Follow CognitiveSEO Blog | SEO Tactics & Strategies on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


Intentional or unintentional, be it plagiarism or bad technical implementation, duplicate content is an issue that is affecting millions of websites around the web. If you’ve wondered what content duplication is exactly and how it affects SEO and Google rankings, then you’re in the right place.

Whether you think your site is affected by this issue or just want to learn about it, in this article you will find everything you need to know about duplicate content. From what it is to how you can fix it in specific cases, here you have it all, so keep reading.

  1. What Is Duplicate Content
  2. How Google Handles Duplicate Content
  3. The Myth of the Duplicate Content Penalty
  4. Why Doesn’t Google Like Duplicate & Very Similar Content?
  5. How Much Copy/Paste Is Considered Duplicate Content
  6. The Problems Caused by Duplicate Content
    1. Burning Crawl Budget
    2. Link Signal Dilution
    3. Ugly URLs
    4. Bad User Experience
  7. Internal Duplicate Content Issues
    1. HTTP / HTTPS & WWW / non-WWW
    2. Hierarchical Product URLs
    3. URL Variations (Parameters & Session IDs)
    4. Bad Multilingual Implementation
    5. Indexed Landing Pages for Ads
    6. Boilerplate Content
  8. External Duplicate Content (Plagiarism)
    1. Someone steals your content
    2. You steal someone else’s content
    3. Content Curation
    4. Content Syndication
  9. How To Identify Duplicate Content Issues
  10. How to Fix Duplicate Content Issues
    1. Using 301 Redirects
    2. Using Canonical Tags (probably best)
    3. Using Noindex
    4. Using a mix of all
1. What Is Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is content that has been already written by someone, somewhere else. So, if you take a piece of content off one website with the infamous Copy/Paste and then publish it on your website, then you have duplicate content.

Duplicate content has many sides and can be caused by many things, from technical difficulties or unintentional mistakes to deliberate action. Before we get into more technical aspects, we must first understand what content duplication actually is. 

On the web, duplicate content is when the same (or very similar) content is found on two different URLs.

Another key thing here to remember is that the content is already indexed on Google. If Google doesn’t have the original version of the copied content in its index, then it can’t really consider it duplicate content, even though it is!

Around 5 years ago, I was actually contemplating scanning old news magazine pages and, using software, turning the images into text and then use it for PBNs or whatever worked at that time. While that might be illegal from a copyright point of view, it should pass Google’s duplication filters even today.

I would actually recommend publications which are moving from print to digital should repurpose old content in their magazines on their websites.

We all know Google likes to see quality content on your site, and not thin content. If you have it but it’s not on Google yet, it still is new and original, so why not take this opportunity? Sure, some news might be irrelevant today, but I’m sure magazines also featured evergreen content such as “How to lose weight fast”.

An article could even be modified into something like How people used to do fitness in the 80s’. You can keep the content identical this way (although a small original introduction might be required).

However, things are a little bit more complex than that. There’s a big discussion on what exactly makes for duplicate content in Google’s eyes. Is a quote duplicate content?

Will my site be affected if I publish someone else’s content but cite the source?

Also, there isn’t one single solution for fixing duplicate content issues. Why? Because there are very many scenarios. There are multiple solutions and one of them might be better than the other. There are many things to be discussed and, hopefully, by the end of this article you’ll have all your questions answered.

However, we must first get some other things clear to better understand the nature of duplicate content. Then we will analyze different scenarios and give solutions for each and every one of them. 

2. How Google Handles Duplicate Content

There’s a lot of content out there in the world. Compared to that, Google knows only about a small part of it. To be able to truly say if the content on your site has been copied, Google would have to know every piece of paper that has ever been written, which is impossible.

When you publish something on your website, it takes a while for Google to crawl and index it. If your site is popular and you publish content often, Google will crawl it more often. This means it can index the content sooner.

If you publish rarely, Google will probably not crawl your site so often and it might not index the content very quickly. Once a piece of content is indexed, Google can then relate other content to it to see if it’s duplicate or not.

The date of the index is a good reference source for which content was the original version.

So what happens when Google identifies a piece of content as duplicate? Well, it has 2 choices:

  • Display it: Yes, Google might choose to display duplicate content in its search results if it finds it to be actually relevant to a user. A good example might be news publications making the same statements over and over again when something happens.
  • Don’t display it: Google throws your content into something often called Google Omitted Results. If you SPAM the web all the time, it might even consider not indexing your site anymore. 

3. The Myth of the Duplicate Content Penalty

Will you be penalized for duplicate content? No.

Is duplicate content hurting your site? Well, that’s another story.

Because Google doesn’t like duplicate content very much, people have assumed that it’s a bad practice which gets punished by Google. With a Penalty!

Despite popular belief and although content duplicate does cause issues, there’s no such thing as a duplicate content penalty!

At least not in the same way that we have other penalties, be them manual or algorithmic. Or, at least that’s what Gary Illyes said in a tweet.

DYK Google doesn’t have a duplicate content penalty, but having many URLs serving the same content burns crawl budget and may dilute signals pic.twitter.com/3sW4PU8hTi

— Gary “鯨理” Illyes (@methode) February 13, 2017

This comes in contradiction with Google’s official page on duplicate content on the webmaster guidelines which states that:

“In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.” – Google

So while there’s no duplicate content penalty, if you ‘try to manipulate search results’ you might end up losing rankings or even getting deindexed. Here’s Google at its best again, contradicting itself, at least a little bit.

However, I tend to take Gary’s word for granted. Duplicate content isn’t something that you should avoid just because Google might hit you in the head. Also, Google won’t hit you just because you have duplicate content.

It’s a different story with those who use content scrapers, deliberately steal content and try to get it ranked or use mass content syndication only for links. It’s not only about content duplication but actually about stealing content and filling the internet up with garbage.

The fact that there’s just so much ‘innocent’ duplicate content out there makes it even harder for Google to detect the evil-doers with a 100% success rate.

But even though Google won’t penalize you, it doesn’t mean that duplicate content can’t affect your website in a negative way.

Talking about duplicate content penalties, here’s what is written in the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines from March 2017:

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

Also, you can check out the video below where Andrey Lipattsev, senior Google search quality strategist, repeated and said content duplication penalty doesn’t exist and also that:

  • Google rewards unique content and correlates it with added value;
  • The duplicate content is filtered;
  • Google wants to find new content and duplicates slows the search engine down;
  • If you want Google to quickly discover your new content, you should send XML sitemaps;
  • What the search engine wants us to do is to concentrate signals in canonical documents, and optimize those canonical pages so they are better for users;
  • It is not duplicate content that is hurting your ranking, but the lack of unique content.
Google Q&A #4 Duplicate Content - YouTube

Here’s even more about the duplicate content penalty.

4. Why Doesn’t Google Like Duplicate & Very Similar Content?

Well, the answer to that is very simple:

When you search something on Google, would you like to see the exact same thing 10 times? Of course not! You want different products, so that you may choose. You want different opinions, so that you can form your own.

Google wants to avoid SPAM and useless overload of its index and servers. It wants to serve its users the best content.

As a general rule of thumb, Google tries to display only 1 version of the same content.

However, sometimes, Google fails to do this and multiple or very similar versions of the same pages, many times even from the exact same website get shown.

For example, in Romania, the biggest eCommerce website, eMAG, generates pages dynamically from nearly all the searches that happen on their site. In the following image, you can see 3 top listings for keyword, keyword plural and keyword + preposition. All of these were searched internally on eMAG’s website so they automatically generated these pages and sent them to the index.

Romanian site featuring 3 duplicate pages in Google search for “damasc bed linen”

You can see the titles & descriptions are very similar and the content on those pages is identical.

Now this is a very smart move from this eCommerce site. Normally, Google shouldn’t allow this to happen. Multiple complaints are emerging in the Romanian eComm community regarding this issue but it seems to keep going (some requests even reached John Mueller).

Although I highly doubt it, it is possible that those results are actually the most relevant. But this doesn’t happen for every keyword out there. Some keyword searches are unique and, most of the time, Google only displays one page from eMAG’s website on the first page. 

In my opinion, although this site could canonicalize these versions to a single page, it’s not their fault that they get 3 top listings. It’s Google’s job to rank the pages, not theirs.

This is a classic example of duplicate content issue. From a user’s perspective, this might not be a very good thing. Maybe the user wants to see other websites. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience with the site in the past. Maybe they just want to see if it’s cheaper somewhere else.

Google is still trying to figure out ways to detect when this is an issue and when not. It’s not quite there, but it’s getting better and better.

I’ve encountered some queries where the first 3 pages were all occupied by eMAG results. I can tell you, it’s a scary sight! I highly doubt that they were the only ones selling that type of product, because eMAG is actually a retailer. They sell other people’s products and most of them have their own websites.

5. How Much Copy/Paste Is Considered Duplicate Content (What About Quotes?)

According to Matt Cutts, about 25-30% of the entire internet is made up of duplicate content. That figure might have changed in recent years, since the video is pretty old. Considering the expansion of the internet and the growing number of new websites (especially eCommerce ones, where content duplication is thriving), it has likely increased.

How does Google handle duplicate content? - YouTube

So what we get from the video above is that not all duplicate content is bad. Sometimes people quote other people for a reason. They bring quality to their content by doing that and it isn’t something bad.

In essence, think about it like this:

Duplicate content is when content is identical or very similar to the original source.

Now of course, very similar can be interpreted. But that’s not the point. If you’re thinking about these numbers, then you’re obviously up to something bad. If you’ve contemplated deliberately copying/stealing some content to claim it as your own, then it’s duplicate content. You can also get into legal copyright issues.

A popular type of duplicate content that is harmless are eCommerce sites product descriptions.

Either because they’re lazy or they have so many products to list, eCommerce sites owners and editors simply copy paste product descriptions. This creates a ton of duplicate content, but users might like to still see it on the web because of different prices or services quality.

What ultimately sells a product though is its copy. So don’t just list a bunch of technical specifications. Write a story that sells.

Many eCommerce website owners are complaining that other websites are stealing their description content. As long as they don’t outrank you, I’d see it as a good thing. If they outrank you, simply sue them due to copyright. However, make sure that you have an actual basis on which you can sue them. Some technical product specifications aren’t enough.

Another one is boilerplate content. Boilerplate content is content that repeats itself over and over again on multiple pages, such as the header, navigation, footer and sidebar content.

As long as you’re not trying to steal someone else’s content without their permission and claim it as your own, you’re mostly fine with using quotes or rewriting some phrases. However, if your page has 70-80% similarity and you only replace some verbs and subjects with synonyms… that’s not actually quoting.

Did You Know

Google Search Console no longer allows you to see your duplicate content issues. Some time ago, this was possible, but Google ‘let go’ of this old feature.

So how can you know if you have duplicate content issues?

You can use the cognitiveSEO Site Audit Tool for that. The tool has a special section for that, where it automatically identifies any duplicate content issues. Therefore, you can quickly take a look at your duplicate pages, duplicate titles, descriptions, etc.

More than that, the tool has a section that identifies near duplicate pages and tells you the level of similarity between them.

6. The Problems Caused by Duplicate Content

As Gary Illyes pointed above, some of the actual issues caused by duplicate content is that it burns up crawl budget (that especially happens to big sites) and it dilutes link equity, because people will be linking to different pages which hold the same content.

6.1 Burning Crawl Budget

Google has to spend a lot of resources to crawl your website. This includes servers, personnel, internet and electricity bills and many other costs. Although Google’s resources seem unlimited (and probably are), the crawler does stop at some point if a website is very, very big.

If Google crawls your pages and keeps finding the same thing over and over again, it will ‘get bored’ and stop crawling your site.

This might leave important pages uncrawled, so new content or changes might be ignored. Make sure all of your most important pages are crawled and indexed by reducing the number of irrelevant pages your site is feeding to Google.

Since duplicate content is usually generated by dynamic URLs from search filters, it ends up being duplicated not once, but thousands of times, depending on how many filter combinations there are.

One example is the one I gave above with eMAG. In reality, Google filtered a lot more results as doing a search for site:emag.ro + the keyword returns over 40.000 results. Many of those are probably very similar and some might be identical. For example, another variation is keyword + white. However, the landing page doesn’t only list white items, which makes it also irrelevant.

6.2 Link signal dilution

When you get backlinks, they point to a specific URL. That URL gets stronger and stronger the more links it gets. However…

If you have 10 versions of the same page and people can access all of them, different websites might link to different versions of that page.

While this is still helpful for your domain overall, it might not be the best solution for your website or for specific, important pages that you want to rank high.

We’ll talk soon about this issue, what causes it and how to fix it.

6.3 SEO Friendly URLs

The URL examples I gave above are rather search engine optimization friendly, but some filters might not look so friendly. We all know Google recommends..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Call it as you want: plug-in, extension or add-on, its purpose remains the same: to make whatever software you are using more feature-rich. There are a lot of great plug-ins, but the ones we’re going to focus on are the plug-ins that will enhance your SEO efforts.

We’re not going to get terribly technical so enjoy checking the plugins below and use the ones that fit you best.

Along the years, we’ve searched, tested and tried lots of plugins. The following SEO plugins will surely help you achieve better SEO results but you need to choose the right ones for you.

If you know any other SEO plugins that should be listed here, please let us know in the comments section below. 

  1. SEO Yoast
  2. SEO Framework
  3. Broken Link Checkr
  4. All in One Schema Rich Snippets
  5. Rank Math
  6. XML Sitemap
  7. All in One SEO Pack
  8. SEOPress
  1. SEO Suite Ultimate
  2. Free Magento SEO by Creare
  3. SEO Suite
  4. Canonical URLs Magento Extension by FME Addons
  5. Advanced SEO by Activo
  6. Advanced Sitemap
  1. SEO Generator
  2. EF SEO
  3. JoomSEF
  4. Tag Meta
  5. sh404SEF
  1. Wix SEO wiz
  1. Plug in SEO
  2. Reload SEO
  1. Weebly Integrated SEO plugin
  1. Squarespace SEO 
Extra – Chrome
  1. MozBar
  2. SEO quake
  3. Keywords Everywhere
  4. WooRank
  5. SimilarWeb
  6. SEO Peek
1. SEO Yoast

SEO Yoast is probably one of the most used and most popular WordPress SEO plugins being installed by over five million websites. One of the best features of SEO Yoast is the XML sitemap management which allows you to easily create your sitemaps. You don’t have to code and then fix it if something is not working so you avoid any of the headaches. 

For content lovers, there’s the content optimization snippet preview which allows you to add your keyword, meta description and meta title to preview them as they appear on search. Besides that, you get tips and indications whether your content needs more on-site optimization, or de-optimization in case of keyword stuffing. 

Moreover, Yoast SEO helps you identify and avoid duplicate content so you don’t get penalized by Google. 

2. SEO Framework

SEO Framework is another great plugin for small businesses rather than big companies. The interface looks like it’s integrated into WordPress, so it delivers fast SEO solutions and it’s time efficient, leaving no room for errors. Not to mention that interacting with it feels very natural. 

The fact that it has an AI built makes it very interesting and it automatically optimizes your pages. That way, it gives you lots of possibilities to create a better website. It comes preconfigured but also gives you the option to change any settings you want. You can improve the search results and the social presence with SEO Framework. 

3. Broken Link Checker

In the WordPress plugins gallery, there are a lot of options for all sorts of issues and problems that you have for your website and Broken Link Checker is another example. The plugin, as the name point out, checks your broken links.

After you have installed it, the plugin will parse your whole website and show you how many broken links you have, similar to the screenshot above. You can find the list of broken links in a new tab of the WP admin panel – Tools -> Broken Links. Whenever you find broken links, there are some actions you can take: Edit link, Unlink, Not broken, Dismiss.

4. All in One Schema Rich Snippets

All In One Schema Rich Snippets can be used to improve the appearance in search engine results with rich snippets. The plugin can be used at its best for schema implementations, such as Recipes, Events, People, Products, Articles and so on.

Using the plugin will give more accurate information to the search engines about your website, help your results stand out in SERP and give you a competitive advantage. 

5. Rank Math

Rank Math is a free WordPress plugin that has lots of cool features for every business. It is developed by MyThemeShop, one of the most famous WordPress theme providers. This WordPress SEO plugin helps you optimize your content and outrank your competitors. One of the coolest things is that it supports schema-based themes and also AMP pages.

With Rank Math you can check lots of errors and get a lot of information for your website:

  • easy setup using the step-by-step installation and configuration wizard;
  • rank tracking option to follow your keywords positions and LSI keyword integration;
  • advanced website analysis section to spot any errors that need to be fixed;
  • a modular framework so you can have complete control of your website;
  • smart redirection manager;
  • 40 monitor that identifies and fixes any 404 pages;
  • internal linking management and suggestion;
  • Google Search Console Integration;
  • Easy configuration for rich snippets and so many more.
6. XML Sitemap

As the name says it, XML Sitemap was specially designed to create XML sitemaps that will help search engines to better index your site. It works best with most search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com. The great thing about it is the fact that it notifies all the search engines every time you post new content or update any existing content. 

7. All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO Pack is an easy WordPress plugin for beginners and for small businesses that want to improve their website and increase their rankings, but it also has advanced features and an API for developers. 

This WordPress plugin will help you with the following:

  • XML Sitemap support;
  • Google AMP support;
  • Google Analytics Integration;
  • Webmaster verification options for Google, Bing, and Pinterest;
  • Automatically generated meta tags;
  • Built-in API and compatibility with a lot of other plugins;
  • advanced canonical URLs and many more. 
8. SEOPress
It is one of simple fast and very powerful SEO plugin for the WordPress user. You can find the loads of features that you can easily enable or disable as per required. You can find the premium version adds from this plugin.
  Jenelia DC
Editor & Content team @copyproblogger

SEOPress has lots of features and Jenelia shares some of the most important ones:

  • Discover your suggestion for your content through Google’s suggestion.
  • Fine tune with a content analysis tool.
  • You can track Google event and traffic from the dashboard.
  • It is very easy to create and manage 301, 302 and 307 redirects.
  • You will be able to check the performance of your site with Google page speed.
  • It allows you to implement Google structured data, such as product, article, event, local business, review, video, course, recipe and so on.
9. SEO Suite Ultimate

SEO Suite Ultimate extension is a comprehensive solution for Magento websites that want to improve their rankings and traffic. Plus it offers support for features that are not a part of the default Magento setup. It is installed by the team of experts from the plugin.

Enriched with lots of features to offer a valuable user experience, the SEO extension is developed taking into consideration lots of advantages:

  • automated SEO templates for product and category pages to make it easier for the user to add information.
  • solve duplicate content issues.
  • easily implement hreflang tags for any language and regional URLs.
  • add rich snippets in SERP to let search engines understand your pages better.
  • correct 301 implementation.
  • customize XML sitemaps and more.
10. Free Magento SEO by Creare

CreareSEO extension was created for Magento to help users solve their SEO problems by using a set of smart tools designed for them.

The Magento SEO plugin helps with:

  • store management: the extension will add an SEO checklist page to your store admin so you can see if they are configured correctly.
  • duplicate content: information to prevent it.
  • structured data: the platform will show you breadcrumbs, store information and social media channels.
  • metadata templates for product, category page titles and description.

Google integrations: you’ll get a list of Google services that are not integrated into your Magento 2 platform.

11. SEO Suite

SEO Suite is a free extension designed by Emipro Technologies. The plugin spots any aspects that need to be fixed, such as duplicate content issues allowing you to manage dynamic templates, improve indexation and even help you out with internal linking.

It solves the most important features and has lots of benefits such as:

  • Add rel=next/prev tag.
  • Add canonical tag for domain, image alt tag, advanced metadata.
  • Manage Twitter cards and Facebook Opengraph tags.
  • Create friendly URLs.
  • Add advanced breadcrumbs.
  • Use Adwords and Analytics integration.
  • Create XML sitemap.
  • Check missing meta tags.
  • Multiple store support and more.
12. Canonical URLs Magento Extension by FME Addons

Magento Canonical URLs is a free extension that adds ‘rel’ canonical URL to the head of your web pages and also manually sets custom canonical links for products. The extension helps the search engines select the most relevant pages for specific searches.

Plus, it helps you detect and fix duplicate content issues and it provides correct URL from databases for your CMS pages.

13. Advanced SEO by Activo

Advanced SEO by Activo is an SEO plugin for Magento 2 that adds the Organization schema.org rich snippet to the homepage of your store. We all know how critical it is to have an SEO advantage in your store so the plugin brings a lot of features to improve your store ranking and visibility.

There’s nothing too complicated, the extension guides you and it’s a great fit for your online store.

14. Advanced Sitemap

The Advanced Sitemap is an SEO plugin designed for Magento 1. There’s also an option for Magento 2, named Ultimate SEO Optimizer. Advanced Sitemap, as the name says it, is an extension that generates the sitemap automatically. It is very simple, you’ll have to install it and then generate how many Sitemaps you’d like. 

It has lots of customizations included, which allows you to set the priority and the frequency for each field, even for homepage, to set the title for sitemap, to add more links to the sitemap plus many others. 

15. SEO Generator

SEO-Generator is an SEO plugin for Joomla that generates keywords and descriptions for your webpages by pulling text from the title and/or the content. The plugin has an effective system to include the keyword and description in the articles. It requires you to review them and add only those that you want.

In the admin mode, on the right side of the article, you’ll see a section placed under “Metadata Information”, named “Plugin Parameter” where you get keyword ideas. In the screenshot below there’s an example.

SEO Generator for has lots of advantages for websites created on Joomla. It has support on lots of languages, making it very accessible for lots of international businesses. The process of curating keywords has three steps:

  1. It analyzes all the content from an article and generates a list of keywords ordered by their time of appearance.
  2. Then, it removes all the keywords from the list that might have a negative influence and puts them on the blacklist.
  3. In the end, it selects the keywords and adds them into the keyword section.

Another cool advantage of the plugin is the fact that it works in a reversible mood, too. For example, you can generate keywords for older articles.

16. EF SEO

Another great SEO plugin for Joomla is

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

We’re back with a new guest for our cognitiveSEO Talks series, Gerry White, an SEO expert with broad knowledge in analytics, digital and search marketing strategy, social marketing and a lot more. With almost 20 year experience in digital, Gerry is a technical marketing consultant that has worked with companies such as BBC, McDonald’s, Gordon Ramsey, Premier Inn or DirectGov. Gerry has been creating, promoting and analyzing websites and more recently apps for companies across the world and he is also a speaker on international conferences. At the moment he is working at Just Eat.

Is Relevance the Most Important Google Factor with Gerry White - cognitiveSEO Talks - YouTube

Working with so many companies and big-name brands, Gerry acknowledged a vast experience. As Gerry mentioned in the cognitiveSEO talks, he’s always testing and does case studies on the go. For him and his team, it is very important to offer the user a great experience and always look at all the different ways people are navigating a site. He gives a rule of a thumb: 

Everything has to be super simple with site architecture. The bigger the sites, the more complicated things are. You need to make sure the SEO basics are right.
Gerry White
SEO Consultant at JUST EAT and Co-organiser of ConferenceTakeItOffline.co.uk @Dergal / TakeItOffline.co.uk

In his spare time, Gerry helps organize the TakeItOffline digital round tables with businesses, consultants and agencies. You should listen to this interview with Gerry White as you’ll get lots of insights and tips for creating better websites and make them loved by the user and Google. We wouldn’t want to spoil the talk for you so go ahead and discover it yourself. 

Improving the title tag will have a significant impact on SERP.
Gerry White
SEO Consultant at JUST EAT and Co-organiser of ConferenceTakeItOffline.co.uk @Dergal / TakeItOffline.co.uk

Tackled Topics:

  • The biggest challenges in scaling your SEO efforts;
  • How Gerry White uses testing for his clients;
  • Strategies for increasing your rankings;
  • Google Tag Manager Pros and Cons;
  • What ranking factors still matter in 2019;
  • The importance of relevance in Google rankings;
  • The impact of anchor texts as a spam signal for Google;
  • The importance of sitemaps;
  • Most valuable SEO techniques used by Gerry White.

Top 10 Marketing Nuggets:

  1. The larger the website, the more things like crawl budget are absolutely critical. 4:12
  2. It’s very important to make sure to solve any issues when using JavaScript for enriching UX; especially when releasing new features and technologies. 7:53
  3. Every couple of quarters we look at all the different way people are navigating our sites. 8:43
  4. Keyword research is one of those things that every SEO person hates to do. But it is a critical part of the job. We are using Data Studio to helps with this and it is one of the most valuable tips for business owners. 9:09
  5. For keyword research, we are using relevancy and the good-old-fashioned keyword volume as our main metrics. 9:39
  6. Google tries to interpret every query and optimize the results based on your search. 12:55
  7. Brand search can impact a website’s rankings. I think traffic alone doesn’t have a direct influence in rankings. 14:33
  8. Google is still using link architecture as a key ranking signal. 16:27
  9. In order to rank well for a particular page, you don’t need to have a minimum number of keywords for a piece of content, but you do need to have enough keywords to show intent and relevance. 18:18 
  10. Putting images in the sitemap is a quick win. 22:59

The post Is Relevance the Most Important Google Factor? Interview with Gerry White appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you’re just getting started with SEO, I’m pretty confident you’re looking to get everything for free. While that’s not always possible, the truth is that there are a lot of great free SEO Tools out there.

To be honest, there are free tools that even the pros use every single day. And that’s happening for a good reason: some free SEO tools are great.

  1. Google Tools Suite
    1. Google Tag Manager
    2. Google Analytics
    3. Google Search Console
    4. PageSpeed Insights
    5. Mobile Friendly Tool
    6. Google Alerts
    7. Google Trends
    8. Autosuggest
    9. Google Keyword Planner
  2. CloudFlare Free SSL
  3. Chrome Extensions
    1. WooRank SEO Analysis
    2. Keywords Everywhere
    3. SEO Minion
  4. SEOmofo Snippet Optimizer
  5. GT Metrix
  6. Yandex Metrica
  7. Redirect Checker
  8. TextMechanic.co Text Manipulation Tool
  9. JOSN-LD Schema Generator Tool
  10. Hreflang Tool by Aleyda Solis
  11. Answer the Public
  12. Xenu Link Sleuth Crawler
  13. Ubbersuggest Keyword Research Tool
  14. WordPress Plugins
    1. Yoast SEO Plugin
    2. W3 Total Cache
    3. Smush Image Optimization Tool

This list isn’t the most comprehensive one and it doesn’t list every free tools out there, but it captures a little bit of everything that is necessary in daily SEO tasks.

P.S. It’s impossible for me to get them all, so if you know any Free SEO Tools that deserve to make it in this list, please share them in the comments section at the end.

1. Google Tools Suite

No list of SEO Tools should miss Google Analytics. Sure, it’s probably not the most accurate but the truth is that no tool is 100% accurate. In fact, Google has an entire suite of tools you can use for free.

1.1 Google Tag Manager

Let’s start with Google Tag Manager:

Are you bored of tracking codes? Using multiple tools is always a hassle when you implement them. If you want to remove one, you have to go through plugins or templates. Maybe you forgot which plugin you’ve used to add the tracking code or which template contains the scripts.

Well, with GTM you won’t have this issue anymore. You can have them all in one place to enable and disable them at your will. It does exactly what it says: it manages HTML tags which contain tracking codes or scripts.

You can add your Analytics code there. It supports a variety of Google Tools as well as custom scripts to add external tracking codes, such as Facebook Pixel.

I’m not going to tell you how to install it, but there are hundreds of tutorials out there so go watch one. Here’s a good one:

How to install Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager (2017) - YouTube

1.2 Google Analytics

No website should miss out on Google Analytics. While not the most accurate tool, it’s definitely a ‘good value’ for the huge amount of information it offers and the filtering that it’s capable of doing.

If you don’t use it yet, you should. You can see a lot of things, such as how long your users stay on your pages, if they bounce back to the search results looking for something else or where your traffic is coming from.

You can add it via the Google Tag Manager.

1.3 Google Search Console

The Search Console is something that every SEO should use. Why? Because it tells you whether a page is indexed or not, which is indispensable for every website.

Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, this free resource also helps you with:

  • Different technical issues
  • Sitemaps
  • Backlinks
  • Keyword & Rank Tracking

If you don’t have the Google Search Console connected to your website yet, then do this as soon as possible. It’s pretty easy to add:

How to Add Your WordPress Site to Google Search Console - YouTube

1.4 PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a great tool which will help you quickly identify the most vital issues your site is facing regarding speed.

However, don’t take the score there for granted. A website might have a low score but still load very fast, which is what actually matters.

In fact, the PageSpeed Insights tool even lowers the score for using external scripts such as Tag Manager, Analytics or Google Fonts. To avoid that, you would have to host them locally, which is both unpractical and risky and Google doesn’t recommend it.

That score isn’t in any way related to your SEO performance and getting it to 100/100 won’t guarantee you higher rankings. However, it will help you identify some issues that might be lurking in your website.

This is just a 1 page check so make sure you don’t check just the Homepage. Now you can’t stay and check every page out there, but you can at least check one category page, one product and one blog post, just to test each important page template.

If you want to check the pages in bulk, you can use the CognitiveSEO Site Audit Tool. It will check every page, but be prepared, it’s going to take a while!

1.5 Mobile Friendly Tool

The Google Mobile-Friendly tool is really useful because it helps you confirm if Google itself sees your website as mobile friendly. Why is it so important that your website is mobile friendly?

Well, for once because Google has run a mobile first index since 2018. However, what’s more important is that more than 50% of users now search the web using their mobile phones. That number is going to rise.

So, make sure your site is mobile friendly, otherwise you’ll be losing a lot of visitors and definitely some rankings.

1.6 Google Alerts

Getting backlinks is hard. But you know what’s harder? It’s getting backlinks from relevant websites.

Now Google Alerts can’t do the outreach for you, but it can alert you when something new about a topic gets published on the web. So, if I write this article about free SEO tools and you use ‘free seo tools’ as a keyword in Google Alerts, you’ll get notified when my article gets indexed by Google.

You receive the notifications via e-mail. You can create multiple alerts. Make sure to create a filter, so that they don’t flood your inbox.

You can also use this to monitor your brand. This is very useful for building relationships and even links. If someone mentions you without giving a link, you can reach out and ask them for one.

However, we’ve found that Alerts doesn’t always get everything. So we’ve built our own tool: BrandMentions. You should check it out!

1.7 Google Trends

Google Trends is a great tool that will show you whether the interest in a particular topic is growing or falling.

This might be helpful when working on a new niche site. Maybe you think your idea is really cool, but if the interest suddenly declined, maybe you should do some more research to see if it’s worth it on the long run.

You can also use it to see if interest in your brand is growing or not. Google wants to reward Branded sites, because they are more trustworthy. You can also compare your brand with other brands to see the difference.

1.8 Autosuggest

Google autosuggest isn’t actually a tool, but a feature which everyone uses every day when searching on Google, including yourself.

However, if you want to look for some new keyword ideas for which you can write awesome content, then it’s a good start. Just type a seed keyword there and Google will suggest you what other people generally search. Keep in mind that searches might be personalized, so it’s a good idea to do this in Icognito.

Keyword Shitter: If you want something that will quickly generate all those ideas you can try Keyword Shitter. Yeah, I know. It’s really called that.

Another cool thing you can do is scroll to the bottom of a search result to see some related keywords. You can use those keywords in your article to make it more relevant to the main keyword you searched for.

However, if you want a list of the most important keywords that you should include in your article to make it more relevant and help it rank better, you can try the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool.

1.9 Google Keyword Planner

I was actually going to skip the Google Keyword Planner but decided to add it in the end. The reason why I don’t really feel like adding the Keyword Planner is because it’s an Adwords centered tool. It also doesn’t give as much data as it used to give… except if you pay for Ads. Then it will give you more data.

The truth is I have a better keyword tool for you, but it’s lower in the article, so keep reading.

2. CloudFlare Free SSL

In a world where security is becoming more and more important, having an SSL Certificate is indispensable. Your website should be secured, no matter what you’re doing with it.

Back in the day, SSL Certificates weren’t all that easy to get. Today however, with tools like CloudFlare, you can secure your website easily.

Image source: cloudflare.com

All you have to do is set up an account and have access to your domain registrar. You’ll have to add your host nameservers to CloudFlare, then point your Domain Registrar to CloudFlare’s nameservers. They will act as an intermediary, protecting your website from attacks and also adding SSL.

If you’re going to make the switch, make sure you check out our http to https migration guide. You don’t want to end up messing up all your rankings!

3. Chrome Extensions

If you use Chrome as your default browser, you can use these extensions to aid you in your SEO journey.

3.1 WooRank SEO Analysis

WooRank will analyze your website from a technical point of view, highlighting the most important issues that you should fix.

It works both as a Chrome Extension and on their website.

3.2 Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is an extension that you must have! This tool might be a little invasive since it literally shows everywhere, but you can easily turn it off from the extension’s shortcut (top right in Chrome).

3.3 SEO Minion

I’m not sure how this happened, but in the screenshot above you can see an ad saying “This chrome ext is better than Keywords Everywhere”.

Well, I’m not sure if it’s better or more useful, because it does different things, but this SEO Minion extension is actually useful, so I’m going to feature it here as well.

4. SEOmofo Snippet Optimizer

SEOmofo Snippet Optimizer will help you creating titles and meta descriptions. You can either create new ones directly there or check old ones to see if they’re ok.

There are a lot of alternatives here… but this is the one I use. It’s the first I found years ago and I still use it.

However, it appears that the tool works counting characters, but from what we know, Google uses pixels instead. You can use Serpsim instead as a pixel based alternative.

5. GT Metrix

GT Metrix is an alternative to PageSpeed Insights. It does pretty much the same thing, telling you which images aren’t optimized, if you have caching problems, if you minify your CSS, etc. I often have the impression that GT Metrix does a better job.

Focus on the following: Fully loaded time, Total Page Size and No. of Requests. Keep them all low. Another tip is that if you register, you’ll wait less for a page to be analyzed.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

It’s interesting for me to see that even experienced SEO specialists forget about the power of internal linking. As backlinks from other websites become harder and harder to obtain (because people focus on the wrong techniques), using an internal linking strategy with the right combination of anchor texts can bring great SEO results.

But what makes a good internal linking strategy? Well, the answer varies from site to site but, generally, it’s the foundation that matters. Build it right from the start and understand the basic concepts and you’ll be set for having a good internal linking structure forever.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know, so keep reading!

  1. What Is Internal Linking & Why Is It Important for SEO?
  2. How Does Google Treat Internal Links?
    1. Page Rank
    2. Anchor Texts
    3. Link Location / Position
    4. Click Depth
    5. URL Path
    6. Broken Links & Orphan Pages
  3. Types of Internal Links
    1. Contextual links
    2. Image Links
    3. Navigational & Footer Links
    4. JavaScript Links
  4. Internal Linking Strategy
    1. Blogs & Informational Sites
    2. eCommerce & Other
  5. Silos & Topic Clusters
What Is Internal Linking & Why Is It Important for SEO?

Internal links are just like backlinks, but within your own website. They are links that go from one page on a web domain to another page on the same domain. They are most commonly observed in navigation menus, sidebars and footers, but also within the article body.

Search Engines look at a lot of things when they are trying to determine which pages they should rank. One of the things it looks at are internal links.

Through internal linking your website vouches for your own pages. I know, it’s kind of narcissistic, but it’s really helpful for search engines and SEO!

If we go after the same rules as in off-page SEO, namely that a page with more backlinks is more valuable in the eyes of other sites, in on-page SEO a page with more internal links is more valuable in the eyes of your own website.

So if you said “My eyes are beautiful 252 times per day” and “My nose is beautiful 9 times per day” people would naturally figure out that you REALLY like your eyes and that they’re very important to you.

But enough about how pretty I am, let’s get back to serious stuff!

How Does Google Treat Internal Links?

Generally, it’s enough to just do internal linking in order to benefit from it. That’s because many people ignore it completely! However, it’s important to understand exactly how Google treats internal links if you really want to take advantage of them.

Page Rank

PageRank, although it sounds ancient, is still used. So when you link to a page from another page, be it internally or externally, you pass PageRank. It’s Google’s score for… ranking pages (actually, I think Larry Page really wanted his name in one of the algorithms).

Larry Page (Google co-founder). Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

When you add more than one link, the PageRank splits evenly. This means that if, hypothetically, the PR score was 100 and you added 3 external links, each would get a score of 33.3.

The way Page Rank works has changed over time. Normally, a while ago, people would ‘sculpt’ Page Rank by using rel=”nofollow” tags. This meant that you could link to 50 pages but only follow one link to pass the entire equity to it. However, when you use a nofollow tag today, that PageRank will vanish, so you won’t win anything.

The PR algorithm is complicate, but it’s important to understand that it doesn’t only apply to backlinks, but also to internal links.

Anchor Texts

In one of my last articles I mentioned how you can create really strong pages by linking them in boilerplate content.

However, as Nikola Roza mentioned in a comment, you should take note that only the first link’s anchor text is taken into account by Google.

This is very important when thinking your internal linking structure, especially if you’re trying to rank for multiple keywords.

For example, it doesn’t really matter that I link to the domain analysis tool under a different anchor text now, because the navigation already links to it under the anchor text “Site Explorer” in the navigation section.

Don’t take this assumption for granted though! Many tests have been made and Google officials ‘kinda confirmed this, but as of today we aren’t really sure if that’s still the case.

In SEO, things might change over time. The truth is that it’s hard to believe Google only takes the first anchor text into account, especially because Google keeps endorsing the contextual links found in the body. However, it’s safer to assume at this point that the first link is the one that matters, so make sure you use the most valuable anchor text if you plan on adding important pages to your Navigation.

Quick Tip 1: If you want to avoid that, you can just link to a general services page (without any drop-downs to separate services) where you can then list each service and link to its specific page.

Quick Tip 2: If you do link to your important pages in the navigation section, consider diversifying your off-site links (backlinks) anchor texts in order to target multiple phrases. So if you secure a guest post, don’t link back to your article always using the same anchor text as in the navigation (although you should use it from time to time as well).

If you want to check your internal links’ anchor text distribution, the CognitiveSEO Site Audit makes it really easy. Just go to the Site Architecture section > Linking Structure and then go to Anchor Text Distribution. Make sure to view the Internal Links.


Link Location / Position

Google treats links differently depending on where they are located on the website. From what we know, Google values contextual links in the body of the page more.

It’s also important that the link is positioned higher in the content (but not necessarily in the Header section).

Click Depth

What also matters when you interlink between your pages is the click depth. If a page is only found 27 level deep in your website, there are big chances that Google will consider it less important.

The Site Audit makes it really easy for you to see the click depth of your pages in order to spot non-prioritized important pages.

In our case, those are mostly blog pages number 8, which are found 9 clicks away from the homepage. This is normal and those pages aren’t actually important. However, if we found an article there, it means that we probably should interlink it more so that Google can pick it up faster from more recent posts.

URL Path

A thing that can also help you build a good interlinking strategy is your site URL path structure. We know that shorter URLs tend to rank better in Google.

However, when stuffing all the URLs immediately after the root domain, it’s harder to see the bigger picture when you’re trying to segment sections of your website.

Having a root only URL structure might work well for a blog, but having a hierarchy in your URL path might be more helpful for an eCommerce site.

Broken Links & Orphan Pages

A very important thing regarding your internal linking structure is taking care of your broken links & orphan pages.

Broken Links are actually 404 pages. They can be easily fixed by replacing them or by using 301 redirects. The CognitiveSEO Site Audit makes it easy to identify your broken links and resources:

Google doesn’t like broken links & pages because it sends users to an unsatisfying location.

Oprhan Pages are pages that aren’t linked to from anywhere in the site. The CognitiveSEO Tools can also help you find some orphan pages:

However, the truth is that it’s impossible to identify all orphan pages on a site because… there are no links to them. Usually, there might sometimes be backlinks to them pointing to other sites (but no internal links) or they might be in the sitemap but not in the site structure. 

Types of Internal Links

There are multiple types of internal links that you can use when improving your interlinking structure.

Contextual Links

Contextual links are the most important ones. They are hyperlinks found in a <a> tag which wraps around a relevant anchor text.

So in HTML it would look like this: <a href=”https://cognitiveseo.com”>SEO Tools</a> and in the article itself it would look like this: SEO Tools.

When using contextual links to interlink between your articles, make sure you include keywords in your anchors, to tell Google what the link is about. However, don’t use that as your main focus. The purpose of a link is to be clicked on! Try to get the user to click your link.

Image Links

Image links are pretty simple to understand. You click an image it’s’ going to take you to a link. Here’s an example. Click it and it will take you somewhere nice.

The general consensus is that contextual links have greater value than image links. I agree. I rarely click on images to go to another article or read about something. I actually expect the image to enlarge if I’m clicking it so that I may view it better.

However, despite being less valuable, image links hide an important technique which you can take advantage of!

You see, the problem with contextual links is that you can’t really use the anchor texts exactly as you want. Sometimes, the queries people use don’t have verbs or don’t really make sense. Or the keyword you want to target might simply not fit in your sentence.

Well, in case you can’t fit your desired anchor text anywhere in your content, you can definitely use the keyword in the image alt tag, which will be viewed as an anchor text. This is also a good way of adding hard to write keywords into your content, even without links.

I’m not necessarily recommending image links and definitely not recommending exploiting alt tags. Try to keep things useful and relevant.

However, keep in mind that blind people might get a bad experience because content readers often use image alt tags to describe an image. You can save your soul by at least describing the image in the image title tag, which content readers might also pick up.

Navigational & Footer Links

Navigational links mainly refer to the structure of the site, since they are kept within lists (<ul> & <li> tags). Make sure you structure you site.

Regarding footer links, the main rule would be not to spam too much. People have a bad habit of doing that.

Also, footer links don’t always have to be the same on every page! Kayak.com uses footer links to its advantage in the car rental section. You can see some cities in the following screenshot. However, those will change depending on the page the user is viewing, to show only the closest or most relevant cities.

The same criterion goes for the sidebars. Use them to your advantage, but don’t abuse spamming all your categories in there. Only the most important ones or the most relevant to the current page the user is viewing.

JavaScript Links

Google is improving everyday. It can render JavaScript, however it’s a better idea to display the HTML in order to make sure your content is well understood.

However, when it comes to links, Google has made it clear that it won’t follow JavaScript links. So if you want, you can try to use them instead of adding the rel=”nofollow” tag. It’s safer to keep your links in a classic A tag.

If you like to live your life on the edge… you might think it’s a way of bypassing the “first link priority”. Well… I haven’t tested this so I can’t say for sure, but what I know is that links placed after a nofollow link to the same page will be ignored as well. Also, it’s sneaky and can get you into trouble. 

Internal Linking Strategy

Developing a long term interlinking strategy is important because as your site grows, you have to make sure Google is able to find the pages easily.

The best internal linking strategy is to do internal linking.

Note that the following statement applies generally, not only for blogs and informational sites. It’s a foundation for any other strategy.

However, there are more specific cases in which different strategies work better. These are actually entire topics for other articles, but I’ll touch them briefly.

Blogs & Informational Sites

After following the boilerplate content tips mentioned above, the rest is pretty simple:

When you write new articles, always link to old ones. After you finish writing new ones, edit old ones and link to the new one.

Interlink between articles only when relevant and remember to use the proper anchor text.

The secret here is to create a habit of doing this. Without a habit, you’re always going to be frustrated. The truth is I don’t always edit old articles to interlink to the new ones I post, but I remember to do it when I update old articles, as it’s a habit.

eCommerce & Other

When your site is big and it has thousands of pages, things aren’t that easy. You can’t add all the pages in the Navigation.

A good strategy I always recommend for eCommerce website (which few actually do) is having a blog. This will not only enable the site to target more keywords as more content gets published, but it also opens the opportunity to link to subcategories product pages that don’t fit in the navigation as well.

Take advantage of Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are a great way of strengthening more important pages such as category pages. Why? Because each subcategory will link to its parent, but not to its child.

Considering the following pattern, you can see how the Category page is linked to 4 times, while the product page only one time. Naturally, I’ll assume that in most cases, the Category page is the most important page, targeting a broader and more competitive keyword, which is the main anchor text used in the internal linking strategy.

Home > Category > Subcategory > Sub Subcategory > Product
Home > Category > Subcategory > Sub Subcategory
Home > Category > Subcategory
Home > Category

Moreover, it’s very important to correctly implement canonical tags on your pages, because parameters & search filters also often create links which can leak if the canonical tag isn’t properly set.

Furthermore, consider using dynamic footer links depending on your categories instead of just using the same footer links on every page. Is the user on the Guitars page? Link to Effect Pedals in the footer. Is the user in the Drum Kits section? Link to Drum Sticks.

Having an internal linking strategy is crucial when you have a huge website, with hundreds of thousands of posts, products, categories and pages.

However, when your site is smaller, you shouldn’t stress too much over it.

If you have a small services website, internal linking shouldn’t really be an issue. Google will be able to crawl 25-50 pages pretty easily.

What you should focus on is developing a content strategy that will expand your website. Keep using the general rule of “just interlink”.

Silos & Topic Clusters

There’s one point I still want to touch in this article. There are two main ways of building sites. You can either structure them hierarchically (silo) or use topic clusters, which are very useful for informational sites and blogs.

A silo structure site looks something like this:

  • Home
    • Category
      • Subcategory
      • Subcategory
      • Subcategory
    • Category
      • Subcategory
      • Subcategory
      • Subcategory
    • etc.

This works really well for services websites & eCommerce sites. Then you have topic clusters which look something like this:

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Relationship marketing is important in every business. Clients keep your business running. Getting them is one thing, but keeping them is a whole different story.

Customer loyalty can ensure a strong long-term relationship with your clients. Having the right tools to manage them and deliver what they need can lead you into that direction. We think that business success relies on the number of satisfied customers, plus other ingredients that make the strategy “spicier” – more elaborated and powerful.

Check out these effective relationship marketing strategies to maintain, engage and convert your clients.

  1. Market Your Customers the Right Way
  2. Build a Great Customer Service Team
  3. Create Customer Service Q&A Templates
  4. Implement the A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop
  5. Build an Automated Customer Support Process
  6. Always Improve Customer Experience
  7. Setup Specific Customer Retention Actions
  8. Reward Loyal Customers
  9. Set up a Referral Program
  10. Follow Sales Number and Customer Feedback Metrics
  11. Invest in CRM and Other Technology
  12. Create Valuable Content Based on Customers’ Questions
1. Market Your Customers the Right Way

Before you start building a relationship marketing strategy, you need to know your audience to connect with it. If you’re struggling to figure out your niche, you can follow the following instructions:

  • Identify your interests, what you’re good at and what you sell. It is important to know your skills very well, as well as your products or services.
  • Identify what problem you can solve, whether there’s a market for your niche and if your services can help the user.
  • Research your competition and see what they’re doing, what they are promoting and what their asset is.
  • Test your niche.

Your clients are an important asset to your business; they make your business work. Your business will exist as long as you have clients. More benefits come from your loyal customers because they continue to bring monetary value to the company. You need to maintain your customers engaged to keep them loyal.

According to Gallup’s customer database, half of all customers are satisfied and only 38% of them say they are engaged.

Customer engagement doesn’t automatically follow satisfaction.

Loyal customers need attention to keep their engagement rate high. According to Experience Matters, loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering. Loyal customers are more likely to create customer lifetime value (CLV).

Source: Kissmetrics

2. Build a Great Customer Service Team

It all starts with building a team to execute quality experience. Helping your customers understand the value of your services is highly important. You need to help them learn your services by making it easier. It’s just like in UX design, the users have a path and your website should follow that path. The picture below is a good representation:

As we all probably already know, UX is very important for SEO, too. Many experts think that UX is crucial in the future of SEO, especially with all the evolution of machine learning technology. And UX goes beyond SEO, your team must see what the user wants, what they need, how your services benefit them and achieve their goal.

Helping customers understand and value your product over your competitors’ is not a sales tactic.

Your support team is in the first line, talking and keeping contact with your customers. Building a great customer service team is number one in developing relationship marketing. Promote a customer-centric policy to your team and try to engage them in providing high customer support services. Your team should know how to deal with both negative and positive situations and offer satisfaction to the user.

3. Create Customer Service Q&A Templates

To know how to deal in both negative and positive situations you’ll need a Q&A template, that can be modified depending on the user’s needs. There are lots of companies specialized in all sorts of activities, but every single one of them receives lots of questions about what they do, and how they can help the user. A template offers great support.

There might be cases when the conversations can be nuanced and get a little tricky. That’s why it is good to have a plan: you can get some ideas, keep you out of trouble and please the customer at the same time.

HelpScout created helpful customer service questions and answer template picturing all sorts of situations.

For small businesses, it is easier to talk with customers and you don’t require an elaborated Q&A template. In case you have a SaaS or a business that is more complex, it would be awesome if you had some documentation. It could benefit both your team and your customers for future reference.

There are lots of situations when you don’t need to play by the book, and let the master team do the job. Skyscanner did an amazing job responding to a man who got stuck with a 47-year flight connection:

4. Implement the A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop

Short for Ask, Categorize, Act, and Follow-up, the ACAF Customer Feedback Loop is a business strategy that centers itself on the customer. It has 4 steps:

  • Ask for customer feedback to see what they need and if their needs are satisfied by your product.
  • Categorize the feedback. It can be positive or negative, but usually there are 3 main categories: feedback regarding the product, customer service and marketing & sales. You need to see the reasons behind the words.
  • Act on the feedback: share the feedback with the people in charge.
  • Follow-up with customers who shared feedback.

Source: Hubspot

Feedback is very important in every business. It helps you evolve and correct the mistakes. Ask for valuable and personal customer feedback from your customers to see what you’re doing right and what’s wrong.

Always thank the customer for the feedback and make them feel appreciated. Not to mention feedback creates innovative opportunities, by hearing what your users need and you could develop in your product.  

5. Build a Customer Support Process

Having a plan to provide quality customer support doesn’t require advanced technologies. You need to set up a process: the user sends a message, you need to assign conversations to other people, think about how to engage with the users, how to do the follow-up. After that, think about what to do with the email addresses to send them newsletters or send them special offers.

The customer support process tends to be more complex. You’ll need the following:

  • the right team, that knows their responsibilities;
  • a solid plan for dealing with issues;
  • relevant metrics that need tracking and performance analysis;
  • the right tools for dealing with customer queries and issues.

If you’re a small or mid-sized business, then you could use some free options. But an enterprise needs more advanced technologies. Having an automated customer support process can ease your work a lot. Practically, it can be a service such a help center or chatbot or any artificial intelligence, which will elaborate more at point 12.  

6. Always Improve Customer Experience

Think of this: happy clients that had a good experience will return, unhappy clients that had unsatisfactory experience won’t return and can spread the bad word about the company. Studies show that almost 13% of unhappy clients tell to over 20 people about their bad experience.

Knowing what to say to your customers can be a daunting task. You can always improve your customer experience by providing excellent customer service, quickly offering answers, solutions and trying to maintain a strong relationship with your customers.

It doesn’t really matter if your product or services are impeccable if user experience is shitty. It is highly important to resolve issues when they appear and provide a clean experience on site without any problems and errors.

More than that, you should actively engage customers on social media or blogs. It will strengthen the customer relationship and they can promote your business afterward.  

7. Set up Specific Customer Retention Actions

Customer retention shows the companies’ ability to keep their customers for a period of time. A high retention rate means people (users, customers) that continue to bring revenue to the company and buy products.

Studies show that acquiring a new customer, however, is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Retaining customers is a pretty important thing. Every single person thinks about the benefits they have when choosing a brand, a product or certain services. And the brand must think about how to keep those customers.

There are lots of customer retention strategies you can personalize for your clients to keep and bring ROI, but some of the most profitable are:

  • personalized messages;
  • social media interaction;
  • persuade them through newsletters;
  • keep the highest standard for customer support services;
  • appreciate your clients;
  • collect feedback;
  • build loyalty programs.

These actions can be developed into campaigns and create something really interesting depending on your niche and business. These may come in addition to the strategies we’ve elaborated in the whole article to lead you into setting up a more specific customer retention plan.

8. Reward Loyal Customers

Since we’ve mentioned brand loyalty, you must know it is a good strategy for relationship marketing. Customer loyalty works very well and can strengthen the relationship you have with your clients. Basically, a loyalty program shows you care about your customers first. Loyal customers are hard to acquire, but once you got them, it costs the business about 5-25x less to sell to an existing client than to acquire a new customer.

Every business should aspire to customer loyalty. It is a virtue of their existence. There are lots of ideas you could generate by building a loyalty program. You can send the message by email, using an App (if your business has something like that), to the user’s account and so on. It can be a discount, a gift, or something else depending on your creativity. You can also find lots of ways to reward loyal customers in the digital marketing space. 

Uber, for example, rewarded Gold members with some interesting perks, not available for all members. The membership levels are Blue (0 points to qualify), Gold (500 points to qualify), Platinum (2500 points to qualify), and Diamond (7500 points to qualify). So, all the member that hit 500 points and join Uber Gold get flexible cancellations that refund your $5 cancellation fee if you rebook within 15 minutes. In addition, members get priority support.

The Platinum and Diamond get a lot more services that make the ride more pleasant, such as:

  • price protection on a route between two of your favorite places regardless of traffic or surge;
  • priority pickups at airports;
  • premium support with a dedicated phone line and fast 24/7 responses;
  • complimentary upgrade surprises  in high-end cars;
  • no delivery fee for orders and many more.

Loyalty programs can boost your ROI and keep the customers that really matter.

9. Set up a Referral Program

Creating a referral program is born from customer satisfaction. People that are pleased with the services might tell other people about their experience, so why not take advantage of that? Encourage them and don’t leave room for second thoughts. Satisfied customers are willing to make referrals. Those who receive such referrals are more likely to pay attention to them rather than to the brand.

If you got the referrals engaged, then you’ll get some of the best new customers you can get.

If you want, we can set aside our reasons why you should use a referral program, and listen to the studies. R&G Technologies discovered that referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels. More than that, referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value.

There are lots of businesses that use the referral program. Booking, for example, gives you $15 if you recommend it to a friend. You have to invite your friends by sending them the referral link. They book and stay at the accommodation, then after their stay, you and your friend both get the $15 for the next booking.  

Your customers can become true advocates, by connecting and sharing your product with others when they have a good experience. Rewarding a satisfied customer through a referral marketing program doesn’t require so much work, and it can bring lots of benefits for everybody involved.

10. Follow Sales Number and Customer Feedback Metrics

Even if you focus on relationships, you shouldn’t miss..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Regardless if you’re just starting out with SEO, or you’re offering SEO services for a long time, everybody seems to ask you the same thing:

“How long does it take to rank in Google?”

Well, it’s time to understand exactly what factors impact ranking time so you can approximate (after an SEO audit) how long it would take to rank and, if it’s the case, sign a contract with your client accordingly.

This can be a tough one to answer and it might even even prevent you from successfully making the sale. A while ago, I addressed it in the How to Convince Clients for SEO article. The short answer there for was that you can’t really tell how long it will take, because it depends on very many factors, such as budget and competition.

  1. Google Ranking Duration Factors
    1. Current website performance
    2. Competition level
    3. SEO Budget
    4. Google Dance & Click-Through Rate
  2. Speeding It Up!
    1. Get Bigger SEO Budget
    2. Write REALLY Good Content
    3. Target lower competition
    4. Direct Links to that article/page
Google Ranking Duration Factors

As mentioned before, there are some factors that influence how long it will take until you can successfully rank a page for a keyword.

You can’t really tell how much time it will take to rank until you audit the website. How many keywords does it want to target? What’s the competition for those keywords? What’s the current state of the website? What’s the budget?

These are all factors that affect how quickly a website can get to the top.

Quick tip: One thing I like to do is to offer the Audit for free in case they eventually sign the SEO services contract (for the determined period of time required, which you will find after making the audit). If they then decline, you will only bill the audit. I do this because sometimes an audit can take less than one hour (if the site is small) but it can also take weeks even months (if the site is huge).

Current website performance

The first thing that has to be taken into account is the website itself. If it has issues, they will take time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start working on keyword research or content creation. You should do that as soon as possible. But if your site isn’t mobile friendly, for example, it just can’t make it to the top these days.

It is worth mentioning that a website which loads slowly and lacks authority will perform worse than a fast site which has lots of quality backlinks.


Technical issues don’t necessarily speed up the ranking process, but it is something most people try to fix first because it’s very important. How are the URLs, canonical tags and hreflang tags? Does the site get indexed well? Is it mobile friendly, or does it need a complete overhaul?

Depending on which technical problems the website has, it can take from 1 month to 1 year, so it’s really hard to estimate.

If you have a bigger budget, you might fix them faster, because you could outsource to multiple people. If not, it will just take more time.

There’s no time here to spend detailing what technical problems could arise and how to fix them, so we’ll just assume that you’ve taken care of them all using our technical SEO guide.

Old / New Website:

Generally speaking, an older website will perform a little better than a new website. This of course, if the site has something useful to provide.

Either way, a website is definitely not trusted by Google when it’s first launched. It could be just another automated SPAM site, or just a really bad website. You’ll need to spend some time getting it to index well, showing Google that it’s well structured and fast and that users like it.

You’ll also have to take into account how long it is going to take to build the website, if it doesn’t exist yet. Is it a small one? Is it a big one? Does it have basic functionalities or is it a complex digital eCommerce store with hard to implement features?

Big / Small Website:

Again, in general, bigger websites tend to perform better. Why? Because it also means they’re probably a little older and chances are they also have backlinks. However, while big websites might rank a page faster than a small site with no authority, it will also take more time to rank all the pages because they are so many.

If you decide to tell your client: “I think we could rank for these keywords in less than a year”, then you would also have to assume you’re going to publish articles for them all the same time, now, which is unlikely to happen.

Current Site Domain Performance:

Domain Performance is critical when trying to see how long it will take to rank. If your website has absolutely no backlinks pointing to it, then it’s probably going to take a lot longer to rank for a target keyword than if you had thousands of (quality) backlinks pointing to it.

You can see a quick estimation of your domain performance by entering your website URL in the CognitiveSEO Site Explorer.

cognitiveSEO Site Explorer

If your domain Influence is low and your competitors’ domain influence is high, it’s going to take a lot longer to rank against them.

Competition level

Now that you’ve established where your website or your client’s website stands at, you can look at your competition. The secret here is to spot opportunities. If you want to establish a long term strategy, I’d focus on creating high level content and target medium to high level competition keywords (be realistic though), while generating short terms profit via PPC.

Content Quality:

When you’re looking to rank for a particular keyword, you’ll have to see what type of content is already ranking there.

You can see an average of your targeted keyword’s content performance using the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool. You can also look at individual pages and see how they perform.

However, it’s not the only thing you should take into account. Is it something ugly? Is it really good looking? What about the information? Is it good? Can you find a gap?

Last but not least, how long is it? Does Google rank short articles, or does it rank “Ultimate Guides” which can be 10000 words long? You can see that in the tool as well, next to each result.

Competitor Domain Performance: 

If you’re going against websites that have really strong signals that they’re qualitative (such as Wikipedia), it will take longer than if you go against websites that don’t have a strong link profile.

So, if you see that a results page is full of websites with low domain performance, it’s a good sign you can rank faster than usual. This often happens in local SEO niches, where there are higher chances of small sites being the only ones targeting those keywords.

Again, the Keyword Tool can help you identify if there’s an opportunity. You can see the average by looking at the Keyword Difficulty, which includes a mix of the average content performance and domain performance.

However, it’s also enough to spot a couple of low domain performance websites ranking to know that you can do it as well.

If the top websites don’t target the keywords directly in the title, there are 2 possible reasons:

  1. They are incredibly authoritative (also they probably have backlinks with the keyword as an anchor text) and it will probably be very hard to rank for. If you see that no other ‘smaller’ sites are ranking there, it’s probably a good idea to skip it.
  2. There is no relevant content that directly targets that keyword so you’ll probably rank next thing in the morning.
SEO Budget

Budget is really important when trying to determine a website’s ranking time frame. It directs everything, from how fast the technical fixes will be implemented, to how well the content will be written.

Technical Budget:

Depending on how well or bad a website is optimized, the required technical budget can be small or huge. There might even be situations where the best solution is to rebuild the website from scratch.

This adds budget, but also time. If you have to rebuild a website, you can’t start publishing content right away. It’s better to wait until it’s finished.

For example, I’ve been working with a client which has a custom built website. This was a turnoff for me, because I knew we would run into issues. Not only did it take a lot more time, because the programmers responded slowly and we had to keep chatting to get things right, but it also cost the client more money.

For another client (actually my lowest budget client ever, which was also a very large site but didn’t really want to invest much) things didn’t go so well. They had a pretty serious hreflang content duplication issue which I did not know how to fix (from a programming perspective) and did not want to spend the enormous time required to learn how to do it, especially for that budget.

Screenshot from CognitiveSEO’s Site Audit Tool showing duplicate content issues

Either way, they knew from the beginning what I could do and what I couldn’t and how much effort I was willing to put in for the amount of money they invested.

Content Writing Budget:

Content creation is the most time consuming and expensive part on the long run. However, it’s the best investment you can make. Without content, you won’t have a foundation to play with. You can’t outreach or get links to something that doesn’t exist. Your clients can’t read the article you never published.

If you only have $10 to spend on an article, it’s probably not going to be the best one, at least not in the US market. Pay $50-$100 instead and you might have a change.

Of course, you also have to consider the other factors mentioned above, such as competition. If their content looks like $5, then a $10 article might just do it.

Outreach & Backlinks Budget:

Sometimes, there’s just so much you can do with content. If all the other competitors build links, you might feel like you’re not making any progress at all. It’s not an issue if you purchase publicity on other sites, but try as much as possible to make it worthwhile also in terms of clicks. Don’t just buy a link that nobody will see.

Again, if someone asks you for $1000 for a backlink, you’re better of investing that in quality content, outreaching and building relationships. It’s not easy to do everything yourself, but try as much as possible to develop an outreach strategy which you or someone else can easily execute.

You can also use the CognitiveSEO Tools to easily determine link opportunities you can outreach. For example, you can go into the Competitive Analysis (once your campaign is ready) and look for Common Domains. Then, find the ones that your site (Site 1) doesn’t have yet. This saves time, because you won’t be blindly writing e-mails. Instead, you’ll be targeting webmasters you already know are interesting in the topic.

Social Media Budget:

Social Media is a great way to initially boost your content. If the signals are good and the content receives traffic, it means that it’s performing well and that people might also like to see it in the search results.

Managing a social media account isn’t easy. It’s not just about simply sharing your latest article on a page. Your main focus is engagement. If you’re interested, here’s an article on how to establish a great social media strategy. You’ll see that it’s no child’s play and that it must also be done properly in order to be effective.

Google Dance & Click-Through Rate

Once you start ranking on the second or first page, you might notice that sometimes, Google throws your website to the top, on spot 1 or 2, but only for a while. Don’t celebrate yet, because chances are it’s only a Google Dance.

This happens when Google sees algorithmic signals such as quality content and backlinks, but they also have to check it with real time Rank Brain signals such as CTR. Will the users like your content? Can’t know without sending a little bit of traffic to it, right?

How Click-Through Rate Impacts Your Google Rankings with Dan Petrovic - cognitiveSEO Talks - YouTube

If the Google dance keeps pushing you up, it’s a good sign. This means that you’ll rank on position #25 for a while, then go on #2 for a day, then back to #13. After a week or so, you’ll be on #3 for a day, then go back to #9 and so on.

In order to have a quick idea, I’ve created this graphic to showcase how long it will take to rank in different scenarios. The graphic above is valid considering if your site is rather new and the piece of content you’re going to publish is of very high quality.

Note that these are just gross estimations and shouldn’t be taken for granted:

You have to sort of ‘add up’ the rows, meaning that if you have a poorly optimized website it will take you between 6-12 months to fix that before you can actually start writing quality content. Then you would focus on content and domain performance.

If your Domain Performance is high as well, then you can ‘cancel’ the Domain Performance metric and consider your competition as ‘low’. This is not available for Content as well, as that rather involves UX and CTR metrics more.

Speeding It Up!

You really only have 3 options that can really speed up the process of ranking a page in Google. And no, they’re not quick and easy. It is what it is. SEO takes time. If you want short term profits, take advantage of PPC.

Get Bigger SEO Budget

The real simple way of increasing your chances to rank is to increase budget. Better content, professional design, greater outreach efforts and social media boosting of the article once it’s published will definitely help you rank better.

However, the costs of publishing content like mentioned above can go up to $500 if not more. But it will pay off if done properly. Kick-starting things now can be beneficial on the long run.

There’s also the option of buying backlinks. This can save up a lot of time. However, this is risky and can get you into trouble. The safe way is to buy nofollow backlinks. You might think that it’s not helpful, but in fact, nofollow backlinks do help with SEO.

Your client’s answer

Either way, you should focus on finding quality backlinks that are relevant. The link should reach an interested audience. It’s ideal if it can also bring some traffic. If it costs more than $250, then you’re probably better off spending that on quality content creation or outreach.

Don’t waste money on BlackHat SEO tactics such as automated link building or PBNs. It is risky and it can even end your business if you mess up a big client’s rankings.

Bigger budget means also improving your sales capability. If your client keeps asking about the time frame, then you should be ready to explain how you can speed it up and that it requires more budget.

Write REALLY Good Content

When I say really good content I don’t mean it like “quality content”. I mean really, really good content, on which you spend weeks even months developing, planning outreach and designing it.

To be honest, this very piece of content doesn’t fit that category. Although it’s very qualitative (hopefully), we haven’t spent months designing it and, while we do outreach (as I’ll probably reach out to Nathan to let him know that I featured his video), I haven’t spent months developing a list.

A good example of a really good piece of content is what Nathan Gotch did with his..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Within this cognitiveSEO Talks episode you’ll get the chance to get inspired by Lukasz Zelezny, a prolific keynote speaker, SEO consultant, and author. He started working in the SEO industry around 20 years ago while living in Poland. Every year he is actively participating in 10 to 20 events as a keynote speaker and he constantly worked for mid and large companies such as HomeAway, Thomson Reuters, The Digital Property Group,to mention just a few. 

How to Get 100% Year-Over-Year Organic Traffic Growth with Lukasz Zelezny - cognitiveSEO Talks - YouTube

As Lukasz himself is mentioning, he is a hands-on person, spending lots of his time keeping up to date with the changes in the technology of online marketing.  He started his professional career in 2005 and has since been responsible for the organic performance of a number of companies including HomeAway, Thomson Reuters, The Digital Property Group and Fleetway Travel.

Lukasz traveled 75,000 km speaking at many SEO and social media conferences including ClickZ Shanghai China, ClickZ Jakarta Indonesia, SiMGA Malta, SES London in the United Kingdom, as well as conferences held in Europe – Marketing Festival in Brno, Brighton SEO in Brighton, UnGagged in London.

Additionally, whenever he has the chance he organizes workshops where he is sharing tips around SEO, Social Media and Analytics. And talking about SEO tips and tricks, hope you enjoyed the list of SEO tips Lukasz has shared with us within this interview. 

Tackled Topics:
  • How Lukasz has implemented strategies for organic traffic growth
  • The importance of page speed in SEO
  • The process of gap analysis used for his clients
  • The status of on-page and off-page SEO in 2019
  • Social signals vs. traffic influence on website rankings
  • The impact of brand tracking in SEO
  • Best use cases for SEO
  • How the SEO landscape will change in the next 10 years
Top 10 Marketing Nuggets:  
  1. Eliminating blockers in the organic strategy such as page speed, or situations when the website is keeping the blog or forum on subdomains (which I’m not a fan of) can achieve 100% growth YoY on organic traffic, as well on conversions. 3:15 
  2. Within the gap analysis process: first, find who your competitors are, second, use VLOOKUP or proper tool to find out the keyword that your website is not ranking at all and in the same time the first 3 competitors that rank together in the first 20 positions. You’ll get lots of keywords potentially relevant to your business. 10:40
  3. A unique strategy is the Snapshot strategy – this means to utilize the existence of content; it is generally that you should identify 2,3,4 keywords per URL that already deliver traffic and make those keywords perform better, rank higher, deliver a better quality of traffic. If you’re able to do this at scale and repeat the process for 20 days you’ll experience major growth. 12:21
  4. All forms of digital marketing such as free webinars, videos, courses are great strategies for SaaS companies to make them acquire their first 100 users. 16:37
  5. Gamification works great for getting more visitors to your website. There are websites that give lifetime access for free if you are to attract enough users on the website in a certain time acting like an MLM. 18:07

  6. When you have a very specific problem (like brand tracking, for example) it’s good not to close tightly the problem, but rather start writing around the problem and giving great content not focusing only on the product. 19:17

  7. In my opinion, there’s no correlation between social shares and rankings because I don’t think Google likes to include signals from third-party platforms in their algorithm, and it’s easier to get shares than links which will make it easier to gain ranks. 21:29
  8. Off-page in 2019 is not as critical as it was 10 years ago because nowadays people are thinking mostly at on-page SEO, especially page speed. Personally, I’m a fan of on-page optimization. 27:34

  9. I find brand tracking very important. When you find a mention about your brand you can always approach the person to thank them and ask them to link back to your website. 30:50

  10. I don’t think voice search will dramatically change in the next 10 years. 38:15

The post How to Get 100% Year-Over-Year Organic Traffic Growth with Lukasz Zelezny appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

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).

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.

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:

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.

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:

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.

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:

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.

Via Domain Level Redirect: Last but not least, you can set up a..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

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. 

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

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.

This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see these tweets for more about that:https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoXhttps://t.co/tmfQkhdjPL

— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) March 13, 2019

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.

It’s clear that we cannot talk about coincidences at this point as people all over the places are facing rankings fluctuations. 

Seeing less Positions, Impressions and Clicks cut in half from countries where my site shouldn’t show up. Surely will see less bounces from total site =)@JohnMu @rustybrick @dr_pete pic.twitter.com/dlkVQrOy3u

— amagnacco (@amagnacco) March 13, 2019

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

Why Is This Google Update Named Florida 2.0?

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. 

How about you? Did you encounter any ranking or traffic fluctuation? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Huge Google Update – Florida 2.0 Is Rolling Out! Massive Rankings Fluctuations appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview