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  • 6 Ways to Educate Your Email Subscribers and Win More Opens

    We always talk about getting more email subscribers as a way to build a sustainable online business. But, there’s not a lot of point in building that mailing list if none of the subscribers end up opening the emails that you send. Open rates and click through rates are just as important. In today’s post…

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  • How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog

    Many experienced bloggers and people who are into digital marketing will always tell you that content is the most important thing for raising your brand awareness and maintaining the general presence of your business on the internet. However, no one told you that it can become really boring once you have to update every social […]

    The post How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog appeared first on BlogPress.

    How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog was first posted on November 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm.

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6 Ways to Educate Your Email Subscribers and Win More Opens

educate email subscribersWe always talk about getting more email subscribers as a way to build a sustainable online business.

But, there’s not a lot of point in building that mailing list if none of the subscribers end up opening the emails that you send.

Open rates and click through rates are just as important.

In today’s post I’m going to share a few ways that I’ve tried to help educate my subscribers over the years as a way to increase open rates. Some of them have worked really well.

Let’s take a look.

Some useful ways to educate your subscribers

If you take a little bit of time to tidy up your subscription process you can have a really big impact on the quality of the mailing list that you produce – especially if you make the whole thing as beginner-friendly as possible.

Here are some useful things that you might want to consider adding to your sign up strategy:

1. Pre-sell your list using a landing page

If you look at most blogs you’ll notice that the opt-in forms ask for an email address with only a little bit of explanation as to what happens once they hit enter.

This is great and can work very well, but it can also put people off if your blog is not that well known. In an age of increased web spam, more and more people are being careful about who they give their email address to.

On Blog Tyrant I have switched to a method whereby visitors see a little introduction, but the call to action is aimed at getting them to visit a landing page instead of directly inputting their email address. The advantage here is that you can use the landing page to really sell the benefits of your list, or the giveaway that you’re offering.

It’s worked quite well:


A few other bloggers have reported good results with this method compared with entering in an email address directly. Pat Flynn has a pretty good explanation on how it affected sign ups, but I’ve also noticed that it really helps to increase the open rates of the first few emails as they know what’s coming.

2. Explain the process

The next strategy that works really well is to take the time to explain the subscription process to people who might not be familiar with email sign ups.

It’s good to remember that a lot of the visitors to your blog will be beginners. As bloggers, we often forget that not everyone does this all day every day and, as such, things like mailing lists and free giveaways seem strange and can present a hiccup in the process.

If you’re going with a landing page option as mentioned above, it’s a good idea to specifically explain how the process will work. Tell them the steps involved, what you do with the email, what’s coming up next, what you will and won’t do with their address, etc.

At this stage you might also want to talk to your potential subscribers about how emails can get “lost” in things like Gmail’s tabs. When that all first happened, most bloggers sent out an email or did a blog post that explained how to actually remove those tabs to ensure you see all the good emails.

3. Remind them in the emails that you send

The next thing you might want to try is reminding your subscribers who you are and why they are getting your emails when you do send out a newsletter.

Here’s an example from my my mailing list:


When I send my auto follow up series to new subscribers, I spend the first two paragraphs of the second email reminding people who I am and why they’re getting the email.

The main reason I frame it like this is because some people might be subscribed to multiple lists (especially in my niche) and it’s easy for them to forget which email is which. This (hopefully!) triggers the memory of the free report, subscription process, etc.

4. Use a survey to set expectations

Surveys used to be very popular in the blogging world but have died off lately as people spend more time interacting on social media sites and getting feedback that way.

But they can actually be extremely useful, especially for helping your subscribers feel a sense of “ownership” over the way things work on your blog and with your email content.

For example, I might consider running a survey called The Great Big End of Year Blog Tyrant Survey where I go over aspects of the content that regular readers liked or didn’t like over the year. One of the sections might be about the mailing list – the content, the frequency, the length, format, etc. and what people prefer.

If there is a clear winner for these aspects then switching to reflect that can win a lot of brownie points with your readers, and make it clear as to how the whole thing works.

Surveys have downsides (like people not actually doing what they say) but it can be a very good way to test whether there is something radically different going on in the minds’ of your readers.

5. Send a regular (but not too regular) option for adjustments

I have seen this done a few times and been quite surprised at how well it has worked on me – and that’s saying something because I ignore 90% of the mailing list emails that I receive.

The idea is pretty simple: every now and then you send out an email to your list offering them a revised subscription.

For example, let’s say you email every subscriber whenever you post a new article (like I do), then you might consider emailing people and asking them if they’d prefer to get a weekly or monthly summary of all the articles.

This works especially well if you are a big site that posts frequently and I have seen it implemented successfully on Digital Photography School and many news sites.

I asked Darren Rowse about this:

The main reason we do a digest of articles at the end of each week is so as not to annoy our readers with too many emails. We post twice daily so to email them for every post would get a little much for many of our readers.

We have toyed with an option to get the emails daily but the current system we use doesn’t make it easy for us to do (we’re looking at other options at the moment so may experiment with this).

The other reason I like a weekly email instead of sending more regularly is that we send emails at other times also including an auto-responder sequence to highlight some of our older content but also our launches and promotions. So to send daily ‘new post’ emails on top of those extra ones could get a little too much from a subscriber perspective.

This is definitely something that you might consider running past your audience if you are posting a lot and seeing a low open rate, or one that drops off over time.

6. Use a cat (well… sort of)

The last thing I wanted to talk about is using a fun method to educate your readers when they might not be fully expecting it.

For example, when you subscribe to Blog Tyrant you get redirected to a “thank you page” that has a lot of photos of my cat along with a little explanation about what to expect in your inbox.

I quite often get emails from new subscribers saying that they enjoyed that page, or that they also have a cat that hangs out with them all day while the work. It’s a really nice and informal way to connect with someone in a process that otherwise can be a little stale.

Do you know any stand out examples?

I’d really love to know whether or not you’ve encountered any stand out examples of mailing lists that educate readers in a unique or very effective way. I’m always on the look out for ideas that might work well so please leave a comment below if you can think of anything.

Additionally, if there is anything you’d like me to do differently with the Blog Tyrant mailing list please let me know. I’m happy to change.

How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog

Many experienced bloggers and people who are into digital marketing will always tell you that content is the most important thing for raising your brand awareness and maintaining the general presence of your business on the internet.

However, no one told you that it can become really boring once you have to update every social medium with fresh content, several times per day. It is simply time-consuming and it seems like wasting time that you can use on something more creative, but you still plan your content strategy for hours, making sure that everything is according to the plan.

In order to have a better overview of the content that you make and share, you need to use the benefits that the Internet offers, most of which are completely free. Therefore, I will suggest some tools that will make it easier for you to have a better control of your blog content.

Organizing Your Content

  • Trello – organize your content when working with a group of people. When several people contribute with fresh content every day, you need to keep track of who does what and when is the due date for their content. Luckily, Trello allows you to make separate boards and tasks for everything that your team does, thus keeping track of everything neatly.
  • CoSchedule – plan your content wisely. CoSchedule is a huge platform which allows you to plan how you are going to share your content on social media. The website actually has a big calendar and which is called „Marketing Calendar“ and through it you can plan your whole marketing strategy schedule and pay close attention to how it takes place. CoSchedule is suitable for individuals as well as teams who have huge marketing strategy to plan.

Websites For Sharing Content

There are several websites which take care of planning and sharing the content  from your blog on social media.

  • Buffer – Buffer is used by more than three million people already and it lets you plan and schedule content which will be shared automatically on all the social media accounts that you and your business own.
  • Hootsuite – this website serves basically the same purpose as Buffer. Except it is more complex and has certain options that involve analytics and different apps that will help you with your content
  • Later – Later is yet another content planning tool and you can sign in via your Instagram account and have all of your Instagram posts scheduled and uploaded automatically.
  • BoardBooster – BoardBooster is the perfect tool for planning and executing your Pinterest activity. It is of utmost importance to have an active Pinterest account, since it is one of the fastest growing networks, very suitable for promoting businesses and products.

Content Creation Websites

As previously mentioned, sharing your content on social media is useless if the content is not deep enough and if it is not interesting for anyone to read it, watch it, like it or even share it. Therefore, in this section I will present two interesting websites that do nothing but content creation for your blog and for you.

  • Sendible Content Creation – Sendible is a website that helps you with marketing strategy, but they are special because the also offer the Sendible content creation feature, where you can order articles for your business in order to optimize it on search engines as well as to promote it on social media.
  • AussieWriter – this website goes way beyond writing articles for SEO purposes. As a matter of fact, this website represents a group of professional writers who are ready to write anything that you may need – whether it is an essay for school, an article, a blog post or a creative writing task. This is a very neat thing because it is basically suitable for all the businesses out there which may have numerous different requests for them.

Storing Your Content

If your team produces content that takes up a lot of space, you can store it in the following cloud storages and have it ready for sharing when the time comes.

  • Google Drive – Google Drive offers 15 GB of free cloud space for you and if you are willing to pay only $1.99 a month, you can get 100 GB (the highest offer is 30 TB for $299.99 per month – WOW!).
  • Dropbox – Dropbox has three main offers apart from the free one – pro, business and enterprise. Each of the offers differs in price and the quality of service that you get.

To sum up,  before promoting your blog online, you need to have a thoroughly planned content strategy and the only way to plan it and execute it is by using all the help that you can get. Luckily, there are many useful tools online which will in one way or another contribute to your content planning and creation, thus helping your presence on the Internet.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from Kiara Halligan. She is a content strategist at Proessaywriting, who understands the importance of making excellent content that suits the needs of every business. That’s why she always tries to improve the productivity of her content writing team with the help of different tools and apps.

The post How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog appeared first on BlogPress.

How to Automate The Content Marketing For Your Blog was first posted on November 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm.

Do You Ever Want to Just Switch Off the Digital Lights?


In my last post on here, I talked about why hate isn’t born with us – instead, it’s fostered by actions and words, often by our parents and those who have an impact on us.

While that post spoke specifically about whether we hate someone (or something) because of a genuine malice or because we’re simply told we do, it’s part of a bigger train of thought that I[ve been having for a while now.

Yes, this year’s US election has brought these thoughts more to the fore, but regardless of the shitshow the election was, and the rhetoric around it, a certain train of thought has been percolating in my head for a while:

Do you ever want to just switch off the digital lights?

It’s tempting.

More Than Just a Break – A Breakdown in Communications

Back in April this year, I decided to take a break from Twitter. Seven months later, and I’m yet to return, at least on my personal account.

I’m active using a couple of other Twitter accounts for business reasons, but apart from that, I would have no use to be active on that particular network.

It just got too noisy, too spammy, too non-conversational, and lost a lot of the magic that it had a few years back.

That, and the fact it seems to be struggling with identity compared to the other networks.

Does it have value for others? Of course, and I know a few people who get great value from it, both personally and professionally.

But perhaps it’s not just Twitter that I’m falling out with, but social media in general.

I joked with a friend recently that 2016 will be remembered as the year that social media “died”, given how it now seems a medium for hate and negativity than openness and conversation.

Just taking a look at my Facebook feed at the minute, and it makes for depressing reading. Not necessarily the lead stories, but the commentary around them.

Whereas there used to be civil debate and genuine interest in hearing the point of view of others, now it’s a “this is my wall and I’ll say what I want and delete what I want” mindset.

Apart from the irony of a Facebook user thinking anything is “theirs” on the platform, it’s sad to see us relegate ourselves to single soundbite armies.

Instead of fostering conversation and debate, we’re barricading ourselves into a closed bubble of cynicism.

That benefits no one and makes the social network experience a poor one.

Getting Back to Real Conversation

As I look at how the social media landscape has changed over the last 8-10 years, the attraction of starting over from scratch becomes more appealing.

In particular, I like the approach that designer and writer Paul Jarvis takes with his digital content.

Paul Jarvis

If you visit Paul’s site, you’ll see that he takes an email-first approach to publishing content.

While he has an archives section, these articles are only made public weeks after the originals have gone out to Paul’s newsletter subscribers.

More often than not, the emails Paul’s subscribers receive are conversational, relaxed, and based around a singular topic.

This encourages open replies from his subscribers, without fear of being castigated on a public social network for having a different point of view than the populist one.

It’s a breath of fresh air and is something that’s really attractive to me as I become less enamoured with online conversations today.

We Can Talk or We Can Shout

I have two young kids. My son Ewan is six, and my daughter Salem is four (five in February).

Much like any kids that age, they often push the boundaries to see how far they can go before mummy or daddy says no.

Sometimes, they’ll continue to push the boundaries, and then you – as the parent – are faced with the choice of how to deal with that test.

Do you raise your voice and shout to try and get your message across, or do you try and reason in a calm voice and explain why you’re disagreeing with their “pushing”?

The goal is the latter, but sometimes the former needs to come into play.

However, it’s generally the former that yields more results because that leads to an actual conversation on why your child might want to take a different approach.

Not too dissimilar from online interactions, if you think about it.

Except there seems to be more of the shouting and less of the conversation, from both sides of the argumentative coin.

When that becomes the apparent norm, and silence is truly golden, switching off the digital lights is a hell of an enticing premise…

Hiring an SEO Company? 6 Critical Questions to Avoid Getting Tricked!

You might have heard the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” more than once. Before agreeing or disagreeing on it, indulge me while I tell you a bit of its origins. A French writer named Charles Étienne is the “father” of this world wide used phrase but the literal translation is actually – ” One is never served so well as by oneself “- . And with this literal transcription we might be on the same page. And this is because we do believe that each professional has his own defined role in every complex business strategy. Although it’s sometimes hard to leave our business in someone’s else hands, this is necessary for so many reasons we are not going to bore you with.

Hiring an SEO Company 6 Critical Questions to Avoid Getting Tricked



It might happen more than once to get to a point where you’d need a SEO company to take care of your business. The world of internet is full with appealing suggestions; yet, from all the offers, what should you choose to be sure you’ve made the correct decision? Here is where we are going to give you a helpful hand (hopefully) by suggesting you some of the most important questions you should address to a prospect SEO company:

seo company
Below there is the list of the questions we’ve founded critical to find an answer for, to make sure one has taken the correct decision when it comes to hiring a SEO company

  1. Can You Guarantee that Our Site Will Rank #1 for a Major Search Term?
  2. Can You Share Information on Some of Your Past SEO Customers and Their Results?
  3. Will You Provide Me with an SEO Audit? And If Yes What Kind of Information Do You Usually Include in the Audit?
  4. How Fast Can I Start Seeing Results from this SEO Campaign?
  5. What Kind of Link Building Strategies Does Your SEO Company Use? 
  6. What Do You Need from Me to Implement the SEO Campaign?



1. Can You Guarantee that Our Site Will Rank #1 for a Major Search Term?

This is a really good question, but not for the reason one might suspect.

If a company says yes to this question, that’s a sure sign you might want to stay away from them.

While getting ranked #1 is an entirely desirable outcome, no one can guarantee that it will actually happen. It’s not that SEO companies aren’t trying hard enough. Rather, there are so many factors influencing the ranking that it would be impossible for anyone to be able to proficiently control all of them. There might be upwards of 200 measurements that influence a website’s rank. Even if someone could verify with absolute certainty that Google’s algorithm was made up entirely of some known measurements , it would be impossible for them to control each and every factor.

So for a company to boast that it will get you to number 1 with absolute is suggests either folly (in which case you don’t need them) or charlatanry (in which case you don’t want them).

Below you can see a screenshot of two companies that guarantee high rankings in record time and the prices are not even that high. Just like a chocolate cake when you are on diet, this sounds very tempting, doesn’t it?


2. Can You Share Information on Some of Your Past SEO Customers and Their Results?

While privacy is a big deal for any client, most would be OK with some of their positive results being shown to the world. Of course, you won’t be able to see what happened specifically in each case, but a SEO company should be able to show some names and bring up some numbers.

If they can’t share any info at all, it could be a pretty big warning sign.

Clients should generally be pretty open to having their success stories disclosed as good practice examples, because it boosts their success narrative.

SEO companies should definitely want to list other clients, because it represents their portfolio and speaks to their ability to attract and maintain satisfied customers.

If such a list already exists, you can also try to find out more about them (the time spent with the SEO firm, the variety they show) and even to contact some of the clients to try and get some first-hand references.

SEO Company case studies


3. Will You Provide Me with an SEO Audit? And If Yes What Kind of Information Do You Usually Include in the Audit?


This question is meant to make you understand any SEO company’s level of transparency.

If they are PRO, they should share with you information such as: SEO Visibility, New Links and Lost Links, Keywords Tracked Improvements and Declines, Onpage Analysis with all the whistles and bells (architecture,content,mobile,indexability). It’s important that you know what you’ll be able to get from them and how quickly. Are going to get everything in real time or will some information be available only at certain times?

If the company is vague when it comes to what kind of info are included on the audit, their level of professionalism is probably low.

Also, it is very important for you, as a digital marketer pro, to understand the data presented in the audit. Otherwise, the audit might not serve you much.

You don’t need just a collection of fancy data but real actionable insights that you properly understand and need.

There is a widely held belief that the word “kangaroo” comes from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “I don’t know.” There is not enough evidence to sustain this matter, yet, the story has a strong moral and goes like this: It is said that Captain James Cook, when he landed to make repairs along the northeast coast of Australia, while trying to understand the way the marsupial animal was named in the Aboriginal language, he misunderstood it and what he had heard was the word “kangaroo”which actually means “I don’t know”. Then again, the story might not be true, yet, what is important to keep in mind is that a proper understanding of the link audit you are provided with is highly important. 


Screenshot taken from


4. How Fast Can I Start Seeing Results from this SEO Campaign?

This question is a highly important and a bit tricky one. Although you might be tempted to be glad if you received an answer such as: “your ranks will increase in now-time” or “in max one month we’ll get you there”, the truth is that if you get such an answer you should be looking for a new company.

If the company provides you with a milestone plan letting you know where you will be in 3 months, 6 months and so on, then you might be with a good company.

Once upon a time the trend was to identify the most important 5 – 10 keywords for a business, highly optimize for them and easily improve your ranks. The SEO world looks completely different today as it’s driven by natural language search. We are not talking about ranking for a few keywords anymore; the focus is now on the natural language searches that are growing and changing rapidly.

Higher rankings nowadays cannot be reached in a matter of weeks.

The screenshot below is taken from a SEO company website that promises great results within “great” time.

fastSEO results


5. What Kind of Link Building Strategies Does Your SEO Company Use?


Luckily or not, links are still an important signal for Google.

Even if you have the best on page optimization, a killer content and amazing social presence, those juicy backlinks are still a must.

And most of the times links are also hard to achieve.  Especially high quality links. You need to keep this in mind when talking to an SEO company.

If they start talking about getting thousands of links in 2 weeks or if they start talking about web directories, paid links, link scheme or any other technique mentioned on this exhaustive list of black hat techniques,  run fast and don’t look behind.

Google’s Guidelines are pretty clear when it comes to link schemes, just as you can see in the screenshot below. Therefore, if you don’t want to get a penalty you should be really clear and straightforward when talking about the link building strategy the prospect company is going to use while working on your website.


The screenshot below is taken from a SEO company’s website which makes a stellar offer, somewhat hard to refuse, you must admit. Yet, as we do cherish our beloved cognitives, we’d recommend you to closely analyze  such offers as they might get you into big troubles.

link building

6. What Do You Need from Me to Implement the SEO Campaign?


Although it might look like an obvious question, please don’t overlook it. You need to understand exactly what kind of requirements the company has and how much of your/your team time will be needed.

If you have to make all the changes and basically all the work,  than what you are getting is a consultation and not a SEO service.

And we are not saying that consultancy is a bad thing; yet, you need to know what you are paying for.

Also, keep in mind the privacy matter.  There might be data you don’t want tot share. There is absolutely no problem. Just keep in mind that by doing so, you might have to do some extra work. Another matter you should keep in mind is how the changes suggested by the SEO company will be presented to your team and who much time will be required by your staff to do those updates. Surely,  important amount of time might be invested along with the SEO company that you hired, yet, you need to make things clear and now exactly how many hours you will need to dedicate on this.


The post Hiring an SEO Company? 6 Critical Questions to Avoid Getting Tricked! appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

44 Black Hat SEO Techniques That Will Tank Your Site

In the old days of Black Hat SEO, these techniques, tricks, tactics or however you’d like to call them may have worked, until the search engines started taking actions and updating algorithms to penalize websites using such Black Hat SEO Techniques. And, as the search engines don’t like to let themselves and their users be tricked, they took measures to keep the search results as clean and accurate as possible.

44 Black Hat SEO Techniques That Will Tank Your Site

Using the proper techniques to rank and to get organic traffic can be hard, but it’s the best thing to do. Therefore, try to not fall in the trap of following the next black hat/shady SEO techniques:


  1. Keyword Stuffing – Writing Thin Content or Using Keyword Stuffing Gets You Penalized by Google Panda
  2. Over-Optimized Alt Description – Practice the Keyword Stuffing in Your Alt Description Image
  3. Commercial Anchor Text on Internal Pages – Using Keyword-Rich Anchor Texts for Internal Links
  4. Irrelevant Keywords – Abusing Irrelevant Keywords Just to Rank Will Damage Your CTR
  5. Linking Over-Optimization – Trying to Over-Optimize the Inbound Links Will Ruin Your Link Profile
  6. Hidden/ Invisible Text and Links – Hiding Links and Text or Writing Tiny Text for the Sole Purpose to Build Links
  7. HTML Heading Over-Optimization – Using Multiple H1s on a Page


  1. Duplicate Content – Writing Duplicate Content Will Hamper Your Ranking
  2. Content Automation – Using Automated Ways to Generate Content
  3. Bait and Switch – Fraudulently Using the Bait and Switch Technique to Trick Google
  4. Article Spinning – Crafting Manual or Automated Article Spinning
  5. Scraped Content – Hatching Scraped Content Is Not Only Forbidden but Also Illegal
  6. Cloaking – Using Cloaking Violates Google Guidelines, and You Risk Getting Penalized by Google Penguin
  7. Malicious Active Content – Building up Pages with Malicious Behavior
  8. Clickbait – Fabricating Deceptive Headlines Will Decrease Your CTR


  1. Web Rings – Building Web Rings to Get Traffic from Related Websites
  2. Guest Post Spam – Unrelated Guest Blogging Just to Generate Links
  3. Link Farm – Manipulating Your Link Profile by Increasing the Number of Inbound Links
  4. Linkbait and Switch – Revitalize Your Content into a Commercial One Using Linkbait and Switch Method
  5. Buying Reviews with Links by Offering “Free” Products – Manipulating the Practice of Sending Free Products in Exchange for Reviews with Links
  6. Link Exchange – Excessive Link Exchange Is Considered a Link Scheme and It Won’t Let Your Site Appear in SERP
  7. Blog Comment Spam – Comment Spamming to Get a Large Number of Backlinks Easily
  8. Shady Redirects – Using 301 Redirect with Link Exchange
  9. Commercial Anchor Text Keywords – Using Less or Not at All Non-Branded Keywords
  10. Spammy Footer Links – Loading the Footer of Your Website with Links Will Only Get You a Large Number of Unnatural Links


  1. Link Selling – Selling Links Will De-Index Your Website and Cut Your Traffic to Half
  2. Buying Links – Stop Buying Links to Receive Link Juice
  3. Paid Advertorials – Paying for Advertorials to Pass Authority
  4. Directory Listing – Registering and/or Buying Placements on Low-Quality Directories


  1. Parasite Hosting – Setting up a Parasite Hosting to Take Advantage of the Authoritative Domains from Google
  2. Google Bombing – Influencing the Rank of a Page by Artificially Increasing the Number of Pages That Link to It and the Anchor Texts Used
  3. Doorway Pages or Gateway Pages – Using Doorway Pages or Gateway Pages to Rank Higher in SERP
  4. Rich Snippet Markup Spam – Creating Irrelevant Rich Snippets Markup
  5. Automated Google Queries – Sending Automated Google Queries


  1. Mirror Sites – Designing Mirror Sites to Increase Your Rankings
  2. Private Blog Networks – Creating Blogs to Generate Link Juice
  3. Typosquatting or URL Hijacking – Putting Your Reputation and Brand at Risk of Facing Cybercrime by Using Typosquatting or URL Hijacking
  4. Toxic Sites – Having Links on Toxic Sites Hurts Your Link Profile


  1. Cybersquatting or Domain Squatting – Registering Domains Similar to a Trademark or Business for the Sole Purpose of Getting Monetary Benefits
  2. Cookie Stuffing or Cookie Dropping – Making Cookie Stuffing Is an Illegal Practice


  1. Negative SEO – Falsely Reporting Your Competitors to Get Them Penalized
  2. TrackBack Spam – Improperly Use the TrackBack Feature to Get Visitors on Your Site
  3. Referrer Spam – Polluting a Site with Fake Statistical Data as a Result of Referral Spam Technique
  4. Social Network Spam – Sending an Enormous List of Irrelevant Links in the Social Network


1. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is an old technique that had its moment of glory. It was highly popular before the 2000s, until Google started noticing that content with a great keyword density isn’t relevant to the user.
For example, if you are the manager of a company that sells chips and somebody asks you if you have chocolate chips, I bet you don’t answer to them “We do have chocolate chips. Our best selling product are the chocolate chips because these chocolate chips have better taste than our simple chips and our customers love chocolate, so chocolate chips will be a better decision. Try chocolate chips.” You sound like a crazy person if you talk like that. I mean, who can actually talk like that? Ever?
Repeatedly using a keyword in an article or a small piece of text – is like giving a definition of a word by using the same word over and over again. It’s not natural and healthy, nor unique. It’s bad user-experience and, worst of all, it will get you penalized by Panda Google Algorithm for low-quality content. It’s better to use expressions and write like you’d be talking to someone because the big G values more the content that is written for people than SERPs. But you already knew that, so why not put it into practice?
What do you think about the next page?
Does it look natural to you? I bet that you can find a range of online games on the site, but honestly, you don’t need to write it a thousand times to understand that.
And since we’ve talked about Google Panda we should see what impact can keyword stuffing can have on several sites.  The website presented below is one affected by this algorithm:

Google Panda penalty webopedia

Well, that might happen if you stuff your site with keywords; you and your site will suffer alike.

2. Over-Optimized Alt Description

The story goes on with image alt descriptions that are over-optimized. A little trickier than keyword stuffing, this technique is found by search engine crawlers even though you burden your images with a lousy number of keywords instead of your text (content). Ever if you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean it’s not that harmful.
Let’s make a thing clear: It is recommended to add images to your articles to make them more approachable. More importantly, you should write alt descriptions to your images, but don’t abuse it.

3. Commercial Anchor Text on Internal Pages

If you read #1 and #2 you can see it is easy to get carried away from the right path – white hat technique. Using keyword-rich anchor for internal links is a clear sign of over-optimized website or overly SEOed, and it will look exactly like this unnatural smiley face.
Fake smile

You need to keep your site neat and tidy. For example, you are writing an article on your blog about your beautiful trip to Barcelona and want to recommend a tour you sell on your site.
Recommended: If you’d like to have an amazing trip to Barcelona, you should check out our amazing 6 day trip to Barcelona with a free travel insurance.
Not recommended: If you’d like to visit Barcelona, we have a range of tours and activities; just check them all out at Barcelona For You.
Google has come with a “solution” for those who are looking for the easy way to rank in the top; it’s called penalty. Some sites have qualitative content but don’t rank so well and some sites rank better, but have thin, over-optimized content.
You might wonder which of the above cases is better. Te professionals think that means unique content written for the user and not for search engines and which has meaningful, relevant information. But don’t take our word for it, look at the examples below to see the rankings. In the screenshot below, you can find a site which provides a good user-experience.

Google Penguin

The second example from the screenshot below looks like an over-optimized site:

Google Pengiun weddingdresstrend

Now you see it’s not a myth anymore that using keyword-rich anchor texts for internal links to over-optimize your website can bring you a “pretty” penalization from Google.

4. Irrelevant Keywords

Another “joy” of the over-optimization game is taking abuse of irrelevant keywords just to rank. Just to make myself clear let’s say you like to play poker, but we know you are bluffing, just like your visitors will do when they enter your site, and they will run like bats out of hell. And your CTR will suffer.
Gaining traffic by using lots of unnecessary keywords to rank won’t work. Cheating, like in every relation, is punished, and Google will take you/your site down.
I get that you have plenty of topics in your niche, but stay there, don’t jump the garden to your neighbor. The dog will bite you! You might lose users that could have become clients, and they will buy from your competitors. That happened just because you weren’t honest with them.

Michael Panuthos, SEO and SEM specialist says that:

Sometimes your SEO specialist is so eager to get you on the first page of Google, he or she will neglect relevancy. If your SEO specialist gets you on the first page of Google for irrelevant keywords then you may not receive traffic. Relevancy is key.

5. Linking Over-Optimization

Webmasters find all kinds of scammy ways of ranking. This black hat SEO technique happens when you forcefully place internal links on the homepage for pages like “About us”, “Contact us”, “Products” and so on. It’s not only unpractical but also useless because those pages have a lot of traffic as they are, and it’s better to have deep links to strengthen your internal links.

6. Hidden/Invisible Text and Links

Hiding links and text for the sole purpose of building links comes in different sizes and shapes. Google has discovered all schemes: hiding text or links using CSS to position text off-screen, using the same color font as the background, setting font size to 0 or hiding a link to a single character.

You would be surprised, but novices still use this ancient deceiving technique.


Picture taken from

Not all hidden text and links are bad for your site. For example, using a descriptive image alt description, a script for Java or code for Flash files is acceptable. The last two technologies will help improve the experience of your site with the search engines.

7. HTML Heading Over-Optimizing

Using multiple H1s on a page is a widely spread tactic to influence on-site SEO. Abusing this black hat technique makes your site look stuffed.

Take for example the site below. It exploits the use of headings and keyword “plumber”.

Heading Over Optimization Best plumbers


Never-the-less, I encourage you to write headlines, but take in mind that you should always have only one H1, and H2, H3, etc. just when it’s necessary.

8. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a type of content that appears on more than one site. Also, duplicate content might be content stolen from other places (URLs). It is only giving a hard time to search engines to choose from all the duplicate content, and show the correct piece of information – which usually happens, and Google is showing the original content in SERPs. That because it can’t show duplicate content – it’s not relevant to the user.
Oh, the good old days of SEO when duplicate content wouldn’t damage your site so bad! Nowadays, using this technique will hamper your ranking in a blink of an eye. Besides that, you might put your site at high risk of getting penalized by Google Panda.
Google Panda eBay
A safe way that is not considered duplicate content is using citation for the information you gather from external sources.

Share content on other sites
Before you submit your content online and make it public you should check it to see if it’s plagiarism free.

9. Content Automation

Content automation means using tools or scripts to generate content automatically and publish it on your site without any effort from your side. The automated content is written with no intent for the user, and doesn’t have any format or style whatsoever, without pictures, HTML headings, paragraph spacing, alignment and so on.
Maybe you would think it’s a good idea in the short term because you’ll have a site with a lot of content in no time and effort, but you start to experience significant rank loss, keyword stuffing and worst of all risk of getting blacklisted from the search engine.

There are plenty of tools to do the dirty work for you. But you’d better think of what the consequences will be before you act.
I can tell you a safe way of getting ideas to generate quality content. You can try BrandMentions to inspire you to write and generate organic traffic and rank. It is useful and fun to find and search for information or keywords and see what’s trending.

10. Bait and Switch

Bait and switch is a false way of changing your content just to a get a page to rank. The first step is to write a page for Google with a set of keywords, and after it ranks, the author changes it with another project or product. When users enter the site, they see something entirely different. This is indeed a crafty idea, and the person who came up with this technique was creative. This cheesy way of tricking Google might have worked well in the past but now it will get you banned and if you “hit the jackpot” you could be subject to a lawsuit.
In 2011, Groupon used ‘’Bait and Switch’ in Search Ads and was accused of running “false and misleading business and advertising acts” by a bus tour company in San Francisco. The keyword they used was “incline village snow play area”.
Groupon bait and switchBut when you clicked on the link you would see this on the site:

Groupon site

This is another example of a page that used the bait and switch technique:
Bait and switch download games example took action and ranked for the keyword “download games”, but the site is about Bitcoin.

11. Article Spinning

It is the act of crafting a (manual or automated) way of rewriting content just to escape the ”duplicate content” – umbrella and to generate “new” content to look good in front of the search engines. It’s considered black hat because you don’t bring any value and relevant information for the user. If you discovered something new about a topic you already covered in an article, you could just write the new piece of information as an update. This way you can help that article rank better and give it a boost.

Article spinning

12. Scraped Content

Scraping content is stealing content from other publishers with a little help from scripts and post it on your website. It is an interesting practice because it was the subject of some cases regarding breaching copyright of the original site owner. Hatching scraped content is not only forbidden but also illegal in the United States and other countries. For example, in 2011 in Canada there was a cased called Century 21 Canada Limited Partnership v. Rogers Communications Inc., 2011 BCSC 1196  which stated that “The prohibited uses expressly include but are not limited to “screen scraping”, “database scraping” and any other activity intended to collect, store, re-organize, summarize or manipulate any Content (whether via an automatic program or a manual process).” It is against Google Guidelines, also. Over the time, thereappeared that sidebar with “latest news” implemented by webmasters, but some of them got carried away and published too much information. You should be careful with how much information you post on other sites so that you won’t upset the big G.

This goes both ways. If you are a victim of this act, you can find software to help you discover who is stealing content from you and complaint against the site that has stolen your content.
I’m not giving you ideas, just helping you make a difference between what’s wrong and what’s right and get away from the temptations and the bad guys. And I’m not talking about Google, he’s the good guy. Well, he is good as long as you’ve done nothing to upset him.

13. Cloaking


Picture taken from

It is a dishonest way of using two pieces of content. One is written for the search engines to rank and Googlebot to crawl and the second one for the users. Using cloaking violates Google Guidelines, and you risk getting penalized by Google Penguin. That is because cloaking is believed to be used to fool search engine’s algorithm.


14. Malicious Active Content

This type of content uses malware software through animated website, Java applications, Javascript, Flash content or relying on browser plugins to display video, audio files or download files on the computer. The most common types of malware are considered adware, bots, bugs, rootkits, spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and worms. Not only is this kind of behavior against Google Guidelines and will get you penalized big time, but it is also illegal.

On the other side, if you are a user, the best way to avoid being a victim of such software is to install an antivirus and update it regularly, avoid downloading files from unknown websites, keep away from shady sites or to click on ads that look too good to be truth.

15. Clickbait

Clickbait is an eye catching and deceptive headline written with the sole purpose of making you click on it. It says one thing in the headline and another thing on the site. It uses expressions to entice you such as “You won’t believe …” , “Important news about …”, “Shocking!! You need to see this…” and so on and so forth. This deceiving technique will decrease your CTR, and on the long run, it’s bad for your site. Usually, those who use clickbait want to generate income based on the number of clicks. You can see this excessive technique in tabloids, where it is widely spread.
An excellent example of clickbait is offered for “free” by Xpango, which says that it can give you a free Apple iPad and even promises in the description that it’s “not catch and it’s free”.

Though, when we enter the site we see that we need “just 25 credits”. No catch you say?!
Facebook wants to stop clickbait. The aim is to de-prioritize posts with headlines that hold information and entice you to click just to find out.

16. Web Rings

Multiple sites that are connected between them in a circular network to rank and get traffic from related websites create a webring. Sage Well was the one who came with a script to develop such concept in 1994, when it began to become popular before Google times. To be a part of a webring, you must receive approval from the webmaster. Even doing bad things became harder and harder.

Web Ring

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17. GuestPost Spam

There are plenty of people out there that use this technique to get backlinks. Don’t be one of them. They usually send messages to bloggers to publish an irrelevant article with a link and most of the times it’s a dofollow link. Guest Post spamThose who send requests for guest blogging on a site can hurt its ranking if the site they link to has bad user experience.
An example of a message sent for guest posting might look like that:
“My name is NAME and I am a writer. I found your site and I think it is very interesting. I was wondering if I can do a guest post? I write about different topics for different niches and I think I would be a great fit for your audience. My articles have 400 – 500 words, depending on what want. If you allow me, do you think it would be possible to add a single link to our site?”
If it doesn’t say the name of the site how could I possible now if it’s relevant? This is kind of obscure.
By any chance, if you are one of the bad guys you will pay your debt sooner than you think. Not only will it affect you, the guest blogger, but it will also affect the site that accepted it. In 2014, received a manual side-wide penalty for having an outbound link pointing to an unrelated site from a guest post.

Matt Cutts, the former head of the webspam team at Google touched a sensible part in the next tweet in 2014.
Matt Cutts about Spam Guest Post

You need to offer information that will help the audience and send it back to your site to generate traffic, not irrelevant links that will get you down for good.

18. Link Farm

“Old McSpammer had a farm, e-i-e-i-oh,
And on that farm he built some links, e-i-e-i-oh
With a backlink here, and a backlink there,
Here a link, there a link,
Everywhere a link, link…”, by Scott Willoughby, found on

Link farm

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As the song says, a link farm is a collection of websites connected with each other, manipulating your link profile by increasing the number of inbound links. It has a negative impact since Google sees link farming as a spammy way of getting links. The content of a site that participates in a link farm looks just like every other site on the internet with an exception: it has text covered with irrelevant hyperlinks linking to random sites. The use of link farms was popular in the days when Google Page Rank mattered, but as time changed, Google also changed, and now this practice will get you penalized because the generated links are considered to be unnatural. Humans do not create the exchanged links for humans, but rather for search engines.

19. LinkBait and Switch

This strategy happens when you “revitalize” your content into a commercial one. The trick is to gain links for a particular article and then change it entirely with a commercial one having no connection whatsoever with the first topic. Even though the content you ranked for was unique and qualitative and the links were natural if you changed it to something else it shows you’ve frivolously looking to gain traffic.

Linkbait and switch animation

20. Buying Reviews with Links by Offering “Free” Products

Since Google has found many ways of getting rid of those who manipulate the right way of reaching the top of SERP, people get way more creative and not in a good way, but by trying new methods of cheating. And that is how the practice of sending free products in exchange for reviews with links appeared. Don’t get me wrong; it’s ok to ask your clients for a review, but not with links. Using this technique in an excessive way could get you down, rather than up in the search results. And don’t get me started about the fake reviews that appear on your site with the sole purpose of gaining trust, which brings exactly the opposite if you get caught, which happens most of the times.
An example in this area is TripAdvisor. An Italian newspaper created an account for a fake restaurant in Italy to see if TripAdvisor’s review moderation and fraud detection team will discover it. The restaurant, named Scaletta got lots of fake reviews and started to look like a real place. After a month it was rated the best restaurant in town. The experiment ended when the newspaper sent a message to TripAdvisor explaining their intent and proved that TripAvisor’s reviewing system is defective.

Fake reviews Scaletta

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21. Link Exchange

It refers to an agreement between 2 sites to rank in Google. I will spoil the moment so you won’t get tempted by this method because it’s considered a link scheme and it won’t let your site appear in SERP anymore. The good guys run with the speed of the light when they hear about this black hat SEO technique.
At a quick search on the internet you’ll find lots of sites and directories that offer links in exchange. They even make big promises such as free links, quality links for your niche, no footprints and you can even make money through their affiliate program. It is easy to do link exchange and rank afterward, but you will get penalized just as easily.

You can see below just one example of many:

Link Exchange Request

22. Blog Comment Spam

It occurs when you try to generate links by commenting on different blogs and sites to link back to your blog/site, despite the fact that the sites are relevant or not to your niche or activity profile.
Blog comment spam
Usually, this kind of technique uses links that go to the homepage. Commenting just to get a large number of backlinks easily is considered a black hat technique.


Picture taken from

If you are a blogger that received this kind of spammy comments, you can do something to stop them. You can delete them as soon as you got them, but the adequate way to proceed is to mark the incoming comments as pending and waiting for approval just to avoid polluting your site with links that could get you penalized if they come from bad, toxic sites.

23. Shady Redirects

301 redirect is actually a good practice. You can use it to send a user from a URL to another one if  the original page has moved or changed. Sadly, over the years, it began to be used as a bad SEO technique.  Webmasters take advantage of expired domains to keep the link juice. They are redirecting the old site to their site. In this case, using 301 redirects is a shade of gray hat SEO.  You could easily fall into the dark area of SEO if the expired domain is not relevant. Would it matter if I told you that you might get penalized by Google for this practice? It should!

Another shady redirect is practiced on online movies sites. When you click play to see a movie it redirects you on all kind of sites, most of them being unrelated.
Shady Redirect

301 redirects, as a grey hat SEO, is used to generate traffic on sites not in a natural way.

24. Commercial Anchor-Text Keywords

Commercial anchor text keywords are those money keywords used to generate financial value. If your site has fewer or not at all non-branded keywords, it will show that your Anchor text profile is not organic at all. You can use the Anchor Text Distribution & Classifier from cognitiveSEO tool to see the ratio between commercial vs. brand keywords and to classify them.
A brand anchor text is considered to contain the brand name, URL. This is a site that has a natural anchor text profile:

Brand anchor text

For example, if your brand name is BRAND X and you have a site about website templates, then commercial anchor text is considered to contain words like “website template”, “best website template”, “free website templates” and so on. This is a site that has a spammy anchor text profile:

Commercial anchor text


25. Spammy Footer Links

We call them spammy, junky or scammy footer links because you write them with the sole purpose of ranking and cheating your way up to the top. The links are not written naturally, in an article, showing and explaining the connection between you and the site you’re linking to. Sadly, this is a practice used by many people and in the end it will lead to rank loss. You could end up with a penalization in the worst case scenario.
Spammy footer links
Loading the footer of your website with links will only get you a large number of unnatural links and this can cause rank loss.

Rank Loss hotelsanbada

As you can see below, the Unnatural Link Profile can be caused by other practices, too:

26. Link Selling

If you’re selling links to pass domain authority, it will de-index your website and cut your traffic to half (if you’re lucky) because it’s against Google Guidelines. There isn’t so much to say about this ancient technique. Just be careful and don’t try this at home or … anywhere.
Matt Cutts argues that if the site that sells links gets caught and it was linking to you, all the value you were receiving from that link goes away.

You can find some great pieces of advice and explanations from Matt Cutts in this video:

27. Buying Links

Remember what we’ve talked about selling links? Well, buying links isn’t so far from that. Even though the site you are buying links from says they are qualitative, don’t get yourself fooled. It sounds too good to be true. Stop buying links to receive link juice. You will lose money and time for ranking. Not to mention that you will need to spend time again to correct the mistakes you’ve made. 

Selling and buying links

28. Paid Advertorials

A significant change in Google occurred when it was discovered that people were paying for advertorials to pass PageRank and since PageRank was officially declared dead, it doesn’t mean that now paid advertorials are not against Google’s Guidelines. The former head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, tweeted about the connections between paid links and advertorials pages.
When you use this technique, you have paid links. And paid links could also pass authority.
The good thing for those who use this practice is that paid advertorials seem to be indexed in Google News. This loophole appeared in Google’s guidelines, and that gives the possibility to publishers to appear in that section. But this doesn’t mean that it won’t come a time when Google penalizes your site?
You can see an example for this situation from Lean Cuisine that paid for an article in Mashable.
Paid advertorials Lean Cuisine
At the end of the article, you will see this message: “BrandSpeak is a Mashable Studios program that allows advertisers to share their content with our audience. Mashable news department was not involved in the creation of this content.”

Mashable message for paid advertorials

If you want to do good things that will count in the future and want to pay for advertorials, then a good practice will be to set all links as no follow.

You know that saying “What goes around comes around”. Well, that applies to this technique also, as for the rest.

29. Directory Listing

If you are registering and/or buying placements on low-quality directories, it is not good practice. A great importance is the value of that directory and if it proves to be a link scheme, well you know what happens, you’ve got the picture.
A real question will be “Are there any good directories that I can register on?”. Yahoo has a directory that could fall into this category. They have a well-put set of rules; not everyone can register, and I think it is a good example. Before that, you should create an account for GoogleMyBusiness, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin and then see what the best options are for profile and niche. Don’t do what everybody has been doing, be BOLD!
The next question will be “Are paid directories held to the same standard as paid links?” and the answer comes from the one and only Matt Cutts.



Cutts says that the Google team looks at the value of the directory and how much work is put into it. “If it’s not substantially a lot of work and, primarily, it looks to be more-less a link scheme, then paid directories are held to the same standards as paid links. ”
You need to understand that Google will always try to get smarter and offer valuable content for its users and directory listing is an option. At least, not anymore.

30. Parasite Hosting

It is an illegal way of gaining access to a site, creating a web page on it and inject it with lots of keywords and links pointing to the black hat SEO practitioner’s commercial page. They set up a parasite hosting to take advantage of the authoritative domains from Google. This way they would receive traffic for their site and money from those who want to buy. Usually, this happens without the knowledge or consent of the person who owns the authoritative domain.

Parasite hosting

Before you get caught, and God knows what will happen to you and your site, you must wonder “Is the black hat SEO worth it?”. Just do good and good will come to you.

31. Google Bombing

It is a way of influencing the rank of a page by artificially increasing the number of linking to it and the anchor texts used for that. A black hat SEO practitioner will manipulate Google’s algorithm by “helping” one-page rank for an entirely different keyword. This happens because it is the same anchor text used for the pages that link to that page in particular.
One of the most discussed examples of Google bombing was the query “completely wrong” for Mitt Romney. If you search images for “completely wrong”, Google will show you a picture with Mitt Romney.

Google bombing Romney-Completely-Wrong

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If you are a victim you must know how to defend yourself by these evil ways of hijacking your site.

32. Doorway Pages or Gateway Pages

Doorway pages refer to the practice of inflating a site for a particular query in SERP using some cloaking and sending the user on a page that doesn’t have any connection with the query whatsoever. It is an adapted way of redirecting, a more crafty one. Those who use this technique want to rank higher in SERP in an unnatural way, of course.
In March 2015, Google launched a new doorway page penalty algorithm especially for this type of technique.
If you search for “prednisolone without prescription” you will find this result in Google:
prednisolone without prescription
And when you go on the site you discover a doorway page. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but instead a list with top pharmacies online.

Doorway page

33. Rich Snippet Markup Spam

Structured markup data can be a great way of formatting how your site appears in the search results when somebody looks for information. Also, it will help index your site. On the other hand, if you are creating irrelevant rich snippets markup you risk getting manually penalized by Google for this scammy technique.
For example, if you use snippet markup for reviews and you don’t have a policy of reviewing on your site it’s counted as rich snippet markup spam.

faking the serps rich snippets

34. Automated Google Queries

Sending automated Google queries means that you use a software to inflate the number of searches for a specific keyword to rank higher in SERP. If you aim at positioning your site higher in the search results in this unnatural way, Google has a way of disappointing you and penalizing you.

Google-Automated Queries

35. Mirror Sites

A mirror site is used to reflect the original website content into a new one in order to increase its ranking. This could be another way of duplicating content from your site or other resources.

The bad guys out there will try and convince you that they are using this technique just in case of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. DDoS is a cyber attack where multiple compromised systems are used to target a single system to access important (personal) information . 

36. Private Blog Networks

Private Blog Networks (PBN) are a collection of blogs created by a person to generate links to a site and to help it rank in Google. It is a powerful way of creating a massive number of links from different domains to a site. The owner of the network has the capability to change the content however he wants, to add how many links he wants and to manipulate the content to his own wishes to boost the rank for a site. This is how a PBN  looks like:

Private Blog Network

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Usually, PBNs are created using expired domains. This is because they already have link juice and that can come in handy when you are trying to pass authority to another site that doesn’t have so much. Yet, this is not mandatory.

37. Typosquatting or URL Hijacking

This hijacking method is based on a typographical error to create malicious domains to look similar to well-known brands. This error counts as common misspelling, unnoticed foreign spelling, an abuse of the Country Code Top-Level Domain. The reason for this “affiliating” practice is to profit from the trademark name and brand’s fame.
Here you can see the official site of Cartier’s brand.
Cartier official website

And this is an attempt of URL Hijacking by Carter:

Carter diamonds website

The downside for this practice is that it will put your reputation and your brand at risk of facing cybercrime.

38. Toxic Sites 

If a site is created for the sole purpose of link building and it has one of the link issues named in the picture below then we might be talking about toxic sites. These link issues are just a few of the possible ones you can stumble upon in the big world of the internet and toxic sites.

Link issue

If you are having links on toxic sites, they can damage your business. Also, having bad links from toxic sites as a result of a black hat SEO practice should determine you to review those links. An easy way to do this is by checking them within the Unnatural Links Navigator in the cognitiveSEO tool. Directly from this tool you have the possibility to manage them and even disavow them if that’s the case.

39. Cybersquatting or Domain Squatting

Cybersquatting means registering domains similar to a trademark or business for the sole purpose of getting financial benefits. It contains the word “squatting”, which means acknowledging a public place without permission. Fraudsters who practice this technique could receive lawsuits because they gain money. They are redirecting people who came on the fake domain to an expensive pay-per-click advertising site.

40. Cookie Stuffing or Cookie Dropping

Cookie stuffing is a way of using scripts, pop-ups, toolbars and images embedded in message boards for a publisher to receive money. How does he receive the money, you may ask? Let’s say, for example, a publisher sends a visitor to the site and he gets credit for every sale made. You must know that stuffing cookies is an illegal practice.

41. Negative SEO

As the name says it, negative SEO does the opposite of what you would expect and that is to cut traffic and decrease SEO visibility continuously. But who wants that? I would that say a lot of people since we talk about it. They don’t want to do it for their own site, but rather false reporting their competitors to get them penalized.
Gary Illyes,  a webmaster trends analyst at Google, tweeted on his account saying that Google hasn’t seen a real example of negative SEO?

gary negative seo

The sad part for those who actually get penalized for something they didn’t do is that they don’t know who “buried them alive” but they could get an idea. If you are using the tool from cognitiveseo you can search through the Unnatural Links Navigator to review your backlinks and see where they are they coming from. Also, a great indicator of rank loss can be spotted by visualizing SEO visibility’s graph.

An example from a famous SEO agency that got affected by negative SEO technique:

42. TrackBack Spam

TrackBack was used only to facilitate the communication between blogs by sending pings. A ping is a message sent from a blogger to those who are connected to him. Using it moderately or only you have a new article is not considered spam. Though, when you improperly use the TrackBack feature to get visitors on your site and send them numerous pings, it’s counted as natural.


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43. Referrer Spam

Referrer spam is a sort of spamdexing which is manifested by polluting a site with fake statistical data. The spammer aims to improve the ranking of his site. It doesn’t harm the site except for  increasing its statistical data regarding traffic, visitors and so on. The positive side is that you have the possibility to filter the referral spam.
Referral spam from a travel agency

44. Social Network Spam

Social Network Spam is a relative new form of spamming. Since web 2.0 appeared, spammers have found new platforms where they could spread their links. When they are sending an enormous list of irrelevant links in the Social Network, that is when the red flag rises.

Spam in Social Networks is known to appear as links in comments to different posts, unrelated to the site; as sharing malicious links in irrelevant groups/pages/people; private messages sent to all kinds of people/pages one time or several times.


To sum everything up, we reiterate a quote from Matt Cutts, who says “The objective is not to ‘make your links appear natural’; the objective is that your links are natural”. You think you could get away if you try some of these black hat SEO techniques, but sooner or later you may lose rank or traffic, damage your reputation, get a penalty from Google, lose credibility and clients, or worst of them all, face a lawsuit. Be an SEO practitioner of evergreen content. Until next time, be good to Google and he’ll (probably) be good to your site.

The post 44 Black Hat SEO Techniques That Will Tank Your Site appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

He Didn’t Hate Me, He Was Just Told He Did

Hate and hope

I haven’t written here in a little bit. Truth be told, I’ve been a little numbed by the events that took place in the US over the last week or so.

Trying to understand what comes next. For America; for the world.

Trying to rationalize if the fear I feel for the vulnerable is warranted, and how to protect those that are so far away, both in miles and in hope.

Thinking of the hate, and anger, and vitriol, and loathing.

Thinking of the fear, the isolation, the end of belief in good.

And it breaks me.

It breaks me that people in power can wash their hands of the chaos they’ve created.

It breaks me that even despite all the evidence in front of us, people are willing to put it down to an overreaction.

That the hate has always been there, on both sides, and we’re just exaggerating that it’s worse now than it’s ever been (or at least as equally as bad as the worst days from the past).

And it breaks me that no matter where I look, all I see are the raw emotions of the helpless falling under the unrelenting voices and actions of hate.

I look at my children and wonder what legacy we’re leaving them.

I look at the children of my friends, and the parents of these children, and their place in today’s history as families of various ethnicity, religion, and culture, and wonder if they’ll even have a legacy to leave.

Because I really don’t know.

I wish I did. I wish I could see into the future, and know one way or another how this all plays out. For everyone.

But I can’t. So, in the meantime, I’ll remember the story my grandfather told me a long time ago.

The Humanity of Truth

My grandfather’s brother James fought in the Second World War and was stationed in Burma. During his service, he was captured by Japanese forces and moved to one of their infamous death camps.

Tortured, beaten and humiliated daily, James was severely malnourished and perhaps a few months (or weeks) away from death himself when he found himself befriended by a guard.

The guard had visited the UK many years before as a young man and had been worried about how he’d be accepted.

He’d heard stories – justifiable stories – of how people from the East had been looked upon (remember, this wasn’t long after the British Empire had ruled Asia).

However, instead of the universal hate he’d expected, he was met with warmth and genuine friendliness. Yes, there were some examples of racism and jingoism, but for the most part, he was just another person.

Now, many years later, here he was guarding the very people that were meant to hate him but didn’t. As he said to my grandfather’s brother,

I thought I hated you. But I don’t – I was just told I did.

Man and guard looked at each other, and smiled the smile of acceptance.

My grandfather’s brother spoke often with his guard over the coming weeks and they learned of what they had been before the war, and what their dreams were for when it ended.

Sadly, James never got to see those dreams come true. Like thousands of others, he died while working on the Burma-Thailand bridge that was made famous in the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”.

Before he died, however, he asked his guard to take a letter he had written and to try and get it to his family should he not survive the war.

When the war finished, the guard kept his promise and mailed the letter to my grandfather’s mother. Together, they sat down and read the words of how two enemies had found hope and understanding.

My grandfather’s mother couldn’t accept it and blamed the guard and “all his kind” for the death of her son. She went to her grave with that hate.

At her funeral, my grandfather read the sermon, and shared the story of the two men from different cultures and backgrounds and how much of what we knew about each other had been built on lies.

He closed the sermon with this thought:

My mother never recovered from the death of her eldest son. Instead, she died full of hate for the people that took his life. But hate isn’t the answer; hate didn’t kill my brother. Belief did. Belief that we hated those my brother fought, and that they hated us. But a simple guard showed my brother he didn’t hate him; he was just told he did.

While he may not have realized it at the time, my grandfather was shaping the views of those that were to follow his legacy.

Believe the Heart, Not Words

My grandfather passed when I was relatively young, but he remains to this day the greatest influence in my life and how it’s been shaped.

He was a good man. A stern man who didn’t suffer fools gladly, but also a kind man. There was no grey area for him – it was either good or bad, right or wrong.

And the words that his brother wrote were to shape his own beliefs moving forward. Words that are so true, so pertinent today, when hate leads to,

  • Schoolkids telling other schoolkids they’re going to be deported.
  • Neighbours turning on other neighbours and telling them to get back to the country they came from.
  • Hateful graffiti scrawled onto places of worship.
  • Strangers attacking each other because of the world view they’ve been presented with.

All of this and more, we let happen because we believe something that isn’t true but fits a certain agenda. We hate; they hate; and the world goes to shit.

But do “they” really hate? Do we really hate? Or is it because we’ve been told to hate?

What does your heart say, truly? If you look deep within and ask why you hate someone, is there an answer that can’t be countered? Or are you at a loss to validate a reason for your hate?

Believe your heart, not words.

And if you really need to believe words over your heart, consider the ones of the guard who befriended my grandfather’s brother.

He didn’t hate; he was just told he did.

If enemies in a war can come to that realization, surely we can too…

65 Million Articles Are Published Each Month – Can Yours Stand Out?

make your blog stand out

Actually, it’s a lot more than 65 million articles – that’s just the number published on the WordPress platform! There are a lot of blogs out there.

So, in a world where everyone wants to start a blog and everyone else is publishing their opinions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, how do we make ours stand out? Is it even possible?

In today’s post I’m going to look at a few strategies I’ve used over the years to help my blogs and online businesses get noticed and stand out from the crowd. I hope it helps a few people out there who are trying to make a bit of extra income for their families, or create happier careers.

Let’s go.

But what about all that competition?

When you look at the sheer number of blogs and blog posts created each month it can seem a little overwhelming. How on Earth can one stand out when there is so much competition?

Well, there are a few positive points to remember:

  • They’re not all in your niche
    The majority of blogs aren’t in your niche. Don’t worry, not all of those millions of blogs are direct competitors.
  • They’re not all as good as yours
    If you’ve got yourself set up on on your own host you are probably ahead of 90% of the crowd. Even more if you have a brand and a strategy of some kind.
  • They don’t all last long
    The average blog, like the average business, doesn’t last more than a year. There is a lot to be said for just sticking it out because most people won’t.

I think it’s important to remember these things, especially if it’s taking you a little longer to hit your goals than you had anticipated. Being hopeful in the early days is important, as is committing to sticking at it.

The three stages of a visitor

Before we get into the main points, we need to have a look at traffic and its various stages. There are three ways to think about your traffic, and knowing them is very important to effectively standing out.

  1. Pre-visit
    Traffic before it actually gets to your site. For example, people that are about to encounter you on Google, social media, or some form of advertising.
  2. On-site
    Traffic while it is on your website and either ignoring or engaging with your content and is poised to take some action like clicking, subscribing, purchasing, or bouncing.
  3. Post-visit
    Once they’ve been fulfilled or bounced from your site and are in a stage where they will either abandon your site for good or re-visit in the future..

In this post we’re going to touch on all three stages and talk about some things we can do to ensure that not only do you get visitors, but that they engage with your content, and then come back again later.

How to make your blog posts stand out

Now we’re going to take a deeper look at what we can do to make our blogs and blog posts stand out from the crowd in a more methodical and strategic way.

1. Craft your headlines and descriptions for humans and Google

If you want people to click through to your blog and read your posts you’re going to need to make sure that your headlines and descriptions are compelling enough to get them interested, without being too “clickbaity” so as to put them off.

It’s also important to note that, at this stage, you need to take care of both human needs and the needs of the spiders from Google.

Yes, we want to write for people, but we also want search engines to pick up the content or else no one will see it.

google searches headlines

If you look at any Google search you’ll see some amazing results and some that could use some work. For example, in the image above you’ll see two titles that are a little bit too long and thus aren’t optimized for people who are reading through and looking to click.

Google will generally show around 55 characters for the title as they need to make it fit on both desktop and mobile device display, so we should try to keep within that limit.

Remember, these are just like an advert listing.

You can always write longer titles for your blog and then edit them to be shorter for Google by using an SEO plugin like All in One SEO Pack that allows you to edit titles and descriptions and suggest them to Google.

2. Test headlines on Twitter and with your mailing list

Crafting a compelling headline takes a lot of practice. Jon Morrow once said they he used to re-write each title hundreds of times in order to get good at writing them. And he’s very good at them.

But how do you know if your final choice is the right one?

Well, you don’t. You need to test it.

There are a few ways we can do this. For example, you can Tweet your post and use a different title every time and then see which one gets the most clicks.

twitter stats

Just click the little bar graph at the bottom of your tweet and you’ll get some expanded stats of how that particular tweet performed. Do maybe five tweets over a week and see which performs best. Of course, this is not a fool proof research method as factors like time of day, etc. need to be consistent. But it’s a good start.

You can also do this type of test with your mailing list by split testing different subject lines and seeing which one performs better. Try testing short vs long versions, adding numbers, creating some scarcity, positive vs negative, etc. and slowly build up a picture about what people are reacting to.

3. Get the promotion/ads perfect

The next thing you’ll want to do in order to get people to click through to your blog is ensure that the promotion or ads that you’re running are as tight as possible. For example, I’ve been running the follow ad on Facebook:


The idea here is that you have an eye-catching and well branded image and a call to action that will encourage people to click through or show some interest. This one has performed quite well. To make it even better, you want to ensure that the graphic in the ad matches the post that it leads to as closely as possible.

I’ve been using a lot of little Blog Tyrant characters around here lately. My designer makes them for me and it has slowly been getting associated with the brand more and more. I even got a comment on the ad above saying:


This is exactly what you want – as people start to recognize your brand and images and tone they’ll start to pick it out from among all the other noise that is out there and engage with you more. This is a good start when it comes to standing out.

4. Make sure your brand and content is distinctive

Once people land on your blog it’s important that they encounter a quality website that is filled with information that helps people.

But you also need to be distinctive.

I’ve talked about a book called How Brands Grow before but it’s worth mentioning it again because their research shows that it’s not vital to be first or original, but you do need to be distinctive and memorable.

So, how do you do that within a blog environment?

Well, one way to start is to jump on Google and spend a day or two analyzing the competition in your niche. I’ve made a very simple little spreadsheet to help you do that.

Download the template

The idea here is to look at the best performing and best ranking blogs and see if you can figure out any distinctive features that might be giving them an advantage in any particular area. Examine the colors, logos, and their most popular articles.

Most importantly, however, you want to see what their specific focus is and whether or not there is any angle that might be missing from your niche. It might even be a small shift in the way you offer a free download or the specific approach that you take to solving a certain problem.

Once you’ve identified something that is missing you can start emphasizing that on your own blog. It doesn’t mean you have to do an entire re-brand – but maybe do a promotional test with a new landing page or long-form piece of content and see whether that starts to perform better.

This really is key because once you know what your competition is doing and how you’re going to be different you will feel like there is a thread that ties your whole brand together.

5. Follow up with niche-matched value

The next thing that you’ll want to do is make it as easy as possible to get in front of people again in a way that stands out. For example, a very niche-matched email series is a popular method.

I’ve talked about this extensively in this post on blogging strategy as well as my article on affiliate income over at ViperChll but, essentially, the point is that you position your blog in a way that makes new visitors feel like this is the best place to get solutions for a very, very specific problem.

nerd fitness

If you look at Nerd Fitness you’ll see how tightly everything is branded towards helping geeks and nerds get fit, but also fit in. The paid areas are all massive communities and the branding is heavily geared towards geek culture like gaming, Star Wars, etc. You can even make your own gaming character!

After a few minutes on this site you start to feel like this is the only place that “gets” me and that it will be the only place where you can achieve your goals because of who you are. From a standing out point of view it is absolutely perfect.

You don’t need to go to the same extent that Steve has here – a simple download or email course is enough if it hones in on your blog’s brand and its solutions and gets you in front of readers over and over.

Some final tips to help your blog stand out

In case all of that stuff above wasn’t that useful, here are a few reminders and extra tips to help your blog and its articles stand out:

  • Consider the various stages
    Remember that you need to stand out before, during and after a visitor lands on your site.
  • Be distinctive
    Try to find ways to be distinctive. That doesn’t always mean first, just memorable.
  • Pay for it
    If you need help with graphics or developing a strategy pay for it like I do with my characters. You can get good results for hardly any money.
  • Constantly aim to solve problems
    Focus as best as you can on helping people and solving their problems in whatever niche you are in.
  • Consider injecting your personality
    Sometimes the difference between being remembered and forgotten is a photo like I have on my homepage. Maybe put you and your story on the blog and in your post more often.
  • Tie together your goals and branding
    Try to make sure your content, images, ads, etc. all tie together to help solve one single problem in one single niche.
  • Analyze the competition
    Regularly assess what your competition is doing and see whether anything is working and whether or not you can improve on it in some new way.
  • Be stylistically consistent
    Try to make sure the style that you use in your posts is always similar so that people will recongize it when they encounter it. Certain websites like the New Yorker and Wait But Why do this very well.
  • Be an early adopter
    Sometimes people make huge progress with their careers because they are an early adopter of a new social network or platform or tool. Keep your eye out for this in your niche.
  • See what’s working offline
    Sometimes offline media, advertising, etc. has good ideas that aren’t being applied online. Maybe a magazine, product, invention or event has something relevant to your niche?
  • Ask
    The last thing I want to mention is asking your readers and peers for advice or feedback. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to make a huge difference.

What blogs do you think stand out?

I’d really love to know whether you know of any blogs that stand out in your niche. Have you ever noticed a particular blog post that really caught your attention? Leave a comment below and let us know. It would be fun to get some new ideas from parts of the web I’ve never visited.

Cool Blog Writing Tips to Maximize Reader Engagement

Imagine taking a bite of fresh apple pie… While your mouth starts filling with saliva, your brain is probably serving you a big plate of associations. The right kind of crust on that pie, the aromas – cinnamon, rosemary, nutmeg… These turn ordinary meal into an unforgettable one.

What about your blog writing then? How do you make it reach that “yum” mark on the scale of “deliciousness”? Luckily, it doesn’t take a world-class chef to do that.

Add Quotes To Your Blog Posts

Neil Patel

Quoting an authority from your niche does whole lot of things to your piece of content. It adds credibility, proves that you’ve done certain amount of research for the topic you’ve been working on and generally adds value to the piece.

While all of that is great and awesome, there’s surely a way to implement the quotes in a more creative, almost mischievous way. Building an article around the rappers’ cues? Or, maybe, including hypothetical marketing mottoes from Disney princesses? Getting creative with your “ingredients” will surely entertain your readers, and, with fair amount of profound work beneath the fun – even inspire them to experiment on their own.

Bucket Brigades

The term was introduced by the one and only Backlinko. Bucket brigades are words/constructions, that lead your reader through your content.

Here’s how bucket brigades work.

You’re slowly giving out the main points of your post, sharing the cool information you’ve found or your own ideas. Once you’re ready to move to the next chunk of information, let the next bucket brigade enter the game.


They actually do their job properly. So use them with class and have fun with it.

“E” is for “Emotional”

Establishing emotional connection between your content and your readers is a surefire way to increase audience engagement and maximize impact of your efforts. There are major psychological triggers, that work in a trouble-free way.

Appeals to fear, desire to be successful and respected and longing for efficient results of one’s work – these almost automatically mean getting readers’ attention. Top these with actionable and applicable solutions to a problem and get a jackpot both for you and your audience.

BlogPress: Blogging, Training, & Incredible Personal SupportTell a Story

Storytelling is obviously here to stay. If you don’t feel like creating the whole legend with its setting, plot and characters, add some elements to your normal content creation routine. If you’re working on a blog post – share a bit of your personal experience or address an everyday situation that fits the general concept of your writing.

Working on a piece, discussing the difficulties of content ideation? Think of the last time you stared at your laptop, having no clue what to start with. Talking about importance of editing? Try to remember the last time you got your high-school (or college) paper, all covered in notes, regarding your style and grammar. Who can’t relate to that, right?

Add Intrigue

Intrigue is seductive. It has readers crave for answers. It makes them want to be led through all the twists of your story. Isn’t it something we all want?

Nevertheless, as we all know, digital readers do have little time to read. So you’re almost obligated to give them that skimmable, easily-digestible content. How do you make this work with the whole intriguing thing?

Serve one bite at a time. If I’m lucky enough to have you read this post up to this point, you probably understand what I mean. Share your awesome advice, and keep some delicious stuff for dessert. Make the points interesting enough to have your readers wait until the point where the puzzle falls into place.

Laugh at Yourself

This one is really difficult to fail. Making fun of your mistakes may take lots of courage, however, the rewards are surely worth it.

By showing your weaknesses in a humorous way, you build a solid bridge between you and your readers. They get to see how easily they can relate to problems you’re writing about. That means, the solutions you’re going to present will have far more weight. “Wow, this guy has been through the same thing I’m dealing with! I can actually trust him”!

Plus, it lightens the overall mood. Everybody loves a good laugh. So why not roast yourself (gently, though) to make someone’s day better?

Break That Text Down

Yeah, no one likes walls of text. Yeah you have to keep your paragraphs punchy.


Don’t deny the power of a line break. It’s not only a great way to format the text, but also an opportunity to wake up the reader, who has just started to get tired with the words you’ve been pouring into the post. If you haven’t tried it yet – now is the great time to start.

Just don’t write all of your posts like that.


It might seem pretty annoying.

The Power of Numbers And Lists

BlogPress Marketing ToolsNumbers are a great way of getting your readers glued to your content. This principle works in a number of ways.

Posts, written in a list format have been steadily popular for a while already. They are almost a bullet-proof way of assuring the reader: I know what I’m talking about, and don’t worry, I have it all organized for you.

Adding research data and relevant statistics may seem to be a way of making your content boring. In fact, they’re like a good old chili pepper. They give your voice clarity and credibility. Thorough research and clear data are a straight path to building your online reputation. So go ahead. Get to the boring stuff to make the whole thing shine.

Visuals Do Matter

Vines, gifs, images, videos, presentations – what a marvelous world of opportunities these create. They add color to the posts you’ve been working on, they help convey your message in a brighter manner, they create associations – the memes, for instance, create immediate, almost subconscious reaction to the content you’re working on.

So why not invest some time to create your own pool of stunning visual aids that enhance your performance? Luckily, there’s a whole lot of tools to help you do so quickly and even have some fun .

There’s no universal remedy to become the best writer ever, but going this way surely has a lot of fun and experimenting to it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from Regine Ward. Regine is a freelance writer/blogger and tutor at Do My Homework Online. Her main values are lifelong learning, helping people become the best versions of themselves and constant self-improvement. In her free time Regine travels, reads, drinks coffee and bakes cookies. Find her on Twitter.

The post Cool Blog Writing Tips to Maximize Reader Engagement appeared first on BlogPress.

Cool Blog Writing Tips to Maximize Reader Engagement was first posted on November 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm.

The Voice Search Effect on SEO. Revolution or Storm in a Teacup?

OK, Google! Please write an article for the cognitiveSEO blog that will bring millions of readers and shares. As I got no luck with Google Assistant, I’ve tried the same thing with Siri and Cortana, just that this time I’ve been more polite. I said “please”. Still no luck. This being said, after a few more attempts I reconciled with the idea that I have to document and write on the “voice search revolution” myself.


The Voice Search Effect on SEO


And as I dug deeper into the “voice search SEO” area I started to ask myself whether “revolution” is the suitable word for this discussion. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally impressed by the voice search engineering and the level of innovation it brings. However, is it the case that we should all just forget everything we know about digital marketing and SEO and start re-inventing ourselves from a “voice search” point of view? For the moment, is it really a “voice search optimization” needed, as most of the industry articles suggest?




We knew that there is was no other way of figuring this out than through research and observation. This being said nonetheless, we rolled up our sleeves and, started looking deep into the voice search industry; and these are the matters we’ve strived to find an answer for:


  1. How Many Searches Are Made on Voice Only?
  2. Are We Facing a Voice Search Explosion?
  3. Is Voice Search Any Different From Text Search?
  4. Do I Need to Start Optimizing for Voice Search?
  5. What Is Voice Search Really Used For? 
  6. Is Voice Search the Same with Voice Command?
  7. Who Are the Main Players from the Voice Search Industry?
  8. Conclusion

How Many Searches Are Really Made on Voice Only?


First thing first, when looking at the voice search SEO area, although you may already have this info, it’s important to know how does the search engine market share looks like. As expected and as you can see in the screenshot below, Google holds the supremacy with more than 70%, followed by Bing and Baidu, which together sum up around 20% . So, only 10% of the total market share is disputed by other dozens of search engines.
As much as we’d like to disagree with the famous, “the winner takes it all”, this time we’ll take it into consideration and we’re going to see how voice search is looking like for Google, Bing and Baidu.

mobile search stats cognitiveSEO



    • Google representatives said that 20% of mobile queries are voice searches. And taking that into consideration, the same company said that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan” , this ratio should not be overlooked.


    • Bing says 25% of ALL searches are voice searches. This is indeed notable, but let’s not forget that three of the world’s top voice assistants are powered by Bing: Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. Therefore, let’s keep this in mind while reading this statistic.


    • When it comes to Baidu we found a relevant statistic only from 2 years ago. Yet, from that stat we’ve learned that about 10% of all searches are done using voice. It’s important to notice that the same Internet Trends 2016 report is suggesting that Baidu voice search is on the rise, therefore the percentage of voice search might be considerable higher. These make a lot of sense considering that typing Chinese on a small cellphone keyboard is even more difficult than typing English due to the time it takes to type with the massive Mandarin alphabet.

Are We Facing a Voice Search Explosion?


Andrew Nag, Chief Scientist at Baidu, was quoted in a the KPCB study on internet trends; the reason we are mentioning this is due to the prediction made by him, that was pretty bold: “ at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech”.


voice search timeline


Yet, before bringing pros or cons on this statement, let’s take a look at some voice search stats.

Looking at the charts above, we cannot deny a substantial growth of people using voice assistants. However, several matters should be taken into consideration when looking at the chart below:

  • Voice search may naturally be facing a growth, yet this doesn’t mean that desktop searches are dead. It’s very likely that the total volume of search will increase overall.
  • From 2013 until 2015 the voice search technology has evolved a lot, determining the user to use voice search. This might be the cause but also the fact that most of the voice search apps or devices come preinstalled on the users’ smartphones.
  • Voice Assistants don’t automatically mean voice search. We have a dedicated chapter
  • where we’ve highlighted the idea that Voice Search is different from voice commands.




A fast and quick way to see weather voice search has really been “exploding” lately is to look at some highly used voice search terms. Let’s take for instance “near me” and “show me”, two terms that are highly used in voice search. When looking for a gym center for instance, when typing a search, most users will type their field of interest (gym center/ fitness class/ restaurants/market, etc.) followed by the name of the city, neighborhood or the street we are interested in finding, let’s say, a fitness club.
On voice search things are slightly different in the way that is unlikely to “tell” to your voice assistant things he already knows, like your location. Therefore, your query will most likely be something similar to: “ show me fitness club near me”.
“Show me” and “near me” are therefore two highly used expressions when performing a voice search. When looking at the info Google Trends provides on the two mentioned terms, we notice indeed a nice growth, at least for the “near me” term. However, this growth looks like an organic, natural one given the tech era we are living in, but certainly not an explosive one.

G trends capture 2


Below you can see some search terms that indeed have had some search “explosions”. It’s true that they had a decrease of interest just as fast, yet, it’s clear from the chart below that there is a difference between an organical growth and an explosive one. And the reasons we are highlighting that is because there has been a lot of stir around the idea that we need to re-imagine everything we knew about search due to the voice interaction.

g trends explosion

The chart below re-iterates an idea discussed in-depth below regarding what voice search is really used for. From the chart below we can see the same organica, exponential growth, but for search queries that are related with voice commands and not voice search.
Therefore, looking at the data so far, it seems that we are on the safe side and we can still use our SEO and digital marketing knowledge as the voice revolution might be close but not yet underway.

G trends 1

Is Voice Search Different from Keywords in a Search Box?

We’d be tempted to say that no: voice search is not different from the classic keyword typing search box. And this is why: The audio from the user’s voice is recorded and sent to the Voice Recognition APIs in order to be converted into text. Therefore, the voice search is based on text search. So there is no difference between saying or typing the query yourself.

Let’s see what happens when we search for the same query, first via text and second via voice.

spot the differences


Exactly; nothing happens. Results are identical.
Yet, if we are talking about the user’s interaction with the search, then the answer is slightly different. And that’s because individuals interact different through voice search than with a search box. Within search voice users tend to have a more conversational tone; they tend to reveal more about their need into a more “nuanced” way.
For instance, if interested in a fitness center, using the keyboard one might search for “fitness center Manhattan”. Yet, within voice search, it’s more likely that the request would sound something like: “I need to work out. Find me a gym center near me.”
Even so, when searching in a more conversational mode using voice, we will still get the same results as the classical “type text on the search box”.

microsoft text versus voice

Therefore, the same search engineering is used for both voice and text research, even if the researched queries look slightly different. John Mueller, trend analyst at Google, emphasized this a couple of months ago.

Voice search results are no different than the desktop or mobile search results interface.


john mueller

Do I Need to Start Optimizing for Voice Search?

If thoughts similar to the one below ever crossed your mind, you might need to reconsider. One might think:

How can I deliver the same text based information from my web pages but with voice search?


If people no longer click on an actual web page how will I manage all the decrease in search traffic?

Firstly, as mentioned above, voice search in itself is not different from the “classical” typing search in the sense that they both use the same things: text. When performing a voice search, what happens is that the spoken message is transformed into text; therefore, at the end of the day, it is still a “texted keywords” based search we are talking about.

Should you start optimizing for voice search? Depends. Should you optimize for search, in general? Definitely.

If we are talking about the “conversational” trend that the voice search is requiring, this is a different aspect. Indeed, voice searches tend to have a different style of addressing a query. Yet, search engines are highly prepared for this and not only when it comes to voice search. Google, for instance understands its users and offers them contextual results, based on their intent and not strictly on the typed keywords.


how can i fix my bioke

Indeed, you will say, but how come I get different result when searching for the same queries on desktop or on mobile? That’s correct; when searching through voice on your mobile and texting on your desktop you will get different results. And this happens for a bunch of reasons but all of them are highly connected to Google’s algorithm. It’s like being surprised that you are getting different results for “Halloween costumes” when searching with a US IP or a North Korean one. Google offers highly semantical, contextual results.
Even so, you might say, isn’t there anything you could do just to be sure that you are on the safe side even if the highly expected voice search revolution comes? Yes:

Optimize the best you can and the rest will follow; voice search included.
Make sure you are targeting the right keywords, make sure that you are mobile friendly, get local by registering your business.

What Voice “Search” Is Actually Used for

Google itself made a study revealing what voice search is most used for. And as we take a look at how voice search is used, we realize that people, both teens and adults, are using voice “search” mostly for taking several actions with their phone but not for searching the way we are used to. They use voice to interact with their phones rather than “googling” different queries.
From the same study we learn that more than half of teens (13-18) and 41% of adults use voice search daily. Probably most of them are relying on voice search for multitasking. However, at a closer look at the screenshot below we find out that voice “search” is most used to ask for directions. Therefore, navigation is the most used feature activated by voice. Certainly not “googling” for different queries, but more of “commanding” different actions.


Google comands most used


Once again, we cannot say that the search world is shaken to its foundations by voice search, as there isn’t much search to talk about.

Yet, in order to have a better idea on how or when the voice search is used, it might be helpful to look at the study from KPCB below. It seems like voice interaction is highly related with multitasking and not with some preference for voice search in itself.


Voice Search Is NOT the Same with Voice Commands

Google Now (or the latest version, Google Assistant) implies several voice search & actions. That’s right, voice and ACTIONS. As we can see in the screenshot below, most of the examples you can work with using voice are concentrated around commands and not search . Except for the Facts & Quick Answers category which is concentrated as expected on search queries, the other categories are actions you can take with your phone: turn on Wi-Fi, play a song, set an alarm, call a friend. Not to mention that some of these actions work fine without any Internet connection.


Ways you can use Voice on Android

We are not saying that this actions are not cool and useful, we’re just saying that, when we’re talking about the future of voice search and how it will impact SEO we need to have a clear image of what we’re talking about.

Who Are the Main Players in Voice Search? 

Now that we’ve figured out how search engines’ main users interact with Google, Bing and Baidu, and before concluding weather voice search is really becoming a can’t-live-without feature, let’s see who are the main players in this field.
We know that there many egos involved when it comes to talking about operating systems and therefore voice search devices or apps. Our intention is neither to make a top of the main players from voice search, neither to make unfounded value judgments for any of them.

As they are so used and popular, they all have the merit of pushing technology barriers further by using cutting edge engineering.

As Andrew Ng, scientist at Baidu said, no one wants to wait 10 seconds for a response.

Accuracy, followed by latency, are the two key metrics for a production speech system.

Right now, we want to focus on the larger picture of voice search as a phenomenon and its impact on the SEO market as a whole.

Let’s take a look at some of the main players in the voice search field:

Siri – uses Bing search engine

The Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, usually referred to as Siri, is Apple’s voice assistant that’s available on most Apple products. Beside its abilities of calculating tips or understanding different accents it does answer to a bunch of useful questions and connects to Apple TV, iPhone and Apple’s CarPlay software. What Siri doesn’t do (and we don’t know whether it is a plus or a minus; we’ll let you decide) is pulling out info from your email.

Cortana – uses Bing search engine

Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, is built not only to understand voice queries but also their context. This means that it can manage its users’ daily life just as a human personal assistant would..or at least as accurately as possible. Cortana launched when Microsoft was looking to capture more in the mobile space. Not sure if they managed to win on that, yet, they did created a voice search app you can play “rock paper scissors” with and which will also remind you to fill up your car just when you’re near the the gas station.

Google Now, Google Assistant & Google Home- use Google search engine

Let us explain why there are two players in the same category: Google Assistant is an evolution of Google Now. Google Assistant, just like Google Now, can answer questions, check weather, etc. Yet, Google Now, it can engage in a two-way conversation, using Google’s natural language processing algorithm. What Google, and therefore its assistant does as well, is delivering personalized voice results based on your history and preferences. Some of you might find it science fiction, some of you might find it a bit creepy, but Google Now can, for instance send you traffic updates before even starting to commute to work. But no, it will not complete your work tasks. Already tried that.
Google Home is a new device on the market,  a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. Pretty much like your own domestic Google, a gadget that  that competes on the market with our next player in the field, Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo – uses Bing search engine

Amazon Echo is fundamentally different from all the other devices presented in this category. Echo is designed to work exclusively with voice. All the other devices voice systems can be found on devices that have voice capabilities but not exclusively. Also, while all the others are working on portable devices as well, Amazon Echo (as well as Google Home) is made to be homebound and it doesn’t even have an interface; the voice is basically the only computing interface.

Deep Speech 2 – uses Baidu search engine

If you’ve already heard about this engineering jewelry, you’ve probably been already amazed by China’s leading Internet-search company, Baidu, which has developed Deep Speech, a system that can recognize English and Mandarin speech better than people, in some cases. Yet, mainly, why is Deep Search so cool? Because while older voice-recognition systems include many handcrafted components to aid audio processing and transcription, Deep Speech 2 system learned to recognize words from scratch, simply by listening to thousands of hours of transcribed audio. Pretty amazing, right?


The voice search field is clearly developing and is becoming a competitive niche. There is no doubt about this. But what about the area of “voice search SEO”? When placing voice search in the context of search and SEO we need to think thorough all the implications. Despite all the obituaries made for it, SEO is not dead. And it probably won’t be as long as search won’t be dead. The question that comes to everyone’s mind “do we have to forget everything we know and start learning voice search optimization” might be a bit hasty. As we’ve tried to show during this article, SEO is still necessary but for the moment there is no substantial difference between voice search optimization and text search optimization.  The best advice that one can give in this situations is: Optimize the best you can, and the rest will follow; voice search included. Of course, there are some specific actions that you can do to have your website “voice search friendly”:  targeting the right keywords, be mobile friendly or get local with your business. But then again, this are actions that you’ve already taken or you are going to, without having in mind the voice search revolution but the evolution of search in general.


The post The Voice Search Effect on SEO. Revolution or Storm in a Teacup? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Today the World Changes, But We Must Not Let It Change Us


Today the world changes. We don’t know how much, and it may not be as bad as we believe it could get.

Still, it changes.

But we must not.

We must continue to drown out hate, counter bigotry, offer warmth where there is cold, and provide a safe haven from fear.

There are a lot of scared people right now. Be the pillars for them.

Be the support network for them. Be the strength when they’re feeling weak. Be the cocoon for the new world they find themselves in.

Most of all, be the friend you were before today but now with added resolve to never let them down.

Today the world changes. But we will not let it change us.

Love and hope