Month: January 2018

How Long Should You Keep a Redirected (301) URL before Shutting it Down?


As a best practice, when moving pages you should implement 301 redirects from the previous URLs to the new ones and keep them active for at least 1 year. When moving entire domains to new domains, you should keep them active for as long as reasonably possible. This is crucial to maintaining your domain authority and rankings – regardless of the reason behind the change in your URL. This redirect makes sure that your visitors are sent to your new site without having to type the new URL. Think of it as setting up a mail forwarding system when you move houses. To ensure that you do not miss out on any important mail, you ensure that everything is sent to the new address. The same concern runs true for websites. In tech terms, mail forwarding is called a 301 redirect.

A Quick 301, 101: Benefits and Pitfalls of a 301 Redirect

Without a properly setup redirect, your users might face a 404 Not Found page or get directed to non-operational parts of your website. Clearly, these kinds of messages or errors are turn-offs to users and will certainly cause them to leave your website, but could lead them to completely disregarding your brand. The screenshot below is what it would look like if we incorrectly setup a redirect and you hit our 404 page:

Another consequence could be losing your page ranking because only a correctly set up redirect could point all link juice from your old site’s backlinks to your new page. However with all that said, the benefits, if used correctly, still outweight the pitfalls.

The History of 301 Redirects (and Google’s Response)

301 redirects are permanent redirects from an old URL to a new one. This command sends visitors to the new URL instead of to the one they typed or clicked on from their search engine results. A 301 redirect (not to be mistaken for a canonical attribute) can send 90-99% link juice to the new page. The code “301” is the HTTP status protocol of this kind of redirect. Generally, this redirect is deemed as the most efficient.

In most cases, marketers have various reasons for setting up a 301 redirect:

  • Streamline Traffic. One is to streamline all the direct traffic from different URLs to one website when all these are owned by the same organization. This usually becomes necessary when brands purchase other domains that have a similar name or description to theirs. They do this corner the market and ensure that all traffic from those names goes directly to their site. More importantly, this helps them establish the search authority of their original domain name.
  • For Rebranding. Another is for rebranding or renaming purposes. When a company changes its website or brand name, they risk losing their inbound links. Setting up 301 redirect guarantees that this does not happen. This is actually the core of a redirect’s purpose – to ensure that visitors are sent to the correct web address.

The Dilemma and Google’s Response

Although the 301 redirect is a widely accepted practice, a lot of site owners still wonder if it’s necessary. If yes, how long should you keep a redirected (301) URL before shutting it down? Theoretically, a 301 redirect is a permanent type of redirect which means you can keep it for the rest of your life (and even beyond). However, keeping something like that in your inventory is definitely not practical or reasonable. At some point, a number of publishers believe that it would be time to let go of the old domain, and answer the question of “when” can only come from Google’s advice.

Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said that 301 redirects applied to permanent site move situations should be active for a long time. He explained that it takes at least six months to roughly a year for Google to be able to completely recognize that your site was moved. Apart from that, he pointed out that you give your visitors ample time to learn about your changes instead of leading them to a 404 page or a parked domain.

Mueller also wanted publishers to focus their attention on active links that may still be associated with your old URL. This means that even if a significant amount of time has passed and Google has already recognized that your site moved, it might still point to your old domain if the said active links are clicked. Hence, Mueller advised site owners to do their own due diligence as well. He said that publishers should try to spread the word about their move as much as possible. Aside from informing your followers and users, it would be beneficial if you also reach out to the owners of the links. The latter measure would at least give your partners the opportunity to update accordingly from their end as well.

Basically, Mueller suggests that you should keep your 301 redirects as long as possible and reasonable. After taking the necessary steps like informing the relevant parties of the move and disseminating the information in the hopes of reaching your future visitors, give Google sufficient time to recognize your move.

Bottom line

If you are moving from one domain to another, try to keep your 301 redirects for as long as there are sites or links that are still pointing to your former URL. In fact, if you see no pressing reason to remove it, the best decision is to just leave it there. Apart from potentially hurting your ranking, getting rid of your 301 redirects could mean bad customer experience for your users as well. Seeing error pages or outdated pages would badly hurt your reputation and could even cost you lost leads.

Another factor to consider before removing your 301 redirects is your site traffic. Check if the main source of your new site’s traffic is either your old links or direct traffic recorded when users type your old URL into their browsers. If this is the case for you, then it’s highly advisable to keep the 301 redirect forever. It would be too risky to suddenly get rid of your old domain especially if your old links are bringing in so much traffic from users who still find them relevant.

So should you ever take it down? If the source of most of your traffic comes from search engine results, then you can just shut down your 301 redirects after a few months to a year. Like Mueller said, this would be enough time for Google to track your move and recognize your new site.

How Long Should You Keep a Redirected (301) URL before Shutting it Down? was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

New Report: 59% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel

I enjoyed reading through the new report from and econsultancy based on research they carried out to understand the big trends in e-commerce and specifically focusing on attitudes to testing and experimentation.

One particular part caught my eye and I thought I would repurpose (with permission) some of their research and data to illustrate a point that I found interesting.

The original report contains this chart:

I was immediately struck by the big gap in the organic search line – it is the channel that has by some margin the biggest number of e-commerce companies which simultaneously rely on the channel and do not test to improve and understand their performance in this area. (And this accepts at face-value the claim by 29% of respondents that they do test organic search which is high, from my experience).

Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I’m interested in this given the huge investment we have been making into making SEO testable and quantifiable. So having noticed this tidbit, I reworked that chart to order by the gap and got this:

We very often hear from our clients and customers that they are under significant pressure in the business to measure and justify organic SEO investments. If you find yourself repeatedly having conversations where your boss asks how are you measuring the value of these on-site SEO changes? Or do you know which of the investments we are making in on-site SEO are paying off?

(Or if you’re the boss and you don’t know the answers to these questions).

Then maybe it’s time to check out the latest thinking in SEO split-testing – drop us a line and we’ll be happy to show you how it works.

New Report: 59% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Game On: The Best SEO Strategies for Gaming Sites


Video games have become one of the most popular forms of media over the past few decades, with videogame consoles becoming a household staple. One of the factors that affected its rapid growth was the emergence of the internet. In fact, gaming searches account for a good amount of search queries on a regular basis. With search engines playing a big part in gaming, utilizing SEO strategies for gaming sites is one of the most effective ways to improve visibility and authority.

SEO strategies for gaming sites vary differently from other websites and requires a good amount of research and planning before implementing them. Here is a guide to some of the best SEO strategies that you can use on your gaming site, along with some important steps that will help you reach your target audience.

Major Factors to Consider

The world of gaming is massive, and with numerous gaming-related content available on the internet, it is a highly competitive world that would see you struggle without proper preparation. With that in mind, here are factors to consider when creating your gaming site.

Know What Gaming Site You Want to Be

Gaming consists of different genres and systems, and it is important to know what kind of gaming site you would want to be. Gaming sites consist of online magazines that focus on gaming-related articles, gaming portals, online retail and distribution, and gaming blogs. Gamers are particular with what content they want to access, which means that defining what your site is would ensure you get the right audience.

Analyze the Competition

With the abundance of established gaming sites present on the internet, it is best to do some competitor analysis and research about the most popular sites and the latest trends in gaming to keep your site up to date. A few search queries on Google would help you see what are the latest trending topics gamers are looking at. This will help you see what most gaming sites have to offer, and how they present their content to their audience. You would also be able to find out how to stand out and know your audience better.

Know the Community

Gaming has grown to what it is today thanks to its highly supportive and passionate community. This community helped gamers from across the world to interact with one another and create a massive network. This massive fanbase promotes a supportive environment which fellow gamers ask for help or create healthy discussions about their favorite games. Understanding how this community works is key to your SEO strategy.

Best SEO Strategies for Gaming Sites

Now that you have these factors considered, it is now time to know which SEO strategies are the most effective when it comes to building up traffic for your gaming site. Here are some of the strategies that you should use when doing SEO for your gaming site.

Create Video content

Create Video Content

Some of the most viewed websites for gaming-related content are YouTube and Twitch, both of which are streaming sites that boast hours of videos. The amount of video content that has been accessed regularly over the past few years have steadily increased, making video content an invaluable part of any SEO or social media campaign.

Create Video Content 2

Gamers want to see how videogames are played to either learn from fellow gamers, or see if the game is worth buying. When it comes to creating videogame content, it is best to stick with a specific format, as that helps gamers identify your site. One of the things that gamers look for when watching their videos is personality and character, as it makes the content relatable and approachable. Adding links to your video content is also one of the best ways to boost traffic to your gaming site, and it helps when your videos are optimized for SEO. For that matter, you can access our YouTube SEO guide, which would help make your channel gain more traffic.

Gaming Forum

Build Links by Going to Gaming Forums

Gaming forums and discussions boards are very active on the internet, as it gives gamers a platform for deep discussions related to different kinds of gaming topics and news. Forums are ways gamers interact with one another, like talk about tips and tricks on certain games, or debate which games are better.

Gaming Forum 2

Popular gaming forums and discussion boards include NeoGAF, Gamefaqs, and Reddit. These forums are great ways to build solid backlinks that would lead gamers to your site. Providing them links with content that is relevant to their discussion would help bring in more traffic to your site. Gamers always look for content related to their favorite games and genres, and forums are platforms in which they discover most of this content.

Facebook Game Site Page

Engage in Social Media

Social media is one of the best ways to reach out to your audience, as it helps make communication more convenient by allowing comments and messages. Gamers across the world use Facebook as one of their main social media platforms, and it is highly evident when you see how many likes, shares, and views gaming-related content receive on a daily basis.

Twitter Game Site Page

Establishing a Facebook page for your gaming site would help increase internet traffic, as a lot of gamers check Facebook for the latest gaming updates. Twitter is another platform where gamers receive updates, which makes it effective in generating traffic, and creating viral content through the use of hashtags.

Add character to your content

As with video content, adding personality, character, and quality to your written content will make it more compelling, and would pique the interest of gamers. These kinds of articles resonate better with your audience, which helps you get better internet traffic. Game reviews, news, and analyses are some of the most popular articles in gaming sites, and are guaranteed to get you traffic, given that it is high quality. It is best to look for some excellent examples of video game writing, and find a writing style that would match your branding, and make you stand out from the rest.

Key Takeaway

Gaming has taken the world by storm and will continue to do so in the near future. This makes gaming sites an important avenue for gaming-related content. These SEO strategies are sure to help you create a top gaming site that provides quality content to gamers across the world.

If you have questions and inquiries about SEO strategies and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Game On: The Best SEO Strategies for Gaming Sites was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

New Report: 58% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel

I enjoyed reading through the new report from and econsultancy based on research they carried out to understand the big trends in e-commerce and specifically focusing on attitudes to testing and experimentation.

One particular part caught my eye and I thought I would repurpose (with permission) some of their research and data to illustrate a point that I found interesting.

The original report contains this chart:

I was immediately struck by the big gap in the organic search line – it is the channel that has by some margin the biggest number of e-commerce companies which simultaneously rely on the channel and do not test to improve and understand their performance in this area. (And this accepts at face-value the claim by 29% of respondents that they do test organic search which is high, from my experience).

Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I’m interested in this given the huge investment we have been making into making SEO testable and quantifiable. So having noticed this tidbit, I reworked that chart to order by the gap and got this:

We very often hear from our clients and customers that they are under significant pressure in the business to measure and justify organic SEO investments. If you find yourself repeatedly having conversations where your boss asks how are you measuring the value of these on-site SEO changes? Or do you know which of the investments we are making in on-site SEO are paying off?

(Or if you’re the boss and you don’t know the answers to these questions).

Then maybe it’s time to check out the latest thinking in SEO split-testing – drop us a line and we’ll be happy to show you how it works.

New Report: 58% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Google’s Mobile Location History

Google Location History

If you use Google Maps to navigate from place to place, or if you have agreed to be a local guide for Google Maps, there is a chance that you have seen Google Mobile Location history information. There is a Google Account Help page about how to Manage or delete your Location History. The location history page starts off by telling us:

Your Location History helps you get better results and recommendations on Google products. For example, you can see recommendations based on places you’ve visited with signed-in devices or traffic predictions for your daily commute.

You may see this history as your timeline, and there is a Google Help page to View or edit your timeline. This page starts out by telling us:

Your timeline in Google Maps helps you find the places you’ve been and the routes you’ve traveled. Your timeline is private, so only you can see it.

Mobile Location history has been around for a while, and I’ve seen it mentioned in a few Google patents. It may be referred to as a “Mobile location history” because it appears to contain information collected by your mobile device. Here are three posts I’ve written about patents that mention location history and describe processes that depend upon Mobile Location history.

An interesting article that hints at some possible aspects of location history just came out on January 24th, in the post, If you’re using an Android phone, Google may be tracking every move you make.

The timing of the article about location history is interesting given that Google was granted a patent on user location histories the day before that article was published. It focuses upon telling us how location history works:

The present disclosure relates generally to systems and methods for generating a user location history. In particular, the present disclosure is directed to systems and methods for analyzing raw location reports received from one or more devices associated with a user to identify one or more real-world location entities visited by the user.

Techniques that could be used to attempt to determine a location associated with a device can include GPS, IP Addresses, Cell-phone triangulation, Proximity to Wifi Access points, and maybe even power line mapping using device magnetometers.

The patent has an interesting way of looking at location history, which sounds reasonable. I don’t know the latitudes and longitudes of places I visit:

Thus, human perceptions of location history are generally based on time spent at particular locations associated with human experiences and a sense of place, rather than a stream of latitudes and longitudes collected periodically. Therefore, one challenge in creating and maintaining a user location history that is accessible for enhancing one or more services (e.g. search, social, or an API) is to correctly identify particular location entities visited by a user based on raw location reports.

The location history process looks like it involves collecting data from mobile devices in a way that allows it to gather information about places visited, with scores for each of those locations. I have had Google Maps ask me to verify some of the places that I have visited, as if the score it had for those places may not have been sufficient (not high enough of a level of confidence) for it to believe that I had actually been at those places.

The location history patent is:

Systems and methods for generating a user location history
Inventors: Daniel Mark Wyatt, Renaud Bourassa-Denis, Alexander Fabrikant, Tanmay Sanjay Khirwadkar, Prathab Murugesan, Galen Pickard, Jesse Rosenstock, Rob Schonberger, and Anna Teytelman
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 9,877,162
Granted: January 23, 2018
Filed: October 11, 2016


Systems and methods for generating a user location history are provided. One example method includes obtaining a plurality of location reports from one or more devices associated with the user. The method includes clustering the plurality of location reports to form a plurality of segments. The method includes identifying a plurality of location entities for each of the plurality of segments. The method includes determining, for each of the plurality of segments, one or more feature values associated with each of the location entities identified for such segment. The method includes determining, for each of the plurality of segments, a score for each of the plurality of location entities based at least in part on a scoring formula. The method includes selecting one of plurality of locations entities for each of the plurality of segments.

Why generate a location history?

A couple of reasons stand out in the patent’s extended description.

1) The generated user location history can be stored and then later accessed to provide personalized location-influenced search results.
2) As another example, a system implementing the present disclosure can provide the location history to the user via an interactive user interface that allows the user to view, edit, and otherwise interact with a graphical representation of her mobile location history.

I like the interactive user Interface that shows times and distances traveled.

This statement from the patent was interesting, too:

According to another aspect of the present disclosure, a plurality of location entities can be identified for each of the plurality of segments. As an example, map data can be analyzed to identify all location entities that are within a threshold distance from a segment location associated with the segment. Thus, for example, all businesses or other points of interest within 1000 feet of the mean location of all location reports included in a segment can be identified.

Google may track information about locations that appear in that history, such as popularity features, which may include, “a number of social media mentions associated with the location entity being valued; a number of check-ins associated with the location entity being valued; a number of requests for directions to the location entity being valued; and/or and a global popularity rank associated with the location entity being valued.”

Personalization features may also be collected which described previous interactions between the user and the location entity, such as:

1) a number of instances in which the user performed a map click with respect to the location entity being valued;
2) a number of instances in which the user requested directions to the location entity being valued;
3) a number of instances in which the user has checked-in to the location entity being valued;
4) a number of instances in which the user has transacted with the location entity as evidenced by data obtained from a mobile payment system or virtual wallet;
5) a number of instances in which the user has performed a web search query with respect to the location entity being valued.

Other benefits of location history

This next potential feature was one that I tested to see if it was working, querying location history. It didn’t seem to be active at this point:

For example, a user may enter a search query that references the user’s historical location (e.g. “Thai restaurant I ate at last Thursday”). When it is recognized that the search query references the user’s location history, then the user’s location history can be analyzed in light of the search query. Thus, for example, the user location history can be analyzed to identify any Thai restaurants visited on a certain date and then provide such restaurants as results in response to the search query.

The patent refers to a graphical representation of mobile location history, which is available:

As an example, in some implementations, a user reviewing a graphical representation of her location history can indicate that one of the location entities included in her location history is erroneous (e.g. that she did not visit such location). In response, the user can be presented with one or more of the location entities that were identified for the segment for which the incorrect location entity was selected and can be given an opportunity to select a replacement location.

Location History Timeline Interface
A Location History Timeline Interface

In addition to the timeline interface, you can also see a map of places you may have visited:

Timeline with Map Interface
Map Interface

You can see in my screenshot of my timeline, I took a photo of a Kumquat tree I bought yesterday. It gives me a chance to see the photos I took, so that I can edit them, if I would like. The patent tells us this about the user interface:

In other implementations, opportunities to perform other edits, such as deleting, annotating, uploading photographs, providing reviews, etc., can be provided in the interactive user interface. In such fashion, the user can be provided with an interactive tool to explore, control, share, and contribute to her location history.

The patent tells us that it tracks activities that you may have engaged in at specific locations:

In further embodiments of the present disclosure, a location entity can be associated with a user action within the context of a location history. For example, the user action can be making a purchase (e.g. with a digital wallet) or taking a photograph. In particular, in some embodiments, the user action or an item of content generated by the user action (e.g. the photograph or receipt) can be analyzed to assist in identifying the location entity associated with such user action. For example, the analysis of the user action or item of content can contribute to the score determined for each location entity identified for a segment.

I have had the Google Maps application ask me if I would like to contribute photos that I have taken at specific locations, such as at the sunset at Solana Beach. I haven’t used a digital wallet, so I don’t know if that is potentially part of my location history.

The patent describes the timeline feature and the Map feature that I included screenshots from above.

The patent interestingly tells us that location entities may be referred to by the common names of the places they are called, and refers to those as “Semantic Identifiers:

Each location entity can be designated by a semantic identifier (e.g. the common “name” of restaurant, store, monument, etc.), as distinguished from a coordinate-based or location-based identifier. However, in addition to a name, the data associated with a particular location entity can further include the location of the location entity, such as longitude, latitude, and altitude coordinates associated with the location entity.

It’s looking like location history could get smarter:

As an example, an interaction evidenced by search data can include a search query inputted by a user that references a particular location entity. As another example, an interaction evidenced by map data 218 can include a request for directions to a particular location entity or a selection of an icon representing the particular location entity within a mapping application. As yet another example, an interaction evidenced by email data 220 can include flight or hotel reservations to a particular city or lodging or reservations for dinner at a particular restaurant. As another example, an interaction evidenced by social media data 222 can include a check-in, a like, a comment, a follow, a review, or other social media action performed by the user with respect to a particular location entity.

Tracking these interactions is being done under the name “user/location entity interaction extraction,” and it may calculate statistics about such interactions:

Thus, user/location entity interaction extraction module 212 can analyze available data to extract interactions between a user and a location entity. Further, interaction extraction module 212 can maintain statistics regarding aggregate interactions for a location entity with respect to all users for which data is available.

It appears that to get the benefit of being able to access information such as this, you would need to give Google the ability to collect such data.

The patent provides more details about location history, and popularity and other features, and even a little more about personalization. Many aspects of location history have been implemented, while there are some that look like they might have yet to be developed. As can be seen from the three posts I have written about that describes patents that use information from location history, it is possible that location history may be used in other processes used by Google.

How do you feel about mobile location history from Google?

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Google’s Mobile Location History was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

5 reasons to attend SearchLove San Diego 2018

In just a few short weeks’ time we’ll be jetting off to sunny San Diego for our annual West Coast conference, and we can’t wait! If you’re looking to get ahead this year, and want to learn amongst smart and likeminded folk (in lush surroundings), then you need to meet us in San Diego for SearchLove 2018, March 26 & 27.

You can still get a ticket for under $1000 – the classic all-access pass costs $999 – and you get access to the whole conference, lunch, snacks and drinks, as well as the after-show entertainment on both nights. If you need a few more reasons as to why you should be there, then look no further.

1. Put your trust in Rand. (Plus, he’s speaking, so you can see him there)


2. This will be your office/home for a couple of days

Not bad, hey?

3. The speakers will blow you away

We spend months seeking out the smartest, most inspiring minds to pump you up with new ideas and advanced strategies. Plus, our single-track setting means you needn’t miss a minute. Why not see how awesome last years speakers were.

Our speakers will be covering the following topics:

  • Local search
  • Smarter reporting with Google Data Studio
  • Real lessons in growth marketing
  • Core SEO
  • Video content for search
  • Featured snippets
  • Site speed
  • PowerBI
  • Branding for your customers
  • Analytics to drive optimization & personalization
  • Why move your URLs
  • Newsjacking
  • Technical search

4. The whole team here at Distilled are passionate about putting on and being present at SearchLove.

As much as we believe our conferences to be the best, we’re obviously biased. But here’s what a few of last years San Diego delegates had to say:

“I’ve been to all the multi-track SEO conferences, but after being in the industry for some time, the smaller single track conferences like SearchLove tend to be more focus, more advanced, more intimate, more insightful.”

Benj Arriola, Myers Media Group

“This was my first SearchLove, and I am kicking myself for not having attended in past years. Every speaker offered a wealth of real tactics that we can immediately utilize in our digital marketing strategies. I left feeling inspired and energized so much that I got to work immediately! Thank you Distilled, and all of the speakers and sponsors for the best event of the year.”

Julie Riddle, Director of Marketing, Bill Howe Plumbing, Heating & Air, Restoration & Flood

“SearchLove is my go-to conference for getting actionable insights from a wide range of thought leaders in the industry and getting a preview of future innovations in online marketing.”

Kirby Burke, Searchmetrics

5. You can get personalized advice.

As well as all the sessions, chances to ask the speakers questions, hanging out with peers, we also offer you the chance to get one on one advice, tactics and guidance specifically for you or your company:

Why not book one of our site clinics once you’ve bought your ticket. Just drop an email to the events team to arrange. The site clinic is a private session with one of the expert Distilled consulting team to discuss any aspect of your business or website, any area where you need advice be it on technical issues, content strategy or your conversion process. We’ll give you expert advice for you to take back to the office and your team and get to work on, straight after SearchLove.

Not only that, but we also have our lunchtime topic tables. Select a topic of interest during registration on the first day and have the chance to converse and ask questions to your peers and expert consultant, all while enjoying a freshly prepared lunch in the sunshine and by the calming water. What more could you ask for?

And if all of that hasn’t yet pushed you to hit the ‘buy now’ button, then watch one or all of these sessions for free, and then I’ll see you in Paradise.


More details can be found in our FAQ section here.

5 reasons to attend SearchLove San Diego 2018 was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Why Virtual Tours Matter and How to Make One for your Business


We have previously discussed how Google My Business helps improve local SEO for businesses and makes it visible in search results pages. One of the important points that was discussed was how adding a virtual tour would be beneficial in increasing audience interest.

Virtual tours give your audience a visual idea of how your business looks like before they even visit their, and that makes for one big first impression what can be a deciding factor on whether or not they would like your service.

Adding a virtual tour on your Google My Business page may look simple at a glance, but it would take good effort to take some attractive 360-degree images that presents your business well. Here is a short guide on how to create your own virtual tour, along with reasons why you should do this for your business.

The first thing that you need to know before even taking pictures for your Google My Business Virtual Tour is to make sure that you get to comply with the image requirements. This consist of the following:

  • Images must be at least 7.5 Megapixels (MP) with 2:1 aspect ratio
  • Images should not be more than 75 megabytes (MB)

Basically, this means that you need high quality images to be able to have your shots posted on your Google My Business listing. High quality images allow your audience to see each part of your business better and would give off a good impression.

Shoot Your Photos

360 Camera

Now that you have the image requirements, the next thing that you need to do before setting up your virtual tour is taking the pictures themselves. You would need a good camera that allows you to take panoramic 360-degree shots.

Some of the top of the line smartphones are equipped with cameras that have around 8-12 megapixels, which mean that you can take high-quality photos straight from your pocket. To allow these phones to have the ability to take 360-degree shots, you have to download applications such as 360 Panorama. After taking the shot, you can instantly share it on social media sites like Facebook, or even directly to Google Street View.

While smartphones are indeed convenient and inexpensive, the best way to take these panoramic shots is through the use of a 360-degree camera. It is best to make sure that you have the right height through the use of a tripod, along with the best location to be able to capture your ideal images.

Posting Photos

After capturing your ideal images for your Virtual Tour, the next step is to have them posted on your Google My Business page. On the home page, click “Photos” to begin.

Google My Business Home

On the Photos bar, click “360”, which will be the location of all of your 360-degree shots for your business. There are also a myriad of image and video options that you can use as well, such as interior and exterior images, and even images of your team at work.

Google My Business Photos Bar

Upon entering the 360 section, you would be able to see all of the 360-degree images of your business made by you and the customers themselves. To add your panoramic photos, click the blue plus icon on the right side.

Google My Business 360

Upon clicking, you would be at the upload section, where you would be able to post your photos. It is best to take note that you images must pass the guidelines set by Google. This simply means that all photos that are posted on your Google My Business page must be appropriate.

Google My Business 360 Upload

After posting your photos, you can now view them on your Google My Business Page, and even add these images on Street View. Adding your images on Street View allows more users to be able to see your business, and it can be done through the Google Street View app. After downloading it on the Google Play Store, the next step is to upload your image. Click the camera icon on the bottom right corner, and then select “Import 360 photos to upload your image.

Google Street View Posting

After picking the option, the next step is to select the image on the album. You have the option to select multiple images if you want to feature more than one part of your business.

Google Street View Publish Photo

The next step is to pin the location on the map to your business, which means moving the red icon to the right location.

Google Street View Publish Location

Once your location has been set, you can finally publish your image for your users to see. This is a quick and easy process that will take you a few minutes to accomplish but would give your potential clients a good look at your business.

Google Street View Publish Button

Why Virtual Tours Matter

Now that you have set up your virtual tour, here are some important reasons why you should have one to help your business.

Get Noticed Better

The main purpose of the virtual tour is to give a good visual idea of your business to your potential clients. With technology and the abundance of businesses everywhere you go, people today have so many choices that being able to find a way to stand out would always give you a competitive edge.

A lot of businesses still do not use virtual tours on their Google My Business profile, and this can affect the number of customers they attract. With first impressions counting the most, giving your potential clients a glimpse of what you have to offer makes a big difference. This also does wonders for your local SEO, especially with how businesses are highly competitive today.

Efficient and Inexpensive

Being able to pull off high quality panoramic shots on your phone through the use of simple apps means that adding virtual tours on your business can be done quickly, with only a few editing and refinements needed. In fact, the apps that you need to install on your phone are mostly free, making it one of the most efficient ways of promoting your business.

Key Takeaway

Having a virtual tour may sound like just another fancy feature that would not do much. But in reality, users access these kinds of features to get to know more about your business. If you haven’t added your virtual tour into your Google My Business page, this guide will surely prove useful.

If you have any questions about SEO tools and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Why Virtual Tours Matter and How to Make One for your Business was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Creative Inspiration: Content We Enjoyed this Winter

Long format we love you!

In the age of everyone having a blog, highly stylised long format can be what it takes to make your written content stand out. At Distilled we often ask ourselves does something being a blog post make it immediately feel less valuable than say, a white paper or a comprehensive guide? Is turning something into a simple blog post selling yourself short, is that format right for your content? With written content coming in so many forms from microblogging in tweets, to company e-newsletters, it’s important to find the right format for what you want to say, of course, sometimes that is with a simple blog post.

Each quarter at Distilled we look back over the content that has made us tick. Content that made us laugh, start heated debates, WOW at how pretty it is, or feel flabbergasted by the conclusions. Building on the 2017 summer and autumn roundup we launched last year, here’s what we loved (or loathed) with equal passion this winter. Starting with some beautiful long format journalism.

Poor Millennials – Highline Huffington Post

With so much content being churned out these days, one might argue that journalistic standards are slipping. Perhaps to fly the flag of quality, well-researched journalism once more, a select team at The Huffington Post has created a new arm called ‘Highline’. Each article features captivating movement as you scroll. Poor Millennials, which was 8 months in the making, discusses ‘Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression’. I found it relatable, even though I’m at the older end of the millennial spectrum.

The frank writing style and 8-bit illustrations pull you in. Pull quotes, stats and bold use of typography make this monster of a post easily digestible at a surface level if you don’t have half a half day to read the whole thing. The tone of voice is brash and allows you to feel justified in your bitterness towards the economy. The animations aptly depict millennials emotions in a very literal way, e.g. falling through space with no one to cushion your fall. There are graphs – in psychedelic pinks, and what feels like levels and character controllability, all harping back to the 90’s rave culture and gaming that millennials hold so dear.

Ungifted – Do The Green Thing

On the lead up to Christmas, we often run about like headless chickens buying up unnecessary bits and bobs for our loved ones, just because we need to get them something. ‘Do The Green Thing’ is a public service that uses creativity to tackle climate change. Needless to say, they would like to minimise the plastic tat lying in our landfills after the festive period. How? By inspiring us to give time not objects. And so ‘Do The Green Thing’ created ‘Ungifted’. It’s essentially a list of ways you can spend time with your friends/family, whether it be a winter bike ride, a night on the tiles, or a home-cooked meal. The long format page has little gifs depicting characters joyously appreciating these activities, and a long list of numerous ideas to incentivise our consumer society to change their habits. ‘Do The Green Thing’ could have easily added in stats about unwanted material gifts, or rubbish accumulated over Christmas to further bolster the message. The page presentation is fun, lighthearted, non-preachy, and not too content heavy. This makes content consumption, and subsequent change, more likely.

Find Your Happy Place – Budget Direct

Budget Direct – a car/travel/house insurance company – has collated data on the factors that affect living standards. The tool enables you to drag and drop a modular ordered list to define your own hierarchy for these standards. Is it house affordability or pollution which are most important to you? Once ordered the tool suggests in which city you might find your happy place. A more simplistic version of OECD’s Better Life Index. Suggesting a life in a far-off city, tells us something about ourselves and allows us to daydream about where we might be most happy. Perhaps we will even use Budget Direct to book our travel insurance when we visit there!

The Gourmand’s 10th issue – The Gourmand – Matthieu Lavanchy

The food and culture journal made waves with its 10th front cover. Working with photographer Matthieu Lavanchy they took food that had already been turned into an emoji, and turned it back into food… meta. The accuracy of the photography vs the emojis is uncanny. Taking icons we see regularly, and reimagining them makes you want to compare the photos to the icons on your phone, it gets you involved.

Thank you, Lamont – Lyft

Lyft is like Uber, a cab app. Lyft has created a series of videos where the premise is giving back to their drivers. They share individual, inspirational and memorable driver stories. With big faceless organisations, and especially those in low paid service industries, stories that show a human element – and even what a positive change working for this company has had on someone’s life – stick in your mind. Lamont, the driver featured here, talks about the world being his home as opposed to favouring one place (a great all-inclusive brand message). Lyft surprise him by encouraging his exploration of the world with an all-inclusive around the world trip.

Bullying Jr – Burger King in association with No Bully

Partnering with a charity can really help a brand if there’s synergy with their core messages. It shows the brand cares and is willing to use their clout to speak out to help raise awareness (or money) for those less fortunate. Burger King ‘bullied’ one of their own burgers, to help raise awareness of the impact of bullying. The narrative starts with a fact; ‘30% of students are bullied’. It then shows a bunch of school kids bullying another child. Customers in the Burger King restaurant look on, clearly moved by the scene that is unfolding before them. Yet the majority of spectators do nothing.

Then it’s the burger’s turn. Before it is wrapped up it receives a few sharp punches, flattening and breaking apart the bun whilst the filling spills out. 95% of customers complained about their burger having been bullied, yet only 12% stood up for the bullied child. This campaign isn’t aimed at the bullies themselves. Rather it exposes the impact of the uninvolved bystander, the witness. It asks them to stand up. To say something. This works for a fast food restaurant whose customers are a real mix of ages, including kids getting a quick bite to eat after school. It is the sort of place in towns where children congregate, everyone needs to eat and everyone has the potential to be bullied/see bullying. An eating place should be safe space, where communities can come together to rest and recoup.

Taste Face – Marmite

Marmite has released a face recognition tool and a gene test where the brand states that it knows if you are a lover or hater of Marmite. Marmite has always been brasher than any other brand in actively saying that its customers HATE its product, but now it reveals that science can work out your taste preferences. I actually quite like Marmite but I tried to trick the face recognition tool into believing I am a hater, by pulling my most disgusted face… and it worked, branding me ‘73% a born hater’. For me, the fascination here is more how the face recognition tool works out how much you love or hate something as opposed to it being an accurate test. Is it shareable? Yes! It’s a smart way of having a bit of fun and, of course, people like to share pictures of their own face!

X-Rated Elf – Poundland

Every now and again a brand does something controversial that gets everyone talking. Remember the recent outcry when Dove showed a black person turning into a white person? Personally, I don’t think this marketing effort aimed to be controversial, but conversation was drummed up nonetheless.

Well, some brands create controversy purposefully, shamelessly. How? By talking about teabagging… Ummmm. Yup, that’s right. That’s what Poundland made a figurine elf do for it’s Christmas campaign, which was released through a series of images on social. Other scenes showed a naked poker match (Joker Joker, I really want to poke her) and a penis shaped cactus drawn on an etch a sketch (That’s one prickly Christmas tree).

While some people found this hilarious, it had many others up in arms, calling it rude, offensive and misogynistic.  Poundland showed no remorse and was quoted saying ‘We’re proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53 and is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas!’ Poundland also threw caution to the wind by creating some unofficial brand partnerships with Barbie and Ken, and Twinings (who I believe asked them to remove their packaging from one of the scenes).

Holiday Video E-Card –  R&O Construction – Becca Clason

Sometimes a client’s service or product can seem so boring it’s hard to imagine how you can let your creativity run wild. Introducing Construction company R&O and its holiday E-Card by typographic genius Becca Clason. Complete with construction sound effects and Christmas music – the asphalt, sawdust and cement greeting card video really gives you that Christmassy feeling while keeping R&O and the creativity they are showing in mind. The sawdust makes up the words ‘Wishing You’ while the word ‘JOY’ is lowered into place with what seems like a crane. Christmas is a great time and excuse to send out little reminders of your company.

Memory Powered Tree – Marie Curie

This Christmas, Marie Curie created a memory-powered Christmas tree next to the London Eye in Waterloo. Each time a memory was shared on social using the hashtag #LightUpChristmas, lights on the tree would shine a little brighter. This gave people a place to congregate to share memories of lost loved ones, and to celebrate the memories of those still with us too. Having a stunt in such a public space with a high footfall makes it a real talking point, and the activity makes you feel you’re part of a community – coming together to make a little magic happen.

Memories or money –

It’s important to drill down to the specifics of what you are selling with your product or service. Are you selling insurance, or peace of mind? Are you selling games or laughter? What sells is not holidays, it’s memories. It’s the romantic time you had in Venice, or how you were flabbergasted by the scenery in Alberta. It’s that wonderful memory that you will always have with you that matters. That is what you’re spending your money on.

In the video, a handful of people discuss their most poignant or exciting memories. A woman in a lab coat then asks if it’s ok to delete those memories for a fee. The participants (quite rightly) are horrified by the notion and say ‘no’, showing that the memories made are priceless. The video acts as an incentive to book a holiday and make more of those priceless memories.

What content have you enjoyed lately? Let us know in the comments.

Creative Inspiration: Content We Enjoyed this Winter was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

SEO Hacker Guide to Google Trends


When it comes to SEO tools, we at SEO Hacker make sure that we have the best ones available. This allows us to be able to accomplish our tasks more efficiently, and implement some of our best SEO practices and strategies. Some of these tools include,, Omniconvert, and Cognitive SEO. For people who are starting with their SEO, some of these tools require a good monthly investment to maintain.

Thankfully, Google has some free tools that you can utilize effectively for your SEO. These include Google Analytics and Google Trends. For the latter, it is one of the simplest and most effective tools when it comes to different kinds of SEO tasks. Google Trends has a variety of features that give you the best results when used properly. Here is a guide on how you can use Google Trends for SEO.

Competitor Analysis

To start using Google Trends, simply type in your keyword on the “Explore Topics” bar and then you get to access all of the trend data on what you search. After entering, you have the option to add up to four more keywords to search, which helps you compare different trends.

Google Trends Start

One of the best ways to track the popularity of certain brands and businesses is by using Google Trends. You can track brand interest over a certain period of time, and even narrow it down per region, category, and what kind of searches. For this example, I used some popular soda brands, and compared the amount of total searches over the course of the past 12 months.

Google Trends Comparison

Google Trends also breaks down the interest per region and see which brands are the most popular in each region. As you can see, Pepsi has the highest interest in North America and some parts of Asia and Africa, while Coca Cola’s interest is spread worldwide. If you want a more specific comparison, you can pick a specific region and narrow it down even more.

Google Trends Comparison Region

Let’s narrow it down to searches in the Philippines and see what we will get.

Google Trends Comparison Philippines

You will be able to see that the interest in Pepsi has been at a high for most parts of the year in the country. Google Trends allows you to see some of the most searched terms of each brand, so you can see the reasons why each brand is trending up. As you can see, the reason for the surge in interest was because of Kendall Jenner, which you can look into further by checking some of the most relevant news articles.

Google Trends Comparison Pepsi

Along with the trend comparison and regional data, you can filter your searches even more. On the bar below the search terms, you can filter down your data by choosing a specific country or state, time frame, where you can access data as far back as 2004, categories like health and entertainment, and web search types like image and video search. This allows you to get a diverse amount of data from different time periods and categories, which help give you the specifics.

Google Trends Filters

Using these filters, I was able to get trend results from food and drink web searches in the United States since the year 2004. Having this wide database for free is really a wonderful thing for SEO, as you would not even need to invest on a tool that will do the same job.

Google Trends Filtered Data

All in all, the search term comparison is a simple, yet effective feature that allows you to compare a number of search terms at the same time. Having this data at the ready helps you receive quick and important data for your client’s SEO.

Keyword Research

This is one of the most commonly used functions of Google Trends within our team, as the tool allows our team to be able to look for some of the most popular search terms and news articles to create content and relevant keywords for our clients. One of the first steps into finding relevant content and keywords is by looking at some of the most popular search terms in the past few days.

Google Trends Trending

As you can see, some of the most popular stories that are trending are sports and entertainment events and athletes. Our team is able to create compelling content simply by brainstorming and researching some interesting topics that come from Google Trends.

When it comes to keyword research itself, we begin by typing simple search terms. For example, let’s look up “Cake Recipe”, and see what we’ll get. The process of looking for keywords is similar to doing a search comparison, as you only need to enter your keyword, and then you quickly receive the data you need.

Google Trends Keyword Research

Upon seeing this trend graph, you can scroll down to see some of the search queries that are related to what you are looking for. For this case, the related queries are various cake recipes that can help make searches more specific. This can also help you look for some extra keywords and help you look for more interesting ideas for content marketing.

Google Trends Keyword Research Related

Similar to the brand comparison, you can also do the same for your keywords and see which one works best. Google Trends helps make content and keyword brainstorming much more efficient and makes sure that you have the right keywords that would rank well on Google.

Tracking Trends and Demands

Google Trends is all about following the most active and searched trends on the internet, and it does this in real time effectively. You will be able to track some of the upward and downward trends over a certain period of time. One good example of an upward trend is cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which have become very popular as of late. Taking advantage of these upward trends is crucial for your marketing, as this can boost your rankings up by making it easier for users to see your website.

Google Trends Tracking

On the other hand, you can also view some downward trends over the course of the past few years. This is a common trend on certain fads that have appeared over the years. For this example, I took a look at Cronuts, which was a famous food fad during 2013, and rarely talked about now. Knowing downward trends allows you to avoid certain topics and keywords, as they are not as relevant, and would mean that less people would be searching for these terms.

Google Trends Trending Down

Key Takeaway

Google Trends is a nifty and effective tool to use for SEO, as it provides you with quick data and information on real-time trends. You can also compare brands, famous figures, pop culture fads, and more together to be able to find relevant topics for your content management team.

When it comes to keywords, it is a tool that not only gives you data on those keywords, but also provides you with alternatives that may prove to be very useful. Being free and effective, there are a few tools that does its job well quite like Google Trends.

If you have questions and inquiries about SEO tools and other SEO-related topics, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

SEO Hacker Guide to Google Trends was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Does Google Use Latent Semantic Indexing?

Railroad Turntable Sign
Technology evolves and changes over time.

There was a park in the town in Virginia where I used to live that had been a railroad track that was turned into a walking path. At one place near that track was a historic turntable where cargo trains might be unloaded so that they could be added to later trains or trains headed in the opposite direction. This is a technology that is no longer used but it is an example of how technology changes and evolves over time.

There are people who write about SEO who have insisted that Google uses a technology called Latent Semantic Indexing to index content on the Web, but make those claims without any proof to back them up. I thought it might be helpful to explore that technology and its sources in more detail. It is a technology that was invented before the Web was around, to index the contents of document collections that don’t change much. LSI might be like the railroad turntables that used to be used on railroad lines.

There is also a website which offers “LSI keywords” to searchers but doesn’t provide any information about how they generate those keywords or use LSI technology to generate them, or provide any proof that they make a difference in how a search engine such as Google might index content that contains those keywords. How is using “LSI Keywords” different from keyword stuffing that Google tells us not to do. Google tells us that we should:

Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

Where does LSI come from

One of Microsoft’s researchers and search engineers, Susan Dumais was an inventor behind a technology referred to as Latent Semantic Indexing which she worked on developing at Bell Labs. There are links on her home page that provide access to many of the technologies that she worked upon while performing research at Microsoft which are very informative and provide many insights into how search engines perform different tasks. Spending time with them is highly recommended.

She performed earlier research before joining Microsoft at Bell Labs, including writing about Indexing by Latent Semantic Analysis. She was also granted a patent as a co-inventor on the process. Note that this patent was filed in April of 1989, and was published in August of 1992. The World Wide Web didn’t go live until August 1991. The LSI patent is:

Computer information retrieval using latent semantic structure
Inventors: Scott C. Deerwester, Susan T. Dumais, George W. Furnas, Richard A. Harshman, Thomas K. Landauer, Karen E. Lochbaum, and Lynn A. Streeter
Assigned to: Bell Communications Research, Inc.
US Patent: 4,839,853
Granted: June 13, 1989
Filed: September 15, 1988


A methodology for retrieving textual data objects is disclosed. The information is treated in the statistical domain by presuming that there is an underlying, latent semantic structure in the usage of words in the data objects. Estimates to this latent structure are utilized to represent and retrieve objects. A user query is recouched in the new statistical domain and then processed in the computer system to extract the underlying meaning to respond to the query.

The problem that LSI was intended to solve:

Because human word use is characterized by extensive synonymy and polysemy, straightforward term-matching schemes have serious shortcomings–relevant materials will be missed because different people describe the same topic using different words and, because the same word can have different meanings, irrelevant material will be retrieved. The basic problem may be simply summarized by stating that people want to access information based on meaning, but the words they select do not adequately express intended meaning. Previous attempts to improve standard word searching and overcome the diversity in human word usage have involved: restricting the allowable vocabulary and training intermediaries to generate indexing and search keys; hand-crafting thesauri to provide synonyms; or constructing explicit models of the relevant domain knowledge. Not only are these methods expert-labor intensive, but they are often not very successful.

The summary section of the patent tells us that there is a potential solution to this problem. Keep on mind that this was developed before the world wide web grew to become the very large source of information that it is, today:

These shortcomings, as well as other deficiencies and limitations of information retrieval, are obviated, in accordance with the present invention, by automatically constructing a semantic space for retrieval. This is effected by treating the unreliability of observed word-to-text object association data as a statistical problem. The basic postulate is that there is an underlying latent semantic structure in word usage data that is partially hidden or obscured by the variability of word choice. A statistical approach is utilized to estimate this latent structure and uncover the latent meaning. Words, the text objects and, later, user queries are processed to extract this underlying meaning and the new, latent semantic structure domain is then used to represent and retrieve information.

To illustrate how LSI works, the patent provides a simple example, using a set of 9 documents (much smaller than the web as it exists today). The example includes documents that are about human/computer interaction topics. It really doesn’t discuss how a process such as this could handle something the size of the Web because nothing that size had quite existed yet at that point in time. The Web contains a lot of information and goes through changes frequently, so an approach that was created to index a known document collection might not be ideal. The patent tells us that an analysis of terms needs to take place, “each time there is a significant update in the storage files.”

There has been a lot of research and a lot of development of technology that can be applied to a set of documents the size of the Web. We learned, from Google that they are using a Word Vector approach developed by the Google Brain team, which was described in a patent that was granted in 2017. I wrote about that patent and linked to resources that it used in the post: Citations behind the Google Brain Word Vector Approach. If you want to get a sense of the technologies that Google may be using to index content and understand words in that content, it has advanced a lot since the days just before the Web started. There are links to papers cited by the inventors of that patent within it. Some of those may be related in some ways to Latent Semantic Indexing since it could be called their ancestor. The LSI technology that was invented in 1988 contains some interesting approaches, and if you want to learn a lot more about it, this paper is really insightful: A Solution to Plato’s Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction and Representation of Knowledge. There are mentions of Latent Semantic Indexing in Patents from Google, where it is used as an example indexing method:

Text classification techniques can be used to classify text into one or more subject matter categories. Text classification/categorization is a research area in information science that is concerned with assigning text to one or more categories based on its contents. Typical text classification techniques are based on naive Bayes classifiers, tf-idf, latent semantic indexing, support vector machines and artificial neural networks, for example.

~ Classifying text into hierarchical categories

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Does Google Use Latent Semantic Indexing? was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing