Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

Posted by on Oct 28, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

Directory submission is a tactic that has evolved dramatically since it first became known. Firstly, it is no longer referred to as a directory submission, simply because the term has received some negativity over the years.

Secondly, the goals have changed: we no longer focus on link acquisition. When you come to think of it, the whole link-building strategy has undergone the same evolution: it has become more integrated, meaning that we now pursue non-link-building tactics while still hoping to get some links anyway.

Some of the non-link-building benefits of getting listed that may still result in links include:

  • Proactive reputation management (i.e. making sure your business name is mentioned a lot across the web)
  • Discoverability (i.e. making sure your business is there when people use the directory search to find what they need). This comes with traffic and leads, which is always nice.

Getting listed: the opportunities

If you think directories are dead, think again: there are plenty of new and old directories out there that can send you traffic and leads. Here are just a few categories to look into.

SaaS and B2B directories

Business directories

These come in several types and forms. Some are more traditional (free but with the option of charging you once for premium review):

While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:

Local directories

These deserve a separate article (which you can find here). Apart from the ability to send local traffic (from people trying to discover a local service), they are also quite useful for so-called local citation building – in other words, they help search engines associate you with important locations.

Getting listed: the smart way

There are many more useful directories out there that can still drive sales, but choose wisely; in many cases, it’s an investment of some sort. In addition, it’s paramount to stay away from penalized directories. Here are a few tools I use to evaluate whether any directory or platform is worth the investment:

Find whether the platform ranks in Google

Does Google think a directory is good enough to rank it high in search results? Search positions are the most reliable sign of a site’s health.

There are not many sites that will let you see the stats for free, and Serpstat is one of the most affordable.

Simply run the domain in Serpstat to quickly see where it ranks and how its rankings are distributed among different search engines. There are also tools to analyze whether the domain is ever featured in Google, which is an important signal of health too. Here is the list of tools you can use.

Find whether the platform has any traffic

Since creating an alternative traffic source is one of the main goals here, this is vital. There aren’t many reliable ways to evaluate a website’s traffic unless you own it, but these are decent:

  • its major data source is their own toolbar, which may mean it’s somewhat limited. Yet, it is the oldest player in the field, and therefore quite trustworthy
  • read more about their data sources here: “global ISP data, and thousands of add-ons, extensions, apps and plugins, plus a team of web crawlers that scan thousands of websites”.

Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere

I wouldn’t be an SEO if I paid no attention to backlinks, but in my defense, links are not just a sign of SEO ‘authority’ – they signal quality too; if someone links to it, it must be a good page.

I use Ahrefs bulk backlink analysis feature to quickly run a lot of pages and section to choose the best ones.

[NB: I only mention directories that have proven worth the investment based on their rankings and traffic.]

Have you listed your website in some directories and seen some solid traffic and leads? Share your tips and resources in the comments.



Google's Robots.txt Parser is Misbehaving

Posted by on Oct 26, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google's Robots.txt Parser is Misbehaving

The newly-released open source robots.txt parser is not, as Google claims, the same as the production Googlebot parsing code. In addition, we have found cases where each of the official resources disagrees with the others. As a result, there is currently no way of knowing how the real Googlebot treats robots.txt instructions. Read on for example robots.txt files that are treated differently by Googlebot and by the open source parser.

Googlers: if you’re reading this, please help us clarify for the industry how Googlebot really interprets robots.txt.

Google recently released an open source robots.txt parser that they claimed is “production code”. This was very much needed because, as they said in the announcement blog post, “for 25 years, the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP) was only a de-facto standard”.

Before they released it, we might have thought that the substantial documentation from Google and the online checking tool from Google amounted to a reasonable ability to know how Googlebot would treat robots.txt directives in the wild.

Since the release of the open source parser, we have found that there are situations where each of the three sources (documentation, online checker, open source parser) behave differently to the others (see below for more on each of these situations):

Table of misbehaving robots.txt parser

This might all be just about OK if, as claimed, the open source parser is the authoritative answer now. I guess we could rely on the community to build correct documentation from the authoritative source, and build tools from the open source code. The online checker is part of the old Google Search Console, is clearly not being actively maintained, and documentation can be wrong, or fall out of date. But to change the rules without an announcement in an area of extreme importance is dangerous for Google, in my opinion. 

The existence of robots exclusion protocols is central to their ability to cache the entire public web without copyright concerns. In most situations, this kind of mass copying would require opt-in permission – it’s only the public interest in the existence of web search engines that allows them to work on an assumption of default permission with an opt-out. That opt-out is crucial, however, and Google is in very dangerous territory if they are not respecting robots.txt directives.

It gets worse though. The open source parser is not the same as the production Googlebot robots.txt parsing code. Specifically, in the third case above, where the open source parser disagrees with the documentation and with the online checker, real Googlebot behaves as we would previously have expected (in other words, it agrees with the documentation and online checker, and disagrees with the open source parser). You can read more below about the specifics.

The open source parser is missing Google-specific features

Even if you don’t know C++ (as I don’t), you can see from the comments on the code that there are a range of places where the open source parser contains Google-specific features or differences from the specification they are trying to create (the line linked above – line 330 of – is one of a number of changes to make Googlebot more forgiving, in this case to work even if the colon is missed from a “User-agent:” statement).

Given these enhancements, it’s reasonable to believe that Google has, in fact, open-sourced their production parsing code rather than a sanitised specification-compliant version that they extend for their own purposes. In addition, they have said officially that they have retired a number of enhancements that are not supported by the draft specification.

Take the code, their official announcements, and additional statements such as Gary Illyes confirming at Pubcon that it’s production code, and we might think it reasonable to believe Google on this occasion:

That would be a mistake.

If you use the open source tool to build tests for your robots.txt file, you could easily find yourself getting incorrect results. The biggest problem we have found so far is the way that it treats googlebot-image and googlebot-news directives (and rules targeting other sub-googlebots as well as other non-googlebot bots from Google like Adsbot) differently to the way the real Googlebot does.

Worked example with googlebot-image

In the absence of directives specifically targeting googlebot-image, the image bot is supposed to follow regular Googlebot directives. This is what the documentation says. It’s how the old online checker works. And it’s what happens in the wild. But it’s not how the open source parser behaves:

googlebot-image misbehaving

Unfortunately, we can’t fall back on either the documentation or the old online checker as they both have errors too:

The online checker has errors

googlebot/1.2 is equivalent to googlebot user-agent

Now, it’s quite hard to work out exactly what this part of the documentation means (reviewing the specification and parser, it seems that it means that only letters, underscores, and hyphens are allowed in user-agents in robots.txt directives, and anything that comes after a disallowed character is ignored).

But, it is easy to understand the example – that googlebot/1.2 should be treated as equivalent to googlebot.

That’s what the documentation says. It’s also how it’s treated by the new open source parser (and, I believe, how the real Googlebot works). But it’s not how the online robots.txt checker works:

Google Search Console robots.txt checker is wrong

The documentation differs from reality too

Unfortunately, we can’t even try to build our own parser after reading the documentation carefully because there are places where it differs from the online checker and the new open source parser (and, I believe, production Googlebot).

For example:

user agent matches the first most specific rule

There are some examples in the documentation to make it clear that the “most-specific” part refers to the fact that if your robots.txt file disallows /foo, but explicitly allows /foo/bar, then /foo/bar (and anything contained in that, such as /foo/bar/baz) will be allowed.

But note the “first” in there. This means, to my understanding, that if we allow and disallow the exact same path, then the first directive should be the one that is obeyed:

Search Console is correct in this instance

But it turns out the order doesn’t matter:

Search Console doesn't match the documentation

In summary, we have no way of knowing what real Googlebot will do in every situation

All the sources disagree

And we know that real Googlebot can’t agree with all of them (and have tested one of these areas in the wild):

And actual Googlebot behaves differently to all of them

What should happen now?

Well, we (and you) need to do some more testing to figure out how Googlebot behaves in the real world. But the biggest change I’m hoping for is some change and clarity from Google. So if you’re reading this, googlers:

  1. Please give us the real story on the differences between the newly-open-sourced parser and production Googlebot code
  2. Given the proven differences between the old Search Console online checker and real Googlebot behaviour, please remove confusion by deprecating the old checker and building a compliant new one into the new Search Console

Top time-saving tools for SEOs

Posted by on Oct 24, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Top time-saving tools for SEOs

I recently moved to a new position at a new company, with a new computer and a new, clean install of Google Chrome. It wasn’t clean for very long, though, as I logged into my Chrome account and watched my address bar shrink as all of my extension icons flooded the right-hand side of the window. I was determined to use this as an opportunity to pare down the extensions that I had accumulated over the years.

I didn’t do a great job cutting back. As an SEO, I lean heavily on these time-saving tools. So in the spirit of new beginnings and sharing knowledge, here’s a selection of my favorite Chrome SEO extensions (with a few apps sprinkled in).

The basics

These are the simple extensions I can’t live without, and often use outside of SEO work.

Word count tool

SEO is content (well, in part), and an important piece of content is length. One of those extensions that I didn’t know I needed until I had it, this basic word count tool makes roughly assessing a page’s content length a cinch. I generally use this in discussion about competitor pages or to quickly assert whether my client’s copywriters are hitting the length benchmarks they need.

Site lookup

If I can avoid opening a new tab to search, I will. That’s why so many of these extensions allow me to do things in-page. The ‘Search the current site’ plugin is a tiny tool that essentially auto-completes the ‘site:’ operator in a Google search for you.


I’ve been using Hunter (formerly Email Hunter) for years now and not just for link building (though it’s been essential for that). It’s also great for following up with potential clients or employers when you haven’t been given an email address.


Hunter gets it right a lot of the time, but MailTester can help you ensure the address is correct before you hit send. It’s got its limitations – many servers will block the request – but on the whole it’s a good insurance policy.

Link Klipper

There are a number of ways to pull the links from a page, whether it’s a SERP, a directory, or a partner page. Link Klipper’s handy click-and-drag function can help fill in the gaps by selecting a subset of links, or pulling them from tricky-to-isolate groups like dropdown menus.

Redirect path

How did I get here? Ayima’s simple Redirect Path tool lets you see how your browser arrived at a given page. This tool is particularly useful for isolating complicated or broken redirect paths and ensuring link equity is passing properly.


Depending on the type of SEO you are, you may use one or all of these extensions, or have 15 others that offer similar functionality. Here’s what’s in my rotation right now.


Every proprietary metric should be taken with a grain of salt, but Moz’s MozBar is still great for quickly assessing a site’s relative quality through its ‘Domain Authority (DA) mode that displays DA in the tool icon without crowding the page with other details (though you can still display those metrics by clicking on the icon).

Tip: As a bonus, MozBar allows you to quickly extract results when you’re on a SERP. It’ll only pull the displayed results so change your settings if you need more than 10 sites.


NoFollow is a simple plugin that highlights nofollow links on the page you’re viewing. You can also set it to check the robots.txt file against the links to indicate any disallowed pathways.

Web Developer

A powerful plugin with a robust suite of tools, Web Developer allows you to quickly disable JavaScript, cookies, CSS, as well as displaying web page info, styling tools, and more. Chances are if you want to modify, block, or load it, Web Developer can help.

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

See at a glance what’s going on in the background with this plugin from BuiltWith. With just a click, you’ll be able to identify tracking, frameworks, content delivery, and a lot more. Used in conjunction with Web Developer, you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues across myriad systems, all in-browser.

Ayima Page Insights

On-page issues plaguing you? Not sure why a particular page is underperforming? Ayima’s Page Insights extension can help you quickly identify issues like multiple H1 tags, alt attributes, and header problems. It can also display HTML elements like title and meta description without having to hunt through the source code.

Bonus: Chrome DevTools

One reason that Chrome is the first thing I install on a new computer is its powerful developer tools that let me dig into the guts of a web page. DevTools may not be easy to learn or master, but learning the ins and outs like how to view a page as various mobile devices, or manipulate HTML to mock up recommendations can make life a lot easier for an SEO.

Non-specific to SEO (but still helpful)


As someone who is simultaneously forgetful and terrified of identity theft, I’ve become a LastPass evangelist over the past few years. Store all your passwords in one place, share them temporarily, and generate complex passwords that you don’t have to write down anywhere else. I’m slowly working my way towards only having to remember one password ever.

Google Dictionary

Double-click on a word to bring up its definition in pop-up bubble with a link to read more. Google Dictionary is very helpful when reading technical SEO documents (or Heidegger).

Super Simple Highlighter

I’ve recently been searching for better ways of keeping track of interesting points within articles. Super Simple Highlighter lets you highlight passages on page and store the URL for later perusing.

Nimbus Capture

Windows’ built-in snipping tool is extremely handy, but for more complex capture, you’ll have to use something more robust. Nimbus lets you capture all or part of your screen, a whole web page, select and scroll, and plenty more. You can also record a video – super helpful for demonstrating all of your other thousands of extensions.

For the writing of this article, I solicited recommendations from the SEO team at Croud, and as such am currently experimenting with even more extensions like Keywords Everywhere. Watch this space!

Adam Clemence is Senior SEO Manager at Croud


10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About

Posted by on Oct 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About

SEO still keeps a lot of secrets for a lot of beginners out there, but even advanced users need to be constantly up to date with what happens in the online marketing world.  We’ve put a together a list of ten SEO facts you’ve probably never heard of before; however, even if you have, this is a friendly reminder.  


There are a lot of SEO facts and stats out there, with more or less known matters. What we’ve tried to do is to put together a list of surprising SEO facts that make you look at the search engine market from a new perspective. This is not a collection of SEO statistics; this is a list of SEO facts that will help you improve your SEO and your overall online marketing strategy. 


10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About


That is why we have prepared for you a series of ten shocking facts that we believe you never knew about, until today.


  1. Duplicate Content Won’t Get You Penalized
  2. Not All Search Engines Use Links as a Ranking Factor 
  3. Top Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity
  4. Rich Snippets Have No Direct Impact on Your Rankings
  5. Only 2 of the Top 10 Most Popular Sites  Are Content Sites
  6. Object Detection in Images is a Strong Ranking Signal
  7. Google Has Search Evaluators to Determine the Quality of Results
  8. A Video on Your Homepage Will Double the Chances to Show up on Page 1 of Google
  9. Travel Time Is a Metric for Google’s Ranking
  10. Google Ranks Events Based upon Popularity



1. Duplicate Content Won’t Get You Penalized


 Will you be penalized for duplicate content? No. Is duplicate content hurting your site? Well, it depends. Allow us to elaborate more on this matter. 


To start with, we will cite the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines from September 2019 :


The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC (main content) on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source. 


Did you see duplicate content mentioned anywhere? No. It’s all about copied content. And Google has a different treatment for copied content than for duplicate content. Duplicate content won’t get you penalized, while copied content will. If you don’t believe us, take a look at the video below where Andrey Lipattsev from Google claimed that: 


There is no Google duplicate content penalty.



Duplicate content is not always hurting SEO as most of the people think. Of course, duplicate content is not an optimal set-up for pages. Nevertheless, most of the time duplicate content is not manipulative. If you use canonical tags to let search engines know the preferred content, you should be safe. What we want to stress on is that there are many users who have never gazed over what Google says about the duplicate content.


It is not called a penalty if Google notices that your content is not unique.


As Andrey Lipattsev, the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland describes in the video mentioned above, you can notice that:

  • Google does not have a duplicate penalty
  • What it does is to reward unique content and correlate it with added value  
  • The duplicate content is filtered
  • Google wants to find new content and duplicates slows the search engine down
  • If you want Google to quickly discover your new content, you should send XML sitemaps
  • What the big G wants us to do is to concentrate signals in canonical documents, and optimize those canonical pages so they are better for users.
  • If we think about SEI, it is not duplicate content that is hurting our ranking, but the lack of unique content.



Remember that if there is a website duplicating your content and you do not have any agreement, you can fill in a request to have it removed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Another thing that you can easily do is to use canonical tags. This is a simple way of telling the search engine that this is where the official version first appeared. You should keep count of the duplicate content issues, anytime you start shaping your content marketing strategies or you want to analyze your SEO rankings. 




2. Not All Search Engines Use Links as a Ranking Factor


Is it possible to rank without links? The answer is yes.


Yandex, the biggest search engine in Russia is no longer taking into consideration links as a ranking factor. Before saying that what happens in Russia, stays in Russia, you need to know that Google might be heading in the same direction. The Russian commercial SERPs in Yandex and Google are some of the most spammed keywords, where black hat SEO techniques are used to quickly rank shady sites. Given the situation, Yandex said that their algorithm will be a “link-free” one. Will the other search engines follow?

Will Google remove links from their algorithm? It seems like Google wishes to rank websites based on facts instead of links. They even discussed on the idea of excluding backlinks from the Google algorithm. 


We don’t have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run experiments like that internally […] we’ve played around with the idea of turning off backlink relevance and, at least for now, backlink relevance still really helps in terms of making sure that we return the best, most relevant, most topical search results. – Matt Cutts, former Google representative


It seems like Google wishes to rank websites based on facts instead of links. This means that the trustworthiness of a domain might help it rise up rankings if Google measures quality by facts, instead of links, according to New Scientist



3. Top Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity


There is a lot of mystery and buzz regarding the influence of shares, comments, likes, etc. on SEO in general. A question keeps popping out:


Are social signals a ranking factor?


The answer is not as simple as a “yes” or “no”. What we can tell you for sure as a result of  an in-depth study published in a previous blog post on this matter is this: 


While no causality can be inferred, more presence on Facebook is clearly associated with a higher rank on the search list.


There were some other correlations we’ve made between Google+ (which is depricated), Pinterest or LinkedIn and ranks and it seems that higher rankings are correlated with Facebook, Linkedin & Pinterest high shares altogether.; yet, the strongest correlation was between a high number of Facebook shares and better ranks.



It’s true that correlation doesn’t mean causality but such a high correlation cannot be easily ignored. 


It seems that Facebook interactions affect Google search rankings. Therefore, the social network not only provides engagement with your audience, but it also affects measurable outcomes beyond engagement, including higher search results ranking. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to know that organic listing doesn’t come up easily, regardless of the SEO tactics or social media strategy you’ve used. Yet, any little help that will improve your search traffic  definitely helps.  



4. Rich Snippets Have No Direct Impact on Your Rankings


Rich snippets have been a sneak preview on the SERP page since they first appeared in 2009. The question is: Do they have a direct impact on your ranks? Well, not really. 

Rich snippets have the role of adding extra information to a search listing but, according to Google, they do not influence rankings. Google has stated several times that rich snippets have no direct impact on site rankings at the moment. You can even find answers on the Web Master Help Forum:

Q: Does using rich snippets affect my site’s ranking?

A: No.

Rich Snippets Example


So Google said it all. Apparently, rich snippets do not affect our rankings in a direct way. This does not mean that it cannot generate indirect SEO benefits though, like helping a page to be easily indexable or showing useful data for the reader. Rich snippets will help you in an indirect way to get more people to visit your website, and that in turn might further help you with your rankings; yet rich snippets have no direct impact on your ranks. 




5. Only 2 of the Top 10 Most Popular Sites on the Web Are Content Sites

In order to completely understand this let’s take a look at the 10 most popular sites according to Ebizma. It seems that the top most popular sites in September 2019 are: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, Bing, eBay and MSN. No suprise here, I know. Yet, if we think of them for a moment we notice that only Wikipedia and YouTube are truly content-oriented websites. The other are “content gates” if we can say that but they are not offering direct content in a way a usual website does. 


This leads to an important question:


Does usefulness matter more than content?


Eight of those sites give the core users something to do, not only to consume. As Carter Bowles from Northcutt claims, they do not stop at passive reading or video watching, but they give people tools and places that they can use to do something. These websites are popular because the action required from the core user does not stop at consuming content.


Google is a tool that gives users the chance of quickly searching the whole web in order to find something that they want. They are not popular due to content or fantastic link bait, but as a result of interaction. So, we might ask ourselves:

Is content still king?

We are not implying that content marketing is not working.  Quality content is great because it provides an amazing way to grow. What we are stressing on is the fact that interaction seems to be working wonders. If we try to understand why these websites are popular,  we will notice that up to a point, content marketing is also part of their strategy. But what facts prove to us is that the most outstanding sites out there place communities, tools and interactive platforms before content. Even more, those two content sites that are at the top of popularity, YouTube and Wikipedia, are still making use of interactive platforms. 




6. Object Detection in Images Is a Strong Ranking Signal

You may know that Google is smart enough to recognize objects in images but what you might not know is that object recognition is now a ranking signal that can affect any business out there. 


Not long ago we wrote an article about the way Google will read & rank images in the near future. Well, it seems like the future is now. It’s true that there have been lots of studies with complex equations and algorithms about image recognition since the ‘90s, so we can say that the subject has appealed to researchers ever since search engines appeared. What should be appealing for users is the idea of image optimization, and not in the classic way of adding title tags and alternate text. 




Since the moment the big G made the Cloud Vision API public, a lot of people started raving about the technology. Without any doubt, Cloud Vision API can be used to analyze and determine what is inside an image. This quickly classifies images into thousands of categories (e.g., “sailboat”, “lion”, “Eiffel Tower”), detects individual objects and faces within images, and finds and reads printed words contained within images. You can build metadata on your image catalog, moderate offensive content, or enable new marketing scenarios through image sentiment analysis.

Object Detection in Images Example

This feature allows search engines to detect what content is inside the images that you post on your websites and rank it accordingly.


Object Detection in Images adds an extra layer of ranking signals that cannot be easily altered.


However, this is really big for the SEO industry as the object recognition: 


  1. Will help by helping Google to show a lower number of false positives when searching for a particular keyword.
  2. Can strengthen the ranking of a page 




7. Google Has Search Evaluators to Determine the Quality of Results 


You might know by now that a lot of algorithms are used by Google in order to rank websites. You might be surprised to find out that to evaluate the quality of search results Google hired people who make around 40,000 precision evaluations. These search evaluators have to establish the quality of results for various searches. The guidelines that they use to rate the results are explained in a rather dense document that can be found here.


Although the document seems to address more those who wish to become evaluators, a gaze through the guidelines can help developers and marketers as well, because they help you understand how quality is perceived by Google.





Google uses search evaluators from different countries and with different languages. This means that Google is trying to understand content written in more languages.  


Following this, we might think that the engine will be able to apply penalties to content coming in not so common languages as well.  For the moment, by Google’s estimates, the Penguin algorithm affects approximately 3.1% of search queries in English, about 3% of queries in languages like German, Chinese, and Arabic.  These trained experts might be able to catch spam in more languages and therefore affect the overall ranks.



8. A Video on Your Homepage Will Double the Chances to Show up on Page 1 of Google


All that YouTube has achieved in the last years made it the world’s second largest search engine and also the go-to choice for online video marketing and advertising. Let’s think of it for a moment. Everybody likes videos, right? They are instantly more attractive than text for lots of people and it seems that the big G holds a special place for Youtube in its heart. We should also take into account that, after all, it is owned by Google.


According to a study conducted by Tubular Insights, videos have a 41% higher CTR than text. 


According to a study made by Aimclear, it seems that the platform we choose to upload our videos impacts the ability to rank. What platform is preferred? You guessed. YouTube dominates Google’s SERP, but there are other platforms that have some influence as well, as you can see in the image bellow:

Google SERP Platform Allocation



But what about having videos on homepages? Will they help us rank better in the organic search results? The same study from Aimclear mentioned above  says that nearly 100% of the videos returned in universal SERPs also ranked on the first page on their native platform. It’s true that a high ranking on YouTube results doesn’t guarantees a universal search placement; yet it seems to be a prerequisite. Also, direct or indirect, videos are an effective SEO tactic and digital strategy that will boost your rankings. Aside from keeping your visitors engaged, it will give them something they can easily share.


A video can help by keeping your visitors more on your website and this will be seen as a ranking factor by the search engines. We should also consider the possibility of visitors sharing the page containing the video on social media and this will increase the possibility of receiving inbound links from users that notice it. This will certainly add value to your SEO.




9. Travel Time Is a Metric for Google’s Ranking


No, we are not talking about time traveling and time machines, but about the physical time it takes for someone to get from a location to an event/place/business he/she is interested in, and as a consequence, about local search and local optimization.  


The amount of travel time someone goes through in order to reach a place is a ranking factor.


Travel time is a recently granted patent from Google that seems to be connected with the local SEO and is defined as the “time investment a person may be willing to make to visit a specific location.” Therefore, proximity comes first not just in our day to day lives but in SERPs as well.  Sites that are not as optimized as yours will rank ahead of you if they are closer to the user. Therefore, if you have a local business you should be highly interested of this search market feature if you are interested in a high close rate as well. 


Just look at the image below. The “plumbers” search listed a few businesses relevant for this search. Yet, why are these websites listed first? 





Do they have quality content? Well, some of them don’t even have a website, as we found out from a research conducted by Darren Shaw. Not to mention that some of them have 0 links and 0 reviews. Therefore, why are they ranking in top 3? You’ve guessed it: proximity. They are in top Google searches results because they offer local information, meaning relevant content to potential customers.




It seems like Google also wants to know if a person visits a place after seeing it in Google Maps, either by following a recommendation or after seeing it in the search results. As Bill Slawski mentioned, the term ”time investment” used in this Google patent refers to the actual time that it takes to visit a place that was seen in the search results. 




10. Google Ranks Events Based upon Popularity

According to another patent granted for Google, it seems that the search engine will soon rank events depending on popularity instead of considering the number of inbound links pointed at the event’s pages. The idea behind this patent is that because many events can happen in the same region or around the same time, people that are interested in them might consider it difficult to choose the event to attend.

This will help users choose the most interesting event when multiple events take place at the same time.

The big G will be receiving data about the events that take place during a certain time period along with the computing signal scores for those events. 


Other signals for ranking events according to the patent might be:


  1. generating an initial ranking of events based on the popularity scores;
  2. computing a modified popularity score for each of the events based on the initial ranking;
  3. generating the ranking of events occurring in the physical location by ranking the events according to the modified popularity scores.


Example Ranking Events






Above we’ve exposed some of the facts from the search engine optimization market we believe will help you out with your organic search and your overall digital marketing strategy.  The search engine market is an ever transforming platform where effective SEO still pays the bills and keeps on driving traffic.  Even if you invest in paid search or in link building, what we want at the end of the day is to have all of the internet users, if possible, generating organic clicks on our site. Increasing sales is what we all aim to. And as 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, being aware of the Google SEO statistics that can influence your website’s performance (regardless if they are SEO facts 2017 or older SEO statistics from 2016  )it’s of paramount importance. 


There is no single most effective SEO statistic, tip or fact, a lead generation formula that will drive to guaranteed marketing success. Yet, the SEO facts we’ve debated along this article might help you with your onpage SEO, your integrated marketing or content strategies. Conversion rates don’t come easily and some SEO tips, paid ads or marketing stats won’t bring million users all of the sudden. But being aware of the SEO stats and facts and shaping your online marketing according to it, will definitely improve your global web presence. Stay up to date to the marketing trends, be concerned of content creation, check out where your users click on, invest in inbound marketing and the organic results will eventually follow. 

We look forward to seeing how Google’s search engine will evolve with all the new technology and we also look forward to hearing from you.


The post 10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content

Posted by on Oct 21, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content

— so important that a new sub-industry has squeezed its way into the search engine world: SEO content writing.

Otherwise referred to as “SEO copywriting,” SEO content writing has a bad reputation for being chock-full of keywords and little else. Though this may be more of a stereotype than reality, there is something to be said for going beyond keywords to write high-quality content that attracts new customers AND is SEO-friendly.

What’s the deal with ‘high-quality’ content?

The focus is typically on “high-quality” content — a term that becomes more subjective by the minute. It leads to questions like

  • What really makes SEO content “high-quality?”
  • Is it measurable?
  • More importantly, can it be recreated again and again?

The standard formula of:

keyword research + good writing + on-page SEO = high-quality content

may not be the move anymore. It’s simply not enough. In fact, keywords may be even less important than we all think.


Beyond keyword research

Being consistent with great SEO content writing doesn’t mean it should be formulaic.

Depending too much on robust keyword research and on-page SEO will result in dry content that appeals more to search engines than it does your target audience. Mastering the art of SEO content writing can be the difference between attracting a few website visitors and creating dedicated customers

That all being said, there is a sweet spot between creative content and “content” as we know it. The key lies in going far beyond keyword research and really understanding how words can be used to both attract traffic and drive conversions.

1. Keyword research, the right way

Though this post is all about going beyond keywords, it’s worth addressing what level of keyword research should be done before hopping into content writing. Keywords are still a component of SEO content — but perhaps shouldn’t be as important a component as traditionally thought.

First, your approach to writing new content should fit in with your existing SEO strategy. This should be a no-brainer, but it is a frequent issue I see in SEO content.

For instance, many business owners and SEOs outsource copywriting with little collaboration with the writer on what keywords are to be used. And, even if keywords are provided, it is unlikely that the writer really understands the fundamentals of using keywords in their writing beyond “keyword density.” This results in content that is incohesive and not SEO-friendly.

Second, when it comes to performing keyword research for your new content, look beyond the data. Sure, SEO tools can tell us a lot in terms of search volume and competition level, but can they tell us what content is really engaging to users? Doing a Google search on your target terms and seeing what post titles come up and how many comments and even social shares they get will give you some ideas as to what content is drawing people in and enticing them to engage.

Finally, SEOs and copywriters alike can spend far too much time focusing on terms they think are relevant without stepping back to see the full picture.

Sure, your rankings may increase due to great SEO, but there are many other factors to consider. Is your audience reading through the entire post? Are they sharing it? Are they opting into your calls to action? These elements of your writing should be your main focus. Be sure to have an outline in place, along with your keyword research, to ensure that you aren’t skimming over what matters most: what is going to help you drive conversions.

2. Get organized

How often have you had a new content idea pop into your head and instantly put fingers on the keyboard?

As much as I am a fan of writing when you feel inspired, there needs to be a structure for your content from the very beginning. Content that is too “stream-of-consciousness” or unorganized simply doesn’t convert well. There is a difference between having a conversational tone and writing whatever comes into your brain. I’m here to say that there is a way to capture that creative flow, all while putting out content that works.

Create an outline of the potential post or page, including the title and headings. Organize your content into sections that are cohesive and keep the reader interested. Figure out if and where the content fits into your website overall and what purpose it serves. You can even go as far as to decide what internal links will be used. Having a plan will both help in overall organization and ensure that it fits into the framework of your existing site.

3. On-brand is your best friend

One component of SEO content writing that is rarely, if ever, talked about is branding. As more SEO experts become aware of the intersection between SEO and a larger marketing strategy, it becomes apparent how big a role branding plays in a business’s success.

Your website content is no exception. This is why hiring out for copywriting outside of the brand, or even the industry, can be a risky move. For one, you risk having the overall tone of the writing shift and become incohesive with the rest of the brand message, and even the most subtle variations can be picked up by readers.

A good way to ensure that your content is on-brand and stays true to the business message is to utilize language that is used throughout the existing site and marketing materials.

For instance:

  • Does the brand use the word “passionate” rather than “driven?”
  • Are there elements of their tagline that can be broken down and used throughout the text?
  • Does their About page have a conversational tone or a professional one?

These are all subtleties to look out for that can make all the difference.

A great SEO copywriter will be able to pick up on the tone, vocabulary and message a brand is putting out and capture it in the posts and pages. There should be no question from the target audience who the content came from and what the message is.

On-brand content means that users can come to depend on the brand acting and sounding a certain way. It ultimately comes down to trust. If a user trusts a brand and understands its core mission, then they are more likely to buy.

4. Integrity & authenticity matter

Integrity and authenticity may seem like “fluffy” words that have no place in the often formulaic world of SEO. But when it comes to writing content that drives more than just traffic (i.e., sales), then these two elements can be the difference between website visitors and paying customers.

There are many SEO and marketing strategies that can drive traffic to a page. What matters is what actions users take once they get there. No amount of strong-arming will convince a user to buy. It takes integrity and authenticity to get them there.

People are becoming more and more aware of shady marketing tactics, and traditional methods of manipulation simply don’t work anymore. A website that makes it clear what the brand’s message is, the service it provides and how it can help potential customers truly has a leg up on the rest. Your content should be authentic, honest and in line with the ethics of your business. Otherwise, you will lose your customers before you even get them.

5.Know your target audience


Creating great SEO content goes beyond writing what you think your target audience wants to read to truly listening to what they want to know.

Are you in tune with their needs? Are there questions in the comments section that should be addressed? Are you writing down their common concerns and pain points? If so, these all open the door to creating solid content that will meet their immediate needs and drive them to seek out your services.

It is not enough to do keyword research to see what they are searching for. If that is the foundation of your content, you are likely to attract some readers but little else. But if you are able to keep them on site longer by creating a vast web of information, you are more likely to get them hooked from start to finish.

Even more, if you engage with them using language they understand and bring up their pain points, you are likely to convince them to fill out that contact form, subscribe or pick up the phone.

If you are struggling to think up fresh and engaging content ideas, be intentional about paying attention to what your customers and potential customers are telling you and asking for. Then, do a quick search to see if any other sites have addressed this issue, and how.

If you aren’t snatching up those opportunities, and another business is, you may be leaving money on the table.

6. Micro-engagement makes the difference

Long-form content can be a bore. For that reason, keeping readers engaged throughout the content can be quite difficult. However, mastering the art of micro-engagement can take your SEO content to the next level.

When it comes to informative content that can be a bit of a yawn, it’s a good move to try some different tactics to keep users engaged. Micro-engagement, as I refer to it here, means incorporating elements in your content to keep readers clicking, scrolling and reading more.

This is where a solid understanding of your target audience really comes into play. You should have a sense of what kind of content keeps your audience engaged. Testing different approaches and looking at the results can be a great data-driven method for seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some suggestions to boost micro-engagement:

  • Numbered or bulleted lists.
  • Engaging photos (that are relevant to the text).
  • Funny GIFs or memes.
  • Informative and interesting videos.
  • Infographics.
  • Quizzes or surveys.
  • Visually appealing design.
  • Calls to action.
  • Block quotes.
  • Bold text.
  • Thought-provoking questions.
  • Stories.
  • Examples.
  • Helpful tips.

Incorporate a few of these ideas into your SEO content and see the difference. Over time, you will get a sense of what your audience likes, what keeps them engaged and what entices them to perform certain actions on your site. This list is by no means exhaustive; feel free to get creative with it and see what happens!

7. Content ‘freshness’ and competitive analysis where it counts

“Freshness” usually refers to having fresh new content on your website, but I believe this should extend beyond that. In other words, you should be putting unique ideas out into the world. How do you do that? By making competitive analysis a part of your SEO content strategy.

Scroll through any SEO or digital marketing site, and you are likely to find the basic posts and pages: “What is SEO?,” “Why You Should Hire an SEO Expert” and the like saturate these sites, and these topics are covered ad nauseam.

What these sites, and others outside of the SEO industry, fail to do is proper competitive analysis when coming up with new content ideas. That is, they are rewriting and reworking the same content that their competitors are using. This is not a good move.

What takes businesses to the top is looking at what competitors are doing and doing it better. Sometimes this even means doing something different. Whenever you are about to write a new piece of content, look to see what your competitors are doing, and consider how you can take it up a notch.

Your best approach is to stay ahead of the curve.

8. Data is everything

You simply can’t create great SEO content without looking at the data.

With a vast array of tools, SEOs and business owners alike should be looking to see what content is performing well, and why. They should be tracking conversions everywhere users are performing an action and seeing what works. This data will indicate the kind of content they can and should create in the future.

Staying on top of your analytics will not only show you the numbers in terms of traffic, but time on page, bounce rate and other valuable metrics that indicate how your content is performing. Through these, you can learn from your mistakes and imitate the strategies that are working. Without this knowledge, you are essentially flying blind and are again playing the guessing game.

Following the data throughout the process will help ensure that you are on the right track and that your utilization of the above principles is working for your business.

To close

There is no cookie-cutter approach to SEO content, but the fundamentals are still there. Write content for people, structure it for search engines and create an experience that is engaging and bound to drive the traffic you deserve.

Best Chrome Extensions for Social Media Professionals

Posted by on Oct 17, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Best Chrome Extensions for Social Media Professionals

Every social media manager has a favorite set of tools that help make their job easier. But when a tool is coupled with a Chrome extension, it adds an additional time-saving element that we all need.

In light of the recent release of our Social Media Poster’s Chrome extension, we decided to compile a handy list of the best extensions available for social media managers. To help you handle the list, we split all the extensions by the stage of a social media manager’s workflow where they best fit.

Plan & Organize Your Activities


Todoist is a great task management extension. It has all the organization features you need to manage your tasks right from your browser.

It takes just one click on the top right of your screen to plan and organize a new task: add a deadline, set a reminder and a priority, and off you go. Going on a business trip? No worries: the tool allows you to sync all your devices so that you can manage your tasks offline wherever you are.

An added benefit is that you can save websites, articles, Amazon and IMDB pages, and Google Docs for future reference; your task will link back to the original web page so you can refer to it when you need to. Your team collaboration can also become easier with Todoist because you can share your projects, assign tasks to your team members, and add comments where necessary.

To help you stay motivated and productive, Todoist also offers their Karma system, which will visually display your progress and achievements in easy to read graphs that are color-coded by project, giving you that sense of accomplishment at the end of each workday.

The tool’s motto is ‘do more and stress less,’ which is a fair statement considering how much routine work it can help you with. This simple yet powerful task manager will definitely free up your mental space!

Search for Relevant Content


One of Feedly’s main competitors, and a very decent one. The tool allows you to keep up with your top information sources, save pages from the web for viewing later, and subscribe to social feeds.

The greatest thing about Inoreader is that it doesn’t restrict the number of sources you can subscribe to in the free version, which gives it a huge competitive advantage over other newsreader services.

The extension’s design is minimal, so you don’t get distracted. You get to choose your favorite topics, and then all the related content starts coming straight to you, saving you from having to go and check every site on your own. Whenever you are not sure which topic you need, you can monitor news about specific keywords or regular expressions.

Oh, and remember that article you read a few days ago that you liked, but you can’t think of its title? With Inoreader, you can easily find the content you have read by some keyword, and it is free for everyone.

For those night owls who prefer reading articles at night, the tool also has a night mode!

Schedule & Post

SEMrush Social Media Poster

How many times have you come across a great article and regretted not being able to share it with all your followers across all social networks at once? The new SEMrush Social Media Poster extension makes it possible.

Whenever you find something your followers would find valuable or if you find a website where you have been mentioned, you can post it on all your social media accounts with one click. It’ll help streamline your social media posting giving you the option of posting immediately, scheduling for later, or saving as a draft. Choose ‘Share via Poster’ on the right click menu or click on the extension button for the wizard to pop up. The tool will automatically pull pictures from the article you are going to post, and you can also write a message to accompany it:

The same goes for retweeting – just click on the extension’s icon below a tweet. This feature works great for those who need to schedule their retweets to create powerful themed series or launch event-centered marketing campaigns.

Here is another great feature of this extension: if the article’s title is not a straightforward one, you can choose to post only the selected text:

SEMrush Poster also has a built-in link shortening service (Bitly) for posting on Twitter. Once a link appears in your posting wizard, it automatically gets shortened:

Social Media Poster

Schedule Your Next Post


Social media can be merciless if you make a mistake.

If everyone had Grammarly installed on their browsers, the social world would never have seen the ‘seizure salad’ and the ‘undateable human bean.’ Misspelling words or making grammar mistakes can make you look uneducated and diminishes your credibility; and if you are posting on behalf of a brand, a tiny mistake could change how people think about that brand.

With Grammarly, you can be sure that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are perfect. It is an indispensable tool for social media managers, who are always at risk of making small errors. Use Grammarly to keep your brand’s reputation intact.

Find Hashtags


This is an absolute must-have for any social media manager. The tool gives you tag suggestions for images or text on any site and multiple social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. All it takes is a right click on the image or text!

RiteTag has their own color system in place to indicate the hashtag strength. For example, using a red hashtag puts your posts at risk of disappearing in the crowd, while green gives you all the chances of getting seen right now.

Choose the Visuals


This extension is a no-brainer, must-have solution for every social media professional. Make customizable screenshots of any selected area by hitting the Lightshot icon on the toolbar. What is great is that you instantly get a link to a screenshot you have just uploaded so you can share it with others very quickly. This is a simple, convenient, and, more importantly, lightweight tool!

Awesome Screenshot

If you want to get a little more advanced with your screenshot editing, try the Awesome Screenshot extension. There are lots of nice little tricks in it, like the ability to blur sensitive information and add annotations to the screenshot. With this extension, you can even record what is happening on your screen and upload it to YouTube or Google Drive immediately:


Each social network has its own size and format requirements when it comes to images. Instead of keeping all that information in your head, try using Pablo — an extension that creates images with the perfect size and format for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and allows you to share your images to popular social networks directly from Pablo.

You can add a background picture to an inspirational quote you found, or you can use your image and add text; it is simple. If you need an image, highlight your desired text and right click to see an option for opening that text in Pablo to create beautiful images. If you are looking to add text to an existing image, right click on it to open it in Pablo for editing and choose one of the stylish fonts it offers.


This extension does all sorts of color-related magic, from color reading to gradient generator and color history. It can also help graphic and web designers analyze a page and inspect a palette of its colors. Color management is easy with Colorzilla thanks to the built-in palette browser, which allows you to choose colors from pre-defined color sets and save the most used colors in custom palettes.



Using a funny GIF every now and then is a way to keep your audience engaged and entertained. With GIFs being highly situational and only needed there and then, having an extension that can find you a relevant GIF in a matter of seconds is just amazing.


Have you ever tried creating infographics from scratch? Have too little time to fill your presentation with easy to understand graphs and charts? Then this extension is for you. Piktochart offers dozens of ready-made graphic templates and downloadable materials to turn anything from a slide to a poster into a designer masterpiece.

Why Extensions?

Chrome extensions can be your time-savers, advisers, and to some extent even tutors. Most of these are free, require no special skills or experience. They can quickly take on the role of a designer, proofreader, secretary, data analyst and more — if the task is not too difficult, of course.  We made this list based on time-proven preferences of our team members.

Keyword Research: Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started

Posted by on Oct 15, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Keyword Research: Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started

Keyword Research: Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started

If you are off to a new start in Internet Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will not likely to ring a bell to you. Just simply, SEO refers to a process that amplifies a site’s traffic flow and rankings organically.

When it comes to SEO, how does it actually work? The objective is always to increase your site’s organic traffic flow and rank at the top positions of the search engine result pages. It’s also about making search engines recommend your site as the main source whenever someone searches about the topic you talk about.

The first thing that you should get started with is the foundation of SEO: Keyword Research.

Today, the purpose of this article is to get you covered on the basics of keyword research and how it may help you in your search engine optimization campaigns. Let’s explore more on this topic, shall we?

What is Keyword Research and Why is it Important?

Keyword research is a method used by marketers to identify and target the keywords that they should be focusing on when writing their content. With that in mind, it would be easier for them to do their writing.

So why is keyword research important you ask? With unending competitions mushrooming in every corner of the web, using relevant and proper keyword is crucial. No point in writing an awesome piece of blog or article but no one can search for it, right? The aim is to choose your words carefully so that search engines understand it and display your site in the search results as the most relevant content.

According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average which means there are a total of 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searchers worldwide.

1.2 trillion searches!? See, if you have not done relevant keyword research, your site may never appear on the top results of search engines. You are only 1 in a sea of billion other contents thrown online every minute of the day.

Ultimately, by doing a proper seo keyword research, you will gain the following:

  1. Rank high in search engines
  2. Obtain maximum traffic flow

But First….

4 Pillars of Keyword Research

Before we dig deeper, let’s go through certain basics that you will come across and should understand when doing keywords research. These data are also provided by most of the keyword research tools.

LSIGraph Data

LSIGraph is one of the tools that provide these data.

1) Search Volume & Competitiveness

Search volume is a representation of how many times a keyword or term is being searched monthly. The bigger the better (depending on your website and other factors). More often than not the popular search terms already have a significant amount of competition, making it very difficult to achieve top positions in search engines. The ideal combination would be a keyword with high search volume and low search competition.

So, the more people search for your targeted keyword, the larger your targeted audience will be reached. If no one is searching for your keywords that you’re targeting, then no one will be able to find your content. Simple as that.

2) Short vs Long

The length of a keyword is another factor that is important for volume and difficulty. As you might have gotten it correctly, the volume becomes lower for longer keywords and vice versa. Based on their length, you can differentiate 2 types of keywords.

Short tail– 3 words or less. They are words that are rather general. Thus, it has a high competition, costly and rather challenging to achieve high positions in search engines. For instance, when you are searching for things to eat; ‘Western Food’, ‘Chinese Food’ or ‘Arabian Food’ or countries to visit; ‘Japan’, ‘Thailand’, ‘Canada’.

Long tail – More than 3 words. They are rather targeted or focused. Thus, it has lesser competitions, is less costly and can achieve a desirable position while targeting the selective audiences. For instance, ‘black prom dresses’, ‘cheapest shoes on Lazada’, or ‘natural ingredients for acne problems’.

If you’re interested to know more on this, head over to : Short Tail Or Long Tail Keywords? — A Side-by-Side Comparison

short tail or long tail keywords

Both short vs long keywords have their pros and cons. So you be the judge of that!

3) Timeliness

When coming up with content, you have to consider if people are looking for established knowledge or something that is trendy. By doing this, you can then design content to fill in their search intent. There are 2 categories of keywords that cover timeliness.

Trendy – Words or phrases that are trending a certain time period such as ‘2017 F1’. Once a particular “topic” has lost its timeliness, the word is no longer searched by the public.

Evergreen – Words or phases that would sustain and last a lifetime such as ‘Ways to tie a Shoelace’. This question is not subjected to any changes in time. It stays there for as long as there is still the existence of shoelace.

4) Related Keywords (LSI Keywords)

Known as Latent Semantic Indexing or, Semantically Related Keyword. LSI Keywords help Google to understand content better. A simple way of putting it is words that are closely related. For example, if you were to post about ‘Handphones’, it makes perfect sense to include ‘Apple’, ‘Samsung’, ‘Andriod’, or ‘iOS’.

Also, how would search engines like Google know how to differentiate ‘Apple’ when it detects the word? Is it referring to the fruit, a name or the well-known smartphone? Yes, I hear the right answer. It uses Latent Semantic Indexing keywords.

In total, there are 9 types of keywords which include the 5 mentioned here. To learn the other 4, head over to: 9 Types of Keywords in SEO You Need to Know to Convert.

float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
padding-bottom: 16px;
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 100%;
max-width: 270px;
min-width: 270px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: top;
padding-top: 32px;
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
height: 280px;
background: url(;
background-size: contain;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #795548;
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #232b33;
background: #b7daff;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #b7daff;
cursor: pointer;

Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

  • 10 must-have qualities of a perfect inbound marketer.
  • Proven examples on applying the best inbound marketing techniques.
  • Compact guide with less fluff!

Keyword Research Tools To Get Started

Now that you’ve got the basics covered, here are 4 SEO keyword research tools that you should know of. Oh, all of them are even free to begin with!

1) Google Keyword Planner

Old school is the best school. This keyword research tool makes it easier for you as it has detailed traffic estimates, giving you a chance to understand the value of each keyword and narrows it down to the slightest detail one would like to know.

Here are steps to use the Google Keyword Planner:

i. Sign up for a Google Keyword Planner account here.

ii. To use Google Keyword Planner, you have to first create a Google Adwords account.

Google Keyword Planner is the go-to tools for keyword research.

iii. Once you’re signed in, click the Tools drop down menu and select Keyword Planner.

Sign in and Select Keyword Planner

iv. Click on search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.

Search New Keyword and Ad Group

v. Type in any keywords you desire and once done, proceed to click Get Ideas.

Enter Keywords and Get Ideas

vi. You will then be taken to the Keywords Result Page, which looks like this:

Loads of Information on the Keywords Idea Tab

Here’s a simple breakdown on what you’ll see inside:

  • Search Terms: The exact keywords you entered previously.
  • Keyword (By Relevance): List of Keywords Google considers most relevant to the “Search Terms” keyword.
  • Avg. Monthly Searches: The average number of times people have searched for a keyword and its close variants.
  • Competition: Shows the number of competitors bidding for a keyword.
  • Suggested Bid: Also known as Cost-Per-Click (CPC).

Do take note that the competitiveness in the keyword planner is a good indication of how many people are willing to compete for this keyword organically. If you are able to find a keyword that has high volume but low competition, then you are on the right track!

2) Google Trends

Now, let’s see how Google Trends work. Basically, it helps us know how a specific keyword is doing in Google search results and tells us which keyword is in trend. You may search for anything; people, food, animals, literally any keyword that you can think of.

Allow me to show you some basic steps in using this keyword research tool:

i. Check out Google Trends here.

ii. At the “Explore Topic” search box, type in the topic of your interest.

Google Trends Landing Page

iii. The following page shows you the interest level of your desired topic based on your desired time range.

Google Trend Time Range

iv. You can then click on the “+” sign to compare your topic with another topic.

Google Trend Graph Comparison

v. Scroll down the page and you’ll see much more detailed information.

Google Trend Region Graph

Let’s briefly talk about this part:

  • Interest by Region: Refers to the countries which are interested in the targeted words, arranged from stronger to weaker.
  • Related Queries: It shows queries (not keywords) that are related to the terms that you entered in order of the highest ranking.

What you should be looking for is picking a golden keyword with an uprising trend that can sustain even in the future.

3) LSIGraph

Up until here, we’ve covered both the Google Keyword Tools, so how do we look for related keywords next?

No doubt this is one of my personal favorite. The LSIGraph.
It is the simplest and best option for a free keyword tool software.

Let’s see how it works in practice:

i. Visit

ii. Type in your keyword and press the ‘Generate’ button.

LSI Graph Landing Page

iii. It’ll provide you a long list of ideas.

LSIGraph result page

This tool suggests LSI keywords for your target keyword. Your goal here is to insert at least a few of these suggested keywords within your article NATURALLY. This in turn helps you in improving the ranking of your content.

LSIGraph unlimited lsi keywords

Presenting you the Unlimited LSIGraph!

On top of that, LSIGraph has made a new announcement on letting its users have unlimited LSI Keyword searches. Besides, their recent update presents accurate data on how search engines understand your topic and how popular it is among the social media platforms.

And just like that, you’ll become the next keyword expert in the market and prepare to rank high on Google! Head over to their app now for a one-time only special offer + huge bonus!

4) WordGraph

The 3 tools I’ve mentioned earlier are usually used before and during the writing process. That’s when most of the tools are used.

There is a tool that is used after the writing process. It’s called WordGraph. Its aim is to help you improve your content search relevancy by analyzing your site with the top 10 results of the main keyword.

Here’s how it work:
i. Visit

ii. Type in your keyword, select your desired location, and enter your URL.

Improve your content search relevancy by using, a free word vector tool.

Simply key in your target keyword and URL to compare with the top 10 results.

iii. It will generate keywords that your top 10 competitors are using.

Wordgraph entities compare 1

It will then generate keywords that your top 10 competitors are using.

These are the keywords that are likely to have helped your competitors ranked. Consider adding them to your content to improve your visibility.

Final Thoughts

At this point, you will want to double-check if you’ve already gathered all the fundamental points on this subject today.

  • You have understood the search volume and competitiveness of the keyword
  • You have known the nature of trendy or evergreen keywords
  • You have learnt to target on short tail or long tail keywords
  • You have compiled a list of LSI keywords

If you’ve checked all 4 points, then congratulations! You’re now ready to move on to the next step which is optimizing your website. It’s a practical strategy to bring in more traffic from every piece of content you’ve published.

As time goes by, you may need to re-evaluate your list of keywords over and over again and adapt to the new ones as new trends emerge. Take your time to study and understand the search intent, your competitors and whether it is worth to give it a try. Always remember, keyword research is a constant ongoing process.

In this article, I’ve discussed some of the main points on keyword research. I surely hope you are able to bring home something useful after reading this. That’s it for now, I’ll be back for a more thorough explanation on this topic in the near future.

What other keyword research tool would you recommend to others? Do you think SEO keyword research is important today? Have I missed out on anything? Do leave me your valuable opinions below!

float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
padding-bottom: 16px;
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 100%;
max-width: 270px;
min-width: 270px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: top;
padding-top: 32px;
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
height: 280px;
background: url(;
background-size: contain;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #795548;
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #232b33;
background: #b7daff;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #b7daff;
cursor: pointer;

Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

  • 10 must-have qualities of a perfect inbound marketer.
  • Proven examples on applying the best inbound marketing techniques.
  • Compact guide with less fluff!

How to Prevent a WordPress Hack: 15 Tips for Website Owners

Posted by on Oct 15, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Prevent a WordPress Hack: 15 Tips for Website Owners

Time to get on the IMPORTANT topic of how to Prevent a WordPress Hack!

In this day and age, it’s common to hear about hacks and data breaches. From big businesses to small websites, nobody is safe from this threat. In fact, data breaches and hacks are on the rise. It’s more likely than ever that your WordPress website will become the next target.

The good news is you don’t have to sit around waiting for an attack to come your way. With WordPress, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your website, your information, and your users.

In this guide, we’ll review not only how to prevent a WordPress attack, but why it’s important to take these steps seriously in the first place. Your safety is only as good as your prevention, so let’s get started.

Why Is WordPress Susceptible to Cyber Attacks?

First of all, you might be wondering why WordPress is such a popular choice for hackers. Why do WordPress sites get hacked at all?

WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It powers over 30% of all sites on the planet, and that means it’s easy to find websites that aren’t secure.

In addition, WordPress is an open source platform. Because of this, it’s easy for new hackers to learn the system, and there are a lot of opportunities for plugins or third-party add-ons to open a website to vulnerabilities.

Whenever you add something to your WordPress website, you need to be careful. A reported 73% of the most popular WordPress installations are at risk of security problems. Ultimately, the reason WordPress is so prone to attacks is simply because it’s so popular with all types of website owners. The good news is you have a lot of things you can do to make sure your website is secure.

1. Use Up-to-Date Versions

If you’re not running the most recent update of WordPress, you’re opening yourself to security problems. With each update comes patches for known security issues, making your website much stronger.

While this might sound simple, over 86% of WordPress installations are now running outdated versions. If your WordPress version is out-of-date, hackers will know the most vulnerable areas to target.

The same goes for your own computer and devices. Sometimes your website can be corrupted or accessed through some form of malware or virus on your own device. Keeping both your computer and your version of WordPress up-to-date is a must. If possible, set reminders to update every time a new version is available.

2. Choose Your Themes and Plugins Carefully

Finding the right WordPress theme or plugin isn’t always easy. With so many options, how do you know what’s best for your website?

One of the biggest red flags is an outdated theme or plugin. While they might be functional, these tools don’t have the latest security features that protect your website from outsiders.

Always be selective when choosing your themes and plugins. Look for themes that are verified by sources other than the developer’s site. In addition, check for the update date. If the theme or plugin hasn’t been updated in months or years, odds are it’s no longer secure. You want to make sure the developer is taking a hands-on approach to keeping their product secure.

When it comes to WordPress themes in particular, it is far more secure to choose a WordPress theme over picking the free version. Free versions might seem easy, but they’re often prone to attack and don’t offer ongoing developer support.

3. Moderate Your WordPress Users

WordPress is a great platform to use if you have multiple users who need to access your site. However, this can quickly become a problem if you’re don’t remove users that are no longer active.

Take a careful look at your WordPress users. Be mindful of who has administrative access. Unfortunately, most people use weak passwords with their account, and this can open your website to hackers.

If you must keep inactive users, consider changing their role to subscriber to prevent them from performing too many actions. Be mindful of everyone who has or has previously had access to your WordPress website.

Prevent a WordPress Hack

4. Disable WordPress File Editing

Through your WordPress dashboard, you can edit PHP files for plugins, themes, and more. This might seem like an easy way to make changes when you need to, but it could also give hackers more access to your website.

When an attacker gains access to your dashboard, they’ll usually go right to file editing. This allows code execution on the server, and it can be catastrophic for your website security.

Because there’s no real reason to have file editing through WordPress, consider disabling it. To disable editing, enter this code into wp-config.php. This will completely disable any editing from within WordPress:

define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true);

5. Protect Your Login Page

By default, your WordPress login page will be your URL + wp-login. This makes it really easy for anyone to brute force their way into their website since they can easily find the login page.

It’s a smart idea to customize this login page URL so it’s much harder to find. This is also an easy thing to change. For this, you’ll need to download a security plugin like iThemes Security. WIthin this plugin, you can easily change your login URL to something else.

If you want to keep it simple, changing it to my_new_login is already a big improvement that will deter brute force hackers. However, making it more unique and original is always a good idea.

6. Add Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is becoming more and more popular on social media platforms and with online banking. This is great news when it comes to our own personal security, but we can also enable two-factor authentication on WordPress as well.

What is two-factor authentication? Instead of just entering your username and password, you’ll also be asked to complete a second step to verify that you are who you say you are. Depending on the option you choose, your second step could be one of the following:

  • Verify a code sent to your email or phone
  • Answer a security question
  • Enter a unique pin number
  • Enter a set of characters

The best way to secure your website is to enable two-factor authentication with a code sent to your phone. As long as you have your device with you, you’ll always be able to login easily. Similarly, you’ll also know immediately if someone is trying to access your account with an alert directly on your phone.

To enable two-factor authentication, the Google Authenticator plugin can have you set up in a few clicks. From there, you can choose the type of authentication that’s right for you.

Prevent a WordPress Hack

7. Change Your Admin Username

Does your admin account username go by “admin?” It’s easy to set this when you first get started and forget to change it, but this is the default guess when hackers are trying to access your website.

If you set your WordPress username as “admin,” it’s time for a change. You can change this in your WordPress user information. Choose something that is difficult to guess.

8. Use SSL to Encrypt Your Data

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, and it’s a smart way to secure your admin panel. In simple terms, SSL ensures that all of the data transferred between your browser and your users’ browsers are secure. This makes it difficult for hackers to breach this connection.

In this day and age, having an SSL is also essential for search engine optimization. Google announced in 2018 that SSLs would be necessary when determining search ranking, so this should already be a part of your WordPress strategy.

You can easily get a SSL through your host or a third-party company. Many hosting providers offer them for free, so contact yours to see what your options are. From there, Really Simple SSL is an easy plugin to add your SSL to your website.

Prevent a WordPress Hack

9. Limit Login Attempts

WordPress allows users to login an unlimited number of times by default. While this is good if you have a hard time remembering specifics of your password, it’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to security

Hackers often use brute force to gain entry to your website, and by allowing unlimited attempts, you’re giving them all the time they need to get through. Instead, limit your number of login attacks. If a user keeps getting the password wrong, they’ll be temporarily blocked. Most security plugins come equipped with this feature.

10. Remove Your WordPress Version Number

Advertising your WordPress version number on your website or admin page might sound harmless, but it could tip off hackers to what strategy to use to gain access to your site. You can see your current WordPress version number in your website’s source view and also at the bottom of your dashboard.

You can hide this using just about any security plugin. Check with your specific security plugin to make sure you’re taking the right steps. Though simple, removing your version number is something you can’t overlook.

11. Run a WordPress Security Plugin

Because keeping your website secure can sometimes feel like a full-time job, it helps to use a security plugin that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. While there are a number of options available, some of the best are listed below:

All of these will monitor login activity, verify user identity, and help hide your admin and login pages. In addition, they can alert you if something suspicious is happening on your website, even when you’re not nearby to watch it yourself.

Prevent a WordPress Hack

11. Alter Your WordPress Database Table Prefix

When you install WordPress, you probably noticed the table prefix wp- that’s used with all the files. If you haven’t installed WordPress yet, you can change it to another term during the installation such as mywp-.

However, if you’ve already installed WordPress with the default prefix, you can still change it. The plugins WP-DBManager and iThemes Security have an option for changing the table prefix in just the click of a button. However, always make sure you have a backup installed in case something goes wrong.

13. Beware Public Wi-Fi Networks

How vigilant are you about public Wi-Fi networks? Whenever you login to your WordPress site on a public network, you could easily be giving away your login credentials to anyone else on that network.

If you have an SSL certificate on your site, you should be safe. However, if you don’t or you’re unsure, make sure you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is a service that encrypts your traffic on any network. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if you’re just working at your favorite coffee shop.

14. Review Your Web Hosting

Web hosting is a tricky subject when it comes to maintaining your WordPress site. It’s often a battle between price and quality. While shared, inexpensive hosting might seem like a great deal, you might be opening your website to hackers and other problems.

Using a comprehensive hosting company with dedicated security is always a smarter choice. Places like WP Engine and Site Ground are known for their security and superior hosting.

These services routinely do security scans to ensure your site is safe. If you’re using a shared server, you never know what types of security compromises might be happening on your neighbor’s websites. Don’t risk your website over cheap hosting! Review our 10 tips for choosing the best hosting for your needs.

15. Always Backup Your WordPress Website

Finally, it doesn’t matter how secure your WordPress site is, you should always be prepared with a backup. Backups are something we often don’t want to think about.

However, the best plan of action is to just be prepared for anything. Having an off-site backup is the best way to keep your website safe no matter what happens.

With a working backup, you can easily restore your WordPress site to a working state whenever you want, often in a single click. A great free option for automatic backups is UpdraftPlus. You can easily store backups in Google Drive, Dropbox, or another secure off-site location.

How often should you save a backup? While some might argue every hour, that’s likely overkill. If you’re updating your website regularly, a weekly backup is likely more than enough to cover all your bases.

Prevent a WordPress Hack

Is Your WordPress Website Secure From Hackers?

These tips are a lot to take in when it comes to making sure your WordPress site is secure. If you’re just getting started, they might even be overwhelming. The important thing is that you start taking some action to keep your website safe.

Having a website that’s resistant to hackers will go a long way towards securing your data and your users’ information. It’s all about making sure you’re not an easy target.

Now that you know exactly what to do, there’s nothing holding you back from becoming a master of WordPress security. Hackers are targeting websites of all shapes and sizes. Start taking these steps above before it’s too late.  

The post How to Prevent a WordPress Hack: 15 Tips for Website Owners appeared first on WP Fix It.

How to use SEO on LinkedIn

Posted by on Oct 14, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to use SEO on LinkedIn

SEO on LinkedIn is too often overlooked, and it’s time you start viewing LinkedIn, just like Google, as a search engine. With access to a whole network of professionals, the opportunities for those who are savvy enough can be endless. LinkedIn is the most popular platform for B2B companies to acquire new clients so being able to optimize your LinkedIn presence has a whole array of potential benefits – both for your personal profile and also for your business.

Due to its high domain authority, search engines deliver a lot of results from LinkedIn in the SERPs for certain search terms, particularly those revolving around job roles. This post considers how you can stand out and how to occupy the top spot for your business.

Devil in the detail

The first step is to fill out as much of your profile as you possibly can. Don’t be lazy and avoid cutting corners – provide the details which will help to elevate your profile. But don’t just mindlessly fill in all the fields; make sure to be descriptive, engaging and use carefully chosen words. Keep it descriptive but to the point through revealing the important information but leave a tad of intrigue. Use bullet points or lists to make it more digestible and encouraging to read.

Remember to upload a clear, professional picture. If you still have your graduation picture, it gives the wrong impression and suggests you are a university grad, not a respected professional with three years of valuable experience under your belt. Right or wrong, consciously or subconsciously, people will inevitably base their first impressions on your picture. Give it a little thought and don’t just publish a pixelated picture from that bar the other night. As a final picture tip, make sure it is named appropriately to increase your chances of appearing in image searches.

Think in keywords

Just like you target certain keywords when optimizing a website, you need to do the same when optimizing your LinkedIn and give considerable thought to user intent when approaching the SEO of a website.

As with optimizing a website, be sure not to overdo keywords. It’ll be so obvious to anyone reading if you’ve stuffed the keyword ‘content marketing expert’ into one paragraph seven times. Remember to be engaging and genuinely interesting. Getting people to find you is only the first step – what’s going to make them ‘convert’, or hit you up with a snazzy job offer / potential new business?

Make use of the summary section to further amplify your keywords. This is likely the first section people will read on your profile, so it goes without saying that you need to make it absolutely flipping fantastic. Self-promotion is great, but put the focus on how you help others. People aren’t visiting your profile to see you congratulate yourself; the chances are that they want something and you need to demonstrate how you’re the right person to speak with.

Customize your URL

If you’ve never previously thought about this, then just take a second to glance at the URL for your LinkedIn profile. A vague reference to your name is not helpful for anyone, particularly not for search engines. Take a second to update your custom URL to something that includes your full name. If you’ve got a painfully common name like myself then you may need to be a bit creative, but keep it professional and as clear as possible. An easy way of doing this is to think whether you’d be happy seeing that URL on your business card.

Network as much as is socially acceptable

LinkedIn is, at the end of day, an online space for networking. So don’t just make your profile pretty – you’ve got to use it. In a very similar way to building links in SEO, if you haven’t got any connections on LinkedIn then you’re far less likely to appear in the search results.

Networking is arguably one of the most important points here. LinkedIn’s search algorithm is based first and foremost on showing people with similar connections and groups. You’ve probably noticed that the results which are prioritized when you search on LinkedIn are those with 1st, 2nd or even 3rd level connections to you. It, therefore, follows that the more people you are connected with on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to show up in the search results. It’s a social network after all, so be social, and network.

Engagement and interaction

You’ve got opinions, so share them. You’ve got expert knowledge, so divulge it. You’ve got a voice, so use it. Like any social network, it’s absolutely imperative to engage with people if you want to make the most out of it. Although this may not directly increase your chances of being found in the search results, it does increase your exposure to other people on LinkedIn. And one thing always leads to another.

Participate in groups

This is an extension of the points about engaging and networking. Groups are an excellent way of finding like-minded people in your industry. Spend some time identifying the groups most relevant to your expertise and profession. It also makes you more visible, as joining a group with thousands of people will suddenly make you more relevant to them in terms of the search results. You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll probably gain a lot along the way.

Collect endorsements

Nobody seems to know whether or not a higher number of endorsements or recommendations helps your profile appear higher in the search results. Either way, it’s certainly worth trying to collect as many of these as possible. Just like buying a product based on positive reviews, it’s the same theory for hiring humans. Endorsements and recommendations imbue a level of confidence and trust in the authority and credentials of a given person or business.

Just being really good at what you do, sitting back and waiting for the endorsements to come in probably isn’t going to cut it. Take a proactive approach and start endorsing or recommending people in your network. Don’t expect to get anything back as standard, but with any luck, you’ll get at least some people to return the favor.

Sharing is caring

Let’s admit it, one of the primary functions of LinkedIn is shameless self-promotion. This is a place where you can proudly share your work, show it off to the world, and create open discussions.  Just remember that sharing is caring but oversharing is overbearing. As long as you are sharing content and updates which are genuinely interesting and provide value to people, then you’re golden. Don’t approach it as a way to stroke your ego – that’s a recipe for disaster – rather, it’s about collaborating on ideas and sharing value. In short, it’ a great way of interacting with your network and reaching new people. This leads to new connections and a wider network and, a better chance at ranking highly.

Publish posts on LinkedIn

This is different to sharing articles you’ve written elsewhere. Just click on ‘Write an article’ underneath the status update and lay down your best words. Pushing out content as part of an SEO strategy helps boost your authority and ramp up those rankings and the same goes for LinkedIn. Publish some brilliant articles and you’ll be hailed as the go-to industry expert in no time at all. Actually, it does take a bit of time but it’s absolutely worth doing if you are looking to build your LinkedIn profile and enhance your personal brand.

Writing optimized content for LinkedIn is no different to writing content as part of an SEO campaign with all the same rules applying. You can also repurpose content you’ve written elsewhere – just don’t duplicate content because we all know how Google feels about that. For example, if you have an article on your blog that’s no longer doing particularly well, it’s worth including a synopsis of the post as an article on LinkedIn and then link to the full article on your blog. This can also work vice versa.

Generate links to your profile

If you’re even a little bit familiar with the world of digital marketing then you’ll understand the importance of backlinks. It’s no different when you’re trying to rank your LinkedIn profile higher. Always be aware of trying to gain backlinks to your LinkedIn profile at every possible opportunity.

If you’ve got a blog, be sure to link back to your profile. Add a link to your email signature. Promote your LinkedIn profile across other social media accounts. Guest posting is another great way to build on those links, as it’s very common practice to include social links in your author bio. You’ll then find a snowball effect – the more links you have, the more people will see your profile, the more people will engage with you, the higher your profile will rank and the more links you’ll get… you get the idea.

Final words

Many of the above points can be applied to both your personal profile and your business page. Make the most of SEO on LinkedIn and you’ll be able to reach new audiences, generate leads and build on your professional profile. As a final point, don’t forget to make absolutely sure that your LinkedIn public profile is visible and not hidden.




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

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

We spend a lot of time discussing SEO tactics, but in a constantly changing industry, one thing that deserves more attention are the tactics agencies should employ in order to see success. From confidently raising your prices to knowing when to say no, Moz’s own Russ Jones covers four essential success tactics that’ll ultimately increase your bottom line in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.


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…

  • Report
  • Hours for consulting
  • Phone 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.