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  1. Introducing Model Y Order at http:// tesla.com/y  

  2. El Model 3 ya está disponible en México. Diseña el tuyo https:// cards.twitter.com/cards/7x0uw/70 jn2  …

  3. “How does the Tesla Model 3 do in the snow? Amazingly.” @ PopMech experiences Track Mode in snow https://www. popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-el ectric/a26445757/tesla-model-3-winter-driving-rally-car/  …

  4. Reminder to buy our S3XY cars before midnight on Monday! Prices rise slightly worldwide on Tuesday. You can order online at http:// Tesla.com   .

  5. To be clear, orders are fully refundable, even after you’ve had your Tesla for a week

  6. Tesla Model 3 owners with the latest 2019.8.2 software update are waking up to even more performance https://www. teslarati.com/tesla-model-3- peak-power-software-update/  …

  7. Testing Starship heatshield hex tilespic.twitter.com/PycE9VthxQ

  8. Edited a sped-up video of the DM-1 Dragon 2 docking. Really shows how active the guidance software is while at the 20m hold point. @ NASASpaceflight @ ChrisG_NSF @ elonmusk # spacex # nasa pic.twitter.com/PAtxvLax5r

  9. We have a special guest on the latest episode of Watch this Space! Join me behind the scenes of the recent @ SpaceX Demo-1 launch with @ elonmusk as we discuss what it’s like to be on the cusp of a new era of human spaceflight. Full Episode: https:// youtu.be/X2t4l_yMStE   pic.twitter.com/HAXCyzCTFi

  10. Showing mom and grandma Autopark @ lilduval pic.twitter.com/Zs0zyMD2ma

  11. Due to unusually high volume, Tesla was unable to process all orders by midnight on Monday, so the slight price rise on vehicles is postponed to midnight Wednesday https:// cards.twitter.com/cards/7x0uw/72 5k0  …

  12. Norway's NAF (= AAA) review of Model 3 says it has "hysterical amounts of power", competitors are "pre-historic", car scores highest ever for any EV, and arrives "way too early for the competitors". @ tesla @ elonmusk @ ValueAnalyst1 https://www. motor.no/tester/biltest er/tesla-model-3-2019/  …

  13. To see more Demo-1 images, visit: https://www. flickr.com/photos/nasaken nedy/albums/72157702864859562  …

  14. This car saves dogs’ lives pic.twitter.com/8Okzrtef2c

  15. "The exacting nature of that single pedal combined with that razor-sharp steering, and mountains of torque, make the Model 3 one of the most fun cars I’ve ever owned” @ Hagerty https://www. hagerty.com/articles-video s/articles/2019/03/14/gearheads-enjoy-tesla-model-3  …

  16. After owning 4-cylinder hatchbacks my entire life, I took the plunge and bought a @ Tesla . This is the best car I've ever owned! 120-mile daily commute has never been more relaxing! Thank you @ elonmusk @ Tesla # Tesla # Model3 # Customized # VintageFuture pic.twitter.com/aXHtBdt8w0 – at TESLA Super Charging Statin, Fort Drum

  17. Top Five Reasons Why Consumers Buy @ Tesla Cars: Video Reason #1 - Most Fun to Own --> https:// insideevs.com/top-five-reaso ns-buy-tesla-video/amp/  … pic.twitter.com/EHXDteQktR

  18. New Tesla referral program just released https://www. tesla.com/blog/teslas-ne w-customer-referral-program?redirect=no  …

  19. Tesla Model 3 Easily Outsold All Other EVs In Europe In February 2019 https:// insideevs.com/tesla-model-3- outsells-evs-europe/amp/  …

  20. First look at a Tesla Model 3 driving to its owner on Enhanced Summon https://www. teslarati.com/tesla-model-3- enhanced-summon-video/  …

  21. Colorpeak promo

    2018-11-21 12:04:08 UTC

  22. Colorpeak Web Design

    2018-11-21 12:06:18 UTC

  23. Colorpeak Web Design & Marketing

    2018-11-21 11:57:50 UTC

  24. Colorpeak web design

    2018-11-21 12:06:53 UTC

  25. Shine Auto Spa

    2018-12-05 17:33:14 UTC

  26. The Death of Don Draper

    2018-08-03 09:32:00 UTC

    John Hamm by GQ Australia
    Advertising, once a creative industry, is now a data-driven business reliant on algorithms. The implications are deeply sinister – not only for the consumer but for democracy itself.

    The advertising industry is currently enthralled by a prophet of its imminent demise. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and founder of a marketing consultancy. In a much-shared YouTube video, he delivers a talk entitled “The Death of the Advertising-Industrial Complex” to an audience of young marketers. In it, he argues that businesses can no longer rely on advertising to compensate for mediocre products.

    Until the 1990s, says Galloway, the path to success lay in taking “an average beer, average car, or average suit” and wrapping it in appealing associations – this one makes you feel more elegant, this one makes you feel younger. Now, we live in an age in which the intangible haze of soft-sell is no longer necessary, and the battle for market share comes down to the raw strength of your product. “The sun has passed midday on brand,” he says.

    Galloway, lean of frame, dresses in the austerely casual manner of technology entrepreneurs. Glasses with thick black frames perch on his shaven head. He begins his lecture, disarmingly, by warning that he can get things wrong: he once predicted Amazon would decline in value right before its stock began a record-breaking ascent. But there is nothing equivocal about his presentation. Traditional advertising is unforgivably wasteful, he says. “Nothing resembling targeting takes place. Ninety-eight per cent of what you see in broadcast media is irrelevant to you as an individual. I find that the advertising on Facebook and Google sucks less.”

    These days, consumers are less likely to have favourite brands, since “their favourite brand is going to be whatever Google tells them at that moment is going to match their exact needs”. The brand getting the most buzz in the car industry is Tesla. “What’s different about them? No advertising. Innovation in the car industry is not about putting Cindy Crawford in a TV ad. It’s about building a better battery.”

    Galloway closes with a cruel assessment of the ad industry’s relevance. “When’s the last time you saw an ad agency executive on the cover of Business Week? No one cares what they think. Don Draper has been killed, drawn and quartered. The big idea in advertising is a small idea nobody cares about.”

    Until recently, it was possible to identify somewhere called “Adland” on a map. In New York, advertising agencies clustered on or around Madison Avenue, near the big department stores. In London, the action was in Soho, among the film and TV production houses. The industry was a small world, with all the collegiality and parochialism that implies. In both cities, ad agencies are now dispersed randomly around town, as if an earthquake had destroyed their habitat, forcing them to scatter in different directions. Once so sure of their place in the world, they now seem a little lost.

    The earthquake, of course, was the internet, and the subsequent seizure of the ad business by technology companies. Between them, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (about whom Galloway has written an acclaimed, critical book, The Four), have transformed advertising’s terms of trade. Clients pour billions into a digital ecosystem that revolves around Google and Facebook in particular. The ad industry, run by people who pride themselves on creativity, is being displaced by the ad business, which prides itself on efficiency. Clients are spending less on the kind of entertaining, seductive, fame-generating campaigns in which ad agencies specialise, and more on the ads that flash and wink on your smartphone screen.

    The ad industry views itself as a field of applied artistry, a next-door neighbour to the entertainment industry. Though it often fails, it aspires to surprise, charm, move and delight people on behalf of its clients. The ad business is obsessed with data science and distrusts the messy stuff of story, image and idea. The ad industry thinks of itself as the custodian of a brand’s meaning in popular culture. The ad business could not care less about such fluff. Instead, it seeks to identify the precise moment that a consumer needs something so that it can trigger a sale. Shopping, on its model, is essentially an engineering problem to which a satisfyingly logical solution has finally been found.

    The ad business is largely automated. Clients only have to decide how many people they want to reach, and how much they want to spend; algorithms do the rest. In the milliseconds before a page loads on to your screen, a virtual auction takes place. Advertisers bid for the chance to place their client’s ad on it, based on data about your online behaviour: where you live, whether you’re young or old, recently shopped for shoes or searched for a car brand. The advertiser might create multiple ads and serve different executions to different slices of its audience. Some companies, such as Cambridge Analytica, claim to be able to target personality types using this method. The more valuable your particular profile is to the advertiser, the higher price its algorithm will pay the publisher to get an ad in front of your eyes. In this way, every scintilla of attention is transformed into money.

    The ad business is insanely profitable. It has turned Google (worth $750bn) and Facebook ($600bn) into bloated zeppelins of cash. It is also the engine of the free internet, providing the funds for most of what you read and watch online. But the ad business has problems. Algorithms are poor at making judgements that seem obvious to humans, like whether or not a soap brand will be happy having its ads run next to an Isis recruitment video. Consumers have proved ungrateful for the increased “relevance” of the ads that pop up on their screens, partly because so many of them are bafflingly irrelevant. Tiring of the aggressiveness with which online ads insert themselves between them and the content they wish to see, more and more people are using ad-blockers to combat what they regard as an infestation.

    Clients have even started to question the ad business’s claim to efficiency. The model I described above is a simplified version of a dizzyingly complex system whose details few can fathom, involving multiple companies taking multiple fees. Unsurprisingly, fraud is rampant. It is estimated that at least a third of the audience for online ads are bots: criminal groups make millions of dollars selling fake clicks to advertisers and their agencies. Nobody can say for sure how well advertising on Facebook works since Facebook refuses to share data with industry bodies. Because of concerns such as these, the world’s biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble (P&G), cut its digital marketing budget by $200m in 2017 and reallocated the money to other media, including television.

    Rather than recovering lost ground, the ad industry is paralysed by an identity crisis. Most agencies are owned by a handful of global advertising groups, such as Omnicom or WPP, founded by Martin Sorrell, which have moved their operating firms out of homes in expensive parts of town and into anonymous office blocks, partly to disguise the deterioration of their core business. The groups have made a half-hearted attempt to transform themselves into data-driven technology companies, but have succeeded only in legitimating the overblown claims of their competitors and disappointing the stock market.

    Ad agencies no longer seem to know what they are for. Their executives like to declare that they don’t work in advertising, since “ads” are associated with a pre-internet world. Yet when asked to say what it is they actually do, they become vague (“communication”) or grandiose (“create culture”). The industry is Balkanised, the engineers talking a different language to the storytellers. Scott Galloway’s lecture articulates the worst fear of the latter: that there is no need for them any more. Yet not everyone is ready to accept redundancy.


    “Flowers are ads. Peacocks’ tails are ads.” Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, and the ad industry’s most vigorous defender is in full flow over lunch at his agency’s offices in Blackfriars. “One reason I’m not predicting the death of advertising any time soon is that you can see how important it is in nature. A flower is basically a weed with an advertising budget.”

    Sutherland believes that something in the mindset of technologists makes it hard for them to see or admit the value of advertising. Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s more unconventional thinkers, once observed that “nerds are sceptical of advertising, marketing and sales because they seem superficial and irrational. But advertising matters because it works. It works on nerds, and it works on you.” Engineers tend to conceive of advertising – insofar as they think about it at all – as a mere conduit for information about the product, which in their mind should speak for itself, without the superfluous operating system of a brand. Rory Sutherland argues that efficiency is overrated, and that excess and superfluity are weapons that marketers surrender at their peril.

    “Knowing that the seller has faith in their product is a hugely valuable piece of information,” he says. “In luxury goods, for instance, the ad says almost nothing; the cost of the ad almost everything.” Biologists regard the peacock’s tail as an expensive and so unfakeable signal of fitness – a sexual status symbol.

    Similarly, an ad can emit a powerful signal about a brand, regardless of information content. Online ads are cheap and easy to make, but the problem is, they look at it. “You don’t invite people to your wedding by email,” says Sutherland.

    Sutherland is somewhat peacockish himself, his generously proportioned figure clothed in tweed and red corduroy, his speech bubbling with jokes, analogies, and asides on Austrian economists. What the ad industry brings to the corporate world, he says, is something it cannot afford to do without, even if it doesn’t know it: absurdity. Successful marketing must not be too rational because, as in military strategy, it depends on surprise. “In battle, if you’re always efficient, you’re predictable. In marketing, you have to do something slightly absurd in order to be distinctive – in order to avoid making the competition a kind of race to the bottom.”

    It isn’t enough for a signal to be costly or surprising, of course; it has to resonate with an audience. An axiom of the data-driven ad business is that an ad should be as tightly targeted as possible. Why waste money reaching millions of people when most of them are not in the market for your product? P&G’s top marketer, Marc Pritchard, a critic of Facebook, is nevertheless a devout believer in what he calls “one-to-one brand building”.

    But the doctrine of micro-targeting has a major lacuna. It is only by being visible to everyone at once that advertising can perform its most valuable role: shaping the cultural meaning of a brand.

    Before Christie’s sold Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017, it staged high-profile public exhibitions of the painting around the world and made an expensively produced video to showcase it – in effect, an ad. On the face of it, all this activity was a flagrant waste of money: almost nobody who consumes the marketing for a da Vinci is in the market for it. Christie’s salespeople knew all the potential buyers personally. They can, and did, visit them in the privacy of their penthouses.

    Yet Christie’s realised that those buyers would pay an extra few million for the privilege of owning a painting that was “iconic”. This isn’t some quirk of billionaire art collectors; it’s human nature. We value things more highly when we know that others value them.

    In his 2001 book Rational Ritual, the academic Michael Suk-Young Chwe argued that advertising solves what economists call a “coordination problem”. It helps us to see the world as others see it, and adapt our behaviour accordingly. If I know that a particular beer brand is associated with “quality” in the eyes of most people in the bar, then I will find it easier to drink it in public, regardless of my own personal preference, presuming I even have one. That wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t know that those people have seen the same ads as me. Being able to solve a problem like that is highly valuable for a brand, which is one reason why the cost of Super Bowl TV advertising has risen so steeply in the era of the internet: a 30-second commercial in 2018 cost about $5m, up from $1m in 1995. Messages can be microtargeted, but the meaning has to be mass-produced.

    Trust, too. The very act of advertising in public tends to make a brand more trusted since people can see it has a social reputation to maintain. When ads are invisible to people outside their target audience, it is easier to send messages that would fare badly in the light of public scrutiny – for political actors, Facebook is a dog-whistler's paradise. Researchers have consistently found that ads in broadcast media are taken more seriously than online ads: one reason for this is that people can see that other people can see them too. Even Mark Zuckerberg understands this at some level. Seeking to restore trust in Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he ran full-page ads in newspapers.

    The need to have a meaningful brand forces a company to reflect on how it wishes to be perceived by society at large. Once that imperative disappears, all that is left is the battle for attention.

     All gravy: Lynda Bellingham’s Oxo family were on our screens throughout the 1980s and 1990s

    It’s weird,” says Tom Goodwin, a prominent advertising executive and author of a new book, Digital Darwinism. “Adverts have never felt less significant, ad agencies have never seemed less important, but the advertising business has never dominated more aspects of modern life. Mostly in a bad way.”

    In a recent article for the New York Times, the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci recounted how, during the 2016 presidential campaign, she watched videos of Donald Trump’s rallies online, and noticed that YouTube started recommending and “auto-playing” videos of white supremacist rants and Holocaust denials. Curious, she set up another YouTube account and watched a lot of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders rallies. She was soon being directed to conspiracy theories about 9/11 and secret government agencies.

    Tufekci found the same pattern on non-political topics: videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism; videos about jogging led to videos about ultra-marathons. The stakes were always being upped. YouTube, she concluded, was a “radicalising instrument”. That isn’t, she says because YouTube’s engineers are zealots. It’s because Google (YouTube’s owner) is selling attention to advertisers, and its algorithms have learnt that the best way to keep people hooked is to push ever more extreme material on them.

    Attention was always important to the ad industry, but so were entertainment and storytelling, since what makes a person laugh, think or cry is more likely to be remembered. Historically, ads in broadcast media needed to be memorable, because they were not going to be seen very often, and would be absent at the point of purchase. It was important, therefore, to “build a brand” – a set of visual and emotional associations easily recalled to mind when deciding between options. At the supermarket, a shopper was more likely to reach for Oxo than other stock cubes, because its long-running TV campaign, featuring Lynda Bellingham, was funny and acute enough to have forged a link in the public imagination between Oxo and the consoling rituals of a British family meal. Oxo was instant gravy wrapped in cultural code, or perhaps cultural code disguised as instant gravy.

    Now that people carry media around with them everywhere, advertisers have less incentive to create memorable brands. Instead, they concentrate on forcing our attention towards the message or offer of the moment. The ad business doesn’t care about the future of its audience, only its present. That has had far-reaching consequences.

    In 2016, Facebook in effect charged the Trump campaign lower rates than the Clinton campaign, because Trump’s ads made people angrier and thus generated more clicks. Nobody took a decision to charge Trump less. It was the logical outcome of the ad business’s core principle: the more attention you win, the more you get paid. Since negative emotions are more likely to win and hold attention than positive emotions, the system has an incentive to spread fear and loathing. Russia’s entire propaganda campaign relies on an advertising model that rewards paranoia and spite.

    Meanwhile, we stoop over our phones when we should be doing almost anything else. A senior analyst at the Bank of England recently published an article making a case that one of the causes of Britain’s poor productivity is the spread of smartphones. A comprehensive US study, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, identified a strong association between social media use and depression. It’s not just Facebook: every app on your phone is engineered to hook and hold your attention, at the expense of your work, sleep, family and mental health. Every app with ads, that is.

    Scott Galloway is only the most eloquent exponent of the view that brand-led advertising is a vestige of a less rational world, to be superseded by a more scientific system (at the now legendary congress of Online Marketing Rockstars, Alexander Nix, then chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, gave a presentation entitled “From Mad Men to Math Men”). But if there is a bug in the software, it is the human mind. The way we choose what to buy, like the way we choose how to vote, will never be logical. Trying to make it so has created an environment in which our basest impulses are relentlessly stimulated and amplified.

    The philosopher Gilles Deleuze once remarked, “It is not the slumber of a reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality.” If ever there was a creation of insomniac rationality it is the 21st-century advertising business. Its monsters roam the planet.

  27. Online Marketing Effectiveness on Integrated Marketing Communications

    2018-08-03 10:02:00 UTC

    GaryVee by GaryVee

    Online marketing is becoming a hot topic in every business sector and gradually plays a truly important role in any company's multi-channel marketing strategy or its integrated marketing communication.

    Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a marketing concept that ensures all forms of communication and messages are carefully linked together.  

    At its most basic level, Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC means integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony. Promotion is one of the Ps in the marketing mix. The promotion has its own mix of communication tools.
    All of these communication tools work better if they work together in harmony rather than in isolation. Their sum is greater than their parts - providing they speak consistently with one voice all the time, every time.

    Tools of Online Marketing:

    Display advertising - Display advertising conveys its advertising message visually using text, logos, animations, videos, photographs, or other graphics. Display advertisers frequently target users with particular traits to increase the ads' effect.

    Web banner advertising - Web banners or banner ads typically are graphical ads displayed on a web page. Banner ads can use rich media to incorporate video, audio, animations, buttons, forms, or other interactive elements using Java applets, HTML5, Adobe Flash, and other programs.

    Frame ad (traditional banner) - Frame ads were the first form of web banners. The colloquial usage of "banner ads" often refers to traditional frame ads. Website publishers incorporate frame ads by setting aside a particular space on the web page.

    Pop-ups/pop-unders - A pop-up ad is displayed in a new web browser window that opens above a website visitor's initial browser window. A pop-under ad opens a new browser window under a website visitor's initial browser window.

    Floating ad - A floating ad, or overlay ad, is a type of rich media advertisement that appears superimposed over the requested website's content. Floating ads may disappear or become less obtrusive after a preset time period.

    Expanding ad - An expanding ad is a rich media frame ad that changes dimensions upon a predefined condition, such as a preset amount of time a visitor spends on a webpage, the user's click on the ad, or the user's mouse movement over the ad. Expanding ads allow advertisers to fit more information into a restricted ad space.

    Interstitial ad - An interstitial ad displays before a user can access requested content, sometimes while the user is waiting for the content to load. Interstitial ads are a form of interruption marketing.

    Text ads - A text ad displays text-based hyperlinks. Text-based ads may display separately from a web page's primary content, or they can be embedded by hyperlinking individual words or phrases to advertiser's websites. Text ads may also be delivered through email marketing or text message marketing.

    Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is designed to increase a website's visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines provide sponsored results and organic (non-sponsored) results based on a web searcher's query. Search engines often employ visual cues to differentiate sponsored results from organic results. Search engine marketing includes all of an advertiser's actions to make a website's listing more prominent for topical keywords.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, attempts to improve a website's organic search rankings in SERPs by increasing the website content's relevance to search terms. Search engines regularly update their algorithms to penalize poor quality sites that try to game their rankings, making optimization a moving target for advertisers. Many vendors offer SEO services.

    Sponsored search - Sponsored search (also called sponsored links or search ads) allows advertisers to be included in the sponsored results of a search for selected keywords. Search ads are often sold via real-time auctions, where advertisers bid on keywords.

    Social media marketing - Social media marketing is a commercial promotion conducted through social media websites. Many companies promote their products by posting frequent updates and providing special offers through their social media profiles.

    Mobile Advertising - Mobile advertising is ad copy delivered through wireless mobile devices such as smartphones, feature phones, or tablet computers. Mobile advertising may take the form of static or rich media to display ads, SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) ads, mobile search ads, advertising within mobile websites, or ads within mobile applications or games (such as interstitial ads, "advergaming," or application sponsorship).

    Email Advertising - Email advertising is ad copy comprising an entire email or a portion of an email message. Email marketing may be unsolicited, in which case the sender may give the recipient an option to opt-out of future emails, or it may be sent with the recipient's prior consent (opt-in).

    Benefits of Online marketing:

    •       The Internet gives you a wide access to your potential customers. It has been estimated that a couple of billion people around the world use the Internet, and more are becoming aware of the Internet with each passing day. So, marketing your business to such a large group of people is only possible through the Internet. The Internet is the only medium that is able to cross geographic and national boundaries.

    •       The cost of promoting your business on the Internet is cheaper than other mediums of marketing. This makes it easy for small and mid-sized businesses to advertise their products.

    •   The Internet allows the ability to stay connected with customers on a real-time basis. If any discount going on, then it is easier to send an email to customers and they can buy the product instantly. The Internet also allows sending of multiple messages at the same time, which saves the tedious task of sending a newsletter to every client.

    •       Internet marketing facilitates an instant feedback from the customers. Customers can share about their experience after using the product.

    •       Internet marketing saves a lot of time and effort. Instead of having a customer service representative to answer the queries of customers, one can put all the information about the product or service on the Internet so that customers can go through it. The most common way of doing it is to have a section dedicated to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the product so that customers get all the required information about the product or the service.

    •       Internet marketing allows businesses to be available 24/7, which means increased sales and profits.

    Limitations of Online marketing:

    •       Although Internet marketing allows a wider reach, the start-up costs of a website can be high. This includes the cost of the required software and hardware and maintenance costs.

    •       There are still a lot of customers who use the Internet just for having more information about a product and prefer to buy it in person. For example, Internet marketing allows a customer to view how a phone looks like and its technical specifications, but customers prefer having a look at the phone in the store to get a hands-on experience.

    •       There are a lot of customers who are not proficient in using the Internet and focusing solely on Internet marketing can cause you to lose these customers.

    •       The rules of the trade change rapidly in Internet marketing, and it requires constant attention and monitoring to ensure that your marketing strategy does not look out-of-date.

    •       The biggest disadvantage of Internet marketing is its vulnerability to fraudulent activities. There are a lot of illegitimate websites out there which look similar to original websites and rob the customers of their money. Spamming is also one of the biggest challenges for Internet marketing and confidential data can be easily stolen by hackers.

    •       Internet marketing lacks the human touch that is involved when a customer buys a product from a salesperson. This hampers the prospects of relationship building which plays an important part in repeat sales and word-of-mouth publicity.

    •       Internet marketing depends heavily on technology, which is vulnerable to technical faults. For example, if a customer clicks on your advertisement but due to a technical glitch, is unable to buy the product, he may easily become irate and take his business somewhere else.

    Although there are some challenges involved in Internet marketing, it can be safely said that Internet marketing has led to increased transparency and ease of buying products. The need of the hour is to counter the challenges so that Internet marketing proves to be truly beneficial for all.

    Online Marketing Effectiveness on Integrated Marketing Communications - as posted on here first.
  28. 5 Sectors Blockchain Is Disrupting That Are Not Cryptocurrency

    2018-08-08 18:23:00 UTC

    For a few years now, “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” have gone hand-in-hand. The blockchain concept is complicated, and involves constant-growth record lists linked together and secured through cryptography (think of the Cryptex from The Da Vinci Code). Each block of the chain envelops a hash pointer relating to the previous block, as well as transaction data and a timestamp.
    The idea of a blockchain isn’t relegated to the infant-era cryptocurrency revolution. Massive worldwide corporations are beginning to incorporate blockchain technology into their systems. The technology behind the blockchain is far more valuable on a global scale than any market capitalization of cryptocurrencies. Here are five large sectors currently being disrupted by the potential of this technology:
    Related: Why Bitcoin Is the MySpace of Cryptocurrencies, But the Blockchain Is Here to Stay
    Image 2018-08-08 at 7.14.07 pm

    1. Crybersecurity

    Although one of the main draws to the blockchain is the transparency of its public ledger, the data communication piece is verified via advanced cryptographic systems. This ensures the data arrived through the proper channels, without interception by a third party in the transmission process.
    This idea brings about the strong possibility that blockchain can provide severe reductions in cybersecurity risks. The removal of human interaction in the data communication process will severely lessen the threat of data corruption, human error, and hacking.
    Additional cybersecurity applications of the blockchain include large-scale authentication of data. A startup called Guardtime is currently experimenting with a blockchain-centric keyless signature infrastructure. This KSI works by tagging and verifying data transactions, providing crypto-level assurance of data authenticity and integrity.

    2. Elections and voting

    Voting manipulation has become an active pain point in the election process at many levels. Elections require not only the authentication of the voters’ identities, but also secured record-keeping, vote tracking, and win tallying.
    Looking to the future, blockchain technology could enable tools to serve as an infrastructure from start to finish. This could potentially eliminate the need for recounts, as it removes the human element involved in vote manipulation and voter fraud.
    Through the capture of votes as blockchain “transactions,” government entities would have a public and verifiable trail of votes, ensuring none are changed or removed, and no illegitimate votes are added. A blockchain-based election focused startup called Follow My Vote is in the process of developing a beta version of their complete blockchain-centric voting solution.

    3. Transaction-based real estate

    The purchase and sale of property come with many pain points, including massive stacks of paperwork, an overall lack of transparency, public record errors, and the possibility of fraud throughout the process. Blockchain instead offers a method to reduce the need for paper recordkeeping, while simultaneously speeding up transaction times, helping those involved in the process reduce transaction costs and improve overall efficiency.
    Technology and finance startup Ubitquity has begun offering a SaaS platform centered around blockchain technology, geared toward mortgage, title, and financial companies. The service provider is working with various recordkeeping entities in foreign countries to gather property information and documents for their blockchain.

    4. Analytics for forecasting

    As industries continue to embrace the concept of the blockchain, the power expands into the analytics and forecasting niche. With entirely accurate transaction records to support data analysis, forecasting technologies can adapt to a less error-prone foundation for things such as machine learning algorithms to develop more accurate insights and predictions based on blockchain data.
    Even in the current day and age, blockchain is in the process of allowing for a new market focused on predictions. A program called Augur has been developed using the Ethereum blockchain. Augur allows its users to forecast events, incorporating a reward system for accurate predictions. The parent company of the program claims that the full process will be decentralized, enabling their users to place bets on everything from stock market predictions to sports, to natural disaster occurrences.

    5. Ridesharing applications

    Lyft and Uber are definitions of centralization in business models. The companies, in essence, operate as cloud-based dispatch hubs, using algorithms to control fleets and dictate charges. Blockchain could allow new technologies into these dynamics. Decentralized and distributed ledgers could provide a more user-driven and value-oriented market environment.

    Final thoughts

    While still relatively new technology, blockchain is easily poised to become one the most useful technological innovations of the 21st century. With massive corporations already incorporating blockchain into their systems, and hundreds of chain-centric startups pushing into the mainstream, the potential utilization of this cryptographic process is unfathomable.
    The above five sectors scratch the surface of the disruption blockchain has caused, and the technology is likely already an unbeknownst part of your daily life. Cryptocurrency platforms are only the beginning.
    As first seen on 5 Sectors Blockchain Is Disrupting That Are Not Cryptocurrency
  29. Minimalism in Web Design

    2018-09-07 20:19:00 UTC

    Minimalism in Web Design

    When you think about minimalism in today’s websites, you most likely have a specific light-weight style in mind recognised across many fields. In many ways, the concept of minimalism has been a constant presence in the designer's world of art and architecture for almost a century. It has also become a dominant trend in website design, especially in 2018, and likely will only grow stronger in the upcoming years. I hope you will be interested in learning what Colorpeak has to tell you about what it means to design a minimal website.

    What is minimalism?

    You've probably heard the phrases "the art of less" or "less is more" many times. It's a cliché, but there is truth to it. One can say that simplicity represents the essence of a minimalistic approach in modern design.
    “The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture, wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements”.
    However, today I would like to focus on exploring minimalism as it’s applied in digital web design. I will also go through its main principles and show you actual examples of beautiful minimalist websites.

    Minimalism in web design

    Most designers agree that minimalism in web design means simplifying the interface by removing unnecessary elements. Some will also argue that you need to strip down the website to its bare bones, especially since AMP was introduced. However, no matter which approach you prefer, remember that there are some restrictions in deleting the elements of your design before it loses its main goal of providing information to the visitor or generating sales.

    The main principles of minimalism in web design

    1. Invisible or subtle navigation
    2. Negative/empty space
    3. Use of contrast
    4. Power of typography
    5. User-friendly layout

    Invisible or subtle navigation

    Most people are in a hurry, or to be more accurate, are impatient. Simple navigation will encourage them to look for what they came to your website for. Unless you're building a large retailer website that requires a mega menu, keep it simple, and you will be rewarded.

    Visit website charbonneltowns.com

    Negative/empty space

    White space can be a powerful tool, helping you to draw people's attention toward what little remains on your minimalistic website. It is commonly used, but often its inclusion is an accident, especially when a designer building an e-commerce website will tend to focus on making sure the shop works. How it looks is a secondary concern. In such instances, you end up with a website of a five-year-old who did not learn yet how to fill in the background between the grass and the sky on that picture they drew for grandma.

    View website Learn 2 Forecast

    Use of contrast

    In terms of contrast, you can play with light or dark colours (resist using too many in one project). In addition, you can strategically place some of the website elements in the foreground vs background to emphasise them. Another contrast to consider is size and shape. These come especially handy when designing Call to Action buttons that should draw the attention of the visitor.

    View website fleurmoreau.fr

    Power of typography

    There are hundreds of fonts to choose from these days, and with minimalistic design in mind, it's not about which one you choose but how you use it. You can even use bold fonts and huge letters. No website should use one font only, but do not go overboard. Do not go over three. Even better, stick to two and play with the size, weight, and letter spacing to achieve balance and simplicity.

    View website www.klobouckalesni.cz

    User-friendly layout

    Large images will empower you to bring life to empty spaces. But they only work in certain cases like when designing a website for interior design, or photographers etc. Pictures can be very heavy and can slow down your website, so they need to be well balanced with the text between them.

    View website primalinea.com.br

    When should you choose minimalism for web design?

    There are certain benefits to choosing minimalistic web design, but it's not suitable for all projects. On the one hand, they often seem a good choice for one-page websites or to sell a few products but won't work on large retailer e-com stores.
    It also depends on your audience. A professional corporate worker may not care about the aesthetics but for a musician, or in fact any artist, a minimalistic look can be appealing. It is quite clear that you need to keep your end user in mind at all times and design for them. Will your customer appreciate the ease of navigation? Or will they feel like something is missing and flee to your competitor's website?


    Whether you choose to design a minimalistic website or not, remember that what seems simple at first glance, usually requires a lot of effort from a designer’s perspective. There is no point in stripping things from the website to make it light and user-friendly if it's not going to be functional. With a bit of time, dedication and a proper approach to never sacrificing usability for the sake of visuals, you can create a beautiful and useful website in no time... Kidding! Every designer knows that it takes time to design any good website. At least now you know what you should keep in mind to design a minimalistic one!

  30. Flat design vs depth in web design

    2018-09-11 17:03:00 UTC

    Flat design vs depth in web design

    CSS has been with us for over two decades, but its use properly kicked in 2003 when Jeffrey Zeldman published his book "Designing with Web Standards". Since then the use of flash templates for web design started to slow down, and CSS became widely used.

    Depth in web design
    View website cowboy.bike

    By the time flat design was introduced in 2006 by Windows with their Zune player release, web designers were in a phase showing off their skills using flashy illustrations and animations that int their minds were to wow website visitors. It was a minefield full of colours, textures and simple animations that constantly distracted people to no end. You can check out how the internet looked like in early 2000 by visiting Web Design Museum.

    What is flat design?

    Flat design emphasises usability in its minimalistic approach toward the interface. It focuses on being clean and simple, emphasising open space, 2D illustrations, contrast and crisp edges. As a principal, the less stylistic elements seen as unnecessary clutter in web design, the better.

    One can say that flat design goes back to the basics of web design in terms of being a functional tool. The focus shifts from how it looks to how well it works. Don't get me wrong, the looks are still important and need to please the eye, but at the same time when your end goal is to implement flat design it needs to equally be user-friendly.

    Flat design showcasing website
    View website artisantalent.com

    Here are some basic principles of flat design:

    • clean and simple
    • two-dimensional illustrations and icons
    • crisp edges
    • use of contrast
    • decluttered space

    Depth in web design

    On the other hand, the use of depth in web design has been equally popular. Designers who use it tend to say they like to “breathe life” into their work and add depth as a way to do it. By adding shadow, which is very popular to create a 3D perception, you can emphasise specific elements on the website and make them more realistic.

    According to some, a real-looking interface can boost people’s interaction with the website which is always important when it comes to web design, as it must be pretty but more importantly, functional.

    Some specific tools can be used to achieve depth in web design.

    How can depth be achieved in web design?

    • parallax backgrounds
    • focal points and perspective
    • subtle shading and lighting
    • overlapping layers
    • gaussian blur
    • skeuomorphism (interface objects that mimic their real-world counterparts in how they appear or how the user can interact with them - definition by Interaction Design)

    Skeuomorphism became popular thanks to Apple. Steve Jobs was always the one who emphasised that people should use devices thanks to intuition and should not have to read manuals to enjoy the technology. But after a few years, this trend seems to be overused, and even Apple followed the Windows approach and introduced flat design in their devices.

    Flat design versus skeuomorphic design of Safari icon
    Skeuomorphic vs flat design

    These days everything seems to be mixing, and although we see the flat design in the lead, it has some depth elements incorporated into it like subtle shadows and micro-animations. It is the best of two worlds combined for better visuals and user-experience. That's a win-win if you ask me.

    Source: Flat design vs depth in web design

  31. 4 key skills of a Graphic Designer

    2018-09-23 20:01:00 UTC

    4 key skills of a Graphic Designer

    A graphic artist of any kind is a person who may not necessarily possess the skills needed to be able to call themselves a graphic designer. On the other hand, not every graphic designer is an artist. You can learn the craft of design and techniques needed to create graphics that can carry one’s message. With the right set of tools and knowledge, the world is yours. The best of the best will have both and will be the leaders who inspire others; creating graphic designs that are admired and shared.

    Who is a Graphic Artist?

    If it only was so easy to define a graphic artist. Some will say you need to be born an artist, that you need an artistic soul, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on a more down-to-earth approach. In short, a graphic artist is a creative person such as an illustrator, photographer or somebody designing typography to list just a few; an artist that works with a visual medium.

    Who is a Graphic Designer?

    A graphics designer will most often be a part of a graphic artists group, though not necessarily. Many freelancers are working in this area by themselves. A graphic designer specialises in supplying graphic illustrations for an editorial piece, web developer or advertising, among many others. Your job as a graphic designer is to produce a visual design (a digital one most of the time these days) that conveys a specific message for whatever purpose.

    What skills do you need to be a Graphic Designer?

    • Soft skills
    • Tools
    • Knowledge
    • Degree (skills confirmation)

    Soft skills in graphic design

    You would think that there are more important skills to have as a graphic designer. However, this is not always one of those jobs where you sit behind a desk all day and work on your computer. Your task as a graphic designer, especially in a large company, is to communicate the client’s written or spoken message through visual means. That requires you to have well-developed communication skills. It’s not a one-man job so you will also find yourself participating in brainstorm meetings where you and your colleagues will have to agree on the best marketing strategy. You will have to be able to understand the team leader’s vision and confront them if your experience tells you this or that won’t work. And you need to be a team player, so knowing some negotiation skills will come handy when putting your thoughts out there for others to think through.

    If you need a qualified Graphic Designer, please call Colorpeak at 0191 645 1645.

    Graphic design tools

    I could tell you there are plenty of tools that you can use as a graphic designer, but there are only a few that truly count and enable you to create with no limitations. These days, knowing how to use (and use well!) Adobe CS is a must. As a freelancer, you may want to dip into Gimp, Inkspace or Krita freeware software. If you’re looking for a job in a respected Graphic Design company, however, then having InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator listed in your CV is a necessity.

    Knowledge of graphic design field

    In terms of "know-how", there are certain things that you need to know by heart and most importantly understand, like typography or branding. However, there are others that you only need to be aware of, like printing technicalities.

    Areas of knowledge that every Graphic Designer should be familiar with:

    • UI/UX Design
    • HTML/CSS
    • Typography
    • Branding
    • Printing

    UI/UX design (User Interface/User Experience), typography and basic HTML/CSS knowledge are essential if you are considering working as a graphic designer in web design field. One could argue that you don’t need any coding skills to produce a website, but that is not true. You need to understand if and how a web developer will be able to reproduce your design using programming skills. I would say you can be a graphic artist without this knowledge but to be a good and respected graphic designer you won’t get away from the necessity of understanding HTML and CSS. Studies show that 36% of companies prefer their graphic designers to know HTML. Typography is another of those skills that you need to obtain but we have a separate article that talks about typography in minimalistic design if you’re interested.

    When it comes to branding, there are specific guidelines that you need to be aware of. Fortunately, it usually lies within a team leader’s scope to decide what needs to be designed. It is good to have experience in creating a brand for a company. However, in the end, you simply need to produce what the client needs, so most of the time you learn as you go.

    Need a brand design? We can do it all! Call 0191 645 1645 for more information.

    You do not need to know how the printer operates. Frankly, you’re not working at the printer. Regardless of that, you should know how to prepare your design for printing purposes. When applying for a graphic designer position, trust me, you will not get it unless you know what bleed or CMYK is.

    Degree for the graphic design industry

    We’re living in the era of Skillshare, Treehouse and Udemy online courses as well as YouTube where you can find anything from instructions on how to clean the coffee spill from your carpet to creating a 3D logo for your client. Yet, if you browse available positions on Indeed, Jobsite or especially the Government Find a Job website you will hardly find an offer that does not require an educational background. In fact, in more than 80% of cases, you would not even be invited for an interview unless you have a degree. But then again, you can always become a freelancer and there are plenty of websites like Fiverr or PeoplePerHour where you can advertise your services.


    Although it is not easy and takes time to acquire graphic design skills you can do it yourself especially if design is your passion. You can get a degree and end up being a part of a graphic artist team that works for large advertising agencies. You can also be a free spirit working on your own from the comfort of your home. Whichever path you take, remember there are certain skills you need to possess without which you can’t be successful in the field of design.

    Source: 4 key skills of a Graphic Designer

    For any Graphic Design queries drop us an email, and we will be in touch shortly.

  32. Who should build your professional business website? Web designer, web developer, graphic artist or graphic designer?

    2018-09-29 10:15:00 UTC

    Who should build your professional business website? Web designer, web developer, graphic artist or graphic designer?

    This isn’t a trick question, or is it…? It used to be much easier to answer it. Back in early 2000 when web design reality was situated around ‘Is that person capable of creating a website?’ rather than ‘Is that person capable of designing a beautiful website, that is functional and makes people buy products?’ And it is an important matter especially when you're considering who should design your professional business website.

    Web design for professional business website
    Web design for professional business by Colorpeak

    Developing websites in the past

    In the past, knowing how to code was necessary. Without understanding HTML or flash, you could not build a website. There was no question about whom should you hire to design it. The problem was that tech people were not known for their exquisite sense of visual style. Making a professional business website that looks good was not a priority if it's appearance was considered at all. You can see for yourself by visiting the Wayback Machine to see how the internet looked like back in 2005! Very few heard of good UI (User Interface) or UX (User Experience). These words may sound silly to a "full-stack-web-developer-engineer” however, now coding skills are not necessary just put a functional website up.

    Cheap Websites (or "web design on a budget")

    Which is not to say skilled coders and web developers aren't necessary. Not at all! The "no-coding" approach works if we think about a general site, with a basic purpose like displaying simple information. Having an online space that functions as a visual business card or a leaflet is useful to describe and promote your company quickly. And there is a rapidly growing market for that type of web design. The reason? A website is often the first thing your potential customers will look for when they want to learn more about the product or service that you sell. So, you won't get away with not having a website. At least not if you want to appear as a forward-thinking business owner.

    If you need to outsource the creation of this type of website, an experienced graphic artist should be enough allowing you to save some time and money on more elaborate developments and designs. But there is no question that thousands of entrepreneurs, start-ups and resourceful individuals benefit from available (often free) web design tools that enable non-techies to "DIY" their websites. You probably heard of Squarespace, Wix or Weebly.

    Making a website using free website builders - the "DIY"-way

    If you’re on a budget, have lots of spare time, and you're determined enough, there is no reason why you shouldn't try to bootstrap your online portfolio! The disadvantage, however, is that there is a lot of technical, functional and visual limitations imposed by online web builders. So, websites built with those tools are also almost impossible to expand beyond their generic purpose and are often locked to the system they've been designed with - so forget about easy migration and scale! Moreover (and assuming you don't know CSS), your website won't be bespoke, and you will likely cringe while stumbling upon an identical one (your competitor's!). Therefore, your expectations towards DIY website builders shouldn't be to create professional business website that really stands out and takes you to the next level, which is...

    Web design for professional businesses

    If you’re a small or medium business owner that cares about how the website presents the company brand, and how good it is in actually making money (i.e. conversions) you’re probably better off hiring a professional web designer.

    We get to live in the lucky times where a good web designer has a solid understanding of coding, so you no longer need to choose between functionality and the looks. It's also often the case that an experienced web designer will have a good understanding of graphic design. So is undoubtedly qualified to pull off a bespoke, professional business website that will lift you above the rest of the "DIY-crowd" and your competitors.

    If you're treating your website as an active advertisement or a real business asset that can draw the attention of your customers - and you should! - then having it done by a professional web designer is without question the best way to go.

    Professional website development
    Professional website development by Colorpeak

    High-level functionality in web design

    If you need your website to do more than the above, you probably will have to consider investing your money in a developer, especially if you’re thinking about managing large databases of information through your website. If you have a bunch of money on a large team of web developers, front-end designers, artists, project managers, etc. and have plenty of time for everyone to team-up then you can deliver a great professional business website project that will look stylish and modern. If all goes well, it will also be more reliable and capable of handling more complicated tasks like bespoke e-commerce shopping carts and payment processing systems. In a sense, a well thought-out and properly executed high-level website/IT project is infinitely scalable and can handle billions of active users like this website or this one.

    However, expect a bill to the floor and, as unfortunate as it sounds, a high risk of failure. As it often is with large, overbudget IT projects.

    Who should I higher to design my website?

    It really depends on your goals. There will always be some work for developers who get higher paychecks and can pull magical websites that do more than looking good. Some people don’t need to spend a fortune on online advertising or marketing if they can stitch up a basic site from a template for free. However, the sweet spot has never been as available as it is now and you can have a professional, beautiful and functional website with a reasonable price tag and realistic ROI for your business at the same time.

    Source: Who should build your professional business website? Web designer, web developer, graphic artist or graphic designer?

  33. Create interactive websites - Vistag review

    2018-11-26 19:37:00 UTC

    I thought I'd drop a few words about Vistag as we've tested the tool a little bit on two of our now interactive websites (not e-commerce, yet...). The first website did not work due to, what we believe was Slider Revolution interference. Vistag and Slider Revolution tandem renders our website completely unusable. Therefore, we decided to switch it off there.

    Vistag logo

    The second of our interactive websites, a static WordPress site, was (is) much better. We're still testing it there but performance is all good and Pingdom/GTMetrix/PageSpeed did not mark any meaningful drops in loading speed scores. Even with 10+ or so tags thrown on two web pages.

    Vistag Highlights and PROs

    To cut to the chase, I really like the visual presentation and interactive aspects of Vistag. Objectively looking at it - Vistag WILL make you and others hover, click, poke, fondle and (hopefully) buy-through those flashing gems. There is just no way around it given how our brains and eyes work.

    However, at this point in time, Vistag isn't finished tool yet and many fundamental options are missing.

    Vistag interactive websites

    Vistag's missing features (or rather Not-There-Yets)

    Some of the things we'd like to see rather sooner than later include:

    • "mailto:"/"tel:" and other HTML special links to enable CTA's (Call-To-Actions) for anything that is not e-commerce
    • images within the tags that could be fed from WP Media / external URLs
    • CSS selectors and more customisations
    • global UTM trackers

    The dashboard and interface would also benefit from some conscious cleanup and re-planning for easier navigation. The User experience (UI) is a bit all over the place on the admin side.

    I've also looked at this new "Lookbook" feature, which allows to add images to tags. I'm sure this is probably my pure ignorance, but I still don't get it. Again, it could be lack of my attention but how is this better or more important than just feeding and tagging pictures from WP Media or external URLs. The link on the dashboard takes me to some vague Documentation on how to make it work, but nothing else.

    I've mentioned CSS customisations already but let me reiterate the fact that the default font size and colour (light-grey on a white background?) is just unreadable. To change that you need to do some CSS gymnastics on your website. But it seems to be in development now, so fingers crossed that we won't wait long for this must-have feature for interactive websites to work as intended.

    Your images. Shoppable. Create visual content that sells like crazy.

    Vistag - an ultimate web design enhancing tool?

    At this point, I can't give it a 5-stars review because Vistag is incomplete; clearly in beta stage, and an exorcism on their bugged code is yet to be performed by the developers. However, I can confidently score this tool 4 out of 5 because this brilliant, yet simple idea serves you a ready-made link between human behaviour and computer science that you can use to your sales advantage, this very evening. And all this without the need of getting two PhDs in the respective fields trying to sweat something like that in your own basement. A fine marketing tool with great potential to make your plain web become one of truly interactive websites.

    You simply install Vistag, place tags over your e-commerce images and the job of selling fidget spinners and made-in-China "what-have-you's" is done for you.

    You can check Vistag on their website or, if it hasn't left the station yet, you may even jump on their AppSumo bandwagon.

    Find out more about interactive websites and tools:

  34. How has SEO evolved throughout the years?

    2019-01-05 17:29:00 UTC

    The early beginning before SEO became a thing.

    1991 Before SEO there was the beginning of world wide web. In on March 6th, 1991 the first ever website - info.cern.ch - was launched by Tim Berners-Lee.

    1994 Stanford University students Jerry Wang and David Filo start Yahoo, the first Search Engine to be used by masses followed by AltaVista, Excite, and Lycos.

    1996 Backrub search engine is created that ranks sites based on inbound link relevancy and popularity. Backrub would ultimately become Google.

    1998 The King is born. Google launches in September, and so the story of SEO really begins. Before it, search engines positioned results based on on-page content, domain names, directories and breadcrumbs. Google introduced PageRank algorithm that also took into account the quantity and quality of links pointing to a website and anchor text.

    The Google SEO revolution

    2003 First Google algorithm update named Florida takes down a lot of websites in their ranking, especially those that would stuff keywords. Repeating keywords would be hidden at the bottom of a page in a font colour that matches the background. That way reader would not see them, but the bots would feed off them and rank websites position higher. Actions like that became to be known as Blackhat SEO tactics. Around this time a new tactic of link building is born. A race to build as many backlinks as possible begins as the savvy marketers quickly learn how to abuse the system.

    2005 Google makes its first attempt to fight back linking exploitation and launches its "rel=nofollow" attribute preventing the authority of websites to be passed on. Following this update, Google launches the Jagger and Big Daddy algorithms just before the end of 2015 to prevent link farming and other suspicious SEO tactics.

    Google YouTube SEO evolution
    Google YouTube revolution

    2006 YouTube gets acquired by Google for the whopping amount of $1.65 billion. Eventually, it would become the second most used search engine in the world. In the same year, Google also launches Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools giving developers profoundly deep insight on how Google sees their websites.

    2008 Suggestion Box is finally launched after four years of development and testing. Continuing its path of improving the user experience, Google focuses on understanding better how we surf the web and interact with content. It may seem like the most obvious Google feature these days, but back then showing related searches to automatically appear below, after you start typing in the search box, was a major hit.

    2009 Bing goes online or rather Microsoft gives a new name to its Live Search tool. By then Google has nearly 70% of the search engine market in the USA.

    2010 Google announces that site speed is a ranking factor following "Caffeine" update, dubbed a next-generation search architecture that is faster, more precise and provides more relevant results. All that thanks to fast "spider-bots" that can quickly crawl website and cover larger parts of the internet.

    2011 "Panda" update causes a notable impact on SEO which resulted in affecting optimisation field to this day. In an attempt to clean up search results, 12% of them were impacted. Websites with low quality and irrelevant content (better known as "content farms") drop down in the rankings. A similar thing happens to websites with unoriginal, static and auto-generated content.

    2012 The following "Penguin" update doubles-down on eliminating aggressive, black-hat SEO spam tactics. Gone are the sites that violated Google's Webmaster Guidelines such us buying links, keyword stuffing and keyword matching anchor text to the dot. Eventually, Penguin and previously mentioned Panda release become part of Google’s real-time search architecture.

    2013 "Hummingbird" release centres around the growing market of mobile users. It is the biggest update to Google’s algorithm since 2001 and deals better with natural language questions, conversational search, and it lays the foundations of Voice Search. Original content becomes a major factor in ranking along with blogs. Google starts to reward websites that provide useful, unique and lengthy answers to visitor’s queries. "Long-tail keywords" or, in other words, detailed and specific search queries become a thing.

    2014 The release of "Pigeon" is all about better local search results. Google improves location and distance ranking parameters to provide relevant results to users based on proximity. Local businesses with strong organic presence showed higher in traditional search within the area of the searching person’s location. The "Local SEO" finally gets its own genre, now distinct from the general SEO.

    AI & Machine Learning algorithms

    2015 Some would say a breakthrough year in which Google reported more mobile searches in comparison to desktop search. "RankBrain" - a self-learning search architecture is introduced as part of the Hummingbird algorithm. It determines the most relevant results to search engine queries. At first, it runs only on 15% of searches that the system had never encountered before, but eventually, it applies to all of them.

    2016 Google confirms that the search engine's top three ranking factors are: links, content, and RankBrain.

    Google Fred SEO evolution
    Fred - catchall name for multiple Google algorithm updates

    2017 Google "Fred" update hits mostly websites with poor content. In general, Google tries to deal with aggressive monetisation, misleading and deceptive ads, poor mobile compatibility and poor content. Fred is not a stand-alone algorithm update, rather a catchall name for every quality tweak to Google system intended to improve it and get rid of the content that violates the Webmaster Guidelines. It's been a known fact for a while that Google does quality updates on a regular basis and most go unnoticed and are unannounced.

    2018 A year of Webmaster Tools modernisation. Google Search Console, Google My Business and, most notably for SEO, Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools receive their updates. There are of course multiple changes to Google's ranking algorithm done almost every day, but there were three Broad Core Algorithm Updates that were actually announced. PageSpeed Insights update becomes a significant player in ranking and slow sites with low optimisation score on mobiles are affected. Google announces nine factors that influence Optimization Score.

    And so, the story continues. What will 2019 bring? Most likely further updates toward mobile-friendly AMP enabled websites that load fast on slow 3G networks. A lot has changed since the first Google SEO revolution. An easily abused system based on keywords evolved into sophisticated learning machine that thinks like a human. Content became a king, and mobile device accessibility will further shape the ranking.


    This text was originally published on: Colorpeak Blog - How has SEO evolved throughout the years?

  35. Marketing Automation - Use These Tools To Improve Your Business Immediately

    2019-01-20 12:42:00 UTC

    I have yet to meet a business owner who has never been in need of automation. Today startups, SMBs and large companies have one thing in common - they're all thrown in the game of pursuing the holy grail of business and marketing automation (The Automation Singularity).

    As you’re reading this, I wouldn't be surprised if you've got your feet wet trying a marketing automation software at some point. MailChimp for example or even chatbots...?

    Marketing Automation
    Marketing Automation

    But maybe you have been doing all your marketing the "old school" way, and you want to get some of the piling work volumes off your shoulders, and you don't want to hire, train, pay and manage additional employee(s). Well, I share your viewpoint, because running a business means innovation. So, you either work on out-innovating your competition or your practices get inefficient and your business becomes outdated pretty quickly.

    I will try my best in this article to help you get started with choosing the lowest hanging fruit of marketing autopilot platforms. You should finish the piece having a grasp on what is marketing automation, why marketing automation is the next big thing in coming years, and how to use the power of automation platforms and tools to their fullest potential.

    Remember, you can't turn your eyes away and pretend the business innovations don't affect you. I will argue here that 2018/19 is a perfect time to jump on board and benefit from at least some of the cheap and accessible business automation out there. As you read on pick one or two solutions and over the next few weeks try to integrate them for the betterment of your business and your life.

    Why do businesses need marketing automation?

    The traditional marketing as a scientific field goes back to early 1900s or even earlier with the development of modern capitalism and consumerism. In a nutshell, business owners and (modern) marketers discovered that by studying consumer behaviour they can predict and influence sales profits. Businesses then went on developing step-by-step processes to anticipate the needs and wants of potential consumers so they could satisfy them more effectively in comparison to its competitors. Several decades later we use complex data and scientific methods to measure and design specific procedures to sell more to more people.

    Marketing and sales funnels evolved and it's no longer just printed ads in papers and magazines or lump mail ads. With the technological revolution, especially the Internet and social media's worldwide blitz, we've opened several channels enabling us to communicate more effectively and build relevant relationships with our customers. What it means for marketers like you is that a need for a more sophisticated and technologically enhanced approach with complex, multivariate sales funnels is required. Hence, marketing automation.

    Marketing Automation Sales Funnels
    Marketing Automation Sales Funnels

    What Marketing Automation meant up until 2018

    "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." - Steve Jobs

    Despite the overblown claims and inflated marketing slogans, marketing automation is NOT an artificial intelligence (AI). The real AI doesn't exist (yet) and we're likely far away from it. Some moderate that and use "semi-AI" but it's misleading because the "semi-" isn't clearly defined and means anything. I just call it for what it is for now. Marketing automation is a set of logical rules, processes and tactics that run on autopilot, making some tasks or even segments of your business autonomous and independent from human input. Besides the obvious profits like time, money and energy saving, such marketing practices bring a real and quantifiable added value to your business.

    Although the philosophy of business management and marketing orientation remains intact and pretty solid, the tools and methodology seem to evolve and set new milestones almost every week.

    Today, marketing automation software has never been more accessible. And in such high demand. Entrepreneurs keep coming up with creative ideas and cutting-edge technology to help businesses design their perfect strategies to predict the needs and personalise the copywriting.

    So new marketing software is springing up like mushrooms.

    But let's step back to something basic, like MailChimp which is an email auto-responding system. Their automated software is free (to the extent) and allows for:

    • Easy integration on your website so you can quickly start building your email list
    • Getting your prospects details in an engaging form (MailChimp Lead Magnet)
    • Designing an auto-responder with a drag-and-drop visual builder
    • ... and Sending automated and targeted emails to your recipient's list


    Here're a few triggers you can use:

    • Email your tagged contacts - Send a targeted message when you add a tag to a contact.
    • Welcome new subscribers - Introduce yourself to people when they sign up for your list.
    • Say 'happy birthday' - Celebrate with an exclusive offer or cheerful message that will be sent out based on the birthday field in your list.
    • Share blog updates - Help contacts keep up with your blog by sending new posts straight to their inboxes.
    • Now you can essentially build "set and forget" email sequences.

    (did I mention it's free? ;)


    Check this video on how to set one up with this step-by-step tutorial:


    The top 5 essential gains of automation

    To summarise, here are the top 5 essential gains of automation in the area specific to marketing:

    • Automated marketing tools build complex customer journeys and sales funnels (e.g. MailChimp)
    • Marketing artificial intelligence software learns your customers' behaviour or who they are and tries to make your product and services highly personalised (e.g. UNLESS)
    • Marketing bots aim to leave your customer informed, happy and engaged (e.g. Quriobot)
    • Marketing analytics enables you to quickly test and change the direction of your marketing strategy (e.g. CustomerLabs)
    • Automated sales software makes your marketing efforts more efficient, faster to adapt and scale (e.g. DataGran)

    What Automation means for the future of business

    "In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace." - Sun Tzu.

    The future of automation in 2019 and beyond looks bright. And it isn't just Tesla and their self-driving autonomous cars. Interestingly enough, I find those same principles that drive Musk and his robo-vehicles towards automation apply to any aspect of the business. Here's what we all are after:

    • multiplied productivity (ROI)
    • exponential growth
    • multitasking (that actually works)
    • large data processing power
    • and, yes - if used correctly, a much better life


    See Marquees driving Yandex self-driving car around California


    Sales and marketing automation software - who's on the frontend?

    Let's bring it down to a business application and see what benefits businesses can expect from automated systems in 2019 moving forward.

    The most common use of marketing automation software appears to be in sales, but this limited utility expands very quickly.

    eMarketer reports that only 5% of companies have never benefited from marketing automation (I couldn't dig their source though, so take it with a grain of salt). But that makes sense, given the power of computing and how technology penetrated the entire world of economy. It is clear that customer journey maps are extensively used by Googles, Amazons and eBays of this world to accurately map out how customer behave in relation to businesses. And the same applies to Social Media giants like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Their optimisation is so granular, and it developed so fast, that <a some people stood to consider its ethics and what we want as a civilisation.

    Nevertheless, the value in sales is so obvious and tempting that it only makes sense to continue using it. Providing your primary incentive is to quickly "help" your prospects who are travelling the distance from being a bystander to a raving fan. And the distance, no matter the length, is measurable and categorisable. Therefore, prone to endless optimisations (and exploitation).

    Is marketing automation software difficult to access?

    As of today, experts agree that by learning different ways how customers interact with businesses, pretty much guarantees big profits. For this reason, social scientist and marketers flock to use all sorts of automation tools that help with just that. Meanwhile, Marketing SaaS companies try to meet their prospects midway offering easy to understand but potentially vastly scalable in its application software. In fact, lowering entry level is now the name of the game with most marketing automation software.

    One such software is FullStory. The software works based on simple principles but the results, which it draws through different modes of user interpretation, provide comprehensive and quite elaborate customer journey maps.

    "See your site through your users' eyes. More than the sum of its clicks, FullStory replays your customer's journey – like a DVR for your website – so you can search, see, and understand your user experience."

    There is certainly a learning curve associated with implementing any new system or technology. However, with much lowered entry-level bars the fruit has never hung so low.

    Large Data Set Calculations - how to optimise your website running costs and business spending for free?

    Data analysis in marketing automation
    Data analysis in marketing automation

    Back in the days, gathering and calculating any large data sets was done by businesses who could afford full-time data analyst and a "numbers person". So it was reserved usually for enterprise-level companies and agencies, or outsourced and never looked at closely again. Today, with tools like Google Analytics, you have quick and easy access to software that with a click of a button displays almost complete picture of your company's money flow.

    It's free and offers a tremendous amount of actionable data that is automatically gathered and calculated from your website, ads and email campaigns, to mention just a few sources.

    It's also worth mentioning that Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn Ads platforms use sophisticated dashboards where data is calculated and presented to you in any way you want. It takes time to figure it all out, though. I'd suggest to start with finding answers to simple questions like:

    • What is my website's monthly traffic?
    • Which of my ads increased traffic the most?
    • How long an average visitor spends on my homepage?
    • Is my traffic local or international?
    • Using what device (mobile/tablet/desktop) people are visiting my website?
    • Which of my web pages are most popular?
    • Where is my traffic coming from?

    The Rise of The Marketing Bots

    One of the most significant aspects of marketing automation is the sudden spread of bots and various auto-messengers. Apart from built-in Facebook Messenger Bots, platforms like Quriobot and MobileMonkey are rapidly developing and are more and more sophisticated in methods of visitor engagement on your website. The key to a great visitors engagement appears to be:

    • the speed of response
    • 24/7 availability
    • useful and relevant bot responses based on the keyword and intelligent intent recognition
    • and so-called "triggers"

    Speaking of "triggers". These can be heavily customised to adhere to the customers' behaviour on your site and provide visual and heavily targeted responses. For example, imagine you have someone checking on your "Home Page" then going to "Pricing" where they spend two minutes and decide to leave. Normally this particular visitor could be classified as a prospective customer, that you may want to engage further. Therefore, at each individual stage, your bot can enhance your visitors' experience by way of targeted messages, additional content and offers. Even at the point of departure, a bot can be configured to throw an "exit intent" trigger and, hopefully, stop the visitor from leaving the website.

    AI bots -  chat automation
    AI bots - chat automation

    The "AI" in bots gets also increasingly sophisticated. For example, tools like ActiveChat try to mimic human-like responses and with it infinite visual building blocks you can make it up as complicated as Lego's Star Wars Millennium Falcon set. It can also integrate with e-commerce systems so you can have an actual "digital counter" right on your website.

    No wonder bots are the next big thing and we will hear about them more and more.

    "I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better, and questioning yourself." - Elon Musk


    It may be hard to start learning all these platforms today. However, in the long run, it will pay back immensely. Also, know that 99% of your competitors aren't doing it.

    So, it’s better to start giving marketing automation some attention before it is too late. Whatever industry you're in, it will be driven by the same principles as any other, whoever puts in the hours to innovate will increase the odds of success over the business owners that procrastinated and neglected to do the homework.

    You may not have enough resources to go all in with learning the marketing tools, but there is no harm in trying. I have probably been guilty of procrastination more than anyone in the business. But eventually I have learned to take little steps from early on, and over time I realised that I made a quantum leap in growing my business and developing myself. So, if you are reading this article right at this moment, stop wasting your time and jump right in.

    These are obviously just a few tips and the ocean of automated tools is filling in with more and more fish. There are few more things that I have learned over the years, so pop back in and check this article for updates. But most importantly start with making your first marketing automation funnel, no matter how big your goals are. From my experience, the right actions will pay off. I wish you good luck with your marketing automation journey.

  36. Web Design: 10 Year Challenge

    2019-01-27 15:44:00 UTC

    The internet kicked off the beginning of the year 2019 with #10yearchallenge. It started on Twitter and soon picked up speed there and on Instagram with thousands of people following the hashtag. Majority of social media users began sharing their photos taken a decade ago and compare it with the most recent one, showing how much they have changed. But we thought to take another spin and jump in on the 10 years challenge bandwagon comparing how most popular websites in the UK today looked like in the past! So, here is 10 Year Challenge in web design according to Colorpeak's team.

    Google - steady as a rock

    We will start our 10 Year Challenge in web design, of course, with arguably the most important website - Google. And contrary to most of the sites on our list, they have not changed much, at least in terms of grid design. When you go on Google you will be welcomed by a white page with logo and search bar in the middle. And guess what! It was no different back in the days. Most noticeably Google has changed its logo which in 2019 fits into popular flat design trend. The company logo that was in use ten years ago was also the longest lasting up until now (from May 31, 1999 to May 5, 2010). It used serif typeface font called Catull designed in the '80s.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - Google
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    It seems that Google wasn't happy with the initial change as the old 20-year-old logo was revamped twice in the last ten years. In 2015 Google finally arrived at what we see today - a geometric sans-serif typeface called Product Sans. The font was created in-house at Google. It's also worth mentioning that the logo colours, as well as remaining body-font Arial, hasn't been changed since 1998.

    YouTube - ever-changing story

    Since YouTube's acquisition by Google in November 2006, the experiments and testing with the website's UX and UI began. However, for the longest time, we were just seeing different versions of classic view with the menu at the top, followed by Promoted Videos horizontal panel and the vertical list of featured videos. In 2010 sections “Recommended for you” and “Videos watched now” started popping up. Recommended videos are available to this day, but Videos watched now eventually turned into ”What’s trending”. A side panel menu replaced top one in 2012. In the meantime, YouTube has experimented with newspaper website-like grid showing categories such as sports, music, entertainment and many others. These, however, have come to past.

    Current view hasn’t changed much since 2014. We choose whether we want to see the content in a grid or list view. We also saw some minor updates to the side panel menu structure and cosmetic changes to align with modern design.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - YouTube
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    Facebook - complete revamp, or is it?

    Oh gosh, where do we start Facebook's 10 Year Challenge in web design? Facebook has changed so much and yet so little over the years. The most noticeable is huge photo replaced by a smaller, round profile picture and a profile banner that now sits at the top of our profile page. However, these days we have a 2-column grid on our profile page (it used to be 3): with left hand-side being filled with our info and the feed filling in the rest. In regards to the page that we interact with on a daily basis, after logging in to Facebook, it remained mostly unchanged with a navigation panel on the left, the feed in the middle and some ads on the right followed by suggestions for people that you may know. Facebook Stories that sit on top of ads panel have only been introduced in 2018, though.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - facebook
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    Amazon - knows tricks of the trade

    Amazon turned eCommerce selling into art and Jeff Bezos, the owner, to the wealthiest man on earth. The landing page of Amazon has changed quite a bit. We now have access to good old categories on the left side panel as ten years ago, but they are not available on the Landing page. When you visit Amazon in 2019, you are welcomed by a dark navigation panel at the top of the page allowing you to search for items and manage your account. The rest of the page is covered by a slider that keeps changing showing you the most recent deals in a very pleasing Instagram-like form of large photos with added descriptions here and there. Each slide is different and grabs your attention thanks to significant changes in colour. Amazon seems to know all the triggers that will make you want to purchase something… anything!

    10 Year Challenge in web design - Amazon
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    BBC - understands the readers

    Look at the BBC website from 2009! Ten years ago, BBC website would change its theme colour every day, but you won’t see that these days any more. In 2019 BBC is pushing the minimalistic design. We can see more photos than text, which is in complete opposition to how it was before. This is evidently a sign of our times, and BBC recognised that internet users have a lower attention span and a picture or video can capture their attention more effectively than lines of text. This is one of the strongest examples in our 10 Year Challenge in web design.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - BBC
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    Wikipedia - does not fix what is not broken

    One must appreciate how little Wikipedia has changed over the years. The main grid remains the same with logo and menu on the left, login options at the top and the rest of the page filled in with definitions and descriptions. We can notice however subtle changes in the visual design. Flat design has definitely captured the attention of the people responsible for the layout, making it a tiny bit more modern following Google’s direction. On a side note, I think Wikipedia would benefit from introducing column layout. These days with screens that have high resolution it’s hard to read from left to the right of the screen without dropping the line once or twice when moving to the next row.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - Wikipedia
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    Reddit - ruffles some feathers

    Highly criticised new design (beta) was first rolled out on 1st of April 2018. It introduced Facebook-like feed in the middle with an additional supportive column on the right and a significant amount (33%) of white space surrounding it. The latter being especially prominent on high-resolution desktop screens. Notably, new design removed the blue header fonts that resembled Google Search results and replaced them with a black font (IBMPlexSans) that looks more like news portals.

    According to Reddit's CEO Steve Huffman, the new design aims mostly at new users: “Many of us evangelise Reddit and tell people how awesome it is ... then when those new people decide to check out Reddit for the first time they’re greeted with dystopian Craigslist. We’d like to fix that.”
    10 Year Challenge in web design - Reddit
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    To mitigate some of the criticism, Reddit introduced three types of views that users can pick: Card, Classic, Compact. And, as of now (Jan 2019) the "Old-Redditers" can still switch back to the "old view" in their account preferences. Reddit's re-design approach heavily polarised the community and divided it into two camps: "Old-Redditers" and "New-Redditers" - who could've thought that you can find an analogy to the political situation in the United States in something like "10 Year Challenge in web design"...

    eBay - follows in the footsteps of the best

    Ebay seems to be following Amazon’s suite by introducing a slider to it’s landing page. It’s big, it’s colourful, it grabs your attention. They learned how to use white (negative) space to their benefit, contrary to the home page from a decade ago. It was packed with categories (who really uses them on the home page...? That’s right. No one!), banners and images - it seemed very crowded. There’s also the case of the logo. I would argue the old one was more recognisable. Now we have this Google-like simple font - a popular trend in the past three years, but I think eBay’s logo used to be more distinct.

    10 Year Challenge in web design - eBay
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    Twitter - the proper 10 year challenge in web design

    Complete transformation! That’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I compare the Twitter layout from 10 years ago to its current version. Is this the winner of Colorpeak's 10 Year Challenge in web design? Not quite.

    This is yet another example of a website that takes simplicity and turns it into an advantage. A very intuitive layout that encourages you to simply tweet, re-tweet, and consume other tweets. Blue background has been replaced with white one, the logo became smaller and “What’s trending” panel has been added on the right-hand side of the feed. Twitter understands that the vast majority of its users access their feed from mobile phones, so it seems they design with a small screen and quick load time in mind. Then they follow with desktop design extending few elements a bit but refusing to include anything unnecessary. 5 stars when it comes to UX and UI design if you ask me!

    10 Year Challenge in web design - Twitter
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    10 Netflix - the winner dresses for success

    Last but not least is my favourite example which shows that sometimes one needs to start with MVP ("Minimum Viable Product") to put the ball rolling and the success will come later. It is also the winner of our 10 Year Challenge competition! When you look at Netflix website from ten years ago, you will laugh. I did! But then we have to remember that back in the days there was no fast internet connection and renting (RENTING!) a movie through a website to be delivered to your home was shockingly innovative. Since then, Netflix has made a leap jump, and their navigation page that allows you to select movies is what created a binge-watching experience and trend. Whoever is behind Netflix Landing Page is an excellent web designer and developer team that understands how our brains work and how to trigger them to consume more and more content. Bravo!

    10 Year Challenge in web design - Netflix
    See before and after interactive view on Colorpeak Blog

    This concludes our 10 Year Challenge web design comparison. Of course, top ten visited websites in the UK change very often, so in a while, you may find this list outdated, but if you're here in January 2019 these are the websites UK residents visit the most. We hope you enjoyed our take on #10YearChallenge so go ahead and subscribe to our facebook, twitter and other social media accounts for more interesting articles from Colropeak team.


    This article was posted originally on Colorpeak Blog

  37. 4 key skills of a WordPress web designer – a beginners guide

    2019-03-14 17:14:00 UTC


    If you’ve ever considered becoming a web designer, but you’re not interested in learning to code, now is a great time to give it a try. Why may you ask? The answer is simple – there are so many tools that allow you to design without the back-end knowledge that you can become a WordPress web designer with a bit of imagination and some skills. But to become a successful web designer I would advise you to start with research. The reason why is because there is much more to web design than just translating your vision into a working and functional website using some software (that I will talk about as well).

    Wordpress Web Designer
    WordPress Web Designer

    1. Plan to become a WordPress web designer

    First, to build a website you need to have an understanding of who is it for, what features are required and what are your client’s expectations. Don’t have a client yet? Perfect! You don’t want your first website, which is going to be a disaster anyway, affect your confidence. Start small. Does your mum have a hobby? That’s how I started. I had built a website where she could showcase her cat sweaters. I was not ready for e-Commerce yet to sell them to other animal lovers, but I could start with a nice portfolio showcasing her creations (and my basic WordPress web designer skills).

    So, whether it’s your mum or a neighbour sit down with them and ask all the questions that you think will be important to build a website. I would discourage you from skipping this step and interviewing yourself. There are certain things you can learn only when you’re surprised. Therefore, an interaction with somebody else is the best way to do it.

    WordPress Web Designer Questionnaire
    We design questionnaire

    The Importance of a Questionnaire

    Check out our basic web design questionnaire that I used at the early stage before Colorpeak was an agency. It does not matter whether you’re a WordPress web designer or developer. If you’re building a website, then you need one. Below, I also included some additional links with other questions that may turn out handy for your project specifically. Be cautious though as too many questions will bore your client. Be accurate but don’t go overboard with three pages of questions. As part of a large marketing agency, there will come a time for fancy shmancy questions about the company’s vision or whether their solutions are better than their competitors. Now you need to know if they have a domain, what colours do they like (or hate), what is the website for and do they have content or do you need to create it.

    Remember to use the questionnaire as a guide for your conversation; don’t just send it to them point blank. A discussion is a key to land a client. You will not get them through cold calling or emails. Therefore, you should practice this skill as often as you have an opportunity to do so.

    Handy links for building your own Questionnaire

    2. Technical - Hosting, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, UX

    There is no way around technical skills development in web design. Fortunately, with WordPress, you can start without any and develop the understanding as you go. Of course, knowing HTML, CSS and JavaScript will help, but you can start without them to become WordPress web designer.

    When you finally get to that stage when working on WordPress templates is not good enough, learn HTML first, then CSS and JavaScript will be the cherry on the top. HTML will take you no time; you will just need a few hours to know the basics. With CSS it will be much more, but you can do a day course learning the principles. Knowing those principles will allow you to look up specific things when you need them. JavaScript is a solid coding skill so you should have many websites in your portfolio that you are proud of before you jump into this deeper dive.

    Technical skills of a WordPress Web Designer
    Technical skills of a web designer

    But at the very beginning, the technical skills that you need as a WordPress web designer are how to set up a website on a hosting platform and install WordPress on it.

    WordPress themes that speed up design process

    Start your first website by using one of the WordPress free templates. This will help you learn how it works and what are the principles of working with Gutenberg design engine. To make your website look more appealing there are some themes that offer more flexibility and will allow you to be more creative. These are Divi from Elegant Themes, Elementor or Beaver Builder. You can find out the pros and cons of each one on this YouTube video.

    Elementor vs Divi Builder vs Beaver Builder: Ultimate Comparison

    To state the obvious, as a WordPress web designer you will need some graphic design skills. Fortunately, these days there are many free repositories that you can source images from. If you combine them with basic skills of working with Photoshop or Gimp image processing tools you are set. Also, don’t forget to go through some User Experience (UX) guides. They will teach you the principles of good web design that will help the visitor of the website enjoy the experience.

    3. Marketing

    When creating a website in 2019, some marketing skills are a must. A WordPress web designer won’t get away without knowing basics of copywriting and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), like keyword research and on-page optimisation. I know many people who would argue with me on that point, but I believe that a competent web designer should have this knowledge.

    Content writing - copywriting is the key

    You may not have to write content for your website as the client will provide it, but you need to recognise when it’s crap. It's part of your job to advise your client that they need to hire a better writer. Even better, to leave the copywriting to you (or your trusted freelance copywriter - you will find them on Fiverr and People Per Hour, although it takes few orders before you can find somebody trustworthy).

    Wordpress web designer copywriting
    Copywriting skills of a web designer

    You will also need to skilfully describe what each page is all about in between 120 and 158 characters in a page description. That requires not only copywriting skills but also some keyword research and SEO knowledge. Fortunately, there are plugins for that! For example, Yoast will not only tell you whether your meta description or page title is too short or too long but also it will score your keyword strength. It will also suggest how to correct your text to make it more readable and point the header tag structure (H1-H3) in relation to the keywords. It’s a great tool. Optimising images is also important, and you need to have tools to decrease image size to speed up page loading time. As a WordPress web designer, you need to know how to add Alt Tags and descriptions and geotag them, which helps with Local SEO.

    Keyword research and why is it important

    In terms of keywords, clients will often tell you what keyword they want to rank for. Nine times out of ten they will be wrong. Sometimes because the competition is too strong and sometimes because nobody searches for that keyword, so there is no point to rank for it. I have included some articles below that will give you a better grasp on keyword research. After that use Google Trends or Answer the Public tools to judge the value of your keywords.

    Tools that will help you do the keyword research

    4. Hungry for knowledge

    Last but not least! In fact, wanting to learn is a major player in changing your career path to a WordPress web designer or any website designer or developer, to be frank. The web design field is vast, and there are many stages to learn about it before you can confidently say you are a competent web designer. You will need to be passionate about it and be hungry for knowledge. We live in the time where there is a YouTube or GitHub answer to every problem that you may encounter when designing a website, whether you want to change the colour of the font or animate something in JavaScript… and yes, I’m thinking about my mum’s cat presenting his favourite sweater on a catwalk….

    WordPress web designer learning process
    Learning web designer skills


    It seems like a lot, but do not feel overwhelmed. You will simply acquire all these skills while designing websites and being open to self-learning. I am a firm believer in "learning on the job" and acquiring abilities that you need to resolve problems one by one as you approach them. This is why the best way to learn WordPress web designer skills is to actually try and design some websites for fun and google your way through obstacles. So, go ahead, start now. Just register your new site on WordPress today, and tomorrow… well, the sky is the limit… OK, if you think this is cringy, then it is, but do it regardless. No postponing!

    The above skills won’t make you a Frontend Web developer yet, we will get to that in another article, but it will get you started. Don’t miss the opportunity. Today is the day when you choose the path to become a WordPress web designer.

    Find out More:

    This article was originally posted on Colorpeak Blog - 4 key skills of a WordPress web designer - a beginners guide

  38. Content Freshness & Rankings | Does Fresh Content Impact SEO?

    2019-01-31 09:32:33 UTC

    You keep hearing around that the same way true fans like their Apples fresh (I’m talking about iPhones), Google likes its content fresh. Well, it’s somewhat true, but not for the reasons you might think of!   Google doesn’t necessarily favor “fresh” content. Some search queries definitely deserve freshness, while others not so much. However, […]

    The post Content Freshness & Rankings | Does Fresh Content Impact SEO? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    You keep hearing around that the same way true fans like their Apples fresh (I’m talking about iPhones), Google likes its content fresh. Well, it’s somewhat true, but not for the reasons you might think of!


    Google doesn’t necessarily favor “fresh” content. Some search queries definitely deserve freshness, while others not so much. However, fresh content can impact SEO through some indirect “freshness” factors.




    1. What Does Fresh Content Even Mean?
      1. Freshness & Frequency
    2. What the Google Freshness Update Was All About
      1. The First Google Update (Caffeine)
      2. The Second Google Update (Freshness)
      3. Who Does the Freshness Update Actually Affect?
    3. Does Fresh Content Impact SEO?
      1. Queries that Deserve Freshness (QDF)
      2. Updating Old Content (Keeping It up to Date)
      3. Publishing New Content
    4. What Actually Affects SEO
      1. CTR (Possibly Impacted by ‘Freshness’)
      2. Quantity & Targeted Keywords
      3. Domain Performance


    To better understand the concept, we first must detail a little what “fresh content” actually means.


    What Does Fresh Content Even Mean?


    What do you understand by fresh content? Content that has been published today? Content that is regularly updated?


    The term “fresh content” represents content that is dynamic in nature (especially in meaning).


    Therefore, it’s not as much “new” content in relation to time and when it has actually been created or published, but new in meaning and what the data behind it reflects.


    Many people believe that fresh content is content that has been recently published. Sometimes, they even mix up freshness with frequency.


    Let’s start with content that has been recently published. If I am publishing a piece on “The History of England”, would you call that fresh content?


    Most likely not, because people have been writing about the history of England for probably hundreds of years. It’s nothing new.


    The post is new on my site, of course, but common SEO sense says that new content without any backlinks and amplification will have a harder time ranking, especially in very competitive niches, such as history (where Wikipedia probably dominates). You’ll have to make huge link building efforts to dominate the results with a new page and we all know how risky that is! (it usually results in a penalty).


    Freshness & Frequency


    Now frequency is very similar to freshness and they often intersect, but it’s not always the case. I could post something fresh once per week, or I could post something fresh every day.


    Frequency will ensure that your site gets crawled more often (thanks to Caffeine).


    That means search engines will use more of their resources on sites that publish more often, because they need them.


    If you’ve been publishing once per month for the past year, why would Google check your site daily? It would be a waste of resources.


    However, if your site publishes 25 articles each day, then Google has to make sure it checks your site multiple times per day to index those results as soon as possible (thanks to Caffeine) and be able to display them to the users if they request it (thanks to the 2011 update).


    One common misconception is that stale websites will be negatively impacted. That’s been proven wrong.


    Brian Dean made this pretty clear with his blog. He publishes rarely, so his website is mostly still. However, his content always ranks at the top. I also have a blog in Romanian on which I haven’t posted in over 6 months. 9/10 articles are ranking on the 1st page and 6/10 are ranked in the top 3 positions.


    If there’s something that has changed over time, it’s that those rankings have actually increased.


    You see, you don’t need to publish too often when you can actually go into the Google Search Console and ask Google to immediately index your web pages by hitting a single button.


    What the Google Freshness Update Was All About


    This all started back in 2009, but just like many events, it has developed into a big conspiracy over time.


    The First Google Update (Caffeine)


    If you were in business back in 2009, you’d remember about the Google Caffeine update and how much of a big deal it was. The update is often referred to today as the Freshness Update, because Google used the phrase “fresher results”.


    Although the update was announced back in 2009, it took almost a year until it finally rolled up.


    The thing is, unfortunately, that many people got it all wrong.


    The Google caffeine update has nothing to do with rankings. It’s main focus is indexing. Rankings and indexing are two very different things.


    Indexing is when Google takes a first look at your content and adds it to the index. That means it has the potential to be ranked.


    Ranking however, is a completely different story, with a much more complex algorithm behind it. This algorithm, which was updated in 2011, was actually older than you might think.


    The Second Google Update (Freshness)


    Ranking “fresh content” at the top was actually happening way before that. In 2007, Amit Singhal had developed an algorithm that favored freshness for some particular subjects and queries.


    Note how I say “some specific queries”. Wait, let me make that bigger.


    Google favors fresh content only for some specific queries that deserve freshness, widely known as QDF.


    QDF stands for Query Deserves Freshness. If a particular search phrase is a QDF, then Google will show up the most recent results. This happens a lot in particular areas, as Matt Cutts explains in the following video:



    In fact, in its official post about the update, Google specifies exactly what types of queries the update will impact:


    • Recent events or hot topics: Such as celebrity news or natural disasters (kind of one and the same)
    • Regularly recurring events: Conferences such as Brand Minds
    • Frequent updates: Anything that keeps having new content added to, such as product reviews or anything in the technology space


    I know there have been some speculations that only by changing the date to an article you could make it look fresh and you could abuse the algorithm changes to make Google keep you at the top. However, they are what they are (speculations) and I promise you that for each example you give me of “fresh” content ranking at the top I can find at least 1 example of “old” content ranking at the top.


    In fact, I’ll give you some examples right now, from the SEO field. It’s a field that frequently changes and you always have to stay up to date in order to be relevant.


    There’s no way a guide from 2015 or 2010 would still be useful, right? Well… Google thinks otherwise:


    does fresh content affect seo


    And here’s another example:


    old articles still rank well in Google


    You might argue that “fresher” results rank better than those. Well, you’re right but that doesn’t prove anything, because one can say “fresher results also rank below and they even come from big sites such as Hubspot”.




    There are factors that might influence rankings in this situation and we’ll talk about them soon, so keep reading!


    But thinking that you’ll rank better just by having a more recent publish date is silly. And I’ll crush it even more soon.


    Who Does the Freshness Update Actually Affect?


    Both Caffeine and the 2011 Freshness Algorithm Update affect mostly news sites. This is the broader category, in which you can include celebrities, general news, politics, technology, you name it.


    I’ll give you an example:


    query that deserves freshness SEO


    Notice a difference from the SEO examples I gave before? No article from 2009 or 2010 here, right? They’re all from 2019, posted hardly one month before me writing this post. The second article doesn’t even list the date, but instead the number of days it was posted ago. It can also be hours sometimes instead of days.


    Why do you think this is the case?


    Because in this case, a 2009 post would be horrible as a search result. People want to know the latest phones, not the outdated ones from 2009. Google knows the user’s intent so it tries to match the results to fit it.


    Does Fresh Content Impact SEO?


    Do we have an official answer? Sort of. And it’s pretty recent:



    I have to say, I’m not quite pleased with the answer, because John has the habit of being very vague in his answers. I mean… I’ve just proven above that Google favors fresh content in certain cases.


    Sure, we also have to get the context of his answer. That question about freshness has been asked after John tweeted this:


    “As a user, recognizing that old content is just being relabeled as new completely kills any authority that I thought the author / site had. Good content is not lazy content. SEO hacks don’t make a site great. Give your content and users the respect they deserve.”


    So, basically, John Mueller, Google’s representative, is trying to tell you that updating the post date every day is a bad digital marketing strategy and it won’t help you rank better.


    I have to admit, I miss those days when Google used to be a lot more detailed and explicit in its answers. Why?


    Because, as discussed, before, Google does favor fresh content, but in certain areas! And John’s answer should’ve reflected this reality, which also includes QDF.


    Queries that Deserve Freshness (QDF)


    Queries that Deserve Freshness is a reality! Matt Cutts talked about this before. There are certain search phrases, such as “best android phones” which I’ve shown above as an example, that deserve freshness. Users want to see the latest posts, so here, you might have the upper hand if you keep everything up to date.



    Does that mean that you can keep ranking at the top by constantly changing the post date? No.


    Does it mean that some articles will outrank other articles because of the date when they were posted? Yes.


    But there are a lot of factors that signal freshness. Not just the date. Is the topic growing popular on social media platforms? Are the articles getting any new backlinks? In other words, is it something that’s happening now?


    Are those answers contradicting one another? I don’t think so. In the end, Google’s not perfect. It’s just an algorithm. Do you think a human person could determine better what the best result for the masses would be? I highly doubt it.


    Updating Old Content (Keeping It up to Date)


    Will updating old blog posts help you rank better? Probably. But not just by changing the date. Google sees those changes and it accounts for “hacks” like this.


    In this article, Search Engine Land stated that Google told them about one of the factors that determine freshness. It’s not the date!


    “Google now tells us that one of the freshness factors — the way they determine if content is fresh or not — is the time when they first crawled a page. So if you publish a page, and then change that page, it doesn’t suddenly become “fresh.”


    One of the factors that determine freshness is the time when Google first crawled the page.


    So no, Google doesn’t care if you keep changing the date.


    Does that mean you shouldn’t update your articles? No!


    You should always keep your articles up to date. But not just with the date. Also with the content, quality and relevancy!


    Has something changed since you’ve first written the article? Go and update it. Make your updates visible. This will allow users to also have a historical view on the events.


    As Cyrus Shepard put it in this article:


    The age of a web page or domain isn’t the only freshness factor. Search engines can score regularly updated content for freshness differently from content that doesn’t change. In this case, the amount of change on your web page plays a role.
    Cyrus Shepard Cyrus Shepard
    Owner @ Zyppy / @CyrusShepard


    So the page’s age (when it was first crawled) is important, not just the publish date in the article, which can be faked. If you’re going to make small, insignificant changes, there are small chances that you will see any effects on the rankings.


    If you feel like your post is outdated but you don’t know exactly how to improve it, use our Keyword & Content Optimization Tool.


    optimize your content with cognitiveSEO


    On the right side, it will give you a list of keywords that you should use in your article in order to make it more relevant. You can view them as topics you should cover when you’re writing. The ones with dots are the most important ones.


    If you want to know exactly what we did to gain 70% more SEO visibility, you can take a look at our content optimization results.


    Keep in mind that any changes to your content might also result in negative impacts. Be prepared for this in case it happens. If you have an article that’s already ranking #1, it’s probably a better idea to leave it like that!


    Publishing New Content


    As mentioned before,  new content lacks authority, distribution and links. It’s unlikely that it will outrank older content.


    However, publishing new content does expand the number of keywords your site is targeting and thus it results in more traffic.


    It’s just simple math. Will a higher post frequency increase your rankings overall? Probably not, although it can result in more backlinks which leads to higher domain performance over time.


    However, a higher post frequency is almost guaranteed to increase traffic. No matter what others say, if you have 1000 followers and they read you once per week, if you make them read you twice per week, you’ve increased your traffic. It’s simple math.


    But remember, you also need to post good content. You have to structure it well. You have to account for your audience’s needs. Not just blindly post things there.


    Make sure to use the Keyword Tool to maximize your chances of ranking higher on Google when you create new posts.


    What Actually Affects SEO


    I don’t want you to be upset with me, so I’ll tell you some things that will actually impact your rankings and they’re closely related to freshness.


    CTR (Possibly Impacted by ‘Freshness’)


    Click Through Rate is a ranking factor. This has been tested and proven countless times. If users click your headline more and stick with your website, it signals Google that your site is a good result.


    But what impacts CTR? Well, mostly it’s the position you’re ranking for, but the 3 things that affect CTR are the Title tag, the URL and the Meta Description, because they’re all shown in Google’s search results.


    I hope you can see where this is going. How many times have you seen the current year or “Updated 20xx” in a title? Probably often. I mean just take a look at the “best android phones” example! It’s full of it! Why?



    Using the current year in your title might positively affect CTR, which can result in higher rankings.


    Should you change your title anually to feature the current year? Probably. But make sure your article is still up to date, otherwise Google’s going to catch that and punish you for it. If the article is still up to date, you can leave it like that. If not, you should probably improve it.


    You can also reshare and redistribute your content as “new” on you social media platforms. This will help you gain new backlinks and traffic if the article was previously successful.


    Quantity & Targeted Keywords


    If you post new content frequently, you can expand your search visibility by targeting new keywords. This is almost guaranteed to bring more traffic if you do it right.


    We’ve started doing this since November 2016 and the results have been promising. Have our rankings improved overall? Yes. Was it because we published more content but with the same high quality? It certainly had an effect (more backlinks, more shares, more topical authority).


    Domain Performance


    Closely related to quantity is the performance of your site’s domain. This is dictated by the number of unique domains that link to your website and, very important, also by their quality. 


    If you publish more content, target and distribute it properly, then you can increase the number of backlinks to your site, which will result in a better domain performance.


    If you want to check your domain performance, you can use the CognitiveSEO Site Explorer.


    find broken pages on your website


    The domain performance has a positive impact on all your articles, because Google starts to trust your site as being qualitative. Just think about it. If you buy a domain today and write something about SEO (let’s say it’s the same quality), do you think you can outrank cognitiveSEO right away? It’s hardly the case.




    Still confused? Here, I’ll summarize everything, just for you:


    • Google does favor freshers results, but only in certain cases, such as news sites.
    • Freshness factors, like the current year in your title, can impact your CTR, which may result in higher rankings.
    • Publishing more new content can also help you gain more links, which leads to more authority.


    What do you think about fresh content? Are you in a niche where fresh content is vital? How often do you publish on your site? Have you ever tried changing the date to rank higher? Has it worked? I doubt it has, but prove me wrong in the comments section. 

    The post Content Freshness & Rankings | Does Fresh Content Impact SEO? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  39. We Analyzed 100,000 Unnatural Links and This Is What We’ve Learned

    2019-02-08 11:30:37 UTC

    Everybody talks about unnatural links and their impact on the SEO world. While some things are well known, when it comes to search engine optimization and spammy links, there is still a lot of obscurity on the subject.    To shed some light on this matter, we’ve run an in-depth analysis based on more than […]

    The post We Analyzed 100,000 Unnatural Links and This Is What We’ve Learned appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    Everybody talks about unnatural links and their impact on the SEO world. While some things are well known, when it comes to search engine optimization and spammy links, there is still a lot of obscurity on the subject. 


    To shed some light on this matter, we’ve run an in-depth analysis based on more than 100k inbound links. Some of the findings are really surprising, while others bring a clear confirmation to some really popular assumptions.  



    1. Almost a Quarter of Links Have Over 50% Unnaturalness Issues
    2. 35% of All Unnatural Links Have Low Influence
    3. Commercial Anchor Texts Have a Higher Distribution for Websites with Unnatural Links
    4. Almost Half of the Unnatural Links Are Coming From Web Directories
    5. 40% of Links are Placed in Short Paragraph of Texts
    6. Websites with Highly Unnatural Backlink Profiles Have Over 70% Nofollow Links
    7. Lower Domain Influence Score Shows Higher Unnaturalness
    8. An Unnatural Backlink Profile Leads to a Decrease in Search Visibility
    9. How We Did the Research
    10. Top 10 Takeaways


    The unnatural links have eaten the SERPs alive all these years and the “good” links keep fighting their way back. Lots of websites suffered and ended in dreadful situations regarding penalties because of SEO spammers who called themselves “SEO experts” and promised to offer high rankings in Google by building awful links or business owners who followed old tactics. Either way, the damage remains.


    The current research contains lots of insights on the unnatural link matter, aggregating information on metrics such as unnatural and suspect link percentage, link issues, commercial and brand anchor text percentage, webpage type and link positioning, dofollow and nofollow links, average domain influence, search visibility, etc. We recommend you to read everything thoroughly; yet, if you think that you don’t have time to read everything now, you can jump to the main takeaways


    1. Almost a Quarter of the Analyzed Websites Have Over 50% Unnatural Links


    After analyzing the data we saw that most of the websites (39.9% of all websites) have up to 10% unnatural links. Is not bad, but it’s a small percentage if we were to think about it. Up to 30% unnatural links represent more than half of the links (a total of 63.3%). An even worse situation is if we look at the percentage of websites (20.7%) that have over 50% unnatural links.  


    For a better understanding of the charts, you need to know that we divided the websites based on the percentage of their unnatural links into 4 categories:

    • comprising up to 10% unnatural links of all links;
    • comprising between 10-30% unnatural links of all links;
    • comprising 30-50% unnatural links of all links;
    • comprising over 50% unnatural links of all links.


    Percentage of Sites With Unnatural Links on Intervals


    If we compare this chart with the next one, where we’ve summed up unnatural and suspect links together, we can see the differences between the pie charts. The number of websites that have over 50% unnatural and suspect links is almost a quarter or the total amount of websites – 24.8%.


    And the number of websites with up to 10% unnatural and suspect links is smaller than the first chart – 31.4%. But overall the situation looks worse.


    Percentage of Sites With Unnatural & Suspect Links on Intervals


    The cognitiveSEO tool triggers a penalized flag when a website has more than 30% of their backlink profile containing unnatural links. And when we look at our situation, we see that there is a significant amount of links with over 30% of unnatural links.


    By now you might be thinking of how we classified or what we considered to be an unnatural link


    For the links classification, we used the cognitiveSEO classification metrics. cognitiveSEO’s Unnatural Link Detection classifies links based on their unnaturalness as follows:

    • unnatural link: links considered unnatural by Google. The tool uses over 50 rules to classify unnatural links. 
    • suspect links: links that could be unnatural but need a manually double check investigation. Context can change a lot in terms of the naturalness of a link and this is why some links cannot be algorithmically classified but need manual curation. 
    • OK links: links that seem to have no issue.


    Below you can see a printscreen taken from the Unnatural Link Detection tool. 



    2. 35% of All Unnatural Links Have Low Influence


    Our research is based on the analysis of almost 8,000 websites which have thousands of unnatural links. We looked at the influence carried by those links and analyzed the main unnatural issues. For each website, we had a list of issues. 


    We calculated the frequency of the issues and you can see in the chart below the top link issues for websites with unnatural links. A low influence link is one of the most widespread link issues. A low influence link is a low quality link, which can have low influence because of lots of reasons, in addition to web-directory links, suspect anchor text, or suspect pattern link. 



    There is no secret that low influence links or links coming from web directories are most of the times spammy links; yet, what is surprising here is that these issues are still encountered today, as they were 10  years ago. 


    And, for a quick reminder, here are the link schemes which violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:


    • buying and selling links or any other links generated through monetary payments;
    • excessive link exchanges;
    • guest blogging with keyword rich and over optimized anchor text links;
    • automatic link building using automated software;
    • blogrolls, footer links and any other widely distributed links on a website;
    • web directories;
    • advertorials or paid articles with links;
    • hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets;
    • any sort of links that still intends to manipulate PageRank;
    • forum comments with optimized links.

    3. More Commercial Anchor Texts Correlate with Higher Unnatural Links


    According to the graphic below, we can see that most of the commercial anchor texts are found within websites that have a high percentage (over 50%) of unnatural links.


    Brand and commercial anchor texts for unnatural websites


    For you to make an idea of how we tackle anchor texts, let us explain a bit how we defined brand and commercial keywords.


    The brand anchor text contains the name of the business or domain name. Commercial keywords (or money keywords) are all of those keywords relevant for transactional searches, keywords that match queries to real buyers. In our case for instance, cognitiveSEO would be a brand keyword while best SEO tool would be a commercial keyword. 


    One thing is clear: commercial anchor texts have a higher distribution for websites with unnatural links. So it was a surprise to see so many brand anchor texts for the unnatural links. We analyzed the brand anchor texts for the unnatural links to see why there are so many. And we realized that is actually a connection with the top link issues discussed above.


    Most of the unnatural links with a brand anchor text are coming from web directories.


    Below you can see an example of such kind. You can see that the link is on the website and the domain name, but the website looks really spammy and we all know that Google doesn’t like web directories or any listing websites.  


    Unnatural link with brand anchor text


    For determining the link building strategy we analyzed the Webpage Type, Link Positioning, Webpage Category. Webpage Type is a metric that profiles backlinks by their structural type. This means you can see exactly the type of page it’s linking to, whether it’s a Blog, a Forum, an Ecommerce site or maybe a News site. The Link Positioning metric classifies each analyzed link by its type (Blogroll, Blog Post, in Content Link, etc) and Webpage Category identifies the contextual relevance between the site and its inBound Links.


    Top 5 webpage categories for websites that have unnatural links are:

    • Generic
    • Business
    • Home
    • Tech
    • Health

    4. Almost Half of the Unnatural Links Are Coming From Web Directories


    According to our study, it looks that web directories are the main source for spammy backlinks, followed by generic websites, blogs, forums and ecommerce.


    Top Webpage Type for unnatural links


    Web-directories were a big hit in the glorious old-days of black hat SEO. They have been with us since the beginning of black hat SEO. If you look at the print screen below, you can see how web directories searches changed over the years.


    Trends for Web directory


    It started big, then it went down and the popularity dropped, but some people are still using them. Web Directories don’t have a good image anymore in the SEO world.


    Matt Cutts said that the Google team looks at the value of the directory and how much work is put into it.


    If it’s not substantially a lot of work and, primarily, it looks to be more-less a link scheme, then paid directories are held to the same standards as paid links.


    5. 40% of All Unnatural Links are Placed in Short Paragraph of Texts


    Since our main source of links are web directories, it turns out that the top two link positionings are related to that. During our study, we saw that most of the unnatural links are placed in short paragraph or text and in groups of links. 40% of the websites had unnatural links in short paragraph of text and 39% of websites in groups of links.


    Top Link Positioning Issues


    The study shows that links placed in short paragraphs of text and in group of links are the top link positioning schemes used by spammers.


    6. Websites with Highly Unnatural Backlink Profiles Have over 70% Nofollow Links


    Besides the information we discussed above, regarding the link strategy, we were also interested in finding out the link equity or link juice transferred and the type of value assigned to the rel attribute – dofollow and nofollow.


    We know that “dofollow” is not an attribute on itself but we are going to use it here to make a distinction between links. 


    Unnatural dofollow links and nofollow links


    As you can see in the chart, all the websites with unnatural links have a high number of nofollow links. And out of the total links, less than a quarter are dofollow.


    We’ve been fed with the belief that dofollow links might be mostly for unnatural links; but it seems that that’s not necessarily the case. We admit that the data discovered reflects only findings on a set of links, but still,  the results we’ve discovered here are quite interesting. 


    Since most of the unnatural links are nofollow, as you can see in the chart above, we started to believe that the questions “Should I disavow nofollow links?” has new directions. The nofollow links saga continues, after long and heated debates among online marketers and SEOs.


    Judging by our findings here, we can say that disavowing nofollow links is not a matter of choice anymore.


    You should think about removing or disavowing links that look spammy and have a high risk for your backlink profile even if they are nofollow.


    They can impact the whole quality of your backlink profile. If they are nofollow, that doesn’t mean they are risk-free. Since dofollow links were known for being unnatural in a high percentage, it became a standard as far as natural links go. But if we look at the results of our study, more and more major publishers start to switch to nofollow. This can definitely influence other spammer practitioners to do this as well.


    And Google’s John Mueller said to disavow bad links, no matter if they are dofollow or nofollow.


    Disavowing or cleaning up bad links to your site may help Google’s algorithm trust other links to your site.


    The nofollow drama started to be more complicated since lots of publishers abuse the practice, so that good nofollow links and spammy nofollow links got mixed. We had an entire talk about the impact of nofollow links on SEO where you can find if they are they still worth having.


    7. Lower Domain Influence Score Shows Higher Unnaturalness


    In our study, we checked the Domain Influence for the unnatural links to see the average value. It turns out that the higher the unnatural backlink profile is, the lower the Domain Influence goes.


    Average Domain Influence only for Unnatural Links


    The Domain Influence is a similar metric that includes the domain authority, a crowd-sourced metric measured from 0 to 100. 



    8.  A High Unnatural Backlink Profile Usually Leads to a Decrease in Search Visibility


    A direct correlation between the unantural link and the search visibility wasn’t done in the present study, yet, judging by other researches we made it seems that  the highest the unnatural backlinks profile, the highest the chance to get fluctuations on the search engines and no visibility on the long run.


    We’ve written several researches on this matter, and in almost all cases, a high number of unnatural links caused a major drop in search visibility. 

    Search visibility for propertycashbuyers.com

    To make sure that your rankings will be safe, we deeply recommend you to: 

    1. Regularly monitor your backlink profile
    2. Disavow your unnatural links
    3. Monitor new links that could trigger penalties
    4. Know your anchor text ratio

    And if you’re looking for a tool that can do all that and even more, the cognitiveSEO toolset is always here for you. 


    9. How We Did the Research


    We extracted and worked on more than 100k links coming from almost 8,000 randomly chosen and anonymized websites from different categories, mainly from health, ecommerce, finance, travel, business technology, entertainment, adult.  Here are some data we looked for:

    • the percentage of unnatural links, suspect links and OK links;
    • most uncommon unnatural link issues;
    • the percentage of brand and commercial anchor text;
    • webpage type, link positioning and web category for unnatural links only;
    • nofollow and dofollow links for the whole backlinks profile;
    • nofollow and dofollow links for the unnatural links only;
    • high and good Domain Influence for the whole backlink profile and for the unnatural links only;
    • the average Domain Influence for the whole backlinks profile and for the unnatural links only.


    And for each metric analyzed and discussed in the present article we classified the unnatural backlink profile into 4 categories:

    • with 0-10% unnatural links out of the total links;
    • 11-30 % unnatural links out of the total links;
    • 31-50% unnatural links out of the total links;
    • over 50% unnatural links out of the total links.



    Top 10 Takeaways


    We had some pretty interesting SEO facts discovered in our study. We debunked some SEO myths and got new leads and strategies to put in place for future investigations. Below you can see our top 10 takeaways.


    1. Almost all websites have some unnatural links, with a third of all of them have over 50% spammy links. 
    2. Obviously or not, most of the unnatural links have no influence, and a third of all analyzed websites have a low or no influence links.
    3. Web directories are on the top list of unnatural tactics and (probably) black hat SEO strategies.
    4. Most of the unnatural links are placed mostly on short paragraphs of texts and groups of lists. 
    5. Commercial anchor text are not necessarily the trigger to unnaturalness.
    6. Most of the unnatural links had the rel=”nofollow” tag, contrary to popular beliefs that nofollow links are “safe”.
    7. Mostly dofollow links seems to be natural, non-spammy & relevant links. 
    8. We might need to change our approach regarding disavowing nofollow links
    9. Unnatural links highly affect websites’ Google visibility .
    10. Unnatural links are correlated with lower Domain Influence score. 


    The post We Analyzed 100,000 Unnatural Links and This Is What We’ve Learned appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  40. Are Web Directories Still Relevant for SEO in 2019?

    2019-02-12 10:18:41 UTC

    Web Directories have been the norm for the world wide web and for search engine optimization for a long time. But are they still relevant in this age of advanced AI Google Updates?   Well, as Head of Web SPAM at Google John Mueller said, “in general, no”. But the key words in that answer […]

    The post Are Web Directories Still Relevant for SEO in 2019? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    Web Directories have been the norm for the world wide web and for search engine optimization for a long time. But are they still relevant in this age of advanced AI Google Updates?


    Well, as Head of Web SPAM at Google John Mueller said, “in general, no”. But the key words in that answer are “in general”. That’s the usual answer we get from John and, as much as we’d like to say we will dissect it, the truth is that we can only be speculating and interpreting things based on own knowledge and experience.




    Let’s jump to it and find out whether web directories are still useful for SEO in 2019.


    1. What Are Web Directories Really?
      1. Why Directories Were Created
      2. Why Directories Died
      3. The Web Directory Legacy
    2. Do Web Directories Still Work for SEO in 2019?
      1. The Problem With Today’s Directories
      2. Local SEO & Directory Listings
      3. Directories That Are Still Good
      4. Why Do We Still Have Web Directories?
    3. Should You Disavow Directory Links?

    What Are Web Directories Really?


    In order to better understand why directories work or not in 2019 we have to create a background for them. Like an introduction.


    Most people probably think of directories as just sites that list other sites. While that’s true, the reality is that they’re much more.


    Before modern search engines, such as Google, web directories were THE INTERNET.


    Why Web Directories Were Created


    In the very early days of the internet, only a few people had websites. Internet connections were uncommon and there wasn’t much profit to be made out of it. Still, different websites emerged, in different niches.


    However, you had to actually remember the domain names in order to access those websites, as there was no Google.


    But, as the internet grew, more websites started showing up. Soon enough, people couldn’t remember all those names. But some clever guys from Yahoo! had the brilliant idea to store the best website into something they called a web directory.


    yahoo web directory seo


    At first, only a few websites were listed, the most ‘popular’ ones or the ones that they thought were worthy of being listed. This way, you would only have to remember one website (Yahoo!) if you wanted to find all the other good sites.


    At first, the sites were listed alphabetically but, as the number grew, they started getting listed under categories and subcategories. This way it was easier for users to find what they needed.


    Web directories made money out of selling advertising space or boosting certain results in exchange for a fee.


    Why Web Directories Died


    Unfortunately, when the number of sites started getting way too high, people soon realized it wasn’t so convenient to browse through all those categories. It would take too much time and, ultimately, the best results were mixed up with the less good ones.


    This is how search engines appeared. It was by far more convenient to type in a keyword and get a list of top results than to browse through categories trying to figure out which website is the best.


    web directories died


    The search engines worked on algorithms, just as they do now (although not as complex). Depending on the keywords in the title and other factors, some sites would rank better than others.


    Yahoo! had its own search engine. However, it is no secret that Google took the lead because of their improved algorithm, but this isn’t the only reason why Google eventually took the lead. Yahoo! was a giant back then, in the days of Yahoo! Mail, News, Answers and Messenger, but a number of bad decisions made them fade out.


    The Web Directory Legacy


    Even though web directories dropped dramatically in popularity, people still used them. But not for what they were supposed to used them.


    As much as people say that web directories are still useful, the truth is that people have been using them merely for link building and online marketing for a long time.


    I’m 25 now and I’ve been using a computer since I was 6. My first contact with the internet was in 2002 and I can’t recall ever browsing on a web directory. I remember Yahoo! and Google. I remember ODC ,DC++ and other popular hubs. I remember Floppy disks with drivers. But I don’t remember web directories.


    In fact, my first contact with web directories was back in 2013, when I first started learning about SEO. I had probably ended up on similar websites before, but not solely for searching a specific website.


    Although the truth was that web directories weren’t of interest to the general public, new web directories kept popping up.


    There were of course, useful directories, such as business listings (Yellow Pages), which people visited if they wanted to search for a particular business (name, phone, address, legal details, etc.).


    There were also niche directories, which only listed websites in a particular field. Those might have got some organic traffic and potential customers when people searched for things like “list of XYZ websites”.


    But the truth is that, most of the time, web directories were only there because links brought better rankings. People found ways to get listed on as many directories as they could, therefore destroying the purpose of a directory. Even paid directories were full of SPAM.


    Fees were usually low, ranging from $5 to $20 if you wanted to get a listing on the homepage. However, most of the time that wouldn’t bring much more traffic to your site, since most of the users visiting web directories were SEOs trying to build links.


    I’m not afraid to say that I only visited web directories for link building purposes. Everybody was doing it and it worked. It was easy and convenient.


    But the question is… do they still work now?


    Do Web Directories Still Work for SEO in 2019?


    In a local SEO social media group somebody tried to prove a point by showing us a #1 result for a keyword, claiming that he had only built 2 directory links to that page and it’s now #1.


    He was trying to attack us “white hats” that always state web directories don’t work when, in fact, he had proof that they do. Only problem was the keyword he was ranking for had virtually 0 searches and the competition was basically inexistent.


    Did the web directory links actually helped him to rank better in Google’s search results? Probably… Did he prove any points? Definitely not.


    Web Directories probably still have a small impact on your rankings, just like any other site that links to you and passes Page Rank. However, because they’ve been abused as an SEO tactic over the years, Google penalizes people that use web directories. With the rise of Penguin 4.0, many of them are probably ignored.


    Or, as John Mueller (the current Head of Web SPAM @ Google) said:



    Bu that answer can be interpreted in very many ways. Let’s see first why web directories got such a bad reputation in SEO.


    Web Directories’ Main Issues for SEO


    I’ve already discussed how web directories don’t really provide much value as users don’t really use them for anything other than SEO.


    However, the story doesn’t end there:


    Web directories got spammy & tricky: As people always want the quick way, they started automating processes. With more automation, more SPAM came along. These types of things are inconvenient for Google because they waste a lot of resources. Don’t you just hate spam comments? I know I do.


    Google eventually figured out that the best way to deal with this was to penalize people that would use directories as a way of improving their rankings. So when important updates such as Penguin started to roll out, web directories had the perfect opportunity to make money.


    Although some websites were listed for free, now that Google was penalizing websites for spammy link profiles, some web directories asked for removal fees.


    Web directories are not managed anymore: Even if you do find a good web directory, chances are that nobody is going to answer you.


    A couple of years ago, I was in the process of building links for someone. Advertorials were too expensive for his budget and all their competitors had the directory links. Without exception. They ranked well, so I thought I’d better try it at least.


    After a few days of efforts, it was pretty clear that it won’t work. Not because Google penalized me or anything, but because the directory sites either had errors on their submission forms or nobody replied/approved my sites.


    Since they don’t make as much money as they used to, people have stopped putting effort into managing them.


    Web directories are not efficient: Even if you manage to get some business directory listings, they will probably have a very little impact, if not none at all.


    Your time is better spent creating content and engaging with your audience. 1-2 links won’t help at all and scaling this is risky and can result in penalties.


    Google penalizes you: Of course, the biggest issue with web directories these days is that your website can get penalized if it tries to trick the Google algorithms.


    Building links in mass, be it through web directories, blog commenting, article submission, guest posting, you name it, is risky and can get your site in trouble.


    Now I’m not saying that you’re going to be penalized if you submit your site to a directory. By all means, if you find an interesting site that also happens to have a list of other interesting sites, go for it!


    But it’s a good idea to check their background a little bit. What’s their domain authority? Is their backlink profile spammy? Are they linking to quality websites or a bunch of phishing potholes full of malware?


    In other words, does that website bring any value at all to the internet or for any users? Is it in any way relevant to your site? If the answer is no, then you should definitely stay away from it.


    Local SEO & Directory Listings


    When it comes to local, it’s probably the only field where people actually still visit renowned “directories” to find a good location.


    For example, Google My Business is considered to be a web business directory. To some extent, it is. It lists businesses. However, it’s turning more and more into a search engine itself. The rankings are done based on algorithms.


    google my business directory

    Local Search Listings | Google My Business


    People do browse and look for reviews, but most of them just stick with the top businesses (the ones that get listed first by Google My Business on local search and Google Maps) because they are, usually, the best results.


    When it comes to local SEO, it does help if your NAP details (name, address, phone) are listed on multiple websites. However, title, distance from the user and reviews probably play a more important role.


    The key thing with NAP is consistency. Google might have some issues if you keep having a mixture of different names, phones and addresses all over the place.


    However, let’s all be honest that citations here and there aren’t the key to local search SEO success. It’s not that they don’t help (they do, you get brand visibility) but whenever you have a citation, you should accompany it with a backlink.


    Local business directories are a great start. For example, you might find sites such as “yourcitynews.xyz” that have a section called “Great Locations in Our City”. If you can list your local business there, that’s great because the relevancy comes from the local orientation of the website itself. Most news will be about your city, which means your business should be there to rank better in that particular city.


    If you can’t find a local business directory, you can also find these types of backlink opportunities with BrandMentions. This tool monitors when your name/brand is mentioned on the web. You can then engage with people and build relationships (and also ask for a backlink in case they haven’t made one).


    Directories That Are Still Good


    Now obviously you’re probably asking “Hey, where can I still find good web directories if all are bad?”


    Well… there are some. This isn’t really the purpose of this article, but I’ll only list a few so that you get an idea how modern, useful web directories actually look like.


    White Hat SEOs will probably jump and say “How can you recommend profile link building or any sort of web directory link?”


    web directories bad for seo


    The key word here is RELEVANCY. If the listing is relevant to your site, it is going to help you. 


    I don’t want you to take “web directories are bad” for granted and miss an opportunity that might actually be helpful to you.


    Many search engine optimization experts react badly to blog commenting or forum posts, because they know it doesn’t work. However, blog comments are still the fuel of blogs. Forums are still popular in industries such as music, automotive, health and even fashion.


    Matthew Woodward built an award winning blog and much of his direct and organic traffic was thanks to the posts he made in the BlackHat Forums. Just don’t spam. Be relevant. Be useful.


    An example of good directories were the local sites that might have listings. I can’t really give a specific example, but I hope you get the point. If they have an active social media account, post from time to time and bring in some traffic, you can try to list your local business there.


    It all comes down to relevancy. Is the listing relevant to your scope/niche? If yes, go for it!


    Here I can give a specific example. SoundCloud is a directory for musicians, for example. If you’re a musician, you can get a profile backlink from your SoundCloud profile. Another similar example is last.fm.


    Is this spammy? It could be if you just create a profile and leave it like that. But if you’re a musician, maybe it also makes sense to post on your SoundCloud account from time to time, build an audience there and actually send some traffic to your site through that link and maybe even get some potential customers.


    Other good local listing sites are Yelp or maybe Yellow Pages. Although Google has heavily bashed them because they’re evil, it’s still a good place to list your business.


    Why Do We Still Have Web Directories?


    Most businesses, such as Moz or Yahoo, have closed their directories (Dmoz and Yahoo Directory).


    The truth is probably that the web is still full of directories because of low maintenance costs (hosting and domain).


    Many directories if not all lack moderators (which actually cost money), but still probably make some small amounts of revenue from advertising.


    This whole article idea started from us observing these weird anchor texts such as “.2523765 yourdomain.com” in our tool for multiple clients. You might see these anchor texts in your cognitiveSEO dashboard as well.


    They’re generated by The Globe network, a sort of directory that crawls and indexes websites by simply linking to them on pages which contain thousands of external links. The network is owned by Ascio Technologies Inc (a domain registrar). Luckily, I’ve looked at their backlink profile and they also have the spammy anchor texts, so at least it’s fair.


    Their model is different. They want to sell the entire network of sites for millions of dollars. They present it as some sort of world wide web, the most visited site on the planet (which obviously, it isn’t). I’m not sure how old this thing is or how it started, but there’s a BlackHat Forum thread about the network where you can read more about this.


    Should You Disavow Directory Links?


    One thing that people rush in to do is disavow links that they think Google might consider spammy or that might get their websites penalized.


    This is an entire topic to discuss and I really recommend that you read my article about disavowing links.


    However, just to give you a short answer, in general, it’s a good idea not to play with the disavow tool unless you’re sure your site has been penalized and you have isolated the reason to be the link profile, after you’ve checked and excluded everything else.


    For example, most of The Globe network, the site I’ve mentioned above, isn’t even indexed in Google, so it doesn’t really make any sense disavowing those links, since Google already doesn’t count those links in any way.




    Generally, you should avoid them, but sometimes web directory submissions might be useful, especially when it comes to local businesses and local SEO. Before you submit your links, make sure that the online directory is relevant to your niche and has a good link profile.


    What do you think about web directory submissions? Have you ever used them? Do you still use them? Do they still work? Let us know in the comments section (but be careful with the links if you’re a WhiteHat SEO as you might get penalized!)


    The post Are Web Directories Still Relevant for SEO in 2019? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  41. ❤ 14 Lovely SEO Tips for Valentine’s Day

    2019-02-14 08:12:20 UTC

    It’s that time of the year when everybody is feeling deeply in love and thinking about presents and plans for Valentine’s Day. On this special occasion, we thought that a few SEO tips can really help both business owners to get more clients and customers, to buy the perfect gift for the beloved person.   […]

    The post ❤ 14 Lovely SEO Tips for Valentine’s Day appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    It’s that time of the year when everybody is feeling deeply in love and thinking about presents and plans for Valentine’s Day. On this special occasion, we thought that a few SEO tips can really help both business owners to get more clients and customers, to buy the perfect gift for the beloved person.


    A true love story doesn’t work without its successful ingredients. Same goes with SEO and UX – which is a true love story, SEO & content writing, SEO & PPC, SEO & social media. Different love stories, all bound to succeed if there’s commitment, honesty, transparency and hard work.




    SEO can be a nightmare, but also a blast. Getting your website ready for the occasion is a huge deal, so UX, content optimization, social activity, mobile setup, good website architecture should not be missing from your plate.


    Below you can see our top SEO tips recommendations for online marketers that want to hook the client and offer beautiful V-Day experiences besides creating a long term relationship.


    1. Find the Correct Timing to Meet Users’ Wishes and Needs
    2. Select the Proper Keywords for the Occasion
    3. Content Optimization Would Be like a Good Catch on Tinder
    4. Speak on Your User’s Language as You’re Speaking to Your Perfect Date
    5. UX Is Your Perfect Match
    6. Don’t Place Content Marketing in the Friend Zone
    7. Create Themed Landing Pages to Look Like a Fancy Location
    8. Use Internal Links to Have a Strong Foundation
    9. Don’t Use Nofollow Links like in a Friend with Benefits Relationship
    10. Use Images for Eye-Contact
    11. Social Media Is Your Wing Man
    12. Setting AMP Is like Offering a Beautiful Valentine’s Day Gift to Your Partner
    13. Have a User-Friendly Website to Create the Most Intimate Atmosphere
    14. Create a Natural Flow on Site Like an Itinerary for Your Loved One

    1. Find the Correct Timing to Meet Users’ Wishes and Needs


    Correct timing is, just like in every relationship, highly valuable. You have to know when to enter the market and promote your business. For that, you must know your audience and understand their needs and be prepared to offer what they are ready to receive.


    Since we’re talking about Valentine’s Day, which we know it’s a seasonal period, the preparations should start at least a month before the official event.


    Google Trends can be used as a research tool to see the evolution of searches for different queries and topics. If you take a look at the next screenshot, you can see that the searches for Valentine’s Day start during Christmas.


    Valentine's Day trends in Google


    Marketers should launch their campaign early; when there’s interest in the trend and they can start to build up on that. 14th of February is the peak of the season. That means most people buy, search and get inspiration on the celebration day as we can see from the screenshot above.  


    In addition to the timing topic, we’ve got to mention something we’ve written on the blog a little time ago. You all know that through our hundreds of written articles and tips gathered on the blog, we’ve learned together with you, our readers, some pretty valuable lesson. A few months ago, we talked on our blog about startup fails and gathered digital marketing tips from owners for all sorts of situations. And one of the company had a problem regarding bad timing.


    Calxeda, the company that started to provide computers based on the ARM architecture moved faster than their customers’ understanding. They had problems getting in line with clients’ knowledge level.


    Finding topics of interest and relevant queries and jumping in the online world at the perfect timing shouldn’t be a painstaking task. In the next digital marketing tips, I’ll show you how to select the right keywords to have an accurate representation of the topic.


    2. Select the Proper Keywords for the Occasion


    We’ve talked about finding the proper keyword for the occasion. And that implies keyword research. Our top favorites keyword research tools are Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool and Content Assistant.


    They both can help you get quality keywords recommendations for optimizing your website. Google Keyword Planner aggregates data on average monthly search volume, competition, cost per click, localization. You have to search for a query and the tool will offer some keyword ideas. As you can see in the screenshot below, we could use “Valentine’s Day gifts”, “Valentine’s Day gift ideas” or simply “Valentine’s Day ideas” amongst other combinations.


    Google Keyword Planner


    For a more segmentation and accuracy on keywords, you can use Keyword Tool and Content Assistant. You have the option to see recommendations based on their typology:

    • having all terms: which mean you find all the keywords that contain all the combination of words;
    • phrase match: combination of keywords that contain the query you’ve searched for;
    • search suggestions: informational type of keywords; (in the tool you can also find brand keywords and commercial keywords)
    • focus keywords: those keywords that are recommended by Google in the Searches related to your query section, on the first page of search results;
    • questions: question-type of queries (what, why, how, who, when.. and so on)
    • or group topic: where you can find groups based on a particularity.


    Search Valentine's day in keyword tool


    Besides the part where you get keyword ideas and have lots of ways to filter and get what you need, there’s the competitive analysis section. In Ranking Analysis you can find your top competitors for a specific keyword and take inspiration. You can get some topic ideas from your competition, too. Basically see what they are writing, what type of content is ranking for that keyword (product page, homepage, blog post, youtube video and so on), how many words are on a page.


    Ranking analysis pentru valentine's day gift


    If you look closely on the screenshot, you can see that the searched keyword is commercial, that means the content that answers to this query should be commercial, too. After a full-size study on the market, you are ready for content optimization.


    3. Content Optimization Would Be like a Good Catch on Tinder


    Content optimization: everybody wants it and needs it, just like a good catch. I think that SEO & content marketing is the perfect marriage. Before SEO found its true love – the content gal – it was all over the internet fooling around together with spammy links, in its black hat SEO period. Everybody has teenage memories, but for SEO, black hat was a tough time.


    Content strategy is salvation. It’s a treat! How you try to optimize your content should be a sweet ride, not a bumpy road though. Content Assistant is your best buddy because it shows tips and keyword recommendation. In the screenshot below you can copy-paste the content from your webpage, or simply import the URL. Based on that, you can see keywords you should use once, or more often.


    Optimizing articles with Content Assistant


    For a smart piece of content, try and add those keywords naturally into the page, as synonyms, or directly instead of other keywords. Get ideas on how easy it is to read and how many words are on a page.


    You don’t have to create blockbuster content for Valentine’s Day, you just have to create content that the users want. Try and add pictures and create short sentences, because they are easier to follow.


    Below you can see an example of a good page for Valentine’s Day. It has a simple introduction, eye candy images and presentation. Then you can see ideas for the occasion.


    Valentines day example of website www.gifts.com


    4. Speak on Your User’s Language as You’re Speaking to Your Perfect Date


    Language, terminology, and context can’t miss from the secret love recipe. As an online marketer you must know your audience, what their needs and ”talk the talk” are.


    For enticing the user to convert, you’ll have to speak their language, otherwise, they disappear as fast as they entered the website. Use words they know, don’t overcomplicate the meaning of the sentences or use complex phrases. Avoid insider language.


    There are 6 golden rules for speaking the same language as your users:

    • Write short and simple sentences. There are tools for scanning content and calculating a readability score. Content Assistant has integrated the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests designed to indicate how difficult a passage in English is to understand.


    Readability score


    • Observe word order typology which is Subject + Verb + Object (SVO).
    • Keep short paragraphs. It is highly important to have “breathable” spaces between paragraphs so that the users can read the article faster and get an idea from all of it. Otherwise, they will be stuck in the introduction, get bored, annoyed and leave the website.
    • Use the first voice. It would be like talking to somebody, making a conversation and not making assumptions in vain.
    • Lose the jargon. Valentine’s Day should not use any jargon, or language for a specific niche, or something more technical, because that’s not the case. You need to write for everybody to attract a bigger piece of pie from the market. Make sure the content is using a normal language, understandable to non-specialists or technical persons.
    • Spell out acronyms on first reference. For example, don’t use the language of millennials.

    5. UX Is Your Perfect Match


    Self-explanatory: visitors will have a good experience on site if it looks ok, with hearts, cupids; everything is in place and doesn’t take too long to load. Yes, content is a must but it is highly important to have good UX that accompanies it.


    Great content with bad user experience would be like a smart date, who arrives looking sloppy; looking like they didn’t prepare for the meeting at all. If that was a real situation it would be like leaving the gym without showering and going out looking sweaty and smelly.


    I mean, you had great talks before the meeting, but if they show up like this when they first meet you, it’s like they didn’t make any effort, and basically, don’t care. Which in terms of UX and content, should never happen. You must show interest in the user and really practice it. UX is one way to show it.


    UX is like frosting on the cake. It completes it and makes it more appealing. And easier to digest it.


    Just take a look at the next screenshot: Can you read the next text? Well actually you can not because of two reasons: one, it’s in a foreign language and two, the diacritics are looking funny.


    Diactritics SEO - bad example


    UX can arrange your website and make it look better. For Valentine’s Day especially, when everything has to be perfect and look more appealing, it’s important to have an easy-to-read website. That means:

    • readable font (size and font type);
    • line and paragraph spacing;
    • avoiding bright or neon colors for text;
      high-quality pictures that load fast on web pages;
    • creating a high-speed loading website;
    • not using bright color text on images or textured background with colored text (like the example below)


    Neon or Rainbow Colored text and background


    6. Don’t Place Content Marketing in the Friend Zone


    We’ve previously talked about content optimization and the importance of it. We really hope you didn’t skip it. Content marketing isn’t something you need to miss and it truly needs your attention.


    Content marketing isn’t about rewriting history but making it.


    For a successful content marketing campaign, you need to put in action all the steps included by this strategic marketing approach, which means creating, publishing, and distributing content. While the first two steps are highly important, a lot of people forget about the last one – distribution.


    Content marketing doesn’t mean only the writing process.


    Content distribution refers to the way you share your content through online platforms. Amplification is a good technique to reach a wider audience and distribute your content. The good thing about this last step is the fact there are lots of ideas you can implement. Maybe some of the most effective and interesting are the next actions for content amplification:

    • try email outreach;
    • use content syndication on websites such as Medium;
    • post on Zest.is app to attract new audiences;
    • share your content on Mix, a replacement to Stumbleupon;

    7. Create Themed Landing Pages to Look like a Fancy Location


    Having a webpage designed for the occasion will be highly appreciated. For product pages, you can create categories for her and him, for types of gifts, for the longevity of the relationship, for the type of person you want to offer the gift (friend, lover, married partner).  

    For example, the website below has designed a love calendar and additional categories gifts by the day such as:

    • Hug day specials
    • Flowers for Valentine’s Day
    • Valentine gift combos
    • Cakes for Valentine’s Day
    • Chocolates for Valentine’s Day
    • Personalized gifts and so on


    Valentine's day themed webpage


    That is an example of good practice for an innovative way of presenting Valentine’s Day gift ideas. There are lots of options. Either you use page builder in WordPress to create a template or use different fonts, themed pictures & icons designed by the same template.


    Don’t forget the singles! Create a category for single people, too. They might be an unexplored niche for certain products. Being a holiday that is associated with spending money, targeting singles might be an unexpected way to generate new leads and make singles invest money on themselves.


    8. Use Internal Links to Have a Strong Foundation


    As it has been proven numerous times until now, internal links are rising in popularity. Dawn Anderson says that:


    Internal links are often as powerful as external links.
    Dawn Anderson
    International SEO consultant & Digital Marketing Lecturer Move It/ @dawnieando


    Since you’re trying to hook the user and increase their time spent on the website, internal links are the connections you should build.


    Internal links are like tree roots. Anchoring in the website ground to collect information to supply the user.


    Internal links work in a similar way as external links do. They carry value and can improve the performance for certain pages and make them acquire better positions on search engines. The more internal links pointing to one page of your website, the greater the value of that page within the website. For example, if you a have a page with 10 internal links pointing to it, it will have a higher value than a page with 3 internal links. If you link to another page from that page with 10 internal links, it will pass greater value than linking from the ones that only have 3 links.


    To put them into a more romantic lighting, internal links are like memories you create with your better half. There might be times when you find yourself in a situation that is connected to something you experienced as a couple in the past.


    For a website, you create internal links to redirect the user to a piece of information that could help them, in addition to what they’re already reading.


    Put into another perspective, when a page has no links to it, that page does not exist because no one will ever be able to access it. Internal links can help pages from your website get noticed and receive backlinks.


    Site Audit allows you to analyze the internal links and find the issues. For example, you can see orphan pages, which are pages that are not linked to from another section of your site and cannot be found by search engine crawlers.


    Orphan pages


    A good internal link appears when the need arises. Basically, if you’re writing about a heart-shaped cake recipe, you can link to similar recipes that would work great with these instructions. Another good example, since we’re talking about heart-shaped cakes, is linking to other articles on how to make icing colors so that the users see how to make red icing or create buttercream flowers or link to products available on site, such as food colors and more.




    9. Don’t Use Nofollow Links Like in a Friends with Benefits Relationship


    Nofollow links are like those intriguing, already-know-what’s-gonna-happen telenovelas. Some say it’s good, some say it’s bad, but if Google let them on this planet, that means they should exist. An equal distribution of both dofollow and nofollow links is ok. Also, if you have fewer dofollow links still ok. In case you have more dofollow links thank nofollow ones, the situation might not look so bright.


    Using only nofollow links will be like a friends-with-benefits relationship. Sooner or later it will blow up in your face, and somebody will get hurt. Most probably you.


    On our recent study, we discovered that unnatural backlink profiles are related to a high number of nofollow links. We analyzed 100,000 unnatural links to see their effect and discovered that websites with highly unnatural backlink profiles have over 70% nofollow links.


    Unnatural dofollow links and nofollow links


    Since you want to attract visitors on Valentine’s Day and basically rank on Google to gain organic traffic, it’s important not to fall in any trap. Don’t overstep on Google’s shoes, because it can become a bitter mother-in-law.


    10. Use Images for Eye-Contact


    A relevant and high-quality sized image can attract users and help them remember the information better. A study by Brain Rules shows that people remember only 0% of a piece of information three days later after they hear it, rather than 65% of the information if a relevant image is paired with that same piece. That happens because 70% of all your sensory receptors are in your eyes.


    Visual receptors

    Source: neomam.com


    Images can keep your users more on the site. People can follow directions with text and illustrations 323% times better than people following directions without illustrations.


    Using relevant visual content can do your website a lot of good in terms of SEO too. Recently, Google’s John Mueller commented in a hangout that it’s worthwhile to have unique images on each page not only as a good branding move but possibly as a search engine optimization one as well.


    People follow instructions with illustrations


    Having original images on every page of your website isn’t going to catapult your site to position zero. But, it may help you get your images featured in the answer box or in the image box results, which is great brand exposure.


    Valentine’s Day is all about the visuals, beautiful scenery and romantic looks, so you can’t skip this part. The page should express romanticism and give you a warm-hug feeling.


    An example of Valentine’s Day campaign for brand awareness that used images as a creative and smart was is Practo, an app for finding the right doctors for your problems. The campaign was called #HealthyBreakups and you can see below some illustrations. It could inspire you to do better campaigns for online advertising.




    11. Social Media Is Your Wing Man


    Previous studies (proudly conducted with lots of love by us) show that on average, social presences (which includes likes, shares and comments on Facebook, plus shares on Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest) are negatively associated with site rank, that means the higher the average number of shares, comments and likes on social networking sites, the better ranking websites have in Google.




    A proper campaign distributed on social media can have a high impact and collect site traffic and leads. Social Media doesn’t impact SEO directly but rather influences it in an indirect way, on the long run.


    The 2017 Total Retail Survey by PWC shows that 47% of shoppers choose either “social networks” or “visual social networks” as their main sources of inspiration. And that is a good practice because you can see what others are doing and see what hashtags are trending.


    You can create social media marketing campaigns for everything. And the message is very important. If you want to be remembered, you need something short and smart. Take for example the #LoveInOtherWords campaign created by the publishing company Penguin Random House (PRH) in India.



    12. Setting AMP Is like Offering a Beautiful Valentine’s Day Gift to Your Partner


    AMP is a good implementation for websites that have a slow loading time. Developers claim that an accelerated mobile page is capable of loading up to 4 times faster than a regular HTML page. AMP is not mandatory, but it is desirable.


    Google regularly stated that AMP is not a ranking factor, but encourages webmasters to build them. As a business owner, you want the best and according to experts, mobile pages built with AMP are likely to outperform existing mobile pages in terms of speed.


    AMP setting can be a plus for your website during Valentine’s Day when you want everything to work smoothly.


    13. Have a User-Friendly Website to Create the Most Intimate Atmosphere


    A proper strategy for having a user-friendly website is a fundamental part of SEO. Your website needs to be device-friendly especially if we’re talking about sales, because you want sales on Valentine’s Day. And lots of them.


    It is a self-understandable fact that mobile searches have increased together with the increase of mobile devices purchased. More than that, Statista has found that mobile traffic globally has a larger share of internet usage than desktop traffic, which is 52.64%.


    Percentage of all global web pages served to mobile


    As a recommendation, you should have a responsive website. Also, all the well-designed features, pop-ups, and ads appearing on the website must also be very well-thought. Try installing plugins to make the website work smoothly with all the additional information that loads on page for Valentine’s Day.


    14. Create a Natural Flow on Site like an Itinerary for Your Loved One


    Just like you’re following instructions for getting to the fancy restaurant with your better half on Valentine’s Day, it’s natural to give similar instructions to the users that want to search for information on your site. Site architecture and a well-thought sitemap are in the driver seat of the limousine you could be riding. You are imagining yourself drinking campaign in the limousine, aren’t you? You’re not the only one. [*guilty giggling*]


    Using a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, as Google processes rely on complex algorithms to schedule crawling. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.


    A sitemap is where you provide information about your web pages and the connections between them. An XML Sitemap explains to Google how your website is organized. You can create sitemaps and add them in Search Console. 



    Search engines like Google read the sitemap file to more intelligently crawl your site. A sitemap tells the crawler which files you think are important in your site. In case you are having any issues regarding your sitemap, use the Site Audit and find out the crawled pages, the included URLs and check sitemaps HTTP status codes.


    Sitemap Site Audit




    Valentine’s Day is a special occasion that should target both couples and singles for successful results. You need SEO and smart marketing strategy driven by awesome content with good UX, relevant pictures and good architecture on website.


    A successful receipt for good rankings and lots of sales on Valentine’s Day requires you to follow our heart-shaped cake receipt. You start from the bottom-up using lots of layers, which includes the site architecture layer, then the UX buttercream filling, the second layer is content marketing covered on top by content and image optimization as the buttercream filling.


    For the top, you’ll need AMP and mobile setting crumb coat and for decorations, you’ll need links icing and social media sprinkles. And there it is: a really nice, clean, smooth SEO layer cake. Of, course you can add more layers, more decorations to it. It all depends on the business.


    Good luck “baking” and growing your love and your business!

    The post ❤ 14 Lovely SEO Tips for Valentine’s Day appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  42. Technical SEO Checklist – The Roadmap to a Complete Technical SEO Audit

    2019-02-20 09:27:47 UTC

    While technical SEO is a topic that only some of us make use of rigorously, it is a part of everybody’s life. Well, which part of SEO is not technical if we were to look at it thoroughly?   SEO issues, mistakes, tips and recommendations are all included in today’s technical checklist. We wanted to […]

    The post Technical SEO Checklist – The Roadmap to a Complete Technical SEO Audit appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    While technical SEO is a topic that only some of us make use of rigorously, it is a part of everybody’s life. Well, which part of SEO is not technical if we were to look at it thoroughly?


    SEO issues, mistakes, tips and recommendations are all included in today’s technical checklist. We wanted to cover, in the most effective way possible, all the elements that are important for making your website user-friendly, efficient, visible in SERP, functional and easy to understand. Therefore, gather all the information you have on your site and let’s get better. 


    Technical SEO the Complete List


    I. Website Loading Speed Time

    1. Improve Server Response Time
    2. Optimize & Reduce Image Size Without Affecting the Visual Appearance
    3. Minimize the Render-Blocking Javascript and CSS
    4. Limit the Number of Resources & HTTP Requests
    5. Set a Browser Cache Policy
    6. Reduce the Number of Redirects & Eliminate Redirect Loop
    7. Avoid Loading Your Site With Too Much Stuff


    II. Website Functionality & Usability

    1. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
    2. Build Search Engine Friendly URLs
    3. Use the Secure Protocol – HTTPs
    4. Set Preferred Version
    5. Set up Correctly the 301 Redirects After Site Migration
    6. Make Sure Your Resources Are Crawlable
    7. Test Your Robots.Txt File to Show Google the Right Content
    8. Verify the Indexed Content
    9. Review Your Sitemap to Avoid Being Outdated
    10. Review Blocked Resources (Hashbang URLs) with Fetch as Google
    11. Optimize Your Crawl Budget
    12. Avoid Meta Refresh for Moving a Site
    13. Use Redirect for Flash Site to the HTML Version
    14. Use Hreflang for Language and Regional URLs
    15. Make Sure Your Tracking Is Working Properly


    III. Content Optimization

    1. Redirect/Replace Broken Links & Resources
    2. Audit Internal Links to Improve Your Chances to Rank Higher
    3. Get Rid of Duplicate Content
    4. Use Structured Data to Highlight Your Content
    5. Keep a Reasonable Number of Links On-Page
    6. Avoid Canonicalizing Blog Pages to the Root of the Blog


    IV. User-Friendlier Website

    1. Set up Your AMP the Right Way – Mobile Friendlier
    2. Add Breadcrumbs for a Better Navigation
    3. Test On as Many Platforms and Devices as Possible

    I. Website Loading Speed Time


    On the web, time is of the essence. Websites all around the world load pretty slow, with an average of 19 seconds to load on a 3G mobile network. Testing has confirmed that around 50% of users abandon a website if it doesn’t load faster than 3 seconds, on average.


    If your website loads slowly, you can lose a lot of visitors.


    Disclaimer & Warning: Playing with PHP, servers, databases, compression, minification and other similar things can really mess up your website if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure you have a proper backup of the files and the database before you start playing with these options.


    When we talk about speed, there are a few things we need to consider for making your site efficient and easy to access for your users. A faster loading speed time means higher conversion and lower bounce rates. For that, we’ve selected some mandatory speed optimization suggestions. Using Google’s Speed Test, you can perform easy and short analyses of your website’s loading speed time.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now

    The tool has improved over the years and now you can see helpful charts for large websites to understand how each website is performing. One example is the Page Load Distributions.


    Page load distribution


    The Page Load Distribution uses two user-centric performance metrics: first, contentful paint (FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (DCL). The contentful paint marks the first bit of content there is on the screen when the browser starts to render pixels. The DOMContentLoaded marks the moment when the DOM is ready and there are no stylesheets that are blocking JavaScript execution. These two metrics show exactly which percentage of the content loads faster and the one that needs improvement by looking at those pages with average and slow speed (if you follow the chart).


    Another example includes the speed and optimization indicators which show where each website is situated. In the picture showed below, we can see the FCP and DCP score. These two metrics use the data from the Chrome User Experience. It indicates the page’s median FCP (1.8s) and DCL (1.6s) ranks it in the middle third of all pages. That means this page has a low level of optimization because most of its resources are render-blocking. 


    Speed and optimization


    1. Improve Server Response Time


    Server response time refers to the period of time it takes to load the HTML code to begin rendering the page from your server. Basicaly, when a you access a page, it sends a message to the server and the time it take to show you that information is considered to be the server response time.


    There are lots of reasons why a website has a slow response time. Google announces just some of them:

    There are dozens of potential factors which may slow down the response of your server: slow application logic, slow database queries, slow routing, frameworks, libraries, resource CPU starvation, or memory starvation.
    Google logo Google Developers

    The server response time depends on how much time the Googlebot needs to access the data. Be it 1, 2 ,3 seconds or more, it will convert your visitor or not. Google says that you should keep the server response time under 200ms.


    There are 3 steps you need to follow to test and improve the server response time:

    1. Firstly, you need to collect the data and inspect why the server response time is high.
    2. Secondly, measure your server response time to identify and fix any future performance bottlenecks.
    3. Lastly, monitor any regression.


    Many times, the reason why a website loads slow is the server itself. It’s very important to choose a high quality server from the beginning. Moving a site from a server to another might sound easy in theory, but it can be accompanied by a series of possible problems such as file size limits, wrong PHP versions and so on.


    Choosing the right server can be difficult because of pricing. If you’re a multinational corporation, you probably need dedicated servers, which are expensive. If you’re just starting out with a blog, shared hosting services will probably be enough, which are usually cheap.


    However, there are good shared hosting servers and bad dedicated ones and vice versa. Just don’t go after the cheapest or the most renowned. For example, Hostgator has excellent shared hosting services for the US, but not so excellent VPS ones.


    2. Optimize & Reduce Image Size Without Affecting the Visual Appearance


    If a website is loading really slow, one of the first things that come in mind are images. Why? Because they’re big. And we’re not talking in size on screen but in size on disk.


    Besides all the information an image has, as mentioned before, it also downloads lots of bytes on a page, making the server take more time than it should to load all the information. Instead, if we optimize the page, the server will perform faster because we removed the additional bytes and irrelevant data. The fewer the downloaded bytes by the browser, the faster a browser can download and render content on the screen.


    Since GIF, PNG, and JPEG are the most used types of extension for a picture, there are lots of solutions for compressing images.



    Source: www.cssscript.com

    Here are a few tips and recommendations to optimize your images:

    • Use PageSpeed Insights;
    • Compress images automatically in bulk with dedicated tools (tinypng.com, compressor.io, optimizilla.com) and plugins (WP Smush, CW Image Optimizer, SEO Friendly Images) and so on;
    • Use GIF and PNG formats because they are lossless. PNG is the desired format. The best compression ratio with a better visual quality can be achieved by PNG formats;
    • Convert GIF to PNG if the image is not an animation;
    • Remove transparency if all of the pixels are opaque for GIF and PNG;
    • Reduce quality to 85% for JPEG formats; that way you reduce the file size and don’t visually affect the quality;
    • Use progressive format for images over 10k bytes;
    • Prefer vector formats because they are resolution and scale independent;
    • Remove unnecessary image metadata (camera information and settings);
    • Use the option to “Save for Web” from dedicated editing programs.


    Compress images

    Source: www.quora.com


    If you’re using WordPress, you can choose a simple solution, such as the Smush Image Compression Plugin.


    Update: As of 2019, Google PageSpeed Insights recommends using new format images such as JPEG2000 or WEBP. However, not all browsers and devices display these formats well yet, so regular image compression is still recommended, despite Google making efforts to push this.


    You can see which images are the biggest on your website with the Site Audit by CognitiveSEO. Simply head to the Images section, under Content. There you can see a list of images over 500kb (consider that for a photographer website, these images might be relatively small in size. However, it’s a good idea to display the full HD version under a sepparate download link).


    The only real issue with PageSpeed Insights is that you can only check one page at a time.


    We, here at CognitiveSEO, know that many of you want to check the PageSpeed Insights in bulk. So that’s why we’ve developed our tool to be able to bulk check the Page Speed Insights scores on multiple pages at the same time:


    Check PageSpeed Insights in Bulk


    However, note that if you have a very big website, this process might take a very long time. It’s better if you opt out of this process at first before the first analysis is done (so that you may have all the data and start fixing some of the issues) and start the PageSpeed process later. It can take up to 10 seconds per page, so if you have 60,000 pages it can take a week.



    3. Minimize the Render-Blocking Javascript and CSS & Structure HTML Accordingly


    When you perform a speed test with Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you will see this message: Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content in case you have some blocked resources that cause a delay in rendering your page. Besides pointing out the resources, the tool also offers some great technical SEO tips regarding:

    • Removing render-blocking JavaScript;
    • Optimizing CSS delivery.


    You can remove render-blocking JavaScript by following Google’s guidelines and avoid or minimize the use of blocking JavaScript using three methods: 

    • Inline JavaScript;
    • Make JavaScript Asynchronous;
    • Defer loading of JavaScript.


    If Google detects a page which delays the time to first render because it contains blocking external stylesheets, then you should optimize CSS delivery. In this case, you have two options:

    • For small external CSS resources, it is recommended to inline a small CSS file and help the browser to render the page;
    • For large CSS files, you have to use Prioritize Visible Content to reduce the size of the above-the-fold content, inline CSS necessary for rendering it and then defer loading the remaining style.


    PageSpeed shows which files need to be optimized through the minifying technique. When we talk about resources, we understand HTML, CSS, and JavaScript resources. Basically, the tool will indicate a list of HTML resources, CSS resources, and JavaScript resources, depending on the situation. Below you can see an example of such kind:


    Minify JavaScript Resources


    For each kind of resources, you have individual options:


    Below you can see an example on how to minify your CSS:

    css minifier

    Source: www.keycdn.com


    There are 3 processes that need to be followed in the minifying process, explained by Ilya Grigorik, Web performance engineer at Google:

    1. Compress the data. After you eliminate the unnecessary resources, you need to compress the ones that the browser needs to download. The process consists in reducing the size of the data to help the website load the content faster.
    2. Optimize the resources. Depending on what sort of information you want to provide on your site, make an inventory for your files and keep only the one that is relevant, to avoid keeping irrelevant data. After you decide which information is relevant to you, you’ll be able to see what kind of content-specific optimizations you’ll have to do.

    Let’s take, for example, a photography website that needs to have pictures with a lot of information, such as camera settings, camera type, date, location, author and other information. That information is crucial for the particular website, while for another website it might be irrelevant.

    1. Gzip compression is best used for text-based data. In the process, you are able to compress web pages and style sheets before sending them to the browser. It works wonders for CSS files and HTML because these types of resources have a lot of repeated text and white spaces. The nice part of Gzip is that it temporarily replaces the similar strings within a text file to make the overall file size smaller.



    For WordPress users there are simpler solutions:

    1.  Autoptimize plugin to fix render blocking scripts and CSS. You need to install the plugin and afterward you can find it in Settings » Autoptimize to configure the settings. All you have to do is check the box for JavaScript and CSS, in our case, and click on Save Changes.


    Autoptimize CSS and JavaScript

    Source: www.webid-online.com


    1. W3 Total Cache to fix render-blocking JavaScript. This is another tool provided for WordPress users and it requires a little more work. After you install it, you need to go to Performance » General Settings and look for the Minify section.


    Minify scripts with W3 Total Cache

    Source: www.factoriadigital.com


    Check the enable box from the Minify option and then in Manual mode. In the end, click on Save all settings and add the scripts and CSS that you want to minify. After that, you’re set.


    However, don’t get tricked by Google. The truth is that PageSpeed Insights is just a guideline. For example, PageSpeed Insights shows Analytics and Tag Manager as being JS that blocks the loading of important content. Yet they force you to put it in the <head> section.


    You can follow this guide to better set up the W3 Total Cache Plugin.


    Never remove something that is essential for tracking or for your site’s functionality just to get 100% score on PageSpeed Insights or GT Metrix.


    4. Limit the Number of Resources & HTTP Requests


    One of the first actions that come to mind when we talk about website speed is reducing the number of resources. When a user enters your website, a call is made to the server to access the requested files. The larger those files are, the longer it will take to respond to the requested action.


    Rapid, multiple requests always slow down a server. It’s a combination of multiple factors that lead to this, but you can compare it to copying 1 large file on a hard disk against copying a very large number of small files. Usually, the small files take longer to copy because the disk needle has to keep moving. This is different with SSD technology where there are no needles but there’s still a lot more work to do to copy multiple files than to copy a single larger file.


    To check your HTTP requests, you can open an Icognito (to make sure you don’t have cached requests which won’t take place) Tab in Chrome, right click and hit Inspect (at the bottom). Then you need to find the network subtab and hit F5 to refresh the page. This will start monitoring the requests and at the end you’ll see the number of requests.


    Check HTTP Requests Chrome


    There’s no general number, we can say that you should try to keep this number under 100. This really depends on the page. If it’s a HUGE page, then it can have more requests. Then again, it could be a good idea to paginate it.


    The best thing you can do is delete unnecessary resources (like sliders) and then minimize the overall download size by compressing the remaining resources.


    Another thing you can do is combine the CSS and JS files in a single file so that 1 single request is being made. Plugins such as Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache (both mentioned above) can do this. Through the combine option, the plugin basically takes all the CSS and JS files and merges them into a single file.


    This way, the browser will only have to make one request to the server for all those files instead of one request for each file.


    However, be careful! This option can usually break an entire site or make it display really messed up, so make sure you have a proper backup of the files and database before you start making any changes.


    5. Set a Browser Cache Policy


    The browser cache automatically saves resources in the visitor’s computer the first time they visit a new website. When users then enter the site a second time, those resources will help them get the desired information at a faster speed, if they return to that page. This way, the page load speed is improved for returning visitors.


    For visitors that want to return to a page or visit a new page that in a specific moment can’t be accessed, there’s the option to view the cached version directly from SERP.


    Cached website in SERP


    The best way to significantly improve the page speed load is to leverage the browser cache and set it according to your needs.


    Most of the Minification, Compression and Combination plugins are actually cache plugins, so they all have this function. You can use W3 Total Cache or any other caching plugin suits you best. However, a combination between W3 Total Cache’s caching and Autoptimize’s compression and combining is best.


    Using a cache will also make changes harder to spot. If you make a change to your website, open an Icognito tab to see the changes and go to the plugin settings from time to time to reset the cache.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now


    6. Reduce the Number of Redirects & Eliminate Redirect Loop 


    Redirects can save you from a lot of trouble regarding link equity/juice and broken pages, but it can also cause you lots of problems if you have tons of them. A large number of redirects will load your websites at a slower speed. The more redirects, the more time a user must spend to get on the landing page.

    Plain and simple, WordPress redirects slow down your site. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to minimize the number of redirects visitors to your site experience. There are times that it’s appropriate to intentionally create and use redirection, but limit the use of redirection to necessary instances and make sure your visitors have the fastest experience possible when browsing your WordPress website.
    Jon Penland Jon Penland
     Support Engineer at Kinsta@jonrichpen


    One other thing worth mentioning is that you need to have only one redirect for a page, otherwise you risk having a redirect loop. A redirect loop is a chain of redirects for the same page, which is misleading because the browser won’t know which page to show and will end up giving a pretty nasty error.


    Redirect loop

    Source: www.matrudev.com


    In case you have 404 pages, there are lots of ways to customize the page and give some guidelines to the users so you won’t lose them. Design a friendly page and send the user back to your homepage or to another relevant and related piece of content.


    For finding the broken pages for your website, you can use the Google Search Console by looking at Crawl » Crawl Errors, then click on Not found (if any).


    lots-of-crawl-errorsnot found


    Site Explorer offers a similar feature, pointing out the link juice you are losing (the number of referring domains and links for each broken page).


    Broken pages


    You can also use the new Technical SEO Site Audit Tool to analyze all your site’s redirects. After you set up the campaign and the tool finishes crawling and analyzing your site, simply head to Architecture > Redirects.


    Fix 301 Redirects


    7. Avoid Loading Your Site With Too Much Stuff


    Over time, sites tend to get clogged up with useless images, plugins and functions that are never used. Why?


    If you use WordPress, for example, you might test a lot of plugins and install them on your website, only to find out that you don’t really need them. Sure, you can disable them and eventually uninstall them but the problem with WordPress uninstalls is that they’re often dirty, leaving traces in your Database which can make it a little slower.


    websites with bad UX and very many ads usually load slow

    Try not to get your site looking like this, it’s probably not the best UX.


    Another very common type of plugin that webmasters use are Sliders. Sliders used to be popular but recent testing has shown over and over again that they kill conversions.


    Not only that, but Sliders also usually load your site with a lot of things you don’t need. The first one is usually the Javascript file which tends to load on all pages (either in the footer or the head section of your HTML). However, the slider is most probably used only on the homepage.


    Also, if you have 6 slides on your homepage, with 6 big pretty images, your site can be 2 or 3 times slower because of the size in bytes of the images. Unfortunately, nobody is probably going to look past the second image, if it auto-slides, of course.


    A good workaround is having some sort of development environment where you can test 5-10 plugins until you find exactly what you need. Then, make a plan of implementation so that you know only the essentials you need to install on the live version.


    After that, you can reset the development version by deleting it and copying the updated live version to it. This way, the live version will not be clogged either and will resemble the live version more.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now


    II. Website Functionality & Usability


    After you make sure your website can load fast for your users, it’s time to see what you can do to improve your visibility in the search engines. There are very many aspects that go into this, but the following ones are a mixture between the most important ones and the most common mistakes that webmasters make.


    8. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly


    There’s nothing much to say here. Since more than 50% of all the users worldwide are using their mobile devices to browse the internet, Google has prioritized mobile indexation. You should make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices.


    This is usually meant in terms of design, but also in terms of speed and functionality. Generally, it’s preferred to have a responsive design rather than a fully separate mobile version, as the m.site.com subdomain requires extra steps to be implemented correctly using rel=alternate tag.


    You can ensure that your site is mobile friendly by testing it on Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Page.


    Page is mobile-friendly



    9. Build Search Engine Friendly URLs


    URLs are very important because it’s good not to change them. This means you have to get them right the first time. It’s useful for users and search engines to have URLs that are descriptive and contain keywords.


    However, many people often forget this and build websites with dynamic URLs that aren’t optimized at all. It’s not that Google doesn’t accept them. They can rank but, eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’ll have to merge to new ones to improve performance, UX and search engine visibility and it’s going to be a struggle.


    Changing page URLs very often results in issues with search engines. It’s always better if you get them good the first time.


    We’ve talked on this topic various times before because it is important to have easy-to-follow URLs. Avoid having query parameters in URL. You can’t keep track of that URL in Analytics, Search Console and so on. Not to mention it is difficult to do link building. You might lose linking opportunities because of your URLs appearance.



    Source blogspot.com


    If you’re a WordPress user, you have the option to personalize and set up your permalink structure. If you take a look at the next picture, you can see the options you have for your URL structure.




    Building friendly URLs is not so hard, you can follow the next 3 tips:

    • use dashes (-) instead or underscores (_);
    • make it shorter;
    • use the keyword (focus keyword).


    Building easy-to-read and focus-keyword-URLs you are thinking about your users and therefore focusing on user experience. David Farkas has the same vision on the matter:

    If you focus on user experience, you’ll be building sustainable links – and building trust with users. To build a truly great link, you have to look at every aspect of the link from the user’s perspective.
    David Farkas David Farkas
    Founder & CEO TheUpperRanks


    You can always check your ‘unfriendly’ URLs using the CognitiveSEO Site Audit. After you set up your campaign, you just have to go to Architecture > URLs.


    user friendly URLs for SEO


    Then you’ll be able to see a list of your URLs that don’t contain any keywords. You can also identify other issues using this feature. For example, in the following screenshot, although the URLs are blurred  in order to protect the client’s identity, we’ve identified a hreflang problem. The titles and content for some secondary languages were generated in the main language when proper content in the secondary language was not provided.


    Descriptive URLs for SEO


    This means that the URLs were actually OK, just not descriptive due to the content being generated in the wrong language.


    10. Use the Secure Protocol – HTTPS


    On August 6, 2014, Google announced that HTTPS protocol is on their new ranking factors list and recommended to all the sites to move from HTTP to HTTPS.


    HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) encryptes the data and doesn’t allow it to be modified or corrupted during transfer, while protecting it against man-in-the-middle attacks. Besides, the improvement in data security has other benefits, such as:


    • It helps your website have a boost in rankings, since it is a ranking factor.
    • It offers referrer details included under “Direct” traffic source in Google Analytics.
    • It assures the users that the website is safe to use and that the data provided is encrypted for avoiding hacking or data leaks.


    If you use the HTTPS, will see a lock before the URL in the navigation bar:


    https protocol


    In case your website doesn’t use the HTTPS protocol, you’ll see an information icon and if you click on it, a new message will alert you that the connection is not safe, therefore the website is not secure.


    http protocol


    While it is best to move from HTTP to HTTPS, it is crucial to find the best way to recover all your data after moving your website. For instance, lots of users complained they lost all of their shares after moving the website and the same thing happened to us.


    After we experienced the same issue, we’ve created a guideline on how to recover Facebook (and Google+) shares after an https migration that you could easily follow:

    • Find out how many Facebook shares you have at a URL;
    • Set both your HTTP and HTTPs social shares to zero;
    • Update rel=”canonical”;
    • Identify Facebook’s Crawler.


    Again, this issue is related to URLs so, every time you need to do mass redirects, issues can occur. It’s always a good idea to have your URLs well set up from the beginning. However, if you really need to migrate the site from HTTP to HTTPS, you can check out this HTTP to HTTPS migration guide.


    11. Set Your Preferred Version


    You also want to make sure that all your other versions are pointing to the correct, preferred version of your site. If people access one version they should automatically be redirected to the correct version.


    These are all the versions:

    • http://site.com
    • https://site.com
    • http://www.site.com
    • https://www.site.com


    So, if your preferred version is https://www.site.com, all other versions should 301 directly to that version. You can also test if this is alright in the SEO Audit Tool. Simply head to Indexability > Preferred Domain. Look for the Everything is OK message. If you can’t find it, then guess what: not everything is OK.


    Migrate HTTP to HTTPS


    12. Set up Correctly the 301 Redirects After Site Migration


    Site migration is a recommended operation in case the website is changed completely and the same domain won’t be used anymore. Setting up the 301 redirects can be applied in case you make a switchover from HTTP to HTTPS and want to preserve the link equity.


    In case of a site migration, it is crucial to set up correctly the redirects. To avoid losing lots of links and have broken pages on your site, it is best to follow a correct 301 redirection procedure. For that, you need to take into consideration the next recommendations. For the vast majority, we’ve already covered some of them in the previous steps:

    • Set up the 301 redirect code from the old URLs to the new URLs;
    • Avoid redirection loops;
    • Remove invalid characters in URLs;
    • Verify the preferred version of your new domain (www vs. non-www);
    • Submit a change of address in Search Console;




    • Submit the new sitemap in Google; 
    • Check for broken links and resources.



    13. Make Sure Your Resources Are Crawlable


    Having non-crawlable resources is a critical search engine optimization technical issue. Crawling is the first step, right before indexing, which comes and puts your content in the user’s hands/eyes. Basically, Googlebot crawls the data and then sends it to the indexer which renders the page and after that, if you’re lucky, you’ll see that page ranking in SERP.


    how search works



    It is very important that the users see the same content that the Googlebot does.


    If your CSS files are closed from indexing, Google won’t be able to see the pages like a users does. The same situation applies to Javascript, if it isn’t crawlable. With JavaScript, it is a little bit more complicated, especially if your site is heavily built using AJAX. It is necessary to write codes for the server to send an accurate version of the site to Google.


    If you’re not blocking Googlebot from crawling your JavaScript or CSS files, Google will be able to render and understand your web pages like modern browsers.


    Google recommends using Fetch as Google to let Googlebot crawl your JavaScript.


    Fetch as Google in Google Webmaster Tools

    Source www.webnots.com


    Update: As of 2019, the Google Search Console has launched a new version which doesn’t have many of the features the old version had. Luckily, you can still access the old version if you need those features. However, they are likely to be completely removed at some point, who knows.


    New Google Search Console


    14. Test Your Robots.Txt File to Show Google the Right Content


    Crawlability issues are usually related to the robots.txt file. Testing your robots.txt file helps Googlebot by telling it which pages to crawl and which not to crawl. By using this method, you give access to your data to Google.


    You can view your robots.txt file online if you search for http://domainname. com/robots.txt. Make sure the order of your files is right. It should look similar to what you can see in the following picture:


    View robots.txt file online


    Use the robots.txt Tester tool from Search Console to write or edit robots.txt files for your site. The tool is easy to use and shows you whether your robots.txt file blocks Google web crawlers from specific URLs. The ideal situation would be to have no errors:


    robots.txt Tester no errors


    The errors appear when Google is unable to crawl the specific URL due to a robots.txt restriction. There are multiple reasons for that and Google names just some of them:


    For instance, your robots.txt file might prohibit the Googlebot entirely; it might prohibit access to the directory in which this URL is located; or it might prohibit access to the URL specifically.
    Google logo Google


    The common issues that appear when Googlebot is blocked to access your website happen because:

    • There are DNS issues and Google can’t communicate with DNS server;
    • The firewall or DoS protection system is misconfigured ;
    • The Googlebot is intentionally blocked from reaching the website.


    After you’ve checked the issues and found out which are the blocked resources pointed in the Tester tool, you can test again and see if your website is ok.


    The site’s crawlability can be verified better on a larger scale using the CognitiveSEO Audit Tool. You simply have to go to Indexability > Indexable Pages and look for the Disallowed in Robots.txt links. Click on the red line and it will show you a list of URLs that have been disallowed.


    Crawlability Issues


    15. Verify the Indexed Content


    James Parsons, expert in content marketing and SEO, explains in an article on AudienceBloom the crucial significance of the indexing phase for a website.

    Indexed pages are those that are scoured by Google search engines for possible new content or for information it already knows about. Having a web page indexed is a critical part of a website’s Internet search engine ranking and web page content value.
    James Parsons James Parsons
    Blogger at JamesParsons.com

    Search Console can provide lots of insightful information regarding the status of your indexed pages. The steps are simple, go to Google Index then to Index Status and you’ll be able to see a similar chart to the one shown below:


    Index status in Search Console


    The ideal situation would be that the number of indexed pages is the same as the total number of the pages within your website, except the ones you don’t want to be indexed. Verify if you’ve set up proper noindex tags. In case there is a big difference, review them and check for blocked resources. If that concluded with an OK message, then check if some of the pages weren’t crawled, therefore indexed.


    In case you didn’t see something that was out of the ordinary, test your robots.txt file and check your sitemap. For that check the following steps (9 and 10).


    You can also use the Site Audit tool to view the URLs that have been marked up with No-Index tag. They’re in the same section as the URLs blocked by Robots.txt (Indexability > Indexable Pages).



    16. Review Your Sitemap to Avoid Being Outdated


    An XML Sitemap explains to Google how your website is organized. An example you can see in the picture below:


    Sitemap example

    Source: statcounter.com


    Crawlers will read and understand how a website is structured in a more intelligible way. A good structure means better crawling. Use dynamic XML sitemaps for bigger sites. Don’t try to manually keep all in sync between robots.txt, meta robots, and the XML sitemaps.


    Search Console comes to rescue once again. In the Crawl section, you can find the Sitemap report, where you can add, manage and test your sitemap file.


    Up to this point, you have two options: test a new sitemap or test a previously added one. In the first case:

    • Add the Sitemap;
    • Enter the URL of the sitemap;
    • Click on Test sitemap and then refresh the page if needed;
    • When the test is completed, click Open Test Results to check for errors. Fix your errors;
    • After you fix your errors, click Submit Sitemap.




    In the second case, you can test an already submitted sitemap; click on Test and check the results.


    Sitemap Tester in Search Console


    There are three things you need to do in the situation explained in the second situation.

    • Update the Sitemap when new content is added to your site or once in a while;
    • Clean it from time to time, eliminating outdated and bad content;
    • Keep it shorter so that your important pages get crawled more frequently or break the sitemap into smaller parts. A sitemap file can’t contain more than 50,000 URLs and must not be larger than 50 MB uncompressed.


    Using a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, as Google processes rely on complex algorithms to schedule crawling. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.
    Google logo Google



    17. Review Blocked Resources (Hashbang URLs) with Fetch as Google


    Hashbang URLs (URLs that have the #! in them) can be checked and tested in Fetch as Google now. John Mueller acknowledged that Google has the ability to fetch & render hashbang URL’s via the Search Console.


    Google stopped supporting them on March 30, 2014, and that changed when it announced on October 14, 2015 that it deprecates their AJAX crawling system. At the moment hashbang URLs  can be tested.


    Below you can see two situations for the same website. In the first picture, you can see the list of resources before using the fetch and render feature with the hashbang URL and in the second one you can see the situation after the fetch and render action was performed.


    Before and After crawling hashbang

    Source: www.tldrseo.com


    18. Optimize Your Crawl Budget


    The term “crawl budget” started to collect more value when Gary Illyes explained on January 16, 2017 how Google uses it.


    Crawl budget means how many resources are allocated for crawling by a server or how many pages are crawled by the search engines in a specific period of time. Google says that there is nothing to worry if the pages tend to be crawled every day. The issues appear on bigger sites. It is very important to optimize your crawl budget.


    Maria Cieślak, search engine optimization expert, explains in an article on DeepCrawl the importance of optimizing your crawl budget.

    Google is crawling only a particular number of pages on your website, and may sort the URLs incorrectly (I mean differently than you wish). For example, the “About us” page (that doesn’t drive sales) can gain more hits than the category listings with the new products. Your aim is to present to Google the most relevant and fresh content.
    Maria Cieślak Maria Cieślak
    SEO Specialist at Elephate


    The crawl limit rate comes into discussion, which limits the maximum fetching rate for a given site.


    The actions recommended for optimizing the crawl budget are:

    • Check the soft 404s and fix them using a personalized message and a custom page;
    • Get rid of duplicate content to avoid wasting crawl budget;
    • Remove hacked pages;
    • Prevent indexation for low quality and spam content;
    • Keep your sitemap up to date;
    • Correct infinite space issues;



    19. Avoid Meta Refresh for Moving a Site


    Since we’ve talked about the redirection plan for migrating a site, it is best to understand why Google doesn’t recommend using meta refresh for moving a website. There are three ways to define redirects:

    • HTTP responses with a status code of 3xx;
    • HTML redirections using the <meta> element;
    • JavaScript redirections using the DOM.


    Aseem Kishore, owner of Help Desk Geek.com, explains why it is better not to use this meta refresh technique: 

    Although not particularly dangerous, Meta Refreshes are often used by unscrupulous webpage programmers to draw you into a web page using one piece of content and then redirect you to another page with some other content. Referred to as a black hat technique, most of the major search engines are smart enough not to fall for this method of “cloaking” web content.
    Aseem Kishore Aseem Kishore
    Owner and Editor-in-Chief at Help Desk Geek.com

    When possible, always try to use HTTP redirects, and don’t use a <meta> element. HTTP redirection is the preferred option, but sometimes the web developer doesn’t have control of the server or can’t control it. And they must use other methods. Although HTML redirection is one of them, Google strongly discourages web developers to use it.


    If a developer uses the HTTP redirects and forgets the HTML redirects, they aren’t identical anymore and might end up in an infinite loop, which leads to other problems.


    In case you want to move a site, Google guidelines recommend to follow the next steps:

    • Read and understand the basic knowledge of moving a website;
    • Prepare the new site and test it thoroughly;
    • Prepare a URL mapping from the current URLs;
    • Correctly configure the server to make the redirects to move the site;
    • Monitor the traffic for old and URLs.

    20. Use Redirect for Flash Site to the HTML Version


    Creating a flash site without a redirect to the HTML version is a big SEO mistake. Flash content might have an appealing look, but just like JavaScript and AJAX, it is difficult to render. The crawler needs all the help it can get to crawl the data and send it to the indexer. The Flash site must have a redirect to the HTML version.


    If you have a pretty site, what’s the point if Google can’t read it and show it the same way you’d want it to? Flash websites might tell a beautiful story, but it’s all for nothing if Google can’t render it. HTML is the answer! Build an HTML version with SWFObject 2.0. This tool helps you optimize flash content.


    21. Use Hreflang for Multi-Language Websites


    Hreflang tags are used for language and regional URLs. It is recommended to use the  rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” attributes to serve the correct language or regional URL in Search results in the next situations:


    • You keep the main content in a single language and use translate the template (navigation and footer). Best used for user-generated content.
    • You have small regional variations with similar content in a single language. For a website that uses the English language targeted to the US, GB, and Ireland.
    • You have a site content that is fully translated. For websites where you have multiple language versions of each page.


    Maile Ohye, former Developer Programs Tech Lead, explains how site owners can expand to new languages variations and keep the search engines friendly:  



    Based on these options, you can apply multiple hreflang tags to a single URL. Make sure, though, the provided hreflang is valid:

    1. It doesn’t have missing confirmation links: If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A.
    2. It doesn’t have incorrect language codes: The language codes must use them in ISO 639-1 format and optionally the region must be in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.


    We’ve documented a complete guideline on the vital hreflang & multi-language website mistakes that most webmasters make, that we recommend you to follow.


    Also, you can use the Site Audit to quickly analyze and identify hreflang issues on your website. Simply head to Content > Hreflang/Languages to get a list of your implementation issues. In the following screenshot you can see that this site has a lot of missing confirmation links, which means that Language A Page points to the Language B Page but Language B Page doesn’t point back to Language A Page.


    Hreflang Technical Issues


    22. Make Sure Your Tracking Is Working Properly


    Tracking your website is really important. Without tracking your results, you won’t be able to see any improvements.


    Tracking issues are common after migrations from HTTP to HTTPS or after minifying and combining JS files. They can break the tracking code resulting in a loss of data.


    You need to make sure that everything is working properly so that you can track the results of the improvements you’re making over time.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now


    III. Content Optimization


    Now that you’ve fixed the general issues that can create crawlability and indexability issues, you can focus more on specific issues regarding your content, such as broken pages, internal linking and so on.


    This is very important if you really want to surpass your competition, especially in highly competitive markets.


    23. Redirect/Replace Broken Links & Resources


    Sometimes the images from a webpage aren’t available, so a broken image is displayed in the client’s browser. It can happen to everybody. There are lots of reasons for that. And it is not a pretty situation. You know the saying: A picture is worth a thousand words and a missing picture with an ugly icon with a message will say something as well…


    Broken images


    A solution would be to add an error handler on the IMG tag: 

    <img src="http://www.example.com/broken_url.jpg"onerror="this.src='path_to_default_image'" />

    Some webmasters say that Chrome and Firefox recognize when images aren’t loaded and log it to the console, while others have other opinions.


    Sam Deering, web developer specialized in JavaScript & jQuery, offers some great steps to resolve these issues:

    1. Firstly, search for some information on the current images on page;
    2. Secondly, use AJAX to test if the image exists;
    3. Then refresh image;
    4. Fix broken images using AJAX;
    5. Check the Non-AJAX function version.
    In most browsers, the ALT tag is shown if the image is not found. This could be a problem if the image is small and the ALT tag is long as it seems the output width of the element is not forced by the length of the alt tag.
    Sam Deering Sam Deering
    Front-end Web Developer


    This is also the case with broken URLs. Although nothing weird will be displayed on the site, if the user clicks on a broken link, it will lead to a bad experience. You can view which resources are broken on your website by heading to the Architecture section in the Site Audit tool.


    Broken URLs and Images are bad for SEO



    24. Audit Internal Links to Improve Your Chances to Rank Higher


    Internal links are the connection between your pages and, due to them, you can build a strong website architecture by spreading link juice, or link equity, as others refer to it. 


    Creating connections between similar pieces of content creates the terminology of Silo content. This method presumes to create groups of topics and content based on keywords and it defines a hierarchy.



    Source: www.seoclarity.net


    There are a lot of advantages for building internal links because it:

    • opens the road to search engines spiders by making it accessible;
    • transfers link juice;
    • improves user navigation and offers extra information to the user;
    • organizes the pages based on the keyword used as an anchor text;
    • highlights the most important pages and transfers this information to the search engines;
    • organizes site architecture.


    The more relevant pages are combined with each other when crawled repeatedly, and as the crawling frequency rises, so does the overall rank in search engines.

    Kasia Perzyńska Kasia Perzyńska
    Content Marketer Unamo


    When you audit internal links, there are four things that need to be checked:

    • Broken links;
    • Redirected links;
    • Click depth;
    • Orphan pages;


    You can easily do all of those using the CognitiveSEO Site Audit Tool under Architecture > Linking Structure.


    Internal Linking Structure Audit Tool for SEO



    25. Get Rid of Duplicate Content


    When we talk about technical SEO, we also think of duplicate content, which is a serious problem. Be prepared and review your HTML Improvements from Search Console to remove the duplicates.


    Keep unique and relevant title tags, descriptions within your website by looking into the Search Console at Search Appearance » HTML Improvements.




    In Search Console, you can find a list of all the duplicate content leading you to the pages that need improvement. Remove or review each element and craft other titles and meta descriptions. Google loves fresh and unique content. Panda algorithm confirms it.


    Another option would be to apply the canonical tag to pages with duplicate content. The tag will show to the search engines which is the original source with your rel=canonical tag. Canonicalizing irrelevant URLs to avoid content duplication is a recommended practice.


    Jayson DeMers, Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, considers that duplicate content can affect your website and discourage search engines to rank your website and it can also lead to bad user experience, as he says on Forbes.  

    Just a few instances of duplicate content can trigger Google to rank your site lower in search results, leaving you unable to recover until those content duplication issues are addressed. Duplicate content can also interfere with your user experience, leaving your site visitors feeling that your site is more fluff than substance.
    Jayson DeMers Jayson DeMers
     Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom


    The CognitiveSEO Site Audit Tool can not only easily identify Duplicate Content, but it also has a feature to identify near duplicate content, which are pages that are very similar in content but not quite the same.


    SEO Duplicate Content Issues


    Fixing duplicate content issues is critical, especially for eCommerce websites where this practice/issue is common. The tool makes it very easy to fix.



    26. Use Structured Data to Highlight Your Content


    Structured data is the way to make Google understand your content and help the user choose and get directly on the page they are interested in through rich search results. If a website uses structured markup data, Google might display it in SERP as you can see in the following picture:


    Rich snippets example


    Beside rich snippets, structured data can be used for:

    • Getting featured in the Knowledge graph;
    • Gaining beta releases and having advantages in AMP, Google News, etc.;
    • Helping Google offer results from your website based on contextual understanding;


    Structured data

    Source: www.link-assistant.com


    The language for structured data is schema.org. You can highlight your content using structured data. Schema.org helps webmasters mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines.


    If you want to get in rich search results your site’s page must use one of three supported formats:

    • JSON-LD (recommended);
    • Microdata;
    • RDFa.


    After you highlight your content using structured data, it is recommended to test it using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Testing it will give you great directions to see if you set it right or if you didn’t comply with Google’s guidelines because you can get penalized for spammy structured markup.


    Google doesn’t guarantee the appearance of each content highlighted using structured data markup.


    27. Keep a Reasonable Number of Links On-Page


    People from the web community often associate pages with 100 links or more with “link farms”. Also, UX has a significant impact on the number of links on a single page. A piece of content abundant of links will distract the users and fail to offer them any piece of information because most of it is linked. You need to add links only where you think it is relevant and it can offer extra information or you need to specify the source.


    Patrick Sexton, Googlebot Whisperer, explains in an article on Varvy why it is important to keep a reasonable amount of links per page:

    You may also wish to consider how well your webpage is linked to. If a webpage has many quality links pointing to it, that webpage can have many links (even more than 100) but it is important to remember the reasons why you shouldn’t have a huge amount of links on any given page.
    Patrick Sexton Patrick Sexton
    Googlebot Whisperer at Outspoken Media

    In general, the more links on the page, the higher the need to keep that page more organized in order for the user to get the information they came for on that page. Also, be careful to search for natural ways to add links and don’t violate Google’s guidelines for building links. The same recommendation applies for internal links.


    28. Avoid Canonicalizing Blog Pages to the Root of the Blog


    John Mueller said in one Google Webmaster Hangout that Google’s doesn’t encourage canonicalizing blog subpages to the root of the blog as a preferred version. Subpages aren’t a true copy of the blog’s main page so doing that has no logic.


    You can listen to the whole conversion from minute 16:28:



    Even if Google sees the canonical tag, it will ignore it because it thinks it’s a webmaster’s mistake.  


    Setting up blog subpages with a canonical blog pointed to the blog’s main page isn’t a correct set up because those pages are not an equivalent, from Google’s point of view.
    John Mueller SEO John Mueller
    Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google


    Canonical links are often misunderstood and incorrectly implemented, so make sure you check all your URLs for bad canonical implementation. You can do this easily with the Technical SEO Audit tool by CognitiveSEO.


    Canonical URLs Technical SEO


    Remember that it’s a good idea to always have a self-referencing canonical tag pointing to your page. This will ensure there are less duplicate content issues.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now


    IV. User-Friendlier Website


    Google cares about UX, so why wouldn’t you? Many experts think that UX is crucial in the future of SEO, especially with all the evolution of machine learning technology. David Freeman, Search Engine Land Columnist, has a strong opinion on the role of UX:


    Part of Google’s philosophy has always been focused on delivering the best user experience. With recent technological advances, Google and other search engines are now better placed than ever to deliver this vision.
    Dave Freeman David Freeman
    Group Head of SEO at Treatwell & Search Engine Land Columnist

    29. Set up Your AMP the Right Way – Mobile Friendlier


    Google recommends using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to improve the UX, highly valued by the company. Since the Google AMP change will affect a lot of sites, it is best to understand the way it works and the right way to set it up/install it on different platforms: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, OpenCart or generate custom AMP Implementation.


    On this topic, we created a guideline on how to implement AMP because it is a process which needs full understanding. Google AMP doesn’t directly affect SEO, but indirect factors that result from AMP can.

    Historically, Google has acted as an index that points people away from Google to other websites. With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google.
    Klint Finley Klint Finley
    Content writer at Wired Business / @klintron


    AMP is pretty difficult to implement correctly. You can always run into issues. Miss one tag closing bracket and you risk your AMP version not displaying at all. You can test the format of all your site’s AMP pages quickly using the CognitiveSEO Tool.


    In the following example there are no AMP pages set up, but if you have any, you may want to take a look at the Incorrectly set up AMP Pages section to identify the problematic ones:


    Test AMP pages SEO validator



    30. Add Breadcrumbs for a Better Navigation


    Breadcrumbs, used by Hansel and Gretel to find their way back home, are implemented by websites with the same purpose, to lead the user through the website. They help the visitors understand where are they located on the website and give directions for an easier accessibility.



    Source: www.smashingmagazine.com


    Breadcrumbs can improve the user-experience and help search engines have a clear picture of the site structure. Fulfilling the need to a second navigation on the website, breadcrumbs shouldn’t replace the primary navigation though.


    Another advantage of them is that they reduce the number of actions and clicks a user must take on a page. Instead of going back and forth, they can easily use the link level/category to go where they want. A technique can be applied to big websites or e-commerce sites.


    W3Schools exemplifies how to add breadcrumbs in two steps.

    1. Add HTML

    <ul class="breadcrumb">
      <li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Pictures</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Summer 15</a></li>


    1. Add CSS

    /* Style the list */
    ul.breadcrumb {
    	padding: 10px 16px;
    	list-style: none;
    	background-color: #eee;
    /* Display list items side by side */
    ul.breadcrumb li {
    	display: inline;
    	font-size: 18px;
    /* Add a slash symbol (/) before/behind each list item */
    ul.breadcrumb li+li:before {
    	padding: 8px;
    	color: black;
    	content: "/\00a0";
    /* Add a color to all links inside the list */
    ul.breadcrumb li a {
    	color: #0275d8;
    	text-decoration: none;
    /* Add a color on mouse-over */
    ul.breadcrumb li a:hover {
    	color: #01447e;
    	text-decoration: underline;


    If you want a simpler solution, you can use plugins for WordPress, such as Breadcrumb NavXT Plugin or Yoast SEO.




    Go to SEO in Dashboard, then click on Advanced and select Enable Breadcrumbs » Save changes. This method will apply the default setting for your breadcrumbs.


    31. Test On as Many Platforms and Devices as Possible


    People use different devices. If you want your users to have a good experience, you need to test on multiple devices. As many as you can!


    You can start with Chrome by right clicking and hitting Inspect. Then you can toggle the device toolbar and select the type of device you want to view your site on.


    SEO Testing on multiple devices


    You can also use 3rd party tools, such as ScreenFly.


    However, keep in mind that these tools only take the screen width into consideration. For example, if you don’t own an iOS device, you’ll never know that WEBM format videos don’t play on Safari Browser.


    You really need to test on different devices and browsers. Test on Windows, iOS, Linux, Safari, Firefox, Edge, Chrome, Opera and even the sad, old and forgotten Internet Explorer.


    If you don’t own an Android or an iPhone/iPad, go to a store if needed or find a friend. Whenever you can get your hands on a new device, take a minute or two to browse your website.

    Audit & Fix Your Site Now



    Firstly, this SEO guide offers solutions and points out directions on how to make a website fast and decrease the loading time by following the recommendations on Google Speed Insights and Google developers’ guidelines.


    Secondly, we went through the functional elements of a website, by trying to check and resolve issues related to crawling errors, indexing status, using redirects and making a website accessible to Google. 


    Thirdly, we looked for improving and optimizing the content by resolving critical technical SEO issues. We discussed how to remove duplicate content, replace missing information and images, make a strong architecture website, highlighting our content and making it visible to Google.  


    Lastly, we pointed out two issues regarding the mobile-friendliness sites and navigational websites.

    The post Technical SEO Checklist – The Roadmap to a Complete Technical SEO Audit appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  43. SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle?

    2019-02-28 11:15:55 UTC

    Every couple of months, someone proclaims that SEO is dead or sets off a number of anti-SEO threads, based on the continuous changing scenery in the search industry. It goes without saying that the landscape is different from what it used to be a couple of years before but from “different” to “inexistent” there is a wide […]

    The post SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    Every couple of months, someone proclaims that SEO is dead or sets off a number of anti-SEO threads, based on the continuous changing scenery in the search industry. It goes without saying that the landscape is different from what it used to be a couple of years before but from “different” to “inexistent” there is a wide range of tones.


    One might say: “Nothing has really changed. It’s simple: focus on your visitors and pretend Google doesn’t exist!” That is indeed a very good piece of advice but Google does exist and, at the end of the day, it is its yard we are playing in. 


    SEO vs overoptimization


    It goes without saying that SEO has a range of colors and sizes that everybody is trying to guess. Lots of websites use all sorts of SEO techniques and lately, we’ve seen a new approach – the “unoptimized” SEO technique. What it is and how it affects the web you’ll get from today’s article. 


    1. Google’s Opinion on Website Optimization
    2. Search Engine Optimization vs. Over Optimization
    3. How to Approach Unoptimized SEO
    4. Strategic Growth Strategies for Unoptimized Web Pages
      1. Verify the Indexability of Your Pages
      2. Check Website for Duplicate Content 
      3. Implement Social Protocol Meta Tags
      4. Correct Any Mistakes Associated to the Linking Structure
      5. Fix any Broken Links and Resources
      6. Improve Your Mobile and Desktop Performance
      7. Try Link Earning for Unoptimized SEO

    1. Google’s Opinion on Website Optimization


    Undoubtedly, the search industry has changed a lot lately and SEO was forced to constantly adapt to these never-ending changes.

    Techniques that used to be SEO’s no.1 weapons now seem rudimentary and wasteful.

    If, back in 2009, Matt Cutts said that “there is no such thing as Google over-optimization penalty“, in 2012 the same Matt Cutts was telling us that all those who had been doing over-optimization or overly doing their SEO compared to the webmasters could be the subject of a penalty. Google always worked on making their bot smarter, and their relevance criteria more adaptive. 


    In short, Google’s message is pretty clear: Optimize too much and you will get penalized. Yet this statement has raised so many questions all these years. Lots of SEOs have been using this terminology for a long time for websites that don’t do well in the Google search results because they do too much SEO. Some call it the over optimization penalty. Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that over optimization exists and can hurt your rankings.



    2. Search Engine Optimization vs. Over Optimization


    Once again Matt Cutts tries to answer this question (or rather raises even more questions). In Google’s opinion, keyword stuffing, too many links exchanges or too many SEO improvements begin to ruin the website’s ability to rank and thereby, penalize it. 


    Although nowadays optimization requires an integrated approach, SEO was traditionally divided into two main areas:

    • on-page optimization – covering the actions that can be done on the pages of the website itself, factors that are controlled by you or by coding on your page. Examples of on-page optimization include actual HTML codes, meta tags, keyword placement or keyword density.
    • off-page optimization – covering the activity that is off-site and is not controlled by you. Examples of off-page optimization include things such as link building, link popularity or link authority.


    When it comes to optimization, Google says NO to off-page optimization and YES to on-page optimization. By this, Google is telling us that one should not try to alter the rankings by manipulating the external metrics of the site. If you’re using on-page, you are free to do anything you can in order to grow your ranking organically; anything as long as it doesn’t imply excessive keyword repetition, duplicate content or any other black hat SEO technique.


    On the other hand, over-optimization comes often times as an off-page technique, through link building and all sorts of linking schemes. That’s why it is not something Google agrees with.


    That happens because the big search engine doesn’t like it when people are trying to alter its results. These manipulation attempts are “rewarded” with big penalties most of the time. Lots of sites, big and small, were penalized publicly to set an example. From famous banks to flower shops, from travel agencies to online clothing, they were all given a harsh lesson about the rules of the game.


    The aim of all these measures is not to make the SEO industry disappear, but to redefine the SEO industry’s behavior.

    In this new “unoptimized optimization” process it might be better for content marketers to focus more on strategic growth strategies and not on technical off-page SEO.


    3. How to Approach Unoptimized SEO


    Although it may sound like a paradox, “unoptimized optimization” is a reality we must cope with. In a recent AMA on Reddit, Gary Illyes recommends webmasters to go with the basics and focus on the on-site technicalities. 


    I really wish SEOs went back to the basics (i.e. MAKE THAT DAMN SITE CRAWLABLE) instead of focusing on silly updates and made up terms by the rank trackers, and that they talked more with the developers of the website once done with the first part of this sentence.
    Gary Illyes  Gary Illyes
    Google Webmaster Trends Analyst


    I am not here to tell you that you shouldn’t optimize your website. But I am saying that it is better to adapt to the actual SEO context rather than fight with the windmills. Optimization, in whatever form, shouldn’t distract you from the most important asset: visitors, customers, readers, etc. In the long run, they are the ones that matters the most. If you focus your actions on your audience, everything else falls in line behind that.


    The Evolution of SEO


    In the traditional SEO, success was measured according to the number of backlinks obtained or the authority of the pages that linked to a website. Unoptimized SEO changes the rules of the game, and therefore, the metrics for measuring success.


    Search is the biggest game in town so the ace up in your sleeve should be on-site SEO. There are lots of things you could do in your yard before telling everybody that you have a party there. That means getting your website prepared before promoting it to get off-site benefits.


    On site SEO is the “last mile” to strong search rankings.


    Site Audit is the on-site tool that can help you keep track of your website’s performance and technical errors, at the highest level of detail. Practically, the tool flags ALL possible on-page SEO issues a site might have and provides recommendations on how to fix them. You can review information about:

    • pages that are indexed by search engines or for some reason they are not indexed;
    • duplicate content & meta tags;
    • malware and unsecure content;
    • social media issues;
    • internal and external errors;
    • broken links & resources; 
    • HTTPS implementation;
    • canonical tags issues;
    • sitemaps;
    • AMP setups;
    • page speed and website performance; 
    • & more.


    Site Audit


    Using the Site Audit tool will definitely improve your website’s on-page SEO performance, and there are a lot of strategies you could follow. 


    4. Strategic Growth Strategies for Unoptimized Web Pages


    4.1 Verify the Indexability of Your Pages


    A webpage that is not indexed means it is not eligible to receive search engine traffic. The Site Audit gives information for such pages, classified in 8 categories:

    • pages with the “Disallow” tag, which informs the search engines not to crawl this page;
    • broken pages;
    • pages that have duplicate content are placed in the Near Duplicates category;
    • pages from the No-Index in Meta category that tells robots not to index the content of this page, and/or not to scan it for links to follow; 
    • redirected pages;
    • pages that don’t have the canonical tag placed;
    • pagination, applied mostly to e-commerce websites that divide the content into discrete pages, either electronic or printed pages;


    Indexable pages


    For a good website organization, you should allow the search engine to index only the important URLs so that these pages can rank high. In case you have any issues associated with your indexed pages, you need to fix those and decrease the issues that can harm your website. 


    4.2 Check Website for Duplicate Content 


    Another technique to improve your website is verifying duplicate content and meta tags (which includes titles, headings, descriptions). Duplicate content may negatively impact your search engine rankings, and create a poor user experience on the website because users will see almost the same content. Google encourages webmasters to create unique and relevant content for the visitors; that’s why you need to resolve the issue and rephrase the content that is repeated on your site.


    Duplicate content


    You have to establish your awesome content as the go-to resource by creating in-depth blog posts to attract the interest of the user. Evergreen content and case studies can be great examples of resources. For each blog post and page you have on your website, you’ll have to write different titles and unique meta descriptions. In case you have any issues regarding duplicates, use the Site Audit to easily discover the pages. 


    4.3 Implement Social Protocol Meta Tags


    Social protocol meta tags help your content look proper when it’s shared on social media platforms. You know that every time a piece of content is shared, you can see a featured snippet like the screenshot below:


    Twitter snippet


    Site Audit can show you information about Facebook and Twitter protocols implementation because only these two platforms are still showing information about shares, likes, and other social metrics. For Social Media, the protocol is named Facebook Open Graph and for Twitter it’s Twitter cards. For example, if somebody shares your website content, Facebook will automatically extract a title, description, image and URL that it considers to be relevant for the shared page.


    Social protocol meta tags


    Having social protocols implemented on your website will make it easier for users to share it and see it properly in the social feed. The nice part of these protocols is the opportunity to customize and create actionable descriptions for every piece of article. 


    4.4 Correct Any Mistakes Associated to the Linking Structure


    External and internal links can strength the authority of your site. It is important to have a well-structured architecture so that the user understands your website. Do you have pages with lots of internal links or too many external links? Then you need to find out what pages have those type of issues. 


    It is good to have pages with up to 100 internal links. On the same note, the number of external links must be kept under the same level, 100 links. At the opposite pole, pages with a small number of internal links should be checked, and if possible linked from a higher number of pages on your site, relevant pages. 


    Pages that don’t have any internal links pointing to them are placed in the orphan pages category, which means they don’t receive any traffic and search engines aren’t aware of their existence and don’t index them. If you want to be present in SERP, you’ll have to link the content to other pages from your site. 


    Google relies on internal links to discover new content, this works because whenever you add a new page/post to your website it’ll almost always be linked-to from somewhere on your website.
    Matthew-Woodward  Matthew Woodward
    Award winning blogger matthewwoodward.co.uk

    4.5 Fix any Broken Links and Resources


    Broken links can negatively affect SEO as well as the user experience. Links that are broken will stop search engines from completely indexing your website. Imagine this: the user comes on your website from an external page and looks for some information. If the page is broken, it will show no valid information and give no directions to the user, then they’ll have a bad experience on the site. 


    Broken page


    Situations like this can be very bad for your business. It can negatively influence your revenue, and SEO metrics in a way that increases the bounce rate and fails to push the user down the funnel. 


    Fixing broken links should be a must, not a maybe. The good advantage is that it can be resolved easily. There are a few options in this situation. You can either delete the broken links, redirect the link to a page that has content and works or remake the nonexistent page that the link is currently pointing at. 


    Finding broken links can be very easy if you use Site Audit. You have separate charts for internal links and external links. You can view all the pages from a specific category and even get a few directions. 




    4.6 Improve Your Mobile and Desktop Performance


    Your website performance is an important trigger for unoptimized SEO strategies. Website loading speed time is an important matter. That’s why Google has always recommended websmasters to create faster loading websites for all the devices. Site Audit allows to see all pages that have issues categoried as following:

    • very slow
    • slow
    • fair loading 
    • fast 




    Mobile traffic has increased in time and Google saw the evolution of it. That’s why developers thought it important to have fast loading speed websites on mobile. In July 2018, Google said that page speed is a ranking factor for mobile searches.


    More than that, Google developed the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project for any publisher to have pages load faster on mobile devices. The goal is to have better user experience, faster websites and a higher mobile performance. To achieve all of these, you need to setup the AMP. For a good implementation and clean setup, you can analyze the Site Audit section for Mobile issues. 




    4.7 Try Link Earning

    It might be the time to forget about link building and start earning links. The concept of link earning puts together all the qualitative efforts that a webmaster makes in order to gain organic links. These efforts don’t resume to outdated link building methods, such as link exchange, commenting on blog posts or submitting your site to low-quality web site directories. Link earning is about sharing your knowledge, generating original information and being active on social media. Creating engaging, helpful content that users want and need can be more useful than a pile of backlinks.

    One shouldn’t create content just for the sake of an editorial calendar but one should offer something that its audience can benefit from, something that people would genuinely want to click on.




    What we wanted to underline is that unoptimized SEO shouldn’t mean a lack of interest in optimization in general. Just a focus switch from off page to onpage and a more “back to the basics” approach. 


    Is Google militating for an unoptimized SEO concept? We cannot know that for sure but we do know that Google keeps on reminding us every time it has the opportunity that content is the one we should focus on. Good content has always been a necessity. And 2018 was the year of content, and lots of SEO experts and brand focused more on this on-site technique. The unoptimized SEO might be a new direction in your digital marketing strategy. 


    The measure of intelligence is the ability to change, so if the new SEO implies unoptimization, webmasters will have no other choice but to up their game and go along with the new rules.

    SEO should be full of meaning but shapeless, just like water!

    When you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. The water properties itself are unchanged but the shapes it takes in order to fit several recipients are always different.


    So, what do you think? Is unoptimized SEO the way to go from now on?

    The post SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  44. 21 Easy to Implement SEO Actions That Can Improve Your Rankings Big Time

    2019-03-05 13:17:34 UTC

    To many people SEO seems like something really hard to do, which also takes a lot of time. While mostly that’s true, it’s also true that there are some small SEO actions you can perform that can have a big impact on your rankings.   In this post, we’ve gathered 21 things you can do to […]

    The post 21 Easy to Implement SEO Actions That Can Improve Your Rankings Big Time appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    To many people SEO seems like something really hard to do, which also takes a lot of time. While mostly that’s true, it’s also true that there are some small SEO actions you can perform that can have a big impact on your rankings.


    In this post, we’ve gathered 21 things you can do to improve your SEO. Most of them are easy to implement, but we’re trying to focus more on the ratio between the effort and the results. So, if something seems harder to do, it will also have a greater impact.




    I know this is a long post, but I want to challenge you to read through all of it and leave a comment at the bottom stating which recommendation you think has the best effort/results ratio. I’m really curious. Additionally, if you have other ideas, please share them with us.


    1. Fixing Crawlability & Indexability Issues
    2. Set Up Traffic Monitoring Tools & Analyze Your Data
    3. Optimize Your Titles, Headings, Content & Meta (Add Relevant Keywords)
    4. Claim Google My Business
    5. Target Less Competitive Keywords
    6. Write More Content
    7. Compress Images
    8. Take Advantage of Caching & Minification
    9. Claim Social Media Profiles
    10. Ask Customers for Reviews (Use Incentives)
    11. Optimize Internal Links & Adopt Internal Linking Practices
    12. Remove Unnecessary Plugins/Features
    13. Create Linkable Resources
    14. Understand User Intent & Optimize for It
    15. Perform A/B Testing
    16. Get an SSL Certificate & Move to HTTPS
    17. Look At What Your Competitors Are Doing & Do It Better!
    18. Get Mobile Friendly
    19. Use PPC & Advertise
    20. Avoid Over Optimizing
    21. Focus on Singular Call to Actions



    1. Fixing Crawlability & Indexability Issues


    Making sure that your website can be discovered and indexed by search engines is your main concern when it comes to SEO.


    They say that “The best place to hide a dead body is on the 2nd page of Google”. That implies that something has been killed. Well, in this case, a website not being on Google at all basically implies that it never even existed. At least from and SEO point of view.


    Fixing crawlability and indexation issues might be either really easy or really hard.


    For the easy part, all you have to do is make sure you don’t block any important pages from being indexed through your robots.txt file or through any meta tags.


    You can access your robots.txt file by visiting yoursite.com/robotxs.txt. If you don’t have a robots.txt file, you should have one. In the following example you can see that the file blocks access for WordPress’s admin URLs, but gives access to admin-ajax.php.


    don't block pages in robots txt


    If you don’t want to block any URLs from being indexed, your file should contain the following:


    User-agent: *
    Allow: /


    You also want to make sure your pages can be found by search engines. The easiest way to do it is to submit a Sitemap. However, there’s a natural way through which pages get indexed: through links.


    To discover websites and pages on the internet, search engines use software called crawlers. These crawlers access sites from one link to another to discover new pages. So make sure that when you post a new page, it’s somehow accessible from your homepage, either through the top menu, footer or through another article, at least.


    For the hard part, your site might have different issues that prevent indexability, from server and PHP errors to duplicate content, bad hreflang implementation or automatic page generation. These can lead to big expenses in your crawl budget risking leaving important pages uncrawled (the search engine sometimes limits the number of pages it crawls on a site, so if unimportant pages get crawled first, there’s no room left for important ones).


    Also, you might block individual pages using meta tags. These can be set from Plugins such as Yoast SEO. To find these, you have to visit a page and hit CTRL + U to see the source, then search for “noindex” without the brackets.


    If you find something like this, it means your page won’t be cralwed and indexed:


    &lt;meta name="robots" content="noindex"&gt;


    It’s hard to check manually, because you have to go through each page, so a tool like CognitiveSEO’s Site Audit will be helpful. It will also help you with any other crawlability and indexability issues, such as duplicate content and bad hreflang implementation.


    Broken URLs and Images are bad for SEO indexability and crawlability issues tool


    To put it more simply, you need to make sure that all your important pages get indexed by search engines. You can also do a search for “site:yoursite.com” in Google to see how many pages were indexed by the search engine.


    number of results indexed by Google using search operator site:


    If you see a big discrepancy between the number of indexed results and the number of pages you think your site has, you probably have some sort of issue which is worth digging into.


    2. Set Up Traffic Monitoring Tools & Analyze Your Data


    Monitoring your site’s traffic and performance is one of the most important things when it comes to SEO.


    By looking at this data you can figure what type of content works in your niche and what type of content doesn’t. You can find out things such as what articles provide the most traffic, which pages convert better and what visitors actually do when browsing your site.


    monitor your site for seo improvements


    Although fancier tools, like Hotjar, are helpful for understanding how users interact with your site in terms of UX, much simpler tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console will do.


    If you don’t have monitoring tools installed, install some ASAP. If you already have them installed but never visit them or analyze the data, start doing it.


    The findings might surprise you!


    3. Optimize Your Titles, Headings, Content & Meta (Add Relevant Keywords)


    This is one of the mistakes I see very many people do! I’ve had SEO clients telling me they’ve worked with other specialists before only to see they’ve built hundreds of links without even optimizing the titles… and by that I literally mean not having the keywords in the titles tags!


    The basics are very important! Do your keyword research and optimize your titles, headings, content and metas!


    While creating a keyword rich title which is optimized for multiple phrases and also catchy to the eye might not be easy, make sure that you at least have the most important keywords in there!


    If you’ve done Adwords before, you know that having the Keyword in the title towards the beginning is recommended. Why? Because that way people click more on them.


    If you want to attack multiple keywords with a single page, you’ll have to optimize the title for multiple keywords and also take advantage of headings, bold text and content.


    An easy way of increasing your chances is using the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool to optimize your content for multiple keywords. Start with the most important and then add keywords in the order of importance.


    Screenshot Keyword Tool Content Check


    The meta description is also very important because it affects you CTR in the search engines. Make sure you also have important keywords there, because Google shows them in bold text and it makes your result stand out. Add a call to action as well, something like “Visit our website for details!”.


    4. Claim Google My Business


    If you’re a local business, having your listing secured is a must!


    Not to say that creating a Google MyBusiness page is really easy. All you have to do is go to https://www.google.com/business/ and create an account. Then, follow the steps they show you.


    google my business directory


    It’s a great way of ranking your business multiple times on Google.


    5. Target Less Competitive Keywords


    Targeting the most competitive keywords is a good idea. Or at least that’s what market leaders such as Brian Dean suggest. Brian tried many things during his career as an SEO and learned through failure. Now he truly is an expert and an innovator in the field. He usually talks about long content and premium design. Which, if you reverse engineer him, he does. Quite well.


    What Brian doesn’t state, however, is that he spends a lot of money to get things right and create that amazing content that he does.


    He’s not a designer. He’s not very good with videos. He probably doesn’t edit his own HTML and CSS to make his web pages look so good. He also probably doesn’t promote his content all by his own (not sure about this one though).


    On average, I’d say that his Ultimate Guides cost at least $1000 each to set up, with writing, editing, design and promotion. And if you add the videos, it’s probably more.


    That’s not what most people (or clients) want to spend. Sure, you can do it all by yourself, but you might not know design or you might not be a good writer or you might have no idea on how to do outreach.


    Also, Brian already posts once per month or so, so it will probably take you more than that to get it done all by yourself. And if you have no idea how to draw, edit or write, it will take you even longer to learn it.


    The solution here is to start with less competitive keywords and build your way up. As your business grows, you’ll get more and more experience and you’ll have more capital to outsource different tasks that are out of your area of expertise (such as design) to professionals.


    You can use the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool to find out how competitive a keyword is. Usually, what’s over 60 is considered a pretty difficult keyword to rank for. However, you have a list of other keywords below. Look for ones with lower search volume (although keep the relevancy score high).


    Keyword Difficulty


    But if you have the money (or client budget) already, hell, go for it. Take the top keyword and make the best possible content using the best possible team. Just make sure it’s a profitable niche and that there will be ROI.


    6. Write More Content


    One simple way of improving your content is writing more content.


    You’ll hear different opinions on this topic. Some say that people don’t have the patience to read through 2,000 words. While that might be true for click-bait posts on Social Media, it’s definitely not the case when someone’s trying to cure hemorrhoids.


    The fact that longer content ranks better in search engines is pretty much accepted as true by most of the SEOs. New research backs this up.


    So, if you have a content that doesn’t yet make it to the top, add more words to it and you might see an improvement.


    However, just adding random content won’t help much. Make sure you cover adjacent topics to make your content as relevant as possible. You can always use the CognitiveSEO Content Assistant to help you cover the most relevant points regarding your topic.


    You’ll also score bonus points for content freshness if you update your old content.


    Another great way of increasing your SEO visibility is publishing more often. If you write 2 articles per month, you’ll cover two topics. If you write 4 you’ll cover 4 topics. It’s simple math. 


    7. Compress Images


    Slow websites impact conversions and they also impact SEO. Google doesn’t want their users to wait very much for websites to load.


    One of the leading causes of slow loading websites are images. It’s also a problem with a very simple solution.


    Don’t upload big images. Generally, they should not exceed 100-200kb in size. You should also try to find the right size in pixels. There’s no point in loading a 2000×2000 pixels image if you’ll only display it 200×200 pixels on screen.


    You can also use image compression plugins. You can find plenty on Google for different content management systems such as WordPress or Joomla. If you can’t find one, you can try using 3rd party tools such as TinyPNG (manual) or ShortPixel (can be automated with API).


    If you’re a photographer, you’ll probably want your images to be HD. If this is the case, then one trick would be to create a separate link for your HD versions. If you still aren’t satisfied with the quality, then you’ll need a faster server, but also take into account that the user’s internet speed matters as well.


    8. Take Advantage of Caching & Minification


    Again, another simple fix that can make a big difference is taking advantage of caching.


    Cache files are stored into your users’ browsers. When users access your site a second time, instead of downloading those files (such as images, css files and javascript files) the browser uses the stored ones to load the site faster.


    Most of the time, it’s really easy to minify and compress files and to enable caching. You can do it with a plugin such as W3 Total Cache if you run on WordPress, but there are plugins for all kinds of CMS.


    Sometimes, however, minifying and compressing css/javascript files might affect your site’s design and functionality, so make sure you test thoroughly if everything works fine.


    9. Claim Social Media Profiles


    Social Media profiles can also rank in Google, if they’re public pages. You can optimize them for slightly different keywords, but still keep your brand and main keywords somewhere in the title.


    Different platforms are fit for different types of audience so choose wisely where you decide to invest most of your time and money.



    Claim Social Media Profiles foor


    Either way, it’s a good idea to secure accounts on all of the popular platforms, just in case. You never know when you become an industry leader and someone else owns your page name on Facebook.


    10. Ask Customers for Reviews (Use Incentives)


    If you want your Google MyBusiness page to be at the top, you’ll need good reviews.


    But how can you get them?


    Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them to. However, it’s a good idea to ask them on the spot and see them leave the review on their mobile device. If Google tracks their location, it will see that the review is genuine and that the person actually visited the business.


    reviews google my business


    Other times it’s not that easy and you might have to incentivize them. You can ask them for a review through an e-mail after a week or so of purchasing an item. You can offer a discount for their next purchase if they offer the review.


    Note that there’s a higher change of users leaving negative reviews than positive ones, so you always have to try to get happy users to write about you.


    11. Optimize Internal Links & Adopt Internal Linking Practices


    Internal linking is very important for both crawling and indexing as well as keyword optimization.


    First you have to take care of your navigation. Do you use the proper anchor texts when linking to important pages from your navigation?


    For example, on our site we use the most searched for keywords to link to our most important pages (because we want to rank for those keywords).



    We also link to other very important resources on our site, such as the case studies we’ve worked on and published over the years. This shows search engines that those pages are highly important, since we’ve made them accessible directly from our top menu.


    Then make sure you link between articles and pages when relevant. I’ve done this plenty of times throughout this article. It’s a good idea to also make a habit and edit old articles and link from them to the newly published ones (hopefully, Cornelia does this from time to time as I don’t have access to modify already published articles #theydonttrustme).


    You can always use the cognitiveSEO Site Audit to better understand your site’s internal linking structure.


    Internal Linking Structure Audit Tool for SEO


    Another interesting practice is to link internally to random pages from your 404 pages. This works very well for big sites which often have 404 issues.


    Don’t overdo this. Although Gary Illiyes said you can overoptimize this without a direct hit/penalty on SEO, it might affect the user experience which eventually leads to problems.


    12. Remove Unnecessary Plugins/Features


    Don’t add things that you don’t really need on your website.


    A good example of a feature many webmasters think they need are sliders. Sliders kill conversions and they also make your site a lot slower, because most of them load the necessary JS files on all the pages of the site, while the slider probably runs only on the homepage.


    Also, if you’ve decided you don’t longer need a feature, make sure you also uninstall that plugin/extension. Don’t just deactivate it. You should also check and clean your database from time to time of unnecessary tables and entries, but make sure you backup everything before you make any modifications.


    13. Create Linkable Resources


    When you create content, your first thought is probably to rank for that keyword. So you try to optimize the content for keywords and probably write more content, as I’ve already told you before in this article.


    However, it’s known that you can’t really rank high without links. It’s also known that trying to hack your way into links is a risky thing and can get you into trouble.


    So what’s a really good way to get natural backlinks? The secret is to rank for link worthy topics. A good example are studies.


    Actually, I have an example right in this article:


    articles that get backlinks


    If you use the CognitiveSEO Site Explorer, you can see that websites in industries where people are interested in studies and statistics take advantage of this.


    For example, I’ve searched for Alcohol Statistics and added the domains that ranked first into the site explorer. To no surprise, those very studies that ranked there were the top linked pages on that domain:


    Linkable Resources



    It’s not a foolproof method so you’ll have to get creative. You can use tools like BuzzSumo to find out what’s actually popular at this point in your field/niche. You need to find the gap or outrank the other sites in order for this to work (but hey, we’re SEOs, aren’t we?)


    We’ve used this technique for CognitiveSEO as well. We knew that people kept searching whether “social signals influence SEO”. We also knew most people needed a resource to link to. We also know they wanted it to be credible and that they like numbers. Big numbers. Like 23 million shares. So we analyzed 23 million shares and created this study about social signals and how they affect SEO.


    And guess what? It’s in the top 10 most shared resources on our site, among with the homepage, Site Explorer and Blog page. The difference is that this page is rather new compared to the other most linked to pages on our domain.


    14. Understand User Intent & Optimize for It


    One thing that many webmasters seem to ignore is user intent. Although this might sound like some advanced technique that only the pros do well, the truth is it’s something rather basic.


    How many times have you heard that you must “know your audience”? Probably plenty of times. Well, you also have to know what your user is looking for.


    For example, if you’re trying to book hotel rooms, you might have your Book Now button pretty high. However, do you think that your users will try to book the room as soon as they land on the page? Probably not.


    They will first want to see some pictures, probably the price and then other customer reviews before they decide on booking.


    You have to take these things into account when creating the flow of your page. If on a mobile device the first thing they see is a big Book Now button and then a bunch of keyword rich content, they might leave the page because they were actually looking to see some photos of the room first.


    Note that what I’ve said above was an example and it shouldn’t be taken for granted (although I’m pretty sure that’s the case 99% of the times). You should always test these things constantly to figure out what’s best for your website.


    15. Perform A/B Testing


    A/B Testing is a really good way of finding out what works and what doesn’t.


    It’s something you should be constantly doing, but not as often as to jeopardize your profits too much.


    A/B Testing SEO


    This is usually the best test for conversions rates. For example, a small change, as minor as switching the button color from green to red might account for a significant increase in click through rates.


    However, you can also test with SEO, but it’s harder to isolate, because so many things can affect SEO at the same time, from Google updates to server issues.


    However, it works very well with CTRs, which means it works well with titles and meta descriptions. You can test two variants, each for one week and see which one did best. For this though, you’ll have to rank in the top 3 positions, at least.


    16. Get an SSL Certificate & Move to HTTPS


    Warning: Merging from HTTP to HTTPS is risky. It’s a good idea to consult an expert before proceeding or at least check a good migration guide.


    SSL certificates don’t have a big impact on your SEO but they can have an impact on trust. As the internet evolves, internet security becomes a bigger and bigger issue.


    Important data circulate on the internet, from names, e-mails and phone numbers to much more sensitive information, such as health or credit card information.


    If your site sends information from the server to the client or vice versa, be it only through a simple contact form, the connection should be secured.


    When browsing your site, people want to see a green lock, not a red one or any warnings.


    Secure vs Non-Secure connection

    via netregistry.com.au


    17. Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing & Do It Better!


    One fail-proof way of ranking to the top is trying to do what your competitors are doing (the ones ranking at the top, of course).


    In the InBound Link Analysis section of the CognitiveSEO Toolset, under the Compare tab, you can find a section called Common Domains.


    If you select “at least 3 sites” you can get a list of domains that are linking to at least 3 sites in your analysis. The goal here is to identify domains that are linking to at least 2-3 of your competitors but not to your site.


    common domains from competitors


    The theory here is that if those sites are already linking to your competitors, there’s a higher chance that they’ll also link to you as well, since they’re already interested in the subject.


    However, you have to be careful not to build spammy links. Make sure you analyze your competitor’s link profile before you build the links. Anyway, it’s an opportunity that your competitors are already taking advantage of, which seems to work.


    Also, this doesn’t only apply to links. Look at where they’re advertising, look at what they’re posting on social media and look at what their content looks like. Ideally, try to do everything better than them!


    18. Get Mobile Friendly


    Now this can be a big modification but I promise you, if your site isn’t displaying well on mobile platforms, you’re losing A LOT!


    Sometimes, the modification might be as simple as installing a responsive website design. Changing themes on content management systems isn’t very difficult.


    However, if your site was running on a separate mobile version before, you also have to take all the redirects into account in order to avoid losing traffic. Make sure you do this by the book and ask for a professional’s advice if this is the case.


    19. Use PPC & Advertise


    We all know that SEO takes time. It might take somewhere between 6 months to one full year to see any real results, especially when it comes to services and sales.


    However, if by that time your business goes bankrupt, it won’t help much.



    People always try to compare SEO to PPC but the truth is that they go well together. It helps you grow your business as you’re growing your organic search visibility and even when you’re at the top you can still use PPC to take up an extra spot in the search engine. Combine it with a top maps listing and you’re set!


    20. Avoid Over Optimizing


    Most of the things I’ve said in this article are pretty basic. So if you’re not doing any of that at all, start doing them. But don’t over-do it! If you try to overoptimize, you risk messing up things.


    Don’t try to figure out the next big thing. If a couple of things work and show results, don’t try to abuse them. It might harm you on the long run.


    This doesn’t mean you have to ignore any optimization tip or trick you hear. However, try to take a more ‘back to the basics’ approach and think long term.


    You should still test new things, but one at a time.


    21. Focus on Singular Call to Actions


    Many people make the mistake of having too many offers on their site. You have to think very well what you want your user to do.


    Do you want the user to enroll in an e-mail list? Then don’t show them ads. Do you want them to click on a button? Then don’t put an e-mail sign-up form in the sidebar.


    If you have multiple offers in the same place, users might get confused or distracted and probably skip both.


    only one call to action per page user intent


    Ending note


    Hopefully these tips will help you improve your SEO results quickly with minimal effort. Which technique from above do you think will be the most effective?


    Also, what other techniques have you used that were easy to implement but had visible or even significant results? Share them with us in the comments section!


    The post 21 Easy to Implement SEO Actions That Can Improve Your Rankings Big Time appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  45. The Complete Google Marketing Tools List Every Business Should Know About

    2019-03-13 10:22:47 UTC

    Google is quite disputed be search marketers all over the world but we can all agree on one thing: Google offers lots of tools and features which can help every business, big or small, to thrive and make the most of their activity. From developer tools to business management and valuable resources, here it is – […]

    The post The Complete Google Marketing Tools List Every Business Should Know About appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    Google is quite disputed be search marketers all over the world but we can all agree on one thing: Google offers lots of tools and features which can help every business, big or small, to thrive and make the most of their activity. From developer tools to business management and valuable resources, here it is – what we hope to be – the complete list of Google marketing tools. 




    We’ve scooped the whole internet to find the most useful and relevant Google tools for everyone who wants to create a good and powerful marketing strategy and a successful business. Here we go!


    I. Google Marketing Tools to Monitor& Grow Your Business

    1. Google Analytics
    2. Google Ads
    3. Keyword Planner
    4. Search Ads 360
    5. Google Marketing Platform
    6. Google AdSense
    7. Google My Business

    II. Google Resources & Trends

    1. Google Trends
    2. Google Patents
    3. Google Scholar
    4. Google News
    5. Google Play Developer
    6. Google Alerts
    7. Youtube for Business
    8. Blogger

    III. Google Tools for Time & Projects Management

    1. Google Calendar
    2. Google’s Assistant
    3. Data Studio
    4. Gmail
    5. Google Drive
    6. Google Cloud
    7. Google Contacts
    8. Hire

    IV. Google Developer Tools

    1. Google Search Console
    2. Speed Insights
    3. Mobile-Friendly Test
    4. AMP Test
    5. Structured Data Testing Tool
    6. Rich Results Test
    7. Google Optimize
    8. Tag Manager
    9. Google Fonts
    10. Google Domains

    I. Google Marketing Tools to Monitor & Grow Your Business


    1. Google Analytics


    Every business that has a website should have a Google Analytics account to track and measure website traffic. It is a paid tool and one of the most widely used tools for website analytics. It has data on users’ demographics, interests, behavior, and more, plus data on acquisition channels for third party campaigns, site traffic and speed, real-time activity.


    Traffic increase Google analytics


    Most recent updates and integrations with Google Ads and Search Console made it a fundamental tool for every business. You have all the information in one place, which allows you to create better connections regarding your data. You have access to the Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions data in one place, which means more possibilities to discover insights:

    • find out the most engaging landing pages that bring visitors through organic search;
    • determine the landing pages which have the highest engagement but lack organic search visitors;
    • identify the best ranking queries for each landing page and more.


    Google Search Console integrated in Analytics


    GA helps you track any fluctuations in your traffic evolution, so you can spot any drops or improvements and check furthermore whether there is a connection to Google penalties.


    Traffic Drop


    Measure overall organic traffic to better understand your users and get insights based on the activity that happens on your website or set up goals to track specific user interactions on site.


    The data give you the power to make valuable business decisions.


    2. Google Ads


    Google Ads (former Google AdWords) is an optional tool that you can use to create advertising campaigns on Google Search, Youtube, Mobile Apps or remarketing on third-party websites. Google Ads is an advertising tool, that works on a bidding strategy. When you create a campaign, you’re allowed to add a landing page and create brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, video content and generate mobile application installs. You can choose out of three pricing models, based on the type you’d like to use:

    • pay-per-click (PPC) pricing model for driving traffic to the website;
    • cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for acquiring conversions (eg. purchases or signups);
    • cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) for increasing awareness.


    The first two pricing models are available for paid search, and the last one can be available only for Display Network campaigns (a large resource of websites, videos, and apps where your ads can appear).


    New Ads Dashboard


    Google Ads can give you lots of insights on the searched keyword phrases, best performing landing pages, type of visitors and other descriptive information.


    3. Keyword Planner


    Google Keyword Planner is an important feature from the Google Ads tools. You can use it independently, no matter if you pay or not. There’s a catch though. If you have active campaigns, you’ll get more information comparing to a non-paid account.


    Keyword Planner-paid versus free account


    It is a keyword research tool, which can be used for getting insights on the terminology used for different topics or keyword ideas, plus search volumes for every country and language, search trend. You have the possibility to apply filters and get only the results you are interested in.


    4. Search Ads 360


    DoubleClick Search was rebranded under the name Search Ads 360, and it’s an ad serving platform. Unlike Google Ads, Search Ads 360 allows you to distribute and manage ads that appear on other sites you’ve negotiated media buys for.


    Search Ads 360


    With Search Ads 360, you save a lot of time by managing your ads across engines, make better decisions and increase your Return on Investment (ROI) for search marketing. The tool provides multiple bid strategies, which are more accurate and better targeted:

    • Conversions: Use CPA or monthly spend to get more actions.
    • Revenue: Use ERS, ROAS or monthly spend to get the highest revenue.
    • Advanced targeting: Use ERS, ROAS and CPA targets for a customized strategy.
    • Clicks: Get the most clicks while meeting a target monthly spend.
    • Keyword positions: Use this strategy to keep keywords on a certain position or within a position range.

    5. Google Marketing Platform


    Google Marketing Platform is a suite of tools designed for businesses to have smarter marketing measurement and better results. It is a paid tool and it includes advertising and analytics tools by Google such as Analytics 360, Search Ads 360, Display and Video 360, Tag manager 360, optimize 360 and more. Some of them were presented already, and some of them can be found below in the article.


    Google Marketing Platform


    Along with the change made for AdWords & DoubleClick, which became Ads and Search Ads 360, Google integrated the new tools into a new platform: Google Marketing Platform to have in one place all the tools that a business needs.

    Every business owner and marketer has one major pain point: to better understand their customers. Having all the tools in one place makes it easier to gather all the information and easily compare the information side by side than using different web pages and platforms.


    6. Google AdSense


    Google Adsense is an easy way to earn money online by placing ads on your website and YouTube channel. If you’re using AdSense, on your website there will be placed ads from advertisers through the Google Network.




    Do you know those ads that appear on sites on the right or left side, or on the bottom of the page besides the main content? Some of those ads are served automatically by publishers. You can see text, image, video or even interactive media advertisements which target the audience of the site. Below is an example of such ad:


    Ads through AdSense


    7. Google My Business


    For local SEO you need to register on GMB. Google My Business is connected to Google Maps and here you can add your contact information such as NAP (name, address, phone), website, open hours, photos, posts and a lot more.


    Google my business - listing example


    The process is simple, create a GMB account, add all the information, choose a verification method, after that use the code you received in the verification step and submit the request. After that, you’ll be able to see your location on Google Maps.

    There are several ways to verify your GMB listing:

    • By postcard
    • By phone
    • By email
    • Instant verification
    • Bulk verification for more locations.


    Whenever you search for a specific company, if it is registered on Google My Business, you’ll find that information on the right side of SERP. Beside the NAP information, you can see Q&A posted by users, popular time visits.


    Chocolateria San Gines informatin from Google My Business


    Also, you can add your social profiles and see all the reviews from your users, integrated into this snippet.


    Social accounts


    It is recommended to register on GMB because users can get directions, and this will increase the number of clients that come to your store.


    II. Google Resources & Trends


    8. Google Trends


    Google Trends is a free service from Google that analyzes the popularity of a certain topic/keyword on Web search, News search, Google Shopping or Youtube search. The website uses graphs for displaying information and comparing actions.


    Trends for spotify pandora and grooveshark


    You can see and compare data across lots of regions and locations around the Globe. There is a time frame available starting with 2004.


    For businesses, Google Trends can be very useful for spotting trends and understanding the evolution of certain keywords and search for keywords. You can easily identify seasonal trends, then create content at the right time. Even though we are strong advocates of evergreen content, seasonal content can be an additional traffic boost, which shouldn’t be avoided.


    9. Google Patents


    Google Patents provides one of the most comprehensive collections of patent data. Patents are a good source for documentation. We’ve used Google Patents for understanding the way Google’s algorithm works and documented a blog post about context SEO.


    Google Patents


    Bill Slawski is the founder of SEO by the Sea and Google patents master because he can make any individual understand the encrypted world of patents.

    I started paying attention to, and looking for new patents from Google after reading on about Information Retrieval based upon historical data, which was written by some of Google’s top search engineers, and focused upon indexing stale content and spam content, and how Google might avoid both.


    Bill Slawski Bill Slawski

    Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital


    10. Google Scholar


    Google Scholar is a free and accessible web search platform that provides a lot of academic literature. Google has a massive collection of resources, which can be a go-to place for case studies or stats for every-day business. You can find articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.


    Google Scholar


    It is a good place for documenting on a specific topic or field of activity, where you have your business.


    11. Google News


    It’s a must to keep up with the news, see what is out there. Find out any information that could benefit you and could influence your business. On Google News you see lots of articles based on your regions and language settings. You can see customized headlines, based on your preferences.


    Google news


    Google News can also be used as a source of inspiration for marketing campaigns, articles ideas, business goals and for implementing new business strategies. Search for any topic you’re interested in, such as digital marketing or business, technology, entertainment, science, sports, science, health.


    Google News categories


    12. Google Play Developer


    Google Play is a digital service that offers a large collection of Android apps, games, music, movies, TV, books, magazines & more. Developers can add that type of content on this digital distribution service.




    You need to sign up for a Google Play developer account to create apps using your Play Console. Create an account and pay the $25 registration fee. Go to  All applications > Create application. Then, select a default language and add a title for your app. Type the name of your app as you want it to appear on Google Play.



    13. Google Alerts


    Google Alerts is a tool for managing your online reputation, by following topics or companies that you’re interested in. There are customizable settings for every alert, based on your preferences.



    Google Alerts can be used for companies to receive notifications on specific topics and be up-to-date with what’s happening in your domain of interest. You’ll receive emails every time Google finds an article about a topic you set an alert for.


    The tool can be useful for cases when you want to monitor your brand or spot trends, spy on your competitors and find out valuable information for future marketing campaigns. See exactly where your competitors appear (sources), what type of content is promoted, what is the context.


    14. Youtube for Business


    As a company that wants to thrive in the online world, having a Youtube account is a great asset. For SEO, Youtube can generate more brand awareness and therefore traffic to the website. There are certain situations when the video content has better rankings that the website content.


    In the screenshot below you can see that for the query “cronuts with puff pastry” Food And Wine is ranking with the Youtube video on the second position and with the website content on the second page.


    Example of Youtube content


    Might be an isolated case, might be a real fact. There’s the same content, the difference is that on Youtube it is posted a month later than the article on the blog. The difference, in this case, might be the Domain Authority gained by Youtube in comparison to foodandwine.com. Another great Youtube benefit is the comment section. Comments and user-generated content, in general, are a great asset for SEO.


    Long story short, Youtube is a tool that shouldn’t miss from a company’s profile.


    Website content vs Youtube


    15. Blogger


    Similar to WordPress, Google Blogger is a platform for blogs with more limited features. It can help you create a fully customizable theme to fit your blogger style. From simple and sleek to fun and funky, there’s a whole list of themes.




    Blogger can be used by anyone who wants to have a blog. Google made it easy to write your posts and to manage them without problems. It’s even easier than WordPress. We all know how important content is, so businesses shouldn’t encounter any issues in achieving that with Blogger.


    In 2019, blogging should mean fresh and evergreen content, updated consistently, serving users’ purpose.


    III. Google Tools for Time & Projects Management


    16. Google Calendar


    For every business owner, organizing tasks is very important for management and transparency. Google Calendar is a time-management tool that allows you to schedule every meeting and event and receive reminders.


    Google Calendar


    The good thing about the calendar is the fact that you can synchronize it with your smartphone and have all your information in your pocket. You can manage your calendars and see the information categorized based on that. Invite guests and send them reminders to the meetings.


    Google Calendar meeting


    Google Calendar allows you to schedule whatever type of event and integrate other plug-ins and manage time and activity more efficiently. For example if you’re having webinars or meetings, you can use Cisco Webex, Zoom, GoToMeeting and more.


    Google Calendar Add-ons


    17. Google’s Assistant


    Google’s Assistant is an AI-powered virtual assistant available on mobile, smart home devices, smart display, and a lot more. Very easy to use and set up to find whatever you want on search and on your phone (emails, messages, phone numbers, WhatsApp messages and a lot more) by offering us the possibility to make voice searches and personalize our content on Android, even if you’re offline.


    Google Assistant suggestions


    Google Assistant might be the best fit for every business because it has lots of functions to manage every day to day activity easily and more efficiently. This app helps you perform the following actions:

    • Find contacts, call, email, send messages on social apps.
    • Set different actions on your personal phone (set alarm, turn on NFC, turn on Bluetooth, and so on).
    • Organize your calendar and set up important reminders.
    • Open apps on your device.
    • Set reminders for small things. Just say “OK Google, remind me that my car keys are in the kitchen on the counter” and Google Assistant will recall it for you when you ask again.
    • Listen to podcasts, webinars, songs.


    In a fast evolving technology, Google is taking part in history. Google’s Assistant created a lot of buzz through a unique demonstration at Google I/0. The made an actual call to a salon for a haircut appointment.



    18. Data Studio


    Data Studio makes it very easy for business owners to visualize data and make it accessible and useful, so your team or clients understand and find the information faster. There are three steps for setting up your dashboard:

    • Start your project and connect to all your data source to turn your data into informative reports. Connect to multiple Data Sources within one report.
    • Customize your data by choosing a layout and themes, select metrics and apply your settings to visualize the data.
    • Share the report with the people who are interested.


    Data Studio


    Data Studio allows you to tell great data stories to support better business decisions. It works best for creating reports and visualizing the evolution and the changes for every business. It has a few awesome templates which can be used.


    19. Gmail


    Gmail can be a great support for getting your business emails and creating filters. For setting your work email on Gmail, go to Settings » Accounts and Import » Check mail from other accounts (using POP3). After that, you need to add your email address, password and add the email settings.


    Gmail - Send email as


    Other than that, Gmail is great for setting filters and getting only the information you want without polluting the inbox section. There are lots of actions which can be applied, depending on the type of email you get:

    • archive it;
    • star it;
    • apply a label;
    • forward it;
    • delete it;
    • never send to spam;
    • always mark it as important;
    • never mark it as important;
    • categorize it.


    Gmail filters


    20. Google Drive


    Google Drive is a storage platform where you could save Docs, Sheets, Lists, images and other information that you think is valuable for you. It is very easy to use and can be synchronized with your smartphone to keep your data. You can store files on their up to 15 Gb for free.




    Save business information, statistical data, presentations, documents, Excel files and whatever you want.


    21. Google Cloud

    Google Cloud is a suite of cloud computing for secure storage and lots of useful integrations, such as data analytics products. Works very well with Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive. The service boasts with high security whether you build, create, code or store.


    Google Cloud Platform


    When you first sign up for an account, Google offers $300 for free to experiment with different products over a period of 12 months. There are endless solutions to use Google Cloud:

    • Move to cloud by transferring everything.
    • Use the hybrid option which allows you to work with open container-based services.
    • Try the API management platform.
    • Connect IoT devices.

    22. Google Contacts


    Google Contacts is a contact management tool that allows you to keep all your contacts in one place and add email, phone number, job title. Apply labels for more filtering options and a more segmented list.  


    Google contacts



    23. Hire


    Finding the right candidates can be hard. Google developed Hire, which helps small to medium businesses to share jobs, identify candidates, build a relationship with them and attract them to the company. It uses an applicant tracking system making the recruiting process easier and more engaging.




    It has 4 management sections included:

    • candidate activity, where you have all your candidate information in one place.
    • candidate relationship management.
    • candidate sourcing where you can distribute jobs.
    • G Suite integration

    IV. Google Developer Tools


    24. Google Search Console


    Google Search Console provides valuable information regarding organic traffic, website performance and issues. Every webmaster should register their website into Search Console to have an accurate image of their users’ activity, especially because it’s a free to use service.


    Google Search Console


    Search Console can offer valuable information that will help you get lots of insights. You can set up the next actions:

    • Check indexability status for any page and see issues related to that;
    • Check mobile usability for any page you’d like;
    • Look at the top keywords that bring traffic to your website;
    • Get a list with the most clicked pages on your website;
    • See the Index Coverage report with all the pages on your site that Google bots tried to crawl and index, along with all the issues;
    • Troubleshoot issues for AMP, mobile usability, and other search features;
    • See top linking sites;
    • Verify manual actions and security issues;
    • See sitemaps that Google has found on your site, and submit new ones.

    25. Speed Insights


    SpeedInsights is a testing tool that gives you recommendations to make your website load faster. Analyze the website and get instant results based on the mobile and desktop version.   


    PageSpeed Insights


    The loading speed time is very important for user experience and can easily influence all future actions for a client. Every website should be verified and implement the recommendations. The improved PageSpeed Insights gives you directions on:

    • The server response time (TTFB) which translates into the time the server it takes to show you that information on the site you entered from SERP.
    • How to optimize and reduce image size without affecting the visual appearance.
    • Minimize the render-blocking JavaScript and CSS and structure HTML accordingly.
    • Verify the Browser Cache Policy.
    • Optimize the Field Data (insights about the content there is on the screen and the JavaScript execution).

    26. Mobile-Friendly Test


    Mobile-Friendly Test is a stand-alone tool, which can give extra information beside Pagespeed Insights for mobile. It is mandatory, not even optional to have mobile-friendly websites if you want to thrive in your business. The web has more and more mobile users. Creating websites that are mobile friendly will make them suited for other devices and improve performance.


    Mobile Friendly Test


    Add the domain URL, and the testing tool will analyze it. The results will say if the website is mobile friendly or not. For the second situation, the tool will give you some directions. Implement the instructions and run the test once again.


    Page is not mobile friendly


    27. AMP Test


    Since we’ve talked about mobile optimization, you can AMP to rank better on mobile. Accelerated Mobile Pages is a project designed by Google to make websites load faster and rank better in Google for mobile devices.


    AMP is built for speed. Special design, effects and features are not important in the accelerated mobile page. There are three steps to setup AMP:

    • Create your AMP pages;
    • Validate your AMP pages;
    • Make your content discoverable.


    You need somebody with technical experience to setup AMP. Before finding somebody, you can test your AMP pages through the AMP testing tool and see what’s the status. The tool shows you if you have valid MAP pages or, on the contrary, the tested page doesn’t have AMP settings.


    Valid AMP page


    28. Structured Data Testing Tool


    Structured Data Testing Tool helps you discover if the markup data is implemented correctly. It is the easiest way to view a result from your data and check if you set them right. Structured data markup is used by a website to make Google understand better the content on a page.


    Test your structured data


    You’ll have to add the URL to the page that has structured data implemented and check it. After the analysis is over, the tool will be detected and let you know if it has any errors, warnings and items. In case you’ve done some wrong markup, then you’ll be able to see exactly what the issues are. Check out the next printscreen to see a wrong markup structured data setup. Instead of the actual name of the product is the URL.


    Structured data testing tool amazon


    Bad implementation and abusive structured data use will trigger the Structured Markup Penalty by Google. Make sure your website complies with the quality guidelines and the markup information is showing ok in SERP.


    29. Rich Results Test


    Rich Results Test is a tool that analyzes your public page to see which rich results can be generated by the structured data it contains. Below you can see an example of a page for Pink’s concerts.


    Rich Results Test


    The page is tested and for each Rich results, you get the number of warnings, if there are any. In our case, we found warning for some optional fields, such as:

    • Missing field ‘performer’
    • Missing field ‘endDate’
    • Missing field ‘description’
    • Missing field ‘image’.


    If you have a website that uses or wants to use rich snippets for helping the user get to the most relevant shortcuts on the website, then rich snippets are a great integration. But, it’s important to generate them correctly.


    30. Google Optimize


    There are two versions, Google Optimize which is the free version and Optimize 360 which is a premium testing. It is an integrated tool that offers A/B testing, website testing and tools for small businesses. Optimize helps every business to test and deliver more personalized experiences on the site.


    Google Optimize


    You can use data from your accounts and there are three options available:

    • Integrate Google Analytics and use only the data you have there to identify the sections from your site that need improvements.
    • Use advanced methods through the Bayesian statistical methods to react to the real-world performance of your experiments for more accurate results.
    • Select sophisticated targeting tools to test the right experience for your customers at the time moment.


    There are many situations and templates you could use for offering the right experience to your users. For example, you can create customized messages at checkout or redesign your homepage and a lot more.


    31. Tag Manager


    Tag Manager is a system created by Google for a simpler way to manage JavaScript and HTML tags used for tracking and analytics on websites. The nice part of the tool is the fact that it gives you information on whether the tag is applied correctly or not. It is easier to install the Tag Manager than editing site code every time you want to add HTML/JavaScript snippets to your website.



    You can add a tag from lots of Google tools, such as Analytics, Ads, Search Ads 360, Optimize, Google Surveys and a lot more or even customize. For each tool you’ll have a snippet that you need to add to header.php file.


    Google Tag Manager


    32. Google Fonts


    As the name says it, Google offers a library of licensed fonts. The interactive web directory allows to add fonts in your account and use APIs for conveniently using the fonts via CSS and Android.


    Google Fonts


    Google Fonts is an open-source and 100% free for commercial use. Download fonts for free or embed them in your website easily by selecting the fonts you like. You even get directions on how to add them on your website. Choose fonts that load fast to embed them into a webpage.



    33. Google Domains


    Google Domains helps you register for a domain, build a site, have web hosting and create a personalized email. The offers start at $12 per year depending on the domain ending or top-level domain and has no additional cost for more domains.


    Google domains dahsboard


    You have to search for a domain to see if the one you want doesn’t already exist. Google domains provides powerful tools and free integrations to have painless management of your domains and lets you choose how much personal contact information you share.




    Either you’re trying to create editorial calendars, want to hire new members to your team, create friendly websites, make money online with your website and for your business, track results, create blogs, generate visitors through video and monitor your brand, there are lots of Google tools suited for every business.


    30. Google Contacts


    Google Contacts is a contact management tool that allows you to keep all your contacts in one place and add email, phone number, job title. Apply labels for more filtering options and a more segmented list.  


    Google contacts



    32. Hire


    Finding the right candidates can be hard. Google developed Hire, which helps small to medium businesses to share jobs, identify candidates, build a relationship with them and attract them to the company. It uses an applicant tracking system making the recruiting process easier and more engaging.




    It has 4 management sections included:

    • candidate activity, where you have all your candidate information in one place.
    • candidate relationship management.
    • candidate sourcing where you can distribute jobs.
    • G Suite integration

    33. Google Domains


    Google Domains helps you register for a domain, build a site, have web hosting and create a personalized email. The offers start at $12 per year depending on the domain ending or top-level domain and has no additional cost for more domains.


    Google domains dahsboard


    You have to search for a domain to see if the one you want doesn’t already exist. Google domains provides powerful tools and free integrations to have painless management of your domains and lets you choose how much personal contact information you share.


    Either you’re trying to create editorial calendars, want to hire new members to your team, create friendly websites, make money online with your website and for your business, track results, create blogs, generate visitors through video and monitor your brand, there are Google tools suited for every action and business.

    The post The Complete Google Marketing Tools List Every Business Should Know About appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  46. The Google March 2019 Core Update Is Rolling Out! Massive Rankings Fluctuations

    2019-03-14 14:24:53 UTC

    Update March 15, 2019: Although this Google Update initially came out under the name of Florida 2.0, Google themselves named this update Google March 2019 Core Update. According to officials, this name helps to avoid confusion as it tells you the type of update it was and when it happened.   Over the last few […]

    The post The Google March 2019 Core Update Is Rolling Out! Massive Rankings Fluctuations appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    Update March 15, 2019: Although this Google Update initially came out under the name of Florida 2.0, Google themselves named this update Google March 2019 Core Update. According to officials, this name helps to avoid confusion as it tells you the type of update it was and when it happened.


    Over the last few days, there has been a lot of buzz about possible Google algorithm updates. And yes, it’s true that Google updates its algorithm every single day, often multiple times per day but this update seems to be significant. And moreover, it is confirmed by Google on March 13. 


    Florida 2.0


    Number 13’s infamy will probably explode even more now, but you need to know that the most recent Google Update started on 12 of March, continued in force on the 13 of March and the rankings fluctuation seems to continue as you’re reading this.


    A Confirmed Google Broad Core Update


    Leaving modesty aside, we did spot the update before Google making the official announcement and before all the buzz in the SEO world. No, we do not have psychic powers, but we do have a super powerful tool: cognitiveSEO Signals


    cognitiveSEO signals


    While we are aware that search results are different around the world, in different regions, and in different languages, and changing search results is almost a Google trademark, the rankings fluctuations were really high on lots of countries. The daily updates that typically occur in SERP don’t compare to this one in any way. And this time, Google officials also confirmed what the data already told us.



    Of course, a lot of buzz did not delay to appear on the social media channels, with people complaining about big high volatility as well as dropped traffic and drops. 


    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Ian Fleming (the guy that wrote the James Bond series of novels and short stories) byword, but it’s somehow bitter funny how it applies to our current situation.

    Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.

    Tweets google update

    It’s clear that we cannot talk about coincidences at this point as people all over the places are facing rankings fluctuations. 


    Massive Drops in Search Position Examples


    As we don’t like to take anything for granted, we researched and double-checked on real case studies to see how the current update impacted businesses from all over the regions. We used the cognitiveSEO Rank Tracker to easily check and analyze some keywords and their rankings. 

    We found some massive drops in rankings on commercial keywords with high search volume. Below you can see some screenshots with just some the search position drops we’ve identified. 


    Rank Tracking Florida 2.0 example 4


    We couldn’t find any increases in rankings for the moment, yet this doesn’t mean that increases didn’t occur. I’m sure that in the following days we’ll better understand how this update impacted the Google ranks and as the law of nature works when someone goes down, someone else goes up. 


    Rank Tracking Florida 2.0


    We’ve done the research on several countries and languages to find out that Florida 2.0 is clearly a global update that affects websites regardless of the country, region or country. 


    Rank Tracking Florida 2.0 example 2


    Rank Tracking Florida 2.0 example 5


    What is also important to notice is the amount of keywords websites have lost their rankings on. We’ve found just a few situations were the websites declined in SERP on just a few keywords. Most of the analyzed websites faced drops on half or maybe more than half of the keywords they were interested in ranking for. 


    florida 2.0 keywords dropped


    For the moment we cannot draw a conclusion on what the March 12 Google Update actually targeted: links, content, intent, all together, something else? There could be a commonality between the websites affected by this update, yet, further research needs to be done. But keep still, here at cognitiveSEO we are a bunch of geeks who like doing in-depth researches so most likely we’ll come back with more details on what Florida 2.0 is all about. 


    How Can You Spot Google Updates Before Everybody Else


    The truth is that Google doesn’t always disclose updates and algorithm changes. Or, being a bit nasty, we might say that Google rarely makes public its rankings updates. That’s why there is also a lot of buzz and confusion every time someone from the SEO world notices something out of place in SERP.


    How did we find about the update before Google making any official statement?


    It started with a mail. A notification actually from cognitiveSEO Signals, cognitiveSEO’s tool that spots Algorithm changes in real time.



    signals notification


    Checking the tool on several countries, positions, and changes, we realized that there is actually something big going on and for sure the biggest fluctuation from the last 5 months for several countries like US, UK, Australia, India, several countries in Europe and so on.


    What You Need to Do


    The short answer is: it depends on who you’re asking.


    If you’re asking Google, the answer you’ll get is :


    There is nothing in particular to “fix,” and we don’t want content owners to mistakenly try to change things that aren’t issues. 


    According to the same big G officials, a broad core update means that Google is not targeting any niche or any particular signals, like quality. In a broad core algorithm update, Google is not targeting anything. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages. And as with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….


    Of course, as with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. Yet, if you’re asking any SEO Pro or webmaster who is very concerned about his website ranking high, well it is hard to do nothing while your ranks are dropping. 


    We are not saying that you should look for issues on your website where they are not, or to start changing stuff just for the sake of the algorithm update. Yet, there are some actions that you can take. 



    And yes, you can check everything by using only one tool: the cognitiveSEO toolset. 


    Desktop vs Mobile Rankings Fluctuations


    There is no secret that mobile searches in Google are constantly growing from one year to another. And therefore, Google’s interest on mobile search market is increasing as well. What is very interesting to notice is that when it comes to ranking fluctuations, the mobile SERP is way more volatile than the desktop one. 


    US mobile vs desktop fluctuations


    If the current algorithm (named Florida 2.0) is the biggest Google fluctuation on desktop from the past five months, when it comes to the mobile market, the situation is completely different. Dozens of fluctuations and lots of volatility can be easily observed on the screenshots taken from the UK and USA mobile vs. the desktop search market. 


    UK mobile vs desktop fluctuations


    Why Is This Google Update Named March 2019 Core Update?


    If you’re checking the WebmasterWorld Forum or read SEO Pros opinion on this Broad Core Update, you’ll see that it is referred to as the Florida 2.0.


    Where is all that coming from? 


    Well, Google Florida was the first major algorithm update and it was released in November 2003. This, of course, was the first significant update in what would become a decade filled with huge updates. Regardless of what it was called, Florida hit in the middle of the holiday shopping season targetted highly commercial terms. As you can imagine, lots of pages and businesses have been wiped out from Google’s SERP.


    As you might tend to think that these two updates are similar in the way of rolling, what they actually have in common is the name. Google Updates were always given names by the search industry; it was not Google’s officials who named their updates Fred, Penguin or Panda.  And the Florida update was named this way due to the fact that it was released around Pubcon Florida SEO conference taking place. History repeats and with the update and the conference taking place in the same month, Florida 2.0 came naturally. 


    Yet, the novelty came from Google this time as, to everybody’s surprise, the officials decided to name the update themselves; this is why this current update is called March 2019 Core Update

    There is a long history on naming the Google Updates and the WebmasterWorld used to name them. Will this be the end of an era and will Google name their updates by themselves from now on? We’ll wait and see. 


    How about you? Did you encounter any ranking or traffic fluctuation? Let us know in the comments below!


    The post The Google March 2019 Core Update Is Rolling Out! Massive Rankings Fluctuations appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

  47. Top Use Cases When to Use 301 Redirects & How to Properly Do It

    2019-03-20 07:46:09 UTC

    301 redirects are one of the core elements SEO experts use on a regular basis. They are very useful but they can also be very dangerous. You can fix broken links with them, but you can also create redirect loops which can affect indexability.   In order to really take advantage of 301 redirects, you […]

    The post Top Use Cases When to Use 301 Redirects & How to Properly Do It appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

    301 redirects are one of the core elements SEO experts use on a regular basis. They are very useful but they can also be very dangerous. You can fix broken links with them, but you can also create redirect loops which can affect indexability.


    In order to really take advantage of 301 redirects, you have to know how to set them up properly but also the scenarios in which they are required. Last but not least, you have to know what to avoid when using 301 redirects to deal with a problem.




    In this article, you will learn when you should use 301 redirects to take advantage of them for SEO purposes and how to avoid mistakes that can affect your rankings.


    1. What Is a 301 Redirect?
    2. Why Are 301’s So Important for SEO?
    3. When to Use 301 Redirects?
      1. Right After You Create Your Website
      2. When You Move to HTTPS
      3. When You Have Broken Pages
      4. When Deleting Content or Content Is No Longer Useful
      5. Changing URLs for Any Reason
      6. When You Redesign / Overhaul a Website
      7. Fixing Duplicate Content Issues & Dynamic URL Issues
      8. Rebranding & Merging Domains
    4. How to Set Up 301 Redirects
    5. How Long Should You Keep a 301 Redirect?
    6. How NOT to Set 301 Redirects
    7. 301 Redirect vs. Canonical Tag


    Warning: Playing with URLs and 301 redirects on a large scale can have a massive negative impact on your site if done improperly. If you don’t feel 100% confident doing things yourself, it’s a better idea to get in touch with an SEO specialist that can approve and help with the modifications.


    What Is a 301 Redirect?


    Most people know what a 301 redirect is, but just in case, I feel the need to define it.


    301 is an HTTP status code. Status codes indicate whether an HTTP request was successful or not or; in other words if a web page works or not. Basically, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. There are multiple status codes, some of which you already probably know. 500 HTTP status, for example, indicates a server error, while 404 indicates that a resource doesn’t exist. Status code 200 is the most common one but you probably see it less, because it indicates a successful request (you end up seeing the page instead of any status code, which is good).


    301 redirects SEO

    Source gomage.com


    The 301 status code states that a web resource can be found at a new address. So, for example, if I have page A and I 301 redirect it to page B, if you access page A the browser will automatically take you to page B.


    In other words, it’s like moving a page from one address to another.


    Why Are 301’s So Important for SEO?


    Search engines try to provide the best experience for their users, so they don’t want to display bad resources in their search results. A missing resource is definitely a bad experience for users.


    Due to the way they work, it is inevitable that search engines don’t display some 404 pages in their results. The crawler finds new resources and brings them to the indexer. The indexer then indexes the page and it is only after that the ranking process begins.


    Once a page was indexed, it gets displayed if you search for it. Also, from time to time, it gets recrawled. Google does this in order to discover if any modifications have been made to the page. However, a page can suddenly vanish. Maybe the owner deleted it, or maybe something bad happened to the server.


    During that period between two crawls, a page can be indexed and ranked by Google, leading users to 404 pages.


    At some point, Google will figure this out and it will not be pleased. It will eventually remove the 404 pages from the index, but if this issue keeps repeating, it might even view a website as less reliable, because it is wasting crawl budget.


    But 404 pages don’t only affect Search Engines. It affects you! Your website, your business and your revenue. If users search for your pages, if they click on your links and these links return a 404, you’ve just lost a client.


    Not only that but if you’re the one creating the 404 pages (by accidentally deleting content, for example) you’re also going to lose a lot of link equity if those pages have backlinks pointing to them. It will be bad for search engine optimization. 301 redirects can help channel that equity to a new location so that your domain doesn’t lose authority.


    Channel Link Equity to New Page using 301 Redirects


    Of course, it is inevitable that at some point a site will have 404 errors. In fact, I can create a 404 error right now by linking to a nonexistent page. But that would be bad for me as well. I don’t want to link to 404 pages, because Google will then think that I lead users and search engines to missing resources.


    You see, it’s not actually the broken page that matters, but the link that’s pointing to it. As I previously said in another article (and I’m going to quote myself now):


    A page doesn’t really exist until another page links to it.


    You can find if your site has 301 error issues by using the CognitiveSEO ToolSet. Use the Site Explorer and search for Broken Pages to find backlinks from other sites to your site that return a 404:


    how to find broken pages on your site


    Use the Site Audit to find 404 issues within your own site. You can also view your entire set of 301s and check if they’re all good or pointing where they should.


    301 redirects cognitive seo tool site audit


    So, if you find that your site has other sites pointing to 404 pages, you can try to contact the owner to replace the URL or simply do a redirect yourself.


    The 301 redirect’s main purpose: to minimize the existence or appearance of missing or broken resources.


    When to Use 301 Redirects?


    Now we could say that Google and other search engines love 301s, but that doesn’t mean that you should start redirecting everything. 301 redirects should be used with caution and only in specific and necessary cases, as messing things up can have devastating outcomes.


    If you don’t find yourself in one of these situations, then you probably shouldn’t be playing with 301s.


    1. Right After You Create Your Website


    When you launch a new website, one of the first things you should do is redirect all the domains to the preferred version.


    There are 4 main versions of your site:


    • http://yoursite.com
    • http://www.yoursite.com
    • https://yoursite.com
    • https://www.yoursite.com


    Naturally, in 2019 you’ll want to have SSL. This will probably be default sometime in the future, who knows. In general, it doesn’t matter if your site is www or non-www but you can go with www just to make sure (helpful for something related to CDNs, images and cookies if your site gets bigger in the future).


    In any case, let’s get back on track and state where 301s come in:


    Every other version of your site should 301 redirect to the preferred version and it’s also preferable if the redirect is a 1 step process.


    So if my preferred version is https://www.yoursite.com, I don’t want http://yoursite.com to redirect first to https://yoursite.com and then to https://www.yoursite.com, but directly to https://www.yoursite.com.


    You can easily check this by running a Site Audit in the CognitiveSEO Toolset and implement the changes in Seach Console:


    Migrate HTTP to HTTPS


    2. When You Move to HTTPS


    Many websites still run on HTTP connections. This is risky, especially when dealing with personal data. For example, even a small contact form on your contact page could be susceptible to GDPR infringement if it’s not secure since the data could be intercepted by third parties.


    If you’re planning to move your entire site from HTTP to HTTPS, you have to be very careful. I repeat: You have to be very careful.


    This can have devastating negative effects if the transition isn’t done properly. By properly, I mean setting up 301 redirects from each HTTP URL to its HTTPS counterpart. 


    You can check this step by step HTTP to HTTPS migration guide if you want to make sure you get everything right.


    3. When You Have Broken Pages


    Broken pages and links are actually 404 pages. You should be constantly looking for these types of errors as they can appear at any time, for example, when someone misspells a URL.


    Any link pointing from outside your site towards your site that reaches a 404 error should be dealt with. You can find broken links and pages using the CognitiveSEO Toolset, as mentioned above in the article.


    how to find broken pages on your site


    The best scenario is to contact the owner and ask them to fix the link. However, this is time-consuming, sometimes inefficient and might even lead to them replacing the link altogether.


    You can redirect those 404 links (broken pages) to the most relevant page on your site to fix these issues.


    When it comes to internal broken links (links that are broken within your site), ideally you should change those instead of 301 redirecting them. 301 redirects pass link equity, but some of it gets lost during the process, so a direct link is always better.


    4. When Deleting Content or Content Is No Longer Useful


    Take this with a very very small grain of salt. Sometimes, you might actually want the resource to return a 404. For example, if someone links to some weird URL on your site and it looks like spam, it’s probably not a good idea to redirect that negative equity to one of your good pages.


    Now, this is debatable. Some would say that you should always redirect any broken link or resource. Everyone will agree that the best type of redirect is to the most relevant resource possible.


    So, for example, if I have a blog about animals and I delete a page about dogs, I don’t just want to redirect it to the Homepage and definitely not want to redirect it to a page about cats.


    The proper 301 redirect should always be towards the most relevant page on the website.


    But what do you do in case you don’t have any relevant page? Well… the most commonly recommended thing is to redirect to the homepage. However, this comes with a problem:


    By displaying a 404, you give the users an answer and also have the chance to show a call to action or at least make them laugh (via design). By redirecting to the homepage, you simply send the users somewhere they didn’t expect to land.



    If the user’s intent was to read an article about a topic, he or she will be even more confused by ending up on the homepage of a site than landing on a 404.


    So here, a 404 can be a lot more helpful, especially if you add a nice design to it and also a call to action. Here are a couple of examples, maybe even better than in the one above if you have a big website with a lot of 404s:


    Sorry, the information you were looking for isn’t here (can be personalized) but:

    • You can search for other topics here: (followed by a search bar)
    • Here are some similar topics: (followed by some links)


    It’s not such a big deal if your website has 404 errors here and there, but if it’s on a large scale or if they are pages that quality sites link to, then you should redirect them to the most relevant resource.


    Also, keep this in mind:


    It’s better to return a full 404 than a soft 404, which is a 404 looking page that hides a 200 status code under it.


    Soft 404’s sound like a bit of trickery to Google. On one hand you’re telling the user that the resource they’re looking for isn’t there, but on the other hand, you’re telling Google that the page is OK.


    5. Changing URLs for Any Reason


    In SEO, it’s usually a good idea to never change the URL of a specific resource.


    However, if you do need to change it, then you should always 301 redirect the old URL to the new URL. Popular CMS, such as WordPress, even do this automatically. If you change the URL, you can notice that the old one redirects to the new one.


    When you change a URL, Google will have to first crawl it, then index it and rank it all over again. This can take time. Setting up a 301 redirect will tell Google that the page isn’t an entirely new page, but actually, an old one that has just moved its address.


    For example, you might have a very old website with some very old pages that used to have underlines in the URLs. As you know, dashes are now preferred, so you might want to change https://www.yoursite.com/this_page/ to https://www.yoursite.com/this-page/.


    If you do it, make sure to 301 redirect the old page to the new one.


    6. When You Redesign / Overhaul a Website


    Redesigning or improving a website on a large scale can often end up in deleted pages, moved or rewritten content.


    If you’ve removed any pages during a redesign process, make sure you redirect those pages accordingly to the most relevant resource on your site.


    Again, big changes on websites can always have negative SEO impacts if certain aspects are not taken into account.


    If you’re in the process of redesigning your website or are thinking of doing it in the future, you can always check our website SEO redesign checklist.


    7. Fixing Duplicate Content Issues & Dynamic URL Issues


    If you have a very big website, especially in the eCommerce field, you’re constantly dealing with duplicate content or dynamic URL issues.


    For example, if you have big a set of products both in red and yellow, the use of dynamic URLs might create duplicate or at least very similar content when filtering for either red or yellow.


    301 redirects can help with this in certain scenarios, but you can also use Canonical Tags. You can read more details about canonical tags towards the end of this article.


    You can check if you have duplicate or similar content issues using the CognitiveSEO Site Audit:


    SEO Duplicate Content Issues



    Recommendations regarding this issue can vary from one scenario to another. Due to the fact that this usually also happens on a large scale, with thousands of pages, it’s always better to contact an SEO specialist before making any modifications.


    However, if you do have multiple URLs that are almost identical, you can redirect them accordingly to a final version. This can potentially strengthen that page, as it won’t be cannibalized and the link equity from different links, if any, will be sent to that page.


    8. Rebranding & Merging Domains


    Are you planning to change your domain? Do you have two brand websites and would like to combine them? Then 301 is the way to go.



    But don’t make the mistake to just set a simple 301 from one domain to another. Each and every URL must redirect to its new location on the new domain.


    Ok, now that we’ve covered the most common and important cases when you should take advantage of 301 redirects, let’s get into how exactly you can set up correct redirects from one URL to another and even from one domain to another.


    How to Set Up 301 Redirects


    Setting up 301 redirects is actually simple. That is… if you don’t have to set thousands. You can set them up in different ways:


    Via Plugins: Setting up redirects via CMS plugins is pretty easy. You can use any redirection plugin / extension / module. Usually, there are two fields, the one with the current URL and the one with the desired URL.


    Via .htaccess: Setting up 301 redirects can be done via the .htaccess file on your server.


    If you want to redirect from one URL to another, it’s pretty simple. You just have to add:


    Redirect 301 /old-URL/ /new-URL/


    You can read more on .htaccess redirections here.


    Via cPanel: A cPanel redirect can also be used and it’s pretty easy to do on a small scale.


    301 redirects cpanel


    Via Domain Level Redirect: Last but not least, you can set up a domain level redirect from your domain registrar dashboard. This is a good way to redirect especially if you’re merging from one domain to another.


    Set two redirect records, one with the host www and another with the host @ each pointing to the new domain and make sure to add a backslash at the end of the domain. S,o if I were to redirect cognitiveseo.com to brandmentions.com, it would look something like this.


    Type > Host > Value

    Redirect Record > www > brandmentions.com/
    Redirect Record > @ > brandmentions.com/


    This will redirect all pages to their new counterparts (for example, it will not only redirect cognitiveseo.com to brandmentions.com but also cognitiveseo.com/page to brandmentions.com/page).


    How Long Should You Keep a 301 Redirect?


    This is actually the question which led us to writing this article:


    “When you are moving site or content and make proper 301 redirects (one to one), what is the safe period after which we can consider all possible page juice is passed to new pages and Google deleted it from its index and it’s safe to permanently kill redirects?”


    The answer is pretty straight forward:


    It is never safe to remove 301 redirects. The best case scenario is keeping them running FOREVER.


    Sounds like an evil request, but you’ve heard me right! You have to keep doing it for eternity. Why? Well, really, it depends. But it’s just safer if you never remove the redirects.


    If it’s just a page with no backlinks and no traffic, you can simply check if the new URL has been indexed and the old URL has been deindexed. You could then remove the 301, as it’s no longer needed. However, if your page does have backlinks (even internal links within your own site), then removing the 301 will result in a 404.


    It’s always better to keep them, as long as they don’t create any technical issues with the server, which they shouldn’t.


    How NOT to Set 301 Redirects


    There are also some things that you must make sure you don’t do when working with redirects!



    The worst thing you can do when working with 301 redirects is to create a redirect loop.


    Or, you might have seen it before in the form of “This website redirected too many times”. A redirect loop is when Page A redirects to Page B and then Page B redirects back to Page A. I hope you can understand why Google would get frustrated.


    It’s also recommended not to do multiple or chain redirects. You can have 2 or 3 if needed, but Google won’t usually follow more than 4 redirects.


    Google tries to crawl the web as efficiently as possible. Each site gets a certain ‘crawl budget’. If you waste that on abandoned chain redirects or redirect loops, you can end up having less for other important pages.


    So, instead of having:


    Page A > 301 > Page B > 301 > Page C > 301 > Page D


    You should have:

    Page A > 301 > Page D
    Page B > 301 > Page D
    Page C > 301 > Page D


    Also, when you’re trying to fix broken pages, don’t just redirect everything to the homepage. It won’t necessarily do any harm, but you can maximize effectiveness if you redirect each page to something relevant.


    301 Redirect vs. Canonical Tag


    People often get confused by canonical tags and 301 redirects because they are sort of similar. So, which one should you use and when?


    The canonical tag’s purpose is to tell search engines which page to display without redirecting users to that page.


    So, by using a rel=”canonical” tag, Google will see Page A but it will display Page B in the search engines, but when users access Page A (via the site navigation menu or direct URL) they will still see Page A.


    Generally, it is better to use 301 redirects when dealing with missing or old content, but it’s probably a better idea to use canonical tags when dealing with dynamic URLs caused duplicate content.


    Going back to the example I previously gave (a big set of products both in red and yellow) using a canonical tag can help you let the users browse the site disturbed while telling the search engines which version of the page to display.


    Please note that if your pages have searches for both Yellow and Red color, you should keep both the pages indexed. However, if the users only search for the product and never search for colors, then it’s a better idea not to cannibalize the results. 


    Please read this article about common canonical tag mistakes if you want to learn more about this topic.




    301 redirects can be both very helpful and deadly (if used the wrong way). Make sure you properly 301 redirect when encountering any of the cases mentioned above for the best search engine optimization outcomes.


    Important things to remember:


    • Don’t create redirect loops
    • Always try to redirect to the most relevant page
    • Try to fix as many broken pages & links as possible
    • Sometimes, canonical tags are a better option


    Have you ever used 301 redirects to fix SEO issues? How did that go for you or your client? Let us know in the comments section! We’re really curious to find out.


    The post Top Use Cases When to Use 301 Redirects & How to Properly Do It appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

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