Month: September 2017

SEO Hacker’s Content Strategy for SEO

Content Strategy for SEO cover

In today’s online landscape, an effective SEO content strategy is what most SEO professionals yearn for. But where do we find it? Is there a blueprint for an effective SEO content strategy that would improve your SEO indefinitely? Yes, there is.

Here are the main factors we monitfor for our SEO content strategy :

  1. Easier Topics
  2. Content Layering and Internal Links
  3.  Linkability
  4. Content Updates

Having an effective SEO content strategy can help you improve your site’s overall ranking. Let’s get started.

Easier TopicsEasier Topics

The first step in any SEO content strategy is topic ideation. The process begins with keyword research – analyze and inspect keywords or topics that are relevant to your brand. You can use any keyword research tool that you’re comfortable with, however, there are three factors you must take note of. They are:

The best thing that could happen is that all your desired keywords have high search volume with a low difficulty. Those keywords, however, are far and few in between. Often times, keywords that have low difficulty would be the better choice to target.

There are numerous tools you can use such as SEMrush or CognitiveSEO’s Keyword Tool. Here in SEO Hacker we use CognitiveSEO’s Keyword Explore. It’s simple and you just need to put in your desired keyword, then it automatically shows you the data. It measures your keyword’s difficulty from zero (0) being the easiest and a hundred (100) being the most difficult.

Cognitive SEO Keyword Difficulty screenshot

I would also highly advise you to do your homework and check keyword difficulty manually. How do we do it?

Simply put in your desired keyword into the search bar, and analyze the results. If the first page results contain popular business names or highly-authoritative websites, it usually means it’s more difficult. Conversely, if you see low-authority websites, it usually means lower difficulty and much better chances to create outstanding content.

Manual Google Keyword Research screenshot

Take note that if you’re a new business, and one with not yet much authority to work with, it may be better to go for niche keywords. Being able to stand out in a less competitive environment will give you more opportunities to rank higher and gain more links.

Content Layering Internal LinksContent Layering and Internal Links

Content layering basically means that you layer your content in regards to their topics. You “layer” your middle-of-the-funnel content (content that gives specific solutions to a particular query) above your bottom-of-the-funnel content (your converting/landing pages) through internal linking. We do this because it is extremely beneficial to our website.

Some benefits include:

  • Authority Sharing: Having the opportunity to receive inbound links for your middle-funnel content because it has more “linkable” assets than the bottom-funnel. Eventually, this will pass down valuable link equity to your bottom-funnel content. This is beneficial for you because no one will usually link to your bottom-funnel content due to it being promotional in nature.
  • Site Authority and Popularity: If your middle-funnel content is ranking highly in the search results, you’ll notice that your site’s authority and popularity are steadily improving. Then, your bottom-funnel content will also improve through increased conversions and more sales.
  • Link Procurement for Bottom-Funnel Content: Promoting your middle-funnel content can help you procure links for your bottom-funnel content through the strategic placement of its links inside the promoted content.

Lastly, content layering and an organized link structure will help the users and search engines navigate through your site easier.


“Linkability” is your content’s potential to earn links. And we all know that links still remain as one of the most important ranking factors. So, you should create content with “linkability” in mind.

Remember that people usually link to websites due to the relevance of the content. You should have an idea of the people or webmasters you want to reach out to, and build your content in such a way that your potential of getting an inbound link from them increases.

Some factors that we consider for our outreach targets are:

  • Keyword Search Volume: If the search volume for your keyword is relatively high, then it’s highly likely that more people will link to your content.

    • We normally use CognitiveSEO’s keyword tool to find out our target keyword’s monthly volume results. We just put in our target keyword in the tool’s search bar, and wait for the tool to load the data for our keyword.
      Cognitive seo keyword tool
    • Afterward, we’ll be taken to the results page , and the keyword difficulty, average content performance, and monthly volume will be shown on the top of the page.
    • Bonus: Here’s a more in-depth discussion of CognitiveSEO’s keyword tool.

Cognitive seo monthly volume

  • Unique Domain Links to the Top Results: If the top results for our target keyword has numerous unique domains linking to them, our chances of strategically acquiring links from these domains increases due to our content’s relevance. We usually use Ahrefs or Buzzsumo for checking the backlinks of the top results.

Buzzsumo backlink checker screenshot

Aside from studying the prospective outreachtargets, we will have to examine our link opportunities. A simple approach would be to create something better than what is currently ranking or more commonly know as the skyscraper technique. We create better content than what’s ranking, then reach out to the people that linked to the original content.

Creating better content does not necessarily entail spending numerous hours trying to come up with the best version, sometimes, you only need to change some aspects in order to produce a much better version.

Some changes we make are:

  • More searchable title
  • Refine and organize readability and structure
  • Improve page speed
  • Incorporating trusted sources and data
  • Explaining the topic in more depth
  • Including recent or original data/research
  • Presenting it in a different format (e.g. video, infographs, etc.)

Updating ContentUpdating Content

Aside from creating new content, our comprehensive SEO content strategy also includes updating existing content or pages – which is easier than starting over to create something new.

For example, you can add a video to long-form guides which can add value and linkability to the page.

Another thing we do is to repurpose our underperforming pages. We inspect the search results for our targeted keyword, check if there is a prevalent format among the top results, then apply that format to our underperforming pages.

It’s important for SEO specialists to invest time, money, and energy into creating new, engaging content, but it’s important to improve and update existing pages as well.

Key Takeaway

Just to help you remember the SEO content strategy above, here’s a short recap:

  • Easier Topics:

    • Judge topics by their search volume, traffic value, and keyword difficulty.
    • Another option is to manually find easier topics through search results that show low authority sites.
  • Content Layering and Internal Links:

    • Through proper content layering and organized link structures, your bottom-funnel content can benefit from shared link equity, improved domain and site authority, and more link acquisitions.
  • Linkability:

    • Determine potential outreach prospects through keyword search volume, unique domains that link to top results, and the types of pages.
    • Use the skyscraper technique to have more link opportunities.
  • Updating Content:

    • Upgrade your existing content
    • Repurpose existing pages into something more “link worthy”.

Effective SEO content strategies are important for your SEO goals. So, read, learn, and apply the practices explained above to help your content creation and your SEO campaign.

SEO Hacker’s Content Strategy for SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

8 Reasons You Should Join us at SearchLove London 2017

We’re closing in on SearchLove London – it’s on 16th and 17th October – in just a few short weeks’ time. We’ve been running a conference in our home city since 2009, and I’m as passionate as I’ve ever been about making our events stand out.

You can still get a ticket for under £900 – the classic all-access pass costs £899 +VAT – and get access to the whole conference as well as after-show entertainment on both nights.


Here’s why we think our show is special:

1. Quality

The combined outstanding and excellent ratings from a recent conference.

I obviously don’t generally get to see all the feedback other conferences get, but I’d bet ours is right upthere. At one of our recent events, our eight best speakers were all rated outstanding or excellent by over 9 out of 10 people in the audience. Even our twelfth-best speaker was rated outstanding or excellent by 4 out of 5 people in the audience. I’ve never seen another conference where the bottom quartile speaker ratings are still getting into the ~65% outstanding or excellent range.

Speaker quality and consistency is our top priority, and the most common complaint about conferences generally. With our conference being a single track show, we know everyone will see every speaker, so they all need to bring their A game, and they know it.

2. The speakers

We’ve invited some of the best speakers from Boston and San Diego to London 2017.

Speaking of the speakers(!) I’m so grateful to all the people who put such an incredible amount of work into preparing their talks – if you’ve never done it, you have no idea how much work and pressure it can be.

This year, we have:

  • Exceptional speakers: we often invite back speakers who do an exceptional job at our other conferences. Running events on both sides of the Atlantic might bump up our travel costs, but it lets us see great speakers with our own eyes before inviting them to our big stage:

    • To come in the top 4 at our San Diego conference this year, a speaker needed to get over 97% of the audience rating them outstanding or excellent. At this London event, we’re bringing 3 of those top 4 speakers back to wow you. (*)

    • In Boston earlier this year, our top 3 scored 94+% outstanding or excellent and we’re bringing all of them to London.

  • Returning favourites: 3 of the top 5 all-time best SearchLove speakers (looking at average scores from speakers who’ve appeared multiple times)

  • Brand new speakers: 11 of our 17 speakers have never appeared at SearchLove London before (and Paddy last spoke here in 2011 / Justin in 2012!). We’re confident they’re going to will blow you away (see below for more on our prep process)

(*) the other top-4 speaker was Greg Gifford (DistilledU members can see the videos here). It looks like we need to invite him over to London soon!

3. A great venue

The Brewery adds to the SearchLove london experience.

As a speaker, I’ve rarely come across a stage as good as the one at The Brewery. It’s a huge widescreen, with extra massive screens partway back so everyone can see my slides, the stage is huge, my face is projected far too big alongside the slides giving great trolling opportunities when I pull stupid faces, and the audio / visual setup is top-notch. I trust the A/V team to make me look and sound good, and I get to concentrate on my story.

As a delegate, you get a seat with a desk, power, notebook and pen. You get wifi that works, and you get top-notch food and great coffee. Join us for structured lunchtime work at our Topic Tables staffed by the Distilled team, or just hang out and catch up with friends new and old.

4. A taste of London

Enjoy your time in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

We know that many of our delegates travel to attend, and so we’ve picked our venues for the conference and entertainment to help you make the most of your trip to one of the greatest cities on the planet.

The Brewery is in The City of London – the historic Square Mile – so you’ll get a taste of the traditional. The entertainment is conveniently nearby, and you’re within easy walking distance of the buzzing Old Street technology hub (with its great hipster coffee) as well as Clerkenwell with its spectacular restaurants and fancy bars. Even in the time I’ve lived and worked in London, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the food and drink scene – all great excuses to make the trip to an incredible city.

If you want to spend a bit of time visiting London either side of the conference, you can be anywhere in the centre of London within 20-30 minutes by public transport, whether you want to see the tourist sights or do some shopping. If you want to extend your trip to the rest of the UK, you’re close to the Kings Cross and Euston stations that connect you to almost everywhere north of London (and even to St Pancras for Paris and the rest of Europe).


5. Access to experts, and the chance to meet friends old and new

We work hard to make networking with fellow attendees as enjoyable as possible.

We know that much of the value in attending a conference comes from meeting speakers and other delegates so we set up plenty of opportunities to do that:

  • VIP ticket-holders join the speakers for an exclusive pre-show dinner.

  • We have chosen to have a single-track event, with every speaker getting a full-length 40-minute session – this means that every other delegate has seen the same speakers you have, and so you’ll have plenty to chat about, and all our speakers will be very familiar to you and super-approachable

  • Plenty of opportunities to mingle and meet people – including structured and unstructured lunchtime sessions, regular breaks, a fantastic party on the first night and industry meet-up on the second (which even non-delegates can attend so invite your other London friends)

6. Past delegates would urge you to come

You might have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with feedback. As part of the conference feedback, we ask our delegates to tell us how likely they are to recommend our conference (out of 10). From this, we calculate a Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS ranges from -100 to +100, with anything over 50 being excellent. Last year’s London conference rated a 55 with almost half the delegates surveyed (44%) giving it the top possible score of 10.

7. Coming from overseas? It’s cheaper than ever

Without getting too political about it all, our currency has been fluctuating a bit over the last year, and so right now, our tickets come in at only:

  • EUR 1,021

  • USD 1,212

There has to be some silver lining, right? If you’re coming from the US or Europe, the exchange rate has never been more in your favour. Your money goes further!

8. We’re working hard to address all the criticisms we’ve seen of marketing conferences

It turns out good coffee is high on people’s conference priorities.

The other day, I put out a call on Twitter to ask for everyone’s common complaints about marketing conferences because I want to make sure that we are doing our very best to avoid them – whether they’re big complaints or small details:

  • We take our code of conduct very seriously and work hard to make our events welcoming and inclusive for all – and I’ve heard good private feedback about our efforts:

    • We remind speakers about it during our prep calls

    • It’s emphasised during our MC’s intro

    • All our staff know what to do in the event of witnessing or receiving a report of a violation

  • We’ve got sessions on hardcore link building and deeply technical topics – we’ve got plenty on content and social, but we haven’t forgotten our roots

  • And a load of details:

    • The food is great – delegate comments:

      • “the general organisation and food etc. were top notch”

      • “really good food”

      • “great food”

      • “great venue and food”

    • The wifi works

      • “good wifi”

    • We have great coffee

      • “coffee was awesome”

    • Complaint: lanyards can be hard to read or flip over. Our lanyards have names printed on both sides – hopefully big enough to read easily

But of course, by far the most common issue people have is with speaker and talk quality. I talked a fair bit above about our speakers but we are by no means assuming that we’ve done all we need to do – we continue to run a speaker selection and preparation process that involves:

  1. Detailed research, including watching previous footage, reviewing past decks etc

  2. Discussion of topic ideas that the speaker has new and interesting ideas about

  3. Content calls with me or a senior Distilled team member to set expectations, discuss the outline, and share information about the conference and audience

  4. Where appropriate / for any speaker that wishes: review and feedback on actual talk outlines and draft decks

We also encourage first-time speakers to review footage of past top-rated sessions and speakers.

I asked a few of our speakers for their thoughts on our speaker prep process. They said:

Emily Grossman:

“The SearchLove team really sets speakers up for success. It all starts with initial planning brainstorms where we talk about the best topic-fit for SearchLove. Will, Lynsey, and the whole team are very open about what works and doesn’t work for their audience. As a speaker, this helps shape how I’ll approach a certain subject and allows me to really tailor both my topic and my deck to the SL crowd.”

Greg Gifford:

Sam Noble:

What are you waiting for?

There’s still time to pick up your ticket, but time is running out. Click the link below and pick up your ticket today. Reply in the comments if there are any last-minute questions you’re burning to ask.

Join us for SearchLove London 2017

8 Reasons You Should Join us at SearchLove London 2017 was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Communicating Value Effectively: Respecting the customer’s right to draw their own conclusions

No one likes a braggart.

When someone states that they’re the best at something, my immediate reaction is to question such a bold claim — and to get a little irritated. It’s cute when a kid does it. It’s not so cute when an adult does the bragging.

Customers feel the same way when they visit your webpage. They are bombarded daily by marketing ads that love to use that word “best.”

“We’re the best” … “We have the best” … “We make the best …”

“The goal of marketing is not to make a claim; the goal of marketing is to foster a conclusion.”

— Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute

But if you want to stand out in the marketplace, instead of making a claim that you are the best, show your prospective customers that you are the best — with specific, quantifiable facts. Then, let them draw their own conclusions whether you are, indeed, the best at what you do, or not.

When you allow the customer the freedom to do their own thinking — to infer from a solid list of quantifiable, credible reasons — you are valuing the customer, and, in return, the customer values you and your product or services.

In this Quick Win Clinic, Flint McGlaughlin looks at a claim made by book creator website Bookemon that states it is the “Best Book Creator,” and evaluates how well it presents the facts about said claim.

Communicating Value Effectively: Respecting the customer’s right to draw their own conclusions was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Clarifying Your Marketing Objective: The danger of asking “how?” too soon

In an earlier Quick Win Clinic, Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS, talked about the importance of determining a clear objective for your webpage.

But where does the marketer go from there?

The next step is to determine the most effective way to accomplish your objective.

“What is my objective and what is the most effective way to accomplish my objective? … We have to give people a reason to invest their mental energy in going forward.”

—Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS

It is at this point that we marketers should avoid making the mistake of rephrasing the question and asking, “How can I accomplish my objective?”

The “how” question is insufficient because it doesn’t force you to (1) generate options and (2) select from those options the one that promises the best way to accomplish your objective.

In this Quick Win Clinic, McGlaughlin optimizes The Recruiting Code, a webpage submitted by Bryan, whose objective is to sell a book. Watch the video to see if the objective was accomplished in the most effective way.

Clarifying Your Marketing Objective: The danger of asking “how?” too soon was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Marketing is Not About Making Claims; it’s About Fostering Conclusions

Imagine for a moment you are in the 10-items-or-less line at the grocery store. There is a man in front of you getting rung up. He’s wearing sunglasses and a suit. You note amusingly to yourself that he must be especially sensitive to fluorescent light. He’s talking loudly on the phone while the clerk patiently scans his only items: 11 huge containers of protein.

“I’m a closer Frank — it’s what I do,” he gabs into his late-model iPhone Plus. “I’m the best in this city. Believe me. You’ve never seen a closer as good as me, Frank. Frank? You there Frank? Yeah, did you hear what I said Frank? I’m a closer!”

Once the clerk is done ringing him up, he pays, mouths “thank you” and plops a glossy, white business card on the counter. Looking from the clerk to you he points to the card, shoots both of you a thumbs up, gathers his protein into his cart, and walks out the door continuing his deafening conversation with Frank.

His card features a typical real estate logo and a glamor shot of his bust without sunglasses. Though, you do make another half-amusing note-to-self that he is wearing the same tie.

Why Marketers are Just Like Frank’s Photophobic Associate

I took a while painting that picture for you because — every day — marketers do the same thing as Frank’s photophobic associate. We make wild claims about ourselves and expect people to be impressed. When, really, all we’re doing is helping them conclude that we’re not the kind of company they would want to do business with.

The worst part is that a business usually exists in the marketplace because they DO have real value to offer customers. But most of us don’t know how to communicate that to our customers effectively.

When we can get it right, however, and rather than make claims, foster conclusions in the mind of the customer, the results can be powerful.

Take this MECLABS certified experiment recently run with a single-product nutrition company.

Experiment: Background

Test Protocol: TP1798

Experiment ID: Protected

Location: MECLABS Research Library

Background: A single-product company that sells high-quality, all-natural powdered health drinks

Goal:  To increase order conversion

Primary Research Question: Which of the following pages will produce the highest conversion rate?

Approach: A/B multi-factorial split test

Experiment: Control















Now, take a moment to look at the Control in this test. Before you read any further, it might help you understand what I’m talking about better if you try to identify any photophobic-guy-like claims in the page copy.

Now, they aren’t as dramatic as our opening character, but they are there.

  • Boost Your Energy and Metabolism
  • Improve Digestion and Gastrointestinal Function
  • Detoxify and Alkalize Your Body at a Cellular Level
  • Save Time and Money
  • Limited Offer! Act Now!

There’s more, but let’s just focus on these for a second. It seems at face value to be good copywriting. The words are well-chosen, interesting, and they have a kind of energy to them. But at their heart, they are just bragging.

As a result, the conclusions in the mind of the customer who might be reading this page must be couched in a kind of suspension of disbelief if they are to continue. Maybe the people who buy already know the company is trustworthy so they go on to fill out the form and purchase.

But what about the people unfamiliar with the company? To them, this is just another fad super-food that claims it’s the best. There’s no evidence, no logical argument, no facts to back up what they are saying.

But now, consider the Treatment in this experiment as a contrast.

Experiment: Treatment
















In the Treatment, we change a little bit of the copy, but we achieve an entirely different result in the mind of the customer. The copy has changed to focus not on claims, but rather facts, which, in turn, foster the overall conclusion that this is an excellent product and worth paying for.

  • Made from 75 whole food sourced ingredients in their natural form
  • Contains probiotics and enzymes for optimal nutrient absorption and digestion
  • Carefully formulated by doctors and nutritionists to deliver essential nutrients
  • 10+ years of research to develop an easy to mix powder with naturally sweet taste

What’s the result?

Experiment: Results

The result is a 34% increase in conversion. And for an ecommerce product like this one, that translates to pure revenue.

Foster Conclusions, Don’t Make Claims, Make More Money

In the end, people are still people. We are mostly reasonable. We hear arguments and we can change our minds. But when we hear someone making braggadocios claims, rather than trying to rationally win us over, we are naturally repulsed. Your customers are the same way. And when we foster the right conclusions in their mind about us using facts, data, and tangible evidence, we will inevitably feel better about our marketing, and make more money in the process.

You Might Also Like:

The Prospect’s Reality Gap

The Web as a Living Laboratory

Brand: The aggregate experience of the value proposition

The Boston Globe: Discovering and optimizing a value proposition for content

Marketing is Not About Making Claims; it’s About Fostering Conclusions was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

SEO Competition Analysis Guide + Tools

Factors to Consider During Competition Analysis

SEO Competition analysis is an essential aspect of any SEO campaign. Aside from your link building campaign, content writing and publishing, and keyword research, you must be mindful with how your competition performs in the online landscape.

SEO Competition Analysis

Competition analysis is not as easy as it sounds. You have to be critical in knowing every aspect of your competitor’s performance and how you should adapt your strategy accordingly. If you follow just a single strategy all throughout your campaign and you were never aware of how or what your competitors were doing, then you will be missing out on important things that could have improved the circumstances of your website if you had taken advantage of them. 

Having the ability to analyze your competitors can help you improve your strategies, and be enlightened on opportunities that can take your campaign to even greater heights. Another benefit of knowing your enemy is being able to know the areas where you could be doing better. This will give you the opportunity to step up your online performance and be ahead of all your competitors.

The frequency of your analysis is not limited to a monthly basis. But what’s important is that you should be aware of the metrics of your competitors to regularly measure the distance between you and your competitors. So, today I’ll be highlighting 4 of the most important factors to consider whenever you are analyzing your competitor’s performance. Let’s start.

Your Competitors - Factors to Consider During Competition Analysis
Your Competitors

Before starting your competition analysis, you should first understand what the word “competitor” means in the online industry. It might seem as though the meaning of competitor is straightforward, but it’s not. You might have a competitor in the physical aspect, but that does not mean that they’re your competitor in the online landscape. This is an important factor that most SEOs forget. They think that whatever physical competition they have automatically has an online presence, but this is not always the case.

Another factor that SEO professionals forget is local SEO rankings, and there’s a much wider scope after that. They might rank high in their local rankings, but in the overall search rankings, they might not even be visible.

The first step to knowing your online competition is a simple act of searching in Google. Input the keyword/s you want to rank for, and see who is ranking for that specific keyword. Afterward, you can input the keywords you want to rank for and the domain names of your competitors in Ahrefs. I particularly like using  Ahrefs because they have a massive database, it’s comprehensive, and it updates consistently – which means that the results they show are timely and useful. If you want to know my complete thoughts about Ahrefs, here’s my Ahrefs review.

If you’re not particularly versed in using Ahrefs, you can use any competitor research tool that you are comfortable with.

Factors to Consider

4 Factors to Consider

You can’t just take in every little bit of data you see when you analyze your competitors. Whenever you analyze them, you should remember:


You should always be looking at your competitor’s visibility in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Take a look at the totality of their organic visibility, and evaluate what position they’re ranking for and their page’s quality. Knowing and understand the difference between their pages and yours can help you understand the things missing on your site, and incorporate them accordingly.

Be mindful of their page’s rankings. Check if it has gone down or up. You might be able to understand why that happened to them, and how you can avoid or mimic what they have done to increase or decrease their rankings.

Another aspect of visibility you need to be aware of is the traffic they receive from paid search. If you find out that they receive high amounts of traffic through paid search, then you might want to put up paid ads to improve your site’s traffic.


Aside from monitoring their visibility, you should also be aware of your competitor’s pages that are slowly moving up in the rankings. Do not forget that you are not the only putting out new content or revamping old pages.

Start by keeping an updated list of their content’s visibility, and check if they are revamping or changing anything inside the page, and learn from it.

To have an easier time, I recommend that you use CognitiveSEO’s content assistant whenever you’re revamping your content. It provides immense help in optimizing your content, and could potentially help your page rank higher.


As you may know, links are exceptionally important for your website. One primary way to find links is through assessing your competitor’s backlink profile. Logically, you share a common denominator with your competitor, so your website would most likely be relevant to the websites that link to your competitor.

Monitor your competitor’s newest links, and start earning links from there.

Brand Popularity

Lastly, check your competitor’s popularity across social media and news channels. This will help you understand why they’re known across the online landscape, and be able to increase your own brand’s popularity from there.

This does not primarily relate to the websites linked to them, but it helps you understand the strategy of their PR and Marketing team. Being popular across social media can lead to more links and more brand mentions – which means good news for your brand. There quite a few tools for this that are available in the market. Tools such as Google Alert or Ahrefs alerts can help you with this.

Key Takeaway

Competition analysis is not for making you feel good whenever you find out that you’re doing better than your competitors. It’s done because it helps you know the inadequacy of your strategy, and to make you learn more from other SEOs.

If you have not noticed, the most important aspect of competition analysis is relevance. If your competitors are truly relevant to your website, then whatever they do their website will be applicable to yours as well.

Whenever you do a thorough and comprehensive competition analysis, you can always do better than your competitors. If they have content that ranks well, then you can do a similar approach with your content, but with better quality. If they have links from authoritative websites, you can also attain the same type of links.

Basically, learn from your competitors and then do it on a much higher level.

What other factors should you look at during your competition analysis? Tell me in the comments below and let’s help each other out.

SEO Competition Analysis Guide + Tools was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Cognitive SEO Keyword Tool & Content Assistant Review

Cognitive SEO tool Review cover

Before I start my review, I’d like to invite you to try out CognitiveSEO for yourself! You can check out the tool with this special link. Anyway, let’s get started!

I’m happy to be one of the first people to be able to write a thorough Cognitive SEO Review and with that in mind, it got me to thinking. CognitiveSEO has been around for quite a while now, and I have had the pleasure of using it during its beta phase. Through the years, it has continued to grow bigger and better – providing SEOs some much-needed help with their campaigns. As we all know, a successful and competent SEO campaign starts with having the best tools available.

Investing a lot of time, money, and effort into tools such as CognitiveSEO or Ahrefs to get our desired results can definitely make all of our jobs easier.

CognitiveSEOhas been a part of our toolbox for a while now and like I’ve said, it just keeps getting better. Now that a few years have gone by, they released a new feature that can catch the interest of any SEOexpert.

I’m talking about their new keyword tool and content assistant. Without further ado, here’s what I (and the rest of the SEO Hacker Team) think of CognitiveSEO’s newest feature.


Cognitive SEO tool Review homepage

Cognitive SEO Review

If you are not knowledgeable as to what cognitiveSEO is all about, here’s a short introduction: It is an SEO software that offers different kinds of tools that you can use. Through these sets of tools, CognitiveSEO can provide you with extensive analyses and insights that you can use to improve your SEOcampaign.

From backlink analysis to unnatural link detection, cognitiveSEO has helped out numerous SEOexperts from avoiding or recovering from Google’s Penguin update and other penalty-worthy objects in their website. However, now that they have released their newest tool, in my own honest opinion, CognitiveSEO has a bright future ahead of them.

Let’s dig deeper on their keyword tool & content assistant and find out what it has to offer.


Cognitive SEO tool Review keyword tool

Keyword Tool

Once you have signed in, just click on the icon that has the letter “K” on the leftmost part of the page to be directed to their keyword tool & content assistant. To get started, you just have to input the keyword or topic you want to rank for in the search bar in the middle of the page. It is also a great feature that they included a location filter on the right side of the search bar so that you can get a more detailed account of the keyword in a certain country.

Cognitive SEO tool Review keyword tool search bar

One of the things that I noticed is that the location filter is limited to only a number of countries. Although it is a given because this tool is still in its beta phase, it would be great if they can include more countries in the locationfilter for more accurate and location specific results for their users.

When you search for your desired keyword and in this case, I searched for the term “long tail keyword” while having the location filter set to the U.S. Now the reason I chose this topic/keywordis  because I’ve already written and publishedcontent about this which I will be inputting later on in their content assistant tool.

After clicking Analyze, I was immediately redirected to the results page.

Keyword Explorer

Let’s start by analyzing the results page from the top. The first thing you will see is the summary of what they found in their database regarding the keyword that you searched for. The summary is split into three categories:

  • Keyword Difficulty – They measure the inputted keyword’s difficulty on a scale of 0 – 100 depending on how difficult it is to rank for that specific keyword. In this case, the keyword I put has a difficulty score of 67 out of 100.
  • Average Content Performance – In this part, they show you the average content performance score of the top ranking websites for the keyword. They measure it using a scale of 0 – 100. This means that the lower the average performance score is, the easier it is for you to rank for the keyword using the content. The term “long tail keyword” has an average of 62 out of 100.
  • Monthly Volume – This shows you the details on how often this keyword is searched for in Google on a monthly basis. As you can see, the term I used scores fairly low on the monthly search queries for it which amounts to a hundred to five hundred searches a month.

Next, you will see the three tabs which contain the primary features of this tool. Currently, I am in the keyword explorer tab, and I’ll discuss the other features of this tool in the latter parts.

Below thetabsare the filters you can use to find the exact keyword that you are looking to rank for. The filters are:

  • Relevancy – You can use this filter to get the most relevant keyword for the topic you have searched for. The score for relevancy is depicted through stars – the more stars the keyword has, the more relevant it is for your inputted topic.
  • Number of Words – Simply put, you can use this filter to search for keywords that have the number of words that you want.
  • Containing – This filter is used to search for keywords that contain the word/s that you want them to have.
  • Excludes – Input the word that you don’t want your keyword to have this filter.
  • Volume of Search – Use this to filter out the number of times the keywords are searched for on a monthly basis.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) – You can look for the average cost per click for the keyword that you want to use for an ad campaign.

Finally, you will see the keywords that are related to your topic in the rest of the page. Since I have over 600 keywordsuggestions, I can use the filters to look for the perfect keyword for my website.

If you are using this tool and don’t have any specific keyword in mind, you can sort the suggestions based on the highest to the lowest characteristic (relevance, no. of words, volume, and CPC). You just have to click on the up and down arrows beside the words on the top of the results.

Cognitive SEO tool Review keyword tool arrows

Additionally, there are also included keywords in the results that are totally unrelated to the topic I searched for. Although it has the terms “long tail”, it is still unrelated to the overall topic that I searched for. Here are some of them:

Cognitive SEO tool Review keyword tool unrelated results

They do have a relevancescore of only one star, however, I think that if it is totally unrelated to the topicsearched, it should not be included anymore to the results. It can’t be helped though but this just means that the tool is working properly if it can deprioritize terms that the tool deems “unrelated” to my targeted keywords.


Cognitive SEO tool Review Ranking Analysis

Ranking Analysis

I’ll start by saying that this is an aesthetically pleasing page. From the colors used to the organization of the results, it is definitely easy on the eyes. Since I’ve covered the summary part and the tabs, let’s focus on the results part.

The first thing any user will see is the Organic results for “….”  then the type of search query it is. In my case, it as an informational query and if you point your cursor to this small part of the page, it will show you a short description of the query. Here’s what it looks like:

Cognitive SEO tool Review informational query

Afterwards, youwillsee different details about the organic results, namely:

  • Search Results
  • Content Performance
  • Focus Keywords
  • Number of Words
  • Page Performance/Page Authority
  • Domain Performance/Domain Authority
  • Date Published

Most of them are self-explanatory, but for focus keywords, it basically means that these are the keywords that tend to be included in the content for the page to have a higher ranking.

When you want to see the exact keywords used in a page included in the results, just click on it and a snippet will show in the rightmost part of the page that contains that URL to the article, and some additional details. It looks like this:

Cognitive SEO tool Review ranking analysis snippet

The green circle beside the used keywords are indicators that those certain keywords are highly important, and is used throughout the content.

Cognitive SEO tool Review content assistant

Content Assistant

It’s time for the best part about thetool. You can start by clicking on the “Start Optimizing Content” button, then you will be directed to this page:

Cognitive SEO tool Review content assistant page

Afterwards, input your content or write a new one that is related to your keyword in the space provided. When you’re finished. It should look something a lot like this:

Cognitive SEO tool Review content assistant page content

I inserted my content into space, and this is what came up. A score of 60 on content performance, and the capability to rank in the top 3 of the Google search results. However, I noticed that it recommended me to use the keyword “tail keyword”, I think this is just a misunderstanding between the tool and my content because the term I used in the content was “long-tail keyword”. But when I change it to “longtailkeyword” I immediately noticed a rise in my content’s performance. Here’s what it looked like when I removed all the hyphens to separate “long” and “tail”:

Cognitive SEO tool Review content assistant edited page content

My content’s performance rose to 64 when I included ONE focus keyword. Now, I can only ask myself if what would happen if I optimize my content in accordance with the Content Assistant’s recommendation.

Also, it is important to note that this tool also shows if you are experiencing an instance of keyword stuffing. Just scroll down the snippet on the rightmost part, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I also decided to try it out on a relatively new page that wasn’t performing. After running it through the tool and optimizing it in accordance with the given suggestions, I hit “update” and waited for the results.  

In the meantime, I’d did some (additional) minimal link building on it just to give it a little push. In the end, my efforts paid off immensely – what was once a near inactive page saw a rise in traffic that I could never have expected.

Cognitive SEO Review content page results

Cognitive SEO Verdict

CognitiveSEO’s keyword tool & content assistant has its points to improve on such as the lack of countries in the location filter, unrelated keyword results, and the minor changes (see the instance between “long tail” and “long-tail” above) you have to make if you want to follow the content assistant’s recommendation.

However, since I used CognitiveSEO for many years, I believe that they will be rolling out some updates that will tackle the issues I mentioned, and some other minor details in the near future.

Nonetheless, this is a great tool that you can use for content optimization. On the other hand, the keyword tool by itself is good, but it is not a definite replacement for other keyword research tools available in the market. Furthermore, it is important to remember that this is not a FREE tool. Although you can use for a few days, after your free trial you will have to pay for the tool, which I think is a worthwhile investment.

Key Takeaway

If you are an SEO expert that rely heavily on content, then this tool could have a huge positive impact on your SEO campaign and when it comes to the keywordresearch tool itself then I recommend that you keep using the tool that you’re most comfortable with.

I am not saying that their keyword research tool is bad per se as it is extensive (for the countries included in the location filter), complete with details, and aesthetically appealing. I still think it still needs improvements that could make it stand out from the rest.

I still think it still needs improvements that could make it stand out from the rest.

Overall, this is a great tool. It needs improvement but it retains its usefulness because of the content assistant. If you need a little help with optimizing your content, then by all means, use this tool.


Cognitive SEO Keyword Tool & Content Assistant Review was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Using Ngram Phrase Models to Generate Site Quality Scores

Photographer: McGeddon
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic

Navneet Panda, whom the Google Panda update is named after, has co-invented a new patent that focuses on site quality scores. It’s worth studying to understand how it determines the quality of sites.

Back in 2013, I wrote the post Google Scoring Gibberish Content to Demote Pages in Rankings, about Google using ngrams from sites and building language models from them to determine if those sites were filled with gibberish, or spammy content. I was reminded of that post when I read this patent.

Rather than explaining what ngrams are in this post (which I did in the gibberish post), I’m going to point to an example of ngrams at the Google n-gram viewer, which shows Google indexing phrases in scanned books. This article published by the Wired site also focused upon ngrams: The Pitfalls of Using Google Ngram to Study Language.

An ngram phrase could be a 2-gram, a 3-gram, a 4-gram, or a 5-gram phrase; where pages are broken down into two-word phrases, three-word phrases, four-word phrases, or 5 word phrases. If a body of pages are broken down into ngrams, they could be used to create language models or phrase models to compare to other pages.

Language models, like the ones that Google used to create gibberish scores for sites could also be used to determine the quality of sites, if example sites were used to generate those language models. That seems to be the idea behind the new patent granted this week. The summary section of the patent tells us about this use of the process it describes and protects:

In general, one innovative aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of obtaining baseline site quality scores for a plurality of previously-stored sites; generating a phrase model for a plurality of sites including the plurality of previously-scored sites, wherein the phrase model defines a mapping from phrase-specific relative frequency measures to phrase-specific baseline site quality scores; for a new site, the new site not being one of the plurality of previously-scored sites, obtaining a relative frequency measure for each of a plurality of phrases in the new site; determining an aggregate site quality score for the new site from the phrase model using the relative frequency measures of the plurality of phrases in the new site; and determining a predicted site quality score for the new site from the aggregate site quality score.

The newly granted patent from Google is:

Predicting site quality
Inventors: Navneet Panda and Yun Zhou
Assignee: Google
US Patent: 9,767,157
Granted: September 19, 2017
Filed: March 15, 2013


Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, for predicating a measure of quality for a site, e.g., a web site. In some implementations, the methods include obtaining baseline site quality scores for multiple previously scored sites; generating a phrase model for multiple sites including the previously scored sites, wherein the phrase model defines a mapping from phrase specific relative frequency measures to phrase specific baseline site quality scores; for a new site that is not one of the previously scored sites, obtaining a relative frequency measure for each of a plurality of phrases in the new site; determining an aggregate site quality score for the new site from the phrase model using the relative frequency measures of phrases in the new site; and determining a predicted site quality score for the new site from the aggregate site quality score.

In addition to generating ngrams from text upon sites, in some versions of the implementation of this patent will include generating ngrams from anchor text of links pointing to pages of the sites. Building a phrase model involves calculating the frequency of n-grams on a site “based on the count of pages divided by the number of pages on the site.”

The patent tells us that site quality scores can impact rankings of pages from those sites, according to the patent:

Obtain baseline site quality scores for a number of previously-scored sites. The baseline site quality scores are scores used by the system, e.g., by a ranking engine of the system, as signals, among other signals, to rank search results. In some implementations, the baseline scores are determined by a backend process that may be expensive in terms of time or computing resources, or by a process that may not be applicable to all sites. For these or other reasons, baseline site quality scores are not available for all sites.

Copyright © 2017 SEO by the Sea ⚓. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at may be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact SEO by the Sea, so we can take appropriate action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

Using Ngram Phrase Models to Generate Site Quality Scores was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

The Technical Audit Checklist for Human Beings: September 2017 Update


Updated September 13, 2017. Changes include:

  • Made each line easier to understand
  • Added pointers for going straight to the relevant reports in each tool#
  • Changed which tool to use for some rows
  • Added more Google references
  • Removed a couple dubious lines (site speed, HTTP/2)
  • Removed superfluous timing column
  • Removed whole sections that made the audit less MECE
  • Fixed cases where some cells would say “Incomplete” and others wouldn’t

Thanks everyone who has provided feedback over the last year!

Technical audits are one of the activities that define SEO. We’ve all done them. But audits are only as valuable as their impact. Whether you’re a practitioner or an agency partner, your job really begins when you finish the audit. You must take your recommendations and make them a reality. Distilled thrives on this “effecting change” mindset.

Yet the (long, laborious) audit has still got to be done. We sift through crawls, consider best practices, analyze sitemaps—the list goes on.

But we’re committed to the technical audit. So if we’re going to audit a site, why not do the audit in a way that makes the fun part—making change happen—much easier?

The challenge

With that in mind, we asked “Can we design an audit that helps make real change happen?” The result is an aware technical audit checklist. It considers the underlying problems we’re tackling (or trying to prevent). It makes technical audits faster, more effective, and more impactful.

Read on for more about how to put the checklist to use. Many on our team find it self-explanatory, though, so if you want to get cracking have at it! And then let us know what you think.

Every great audit starts with a checklist!

There are lots of technical checklists out there. A good technical audit inspects many things in many places. Checklists are perfect for keeping track of this complexity. They’re simple tools with lots of benefits. Checklists are:

  • Comprehensive. Without a checklist, you may still discover the obvious technical problems with a site. Using a checklist ensures you remember to check all the relevant boxes.

  • Productive. Working without a checklist takes more effort. At each stage you have to decide what to do next. The checklist answers this question for you.

  • Understandable. Unfortunately an intern can’t osmose your intuition! Rigorously defining your work with a checklist lets you delegate audits.

This checklist is better

Technical SEO has one purpose: ensure site implementation won’t hurt search visibility. Everything we uncover leads back to that point. This defines the scope of the audit.

Beyond that, many folks break down technical to-dos by where they need to look or what tool they need to use. They might look at all on-page elements, then move on to all sitemap issues. That’s a valid way of approaching the problem. We’ve got an alternative.

We look ahead to the conversations we’ll have after we’ve done the audit. Consider this (realistic) statement: “We’re concerned that important content isn’t indexed because URLs aren’t discovered by crawlers. Submitting a sitemap to Search Console might help fix the problem.”

This is a coherent technical recommendation. It explains why to make a change. It has 3 parts:

  1. Outcome – important content isn’t indexed.

  2. Cause – URLs aren’t discoverable by crawlers.

  3. Issue –  we haven’t uploaded sitemaps to Search Console.

That’s the difference: you’ll see this is exactly how we’ve structured the checklist. Take a moment to jump over and inspect it with this model in mind. By now you’re probably getting the idea—this isn’t just a technical checklist. It’s a also a tool for communicating the value of your work.

The structure encourages completeness

Each row of the checklist represents a problem. By including the right problem at each level, we also make it as complete as possible, without adding redundancy. The principle of MECE (“Mutually Exclusive, Comprehensively Exhaustive”) is what makes it work. At each level of analysis, we:

  • include all possible problems, and

  • ensure problems don’t overlap.

Let’s illustrate, using the highest level of analysis. The checklist as a whole is investigating whether “we have a technical problem with our site that is reducing search visibility”. There are 3 reasons we could lose search traffic because of a technical issue:

  • there is a technical reason good content isn’t indexed, or

  • there is a technical reason indexed content doesn’t rank for desired terms, or

  • there is a technical reason site content isn’t well-presented in search.

These represent all the possible problems we could be dealing with (“comprehensively exhaustive”). They also don’t overlap (“mutually exclusive”).

By applying the same way of thinking recursively, we expose all sub-problems in these areas. Then we list all issues that could be causing these sub-problems. This makes the checklist as thorough as possible, without redundant checks that could slow us down.

A few pointers

Getting started

This checklist template is available to the public. When you open it, you’ll discover that you only have “view” permissions for the master document. To use it, you’ll first want to create a copy:

Marking status

Mark each issue with Pass, OK, or Fail:

  • Pass means you have no concerns.

  • OK means the issues doesn’t seem relevant currently.

  • Fail means something appears to be wrong.

When you update an Issue, the grade for the Cause and Outcome will also be updated. If any Issue’s score is Fail, the Cause and Outcome will also Fail.

Find what you’re looking for quickly

People new to search engine optimization can still start using this sheet. We’ve now added a “Start Here” column to make it faster than ever to get started.

For new users of some of these tools, it might not be clear where to find relevant information. The “Start Here” column points you to the exact place you can find the details you need.

Understand what’s at stake

If you’re the person analyzing the audit after it’s done, you want to get a high-level picture quickly. Use the structure of the sheet to simplify that view by filtering the Issues rows.

Filtering for Outcomes and Causes gives you a quick-and-dirty summary of a site’s strengths and weaknesses. This is the first thing I look at when I see a completed audit!

Filtering related tasks

If you’re the one doing the audit, you want to get it done as quickly as possible. Take advantage of the structure of the sheet to group things

Take advantage of the structure of the sheet by showing only the issues you’re inspecting right now. Try filtering by the “Where” column—for “Google Search Console”, for instance. This will let you grade all Issues for that tool at once.

We want to learn from you, too

This checklist is a living document. We appreciate any feedback you have. Feel free to jump in the comments section here or find me on Twitter: @BenjaminEstes.

Interested in working with us?

This audit is an example of the way Distilled approaches consulting. We aren’t limited to SEO—we also help our clients with marketing strategy, content design and production, paid search, and more. If our approach sounds interesting, please reach out!


The Technical Audit Checklist for Human Beings: September 2017 Update was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

3 Link Building Tactics to Improve Your SEO

Easy Link Building Tactics

Along with an SEO professional’s link building campaign, there will always be a need for easy link building tactics to help get started. This is especially true for amateur SEOs that have their work cut out for them when a client wants their newly established website to rank on the first page of the search results.

The absence of a stable base of links means that a website will not – at the very least – be able to compete in SERPs (search engine results pages).  Even if you properly perform every other aspect of your SEO campaign, without having a stable foundation for your link profile, then everything that you have done will be for naught.

That’s why I took it upon myself to provide 3 easy link building tactics you can use to help improve your link building campaign – even your SEO campaign. Let’s start.

 Easy link building tactic -Names Related to Your Brand
#1. Names Related to Your Brand

The first strategy you can use is to look for links that are from your own brand name, the domain name, or the names of the company’s executives. Here’s what you should do:

Search in Quotes

This is really simple. Just search for any name that’s related to your brand, and enclose it with quotation marks. Here’s an example: If I was going to do it, I’d start by inputting “SEO” or “Sean Si” in quotes into the Google search bar.

Fortunately, there are only a handful of SEO’s or Sean Si’s in the world of search. This means that I do not have to use the plus sign (+) then an identifier. However, if there are other meanings for your domain name, or your company executives have a common name, you can do it like this: retain the quotation marks but add in the plus sign and the identifier. So, in my case, I would search for “Sean Si + SEO”. Afterward, your results will be filtered to only a Sean Si that’s related to the SEO industry.

Inspect the Top 50-100 Search Results

After searching in quotes, you should start inspecting the search results to make sure that they are:

  • Linking to the Correct Site – If there are mentions of SEO Hacker in the search results, and when I check the results, there’s no link back to, I should fix that. Fixing this will involve contacting the people that handle the websites I’ve found.
  • Updated – This is for the websites that you can actually edit the anchor text or where the link goes to. I usually do this for my social media channels. In LinkedIn, for example, I can update the company I’m working at, or if I changed SEO Hacker’s domain name, then I can edit the link in my profile.
  • There are no mistakes – Sometimes, when you inspect the pages in the search results, you’ll find out that the links are missing or they’re linking to the wrong site, then you should fix that immediately.

Make sure that every mention of your brand or executives has a link back to the website because having these will improve your backlink profile and your SEO campaign.

 Easy link building tactic - Websites That Include Your Competitors
#2. Websites That Include Your Competitors

This means that you have to do a little bit of competitor research and find out which websites link to those competitors. The typical types of websites that do this are comparison sites that focus on plural comparative intent, directories, listing websites. This is what you should do:

Find The Most Visible Competitors

To find out, you can just input queries that you would personally rank for. Then, when you see the results, find out which of them are typically shown in different queries that you want to rank for. Or, to do it in a simpler way, you can just read or watch news or articles in your niche.

Search in Groups

Let’s say, for example, the brand is all about gaming laptops, I’d be looking for my top competitors such as MSI, Razer, Alienware, and Asus. I might search for Razer and Alienware at the same time. Then, I’d search for MSI and Asus next. Basically, group them up, then search for varying combinations.

Look for Sites That List Your Competitors

This can be in any format such as the ones I’ve mentioned above (directories, lists, comparisons). What you should do is to contact or submit your brand to the people that run the websites. What you’ll tell them that is that your brand should belong in the lists because you basically sell the same thing as the ones included on the website. This won’t always work, but it’s better than not having any links back to your site. However, if you succeed, then it’s good news for your link profile.

Easy link building tactic - Listing Websites
#3. Websites That List Things in Your Niche, Location, and Elements

Do not limit these attributes to being separate from each other. There are websites that create lists by combining these things. So, using the example above, there might be websites that are making lists about Philippine-based gaming laptops under $500. And by chance, your company is everything that list is looking for. So, you should try to get included in the lists because there is a unique attribute that none of your competitors possess. This is a great time to acquire good quality links while being able to have something that your competitors do not have. You can do this by:

Make a List of…

Your Company’s Niche – You can be in manufacturing, software, services, finances, or whatever your company’s niche is. Just make sure that you are able to list your areas of expertise from the macro to the micro level.

Your Company’s Location – Similarly, start from the macro level all the way down to the micro level. So, start with the continent, then country, region, and city.

Unique Elements/Attributes – List down anything that might interesting or unique about your company. Maybe your founder was a woman, or your company is eco-friendly, or that you only use the latest components available in the market. Basically, list down all of the things that you think is unique to your company

Search for Others

After making your list, you can search for other brands, websites, or businesses that you share some similarities with. They could have some of your elements, or they’re located in the same region, or they are in the same niche as you are. Through searching in Google, you can find the lists that look for the attributes that you have. Then, when you find these types of websites, getting included in their lists is a matter of talking and persuading them.

Key Takeaway

The best thing about knowing these easy link building tactics is that you do not have to shell out large amounts of money to make them work. You don’t have to use tools, think about link metrics, focus on the process of link qualifications, or paying for links (which is a black hat strategy).

You only have to use Google. That’s the only “tool” you’ll need and it’s free. The link building tactics I’ve highlighted above can help amateur SEOs get that first link for their websites without having to put in too much effort.

If you know any other link building tactics, just comment it down below so we can start a much-needed discussion.

3 Link Building Tactics to Improve Your SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing