Ruts in the SEO, Social and PPC Roads. Are You Stuck?

Ruts in the SEO, Social and PPC Roads. Are You Stuck?

Actually, there is more than just one rut, in reality. It’s more like a collection of ruts. It’s CRS. Cultural Rut Syndrome. And it’s when your business is making decisions based on “culture”, “history” or “process” instead of on, say, data, customer feedback or from the results of testing.

Oh, sure, everyone likes to brag up how they do A/B testing, how they have guidelines for content creation and curation, etc. Sounds great ion a meeting or when networking at a conference, I agree.

But are you actually breaking bad molds and making decisions that are best for the business? Or are you stuck in a rut repeating past successes and failures over and over again?

Now, repeating past failures is obviously a problem. I mean, it’s self-evident you shouldn’t, but it happens. People change jobs, the memory of what they did fades, new people repeat mistakes from the past. If this is happening, maybe you need to work with HR on a better employee retention plan. Why doom the company to repeat past failures when retaining an employee and their knowledge can help the company grow?

Less obvious is the downside to repeating past successes. Now I know you’re thinking, “What the heck? Is he nuts? Success is good!”

Well, “measured success” is good, “random success” less so. If you know exactly how to repeat success, it’s helpful. If you’re trying things with variations and getting various degrees of success, you can only call that “testing” for so long before it either evolves into outright repeatable success, or devolves into guessing.

Even then, the approaches taken to that success, repeatable or not, may limit the level of success you reach. Angry Birds is the perfect example here. Yes, you can kill all the pigs and call this success…and score a single star with a low score, using all your Birds. You can kill all the pigs using a single bird and get a high score and three stars. But even that doesn’t mean you’ve maximized success. You can continually refine and often increase that high score.

Like in school, a passing grade is good, but an A+ leads to greater things than just passing.

So many businesses today stand in ruts simply because they fear trying something new or novel. Dare to dream. If you fail, you know not to repeat that approach. Naturally, you need to be thoughtful when and where you apply this, as for many businesses, dollars are at stake.

When a competitor completes a site redesign, do you lament the fact, or use it as a blueprint to step forward? After all, they just spent a bunch of money on usability testing, design work, etc., and that press release they did to try to score some links, where they bragged about the usability testing and how much improved the site is, that’s a way for you to understand where to set your ground level. It signals where you grow from.

To look at their work, scoff and say “We won’t do that…”, well, that’s you in a rut. That’s you making decisions not in the best interest of your business and customers. That’s you falling behind.

· Ruts exist in SEO – failure to invest in quality and depth of content; failure to think your content can be compelling, focus on technical aspects to the exclusion of other areas like usability, social media, etc.

· Ruts exist in PPC – putting your campaigns on “fire-and-forget”; not building and refining landing pages; not doing testing between ads; not creating fresh ads frequently; not testing bidding/page placement against conversions, and so on.

· Ruts exist in social – not participating; ignoring poor online reviews; thinking you should only talk about you; not watching where your audience is located; not testing your voice to determine what engages followers and more.

If you’ve ever uttered or heard the words “…that’s just how we do it…” you might be staring a rut square in the face. People get accustomed to thinking in certain patterns. We get used to doing things in prescribed ways. Its muscle memory and it makes things easier for us. Easier doesn’t always mean efficient and it certainly doesn’t always mean profitable.

So take a look at the work you do and ask yourself if you’re stuck in a rut. If you are, do something different. It’s unlikely anyone will come along to help you graciously out of said rut, and it’ll be uncomfortable for you to do it, but change happens from within first. Don’t expect a parade for making the change. Many will buck your effort, resisting change. In the end, your business success will be all the proof you need that hopping out of that rut was the smart move.

Duane Forrester
Sr. Product Manager

What Scares Google?

As SEOs, we spend a lot of our collective time afraid of what Google might do next. This Halloween, I thought maybe it was time to turn the tables. It’s easy to think of Google as an unstoppable force, but, like any company, Google has weaknesses and their behavior suggests some very real fears about the future.

Fear #1: Lack of revenue diversity

Google does everything, right? They’ve got Chrome, Android, Google Glass, Motorola Mobile, self-driving cars, flying WiFi, and now they’re even trying to make you immortal. It all makes for great PR, except for one very important fact—this is how Google’s revenue broke down in Q3 of 2013:

Factor in profitability, and the situation gets even worse (Motorola Mobile operated at a loss in Q3). Compared to physical products or even traditional advertising, AdWords and AdSense are as close to magic money-making machines as you’re going to find. Google didn’t just find a pot of gold—they found the only key to Leprechaun City, and the door locks from the outside. If the leprechauns escape, Google is in trouble, and no self-driving car is going to find them.

Fear #2: Falling cost-per-click (CPC)

Even as Google’s revenues continue to rise, their average CPC has fallen for eight quarters in a row. So far, Google has managed to offset this CPC fall by increasing overall impressions and creating advertising enhancements that drive higher click-through rates (CTRs), but the trend is a very real problem and absolutely tops Google’s list of worries. What’s driving this trend? That leads us to #3…

Fear #3: Changing face of mobile

Traditionally, mobile ads have just been cheaper than desktop ads, and as mobile devices proliferate, average CPCs have fallen. This problem led Google to take an extreme approach—they forcibly rolled out “Enhanced Campaigns” to all advertisers, effectively removing the option to have separate bids on mobile devices.

