entities for it, and we would add that entity data into Schema.

We would add the link to the Wikipedia for it if there was one to the Wiki data. And we’d also put it in the Google entity. I. ID for that. And so that, and is all based upon. The WordPress tags that we use. So we basically set up WordPress tags for all these entities and we just went through and started tagging all of our articles and then we’ve got custom code in there that then is able to figure out, alright, this, it’s tagged with this entity, so show this entity code and the schema.

That’s brilliant. 

Jared: Feels like the old days of actually telling Google what your keywords. 

Tony: Remember that. Yeah, for sure. That’s right. There was that keywords meta. Yeah, 

Jared: that I was, well, I started SEO right when that was actually a thing, you know, and it actually had input. That’s great. Thanks for, thanks for going to detail that.

That’s, I’m gonna, another thing to add to my list to check out when I get done with my meeting later 

Tony: today. There you go. 

Jared: We covered most of the things that you did from a broad perspective that you outlined. Any I’m missing though, you know, I mean, I’m looking over my list here and there’s a couple on there that.

You know, we could go into detail but basically could get swept up with a lot of what we’ve already talked about. Mm-hmm. But any big kind of high level things that really important you think to the update process that we haven’t tackled? In the interview 

Tony: I. Yeah, so I went crazy with our internal links.

I said, let’s link liberally. I was inspired by reading SEO like help documentation on Google’s website. And I noticed in the article that it linked to another article twice within that single article. And I was like, well, that’s a, a little redundant, you know, and it’s, and it’s. Has, there’s a perspective, an SEO of like, you know, link flow and link juice and you don’t want to dilute your links and whatnot.

But as a user, I found it helpful that Google link to the same article twice. And so I was like, you know, if it’s helpful for our users, like let’s go ahead and add an internal link to a related article. If we mention it a couple times an article link to it every time, I mean, unless is a, they’re like within the same paragraph or or two, we won’t.

But if there’s enough distance, then honestly I think the most helpful thing for the users provide that link for them if they’re, maybe they didn’t read that first, that first paragraph that contained the internal link, but they read that fifth one. And so they’re gonna click on that. And then, so I set a goal for my team.

Like every paragraph should have an internal link. We’re not there yet, but I was just wanting to, to show them like I’m, let’s take links internal, internal links seriously. Because they’re helpful for users at the end of the day. And so that’s something that we, we were also going through as we were going through article by article.

It’s just flipping through and trying to find an option for where we can place an internal link. 

Jared: That is really interesting. Yeah, well we see that modeled with Wikipedia, that’s for sure. I don’t know if they do duplicate internal links, but they add plenty of internal links. They make us all look like in comparison.

Tony: Yeah, for sure. 

Jared: Hey, I wanna ask you before time comes up here and it’s a little little bit of an aside, but Google Discover. You had a site that was getting quite a bit of traffic on Google Discovery. We don’t talk about Discover very much here, but I’d love your insights onto you know, how to get content into Discover.

I, I realize that’s like a whole podcast episode, but just from a high level, like, like what caused you to get removed from Discover Traffic and then what you did to get that back. Like what are kind of some of the how-to steps to kind of regain or get that discover traffic back? 

Tony: Yeah, you know, Google Discover is somewhat of a black box.

You know, we just popped up in it one day a couple years ago and we rode that wave and then yeah, the core update hit and we were completely removed from Discover. It’s actually on my agenda to do another big Twitter thread on my experience with Google Discover. You know, from a high level I think it’s, part of it is just randomness of figuring out.

You know, the random articles that do show up, pay attention to those. I’m doing a lot of an, I’ve done a lot of analyzing on those particular topics. Like what were they exactly? What was the headline exactly? What was the featured image for it? Exactly. What did that first paragraph say? And something, a pattern, I’m noticing right now getting back into Google Discover is that There are related articles that are starting to pop up and, and Google Discover.

So if they say one, say, say we have an article on dog toys for toy golden doodles. Then maybe in a, in a couple weeks we might see one on like the best treats for toy golden doodles pop up. Even though we’ve got a whole site on different animal and dog breeds. But something about the, the toy golden doodles.

Is what popped up. And so it, there’s, I’m seeing a pattern of just, of similar topics. And so I’ve, I, one of the tests I recently did is that I noticed, okay, here’s a, here’s a topic that popped in Google Discover. What’s a, what’s a close, what’s a closest related one that we have to this article? And I took that and I changed the url.

To it. And I reset the publish date, and so it was like a brand new article and published that. And like within a couple days it popped up in Google Discover because Google’s figured out that, you know, the, the people who originally saw the first one about the, the dog toys, well it’s the same, same breed, but now it’s about treats they might be interested in, in this article as well.

And so if there’s, so just following that pattern of the topics and what’s currently working right now is something that I found is working 

Jared: well, when you publish that thread, we might just have to do a part two on yeah. I’m 

Tony: happy to come back on. Let’s do it. 

Jared: Yeah. Hey, so remind us again as we close out, you know, this site was getting about if my notes are correct, about two and a half million page page views or, or sessions a month prior to the May, 2022 update.

Post recovery after Google’s co March, 2023 core update hit you, re you experienced recovery. Where are you at right now in terms of, you know, roughly how many pages for a month you’re at now? 

Tony: Yeah, so we’re getting close to doing 8 million page reviews a month at this point off of so not just 

Jared: recovery, but massive growth.

Tony: Yeah. Cuz e even the the review update that happened not too long after the core update, we saw another bump in that even though we’ve got maybe two or three articles that review products we, we saw an update with that. And so I, I think that comes down to We, we have experts who are writing from experience, from personal experience as well.

And that’s a big part of what Google’s looking for, is people who have personal experience as well as ex expert expertise to it. And so that was, that was just part of our, our newer continent strategy. And so I’m not surprised that we were rewarded for that. So I think it was more than just.

Categorizing looking at products, it’s, it’s what are people what, what is it that they are looking for? They’re looking for an answer. They’re going to Google. They’ve got a problem, they’re looking for an answer. And so Google wants to show one that’s that’s helpful and that people have experience with.

And so whether that’s the answer is a product or the answer is information, it’s kind of all the same. In many ways. 

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so many examples of sites that don’t review products going up or down or pages on a site that don’t review products going up or down. So something to it. Something to it.

Yeah. You’ve gotta be on cloud nine. Congratulations. Yeah, sure. The recovery and the growth. I mean, in many ways this process sent you down a very. Very troublesome path of, of having to get your hands and you know, really dirty to fix things, right, as the, as the analogy goes. But I mean, not only did you recover that traffic, but the growth is phenomenal.

So huge. Congrats for sticking to it, for putting together that quite a process and for sharing that here. Thank you for sharing that with us. Yes. I think yeah, like I said, the outset, super tactical. If you were listening, you probably have five or six pages of notes, but not only that, just the inspiration that, hey, you know, a site can get.

Really, really nailed in an update. And recovery can happen. You just got to sit down and and buckle 

Tony: down. Yep. Put in effort. Stay committed. Surround yourself with others who can hold you accountable. 

Jared: Yeah, that’s right. The accountability. So I have teased your Twitter thread, which will include the, in the show notes, but share with us how people can follow along with, with what you’re doing.

Twitter, maybe beyond Twitter, just anywhere people can get in touch if they need to. Yeah. 

Tony: Twitter’s the best way. Tony and t Hill, it’s my Twitter handle. Yep. Perfect. I think we can all 

Jared: remember that. Yeah, pretty simple. Hey Tony, thanks so much for coming on board. Really appreciate you sharing everything today.

Tony: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks Jar.


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De 7 bästa WordPress Staging Plugin-alternativen för att säkerhetskopiera din webbplats 2023


De 7 bästa WordPress Staging Plugin-alternativen för att säkerhetskopiera din webbplats 2023

If you’re a WordPress user, you know that making changes to your live site can be a risky game, potentially causing unforeseen issues that are difficult to fix.

That’s where staging sites come in! Creating a private testing area for your website allows you to try out new themes, plugins, and features without affecting your live site. Fortunately, there are tons of staging plugins available that make the process quick, easy, and headache-free.

In this article, we’ll dive into the best WordPress Staging Plugin options, giving you the tools to test and improve your website confidently and safely. Get ready to take your website to the next level – safely and securely!

The 7 Best WordPress Staging Plugin Options For Site Testing

Here are 7 great options that make staging your WordPress website easier than ever. They have all been tested and approved for use with the latest version of WordPress:

1. WP Staging

WP Staging is a WP staging plugin trusted by more than 135,000 users. The speed and reliability offered by the WordPress plugin allow enterprises to come up with quick solutions and changes for their live site.

You can use WP Staging to transfer your WordPress websites to new domain names, hosts, or servers. This feature is particularly useful for large websites as it provides a reliable and fast backup solution. WordPress websites can test the changes and easily copy files from the staging to the live site.

Other significantly beneficial features found on WP Staging include:

  • Fast cloning: Create a backup of your WordPress website with just one click
  • Convert multi-sites to a single WordPress site
  • Create separate databases for your staging sites. This helps to keep your production site independent
  • The Push Feature: You can copy the entire staging site to your production site or choose the parts you’d like to implement
  • User Authentication: Ensures only the rightful administrator accesses the site
  • No third-party intervention: The staging site is located entirely on your servers


WP Staging offers excellent customer service to all its users. The free version gives the option to clone WordPress sites for free. However, to get access to premium features, you can go for WP Staging Pro, which starts at $94/year.

2. WP Stagecoach

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WP Stagecoach is one of the best WordPress staging plugins out there. It allows you to create a staging environment in just 1-click and work on solutions to improve your functioning site.

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WP Stagecoach merges any changes to the live site rather than overwriting the database. This means you can continue adding new posts to your WordPress live site without worrying about losing any changes once the staging site goes live. 

Other features found on the staging plugin include:

  • It requires just 1-click to push any changes to your live site
  • The isolated staging environment prevents any errors to pass on to your production site
  • The staging sites are password protected to ensure privacy and only allow input from the clients you trust
  • Responsive customer support with additional service add-ons available for purchase


WP Stagecoach provides a 100% money-back guarantee if you find the plugin doesn’t suit your needs. The premium version offers a 5-day free trial with plans starting from $99/year.

3. Duplicator

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As the name suggests, Duplicator is a WordPress staging plugin that duplicates your live website to a staging site and vice versa.

Duplicator creates a package that is a bundle of WordPress site’s plugins, themes, files, and database. You can then use the migration plugin to migrate or copy files from one WordPress hosting server to another in zero downtime.

Other features to assist you in testing your website include: 

  • You can set a scheduled backup for your site to prevent losing any data
  • Backup your data in cloud storage such as DropBox, Google Drive, or OneDrive
  • Gives the flexibility to migrate a site to a new location or overwrite a live site
  • The plugin provides premium support to every user


Duplicator offers a free version and a premium version of the WordPress plugin. The paid plan starts at $49.50/year and allows working on 2 sites with unlimited backups and migrations.

4. WP Synchro

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WP Synchro is a WordPress migration plugin that provides staging solutions for your website. 

With WP Synchro you can pull data multiple times from the production site as and when required. This helps in creating a live site that is tried and tested for new developments.

Features that improve the user experience on WP Synchro include:

  • Set up a push configuration to select data you would like to migrate to your staging site
  • Choose the specific files; plugins or themes you would like to transfer. The plugin only migrates the difference between sites helping save time and space
  • Fast database migration with zero errors
  • Set up automatic migrations to save time
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WP Synchro has a free version you can download from the WordPress plugin directory. To access other features you can opt for the premium version that starts at $76/year.

5. BlogVault

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With over 1 million websites successfully backed up, BlogVault is a WordPress staging plugin that offers reliable backup and staging solutions.

You can use BlogVault to create a staging site with just 1 click. Once you are satisfied with all the changes made to the backup site, you can successfully apply them to your live site.

Other features found on the WordPress backup plugin to test your website include:

  • Create a staging site without the hassle of getting stuck in migrations and setting subdomains
  • Selectively merge any changes to your live site. You can monitor the staging site and live site from your dashboard
  • Host staging site on a super fast staging server that guarantees a smooth experience
  • Password-protecting sites ensure that the WordPress staging environment is secure
  • Protect your staging site from crawling by Google Bot and other search engines. BlogVault ensures your site is not penalized for duplicate content and doesn’t damage SEO
  • 24/7 support to all users with practical solutions to implement


BlogVault offers a free and premium version with a 100% success rate. You can back up and stage anywhere from 1 to 10 sites.

BlogVault also designs plans for agencies with more than 10 sites. The Basic Plan for a single website starts at $89/year. 

6. Backup Buddy

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Backup Buddy is a WordPress backup plugin with complete backup solutions for your WordPress site. You can also use the plugin for WordPress Staging and Deployment.

The migration feature on Backup Buddy is very popular as it allows users to move the WordPress site from one domain to another. With the deployment feature, you can create a staging site and connect it to your live site. What’s next, you can choose the changes you would like to apply to your production site.

Other features of Backup Buddy include:

  • See any changes you make to the staging site in real time
  • Undo any database changes before confirming the deployment
  • Provides the option to transfer some or all of the database and files


Backup Buddy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It offers 3 paid plans with the Basic Plan starting at $99/year.

7. BoldGrid

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Whether you’re working as a professional or starting as a beginner, BoldGrid is a great WP staging plugin to opt for.  

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You can create a free WordPress staging website in a few clicks and use it to design and test your ideas before implementing them on your production site. 

Other features found on BoldGrid include:

  • Use the BoldGrid website plugin or install WordPress plugins of your own to design the WordPress staging site
  • Share your work with your team using the unique link to get more input on the staging website
  • Transfer your site quickly to live WordPress hosting with a few clicks
  • Unlimited access to the free WordPress staging site upon email verification


The WordPress plugin is free to install. However, if you would like to migrate the changes to your live site you can purchase the BoldGrid WP plugin for 5 sites at $1.66/month.

And the Best WordPress Staging Plugin Is…

The best WordPress Staging Plugin will be subjective to every website builder’s needs. However, having an overall top performer to refer to is helpful when selecting the best plugin for your website.

Based on features, user-friendliness, and customer support, our vote goes to WP Staging for your staging and backup solutions. It is very easy to install and use and does not require users to possess deep technical knowledge, so you can start using it immediately. This makes the plugin ideal for beginners and seasoned site-builders alike.

WP Staging also comes with:

  • No hidden costs
  • WordPress multisite staging sites
  • Backup Support – The default memory consumption is limited to 256M, which is sufficient for most but unlimited memory usage is available if needed
  • No Cloud Service – All data is secured on your own server, meaning nothing is submitted to WP Staging
  • High Performance – Backup and cloning processes are much faster than other options listed above

The Bottom Line 7 Best WordPress Staging Plugin Options

The world of WordPress staging plugins is vast and varied, and plenty of options are available to meet your exact needs. Each of the seven best WordPress staging plugin programs we’ve covered in this article has its strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to choose one that aligns with your website goals and preferences.

With the right staging plugin, you can test your website and experiment with changes without any risk to your live site. So why wait? Start exploring your options, and take your website to the next level with confidence and security.


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