What Google's Star Rating Rich Snippet Changes Mean for You

Posted by on Sep 18, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What Google's Star Rating Rich Snippet Changes Mean for You

What Google's Star Rating Rich Snippet Changes Mean for You

On Monday this week, Google announced that they would be changing their treatment of star rating rich snippets in search results. 

We already know that Google wasn’t happy with how star rating rich snippets (like those pictured above) were being used in the wild. “Structured data penalties” have become common in the past couple of years, mostly (in my experience) for the practice of placing organisation-level ratings markup across your entire site, which Google considered inaccurate or misleading (as the ratings weren’t for the specific content of the page they were on). Lots of examples of this exact behaviour continued to exist, however, with Google seemingly unable to enforce their own rules at scale (as is common for activities requiring manual review).

So what has changed?

It looks like Google is about to get far stricter on when they will and will not respect ratings structured data, the property which has until now triggered these enhanced search results. 

In particular, the use of a rating widget (e.g. Trustpilot, Feefo, hardcoded) to show reviews of your organization or business on a site that is run by your organization or business will no longer be respected. You can see Google’s updated guidelines here.

This covers probably the majority of real world use cases I’ve seen, although that may just be my experience.

What is Google aiming for, and what are they enforcing?

It seems that Google wants to push these ratings to apply mainly to critical or genuine 3rd party reviews – for example, a newspaper’s review of a film. Weirdly the distinction that Google is making in what they’re aiming for is whether the reviews are “self-serving” – I’d argue that having a website at all is fairly self-serving in most cases, unless you’re a charity or are running the reviews section of your site as an act of altruism.

Unfortunately, my pedantry isn’t going to get anyone their ratings back, but it does seem that for now there’s a distinction between what Google is aiming for here and what they’re actually saying they’ll enforce.

In particular, reviews of your own products on your product or category pages are handled somewhat ambiguously here – although marking up products is allowed, this could be only in the case of expert, 3rd party reviews (e.g. by a car magazine, of a car), rather than “self-serving” reviews (e.g. on the car manufacturer’s website, of one of their models). 

This tweet from John Mueller at Google suggests reviews of products you sell are fine:

It’s specific to reviews about your business, we tweaked the text in the blog post to make it a bit clearer: “Self-serving reviews aren’t allowed for LocalBusiness and Organization” (reviews for, say, products you sell are fine)

— John (@JohnMu) September 16, 2019

But in most cases these could be your own products, in which case this seems equally self-serving, but Google will probably be unable to tell the difference. At the very least, Google seems at the very least to be implying by omission that they won’t enforce this.

I’ll update this article with some real world examples once it becomes clear whether this gray area remains an opportunity for website owners – right now, results are largely as before.

EDIT (26th September): Yes, you can just re-mark otherwise compliant ratings as product mark-up, with a named product, and get your ratings back.

Will I lose my star ratings?

If the “type” that star ratings on your site are attached to falls into the following list, then it’s very likely:

localBusiness (if you are that business)

If the type that star ratings on your site are attached to falls into the official Google list, but you are the vendor of that thing rather than a critical reviewer, then it’s somewhat likely you’ll lose your ratings, but not clear right now.

Critical Reviewers

Google has narrowed supported types, and now requires the “name” field, so possibly, yes.

You can check whether you’re using a supported type using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool, which has been updated to reflect the new guidelines, but which does not currently identify whether a review is “self serving”:

Should I care?

If all your competitors had markup that also falls foul of this, and you do too, then the commercial impact should be net zero.

On the other hand, if you were a business large enough to have to play by the rules, and your competitors were getting away with sitewide organization review markup, this is a net win for you – and you don’t even have to do anything!

And, lastly, if you spent a ton of money on a 3rd party review platform to enable these features but your competitors didn’t, you’ll be understandably annoyed.

Critical Reviewers

Yes, you should care – this is a good way to make your results stand out in search, now more than ever.

What can I do to get my star ratings back?

If you were previously showing reviews of yourself or your own product or service, your best bet is to hope that Google doesn’t enforce reviews marked up as product reviews, as I mentioned above. However, there doesn’t appear to be any risk of penalty – the guidelines only suggest that in a worst case you wouldn’t be eligible for star ratings:

Critical reviewers

If, on the other hand, you are a genuine third party reviewer but were reviewing a type that is no longer supported (e.g. a service), then there is no ambiguity about whether you may or may not be “self-serving”, so you just need to confirm your markup conforms with supported types.

Is this a good thing?

Generally speaking, a lot of the behaviour around how sites were being encouraged to collect and display reviews did seem disingenuous towards the user. In that sense, this may genuinely improve search results, and clarity of what a star rating means.

The other side of the argument is that Google is defining what webmasters should implement more strictly than the actual specifications do, and they’re doing it unilaterally and without warning. This puts an onus on webmasters to make a change which can be difficult in larger organisations, and which may also wipe out the business case for previous, large investments of resource.

It would have been better, in my opinion, to make this a “from March 2020” onwards announcement, similar to the recent nofollow/sponsored/ugc link markup change.

Let me know your view in the comments below, or on Twitter!

WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

Posted by on Sep 15, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

It is so important to perform WordPress maintenance tasks! If you run your business or blog on a WordPress website, then steer away from anything that might lead to a broken site. In terms of user experience, a broken website, broken link, or a slow, outdated site is a big turn off. This will directly lead to increased bounce rates, lower search engine ranking, and dissatisfied visitors.

If you perform regular maintenance tasks, it will keep your website optimized and at its best performance all the time. Regular maintenance checks reduce the chances of a broken site. In this guide, we have compiled a list of essential WordPress maintenance tasks you can perform to keep your website up and running all the time.

Why are maintenance tasks so crucial?

A lot of beginners believe that creating a website is a one time task and a one-time investment of effort, time, and money. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Let us look at the components that come together to build any WordPress website.

WordPress Core CMS
WordPress Web Hosting
Creator’s content

In what ways these components come together decides whether you have weaved yourself a great site or a lousy site. Creating a website that you have ideated in your mind is only the onset of running a successful website. Maintenance is the next important step.

All the above components must be checked regularly for any maintenance issues to ensure your site runs at its best. If you have a busy site with a lot of traffic, then you must check your website more often. It is ideal to check your site 4-5 times a year. If your website does not receive heavy loads of traffic, then checking your sire twice a year would be good enough.

1. Manually backup your complete website

Having a backup remotely stored in a location of your choice can prove life-saving. In case your website breaks or something accidentally gets deleted while you are making changes to your site, having a backup will ensure that you do not lose it completely.

When I just started with WordPress and would create websites to learn the CMS, I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. Many times I would accidentally delete an essential part of my site, sometimes I would forget to renew the hosting of a website I don’t use too often, and all of it would cost me a lot of my time, money and mostly the effort I had put in.

There are various plugins for WordPress that will automate this process for you. In case you are the forgetful kind, these tools will schedule spot-on backups for you. Some excellent plugins are:

Updraft Plus

VaultPress (Jetpack Backup)




However, I find that you must not rely on the plugins entirely. Once in a while, you must manually run the plugin to create a manual backup. Many times the plugins get outdated and do not run automatically. This might cost you your entire website. Thus, it is best to run a backup manually every once in a while.

You can also consider investing in better web hosting plans that come with the perk of a remote location backup option. Many web host providers offer robust backup solutions that will take the pressure off your mind.

2. Update your WordPress files

WordPress regularly releases updates for its CMS, which updates all of its core files that you might be running. The upgrade process will affect all files and folders included in the central WordPress installation. This includes all the core files used to run WordPress. If you have made any modifications to those files, your changes will be lost.

Whenever WordPress releases a new update, you will receive a notification on your admin dashboard. WordPress comes with its own in-built one-click install feature, which is the easiest way to update WordPress. If this doesn’t work for some reason, then you can manually update your WordPress as well.

Many times you must have come across “Briefly Unavailable” error message” while trying to open a website. This is not an error message but rather a notification page by WordPress. This happens when your update installation couldn’t complete successfully, and your website stays in maintenance mode by error.

Usually, when an update is installing, this message is briefly displayed as WordPress turn on maintenance mode for your website for a few seconds. Once the installation is complete, WordPress will automatically delete the maintenance file to disable maintenance mode. However, sometimes due to a slow hosting server response or low memory issue, the update script will timeout, thus interrupting the process. When this happens, WordPress does not get a chance to take your site out of maintenance mode.

This error can be solved very quickly by simply deleting the .maintenance file from your site’s root folder using FTP.

3. Optimize your WordPress Database

If you have been using WordPress for a while now, you must have collected a lot of junk in your database that must go as soon as possible. By the junk we mean, post revisions, spam comments, trash, transient options, orphaned metadata, and so on. This useless data will increase your database size, which in turn increases the size of your website backup. This has a direct impact on your upload time, download time, and restore time.

Cleaning up this unwanted data significantly reduces your WordPress database size, which means faster backups, easier restore, and improved database performance. You can use any plugin to make this process hassle-free. Many plugins let you set the preferences and optimize your data with a single click.

WP-Optimize is an excellent plugin that is made for this particular purpose only. The team of Updraft Plus has developed the plugin. It also lets you compress your image size. Unnecessarily large images take up a significant portion of your database. This can help you free more disk space.

4. Reset all your passwords

Your website’s login page is the primary access point to your website. Password protection is the first line of defense against unauthorized access. You must set up a unique and robust password. A strong password contains alphabets, numbers, and special characters.

It is best not to use alphabets and numbers in any particular sequential order, yet you must keep it memorable so that you can avoid writing it down. It is possible that despite maintaining a strong password, hackers might find a way to slip into the website.

Make it a practice to keep changing your passwords regularly. You can reset all your passwords once every six months. It includes the login credentials of your WordPress Admin and database, SSH and FTP accounts.

To keep a strong password, you can follow these rules:

Include numbers, capitals, special characters (@, #, *, etc.)
Ten characters – minimum; 50 characters – ideal)
Can include spaces and be a passphrase (Just don’t use the same password in multiple places)
Change passwords every 120 days, or 4 months

5. Review comments for spam

The most annoying thing to deal with is spam comments. You need to go through every idiotic comment and delete them to keep your comment section clean and relatable for your audience. Many people visit your comment section and leave spam comments to their products, pages, videos, etc. According to Akismet stats, the number of spam comments generated over one month is 6,208 times higher than the number of legitimate comments. This means WordPress gets batteredby 487 billion spammers.

If you don’t keep your posts clean from spam comments, then this will directly hurt your search engine rankings. Akismet is a powerful tool that can fend off 99% of spam comments. It will automatically keep away spam from your comment moderation queue.

Sometimes you can see that the plugin might also put away legitimate comment in the spam section. Thus it is wise to review the comments for spam manually every once in a while. However, if you receive thousands of comments, then you can use the feature of batch delete all spam comments.

6. Fix 404 errors

To explain it very simply, when a user visits a website and lands on a page that does not exist, the website shows an error, 404 error not found. The most common reaction your audiences will have is that they will simply leave the website and look for an alternate.

The 404 error drove away a potential customer from your website, but why does this error occur? Most commonly, it happens when the visitor either types an incorrect URL or lands on a page that is currently not created on your website but has some rudimentary link that leads to it. It is also possible that there might have been a page that no longer exists but has its dead link still floating around the web.

You can tackle this by either displaying a personalized message to the visitor or redirecting them to a relevant page on your website. An effortless way to set a redirect link to these missing posts and pages is by using a plugin. You can use Redirection, which is a popular redirect manager for WordPress. This free plugin creates and manages redirects quickly and easily without needing Apache or Nginx knowledge. If your WordPress supports permalinks, then you can use Redirection to redirect any URL.

7. Inspect all the WordPress forms

Many website owners overlook the importance of contact forms and other forms they put on the site to interact with the audience. Many times the forms are not working correctly and sending responses to the configured email. This should not delude you to believe that you have low engagement via forms. Maybe something is not right, and you simply need to fix it.

You need to test your forms and send a message manually to check if it is getting delivered on the configured email address. If the message is not getting delivered to the mail, then you need to reconfigure the email of your web hosting with the forms.

You can also optimize your forms to better performance in terms of rejecting spam and not letting users send incorrect data via forms. This will hugely benefit you by filtering the responses you get. You can configure your forms with data validation and a human check field like captcha codes, reCaptcha, etc.

8. Fix all broken links

If you have had your website on WordPress for long enough, you might observe that some outbound links to other websites, pages, and posts that you put on your website no longer work. This might be because those other websites and pages do not exist anymore or might have moved to a different address altogether.

You might also accidentally add broken images, poorly formatted links, or misspell your own links. These broken links usually display a not found error, which creates an annoying user experience. It increases the bounce rate significantly, ultimately affecting your search engine ratings.

Make fixing all broken links a part of your maintenance routine. You can use SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console to find broken links and mend them.

9. Optimize your images for WordPress

Images make up for most of the weight of your site. Usually, people upload pictures without optimizing it according to their blog dimensions and size. On display, the image will be reduced to the dimensions of your blog, but it will still take more space in the database. Thus, it’s essential to optimize your images before uploading them to your website.

This will help you shed excess weight and increase your page load speed. Slow loading images are repelling to visitors as well. WP-Optimize plugin lets you reduce the image size and optimize them for WordPress.

10. Run performance tests regularly

Many developers run performance tests only when they have just created the website. As time goes by and other activities take more space, website owners rarely run performance tests on their sites.

Make this a part of your maintenance routine to check your website for performance issues. We have repeatedly informed that faster loading websites are not only useful for user experience but also boost your search engine rankings. Thus, make sure that you run performance tests every once in a while. Do not just check performance for your homepage but also for pages that receive the most traffic or receive the most engagement.

Conclusion on WordPress Maintenance Tasks

We hope this article helped you gain insight into why it is crucial to perform regular maintenance tasks for your WordPress website. A site that performs better, is faster to load, and doesn’t show any broken links is essential to offer a satisfying user experience. If your website is performing optimally, then it will boost your search engine rankings too.

Create a maintenance routine for your website and follow these steps to run your site at the best performance.

The post WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly appeared first on WP Fix It.

Apple Search

Posted by on Sep 15, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Apple Search

Apple Search

Google, Google, Google

For well over a decade Google has dominated search to where most stories in the search sphere were about Google or something on the periphery.

In 2019 Google generated $134.81 billion in ad revenues.

When Verizon bought core Yahoo three years ago the final purchase price was $4.48 billion. That amount was to own their finance vertical, news vertical, web portal, homepage, email & web search. It also included a variety of other services like Tumblr.

Part of what keeps Google so dominant in search is their brand awareness. That is also augmented by distribution as defaults in Chrome and Android. Then when it comes to buying search distribution from other players like Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Apple’s Safari they can outbid everyone else as they are much better at monetizing tier 2 markets and emerging markets than other search companies are since they have such strong ad depth. Even if Bing gave a 100% revshare to Apple they still could not compete with Google in most markets in terms of search monetization.

Apple as a Huge Search Traffic Driver

In 2019 Google paid just under £1.2 billion in default payments for UK search traffic. Most of that went to Apple. Historically when Google broke out their search revenues by region typically the US was around 45% to 46% of search ad revenue & the UK was around 11% to 12%, so it is likely Google is spending north of $10 billion a year to be the default search provider on Apple devices:

Apple submitted that search engines do not pay Apple for the right to be set as the primary default search engine on its devices. However, our assessment is that Google does pay to be the primary default on Apple devices. The agreement between Google and Apple states that Google will be the default web search provider and the same agreement states that Google will pay Apple a specified share of search advertising revenues. We also note that Google does not pay compensation to any partners that set Google Search as a secondary option. This further suggests that Google’s payment to Apple is in return for Apple setting Google as the primary default.

Apple is glad to cash those checks & let Google handle the core algorithmic search function in the web browser, but Apple also auto-completes many searches from within the address bar via various features like website history, top hit, news, Siri suggested website, suggested sites, etc.

A Unique Voice in Search

The nice thing about Apple powering some of those search auto-complete results themselves is their results are not simply a re-hash of the Google search results so they can add a unique voice to the search marketplace where if your site isn’t doing as well in Google it could still be promoted by Apple based on other factors.

High-traffic Shortcuts

Apple users generally have plenty of disposable personal income and a tendency to dispose of much of it, so if you are an Android user it is probably worth having an Apple device to see what they are recommending for core terms in your client’s markets. If you want to see recommendations for a particular country you may need to have a specialized router targeted to that country or use a web proxy or VPN.

Most users likely conduct full search queries and click through to listings from the Google search result page, but over time the search autocomplete feature that recommends previously viewed websites and other sites likely picks up incremental share of voice.

A friend of mine from the UK runs a local site and the following shows how the Apple ecosystem drove nearly 2/3 of his website traffic.

His website is only a couple years old, so it doesn’t get a ton of traffic from other sources yet. As of now his site does not have great Google rankings, but even if it did the boost by the Apple recommendations still provides a tailwind of free distribution and awareness (for however long it lasts).

For topics covered in news or repeat navigational searches Apple likely sends a lot of direct visits via their URL auto-completion features, but they do not use the feature broadly into the tail of search across other verticals, so it is a limited set of searches that ultimately benefit from the shortcuts.

Apple Search Ranking Factors

Apple recently updated their search page offering information about Applebot:

Apple Search may take the following into account when ranking web search results:

Aggregated user engagement with search results
Relevancy and matching of search terms to webpage topics and content
Number and quality of links from other pages on the web
User location based signals (approximate data)
Webpage design characteristics

Search results may use the above factors with no (pre-determined) importance of ranking. Users of Search are subject to the privacy policy in Siri Suggestions, Search & Privacy.

I have seen some country-code TLDs do well in their local markets in spite of not necessarily being associated with large brands. Sites which do not rank well in Google can still end up in the mix provided the user experience is clean, the site is useful and it is easy for Apple to associate the site with a related keyword.

Panda-like Quality Updates

Markets like news change every day as the news changes, but I think Apple also does some Panda-like updates roughly quarterly where they do a broad refresh of what they recommend generally. As part of those updates sites which were once recommended can end up seeing the recommendation go away (especially if user experience declined since the initial recommendation via an ad heavy layout or similar) while other sites that have good engagement metrics get recommended on related searches.

A friend had a website they sort of forgot that was recommended by Apple. That site saw a big jump on July 9, 2018 then it slid back in early August that year, likely after the testing data showed it wasn’t as good as some other site Apple recommended. They noticed the spike in traffic & improved the site a bit. In early October it was widely recommended once again. That lasted until May of 2019 when it fell off a cliff once more. They had monetized the site with a somewhat spammy ad network & the recommendation mostly went away.

The recommendations happen as the person types and they may be different for searches where there is a space between keywords and the word is ran together. It is also worth noting Apple will typically recommend the www. version of a site over the m. version of a site for sites that offer both, so it makes sense to ensure if you used separate URLs that the www version also uses a responsive website design.

Indirect Impact on Google

While the Apple search shortcuts bypass Google search & thus do not create direct user signals to impact Google search, people who own an iPhone then search on a Windows computer at work or a Windows laptop at home might remember the site they liked from their iPhone and search for it once more, giving the site some awareness that could indirectly bleed over into impacting Google’s search rankings.

Apple could also eventually roll out their own fully featured search engine.

Categories: other search engines

Crawl Budget Optimisation Through Log File Analysis

Posted by on Sep 12, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Crawl Budget Optimisation Through Log File Analysis

Crawl Budget Optimisation Through Log File Analysis

Log file analysis is one of those tasks you might not do often – due to data availability & time constraints – but that can provide insights you wouldn’t be able to discover otherwise, particularly for large sites. If you’ve never done a log analysis or are unsure what exactly to look for and where to start, I’ve built a guideline to help you:

Get started with some log file analysis tools
Understand what log files are useful for
Digging into the data and think how to better redistribute crawling resources

Log files are essentially a diary of all requests made to your site for a specific time period. The data is very specific and more in depth than you could gather from a crawl, Google Analytics and Google Search Console combined. By analysing this data you can quantify the size of any potential issue you discover and make better decisions on what to dig into even further. You can also discover issues things such as weird crawlers behavior which you could not identify through a regular tech audit. Log analysis is particularly valuable for large sites where a crawl would require an extensive amount of time and resources. 

Log file analysis tools

There are different tools out there for this task, Screaming FrogBotify and BigQuery to mention a few. At Distilled, we use BigQuery, which is quite flexible. A great place to get started if you’re not familiar with log analysis is the guideline Dom Woodman, senior consultant at Distilled, wrote on what a log file analysis is and how to do.

Regardless of the tool you choose to use, you should be able to use the framework below.

Understand what log files are useful for

Log files are a really good source for:

Discovering potential problems: use them to find things you can’t with a crawl since that doesn’t include historical memory of Google
Identify what to prioritise: knowing how often Google visits URLs can be a useful way of prioritising things.

The best part about log files is that they include all kinds of information you might want to know about, and more. Page response code? They have it. Page file type? Included. Crawler type? Should be in there. You get the idea. But until you slice your data in meaningful ways you won’t know what all this information is useful for. 

Digging into the data

When you begin to analyse logs, you should slice the information in big chunks to obtain a good overall picture of the data because it helps to understand what to prioritise.  You should always compare results to the number of organic sessions obtained because it helps to establish if crawling budget should be distributed differently.

These are the criteria I use to dig into the log file:

Top 10 URLs/paths most requested
200-code vs. non 200-code page
URLs with parameters vs non parameters
File type requests
Requests per subdomain 

Before you begin

At this stage, you should also decide on a threshold for what represents a significant percentage of your data. For example, if you discover that there are 20,000 requests with a 301 response code and the total number of requests on the logs are 2,000,000, then knowing that the 301s are only 1% of total requests helps you bucket this as a low priority issue. This might change by type, for example, 10% of category pages with a 404 status code might be more important than 10% of product pages with a 404 code.

Once you begin obtaining results from your data, you should consider whether the current crawler behavior is the best use of crawling resources. The answer to this question will tell you what the following actions should be.

Top 10 URLs/paths most requested vs organic sessions they drive

Through log file analysis you’ll often discover a few paths or specific URLs that had a significantly higher amount of requests compared to the rest. These usually happen to be URLs linked from most templates, for example from main nav or footer,  or from external sources but don’t often drive a high number of organic sessions.

Depending on what type of URLs these are, you may or may not need to take action. For example, if 40% of resources are used to request a specific URL, is that the best use of crawling resources or could they be better distributed?

Below is an example of the breakdown of top requested paths from log analysis and how they compare to organic sessions they drive:

Making this comparison on a graph allows you to easily identify how crawling resources could be better distributed. The first two blue bars show that the majority of requests are to two specific paths which drive no organic sessions. This is a quick way to identify important wins right away: in the example above, the next step would be to understand what those URLs are and where they are found to then decide whether they should be crawled and indexed or what additional action may be required. A tech audit would not give you the information I show in the graph. 

Page response code

Based on whether a high percentage of the log requests is a non-200 code page, you may want to dig into this area further. Here you should query your data to discover what is the break down of non-200 code page and based on results dig further, prioritising those with the highest percentage. 

Below is an example of non-200 code pages breakdown:

As visible above, almost 50% of all requests are to a non-200 status code page. In this case, investigate further into each status code to discover which type of pages they come from and what percentage each represents. As a side note, if you also encounter a large number of pages with a 304 status code, this is a server response essentially equivalent to a 200-status code. The 304 response indicates that the page has not changed since the previous transmission.

Here are some common checks you should do on non-200 code pages:

Are there patterns of internal links pointing to these pages? A crawl of the site would be able to answer this.
Is there a high number of external links/domains pointing to these pages?
Are any of these pages’ status code caused by certain actions/situations? (i.e. on ecommerce sites, discontinued products may become 404 pages or 301 redirects to main categories) 
Does the number of pages with a specific status code change over time?

URLs with parameters vs non-parameters

URLs with parameters can cause page duplication, in fact very often they are just a copy of the page without parameters, creating a large number of URLs that add no value to the site. In an ideal world, all URLs discovered by crawlers do not include parameters. However, this is not usually the case and a good amount of crawling resources are used to crawl parameterised  URLs. You should always check what percentage of total requests parameterised URLs make up for. 

Once you know the size of the issue, here are a few things to consider:

What is the page response code of these URLs?
How are parameterised URLs being discovered by crawlers?
Are there internal links to parameterised URLs?
What parameter keys are the most found and what are their purpose?

Depending on what you discover in this phase, there may be actions related to previous steps that apply here. 

File type requests

I always check the file type breakdown to quickly discover whether requests to resources such as images or JavaScript files make up a big portion. This should not be the case and in an ideal scenario as the highest percentage of requests should be for HTML type of pages because these are the pages Google not only understands but are also the pages you want to rank well. If you discover that crawlers are spending considerable resources for non-HTML files, then this is an area to dig into further. 

Here are a few important things to investigate:

Where are the resources discovered/linked from?
Do they need to be crawled or should they just be used to load the content?

As usual, you should bear in mind the most important question: is this the best use of crawling resources? If not, then consider blocking crawlers from accessing these resources with an indexing purpose. This can be easily done by blocking them on robots.txt, however, before you do you should always check with your dev.

Requests per subdomain

You may not need this step if you don’t have any subdomains, but otherwise, this is a check you should do to discover unusual behavior. Particularly, if you are analysing the logs of a specific domain, requests to other domains should be somewhat limited, depending on how your internal linking is organised. It also depends if Google sees the subdomains as your site rather than a separate subdomain.

As with the previous steps, this is the first breakdown of your data and based on the results it should tell you whether anything is worth digging further into or not. 

A few things to keep in mind in this section:

Should crawler spend less/more time on subdomains?
Where are the subdomain pages discovered within your site?

This could be another opportunity for redistributing crawling budget to the pages you want crawlers to discover.

To wrap it up

As with many SEO tasks, there are many different ways to go about a log analysis. The guideline I shared is meant to provide you with an organised method that helps you think about crawling budget resources and how to better use them. If you have any advice on how you think about crawling budget resources, please leave your advice in a comment below. 

How to duplicate a post in WordPress, plus 4 reasons why!

Posted by on Sep 10, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to duplicate a post in WordPress, plus 4 reasons why!

How to duplicate a post in WordPress, plus 4 reasons why!

If you write content in WordPress, duplicating a post can come in quite handy. It can save you a lot of valuable time to clone a post and adjust the content, instead of starting from scratch with every post you write. Fortunately, cloning a post becomes very easy with the Yoast Duplicate post plugin. In this article, you can read how to use it and we’ll discuss 4 everyday situations in which you might want to use it.

How to duplicate a post in WordPress

One of the newest additions to our Yoast stable is the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin. This simple but effective plugin helps your duplicate or clone a post in a few simple steps:

Install the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin

If you don’t have the plugin yet, simply go to Plugins in the backend of your WordPress site and install Yoast Duplicate Post. Not sure how to do this? This article explains how to install a plugin.

Click on Posts

After you’ve installed and activated the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin, you’re good to go. When you want to duplicate a post, go to your post overview where you’ll see all your posts listed. Find the post you want to clone:

Hover over the post you’d like to clone

If you hover your mouse over the post you’d like to clone, you’ll see some options appear under the post title:

Click on Clone post

When you want to duplicate your post, simply click “Clone” or “New Draft”. Both functions will clone your post. If you click on “New Draft” the clone will open directly so you can start working in it immediately. If you click “Clone” a duplicate of your post will appear as a draft post in the list:

Rename the clone

To prevent confusion, it’s best to rename your duplicate post right away. You can do this by clicking on the post and editing the title there. Or you can click on “Quick Edit” in the post overview and edit the title in this input field:

4 reasons to duplicate or clone a post

There are several reasons why you’d want to create a clone of an existing post. There might be more than 4 reasons, but here we’d like to highlight the reasons that are recognizable for most of us. Of course, you don’t want to publish the exact same or very similar content as that might confuse search engines. So, in what situations should you to use it?

1. Extensive updates on existing posts and pages

Keeping your content fresh and up to date is a sensible thing to do. You don’t want to show visitors outdated or incorrect information. Also, search engines prefer to serve users content that is regularly updated and accurate. Sometimes, updating is just a matter of changing a sentence here and there or fixing a typo, which you can easily do in an existing post. But if it needs more work, for instance, a complete rewrite of multiple paragraphs, you might want to work on this in a clone.

Working in a clone has a couple of advantages:

it allows you to adjust what’s needed, save it, re-read it, and correct it if necessary before your changes go live;you can preview your post and see exactly what it looks like; you can share the preview with others before you publish the changes.

When you’re sure the post is ready for publication, copy the content of the clone into the existing post and hit update. That way you’ll keep the old URL. If you do want to publish the clone instead, make sure to delete the old post and create a redirect!

2. Scheduled updates

In some cases, you don’t want to publish changes right away. You’ll have to wait until, for instance, a product is launched or an event took place. If you have a cloned post to work in, you can perfectly prepare the changes and just copy the content or push the post live (don’t forget to redirect!) when the time is there. This will save you a lot of last-minute work and editing.

3. Merges of multiple posts

Large sites often have lots of content. Inevitably, the content you publish might become more alike over time. We notice this ourselves as we write a lot about content optimization. Before you know it, you’ll have multiple posts on how to optimize a blog post. Is this a bad thing? Well, it might be, if you start competing with yourself in the search engines. We call this keyword cannibalization. We have a complete article on how to find and fix cannibilization in a smart way. 

If you have posts that are very similar and compete for a top ranking in the search results, you’re better off merging them into one complete and high-quality post. In order to do so, you can check how these similar posts are doing, which one gets the most traffic and ranks highest. This is the preferred post or URL to keep. 

When you take a closer look at the other post you might find interesting stuff in there that your high-performing post is missing. Then, of course, add it! This might be quite a puzzle though, and that’s where duplicating your post comes in. If you create a clone, you can take a good look at both posts, take the best out of both of them and merge them into one awesome and complete post. When you’re done, copy the content from the clone into the best-performing URL and don’t forget to redirect the post you’re not keeping! 

4. Reusing a format

Especially in eCommerce, you might have a certain format for a product page. But also, for a series of posts on your blog, help pages on your site, or events, you might like to stick to a certain format. If you’re using a format you’re happy with, you can use the clone function to duplicate the page with the right format. Delete the content you shouldn’t keep and just fill the post with the content about other products, help info, or events. It’s as easy as that, and a huge time saver.

What do you use it for?

Do you already use the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin? We’d like to know what situations you use it in! As we’re continuously improving the plugin, we love to hear how you use it and what features could be useful to add or improve. So please share your thoughts here!

Read more: about the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin »

The post How to duplicate a post in WordPress, plus 4 reasons why! appeared first on Yoast.

Update to Aggregate Lighthouse Reporter

Posted by on Sep 9, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Update to Aggregate Lighthouse Reporter

Update to Aggregate Lighthouse Reporter

Hey everyone!

It’s been a hot minute since I posted so just wanted to quickly come in here and share an update we made to a free tool.

A while back we released a tool that would allow you to aggregate Lighthouse reports by template and visualize and report on assets across sites and at the template/page level in Google Data Studio. Sounds pretty cool right? You can read about it here and check out the GitHub repo here.

Shortly after that Google released their Core Web Vitals and included them in a release of Lighthouse. So here we are. We have updated our repo to include Lighthouse 6.0 (this is a copy of our production repo so it will automatically update.)

That means you can get all these beautiful visualizations of Core Web Vitals and a few other new things:

You can check out an example report to play around with here (sorry, not sorry Waste Management). And in case you missed it the first time the GitHub repo is at the big button below

Check it out on GitHub

The post Update to Aggregate Lighthouse Reporter appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

How to Increase Website Traffic by 1,070% (SEO Case Study)

Posted by on Sep 2, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Increase Website Traffic by 1,070% (SEO Case Study)

Today I’m going to show you how to increase website traffic by 1,070%. This growth is from a B2C niche website we launched in 2018. Let’s dive right in. 1. Ignore Search Volume (Sometimes) There is an untapped and uncompetitive world for keywords with no search volume. You have to remember that search volume is …

Read moreHow to Increase Website Traffic by 1,070% (SEO Case Study)

Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rjonesx.

We spend a lot of time discussing SEO tactics, but in a constantly changing industry and especially in times of uncertainty, the strategies agencies should employ in order to see success deserve more attention. In this popular (and still relevant) Whiteboard Friday, Russ Jones discusses four essential success tactics that’ll ultimately increase your bottom line. 

Russ also delved into the topic of profitability in his MozCon Virtual presentation this year. To watch his and our other amazing speaker presentations, you can purchase access to the 2020 video bundle here.  

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. I am Russ Jones, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for my first Whiteboard Friday. I am Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. But before coming to Moz, for the 10 years prior to that, I was the Chief Technology Officer of a small SEO agency back in North Carolina. So I have a strong passion for agencies and consultants who are on the ground doing the work, helping websites rank better and helping build businesses.

So what I wanted to do today was spend a little bit of time talking about the lessons that I learned at an agency that admittedly I only learned through trial and error. But before we even go further, I just wanted to thank the folks at Hive Digital who I learned so much from, Jeff and Jake and Malcolm and Ryan, because the team effort over time is what ended up building an agency. Any agency that succeeds knows that that’s part of it. So we’ll start with that thank-you.

But what I really want to get into is that we spend a lot of time talking about SEO tactics, but not really about how to succeed in an industry that changes rapidly, in which there’s almost no certification, and where it can be difficult to explain to customers exactly how they’re going to be successful with what you offer. So what I’m going to do is break down four really important rules that I learned over the course of that 10 years. We’re going to go through each one of them as quickly as possible, but at the same time, hopefully you’ll walk away with some good ideas. Some of these are ones that it might at first feel a little bit awkward, but just follow me.

1. Raise prices

The first rule, number one in Let’s Make Money is raise your prices. Now, I remember quite clearly two years in to my job at Hive Digital — it was called Virante then — and we were talking about raising prices. We were just looking at our customers, saying to ourselves, “There’s no way they can afford it.” But then luckily we had the foresight that there was more to raising prices than just charging your customers more.

How it benefits old customers

The first thing that just hit us automatically was… “Well, with our old customers, we can just discount them. It’s not that bad. We’re in the same place as we always were.” But then it occurred to us, “Wait, wait, wait. If we discount our customers, then we’re actually increasing our perceived value.” Our existing customers now think, “Hey, they’re actually selling something better that’s more expensive, but I’m getting a deal,” and by offering them that deal because of their loyalty, you engender more loyalty. So it can actually be good for old customers.

How it benefits new customers

Now, for new customers, once again, same sort of situation. You’ve increased the perceived value. So your customers who come to you think, “Oh, this company is professional. This company is willing to invest. This company is interested in providing the highest quality of services.” In reality, because you’ve raised prices, you can. You can spend more time and money on each customer and actually do a better job. The third part is, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If they say no, you offer them the discount. You’re back where you started. You’re in the same position that you were before.

How it benefits your workers

Now, here’s where it really matters — your employees, your workers. If you are offering bottom line prices, you can’t offer them raises, you can’t offer them training, you can’t hire them help, or you can’t get better workers. But if you do, if you raise prices, the whole ecosystem that is your agency will do better.

How it improves your resources

Finally, and most importantly, which we’ll talk a little bit more later, is that you can finally tool up. You can get the resources and capital that you need to actually succeed. I drew this kind of out.

If we have a graph of quality of services that you offer and the price that you sell at, most agencies think that they’re offering great quality at a little price, but the reality is you’re probably down here. You’re probably under-selling your services and, because of that, you can’t offer the best that you can.

You should be up here. You should be offering higher quality, your experts who spend time all day studying this, and raising prices allows you to do that.

2. Schedule

Now, raising prices is only part one. The second thing is discipline, and I am really horrible about this. The reality is that I’m the kind of guy who looks for the latest and greatest and just jumps into it, but schedule matters. As hard as it is to admit it, I learned this from the CPC folks because they know that they have to stay on top of it every day of the week.

Well, here’s something that we kind of came up with as I was leaving the company, and that was to set all of our customers as much as possible into a schedule.

Annually: we would handle keywords and competitors doing complete analysis.Semi-annually: Twice a year, we would do content analysis. What should you be writing about? What’s changed in your industry? What are different keywords that you might be able to target now given additional resources?Quarterly: You need to be looking at links. It’s just a big enough issue that you’ve got to look at it every couple of months, a complete link analysis.Monthly: You should be looking at your crawls. Moz will do that every week for you, but you should give your customers an idea, over the course of a month, what’s changed.Weekly: You should be doing rankings

But there are three things that, when you do all of these types of analysis, you need to keep in mind. Each one of them is a…

ReportHours for consultingPhone call

This might seem like a little bit of overkill. But of course, if one of these comes back and nothing changed, you don’t need to do the phone call, but each one of these represents additional money in your pocket and importantly better service for your customers.

It might seem hard to believe that when you go to a customer and you tell them, “Look, nothing’s changed,” that you’re actually giving them value, but the truth is that if you go to the dentist and he tells you, you don’t have a cavity, that’s good news. You shouldn’t say to yourself at the end of the day, “Why’d I go to the dentist in the first place?” You should say, “I’m so glad I went to the dentist.” By that same positive outlook, you should be selling to your customers over and over and over again, hoping to give them the clarity they need to succeed.

3. Tool up!

So number three, you’re going to see this a lot in my videos because I just love SEO tools, but you’ve got to tool up. Once you’ve raised prices and you’re making more money with your customers, you actually can. Tools are superpowers. Tools allow you to do things that humans just can’t do. Like I can’t figure out the link graph on my own. I need tools to do it. But tools can do so much more than just auditing existing clients. For example, they can give you…

Better leads:

You can use tools to find opportunities.Take for example the tools within Moz and you want to find other car dealerships in the area that are really good and have an opportunity to rank, but aren’t doing as well as they should be in SERPs. You want to do this because you’ve already serviced successfully a different car dealership. Well, tools like Moz can do that. You don’t just have to use Moz to help your clients. You can use them to help yourself.

Better pre-audits:

Nobody walks into a sales call blind. You know who the website is. So you just start with a great pre-audit.

Faster workflows:

Which means you make more money quicker. If you can do your keyword analysis annually in half the time because you have the right tool for it, then you’re going to make far more money and be able to serve more customers.

Bulk pricing:

This one is just mind-blowingly simple. It’s bulk pricing. Every tool out there, the more you buy from them, the lower the price is. I remember at my old company sitting down at one point and recognizing that every customer that came in the door would need to spend about $1,000 on individual accounts to match what they were getting through us by being able to take advantage of the bulk discounts that we were getting as an agency by buying these seats on behalf of all of our customers.

So tell your clients when you’re talking to them on the phone, in the pitch be like, “Look, we use Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMrush,” list off all of the competitors. “We do Screaming Frog.” Just name them all and say, “If you wanted to go out and just get the data yourself from these tools, it would cost you more than we’re actually charging you.” The tools can sell themselves. You are saving them money.

4. Just say NO

Now, the last section, real quickly, are the things you’ve just got to learn to say no to. One of them has a little nuance to it. There’s going to be some bite back in the comments, I’m pretty sure, but I want to be careful with it.

No month-to-month contracts

The first thing to say no to is month-to-month contracts.

If a customer comes to you and they say, “Look, we want to do SEO, but we want to be able to cancel every 30 days.” the reality is this. They’re not interested in investing in SEO. They’re interested in dabbling in SEO. They’re interested in experimenting with SEO. Well, that’s not going to succeed. It’s only going to take one competitor or two who actually invest in it to beat them out, and when they beat them out, you’re going to look bad and they’re going to cancel their account with you. So sit down with them and explain to them that it is a long-term strategy and it’s just not worth it to your company to bring on customers who aren’t interested in investing in SEO. Say it politely, but just turn it away.

Don’t turn anything away

Now, notice that my next thing is don’t turn anything away. So here’s something careful. Here’s the nuance. It’s really important to learn to fire clients who are bad for your business, where you’re losing money on them or they’re just impolite, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn them away. You just need to turn them in the right direction. That right direction might be tools themselves. You can say, “Look, you don’t really need our consulting hours. You should go use these tools.” Or you can turn them to other fledgling businesses, friends you have in the industry who might be struggling at this time.

I’ll tell you a quick example. We don’t have much time, but many, many years ago, we had a client that came to us. At our old company, we had a couple of rules about who we would work with. We chose not to work in the adult industry. But at the time, I had a friend in the industry. He lived outside of the United States, and he had fallen on hard times. He literally had his business taken away from him via a series of just really unscrupulous events. I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I didn’t turn away the customer. I turned them over to this individual.

That very next year, he had ended up landing a new job at the top of one of the largest gambling organizations in the world. Well, frankly, they weren’t on our list of people we couldn’t work with. We landed the largest contract in the history of our company at that time, and it set our company straight for an entire year. It was just because instead of turning away the client, we turned them to a different direction. So you’ve got to say no to turning away everybody. They are opportunities. They might not be your opportunity, but they’re someone’s.

No service creep

The last one is service creep. Oh, man, this one is hard. A customer comes up to you and they list off three things that you offer that they want, and then they say, “Oh, yeah, we need social media management.” Somebody else comes up to you, three things you want to offer, and they say, “Oh yeah, we need you to write content,” and that’s not something you do. You’ve just got to not do that. You’ve got to learn to shave off services that you can’t offer. Instead, turn them over to people who can do them and do them very well.

What you’re going to end up doing in your conversation, your sales pitch is, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you. We are great at some things, but this isn’t our cup of tea. We know someone who’s really great at it.” That honesty, that candidness is just going to give them such a better relationship with you, and it’s going to build a stronger relationship with those other specialty companies who are going to send business your way. So it’s really important to learn to say no to say no service creep.

Well, anyway, there’s a lot that we went over there. I hope it wasn’t too much too fast, but hopefully we can talk more about it in the comments. I look forward to seeing you there. Thanks.

Video transcription by

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Affordable SEO Services for Small Business – The 2020 List

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Affordable SEO Services for Small Business – The 2020 List

Affordable SEO Services for Small Business – The 2020 List

Finding affordable SEO services for small businesses isn’t an easy task for sure. With SEO being such a complex field, it’s hard to know what services do you need or whether a company’s gonna do a good job or not.


That’s why it’s important to have at least an idea of what SEO services are important, which practices are useful and which are harmful.



Many times, SEO companies offer their services in the form of a monthly SEO package. While it’s easy for search engine marketers to manage their work this way, and a lot easier for you to understand what you get for the buck, it’s also a big indication of automatization, which stands, generally, at the base of SEO penalties.


This article will not be a list of companies to pick from, but a guide on which services you should be looking for and how to choose the right company.


So, read this guide till the end to get the insights you need.


Why Should Small Businesses Invest in SEO?
What SEO Services Do Small Businesses Need?
Types of Affordable SEO Services for Small Business

For Technical SEO
For Content Marketing
For Link Building
For Rank Tracking
For Local SEO
For Video SEO
For Ecommerce SEO

The Top 5 Must-Have Affordable SEO Services for Small Business
How to Pick The Right SEO Company to Work With

Why Should Small Businesses Invest in SEO?


If you’re a small business looking for affordable SEO services, you’ve probably just started out as an entrepreneur.


But why choose SEO as a marketing channel?


The main reason why small businesses should consider SEO as a marketing channel is that you can either invest time or money into it.


That gives you some liberty, in case you don’t have one or the other.


While other channels, such as PPC, can offer faster results, SEO is a long-term game, but can bring in the greatest ROI.



The key here is to start it as early as possible, so you can benefit off it for as long as possible. Postponing it will only allow your competition to get ahead, making your job harder.


If you’re interested in the pros and cons of these two marketing channels, take a look at this article about SEO vs PPC.


But again, if PPC seems like a more viable option for you now, you should still start investing in SEO as soon as possible.

What SEO Services Do Small Businesses Need?


It’s hard to say what SEO services a business needs because it differs from business to business.


Do you have a local store? Or an online one? Are you a blogger or an affiliate or do you offer services, be them physically, such as plumbing, or online, such as consulting?


In general, small businesses lack quality content and promotion.


Quality websites are easy to build these days using templates and content management systems, but quality content isn’t easy to write.


Also, once the website is live and even with quality content on it, it’s still not enough. You need to know how to promote it to show Google that it’s valuable.

Types of Affordable SEO Services for Small Business


We’ll go through multiple categories so that you can have a better idea what affordable seo services for small business you might need, depending on your case.


In the end, you’ll need a bit of everything, so consider this list as a set of priorities.

1. For Technical SEO


The truth about technical SEO is that it is, in general, a one-time fix. While you have to change things from time to time as the internet evolves, if you set things right from the beginning, they will last.


Here are the top Technical SEO issues that small businesses should focus on in their online marketing strategy: 


URL and Site structure: While you can do this on your own, it’s probably a good idea to ask an SEO consultant for advice. The most difficult site to structure is an eCommerce one. You want to get it right from the beginning to avoid issues in the future. This will save you a lot of money. Find out more about a good website and URL structure.
Image Compression: Images are probably the biggest problem when it comes to technical SEO and load times. In many cases, it can be done for free with tools such as Smush for WordPress, but similar free plugins are also available for other platforms.
Caching: If you use caching, your site will load even faster. Again, good caching can be achieved for free with plugins such as W3 Total Cache or Autoptimize. Some hosting providers have LiteSpeed Caching on their server, which also allows you to cache your content properly.
Structured data: This should be the last thing you focus on as a small business. However, in certain cases it can have a good impact. Just make sure you don’t focus on this technical aspect instead of what’s really important, which is quality content and promotion.


Here are some tools that can help you ensure you won’t be spending much on Technical SEO issues:




The best affordable SEO service for Technical SEO when it comes to small businesses is WordPress.


You need an optimized, mobile friendly website over which you have control and can maximize potential without spending too much.


Web Designers are quite expensive, so WordPress is the way to go. You can find a variety of templates for a nice web design, many even for free.


Sure, there are other SaaS website builders there such as Wix or Squarespace (you’ve probably seen the ads by now), but they are very limited in terms of what you can do for your business’s SEO.



If you want to go with PPC only, SaaS website builders might be a good option, but for search engine optimization, even renowned SEO companies will have a hard time.


Even WordPress has its own SaaS packages, so make sure you compare both the open source version and the SaaS one.


In the open source one, you’ll need your own hosting, while the SaaS one will cover it.


In the long run, if you want to get the most out of it, the open source version is the best option, but it will be more difficult to manage.


GT Metrix:


GT-Metrix is a great service that will tell you about a variety of technical SEO issues your site is facing.


The most important things you want to make sure you fix are large images and caching.


While all these tips are useful, what you should be focusing on is the load speed of the website, in seconds.


PageSpeed Insights: 


Just like GT Metrix, Google offers a similar tool, called PageSpeed Insights.


You can view a variety of technical issues which Google considers you should fix.



The most important one, again, is the speed at which your website loads (First Contentful Paing and Time to interactive)


Xenu Link Sleuth: 


Xenu Lunk Sleuth is a free tool you can use to crawl your website and identify missing title tags or 404 errors.


You can also use this to quickly map titles to URLs if you’re in the process of rewriting your titles in order to improve OnPage SEO.


In the tool itself you can also visualize where a pages is linked from internally within your site.


CognitiveSEO Toolset:


The CognitiveSEO Toolset is an affordable seo services for small business that can help you with more complex issues like website structure. Instead of analyzing everything on a page by page basis like other tools, our tool lets you take advantage of APIs to analyze your entire site at once.


Furthermore, you’ll be able to view the entire structured in an easy to understand manner, inside the dashboard.


2. For Content Marketing


Keyword research: Keyword Research is crucial if you want to set the basis of your OnPage SEO strategy on content marketing. If you don’t know what people are searching for, you don’t know what to optimize your pages for.
Copywriting: While good copywriting isn’t cheap, it’s worth investing in it. Good copy sells, and that’s what you need on your website, especially if you’re just starting out. Sure, a content marketing strategy is based on information not sales, but what if you could give out information that sells? That’s where copywriting kicks in.
Editorial Calendar: Content marketing is a long-term game, so developing a schedule can really help you move things forward with ease. It’s mostly based on keyword research, but you have to map things out into hubs or silos and decide which ones to prioritize and how they can better facilitate and consolidate your site’s structure.


Here are some services and tools which you can use to find keywords and develop a better content strategy.


Google Autosuggest & Keyword Planner:


The Google Autosuggest tool can be really helpful in finding out what people are searching for on the web in real time.


Just start typing in a seed keyword and Google will fill you in on the details.



Moreover, at the bottom of any results page you’ll see a list of related keywords which you can use.


Furthermore, if you’re already using Google Adwords, why not use the keywords you’ve found there for organic search as well?




Reddit is a great source for finding new hot topics in your domain. You just have to look at subreddits relevant to your niche.


Sometimes, it might not be easy to find them but try to think outside the box. Once you’re close, start following that thread.


Don’t just rush on adding links to your website, or you’ll get banned quick enough. First, you’ll have to build your profile by answering threads and even starting popular ones.


If you’re a consultant, you can start by answering threads to some extent, then offering individuals to help them further in Private Messages.


There you can determine if you’re a good fit and offer your services.


Eventually, once you’ve gained enough karma, you can start answering people partially and adding a link to your blog where you expand on the topic, for those interested in finding out more.




The CognitiveSEO Content Assistant is a great tool that can help you quickly improve Google rankings, only by changing your content a little bit.


You can try it for free here.


First, type in what  keyword you want to optimize for, then go to the Content Assistant section and the tool will provide you with a list of keywords you should use in your content to improve your site’s rank in Google.


It’s that simple!



Of course, take it with a grain of salt. You don’t have to force a keyword in if it doesn’t fit. You can change it a little so that it makes sense. Think of the important keywords there as topics of subjects you need to address in your page.

3. For Link Building


Link building is probably the hardest thing to do these days. Everyone is aware of it, nobody wants to link to you (without money) and even Google is on it, penalizing you for it.


Use the Link Reclamation Tool


Building white-hat links of high value and in accordance with Google’s guidelines have been a pain point for years now.


The broken pages and link reclamation technique might be familiar to you as they are quite old school strategies.


We documented this technique a lot, so find out way more about the link reclamation technique, when and how to use it to deliver maximum results.


Analyze Your Competitor’s Links


More often than not, your competitors, especially the ones ranking high in search results, are doing some things very well.


Why not use what they are doing to improve your own SEO rankings?


The CognitiveSEO Backlink Analysis tool can identify what backlinks your competitors are using to rank high. Even more than that, you can use the Unnatural Link detection to filter bad links and focus only on the best ones.


You can also use it for competitive analysis, to see where you are positioned compared to your competitors. This can help you identify websites ranking to multiple competitors, indicating that it might be easier to obtain.


Blog Commenting:


Many SEO experts consider this to be a spammy method, but in fact, it isn’t. It can be. However, I’m not recommending spam in any way.


I’m talking about identifying websites and blogs talking about related topics to your small business and engaging with them, just as you would do on Social Media.


You’ll often see companies offer services such as blog commenting in their ‘affordable’ SEO packages, but be wary, as more often than not, it’s spam.


The goal here is to build connections with other websites or bloggers in the field. Then maybe you can land a deal with them to promote your website.


Guest Posting:


By engaging with relevant bloggers through blog commenting, you might get to know a blogger well enough to ask them for a guest post.


Guest Posting is when you write an article for another website, under your name. Usually, you’ll be able to link back to your website.


Expanding this is now considered a dangerous practice, but doing it in moderation won’t affect your site in any way.




Guest posts or simply links can also be obtained through direct outreach.


However, you have to build some sort of connection first. Being genuine is the best way and I’ve had the most success with it.



Always start by giving something and not expecting something in return. Once you’ve got a reply, you can push a request, but don’t be demanding.


Many people sell links on their websites for hundreds of dollars. So when they give you one for free, you should really appreciate it.


Check out these outreach examples to boost your response rate.


Blogging (with a twist):


Last but not least, content marketing can be really useful for search engine optimization in the long run. However, it won’t be enough to write articles in order to get links.


You’ll have to write articles that people want to share and that’s not easy.


You can do it the tricky way, by identifying an influencer and writing about something you know they’ll share, or following another strategy such as writing case studies or funny things.


Either way, even if blogging and content marketing won’t help you get links in the end, it’s still a good way of consolidating and optimizing your website’s structure.

4. For Rank Tracking


Measuring an SEO strategy is crucial for determining the success of an SEO campaign. Whether you work with an SEO firm or not, it’s a good idea to monitor the results on your own.


Here are some methods you can use to effectively track your rankings and results:


Google itself: The oldest method in the basket. Just open Google and type your keyword. Make sure you do it in Incognito mode, to get rid of personalized search results.

Google Search Console: The Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google which will monitor where your site’s getting traffic from, as well as the average positions for the keywords that brought the traffic.

CognitiveSEO Rank Tracker: If you’re looking for something a little bit more advanced, take a look at our rank tracker. Not only will it show your SEO rankings, but it can also notify you of drops and will provide a graph for each particular keyword. Using our tool you’ll also be able to monitor your competitor’s rankings, if that interests you.


5. For Local SEO


When it comes to local SEO, you can actually completely dominate the entire page of Google with multiple positions.


Here are the most affordable things you can focus on to improve rankings:


Google MyBusiness:


Google MyBusiness is the most important SEO service you should focus on as a small local business.


Setting up a GMB listing isn’t particularly difficult. Just make sure you use your keywords in the name and description and fill in all the information correctly.


However, ranking Google MyBusiness listings high isn’t as easy, but it can be achieved by implementing a set of practices in your company, such as asking for reviews or getting in the local newspaper.



Social Media Accounts & Posting:


In local search results, Facebook pages can actually rank pretty high for particular keywords.


Make sure you use that to your advantage by optimizing the title and description on Facebook to also include the keyword you’re trying to target.


Also, posting regularly on Facebook can help you bring some traffic to your website. Just remember the 80 20 rule, in which you only try to sell them 20% of the time.



If your posts are only promotional, people won’t engage with them and the reach of all your posts will be reduced over time. You have to attract engagement and also engage with your audience yourself.


You might think that small local businesses can’t go viral, but the The White Moose Café would prove you wrong.


Citations & Accurate NAP: 


Citations are like backlinks, but they only mention your brand’s name and don’t necessarily contain a link back to your site.


NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone and you want to make sure these are consistent across the web.


Therefore, using a different phone or address or different opening hours across different platforms such as Google and Facebook might look confusing to Google, just as it would to your clients.


In a way, you’re bringing all these channels and platforms together to form a stronger union that will rank better overall.


You can also purchase advertising in local media, if they are affordable. If you’re in a small town, that works, but in big cities such as New York… though luck!


Local Adjacent Niches Partnerships:


A great way of getting some traction with local SEO is to partner up with other local businesses in your proximity.


The businesses can promote each other locally in their own store, as well as online on their websites.



They don’t have to be competitors, but at least somehow related or relevant to your niche.


So if you sell hunting rifles, it’s probably not a good idea to try to partner up with a vegan restaurant.


For example, if you sell luxury watches, why not partner up with the luxury suits store across the road? Everybody wins!

6. For Video SEO


Video SEO can help you grow your business. More and more people prefer video content over traditional, written one.


It’s hard to pinpoint an affordable seo services for small business for video, as you can’t really optimize videos the same way you optimize blog posts. Once you’ve published it… it’s done.


Sure, you can still change titles and descriptions to better optimize them but, as a whole, you have to get things right from the start.


Here are a few tips you can follow to rank better with video or complement your content marketing strategy with a video SEO as well.


Keyword Research: Just as with regular SEO, you want to know what people are searching for before you create a video. Sometimes, it’s hard to match a topic or new idea you have to a keyword, but try your best to do it. This way you’ll get the best out of both worlds.
Optimized titles & descriptions: Use the identified keywords in your title and description. Don’t cheap out on the description, even if not many people will read it. Populate it with complementary info such as links to sources.
Short Product Presentation Clips: If you sell products online, make sure you have video presentations of them. People are busy, so short and to the point ones will be best. These days, you can do everything with a phone. There is a multitude of video editing software for both Android and Apple.
Consistency: While posting a few clips here and there might work if they rank high for your target keyword, if you want to have real success with video, you’ll have to do it on a regular basis.
Interlinking between videos: Let’s face it: most video content happens on YouTube. And YouTube wants its users to stay on YouTube. So have multiple videos related to one another. Send people from one video to another so that they spend more time on YouTube and YouTube will reward you.
Repurpose content: If you’ve already been blogging for a while, you can use those topics to create video content. Then, simple interlink the video and blog post. You can do this vice-versa, if you’ve been focusing your time on video content instead.

7. For Ecommerce SEO


eCommerce SEO services are the hardest to find at affordable prices. If you have a small eCommerce SEO business, consider spending your own time in learning SEO, as services might be expensive and the cheap ones will most probably not be very effective.

Site Structure: Structure is the most important thing for eCommerce websites, because of filters and faceted navigation. So make sure you get it right from the beginning. It might be expensive for big sites, but it’s very effective and it will save you a lot of time and money in the future.


You can use the CognitiveSEO Site Audit Tool to analyze your site and ensure a proper structure. From URLs, 301 redirects and canonicals to internal linking, the tool has everything covered.

Well optimized titles: Very often, people ignore the basics. They focus on ‘secret’ strategies and completely forget that their titles aren’t optimized. Of course, this assuming that you’ve done your keyword research already.


Blogging: eCommerce sites lack quality content. Most products have short descriptions and the structure itself is only built as a silo between categories and products. However, you can consolidate that structure with interesting articles. They will also ease your job into bringing natural backlinks to your website.


Copywriting: Many eCommerce store owners ignore copywriting. However, each product page is, in fact, a landing page. And landing pages need copy. You need copy to sell. Most copywriters are also good at writing for SEO as well, which will also benefit your site.


Structured Data: While structured data is the last thing you should think about (keywords, titles, content, speed are more important), it’s very relevant for eCommerce websites, as they can help enhance Google results for products.

The Top 5 Must-Have Affordable SEO Services for Small Business


If it was to draw the line at the most important ones, in general, for all types of websites and businesses, it would be this:


Keyword Research: You can’t have an effective SEO strategy without proper keyword research.
Well optimized titles: People ignore the basics more often than you’d think. Make sure your titles are properly optimized.
Google MyBusiness: GMB is a very effective tool and it’s also free. Spend some time optimizing it and it will bring good results.
Copywriting & Blogging: Content is still very important, and copywriting can greatly help you increase sales, which is your goal in the end, isn’t it?
Social Media Posts: Social media can help you promote your website easily, even without paying for it. With a little bit of talent and some knowledge, you can generate decent traffic.


However, in some cases, many better others apply. The best thing you can do is get in touch with an independent SEO consultant to get some tips.

How to Pick The Right SEO Company to Work With


If you’re looking for affordable SEO services, that’s an indication you’re already looking to invest money, so you’re probably looking for an SEO firm.


While I can’t provide a list of companies (there are too many factors to take into consideration, such as language, location, type of website and others) I can provide some tips on how to how to find a good one.


To be honest, the secret here isn’t finding the best service at the lowest price, but to avoid bad/destructive cheap services. 
Here are some questions you can ask SEO companies to avoid being tricked. 


Cheapness and quality is a rare combination, so if you’re on the hunt for it, you have to be very well prepared with knowledge.


There are many reasons cheap services can be bad: spinned content, cheap links or PBNs, for example.


If an SEO company offers affordable SEO packages on a monthly basis, be suspicious.


It’s not that companies that offer packages aren’t good, but it’s a good indication they are automating everything, which leads to patterns, which can lead to penalties.



You should talk to one of the SEO experts in the company before signing.


If you just purchase the package and receive the “SEO audit” via e-mail a few days later, be sure that it was automated.


They should be asking questions about your business. How else would they know how to properly promote you if they don’t know anything about you?


First, ask them if their strategies are what most search engine marketers would call ‘white hat’ or safe.


If the answer is no… I think you know what to do.


If the answer is yes, then you should also follow up with these important questions:


Do you use Spam?
Do you use PBNs?
Do you use automation tools? If yes, which ones?


If the answers to those questions are yes, you might want to avoid the company. Some automation tools, such as ones for e-mail newsletters or for scheduling posts are fine, but others such as scraping content or spinning it are not.


Additionally, you should ask the SEO firm:


How long have you been working in the field?
Can you give me some examples of websites you’ve optimized before? What strategies have you used on them?
Will a real person perform an audit or at least analyze it?
Who will write the content on my website?
How will we measure the performance of the SEO campaign?
Can you tell me what exactly my money will go to? Will you execute all the work or do you outsource?


If you get a competent and clear answer to these questions, it’s a good indication that who you’ll work with knows what they’re doing and are well-intended.


Ultimately, it’s up to you who you sign with but, hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of how to choose good affordable SEO services for your small business.


What affordable SEO services for small business do you think are the best? Let us know in the comments section.

The post Affordable SEO Services for Small Business – The 2020 List appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Here’s What You Should Do When Your Search Rankings Drop

Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Here’s What You Should Do When Your Search Rankings Drop

Here’s What You Should Do When Your Search Rankings Drop

If you’ve ever done SEO, you know how good it feels to see your rankings go up.

You put a ton of hard work into moving up in the SERPs and it finally pays off.

But then the unexpected happens. Your rankings drop.

Few things in SEO are more discouraging than a fall in the rankings. It makes you feel like everything you did was useless.

You wonder what went wrong or if you made a mistake. You beat yourself up for not doing it right.

You’re back to square one again, and you have to start all over.

Or do you?

In my experience, that’s not always the case.

My rankings have dropped more times than I can count. At first, I panicked.

As I learned more, I found out that it’s not the end of the world if you go down a position or two. It’s obviously not ideal, but there’s a lot you can do to fix it.

That’s what I’m going to show you today. Even if your rankings are where you want them to be, you need to be aware of how to bring them back up when they drop (because they will).

Analyze the drop

Before you take action to raise your rankings, you need to track your rankings, ideally on a daily basis so you can see if they are increasing or decreasing.

The reason you want to track your rankings on a daily basis is that Google makes 3200 algorithm changes per year, which is a bit more than 8 algorithm changes per day.

Hence you don’t really have a choice but to track your rankings daily.

So how do you do that?

First, you’ll want to head to the Ubersuggest dashboard and click on “Add Your First Project”.

It’s as simple as adding in your URL.

Then select the locations you do business in and want traffic from.

Then add in the keywords you currently rank for or want to go after.

And of course, set up your traffic preferences. Make sure you select “daily” rank tracking and you turn on mobile rank tracking.

And then you’ll be good to go.

Then you will be notified via email when your rankings go down (or up) as there is no way you are going to have the time to manually check every day.

Or when you log into your Ubersuggest dashboard you’ll see an updated view of your site:

And then when you drill down into your rankings you’ll see a report of what is increasing or decreasing.

Now when looking at your rankings it is normal for them to fluctuate a few spots here or there… but if you see all of your rankings all of a sudden drop, then you know you need to do something.

Did you get penalized?

In most cases, your site has not been penalized and you don’t need to worry about this.

If you didn’t do anything fishy like “buying links” you don’t really need to worry about a penalty.

If you are unsure, read through this list and ask yourself if your site is guilty of any of these SEO sins. If so, identify the problems and take steps to fix them.

Even if you haven’t done anything on that list, you could still have gotten a penalty. Google’s algorithms are updated frequently, and they’re incredibly complex.

They take hundreds of factors into account when considering ranking. One day, your site might not deserve a penalty, and the next, it might.

It’s important to understand the types of penalties: manual and algorithmic.


Manual penalties are given out by Google’s webspam team when they get alerted of suspicious activity.

This could be the result of having unnatural links, or someone could have filed a spam report against you.

If you’ve received a manual penalty, you should have gotten a notification in Google Webmaster Tools. Here’s an example of a message about unnatural links:

The other type of penalty is an algorithmic penalty.

These penalties are harder to track because there’s no definitive way of knowing you received one.

To determine if you’ve gotten an algorithmic penalty, you have to understand how Google’s algorithms work.

If you find that you’re doing something an algorithm doesn’t like, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a penalty. But you also have to think about new penalties.

If your rankings dropped randomly, check Moz’s handy directory of Google’s algorithm updates to see if there’s a new one at work.

A new algorithm could be the reason why you’re seeing lower rankings. If that happens, research the algorithm and find out what it’s penalizing.

One cool way to keep track of new penalties (and a bunch of other Google-related stuff) is to follow Gary Illyes, John Mueller, and Google Webmasters on Twitter.

Gary and John, in particular, give out a ton of awesome advice, and you can often find them talking with other Twitter users.

You can even ask them a question directly and get it answered… you may not get a response, but it is worth a shot.

Do you have link problems?

This is a big one.

Think of links as the currency of SEO. It’s essentially how you “gain” authority.

So it’s no surprise that a strong link profile is correlated with high rankings.

The flipside is that a weak link profile is correlated with low rankings.

I spend lots of time working with clients on SEO, and I’ve seen lots of sites that have numerous link problems.

Usually, the business isn’t aware.

That’s because weak links are the silent killer of SEO. That’s why you need to make sure your link profile is robust.

First, conduct a link audit of your site. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that.

For the short version, use a backlink analysis tool like SEMrush Backlink Checker to see where your bad links are.

When you find bad links, contact those sites and nicely ask them to remove the link. If that doesn’t work, use Google’s Disavow tool as a last resort.

However, I’ve found that about 90% of the time, conducting a backlink audit will help you find bad links.

But there’s a problem here. Often, the reasons behind link problems aren’t so obvious.

If your link profile looks okay after an audit, there could still be problems. Here are a few of the issues your link profile could be facing.

Losing links

Did you know you can lose links? Both internal and external links?

It could be the cause of your ranking drop as well.

Yep, you can lose internal links even if it’s to content you already own.

Let’s talk about those first.

If you often relaunch, rebrand, or redesign your site, you may lose some links along the way.

Why does this happen?

It has to do with redirects and transitioning your site over smoothly.

Let’s talk about site transitions first. If you deleted an old blog post, then links to that post aren’t going to work. In turn, this will weaken the internal linking structure of your site and compromise your SEO.

You’ll have one less link, which is removing a part of your internal linking network.

This isn’t optimal because it means two things:

You’ll have to fix the linkYou’ll have less content on your site to link to. That’s why I recommend not deleting content unless you absolutely have to. You can always update it.

That’s just one example of a lost link.

Another reason you could lose an internal link is a faulty redirect.

This often happens with 301 redirects. I’ve talked about 301s before, but there’s a unique issue you need to be aware of.

Because a 301 is called a permanent redirect, lots of people assume that the redirect will always work.

But it doesn’t.

Here’s precisely how a 301 redirect works:

If you just set up a new site, you can 301 from the old domain to the new one without a hitch. The issue is when you revamp your site more than once.

That’s because redirects from older versions of a site are rarely passed on to newer ones.

On top of that, if you get a new domain and an older domain expires, it could cause a significant loss in traffic because the 301s will no longer work.

It’s messy.

If you discover a bad 301 giving you problems, you need to fix that.

First, you need to find the target links your 301s are trying to go to.

If those links are dead, you’ll most likely need to remove the link.

You could also put the old content back up or create new content to keep the link on your page. This is a good idea if the page in question gets a lot of traffic.

You need to do what’s best for your visitors. If they’ll miss out on great, comprehensive content, you should make sure that content is still on your site.

You should also check for broken links. You can use a tool like to do this:

Ideally, you want to see no errors:

But if you do see errors, you’ll be able to see the URLs that aren’t behaving correctly:

But what about outbound links? If you find an outbound link that no longer works, just remove it and replace it by linking to another authority site.

Finally, let’s talk about backlinks you’ve gotten from other sites.

Go here and type in your URL.

If you see your link chart going up and to the right, you are fine. If it is going down, then we have to fix it. For example, using Ubersuggest you can see which sites don’t link to your anymore.

And for those sites, you can use a template like this one to get those links back:

Hi [Name of site owner],

I hope you’re doing well!

You linked to my site a while back, and I want to thank you for that. However, it looks like the link is actually gone.

The link appeared in your [piece of content/page here], but it seems that it’s not there anymore.

Here’s the page on my site you linked to: [Link URL here]

If you could put the link back up, I’d really appreciate it. I’m a big fan of your site, and it’d be my pleasure to return the favor if I can.


[Your name]

Most people will ignore you, but a percentage of the people you email will link back.

Polish up your site

If all else fails, you might need to spend some time improving your site.

I’m talking about design, user experience, and speed. Each of these is integral to a site that performs and ranks well.

I’ll go over each category briefly:


Having a mobile-friendly design is important as there are more searches on mobile devices using Google than there are for desktop.

If you’re not considering mobile users first, you need to start doing that.

Having a mobile-optimized site isn’t as simple as making sure your site is responsive. That’s definitely important, and you should do that, but it’s not enough by itself.

Think about making all of your content mobile-friendly.

There’s one big reason you should focus on this. Google has a mobile-first index. That alone should be more than enough to persuade you to focus on mobile-first design.

You might want to read my article on mobile usability for more information on this.

User experience (UX)

This is another reason why a responsive design is so important.

Your mobile users should have a great experience that’s designed for mobile devices. Similarly, your desktop users should have a great experience that’s designed for desktops.

If your UX is bad either way, you will lose visitors.

If you take a look at the most popular sites in your niche, you’ll notice that 9 times out of 10, they’ll have great UX.

Say you’re in SaaS. Without a doubt, Salesforce is one of the biggest SaaS players in the niche.

And sure enough, their desktop and mobile UX is fantastic.



This is what you should strive for when polishing your own site.


Search engines (and people) love fast-loading pages. In fact, 47% of customers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less.

So if your site speed is longer than 2 seconds, you could lose traffic.


Making your site faster is a long-term strategy. You have to monitor your site and make sure nothing’s dragging it down.

Start by adding compression.

Next, make sure your server has adequate speed. It should be no longer than 200 milliseconds.

You can test your site speed by using Ubersuggest’s “Site Audit” feature. Type in your URL and click “Search.”

From there, click “Site Audit” in the left sidebar and scroll down to “Site Speed.” Here’s what you’ll see:

There are tons of factors that can cause slow site speed, so the best way to prevent slowness is to keep your site as lightweight as possible. And Ubersuggest will break down how to do that and what to fix.

As a rule of thumb, if you have anything unnecessary on your site, remove it so your speed is the best it can be.

Don’t forget about content

Through Ubersuggest we track millions of popular sites around the world to get better data insights on algorithm changes.

We know for certain that 641 sites we track are updating old content on a daily basis.

Can you guess how many of them saw a search traffic dip of 10% or more from the last algorithm update?

Only 38! That’s 5.92%, which is extremely low.

What’s crazy, though, is that 187 sites saw an increase in their search traffic of 10% or more.

So make sure you are keeping your old content up to date. Because why would Google want to rank old, stale content, when they can rank something fresh and useful for people?

Another strategy I love to deploy is to expand my content that is already ranking well.

For example, lets say you rank for the term “digital marketing”.

You’ll want to head to Ubersuggest and type in the phrase “digital marketing”. You’ll see a report that looks like this:

From there in the left navigation bar, click on “keyword ideas”.

You should now see a report that looks like:

This will give you a list of keywords that are similar, longer tail terms that also are searched frequently.

If you rank for the main term, it is easy to also rank for the longer tail terms. So make sure you add the relevant ones to your content.

It may seem tedious, but go through 100s if not 1000s of keywords in the keyword ideas report as it will allow you to get quick traffic gains.

When adding in the new keywords into your content, don’t just stuff them in there. It has to flow naturally and make sense for your website visitor.

And if you can’t make it make sense for a particular keyword, don’t do it… put the user first. Remember you are writing for humans, not Google.

Now the strategy I broke down here may seem simple and silly, but it’s one of the big reasons on why I am getting roughly 9 million visitors a month.


Going down a position or two in the rankings happens to the best of us.

It’s even happened to me.

If this happens, don’t panic.

Almost every client I’ve had who’s experienced a loss of rankings got really scared when it happened.

You probably felt this way too. But you don’t need to worry.

You can easily bounce back from a ranking drop.

Don’t believe me? Give these strategies a try. These aren’t just little tips. They’re tried-and-true methods that will help you reclaim your spot on Google.

No one deserves to lose ranking when they have an amazing site that users love. What’s more, it’s easy to fix.

Don’t let the initial shock stop you from getting your ranking back.

So, when was the last time your rankings dropped?

The post Here’s What You Should Do When Your Search Rankings Drop appeared first on Neil Patel.