The problem for Google is that this sleight-of-hand doesn’t remove the reality of how consumers behave on mobile phones and tablets, where traditional search advertising is simply less effective (at least, so far). There’s also just less space for ads. Consider this desktop search result for “artificial christmas trees”:

Counting paid product placement, there are parts of 14 ad units visible on one screen. There are 19 total ad units on the page (the right-hand AdWords block contains 8 ads). Now compare this to the same query on iOS7 on my iPhone 5S:

On one screen of mobile results, there are only two visible ads, with five total ads (two before and three after the organic results). Google promotes the message that mobile is becoming more like desktop every day, as screen size and resolution increases, and hybrid devices (like “phablets”) become more popular. The reality, though, is that mobile is still a unique animal, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Google’s development also suggests that they don’t really believe this desktop/mobile unification story. Desktop search UI is being driven more and more by advances in the mobile UI. As smartphone traffic grows and Google dives into even more experimental directions (like Google Glass), consumer behavior is evolving quickly, and it’s unclear how this evolution will change our interactions with advertising.

Fear #4: Fickle investor confidence

Most days, Google is still a darling to investors, but as a publicly traded company their amazing history is both a blessing and a curse. Google’s core revenues (not counting Motorola) have been up every quarter since Q1 of 2011:

It’s a great story, except for one problem—Google is a mature company with massive market share. The expectation that Google can continue to grow, quarter after quarter, indefinitely, is unrealistic bordering on ridiculous. Of course, investors don’t want to hear that. Google will have a bad quarter, and their investors have been trained on good news for far too long.

We tend to believe that someone has to beat Google at their own game, and that a competitor like Bing has to best them at search. The reality is that Google is fighting their own market expectations, and if Google fails to meet expectations by enough, they may start to unravel.

Fear #5: The Facebook factor

We tend to focus on whether Facebook can ever compete with Google on search, but there’s one area where the social giant dominates Google. People go to Facebook and stay—they go to Google to leave as quickly as possible. Google’s entire model flies in the face of the traditional advertising philosophy of doing everything possible to increase pageviews and time-on-site.

Google is keenly aware of this problem. In addition to Google+, they’ve made many moves in the past year that seem to be designed to increase pageviews. For examples, carousels (including the local carousel) and related searches in Knowledge Graph boxes don’t lead to outside sites—they lead directly to more search results. Google is testing new Knowledge Graph entities that use data from third-party sites but then link prominently to more Google searches. For example, we recently spotted this KG entry in testing:

All of the blue links in this box (there are 7 visible in this image) go to additional Google searches. Only the smaller, light-gray links go to the original source websites.

Put simply, while Facebook may be struggling to define its revenue model, the social giant is a platform. It’s a place people go to do things, and it’s a place people spend a lot of time. For most of us, Google is a place we go to for quick answers and then leave. The faster and better Google is at search, the faster we leave, and for a company with 84% of its revenue tied up in advertising, this is a serious problem.

Fear #6: Government regulation (US/EU)

I put this one last for one reason – while I think US and/or EU regulators could theoretically cause significant harm to Google, I don’t think either government has the political will to crack down on an industry giant. Google’s problem, though, is that they can’t simply play nice. They have to push the envelope with advertising, and that’s going to mean an ongoing battle with regulators.

Take this recent example of a paid shopping result we spotted in testing (the live version is a bit different):

Other than the “Sponsored” designator at the top, this paid shopping result looks a lot like a Knowledge Graph entry. The test version is even placing one selected provider and [Shop now] button before the specs and other information. With CPCs falling, Google is going to keep pushing harder, and they’re going to keep testing government regulators’ limits.

Why should we care?

This is not a “gotcha” post, and I don’t necessarily think that Google is doomed to fail. What I do think is that it’s vital to maintain a healthy perspective about Google’s motives and possible futures. Last year, I said that my #1 SEO tip for 2013 was to diversify. If I wrote that article again, I doubt I’d change much. If your entire business is built on Google, you’re riding a wave that’s eventually going to crash into the shore. It may be because Google changes the rules, or it may be because they fail, but you’ve built your future on something you absolutely can’t control. If you understand Google’s fears and aspirations, you may at least start to appreciate why it’s critical to build your business on more than one marketing channel.

Case Study: White-Hat Link Building in the Gambling Industry

During 2012, Google clamped down on poor link building tactics, eliminating directories, article submission sites and adjusting the criteria for natural links. Consequently, the gambling industry has been facing the daunting task of restructuring its content marketing and SEO initiatives. Abusing article directories and paying for guest posts with keyword rich anchor text no longer cut the mustard.

Alongside brand building through social media and delivering value-added content, white-hat link building is high on the agenda to restore rankings. But it’s often dubbed mission impossible by gambling marketers.

Traditionally, gambling websites are short of linkable assets. First-party games often constitute a casino’s most valuable content, but they’re developed infrequently and reputable websites are hesitant to link to gambling-related content because of the social stigma attached to the industry.

White-hat link building (an admittedly contentious term) is possible. In this post I’m going to outline four strategies that I have obtained from my experiences of content marketing—specifically ‘guest posting’ for want of a better term—for a gambling affiliate website.

To conclude, I’ll also provide three examples of the valuable backlinks I’ve managed to obtain through using these tactics.

1. Lead generation

Gambling is a multi-faceted entity, incorporating psychology, legislation and social issues. It features heavily in sports, discourse surrounding marketing and advertising techniques, and even celebrity culture. Contrary to popular belief, the scope for gambling related content is massive—it stretches far beyond the roulette guides and blackjack strategies found on poorly constructed, niche gambling websites.

Content marketers let the stigma attached to gambling dictate their initiatives, saying “There’s no way will link to a gambling website.” But this blinkered outlook represents a wasted opportunity. Providing there’s no explicit material, a website should link to any credible source that enhances reader understanding.

The kind of headline that demoralises gambling industry marketers

Start to build a diverse list of online publications that can be approached for guest posting. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they accept freelancer contributions or guest posts?
  • Do they accept organic links in the article body?
  • If not, do they at least offer a promotional link in the author byline?
  • Are outbound links restricted to trusted contributors? In this case, you’ll need to build up your credibility before benefiting from links.

Note: I dislike the term guest posting as it’s often (now) associated with systematic efforts to produce mediocre articles and place them on any website in a similar niche. I do not endorse, nor follow this churned approach to content production. However, we’ll use the term to keep it simple!

Finish by categorising your leads based on the subject (i.e. business, education, entertainment etc) and the website’s SEO metrics (page rank, citation flow, trust flow, PA etc).

Top takeaways

  1. Don’t let the stigma attached to your niche cloud your thought process.
  2. Think of guest posting as feature writing, not copywriting. Avoid the churn!
  3. It is not always about getting a link straight away. Sometimes you’ll need to prove your worth with valuable posts to build up trust and credibility.

2: Topic generation

My topic generation tends to fit into three subject categories.


The first is gambling itself. You should aim to cover the full emotional spectrum, from negative articles surrounding consumer gambling addiction to more imaginative, uplifting pieces covering novelty bets and celebrity gamblers. You don’t have to glorify gambling. For instance, you might want to take a critical standpoint towards PaddyPower’s agreement with Facebook to launch a sports-betting app, highlighting the perils of social gambling. This would interest any gambling B2B website.

Marketing and business

Ironically, the second subject area is exactly what I’m doing now. When you’re discussing anything business or marketing related, you can write objectively about the gambling sector. Gambling websites are known for audacious advertising, flashy design and clever conversion optimisation, making them perfect case studies for marketing and UX-related articles.

Though valuable, deep-links to your gambling website’s core landing pages are hard to embed as organic links within an article body. Rarely is it ever organic to link to a page full of gambling bonuses, but it is possible. If you’re discussing website design and innovation, you can specify an excellent landing page, which gives you ammunition for an organic link in a user experience post.

You can also look within for an engaging business story. Does your company have a colourful history? Is your CEO a budding Richard Branson? Entrepreneur websites love to feature original case studies, and should be happy linking to your website if it underlines an intriguing corporate venture.

Shareable content

The third area is shareable, viral content. The internet is awash with trend websites that disseminate funny and digestible content. You should be looking to jump in with a snappy, “Top 10 Amazing Bets” kind of list that incorporates a mix of images, videos and memes.

I’ve hijacked a quirky “question asking” formula from viral scientist Jonah Berger to drill out facts and generate interesting ideas. Using ‘roulette’ for example…

Who chooses to play roulette?
What types of roulette are there?
What can we learn about the type of person who plays X version of roulette?

Now to mix it up a bit…

Where do those people come from?
What is the majority gender?

Now make it controversial…

Are people from region X more prone to gambling? Are men playing the “live” version more? Is this because they are physically attracted to the croupier?

As you can see, questioning your own topic triggers a web of interesting and contentious content – the kind of material which a much wider audience can relate to, enjoy and share. Another creative formula I use for topic generation is ‘subject + random category or buzzword ‘. For instance:

Roulette + films (which brings me to the iconic Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter).

Roulette + social (which brings me to the webcam-based phenomenon Chat Roulette).

Roulette + travel (which in the case of Heineken, brought them to a video whereby holiday makers were offered to play ‘Departure Roulette’ and board a flight to a random destination).

Roulette + magic (which brings me to popular British mentalist Derren Brown’s ‘Russian Roulette’ trick).


Once you’ve seeded a topic and an angle, you should be looking to delegate the writing of an article to a crack in-house writer—someone with a passion for journalism and developing their online presence. In my experience, outsourcing to freelancers or an agency comprises quality and article authenticity. The work is thin on research, low on personality and possesses a ‘churned’ feel to it, which brings me back to my stereotypical guest post gripe. Make sure you leverage the knowledge of your internal team—i.e. your designer for design-related material—to cover all potential article bases.

Top takeaways

  1. Explore your niche. It is sure to bring up topics that bear wider social significance.
  2. Have you successfully implemented a marketing campaign? Is your business doing great? Tell your own company story.
  3. Brainstorm and generate shareable content. Use the “question asking” formula above to come up with interesting topics.

3: Original and convincing outreach

Here’s a fantastic post entitled “Revealed: Outreach Campaigns from some of the Biggest SEO firms.” It underlines just how useless some SEO agencies are at establishing credibility and building rapport with editors and webmasters. They have to resort to manufactured guest-post outreach.

My outreach is far more tailored and elaborate. I throw in a bio, examples of my published work and a brief employment history. There really is no substitute for published work, and I’m fortunate enough to have articles on websites like Buzzfeed and The Bleacher Report. My emails will be personalised, complimentary and explain why my content is suitable for the website’s target demographic. Email outreach—summarised perfectly by this infographic—is a science in its own right.

I sugar-coat my job role (senior editor at a gaming information portal) and justify my outreach on the grounds of a writer wanting to broaden his horizons and bolster his portfolio. For the most covert infiltrations, I pose as a journalist looking for an actual job as a remote freelancer. Though I’m approaching these websites for a link to my company website, it’s not always at the forefront of my agenda. I want to diversify my writing portfolio and elevate my own online presence to establish regular writing gigs in the future.

For first time contact with an editor, I always include an article attachment. I’ve enjoyed a lot more traction with this tactic. Editors receive and reject an inordinate number of pitches, but are far more likely to respond if you’ve gone to the effort of constructing an original article.

Another top tip is when I’ve linked to a business or website in a previous article, I’ll approach them for a guest post later down the line so they can return the favour. This is a great way to break the ice simply by letting them know you mentioned their insightful article.

Top takeaways

  1. Personalise your outreach. Research the editor, the website and its target audience, and explain why your content is suitable.
  2. Ask yourself: Are you emailing a webmaster, or an editor? The former will be familiar with SEO, and will scrutinise your outreach more heavily. An editor with a journalistic background should be more receptive to content proposals.
  3. Be yourself—an ambitious, talented freelance writer. By mentioning your company, you run the risk of being ignored on the basis of seeking commercial gain.
  4. Where possible, include an original article for the target website as part of your email outreach.

4: Build your website’s linkable assets

Successful link building means working with the internal content team to develop linkable assets. This can be a mix of ephemeral news content, infotainment articles and more academic, educational resources. Across our websites, we’ve covered the whole spectrum—from a Vegas-themed HTML5 puzzle game that amassed 1,000 shares, to a serious investigation into casino design.

One of my company’s more ambitious projects was the creation of an infographic documenting the probability of stumbling upon any given piece of image-based web content. The luck factor prevalent in gambling was a springboard for our tagline, “How Lucky Are You To be Reading This Infographic?” The outreach campaign went far beyond standard infographic “directories,” earning us links from the likes of (the heart of many viral pieces), (known for their magazines in the UK), and even a editor’s personal blog.

Top takeaways

  1. Focus on all media types. If you’re conducting a video interview with a key industry figure, get it transcribed and make it into a podcast to maximise your outreach.
  2. Formalise a comprehensive outreach plan: Find relevant twitter influencers through Followerwonk, track down key bloggers through Google blog search and contact industry journalists through Journalisted to cover your story.

Three “guest post” examples

Here are three examples of the aforementioned tactics being put into practice. Naturally, I can’t divulge too many leads!

1: The Bleacher Report: “Should Gambling Be Given The Boot From English Football?”

The Bleacher Report is the world’s fourth largest sports website. It thrives on user engagement, and its article base is growing rapidly courtesy of an advanced contributor program. Anyone can apply to write for Bleacher Report, and after a two stage screening process, you’re awarded admin rights to publish an internal article. I was accepted into contributor program after providing examples of my sports writing. The Bleacher Report prides itself on attributing relevant resources, so I decided to produce an op-ed piece about gambling in football with a link to’s internal blog posts; “Footballers in Vegas.”

2: Growth Business: “Five Reasons To Start An Affiliate Business”

Growth Business is a highly respectable business news and advice website. It doesn’t advertise guest posting opportunities, but I noticed that a range of entrepreneurs supplied content in the comments and analysis section. On the back of my experience in affiliate marketing, I pitched an original article “Five Reasons To Start An Affiliate Business.” Lists are an integral part of content marketing: they’re tangible, digestible and make for convenient reference points. Since I was referencing my own websites as case studies, I was able to embed organic links, and my contribution was duly accepted. I linked to other affiliate marketing resources within the article body to aid reader understanding and avoid any suspicions of commercial gain.

3: Grads Blog: “Gibraltar: An Opportunity For Graduates?”

The blog welcomes student and career-related content. It’s a growing, multipurpose website offering career advice, job listings and interactive student engagement, so I expect the metrics to increase significantly over time. Having graduated a little over two years ago and moved to gambling operator hub Gibraltar, I offered a featured article on the merits of relocating and finding employment abroad. I embedded a link to my company’s Gibraltar infographic, which included a vexel replica of the peninsula and important stats about its economy and lifestyle. I want to cement a long-term relationship with the editor and avoid the ‘one-off’ guest posting tactic so I offer monthly contributions.


It’s worth noting that the aforementioned tips shouldn’t necessarily be followed in order. Topic generation might be the last thing I do if I’ve forged an editorial contact and secured a regular writing gig. I might publish an internal article on a whim to establish a relevant backlink, or build a whole guest posting campaign around a static, linkable asset.

I’ve written this post with reference to the gambling industry. However, it can be applied to any difficult niche. Left-field topic generation, skilled feature writing and tailored outreach can generate sterling results.

Finally, I want to stress that these guest posting tactics are more than a link building exercise. They’re something we tie into an overall, content marketing strategy to drive referral traffic and social shares. After a three-month implementation period, we recorded an overall referral traffic increase of 45.54% on the previous three months. The majority of this came from social websites, with overall social referral traffic increasing 247.98% in the same period.

Do you agree with these tactics? Have you devised your own, unique outreach plan?

I’d love to hear the Moz community’s thoughts on link building for difficult niches!

How to Build the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool in Excel with Moz and SEMrush

How exciting is that?

By combining SEMrush’s “phrase_organic” with Moz’s URL Metrics API call, you can cobble together a prototype keyword difficulty tool.

My example in this video is a bit scrappy, but I’m sure you get the point:

[embedded content]

Check out the rest of our instructional videos on your Youtube channel:

No SEMrush Account?

If you don’t have an SEMrush API account, get a 700,000 API credit account for $59.95 per month here:

Don’t forget to take a look at the how to manual – download here, and of course, download SEOgadget for Excel here!


Image credit: JD Hancock

How to Build the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool in Excel with Moz and SEMrush, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Quick Guide to Scaling Your Authorship Testing with Screaming Frog

The author’s posts are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Nearly all of us have used Screaming Frog to crawl websites. Many of you have probably also used Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool (formerly known as the Rich Snippet Testing Tool) to test your authorship setup and other structured data.

This is a quick tutorial on how to combine these two tools to check your entire website for structured data such as Google Authorship and Rel=”Publisher”, along with various types of markup.

The concept:

Google’s structured data tester uses the URL you’re testing right in their own URL. Here’s an example:

We can take advantage of that URL structure to create a list of URLs we want to test for structured data markup, and process that list through Screaming Frog.

Why this is better than simply crawling your site to detect markup:

You could certainly crawl your site and use Screaming Frog’s custom filters to detect things like rel=”author” and ?rel=author within your own code. And you should.

This approach will tell you what Google is actually recognizing, which can help you detect errors in implementation of authorship and other markup.

Disclaimer: I’ve encountered a number of times when the Structured Data Testing Tool reported a positive result for authorship implementation, but authorship snippets in search results were not functioning. Upon further review, changing the implementation method resolved the issue. Also, authorship may not be granted or present for a particular Google+ user. As a result, it’s important to note that the Structured Data Tester isn’t perfect and will produce false positives, but it will suit our need in this case, quickly testing a large number of URLs all at once.

Getting started

You’re going to need a couple things to get started:

  1. Screaming Frog with a paid license (we’ll be using custom filters which are only available in the paid version)
  2. One of the following: Excel 2013, URL Tools for Excel, or SEO Tools for Excel (any of these three will allow us to encode URLs inside of Excel with a formula)
  3. Download this quick XLSX template: Excel Template for Screaming Frog and Snippet Tester.xlsx

The video option

This short video tutorial walks through all eight steps outlined below. If you choose to watch the video, you can skip straight to the section titled “Four ways to expand this concept.”

[embedded content]

Steps 1, 2, and 3: Gather your list of URLs into the Excel template

You can find the full instructions inside the Excel template, but here’s the simple 1-2-3 version of how to use the Excel template (make sure URL Tools or SEO Tools is installed before you open this file or you’ll have to fix the formula):

Steps 123 - Using the Excel Template

Step 4: Copy all of the URLs in Column B into a .txt file

Now that Column B of your spreadsheet is filled with URLs that we’ll be crawling, copy and paste that column into a text file so that there is one URL per line. This is the .txt file that we’ll use in Screaming Frog’s list mode.

Step 4 - Paste into TXT File

Step 5: Open up Screaming Frog, switch it to list mode, and upload your file

List Mode, Activate!

Step 6: Set up Screaming Frog custom filters

Before we go crawling all of these URLs, it’s important that we set up custom filters to detect specific responses from the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Custom Filters for Screaming Frog

Since we’re testing authorship for this example, here are the exact pieces of text that I’m going to tell Screaming Frog to track:

  1. Authorship is working for this webpage.
  2. rel=author markup has successfully established authorship for this webpage.
  3. Page does not contain authorship markup.
  4. Authorship is not working for this webpage.
  5. The service you requested is currently unavailable.

Here’s what the filters look like when entered into Screaming Frog:

Customize All The Filters! Or at least these 5...

Just to be clear, here’s the explanation for each piece of text we’re tracking:

  1. The first filter checks for text on the page confirming that authorship is set up correctly.
  2. The second filter reports the same information as filter 1. I’m adding both of them for redundancy; we should see the exact same list of pages for custom filters 1 and 2.
  3. The third filter is to detect when the Structured Data Testing Tool reports no authorship found on the page.
  4. The fourth filter is to detect when broken authorship is detected. (Typically because either the link is faulty or the Google+ user has not acknowledged the domain in the “Contributor To” section of their profile).
  5. The fifth filter contains the standard error text for the structured data tester. If we see this, we’ll know we should re-spider those URLs.

Here’s the type of text we’re detecting on the Structured Data Tester. The two arrows point to filters 3 and 4:

Your Authorship is Broken

Step 7: Let ‘er rip

At this point we’re ready to start crawling the URLs. Out of respect for Google’s servers and to avoid them disabling our ability to crawl URLs in this manner, you might consider adjusting your crawl rate to a slower pace, especially on large sites. You can adjust this setting in Screaming Frog by going to Configuration > Speed, and decreasing your current settings.

Step 8: Export your results in the Custom tab

Once the crawl is finished, go to the Custom tab, select each filter that you tested, and export the results.


Wrapping it up

That’s the quick and dirty guide. Once you export each CSV, you’ll want to save them according to the filters you put in place. For example, my filter 3 was testing for pages that contained the phrase “Page does not contain authorship markup.” So, I know that anything that is exported under Filter 3 did not return an authorship result in the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Four ways to expand this concept:

1: Use a proper scraper to pull data on multiple authors

Screaming Frog is an easy tool to do quick checks like the one described in this tutorial, but unfortunately it can’t handle true scraping tasks for us.

If you want to use this method to also pull data such as which author is being verified for a given page, I’d recommend redesigning this concept to work in Outwit Hub. John-Henry Scherck from SEOGadget has a great tutorial on how to use Outwit for basic scraping tasks that you should read if you haven’t used the software before.

For the more technical among us, there are plenty of other scrapers that can handle a task like this – the important part is understanding the process so you can use it in your tool of choice.

2: Compare authorship tests against ranking results and estimated search volume to find opportunities

Imagine you’re ranking 3rd for a high-volume search term, and you don’t have authorship on the page. I’m willing to bet it would be worth your time to add authorship to that page.

Use hlookups or vlookups in Excel to compare data from three tabs: rankings, estimated search volume, and whether or not authorship is present on the page. It will take some data manipulation, but in the end you should be able to create a Pivot Table that filters out pages with authorship already, and sorts the pages by estimated search volume and current ranking.

Note: I’m not suggesting you add Authorship to everything—not every page should be attributed to an author—e-commerce product pages, for example.

3: Use this method to test for other structured markup besides authorship

The Structured Data Testing Tool goes far beyond just authorship. Here’s a short list of other structured markup you can test:

4: Blend this idea with Screaming Frog’s other capabilities

There’s a ton of ways to use Screaming Frog. Aichlee Bushnell at SEER did a great job of cataloging 55+ Ways To Use Screaming Frog. Go check out that post and I’m sure you can come up with additional ways to spin this concept into something useful.

Not to end on a dull note, but a couple comments on troubleshooting:

  1. If you’re having issues, the first thing to do is manually test the URLs you’re submitting and make sure there weren’t any issues caused during the Excel steps. You can also add “Invalid URL or page not found.” as one of your custom filters to make sure that the page is loading correctly.
  2. If you’re working with a large number of URLs, try turning down Screaming Frog’s crawl rate to something more polite, just in case you’re querying Google too much in too short a period of time.
  3. When you first open the Excel template, the formula may accidentally change depending on whether or not you have URL Tools or SEO Tools installed already. Read the instructions on the first page to find the correct formula to replace it with.

Let me know any other issues in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

Statistics for Conversion Rate Optimisation – SEOgadget Webinar

It’s been far too long since we’ve run a webinar here at SEOgadget, so to bring them back with a bang we’ve got something rather special lined up. Following an extremely popular session at London’s Conversion Conference, Pete Wailes will be running through his presentation on ‘Mislead by the Numbers – Stats for Conversion Optimizers’. If you missed his session at the conversion conference, then save the 7th November in your calendar!

In this webinar, it’s all about the numbers. As marketers, we live in an age of increasingly complex data. Many of the tools we deal with day to day have complex maths at their core, whether you’re doing CRO, SEO or just looking at analytics. But do we really understand the data? Is a significant result always a valid one?

We’ll be looking at the weirdness of statistics and probability, and taking a look under the hood at the theory behind the numbers. You’ll learn what our tools do to manipulate data, how to create your own tooling for when you need something that doesn’t exist, and how to turn raw analytics into actionable business knowledge.

By attending this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • The maths and science behind the tools you trust
  • How to really understand what the data is saying
  • How to create your own tooling when standard tools just won’t do the job

As always, we really want you to get the most from this webinar so we’d love to hear from you with any questions you have on the subject. Throughout the webinar, Pete will be answering questions on the #SEOgadget hashtag, or alternatively leave a comment on this post with your question and we’ll make sure it gets answered.

Sign up for SEOgadget Webinar Updates:

To secure a place, simply follow the GotoWebinar link below, and make sure you’re available to join us at 4pm UK time on the 7th November. See you there!

The details:

When: Thursday 7th November

4pm (GMT)

11am (EST)

8am (PST)

Where: GotoWebinar

Register Here:

Webinar ID: 124-618-011

Q&A hashtag: #SEOgadget

Find New and Lost Back Links with MajesticSEO and SEOgadget for Excel

One of the most pressing issues in current SEO strategy is developing your ability to monitor new links, and track lost links. It’s a sad fact of our day to day lives as marketers in search. Some of our time doesn’t get spent on marketing at all, it gets spent on undoing bad marketing through link removal and penalty reconsideration requests.

If that time’s going to get spent, let’s spend it efficiently.

If you want to save yourselves some time on the day to day task of link auditing, you’re going to need to understand SEOgadget for Excel. It’s easy to install, use and there’s plenty of great “how to” documentation to help you out. Go on, try it!

Find New and Lost Back Links with MajesticSEO and SEOgadget for Excel

I’ve made a brief video to show you how the GetNewLostBackLinks command works in the MajesticSEO API. I’ve even made an example Excel file with the new, and lost queries running for you:

Enjoy, and happy analysing!

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Here’s the Slideshare version of the instruction manual – take a quick peek or download the full file and get started!

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Find New and Lost Back Links with MajesticSEO and SEOgadget for Excel, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Search News from the Future

The author’s posts are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Citizens of Moz, I come to you at a most desperate hour. I’ve just returned from London, Distilled’s international headquarters, and I’ve been patiently awaiting this moment to share some potentially niche-shattering news with you all.

I don’t quite know where to begin, so I’ll just say it: You see, the stories are all true. Will Critchlow is a wizard. I know, it’s common knowledge that nearly all Englishmen are wizards, I’ve seen Harry Potter too. But Mr. Critchlow is a wizard with a most peculiar and exciting gift: that of clairvoyance. He can see the future!

And no, I don’t mean in a Steve Jobs/Carl Sagan/George Orwell futurist kind of way either. I mean he quite literally has a translucent, viridian ball of crystal sitting on his desk that divines that which has yet to transpire! I wouldn’t have thought anything of the object upon first glance, but one night I came back to the office to grab my misplaced jacket to low mutterings, frantic typing, and wisps of smoke coming from the other side of the room. I dove into the bean bag room so as not to draw his attention and waited patiently, shaking with dread but with a fully piqued curiosity.

I couldn’t make out what he was chanting and I don’t think I would have been able to translate the Latin anyway. After about 30 minutes of this I heard him pack up his things and leave. I’m normally more of the craven type when it comes to adventure, but something that night pressed me to snoop around my boss’s desk for the truth.

The smoke and emerald glow dissipated as I shuffled some papers around. The smell of ozone lingered in the air. Nothing looked too out of the ordinary: the latest issue of Inc. Magazine, a Post-it note with a hastily scrawled and circled “Fire Phil Nottingham: Oct 31“… wait… this news clip read… 2016? Maybe he was just tired and mistak— 2020?! What was I looking at here?!

What I’m about to reveal may shock or even scare some readers, but I believe it is essential that the Moz community hear it nevertheless. I may lose my job—nay, I may be turned into a toad with a dreadful cockney accent—but it will have all been worth it to bring this knowledge to you all. My interpretations may be shaky at best, but the headlines were as clear as day: These are digital marketing news items from the future!

You may never get a better chance to peek behind the tapestries of time as you do now. So read on, friends, and be brave.

Term “mobile” removed from Analytics, Google’s vocabulary

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — April 14, 2015 — A term commonly used by webmasters, digital marketers and industry analysts may not be so common after today. Over the weekend, Google removed the term “mobile” from all of its web products, including Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and the company’s AdWords tool set.

“Mobile has been a deprecated term for some time now,” the search giant explained in a corresponding blog post. “The lines between where and when we view our various screens have been blurred beyond parsability. All web-based content can be viewed on any device these days and thus it makes little sense to refer to all non-traditional desktop visitors as ‘mobile.’ “

The web is very close to becoming truly device-neutral largely thanks to thoughtful webmasters, CMS development teams and device manufacturers who have all come together to deal with the issue of rendering content from multiple angles. Data on device type, screen size, and other metrics is still readily available throughout Google’s suite of webmaster tools. […]

Voice searches now constitute 28% of all queries

AUSTIN, TX — June 29, 2020 — Search engine corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have traditionally held on tight to their data, offering limited info on global search trends, but a recent study conducted by the University of Texas has unearthed compelling evidence that shows almost a third of all search queries are now conducted via voice search.

The nation’s only “Professor of Search,” Dr. Pete Meyers of the University of Texas explains the results of his institution’s study:

“They called me mad back in 2013, but voice searches now constitute a huge chunk of the search pie. Several years ago we would have found it laughable to be walking down the street talking to our devices, let alone talking to our devices within our home. But with the advancement of voice recognition software and the nearly ubiquitous nature of the hardware to back it up, today we’re estimating that voice search makes up almost a third of all search queries, and that number seems to be on the rise.”

A few of the major contributing factors to the ascendancy of voice search include web-enabled automobiles, home appliances, […]

Traditional television advertising revenues wane as new year begins; YouTube, Twitter and Facebook post record annual reports

NEW YORK, NY — January 1, 2019 — Google’s video platform, YouTube (GOOG) along with social networks Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB), posted record gains in 2018 as social and video advertising revenues shattered forecasts and industry expectations. Analysts speculate that this was due in no small part to the transference of advertising spends on traditional television media. When FB and TWTR first hit the stock market, many buyers felt the social networks needed to prove themselves in the competitive world of media advertising, but as the multi-billion dollar industry of traditional television advertising continues to crumble amid stiff competition from a la carte alternatives like Netflix and Amazon, more marketing budgets are now trickling down to companies such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s AdWords platform.

“Television is evolving and has been for some time,” says Will Critchlow, founder and president of the world’s foremost digital marketing agency, Distilled International. “Companies want to get their products in front of consumers, and those consumers are now watching television online. They’re doing everything online.” […]

Netflix introduces video, text advertisements for streaming content

LOS GATOS, CA — January 16, 2019 — Earlier this month we saw reports that television advertising revenues were waning in the new year. Today we can report that some of those dollars will most certainly be spent on Netflix’s streaming video platform. The company issued a press release this morning indicating that the company, for the first time in its history, will now display advertisements before many of their most popular original programs such as Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black, and the much-anticipated final season of House of Cards. Advertisements will be similar to those seen on YouTube, Hulu, and other video sites.

“With the amount of quality content and general media access we’re collecting, we have no choice but to find revenue from other sources if we want to remain at the $9.99 price point we set in 2015,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on an investor conference call yesterday. […]

Google cracks down on fake, purchased +1s

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — February 1, 2017 — For the first several years of the social platform’s life, Google Plus seemed a joke to many. Comparisons were made to MySpace and other defunct social platforms, and G+ was often called “a graveyard” as it faced competition from the already-established Facebook. But since that time, the network has shown some real staying power with the full faith and credit of Google Inc. behind it. To that end, in late 2016 we reported on Google’s announcement that plus ones, Google’s own brand of “Likes,” would help determine the order in which documents appeared in its search engine results pages. This move forced webmasters everywhere, for big and small companies alike, to reconsider the social platform for conducting regular business. Since then, various scams have been created to generate fake or paid “+1s” for sites who want quick and easy exposure in Google’s search engine. While this practice has been effective for some, it is not sitting at all well with the search giant.

Today, Google announced a crack-down on those sites which it has determined to have been generating fake +1s. The process should be easy enough for Google as it has access to all of its users’ account data and history. One well known Google representative, speaking on condition of anonymity, cut straight to the point, asking “What were they thinking?” in reference to marketers who’ve been attempting to game Google’s algorithm. “As if we haven’t been aware of fake Google plus accounts since Plus’s inception?… […]

Panda and Penguin now refresh daily

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — July 22, 2016 — Five years ago, Google launched a pair of systems designed to keep poor content out of its search engine’s results and combat questionable citation building tactics. The former is known as the “Panda” update and the latter, “Penguin.” Until this week, the two algorithms have been updated on unpredictable schedules based on when the massive amounts of data required to make proper determinations about the quality of a website and its internet-wide citations were parsed. This would result in periodic “refresh” days, where webmasters who engaged in deceptive marketing practices would brace themselves for potential losses of traffic to their webpages. These updates would traditionally occur four or five times per year. Last Monday, Google announced that they’ve dedicated additional resources to these systems and are now able to parse the same data sets many times faster than before, meaning that these updates will now essentially occur in real time.

“Our users don’t want clean and relevant answers three months from now, they need them immediately,” declared a Google representative at an industry conference in San Diego… […]

Google removes “organic keywords” tab from analytics

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — October 31, 2020 — […] and for those who don’t remember, Google used to give webmasters access to what was known as “keyword data,” allowing them to make better decisions about their sites’ development and what their users’ intent might be when visiting. In the fall of 2013, Google denied access to almost all of this organic data by encrypting all searches generated through Today, Google took it a step further and completely removed the “Organic Keywords” tab from its popular web analytics program.

“We’ve been meaning to do this for some time now,” said a senior Google representative, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We’re very concerned about our users’ privacy, and that’s why we started to deny access to sensitive data such as search queries. We know our users don’t want webmasters knowing what they’re searching for, and we want to respect that.”

Later in the same conversation, the same Googler said with a grin and a chortle, “There’ll always be keyword data in AdWords.” Adopting a sing-song tone, one might have quoted Arrested Development‘s timeless one-liner, “There’s always money in the banana stand.”

In other news, Google added a new tab to analytics titled “ASL,” which includes less-sensitive data about users such as age, sex, location, weight, and sexual preference […]

Cutts: Given today’s technology, page speed a “deprecated metric” for determining site quality

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — October 31, 2022 — For as long as there have been websites, there have been slow websites. In past generations, particularly in the 2000s and 2010s, internet users have been frustrated with delay times and unresponsive pages. Because of this, Google has made several attempts to help webmasters create more efficient sites, and has also taken measures to ensure that particularly slow sites do not register as frequently in their search results. But technology has come a long way since the days of 4G and 5G wireless networks.

Matt Cutts, the long-time head of Google’s anti-spam team, addressed a group of fledgling digital marketers this weekend at SMX 2022 saying, “Given the bandwidth speeds of today’s internet service providers, we’re no longer using page speed as an indicator of ‘site quality,’ as this metric is now almost completely deprecated. In the past it made sense to devalue a site that took 10 to 15 seconds to load, and thus provided a negative experience for Googlers. But with today’s 7G Quantum LTE-X technology, the difference between page load times are negligible, almost instant and ultimately irrelevant.

“Does anyone else remember 4G LTE? How about 2G? [Expletive], I’m old.”

So, there you have it. That’s all I found in Will’s office that fateful night. Leave a comment and wish me good tidings if you be so bold. Though as a soon-to-be-toad, I may have a difficult time responding to your queries.

Grepwords – Powerful Keyword Research without Adwords

Google took away the Keyword Tool, and pretty much every SEO Agency’s API access earlier this year. Let’s not hold it against them, though, because Grepwords is amazing and it’s available in SEOgadget for Excel.

You’ll remember that for the longest time, I’ve taught keyword research and categorisation methodologies using our Adwords API Extension for Excel. Given Google’s stance on the usage policy on that platform, we can no longer support it – you’ll see it disappearing quite soon. Right now, especially in the US, the Grepwords API is where it’s at. It’s fast, reliable and extremely inexpensive.

Sign up for Grepwords and go and get started!

How to do some basic keyword research with the Grepwords API and SEOgadget for Excel

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Here’s the instruction manual – take a quick peek or download the full file and get started!

Happy analysing!

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SEOgadget for Excel: How to Get Your Back Link Data with MajesticSEO’s API

One of the biggest problems we’ve always had with our new users getting to a confident user level with SEOgadget for Excel is simply put, the level of accessibility of the documentation. Learning a completely new syntax for 6 different API services is, hard.

I really hope we’re helping there with the instruction manual, but I’m also in the process of recording some short videos on getting started with the tool itself. Here are the first two:

How to Install SEOgadget for Excel

Here’s the long over due “how to” on installing the guide:

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How to Get Your Back Link Data with MajesticSEO’s API

Here’s the first instructional guide – on using Majestic’s GetBackLinkData service API to download all of the links to your site:

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Enjoy, and do let me know how you’re getting on in the comments.

Want to keep yourself updated?

Sign Up for SEOgadget Webinars and Newsletters

Here’s the instruction manual – take a quick peek or download the full file and get started!

Happy analysing!

Image credit: Chris Morris

SEOgadget for Excel: How to Get Your Back Link Data with MajesticSEO’s API, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating