Diggity Marketing https://diggitymarketing.com Mon, 23 Nov 2020 23:56:46 +0000 ru hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 Project Cashflow: How to Build a Niche Site from Day One https://diggitymarketing.com/project-cashflow-nov-2020/ Mon, 23 Nov 2020 08:23:33 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=518632 (Read more...)]]> Making a move into a new affiliate niche is never a decision to take lightly.

I know I don’t.

No matter your level of affiliate SEO experience, achieving success in a profitable niche takes a significant investment of money, expertise, and — that most finite of resources — time.

But two weeks ago, I took the plunge.

I entered a new niche I’ve been eying for over a year — and I’m not looking to get in and out quick.

I’m in it to win it for the long-haul, and you’re invited to join me on the journey.

In this first installment, you’ll learn about my approach to:

  • Choosing the niche
  • The pros and cons of buying an existing website
  • Finding the right site to purchase
  • Basic affiliate site valuation and negotiation

I’ve set the bar for success high — I’ve challenged my team to go from $900 monthly revenue to $10k+ as fast as we possibly can.

Introducing Project Cashflow

Project Cashflow introduction

LeadSpring, my affiliate SEO agency, rarely operates more than a handful of sites at once.

But recently we decided to sell one of our biggest properties…

That should mean a significant one-time cash injection. But the subtraction of this regular, reliable revenue source could negatively impact our cash flow in the future.

My goal is to balance LeadSpring’s affiliate portfolio by building a site in the education niche that generates a minimum of 5-figures a month in revenue with low expenses.

Enter Project Cashflow — my codename for the site we’ll be following in this case study.

SEO case studies usually take one of two perspectives:
  • One aspect of SEO is explored in great detail — take link building, site speed optimization or keyword research,
  • A study showcasing a big win — think “How I Flipped My Website for a Zillion Dollars.” — after the success has already taken place.

Both angles are valid— you’ll find many examples on this site.

What’s unique about the case study you’re reading now is that I’m starting right from the beginning.

You’re about to find out how I build a niche affiliate marketing site — Project Cashflow — from day one.

I’ll share the hits and misses with you along the way, as well as what to do when you get stuck…

Choosing the Niche

Depending on what affiliate program(s) you sign up for (please tell me it’s not Amazon), you’ll typically be assigned an affiliate manager.

Cherish them, buy them dinner, send them flowers.

OK — don’t go that far.

But it’s well worth your while to cultivate the relationship.

A helpful affiliate manager can smooth out problems and offer you higher commissions. And they might even point you in the direction of a lucrative niche you’d never before considered.

your ideal niche

Long story short, that’s what happened with Project Cashflow.

One of my managers kept raving about high-ticket commissions in the education space.

Despite not having a site relevant to the niche, I was intrigued and did some research…

Turns out, my affiliate manager tipped me off on an “Oh Shit” micro-niche with low competition and lucrative commissions.

“Oh Shit” is what I call a niche where people are highly motivated to make a purchase. “Oh Shit” niches are largely recession-proof and typically solve a problem for buyers related to health, wealth, or relationships.

Just like it sounds, a micro-niche targets a small specific segment of a broader market.

For example, “pets” is a massive affiliate niche — dog collars is a small, specific micro-niche relevant to the pets niche as a whole.

The opportunity to enter an “Oh Shit” micro-niche doesn’t surface every day…

That’s when I decided to buy a site.

Pros and Cons of Buying an Existing Website

Once you’re ready to pull the trigger on entering a new niche, you’ll need to decide whether to start a site from scratch or buy an existing site that already operates in the target market.

The right answer largely depends on where you are in your affiliate journey.

Building a site from the ground up is an invaluable learning experience that requires much less of an upfront cash investment than purchasing an existing site…

Buying an Existing Website

If you’re new to affiliate marketing, I highly recommend starting from scratch. I cover the whole process in detail in The Affiliate Lab.

But starting from square one costs time…

I’m at the point in my SEO career where I can’t afford to have a site sit in the sandbox.

My time is expensive, as is the time of all the other people involved in Project Cashflow.

Given the circumstances, purchasing an existing site was a no-brainer.

But don’t worry, even if purchasing an existing site isn’t a viable option for you at this point, you’ll still pick up plenty of nuggets from this case study along the way.

Finding the Right Site to Purchase

In theory, purchasing an existing site is a shortcut to success. But it’s a shortcut that doesn’t come easy or cheap.

Finding the right niche is half the battle…

Even once you’ve zeroed in on your target niche, you still need to purchase the right website to maximize your odds of success.

So, where do you start?

Marketplaces and brokers like Flippa, Empire Flippers, and FE International are excellent resources for hunting down a new niche…

sell websites on this platforms.jpg

But if you’ve already selected your target micro-niche, you could grow old and die waiting for a relevant site to pop up on a marketplace.

Micro-niches are highly specific. If you wanted to get into the pet niche, for example, you could probably find a site on the market within a month.

But what if you wanted to narrow your niche down specifically to dog collars?

Finding a site in that micro-niche could take forever…

To zero-in on the lucrative affiliate offers my affiliate manager was touting, I needed to find a site operating in a specific micro-niche related to education.

Here’s the strategy I used to find the micro-niche site for Project Cashflow. You can apply this technique to virtually any niche.

Website Acquisition Outreach

1. Find Sites on Pages 2-4

No fancy SEO tools required here. I simply compiled a list of the websites ranking on Google SERP pages 2, 3, and 4 for the main money keywords I’m after…

Here’s my reasoning: anyone ranking on page 1 is unlikely to want to sell their site — at least not for a price I’m willing to pay.

Anyone ranking on page 5 or lower doesn’t have much going on — at least not much that Google likes.

Pages 2 to 4 are in the sweet spot.

google serp sweet spot

Given how narrow the micro-niche is, I can safely assume that these sites aren’t making a whole lot of money.

But from Google’s perspective, they’re already doing a lot right to rank as high as they do, but there’s still room for improvement.

With my team’s expertise and experience, acquiring a site ranked on pages 2 to 4 for our target keywords should put us in a position to score some quick wins.

2. Filter Out Irrelevant Websites

We compiled a spreadsheet of websites ranking on pages 2-4 for our four main money keywords — leaving us with a list of about 100 websites.

From there, it was easy to whittle the results down by about two-thirds.

The criteria we used to quickly eliminate contenders included:
  • Sites under 18 months old and therefore likely to still be in Google’s sandbox
  • Non-affiliate sites like consultants, e-commerce, and local SEO websites
  • Too big or too general — not focused enough on our target micro-niche

Paring the list down from over 100 left us with 30 sites that potentially fit the bill for Project Cashflow.

3. Reach Out With an Offer to Buy

Before spending valuable time digging deeper into the sites ranking on SERPs 2-4 for our target keywords, I had my outreach team use hunter.io to find the site owners’ email addresses.

hunter io homepage

I then drafted up a quick email follow-up series. The pitch couldn’t have been more to the point. I straight up told the prospects I was interested in purchasing their site for upfront cash.

Here are the exact email templates I used…

Cold Email Pitch

Subject: Interested in buying [URL]…

Hi [name],

Matt Diggity here, CEO and Founder of Diggity Marketing and affiliate SEO agency, Leadspring.

I’ll get straight to the point, I’m interested in buying [URL] from you at a generous market price.  All cash, upfront.

Are you interested in selling?

If so, just respond to this email, and we can set up a time to talk.

Kind regards,

Matt Diggity

Automated Followup Reply #1

Subject: re: Interested in buying [URL]…

Hey [Name]

It’s Matt here. I recently emailed you about potentially purchasing [URL]. Did you receive it?

Let me know if you are interested in selling it at a generous market price.  All cash, upfront.

Happy to set up a call to talk about it further…


Matt Diggity

Automated Followup Reply #2

Subject: re: Interested in buying [URL]… 

Hey [Name]

Wondering if you were able to read my previous emails?

Let me know what you think.

Best regards,

Matt Diggity

In addition to using hunter.io to find the email addresses of the site owners, we also used it for the personalized email outreach and automated follow-ups.

Out of the 30 offers I sent out, I received only two favorable responses…

Reaching out to site owners first helped me narrow the field of 30 potential targets to just two…

Owner outreach saved my team from pouring hours into auditing dozens of websites that had no interest in selling in the first place.

4. Evaluate Potential Sellers

Now, I’ve got two potential sellers on the line. It’s time for a deep dive into what’s driving their beneficial rankings.

Most importantly, I look for quick wins and evaluate crucial factors like:
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  • Backlink profile
  • On-site SEO

Of the two sites potentially interested in selling, one looked promising…

There’s a page on the site that’s ranking for the main target keyword I’m after — and they haven’t even optimized for it.

It’s ranking purely by chance.

Keyword Positions

If we create content targeting the main keyword, that’s a quick win right there.

Plus, the site has some pretty decent links…

Site Links

For a site with a Domain Authority of just 22, it had reasonable traffic: ~4k visitors a month according to Ahrefs — primarily going to the money pages.

Now, I’ve got one site in my crosshairs, and the negotiations start.

Basic Affiliate Site Valuation

Valuing an online business is an art unto itself.

Determining the optimal selling price of a website is a significant component of the service offered to both buyers and sellers by brokers like Empire Flippers and FE International.

The bigger the site, the more complicated and crucial the accuracy of the valuation.

website valuation formula

It’s unlikely that you’ll be in the affiliate SEO game for long before needing to know roughly how much a site is worth.

Whether you’re looking to flip your website or get a headstart on a new niche by buying an existing site, a basic knowledge of website valuation is an invaluable tool.

Almost without exception, website valuations are based upon a multiple of net income (profit).

You determine the website’s monthly profit and then multiply that amount by a fixed number of months.

A good rule of thumb for affiliate SEO/content-based websites is a monthly profit multiplier between 25x – 40x.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the first step to valuation is determining monthly profit.

Net income is the foundation of any accurate valuation — it’s verifiable and concrete.

Depending on the business’s complexity, determining monthly profit can be tricky, but it’s an essential starting point for negotiations.

Large, established sites may have recent numbers readily available because they’re already preparing Profit and Loss (P&L) statements for tax and reporting purposes.

Profit and loss statement

Small, owner-operated affiliate sites typically don’t have P&Ls on tap — this one was no different. The owner had to backtrack and create P&Ls retroactively. This record-keeping oversight didn’t end up affecting the final sale price much, but it did slow the buying process down.

Once net profit has been determined, a tremendous amount of research can go into working out the earnings multiple of an online business, depending on your motivations as a potential buyer.

Crucial valuation factors typically include:
  • Level of owner involvement (particularly if you’re looking for passive income)
  • Are earnings and traffic trending upwards?
  • Is revenue overly dependent on one or two pages?

In the case of Project Cashflow, I wasn’t overly concerned with the factors above…

What mattered most was that the site was already ranking for the keywords I wanted to target in this education micro-niche.

Negotiating the Price

Thanks to my affiliate manager, I already knew that successful sites in the niche had gross revenue approaching mid-5 figures a month.

And my research had already revealed that the site was already ranking for valuable keywords in the niche…

For the sake of due diligence, I asked the seller to retroactively create P&Ls showing monthly gross revenue, expenses, and profit.

When attempting to acquire a site via outreach, don’t expect results overnight.

After all, the site isn’t already on the market, and the owner may not actively be looking to sell.

buying website deals and negotiation

For Project Cashflow, agreeing to the sale price and finalizing the purchase ultimately took 2.5 months.

The seller was looking for an inflated price because he’d invested a ton of money into marketing the site with an SEO agency  — $2k per month that had minimal impact.

Despite these sunk costs, the site simply wasn’t worth what he thought it was. So it took a while to arrive at a mutually agreeable price.

Ultimately, we agreed on a multiple of 33.91x:

Average Monthly Profit (last 12 months): $914

Negotiated Multiple: 33.91x

Purchase Price: $31k 

I’m not much of a haggler — not only am I after a good deal, but I also want the seller to get a fair price.

It’s too early to say, but I see the deal as a win-win.

win win situation meme

The seller walked away with $31k  in his pocket and no longer has to toil away and invest in a site that provides only supplemental income.

For me, I get Project Cashflow — a site that’s already ranking for money keywords in a niche related to the affiliate products I want to sell.

Now we’re really ready to roll.

What’s next for Project Cashflow?

As I write this, I was handed the keys to the site less than a month ago.

Other than purchasing the site, there aren’t any wins (or losses) to write home about just yet.

I’m going to wrap this up for now with a taste of what’s to come next month:

  • First Steps: From site speed to CRO, what are the first things to optimize when taking over a website? Almost all of this applies to new sites too.
  • Welcome Aboard: Expanding LeadSpring’s portfolio means expanding our team. You’ll get an insider’s look into our hiring process — the hardest thing to get right when scaling your business. What makes a candidate a good fit for us? It may not be what you think…
  • From Baseline to Bottom Line: Has the optimization we’ve done so far had any positive or negative impact? On revenue? On traffic? Share of voice? Plenty of rankporn to look forward to…

My goal is to take Project Cashflow to 5-figures in monthly gross profits as fast as possible…

If you join me on this journey, you’ll get an insider’s look at our onsite and offsite strategies, our shortfalls (and how we deal with them), and our wins (and how we got there).

Stick around. This is gonna get good…

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – November 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-nov-2020/ Mon, 16 Nov 2020 05:01:28 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=518415 (Read more...)]]> With the holiday season almost upon us, this month may be your last chance to buckle down and meet your goals. Fortunately, this month’s rich set of guides and data breakdowns will give you the edge you need to make two months of progress in one.

The guides are first. They’ll teach you why online businesses make the best cash flow investments, how to create copy for higher conversions, and a possible cause for high rankings that don’t correspond to increased click-through rates.

After that, you can catch up on the latest data. You’ll learn a process for predicting the ROI of SEO, whether there’s evidence that Google’s next update will leverage BERT, and Youtube’s dominance of Google video searches.

Finally, you’ll get the latest SEO news. It includes a breakdown of Google’s AI announcement, some recent chatter on how site sections can impact an entire site’s rank, and an official announcement of my Black Friday deals.

Why Online Businesses Make the Best Cash Flow Investments


Sarah Nuttycombe of Empire Flippers brings us this defense of why online businesses make the best cash flow investments.

A cash flow investment is an investment that is intended to deliver early and constant dividends instead of maturing at a later date. Sarah argues that online businesses excel as cash flow investments, possibly better than any other alternative out there.

cashflow for online business

She starts her case by comparing online ventures to traditional cash flow investments such as rental properties, dividend stocks, or savings accounts. As she points out, these conventional and trusted investments have some severe drawbacks, including:

  • High initial investments
  • Dependence on market performance
  • Small cash flows

She then compares those limitations to the natural advantages of online businesses, namely that:

  • Startup capital is not a barrier to entry.
  • There’s no limit to returns.
  • Positive cash flow can be immediate.
  • It can still work as a long-term investment because the value can be cumulative.

She makes good arguments for each benefit, based on the many ways that websites can be leveraged into different opportunities. Reading through this guide could give you some new ideas on making your own website’s pay.

One reliable method to make websites pay is to make the content perform better. The next guide in line has some ideas on how you can do that.

SEO Copywriting: The 19 Best Tips To Increase Traffic and Conversions


Chris Collins of SEObility brings us this guide based on his theory of how to optimize. He begins by pointing out, any copy you create has two jobs from the start. It must attract people to the page (SEO), and it must work to convert the people who are attracted to a specific action.

SEO Copywriting from seobility illustration

Working toward one goal alone won’t work. With that in mind, Chris launches into a series of themed tips around serving both goals simultaneously. Among other suggestions, he recommends that you:

  • Explore online courses for any niche you write about: Courses are developed by field experts more than other types of content, so they’ll give you a better idea of how content should be introduced and structured.
  • Create a “slippery slide”: Your content needs to be able to draw people further in by creating incentives that flow down from the title to the next subheading, to all the subheadings that follow.
  • Implement a table of contents: Make any large content more navigable by giving readers a front-loaded way to skip introductions or the information they already know for the information they want most.
  • Scour Amazon reviews: Let niche fans tell you what they value most by taking in reviews. This will give you a ton of insight into the keywords you should be targeting and the features that truly motivate them to buy.

In addition to these off-the-beaten-path tips, he also has many tips on handling some of the most common advice you receive on writing copy, such as building better titles and doing competitor research.

Excellent copy is great, but copy alone isn’t going to help you win the war on SERPs. You need great image SEO, too. Our next guide will help you diagnose an image search problem that may be holding you back.

Image Packs in Google Web Search – A reason you might be seeing high rankings but insanely low click-through rate in GSC


Glenn Gabe of GSQI brings us this guide on how to respond to an odd ranking situation: You’re winning the ranking war with your images (at least according to GSC), but no one is clicking.

You then search yourself and find out that your (apparently dominant) result doesn’t even appear in the search.

