Rich Snippets: The Definite Guide (2019 Update)

Posted by on Jun 3, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Rich Snippets: The Definite Guide (2019 Update)

google rich snippets

Google is gradually moving away from the traditional plain blue link snippets by introducing graphical and interactive elements in their search results, on both desktop and mobile devices.

One of these elements is rich snippets and, in this post, you will learn everything you ever need to know about rich snippets.

In particular, you will learn:

What are rich snippets?

Rich snippets or rich results as they are sometimes called, are an enhanced version of a normal search snippet that usually includes graphical elements like images, review stars, and other visual enhancements.

A normal search snippet includes the following items:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Description
  • Date (not always)

A rich snippet may include one or more of the following elements:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Description
  • Date information
  • Product Images
  • Product Reviews
  • Ratings
  • Price information
  • Name of the website
  • Icon of the website
Google Rich Card
Example of a Google Rich Snippet in Search Results

Notice that besides the title, URL and description, the snippet also shows an image, star ratings, number of reviews, minutes to prepare and total calories.

Rich snippets in just one of the available Google search results features. Other search features include:

Enhancements – for example showing a website’s search box within the Google results.

Knowledge graph cards – they show more details for a known topic or brands.

Google knowledge graph example
Google knowledge graph example

Featured Snippets – Shows on top of the results and usually provides a direct answer to a question or query. It includes text and images.

Read this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to get a google featured snippet.

Example of a Google Featured Snippet
Example of a Google Featured Snippet

OneBox result – shows a tool directly in the search results. For example, when asking for time, translation and currency related queries.

Rich Results and Enriched Search Results

Enriched search results are interactive rich snippets. They have the same properties as a rich snippet, but they also give users the ability to interact with a snippet without leaving the Google search page.

A typical example is the new job posting snippet which allows users to apply filters like location or job title to find exactly the job they are looking for.

Example of Enriched Search Snippet
Example of an Enriched Search Snippet

Why are Google rich snippets important for SEO?

There are many reasons as to why Google rich snippets are becoming very important for SEO.

Higher Organic CTR

The first one is a higher organic CTR (Click Through Rate), which translates to more visits to your website.

Before introducing a new search feature, Google does several tests to ensure that this is what users want and rich results have been positively accepted by users.

Let your website shine in the search results

The second one is that rich snippets stand out in the SERPS and websites that don’t have a rich snippet have less chances of getting clicks.

If your competitors have already implemented rich snippets, then you really have no option.

For example, look at the listings below, which snippet would you NOT click?

Websites with Rich Cards in Google Search Results
Websites with Rich Cards in Google Search Results

Get your website ready for other Google search features

Finally, by preparing your website for rich snippets you make it friendlier to search engines and this increases your changes of ranking for Voice search and other Google features (Google Assistant, Google Maps) that rely on schemas and structured data.

Best Practices on How to Get Rich Snippets

Now that you are convinced that getting a rich snippet is the way to go, let’ see how to get it.

Your website to be eligible for a rich snippet needs to have structure data implemented in your HTML.

Without structured data, it will be very difficult for Google to show your website in the rich results.

It should also be noted though that even if you have structured data, there is no guarantee that it will show as a rich card.

What is schema and structured data?

Schemas help search engines understand the meaning of the content. All major search engines agreed to a set of common standards (called schemas) which allows webmasters to describe parts of their content to search engine crawlers. This is done by adding pre-defined tags (structured data) that search engines understand.

For more information and step-by-step instructions read: What is schema markup.

Besides implementing structured data, there are other factors that play a role like:

  • The search query to be suitable for a rich snippet. Google does not show rich snippets for all queries. It depends what the user is searching, the location and device.
  • Structured data needs to be accurate. If you try to trick Google by providing structured data that does not accurately represent the page content, you will end up with a Google Penalty.
  • Correct implementation. Your code must match the requirements specified by Google.
  • Your page should adhere to Google Webmaster Guidelines. Google will not show snippets for websites that are spammy or not trusted.
  • Some features are only applicable for AMP pages only.

How to get a rich snippet

Step 1: Choose the right snippet type

The first step is to go through the list of supported types and choose which one (s) accurately represents your content.

Google currently supports the following types:

  • Article
  • Book
  • Breadcrumb
  • Carousel
  • Corporate Contact
  • Course
  • Critic Review
  • Dataset
  • Employer Aggregate Rating
  • Event
  • Fact Check
  • Job Posting
  • Livestream
  • Local Business
  • Logo
  • Media Actions
  • Occupation
  • Product
  • Q&A Page
  • Recipe
  • Review Snippet
  • Sitelinks SearchBox
  • Social Profile
  • Speakable

Bing supports these types:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Business and organizations
  • Events
  • People
  • Products and offers
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • Reviews (aggregated)
  • ClainReview (aka Fact Check)

Which features are best for my website?

This depends on your content. There are some types that are suitable for all websites like breadcrumb, images, organization or person, articles but besides that, it depends on your content.

Google gives some guidelines on which search features to use.

Search Features Per Content Type
Available Search Features Per Content Type

Step 2: Get the specifications for each type

Next, visit the Search Gallery page and study the requirements for your selected types.

Examine which fields are mandatory and make sure that these are included in your code.

For example, if you want to get a rich card for a course, you need to tag the name and description and optionally the course provider as shown below.

Example of Structured Data Requirements
Example of Structured Data Requirements for Course Schema

Step 3: Write your Script

Follow the recommendations and write your script using the JSON-LD format. Although both Google and Bing support various formats, the recommended format is using JSON-LD.

You can use the structured data codelab or structured data markup helper tools to help you create the necessary code.

You can also read this guide for step-by-step instructions.

Here is an example of how a script looks like.

Example of a JSON-LD Script
Example of a JSON-LD Script

Step 4: Test your code

Once you have your script ready, the next step is to test your implementation with the structured data testing tool.

Structured Data Testing Tool
Structured Data Testing Tool

You can also use the Google rich results testing tool, which is friendlier than the structured data testing tool.

Step 5: Add the scripts to your website

Next, you need to copy the script and add it to the <HEAD> section of your HTML page.

Important: You only need to add the structured data to the related pages and not to ALL site pages. For example, if you have structured data for recipes, you need to add it to pages that have recipes and not to your blog or other pages.

Tip 1: To avoid changing each page manually, you can hire a developer to add the script with code so that it is auto-generated for your pages.

Tip 2: Depending on your platform there are tools that can automate the generation of the required structured data, without having to go through all the manual tests above.

For example, if you are on WordPress you can use the Yoast SEO plugin for the following types: Webpage, Organization, Person, Article, Image, Video (Premium Version), Local SEO (through the Local SEO Add-on).

If you are using Woocommerce, it automatically adds structured data for products.

Regardless of your chosen method, always use the structured data testing tool, to make sure that your implementation is correct.

Step 6: Monitor Google Search Console for errors

One of the ways to monitor the performance of your rich snippets and also troubleshoot any errors is through the Google Search Console.

Search Appearance Reports

Login to Google Search Console and click on SEARCH RESULTS under PERFORMANCE.


Then click on PAGES to see which of your pages show as rich cards in the results. You can also see how many clicks you got, impressions and other useful information.

Search Appearance Report
Search Appearance Report in Google Search Console

Enhancement Reports

You can use the enhancement reports to troubleshoot structured data errors.

Login to Google Search Console and click on one of the reports under ENHANCEMENTS.

Enhancements Report
Enhancements Report in Google Search Console

URL Inspection Tool

You can also test a page for structured data errors using the URL Inspection tool.

URL inspection Tool
Troubleshoot Schema Markup Errors with the URL Inspection Tool

Key Learnings

Rich snippets or Rich cards are gradually replacing the traditional ‘plain blue link’ snippets we are used to see in Google search results.

They contain graphical elements and this makes them more attractive to users and they receive more clicks which means more traffic to your website.

If you want your website to be eligible for a rich snippet, you need to implement structured data.

The process is simple, choose the right type, write the script, test your code with the testing tool and add it to your website.

Google is continuously working on improving their search results and rich results is one of the features they started invest heavily.

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Apple Maps May Not Be As Far Behind Google Maps As You Think…

Posted by on May 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Apple Maps May Not Be As Far Behind Google Maps As You Think…

Apple Maps SucksJustin O’Beirne has published another amazingly detailed analysis of Apple Maps and how it has developed compared to Google Maps. While I shall yield to Justin’s mastery of all things geospatial, I feel like he kind of punted on his analysis of Apple Maps’ business listings data.

O’Beirne observes that Apple Maps has few business listings for Markleeville, CA and then claims “all of the businesses shown on Apple’s Markleeville map seem to be coming from Yelp, Apple’s primary place data provider.”

While only Apple and Yelp know for sure, I am fairly certain Yelp is not Apple Map’s “primary place data provider.” I imagine Yelp is Apple’s primary U.S. business review provider, and perhaps has a significant role in helping Apple verify a business is in a specific place with specific data, but there are several other business listings data providers that likely are providing the “primary” place data to Apple, not the least of which includes Acxiom, Factual, Neustar Localeze and TomTom. These companies likely have significantly larger POI datasets than Yelp, while Yelp likely has the lead in newly created businesses in its popular categories. Clear Channel Broadcasting may also be a provider, although it is unclear what data it is exactly providing Apple.

In his analysis of Apple’s lack of businesses in Markleeville, O’Beirne claims that “Apple Maps doesn’t have some of the businesses and places Google has.” This is possibly true, but not based on the data O’Beirne shows. Here’s his comparison of what Apple and Google show for a section of Markleeville:

I think O’Beirne is confusing that Apple Maps is not displaying the businesses in this view v. actually having them. Each of the highlighted businesses on Google Maps are on Apple Maps, they just don’t appear in the default view of this section:

Alpine County Chamber of CommerceJ Marklee Toll StationIntero Real Estate Services

I believe a lot of the Markleeville business data (surprisingly) comes from Factual, not Yelp.

O’Beirne also makes a point about a discrepancy between Apple Maps and Yelp re a single listing as evidence of a larger problem. O’Beirne states “there’s a place on Apple’s map with no Yelp listing at all: the “Alpine County District Attorney”. Even stranger, it appears to be a garage:” Then he shows the following the Apple Maps listing next to an image of a garage at the same location from Bing Maps:
Alpine County District Attorney GarageThe problem actually is that Apple Maps has the Alpine County DA location correct, but it also has a dupe listing in the wrong place:
Apple Maps Dupe ListingI am not going to claim that Apple Maps has fewer dupe listings than Google Maps, but given the amount of crap we deal with for clients on Google Maps on a daily basis, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case. Regardless, the really odd thing is that had O’Beirne checked Google Maps, he would have seen its address for the Alpine County District Attorney’s office is 100% wrong:

Alpine County DA Wrong Address

I am not trying to dispute O’Beirne’s take that Apple Maps still has a long way to go and it may never get to feature parity with Google Maps, but maybe Apple Maps is not in as bad shape as he thinks.


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What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples)

Posted by on May 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples)


A permalink or permanent link is the address (URL) of a web page. It is called permanent link because it’s not expected to change throughout the life time of a page.

In this post, you will learn everything you ever need to know about permalinks.

In particular I will explain:

  • What are the main characteristics of permalinks
  • How to make your permalinks SEO friendly
  • What to do if you need to change a permalink.

Permalink Characteristics

Let’s start with a quick introduction to URLS.

Each and every page published on the web has a unique Uniform Resource Locator, commonly known as a URL.

The URL represents the address of a page and it is expected to remain the same as long as the page is published on the web. Thus, it sometimes referred to as permalink.

The permalink structure of a website is a term that describes how the permalinks of each and every page will look like.

Don’t worry if this is confusing now, read on and you will understand in a bit what is the relationship between permalinks and permalink structure and how it affects your SEO.

Here is an example of a permalink:

A permalink is made of two parts:

  • The website domain
  • The page slug
What is a permalink
What is a permalink

The website domain can also include the protocol i.e. https:// or http:// and or www.

The page slug is what comes after the domain slash (/).

The max length of a permalink is 2083 characters but in general the shorter, the better.

How to create SEO Friendly Permalinks

A permalink should have all the characteristics of an SEO friendly URL. Best practices are:

It should start with https – This indicates that the webpage is secure, which means that any information transmitted between the web browser and web server is encrypted.

It should be short and descriptive – A permalink should be short without having unnecessary information but at the same time, it should describe what a page is about.

For example, look at these two permalinks:

Just by looking at the first one, you know what to expect before visiting a page while the second one contains information that does not help users or search engines.

In many cases, a permalink is shown in the search engine result pages (SERPS) and thus it is important to be meaningful as well.

Permalinks in Google Search Results
Permalinks in Google Search Results

It needs to include SEO keywordsSEO keywords are the search phrases users type in a search engines search box.

By including those terms in your permalinks, you give search engines a strong clue about the content of a page and this increases your chances of ranking high for those keywords.

It also gives users a big hint of what to expect by visiting the particular page.

Words in permalink should be separated by dashes – Any words that make up a permalink should be separated by ‘-‘ and not any other characters.

Permalinks are lowercase – To avoid any issues, all letters in a permalink should be lowercase. This is because some web servers treat uppercase characters differently.

Should not include stop words – These are common words that don’t add any value or help in understanding the actual content of a page.

For example, words like “a”, “the”, “on”, “and”, “is”, “of”, “you” and other similar words.

Permalinks in WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms and the first platform to use the term ‘Permalink’.

You can find the ‘Permalinks Settings’ under SETTINGS.

Permalink Settings in WordPress
Permalink Settings in WordPress

WordPress gives you a number of options for setting up the URL structure of your posts. The best setting to use is the ‘Post Name’.

With ‘Post Name’ your permalinks will not contain any unnecessary information. When you publish a new page, WordPress will take whatever you type in the page title and separate it by dashes ‘-‘.

How to change the permalink without losing SEO?

Although the idea of a permalink is to be permanent, there are valid cases where you might want to change it.

For example, during an SEO audit, you might decide to make your URLS shorter by removing date information.

In order not to negatively affect your SEO, you need to ‘tell’ search engines that you are changing the URL so that they can update their index.

If you make the change without informing them, they will consider it as a new page. This means that any backlinks pointing to the page will be lost and any users that bookmarked the page will get a 404 error, since the page has changed address.

To avoid these issues and maintain your SEO rankings, you need to add a 301 redirection to your .htaccess file to inform search engine crawlers about the change.

Here is a step by step example:

Let’s say that your current permalink is:

and you want to change it to:

If you are on WordPress you can change the permalink of a page by editing the URL right below the title.

Step 1: Visit the page in EDIT mode, change the URL and click the UPDATE button.

How to Change the Permalink of a Page
How to Change the Permalink of a Page

Step 2: Using an FTP program, locate the .htcaccess file found in the ROOT folder of your website, download it to your local PC and edit it using Notepad or other text editor.

Step 3: Add the following line and save the file.

Redirect 301 /this-is-a-long-permalink-to-be-made-shorter

Notice that you don’t need to include the domain name for the [source] URL but you need to include the full permalink for the [target URL].

Step 4: Upload the file back to your webserver.

Step 5: Open a new browser window and test and everything is working as expected. If you type the OLD URL in the browser, you should be redirected to the new page.

Step 6: Go to Google Search Console and use the URL Inspection Tool to make sure that search engines can access the new permalink without any problems.

URL Inspection Tool
URL Inspection Tool

Step 7: Make sure that the new permalink address is included in your XML Sitemap.

Key Learnings

A permalink is a term that describes the URL of a page. Any page published online must have its own unique permalink.

You can safely change the permalink of the page but in order to maintain your SEO rankings you need to add a 301 redirection so that search engines and users can navigate to the new address without getting a NOT FOUND (404) error message.

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Link Building Strategy (for 2019): The Power of Using Creative Ideas vs Tactics

Posted by on May 29, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Link Building Strategy (for 2019): The Power of Using Creative Ideas vs Tactics

This article is NOT going to be about the latest link building strategy or fad for 2019.

You’re in the wrong place.

Or maybe not?

That really depends on what you think link building strategies are.

This article is about using strategy to build links.

Red pill or blue pill?

red pill blue pill

Keep reading to find out.

Here’s the deal:

My basic approach with link building has always been to just take existing pages, pick the first strategy that came to mind and execute.

I got some good, even great results from this, but as time went by I started to hit a ceiling.

So, a few months ago I was looking for feedback to refine my link building service and reached out to Nathan Gotch (of GotchSEO), here’s part of what he replied to me:

Nathan Gotch Quote

Aha! Moment.

I started researching the topic of creative, strategic link building, linkable assets etc. and I was hooked.

Strategic Link Building vs Tactical Link Building

As mentioned by Joshua Hardwick at Ahrefs in this article, a strategy is “an overall plan”, a tactic is “the actual means used to gain an objective”.

So, if we take that distinction into consideration, yeah, this article is about link building strategies.

The problem with most articles out there is that they define as strategies, what in reality are mostly “tactics”.

Here are a few of them that you might have seen mentioned on and on again:

  • Broken link building
  • Guest posting
  • Replicating competitor backlinks
  • Resource pages link building
  • Roundups
  • Skyscraper link building
  • Infographics

And so forth…

I believe this is an important distinction to make because we, as SEOs and marketer, often focus on the surface of things (how to do “X” = tactics) instead of looking at the bigger picture (why should we do “X” or what’s the best way to do “X” = strategy).

This article was also mostly influenced by a great video I’ve seen a while back by Ross Hudgens of Siege Media where he talks about the difference between tactical and strategic link building.

Here’s the video:

In short:

Tactical link building: Focus on the specific tactic used (that mentioned above) and try to scale it no matter what content, page, business or company we are dealing with.

Strategic link building: Carefully analyze the target site/company/page to see what’s already working and/or what might work well for its particular industry/niche, THEN try to scale it.

In all honesty, I think strategic link building is the best approach for most companies out there, especially now in 2019.

It allows you to be authentic, original, leverage scale and lower the cost per link to get the best ROI at the same time.

Most of all, it’s fun!

Lame Nerd GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ok, that sounded very nerdy.

But, here’s what I liked most about what Ross says in that video:

ANYONE can learn a tactic and try to replicate it. Not anyone can find the right strategy. This virtually eliminates you competition and puts you ahead of the game.

It takes research, persistence and the willingness to experiment and take action. You need to do the hard work that nobody likes to do basically.

That’s what the “tactic articles” are for.

We are all looking for the shortcuts, the quick step by step, A to Z mega-guide.

Here’s where everything falls apart though:

  1. You still need to do the hard work after learning a tactic, and
  2. No single tactic works in EVERY situation.

Why not try and see your company or site as its unique situation with its own unique opportunities?

Why not invest a bit more time up front to get better returns in the long run?

For example, let’s say that you have a SaaS company, you did some research and found that your product is similar but better than competitors’.

You have a great feature that blows them out of the water and a great USP.

In a situation like this, going after and stealing your competitors’ links might work particularly well for your company.

What better excuse than:

“Hey, check us out! we do this that they don’t and it works really well for people like you!”?

The decision to do your research beforehand instead of just trying to build some broken links (for example) saved you time and effort.

And you can keep doing this until you’ve gone after all your competitors’ links.

Now you’re asking:

“How do I figure out what the best strategy is for me?”

How To Find Strategic Link Opportunities and Ideas

To do this, fist try to look at your company site as a whole. Do you have anything unique that can be leveraged for this?

The first step is always to look at your competitors.

Plug them into Ahrefs Site Explorer and go to the “best by links” report.

This shows you all the best pages of that site ranked by the number of incoming links and you can filter them by a few different metrics.

I like to filter them by the number of referring domains (number of unique sites that link to each page).

See if you notice any interesting opportunities.

  1. Is there anything that stands out?
  2. Any weird-looking URL that is getting a ton of links?
  3. You can also use the status code filter to only look at 404 pages that are getting links and then replicate them (broken link building)
  4. Or filter by words that are included in the URL or title of the pages. For example filter for “tools” to only see pages that talk about tools.

For example, I noticed Hotjar is getting a ton of links to their feature page on “feedback polls” (3,549 dofollow links):

Hotjar Links

They even have 1 link from Harvard University just because they’re using the tool.

Harvard Link

Now, if I were a SaaS providing a similar product, I would think of ways I could make this feedback poll better, more useful, add better features and pitch it to all those 3,549 sites.

The guys at are doing a great job at getting backlinks (817 links) from their podcast “Seeking Wisdom” :

Drift Link Profile

Do you have something unique to say? Have you ever considered running your own show? Having a podcast is a great way to build authority in your industry. Sure, it takes work but as you can see the results are totally worth it.

Another example is Dropbox.

Their unique approach to team culture has gotten them a TON of great links.

Dropbox Links

And to show you how these strategies are repeatable, here’s how Asana is doing the same thing and they both got a link from the same article on Tech Crunch:


The folks at You Need a Budget are doing great with their own proprietary method:

You Need a Budget Link

They have a dofollow link from the New York Times!

New York Times Link

This strategy works great if you have a unique way of doing things. They’ve also written a book about it!

Are you using some innovative technology that is all the rage at the moment? The guys at Plum are spreading the word about their app by focusing on their strength, AI:

Plum Link

To give another step by step example of how I usually come up with this kind of stuff, Let’s take a look at another example, in the sports news niche.

The first step again is to go to Ahrefs site explorer tool, take some of the best sports news websites and put them in there.

I’ll take ESPN as an example.


  1. Go to the “best by links” report.
  2. Scan through the list to spot check interesting opportunities.

Right away with these few tips (and took me like 2 minutes), I found a bunch of different opportunities and ideas:

These work great in the sports news niche cause everybody on the internet who is talking about sports needs stats to make a point.

Here are some of their links:

ESPN Links

To replicate this strategy, ask yourself:

  • Can I make these stats more up to date?
  • Use a different/better visualization?
  • Niche down the statistics? (maybe only do stats for a particular segment of players in a sport)

And this is an example of a link that’s not working/error page:

This page has 513 sites linking to it and it’s not even secure (https):

Broken Link

No idea of what fantasy games are?

You can put this page into and see what it previously was to make sure it’s something you can replicate.

(note: not sure about this particular example but it’s the first that came out and it’s just to show you how to find stuff like this).

Now, these are just a few examples of using uniqueness to differentiate yourself from the pack and acquire backlinks at the same time.

Does it mean this only works for companies or websites that are as unique or as BIG?

Not necessarily.

If you’re not in a position where you can stand out from the competitors big time, or yuor not a huge player like the ones outlined above, you can still use the strategic approach by working on a page by page basis.

You can approach each page as a unique asset and look for opportunities there.

Case Study: How To Craft A Linkable Asset From Scratch

This is an example/case study from one of my clients a B2B prospecting software.

They came to me looking for my opinion on writing an article about b2b sales trends. The main problem with this, was that I knew there were a ton of BIG players already competing for this topic.

Such as this article by Hubspot.

No way we could compete with that…

To see what kind of articles were performing well, I did some quick research, looked at a few sales blogs’ “most popular articles” sections to see if I could find anything interesting.

These are a few of the topics that came out:

  • B2B Sales Trends to Watch in 2019
  • Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Increase Your Sales
  • Sales Follow-Up Strategies
  • Value Proposition Examples
  • Elevator Speech Examples
  • Famous sales/business people quotes (Example)
  • Sales Job description templates
  • Free Chrome Extensions for sales
  • SALES STACK 2019
  • Statistics Every B2B Company Should Know to Boost Sales and Get More Customers
  • [B2B Sales Humor] The Top 100 Overused Business Clichés

I don’t know about you but again, I’m seeing artificial intelligence popping out a lot, might be a cool angle!

What about a statistics piece on AI for b2b sales?

Well, look at this:

B2b Sales Trends

According to Google, there are almost 2 million results about b2b sales trends that contain the exact words “artificial intelligence”, like this one:


They already link out to another generic article on marketing trends (SmartInsight), we could pitch them our article which is specifically on AI stats and trends.

Do you think they would be happy to include a link? I think they would!

After I got the idea for the article approved, I created this short brief for Uplead’s content manager who then had the piece researched and written:

As soon as they started creating the article I did some pre-outreach to gauge interest and qualify my prospects. I reached out to people via email and Twitter.

This brought out a few people that told they would love to read the article once it came out:

Here’s my first email:


One of the replies:


Here’s the finished article, I really like how it came out.

Time to send it to qualified prospects:

Reply #2

And, their last reply:

Reply #3

Besides doing the pre-outreach I also reached out to people who were mentioning the topic in their articles and people who were linking to similar/worse/outdated articles.

Here’s some of the replies:

Reply #4 Reply #5

Pretty cool, right?

What About Building Strategic Links To Existing Pages?

Generally speaking, you can find ideas and opportunities even for existing pages using what I could call “one-offs”: single links that might spark ideas to then do the same thing at a much bigger scale.

For example, let’s say you sell beauty products.

You notice one of your competitors is getting just 1 link to it’s sunscreen product page from an article on “How to get ready for summer 2019”.

Why not reach out to all similar articles and ask them to include your own link?

Maybe add a new section in your product page specifically about how your product is good for this summer (or any summer) to spark more interest and make it even more relevant to your potential “linkers”.

First, look at what’s already ranking in Google’s top 10 for your target keyword/topic.

Go through each one of the top 10 ranking results in Ahrefs and try to get a feel for the kind of links that they are getting.

Are they mostly from recommendations? Resource links? From an existing relationship with the blogger? Are they clearly paid links?

You can find this out by scanning through their anchor text and the text surrounding the links. Ask yourself:

“Why did this site link to that particular page?”

Once you understood what the majority of link types for your target keyword is, you need to figure out,

  • Can your article earn the same type of links?
  • Can you come up with a unique angle for it?
  • Something that’s missing or a unique perspective on the topic that you could add?
  • Does it make sense or do I need to create a new article to match that?

If the answer to those questions is “Yes”, then you’re already ahead of most people who will publish a similar article and try the first link building tactic they have in mind, just because someone told them so!

Another example of this in action:

Say you have a free logo maker software.

If I put the keyword “logo maker” into Ahrefs this is what i get:

Logomakr Links has 344k links to its home page! Let’s dive in.
I use the “Include” filter to only see the articles that mention the word “tool” in their title.


This alone, gives me a ton of ideas on how to scale my outreach up.

Link Opportunities

As you can see, I could reach out to everyone who has an article about the following topics:

  • Free business tools
  • Free graphic design tools
  • logo design tools
  • Image creation tools
  • Tools for Internet marketers

How to find them? Just use some simple Google search operators such as:

Intitle:business tools intext:logo

Intitle:business tools intext:design a logo

intitle:business tools intext:logo design


You get the idea.


Like most parts of SEO, link building has been used and abused in recent years. Since bloggers like Brian Dean started sharing their email templates, most of us are just too lazy to come up with something unique.

I myself am guilty of this. I just got to a point where I was sick of the angry email replies (totally understandable), sick of just being “another one of those”, which got me to think:

Can I do this another way? Can i send 100 emails instead of 5000 and get some good enough results?

The answer is “YES”!

Use your head, best judgement and a bit of creativity (combined with some SEO tools) and you’ll see there are a myriad of untapped opportunities to stand out, help people by giving them something of value and get some great links in the process.

Secure WordPress from Hackers

Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Secure WordPress from Hackers

According to WP White Security, more than 70% of WordPress websites are vulnerable to a hack attack! But don’t worry – it’s easier to deal with than you think!


Never is it a bad idea to find the security plugin that works for you! “WP All-in-One Security” is the one we use and recommend to clients because it has Brute-Force Protection, a File-Change Scanner, a Firewall, and much more! It even has a “Security Strength Meter” to show now secure you can make your site!


Just create a password (even the one that can be auto-generated by WordPress) that’s at least 12 characters in length and doesn’t just use letters (regardless of capitals or lowercase) or numbers.


This is a must-have regardless what happens! Use “BackWPUp” and have it run a backup at the very least once a month!


Plugins make it possible to scan your WordPress site for malicious code using a scanner like “Anti-Malware from GOTMLS.NET” – get it for free and scan your site immediately!


“All-in-One WP Security” can do this too, so make sure to limit the number of attempted logins so a hacker can’t get in after a number of failed tries to break in!


Hackers will use the username “admin” because it’s the most commonly used username in WordPress. Make a new one with administrator rights and delete the old one so they can’t get in!


“All-in-One WP Security” does this too by adding a CAPTCHA, but you can even send you a verification code by cell-phone! This makes it much harder for a potential hacker to get into your site!


This is easily done without you pressing a single button by adding this to your wp-config.php:

define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true );

Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!!

Posted by on May 27, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!!

Hey friends! I’m way over-invested in rare beer and underinvested in giving back to the SEO community (aren’t we all?). There has been a lot of tweetin’ and discussin’ about forum/comment links lately. Do they have zero value for SEO, or is the devil in the details?

Image result for devil barney stinson

Anyway, enough talk. If you can create a resource online showing how you used forum/comment links to boost the rankings of a site that averages over 1k visits a month from organic search traffic I will send you one of these two rare beers from my collection:

A little background on the beers, these are from two fine SoCal breweries.

First on the left is Parables of Red from Casa Agria. Casa is a craft brewery located in Thousand Oaks, and are known for their fantastic hazy hops and robust wild program. They even did a mutual collab with DeGarde, so they are the real deal. This beer is from their club program and was not released to the public.

On the right is a 2014 Black Tuesday from Orange County’s own The Bruery. The Bruery has been around since 2008 and has helped pioneer the high ABV pastry stout game and mainstreaming of wilds. This 2014 BT should be drinking spectacularly right now.

Any questions hit me up @danleibson on Twitter, or leave a comment.

Must be 21 years of age or older.

The post Free Beer!!!!!! SEO Contest!!!!!! appeared first on Expert Local SEO Consultants for 13+ Years.

21 Ways to Triple Your B2B E‑Commerce Conversions

Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 21 Ways to Triple Your B2B E‑Commerce Conversions

Posted by OliviaRoss

It takes thoughtful work to scale an e-commerce store. I’m sure you’ve had a few growing pains of your own getting to the point where you are today. However, you’re reading this because you may not be content with where your conversions are at this precise moment. You may not even know if your conversion rate is good or not!

Today, I will give you 21 tips (yes 21!) on how to double (even triple) your current conversion rates.

But first, let’s determine what counts as a conversion.

These are the usual suspects for e-commerce conversion goals:

  1. An online sale
  2. A user adding a product to their cart
  3. A user adding an item to their wishlist
  4. Email signups
  5. Social media shares
  6. Any KPI your company finds valuable

So, what’s a good e-commerce conversion rate?

The Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly is a great source for regularly updated benchmarks on conversion for large e-commerce brands.

From this data, we know that the average e-commerce conversion rate is between 2 percent and 4 percent; but we don’t want to be average, do we? 

Let’s break down some suggestions you can use to improve your site faster.

1. Fix your analytics

Analytics that are in tune to the needs of your business will give you real insight into how people are using your site, and show you obvious improvements that need to be made in your CRO strategy.

With most analytics, there’s usually something that isn’t tracking properly to give you full clarity into what your customers are doing. You need to properly track your goals to give you that insight and help you find out what your site visitors are doing. For instance, are you looking at what people who search your site are doing, or people who enter your site through specific categories, product pages, or information pages?

To find out which events are leading to a purchase, tweak your analytics by segmenting traffic that tracks repeat purchasers.

2. Use Hotjar or other qualitative data tools

You can make wild guesses based off of “best practices” all day, but you won’t know what your customers are doing unless you see it. By using qualitative data tools such as Hotjar or CrazyEgg, you’ll have real insight into what your customers are looking for.

You can achieve this by creating heat maps, session recordings, conversion funnels, and user polls.

Heatmaps will show you an average of where all visitors are clicking and scrolling in a static image. Session recordings will record the screens of visitors on your site so you can view the video and see exactly what the customer is looking at and what they are clicking on.

By creating a conversion funnel, you will be able to see where people are dropping off. For example, if you create a funnel from the homepage to the shopping cart, to the confirmation page, you may be able to see that about 75 percent of users are dropping off in the cart process.

Then, you can view session recordings of that step in the funnel and see where people are getting confused or frustrated with your shopping cart process. Pretty cool, right?

Lastly, you can leverage polls on Hotjar — they’re effective because they give your customers a chance to voice what they think of your site. Try asking questions like “What is keeping you from getting your [insert product name or offer] today?”

Often times, people respond with answers like “I need more information,” “I don’t need this right now,” “Too expensive,” or “I don’t know if I’ll like this brand.” If the majority of people are saying it’s too expensive, you may want to either reconsider who you are targeting or reevaluate your pricing.

3. Display your phone number prominently

    Customer service is essential in online commerce. You want customers to feel that you are readily available for any questions or problems they may run into. Ensure your phone number is clearly visible in the header, footers, and the checkout process of your site at all times.

    If nothing else, at least make sure you have a Contact Us page with all methods of contact options listed.

    See the phone number in the top right on Selini NY’s website?

    4. Clearly state unique selling propositions (UVP)

    I preach this in basically all of my blog pieces. It’s essential to think in the mind of the customer: Why would I buy from you over anyone else? Are you cheaper, faster, do you get better results? Why are you so special?

    I suggest placing your UVPs in your headlines as often as possible since that’s going to be the first bit of information a person will read on each of your product pages.

    5. Grab visitors’ attention quickly

      In reality, you have about three seconds to capture your prospective customer’s attention. This goes back to the UVP as you want to make sure your copy is captivating, but you also want to use quality images, GIFs, and videos to back up your claims.

      For example, if you sell software, it could be valuable to show a quick and straightforward video of the software in action. Why? This way, people can get a realistic view of what your software does without having to leave your site or contact someone.

      6. Optimize for mobile

        First, let’s explain with some statistics from OuterBox on why it’s imperative to optimize your mobile site:

        • 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone.
        • Over 230 million U.S. consumers own smartphones.
        • Around 100 million U.S. consumers own tablets.
        • 79 percent of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months.
        • Almost 40 percent of all e-commerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season were made on a smartphone.
        • E-commerce dollars now comprise 10 percent of ALL retail revenue.
        • 80 percent of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations.
        • An estimated 10 billion mobile connected devices are currently in use.

        Keep in mind, these are just U.S. statistics! With the world turning away from desktops and utilizing their phones more than ever, your B2B e-commerce business must keep up with the times. Optimize your mobile site by writing concise titles and copy focused on the benefits that solve your customers’ pain points.

        Make sure your site’s load time is acceptable by plugging your URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Google will give you a score and recommendations on what you need to fix.

        See below:

        7. Give detailed product descriptions

          Good news: You’ve captured your audience’s attention! Now, it’s time to keep them engaged.

          When in doubt, air on the side of too much information. Too often do people bounce from pages because they weren’t able to get their questions answered.

          Avoid unnecessary bounce by providing as much information about your product as possible. This includes all benefits, how it works, the features, what it can and cannot do, and anything else that is critical for a customer to know.

          For example, look below at how descriptive Salesforce is about its B2B e-commerce solution. I’ve included a snippet here of a very long web page covering nearly 20 different benefits of using Salesforce for your online marketplace.

          8. Add a product video or demonstration

          Adding a product video or demo goes hand-in-hand with your product description. Your website isn’t a brick and mortar store where people can walk in, talk to you, pick the product up in their hands and ask all of their questions about the item.

          So, ideally, you want to get as close as possible to the real experience digitally. Provide a clear walkthrough or demonstration on how to set up and use your product. Customers may be wary of buying if they don’t know how easy or difficult it is to use.

          Make it as plain as day and make it so they can’t say no!

          9. Build a structure to easily find products

            To better assist your customers in finding the exact product or service that fits their needs, add filters to your category pages. For example, how many products do you have? If it’s more than a handful, can you filter them by size, price, color, style?

            If you offer a service instead of a product, do you have separate services with different functions that fall under that parent service? You can see how Flexfire LED guides you to the right product with their structured product menu. Could you imagine if this was just one long list of all products with no categories? It would be chaotic.

            10. Set up rotating banners of top products

              Offer your champion products up front when new and returning visitors land on your homepage. This helps guide customers to a decision sooner instead of letting them figure out which product may work for them on their own.

     has several rotating banners showing the top and latest products they have to offer, keeping their customers constantly in the know and wanting to learn more.

              11. Obtain customer emails

              Try to access targeted emails through a pop-up, or offer a coupon code where you continuously market to customers in the decision phase.

              Zappo’s rewards program does a great job of getting people to sign up for free shipping and returns and exclusive access to 24/7 customer service.

              Email marketing is a practice every B2B e-commerce company needs because business executives are constantly checking their email. In fact, those who use email marketing see an average of 40x more ROI from this practice as opposed to any other marketing tactic.

              When writing email campaigns, focus on educating and informing your customers, which frames your company in a way that offers solutions to their problems. Let them know what your services are, why they work, and how your brand solves problems.

              12. Allow customers to review products

              Reviews are a critical part of determining a purchase. Why? The same reason so many people buy from Amazon — we want to know, from real people, if these products are legit. The social proof of reviews creates trust and helps people move forward confidently as they purchase items. It can be extremely beneficial to include top reviews on your product pages to ease your visitors’ minds into choosing you.

              Additionally, you want the review to explain how your team works and what makes your brand different from competitors. So, ask previous clients, how did your brand make a positive impact on their business?

              13. Provide product testimonials

                Along with review star ratings, try to have written or recorded (video) testimonials spread throughout your product pages, landing pages, and homepage. Again, your prospects want to know what others are saying about your services/products, so show them!

                Notice how each testimonial explains exactly how B-school helped them succeed. Sarah’s testimonial is especially notable because she has some solid numbers in her quote: $50,000 in one week is a great result and could prompt new customers to work with B-School as well!

                14. Provide free shipping

                  Customers would rather pay $10 more to get free shipping than pay a $4.99 shipping charge. I’m guilty of this myself. But why is this?

                  Anna Kegler from RJMetrics explains it well:

                  “Most shoppers are still more accustomed to the offline store than the online environment. Because of this, we lack the context for understanding how shipping costs factor into online shopping.”

                  As a customer, if I’m shopping online for the sake of convenience, but then see “convenience” is going to cost me $10 or $20, you better believe I’m going to start crunching numbers in my head about how that money factors into the time it would have taken to go to the store.

                  Guess what happens if the math doesn’t add up? Carts get abandoned as “Unexpected costs” and it’s the number one reason shopping carts are abandoned.

                  15. Offer coupons

                    Coupons can be beneficial to gain interest and encourage people to try your product or service out. However, it’s essential to use coupons sparingly, as always being the lowest price point could end up hurting your business.

                    For example, if you’re offering 50 percent off on too many different services/products, you are cutting your revenue in half. Although you may get some more new customers this way, you won’t have enough money to sustain your business. Plus, a coupon does not guarantee repeat business. How many times have you bought something just once because it was free or discounted?

                    Instead, focus on providing outstanding service and overall unique brand experience. Here are some appropriate ways to use coupons:

                    Sell “stale” inventory

                    You can’t make money if you can’t sell your inventory, so this is the best time to start utilizing coupons. Either give a percentage discount on individual items, a BOGO type of offer or offer a free item once a certain spending threshold has been hit.

                    For example: “All orders over $250 get a free wireless phone charger. Use coupon code: CHARGE250”

                    Show appreciation for customers

                    According to “Acquiring new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer — and current customers spend 67 percent more on average than those who are new to your business.”

                    All the more reason to show your current customers some love! Email coupon codes to loyal customers to show thanks for their continued support.

                    Reward new customers with automatic discounts

                    For new customers, automatically apply discounts towards their first purchase with your business, but don’t try to sell this upfront. Surprise is a great tactic to make lifetime customers.

                    As you can see above, new customers at Check Depot get a discount off their entire first order. Little bonuses like that don’t hurt to try!

                    16. User personalization

                      Smart Insights reveals that one type of personalization (“visitors who viewed this also viewed”) can generate 68 percent of e-commerce revenue.

                      You can see how everything is broken by recommendation type and how each one increased revenue. Try these out on your own site to see where you get the most traction. Just remember, according to Shopify, good e-commerce personalization should:

                      • Meet users’ needs
                      • Avoid turning visitors off with poor recommendations
                      • Be used only where the potential return justifies your investment

             is a shining example of all of this.

                      Nearly every element on the Amazon page is personalized in some way, including the personal “Olivia’s” link, the personal hello, the link to my account, and my “Wish List”. All suggested items are based on my past searches so nothing is recommended to me outside my realm of interests.

                      Strive to be on this level for your own customers and you’ll start seeing your profits increase.

                      17. Competitive Pricing

                        If you have seven competitors, and they all offer their product between $200–$400, but yours is $1200, you may run into some friction from prospects who are shopping around. If you’re going to have a high price point, you must justify it.

                        The amount a customer is willing to pay boils down to their perception of your brand, and this ties back into your UVP. Let’s say you want a customer to pay three times as much for your product over your competitors. Think to yourself, what makes you three times better than competitors 1 through 7? Is your product of the highest quality?

                        A smart way to determine what pricing will be acceptable to your buyers is by keeping your buyer personas up to date.

                        Sellbrite provides a good example of this:

                        “Create profiles for your customer types that identify their buying concerns, what motivates them to buy your product, their income, and other insights that will help you understand their willingness to pay. With this knowledge, you’ll feel secure in what you are charging for your product and more confident that you will make sales.“

                        18. Make your “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons prevalent

                          How can a customer buy from you if your button to purchase isn’t accessible? It doesn’t have to be rocket science!

                          Keep in mind, in western countries, we read left to right, so you’ll notice in the image above that the add to cart button is in the bottom right corner after most of the important information has already been reviewed. This is a wise spot for these Cart and Checkout buttons since most people on Amazon are reading through product and shipping details before adding to the cart.

                          19. Use live chat or chatbots

                            What works better? Utilizing chatbots will help to avoid the overhead of staffing for a live chat. However, you will probably get a better response from customers through using live chat.

                            Why? Buyers want a personalized customer experience that fits their needs, just as if they walked into a brick and mortar store.

                            Today, we’re using all of these digital tools to find out why people are bouncing — Hotjar, Qualaroo, Rejoiner — but what if we just let visitors tell us right away what they need from us as businesses? Think of all the friction that has been removed just by having a quick conversation with your customers as they entered the site.

                            Look at how SiteGround proves you are talking to a real expert that can help you based on an actual photo, name, ratings and how many customers have been served. On another note, who is that lady on the right? I’m pretty sure her name isn’t Diego like it shows. When using live chat, make it clear to your visitors that they are actually talking to a live person.

                            If you choose to take the chatbot route, be upfront with customers and don’t try to trick them into thinking that a bot is a real person. See how the Facebook Chatbot Bitcoin Buddy deals with its limitations below:

                            20. Show that your site is secure

                            Cybersecurity is one of the most critical aspects of e-commerce. Without proper protocols in place, online sellers put themselves and their customers at risk for payment fraud. Yikes.

                            Trust badges, trust seals, logos of your payment providers, the little secure “lock” icon on the browser, and more add that needed security to get your customers to buy. Most importantly, you must set up your store with an SSL certificate (https:// pages). Lastly, require the CVV for debit and credit cards for added security.

                            21. Referral marketing tactics

                              81 percent of consumers say that a recommendation from a friend or family member heavily influences their buying decisions. Anyone can get reviews from consumers, but it takes skill to acquire a review from a satisfied business executive. To validate your company, use your networking skills on LinkedIn or Google to encourage previous clients to write positive reviews about your business. It doesn’t hurt to try, just make sure to keep it professional.

                              Regularly engage with your contented customers through an advocate marketing program. This will nurture your relationship and reward them for supporting your brand. Once your advocates feel connected to and valued by your company, they’ll be ready to submit high-quality referrals.

                              Take a look at the Google Apps Referral Program. Google gives money rewards for every user who signs up through the advocate’s link.

                              In conclusion

                              There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to optimizing your online commerce. B2B marketing is a different animal than B2C so there are various considerations that must be taken into account when targeted to your desired audience.

                              Business executives are much more discerning than consumers, so networking with these individuals and gaining their trust is imperative to increase your profit. Focus on your unique value propositions, and provide different offerings for new and repeat customers.

                              If you’re able to get happy customers signing up for your referral program and leaving positive reviews, you will be amazed at the impact that it will have on your ROI.

                              Did you find any of the tips helpful? What tactics do you use to help increase your B2B e-commerce conversions?

                              Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

                              What’s the Best CMS for SEO in 2019? (10,000 Keywords Analyzed)

                              Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What’s the Best CMS for SEO in 2019? (10,000 Keywords Analyzed)

                              The last thing you want to do is start a debate about the best CMS for SEO.

                              (Especially on Twitter)

                              That’s why I decided to look at the data instead.

                              In fact:

                              My team and I analyzed the top 10 ranking SERPs for 10,000 unique keywords to see what CMS is ACTUALLY the best for SEO.

                              Here’s what we discovered.

                              The Best CMS for SEO in 2019 is…

                              Not having a CMS at all!?

                              That’s right.

                              According to the data, 58% of the ranking results aren’t even using a Content Management System (CMS).

                              Best CMS

                              Even if the data isn’t 100% accurate, not having a CMS is still the overwhelming majority.

                              But if we remove sites that aren’t using a CMS, the results are far less surprising.

                              The best Content Management System for SEO is none other than… WordPress!

                              Best CMS for SEO

                              Anti-climatic, right?

                              Here’s a list of the top 21 CMS’s that are dominating Google’s SERPs:

                              1. WordPress (45%)
                              2. MediaWiki (9%)
                              3. Drupal (8%)
                              4. Adobe Experience Manager (4%)
                              5. Ruby on Rails (4%)
                              6. ATG Web Commerce (1%)
                              7. SiteCore (< 1%)
                              8. HubSpot (< 1%)
                              9. Magento (< 1%)
                              10. Squarespace (< 1%)
                              11. Shopify (< 1%)
                              12. Liferay (< 1%)
                              13. Django Framework (< 1%)
                              14. Joomla (< 1%)
                              15. Laravel (< 1%)
                              16. Brightspot (< 1%)
                              17. Adobe Dreamweaver (< 1%)
                              18. Salesforce Commerce Cloud (< 1%)
                              19. Wix (< 1%)
                              20. IBM Websphere Commerce (< 1%)
                              21. Medium (< 1%)

                              How We Conducted the Study

                              Let me start by saying that this is by no means a comprehensive study, but there’s a big reason why we shut it down at 10,000 keywords.

                              Why did we only analyze 10,000 keywords?

                              We felt that anything more than 10,000 would be a waste of time because it wouldn’t dramatically change the results. We assumed WordPress would be the best for SEO because it’s the most widely used.

                              As we added more-and-more URLs, the results weren’t changing at that much.

                              It’s possible that a bigger dataset may alter these results. It’s just unlikely.

                              Where did you get the data from?

                              We create a list of seed keywords like “car”, “books”, and “travel”. Then we ran those keywords through Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool and focused on the “Phrase Match” option.

                              Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

                              From there, we exported 50 keywords and the top 10 results for each.

                              Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Export

                              We repeated this process page-by-page. After we gathered 100,000 URLs from 10,000 keywords, we tested the URLs using What CMS’s API.

                              What CMS

                              Unfortunately, we could only copy and paste 1,000 URLs at a time, so it was quite time consuming.

                              Was there probably an easier or better way to gather this data? Definitely, but we’re just happy we got it done.

                              Why is this post so short?

                              Because there’s nothing left to say!

                              WordPress is the best CMS for SEO in 2019.

                              The bigger idea here is to make decisions based on real data. Not people’s opinions.

                              There is one other thing I’m going to prove with this post.

                              I’m going to prove that you don’t need to write “1,800” words to rank in Google.

                              You just need to satisfy search intent, create a super valuable piece of content and acquire quality backlinks. Notice how I didn’t say create a super long piece of content.

                              Length does NOT equal quality.

                              Watch this video (and subscribe to my channel) to master this concept:

                              Your Turn

                              Do you agree or are you surprised by this data?

                              Let me know in the comment section. Also, if this was valuable please share it with a friend or colleague.

                              Thanks for reading!

                              Competitor Analysis: A Structured Approach

                              Posted by on May 23, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Competitor Analysis: A Structured Approach

                              This blog post is for you if you need a structured way to do competitor analysis that allows you to focus and prioritise tasks without missing out on any important information. It’s also for you if you’ve never done a competitor analysis before or don’t know why you might need to do one.

                              Some of the reasons you may want to do a competitor analysis are:

                              • You used to be the winner in organic search results but you are not anymore
                              • You’re expanding in a new market (geographically or with a category/service/product)
                              • Competitors always outrank you
                              • You’re ahead of the game but want to discover why certain competitors are growing

                              I came up with this method because last year one of our clients asked us to do a competitor analysis but with a very specific question in mind: they were interested only in the Japanese competition, and more specifically they wanted to get this done on their Japanese website. I do not speak Japanese! Nor does anyone else at Distilled (yet!). So, I had to focus on data, numbers, and graphs to get the answers I wanted.

                              I think of competitor analysis as a set of tasks divided into these two phases:

                              1. Discover problems
                              2. Find Solutions

                              The part about finding solutions will vary depending on the problems you discover, which is why I can’t include it here. The steps I include in this method are about discovering problems and as in every SEO project there are multiple tasks you may want to include as part of the analysis. I built a list of steps that are possible to execute regardless of the site’s industry, language, or size; they are listed in a specific order to make sure you don’t get to the end of the puzzle with missing pieces. I’ll go over why and how to do each in detail later on, but here are the things I include in EVERY competitor analysis:

                              1. Track keywords targeted on a rank tracker
                              2. Analyse ranking results
                              3. Backlink analysis (this is nowhere close to a backlink audit)
                              4. Topic searches and trends

                              Let’s dive right in.

                              Track keywords targeted on a rank tracker

                              For this step, you will need a list of keywords targeted. If you are doing this for a site in a language you don’t speak, as it was the case for me, you may have to ask your client or you may have someone on the team who has this list. If you’re expanding into a new market and are not sure what keywords to actually target you may want to use a keyword research tool. For example, you can use Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush, to research keywords used to look for the product/service you are offering (given that you can speak the site’s language).

                              If you’ve never used a rank tracker before, or cannot pay for one, here is a useful post on how to create your own ranking monitor. At Distilled we use Stat and during this task, I discovered that it can track keywords in different languages, including Japanese, which was great news!

                              Whenever possible, when I track keywords I categorise them in one or more of the following ways:

                              • The page/category/site section they are targeting
                              • The topic they belong to
                              • Whether they are informational or transactional keywords

                              In my specific case, due to the language barrier, I couldn’t categorise them. A word of warning – if you are in the same position and you are tempted to use Google Translate – don’t! It will execute some translation pretty accurately but it doesn’t have the level of nuance that we need for informative keywords targeting.

                              Even though I couldn’t categorise my keywords, I could exclude the branded ones and still obtain a really clear picture of ranking results for the site as a whole. The next step will cover how to analyse results.

                              Analyse ranking results

                              With this step I always have in mind two specific goals:

                              • Discover all organic ranking competitors: you or your client may have a specific list of sites they think they are or should be ranking against. However, who your client is actually up against on organic results may include sites that were not considered before. Your search competitors are not necessarily your business competitors! This may be true for transactional and informational keywords depending on the content overlap with sites that do not belong to your industry but are still providing relevant information for your customers.
                              • Analyse how much traffic competitors are getting: for this I used a simple calculation multiplying search volume by CTR (click-through-rate) based on the position at which each URL is ranking for that keyword.

                              When I downloaded the traffic data from the rank tracker I compared the number of keywords each competitor was ranking (within the first 20 results) and how much traffic they were getting. When I plot results on a graph, I obtained an output like this:

                              Above: Comparison of number of times each competitor ranks and amount of traffic they get

                              What I discovered with this graph was the following:

                              1. Competitors A&B had little-to-nothing to do with the industry. This is also good to know at the beginning of the analysis because now:
                                1. You know which organic ranking competitors to actually focus on
                                2. You might discover in this list of competitors players that you didn’t think of
                                3. You may want to discuss with your client some of the keywords targeted (language permitting!)
                              2. Competitor H was my client and needless to say the worst performing. This opened up a number of questions and possibilities that is good to discover at the beginning of every competitor analysis. For example, are pages not optimised well enough for the keywords targeted? Are pages optimised but competitors are using additional features, such as structured data, to rank better? This is just the tip of the iceberg.

                              Keywords to URL mapping

                              At this stage is also where you can do a keyword-to-URL mapping, matching URLs with the keywords they are ranking for. From the URL, you should be able to tell what the page is about. If the URL is also in a different language you can check hreflang to find the English version of it.

                              (Tip: if you actually need to check hreflang, scanning the list of URLs on a crawler such a Screaming Frog will easily extract for you the hreflang values.)

                              When matching keywords to URLs, one of the most important things to think about is whether URLs could and should rank for the keywords they are targeting and ranking for. Think about this:

                              • What is the search intent for that keyword?
                              • Who has a better page result for that intent?

                              Backlink Analysis

                              With this step, I wanted to compare the backlink profile quality among competitors and discover how my client could become more suitable for new high-quality backlinks. I know you may be thinking that comparing domain authority could be just enough to know which domain is stronger. However, Tom Capper, a senior consultant here at Distilled recently wrote a blog post explaining how domain authority is not the right metric for reporting on link building. This is because Google will not rank your pages based on the quality of the domain but based on the quality of the single page.

                              The main goal with this step is to find opportunities: high-quality pages linking to your competitors more often than to you or your client. I’ve written a blog post explaining how to analyse your competitor’s backlinks. By the end of this step, you should have a list of:

                              • Quality domains to target to obtain new backlinks – if they link to your competitors they are interested in the industry and likely to link to your client’s site as well
                              • Pages that should be improved to make them more suitable for new backlinks
                              • Topics to target when creating new content

                              So far you’ve collected a lot of information about your client and its competitors. It’s important to start a competitor analysis with these steps because they allow you to get a full picture of the most important competitors and what they are doing better. This is what will lead you to find solutions in the second phase of the competitor analysis.

                              For the last step of finding problems, I list topic searches and trends because that’s another check to discovering problems before you can find solutions. It’s also another step where the language is not a barrier.

                              Topic searches and Trends

                              At this point, you should have a clear idea of:

                              • Who the most important competitors are
                              • Where they are stronger: topics they target, categories heavily linked externally, site sections with better content

                              When we are making decisions based on search volumes, it is important that we take into account the trend in that search volume. Is this topic something which is popular year round? Is it only popular in the month we happened to do this investigation? Was there a massive spike in interest a few months ago, which is now rapidly declining?

                              I usually check trends over a 12 months period of time so that I can find out about seasonality. Seasonal content should be strategically built a month or two before the upward trend to make sure Google has enough time to crawl and index it.  Examples of seasonal topics can be anything such as:

                              • “What to buy on Valentine’s Day?”
                              • “What to write on Mother’s Day card?”

                              Ideally, you’d want to find evergreen content with a stable interest trend over time. The trend may also look like it had a spike at some point and then levelled down, but the interest remained high and is still relevant:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              A topic like this could be something like “electric vehicles”. This may have had an interest spike when the technology became popular which then levelled down but over time the interest remained because it’s a topic and product that people still search.

                              Increasing trends are the ideal scenario, however, these are not easy to find and there is no guarantee the increasing trend will continue:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              Stable, high trends are solid topics to target, however, they may be quite competitive:

                              Google search trend over 12 months within a specific geographic region

                              While it’s a good idea to target a topic like this, unless you have the strongest domain out of all your competitors it’s worth considering long tail keywords to find a niche audience to target.

                              By the end of this step you should have:

                              • A list of solid topics to target
                              • A plan on how to prioritise them based on seasonality and any other information you might have found

                              Wrapping it all up

                              You’ve made it to the end of the list and should have a clear picture of the competitor’s strengths and areas where your client can improve.  From here is where you can start finding solutions. For example, if the ranking results you discovered show pages ranking for the keywords they should not, page optimisation could be a solution, or keywords research for retargeting could be another. There are many other ways to provide solutions which I will expand on my next blog post.

                              What did you think? Have I missed anything? What else would you include to discover problems in a competitor analysis for a site, whether you speak the language or not? Let me know in the comments below.

                              WordPress Security Checklist

                              Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Security Checklist

                              We have discussed security on our blog at lenghth, but it can’t be stressed enough; do yourself a favor and check these must-do’s to keep your WordPress site secure!

                              USE SECURE HOSTING

                              First and foremost is secure hosting – don’t go for the cheapest package you can find; that’ll make it too easy for your site to be attacked and therefore make your hosting needs become a frustration.

                              HIDE WORDPRESS IDENTIFIERS

                              This means you have to make sure you hide anything that shows your site is that of WordPress. A perfect example is the “wp-admin” login page, which can be changed using security plugins like “All-in-One WP Security”. The ‘created on WordPress’ tagline is one you should remove ASAP as well.

                              INSTALL A SECURITY PLUGIN

                              This cannot be stressed enough because it makes security and management thereof so much easier. One way to find a plugin that suits your needs is Google search “WordPress security plugins for [INSERT INDUSTRY TAG HERE] websites”. For example, if your website is eCommerce-intensive, you can search “WordPress security plugins for eCommerce websites”, and as such might need more robust platform than just a free plugin can do.

                              The afore-mentioned “WP All-in-One Security” and “WordFence” are both prime examples of free yet secure options for most websites.

                              KEEP PASSWORDS SECURE

                              This is obvious but make a password that barely anyone would be able to guess. You do have to keep it in a safe place, though, so one free tool – “BitWarden” – manages all your passwords via “Master Password”.

                              PROTECT INPUT FIELDS

                              What we mean by this is, you should make sure everything such as your contact forms have a Captcha system, or some way to prove that such form submissions are not by robots in any way. This even includes your login page, where a security plugin (even a free one) can place a Captcha there so brute force attacks against your website become much more difficult.

                              GENERATE BACKUPS

                              This may seem obvious but this is a simple mistake to make and yet perhaps the most costly. A free plugin – “BackWPUp” – can take care of this for you right away and even can be scheduled to run entire backups of your site/s.

                              STAY UP-TO-DATE

                              Whether you see a WordPress version, theme or plugin that says it needs updating, do as soon as you can if not right away. It will go a long way towards keeping your site secure.

                              In fact, There is a way to do this automatically without pressing any buttons! Put this code at the bottom of your “wp-config.php” file:

                                       define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true ); 

                              Then, put this code at the bottom of your activated theme’s “functions.php” file:

                                       add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );
                                       add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' ); 
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