The August 2023 core update completed rolling out.
SEOs are noticing that pages or sites that cater to Google’s new Experience factor in EEAT seem to be doing well.
Websites that share first-hand experiences appear to have gained a boost in rankings.
Lily Ray, renowned SEO, speaker, and thought leader, shared observations after the update:

Lily Ray on August Core Update

Check out Lily’s full analysis for all the details and examples.
I’m not surprised to see Experience prioritized. AI is making it easier than ever before to produce content.
Sharing real human experiences becomes more valuable. Why tho?


Why Experience Matters More Than Ever for SEO

Tools like ChatGPT can make half-decent content and they will continue to improve.
Yet, no one wants a search result filled with 20 pages sharing the same 10 tips.
Everyone is making the same content. We’re all using the same keyword research tools. And we’re copying the same top-ranking pages.

A self-replicating feedback loop that hurts Google’s wallet

If all the content is the same and gets similar engagement, then it must be ranked another way.
Such as: Other non-content related metrics like the authoritativeness of a site or author.
The result? The biggest names win and everyone else gets nothing.
This is bad for the search ecosystem. Keeping the search market thriving is key to Google’s increasing revenue.


Prioritizing real experience makes sense

That’s why content focused on real experience matters more. As AI content becomes abundant, real human experience becomes much more scarce.
People want to see real human experience more than ever too. because the SERPs are full of similar content.
A page sharing unique human experiences or expertise becomes more trustworthy and engaging.
In summary, experience = rankings.


So what can you do about it?

Content that prioritizes human experience is much more difficult to produce.
Compared to copying what’s ranking and trying to make a better version, it’s a lot more effort.
The reality: Content writers who have zero first-hand experience produce most of the web’s content.
That’s not a bad thing. Writers that can adapt to different markets and niches will always be valuable.
But first-hand experience requires more access than what most writers have.
For example, a coffee review blog: Do you think they are going to give you a free espresso machine?
So you can have a good first-hand experience to make a better page?
Nope. Sorry.
Content is usually approached like this:
“We hire the writer and they figure it out”.


The oversimplified approach: lie

A lot of people will tell their writers to make shit up.
Like: “I tried this product and it was great!”.
ChatGPT could even rewrite a page in first-person perspective.
If you think that is all you would need to do to win this update and stay ranking in the future, you are missing the point…

Google doesn’t believe you

Google made 162 billion dollars from search last year.
They also employ some of the smartest developers in the world.
Do you think they are going to make it that easy to mess with their primary revenue driver?
There must be more clues that inform the algorithm. Proof to show that real first-hand experience is present. Google isn’t going to take your word for it.

Google be like

Google likely implemented a zero-trust approach. Meaning, Google will want you to prove it.
More proof = more trust.


First-hand experience is a challenge for content writers. AI can help

The problem: Web writers don’t have first-hand experiences about what they write about.
The solution: become a curator of other people’s experience.
How GPT helps: makes it fast and easy to find experience opportunities

Content curation is the solution

Don’t have experience or expertise? No problem. Other people do!
Become a masterful content curator and lean on people’s first-hand experience and expertise.
Curation is becoming an increasingly in-demand skill.

Experience is all around you

There is first-hand experience all around you and on the web.
  • You can source experiences from inside your company
  • You could talk to a group of customers.
  • You could look for social posts, experts, or industry commentators.
You need to learn how to find experience content and use it.
That’s where AI tools become useful.
Curating experiences to make unique content is a lot more work.
It’s harder than adding your spin on what’s ranking.
Thankfully, there are already lots of AI-powered solutions to speed up the process.
Making it easier than ever to be a curator.
Let’s dive into some methods to use AI tools for experience curation…

First, think about how an algorithm would detect experience

Earlier I covered how pretending to have first-hand experience is not going to be enough.
Google will likely take a zero-trust “prove it” approach. More proof = more trust.
So let’s take a moment to understand how this translates to an algorithm.
This will give you a better idea of what kind of experience content you can create and why.


Search is not a magical sentient being (yet)

Google ranks pages with algorithms, not by quality raters guidelines. So at the end of the day, their goals must translate into code that analyzes code.
Search is not a sentient being. It’s not reading your first-hand experience and trying to determine if it believes you.
It is still collecting, parsing, and interpreting data.
Search is code that scans code.
Your page with first-hand experience is just a bunch of HTML, CSS, images, etc.
Google’s ranking algorithms detect tangible parsed code or text on a page.
This is why the concept of more proof = more trust is key.
It has to be on the page, IN the code, for Google to believe you.


How to inform a “prove it” algorithm

Here are some of my ideas for detectable signs of first-hand experience:

Experience type Details
Personal Narratives First-hand accounts or stories from the author.
Interviews Q&A sections where the creator elaborates on experiences.
Case Studies Detailed, specific accounts of situations.
Photo and Video Documentation Shows the author in the experience context or the author documents their experience.
Ratings or Scoring Systems Personal rating system for products, places, etc.
Comparison Based on Experience Comparing multiple products, places, or situations based on personal use.
Mentions of Duration or Time Frame Statements specifying the length of time someone used a product, stayed, etc.
Behind-the-Scenes Shares unconventional moments of the experience.
Author/Creator Bio Shows who made the content and how their experience is relevant.
Feedback and Updates Updates about subsequent engagements with the subject.
Interactive Elements Sections like “My Experiences” or “What I Learned”.
Timestamps Indicate the date/time of the experience.
External Backlinks or References Links to the author’s experiences on other platforms or websites.
I’m speculating here. I tried to brainstorm what would be likely suspects for experience detection.
Let’s jump into some of these ideas, and why they will be important. Plus, we’ll look at how to use AI to streamline the effort requirements.


1. Add Experience With Personal narratives

What it is: First-hand accounts or stories from the author.

How to detect: First-person pronouns like “I” or “me”. Relevant context within paragraphs.

Example: “I tried this product, and it was great!”


This is the strongest indicator of human experience, but also the easiest to fake.

First-hand text will be very useful for finding and indexing experience content. Google will then look around for more proof.


Prompt to generate first-hand experience:

Revise this text to be written by first-hand account. Include examples of where a personal story or reference could be included.

Prompt to make text a first hand experience

GPT’s output:
GPT turning text into a fake first-hand experience

In the prompt above, I provided a sample of text from a travel site. The page used does not include first-hand experiences or perspectives.

And ChatGPT had an easy time making up a story. A pretty good one too. It sounds like it’s been there and experienced the road trip!


Which is why I say that this is not enough. It would be too easy to swap content to first person and win.

So let’s look at another big confluence…


2. Add first-hand experience with unique photos and videos

Winning page with unique image

Unique photos or videos can play a big role in determining the authenticity of content.


What it is: Media of the author in the experience or the author documents their experience.

How to detect: Image recognition, relevance, and uniqueness scoring.

Example: see below


Our SEO team at DS recently brainstormed this update.

One of our talented SEOs, Nathan, pointed out how there are so many stock photos on the web. It’s easy to tell when a photo is unique.

He also pointed out how Google has really advanced image recognition these days. So in essence, Google can tell if you have authentic relevant photos on your page.



For the search term: “how to plan a road trip to the Yukon”:

This page by NOMADasaurus documents a couple’s road trip. It outranks the previous page I mentioned above.

Not only is their content showcasing first-hand perspectives, but their images are unique. They took all the photos themselves.

while the latter page used a photographer’s photos and credited them.

Outranked blog using unoriginal media

This is one of the images used on the unoriginal outranked page.

Note how even the captions credit that this is not original photography.

This is also an image of a popular landmark. No doubt lots of people have taken photos of it and many blogs have talked about it.

Reverse image lookup for beaver image

A reverse image lookup shows lots of sites with similar photography.

It may be valuable to mention this common landmark. But making it a key section of the page is not bringing anything unique or valuable to the table.


Now let’s look at the images on the page that is outranking them:

Winning page with unique image

The post by NOMADasaurus features nice and unique photography. Even the captions indicate first-hand experience: “An old log cabin we found…”


In a reverse image lookup, the domain is the only 100% match for the image. Followed by related images.

This indicates that the photo is unique to that domain. Which is likely a trust point for Google’s experience ranking algorithms.

Reverse image lookup for winning post


Prompt for image recommendations

You are a photographer. Please provide some ideas about how we can improve this page with unique imagery, with the goal to provide a better user experience.

Photographer recos prompt

GPT’s output:

GPT's photographer recommendations

This prompt gets GPT to act as a photographer. It provides recommendations about improving the user experience of a web page.

ChatGPT did a fantastic job of recommending image placements and style.

Now you as the human who assembles things, can go about sourcing the unique media to improve your page.


3. Add first-hand experience with interviews

Finding Interviews with someone who has first-hand experience is easy.

There are lots of ways to source expertise. You could collect expert opinions from HARO. Or set up a podcast interview with an influencer. Or you could call reporters for a local event.

Interviews are a tried and true approach.


What it is: Text or other media that quotes the thoughts or opinions of a trustworthy source.

How to detect: Text recognition, image recognition, video captions, external links, entities, authors

Example: “Musk biographer Walter Isaacson tells Axios. Musk wanted to produce enough of the self-driving robotaxis so that people wouldn’t need to own a car…”


Example of interviews adding first-hand experience

Example of reporting on Elon musk via Elon biographer

This post by Axios immediately mentions how they got their info. In the beginning, they state they interviewed Musk’s biographer, Walter Isaacson.

The person interviewed studied Elon’s life and wrote a best-selling book about him. This is verifiable with a quick web search.

They also added external links where appropriate. This further validates that they have a real expert on hand.

So while they didn’t interview Elon, they were still able to rank because they brought in an Elon expert.


Remember, expertise and authoritativeness are weighted by risk. A mom is an expert on her blog about soccer mom life. A cardiologist is an expert for a website about heart problems.


Prompt to get interview ideas

You are an editor. We need to add some third-party credibility to this page. What kind of experts, influencers, spectators, or everyday people could add value to this page?

Add third party credibility to the page

GPTs output:

GPT Recos to find experts

In this prompt, I copied the text for a similar post. This post is getting much less traffic for the same topic of Elon releasing a $25k car.

This page doesn’t provide insights from experts. They are only reporting on stuff that happened.

GPT provides excellent ideas for the kind of content you would want to pull in to add credibility.


Let’s take this a step further:

Now let’s say you don’t actually want to interview anyone. No problem, someone else has interviewed them for you.

We can find interviews and link to them. Then reference the context from it a few times to improve your page.

While not as valuable as an exclusive interview, it still gives you plenty to work with.

But how can we find pre-existing expert interviews?


Find interviews in a flash with provides great outputs and is lots of fun to use. I can often find great interviews on the first try.

It saves me the hassle of having to sift through pages on Google.

I copied one of the expert interview recommendations from ChatGPT and prompted to find interviews:

Help me find interviews prompt

Perplexity’s output:

Use perplexity to find interviews from specific experts

Perplexity found several great sources we could reference. Finding several interviews with technology experts related to the topic.


More prompt ideas like interviews

Interviews are just one way to add credibility to a page.

Some more ideas: opinions, quotes, reports, podcasts, big announcements, predictions, etc.

You can use the same prompting strategy above to find all these credibility add-ons! 🙌

Check out some more EEAT prompts here.


The ironic conclusion

I only covered a few ideas from my initial table above, but you get the idea. You need AI to fight AI.

You also need better AI strategies than your competitors.

The irony is that the industry is shifting from producing all the content to editing all the AI content.

So there will be more pages, more competition, and less traffic for most businesses.

At least Google will make lots of money though! At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters… Right?


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