Hello, everyone who made it to 2024. We originally planned to recap last year in today’s newsletter. The more we thought about it though, the clearer 2023’s overall uneventfulness became, at least in terms of SEO, marketing, and advertising. The stories about OpenAI’s surprisingly public power struggle will likely have some staying power, but generative AI isn’t underwriting any of our livelihoods just yet (despite how useful it is for marketers).
We’re not saying that nothing happened. It’s just doubtful that Google’s product reviews update from last February will come up in the conversations any of us have in 2028. Besides, we spent too much of our recent free time reading through the Epstein court documents to put a comprehensive 2023 review together. We still can’t believe Stephen Hawking is in them, although he isn’t nearly as scandalized as many others. Big thanks to Bing Image Creator for making that illustration (which isn’t meant to imply anything at all) for us.
We’ll kick off the new year with a terrifying article from last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. The title is Will 2024 Mark the End of the ‘Digital Agency’? It talks about how agencies have needed to evolve over recent years because disruptive technologies have continued to replace the skills of their marketers. The worry is that ChatGPT can fully eradicate the need for digital marketing agencies that don’t develop specialized services they can offer, with technology consulting being one of the main things that generative AI can’t yet replace.
We’re not so sure that we agree with the Wall Street Journal here. While it’s true that most people could ask ChatGPT to write SEO-optimized website content or ideal GBP posts, it’s not like most clients will know what to ask for. That can change in the future if SEO knowledge gets thoroughly disseminated to the public, but the same is true for tons of other industries. Most folks, especially business owners, don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of other people’s jobs, so everyone reading this newsletter is probably safe for the foreseeable future.
Google’s most recent SEO Office Hours video answers three questions about how you should deal with 404 errors on your site. Surprisingly, the advice we get from the folks on Google’s Search team is to pay those errors no mind. “Googlebot currently ignores that status code.” That being said, after again dismissively stating that “404s are part of the web. They are fine on your site and you shouldn’t be afraid of them,” the second 404 answer adds that you should take action when a page “that you consider important” is no longer loading.
Another one of the questions worth passing along came from someone who wanted to know why his business isn’t showing up in local search results. The person asking that question runs a snow removal company named “Whiteout.” In this particular case, the fact that the business name is a common term works against it. This isn’t something that all businesses need to dwell on, but if you are managing a client’s GBP (or your own business, for that matter) whose rankings are struggling, you may want to discuss a name change if searches for it primarily turn up unrelated results.
The SEO Office Hours video answers 31 questions in total. It doesn’t make sense for us to cover all of them, but you can see them itemized in the image above this paragraph. If any of the topics covered look like they apply to you, you can click on the appropriate time stamp from the video description to hear the answer.
Today’s first closing link is a guide from Hootsuite that has a list of ideal image sizes for different social media networks. The most important stuff is in the graphic you can see, but you’ll also find the best resolutions for Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest by clicking on the link. Next up is an article from Digiday about the ways marketers are adapting to young people changing all of their online settings to maximize their privacy. It’s a worthwhile read. Finally, we’re happy to report that we got a 5-minute, 47-second spin out of the brass top that we linked to last week. That might not seem like a big deal, but we feel like we broke the laws of physics.
That’s all for now. Be safe out there.