AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Beyond search Google controls the leading distributed ad network, the leading mobile OS, the leading web browser, the leading email client, the leading web analytics platform, the leading free video hosting site.

They win a lot.

And they take winnings from one market & leverage them into manipulating adjacent markets.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

AMP is an utterly unnecessary invention designed to further shift power to Google while disenfranchising publishers. From the very start it had many issues with basic things like supporting JavaScript, double counting unique users (no reason to fix broken stats if they drive adoption!), not supporting third party ad networks, not showing publisher domain names, and just generally being a useless layer of sunk cost technical overhead that provides literally no real value.

Over time they have corrected some of these catastrophic deficiencies, but if it provided real value, they wouldn’t have needed to force adoption with preferential placement in their search results. They force the bundling because AMP sucks.

Absurdity knows no bounds. Googlers suggest: “AMP isn’t another “channel” or “format” that’s somehow not the web. It’s not a SEO thing. It’s not a replacement for HTML. It’s a web component framework that can power your whole site. … We, the AMP team, want AMP to become a natural choice for modern web development of content websites, and for you to choose AMP as framework because it genuinely makes you more productive.”

Meanwhile some newspapers have about a dozen employees who work on re-formatting content for AMP:

The AMP development team now keeps track of whether AMP traffic drops suddenly, which might indicate pages are invalid, and it can react quickly.

All this adds expense, though. There are setup, development and maintenance costs associated with AMP, mostly in the form of time. After implementing AMP, the Guardian realized the project needed dedicated staff, so it created an 11-person team that works on AMP and other aspects of the site, drawing mostly from existing staff.

Feeeeeel the productivity!

Some content types (particularly user generated content) can be unpredictable & circuitous. For many years forums websites would use keywords embedded in the search referral to highlight relevant parts of the page. Keyword (not provided) largely destroyed that & then it became a competitive feature for AMP: “If the Featured Snippet links to an AMP article, Google will sometimes automatically scroll users to that section and highlight the answer in orange.”

That would perhaps be a single area where AMP was more efficient than the alternative. But it is only so because Google destroyed the alternative by stripping keyword referrers from search queries.

The power dynamics of AMP are ugly:

“I see them as part of the effort to normalise the use of the AMP Carousel, which is an anti-competitive land-grab for the web by an organisation that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming the web, probably ultimately to it’s own detriment. … This enables Google to continue to exist after the destination site (eg the New York Times) has been navigated to. Essentially it flips the parent-child relationship to be the other way around. … As soon as a publisher blesses a piece of content by packaging it (they have to opt in to this, but see coercion below), they totally lose control of its distribution. … I’m not that smart, so it’s surely possible to figure out other ways of making a preload possible without cutting off the content creator from the people consuming their content. … The web is open and decentralised. We spend a lot of time valuing the first of these concepts, but almost none trying to defend the second. Google knows, perhaps better than anyone, how being in control of the user is the most monetisable position, and having the deepest pockets and the most powerful platform to do so, they have very successfully inserted themselves into my relationship with millions of other websites. … In AMP, the support for paywalls is based on a recommendation that the premium content be included in the source of the page regardless of the user’s authorisation state. … These policies demonstrate contempt for others’ right to freely operate their businesses.

After enough publishers adopted AMP Google was able to turn their mobile app’s homepage into an interactive news feed below the search box. And inside that news feed Google gets to distribute MOAR ads while 0% of the revenue from those ads find its way to the publishers whose content is used to make up the feed.

Appropriate appropriation. 😀

Thank you for your content!!!

The mainstream media is waking up to AMP being a trap, but their neck is already in it:

European and American tech, media and publishing companies, including some that originally embraced AMP, are complaining that the Google-backed technology, which loads article pages in the blink of an eye on smartphones, is cementing the search giant’s dominance on the mobile web.

Each additional layer of technical cruft is another cost center. Things that sound appealing at first blush may not be:

The way you verify your identity to Let’s Encrypt is the same as with other certificate authorities: you don’t really. You place a file somewhere on your website, and they access that file over plain HTTP to verify that you own the website. The one attack that signed certificates are meant to prevent is a man-in-the-middle attack. But if someone is able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against your website, then he can intercept the certificate verification, too. In other words, Let’s Encrypt certificates don’t stop the one thing they’re supposed to stop. And, as always with the certificate authorities, a thousand murderous theocracies, advertising companies, and international spy organizations are allowed to impersonate you by design.

Anything that is easy to implement & widely marketed often has costs added to it in the future as the entity moves to monetize the service.

This is a private equity firm buying up multiple hosting control panels & then adjusting prices.

This is Google Maps drastically changing their API terms.

This is Facebook charging you for likes to build an audience, giving your competitors access to those likes as an addressable audience to advertise against, and then charging you once more to boost the reach of your posts.

This is Grubhub creating shadow websites on your behalf and charging you for every transaction created by the gravity of your brand.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. … it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order

Settling for the easiest option drives a lack of differentiation, embeds additional risk & once the dominant player has enough marketshare they’ll change the terms on you.

Small gains in short term margins for massive increases in fragility.

“Closed platforms increase the chunk size of competition & increase the cost of market entry, so people who have good ideas, it is a lot more expensive for their productivity to be monetized. They also don’t like standardization … it looks like rent seeking behaviors on top of friction” – Gabe Newell

The other big issue is platforms that run out of growth space in their core market may break integrations with adjacent service providers as each want to grow by eating the other’s market.

Those who look at SaaS business models through the eyes of a seasoned investor will better understand how markets are likely to change:

“I’d argue that many of today’s anointed tech “disruptors” are doing little in the way of true disruption. … When investors used to get excited about a SAAS company, they typically would be describing a hosted multi-tenant subscription-billed piece of software that was replacing a ‘legacy’ on-premise perpetual license solution in the same target market (i.e. ERP, HCM, CRM, etc.). Today, the terms SAAS and Cloud essentially describe the business models of every single public software company.

Most platform companies are initially required to operate at low margins in order to buy growth of their category & own their category. Then when they are valued on that, they quickly need to jump across to adjacent markets to grow into the valuation:

Twilio has no choice but to climb up the application stack. This is a company whose ‘disruption’ is essentially great API documentation and gangbuster SEO spend built on top of a highly commoditized telephony aggregation API. They have won by marketing to DevOps engineers. With all the hype around them, you’d think Twilio invented the telephony API, when in reality what they did was turn it into a product company. Nobody had thought of doing this let alone that this could turn into a $17 billion company because simply put the economics don’t work. And to be clear they still don’t. But Twilio’s genius CEO clearly gets this. If the market is going to value robocalls, emergency sms notifications, on-call pages, and carrier fee passed through related revenue growth in the same way it does ‘subscription’ revenue from Atlassian or ServiceNow, then take advantage of it while it lasts.

Large platforms offering temporary subsidies to ensure they dominate their categories & companies like SoftBank spraying capital across the markets is causing massive shifts in valuations:

I also think if you look closely at what is celebrated today as innovation you often find models built on hidden subsidies. … I’d argue the very distributed nature of microservices architecture and API-first product companies means addressable market sizes and unit economics assumptions should be even more carefully scrutinized. … How hard would it be to create an Alibaba today if someone like SoftBank was raining money into such a greenfield space? Excess capital would lead to destruction and likely subpar returns. If capital was the solution, the 1.5 trillion that went into telcos in late ’90s wouldn’t have led to a massive bust. Would a Netflix be what it is today if a SoftBank was pouring billions into streaming content startups right as the experiment was starting? Obviously not. Scarcity of capital is another often underappreciated part of the disruption equation. Knowing resources are finite leads to more robust models. … This convergence is starting to manifest itself in performance. Disney is up 30% over the last 12 months while Netflix is basically flat. This may not feel like a bubble sign to most investors, but from my standpoint, it’s a clear evidence of the fact that we are approaching a something has got to give moment for the way certain businesses are valued.”

Circling back to Google’s AMP, it has a cousin called Recaptcha.

Recaptcha is another AMP-like trojan horse:

According to tech statistics website Built With, more than 650,000 websites are already using reCaptcha v3; overall, there are at least 4.5 million websites use reCaptcha, including 25% of the top 10,000 sites. Google is also now testing an enterprise version of reCaptcha v3, where Google creates a customized reCaptcha for enterprises that are looking for more granular data about users’ risk levels to protect their site algorithms from malicious users and bots. … According to two security researchers who’ve studied reCaptcha, one of the ways that Google determines whether you’re a malicious user or not is whether you already have a Google cookie installed on your browser. … To make this risk-score system work accurately, website administrators are supposed to embed reCaptcha v3 code on all of the pages of their website, not just on forms or log-in pages.

About a month ago when logging into Bing Ads I saw recaptcha on the login page & couldn’t believe they’d give Google control at that access point. I think they got rid of that, but lots of companies are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot through a combination of over-reliance on Google infrastructure AND sloppy implementation

Today when making a purchase on Fiverr, after converting, I got some of this action

Hmm. Maybe I will enable JavaScript and try again.


That is called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My account is many years old. My payment type on record has been used for years. I have ordered from the particular seller about a dozen times over the years. And suddenly because my web browser had JavaScript turned off I was deemed a security risk of some sort for making an utterly ordinary transaction I have already completed about a dozen times.

On AMP JavaScript was the devil. And on desktop not JavaScript was the devil.

Pro tip: Ecommerce websites that see substandard conversion rates from using Recaptcha can boost their overall ecommerce revenue by buying more Google AdWords ads.

As more of the infrastructure stack is driven by AI software there is going to be a very real opportunity for many people to become deplatformed across the web on an utterly arbitrary basis. That tech companies like Facebook also want to create digital currencies on top of the leverage they already have only makes the proposition that much scarier.

If the tech platforms host copies of our sites, process the transactions & even create their own currencies, how will we know what level of value they are adding versus what they are extracting?

Who measures the measurer?

And when the economics turn negative, what will we do if we are hooked into an ecosystem we can’t spend additional capital to get out of when things head south?


The Future of SEO – How Google Search Has Changed in 2019 & How It Affects You

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Future of SEO – How Google Search Has Changed in 2019 & How It Affects You

Even though the year is not over yet, there have been some big changes in Google search in 2019 that have already impacted on the results and the user, along with all the SEO agencies and companies. 


The future of search looks like it will have actually less search, as weird as that might sound. Google performed lots of changes in SERP, lots of algorithms and features were added and updated, which make things even more complex. While in some countries Google search lacks in optimization, other countries experience major fluctuations. 


How Google Search changed in 2019


That being said, we’ve searched through our memories and the web to understand how Google has changed in 2019 so far and here are the top highlights:


  1. Pick up Where You Left off on Search
  2. Confirmed Broad Core Update in March 
  3. New Way to Explore Information with Google Discover
  4. Enriching Search Results Through Structured Data
  5. Mobile-First Indexing by Default for New Domains
  6. The June 2019 Core Update
  7. The Site Diversity Update Roll Out
  8. Navigate the Search More Easily and Safer


Last year alone, Google performed 3,200 changes to their system, including features and regular updates meant to keep the results relevant. Moreover, they say evolution is the key to face the changes. 


“Sometimes the web just evolved. Sometimes what users expect evolves and similarly, sometimes our algorithms are, the way that we try to determine relevance, they evolve as well.”
John Mueller SEO John Mueller
Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google

1.  Pick up Where You Left off on Search


Right at the beginning of the year, Google added a new feature that helped users who perform mobile searches and launched activity cards to help users pick up where they left off. For example, if you look for search queries such as clean eating receipts or clean eating diets and you are logged into your Google account, you’ll be able to find an activity card at the top of the results page. That way, it provides easy access and it is a handful way to continue exploring and read your previous searches. 


You’ll only be able to see the pages you’ve visited, along with the searches you’ve made. You can either click on the pages that you viewed before or perform another search to discover other aspects to that topic. That way, you can pick up where you left off on Google search.


Moreover, you can bookmark a specific receipt and add it to your collection for future reference. Your collection can be accessed by looking in your menu on the top left of the Search page or through the bottom bar of Google app. You can have as many collections as you want. 


Save Google search in your account


Easily edit your search activity and card by deleting pages or turning them off by tapping the three-dot icon. 


The change performed by Google using this method was desired to make search history more accessible and more useful, help users follow their interests, build new habits, keep up with their tasks and keep valuable information on sight. 


2. Confirmed Broad Core Update in March 


The first confirmed update of this year from Google happened on March 13. Initially, the name was Florida 2.0, but Google themselves named this update Google March 2019 Core Update. The unlucky 13 came on a Wednesday. 


The updates could be spotted using cognitiveSEO signals, by looking at the chart. In case there are big fluctuations, marked with red bars, that means there are possible updates.  Below you can see a printscreen from the tool how the core update looked right on that day.


SERP fluctuations March 13 cognitiveSEO signals



Google made it official on Twitter, where you can see the whole thread and the discussions on the topic: 



While Google performs lots of focused updates nearly daily, there are some broad algorithm updates that happen several times per year. This update was about quality, designed to improve the overall results with no other specific details. 


For every site that was impacted by that, there’s nothing they can do to fix it. Apparently, that’s what Google SearchLiaison said through a tweet. Building great content should be everyone’s mantra. Link building, social media marketing, online presence also matters in the SEO industry; so things remain the same. 


There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.
Google logo Google SearchLiaison


Since content is mentioned, most probably it was a content related update, focusing on the quality it provides for the user. To stay ahead of competitors you should always search for the opportunity to deliver great content that becomes viral. Look for trends and evergreen content. With this in mind, ranking in Google will look like a gamble. Personalization and localization will become crucial and your focus will change upon that.


3. New Way to Explore Information with Google Discover


Named Google Feed when it was first released and later Google Discover a few months ago, the tool was planned to surface relevant content to the users, even when they’re not searching. The product is used by more than 800 million people each month to stay up to date. 


Google Discover works very smoothly based on preferences, by following certain topics, customer’s behavior and search history. The tool recommends your content related to anything you might be interested such as sports, TV shows, actors, public personalities, brands, flights, travel, weather info and may more.


feed follow for blog newest


Google Discover can have major implications on how the user will interact with search and web. Since a user can personalize its search and select only the things that interest them, the Google Search itself might lose some of the popularity. With that in mind, a business will not compete to be in the first 10 positions to win the user’s heart, but rather in the top 1-3 (at max) because that is the number of results a user sees on a mobile screen when performing a search.


So, when a user searches for a topic, Google looks at the pattern for each user and tries to understand the subtopics related to each other. Based on the data collected, Google Discover will surface relevant topic that might interest the user next, predicting their future search. 


Discover is one step ahead. 


Discover has a lot of potential and it might change user behavior regarding online searching and information consumption.


4. Enriching Search Results Through Structured Data & Search Console


Google has always encouraged websites to add markup to their content for the search engines to understand better what that’s about. Implementing structured data on your website will probably offer you the chance to receive an enhanced appearance in Google search results. 


In 2019, Google is pushing website owners to use more structured data for highlighting all sort of content and achieve more goals through a lot of great new features:

  • Increase brand awareness: for logo, local business, and sitelinks search box.
  • Markup your content for more traffic: for articles, breadcrumbs, events, jobs, Q&A, recipes, reviews.
  • Highlight products on SERP for conversions: for price, availability, and review ratings.


Which such a big range of content that you can use structured data for, the SERP has definitely changed. The newest additions to the list are structured data for FAQ and “How-to” type of content. For example, “how-to” content can be highlighted, by adding structured data to the steps, tools, duration, and other properties. Take a look at the example below:


Ho to make slime rich snippets


 There is detailed how-to documentation and FAQ provided by Google to help you to perform a correct setup. Explore Google’s search gallery and look at the right documentation for each element. 


Moreover, you can build how-to guides actions and FAQ answers with markup for Google Assistant, which means that how-to & FAQ answers can also be surfaced on the Google Assistant. Take a look at the example below:


FAQ-Google Assistant


All the structured data can be supported both on Google Search and Google Assistant and in Search Console, where you can see reports and monitor your website’s performance. 


In case there are some errors and Google Search Console detects some issues you’ll see them on the Enhancements report. 


Enhancements report for Structured data issues


The Structured data reporting from GSC has lots of advantages and allows you to review errors, warnings and valid items, plus the pages associated with such issues.


5. Mobile-First Indexing by Default for New Domains


This year, at the end of May, Google announced that as of June 1, 2019 mobile-first indexing was enabled by default for all new websites. On that day, it became official that websites should present the same content to users and search engines for both mobile and desktop devices. 


At the time we even wrote a 5 steps guideline to help website upgrade their mobile search engine optimization efforts and be prepared for the change. 


Mobile-first indexing notification


You can check any link from your website in Google Search Console using the URL Inspection Tool in Search Console. Doing so, you’ll see how it was crawled and indexed.


Googlebot smartphone


With this Mobile-First Indexing launching, Google search is changing, showing the same content on mobile and desktop, forcing sites to comply for them to keep their rankings (for both mobile and desktop). For newly designed websites Google is determining them to check factors such as parity of content (including text, images, videos, links), structured data, and other meta-data (such as titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) to comply with mobile-first indexing. 


As mentioned before, Google recommends websites to be mobile friendly and keeps encouraging responsive web design. Since mobile-first indexing has been running websites, should use a single URL for both desktop and mobile websites.


6. The June 2019 Core Update


Google announced on Twitter that a core update was rolling out on June 3, 2019. Similar to the update from March, it is part of the several broad core algorithm updates.



While Google hasn’t made any official statements on the following update, John Mueller said that core update encompasses a broader range of ranking factors. As he said, that there’s nothing specific to fix, lots of websites experienced ranking drops. You can hear what he specifically said in the Webmaster Central office-hours hangout when a user asked him about the update:


I think it’s a bit tricky because we’re not focusing on something very specific where we’d say like for example when we rolled out the speed update.

(…)Sometimes the web just evolved. Sometimes what users expect evolves and similarly, sometimes our algorithms are, the way that we try to determine relevance, they evolve as well.

John Mueller SEO John Mueller
Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google


He reminds about a blog post written by Amit Singhal, formerly the head of Google’s Search team for 15 years, about the quality of the website which can really help the users in situations like these. 


To understand a little better the situation, use cognitiveSEO signals and look at the fluctuations. Below is a printscreen with the evolution of search when the Google update was released. 


cognitiveSEO signals June Algortihm update devices


I looked for rankings changes for sites that had ranking changes by at least 3 positions on desktop, mobile and local rankings for the first page of Google Search Engine for the US market. cognitiveSEO signals monitor over 170.000 randomly selected keywords for both desktop, mobile and local rankings to offer valuable insights of what happens in Google so you can spot significant fluctuations.


7. The Site Diversity Update Roll Out


Right after the June 2019 Core Update, Google rolled out the Site Diversity update which is completely different and completely unrelated. This update was created in the interest of the user so they won’t see more than two listings from the same site in the top results. In the screenshot below you can see the top search results for “create dental website” where has two search results. 


Website that dominates SERP


Google explains that there might be situations where you could see more than two search results in Google when their systems determine that it is relevant to do so for a particular search. Whether it is content, website speed, Rank Brain, conversion rate optimization or any other factor, Google’s algorithm will decide what to show. The good thing is that it is improving and refined in order to offer more relevant results. 



It will be a while maybe until this update works wanders because there are still people who see more than two results from a website in Google search engine’s top results, as you can see if you look people’s tweets. 


Danny Sullivan, Google’s public Search Liaison, says will affect only main listings though:



8. Navigate the Search More Easily and Safer


Continuing with diversity in SERP, Google wants to show more types of content including featured snippets with the results that might interest you, answers box, Knowledge Panels which can help you find key information or predict your searches using Autocomplete. 


Their search results page doesn’t look like what we used to know, with a list of blue links and some ads. Now it is more personalized, offering information from lots of sources in all sorts of form: video content, visual content and text to connect you with useful information as quickly as possible.


If you look at the example below, you have lots of information above the fold allowing you to perform as fewest actions as possible and see everything with one click or two. 


Stranger things search results




Ask for a new pair of eyes to look at your website to review it and find out new ways of improvement. Moreover, look together at who is searching through your website to find out what they are looking for, the flow. Evaluate user experience by looking at the user’s behavior. All these insights are a good exercise for you to understand the user better. 


If the user is changing, their behavior will change, and therefore search will change. In this equation, your website should be changed -> improved. The search engine optimization role in the future of search gets even more complicated. Google for sure is shaping the future of SEO. 

The post The Future of SEO – How Google Search Has Changed in 2019 & How It Affects You appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Empathetic Consulting: 3 Things to Remember When Working With Other Teams

Posted by on Jul 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Empathetic Consulting: 3 Things to Remember When Working With Other Teams

Posted by LaurelTaylor

Whether you consult with teams within your company or with outside clients, the chances are fairly high that at least once, you’ve left a meeting frustrated by the actions of others, even asking yourself: “why would they do that?”

It’s easy to walk into a project thinking of it as a simple matter of “they brought me in to fix a problem.” But the reality is rarely so simple. Consulting with other teams always entails organizational and emotional nuance that you may not be privy to.

Every interpersonal relationship is unique, and hopefully the circumstances I’m discussing won’t apply to many engagements or projects you take part in. However, when you do end up in a difficult consulting situation, it’s helpful to have a bit of empathy for those you’re working with.

I’ve found that remembering these 3 points can help me put myself in the shoes of my point of contact and interact with them in a way that is sensitive to what they may be dealing within their environment.

1. Your point of contact may not have asked for your help

It is entirely possible that the person you are trying to help may not want to be helped.

Management has its own ideas sometimes and internal communication isn’t always perfect at any company. This can lead to situations where your point of contact may feel defensive, especially if their job functions seem like they might cover what you are consulting on. The best intentions of a manager who wants to help by bringing in more resources may look like distrust or undermining to the employee who didn’t get a say.

At one point during my stint as an in-house SEO, I actually found myself in this exact position. Leadership brought in an outside agency to help with SEO during a domain migration, and while their intentions may have been to provide more help, they didn’t effectively communicate that to me.

As a result, since I was the one who was responsible for that area, it made me feel insecure about how management viewed me and my skills. I was lucky enough to work with a great consultant who was able to support me and help move forward the many projects that were already in-flight. But because I initially felt like they were undermining my credibility by being involved in the first place, it took a while to build that trust and be able to get things done effectively.

The best way to deal with this potential issue is to ensure that you respect the context and institutional knowledge that the team you are helping possesses. Work to have a collaborative relationship instead of an authoritative one. The more context and communication you have, the better the recommendations you can contribute.

2. If they did ask for help, they may be feeling vulnerable or insecure

Step back for a second and think about why a team might bring in an outside consultant, to begin with. There are tons of specific issues they could need assistance with, but all of this boils down to a problem that they presumably want or need help to solve — a problem that they couldn’t solve on their own. Regardless of whether they couldn’t solve it because of knowledge, resources, or even office politics, your contributions add something that they couldn’t contribute themselves — and that can be hard to deal with.

This isn’t something that needs to be discussed with the client or another team, but it is something that you should acknowledge and keep front-of-mind when you communicate with them. Respect the vulnerability of seeking out help, and appreciate the trust that they have placed in you.

3. Your client is accountable for the results of their project

When planning a long-term strategy, making tactical recommendations, or accessing the results of a marketing campaign that you helped execute, it’s easy to feel invested or accountable for the results of a project. However, it’s important to remember that your point of contact is usually far more accountable for results than you are. Their job, success, and emotions are all on the line much more than yours.

As an outside subject matter expert, your job is to give them all the information and resources to make the best decision. At the end of the day, the choice is theirs. I know how hard it can be to see your recommendations or projects rejected, but it’s important to try not to take it personally if they, having all the facts, make what they believe to be the best decision.

If they seem like they are questioning everything you say, maybe it’s because they want to be 100 percent sure it’s the best approach. Perhaps their micromanaging comes from a place of good intentions — just wanting to follow through and get the best outcome with every aspect of a project. Even what can come off as argumentative or difficult could be them playing devils advocate to ensure that everything has been considered.

Wrapping up

All this being said, perhaps none of these circumstances apply to the client that you are finding it hard to work with. People can have bad days, hard years, or even just generally prickly dispositions. But more empathy and compassion in the world is never a bad thing. So, I would encourage anyone who works with other teams to avoid the impulse to judge a harsh response, and instead, consider what may be behind it.

Have you ever been faced with a complicated consulting situation? Share what helped you navigate it in the comments below!

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Guide to call tracking and the power of AI for analyzing phone data

Posted by on Jul 29, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Guide to call tracking and the power of AI for analyzing phone data

Invoca, an AI-powered call tracking platform, published their Call Tracking Study Guide in March of this year. The in-depth guide demystifies call tracking technology and reviews how call tracking tools help marketers connect digital campaign data to inbound customer phone calls.

Call tracking is a powerful way for marketers to understand exactly where phone calls are coming from with granularity that, for the most robust tools, can extend down to the keyword level. This data helps reveal what platforms, publishers, keywords, and channels drive high-intent customers to call and can help marketers create a more informed media allocation strategy. 

Content produced in collaboration with Invoca.

Call tracking 101: A brief introduction

Invoca uses a snippet of JavaScript code placed on your website to track calls. After the code snippet is placed on the landing page, it swaps out your standard business phone number with a trackable, dynamic phone number which is unique to each website visitor. 

The tag also captures various referrer elements such as utm source, medium, paid search keyword and Google click ID—this is what enables Invoca to connect user data to phone calls.

Example of dynamic tracking phone numbers on a landing page

Example of dynamic tracking phone numbers on a landing page—source: Invoca

When the tracking number is called, the platform can also route the caller to the appropriate person or call center depending on what marketing content they are viewing, reducing time on hold and call transfers. Data is collected based on the specific call number which can include caller information, keyword, referrer type (e.g., banner ad, search ad, or social media ad) and referral source (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc.) which can also be used to inform the call center and create a highly personalized experience for the caller.

Example of referral data info in Invoca

Example of referral data info in Invoca

Not all call tracking tools are created equal

There is a large selection of call tracking tools on the market that range from basic to advanced in terms of features and functionality. 

Basic tools provide limited data to marketers, but they ignore the larger customer journey and tend to focus on last-touch attribution (e.g., making it difficult or impossible to determine where the call came from).

Some metrics a basic tool might track include:

  • Call volume
  • Call time and duration
  • Caller information
  • Basic campaign attribution

These tools provide some sense of campaign performance, but fail to tell the full story that can be gleaned when connecting analytics platforms (e.g. Google Analytics) to call information. 

More advanced AI-powered call tracking tools like Invoca aim to bridge that gap, while also automating some marketing actions after the call takes place. 

Advanced capabilities that AI-powered call tracking tools provide include:

  • Touchpoint attribution—Tie a call back to its source such e.g. paid search or social
  • Data unification—Integrate with multiple online (and offline) sources such as CRM tools
  • Data analysis—Use AI to analyze phone conversations and provide insight on call drivers, behaviors and outcomes
  • Marketing integration—Push data to the marketing stack for automation, optimization, analysis and more

The end result—and key benefit—of implementing an advanced call tracking tool is to gain valuable insight about campaign performance and attribution. 

Call tracking 201: AI and machine learning 

Martech companies are increasingly powering their technology with AI-driven platforms. AI enables marketers to gain intelligence quickly and make better-informed decisions. This trend bridges multiple industries, as shown in the graphic below. 

Companies that utilize or provide AI technology for enterprises

Companies that utilize or provide AI technology—source: TOPBOTS

Invoca uses Signal AI to help measure and attribute online conversions by mining data from the phone conversations themselves, freeing up valuable time for marketers who no longer have to listen to every call.

Signal AI uses AI to detect intent and patterns in language to provide actionable insights and conversion data (sale made, appointment set, etc.) for marketers. This is accomplished through a series of steps that start with the recorded conversation, transcribing the call into text which can then be analyzed by an algorithm, identifying key patterns, phrases, and actions, and pushing these insights to your marketing stack. Here’s a visual of what that looks like. Note that Invoca does not save call transcripts and is HIPAA and PCI compliant, an important distinction for marketers concerned with data privacy.

Image source: Invoca

Signal AI uses machine learning, an application of AI, which gives machines access to the data so that they can learn from it. AI works in conjunction with machine learning to provide actionable and accessible data to marketers—but marketers still need to review this data and make decisions based on their own observations and conclusions.

Invoca offers two versions of Signal AI to their call tracking clients. Pre-trained AI uses industry-based predictive models that have been “pre-trained” using thousands of hours of call data.

Custom AI is more appropriate for certain businesses, such as those with high volumes of calls or sophisticated data needs. This more complex option takes longer to create and implement, however, it can help certain businesses predict call outcomes with a higher degree of accuracy.

Debunking some common assumptions 

Skeptics may think that humans can classify calls more efficiently and accurately than AI, but the truth is the opposite. AI learns over time and it never gets tired, so it’s an effective and accurate way to classify calls without bias. Here are some other call tracking myths, debunked:

  • It’s hard to set up AI-based call tracking—Pre-trained AI models take the guesswork out of setup for certain industries such as insurance and can identify the most common outcomes (e.g., product purchased).
  • All AI-based call tracking is the same—False! Invoca’s Signal AI uses predictive analytics (rather than just transcription) and continues to learn. It also provides performance scoring for easy reference.
  • Only big companies can afford AI-based call tracking—Wrong again. Invoca is tag-based and easy to implement. You don’t need a dedicated IT team or programmer to get up and running.

Clear strategy and clean data

The true power of AI-based call tracking is, in a word, attribution. It’s the ability to unify call data across multiple sources and attribute it to all consumer touchpoints.

Invoca does this by collecting data from multiple sources: campaign and website data, first-party data (e.g., pulled from your CRM), third-party demographic data, call data such as length, time and location of call, and conversational data (derived from speech analysis).

Once all the available data is unified, Invoca’s technology determines the value of the call by analyzing the spoken conversations within the calls. Invoca’s AI synthesizes various word patterns (e.g., “I’m almost ready to buy, but I’m waiting for XYZ to happen”) and then classifies them into useful datasets.

Signal AI helps predict the type of call (e.g., sales, service, complaint) which allows marketers to optimize media placements, ad content, and more. This level of analysis can also help inform the call experience itself by identifying issues that may frustrate callers.

Connecting call data to campaign data can help in other ways too. For example, marketers can use call information for ad suppression, making sure customers don’t see offers for something they’ve already purchased or retargeting ads to people who called but didn’t make a purchase.

Tying it all together

One of the most powerful features of the more robust, high-end call-tracking tools like Invoca is the ability for them to integrate with existing marketing platforms like Google Analytics, Adobe Experience Cloud, and Salesforce. 

This gives marketers a clear picture of where their customers are at every step of the journey. It closes the attribution loop, allowing you to demonstrate what’s working from an ROI standpoint, a metric that’s key when it comes time for approval and budget allocation.

When considering implementing a tool like Invoca, the bottom line is always the top priority—will we make money with this martech investment?

Invoca customers have seen up to 60% increase in conversions when implementing the tool (without any additional media spend), an important consideration when factoring in ROI.

The Invoca Call Tracking Guide covers all this including what questions to ask vendors when considering a new tool and what to consider when shopping for a call tracking solution.

To learn more about call tracking technology from functionality to  implementation and how call tracking can help with campaign optimization and attribution, download Invoca’s whitepaper, “The Call Tracking Study Guide for Marketers.”

The post Guide to call tracking and the power of AI for analyzing phone data appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

The ABCs of Video Content: How to Build a Video Marketing Strategy

Posted by on Jul 25, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The ABCs of Video Content: How to Build a Video Marketing Strategy

Posted by getsprunk

Take a moment to think about how you’ve used the internet today. Which posts made you stop scrolling through your Instagram feed? What webpages did you spend the most time on? What content did you enjoy?

If you’re like most of us, there’s a good chance that videos played a factor in your answers to all three of those questions. So it’s no surprise that marketing experts have been encouraging brands to use more video for years now.

Despite all this hype, many small to medium brands still use very few videos in their marketing, if they use any at all. In our experiences with clients, we’ve seen companies struggle in four major areas:

  • Budget. Some companies don’t believe that video marketing can generate real results, but many simply assume they can’t afford it.
  • Talent. Most small marketing teams don’t have people experienced with creating or starring in videos.
  • Buy-in. Companies that use video well have many people across the organization committed to leveraging video content, including leadership, salespeople, customer service representatives, and subject-matter experts. But achieving this level of buy-in across an organization can be very difficult.
  • Consistency. While many brands have figured out how to produce frequent and consistent written content, few have figured out how to do so with video.

With challenges this significant, it’s no wonder why most brands still don’t include video as a major component of their marketing efforts. The good news is that these barriers to entry give you an opportunity to beat your competitors to the punch – but that window is closing quickly.

To help our clients reap everything video marketing has to offer, we’ve put together a framework that makes building a video marketing strategy much easier to approach and manage.

The ABCs of video content

The first thing that must happen before a marketing team can successfully use video in today’s world is usually a mental shift: If your marketing team or company leadership thinks about producing video the same way they did a decade ago, it will be very difficult to create enough video content to truly make a difference because you’ll constantly face the challenges mentioned above.

The greatest thing about creating video content today is that it doesn’t always have to be this large-scale production. The days of spending thousands of dollars and weeks of time on every video you create are officially over.

We believe that every brand needs a strong mix of video content across three levels: A-level, B-level, and C-level.

A-level video content

A-level videos are the videos that most brands are already used to creating. These videos are polished and well-produced, and therefore the most expensive to create. If your company has ever created a television commercial or a brand overview video for your website, it was probably an A-level video.

A-level videos work best when you need to create a strong impression on the viewer. If it’s the first time someone is interacting with your brand or another situation when you need to convey that your company is professional and credible, an A-level video will likely work best. This is what makes them great for commercials, product videos, and company overviews.

Don’t use A-level videos when your primary goal is to convey authenticity or build a relationship with your viewer. A-level videos also aren’t cost-effective for most brands to use as consistent, regular video content to support your social media, video SEO, email communications, or blog.

A brand will need much fewer A-level videos than B or C. As such, the key to getting the most from your investment in A-level video content is repurposing. You should always consider how you can use clips or footage from your A-level content for things like social media posts, presentations, across your website, or as a quick way to add a little polish to a B or C-level video.

To create A-level videos, most brands will need to work with a third party video company or marketing agency. These videos will be scripted, shot with high-end cameras by people who really know how to use them, will often feature paid on-camera talent, and will be professionally edited. 

Examples of A-level video content include this one from Slack, Kohler Industries, or Apple, below:

B-level video content

When a brand produces high volumes of video content, the majority of it is usually B-level. These videos are planned, but not perfect. Most of the how-to videos and vlogs you watch would fit into this category.

B-level videos work great when your goal is to build a relationship with your video viewers because they allow you to show more authenticity than A-level videos, and their lower cost makes them perfect for a consistent video strategy. This level works well for educational content, social media videos, a video series, team or personal intro videos, simple product demos, and video testimonials.

The best thing about B-level videos is that they can often be created by your own staff. Even if you decide to outsource them, they will be much cheaper than A-level videos because you can produce multiple videos at the same time or engage a third-party for just one part of the production process, such as editing.

To create a B-level video, all you’ll need is a basic script outline (bullet points work great), someone on your staff willing to get on camera, some basic video equipment, and an entry-level video editing program. If you don’t have people on your staff who are comfortable shooting video from a smartphone and editing it together, we recommend seeking training or considering hiring a student or recent graduate with those skills.

The keys to success with B-level videos are authenticity, volume, and consistency.

  • Authenticity. Brands that achieve success with these videos aren’t worried about memorizing lines and being perfect on camera. You’d be amazed at how much the occasional “um” will make you sound more human and help you connect with your audience. With that said, you do want to feature someone who is comfortable on camera, even if it takes them some practice to get there.
  • Volume. As long as you’re creating valuable content, the more videos you have, the better.
  • Consistency. Just like with a blog, magazine, or newsletter, publishing videos at a consistent interval allows you to more easily build an engaged audience of return viewers.

Examples of B-level video include this one from Solo, Simple Strat (hi!), and Moz, below: 

C-level video content

This is the level where brands can really connect with their audience and stand out from the competition. C-level videos are raw, unpolished, and extremely effective in humanizing your brand and the team behind it.

To create a C-level video, all you need to do is pull out your cell phone or turn on your webcam, press record, and start talking. You may want to prepare a few quick bullet points of what you’re going to talk about, but even that is often unnecessary. These videos are great for sharing lessons on-location from industry events, making key employees shine on their social media channels, helping your salespeople stand out in their prospects’ email inboxes, and adding a personal touch to your customer service communications.

The most powerful aspects of C-level videos are that they can be personalized for individual people and they can help you get information out in almost realtime. You can use them to pack an extra punch in any email you send or to share lessons as you learn them or think about them — which is often when you’re most passionate about them and before the competition has a chance to talk about them.

C-level videos still require good lighting and audio quality, so we do recommend purchasing a cheap portable light and lapel microphone, but you can easily get everything you need for under $50. These videos don’t require anyone else to shoot them, and you often don’t need to do any editing beyond occasionally cutting out or combining a couple of video clips.

C-level video examples include this one from Gary Vaynerchuk, this one from Ali Schwanke, and Vidyard, below:
 Richard + James – Social Selling Mastery for you

Putting it all together

Now that you know the different levels of video content you’ll need, it’s time to put together your plan. Thinking about these levels as you begin to determine your video topics and schedules will make it easier to determine the resources you’ll need, your ideal number and frequency of videos, and how each video will fit into your larger marketing strategy and goals. Just remember your ABCs and get ready to experience the difference that video will make for your brand.

Are you currently working on a video marketing strategy for the year? What have you found useful (or not) so far?

<a class="embedly-card" data-card-via="" href="… + James – Social Selling Mastery for you

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Poor WordPress Security and Its Impacts

Posted by on Jul 25, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Poor WordPress Security and Its Impacts

Many users are unaware of looming security threats, which leads to poorly maintained security and a lack of preparation. Here are the most common security threats WordPress users face and what they can do to combat them.


By mimicking human-like mouse movements, cycling through random IP addresses, and switching their digital identities, bad bots fly under the radar, so they get away with a lot, from stealing data to publishing fake reviews.

Here are a few things to avoid them as much as possible:
. Rename your login page – this can be done with “All in One WP Security”
. Install “StopBadBots” and “Blackhole for Bad Bots” – these plugins work by “trapping” bad bots: if a bad bot tries to crawl your website, security measures are triggered and they end up with 403 “forbidden” errors.
. Use “Google Webmasters” to monitor any suspicious activity.


Do you have an SSL? Does your website have a little lock icon next to your URL? If not, your info can be stolen by hijacking your connection between your PC and the server.

We can do this for you so you don’t have to pay a yearly fee – click <here> for more information.


You want people to share your content, not copy and paste it; that’s because Google hates plagiarism. Two things to do here:
. Keep letting Google crawl your website and they’ll be able to tell your content’s original.
. If plagiarized, file a request with Google ASAP.


Besides installing a security plugin to avoid so-called “code injections”, simply keep your theme and plugins updated.

Merkle: Google ad growth slowed, Microsoft gained with Yahoo in Q2

Posted by on Jul 24, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Merkle: Google ad growth slowed, Microsoft gained with Yahoo in Q2

Ad spend growth on Google search ads slowed while desktop spend on Microsoft Advertising had its strongest quarter in more than three years in the second quarter of 2019, according to performance agency Merkle.

Verizon Media inventory bump. Microsoft Advertising’s gain came in large part from its deal with Verizon Media to handle all search ad inventory across its properties, including Yahoo, Merkle reported. That meant a loss for Google, which had been serving Yahoo shopping ads since 2016. The transition to Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads), announced in January, was largely completed by the end of March.

U.S. spending on Microsoft Advertising shopping ads grew by 54% year-over-year. Overall, Microsoft Advertising spend grew 8% year-over-year compared to the combined results of Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini the prior year, reversing two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Slower Google Shopping spend growth. Google Shopping spend grew 38%, a deceleration from 41% in the first quarter of 2019. “Yahoo dropping Google’s ads in favor of Bing Product Ads at the end of Q1 appears to have had a meaningful impact,” said Merkle.

Overall search spend growth steady at 14%. Among Merkle’s client base, which skews large retailer, US search spend increased by 14% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019. Microsoft Advertising spend grew by 16%, and Google Ads search spend rose by 15% year-over year. Google click volume increased by 10% and CPCs rose by 4.5% from the previous year.

U.S. paid search trends
Source: Merkle

Why we should care. This is a high-level look at the data encompassed in Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report (registration required), but it reflects the slower growth the engines have been reporting. (Microsoft reported slower ad revenue growth last quarter. Google reports earnings for the second quarter of 2019 on Thursday.) However, there are areas of growth for advertisers (and more nuanced stories to tell), with Microsoft Advertising shopping ads being one example.

Merkle also noted that click share for RLSAs have been declining for several quarters, hitting a nearly two-year low last quarter. The decline’s timing lines up with the launch of Apple’s ITP 2.0. However, similar audiences’ click share reached a new high with more than 8% of audiences click share last quarter. Customer match has held steady with 2% of audience clicks.

The post Merkle: Google ad growth slowed, Microsoft gained with Yahoo in Q2 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

20 Free Ways to Find Blog Content Ideas That Convert

Posted by on Jul 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 20 Free Ways to Find Blog Content Ideas That Convert

If you’re a content writer, you have a blog or work for a company, you might have struggled with this question before: How do I find good blog topic ideas? There might have been situations when you didn’t have any ideas and you had to write something just to keep your users engaged.


For everyone that has stumbled on this, I understand you. I know what you’re feeling. And you’re not alone. For somebody who writes on a daily basis, you need to be like a factory of fantastic ideas and give valuable information to the audience, because they need it. They are looking for guidance in every possible way.


Free Ways to Find Blog Content Ideas That Convert

I bet that not once it happened to you to remain stuck and don’t get any inspiration for an article. The desire was there but the playground was empty. 

Most of you have to become factory ideas overnight, but there are solutions for you during the day. That’s why we thought about the following effortless ways and platforms to find topic ideas:


  1. Look for Q&As on Quora
  2. Use BrandMentions to Spy Your Competitors for Content Ideas
  3. Uncover Trends and Identify Influencers on BuzzSumo
  4. Search for Question Topics on  cognitiveSEO’s Keyword Tool 
  5. Generate Niche Keyword Ideas Using Ubersuggest
  6. Get Inspired Using Pinterest
  7. Follow Influencers’ Articles on LinkedIn
  8. Search Through Thousands of Courses on Lynda
  9. Get Ideas from Discussions in Facebook Groups
  10. Use Reddit to Find Questions Related to Your Topic
  11. See What Other People Are Sharing on Zest
  12. Explore Medium Posts
  13. Check out What’s Popular on Flipboard
  14. Explore Trending Stories on Trend Hunter
  15. Search the Internet Using AllTop
  16. Check Google News for Current Events
  17. Stay Updated With Google Webmaster Hangouts
  18. Look Through Shared Articles on Academia
  19. Find Stats and Case Studies on Statista
  20. Explore Global Development Data on World Bank Open Data


Finding the right content topic is essential, but the way you write it is also important. Good content writers will always be in demand, just like Joel Klettke points out.



1. Look for Q&As on Quora


Quora is an abundance of information and continuous resource for content writers, users, noobies and people wanting to find specific answers to their problems. The information is organized and edited by users, which makes it easy to understand the user behavior.


Besides all the ideas, you get the advantage of seeing what language and vocabulary people use, the way of writing and asking questions. And after you got some inspiration, you can write the article. Then you can answer questions by pointing people to your article.




Quora is a great space for keyword research and headlines/titles inspiration. For example, if we use the screenshot below and we want to write about keyword cannibalization, we can see if most people use a focus keyword such as – avoid keyword cannibalization or the question type such as – what is keyword cannibalization.  


The site is divided into topics, which makes it easy to search for blogging ideas and get insights on what people are looking for. There is an entire community on Quora where a lot of people and experts on every subject you can imagine are actively contributing with knowledge.


If you are focused on a specific topic, use the newly launched Spaces and follow the community that interests you.


Quora spaces


Besides all the ideas we’ve talked about, there are other things Quora is good at. Only by using a few clicks you can:

  • find what people are looking for. Search for general keywords on Quora and see questions regarding your topic.
  • get updates on trending topics right on the homepage.


Get updates on trending topics


  • read sourced research from experts and get their permission to quote them in your new article.
  • find every influencer that you can contact for outreach.


Find influencers on Quora


2. Use BrandMentions to Spy Your Competitors for Content Ideas


Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss an opportunity to talk about something that has great traction and create a massive, evergreen blog post that will get a good social media score and links 3 years after you’ve written it?


We’ve previously talked about the advantages of using a social monitoring tool, such as BrandMentions, that gives insights based on what finds online. You can spy on your competitors to see what are they writing, what type of content gets more engagement. And based on the response they get from the audience, you can see the topics of interest and try to create a better piece of content than theirs.


You can monitor fresh topical content related to your business and create better content in your niche. You just have to search for a topic and the tool will show you the results.


Track an industry by monitoring fresh topical content


Whenever your brand is being brought up on the web, a marketing opportunity is rising and that applies to your competitors as well. If you know what people are talking about them and find their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll know what to offer to the audience and steal them from your competition.


Using a social monitoring tool such as BrandMentions helps you manage the mentions and go right on the spot by offering live support. You can find what people are saying about a specific brand and not necessarily to it, because there might be lots of untracked brand mentions, without any direct link to the brand.


For example, people might talk on social media but not place the @ before the name of the brand. And we must remember that it’s not only influencers in your industry who mention brands on the web, but there are also lots of other people that are consumers.


Track web mentions


3. Uncover Trends and Identify Influencers on BuzzSumo


BuzzSumo can help you generate new content for your blog and see what the audience craves. You can search for popular topics and see results based on total engagement, evergreen score, number of links and other more. You have lots of filters available to go into deeper analysis and get more accurate results based on your needs.


Filters Buzzsumo


For example, we searched for video marketing and we wanted to see the pages with the highest engagement.


Searching video marketing on Buzzsumo


Another great thing about this tool is that you can get some ideas of keywords based on the results you get. If we look at the search we’ve made for video marketing, we can see that video and SEO, or video marketing tips, or video marketing statistics are valid recommendations we could use in our content.


4. Search for Question Topics on cognitiveSEO’s Keyword Tool 


If you’re in search of customer questions use cognitiveSEO Keyword Tool to generate content ideas and monitor question on various subjects and brands.

Based on the keywords you’re interested in writing topics on, you can filter the results and get:

  • phrase match;
  • search suggestions;
  • focus keywords;
  • questions;
  • or group topic.


Keyword tool question ideas


Did you know?

Within the Keyword Tool you can see results based on location, language and device option (desktop vs mobile). So you can see niched topic ideas based on what people are searching and following in a particular place, city.

Besides, you could spy your competition and see which type of content triggers more traction in SERP. Get a sneak peek on what are they writing about, what kind of content is ranking for a particular keyword (product page, homepage, blog post, YouTube video and so on), the subject line.

With just a few clicks, you can get valuable insights on some keyword and topics ideas, plus do a short competitive analysis on any keyword you are interested in ranking for. 

keyword tool cognitiveseo


5. Generate Niche Keyword Ideas Using Ubersuggest


Ubersuggest is a keyword suggestion tool that lets you perform keyword research and also give you common phrases and some articles inspiration related to the keyword. With just a scroll you get a list of keyword recommendations plus some important metrics (search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, CPC, volume search) and in the end some articles along with social shares from Facebook and Pinterest.


Below you can see an example for blogging. if you haven’t considered using Ubersuggest for content ideas now is a good time. 





6. Get Inspired Using Pinterest


Another free way to find content marketing ideas is by using Pinterest. The motto of the platform describes it very well: Discover recipes, style home ideas, inspiration and other ideas to try. So inspiration is at its place on Pinterest.


If you’ve never used Pinterest until now, then you did miss on lots of great opportunities. The social media content you get here, might not be found on the other social channels. You can use Pinterest to:

  • get free ideas for blog posts.
  • create content that your audience actually wants.
  • find keywords you should use in your blog post to help with SEO on Pinterest.


The process is very simple and very intuitive for beginners. Just search for a keyword, such as blog and see the results:


Searching for blog on Pinterest


Then look in the search suggestions box for other keywords that are used for searches and get topic ideas and headlines that intrigue the user. Look at the most popular keyword suggestions, such as marketing (blog marketing), for beginners (blog for beginners), ideas (blog ideas), tips (blog tips) and so on.


That means there are a lot of new bloggers looking to learn about blogging or bloggers that are in the marketing field and search for ideas and so on.


Searching for Blog content Ideas on Pinterest


Getting those recommended keywords means that those are what your audience is searching for. Use those keywords into your titles tags and description.


If you decide to use Pinterest, then those keywords should be into your pin description and heading to boost your Pinterest “SEO rankings”. So that when people are searching for those keywords, your post gets a higher chance of being on the top. That’s how easy it is to get creative content marketing ideas using Pinterest.


7. Follow Influencers’ Articles on LinkedIn


LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that you could use to connect with experts and people that write valuable information. You can comment and create connections and, most important of all, you can get inspired by what they are writing and talking about on LinkedIn.


You can find the posts they make and the questions they ask by scrolling on the homepage:


LinkedIn post


You can go deeper and look at their published articles. LinkedIn Pulse is the platform owned by LinkedIn where influencers write their articles. 



If you get an idea and write about it, then you can contact the influencer and let them now that you quoted them in one of your articles and they can check the blog post once its published. After that, you can ask them for a share or you can share their post by tagging them.


It will create a snowball effect and you can get more people to share your content afterward and get new contacts that you can ask for their ideas in your next piece of contact. For example, you can create a blog post asking a single question to industry influencers where you could quote their answer. And then repeat the sharing process to build a strong online presence. It works very well as a growth hacking technique, too.


LinkedIn is a great source of inspiration. And it makes it easy to get exposure for yourself and your business if you decide to share your articles there.


8. Search Through Thousands of Courses on Lynda


Lynda is a platform with online courses on lots of work fields for people that want to receive a certificate or want to learn software, creative, and business skills to achieve personal and professional goals. 




No matter the topic, there is some valuable information that you can find on Lynda. Find and learn new content writing tips in one shot. You can even find information for any difficulty level. For example, if you search for some photography related content, select the photography category or search for a niched topic. 


Lynda categories


9. Get Ideas from Discussions in Facebook Groups


Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers and get new content ideas. Facebook Groups is an underrated asset. It a strong base for an active community. You can see new trending topic discussion, recommendations, tips, new insights from business owners and specialists.


cognitiveSEO facebook community


You can use communities in case you have any doubts about a specific topic. Let’s say, for example, that you heard lots of times that multiple links coming from one and the same domain are considered to have lower value, so unique linking domains are typically a more reliable metric than link count. And you’d like to know if anybody experienced a situation when this statement isn’t true and get some examples that you could use in your article (of course, after asking for permission).


Or you can ask for tips on client retention and see what comments and answer you get and use them in creating a new piece of article. The combinations are endless. You just need to be on the right community, where people comment and are active.


There are lots of types of blog posts that work differently on every business page or group, so make sure you get ideas and adapt the message to the type of audience you target.



10. Use Reddit to Find Questions Related to Your Topic


Reddit is a resourceful collection of data, or as they promote themselves “the front page of the internet”. And they don’t call like it that for no reason. Reddit has hundreds of groups named reddits which are designed based on lots of domain of interest/typology of content. They promise to give you the best of the internet in one place. You can find inspiration on many topics no matter the form – text, video or visual content.


There is a highly active community with over 542 million monthly visitors (234 million unique users), ranking as the No. 6 most visited website in U.S. according to Alexa




One of the most famous subreddit is r/IAmA where you can find Q&A series. AMA means “ask me anything” and attracts all sorts of characters, and personalities that answer to the people’s questions. They are a great way to get firsthand knowledge about what it’s like to be a firefighter, a corporate whistleblower, get better at sales, content writer etc. Or you can join niched subreddits such as r/SEO, r/marketing, r/science, r/CrazyIdeas, r/GetMotivated and more. 


Moreover, you can select your topic and type of content by choosing “Popular” posts or “All”. For know-it-all people I would recommend using RedditList or RedditMetrics to find up-and-coming subreddits. Follow people discussions and generate your next content topic. 



11. See What Other People Are Sharing on Zest


I usually use Zest for finding new blog post ideas. Right after you enter the page, you’ll see each article in a box format which includes the title, the cover attached and a short description. 


Zest - content distribution platform


The friendly design works very well to skim through the content and makes it very easy to share and save it in your account for future inspiration.  


Save posts on Zest


There are other ways than scrolling to search for content on Zest. You can apply specific tags and get the articles that are related.


Zest tags


Other options for filtering results are by the type of content (audio, video), shares, clicks or latest posts.


Sort by shares


There are lots of experts that share their articles here. You can follow people and get instant notifications. It is very easy to use and easy to share content, as well. This comes in hand if you want to amplify your content and give it a boost after publishing.


Follow people you find on Zest


If you haven’t used it before, you should definitely start now because it is a gold mine.


Don’t miss all the Zest from the content marketing juice. Your content needs all the zest and personality you can get.


12. Explore Medium Posts


Medium, just like Zest, collects lots of articles that people share, write and appreciate. The content is engaged and maintained by its users. It is a good source of inspiration because you can see what content is resonating with readers around specific topics. Needless to say that Medium is a solid platform for finding hundreds or thousands of content topics. 


Based on what you’re reading, following and liking you get recommendation “From Your Network”. People appreciate the articles by using “claps”, so the more claps a page has the more likely audience is interested in that topic. 




Besides the recommendation you received based on what you read, you can also select the topic and the domain of interest: art & entertainment, industry, innovation & tech, life, society. 


Medium - customize interests


13. Check out What’s Popular on Flipboard


Flipboard is a great source for curated content. Search through technology, news, entertainment, design, and health topic around the web. It has a collection of articles just like Zest, where you can search, read, save and share stories yourself. Create an account and share interesting stories to be a part of the community. There are lots of authors and people that share stories on various topics. 




If you install the mobile app you have all that information at your finger. Swipe left to flip pages and get to stories that interest you and get instant inspiration whenever you are.


Flipboard app


If you want to search for a specific topic that you’re interested, type in and look through the results. Follow that topic to receive notifications based on new articles shared on Flipboard. For example, if you want to see what’s new regarding Huawei and US issue, search and scoop through the results.


Huawei on flipboard


14. Explore What’s Popular on Trend Hunter


Trend Hunter is the world’s largest, most popular collection of cutting edge ideas, fueled by 233,000 people, big data & Trend Hunter AI as they mention on the website. Select from lots of domains of interest and filter type of content by searching ideas, lists, videos, photos or insights. If we look at the business category these are the trends right now: 




If you want to deliver quality content and always be the first informer for your audience, it is recommended to know the trends and write evergreen content including the trends. 


15. Search the Internet Using AllTop


Another free way to find blog content ideas is to look on AllTop, where are collected all the top stories. For example, I searched for sports news and you get all sorts of recommendations you could get inspiration from. 




There are lots of A-Z posts you could take inspiration from. As a good practice to use AllTop to find blog content topics, start by searching the topic and look for articles that are similar. Take the next example, I searched for SEO blogging and I got the next results. 


How to write a blog post


I’ve highlighted two articles that interest me. Both articles focus on the same type of content. Use them as a starting point, and divide your search then by looking for “blogging” only and see what results you get. 


16. Check Google News for Current Events


Google News can fit very well in your content marketing strategy to see what is trending in digital marketing and other industries. It is the easiest way to look for current events and news in your industry. An interesting news post relevant to your query can be used to write a quick, creative and even controversial content.


You can search for anything regarding digital marketing or business, technology, entertainment, science, sports and many more. Or search for things you might be interested in, based on what you find in other categories and get directions from there.


Google news


If you want awareness and have a relevant audience then finding a news hook for your pieces could be the solution. You have the possibility to select the language and the country and get more personalized results, which afterward can be saved in your account.  


Select language and country in Google news


17. Stay Updated With Google Webmaster Hangouts


If you’re a digital marketing or work in the SEO field then following Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout is a good option to find content topics. There is a big community of SEO experts, business owners, and knowledgeable people, in general, that participate in the meeting. All the Hangouts are hosted by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, that answers to the questions that are added before the meeting on the Google Webmaster Youtube channel or asked live by those who participate. There are limited seats and people are very keen to learn and set some clear directions on where the SEO world is heading by finding inside tips from John.  


Google Webmaster Hangouts


If you want to find out more about Google, updates, and SEO, in general, you can follow what do people ask and extract some valid tips. We even wrote an entire article based on the finding from Webmasters hangouts, named 21 Intriguing SEO Facts Exposed by Google on Webmaster Central & Hangouts, which I highly recommend you to scoop through.   


18. Look Through Shared Articles on Academia


Whenever you need academic papers, research articles I’d recommend you to use Not only you’ll find valuable content ideas from well-documented papers written by specialists, professors, students and many more, but you’ll also find references for the articles you’re writing right now. You can elaborate new topic discussions for all sorts of meetings, podcasts, roundups, and get an abundance of new content ideas.


Search for people, papers, jobs and download documents if you’d like. With just a simple scroll you get a lot of smart content to take inspiration and pin down the right topics. 




19. Find Stats and Case Studies on Statista


Statista is another source of inspiration for documented data. Here you can find large researches, case studies, stats and graph performed on a large number of participants from lots of locations.  




There are all sorts of studies on Statista and you can make great discoveries if you search through them. For example, you can find out that excitements is the main feeling related to discovering new music among adults in Brazil or the fact that most deepwater discoveries happened in South America (315 from 2010 until 2016), or maybe you want to know that most of the people watched Discovery Channel’s Shark Week on TV or may you want to know that 64 percent of people aged 18-24 consume new in online media, people aged 55+ are looking at news on TV and those aged 25-34 are divided between online and TV mostly. 


All the stats available on site are a great starting point for an article. Remember that numbers will always add value to your piece. It is very important to know how to use them and how to draw attention to the user’s eye.


Belinda Weaver from CopywriteMatters offer some valuable tips on how to use numerals and numbers in a copy:

  1. Use numbers instead of spelling them out.
  2. Don’t start sentences with numerals.
  3. Spell out “percent,” instead of using the % symbol.
  4. Use monetary values in numerals ($5,000 or $5K versus five-thousand dollars).


Numbers influence how our readers perceive us and it can have a high power of persuasion if used correctly.


20. Explore Global Development Data on World Bank Open Data


World Bank Open Data offers global financial and development data. It lets you explore through various collections of time series data on a variety of topics no matter if you look for international or local data.


The World Bank data


The site has lots of resources and only the data catalog provides access to over 2,000 indicators, solely. Check out all the resources:

  • Open Data Catalog;
  • DataBank;
  • Microdata Library;
  • World Development Indicators;
  • Open Finances;
  • Projects & Operations;
  • Open Data Toolkit;
  • Living Standards Measurement Study;
  • Global Consumption Database.




As a farewell message and recommendation after all these tips, I shall leave you with one that can complement the other ideas and it could help you be a better content creator. Grow the skill of becoming content savvy, which means developing the ability to see valuable content everywhere. The content creation process can be hard, but there are lots of ways to make it easier.


Whether you’re in the bus/metro/car and see a commercial ad or somebody reading an interesting book (look at the title), reading useful posts on social media, listening to the radio or podcasts, watching a video/movie, reading something online or skimming through the news, you must see content inspiration everywhere. This way you’ll never run out of blog post ideas again.


When you found yourself a great topic, combine more options that we’ve elaborated here to have a more insightful article and cover all the information. 

The post 20 Free Ways to Find Blog Content Ideas That Convert appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to Speed Test Your WordPress Site (Optimization Tips and Tools)

Posted by on Jul 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Speed Test Your WordPress Site (Optimization Tips and Tools)

Want to know how fast your WordPress site is? Use these tips below to Speed Test Your WordPress Site and see if it is fast or slow.

You may have heard that it’s important for your WordPress site to “load fast,” but isn’t speed relative? When it comes to website loading speed, it’s not. There are standards, and if your site doesn’t meet them, it can lead to some disastrous results.

Fortunately, there are ways to measure your page load speed other than sitting and refreshing the page while you click on a stopwatch. Here is why it’s vital that you speed test your WordPress site, some tools that you can access just for this purpose, and how you can best use the results.

Why Is WordPress Speed Testing Important?

Anyone who has ever abandoned a website because it was failing to load should understand the importance of page load speed. Imagine this is your website, and a potential customer is so tired of waiting to see the information they want that they just give up and hit the “back” button. This is a common scenario.

Beyond losing potential site visitors, page load speed is now a page ranking factor with the search engines. In short, if your site isn’t cutting the mustard when it comes to popping up on the screen in a reasonable amount of time (think seconds), you’re likely to rank lower in the search results.

WordPress Site Speed Testing Tools

Before you can do anything to speed up your WordPress site, you need to test it. The good news is that this is fairly simple to accomplish with the many tools available online. Here are 3 common speed test tools for your WordPress site to get you started.

1. Pingdom

Pingdom is probably the most widely-used speed test tool for WordPress. It’s simple to use for casual and beginner users, and it also has some advanced features with plenty of useful data.

To use the tool, head over to the website from the link provided above and:

  • Paste in your WordPress site’s full URL
  • Select the location for the test (this can impact results)
  • Click “Start Test”

Example of Pingdom speed test result

Pingdom will run its test on your website, and this might take several minutes since you’ll sit in a queue behind others waiting to test their sites. For beginners, the summary box provides you with some useful data such as load time (in seconds), page size, your ranking among other tested sites, and a performance grade.

Below the summary box, there is additional information, and you can drill down to review the areas in which your site scores well and poorly. Even further down, there is a list of the specific requests to your site, which you can use to ensure that there isn’t anything unnecessary listed.

2. GTmetrix

GTmetrix is a tool similar to Pingdom, but it gives you much more data. Even if you’re a beginner, this is still a user-friendly tool that provides you with a nice summary box and an overall Page Speed Score.

Using this tool is the same process as the other one. Go to the website and enter your full URL and then click “Analyze.” (You don’t get to choose a location with this one.) In just a few moments, you’ll get a report with a summary and some additional data.

The Summary includes several metrics:

  • PageSpeed Score (a grade score)
  • Load time (in seconds)
  • YSlow Score (this is similar to PageSpeed Insights)
  • Total Page Size
  • Number of Requests 

Example of a speed test result from GTMetrix

Below this, you can click on the various tabs to get more detail about your site’s performance, including history if you’ve done the speed test in the past. These metrics, such as server, image, and redirect information, give you insights into what is slowing down your website as well as what is working well.

For example, many websites have image-loading issues which cause them to load incredibly slow. A test on GTmetrix will allow you to drill down and see exactly which image files are causing the problems. The site also provides some suggestions for improvement.

3. WebPagetest

If you’re a more advanced user or a developer that wants to test desktop and mobile performance as well as page load speed across different browsers, WebPagetest is an excellent tool. Considered a more advanced WordPress speed test tool, this one has many advanced settings.

Again, you need only enter the URL of your website to get started, but you will have the option to make other selections, such as location, device, and browser. The advanced options even allow you to change how many tests to run (the default is three), disable JavaScript, and simulate a slow connection (such as 3G).

Example of a random website test result

When WebPagetest does its thing, it will test the speed of your site several times to get a more accurate result. It will then provide you with a series of performance results for several factors:

  • First Byte Time – TTFB is an important metric because it tells how quickly the web server and network return the first byte of data. If the number is high, it can indicate poor web hosting.
  • Start Render – This is the point when a screen begins to show data, such as text and images.
  • Document Complete – At this point, the webpage has loaded all initial HTML DOM components, and the user can begin scrolling.
  • Fully Loaded – This is the point at which the page is completely loaded.
  • Speed Index – This is WebPagetest’s metric that indicates when all of the visual elements of a page have fully loaded.
  • First Interactive – The time taken when the web page starts the loading process until the user can use the site. 

In addition to reviewing these metrics, you can view waterfall charts to see what elements are holding up the loading of your page. Another useful feature is the ability to load your page alongside a competitor’s site so you can see where you need to be.

If the tools above don’t meet your expectations, here are a few alternatives you might want to give it a try such as YSlow, Bitcatcha, and WebsiteTest.

How to Make the Best Use of Your Speed Test Results

If you get a stellar result, this is excellent news, but don’t forget to keep testing. Things can change quickly on the web or with a hosting provider, so you’ll want to test your website frequently and at different times of the day.

Assuming your results were less than satisfactory, what can you do? For WordPress sites, some of the most common causes of slow page loading and how you can address them include:

1. Poor hosting that isn’t suited to your website

TTFB is one of the metrics to track a hosting performance. If it’s taking too long for your host to respond to the initial request, you might need to look at different web hosting. 

As mention earlier, poor hosting will result in higher TTFB and this is the thing which you have little control over. Get a faster hosting such as a2 hosting that is also set up to handle WordPress.

2. Poorly coded/bloated plugins

Delete any unused plugins or those that are slowing down your website. If you aren’t sure which ones those are, try installing the Plugin Performance Profiler and then scanning your site to see which ones are the culprits.

3. Poorly coded themes

Our WordPress theme might be bloated and sluggish if it comes loaded with tons of theme options, styling, and shortcodes. You might consider trying out another theme that is more nimble. 

4. Images that are too large

Images are an essential part of the content. Useful images tend to connect with readers better than words but they are also contributing to slow page load and increase the page size. 

Images optimization should be a high priority with your WordPress site. You can improve performance through lossless compressing, specifying image dimensions, and serving scaled images. Much of this can be accomplished by using an image optimization plugin such as EWWW image optimizer, WP Smush and Short Pixel Image Optimizer.

5. Not using a CDN. 

One of the best ways to speed up your page loading is to use a caching plugin and make proper use of a CDN. A CDN will distribute your content to multiple distributed data centers across the globe. It results in faster content delivery when visitors access your website.

For WordPress users, you don’t short of options for CDN. Some of the popular CDN options available are KeyCDN, CloudFlare and MaxCDN. You can implement it to your WordPress site easily.

6. Poor third-party service. 

When your website is using third-party content which means you are requesting content from another server. Often, this may result in poor performance of your website as it increases the HTTP requests. Choose your external service wisely and test your site again after each new implementation.

Find a way to reduce the HTTP requests. When it comes to your WordPress site, speed matters. These site testing tools can help you get a handle on your site’s current performance as well as give you the date you need to make some important decisions about your website and its hosting.

7. Address trouble pages and spots

Every page on your website should be treated differently. Since the content for each page is different, the elements shouldn’t be the same.

Be sure to test more than just the home page of your website, since you want traffic and rankings for those other pages as well. Make use of the speed testing tools mentioned above. Run these tests on every major page and address any trouble spots until you have acceptable scores throughout.

The post How to Speed Test Your WordPress Site (Optimization Tips and Tools) appeared first on WP Fix It.

We’ve Spent Over $1 Million on Link Building Services (Here Are The Best Vendors)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on We’ve Spent Over $1 Million on Link Building Services (Here Are The Best Vendors)

Looking for the best link building services in 2019?

I got you covered because Chris Dreyer (founder of and I have spent well over $1,000,000 on different link building services.

This case study will focus on $140,424 of that spend.

Why not the entire spend?

  1. This is an organic case study (we’ll be updating it).
  2. We’re still gathering data from hundreds of orders.
  3. I felt a level of insanity coming over me after manually analyzing hundreds of links.

Let’s jump right into the findings.

Need more backlinks? Get access to 7 untapped link building techniques.

Top 3 Best Link Building Services (Case Study)

Before I go too deep into this, I want to share the goal of this case study. My goal is not to “bash” any of these services.

Everything I share here is designed to help both buyers and sellers.

Buyers deserve to know what they’re investing in. Sellers deserve to get quality feedback, so they can improve their services.

I’m not going to beat around the bush with my analysis. If the link is bad, I’m going to say it’s bad.

I’ll also explain the right way for buyers to use link building services (80% of buyers aren’t using these services correctly. More on this later.).

Sound good? Cool, let’s get started.

Here’s a high-level overview of the 942 links we analyzed:

As of 6/24/2019, we’ve collected data from 942 different link placements. We have the most data from Fat Joe and Page One Power. This will change as we continue to add more orders to our database.

Total Links

The Hoth and Page One Power had the highest number of unique linking root domains (on average). However, this data isn’t particularly valuable at a high level. I’ll explain why.

Average Referring Domains (DoFollow)

Page One Power and The Hoth also dominated the total organic keywords for their placements. This is a solid metric, but it’s also not 100% reliable because of the reasons I’ll explain.

Total Keywords (Average)

Lastly, link placements from Page One Power and The Hoth dominated the estimated organic search traffic numbers as well.

Estimated Organic Search Traffic (Average)

Here’s how we conducted this link building services case study:

1. We gathered metrics for all link placements using Ahrefs

The KPIs we used for a 30,000-foot view analysis are:

  • Ahrefs Rank
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow)
  • Keywords
  • Traffic

The objective was to see what services faired best at a high-level.

Here’s why high-level metrics (averages) don’t really work:

1. Varying order types

Some links are at a higher price point while others are at a lower price point. As you can imagine, higher priced placements are generally better. This also leads to:

2. Metric inflation

One or two websites with big numbers can inflate the averages. We filtered out super high-authority sites to avoid inflating the averages as much as possible.

3. Total referring domains doesn’t mean much

The only way to truly judge the quality of a website’s link profile is to do a manual analysis. Link-by-link.

That’s why step #2 in this process was critical.

2. I randomly selected 10 link placements from each vendor and did a manual analysis

I’ll be sharing a granular analysis of 2-3 out of the ten link placements for each vendor. My focus will be on placements that received a perfect score of 5, an average score of 3, and a poor score of 1.

Here is the domain-level criteria we used:
  • Is this a legit website or a PBN rebuild?
  • Is this website active?
  • Is this website adding new value or is it just a hub for accepting paid links?
  • Is the website using an SSL certificate?
  • Does the website have a clean history?
  • Is the domain relevant? To score this, we used The Relevancy Pyramid.
  • Does the website explicitly say that it accepts guests posts, sponsored posts, or paid links?
  • Does the business have an external presence on social media?
  • Does the website have organic search traffic? If not, does it have traffic from other sources?
Here is the page-level criteria we used:
  • Is the page hosting the link indexed?
  • Does the article have a legitimate author?
  • Is the article readable?
  • Does the article have a Grammarly score greater than 70?
  • Does the article have relevant, high-quality external links?
  • Does the article have internal links?
  • Is the article thin?
  • Is the article topically relevant?

Based on high-level metrics and manual analysis, these are the top 3 best link building services:

1. Page One Power

Page One PowerIt should come as no surprise that Page One Power had the highest quality links.

I questioned whether or not we should have on this list at all because they aren’t productized service like the others. They have monthly retainers and their service is customized for each client.

That said, they are still a “link building service”.

And I must say, they’re damn good at what they do.

Out of all the services I tested, Page One Power’s link placements were most consistent. But it actually wasn’t just their link placement that impressed me.

It was HOW they built links.

I’ve been preaching this for a long time, but the best way to build links to your site is by creating linkable assets. ALL of Page One Power’s placements do exactly that.

In fact: It’s a requirement.

This the safest and most natural way to build links to your site.

It’s far more natural to acquire links to an informational content asset than a boring transactional page (example: local lead capture page or product page).

Placement #1 (5/5)

Page One Power Link Placement

  • Total cost: $550
  • Domain Rating (DR): 73
  • Ahrefs Rank: 48,167
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 3,101
  • Total Keywords: 16,740
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 7,441
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 86%
  • Word Count: 768

I wanted to highlight this link placement because it doesn’t seem like it deserves a 5/5 (on the surface).

But let’s dig a little deeper.

Page One Power was tasked with finding link opportunities in the legal niche. This is a notoriously difficult niche for getting REAL links.

The workaround is to sacrifice domain-level relevance.

Instead, you can build relevance on the content level.

I gave them a 3/5 for content relevance because it was a little broad, but I understand the reasoning (which is to make the placement more natural).

There were three elements that I loved about this link placement.

1. The content is editorial and written by a legit author


2. The link profile is beautiful

The domains has DoFollow links from Adobe, The Guardian, Techcrunch, IBM, and Wall Street Journal.

Quality Links

3. They’re linking to a linkable asset

Page One Power linked to a data-driven blog post on the law firm’s site.


This link placement is a great example of why domain-level relevance isn’t always critical. A link can be high-quality as long as it’s placed on website with a strong link profile and the content is somewhat topically relevant.

Placement #2 (3/5)


  • Total cost: $550
  • Domain Rating (DR): 69
  • Ahrefs Rank: 10,8155
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 2,411
  • Total Keywords: 7,381
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 995
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 3/5
  • Grammarly Score: 93%
  • Word Count: 626

This link placement had some good qualities such as:

  • It is indexed
  • The content is readable and high-quality
  • The content is linking out to other quality sources and does have internal links
  • It has a legit author

But it also has a few issues.

The website is extremely general and it covers spots, lifestyle, culture, women, money, and pretty much every topic under the sun.


The content the link was placed is loosely relevant (and that’s a stretch).

The client is a personal injury lawyer and the article is about “The Best Natural Teeth-Whitening Methods”.

Content Relevance

It is linking to linkable asset about “chemical burns from defective whitening products” on the client’s site.

This is good. But overall, it’s quite the stretch.

However, the biggest issue I found was with the link profile. What I’m about to show you was a common trend among poorly-rated links in this case study.

It is the presence of public blog network links.

Blog Network

I believe that these links are built by the people who paid for the links.

PBN example

I don’t believe the host website built them in most cases. There are always exceptions to the rule.

However, this type of tier two link building is used to increase page authority. Which in theory, makes the link “stronger”.

Placement #3 (1/5)

Remember when I said I would show the good and the bad?

Well, this placement was an example of the bad (but probably not why you think). You see this placement has great metrics, good content, and a solid link profile.

Page One Power - Link Placement

So, what’s missing?

The client’s link was removed!

I’m not sure whether or not this link was replaced by Page One Power.

But if it wasn’t, that’s $550 flushed down the toilet and missed opportunity for a link to age.

This was the only “bad” link I analyzed from Page One Power.

Page One Power Review

Page One Power is the real deal. So, if you have the budget, you should consider working with them. They understand how to build links in a natural and safe way. They clearly vet every link opportunity and they’re doing great work.

My only recommendation for them is to watch out for author footprints.

I noticed that the same author was used for a large percentage of the links they were placing. These leaves a big footprint.

2. Fat Joe

Fat JoeFat Joe offers a popular blogger outreach service. The service is priced based on Domain Authority (DA) from Moz and it ranges from DA 10 – DA 40.

In most cases, I would avoid websites in the DA 10 + range because they’re A) too weak and B) not high-quality.

Hence the reason why they’re low authority. You can, however, use lower authority links to grow the authority of tier one placements.

Link Placement #1 (5/5)

Fat Joe Link Sample

  • Total cost: $253
  • Domain Rating (DR): 16
  • Ahrefs Rank: 10,523,902
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 163
  • Total Keywords: 2,518
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 463
  • Domain Relevance: 4/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 66%
  • Word Count: 1,351

We purchased a DA 30 + placement and was quite impressed by the quality and results. The link went live around May 3rd:

Fat Joe Results

The target site was in a very linkable niche, but we liked several key parts of this placement.

1. It has a natural and relevant link profile

Link Profile

2. The content was great

The content was long and was filled with quality external and internal links. It also had a strong readability score and was topically relevant to the target site.

Content quality

3. The site is active and relevant

There aren’t many links on our list that received a 4 or 5/5 on site-level relevancy. This one scored a 4. It wasn’t 100% relevant, but it was a closely related niche.

Link Placement #2 (1/5)

  • Total cost: $60
  • Domain Rating (DR): 25
  • Ahrefs Rank: 6,041,323
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 398
  • Total Keywords: 237
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 33
  • Domain Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Relevance: 4/5
  • Content Readability: 2/5
  • Grammarly Score: 78%
  • Word Count: 560

Fat Joe Link Placement

This placement received a poor rating for several reasons.

1. The page isn’t indexed

Always copy and paste the page hosting your link into Google. If it doesn’t show up (as long as you give it a few weeks to be crawled), then there’s a problem. If the page isn’t indexed, then your link is worthless.

Plain and simple.

2. The site isn’t secure

It’s a pretty well-known fact that Google cares about security.

Not secure

That’s why they’re labeling websites without SSL certificates as “Not Secure” on Google Chrome.

3. The content has outbound links, but they look like other paid links

I don’t whether this vendor placed these links or the host website did. Either way, it looks like a link farm.

Paid links

4. The site has turned into a hub for paid links

Every new blog post is thin and crammed with paid links. It’s safe to assume that getting a link on this site is practically worthless.

5. The link profile is weak

The link profile has barely (if any) editorial links and is filled with directory, profile and web 2.0 links.

Weak links

Fat Joe Review

Fat Joe is a solid link building service as long as you use it the right way. I would stay away from the DA 10 + on tier one (but it’s probably safe to be used on tier two).

I also recommend upgrading the content length when you order. Most people likely purchase the default word count and this leaves a footprint.

Lastly, promote linkable assets instead of transactional pages.

3. The Hoth

The HothThe Hoth is one of the most well-known link building company’s in our industry.

They have a very successful company, but how’s the quality of their links? Keep reading to find out.

Link Placement #1 (5/5)

  • Total cost: $300
  • Domain Rating (DR): 90
  • Ahrefs Rank: 735
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 27,951
  • Total Keywords: 200,828
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 39,414
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 5/5
  • Content Readability: 4/5
  • Grammarly Score: 91%
  • Word Count: 630

We ordered from The Hoth GP and for the criteria type we select “Traffic” and 10,000. I know a lot people have opinions about The Hoth, but this placement was excellent.

Not only did it meet our criteria, but it’s actually already producing results.

The Hoth Results

There were a few elements I loved about this placement:

1. It’s on an extremely authoritative website

The metrics on this placement are nutty (as you can see above). This is definitely an over-delivery of what I ordered. That’s a good thing.

For a website to be this authoritative, it’s guaranteed to have a strong link profile.

Quality Link Profile

2. It’s very editorial

The article is topically relevant, professional, and well-edited. The target link is also surrounded by other relevant links.

Link Placement #3 (3/5)

  • Total cost: $180
  • Domain Rating (DR): 34
  • Ahrefs Rank: 2,361,323
  • Referring Domains (DoFollow): 955
  • Total Keywords: 6,349
  • Estimated Organic Search Traffic/mo: 1,110
  • Domain Relevance: 1/5
  • Content Relevance: 3/5
  • Content Readability: 3/5
  • Grammarly Score: 74%
  • Word Count: 596

The Hoth was in a tough situation with this client because they are in the legal space. It would have been much easier for them to land a relevant link if the client was promoting a linkable asset (instead of their homepage).

That said: this link placement was decent, but it had some issues.

The Hoth Link Placement

Here’s the good:

  • The link is indexed
  • The link is surrounded by external and internal links
  • The content is topically relevant
  • The content quality is decent
  • It’s a real website
  • The site has real traffic

It has some quality links:

Link Quality

But the bad part about this link placement is the other part of this site’s link profile. It’s littered with public blog network links:

Network Links

The biggest giveaway of network links is when a website has a ton of homepage links. It’s extremely rare to have homepage links, so when you see it, it’s a red flag.

Here’s what network site looks like:

public blog network site

The other negative side of this placement is that it’s not relevant on the domain side.

Link Placement #3 (1/5)

Where do I start with this one?

The client ordered a link from The Hoth’s guest post service and they received a link on a web 2.0 (Weebly).


Just so you’re aware, web 2.0s are not editorial links. Anyone can create a free account on Weebly and create what you see above.

These links worked well several years ago, but now they’re practically worthless.

Plus… that’s not what the client ordered.

The Hoth Review

Everyone in the SEO community has an opinion about The Hoth, but the links I analyzed were pretty solid.

I recommend selecting “traffic” as your criteria when you purchase links from them. And like Fat Joe, avoid low authority placements (DA 10 +).

Honorable Mention (Future Top 3?)

This section is dedicated to link building services that we believe have potential. However, we haven’t invested enough capital to make a fair assessment of their link quality.


RhinoRankRhinoRank offer two different types of link building services: guest posts and curated links. Their curated links service will get you placements within existing content.

I’ve seen mixed results with their curated links. Some are great, some are really low-quality. I’ll report back soon.

Audience Bloom

Audience bloomAudience Bloom (now was founded by the prolific online writer, Jayson DeMers. They used to only provide link building services, but now they offer a wide array of services.

That said, we have a lot of link data from them and I’ll let you know how they are soon.

Authority Builders

Authority BuildersI’ve tested and analyzed a few links from these guys. It’s a great service because you get to select what website your link will be placed on.

Authority Builders is also operated by a standup guy, Matt Diggity.


LoganixMost of my experience with Loganix is with their local services. However, we’re currently testing their links. They let you pre-approve their placements and the company is run by Adam Steele.

Adam deeply cares about customer experience, so I’m sure their services are great. I’ll report back soon.

There are few other services that we’re looking into such as Click Intelligence, Love to Link, and SEO Butler as well.

Big Takeaways

Analyzing these link building services was fun, thought-provoking, and grueling at the same. Through the process, I realized a few things.

1. There are no perfect link building services (and that’s fine)

Getting perfectly relevant links with impeccable link profiles is nearly impossible.

The point of a link building service is to help you offload one of the most time-consuming tasks in SEO.

So, you have to ask yourself:

Is a 4-star link acceptable if you don’t have to think about doing the work?

The answer is “yes” for me personally.


In a perfect world, you would only have impeccable links in your profile.

But that’s not even natural.

A “natural” link profile will have a wide array of websites.

Some strong. Some weak. Some amazing. Some terrible.


2. If you’re going to use link building services, then do this:

  • Create and promote linkable assets instead of transactional pages. Watch this:
  • Only invest in higher authority opportunities (generally avoid the DA 10 – DA 19)
  • Less is more
  • Invest more to get deeper content/higher word counts
  • Use natural anchor text
  • Recommend the external links you want your link to be surrounded by

3. Your niche really matters…

You can’t expect to get 100% relevant links when you’re in a narrow niche. That’s why creating linkable assets is so important.

4. You (usually) get what you pay for

More expensive placements are usually better while cheap placements are worse. Common sense here.

That’s All (and What’s Next)

We’re going to continually update this list to keep it fresh. That means that some vendors may fall and others may enter the top 3.

I hope this was helpful and please share it if it was!

Thanks for reading.