How to future-proof your SEO

Helloooo content connoisseurs.

It’s Perrin from Content Bites.

SEO ain’t what it used to be my friends. It’s more difficult, but it’s still a helluva good channel if you can crack it. It’s also still a long game, and a game that’s changing at warp speed. So today, I want to talk about how to future-proof your SEO so that you can play the game (and reap the rewards) as long as possible.

  • Appetizers: Links from SparkToro, Copyblogger, Ross Simmonds & more…

  • Main Course: How to future-proof your SEO

Let’s dig in.

Appetizers: Content about content 🤯

  • Zero-Click Content: The Counterintuitive Way to Succeed in a Platform-Native World (link)

  • What Brands Should Do With Old Content: Reshare & Repurpose (link)

  • Social Media Copywriting: 10 Secrets Influencers Use (link)

  • Why Marketers Should Care About Google’s Potential HubSpot Acquisition (link)

  • How to Gain Your First (or Next) 1,000 Instagram Followers - 26 Tips (link)

Main Course: How to future-proof your SEO

I’ve been doing SEO basically since the Jurassic era. 

It was the very first thing I learned how to do in online marketing. 

(...yo, fair warning: short life story incoming; feel free to skip to the tips…)

Flashback to 2012. 

I was sitting at a desk job I hated, dressed in biz casual in my stupid little cubicle, writing a 200-slide PowerPoint deck about the most boring possible details of health insurance plans for one of our clients, McDonalds. 

I knew it was not for me. 

I hated the whole thing. The corporate politics. The work that felt pointless. The endless drudgery of schlepping to work on the El (what we called the subway system in Chicago). I wanted to do… anything else. 

So (and as embarrassing as this is for me to admit), I glanced above my cubicle to make sure the coast was clear, and I googled “how to make money online.”

I saw that there were people out there making tons and tons of money building sites, getting them to rank in Google, and then cashing in on ad revenue or affiliate commissions.

So I tried. And failed. Miserably, lol. 

I think I built around 5 separate websites without getting a single stinkin’ eyeball. 

Eventually, I found a contest this guy was running. His name was Spencer Haws. He was making tens of thousands of dollars from what he called “niche” sites, and he was running a contest to take on a single student. 

I applied, I won, and Spencer helped me build my first ever successful affiliate site: aPennyShaved. 

It was about shaving products. It grew to eventually make $4,500/mo. And I was absolutely astounded. 

The next 8 years were an absolute blur. 

Here’s the VERY, very short version…

I was (publicly) breaking a bunch of rules with aPennyShaved, so the site got manually penalized and died a miserable death. 

I learned about the “right way” to do SEO.

I started a new site called HerePup. It was a site about dog food (also lol). HerePup grew to make about $110,000/year. I sold it for about $300,000 to pay off student loans and finally put some money in the bank. Confidence was at an all time high.

I thought I had SEO figured out. 

Tried to get another job. Hated the job. Left after 3 weeks. Decided I wanted to try my hand at “real” business, and the only skill I had was SEO, so I started an SEO agency. 

My friend and I quit our jobs without a plan and started an SEO & content marketing agency by sitting in a coffee shop and writing ideas on napkins. I was terrified. Couldn’t sleep. Month 1 we made $2,500. Month 2, we made $8,000. And by month 3, we were off to the races. Massive relief.

I saw that I had a LOT to learn about SEO – especially about doing SEO for actual, legitimate businesses. 

But we did learn, and we started crushing it for some of the biggest brands on earth. 

That agency grew a lot, and eventually I sold it, too. And now, I’m here in your inbox on Sunday mornings.

…all that is to say…  

I have been doing SEO a loooooooooong time. 

I’ve done it on my own. I’ve done it for hundreds of clients. I’ve worked on every type of SEO imaginable. 

And I’ve seen it change. 

But today, SEO is changing more than it has ever changed since I’ve been doing it. And it is getting much, much more difficult. 

It’s also getting WAY less clear. What used to work even 2 years ago doesn’t feel like it works anymore. 

So today, I want to talk about how to future-proof your SEO.

And look – I don’t have all the answers. But I have been deep in the trenches during the last 6 months of volatility, working on projects for clients, talking to other SEOs. I even spent $1,800 on a Zoom call with Marie Haynes

And I’d like to give you the answers I’m most confident in. 

1. Do not use AI for SEO content production.

Google has been at war with AI content since before the public release of ChatGPT. 

Before ChatGPT, there was a company called Jasper, who had private AI licenses and was being used to create content. 

With the release of ChatGPT, Google has been utterly overwhelmed with the amount of content generated by AI. 

AI causes massive problems for Google. 

They hate AI content. 

John Mueller, senior search analyst and search relations team lead (basically the town crier of SEO), once responded to a question on Twitter where someone asked if a site that used 80% original content & 20% AI content would rank well or not.

John said: “It's like food with only 20% toxic chemicals? Sounds tasty.” 

And that’s been their posture ever since: AI bad. 

Now, they’re currently still not good at catching all AI content. 

After the massive “helpful content” algorithm updates in March, Search Engine Journal found that there were still gigantic AI content sites absolutely crushing it in the SERPs – especially in niches like food and health, where there were tons and tons of esoteric “long-tail” keywords to target. 

And it’s pissing everyone off. 

And THAT is why Google is going to spend their billions of dollars trying to open a can of absolute whip-ass on AI content. 

Does it still work sometimes today? Yes.

Is it a good way to futureproof your content? That’s a big fat no from me, dawg.

And in my personal experience in the last 6 months, I’ve seen sites that were leaning on AI content take massive dives. 

**Important anecdote here: As an experiment, I bought content from an agency in the last couple months and ran it through an AI-checker. It was ALL written by AI. So please, please, please check any agency content you’re buying. They’re massively incentivized to cut labor costs. 


  • Do not use AI for any content you want to be indexed and rank

  • Run existing important content through an AI checker like GPTZero (not affiliated)

  • Delete, rewrite, or unpublish content written with AI

  • Invest in human writers

**Note: It is okay to leverage AI for content ideation.

2. Focus as much on UX as you do on content 

This is something I really did not expect to see. But in the last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more examples of this. 

I’ve seen content winning apparently because of good UX


I was working on a client site. This client had super-aged content with very, very high authority (think many hundreds of backlinks built over several years). It was also super, super thorough (it was a massive, definitive piece of content). 

The content had dominated the SERPs for its keywords forever

In the last 6 months, there was an absolute flurry of volatility for those keywords – people popping up overnight, people dropping out of the top 10 completely the next day. It was musical chairs. Absolute chaos. 

When the dust settled, the content that was winning was: 

  • Shorter

  • Answered the question faster

  • Had much better design

  • Felt like more like an app than a website; it had clickable elements and was organized almost in a UI

There were 3-4 of these kinds of pages that were all skunking that old, hyper-authoritative page. 

I talked to a few other SEO consultant friends, and I did a bunch of poking around, and we all started to see this everywhere: good UX (seemingly) winning very competitive rankings. 

Now, a point of clarity… 

…I am absolutely NOT saying that you should go through all your content and try to turn it into an app.

That would be insane. 

I’m also not saying that you need a bunch of design elements on every page of content. That would likewise be insane. 

But I AM saying that UX appears to be a long-term part of what Google values in content. 

And more importantly, at least in my anecdotal experience, UX sometimes appears to be more important than age, thoroughness, and authority. 

For SEO, I think UX boils down to (1) dwell time, (2) search intent, and (3) page experience.

  • Dwell time = the time between when a user clicks on your site and when they come back to Google for the same question (because they didn’t find the answer); ou want long (or infinite) dwell time

  • Search intent = how closely the content the user finds matches what they wanted to find; you want this match to be as exact as possible

  • Page experience = the experience of using the page (speed, clarity, design, feel)

Which means these are my recommendations:

  • Make matching search intent THE most important job of any content

  • Get users answers to their questions as quickly as possible to optimize dwell time

  • Make sure your pages are fast, clear, and designed in a way that gets users what they want really, really fast

3. Build a brand

Here’s the other trend happening: brands are winning. 

Forbes. US News. Anyone with a brand who decides to jump into any space seems to be doing pretty well. 

And this makes sense, right?

If you were Google, and you were dealing with a landslide of AI-generated content, what would be the most efficient way to fight against it?

At least one of the ways would probably be to leverage the trust of larger brands

Is it perfect? No. Are Forbes and co using 100% AI writers? Almost certainly not. But it’s a much, much easier way for Google to get it mostly right. 

And, also anecdotally, looking at the most recent algorithm updates, there were big brands who gained and lost a bit of traffic – but the sites that really got hammered were all small fish. 

They were no-names. 

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for anyone without a big brand. Small sites are still winning (especially if it’s a blog attached to a business). 

But what it does mean is that brand equity can lift your content by creating implicit trust. 

My recommendation:

  • If SEO is an important part of your strategy, don’t shy away from content specifically designed to build your brand

  • Look at other brand-building activities as an extension of SEO

  • Incentivize customers, partners and influencers to publicly talk about your brand as a way of sending crawlable brand signals to Google

4. Treat authorship very, very seriously. 

Lastly, authorship. 

Authorship has always been a cornerstone of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (the document they use to train human raters to assess content quality, which feeds their machine learning framework). 

Those guidelines train Google’s army of human content analysts to actively look for clear authorship

And, in particular, they ask them to look for authorship that indicates the content provides real value. 

They even have a dumb little acronym for it E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trust). 

Anyway, it’s always been important to, but its really, really important in an era of AI. 

Not only does authorship have to be clear in the content and on the site, but authorship should be attached to a person who has other types of presence online

They should have a LinkedIn, or another blog, or citations, or other socials. Anything. Everything.

It needs to be as clear as possible in as many ways as possible that the person writing this content is real, lives in the real world, and understands what they’re talking about

Recommendations for authorship:

  • Every piece of content should have a clear author

  • Every piece of content should link to an author profile on-site

  • Author profiles should have a real person & a real bio & link to that person’s other socials / websites / citations / awards

  • Ideally, anyone authoring content should be encouraged to talk about the content anywhere else they operate online

  • Authors should also be encouraged to build online presences elsewhere

  • Hack if you have the budget: hire people who already have really strong online reputations to write content (or have someone ghost write for them & have them sign off)

Summary of how to future-proof your SEO

  • Do not use AI for content (and consider purging existing AI if you’re losing traffic)

  • Make UX a mission-critical part of content production

  • Build a brand & make brand building an extension of SEO

  • Lean heavily into authorship in any way you can think of, and encourage authors to build their own presence online

That’s the issue. If you missed last week’s issue, you can read it here.

Go forth & conquer.



or to participate.