Google reminder: Create helpful content | Google wants us to report spam, latest on the SGE, SEO and AI News - Episode 291 - Jun 19, 2023

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This week we have Google reminding us about their guidance on creating helpful content, Google has a new form for reporting spam, Squarespace has purchased a few Google domains, and a new Google blog post about AI and travel.

Want to brainstorm with me about your site? I’ve opened up a bunch of spots on my calendar. I’m very close to opening up a new type of site review focused on helping you best take advantage of the changing search landscape. More on this soon!

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In this episode

Important this week:

SEO Tips & News:

  • New Google blog post about Lens
  • New Google blog post about AI and travel
  • Top Quality Store and Seller Ratings annotations in the SERPs
  • How do you get the Top Quality Store label?
  • What are these seller ratings?

AI News

  • Mercedes adds ChatGPT to voice controls
  • A new Beatles song thanks to AI
  • Really good Sam Altman interview
  • Google I/O developer keynote

Subscriber Content

  • Will people start using LLMs?
  • Optimizing for LLMs – a look at where info from the SGE and Bard is pulled from
  • What the QRG says about a good About page
  • Thoughts on Glenn Gabe’s case studying on disavowing
  • Thoughts on Tony Hill’s thread about a page that did NOT do well and the one that did
  • Thoughts on why Google is asking us to report spam

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Google reminds us about their guidance on creating helpful content

This seemed like a random tweet. 

My first thought was that Google was giving us a heads up about an upcoming update as this is the post they link to when describing core or helpful content updates. Perhaps they are…but they shared that the reason they published this was because of a recent news article.

Here is the article along with some screenshots:

This has brought up some interesting discussion. Is the way to rank to create text for search engines? It’s what SEOs do. We figure out what it is that Google’s algorithms like and then we create pages that fit that bill. And it seems that quite often the pages that Google likes are ones that contain all sorts of words that are there for search engines rather than humans.

I expect as the helpful content system continues to learn and improve, we’ll see less and less content on pages that is just there for search engines.


Google has a new form for reporting spam

Google published a new document about reporting spam. Here are the spam policies. They say they are expanding the scope of user feedback they want to collect:

Here’s the form.

In the subscriber content, I’ve shared my thoughts on why Google is now asking us to share more examples of spam.

Squarespace has purchased Google domains

Squarespace now is taking over ownership of Google domains. The announcement says that Squarespace and Google have a long term partnership. You don’t need to do anything if you’re a customer.

I think this is an interesting move. I wonder if somehow Google sites and Squarespace will combine eventually?


I had a hard time getting the SGE to appear for me for the last few days. Here are the latest observations I found from the SEO community.

Khushal Bherwani shared screenshots of these SGE SERPs showing popular and trending styles.

SGE - screenshot from Khushal Bherwani SGE - screenshot from Khushal Bherwani

He also noticed how Google is describing products as, “Good for working from home” or “good for students” and other brief descriptions.

SGE screenshot from Khushal Bherwani

Gianluca Fiorelli shared the SGE showing recent fresh news.

SGE screenshot from Gianluca Fiorelli

Some are asking what the purpose of the SGE? Why does it exist? I think it’s important to remember that the SGE is an experiment. It’s possible that what we eventually see launched looks different. 

Glenn Gabe shared photos of the SGE pulling in Google reviews and photos from GBP.

screenshot of SGE from Glenn Gabe

Eli Schwartz noted you can get the SGE to appear for credit card queries if you also include brand names in the query.

Screenshot of SGE from Eli Schwartz

Melissa Fach shared an example showing how the SGE is ranking sites differently than the organic rankings.

Screenshot of SGE by Melissa Fach

Screenshot of SGE by Melissa Fach

Melissa also saw ads in the SGE. I have not seen any yet.

Here’s a scathing article from Tom’s Hardware re the SGE. Plagiarism Engine: Google’s Content-Swiping AI Could Break the Internet.

10 things you should know about Google’s Search Generative Experience by Thomasz.Rudzki. There are more screenshots of the SGE in this article.


Bard has been blocked in the EU over privacy concerns. Google was going to launch Bard in the EU this week but the Irish Data Protection Commission (the one responsible for GDPR) said it had not outlined how they plan to comply with the EU data protection rules.

Andy Simpson shared an interesting local Bard search.

Bard screenshot shared by Andy Simpson

Lily Ray shared the SGE showing opportunities for websites to be featured for fresh news, similar to Top Stories

Screenshot of SGE by Lily Ray



Updates to the ChatGPT API.

OpenAI announced a bunch of changes:

  • new function calling capability in the Chat Completions API
  • updated and more steerable versions of gpt-4 and gpt-3.5-turbo
  • new 16k context version of gpt-3.5-turbo (vs the standard 4k version)
  • 75% cost reduction on our state-of-the-art embeddings model
  • 25% cost reduction on input tokens for gpt-3.5-turbo
  • announcing the deprecation timeline for the gpt-3.5-turbo-0301 and gpt-4-0314 models

There is a lot in this post including function calling and 16k context for 3.5-turbo.

The meme generator plugin is a lot of fun.

As is the Earth Plugin

Writing tips:

Connect the ChatGPT API to Google Sheets:

There is a style guide for referencing ChatGPT.

Paul Shapiro noted you can get ChatGPT and Bard to create PowerPoint and Google Slides presentations for you by using VBA or App Scripts.

SEO Tips and News

SERP Turbulence

There was significant SERP turbulence again this week. Over the weekend I had several people reach out requesting help with a recent catastrophic drop in traffic. I will hopefully be able to share more next week on what is possibly going on.

New Google blog post about Lens

Keep an eye on Lens. It is going to be such a powerful tool! Google shared 8 ways we can use it:

  • Use it to learn about the things you see as you go about your day.
  • Search for skin conditions
  • Translate street signs, menus and more into 100 languages
  • Get step by step help with homework problems
  • Shop for products
  • Find different versions of products with Multisearch
  • Discover food near you based on an image of a dish

The last one is what I have been predicting – Use Lens with Bard. This opens up so many possibilities.

New Google blog post about AI and travel 

Google says, “We’ve added new capabilities to SGE for local and travel searches, so if you ask detailed questions about a place or destination in Search, you’ll see an AI-powered snapshot that brings together the most helpful information available — not only from across the web, but also from the reviews, photos and Business Profile details.”

Top Quality Store and Seller Ratings annotations in the SERPs 

Brody Clark has a list of dates where significant changes to SERP features have appeared. He recently noticed Google showing a “Top Quality Store” annotation in the search results and also seller rating.

top quality store (screenshot by Brody Clark)seller rating (screenshot by Brody Clark)

How do you get the Top Quality Store label?

Google’s documentation says the badge is awarded to stores that Google has determined offer high quality customer experiences. They do this by “using signals from store websites and other sources.” 

Those signals include things like:

  • offering fast shipping
  • clear return policies
  • having a high quality website
  • positive user ratings

What are these seller ratings?

Google refers us to this page on How Google Shopping Works. In the section called Shopping Reviews and Ratings they tell us they gather reviews from the Google Customer Reviews program. I admittedly don’t know much about this, and want to learn more. Here is a document on the basics of Google customer reviews.

They also get review information from advertisers, sellers and third party review providers. 

A few more SEO tips

Kristina Azarenko noticed a site where the primary crawler was reported as desktop. This shouldn’t be the case as everything is crawled by mobile now. John Mueller said that unless your site does not work at all on mobile, assume it’s crawled with mobile. He said, “for some sites, that displayed text is stale and not correct.”

Aleyda Solis shared some tips for identifying opportunities with video content.

Google announced they have reached licence agreements with the owners of press publications under the EU Copyright Directive. They say they are focused on reaching agreements with publishers of all sizes.

GA4 is now passing Landing page and landing page + query string natively to Looker Studio. Also, you can now create GA4 audiences directly in Google Ads

Speaking of GA4, Brie Anderson is preselling her course on GA4. I highly recommend Brie’s work. This course is guaranteed to be helpful.

Google does not scroll. It crawls using a long viewport.

Semrush’s keyword manager is getting some good reviews. Here’s a post from Aleyda Solis about it.

Is It OK to Remove 301 Redirects After a Year? Patrick Stox and the Ahrefs crew tested removing 301 redirects based on this tweet.

Patrick says most SEOs would say that once a redirect is removed, signals are lost. His tests don’t conclusively contradict this, but he did test removing a bunch of redirects that were created when old posts were rewritten, passing on link signals. There was no negative effect after removing the redirects.

Niche Site Lady hired someone to post to Facebook 3 times a day and saw huge gains.

More Perspectives spotted by Lily Ray. This is asking a tech question (kids kindle fire not charging.) There are videos of real people and ugc talking about fixes.

Perspectives filter - Lily Ray

Glenn Gabe noted it shows up first for some queries. 



AI Tips and News

Mercedes is adding ChatGPT to its in car voice controls. If your car is one of the 900K in the US equipped with the MBUX infotainment system, you can join the beta program by using the voice command and saying, “Hey Mercedes, I want to join the beta program”.  They say soon you can ask your car for details about your destination, to suggest a new dinner recipe or answer a complex question, all while driving.

“Mercedes-Benz combines the best of both worlds, enhancing the validated data of MBUX Voice Assistant with the more natural dialogue format of ChatGPT. Users will experience a voice assistant that not only accepts natural voice commands but can also conduct conversations. Soon, participants who ask the Voice Assistant for details about their destination, to suggest a new dinner recipe, or to answer a complex question, will receive a more comprehensive answer – while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

This is even more reason why we will need to be focusing on optimizing for LLM chatbots like ChatGPT. I’ve shared more in the subscriber section on this.

From Google: AI in software development: What you need to know. This article addresses the following myths:

  • AI will take over all technical jobs.
  • Only data science experts can use AI.
  • Training custom AI models is too expensive and resource intensive.
  • AI is just another hype-y technology trend.

This last myth has me excited:

  • No code/low code AI platforms are only for non technical users

I expect Google will eventually make it incredibly easy to create new and helpful things with AI.

Meta Wants Companies to Make Money Off Its Open-Source AI, in Challenge to Google

Aidan Gomez: AI threat to human existence is ‘absurd’ distraction from real risks

There is going to be a new Beatles song thanks to AI. Paul McCartney says he was able to use AI to extract John Lennon’s voice from a recording saying, “That’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar.” “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so then we could mix the record.”

Biggest Losers of AI Boom Are Knowledge Workers, McKinsey Says. Bloomberg’s article says Generative AI will give humans a new superpower, and the economy a much needed productivity injection. About 75% of the potential value from applied generative AI will come in four business functions: customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and research and development. And it’s all developing fast.

If you watch one video this week, I’d recommend this interview with Sam Altman.

The New Language Model Stack – from Sequoia. Nearly every company in the Sequioia network is building language models into their projects. The Sequoia network includes DoorDash, Zoom, 23 and Me, Apple, AirBNB, Stripe, Instagram, WhatsApp. 

Here’s an interesting thought. Anything scraped from the web after the release of LLMs in late 2022 potentially has AI written data in it. We are the last people to live in a world where the majority of the world’s information was provided and created by humans.

Try out Hugging Face’s music generator, MusicGen

If you are interested in Google’s developer tools for AI, take time to watch the developer keynote at Google I/O. This is very exciting.

Interesting AI research and articles

Assigning AI: Seven Approaches for Students with Prompts.

This paper outlines seven ways to use AI in classrooms, emphasizing the role of Large Language Models (LLMs) in education. It encourages active student engagement with AI to mitigate potential risks and biases, with the aim of AI serving as a supporting tool, not a replacement. I am so excited to see how AI changes education!

Seeing the World through Your Eyes

This paper is interesting because it shows how we can create 3D images of the surroundings by using the reflections in a person’s eyes. It finds a new way to overcome the difficulties of using eye images, essentially using the human eye as a camera.

From Fortnite’s Unreal Engine 

Local Search

Google published new information on managing your GBP from within Google Maps. There is a new Business tab on Google Maps where you can edit store info, see stats, add photos, create posts and get notified when a customer reviews your business. 

Google filed a lawsuit over fake review scams. From the legal complaint

Over the past two years, Defendants—led primarily by a single individual, Ethan Qiqi Hu—have abused Google products to create fake online listings for businesses that do not exist, and to bolster them with fake reviews from people who do not exist. Defendants sell these listings, and the inquiries from confused consumers who are lured in by them, to individuals and entities looking to promote their businesses on Google platforms. Defendants deceive these small business ownerstoo, making unsubstantiated and impossible claims about their ability to guarantee a favorable position in Google’s search results and implying preferential treatment or access with respect to certain Google processes.

Here’s a list of some of the common GBP bugs happening right now.

Google may be auto-verifying some new GBP listings?

Should service area businesses show their address for local SEO

You can use the heatmap option in Apple Business Connect to show where queries are coming from.

Joy Hawkins’ Interview with Tommy Mello – How To Grow A Home Services Business & Get More Leads


SEO Jobs

Looking for a new SEO job? is a job board curated by real SEOs for SEOs. Take a look at five of the hottest SEO job listing this week (below) and sign up for the weekly job listing email only available at

Subscriber Content

There’s a lot in this week’s subscriber content. I couldn’t stop writing!

We are going to need to learn what it takes to appear in these AI generated answers. I spent time digging into the details of where information that’s currently shown in the SGE and Bard is taken from. Knowing this might allow us to shape how likely we are to appear, and also how we appear. As much of this information was taken from the About Page of the business, I spent some time looking at what the Rater Guidelines say about a good About page.

I also share my thoughts on Glenn Gabe’s excellent article with a case study in which he removed a disavow file from a site that had been madly disavowing ultra spammy links for years. It’s very interesting!

And finally, we talk about two great threads shared by Tony Hill where he shares what worked and also what did not work for him when it comes to improving content.

From Marie

Hope you’ve enjoyed this episode! So much is happening in search.

A quick note: You may see less of me on Twitter as I’m now in a consulting season. For the last 6+ months I’ve dedicated most of my time to learning and sharing about what I’ve learned. Twice this week I spent a long time writing about recent developments and tweeting, and then my tweets just disappeared. I think sometimes things happen for a reason. I’ll still be on Twitter. I’ll be on LinkedIn a little more often I think. But, I won’t be sharing quite as many stories as I have in the past. I’ll still be writing these all up for newsletter though!

Work with me

Very soon I will be taking on clients for a new type of site review to help us figure out together how Google’s AI driven algorithms have impacted your site in the past and brainstorm together on moving forward as AI changes the landscape. I have also opened up my consulting calendar if you would like to book a call to brainstorm with me.

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