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In the last email, I talked about how ChatGPT is taking AI writing to another level and that instead of taking a wait and see approach, you need to start working toward taking either an offensive or defensive position (offensive meaning using AI writing to some capacity, and defensive meaning finding ways to keep AI sites from crushing your site).
As I’ve already mentioned, we think there’s still too much risk to be implementing AI on our own sites, so this email will be focused on the other side of the coin. That’s not to say that AI writing can’t work well for you, as it has for many others. We just aren’t there yet ourselves.
Before I jump in, I just want to reiterate that like you, we have no clue where AI writing will take blogging and niche sites. Take everything I list out below for what it is: speculation.
These are just some things that we’re doing that we think will help to put our sites in a better position as AI writing improves.
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Churn-and-burn sites have worked well in some capacity or another for a long time. If you knew what you were doing, it wasn’t difficult to quickly add a bunch of content to a site and get it ranked and bringing in traffic and revenue within a reasonable time period.
I think that’s still doable today, but we’re seeing signs that Google is being more cautious with new sites. We’ve definitely seen this with our case study site, and that very well may be related to the onslaught of AI content.
Either way, these types of sites are short-lived, and that’s really not a good strategy when AI tools make it so easy to pump out content at scale. What we need instead is something that provides staying power, and that’s building an authority site or brand.
Now there’s a lot of ways someone could define an authority site or brand, but for simplicity, our basic goal is to create sites that are heavily protected against future competitors. In investing terms, this would be called having a moat. In IT terms, this would be considered a layered security approach.
No matter how you look at it, an authority site should stand up better over time against competition because a thick and sturdy wall has been built around it. That’s the goal. Build a site that can’t be toppled by another site, simply due to the other site churning out more content.
Taking Your Site to the Next Level
Since starting our very first site, our goal has always been to turn each site into an authority site. While I don’t necessarily think we’ll do that with all of our sites, I can clearly see that potential for at least a few of them.
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While we haven’t done most of the things listed below and are just now getting to them, that’s okay. Because we went broad enough with our domain names from day 1, we left the door open to pursue these things when the time comes (which is now).
So the first direction we’re moving into with a couple of our biggest sites is adding content to multiple platforms. Yes, I’m talking about social media.
Personally, I hate social media. I am the person who literally deletes the Facebook app from their phone. That’s not to say I don’t see value in it, especially from a business perspective.
Building out a following on social media platforms is a lot of work, but if you’re trying to build authority, it’s a no-brainer. This is not so much about driving traffic back to your site though. This is about increasing the web presence of your brand.
What’s great about social media is how easy it is for people to share content. If someone finds one of your posts on Facebook and likes it, they can then share it with their friends, and so on.
This puts your site and brand in front of a lot of eyeballs, increasing your brand awareness. The benefits don’t end there though.
To me, the biggest benefit you’re going to get from increasing your brand awareness through social media (and an email list, which I’ll get to next), is branded searches. A branded search is a search query that includes your site’s name in it.
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For example, if someone follows My Backyard Life and really enjoys the content, they might go over to Google and type “my backyard life chicken recipes.”
This should be a clear sign of authority to Google, a sign that you have a brand that people are looking for. Not only that, but you should always rank right at the top for these branded searches.
Another way to increase your brand awareness is through an email list. We’re going down this path on two, maybe three, of our sites right now.
Just like social media, an email list can drive traffic back to your site and potentially lead to more of these branded searches.
Another clear benefit of growing an email list is that you own the traffic. A Google algorithm update can’t take your list away. That traffic can also be much more easily monetized, as it’s not cold traffic, like the traffic coming from Google Search.
Alright, this email has gone on way longer than intended, so I’m just going to list a few more items to wrap this up. These are just some other things that you can do to help your site stand out (not necessarily just to improve authority):
Add personal anecdotes to your articles
Cover relevant subtopics that don’t necessarily show up in Google Search
Create linkable assets
Consistently add relevant internal links to your posts
Use your own images
Create a YouTube channel
Sell your own items
That was a huge email, so sorry about that. I hope it gets your wheels turning.
Like I said, the goal is to do things that other web publishers, including those building churn and burn sites with AI, simply aren’t willing to do. Go above and beyond simply publishing articles to build a bigger wall around your site.