Everybody and his brother are talking about the Google leak that occurred on or about May 27, 2024. The staggering amount of information leaked by these documents will keep search engine optimization and marketing professionals busy for months to come.

If you aren’t familiar with the Google leak, below are articles written by people a lot smarter than me on the subject:

The Google leak is important and adds to the blogging advice I’ve shared over the years. Much of what Google has stated publicly is misleading. What works is what YOU find that works and I share it below. Take whatever SEO “experts” tell you with a grain of salt. If they haven’t proved it for themselves, chances are it’s 50% spin from Google and 50% regurgitated advice from somewhere else. My blogging advice is based on things I have tested. Here’s what I have learned from my 16 years of professional SEO writing and what’s working now.

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Blogging Advice Learned from 16+ Years of Professional SEO Writing

I’ve been writing for the web since 2008. In the early, heady days of SEO, we wrote search engine-optimized articles based on highly formulaic information. Once, I had a spreadsheet with mathematical formulas embedded in it; I plunked in the word count and the keywords, and the magic formula told me if the page would rank well.

With each subsequent Google update, we moved away from that simplistic, formulaic way of writing for the web but continued to follow the rules. Use the keyword phrase once in the headline and once in the subheading. Use the keyword phrase X number of times per word count. If you’re writing for the web, you, too, know the “rules.”

The Google leak blew up the rules. The information contained in the leaked documents points to years of Google systematically gaslighting marketing experts who consistently tested Google’s claims and found them wanting.

The E-E-A-T formula Google has been touting for years? Forget it. Apparently, brand name and brand recognition count for more than anything Joe Public could write and publish, even if Joe Publish has excellent credentials.

And the little guys who felt like Google was squashing their content lower and lower in the search engine ranks? Guess what? It’s true. They have been.

There is hope, however. For those of you struggling with your content marketing and wondering how to get more views, clicks, and interactions on your blog, here’s what I have learned this year.

What Works for SEO Blogs: Micro Niches

I run a website called Home Garden Joy. It is about gardening – specifically, how to grow your own food and herbs and how to cook with them and preserve them. This site is also my sandbox, where I play with SEO and learn from my own mistakes. It has helped me provide outstanding SEO service to my clients because whatever I tell my clients, I have tried in the real world and discovered for myself what works and what doesn’t.

What works today is micro niches. A niche is a smaller subset of a bigger topic. A topic may be photography; the niche is wedding photography, or nature photography. A micro niche may be destination wedding photography (wedding photograph niche) or bird photography (nature photography niche). The more specific you can be in your micro-niche, the better.

Structure Your Site Around Your Micro Niche

It’s not enough to simply write for your micro niche. Every aspect of your website or blog must focus on the micro niche.

This past winter, I worked on the basic structure of Home Garden Joy. I removed old categories that were irrelevant to the micro niche (growing flowers, butterfly gardens, homesteading) and instead included only categories related to growing, cooking, or preserving fruits, vegetables, and herbs, as well as gardening basics. I didn’t get rid of the articles in the flower, house plant, and other categories; I just reorganized them.

Such changes may seem small and insignificant, but I noticed an immediate increase in traffic. It’s as if Google had been confused about the site before. What was it about? Now, however, it was clear.

I also rewrote the home page, once again focusing the copy on growing your own food and learning how to cook with it and preserve it. Again, a small bump in the SERPs, but it added up.

Lastly, I changed the featured articles on the home page of the site – once again focusing solely on the micro niche. This last change, combined with the incremental changes that had come before it, seemed to do the trick.

Personalized Content Helps Your Blog Stand Apart

How can you stand out in a sea of similar blogs and websites? By personalization.

Personalization, or sharing your own unique perspective and experience, sends strong signals to Google that you are an authority on the topic. It’s not enough to write about growing peach trees, for example, I wrote an article on how to propagate peach trees and I took step by step photos showing myself and my husband on our farm actually taking cuttings, rooting and growing them.

Google Loves Personalized Content

Google loves such personalization. It sets it apart from the AI-generated content that is just flooding everything these days. Articles where I take my own photos and do not use stock images and where I actually show us on the farm building raised beds, planting trees, or making something are some of my strongest performers in the SERPs, and I think it’s because Google knows with certainty that this is original content.

I have many credentials that should signal to Google that I am a gardening authority. I’m a Certified Virginia Master Gardener. I have lectured locally on herb gardening and similar topics. I’ve written gardening books and penned a column for many years for Virginia Gardener magazine, not to mention working at Martin Viette Nurseries. All of that should send strong signals to Google to trust my content. But adding the personal touch seems to be what sets some of my content apart from tons of other gardening articles out there.

I’m not saying that my blog is the best or that my blogging advice is the only advice to follow. There are other fine gardening blogs out there and people with even better credentials than me, that’s for sure. But as I have mentioned, my gardening blog and website are my proving ground, my personal SEO sandbox, and it’s how I confirm all the information I read about from other professionals in the field.

Blogging Advice: Micro Niche Now or Go Home

Between the AI-generated content running rampant online and the new information pouring out of the leaked Google documents, it’s clear that we are no longer in the formulaic phase of SEO. We’re not even in the last phase of SEO (which was built on lies from Google, or at least misdirection): E-A-T is mostly baloney, with some grain of truth, but it can’t beat a strong, known brand in the SERPs.

So what does work? Be careful with the blogging advice you take and test everything. I found that micro niches and personalization, good writing, original photos and lots of juicy good links back to your site work the best. Good site speed is also critical.

These are the things that are working now. As with all things SEO, however, this could change in an instant if one of the major search engines decides to tweak its algorithms. I think the days of chasing SEO success for advertising dollars are over. If you’re monetizing your content, you need to find multiple revenue streams. Write books. Write courses. Consult. Teach. And use ads, but don’t rely upon one channel solely for revenue. There’s too many unknowns nowadays and too frequent Google updates to use the old model of build a site, include ads, and monetize.