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Facebook’s Panda Update

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Facebook’s Panda Update

So far this year publishers have lost 52% their Facebook distribution due to:

Instant Articles may have worked for an instant, but many publishers are likely where they were before they made the Faustian bargain, except they now have less control over their content distribution and advertising while having the higher cost structure of supporting another content format.

When Facebook announced their news feed update to fight off clickbait headlines, it sure sounded a lot like the equivalent of Google’s Panda update. Glenn Gabe is one of the sharpest guys in the SEO field who regularly publishes insightful content & doesn’t blindly shill for the various platform monopolies dominating the online publishing industry & he had the same view I did.

Further cementing the “this is Panda” view was an AdAge article quoting some Facebook-reliant publishers. Glad we have already shifted our ways. Nice to see them moving in the same direction we are. etc. … It felt like reading a Richard Rosenblatt quote in 2011 about Demand Media’s strong working relationship with Google or how right after Panda their aggregate traffic level was flat.

January 27, 2011

Peter Kafka: Do you think that Google post was directed at you in any way?

Richard Rosenblatt: It’s not directed at us in any way.

P K: they wrote this post, which talks about content farms, and even though you say they weren’t talking about you, it left a lot of people scratching their heads.

R R: Let’s just say that we know what they’re trying to do. … He’s talking about duplicate, non-original content. Every single piece of ours is original. … our relationship is synergistic, and it’s a great partnership.

May 9, 2011

Kara Swisher: What were you trying to communicate in the call, especially since investors seemed very focused on Panda?

R R: What I also wanted to show was that third-party data sources should not be relied on. We did get affected, for sure. But I was not just being optimistic, we wanted to use that to really understand what we can do better.

K S: Given Google’s shift in its algorithm, are you shifting your distribution, such as toward social and mobile?

R R: If you look at where trends are going, that’s where we are going to be.

K S: How are you changing the continued perception that Demand is a content farm?

R R: I don’t think anyone has defined what a content farm is and I am not sure what it means either. We obviously don’t think we are a content farm and I am not sure we can counter every impact if some people think we are.

A couple years later Richard Rosenblatt left the company.

Since the Google Panda update eHow has removed millions of articles from their site. As a company they remain unprofitable a half-decade later & keep seeing YoY media ad revenue declines in the 30% to 40% range.

Over-reliance on any platform allows that platform to kill you. And, in most cases, you are unlikely to be able to restore your former status until & unless you build influence via other traffic channels:

I think in general, media companies have lost sight of building relationships with their end users that will bring them in directly, as opposed to just posting links on social networks and hoping people will click. I think publishers that do that are shooting themselves in the foot. Media companies in general are way too focused on being where our readers are, as opposed to being so necessary to our readers that they will seek us out. – Jessica Lessin, founder of TheInformation

Recovering former status requires extra investment far above and beyond what led to the penalty. And if the core business model still has the same core problems there is no solution.

“I feel pretty confident about the algorithm on Suite 101.” – Matt Cutts

Some big news publishers are trying to leverage video equivalents of a Narrative Science or Automated Insights (from Wochit and Wibbitz) to embed thousands of autogenerated autoplay videos in their articles daily.

But is that a real long-term solution to turn the corner? Even if they see a short term pop in ad revenues by using some dumbed-down AI-enhanced low cost content, all that really does is teach people that they are a source of noise while increasing the number of web users who install ad blockers.

And the whole time penalized publishers try to recover the old position of glory, the platform monopolies are boosting their AI skills in the background while they eat the playing field.

The companies which run the primary ad networks can easily get around the ad blockers, but third party publishers can’t. As the monopoly platforms broadly defund ad-based publishing, they can put users “in control” while speaking about taking the principle-based approach:

“This isn’t motivated by inventory; it’s not an opportunity for Facebook from that perspective,” Mr. Bosworth said. “We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this.” … Mr. Bosworth said Facebook hasn’t paid any ad-blocking software company to have its ads pass through their filters and that it doesn’t intend to.

Google recently worked out a deal with Wikimedia to actually cite the source of the content shown in the search results:

it hasn’t always been the easiest to see that the material came from Wikipedia while on mobile devices. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we’ve been working to change that.

While the various platforms ride the edge on what is considered reasonable disclosure, regulatory bodies crack down on individuals participating on those platforms unless they are far more transparent than the platforms are:

Users need to be clear when they’re getting paid to promote something, and hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored –common forms of identification– are not always enough.

The whole “eating the playing field” is a trend which is vastly under-reported, largely because almost everyone engaged in the ecosystem needs to sell they have some growth strategy.

The reality is as the platform gets eaten it only gets harder to build a sustainable business. The mobile search interface is literally nothing but ads in most key categories. More ads. Larger ads. Nothing but ads.

And a bit of scrape after the ads to ensure the second or third screen still shows zero organic results.

And more scraping, across more categories.

What’s more, even large scaled companies in big money fields are struggling to monetize mobile users. On the most recent quarterly conference call TripAdvisor executives stated they monetize mobile users at about 30% the rate they monetize desktop or tablet users.

What happens when the big brand advertisers stop believing in the narrative of the value of precise user tracking?

We may soon find out:

P&G two years ago tried targeting ads for its Febreze air freshener at pet owners and households with large families. The brand found that sales stagnated during the effort, but rose when the campaign on Facebook and elsewhere was expanded last March to include anyone over 18.

P&G’s push to find broader reach with its advertising is also evident in the company’s recent increases in television spending. Toward the end of last year P&G began moving more money back into television, according to people familiar with the matter.

For mobile to work well you need to be a destination & a habit. But there is tiny screen space and navigational searches are also re-routed through Google hosted content (which will, of course, get monetized).

In fact, what would happen to an advertiser if they partnered with other advertisers to prevent brand bidding? Why that advertiser would get sued by the FTC for limiting user choice:

The bidding agreements harm consumers, according to the complaint, by restraining competition for, and distorting the prices of, advertising in relevant online auctions, by reducing the number of relevant, useful, truthful and non-misleading advertisements, by restraining competition among online sellers of contact lenses, and in some cases, by resulting in consumers paying higher retail prices for contact lenses.

If the above restraint of competition & market distortion is worth suing over, how exactly can Google make the mobile interface AMP exclusive without earning a similar lawsuit?

AMP content presented in the both sections will be “de-duplicated” in order to avoid redundancies, Google says. The move is significant in that AMP results will now take up an entire phone screen, based on the example Google shows in its pitch deck.

Are many publishers in a rush to support Google AMP after the bait-n-switch on Facebook Instant Articles?

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Local SEO Mistakes and How To Fix Them #SEMrushchat Recap

Posted by on Oct 31, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Local SEO Mistakes and How To Fix Them #SEMrushchat Recap

82% of smartphone users are turning to search engines to identify local businesses, and this is just one reason why it is essential for businesses to nail their local SEO strategy to improve foot traffic that will eventually lead to sales. This post by Paul Paquin offers quick hacks to win at local SEO, but if your site still doesn’t rank, then you may be making mistakes that need to be corrected.

To get expert insights on this topic we invited a special guest, Greg Gifford, to join us in our latest #SEMrushchat. Greg is a pro at local SEO and has assisted more than 2,000 businesses across the US and Canada to improve their sales. Greg, along with our chat participants, shared some great insights with our community on the usual mistakes with local SEO and how to rectify them. Here is what they had to say:

Q1. What is the biggest mistake you see all the time with local SEO?

With local SEO, it is not just enough to do it – it is important that you do it right! For instance, having reviews about your company on Google gives you a huge local SEO boost, but, if your reviews are fake, this mistake can cost you when you get caught.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO?

View image on Twitter

Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A1. Clients who make fake reviews for their own business. 😐

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Our chat participants also discussed certain mistakes that, according to them, are absolutely unacceptable. Check to see if your business is guilty of any of them:

Content Related Issues

The content you put on your website for local SEO can sabotage your rankings or reduce your store visits if it has these three major flaws:

1. Content that isn’t geo-specific – Nearly 2/3 of smartphone users are more likely to buy from stores that customize information to their location. So, ensuring that your content is geo-specific is extremely important.

2. Location keyword stuffing – Inserting a city or pin code in the header or footer is easily picked up by Google’s algorithm. It is now more likely to get you a penalty than a boost in ranking. It is also important to remember that the location-specific keywords you target should not include areas you don’t serve.

Tim Capper@GuideTwit

A1. Targeting cities that you literally dont and cant serve.

See Tim Capper’s other Tweets

3. Poor quality or unhelpful content – 7 out of 10 customers visit a business or make a purchase based on the information that they find online. If they do not find your content helpful, they probably won’t buy from you either.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

Q1. For me, it’s seeing location-keyword stuffed content. And crap content. Never REALLY good useful/relevant localized content

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Having your contact details searchable in the SERPs is essential, as most of us know. For local businesses, however, it is even more important to have the same contact information across all directories and platforms. Citations are considered to be one of the most important signals to Google; it shows that your business is authentic and that you are providing accurate information to your users. Inconsistent listings confuse users and search engines, and therefore, trust is lost.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A1 Inconsistent NAP – Name Address Phone number across all media.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A1: I think a lot of people will agree on inconsistent information (including NAP etc.) across different platforms/ listings. And does anyone ever have the logins to be able to access & update the stuff – NO!!

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

Not Using Your Location in Keywords at All

As stated earlier, you shouldn’t be keyword stuffing with cities all around you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your location in your keywords. Customers are more likely to visit stores near them than those that are farther off. So, just including your location on your website may not be enough. Instead, optimize for keywords like ‘Florists in Trevose’ rather than just ‘Florists.’

David Gossage@dgossage1983

A1. Having a generic 500 word block of text about the location with the odd smattering of the word “plumber” https://twitter.com/semrush/status/996768734843953152 

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO? #semrushchat

View image on Twitter
See David Gossage’s other Tweets

Not Claiming Google My Business (GMB)

“While most local SEO pros think claiming a GMB listing is an important step in their SEO strategy, a surprising 56% of local retailers have yet to claim their Google my business listing, according to Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing report. This is a serious oversight in the local SEO efforts.

Not Using Structured Data Effectively

Using schema markup communicates to the search engines where your office is located, which then allows the SERPs to serve the most relevant content to your users. This is especially important for multi-location businesses with a single website, since results will be based on structured data, as opposed to websites.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A1 Biggest Mistake seen in is not using Structured Data effectively or correctly

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A1: The biggest mistake is not using schema markup for location citations and entities

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Not Tracking Attribution and Not Optimizing

Taking advantage of ways to track attribution to find out where your customers come from, and why, will help you to optimize your site’s content. This will also give you great insights on your customer’s search behavior, thus helping you to identify top performing channels.

CallRail@CallRail

A1: Not taking advantage of ways to track attribution–it’s just as important for local businesses and the agencies who serve them as it is for the big guys. Figure out where your leads are coming from + optimize those channels.

See CallRail’s other Tweets

@greggifford said that DealerOn has started using Google Posts for car dealers and has gotten a ton of visibility and click-throughs to their sites, but only if they are done right, like this example that he shared:

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A2 Specials or Events seem like ways to capture people’s attention with Google Posts

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A2. We aren’t using Google Posts currently, but in my previous job I dabbled with it. Specials and events were the most successful use cases, like others have mentioned.

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Similarly, in the hospitality industry and co-working spaces, Google Posts can be used to promote different offices, tours, and events for greater visibility.

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A2: We’ve helped a hospitality/co-working client use Google Posts to promote their offices, tours, and events. Another hospitality client uses them for their restaurants (food, events, etc.). Great visibility, but middling interaction.

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

@Ashok83 stated, remember to keep your posts short and to the point.

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

The minute you have a GMB listing, your business automatically has a Q&A section that displays on Google Maps. This feature allows anyone to ask and respond to questions in regards to your business. Unfortunately, not many businesses are aware of this feature and even fewer bother to check it regularly.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – OMG, Y’ALL – it’s SO BAD out there… business owners should be checking Q&A daily (but really, shouldn’t they be checking their listing daily anyway?)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A3 Own Q and A – make checking it someones responsibility and don’t skimp – it is a front line interaction with customers. Can damage brand if you are not careful. Anyone remember Exxon – I’m sure it was Q and A that did for them. Probably

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t ignore Q&A and how it can be used to help your business:

It Can Help to Build Your Brand Reputation Online

Q&A is a great opportunity to build and maintain your business’s brand reputation. Make sure you check your listings every day and respond to questions quickly and politely.

Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team@ExpWriters

A3: It’s worth checking regularly. You don’t want questions from people going unanswered.

Respond swiftly and politely!

See Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team’s other Tweets

How you respond to these questions can help many future customers make their buying decision. Since the questions are ranked from most recent to older, time is of the essence when you respond.

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A3: Businesses need to treat Q&As like reviews, these can play a major influence in a perspective client’s decision process. Since Questions are ranked from most to least recent, always try to answer the most recent questions in a timely manner.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A3: Remember to read & respond accordingly! Put some thought into it as potential clients read this stuff. It’s more valuable than a lot of people realise.

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Control the Conversation

Remember, anyone can post questions on the Q&A section, including you as a business owner. So, if you understand your target audience well, you can control the conversation by posting questions that you think are relevant.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – also, business owners need to know that they can ask their own questions, then answer them – people are reading this BEFORE they get to the site… control the conversation!

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Discover New Content Opportunities

The kind of questions asked can highlight new opportunities for you to write specific content based on the answers to these specific queries. Jim Fuhs – @FuhsionMktg also mentioned that businesses using chatbots can also incorporate these questions for FAQs.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 we’ve also had a lot of success using the questions asked in Q&A to figure out what sort of content needs to be added to the website (HUGE opportunity here)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

 You Can Use It As An Engagement Channel

By simply making your customers aware of the Q&A section and encouraging them to post questions there, you have a new place to interact and engage with your customers. If you have a set strategy in place for certain questions, you can easily improve the quality of questions and the engagement.

Joshua Delbert Hermreck@thisisdelbert

A3: Make your clients aware of the Q&A section. Discuss strategy for certain question types (silos) and respond as the owner when relevant! If you know a Local Guide those answers might be useful too 😉

See Joshua Delbert Hermreck’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

View image on Twitter

Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A3: Make sure to check it regularly. Answer all questions POSITIVELY and honestly and transparently (don’t go in and pretend to be someone you’re not). And just accept that ppl will probably use it to leave reviews bc ppl are … human.

Embedded video

See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

They Can Help You Identify Misplaced User-Reviews

If you don’t make checking your Q&A section regularly a thing, you can run the risk of missing out on reviews that a less-than-savvy user has posted.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3. The worst part is when less-than-savvy users leave reviews in the Q&A section and dealers have no idea they’re there…

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A4 Setting expectations to clients, especially if they have tried to some of this themselves, is possibly the hardest part of Local SEO. Diplomacy is the key word. But give them other solutions they can work with.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A4: I had to do this in a meeting earlier today. It’s not easy but you have to break it down into a context the client will understand e.g. they wouldn’t be put in the phone book for the metro area so why would they show up in that area listing online?

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

And, they have had to explain that, due to Google updates, many hacks that have worked in the past simply will not anymore:

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – this is a really tough one. You have to really be good at explaining that Google has made updates, and what you could do 3 years ago won’t work anymore.

Embedded video

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A4: This is tough, but I always felt the need to educate clients on new updates. You can tackle this issue in a few ways; blog posts, client newsletter, or a simple Local SEO packet your agency develops to give out to new and prospective clients.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

However, the popular consensus was that it was easier to explain using an example, similar to this one from James Scroggie – @seoscroggie:

James Scroggie@seoscroggie

A4/1: I would try and make it simple for them. If you were ordering lunch, and the sandwich shop would only deliver within a 2 mile radius, why would you want to see sandwich shops over 5 miles away?

See James Scroggie’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we use the “pizza delivery” example to help here – have people Google those 2 words at work, and then explain that the EXACT same search at home brings up 100% different results. Easy way to demonstrate proximity factor

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Geeky Fox@TechKitsune

A4: Yeesh, well, I liked @GregGifford answer about pizza. I think that is a great example of a way to let a client know about mapping in Google as simplistically as possible.

See Geeky Fox’s other Tweets

Another tip was to have your clients try out the service results for GMB in a particular area. This can help them to understand that distance is an important factor when it comes to purchase decisions or store visits. Therefore, targeting people who are more likely to buy from them (or use their services), due to proximity, will eventually work better for the business.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A4 Explain how distance is an important aspect of ranking in Local Results, and that the most success will come from targeting people who might visit them in person (those suburbs are filled with people!)

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A4: That’s tough! We always recommend using service areas for GMB if they are in the suburbs. Doing that sometimes helps them understand.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we also point out that it’s important to “own your own back yard” first – many times, the businesses asking for this don’t even show up well in their own town. They have to get the foundation right first.

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q4. Clients in the suburbs think they should show up in the map pack for the metro, but marketers know it’s not possible – how do you educate your clients so they don’t have misaligned expectations?

View image on Twitter

Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A4: Try to explain service areas and zip codes. If you wanna show up for the city, move to the city. People (aka leads) live in suburbs too. So don’t forget those potential leads and customers just bc it looks like there’s more grass on the other side of the fence.

Embedded video

See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A4: “You’re outside of the search radius in question. We can get you to rank in the map pack locally in the suburbs, though, and increase awareness of your suburban location within the metro area.”

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

important to highlight in monthly reports, others argued that more important metrics should be reported. Others stated that their report will completely depend upon their client’s requirements and/or their business objectives.

Here are some examples of what you could include in your monthly reports:

  • A list of localized rankings for specific target keywords, including rankings for the keyword/location and a month over month change in the ranking.

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A5: Absolutely! We use the tool @UnamoHQ to track keywords rankings and GMB listings. We show how the keyword changed in ranking from month-to-month in a report.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

View image on Twitter

Sam Charles 🌱🔎@SamCharlesUK

A5 My *lovely* ranking software exports the list of terms we’re targeting, where they appear in search and where they rank locally in brackets i.e. 5 (3). I provide a mini local report too with more details, if it’s a high priority for them

See Sam Charles 🌱🔎‘s other Tweets
  • Landing pages, top traffic sources, and entry sources.

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A5: No, you shouldn’t make keyword ranking a priority in Local SEO, focus on top traffic sources, top landing pages and entry pages. You can use a search term report to build out a content bucket list, but keyword ranking should not be a priority IMO

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets
  • CPL (Cost Per Lead) from paid channels and the number of incoming calls from GMB metrics can make great supporting numbers to show the impact of your Local SEO efforts.
  • Identify new keyword opportunities in the Google Search Console and track it back to GMB posts.

    Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

    A5: No, you shouldn’t make keyword ranking a priority in Local SEO, focus on top traffic sources, top landing pages and entry pages. You can use a search term report to build out a content bucket list, but keyword ranking should not be a priority IMO

    See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Keep in mind, despite what your reports show, when it comes to local businesses, foot traffic and final sales are ultimately what matters the most.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A5 Yes but footfall in the shops and till takings is ultimately what counts and I have received great feedback about both when we have optimised for local.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

a5 – plus, think about why clients pay us…

They don’t pay us to get them to rank better.

They pay us to get them more traffic and more leads.

Ranking reports don’t show anything about that objective…

16 people are talking about this

This is why many of our chat participants prefer to leave local SEO keywords out of their reports. However, here are some pointers to keep in mind for keyword ranking, if you do choose to report on it:

  • Ranking #1 or #8 does not matter as long as you are getting relevant traffic to your site and people into your store.

    James Leisy@theJimmyB0b

    A5: I’ve never liked including ranking data for clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re ranking #1 or #8, as long as you’re getting relevant traffic that is converting on your site. Especially for local since proximity is such a huge factor.

    See James Leisy’s other Tweets

    Ranking may not always correspond with organic traffic or leads. In fact, you can get great results with local SEO and increase your site traffic, even if a target keyword has dropped in rank.

    Greg Gifford

    @GregGifford

    a5 – plus, you can have a ridiculously awesome report… 50% increase in organic traffic, 100% increase in organic leads… but the client will freak out if they see a keyword dropped 5 positions

    See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets
  • Ranking varies from device to device, even in the same location. So, the ranking report may not actually paint an accurate picture.

    Greg Gifford

    @GregGifford

    a5 – someone mentioned earlier that a computer and a phone in the same room often shows different SERPs – so a client-facing ranking report doesn’t really paint a true picture

    See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

    Greg Gifford

    @GregGifford

    a5 – rank tracking just doesn’t work accurately in Local.

    We monitor it internally, but sharing it on a report doesn’t really mean anything

    See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

So, if your client wants you to show keyword rankings in your reports, go ahead and include it in your report. But, you can explain to them that, in the long run, building more local authority and optimizing your business listings are a better use of your time.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

View image on Twitter

Sean Bucher@spbucher

A5: It depends on the client and their objectives. I think showing results of opitmzing a listing and building authority over time warrant more attention. GMB’s API allows for 16 month lookback on location data, so you can show growth YoY in calls, clicks, etc.

See Sean Bucher’s other Tweets

https://www.semrush.com/blog/local-seo-mistakes-and-how-to-fix-them-semrushchat-recap/

Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

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

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

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

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

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

Getting listed: the opportunities

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

SaaS and B2B directories

Business directories

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

While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:

Local directories

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

Getting listed: the smart way

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

Find whether the platform ranks in Google

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

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

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

Find whether the platform has any traffic

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

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

Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere

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

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

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

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

 

 

Google's Robots.txt Parser is Misbehaving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of misbehaving robots.txt parser

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

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

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

The open source parser is missing Google-specific features

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

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

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

That would be a mistake.

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

Worked example with googlebot-image

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

googlebot-image misbehaving

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

The online checker has errors

googlebot/1.2 is equivalent to googlebot user-agent

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

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

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

Google Search Console robots.txt checker is wrong

The documentation differs from reality too

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

For example:

user agent matches the first most specific rule

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

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

Search Console is correct in this instance

But it turns out the order doesn’t matter:

Search Console doesn't match the documentation

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

All the sources disagree

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

And actual Googlebot behaves differently to all of them

What should happen now?

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

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

Top time-saving tools for SEOs

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

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

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

The basics

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

Word count tool

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

Site lookup

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

Hunter

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

MailTester

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

Link Klipper

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

Redirect path

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

Advanced

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

MozBar

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

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

NoFollow

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

Web Developer

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

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

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

Ayima Page Insights

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

Bonus: Chrome DevTools

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

Non-specific to SEO (but still helpful)

LastPass

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

Google Dictionary

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

Super Simple Highlighter

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

Nimbus Capture

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

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

Adam Clemence is Senior SEO Manager at Croud

 

10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About

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

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

 

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

 

10 Shocking SEO Facts You Never Knew About

 

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

 

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

 

 

1. Duplicate Content Won’t Get You Penalized

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

There is no Google duplicate content penalty.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

3. Top Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity

 

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

 

Are social signals a ranking factor?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

4. Rich Snippets Have No Direct Impact on Your Rankings

 

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

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

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

A: No.

Rich Snippets Example

Source: www.seopressor.com

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

This leads to an important question:

 

Does usefulness matter more than content?

 

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

 

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

Is content still king?

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

 

 

 

6. Object Detection in Images Is a Strong Ranking Signal

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

 

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

 

automatic-object-detection-images-google

 

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

Object Detection in Images Example

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Source: www.seobythesea.com

Source: www.seobythesea.com

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Google SERP Platform Allocation

Source: www.aimclearblog.com

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Source: moz.com

Source: moz.com

 

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

 

plumbers2

 

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

 

 

 

10. Google Ranks Events Based upon Popularity

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Example Ranking Events

Source: www.seobythesea.com

 

 

Conclusion

 

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

 

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

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

 

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Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content

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

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

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

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

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

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

The standard formula of:

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

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

Uh-oh.

Beyond keyword research

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

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

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

1. Keyword research, the right way

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Get organized

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

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

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

3. On-brand is your best friend

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

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

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

For instance:

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

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

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

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

4. Integrity & authenticity matter

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

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

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

5.Know your target audience

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Micro-engagement makes the difference

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

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

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

Here are some suggestions to boost micro-engagement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your best approach is to stay ahead of the curve.

8. Data is everything

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

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

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

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

To close

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

Best Chrome Extensions for Social Media Professionals

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

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

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

Plan & Organize Your Activities

Todoist

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

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

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

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

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

Search for Relevant Content

Inoreader

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule & Post

SEMrush Social Media Poster

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media Poster

Schedule Your Next Post

Grammarly

Social media can be merciless if you make a mistake.

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

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

Find Hashtags

RiteTag

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

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

Choose the Visuals

Lightshot

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

Awesome Screenshot

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

Pablo

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

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

Colorzilla

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

Colorzilla

Giphy

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

Piktochart

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

Why Extensions?

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

Keyword Research: Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started

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

Keyword Research: Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started

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

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

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

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

What is Keyword Research and Why is it Important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But First….

4 Pillars of Keyword Research

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

LSIGraph Data

LSIGraph is one of the tools that provide these data.

1) Search Volume & Competitiveness

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

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

2) Short vs Long

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

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

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

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

short tail or long tail keywords

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

3) Timeliness

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

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

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

4) Related Keywords (LSI Keywords)

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

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

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

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Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

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

Keyword Research Tools To Get Started

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

1) Google Keyword Planner

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

Here are steps to use the Google Keyword Planner:

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

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

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

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

Sign in and Select Keyword Planner

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

Search New Keyword and Ad Group

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

Enter Keywords and Get Ideas

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

Loads of Information on the Keywords Idea Tab

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

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

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

2) Google Trends

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

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

i. Check out Google Trends here.

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

Google Trends Landing Page

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

Google Trend Time Range

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

Google Trend Graph Comparison

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

Google Trend Region Graph

Let’s briefly talk about this part:

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

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

3) LSIGraph

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

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

Let’s see how it works in practice:

i. Visit lsigraph.com.

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

LSI Graph Landing Page

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

LSIGraph result page

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

LSIGraph unlimited lsi keywords

Presenting you the Unlimited LSIGraph!

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

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

4) WordGraph

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

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

Here’s how it work:
i. Visit wordgraph.io

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

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

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

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

Wordgraph entities compare 1

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Is WordPress Susceptible to Cyber Attacks?

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

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

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

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


1. Use Up-to-Date Versions

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

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

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


2. Choose Your Themes and Plugins Carefully

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

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

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

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


3. Moderate Your WordPress Users

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

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

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

Prevent a WordPress Hack


4. Disable WordPress File Editing

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

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

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

define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true);


5. Protect Your Login Page

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

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

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


6. Add Two-Factor Authentication

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

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

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

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

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

Prevent a WordPress Hack


7. Change Your Admin Username

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

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


8. Use SSL to Encrypt Your Data

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

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

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

Prevent a WordPress Hack


9. Limit Login Attempts

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

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


10. Remove Your WordPress Version Number

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

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


11. Run a WordPress Security Plugin

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

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

Prevent a WordPress Hack


11. Alter Your WordPress Database Table Prefix

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

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


13. Beware Public Wi-Fi Networks

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

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


14. Review Your Web Hosting

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

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

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


15. Always Backup Your WordPress Website

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

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

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

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

Prevent a WordPress Hack


Is Your WordPress Website Secure From Hackers?

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

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

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

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