Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO

Posted by on Jul 8, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO

Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO

When we talk about site structure on WordPress we often focus on blogs post: “Use tags and categories and link to your the best fitting related posts!” But you probably have hierarchical post types on your site too. An example of a hierarchical post type is the Page post type; a page can have parent, child, and sibling pages. Inherently, these pages fit in a certain structure and, with little effort, you can leverage this structure to boost your SEO. Let’s have a look!

Site structure and SEO

A solid site structure is essential for SEO. Users and search engines love content to be findable and well-organized. Therefore, your site should have a clear structure, your menu should reflect this structure and users should easily navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. Navigating often means following links, and just like readers do, search engines follow links. So, in fact, by organizing and connecting your content in a sensible way, you’re able to hit two birds with one stone: please users and search engines.

Internal linking

Smart internal linking leads users and search engines to related content, and ideally, to your best content. For instance, if we write about keyword research tools, it makes sense to link to other posts about keyword research (and not, let’s say, posts about the robots.txt file). Moreover, if we want to keep users engaged and show our expertise, it’s a good idea to link from all these related posts to our best and most complete resource on the topic: our ultimate guide on keyword research.

Doing so, we’ll not only guide readers to this guide but search engines too; as this post gets so many (internal) links, it must be an important post. As a consequence, Google will rank it higher than other topically related posts on your site. We call this a cornerstone strategy. And, in fact, your hierarchical pages offer some great opportunities here!

What is a hierarchical post type?

In a hierarchical post type, you can place posts in a certain hierarchy by selecting a parent page. This often means the parent page covers an overarching theme and groups various child pages that are topically related. A child page can only have one parent page, but a parent page can have multiple child pages. So a child page can have sibling pages on the same level. For instance, on a company website, a Team and Mission page are probably child pages of the About us page. And, in that case, the Team and Mission page are siblings.

Hierarchical vs non-hierarchical

Hierarchical means that there are different levels: the parent page is on top, followed by child pages on a sub-level, which could again be followed by grand-child pages on a sub-sub-level. A non-hierarchical system means that all items are on the same level. You can compare it with the table of content and the index of a book. The table of content structures topics in a hierarchical way. For instance, in a book about big cats:

Big cats

Africa’s big cats Lion Leopard Cheetah Asia’s big cats Tiger etc

While you’ll have an index like:

African savannahp. 33cheetahp. 10Himalayan mountainsp. 18lionp. 21snow leopardp. 12etc

Both structures will help you find content in a slightly different way. In WordPress, blog posts usually are a non-hierarchical post type; you can’t give them a parent. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t structure these posts! You should definitely organize them by giving them tags and/or categories and interlinking them properly. The main difference here is that you can put non-hierarchical posts in multiple categories and give them various tags, while hierarchical pages will only have one parent per page.

How do you set a parent page?

On a hierarchical post type, you can easily set a parent for your page. In the WordPress block editor, you should go to the settings sidebar and scroll to Page attributes:

Setting the parent of a WordPress page in the post sidebar in the WordPress block editor

Under Parent Page you’ll find a list of pages on your site. Just select the parent page of the page you’re creating and you’re done. If you do this, the hierarchy is reflected in the URL and breadcrumb of the page too: just look at the URL of our About us and Mission page:

Yoast’s mission: SEO for everyone

And the breadcrumb also shows where this page sits on our website:

The breadcrumb of a page shows where the page sits on your site: the Mission page is a child page of About us.

When do you choose an hierarchical post type?

Not all content fits in a hierarchical post type. But some pages, like your About us pages, definitely do; they all fall under one overarching them: About us. But also topical content, for which you’d like to rank, can fit very well.

An example: Let’s say you’re a fan of big cats and you write about them to raise money to support their survival in their natural habitat. One section of your site is dedicated to describing these big cats, which species belong to this group, and giving more details about each one of them. In that case, using hierarchical pages makes sense. You could have:

A parent page about all big cats: here you can write about which species belong to the big cats, what they have in common, how they live, why they are such awesome creatures, and a short description of all of them.An African big cats’ page, which tells you everything about the group of big cats originating from Africa: the lion, leopard, and cheetah. This is the child of the big cats’ page. On the same level, you can have two sibling pages: big cats from Asia and big cats from the Americas.Pages about every single species, for instance, the leopard. This parent is the child of the Africa’s big cats’ page and the grandchild of the big cats’ page. It goes into more detail about the single species.

Link your hierarchical posts for users and SEO

As all this content with one parent page is related, it makes sense to connect it! You can do so by internal linking. For instance, you can link from the leopard page to the lion page and the cheetah page. But of course, as you’ll probably mention these species belong to Africa’s big cats, you should link to the parent too. From the parent pages, it also makes sense to link to the child pages; when reading about Africa’s big cats, people probably want to know more about the species belonging to this group.

For search engines, all these links show the connection between your content; they create a sort of cluster and make clear how pages relate to each other. Moreover, all this related content and its context helps search engines to better understand what entities you’re talking about: not Lion the candy bar, but the lion, Africa’s big cat (although that might be quite obvious in this example).

Linking them is easy with Yoast SEO Premium!

Since Yoast SEO 14.5 we have a new feature in Yoast SEO Premium! As you’ve read above, linking hierarchical post types is beneficial for SEO. And linking them is super easy with the block editor in Yoast SEO Premium. We’ve created two blocks:

a sub pages block: a block that lists and links the child pages of a pagea siblings block : a block that lists and links the siblings of a page

Adding them is super easy: if you create a new block, search for sibling or sub-pages and the blocks will pop-up. In this video, you can see how it works:

Want to have this feature, and loads of other awesome functionalities, like internal linking suggestions or a redirect manager, too?

Get Yoast SEO Premium ▸Only $89 USD (ex VAT)

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Declining Visitor Values

Posted by on Jul 7, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Declining Visitor Values

Declining Visitor Values

Late Funnel SEO Profits

Before the Panda update SEOs could easily focus almost all their energies on late funnel high-intent searches which were easy to monetize without needing to put a ton of effort into brand building or earlier funnel informational searches. This meant that SEOs could focus on phrases like [student credit cards] or [buy earbuds] or [best computer gaming headphones] or [vertical computer mouse] without needing to worry much about anything else. Make a good enough page on those topics, segment demand across options, and profit.

Due to the ability to focus content & efforts on those tiny subset high-intent commercial terms the absolute returns and CPMs from SEO investments were astronomical. Publishers could insert themselves arbitrarily just before the end of the value chain (just like Google AdWords) and extract a toll.

The Panda Shift / Eating the Info Supply Chain

Then Panda happened and sites needed to have stronger brands and/or more full funnel user experience and/or more differentiated content to be able to rank sustainably.

One over-simplified way to think of Panda and related algorithms would be: brand = rank.

Another way to look at it would be to consider the value chain of having many layers or pieces to it & Google wanting to remove as many unneeded or extra pieces from the chain as possible so that they themselves are capturing more of the value chain.

That thin eHow article about a topic without any useful info? Not needed.
The thin affiliate review which was buying Google AdSense ad impressions on that eHow article? Also not needed.
All that is really needed is the consumer intent, Google & then either Google as the retailer (pay with your credentials stored in your phone) or another trusted retailer.

In some cases there may be value in mid-market in-depth reviews, but increasingly the aggregate value offered by many of them is captured inside the search snippets along with reviews directly incorporated into the knowledge graph & aggregate review scores.

The ability to remove the extra layers is driven largely by:

the quality of the top players in the market
the number of quality publishers in a market (as long as there are 2 or more, whoever is not winning will be willing to give a lot of value to Google to try to play catch up against their stronger competitor)
the amount of usage data available in the market
the ad depth of the market

If your competitor is strong and they keep updating in-depth content pieces you can’t set and forget your content and stay competitive. Across time searcher intent changes. Those who change with the markets should eventually have better engagement metrics and keep winning marketshare.

Benchmarking Your Competition

You only have to be better than whatever you are competing against to win.

If you have run out of ideas from your direct competitors in an emerging market you can typically find many more layers of optimization from looking at some of the largest and most successful players inside either the United States or China.

To give an example of how user data can be clean or a messy signal consider size 13 4E New Balance shoes. If you shop for these inside the United States a site like Amazon will have shoe size filters so you can see which shoes from that brand are available in that specific size.

In some smaller emerging markets ecommerce sites largely suck. They might allow you to filter shoes by the color blue but wanting to see the shoes available in your size is a choose your own adventure game as they do not offer those sorts of size filters, so you have to click into the shoe level, find out they do not have your size, and then try again. You do that about 100 times then eventually you get frustrated and buy off eBay or Amazon from someone who ships internationally.

In the first case it is very easy for Google to see the end user flow of users typically making their purchase at one of a few places like, the official New Balance store, or somewhere else like that which is likely to have the end product in stock. That second experience set is much harder to structure because the user signal is much more random with a lot more pogos back to Google.

Bigger, Better Ads

Over the past couple decades Google has grown much more aggressive at monetizing their search results. A website which sees its rank fall 1 position on mobile devices can see their mobile search traffic cut in half overnight. And desktop search results are also quite ad heavy to where sometimes a user can not see a single full organic result above the fold unless they have a huge monitor.

We tend to look at the present as being somewhat static. It is a part of human nature to think things are as they always were. But the general trend of the slow bleed squeeze is a function of math and time: “The relentless pressure to maintain Google’s growth, he said, had come at a heavy cost to the company’s users. Useful search results were pushed down the page to squeeze in more advertisements, and privacy was sacrificed for online tracking tools to keep tabs on what ads people were seeing.”

Some critics have captured the broad shift in ad labeling practices, but to get a grasp of how big the shift has been look at early Google search results.

Look at how bright those ad units from 2001 are.

Since then ad labeling has grown less intuitive while ad size has increased dramatically.

Traffic Mix Shift

As publishers have been crowded out on commercial searches via larger ads & Google’s vertical search properties a greater share of their overall search traffic is lower value visitors including people who have little to no commercial intent, people from emerging markets with lower disposable income and

Falling Ad Rates

Since 2010 online display ad rates have fallen about 40%.

Any individual publisher will experience those declines in a series of non-linear step function shifts. Any of the following could happen:

Google Panda or another algorithm update from a different attention merchant hits your distribution hard
a Softbank-backed competitor jumps into your market and gains a ton of press coverage using flammable money
a roll-up player buys out a series of sites in the supply chain & then tries to make the numbers back out by cramming down on ad syndication partners (sometimes you have to gain enough scale to create your own network or keep rotating through ad networks to keep them honest)
regulatory costs hit any part of the supply chain (the California parallel to GDPR just went live this month)
consumer interest shifts to other markets or solutions (the mobile phone has replaced many gadgets)
a recession causes broad-based advertiser pullbacks

Margin Eaters

In addition to lowering ad rates for peripheral websites, there are a couple other bonus margin eaters.

Junk Sunk Costs

Monopoly platforms push publishers to adopt proprietary closed code bases in order to maintain distribution: “the trade group says Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format was foisted on news publishers with an implied threat — their websites wouldn’t show up in search results.”

Decreased Supply Chain Visibility

Technical overhead leading to programmatic middlemen eating a huge piece of the pie: “From every £1 spent by an advertiser, about half goes to a publisher, roughly 16p to advertising platforms, 11p to other technology companies and 7 per cent to agencies. Adtech companies that took part in the study included Google’s dv360 and Ad Manager, Amazon Advertising and the Rubicon Project.”

Selection Effect

Large attention merchants control conversion tracking systems and displace organic distribution for brands by re-routing demand through a layer of ads which allows the central network to claim responsibility for conversions which would have already happened had they not existed.

Internal employees in the marketing department and external internet marketing consultants have an incentive to play along with this game because:

it requires low effort to arbitrage your own brand
at first glance it looks wildly profitable so long as you do not realize what is going on
those who get a percent of spend can use the phantom profits from arbitraging their own brand equity to spend more money elsewhere
those who get performance based bonuses get a bonus without having to perform

Both eBay and Microsoft published studies which showed how perverse selection effect is.

The selection effect bias is the inverse of customer acquisition cost. The more well known your brand is the more incentive ad networks have to arbitrage it & the more ad networks will try to take credit for any conversion which happens.

2) Why does CAC (mostly) only go up?

When you think about, CAC is “lowest” in the beginning, because you have no customers. You can get the low-hanging fruit cost effectively.

Think ad spend. Outbound sales spend. etc. First movers are ready to buy quickly.— Elizabeth Yin (@dunkhippo33) July 6, 2020

These margin eaters are a big part of the reason so many publishers are trying to desperately shift away from ad-based business models toward subscription revenues.

Hitting Every Layer

The commodification of content hits every layer from photography….

Networking is an art and a skill… but if the gold you hold are your images, don’t trade them for the passive networking value.

Simple lesson that is difficult to accept.— Send it. (@johnondotcom) July 4, 2020

…on through to writing

When you think about it, even $1000 is really inexpensive for a single piece of content that generates 20,000+ visits from search in the 1-3 years it’s alive and ranks well. That’s only about 1,000 visits a month. Yet companies only want to pay writers only $200 an article — Dan Shure (@dan_shure) July 6, 2020

…and every other layer of the editorial chain.

Profiting from content creation at scale is harder than most appreciate.

The idea that a $200 piece of content is particularly cheap comes across as ill-informed as there are many headwinds and many variables. The ability to monetize content depends on a ton of factors including: how commercial is it, how hard is it to monetize, what revshare do you go, how hard is it to rank or get distribution in front of other high intent audience sets?

If an article costs $200 it would be hard to make that back if it monetizes at anything under a $10 RPM. 20,000 visits equates to 20 units of RPM.

Some articles will not spread in spite of being high quality. Other articles take significant marketing spend to help them spread. Suddenly that $200 “successful” piece is closer to $500 when one averages in nonperformers that don’t spread & marketing expenses on ones that do. So then they either need the RPM to double or triple from there or the successful article needs to get at least 50,000 visits in order to break even.

A $10 RPM is quite high for many topics unless the ads are quite aggressively integrated into the content. The flip side of that is aggressive ad integration inhibits content spread & can cause algorithmic issues which prevent sustained rankings. Recall that in the most recent algorithm update Credit Karma saw some of their “money” credit card pages slide down the rankings due to aggressive monetization. And that happened to a big site which was purchased for over $7 billion. Smaller sites see greater levels of volatility. And nobody is investing $100,000s trying to break even many years down the road. If they were only trying to break even they’d buy bonds and ignore the concept of actively running a business of any sort.

Back in 2018 AdStage analyzed the Google display network and found the following: “In Q1 2018, advertisers spent, on average, $2.80 per thousand impressions (CPM), and $0.75 per click (CPC). The average click-through rate (CTR) on the GDN was 0.35%.”

A web page which garnered 20,000 pageviews and had 3 ad units on each page would get a total of 210 ad clicks given a 0.35% ad CTR. At 75 cents per click that would generate $157.50.

Suddenly a “cheap” $200 article doesn’t look so cheap. What’s more is said business would also have other costs beyond the writing. They have to pay for project management, editorial review, hosting, ad partnerships & biz dev, etc. etc. etc.

After all those other layers of overhead a $200 article would likely need to get about 50,000 pageviews to back out. And a $1,000 piece of content might need to get a quarter million or more pageviews to back out.

Categories: publishing & media

The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

Posted by on Jul 3, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

We keep hearing that content is king. Write great content, content here, content there. But how true is that statement? Is there such a thing as an SEO Content Strategy that you can use to rank #1 with zero backlinks?



Like most answers in SEO, this one is also ‘it depends’.


Keep reading and I’ll explain exactly why.


While you might not be able to get to position one without any backlinks for a highly competitive keyword, you’ll definitely be able to increase your rankings in Google just by optimizing your content and having in place a great SEO content strategy. 


By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a better understanding of how Google treats links and content and you’ll get the SEO Content Strategy that might help rank #1 on Google with zero backlinks.


Can I Really Rank #1 with Zero Links?
Why Is Google Pushing More Weight to the Content Ranking Factor?
Step-by-step SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

Identify Your Primary Audience and Their Pain Points
Perform an In-depth Keyword Research & Audit
Make a List of the Keywords You Can Realistically Dominate
Analyze the Search Intent of Your Keywords
Optimize Landing Pages / Per Keyword & Per Search Intent
Write Content That Stands Out and Is Share Worthy
Launch & Share Your Content with Key Influencers
Monitor How Your Content Is Performing
Update Your Content Once in a While


1. Can I Really Rank #1 with Zero Links?

Not long ago we performed a lot of searches for pharma, gambling and skincare keywords, in a nutshell on highly competitive keywords and niches. 


Our bet was to figure out if there are pages within these niches ranking based on high quality content only. 


As you can see in the screenshot below taken from cognitiveSEO’s Content Optimizer, you can see that there are many pages with no or just a few links but highly optimized content, that rank really well. 


Of course, we cannot answer to this question with a simple yes or no, yet, with Google giving so much weight to content lately, we might say that a good SEO content strategy can help you out big time.


Of course, it depends based on what you mean by rankings and it depends on what you mean by links.


For example, someone might claim they rank without any links, but what are they ranking for?


Are they ranking for a high competition, high search volume keyword, or a long tail, low competition and low search volume one?


Some time ago, Steven Kang started a contest in the SEO Signals Facebook Group, with a prize pool of $1000, to whoever could find or pinpoint a website that ranked #1 on Google with no backlinks.



However, the rules for this contest were very specific:


There can be no external backlinks present. Any single external backlink to the domain discovered will disqualify the site.
The site can have internal links since some claim internal linking shouldn’t count for such claim.
The site must be written in English.


One year after, the contest is still available. Nobody has won it yet.



By the looks of it… it seems that it’s difficult to rank on Google without backlinks.


However, in one case a website was eliminated and it had backlinks only from Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



While those are indeed backlinks, almost every website has them and they don’t pass as much value as a contextual link from a high quality, relevant website.


Other contestants have said that the contest is not fair, as they did not buy or build the links, but they simply came naturally, just as Google wants.


However… they’re still links, aren’t they?


The contest therefore excludes all links, not only purchased, built or bought ones. Considering this, Social Media is also excluded and probably any other form of online promotion.


So when it comes to ranking with zero links… Are you talking about links to that specific web page, or links to the entire domain?


Are you talking about a made-up keyword with no search volume whatsoever, or about a profitable, competitive, highly searched for keyword with a great market value?


If you’re trying to rank for a very competitive keyword, where the top-ranking domains have thousands of backlinks pointing to them… tough luck!


The truth is that beside a solid SEO content strategy, links still matter and if your competition is building, buying or obtaining backlinks naturally, you’ll have a difficult time ranking #1 with zero backlinks.


But if the competition doesn’t have many backlinks either, it is possible to outrank them, even without links, in some cases.


There are many examples of websites which outrank their competition with fewer backlinks.


For example, we’re outranking Moz for the keyword “does meta description affect seo” although we only have 23 referring domains, while Moz’s page has over 1500.


For another similar phrase, “does meta description matter”, another website is ranking very well, with only 1 referring domain.


However, in both cases the results are an answer box. If you remember, some time ago you could have the answer box position and another spot. 


Luckily, when Google changed this and only let you keep one or the other, they let us have the answer box.



These are pretty specific keywords and for the most competitive phrase, “meta description”, Moz still dominates the top spot.


Ranking with just a few backlinks to a web page is possible, if you have the right content.


But it’s probably necessary to have at least some backlinks pointing to your domain.


The internet doesn’t really work well without links. Search engines use links to crawl the entire web.


It’s also true that without any backlinks pointing to your domain, Google will have a hard time crawling and indexing your site.


However, keep in mind that backlinks on their own won’t do very much if the content doesn’t satisfy the users. They can even do harm.


After the Penguin updates, it was pretty clear Google was set to fight back against link spam.


Maybe the top spot isn’t achievable with absolutely zero links, but you don’t need the top spot to increase your search traffic.


You can greatly improve rankings in Google simply by optimizing your content even for competitive, high search volume keywords.


Many other SEOs and content marketers have improved their rankings following this OnPage SEO technique.


If you stick around, I’ll show you exactly how you can do it, too.


But first, let’s see why Google is pushing away from backlinks and more towards content.

2. Why Is Google Pushing More Weight to the Content Ranking Factor?


Back in 2017, during our numerous tests, we found a big correlation between the Content Performance score we had developed and rankings.


We repeated the test after 2 years, in 2019 and it seemed that content is even more important now.

The algorithm we use is complex, using a mix of AI technologies and things such as LSI and Flesch–Kincaid to determine what makes a piece of content rank high.

Attempts to remove backlinks from the algorithms have been made before.


Why? Mostly because of spam. As long as backlinks are a ranking signal, people will try to abuse them.


In 2013, Yandex, the Russian search engine, removed backlinks from their algorithm in an attempt to stop link spam.


Although it only took effect in the Moscow local search results and only for commercial queries, the change was short lived, as they brought links back only a year after.


Officials at Yandex stated that the change was “quite successful technologically”, but people still bought links and spammed the web regardless, so they decided to bring them back.


However, they brought them back with a substantial change: The links would not only be a positive ranking signal, but also a negative one, just like with Google’s Penguin update.


Could it be that the officials at Yandex are not willing to admit their failure? Maybe, who knows.


But if it was a success, couldn’t they just use spammy links as a negative signal only? Without using other links as a positive one?


Google has also tested rankings without backlinks in their algorithm.



However, they came to the conclusion that the results look much better when backlinks are a ranking signal.


Unfortunately, there are other issues with backlinks other than buying them.


Take a look at Negative SEO, for example. Google claims they can spot and ignore these types of links with Penguin 4.0, but is it really possible?


I’m not convinced. I’ve seen many cases in which websites have a drop in traffic immediately after an unnatural spike in backlinks clearly built by others.


You’d think that people engaging in Negative SEO will try to mimic link building… but that might also result in positive results for the target.


So, these attacks are usually very obvious. Pure spam. And Google still penalized the site.


So, it’s obvious they have a hard time dealing with all this link trading and spam.


This, combined with the constant effort from SEOs to obtain backlinks in unnatural ways, has pushed Google into wanting to back away from backlinks.


Backlinks are something you don’t have much control over. Yet, an SEO content strategy you can control.


With algorithm updates such as Penguin (which penalizes spammy links) and Panda (which penalizes spammy content), Google shows us it’s putting more weight on content.



But although search engines don’t like them, it seems like links are still going to stick around for a while, as Matt Cutts states in the video above.


However, with AI software that can also write content like humans getting better and better every day…


It’s hard to tell where this will go.


We might have the same issue as with links, with AI written websites constantly trying to compete to the top.


It would be a battle of the algorithms… one in which users won’t have a say.


We could bring the law into the equation, but that would spark a whole new lot of bigger and more complex issues.


However, I could see how in the future, the law would require you to specify that the content is written by a robot and not by a human.


While AI written content can be used for good, it can also be used for harm, from the relatively harmless blackhat SEOs to the highly harmful fake news outlets.



We’ve known for a long time that content was an important ranking factor, but now we also wanted to know why.


Google was moving away from backlinks (our tool and marketing strategy was mostly built around backlinks) so investing in this was in our own interest.


So let’s take a look at how exactly you can improve your rankings in Google without any link building, only by optimizing your content.

3. The Step-by-Step SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with No Links


OK. Now you know that it’s possible to rank without links in some situations and also why Google puts more and more weight on the content side of SEO.


You also know that backlinks are something you don’t have complete control over.


But how exactly do you rank without links? What step-by-step SEO content strategy can you apply to succeed?


Here are the steps you need to follow to have a chance on ranking without links.

3.1. Identify your Primary Audience and Their Pain Points


The first think you should do before writing anything is identifying your target audience.


You can start with what’s top of mind and build from there.


Who would be interested in your content and how can you make your content appeal to them?


Who are your clients? How old are they? Who are their friends? Where do they hang? How do they talk?


It’s easier to do this when you already have some clients or readers. Just look at your best clients and readers so far.


Who’s buying from you? Who’s reviewing on products? Who’s commenting on your blog and social media profiles?


If you’re just starting out and have no idea… then consider doing a market research.


I know it sounds complex, but you can start by simply creating a Google Form and sharing it on a couple of Facebook Groups, asking for help.


Sure, it’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.



Don’t focus on features with your product but on benefits. Don’t think in terms of needs but in terms of wants. Want is stronger than need.


And don’t seek answers from your research but feelings and emotions which you can then use to convince them to buy.


That’s what you want to ultimately address and that’s what will get you sales / engagement.


This step is probably more useful for products and commercial keywords and less for informational queries.


However, you can still address things such as the tone of voice for your audience.


You can also try to create a persona of your ideal customer / reader and try to write as if you were speaking directly to that person.

3.2. Perform an In-depth Keyword Research & Audit


The really important step when trying to optimize content is always keyword research.


What are you targeting now?


You can use the Google Search Console to easily determine the keyword you’re already ranking for.



Can you improve this existing content? Or should you target new keywords? These are questions you should ask yourself when putting together your SEO content strategy. 


You can also use the CognitiveSEO Keyword Explorer to identify new topics you can target.



Once you’re done, map out these keywords into an excel file and sort them out by relevance and importance.

3.3. Make a List of the Keywords You Can Realistically Dominate


Now comes the more difficult part.


For which of those keywords can you realistically rank better?


After you’ve determined a list of keywords you’ll go after, you have to take a look at two things:


Content Performance and Domain Performance.


You can use the Ranking Analysis section of the Content Optimizer Tool.



While the Content Performance is something that we have control over and will improve in a future step, backlinks aren’t something we have that much control over.


So you want to see websites with as few referring domains as possible compared to your site (which you can check with the Site Explorer).


Of course, if you see a lower content score and/or word count, those are also good indicators that it will be easier to improve your content.

3.4. Analyze the Search Intent of Your Keywords


Search intent and user experience are very important. It’s the key metric in 2020 and onward.


If you don’t match the search intent well, users will have a bad experience on your website.


One of the best examples of search intent is transactional vs. informational.


Given the keyword “men’s running shoes”, eCommerce websites will tend to rank better.


However, for a keyword such as “best running shoes for men”, reviews and buyer’s guides will tend to rank better.


People are simply looking for different types of content on each of those keywords.


What you ultimately want to figure out is what your user is looking for when searching for a particular query and accessing your website.


For this blog post I know that there are two possible intents that are very closely related to one another: “can you rank with zero backlinks” & “how to do it”. My article simply appeals to those needs.


Knowing my audience in general, I know that I want to provide proof for the first group, and step-by-step tutorials for the second.


A good way of analyzing search intent is to look at what’s already ranking well.


You know they’re already doing something well, since they’re ranking.


If you can spot some gaps you can fill, such as questions asked in the comments that remain unanswered in the content itself, that’s even better.


Did you know?


The Content Optimizer & Keyword Tool from cognitiveSEO automatically classifies the search intent for you. 

You just need to type in the keyword you are interested in optimizing for, and the tool does most of the job for you. The tool performs keyword research, it will tell you what is the user search intent, how popular is that keyword, how difficult it is to rank on it, and cream of the crop: what it takes to rank on that keyword, meaning, what are the exact keywords and links that boosted that page in the top of the search results. 


3.5. Optimize Landing Pages / Per Keyword & Per Search Intent


On with the actual optimization. Don’t worry, it’s probably the easiest step.


First, consider that it’s always best to optimize for a single main keyword and a single search intent per page.


You can sometimes combine very similar keywords, but try as much as possible to stick to the same search intent.


Remember, if the search engine results are similar for these keywords, they probably have a similar search intent as well.


You should keep in mind that writing naturally is the best way to go.


Open the Content Assistant section and hit Start Optimizing.


It’s easier to work on something you’ve already written, but you can also start from scratch. However, you’ll have to write at least a title for the tool to work.


You can also import a URL if your content is already live.


Then, just click Check Score, the tool will analyze your content, tell you the score and recommend you some keyword ideas.



The idea is to add those keywords into your blog post. However, don’t just throw them in, or else you’ll end up with a Keyword Stuffing warning.


The keywords with dots on their left are the most important ones. You should be using them multiple times throughout your content.


The idea is to think of these keywords as subtopics or areas of interest that you should cover in your content.


If a keyword that the tool recommends doesn’t seem to fit or has grammar mistakes in it, don’t force it in.


You don’t need a 100% score. The tool will pinpoint how much you need to reach.


However, you can also try doing it in phases. First, optimize for a few points above the average, then update your content after a few weeks to the recommended score.

3.6. Write Content That Stands Out and Is Share Worthy


A great way to do this is to write content about complex questions that are very often asked in your industry, or case studies.


For example, this article about meta descriptions affect SEO or not has been linked to multiple times by other SEO blogs trying to make a quick point without getting into too much detail.


Also, make sure you have great Titles, Headlines and Descriptions.


Optimize your titles with keywords for SEO, but also keep them catchy for Social Media.


You can use the Open Graph property to set different titles for SEO and Social Media


Long content tends to perform better in organic search results.


When people search for something, you already know they are interested in it. That’s why SEM has such a high conversion rate and people spend time reading in depth articles.


You can look at the top ranking search results for your keyword in the Ranking Analysis section of our Content Optimizer Tool.



For this particular keyword, you can see that the top ranking content is between 2500 and 5000 words on average, although we can even see articles with only 1800 words in top 10.


Usually, it’s a good idea to go for at least the top 10 average plus a few hundred words, just to be sure. But it’s not really about quantity, it’s about quality.


However, you’ll probably not be able to fit all the depth required for this particular topic in just 200 words, at least compared to the competitors.


Nevertheless, take this content length thing with a grain of salt. While long form content performs better in search, shorter content might perform better on social media.


On Social Media, people are browsing different things and not really looking for a particular topic, so they might prefer things straight and to the point.

3.7. Launch & Share Your Content with Key Influencers


Once you’ve written and published your content, it’s time to promote it. This should be an important part of your SEO content strategy.


We made a study a few years ago on weather social signals influence rankings and it seems that a strong presence on social networks is correlated with better rankings.



Once you have your content live, it’s time to share it with the appropriate influencers.


Who are these influencers? Well, people who have a following which matches your target audience.


If they don’t hear about your content… they can’t share it or talk about it.


It’s also a good idea that the influencers themselves are interested or resonate in the topic and the way you present it.


One of the even more advanced SEO strategies is to plan your content ahead.


And by this I don’t mean having an editorial calendar, but actually targeting influencers beforehand, analyzing them and writing something that you already know they will be willing to share.


You’ll have to be persuasive and it’s also a good idea to build trust with them beforehand, by sharing their content and commenting on it or engaging with them.


I know it sounds evil and manipulative and you can be if your sole interest is only to get what you want, but being genuine and truly offering value in exchange usually works best.


I can recall the easiest response I have ever got. It was from a person named Reiner, which reminded me of a character in the anime show Attack on Titan.



Luckily, he did see the anime, so we how now had a personal connection and he was willing to give me a hand.



Another easy-to-implement technique is to ask for quotes from experts in your industry or take interviews.


Two examples are my article about SEO mistakes and my colleague Andreea’s article about SEO tips from 22 experts.


While we offered a lot of value, it’s true that we also used the guests’ reputation to leverage our content’s reach.


Of course, it’s not guaranteed to work, but most of them will gladly share the content on their social profiles or blogs.


To find influencers, you can use a tool such as Brand Mentions.


You can spy on your competitors and see which influencers have mentioned their content.



Then, engage with them and try to build relationships.

3.8. Monitor How Your Content Is Performing


You should make sure you’re able to track your progress if you want to know how successful your modifications were.


The Google Search Console is a great way of monitoring organic search traffic and positions.


However, the data there might sometimes be a little confusing and hard to filter.


You might also be interested in a third party tool, such as our Rank Tracker.



Moreover, not all traffic comes from Google, so you might also want a tool such as Google Analytics to monitor other traffic sources.


You can also try a tool such as Brand Mentions to monitor mentions about your brand and content on Social Media and the internet.


To precisely monitor the effectiveness of this OnPage SEO technique, make sure you don’t make any other major changes to the website.

3.9. Update Your Content Once in a While


Google loves fresh content. That’s why updating it from time to time should be part of your SEO content strategy.


Our method works really well for old content as well, so don’t just focus on new content.


We’ve improved many of our old blog posts using the Content Optimizer Tool.


In fact, we did it on a mass scale, with pretty good results.


Although some of the articles did lose a couple of rankings instead of gaining them, the overall process was a success, both in terms of rankings and traffic.



One of the articles we’ve constantly updated over the time is our Google Easter Eggs article, which is one of our top performing piece of content, although not directly related to SEO. 


It’s a good idea to check the content’s score from time to time to see if it’s still in good shape.


The Content Performance score is relative. This means that as other articles improve, your score might drop over time.


However, even if the score is still really good, don’t try to trick Google by simply changing the date to make your content look fresh.


It’s best if you actually review the content and make a few improvements / modifications.



To get high ranks, the focus shouldn’t be on backlinks, but on a solid SEO content strategy. Get your content under the right people’s eyes, and you’ll see the links pouring in.


Applying this SEO content strategy can help you easily rank without going through the hassle of obtaining links. Attack the content creation and promotion from the right angle and backlinks will come naturally.


The truth is, you don’t need backlinks for every article. You just need a handful of articles that bring in the links to grow the authority of your domain.


Then you can use those links to pass that authority to all your articles, making it easier to rank everywhere.


So, let us know in the comments section below: Do you consider it’s possible to rank a page without any backlinks? Have you every managed to rank one on a decent search volume keyword? Do you know any content marketers at all able to rank websites on Google without backlinks? What other marketing strategy have you used to rank your content except building links?


The post The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to Build Links Using Google Alerts

Posted by on Jun 30, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Build Links Using Google Alerts

How to Build Links Using Google Alerts

Link building is hard. But did you know that Google makes it easier for you?

Seriously… they do make it easier because they provide you with free tools.

No, I’m not talking about the ones you already use like Google Search Console and Google Analytics

They actually have tons of other tools. Some you may have heard of, but I bet you don’t use them.

And today I am going to show you how you can build links using Google Alerts.

What is Google Alerts?

As the saying goes, if it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Their database contains hundreds of billions of web pages and is over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size.

Because of their massive size, they are able to crawl web pages more frequently than any SEO tool including my own, Ubersuggest. This is precisely why you want to start using Google Alerts to build links.

So, what is Google Alerts?

As I mentioned above, they have a bigger database of web pages than any other link building or SEO tool. So, you’ll want to use their database to find easy link opportunities and ideally without wasting time digging through billions or even thousands of web pages.

Google Alerts allows you to create notifications on any subject, topic, or keyword.

So, when a new web page talks about anything that could be an easy link opportunity, you’ll get notified in an email.

Just like this one…

So, let’s set it all up step by step so you can get some backlinks.

How to set up Google Alerts

First, I want you to go here.

You’ll see a screen that looks like this (make sure you sign in at the top right).

I want you to type in your domain name without the www or the https part.

In my case, I would type in:

You may see an alert preview like the one above, but if you have a newer site you probably won’t see any results, which is fine.

Then I want you to click on the “Show Options” link next to the “Create Alert” button.

Your settings should match mine:

How often – at most once a daySources – Blogs, Web (select those 2 options, you don’t want news as an option as it tends to create more irrelevant results and we’ve found that it is harder to get news sites to link back to you)Language – English (or the language you are targeting)Region – any region (or you can select the country you are targeting although I recommend picking “any region”)How many – all resultsDeliver to – should be your email.

And then click “Create Alert.”

Up to once a day, you’ll get an email with a list of pages that mentions your website or domain.

I want you to repeat the process and create an alert for the following items:

Your domain – you should have just done this.Brand name – in my case I would create an alert for “Neil Patel.”Product names – if you are selling any services or products you can create an alert around that. In my case, I would create an alert for “Ubersuggest.”Industry terms – create alerts for anything related to your industry. When people are talking about your space, it is an easy link opportunity. In my case, I would create alerts for the terms: digital marketing, online marketing, and SEO.Your email address – create an alert anytime someone gives out your email. Again, another easy link opportunity.

Here’s what mine looks like:

You’ll also notice for all of my two-word phrases I have quotation marks around them.

For example, I would not create an alert for: Neil Patel

But, I would create an alert for: “Neil Patel”

The reason being is that alerts for two-word phrases without quotes aren’t as relevant. For example, here are some alerts from the term: online marketing.

When I use quotes, here are the results.

See the difference?

Getting links

Now that you have alerts set up, it is time to get links.

Keep in mind that when you get an alert email, someone could have already linked to you. So, not every alert will be a link building opportunity, but many will be.

Typically, more than half will be opportunities.

Depending on the alert type, some will be easier than others. So, let’s go over how to convert each opportunity into a link.

Your domain

You’ll find that a good portion of the mentions of your domain will contain a link back to your site.

For those, you don’t have to do anything as you’ve already got a link. 🙂

For the ones that aren’t linking to you, I want you to send the following email to the webmaster…

Subject: Did you make a mistake?

Hey [insert first name],

First off, I just wanted to say thanks for mentioning [insert your domain] in this article [insert a link to the URL that mentions your domain].

I know you are busy so I will just cut to the chase.

Would you mind hotlinking my domain to my website? I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that extra traffic really helps small companies like mine.


[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Brand name

When it comes to brand names, it is a 50/50 shot. Roughly half the people will link to you when they mention your brand and the other half won’t.

For the ones that didn’t, send them this email:

Subject: You forgot to do this

Hey [insert first name],

I’m flattered.

Thank you for mentioning [insert your brand name] in your article on [insert the title of their article].

[insert the URL of their article]

You really made my day with that.

Again, thank you!

I feel bad doing this because you already mentioned us, but it would mean the world to me if you also linked our name to our site.

Would you mind doing that?

Sorry to bug you.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Product names

With product names, usually 70% to 80% of the websites will be linking back to you and the rest not. For the ones that don’t, send them an email similar to this:

Subject: Did you mean to do this?

Hey [insert their first name],

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I appreciate that you mentioned [insert your brand name] here [insert the URL of the webpage that mentions your product].

Seriously, thank you!

Now, I feel bad doing this, but would you mind hotlinking [insert your product name] to this page on our website where people can find the product [insert the URL on your site that covers the product]?

Sorry to bug you.

And again, thank you for mentioning us. It really means a lot.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Your email address

Now this one is rare as most people won’t be publishing your email address.

And when they do, they usually aren’t linking to you.

If you try to get them to link the email address, you will find it hard. But what’s easier is to get them to remove your email address and link to your contact page instead.

Here’s the email template I use for this.

Subject: Privacy issue

Hey [insert their first name],

I noticed you mentioned our email address, [insert your email address], on this page [insert the page they mentioned your email on].

Would you mind mentioning and linking to our contact page instead [insert your contact page URL]?

For privacy reasons, I would rather have people get in touch with us through that page instead of our email.

Thanks for your time.

[insert your name]

You also notice that in this template I didn’t include the PS at the bottom. The PS typically helps boost your success ratio, but when it comes to this email, you want to be a bit more firm as it is related to your privacy.

You ideally want the link and fewer people sharing your email because then you’ll have to deal with a ton of spam messages.

Industry terms

In almost all cases, alerts that contain industry terms won’t be linking to you. And this group will also be the largest number of results you get with each alert email.

You’ll have to go through each alert and look at the context of the web page.

If they are talking about something that you have already covered on your website and did more in-depth than they have, there is a good chance you can convince them to link to you.

For example, if there is an article about SEO and they mention how you need to build links, but they don’t go into how to build links, I would email the site owner pointing to this article as it breaks down how to build links.

Here is the type of email I would send:

Subject: Some feedback for you

Hey [insert their first name],

Love your article on [insert the topic of their article] [insert the URL of their article].

I just have one piece of feedback for you (hope you don’t get offended), but you mention [insert the subject they mention that you go more in-depth on within your own site], but you didn’t go too in-depth on it.

I think if you adjusted that it would provide a lot more value to your readers.

Or if you don’t have the time to, I already have an article on it here [insert the URL on your site where you go in-depth on that topic] that you could just link to.

Let me know your thoughts.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

How do I get in touch?

Now that you know what kind of emails to send depending on the alert you receive, you’ll have to, of course, get in touch with the site owner.

So how do you find their email address?

Well, the simplest way is to go to their contact page and see if their email is there or if they have a contact form.

You can also check out their terms of service or privacy policy.

Another option is to use tools like Hunter. Just type in a domain name into Hunter and you’ll see a list of people you can contact.

Their free plan allows 50 requests per month, which should be enough to get you started.


Google Alerts is an easy way to build links so I would start with that.

What’s beautiful about it is that you’ll get notified of opportunities. This will save you a lot of time.

And if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, I recommend one more strategy to build links.

Go here and put in your competition’s URL.

Once you hit “search” you’ll see a report that looks something like this:

These are all of the websites linking to your competition. What’s interesting about this list is that it is sorted.

The results at the top have more authority, in which they typically boost SEO rankings more than the ones at the bottom of the list.

You’ll want to go through the list, click on each site, and see if it makes sense to reach out to that website and ask them to link to you.

Typically, if you have similar content to your competition that is more thorough, it’s possible to convince someone to link to you. You’ll have to send them emails like the one below…

Hey [insert their first name],

Question for you…

How do you think it makes you look to your readers when you link to another site that doesn’t really help them?

It kind of makes you look bad and maybe even lose a little bit of trust with your readers, right?

In this article [insert the URL on their site], you link out to [insert the competition’s URL].

The article you are linking to doesn’t cover [insert the areas the competition missed].

I actually have an article [insert your article URL] that covers [insert what you cover that the competition doesn’t and why it benefits readers more].

If you aren’t interested in linking to us no worries. I just know that you care about your readers and you want to do the best for them.


[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll start building links.

It isn’t that hard and you can do it. You just have to be willing to put in the time and not get discouraged if you send out a handful of emails and no one links back to you.

Just think of your email as a sales pitch and it may not be perfect the first time… so you may have to modify and adjust it.

If you have any questions on the steps or are confused about anything, just leave a comment below.

The post How to Build Links Using Google Alerts appeared first on Neil Patel.

Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

Posted by on Jun 30, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

30-second summary:

Podcasting can add a new dimension to your brand and content marketing strategy.
There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 
Georgi Todorov shares a comprehensive guide on podcast content which encompasses the benefits, SEO perks, types of podcast content, publishing and marketing platforms, and a lot more!

If you have a content marketing strategy already in place, you’re no stranger to the fundamental principles that guide it. Your goal is to naturally attract more readers, fans, and followers by providing them with information and/or entertainment they want to consume. There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd, reach new audiences, and capitalize on a medium with enormous momentum, you should consider starting your own podcast. But how can you integrate podcasting with the rest of your content marketing campaign? 

Why podcasts?

First, let’s talk about why podcasts are so valuable in the context of content marketing. A podcast is a series of pieces of audio content, usually released regularly in the form of episodes. These episodes vary in length and format, with some primarily unfolding as interviews and others attempting to provide an entire narrative experience.

Five big benefits of podcasting

In any case, there are several benefits to using podcasts: 

1. Current popularity

Podcasts have become incredibly popular in the past several years. There are currently more than a million podcasts, with 30 million episodes between them, and more than half of all households are podcast listeners. Podcasts still seem to be on a fast growth trajectory, as more people discover and become immersed in the medium. 

2. Ease of entry

Podcasts are also valuable because of how easy they are to create. Make no mistake, you’ll still need to put the effort in, just as you would with any kind of content. However, you can get started with a relatively inexpensive assortment of equipment, and you don’t need any special training in audio engineering to make an episode that sounds good. 

3. Cross-medium potential

Podcasts are also a gateway to produce multiple forms of content simultaneously. For example, you could record video of an interview you conducted with an industry leader, then release it as a video, a podcast, and as a blog (with a written transcript), capitalizing on the content in three ways. 

4. Collaborative potential

The interactive audio experience lends itself well to collaboration, you can benefit by going on other podcasts, and other industry experts can benefit from attending yours. This cross-pollination effect allows you to spread your influence more easily, while also getting help creating new content. 

5. New audience segments

Some people who prefer listening to podcasts may never discover your work unless you break them in with audio content. In any case, you’ll be able to reach new segments and existing segments in new ways, broadening your audience. 

Podcasting as a new content marketing channel

With those benefits in mind, the best way to think about podcasting in content marketing is to think of it as a new content marketing channel. Content marketing always has the same overarching goal. You want to give people content they want. This could mean providing them with answers to their questions (which is especially important if you’re optimizing for search engines), or merely entertaining them. 

Take ASAP Science as an example. The popular Youtube channel has racked up over 9.3 million subscribers since launching over seven years ago. About two years ago, they launched a podcast called Sidenote to supplement their popular video content.

Each content marketing channel represents some way for consumers to find your content and consume it. For example, there’s blogging, email marketing, social media marketing, and videocasting – in some ways, podcasting is just another lead generation channel to add to your repertoire

As with the addition of other channels, the best way to harness the power of podcasting is by treating each channel as a complementary unit in a broader whole. For example, you’ll use your email newsletter to showcase your best blogs, and you’ll call for email newsletter signups in the body of your blog posts. This allows channel-specific consumers to discover your other mediums and helps keep your brand top-of-mind in many areas. 

If you decide to podcast, you’ll need to take advantage of this, leveraging your existing channels to push your podcast and using your podcast to deliver listeners to other channels. 

This is what Neil Patel and Eric Siu did to launch their four-year-old podcast, Marketing School. Both are well-recognized experts in the field of online marketing, and they leveraged their existing content channels, including their blogs and email lists, to launch Marketing School, which now enjoys over 1 million downloads per month. 

Podcasts and SEO

Podcasting also requires attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in two main ways. First, if utilized properly, podcasting can boost the search engine visibility of your main site. 

You can list and distribute your new podcast episodes as individual pages of your site, much like a blog, and if you provide adequate titles, meta information, and episode transcripts, you’ll easily have a new way to optimize for specific keyword phrases. Each new podcast episode will also be a piece of content that can be discovered in search engines. This is the approach Shane Barker takes with his podcast, Marketing Growth Podcast.

Over time, as your podcast becomes more popular, it will attract more citations and other types of links. This is vital for improving your domain authority, which in turn will make it easier for your site to rank. If you’re interested in building a separate domain, you can do that too, using your podcast as an engine of exclusive support. 

There’s another way to think about SEO, however. Podcasts are an avenue to grow the authority and visibility of your main site—but you also need to think about promoting the podcast’s authority and visibility. Most people discover podcasts by browsing podcast distribution networks and conducting searches for topics that interest them. Accordingly, you’ll need to optimize for these podcast-specific search engines. 

The process for optimizing a podcast for podcast networks is very similar to website-specific SEO, you’ll need to optimize for specific keywords and improve your reputation. Take, for example, the aptly-named podcast The Fantasy Footballers, who rank very well in search results for their niche, “fantasy football.” 

In addition to your podcast’s name, you’ll need to collect as many ratings and reviews as possible, which means calling listeners to action each episode and ensuring you provide them with high-quality material. 

The saturation dilemma: Finding a unique angle

The 30 million podcast episodes currently in circulation are a sign of podcasts’ popularity, but this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good sign that you’re onto a hot channel, but it also means you’re facing a ton of competition. The podcast market is, in some ways, saturated, and if you want to succeed, you’ll need some way to stand out. 

Four ways your podcast can be unique in some way
1. A new topic

You could introduce an entirely new topic to the podcast world — something no one has covered before. Given the length of time podcasting has been around and the sheer number of people trying to do this, finding a truly unique topic may be exceedingly difficult. 

2. A different format

You may also try to take an existing topic and cover it in a different format. Instead of short episodes, you could do deep, two or three hour dives. You could also try to produce bite-sized segments, five minutes in length, to capitalize on audiences with minimal free time. If most people in this space are doing interviews, you could create a narrative or vice versa. It all depends on your goals. 

3. Strong opinions

It’s also possible to differentiate your podcast by offering strong opinions on a given subject. It’s okay to be controversial, even if some people disagree with you, they’ll be inclined to voice their contradicting opinions, which will only bring more attention to your work. Just make sure you’re still being respectful in your expression of your opinions. 

4. A different tone

You can also consider introducing your topics with a different tone. For example, if people usually treat this topic overly seriously, you could give it a cheeky, tongue-in-cheek spin. 

However, you choose to be unique, make sure you’re also showcasing your authentic self. People listen to podcasts in part because they feel like they get to know the hosts; if you’re trying too hard to put on airs or if you try to use a personality that isn’t your own, you’re going to turn people away. 

The quality factor

It should go without saying that your podcast needs to be “good,” or people won’t listen to it. But what exactly is a “good” podcast? 

As with written content, there are some easily identifiable hallmarks of “good” work, but also some harder-to-place subjective qualities you’ll need to consider. Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. 

The most important quality to strive for is value; are you providing listeners with something they find valuable? Beyond that, you’ll need to think about the integrity of your recording; are your voices coming through loud and clear, with little to no background noise? 

Distribution and promotion

Much of your podcasting success will depend on your ability to distribute and promote your work. Let’s say your podcast is objectively the best podcast ever recorded, it’s funny, informative, and has something for everyone. That’s still no guarantee of success. If people aren’t able to find and listen to it, they’ll never even know what they’re missing out on. 

Accordingly, you’ll need to make additional efforts to improve its visibility. As we already covered, it’s important to optimize your podcast for search engines. It’s also important to distribute your podcast on as many podcast distribution networks as possible. Spotify is the biggest podcast platform currently, but Apple Podcasts is also a major player, and there are several smaller platforms to consider. It doesn’t take much effort to list your work in these channels, so you might as well do it. 

You’ll also want to publish new work on a consistent basis. Many podcasters strive for a weekly new episode or even a daily new episode, but the frequency isn’t nearly as important as the consistency. Consistency is what allows you to retain your existing audience and snowball new listeners into your fanbase. 

In addition to distributing your podcast on multiple platforms, you’ll want to promote your work so people can find it easily. Again, cross-promotion on your other content channels is ideal here, but if you want a quicker route to early momentum, consider paying for advertising. 

As your podcast begins to mature, you’ll want to spend extra effort nurturing your existing audience to encourage their loyalty (and hopefully get more referrals). Respond to comments on your podcast episodes when you can, thank your listeners regularly, and get involved on social media; you can even consider starting a Facebook Group or similar network for your fans. Here’s a guide with 101 tactics to promote your podcast.

A note on monetization

This guide assumes that you’re using podcasting as a way to market your brand or website overall. Accordingly, it’s a form of advertising on its own. However, it’s worth noting that if your podcast accumulates a significant enough listener base, you may be able to monetize it. 

Ads, sponsorships, and affiliate deals can all help you offset the costs of recording and establish a separate stream of revenue — but they may also turn some audience members away. 

Content marketing touchstones: Measurement and analysis 

As with other elements of your content marketing strategy, the only way to tell if your podcasting strategy is working is to measure and analyze your results. How many new listeners and subscribers are you getting? How many times is each episode downloaded? Is your podcast responsible for generating new traffic to your site? How many site visitors eventually download a podcast episode? 

Set up Google Analytics or your platform of choice to track these metrics, then experiment. Do people respond better to a certain type of episode that you release? Did your numbers drop off when you took a big risk? More importantly, what trends do you see emerging over time? 


Podcasting is a powerful complement to your existing content marketing efforts, and it can stand on its own as a path to revenue generation if you treat it right. But to be successful, you’ll need some way to distinguish yourself from your numerous competitors, a high emphasis on quality, and constant refinement with the help of measurement and analysis. 

It’s a complex and nuanced content marketing channel, but getting started is easier than most people think. Give it a try, and see if it can work for your brand.

Georgi Todorov is a digital marketing specialist at Green Park Content. He can be found on Twitter @GeorgiTodorovBG.  

The post Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

5 Important Copywriting Tools Every SEO Pro Needs

Posted by on Jun 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Important Copywriting Tools Every SEO Pro Needs

5 Important Copywriting Tools Every SEO Pro Needs

You’re an SEO. You’ve found an incredible keyword gap for your client that their competitors aren’t ranking for.  

Thrilled, you develop title tag and on-page copy recommendations for your client and are sure that your advice will propel their organic traffic forward.

Copywriting tools? For on-page recommendations and a title-tag?  Your writing is fine as is. Or so you think.

See, you didn’t use copywriting tools to make sure your language was actionable, invoked emotion and had perfect spelling and grammar. Users didn’t click on your client’s result because they felt indifferent and unmotivated while reading your title.

But here at Distilled <> Brainlabs, we can help you with that.

In case you missed it, we’ve merged!

While an SEO’s job can include mapping keywords or making content recommendations, these actions won’t matter if we can’t attract users to click on and read our results. The perfect keyword can exist, but if we can’t position it and attract a user to it, we could be left wondering where we went wrong.

Because of this, I’ll share with you five important copywriting tools that ensure your title tags, headers, and on-page copy stand out from the crowd and attract your target audience.

1. Avoid any costly spelling mistakes – Grammarly

When writing, we can think of the most enticing and encouraging language to get users to click on our results. This is a goal that we should strive for, except when our titles or copy have egregious misspellings or hard-to-ignore grammatical errors. 

A persuasive title with a spelling error is pretty much user-repellant.

Users are looking for results that display:


Misspellings and grammatical errors scream the opposite of authority. We need to make sure our content is cleaned up. 

Want to know how we can do this?

Using Grammarly, a free digital writing tool that uses artificial intelligence and natural processing language to check grammar and spelling. 

It would be really disappointing if the first tool we recommended to you is a glorified spell-checker. 

Luckily, Grammarly is more than that. It also makes recommendations based on vocabulary, clarity, brevity, and tone. You can insert Grammarly into your optimization arsenal as a first line of defense, whether you prefer editing as you write or towards the end of your work. 

Grammarly has an online editor on their website and browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. Having Grammarly installed will also improve your writing anywhere on the web quickly and seamlessly, without ever having to open another tab.

Grammarly’s algorithms help raise issues that may be present in your writing, and give the reasoning behind any potential correction, which help you make informed and thoughtful decisions while editing your work.

Grammarly also offers functionality in Microsoft Office on Windows and a Grammarly Keyboard for IOS or Android. They also offer a Gmail plug-in, so when you’re communicating with your client or colleague, you can draft up that 4:55 pm email knowing you’re in good hands. 

2. Improve hard to read sentences – Hemingway

We want our writing to be error-free and grammatically correct. But sometimes we need that extra push to make our writing more concise. Many writers find themselves constructing difficult and hard to read sentences. This can lead to writing at a comprehension level higher than your target audience.

Enter the Hemingway editor.

Hemingway Editor is a free writing tool that helps make your writing clear and bold. It can help with improving the style of your writing and letting the reader focus more on your message. 

Think about being a reader yourself. Do you want to spend time having to re-read a sentence to understand its meaning? 

You can enter your copy directly into the Hemingway Editor and watch as it dissects your text for adverb usage, use of active voice, and hard to read sentences. 

For SEO professionals, another valuable aspect of Hemingway is its built-in readability score.  After you enter text or copy into Hemingway, it uses the  Automated Readability Index, which basically informs you what “grade level” your writing is at.  

Why is writing for grade level important?

We want to consider who we’re writing for, as SEO professionals, content writers, and writers in general. 

Writing to capture traffic for a direct-to-consumer electronic company should look and read differently than a B2B cloud migration company. 

Studies have shown that the average american reads at an 8th-10th grade level. So if your copy starts to creep up to 12th or 13th grade level, consider whether this level of reading comprehension makes sense for the users you’re trying to cater to.

The next time your client asks you to review a blog post, or you’re constructing title tags and meta descriptions, you can rest assured that your recommendations will include robust and readable copy.

Hemingway is available for your browser. They also offer a paid version–the Hemingway Editor 3 for Mac and PC. This version works without an internet connection and lets you publish directly to WordPress or export directly to HTML or Microsoft Word.

3. Keep readers engaged with your content – Bucket Brigades

We now have two free tools to make sure our writing is grammatically correct, bold, and easy to read. 

Think about how much value you can now provide your clients with:

Their content will be punctual and powerful, and they’ll have you to thank drawing all of this new organic traffic to their website and resulting in a 15% increase in conversions. 

Except you can’t keep users on the page. 

Your blog post is boring her. She’s now headed to your competitor’s site.

Now: how can we draw the reader in?

Using a classic copywriting technique called Bucket Brigades. 

As SEO’s, we know that average time on page can directly affect a result’s ranking potential. And while bounce rate doesn’t necessarily indicate a decrease in ranking potential, wouldn’t users be more likely to convert if they were drawn in by and attracted to our content?

Think about it: we want to keep users on our client’s pages. We can’t do that if they stay on the page for less than 15 seconds.  

A bucket brigade is traditionally defined as a human chain, used to transport items from one person to the next (think firefighters passing a bucket of water).

Thankfully, we’ve invented fire trucks.

In writing, a bucket brigade is a phrase that motivates a user to continue reading. Of course, writers being the creatives we are, had to steal this concept and make it about ourselves.

It does make sense though. As writers, we want our reader’s attention to easily “pass” from one sentence to the next, and bucket brigades help accomplish this.

As an SEO, whether you’re reviewing a blog post for a client or trying to create attention-grabbing headers, including bucket brigades is a simple and free way to improve users’ time on-page and improve a client’s conversion rate. 

Whether you’re working in-house or for an agency, one idea to keep in mind is your client’s brand voice and to ensure the language you recommend ties in accordingly. If they employ a more conversational approach to content, using bucket brigades would be a welcome addition to their strategy.

If your client’s content exudes a more formal tone of voice, bucket brigades are still an acceptable strategy, but it may be beneficial to limit your usage to avoid coming across as too informal. 

Some classic Bucket Brigades include:

Want to know..
It gets better/worse:
But wait..
Think about it:
On the other hand,
Here’s why:

You could use some of these examples or get creative and develop attention-grabbing bucket brigades yourself. 

This is incredible. You now know how to write powerful, error-free, and captivating copy.

But how can we ensure users will even click on your result in search engines?

4. Improve dull and unexciting headers – CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

Any SEO professional will tell you that a title tag can make or break a piece of content. How can you improve a client’s organic traffic if you can’t even get users to click on your result in the search engine? 

Luckily, Distilled’s own Dominic Woodman recently discussed how to write an incredible title tag where he goes into defining a title tag, what your goals should be when constructing one, and how to write different kinds of title tags and expectations one should have.


When constructing headers or title tags, many copywriters like to brainstorm and write down as many as they can, and this is something SEO professionals can benefit from by implementing into their title tag creation process. It can help get the creative juices flowing and explore different title or header structures one might not have thought of at first.

What should we do when we decide on two to three that we love? 

We can use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.  

After briefly filling out a call-to-action, you can use this free tool to help you write headlines that will drive traffic, shares and search results.

The Headline Analyzer has a couple of useful features.

It measures a header’s “word balance”, which includes how many common, uncommon, emotional and powerful  words are used in great headlines. They recommend a strong header has the following balance:

Common words – 20-30%

Uncommon words – 10-20%

Emotional words – 10-15%

Powerful words – at least 1 powerful phrase or word

While I wouldn’t be too alarmed if you aren’t hitting every single target here (writing title tags and headers is hard!) this part of the tool is helpful to consider your usage of powerful and emotional words. 

In addition, CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer includes a length analysis feature that measures if your headline is the proper length and uses an ideal amount of words.

All in all, this tool can assist in giving thoughtful insights for titles and headers that you may not have previously considered. Feel free to use this during any part of your title tag or header ideation process! 

5. Find out what your users are really searching for –

Last but not least, we’d like to introduce you to, a new SEO research tool that focuses on informing users on how questions are topically grouped. It isn’t necessarily a copywriting tool, but provides us with valuable insights into what we should actually be writing about. 

This free tool takes your search term and displays related questions from other users. It uses “People Also Ask” data, rather than Google’s Autosuggest, which is a main reason why we use this tool to create relevant headers and write copy that helps our readers.

We know what questions users are searching for and what language they’re using. Why not use it to our advantage?

To use the tool, you simply plug in a keyword you’re targeting, select the language you’d like results for, and choose the region you’re trying to target. 

Let’s say we want to know what questions users have about meta descriptions.

We just plug “meta description” into the search bar, choose the language and region of our choice, and let AlsoAsked do the rest.

You can see below that we’ve now been given an overview of different types of questions users have, and how those questions can lead to even more specific searches. 

With these findings, we now know what answers users are looking for, and can create content that satisfies them.

For example,  if you’re writing a blog post about meta descriptions, some topics we may want focus on include:

Defining what a meta description is
Giving a meta description example
How to write a meta description
Google’s usage of meta descriptions

All in all, AlsoAsked is a useful tool that can help inform your content strategy and give you new ideas to write about or recommend!

We’d like to hear from you! 

At Distilled <> Brainlabs, we’re constantly testing out new and old tools alike, seeing what helps us deliver valuable client work and grow and improve our clients’ visibility. We hope you find some of these tools and tips helpful in your future content goals.

What are some of your favorite engaging words or phrases to use? What’s the most captivating title you’ve ever written?

Which is better Ahrefs vs SEMrush? (Feature Comparison)

Posted by on Jun 23, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Which is better Ahrefs vs SEMrush? (Feature Comparison)

Which is better Ahrefs vs SEMrush? (Feature Comparison)

SEMrush and Ahrefs are two of the most popular SEO tools in the market. Both companies are in business for years and serve thousands of customers per month through their platforms.

If you’re a professional SEO or trying to do digital marketing on your own, at some point you’ll need the help of a tool and both Ahrefs and SEMrush will definitely appear in your shortlist.

In this guide, I’m going to help you decide which is the best SEO tool to use for your needs.

I’ve used both tools for years and I’ll explain which tool is better for performing the most common tasks a modern SEO expert is expected to do on a daily basis.

I’ll cover the following topics:

Do you really need an SEO tool?
What is SEMrush?
What is Aherfs?
Ahrefs VS SEMrush Comparison
Which SEO Tool I’m using on a daily basis

Do you really need an SEO Tool?

Being a good SEO specialist requires insight, knowledge, talent, and follow-through. None of that would help you if you didn’t have the right data, though.

Accurate data about keywords, your site’s SEO performance, your competitors’ sites, your backlinks, and other metrics are the cornerstones of good SEO. How do you get that data? It all comes down to the tools you use.

Considering that 51% of all web traffic comes from organic search, SEO is a critical part of any brand’s digital marketing.

Without an SEO tool, you’ll have to keep spreadsheets and feed them with manually exported data from various sources, a process that is prone to errors and time-consuming.

A good tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs can help you automate this process and present the data in a way that is meaningful and easy to access. As we’ll see below, you can make use of dashboards to read and analyze your data fast and easily create reports for your own use or present them to your clients and management.

Before we take a deeper look at the features of Aherfs and SEMrush and how they compare, let me quickly introduce the companies behind these tools.

What is SEMrush?

SEMrush is a complete digital marketing platform with 40+ tools covering all aspects of digital marketing. The company was founded in 2008 and has more than 800 employees in 7 countries.

Their tools are grouped into four main categories: SEO, paid traffic, social media, content marketing, and market research.

According to stats provided by SEMrush, their user base is 5 million and their database includes 18.8 billion keywords, and 717 million domains covering 142 geographic locations.

What makes SEMrush a great tool to consider is that it’s an all-in-one platform with a number of quality tools and features.

SEMRush Trial

If you want to test SEMRush yourself, you can use this link to register for a 14-Day SEMRush trial for free. You can use the tool for 14 days without any charge.

What is Aherfs?

Ahrefs is an SEO platform offering a set of tools to grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and monitor your niche. The company started in 2010 and it became quickly one of the most popular SEO tools.

The main tools offered are site explorer, keywords explorer, site audit, rank tracker, and content explorer.

According to stats provided by Ahrefs, their database includes 10.3 billion keywords, 170 million root domains, 16 trillion known links, covering data of 10 search engines (including Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon) in 171 countries.

What makes Ahrefs a great tool to consider is their comprehensive links database which makes it a very good option when it comes to link analysis and link building.

Ahrefs Trial

Ahrefs offers a 7-Day trial period for $7. During this period you get full access to the tool. To register for an ahrefs trial, use this link.

Overall, both SEMrush and Ahrefs have similar features, but which is the best tool to use?

Ahrefs VS SEMrush Comparison

We have compared SEMRush and Ahrefs against the following features

SEO Auditing
Keyword Research
Rank Tracking
Topic Research
Identifying Link Building Opportunities
Link Analysis
Search Engine Marketing
Social Media Features
Tools to Analyze Content for SEO
Ease of Use

1. SEO Auditing

When you’re planning a trip, you can’t find the right directions if you don’t know your starting point and final destination.

The same is true for SEO. Performing an SEO audit will help you create an SEO action plan and show you the path to follow to reach your destination which is no other than higher rankings for your target keywords.

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs offer a technical SEO audit feature. They evaluate your website using a number of pre-defined rules related to technical SEO and give you a list of recommendations on what you need to fix to improve your SEO performance.

The two tools are alike in that general audit structure, and they work in similar ways. They both include helpful instructions that explain the issues they’ve found and how to fix them.

One of the differences though is that SEMrush gives you more information about your internal link distribution.

SEMRush Technical SEO Audit Tool

Your goal with internal linking is to help users by providing them with additional information about a topic and search engines by giving them hints as to which pages of your website are more important.

This is a very powerful (and simple to use) SEO technique and SEMrush makes it easier to understand how your internal links are distributed across your website.

2. Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important and critical SEO processes. If you get your keyword research wrong, you’ll end up targeting the wrong keywords and even if you manage to get traffic, it won’t convert.

So, it’s important to use a tool that provides accurate information about keywords.

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs give you strong insights into the keywords you want to optimize for on your site.

SEMrush calls their tool Keyword Magic, and its Ahrefs equivalent is the Keywords Explorer.

SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

When searching for keywords for a particular topic, SEMrush seems to provide more results but Ahrefs has more filters to get rid of irrelevant or nonsense keywords.

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs also have content gap analysis tools, which can be a great help. They let you compare your site to your competitors’ sites that are ranking above you on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Both tools produce similar results by listing the keywords that your competitor is better optimized for.

Special Keyword Features

There are some features that are specific to one tool over the other, though. For instance, SEMrush offers comprehensive data about keyword trends that Ahrefs doesn’t.

SEMRush Keyword Trends

The data lets you see which keywords are on the rise and which are falling in popularity. It also tells you if a keyword is popular at a particular time of the year, for example. Then you can focus on that keyword in your content during a particular season.

For its part, Ahrefs has a handy click estimation feature. This estimates the number of clicks you’d get for each keyword if you were the top-ranked result.

Ahrefs Traffic Estimator Tool

This is helpful because Google’s rich snippets often give users answers without having to click on any results. A keyword might have great search volume but if hardly anyone clicks on the results after searching it, it may not be worth your time.

3. Rank Tracking

As you work towards optimizing for particular keywords, you want to be able to see your results. This is where Ahrefs and SEMrush’s rank tracking features come in.

Both of these tools have rank trackers that show you how your ranking is shifting for specific keywords. They also show you your site’s overall average across all the keywords you’re tracking. Both tools let you compare your site to your competitors as well.

As far as accuracy goes, both tools appear to be equal. At first glance, Ahrefs appears to have an advantage because its interface is more attractive and easier to use. When you dig deeper, though, SEMrush wins in other critical areas.

SEMrush updates their rank tracking every day. This lets you watch your results in real-time and get a powerful picture of rank fluctuations.

SEMRush Rank Tracking

With Ahrefs, the most frequent update schedule available is every three days. That is only the frequency for Ahref’s two most expensive plans. With their most economical plan, you only get weekly updates.

Ahrefs Backlink Checker
4. Topic Research

Your site’s content is a vital part of your SEO. One of the top ways to produce SEO-focused content is to check out the competing content that performs well and use it as a model.

Ahrefs makes that easy with their Content Explorer tool, and SEMrush does the same with their Topic Research tool.

Both of those tools go beyond basic web stats. They tell you how each page in the search results is performing on social media. Whether you want content that will be popular on Google or on a specific social media platform, you can optimize accordingly.

Ahrefs has a slight edge in this area with its publication history. It tells you how many pages are published and updated for that topic over time.

Ahrefs Content Explorer

This helps you see whether the topic is on the rise or the decline among content creators. You’ll be able to identify the topics that are in need of a fresh perspective and those with a lot of competing content.

5. Identifying Link Building Opportunities

Building a network of backlinks from reputable, high-volume sites will make a world of difference for your SEO. If you’re struggling to see where to start, SEMrush and Ahrefs both have features designed to help.

Broken-link building

This is a newer feature on Ahrefs’s platform. They added it to their Content Explorer when they debuted Content Explorer 2.0 in May 2019. You can search for a particular topic and the tool identifies broken backlinks.

You can use that information by identifying pages with many backlinks that have now moved or disappeared. If you recreate the content on your site and send the link to the sites that link to the broken URL, they may swap it for your link. It’s a handy way to get new backlinks.

SEMrush’s tool is called the Link Building Tool. It does the same thing Ahrefs does by identifying broken and outdated links. It also has another feature, though.

SEMrush’s distinctive tool identifies many ways to build your backlinks. It offers a list of sites you could reach out to in order to get a backlink.

SEMRush Link Building Features

Along with that list, SEMrush gives you the contact information for as many of those sites as possible. It integrates with many email platforms so you can contact the sites directly from SEMrush. The tool tracks all that outreach so you can see the fruits of your labor.

SEMRush Email Outreach Feature
6. Link Analysis

Backlinking isn’t just a numbers game. You need your backlinks to be from credible sites. The opposite can actually harm your SEO.

Both tools let you analyze your pages to see the number of total backlinks and referring domains they each have. In the past, Ahrefs was the better choice for link analysis because they had a stronger database.

However, SEMrush did a major database update in 2019. Since then, the two tools are neck-and-neck for performance.

SEMRush Backlink Database

Overall, SEMrush wins out because of a crucial special feature: its backlink audit tool. This identifies potentially toxic backlinks that could be hurting your SEO. You can disavow them with Google to stop the damage.

Ahrefs doesn’t have this feature, though it does show you which of your backlinks have the lowest domain authority. From there, you could investigate each site to see if it’s a potential problem.

7. Search Engine Marketing

Along with its keyword research tool, SEMrush has a unique feature Ahrefs doesn’t have. It shows you keyword data for PPC ads like Google Ads and product listing ads, or PLAs.

SEMrush also has a cost-per-click map, showing you how much you’re paying for clicks from different regions. As a result, SEMrush goes beyond your site’s SEO to help all facets of your search engine marketing campaigns.

8. Social Media Features

This is another SEMrush-only feature. Beyond all the data it offers you for building your SEO, it helps you manage and evaluate your social media marketing.

You can use SEMrush to schedule your social media posts for numerous platforms. SEMrush also tracks your social media analytics to offer all the data in one place. Better yet, the tool shows you your competitors’ analytics.

SEMRush Social Media Tracking
9. Tools to Analyze Content for SEO

Finally, this is the third useful feature SEMrush offers that Ahrefs doesn’t: content marketing audits. This tool evaluates your content for its SEO capabilities. It shows you your keyword frequency, readability, and other scores for each page.

If you’ve used the popular WordPress plug-in, Yoast, SEMrush’s Content Auditing Tool is similar. The tool can evaluate your published content or you can use it while you’re writing and updating the content.

SEMRush Content Analyzer

As we noted, this is a tool Ahref’s doesn’t have, just like social media management and SEM keyword data. To be fair, this is simply because Ahrefs focuses on a more specialized type of SEO data. SEMrush aims to be a more diverse tool.

10. Ease of Use

When it comes to usability, Ahrefs and SEMrush both have their advantages and disadvantages. Ahrefs has a more intuitive user interface. Data is prominent and their graphics make it easy to understand at a glance.

In our experience, though, SEMrush has better performance. Ahrefs is sometimes slow to load. If you’re trying to check many sites or pages in a short period of time, Ahrefs may slow you down.

It comes down to a matter of preference in this case. Some users prioritize performance while others feel that Ahrefs’s interface is with the time.

11. Pricing

Cost is always an important consideration, and for the most part, Ahrefs and SEMrush are similar.

Both of these tools offer several plans with increasing capabilities. They each start around $99 per month for one user.

SEMRush Pricing

It’s important to note that Ahrefs’s $99 is more limited than SEMrush’s $99 plan. However, Ahrefs’s pricier plans offer more users for the price: three users for the Advanced plan, five for the Agency plan. SEMrush only offers one user for every plan price with the option to add more users for additional fees.

Ahrefs Pricing

Depending on how many users you need, SEMrush may be a better deal because of its extra features. For instance, it allows you to cut out the cost of Yoast Premium as well as your social media management tools.

12. Support

Overall, both Ahrefs and SEMrush have reliable performance. Still, you always need to know whether a tool has solid support in case a problem arises.

Both of the tools are very quick and responsive in their support. They also both allow you to reach them with an online chat feature.

With Ahrefs, though, the chat feature is where it stops. There is no visible way to reach them by phone or through email. SEMrush, on the other hand, provides email and phone support in addition to their chat.

Ahrefs vs SEMrush: The Verdict

When all is said and done, what’s the final word? Who wins in the battle of Ahrefs vs SEMrush?

Those that follow my posts know that my preferred tool is SEMRush. It’s the tool that I use on a daily basis for all my digital marketing needs. It’s easy to use, affordable, and reliable. New features are introduced all the time and in general, you get the feeling that the money you pay for the monthly subscription is worth it.

That doesn’t make Ahrefs a bad tool. On the contrary, it is a great tool but when it comes to features, SEMRush gives you more tools to manage your digital marketing campaigns and not just SEO.

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Setup Automated Backup

Posted by on Jun 21, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Setup Automated Backup

Setup Automated Backup

We like to say Backup Before You Crackup.  Being in a situation where you have no backup to restore your site can make things go from bad to worse.  Follow the easy steps below to setup an automated backup system for free in minutes.

Login to your site and visit Plugins>Add New
Type in UpdraftPlus and install and activate it
Once active, visit Settings>UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore
Click on the Settings tab and adjust as desired

That is it.  Your WordPress site now has a smooth running automated backup and restore system.

Current Subscribers

Simply fill out the form below with your name and your email address and this will instantly subscribe you to our WP TAT™ campaign.

This way you will never miss a new post and never miss out on these valuable FREE tips to make your WordPress life better!

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We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

* indicates required

First Name *

Email Address *

(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[1]=’FNAME’;ftypes[1]=’text’;fnames[0]=’EMAIL’;ftypes[0]=’email’;}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

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How to Scale Content Production That Doesn’t Suck

Posted by on Jun 18, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Scale Content Production That Doesn’t Suck

How to Scale Content Production That Doesn’t Suck

Soon after Local SEO Guide hired me last year, one of our multi-location retailer clients asked us to produce a few hundred buying guides for all sorts of products they sell.

Bulk napkins, refrigerators, laundry detergent, you name it. My first big project!

The timeline was about one month, on top of overlapping deadlines for other client projects. As the new content guy, I had to figure out how to make this happen without drowning.

But hot damn, that’s a lot of words to research, pay for, edit, format, and internally link in a month.

You’ve experienced some flavor of this, especially if you work for a small, scrappy agency without an existing editorial infrastructure. Sure, you can turn to Upwork, Zerys, or another content writing service to get it done.

But then how do you decide what to spend on great editors? Should they be subject matter experts, or hired guns who handle any topic? How many do you hire?

What if the client doubles or triples the project for your next engagement? Do you have the resources to…scale your content production?

How do you build an in-house content process that can be scaled 10 or 100 times over?


Alas, scale. Love it or loathe it, “scale” (to me, anyway) just means delivering a proportionally bigger chunk of work while retaining high-quality content.

We’re working in a BERT environment where we don’t really optimize content. I focus on making content readable, logical, and unique enough that it stands out.

I don’t want to write one template, then apply a Find-Replace job across location pages for a national retailer, say. That’s too easy, and Google’s getting smarter about rewarding well-written copy with a purpose.

Call it craft content at scale.

So, how do you ensure you’re still brewing Lagunitas at the scale of Heineken?


Five key elements to scaling content

To scale up a content writing program that doesn’t suck, follow these basics:

Find writers
Get organized
Ask questions
Provide a style guide
Give feedback and iterate

Will this work? I can all but guarantee it. Since December, we’ve published new site copy on hundreds of locally targeted URLs for a multi-location national retailer. Check it out.

How to find writers


I prefer working with our own roster of writers, as opposed to a third-party service. I’ve found that it’s easier to communicate with them, from project clarifications to fixing snafus.

Writers tend to be more engaged and accountable when they’re working directly with us. In my experience with content farms, I cede an element of communication to the platform that makes it seem transactional, distant, and detached. And for some copywriting, I guess that’s OK.

It takes time to assemble a content team, there are endless job boards and groups out there. Some focus on content marketers, journalists, social media managers, and bloggers. But they’re all in the blast radius of “writing.” Chances are, you’ll find some great people.

Many of Local SEO Guide’s best content writers came from these (free) watering holes:

Binders Full of WRITING JOBS Facebook group (I’m not a member – had a colleague post in the group for me)
News Nerdery Slack group (heavy on data journalism, but there’s healthy overlap with analytics, SEO, and writing)
Word-of-mouth referrals (from above, former coworkers, editors, friends, etc.)

Ask around, do some lurking, and give someone a chance to succeed. I recommend hiring freelance writers, as opposed to moonlighters with full-time jobs, so you’re not at the bottom of someone’s priority list. (I’ve never been a fan of writing tests—taking them, nor asking others to—but if you go this route, pay them.)

Regardless, building a rapport with whomever you decide to hire will make your job easier. Mutual trust reduces headaches for inevitable hiccups or, uh, pandemics.

For example, the Covid-19 lockdowns emerged in the middle of a sprint to produce 700 pieces of content for a multi-location national retailer (mentioned above). It was among our bigger content projects so far this year.

Many people’s lives were turned upside down—kids suddenly at home, schedules affected, you name it. We were able to contact everyone, figure out where we needed to shift assignments, or plan for late submissions. Wasn’t easy, but we did it.

Be flexible, trustworthy, and give helpful feedback. The writing quality will reflect that.

How to organize your content writing program

No top-secret solution here. We use G Suite’s Google Sheets to track our editorial progress.

Doing a great job? Client suddenly wants to double the copywriting for next month? Add the rows, boom. Scale me up, Scotty.

“What, you don’t use a sophisticated piece of project management software?”

I do for other stuff. Google Sheets works best for obvious reasons:

Most people know how to use it and easily access it
You can quickly add cells to track client-specific inputs
You can have writers submit assignments through Google Forms, which can populate Google Sheet cells with assignments or other info
You can create a tracking spreadsheet template, then copy it and tweak it for project-specific needs
You can use VLOOKUP functions to feed data to or from other spreadsheets. For example, tracking invoicing payment amounts, populating keyword research, or validating completion to monitor writer progress
It can be expanded to accommodate large-scale projects easily
Searching and filtering is [chef kiss] It’s free (relatively—aside from G Suite costs)

Camayak vs. Notion vs. Asana vs. Workflowy vs. Google Sheets

There’s slick content project tracking software out there. We’ve looked at Camayak, Notion, Asana, Workflowy, to name a few.

We keep it simple with Sheets.

What I include in our tracking sheets:

URL of where content will be published (or proposed path/slug for new pages)
Word count
Link to relevant keyword/editorial research
Writer assigned
Editor assigned
Cost (per word, flat rate, whatever it is)
Status updates from a drop-down menu (using Sheets’ Data Validation options)
Date assigned
Due date
Approval (usually my initials, or another LSGer)
Other client-specific notes as needed

Create a basic template and deploy it quickly for new projects.

You’re probably thinking, Whoa, this guy just discovered Sheets. Cool blog.

The point here: Don’t underestimate the value of being elastic to scale, tweak, and implement your content tracking with a simple organization solution.

Questions to ask when scaling up content production

Each project’s content strategy will raise different questions.

For any content creation project, we ask these four questions to orient our strategy. Be honest about the answers with yourself, your stakeholders, your clients, and your freelancers.

If you’re BSing your team members or phoning in the answers, you’ll have big problems with high-scale projects—especially if you’ve produced, published, and promoted the content.

What’s the goal of the content?

Are you looking to grow local search traffic for a national brand? Do you want to drive some type of conversion? Or are you simply looking to educate readers at the top of the funnel?

Figure out your target audience before you do anything, or you will be at sea.

What type of content do we need?

“Content” isn’t just a hand-wavy catch-all term for words. Yes, body copy might require heavy lifting. But content also refers to your keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, headings, slogs, anchor text, photos, infographics, captions and alt-tags, video/audio/podcast transcriptions, and call-to-action copy.

When you produce content, think about everything a user sees: every word, from the H1s to the fine print.

Where will the content be published?

Is there a category path under which your content will live? Or will it be published under the root domain?

Content alone doesn’t have the same effect as having a robust website taxonomy.


In other words, you could have the Best Piece of Content ever. But if the information architecture of a site won’t appropriately display or organize your content pieces, you might be embarking on a fool’s errand. Blobs of text do nothing.

Blobs of text do nothing.

You might expect readers to find your great content directly from organic search. The more logically a website is built, the easier it is for search engines to understand how information is organized. Work with your stakeholders to determine the best place to publish.

How will you measure the content?

What does success look like? Do you care about performance at the page level, or site-wide?

Learning about KPIs has been one of the bigger learning curves for me, personally. I spent the last 10 years in newspapers and magazines, where someone else worried about analytics.

As the scale of your content production process increases, the importance of what you measure gets magnified. That sounds heady, but I’m going with it.

It’s not just about lines on a chart. Your clients will make decisions about where to invest in their SEO program depending on how your content performs. Know that you’re measuring what matters.

Create a style guide (or ask your client for one)


Luckily, most of our clients have editorial or brand guidelines. This saves everyone time, and helps me low-key evaluate which of our freelance writers pay attention to our specs.

Even if your client has a style guide, there might be one-off requests, compliance updates, or other notes from an upstream marketing team.

Best to compile crucial information in an instructions shared document for your content creators.

This serves three purposes:

It’s an editorial blueprint for your writers
It’s a quality control reference
It’s a form of redundancy in your own note-taking. We’ve all searched our inboxes for that thrice-forwarded email about some style note and can’t find it.

Avoid the headache of small errors propagating across hundreds of pages of copy.

Give feedback and iterate

A few pieces of writing advice I always give to freelance writers:

Write like your audience is smart and busy
Write the way you’d want to be written for
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

(I didn’t come up with these. Other smarter people did.)

We don’t have a crystal ball here at Local SEO Guide. And you don’t either. That makes it impossible to know what’s a perfect blog, a perfect sentence, and a perfect process.

If the content’s performance sucked, I try to understand why. It sucks to suck. So I improve it for next time, or propose a content refresh.

Give your writers and editors honest, actionable feedback. Offer to give it mid-process instead of at the end, so they can apply your suggestions.

Make improvements to your tracking process, your editorial guidelines, and the questions you ask throughout the content process. It’s not a sign that your methods were bad.

Make small improvements that gradually compound, rather than wholesale changes that move the earth beneath everyone.

Of course, You’ll know how your content program performed when it’s published. The benefits of knowing where to nip-tuck your content production process will become apparent the next time around. I smell another blog post…

The post How to Scale Content Production That Doesn’t Suck appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

The data problem in Google Smart Shopping campaigns [Video]

Posted by on Jun 17, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The data problem in Google Smart Shopping campaigns [Video]

Smart Shopping and standard Shopping campaigns provide various degrees of control and flexibility to merchants advertising on Google’s platform. However, advertisers need to be aware of the limited insights inherent to Smart Shopping campaigns, as well as what the metrics provided actually convey.

During our Google Shopping session of Live with Search Engine Land, Mike Ryan, product management lead at Smarter Ecommerce, discussed what advertisers need to be mindful of with regards to these potential problems.

Smart Shopping campaigns, which use machine learning to automate bidding and placements, are a convenient option for advertisers and merchants that don’t have the bandwidth to manage standard Shopping campaigns and also offer exposure on multiple channels. The drawback, though, is that Smart Shopping campaigns don’t provide insights into search terms, audiences or placements.

“If they would be supplying more data and reporting options, the challenge is that it would agitate users because it would raise questions in their minds: they’d want to touch things, they’d want to fix things or change things,” Ryan said, paraphrasing what he heard from a Google employee during the Google Shopping Expert Series in Vienna. Even if they were given more data, advertisers would not be able to make adjustments to Smart Shopping campaigns because all adjustments are automated.

Related: Smart Shopping campaigns: How to test and extract more value from automated campaigns

Return on ad spend, or ROAS, is one of the smart bidding strategies available in both standard Shopping and Smart Shopping campaigns. Optimizing on ROAS, however, is challenging, because it doesn’t actually indicate how profitable your campaigns are. “[It] is just like an efficiency metric,” Ryan said, arguing that ROAS conveys efficiency similarly to how fuel economy describes efficiency for cars, yet many advertisers treat the metric like a steering wheel for their campaigns. “This is like some kind of a false comparison when people think, ‘Oh, I have good ROAS, my campaigns must be profitable’; it’s a big assumption and there’s a huge difference,” he said.

Why we care. Knowing what particular metrics convey allows advertisers to evaluate them appropriately and make better campaign decisions. In addition, being aware of what data isn’t being provided can also enable advertisers to get creative and find ways to extract more value from their automated campaigns.

Want more Live with Search Engine Land? Get it here:

Click here for the full session.PPC tips: Bidding strategies for Google Shopping campaigns [Video]Google Smart Shopping: How it’s different from standard Shopping campaigns [Video]Why you should upload your full product catalog to Google Merchant Center [Video]Google Merchant Center tips: Supplemental feeds and feed rules [Video]You can also find a full list of all our Live with Search Engine Land sessions on YouTube.

The post The data problem in Google Smart Shopping campaigns [Video] appeared first on Search Engine Land.