Content Decay | Happy Memorial Day!

Greetings, newsletter readers. Sorry we missed you last week. This email regrettably but necessarily suffers on our busiest days. We mostly planned to complain about the absence of Google Maps and Google Business Profile during the I/O 2024 keynote. It was token-this and token-that from speaker after speaker. Sure– the new Gemini 1.5 model has some impressive AI capabilities, but since top dog LLMs supplant each other more quickly than we go through a bag of Dot’s Pretzels these days, we no longer plan to cover that stuff unless something genuinely captivating gets released.

That being said, a new, genuinely captivating Gemini feature was indeed unveiled during I/O 2024. It’s called Ask Photos. It gives Android users competent answers when they ask complicated questions about past events. You can see the screen recording above this paragraph for a perfect (cherry-picked by Google, anyway) example of such a question and answer. Ask Photos is now available to all Android users who are willing to pay $20 per month and forfeit their final vestige of privacy by granting Gemini access to their photo history.

The Search Off the Record Podcast is recorded by the same Search Liaison team that unpredictably releases SEO Office Hours videos on the Google Search Central YouTube channel. They released Content Decay earlier this month, which features Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller discussing Google’s recommendations for dealing with websites that display information that is no longer factual or relevant.

Not all content decays. The relevance of an accurate, engaging write-up of the Pythagorean theorem from 1997 will persist until the day an AI convinces us that it found a right triangle whose hypotenuse isn’t the square root of a² plus b².

A website devoted to the 100 Best Albums of all time is a different story. Let’s look at the one Apple Music (and Lauryn Hill’s mother) published a few days ago. Its top ten albums are listed below.

  1. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  2. Michael Jackson – Thriller
  3. The Beatles – Abbey Road
  4. Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain
  5. Frank Ocean – Blonde
  6. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
  7. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (Deluxe Version)
  8. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
  9. Nirvana – Nevermind
  10. Beyoncé – Lemonade 

Pretend we live in a world where someone playing Doo-Wop after a $7 jukebox payment would be considered reasonable. Imagine it’s a parallel universe where earth’s atmosphere is like 35% laughing gas or something. No one objects to that top ten list in this carnival funhouse land.

Fast forward a decade to May 2034. Music-oriented generative AI models churn out brain-hacking tunes that everyone loves. The 2024 top ten list is decayed in Google Search’s algorithms because most people now agree that the best albums of all time are less than 60 days old. Here’s the thing. Google Search values the preservation of old content for the sake of historical accuracy.

Rather than removing decayed content right away, Google recommends complimenting it with transitional “explainer pages.” Temporary guides should inform readers about the outdated content while directing them toward revised resources. Frustratingly, our friends on the Search team did not give us a timeline for how long this supplemental material should be in place before it’s okay to deprecate it. Use your own judgment. Google only suggests removing fusty images, text, or video when it’s harmful.

Let’s get to the closing links. We’re going to start out with a two-word term that hurts our brain to type, but there’s an interesting Vox article about “TikTok therapists” from last Friday that we want to bring to your attention. Here’s the byline: “Why juggle 25 people a week when you can make 30-second videos instead?” Folks like therapyjeff are boosting their earnings with paywalls and endorsements. Next up: designer Gustaf Westman turned his curvy, clunky art-like creations into a retail experience in Los Angeles last Saturday. Wildly popular influencer girls like Emma Chamberlain and Matilda Djerf have been glazing these objects on Instagram for some time and his $68 cups flew off the shelves. Link three: How To Recover From A Google Update (A Checklist). It’s from our pals at Search Engine Journal. Our final link is a Hootsuite breakdown of Instagram subscriptions. Creators now have the option to charge subscribers $1-100 for exclusive content. This blog post will help you understand the subscriptions and why some creators are leaning into them.

Have a great weekend. If you’re in the United States, take some time to appreciate the sacrifices of your relatives who served our country on Monday. Things can always be better, but let’s get real: we have it made. We owe a lot of people a lot of thanks for that.

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