Google Considers Charging for AI Search (Search Generative Experience)

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Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits News Podcast! This week’s news podcast is brought to you by Jared Bauman and Thomas Smith, who’s filling in for Spencer.

As always, they’re bringing you all of the latest news related to SEO, Google, and AI, along with their analyses. Stay until the end to hear about their side hustles and weird niche sites!

The first item up for discussion is the fact that Google is thinking about charging for its AI-powered features , such as the Search Generative Experience (SGE). 

Watch Full Episode

Jared and Thomas talk about SGE and the reasons why Google may consider this path, and if they do go ahead with it, what it might look like. They also discuss a Tweet from Glenn Gabe, sharing his predictions about where this is headed. 

Moving along, they discuss how Google’s search engine market share has declined by around 2%, which may not sound like very much, but it is, and it most likely has Google worried. It looks like Bing’s market share is growing, and Jared and Thomas talk about potentially optimizing for the platform.

The conversation then shifts to Microsoft Start, which is Microsoft’s version of Discover, and its  recently-announced and very interesting AI policy. Thomas shares his experience using Microsoft Start and his interpretation of their stance on AI. What do he and Jared think about this policy? And how is it different, or similar, to Google’s?

Moving to a lighter topic, Thomas talks about a musician named Matt Farley, who essentially mined Spotify for keywords and created songs around them. Today he’s earning $200k a year. Tune in to hear his excellent advice around this story as well as the stats behind Matt’s “business.”

When it comes to Shiny Object Shenanigans, Jared starts by talking about his Amazon Influencer side hustle. In March, his earnings totalled almost $4k and, inspired by this progress, he uploaded another 66 videos. He shares some of his stats and talks about how passive this business model really is.

Thomas shares his Medium side hustle, explaining how the platform works, its stance on AI, and how he makes money from it. Last year he was earning $500 or $600 per month from it, and last month he made $3k. 

Listen to hear him explain his thoughts on that growth and what Medium is doing right.

He also recently started an Etsy store for fun? Find out what he’s selling!

As for Weird Niche Sites, Jared shares his first: MeetWays, which helps you find a spot in the middle when you’re meeting up with someone. This DR34 site has seen its traffic grow from 15k last year to 30k this year and ranks for 188k keywords.

They talk about how the site is monetized, how it was potentially built, and whether or not it’s helpful.

Thomas shares the site Antipodes Map, which lets you see what’s on the exact opposite side of you on the earth. 

He plays around with some locations to show how it works, and then shares the stats: DR52, 4k organic search traffic according to Ahrefs, and 113k searches per month according to SimilarWeb. 

Is it monetized or is it a passion project? Listen to find out!

That brings us to the end of another episode of the Niche Pursuits News Podcast! We hope you enjoyed this episode with Jared and Thomas and feel informed and inspired in your own business projects.

See you next week!

transcription

Jared: All right. Welcome back to another week of niche pursuits news. My name is Jared Bauman today. I’m joined by Thomas Smith and we have some stories for you. Number one, probably the biggest topic we’re going to be hitting on is that Google is considering charging for the generative AI search. They’re considering putting it behind a paywall that has ruffled a few feathers.

We’re also going to talk about Google’s market share. You might think it’s gone up, maybe you think it’s gone down, but it has changed. We’ve got some stuff on a really fascinating New York Times article that unveils, I would say, a brand new niche or at least a brand new traffic source. Of course, We have our shiny object shenanigans and some weird niches.

Spencer’s out this week. So Thomas, thanks for stepping in and filling in here for us. Yeah, I’m thrilled to be here. You joined us probably what, six, seven months ago on the podcast in an interview. Um, I think this is your first time sitting in the co host chair for a news episode though. 

Thomas: It is. Yeah. I talked about Amazon influencers, um, way back when.

And, uh, that’s all going along well today, but I have a totally different, uh, shiny object to share. So yeah, we won’t be covering the same ground there on my 

Jared: side. And you brought a weird niche. So very exciting. My weird niche is actually going to put the two of us together, if you can believe that. So.

Stay tuned for my weird niche. We’re going to actually see a little bit of, uh, of us get to interact on screen. I haven’t looked at yours yet, so it’s going to be brand new for me. Um, and I think it’s really cool to have you on. I’ll just set the stage really quickly before we get in. Like you have a really rich background in AI and we’re gonna be talking about AI today.

Just give everyone like a 10 second overview of your background in AI, and then we’ll hit the first story. 

Thomas: Sure. Yeah. So I have a degree in artificial intelligence or cognitive science from Johns Hopkins. So I got to study it way back before it was a thing. And we were literally drawing neural networks on whiteboards and, uh, it was very theoretical.

So it’s something I’ve been able to watch evolve through my whole career. And I also kind of for my day job, run a photography agency that has used AI since back in 2013, when it was all just the machine learning all the way up through the generative AI era today. So yeah, I’d say I have a pretty good background.

It was also an open AI. Right. Beta tester starting in 2020. So yeah, happy to talk about it. 

Jared: Good. Because we have some AI topics today. It sounds like you’re a great one to, uh, to fill in. So let’s go ahead and get started. Our first story, and I’m going to go ahead and bring it up on screen here is that Google is considering charging for their AI search feature.

This was first reported by the financial times as noted here. I don’t have a subscription there, so I’m going to go ahead and access. Barry Schwartz’s article and searching his round table. And in a nutshell, Google SGE AI overviews probably will, as we know, we’ll, we’ll probably, or I’m going to pull from this article or result in a lack of searchers clicking on both publisher and advertisers links.

Now, Google, we’ve podcast many times. They, they, they’ve delayed the launch of SGE. They don’t seem to have a good path to monetization with it right now, you know, the cash cow that Google relies on is their ad network is their ads that they feature in search and they haven’t really found a good way to get that into SGE and I don’t think many of us had this option as the way they were going to monetize SGE.

Um, Thomas, I’d love to get your thoughts here while I, while I kind of scroll down and pull up a couple of their insights that Barry, that Barry shared. 

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, I think like you said, it’s notable because it’s the 1st time that they’re paywalling something core to the business. Like they, you know, they’ve offered Google workspace and things like that.

But search is obviously like you said, the cash cow. Um, I think there’s sort of 2 things going on here. And 1 is. You know, as you mentioned, SGE doesn’t necessarily show as many ads. So they’re losing out on the revenue side there if they switch to SGE. But I think the second piece that’s maybe even more interesting is that the cost of serving an SGE query.

It’s just so much higher. I mean, you think about, they have these really well optimized databases for pulling things out of their index. It probably costs fractions of a cent to serve a traditional query, even a new one when they’ve never seen before, which is the majority of queries of blue, you know, S G E I’ve heard, um, kind of anecdotally from people, it might cost as much as 10 cents.

To serve certain queries. So you think about that, you know, the cost has gone up tremendously for serving those queries. The revenue you’re getting is going down tremendously. And I think they’re trying to figure out a way to make it meet in the middle. Um, and they don’t seem to have figured that out yet.

So this looks like an approach to say, okay, if we’re going to make less money and we’re going to pay more, uh, then we’re going to have to find another model and, You know, I think it’s, it’s feels like a, um, it, it’s going to be challenging, I think, to get people to take, take this approach of paying for this.

And so many other people are willing to offer it for free. Um, you know, the, the bings of the world are already sort of building that in, but I think Google’s in a tough spot because otherwise they’re afraid of, you know, going the way of a Kodak to give an example from my industry where they were the leader for many years and they didn’t innovate and, uh, You know, they ended up, uh, kind of a bit player at the end.

So I think it’s a tough, tough spot to be in. And this seems like a response to 

Jared: that. I mean, you hit the nail on the head. So the article said Google has been slow to add any of the features from what it calls search generative experience to its main search engine, these kinds of search results, which include an AI powered snapshot are more costly for Google to serve up than its traditional responses, which we’ve been talking about that.

And, and also they’re slower, although they’ve gotten significantly faster, but when they first came out, they were. Absolutely slow as molasses as well. Um, and then some analysts have warned again, pulling from the article, have warned that Google’s ad business could suffer if it’s search engine provided more complete AI generated answers that no longer required users to click through to advertisers websites.

So that’s probably maybe an additional concern on top of that, right? Like if SG is giving a more complete answer, then people are not as likely to click on, on ads. Uh, there’s a bunch of screenshots here suffice to say. Uh, the local community that we play a part in was not all that excited about having to pay for SGE when many just want it gone.

Um, you know, I see, uh, uh, Tim Wells here saying, I would not, I would pay not to have them. I wouldn’t pay Google, mind you. I’d pay anyone who created, you know, et cetera, et cetera. Can you imagine paying for SGE? LOL, says Lily Ray. This is my favorite one from Tad Miller. Praying for content that’s the equivalent of a rich snippet answer that I get for free right now with the journalistic quality of a seventh grade report plagiarized from an encyclopedia.

So, um, definitely some interesting feedback there. But I agree with you, like how we’ve talked for a while about how, how is it that they are going to take SGE and the costs associated with it. And then get an ad model to, to, to sync up with what they’re doing and no one saw this coming. And I, I cannot imagine that the adoption would be tremendously high, but obviously there’s agencies that can study that and really kind of give Google some, some clairvoyance on that.

But you think they must have looked into whether the adoption would be anywhere near something worth pursuing at this point. 

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, I think they probably have data that shows that when you show an SGE response, people like it, they engage with it. You know, if you stick anything at the top of the SERP, people are going to engage with it, honestly.

So it’s a little hard to, to know, but they’ve probably seen, you know, positive responses. I think the one kind of saving grace for them is if they can get the cost of serving the queries with SGE low enough, they can answer questions without sending people off of their platform. And I think that’s something that every platform is interested in right now is kind of keeping people within their space.

And so, you know, that’s where I wonder if they can reduce the cost and they can do this without charging for it. Which, you know, I can’t imagine that’s their long term endgame. Maybe they want to kind of subsidize it in the short term for some power users and eventually roll it out more broadly. You know, if I ask a question about where should I go in San Francisco, And it tells me all the information.

I’m right there on Google, any ads serve. They’re probably more valuable to Google than sending people out to a bunch of different, you know, unmonetized for them, uh, travel websites. So I can see how ultimately maybe they would make it work. Maybe if they can make the models more efficient, they’ve been working on Gemini Nano.

Which is designed to run on cell phones, but you know, if they can make it that efficient, maybe they can serve good queries. In the meantime, though, this feels like a strange stock gap, you know, try to get there. 

Jared: Yeah, it is fascinating. I mean, we’re getting more and more use of subscriptions and paying for content, right?

Like I have a subscription to the athletic, uh, that’s one of the ones I know of. And, you know, we’re used to, uh, breaking our, um, even our TV, right. Our TV has gotten to a very monetized form of where we pay certain platforms, certain amounts every month. So. Certainly conceptually, when you get out of search, you can see this model in many ways playing itself out.

It just feels so different and non native to the way we do search. So here’s one take. Let me go ahead and share this. This is a tweet from Glenn Gabe, who we do feature a lot here on the podcast. And I thought that he had a very interesting model here. Uh, let me bring it up. There we go. Uh, sorry. As those of you who are long time listeners know, I struggle a bit with the screen sharing when Spencer is not around, but, um, here’s a tweet from Glenn Gable on this topic regarding the big news from yesterday again, this was a couple of days ago now about Google potentially charging for AI services or features in search.

I’ve been extremely vocal that we are headed towards Jarvis, an AI system that knows everything about you and provides answers to all of your questions. And when that happens, Google. Open AI, et cetera. We need to charge for that. In my opinion, Jarvis will not be packed with ads and we’ll need to monetize in other ways.

I have no idea how long it will take to get to Jarvis, but I do believe that’s where this is all headed. Again, to your point of being a stop gap. What do you, I mean, what do you think about this theory, Thomas? 

Thomas: Yeah. You know, I think Google as, as Glenn is sort of hinting at there has access to everything that we do.

I mean, literally every purchase you make online. Um, you know, every place you go, if you have Google Maps on your phone, they have an incredible amount of data. They’re also probably eyeing the fact that, you know, there’s going to be changes to third party cookies. They’re not going to use that data to target ads as effectively.

So, certainly something like that, where they can leverage all that data that they have about you to provide AI that’s not just sort of a generic chatbot, but that is You know, customized for you. I could see that being a valuable service. And, you know, maybe this is one of those examples of. Google sort of planning one thing and mistakenly saying the other, and kind of ended up having to pivot or, you know, one piece isn’t talking to the other piece, it could be that that’s more what they’re going for.

And, you know, they’ve said, Oh, well, we could roll in a bunch of AI stuff to this, like SGE and others. And, you know, everyone goes, Whoa, you know, wait a second. That’s a core feature. Maybe that’s more what they’re going for. And I could see that being a great way to leverage their data and, you know, kind of charge a subscription for it.

Even, even once there’s not, you know, the ability to target with third party cookies, 

Jared: there’s a lot that’s going to go into this, right? There’s so many factors that have happened over the last year to year and a half since I guess really the launch of, of, uh, of chat GPT was really kind of what brought all this conversation to the forefront.

But boy, um, you know, you bring up a great point about third party cookies. Uh, boy. Um, Let’s table that one for now. We got a bunch of other news topics to get to. Um, uh, that is fascinating though. I’m sure that Google putting content and AI SGE behind a paywall isn’t, I can’t see that as being fantastic news for publishers.

So, um, we won’t speculate beyond that right now, but it’s certainly interesting to see, and I’m wondering how far away. Hey, so you brought this one to the agenda, so I am going to turn it over to you. And you noticed that, uh, speaking of Google and speaking of, uh, you, you mentioned being earlier, speaking of Google, their market share has, has, has dropped and has declined by about 2%.

We’ve got a tweet by Lily Ray here saying Google has slightly declined approximately 2 percent in the past year and overall search engine market share, both globally and in the U S. That looks like most of that went to Bing. Now, 2 percent does not sound that much, but I know from talking to you and I share the same sentiments that it’s actually pretty, pretty big when you look at it.

Thomas: Yeah. You know, so to put it in context, they went from a 93 percent market share to a 91 percent market share. And yeah, that doesn’t sound astronomical, but then when you consider that there’s somewhere on the order of probably two or three trillion searches done per year, when you think about losing 2 percent of those searches It’s a huge number.

I mean, it’s a massive amount of traffic that’s going somewhere else. And if you’re Google and looking at that, that’s definitely concerning. And it’s particularly concerning when that’s somewhere else seems to be, you know, probably your biggest rival at this point. So I think that, you know, the loss is very significant and it doesn’t seem to just be kind of a seasonal thing or.

You know, uh, kind of something went wrong and then they need to tweak it. I mean, obviously there’s been a lot of SERP changes and volatility recently, but to see this sort of gradual slide with a major competitor picking up, uh, that, that traffic. I think it’s, it’s really fascinating. It’s probably something that Google’s very concerned about.

Maybe what’s one of the things motivating all of this to happen. Changing and experimentation and, you know, updates to the SERPs and new features, surfacing things that they didn’t surface before. And I think, you know, it also squares with a lot of stuff I’ve heard within our community. I know a lot of my clients have started to get more Bing traffic and I’m hearing people say, can you go and set me up with Bing webmaster tools and optimize for Bing because I’m suddenly getting traffic from it.

It’s like my second, you know, second top, uh, uh, Traffic source at this point, and I knew that was happening anecdotally, and a lot of people were scratching their heads and going, why is this? Is this something real? Is this just, you know, traffic from chat GPT that’s being mislabeled? Well, no, it seems like actually Bing is picking up some of the people that are leaving from Google.

And if that trend continues, it’s maybe a reason to start optimizing for that second traffic source. 

Jared: You know, I’m with you because on one side, 93 percent to 91%, it’s like, Oh, okay. So you still are winning big, big, big time. The other side says that going from, um, losing 2 percent of that traffic, um, uh, is, is substantial, right?

Because you, you, you dropped. A significant amount of not only traffic, but you went from 93 percent down to 91%. It means that, you know, being, when you look at the market share, they gained, gained a tremendous amount, right? Like you could argue 25 percent growth for being in terms of traffic from what they used to have to what they have now.

So percentages can always get a little squirrely. Former math major here. You got to talk all about your AI major. Former math guy here. But, um, percentages can get really squirrely until you put the context around it. And I’m glad you shared the, the, the, the number of total searches because that number, and when you look at that going to Bing and how much they started with to now what they gained, they substantially increased the amount of traffic https: otter.

ai

Exactly. 

Thomas: Yeah. It could be a doubling, you know, of their, of their overall market share. If they had, I’m not sure exactly what it 

Jared: was. Right. If they had 4 percent now they have 7 percent or, you know, whatever it is. 

Thomas: That’s huge. And so I think it’s, it’s a story less about concerns with Google. Cause Google, Google’s not going anywhere.

They’re still going to be the big player for a while yet, but it’s probably a bigger story about what can you do to pull in some of that new traffic from Bing and say that slide continues and Bing ends up with, 10 or 15 percent to the market. And you can do a great job of optimizing for Bing where no one else has been doing that.

Um, 10, they tend to have an older user base. It’s the default search engine on windows. So a lot of people just never change it. Uh, it’s a lot more desktop traffic from what I’ve seen than Google, 

Jared: which tends to be more profitable on ads. 

Thomas: And exactly. So yeah, um, good reasons to try out that, that Bing is webmaster tools.

I’ve got it set up for most of my clients. It’s. It’s super easy to use. It’s super user friendly. Um, it surfaces a lot of really good insights that you’re not going to find in search console. So I think it’s, you know, it’s time to dust that off. If you have it already, or maybe set it up and see what kind of insights you might be able to pull out of it.

Jared: That’s a good point. It’s a good point. I do like the, uh, Google, uh, sorry. That’s. Slip of tongue the, um, the, uh, the Bing webmaster tools as well. It’s, they do a good job. Uh, okay. Let’s talk about this next topic here. Now, if you are familiar with us talking about Google discover, actually, that’s kind of the theme of the month inside the niche pursuits community had Tony Hill on last week.

Challenge. Uh, got started. Uh, I think it launched this week. If you’re, if you’re used to hearing us talk about Google discover. I’m not sure if you’ve heard us talk about Microsoft start. So basically I’ve got a report from Glenn Gabe pulled up here. Microsoft start think of discover, but for Microsoft being all in line with what we’re talking about so far, they just announced their AI policy and boy, was it interesting to kind of noodle into their AI policy again?

It’s really weird. I just put this framework as I read it to you that Microsoft are the ones who are the founders or really behind open AI and not the founders, but they own a big interest in open AI, and so they’ve incorporated that into being and into their search platform. So it’s interesting to see their AI stance when you know how involved they are on, you know, proliferating this AI couple quotes to pull out any content suspected of being generated by Microsoft.

Unreviewed AIGC. And I’m guessing that, what does that stand for? I had that up here. Do you know, uh, Thomas? 

Thomas: I think it’s AI generated content, but it’s, it’s sort of, there’s two, there’s two terms they’re playing with. Yeah. We can get, we can get to the distinction because it’s, it’s interesting. 

Jared: I had it over here and I couldn’t find it just now.

So AI generated content. Yep. Will be assessed and maybe demoted or removed at the discretion of Microsoft start any partner providing unreviewed AIGC AI generated content is subject To, um, is subject to potential suspension or termination. Uh, our audience and user community trusts us to clearly distinguish AI content from human created content.

And to maintain trust AI content on Microsoft start must remain AI assisted content, AI AC and unreviewed AI generated content, unreviewed AI GC will be prohibited. With very limited exceptions, which opens a whole can of worms. Um, you’re, you’re a discover guy. You know, you, uh, you, you generate a lot of traffic from discover.

Maybe what do you think about this? Uh, I have a couple of thoughts, but I’d like to turn over to you first. 

Thomas: Yeah, definitely. So, um, I, I have my site in, uh, Microsoft start in addition to discover the difference. I would say the big thing there is you generally have to apply. To MSN star, it’s pretty easy to do.

I went through a third party called simple feed that got me in there, but you can also apply directly and you basically give them a feed of your content and they, like you said, push it out to people rather than waiting for searchers to come. And it’s something you’ll find in the Bing browser. You’ll find it on certain phones and it’s kind of interest targeted, like discover, you know, It’s not as well targeted.

I think because Microsoft just doesn’t know as much about all of us as Google does. Google pairs discover content between a site and a user based on their knowledge of what the user likes. But what’s really interesting here, I think, is the distinction between these 2 types of content. And it’s Microsoft, so it’s got a ton of weird acronyms and like legalese to distinguish the 2 things.

But once you really dig into it, Basically what they’re saying is you can’t use like a, a one click article generator, you can’t just drop a prompt into chat, GPT or Gemini or whatever, and take the output, maybe throw a photo on it and publish that as a story. That would be what they call the unreviewed.

AI generated content where a person doesn’t look at it kind of in that down downstream step, but what’s sort of the, the mirror image of that is they’re saying AI AC content, which is AI assisted content is fine. You know, we’re cool with that basically is what the implication here is. Don’t, don’t throw us, you know, the stuff that you generate with one click and don’t look at.

But if a person takes that, maybe makes some tweaks, puts in some personal experience, does some fact checking, adds a couple links, and then, you know, maybe some more photos, that seems to be fine, you know? So I think it’s interesting because it’s, on the one hand, of being very clear, you know, none of this sort of, you know, Automatically generated unreviewed stuff, the sort of bulk content that Google is now kind of pivoting against as well.

Um, but they’re saying if you go and do this editing step and it goes through a normal editorial process, that’s fine. And in a lot of ways, that’s a lot clearer of a stance. Then you’re getting from the Googles of the world who kind of give us a lot of different perspectives and then act one way and behave, you know, and say they want something different.

This is very clear. It’s saying, you know, you can’t just throw us the stuff that’s not been reviewed, but if you want to review it and send it through editorial process. And you want to use AI to kind of turbocharge that have 

Jared: at it. Yeah. It’s interesting. I like it for the record from, I just like more clarity.

Right. And I think this is more clear than anything we’ve ever seen from a, say a Google or other platforms, but, and I just think it’s interesting given that, you know, in many ways, being as the most to gain by, by being a little less clear and a little bit more prolific with their chat GPT it’s use inside of being, and yet they’re coming out with a lot, a lot more clarity around it and probably a lot more heavy handedness around it.

We’ll see on the, um, Enforcement side, how that plays out. Um, and, and, and how that plays itself out with their platform, the Microsoft start platform, but you know, we’ve, we’ve had a lot of, a lot of articles, a lot of articles we featured here on the podcast over the past couple of months about, you know, distinguishing if it’s AI assisted or not, does that need to get put and published, where does it need to get put and published?

Um, we’ve talked about it being in privacy policies. We’ve talked about it being front and center on the page. We had that whole sports illustrated debacle, which is neared itself out into a bunch. So certainly it’s been in the news a lot and it’s interesting to see Microsoft come out and have a stance on it.

So, 

Thomas: yeah, I think it’s also different because with discover Google is really pushing people to your site. You know, it is literally a discovery platform. Like, you go on the app, you see things, you click, and you go to the, to the user’s site. MSN Start, sometimes that’s what they do, but they also have a whole feed where they actually pull the content and serve it on msn.

com. And that’s, so that’s the program that my site is in, and we give them a feed, and they actually Serve the actual text there, and I think that might be part of it, too, because they’re kind of vouching for it at that point, like people think of it as coming from MSN. They don’t think of it as coming from you.

And so I think Google would be a little more hands off and just be like, well, you know, if they lied or something or something inaccurate, it’s not on us. We just sent you there, you know, buyer beware. But if Microsoft is kind of vouching for it, pulling it in, serving it from their own platform, I think they’ve just got to be a little bit more careful.

So it’s interesting because it shows what happens when a platform has a little more skin in the game. And I think what you see is they’re just a lot clearer about what they want and what they don’t want from publishers. 

Jared: Hmm. That’s a good point. Bing is far. Yeah. The way they, the way they utilize it. I mean, even down to their homepage, right.

It’s very different than the way Google, uh, kind of, kind of tackles discover. So, um, uh, do you see a significant portion of traffic from Microsoft start like you do with discover? Does it perform similarly to you or is it kind of perform more in relation to the, Overall percent of traffic that you see from a Google or a Bing.

You 

Thomas: know, the biggest difference is it’s really a news centered platform. So discover is really moving in that direction, particularly in the last few months, I’ve seen it really swing towards news and timely content in a way that it didn’t before. MSN Start is very news centric and particularly I think they’re pivoting now into local news very heavily.

So if you can, as I do, you can kind of break it down to cities or break it down to specific regions and that kind of thing. And it’s news stories. It can do extremely well. And I think the biggest thing is just that they’ve got this huge audience. And again, a very valuable audience because it’s a lot of people who are on a PC.

They never change their default browser. You know, the, the stories pop up. If you, you know, go over to a parent’s house or a grandparent’s house, and you pull up the browser and, It’s sort of this old, old looking homepage with all these tiled things kind of looks like AOL, you know, circa 

Jared: 1999. I was at my in laws just last Saturday.

So this is a hilarious that you’re bringing this up. It’s what it looks 

Thomas: like and that, you know, and that’s where it shows up. So it’s very different audience, very different kind of content. But yeah, I’ve seen stories take off and get thousands of clicks out of that. Definitely. 

Jared: Another vote for people to take a look at some of the properties that are, that are going on over at Microsoft.

We’re becoming a Bing heavy, uh, week here. So, um, Hey, this next story is fun. So if you’ve been kind of pummeled a bit by the recent updates, you’d be feeling down if you’re, if you’re, if you’re a little sour on Google traffic, I think this is an interesting angle. It’s a fun story. It’s an interesting angle to think about in, in the world of like, there are so many traffic sources out there that we don’t realize, and you have a personal connection to this person.

So I’ll pull it up and let you take it from here for this next story. 

Thomas: Absolutely. Yeah. So this one is about a guy named Matt Farley. And about 10 years ago, he decided that You know, he was a musician and he wanted to make it as a musician. He didn’t want to have to have a day job and he wasn’t going to compete with the Taylor Swift’s of the world.

So instead of sort of leaning into like touring and doing gigs and things, he decided to take an SEO approach to writing music, And he found keywords essentially on Spotify that people would search that didn’t have a song written about and he just sat down with his keyboard in his basement for like 10 to 12 hours a day and just started banging out songs about every topic you can possibly imagine.

And very much like we would do, or, you know, maybe we used to do not so much anymore, but we would do before with long tail keywords. If he hit a vein that was working, he would just lean into it. And so, you know, he found that birthday songs were a big one, and he would sing Happy Birthday, the Happy Birthday song, and substitute in a different person’s name for each song.

And he did this for thousands of people. And people would send them to each other. You know, on their birthday, they’d find it and send it. And he would, you know, make a fraction of a cent, usually about half a cent for each time somebody did that. And he just leaned into this model and did it for over a decade.

He cranked out 24, 000 songs. Um, they’re all on Spotify, but also on Amazon music now, and he makes 200, 000 a year. From this, the New York times article revealed, um, just the coolest guy. I mean, I think what’s neat about him is that he is completely unapologetic about this model to him. It is creativity.

It’s what’s allows him to pursue a career and make a, make a living as a musician. Um, I think he loves doing it. I’ve talked to him extensively about it and just finding those like weird little keywords that he can seize and, uh, and run with, um, But it can be divisive. Like people say that it’s spam as in the same way that a lot of people, you know, accuse our community of creating spam, um, at this point, but again, you know, I think it’s, it’s just to me really inspiring because it shows if you can just lean into creating a lot of content that you’re enjoying and that your audience is enjoying, because he has a very passionate audience, let’s say.

Um, you can go really far with that. And it’s also a reminder that. You know, we talk about a few platforms, right? Most of the time, like we talked about Google. We branched out into bang, which is like not very, very different. Right, right. Who would think like Spotify is this huge platform, right? It’s a billion dollar platform.

And he’s taking the same approach. Long tail keywords. That we take in our space, porting that over and making 200 K from it. So I think it’s a reminder, like look beyond the traditional platforms. And there’s so many out there that you might not be thinking of where the same approaches we’ve used for years now with niche websites might be able to earn pretty substantial money.

Jared: couple of cliff notes from the New York times article. I don’t have it up. Cause I, again, don’t have a subscription to New York times. You were kind enough to share it with me on medium, uh, but, uh, a loss. I’m not logged in on that right now, but, um, I’m A couple of cliff notes from the article, which was a really good read, we’ll include a link for it.

He wrote, as you said, 24, 000 SEO optimized songs, that’s what they call it. Uh, on, uh, in the New York Times. So we got the W, so the optimized there, the O of SEO and then optimized. 24, 000 SEO optimized songs on Spotify and Amazon music. He now makes over 200, 000 per year from them going back to 2008. His search engine optimization project took in a total of 3, 000 four years later.

So 2012, it had grown to 24, 000. So you’re right. This has been an almost 20 year journey that he’s been going on here. He talks about that in the article. Couple fun things. He has 600 songs inviting different name girls to the prom . He has 500 songs that are marriage proposals. Yeah, he has an album of very specific apologies.

He has albums devoted to sports teams in every city that has a sports team. He has hundreds of songs about animals, about jobs, about weather, and about furniture, and for many years he was the number one result for this search. Poop song, which brings him in about 1, 200 a month from this song alone. 

Thomas: Yeah.

If you have kids and an Amazon echo, you know that those are the kinds of terms that get searched, right? And some people would be a little squeamish about leaning into that and not mad. He was like, all right, kids are searching this term on their parents echoes. I’m going to write 500 songs about 

Jared: it. Oh, it’s a fun story.

It really is. Um, you know, I think that, uh, at the very least it’s a good read. And if, uh, you know, beyond that, it’s actually pretty inspiring to just see, like you said, the many different ways that people are taking advantage of it. Um, you know, that brings us really to the end of all the news we had. If you’re wondering, no, as of recording Thursday, midday, The March core update is not done rolling out.

That’s why it wasn’t the leader or at all really addressed much Thomas. I know you kind of thought you’d be coming on this week to talk about the March core update because we, we heard it was going to take a month. It launched. 31 days ago, 31 days ago. So we kind of thought we’d be done by now, but, um, you know, as, as we transition into some of the other phases here of the, of the, of the news podcast, like just quick take on the March core update, where has it hit you in any way, or have you seen it hit clients?

I know you have clients you work with at your agency, but, um, you know, and then we’ll transition into, into the side hustle segment. 

Thomas: Yeah, I, I, thankfully, you know, I never really. Went all in on like scaling up AI content. I always did the, what is it called? AI assisted content that’s, uh, that Microsoft has labeled.

So thankfully I wasn’t hit with any manual actions. I think, um, you know, I’ve seen it really go in multiple directions. So there’s some people that got a manual spam penalty and have really had obviously a lot of challenges from that. But then on the other hand, I’ve seen some of my client sites, actually almost all of my client sites do really well.

And these are the sites that are small businesses, they’re e com sites. So it’s been an interesting sort of pivot, you know, you’ve got some people who their business model is really going to, you know, see some, some challenges and they’re going to need to go in a new direction, but also some indicators that, you know, what Google wants to surface is more of these.

Kind of small business sites, things that are doing something other than just publishing content. Obviously, you know, as you said, there’s still probably a day left. I make it my best guess, maybe tomorrow, uh, as this is airing, you know, it’ll be rolling, rolling out the, uh, the end of the update, but if things hold steady.

Um, I think that’s the distinction we’re going to see. And there’s some kind of middle ground there. There’s some sites that saw a hit. But maybe it’s more to do with changing CERC diversity, you know, different stuff is getting surfaced above you. And it’s not really what you’re doing with your content.

Your content might be great. And it’s just, Google’s experimenting. They want to, they want to put some Reddit in there and see how people respond. They want to try out SGE. And in that case, it’s sort of, you know, more of a reason just to hold the line and keep, keep doing good content, the stuff that your audience cares about, you know, like take a, take a page from Matt’s book and just look at what people are searching for and enjoying.

And you know, your audience is passionate about it and kind of continue to dive into that. So that’s what I’ve seen so far. Um, it’s still not over yet, but I think there’s still a lot of opportunity. It’s just maybe more about finding where that new opportunity is. And my shiny object will touch on that a little bit 

Jared: too.

Well, good transition. I’m sure we’ll be talking about the March core update next week. I say that. Maybe not, but I, we all kind of assume it’ll be done in the next week or so, but it’s not done yet. So there you have it. That’s an update on the non news, I suppose. Okay. Let’s move into shiny objects. I’ll start, um, with mine.

I’m going to do an oldie, but goodie here in honor of you being here, Thomas, I thought I’d harken back to Amazon influencer, which really was a big push of mine in 2023. And, um, hasn’t gotten as much love. However, March was a bit of a renaissance for me. I did dust off the influencer account. I did, uh, uh, do some more stuff and I’m happy to share some of the results of March.

Now we knew that, uh, Spencer and I just to kind of catch you up a little bit, Spencer and I talked heavily about it, especially going into Q4, November and December. You and I did a YouTube live actually during that time period, talking about the different results, talking about Really getting granular on what sells well and what doesn’t sell.

Well, we had good months in November and December and that’s expected, right? That’s when Amazon is selling most of their stuff. So I broke 4, 000 each of those two months, and then we hit the new year and we know that. Econ and, and, and consumer spending habits don’t spike. As a matter of fact, they dip in January and February.

And so my earnings were, I believe well under 2, 000, maybe mid 1, 000 range for January, I think it was creeping back close to 2, 000 a month in February. So suffice to say, I was quite surprised that. In March, I earned just a couple of dollars shy of 4, 000 off my influencer account. And mind you, I have only uploaded to that to about mid March.

I’d only uploaded about eight videos for this entire 2024 year. And so it really, ironically, I didn’t think it would mirror kind of some of the, the, the, at the, the passive income aspects that we get out of other sources of, um, of online, uh, of the online world. But. I mean, it blew me away. So I kind of got re inspired and I ended up making 66 new videos in the second half of March.

And so those are live. I also thought I’d share a couple of interesting data points. Maybe get your perspective. Cause I know you are pretty active on the influencer program and have been for a number of years. You’re one of the people I always go to when I have questions. Um, so my clicks, all right. So the video, the clicks from the videos.

We’re over 15,000 in the month of March, whereas I just broke 10,000 in the month of February, so we’re up 50%. Um, uh, and yes, clicks were up by 50%, but I also noticed that my earnings per click were up by 44%. And so that’s the double whammy there. I was getting 50% more clicks and. Of the people that clicked, they bought 50 percent or 44 percent more product.

And so that’s what led to the more than doubling between February and, uh, and March. So man, really exciting. I, I felt like I was, I’d expect this in November, December, but March, why, why March? 

Thomas: Yeah, that’s amazing. Congrats. I mean, that’s, that’s huge. And I think, like you said, it illustrates that this is a passive income.

Type of thing. I mean, I’ve been in it since 2021, basically when it launched as one of the early people, and I still have videos from way back then that earn. So I think you’re, you’re, you know, in that you’re seeing how it can be something that continues. Was there any kind of seasonal trend to that? Like, was it, was it particularly spring type of products that were doing well?

Jared: It was, so there were definitely some re I finally started to see some reappearances from things I was selling in the early days. Cause I got in at the end of May. And so my first kind of earnings, June, July, August were mostly summer products. Right. And so a lot of those products, I saw those videos coming back.

As a matter of fact, I tweeted at one point in the month that like, Most of my best selling products were from videos I created the first week I was on the influencer program. Um, I wouldn’t have classified them as spring. I would have classified them as summer, but I suppose they’re warm weather products.

And maybe people are starting to look towards warm weather in March, right? Spring break coming. Um, uh, for many like vacations along those lines and people start gardening again, they start getting outdoors again. So. Yes, to some degree. I think you have a point there. Definitely. Um, there was definitely some seasonal products that were part of that.

Yeah. 

Thomas: I mean, remember it’s often the case that people buy kind of like one season out. Like you think about, I went to Tahoe, uh, about a month ago. And if you’re not familiar, it’s like the ski area in California, you go up in the mountains. And I went to Target in January and I thought, Oh, I’m going to get, you know, boots for my kids.

And of course it was all in clearance because they had already moved on to the spring stuff. It was all, you know, planting and gardening and stuff. So I think, you know, retail often is kind of one season in advance. So if you were shooting these videos for the summer and I know your strategy was really just go around your house and buy the most recent stuff you bought and review it.

Well, you know, if you were buying stuff right then and there, And going back through your order history and shooting a video for each thing you bought. And that was in May and now people are kind of buying, you know, I wonder if that’s the seasonal element, but to me, that says. You know, you’re probably on the upswing, right?

Like if you keep going, you did that throughout the whole year. Well, you’re still going to get the revenue from that, but you get into the holiday season and Q4 and it’s more of the electronics and the gifts and the higher value stuff. You know, you’re probably going to do even better this year because you’re going to have that, that headwind of the whole year’s worth of stuff rather than just, you know, the stuff you shot in the summer.

So that’s exciting. And I mean, almost 4k. For the month where most of that’s passive, that’s, that’s amazing. 

Jared: So side hustle that keeps on giving, it does inspire. I want to do some more videos in April for sure. Um, and, uh, you know, again, it’s a good reminder, like kind of think, ah, haven’t I done most of what’s in the house?

Well, I have, but for better, for worse, you know, we keep buying stuff. It’s a whole nother conversation. Right. But. Stuff still appears. So, um, you know, there’s still new stuff to record every month to some degree, but, um, you love to live in the world of side hustles. I know this from having talked with you over the years.

Um, and certainly being a, you know, a person on the influencer program, what side hustle, uh, project or projects are you working on these days you want to share? 

Thomas: So I got two. Um, one of them is kind of more, more real. One of them is mostly just for fun, but you know, you never know where things go. Um, so the one I really want to hone in on, though, is Medium.

And I think a lot of people have heard of Medium. It’s been around for a long time. We maybe see that it takes up space in the SERP, or it’s something that we might have to compete with. Um, but a lot of people don’t know a lot about the platform, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how valuable of a platform it is for the right kind of content.

So, I’ve been writing on Medium for, uh, probably about five years now, since 2019. And if you’re not aware of how it works, it’s a subscription platform. So people pay a monthly fee to be a member of media. Ooh, there, that there, 

Jared: that topic is again. 

Thomas: Yeah, there you go. The monthly fee and they they’re doing it really successfully.

This has been their model throughout. Um, they were at. I think about 750, 000 paid subscribers as of about two years ago, kind of like the end of that pandemic, you know, surge in people going and consuming content online. Um, they’re about to cross a million subscribers, paid subscribers. Wow. Um, they added a more expensive tier.

So, you know, they’re probably bringing in like, I don’t know, maybe five to 7 million, maybe a bit more per month from the subscription. And their model is essentially you pay, you get access to all the stories on Medium. Yeah. And writers, you know, pretty much anybody can go and publish content there. And if it’s good enough, it gets pushed out to mediums audience.

And you as a writer, get a chunk of that subscription based on how many people have subscription money based on how many people engage with your story. And there’s a lot of stuff that determines the exact amount, but that’s the gist of it. So if you publish something on the platform and it does really well, then you’re getting a bigger and bigger chunk of that audience.

paid subscription money that they’re bringing in. It creates this incentive for you to write really good stuff that their audience will engage with. And it’s great for their audience because there’s no ads. You know, they’re getting content that’s served, that’s just for them. It’s paywalled. So it’s often stuff that’s not available elsewhere.

Although you’re also totally able to publish stuff from your own blog to Medium and you can do a canonical link back. So you don’t give up any, any SEO from that. Um, and yeah, so I’ve been doing it for a long time. I think Medium went through a phase where they were trying to deal with the whole like AI content thing, just like Google is right now.

They did something similar to Google where they initially embraced it. And then they moved fully against it. They said, no, you know, we’re not, we’re a place for human written stuff and close the door that closed the door on all of the, um, crawlers for AI training. So you can’t train on there. Uh, there’s stuff anymore and went fully human written and they just searched since then they brought in human curators to look and decide what to surface.

So it’s sort of like the anti Google. Like, there is an algorithm that does recommendations and matching, but fundamentally, it’s people writing the content. And then people deciding essentially what gets served to users and it’s been so successful. So, I mean, they gained like 250, 000 followers, paid subscribers out of that.

And as a writer, I’ve seen the interest there and the traffic there just skyrocket. So, you know, I was at the point I was probably making a few hundred 

Jared: dollars a month from my stores. Yeah. Last time I talked to you about this, you were making a, I think a few hundred dollars 

Thomas: a month. Yeah. You know, maybe five, $600 a month, which was, this was probably what, 

Jared: last year, right?

Early 2023. Mid 2023, I think. 

Thomas: Yeah. It was like, you know, it’s, it’s great. It’s like a little bit of, you know, passive income. Yeah. In March, I made $3,340, God on there, just from the articles and I published I think four articles. That made up the bulk of that. There’s some passive that, you know, four or 500 from the previous articles is still there, but I had one article that made over 2, 000 just on medium, um, just in that month.

And I mean, that’s huge. They’re, they’re also picking up a ton more Google traffic. So I think Google is kind Reddit, you know, seeing that, Hey, this is a place where there’s a lot of really good kind of human content. It’s not available through AI platforms. So, you know, since they’ve blocked out all the crawlers, so you’re not going to get the info from chat GPT or, you know, or Gemini.

So they’re sending more traffic. If you look at the graph for medium and H refs. It’s kind of like Reddit, you know, it’s just up, up and to the right. Um, so I’ve seen, you know, huge earning potential there again, if you have the right kind of content, but also the audience is really engaged, you know, they’re paying to be there.

So they’re really interested in, in being on, on medium and consuming the content. And it’s been a huge source of newsletter signups for me. So I’ve gotten, um, probably at least 1, 500 newsletter signups over the last year, um, just from people reading articles on medium and my newsletter is super specific and very, you know, very kind of niche specific to AI, um, and so to get, you know, high value people.

The open rate from those subscribers from medium is about 60 to 65 percent for me. So it’s been really a great source of high quality newsletter subscribers. In addition to, you know, over, over 3k in revenue, just from the stories. 

Jared: Yeah, you’re making mid, mid three, mid 3, 000 figures. You’re getting lots of newsletter signups.

I mean, it sounds like a win win. What, like what type of content. You don’t have to say the exact content you wrote, but like just generally speaking, like what type of content was, was winning so much on, you know, just to give people a mindset, like we had a lot of bloggers who are listening, for example, we got a lot of, uh, content creators, some people will have a newsletter and we’ll write for that, um, different people will, will write for social media, you know, maybe you’re writing for a Facebook page, maybe you’re writing for Pinterest, like what is writing for medium look like in a successful way?

What are the, what are the hits you’ve had? 

Thomas: You know, it’s very, it’s a very tech heavy audience. Um, so anything having to do with tech and AI and that kind of stuff does really well. Um, it’s very, it’s basically what Google says that they want, like very sort of human experience based articles, stuff that shares what you’ve learned on the job.

And it’s very, again, tech, but also marketing and SEO. One of my, my top articles in the last few months Was one that I wrote right after the HCU kind of analyzing, you know, what happened with it and how to respond. And, uh, that article alone has made about 1, 500. On the platform, you know, not even counting like any newsletter subscribers that came out of it.

So long form content, you can write, you know, a 10, 15 minute read and people will stay engaged. I’d say, um, they, they show you metrics and medium for the percent of people who finish your article or, you know, read all of it. Um, and it’s usually around 60 to 70 percent for a good article. So people are really reading through it.

Um, and I think, you know, it’s sort of like the stuff that, that you enjoy writing, if you’re, if you’re a writer and a blogger and maybe haven’t been able to do as much recently, you can do profitably, um, on medium. And it takes a lot of work. Like I, you know, I can bang out a, a blog post for a sort of niche site blog and probably a couple of minutes at this point, medium articles, I might spend seven, eight hours writing a really solid one.

Um, So, you know, there’s definitely time that goes into it, but if you have that hit, you know, I, I think my best article ever on there brought in something like 12 million views. So it was just, you know, when you, when it works for that audience, it’s, it’s massive. So I would say, you know, check it out. It’s, it’s something that I think, um, is a good case study and how platforms responded to AI content and actually grown from it.

By kind of just saying, no, we’re going to, we’re going to lean into the human element of it. And they’ve scaled that. And you know, as a writer on there, I’m loving getting that kind of revenue coming in. 

Jared: Wow. That’s so interesting. Interesting on two levels. Interesting that as a side hustle, it’s really paying off.

I’d be fascinated to hear how it performs for you in coming months. It seems like you’ve almost, Crack the code, but certainly kind of refined the model more and more. So you’re producing the content that they like. It’s also so interesting because there’s so many parallels to our first news topic, which is kind of Google going paywall with their content and their SGE approach and how similar as you describe medium, it feels to the article.

We just talked about 30 minutes ago. 

Thomas: Oh yeah, totally. I mean, I think what’s different is that they are sourcing the content and trying to. Bring in that content that’s really going to be valuable to the audience and because they don’t have to worry about ads. They’re not really beholden to, you know, ad revenue and time on page to, to the same extent.

They’re just really trying to find the thing that’s going to keep people subscribed. And that’s going to be stuff they enjoy reading or they get something valuable out of. So it’s interesting. It’s a different kind of business model to the traditional one. And it’s obviously compared to Google. I mean, it’s a, it’s a minnow, even, you know, five to 7 million a month of revenue.

That’s not anywhere close, but to the individual writer, I mean, On the platform, you know, if you can publish some stuff, you love writing, maybe pick up some newsletter subscribers and get paid 3k to do it. It’s, it’s a great fit. If that’s the kind of, if you really love the writing, I think that’s the things like, if you’re going to farm it out to a team, it’s probably not for you.

But if you’re the kind of person who loves to just You know, drill into it. You’re the person who writes those like 3000 word, uh, you know, newsletters to your, to your list, not naming names or anything. Um, it’s probably going to be a really good fit. 

Jared: I couldn’t help, but think I’m like, this sounds like what I have to do for my newsletter.

I crank out these articles that are way too long. They’re not articles, they’re newsletters, but you know, I ended up pouring three to five hours into them and they’re extremely long and everyone tells me I, I share too much, but they, um, Uh, uh, for the, for the right person, they’re, they’re very engaging and they have a great open rate.

They’re usually, you know, oftentimes read all the way through. And, um, I don’t write for a search engine. I just write kind of free form. Sometimes I don’t even have headers or anything. Very interesting. So, 

Thomas: yeah. So that’s my real, um, side side shiny object, shenanigan or side hustle. The other one that was really more for fun is, um, I got a laser cutter company.

I do a lot of brand collabs for my YouTube channel and a company. Uh, sent me a laser cutter to test and I started playing with it. I ended up making, um, coasters for, uh, SEOs in, uh, in 2024. So, um, we’ve got, uh, it’s not a party until there’s rooftop alligators. You’ll recognize that that’s a reference to automatically generated gibberish.

Um, and then we’ve got the most recent one I did was, um, Uh, a tag cloud of the terms that ChachiPT loves to overuse. We’ve got nestled in, delve into, yet more so it’s essential to. And then of course, cause this is niche pursuits. We’ve got, at least we still have Costco hot dog, which was not hit by a manual spam action.

So, um, it’s just for fun, but I’m proud to report. I put them on Etsy because people asked me to, and I made one sale. So I think I’ve made, you know, 9 of profit or something from a But it’s, it’s been fun. I’ve been sending them out to friends, you know, people who want to have it in their office. They want to share it with, uh, with a client and that kind of thing.

Um, it’s just been a lot of fun and, you know, it’s like my first time dabbling in a physical item. It’s just sort of fun to like set up the Etsy shop and try it out and like see how you keyword and describe stuff. And also just, yeah, a lot of fun to like have my chat GPT words on the counter next to me.

Jared: Oh, that’s great. Man, that’s great. Yes, that is a good ode. We did feature the Costco hotdog website and uh, it’s glad to hear, glad to hear it’s still doing very well. So, and a good transition, let’s get into our weird niches. Um, I, uh, we have a, yeah, we’re coming up on time, man. We always push time. Doesn’t matter how many news topics we have.

Doesn’t matter how many we don’t have. We are always pushing time. So, um, I’ll go ahead and get it going there. And, uh, let’s see here. I’ve got a, Bring this up my website. Sorry. Uh, I got to take a little break there from screen sharing while we were talking about our side hustles. Uh, my website, my weird niche is, uh, is called meatways.

com. And, uh, let me click out of that big ad there. So I absolutely. Love this concept. And the concept came. I actually found this website in the wild because I was gonna try to meet up with a friend of mine who, um, who lives in town, but a ways away. And we were like, Oh, man, we’re tight on time. Where do we meet?

And I was like, Oh, and so I started thinking, like, how cool would it be if there was something that Told me where to meet this guy, right? And lo and behold, there is. And what you do is you go to this website, meetways. com. You put in your address or just zip code. You put in their address or just zip code, and you can also tag with point of interest and leave it blank if you don’t want any.

Um, and it will tell you very accurately. I found where some options to meet up. So. Thomas, I’m going to ask you, we’re going to do this live here. I’m going to go and put in, um, my general zip code here in the area. I live in, you’re also in California. So I know we could actually probably play this out.

What’s the zip code for you to put in? 

Thomas: 9. Let’s try that. 

Jared: Okay. And let’s say that you and I, I don’t know, are you a coffee fan? Absolutely. All right. Let me lag in here a little bit, but let me hit coffee. So let’s say you and I want to meet up for coffee and you and I don’t live in the same city. Um, and so we’ll go ahead and let this run.

And what it’s going to do is it’ll just kind of use a Google embed point, a Google embedded map. Yeah, no feature, or I don’t know exactly how it’s doing. I didn’t look into it. It’s going to calculate some spots for us to meet up. And, um, uh, you know, you and I live probably about 500 miles away from each other, so it’s probably gonna have a field day there, I think it’s probably better used to meet up, um, with people maybe in town, but here we have a Starbucks you and I could meet up at in Buttonwillow, California.

Um, there’s a McDonald’s in Buttonwillow. So it’s, it’s found a general meeting point between the two of us and given us some different coffee options. And I, I find it fascinating because it’s surprisingly accurate in that it really does find areas that seem to serve coffee. Obviously Starbucks is a coffee shop, but McDonald’s, right?

Like I think I would classify them as a place to get, you know, more fast food, but No, it’s coffee and tea. And so I just, uh, you know, I’m going to pull up the Ahrefs stats while, while we’re talking here. But I mean, what do you think of this? 

Thomas: I think it’s awesome. I’m looking that up to see if I’ve gone to that Starbucks because I will often drive down the five, which is what it’s.

It’s calculating. All right. So I have, I have not gone to that Starbucks, but I have gone to the McDonald’s that is by that Starbucks in Buttonwillow, California. And I’ll tell you, it’s a pretty good McDonald’s to meet up at. So I know that like, it’s a, it’s a weird little, uh, like truck stop area where they’ve got a couple places and it does have a Starbucks.

Right by that. Um, so, you know, it got it right. Like, you drive down the 5, right, and you drive up the 5, and if you were looking for a place to stop, you’d probably look for one of those little towns that’s sort of off this big road. If you don’t know California, it’s this road through the middle of nowhere, um, and you find these little rest stops.

So I’ve been to Buttonwill, California, and it is in fact, I think, a perfect spot to meet up. 

Jared: It’s interesting. And I’ve got the AHRFs, uh, report brought up here and, uh, they’ve done, this site has done very well. It’s only a DR 34. Um, but in the last two years, look at this traffic growth. We’ve gone from organic traffic of, you know, last year at this time, about 15, 000 per month to over 30, 000, um, estimated organic traffic per month.

It ranks for, uh, 188, 000 keywords. And so it seems like when you look like they have all these info pages that get generated and rank for different things. So like Austin to Houston driving hours, um, uh, that’s one of the ones that ranks, if I go over here to top pages, you can see that they’ve indexed over 111, 000 pages.

A lot of them are these driving time, um, and meeting points and travel costs. And so they. Whether imagining programmatically, they built out like a ton of pages that seem to have gotten indexed for some of these kind of more long tail search queries. 

Thomas: Yeah, I’m seeing like, you know, not only are you, if you’re putting that in, you have a pretty strong intent to travel, right?

Like you’re, you’re going somewhere else. You wouldn’t be using this calculator. And I saw that one there. Was New York city to Baltimore. So I used to live in Baltimore and you know, that is definitely a drive where you’d want to look up and it’s looked like people were looking for the tolls and they wanted to understand, like, how much am I going to pay, you know, not just where am I going to meet up with a friend, but kind of understanding that drive.

I can see how that’d be a really high intent type of thing. And people who are about to travel, especially like I’m going to New York city from Baltimore. It’s probably going to be a weekend trip. I’m about to spend some good money. The ads on there are probably going to be pretty valuable. Um, so I can imagine with that kind of traffic, you know, they’re probably doing really well.

Jared: To your point, they definitely have, uh, they’re definitely monetized with ads. Um, you know, they have a pretty prolific amount of ads. When you look at the above the fold full, you know, full banner ad, they’ve got this footer sticky ad, they’ve got ads down here on the right hand side and the left hand side.

Um, here’s a search, here’s a search query inside of San Diego. You might. You know, use this more accurately for like meet up with a friend and same kind of thing. Like they’re just picking out all these places that are right in the middle of the green and in the orange tab, the first location, the second location.

So, um, you know, they have, uh, they have a bunch of different tabs. I didn’t really look about, uh, and scan through, but they do have an about us. They say join over 45 million people who have found halfway points. Um, and, uh, they don’t really get into a whole lot about who they are, but they say that it works in 30 countries, which is pretty fascinating.

Um, they give a little story about the, um, the founder, Kristen, it looks like, um, Kristen McCaffrey. And, uh, you know, I mean, they have a whole like director of business and marketing. They have a director of research and development. Uh, here’s somebody in San Diego, Brett. He’s their director of technology, uh, very San Diego of him to say his favorite meeting place is a Mexican restaurant.

So, um, Developers and whatnot. So this is a really, uh, it seems like a decent sized project. 

Thomas: Yeah. You know, I think, um, again, it’s, it’s hard because a lot of the places they’re recommending are not going to be an affiliate play. Like normally the way that you monetize travel is by recommending experiences and tours and stuff that you can get an affiliate commission on.

And you can’t really do that with restaurants. There’s not really good kind of affiliate programs for it. So it’s gotta be a very ad centric play. And I can see why that’s what, you know, probably why they’re going from this just map to generating, looks like a programmatic SEO approach of taking some of these drives or these longer trips and kind of saying, okay, if you’re going to drive from Baltimore to New York.

Here’s where you might want to stop, but also, you know, sharing the tolls along the way and other stuff that adds some bulk to that page gives people a reason to search and land there. And it goes from being this very kind of calculator almost, or, you know, site, that’s not going to have a lot of people landing on it from search to a site.

That’s probably getting a lot of ad traffic and a lot of pretty high intent dad traffic. So I think it’s great. And I did pull up a picture cause I’m a photographer. I photograph everything. I have a Buttonwillow, California, and I’m staring at like the Starbucks sign is about that big in the middle, but I found it.

So if you want to meet up at the Starbucks in Buttonwillow, California, we should do that. We should tape a future episode from, from the lovely, uh, Starbucks in Buttonwillow. Long drive. It’s there. It found that it’s not made up. It’s not a, you know, something that it, that it, uh, that it called up from like a Starbucks in a safe way.

It’s a real place. We could legitimately meet up. Well, 

Jared: I would say in the vein of all the conversation of late that it is a very helpful website. So, um, all right, let’s move on. We’re about to hit time here. So let’s move on to your weird niche site. I’ll pull it up on camera on camera on screen here as you, uh, as you share with us.

Thomas: Yeah, so this one is, um, antipodes or antipode. I’m not actually sure they’re correct way to pronounce it. Probably should have looked it up in advance, but I didn’t feel like that was quite the vibe here anyway. So this is a site that you can use if you want to know what’s on the exact opposite side of the earth from where you’re standing.

So imagine like if you’re standing there and you tunneled straight down and you kept going through the middle of the earth and came out the other side, where would you be? And I actually discovered this organically because one of my kids asked like, what’s under us? You know, and I said, Oh, the, you know, the cross here, it’s crossed.

No, no, keep, keep going in the middle of the earth. And I thought, well, yeah, I wonder what is under us. Um, and so I, I looked it up and yeah, this website will let you figure that out. And some things I love about it. It shows this, uh, two, two Google maps, basically. So if you’re not, if you’re gonna see, if you’re listening.

It’s got two Google Maps, you put in any location, and there’s a little graphic of a guy kind of burying his head in the ground. Yes, there is. Um, and then his head pops out in the other Google Map for the Antipode, or Antipode, whatever it is. And then there’s a little, um, a little like blurb about what you found and a lot of locations are going to be in the water.

So it just says things like, Oh, do you know how to swim? They’ve ended up there, but I took the liberty in advance of putting in 201 creatives headquarters address. In San Diego and you are basically, it looks like about 50 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia. So if you tunneled straight down, that’s where you’d end up, um, on the other side of the world.

So, yeah, I love this because not only is it like accurate in terms of a little, a little further, not 50 miles. It’s probably look maybe a couple thousand miles, but you’re kind of, yeah, you’re there like by Madagascar and Australia and the other side of the world. Yeah. So I love that it serves a very specific random need that people have.

Obviously, you’re probably not going to use it too much, but, you know, you go in and then I start to think like, Oh, I wonder, you know, my childhood house, like what’s on the other side from that? The place I go every year for vacation, like what’s on the other side, like the Eiffel tower, you can put in any location and figure out what’s on the opposite side of the world.

And what I love about this is that it’s Is, it’s, it’s doing pretty well. So it’s a, it’s a DR. 52. Um, in hres, it gets about 4,000 organic search traffic per month. So not huge, but if you go to SimilarWeb, it gets about 113,000 clicks per month. So that’s where, that’s where it’s coming from. So you can imagine.

You know, probably a lot of social traffic, a lot of people kind of doing this, and then I could see this catching on and, you know, friends going in and looking up their locations. So, uh, people with kids obviously like me who probably discover it. And it’s a lot of queries for their organic. It’s like, what’s on the other side of the world for me.

The interesting thing too, is they seem to get a certain amount of branded traffic from what looked like a beauty products line called. Antipodes or whatever the word actually is. Um, so there’s some stuff that’s maybe not traffic they should be getting, but a lot of it seems to be people just genuinely really want to know what’s on the other side.

Yeah, you can see they sort of cash and create pages for specific cities. If you search, like, what’s on the opposite side of the world from New York and that kind of thing. Um, in terms of monetization, you know, it doesn’t seem very heavily monetized. Um, I don’t know, you know, the, the business model, if there is one for this, I saw there’s a PayPal donation option, I think they maybe have some ads, but, um, it just seems to be something that, I don’t know, a passion project, but wow, I mean, 113, 000 clicks, that’s, that’s better than, you know, most of my, my content sites do.

For something that’s just, you know, kind of for fun, basically. So, yes, definitely I think qualifies as weird. I guess we could, as an alternative to Buttonwillow, California, we could, you know, rent a boat and try to meet up at the halfway point between our two antipodes, um, down there and, you know, the ocean off Australia.

Jared: Yeah, it does. I mean, I only found one page, you know, it seems like it renders all of those on the same homepage and, uh, um, you know, but no monetization yet. Just a donate Bitcoin button at the bottom. I wonder how many people, uh, Throw some Bitcoin into the, uh, into the, into the thank you bin there. 

Thomas: Yeah, that’s amazing.

So actually, yeah, so it doesn’t, yeah, you’re right. It’s only one page and it’s ranking for all those things. So they’ve just taken the old school approach of like dump all those cash pages on there. I guess it must be like JavaScript. Yeah. So kind of a missed opportunity, honestly. Like if they did what.

What Meatways has done and, you know, turn those into static pages. Some of those cash searches they’re getting, gosh, they could probably, uh, you know, double or triple 

Jared: that traffic. That’s exactly what I was thinking. It, you have almost. Ironically, you and I both chose very map forward, uh, weird niches here today, which, no, we didn’t talk about this ahead of time.

We didn’t even, uh, I didn’t even look at yours ahead of time, but, um, uh, one example of, of, again, using those cache pages and all the long tail search queries they, they end up ranking for and getting traffic to as a result of it versus this one, just static homepage. So, fascinating. Fun what you can do with maps.

And some of the cool things, you know, we are at time that our flew by, we did miss Spencer, but Thomas, you were fantastic as a fill in. Thank you for bringing all your knowledge. Where can people, you know, if they, they missed your niche pursuits interview from, uh, from a while back, where can people fall along with what you are doing these days?

Thomas: So the best place is to head over to no frills, influencer. com, which is kind of the landing page for my newsletter. And it links to a bunch of the other stuff that you can, you know, places you can find me. Um, you talked a little bit about my discoverer traffic. That’s something I’m really leaning into this year, and I, I, uh, kind of teamed up with some others in the field, Tony Hill and Jesse Cunningham.

We launched a course that get ignite your traffic. com, um, that goes into discover and some of these other, like kind of more engagement focused traffic sources, that’s another place you can also find me on Twitter. I’m at Tom Smith, five, eight, five. And yeah, if you have questions about any of these things, you know, I love like walking people through medium and showing you how to get started and that kind of thing.

So yeah, I love to hear from folks. Definitely reach out. 

Jared: Well, thank you for joining us folks. Thanks for tuning in. Come back next week. Pretty sure we’re going to be talking about the. Culmination of the March core update and all of that means and what came out of that. And I’m sure so many other news stories will pop up.

Spencer will be back next week. And so we’ll see you at the same time, same place. Have a great weekend, everyone. 

Thomas: Thank you. Bye now.



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