Helpful content system will soon reward personal experience | How might Google’s SGE affect your business?| ChatGPT plugins are live! - Episode 287. May 22, 2023

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Google will soon be updating the helpful content system to better recognize and reward personal experience. In this episode, I share my thoughts after testing out several ChatGPT plugins. Web browsing is fascinating!

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In this episode

The helpful content system will soon be updated to better reward experience
How will Google’s SGE with AI generated answers affect our industry?
ChatGPT plugins, including web browsing, available to all
Recent SERP Turbulence

SEO Tips and News

  • Possible crawl issues for AMP pages
  • Best practices for SEO for News sites
  • Something is off with Google displaying titles in SERPS
  • Tips for improving your brand’s knowledge graph presence

AI News

  • US Congress meeting to discuss AI regulation
  • ChatGPT has an iOS app
  • Google Colab and Duet
  • Updates to Bard – linking to more websites and more concise summaries
  • Good info on Google on LLMs

Subscriber Content (found in the Subscriber PDF)

  • Ideas on demonstrating experience (from the community and also me)
  • Thoughts on what it will take for a business to “rank” in Google’s SGE
  • More on Google’s shopping graph and how it will likely be extremely important to understand
  • Experimenting with ChatGPT plugins – summarizing recent news, theorizing on how an LLM decides which sites to reference?
  • Examples showing how AI will likely impact local Search
  • Early experimenting with the Show Me plugin and SEO data

The helpful content system will soon be updated to better reward real life experience

I touched on this briefly last week as we discussed Google’s blog post on perspectives. Perspectives, like featured snippets showing different people’s opinions or views on a topic, have existed in News results, but soon will be shown for non-news queries as well. The new update will help find “hidden gems” amongst more well known sites. 

I expect that this is something we will see rewarded a lot alongside AI generated answers in the SGE (Search Generative Experience). If users turn to websites for an answer, it will be because they are looking for something that only a human can give them – in most cases, a demonstration of real life experience on a topic.

Google tells us they will be updating the helpful content system soon to that “more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view”. It may come from a comment in a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or an article with unique expertise on a topic.

I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to demonstrating experience. Ask yourself whether the content on your pages is content that could essentially be answered by AI. Keep in mind that the accuracy and the ability to show images and video will continue to improve. 

If so, then in order for Google to still send traffic to your website, unless you have a strong enough brand that people are continuing to seek you out for information, you will need to demonstrate your experience in ways that convince a searcher it’s worth a click.

I anticipate Google will display websites with things like:

  • a video showing you reviewing and using a product
  • content that has verbiage that indicates first hand use. For real though. I don’t think a made up paragraph falsely proclaiming experience will do much
  • content from a creator who is known online for talking on their topics
  • content that answers questions AI can’t such as advice based on real time information and insight on your industry and its products or happenings.


  • A realtor could create a video showing each of the neighbourhoods they service and describing what they and their clients find great about each one. 
  • An accountant could create content that answers the most common questions they’ve had about 2023 taxes that people can’t find the answer to online.
  • A store that sells gear or equipment for a particular hobby can create instructional videos on using it, or better yet, content that answers the questions that their audience has that AI cannot answer well.
  • A product review website could set up fun real world experiments never been done before. Instead of an article on the top 5 recommended meat thermometers (because that kind of thing can be gleaned from info in the shopping graph which means AI can generate a good answer), make a video where you take the top 5 brands and put them through actual tests to measure their accuracy, ease of use, and so on.
  • A blogger who writes reviews of travel opportunities can add all sorts of first hand experience by sharing real life photos and video of their experiences. Better yet is if that blogger’s audience is re-sharing and engaging with them. I’m not saying social signals are a direct ranking factor. But it makes sense to me that being mentioned around the web in multiple contexts, including having a large social presence, is something that could feed into Google’s knowledge and shopping graphs.

This type of content takes time, money and ingenuity to produce. Gone are the days where we could outsource and scale content creation and then build links to try and get Google to consider it worth ranking. 

Note: I expect some will argue with me here as there currently are many examples of sites with AI generated content ranking well. My bet is that the upcoming experience update to the helpful content system will fix this problem. When I analyze these pages, one thing is clear – they do a really good job of answering searcher’s questions. When Google is looking for a page that quickly meets searcher intent, these AI generated answers often do well. If you see a page ranking above you that you think is AI generated, take note on how the page and language are crafted to meet user intent. If you can do something similar and combine it with your real-world E-E-A-T, you have the potential to outrank them. 

More reading:

The New Google Changes Are Good for Affiliates (Not Bad) – Article by Adam Riemer with thoughts on demonstrating experience.

Google is changing up search. What does that mean for publishers? (NiemanLab). There are some good points made in the tweets shared near the end of the article. One points out how informational queries like, “What time is the Super Bowl” currently drive clicks that pay the bills in many newsrooms. I believe that newsrooms will still exist. But so many organizations that publish “news” rarely publish anything substantially original or valuable when placed alongside all the other options searchers have for reading that story.

How will Google’s SGE with AI generated answers first affect our industry?

In case you missed it last week, I’d recommend reading Google’s guide to the Search Generative Experience that is coming soon: “A new way to search with generative AI”.

Here is a discussion Jon Cooper invited me to where a few of us discuss our thoughts on the SGE (The Search Generative Experience where Google will show AI answers to searchers) and its impact on our industry. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Jon describes the SGE and his concerns for the first 17 mins. It is worthwhile watching this part. Then the discussion starts. 

Here’s the transcript.

I spent some time on Twitter sharing my thoughts on how certain businesses are likely to be impacted by Google’s introduction of AI to the search page.

ChatGPT plugins, including web browsing rolled out to all

Everyone who is a ChatGPT Plus user should have access to plugins now. If you do not, go to settings and turn on Beta and you should see them. 

I have been playing with these a lot. (You can read more in the subscriber section on specific ways I’ve tried using them so far.) They are extremely buggy and often don’t work. But when they do, you can do some interesting things with them. I believe we should pay attention to these and be constantly testing, not to see what they fail at, but rather, to see what they can do to help us do better work. I expect these plugins are foreshadowing for what we will soon see once businesses start using Google’s generative AI toolset.

There are current 11 pages of plugins available.

You can have several installed at a time and ChatGPT knows when to call on them. For example, if you want statistics, it will call on Wolfram:

The Show Me plugin makes charts and graphs. I have been playing with it to analyze traffic data, but have not had success as of yet in creating something super valuable.

As I review client sites I will be looking for ways to test these plugins out more thoroughly. 

Web browsing plugin

This plugin is fascinating. Again, it’s buggy and often fails. It knows when to draw on the web for live information to help improve an answer. 

In the subscriber content, I’ve shared some example searches I did. It is interesting to see which pages the browser chooses to crawl and show to searchers. I want to keep studying this as this will become a question SEOs are often asked – How does a business get recommended by an AI chatbot?

While the plugins are fun to play with for now, soon we will start seeing helpful use cases. I am keeping a close eye on these because I think what people are doing with ChatGPT plugins will be foreshadowing to what businesses will build with Google’s AI toolset. I absolutely cannot wait to see what my readers will do with Google’s AI tools.


Recent SERP turbulence

There has been significant turbulence in rankings this week:

Google Search Algorithm Ranking Volatility Around May 17 (Unconfirmed)

The Semrush sensor was quite high over the weekend, indicating plenty of changes in rankings:

I expect Google is doing further preparation to get ready for AI generated answers. I have not of yet analyzed sites impacted at this time. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Perspectives (experience) update is live soon.

SEO Tips and News

Information from Google on bulk export of data from GSC.

Tips from Google on SEO best practices for news sites.

Here is a great video with Callum Scott discussing your brand and the knowledge graph.

Possible crawl issues for AMP pages?

If currencies are off slightly in GA4 it may be because GA4 converts transaction values from your local currency to USD and then back again.

There is something weird going on with the way Google displays titles in the SERPS. I have seen a few people tweeting some odd results.


SERP Changes

Google is showing a new carousel for outdoor attractions:

I’ve seen Google showing more and more pricing information in the SERPs.

Google is testing showing products in 3d in the SERPS. 


AI News

Sam Altman spoke with Congress re regulating AI. This is a long video, but well worth the watch to understand the potential risks and concerns of AI:

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that the companies who make AI should be the ones to set boundaries. “There’s no way a non-industry person can understand what’s possible.” Then the government can put a regulatory structure around those.

ChatGPT now has an iOS app. Here’s more info from OpenAI’s blog.

Google Colab will soon introduce AI coding features using a model called Codey.

Google released Duet AI to a limited number of users. It uses AI to provide code recommendations and chat assistance.

Bard is doing more now to link to websites as sources. However, I have heard several reports that the urls it provides can be made up and nonexistent.

Bard is now better at concise summaries. Note: I’m not sure what the text limit is for Bard, but I find I can paste a full article in and ask for a summary and it does a good job most of the time. I pasted in Google’s information on Perspectives and asked for a very brief  summary. I thought this was quite good. 

Bard summary of Perspectives blog post

While Bard can do some limited web browsing, I have found I am much less likely to get a hallucination if I copy and paste content directly into Bard for now rather than giving it a url and asking it to summarize. I think sometimes, if it can’t crawl the url it makes up an answer based solely on the words in the url.

Apple has restricted employees from using ChatGPT. It is reportedly developing its own AI language tech. I have heard other companies share concern that if employees are using ChatGPT to debug code, they could be divulging company secrets. 

Twitter sent a letter to Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft accusing Bing of improperly using their data. Twitter is a valuable resource for any AI LLM as it is often a source of breaking news and of what experts or a community are saying. GPT-4, for example is only trained on data up till 2021. Being able to use an LLM alongside Twitter’s real time data makes any AI tool more useful. The first time I used Bing to ask what it knew about me, it told me all about my recent tweets on whatever subject I asked. Today, it answers based on information from my website or other news sources, but not Twitter. We have spoken before about how Twitter purchased hardware that is likely going to be used to create its own language model/AI capabilities. This should be an interesting topic to monitor.

NYC schools are lifting their ban on ChatGPT. They are now “ready to embrace AI in the classroom.” 

Here’s good information from Google on large language models:

Google’s PaLM 2 uses nearly 5x more text data for training than PaLM. It’s trained on 3.6 trillion tokens – strings of words. LaMDA (what Bard previously used) was trained on 1.5 trillion tokens. PaLM2 uses a new technique called compute-optimal scaling which makes it more efficient with overall better performance. 

Here’s a NYT article on how Meta (Facebook)’s Open Source LLM LLaMA is being used by many. In February Meta openly released LLaMA to academics and government researchers to build their own chatbots. 

Tesla’s AI robots can now walk, memorize patterns and perform simple tasks.

Local SEO

There are possibly fewer queries returning local maps packs.

Google Business Profiles now give us more options when it comes to displaying the languages your business can service.

People are seeing the Services tab being shown prominently:

There may be an increase in problems with reviews disappearing.

Joy Hawkins on how to set up your GBP in 2023.

Other things I found interesting this week

Microsoft is developing new solutions for ads. Menachem Ani shared a message he received that says, “If you’re using AdSense, you can place our ads in the same units, and we’ll ensure only the highest paying ad goes live.” I expect that the whole online ecosystem of ads will change with AI. 

Google is deleting old Gmail accounts not used in two years. You can keep your account active by reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, watching a YT video, downloading an app on the play store, using Google search or signing in with Google on a third party service. Google does not have plans to delete accounts with YouTube videos.

Montana passed a law banning TikTok from the state as of January 1. This would not punish individuals, but would make TikTok liable for $10,000 per day for making the app available in app stores like Google and Apple.

A new study shows that it is not possible as of yet to reliably detect if text is AI generated.

BBC Verify is a new brand created to address the growing threat of disinformation online.

Music prompt you can try: Give me three unusual questions and then choose an album or playlist.

An example showing using ChatGPT to create a mockup for web design.

Fascinating things being done with AI for Image and video:


SEO Jobs

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Senior SEO Specialist ~ Searchable ~ $65k-$85k ~ Remote(US)
Senior SEO Manager ~ Propellic ~ $85k-$92k ~ Remote (US)
SEO & Site Strategy Manager ~ Personify ~ $65-85K ~ Remote (US)
Senior SEO Specialist ~ Ahrefs ~ Remote (US/CAN/UK)
SEO Manager ~ Virgin Media ~ Hybrid (London, UK)

Subscriber Content

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This week’s subscriber content

Subscribers get a PDF of newsletter on Fridays. The subscriber content is only found in the PDF.

  • Ideas on demonstrating experience (from the community and also me)
  • Thoughts on what it will take for a business to “rank” in Google’s SGE
  • More on Google’s shopping graph and how it will likely be extremely important to understand
  • Experimenting with ChatGPT plugins – summarizing recent news, theorizing on how an LLM decides which sites to reference?
  • Examples showing how AI will likely impact local Search
  • Early experimenting with the Show Me plugin and SEO data

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