This isn’t a new situation. In his research, Glenn found that many people were experiencing it and some suspected that a bug might be responsible. He decided to do a bit of his research to determine the most likely culprit.

Google only counts clicks

First, he theorizes that SERP’s features may not perform well at all for images. As in, most people were likely to skip the image packs and scroll down to the results. It’s also true, he points out, that every image in a block gets the same rank—meaning #1 isn’t as high as you think it is.

He points out that clicking an image in the pack doesn’t take you to the website that hosts the image. It takes you to the image results—where you’re free to copy, enlarge, or perform other actions on an image without ever visiting the site.

Furthermore, he shows that knowledge panels (another major destination of ranking images) work the same way. Clicking on the set of images that appears will take you to another SERP feature.

image pack rankings knowledge panel

He concludes that due to these factors, an error is not likely the cause of images that rank #1 and don’t translate to clicks. It comes down to that images just may not be very fertile ground for getting website visits, no matter how well they do.

That covers the guides for this week. Our next roundup set is going to focus on the numbers. We’ll start looking at how you can generate ROI projections for SEO based on traffic and revenue.

The ROI of SEO – How to predict traffic and revenue


Kevin Indig brings us some helpful revenue formulas for different SEO-related business models, packaged with some advice on how to project the value of SEO recommendations made to clients.

His advice comes down to a section he originally included in an earlier guide:

With that in mind, he launches into a project for selling revenue that relies on two relatively simple steps:

  • Project traffic
  • Tie traffic projections to revenue

He recommends that in your proposition, you narrow traffic predictions for five possible focus areas:

  • Traffic to the whole site
  • Traffic to a page type (For example, product or category pages)
  • Traffic from keyword syntax (For example, “best of”)
  • Traffic to a single page
  • Traffic for a single keyword

Starting with any of these areas, Kevin presents a step-by-step process you can use to project how the traffic may increase. He recommends that you:

  • Identify your keywords by whatever method you know best.
  • Calculate your traffic TAM (total addressable market) by measuring the total sum of clicks that exist for a keyword/region.
  • Perform a site audit to determine where the best growth opportunities exist—for example, pages with only minimal content or pages that aren’t optimized.
  • Estimate the impact of seizing those opportunities by looking at the vertical, competition, and backlink profiles.
  • Launch your strategy to assess and adapt your predictions.

Each of these steps is laid out with complete instructions, and some tool recommendations you can use make them easier. He follows up with a series of formulas you can use to customize this method for e-commerce, marketplaces, SaaS, and other business models.

similarweb setup from kevin indig

It’s helpful stuff if you like the business end of SEO, but let’s get back to the elbow-grease end of it for our next item. It looks at the evidence that Google passage indexing is leveraging BERT.

Could Google passage indexing be leveraging BERT?


Dawn Anderson at Search Engine Land brings us this look at passage indexing, and whether the next update will utilize BERT. Before I go any farther, let’s refresh your memory on both those terms.

BERT is a part of the Google algorithm that launched as part of the major update in late 2019. The acronym stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.”

google bert nlp

If that’s not helpful, don’t worry. All you need to know is that it greatly expanded the algorithm’s capacity to understand the context in human speech.

Our other term, passage indexing, refers to Google’s capacity to rank specific passages of a whole piece of content and display them in SERPs.

So, back to the main question: Is this technology used to power Google’s work to deliver key passages directly to searchers? Some of Dawn’s evidence points to “no,” or at least “not necessarily.”

First, the update that’s going to come for passages isn’t about retrieving passages; it’s about ranking them. That’s a different sort of technology.

Second, as Dawn points out, BERT as a model isn’t quite ready to index passages across every search. BERT is only being utilized in about 10% of all searches so far, and if it is being used to massively index passages, it’s probably getting help from other, larger models.

dawn anderson on BERT

Regardless of the model that’s being used—and this article goes into many of them—the takeaway for SEOs is mostly the same: Modern content needs structure and focus more than ever. “Keywords” will increasingly matter less than clarity when it comes to ranking.

Our next set of data looks at how video is performing in SERPs and whether there is any way to rank if you aren’t on the internet’s leading video platform.

YouTube Dominates Google Video in 2020


Dr. Peter J. Meyers at Moz brings us this look at YouTube’s truly dominant hold on Google Video searches. He opens with the results of a case study that looked at more than 2.1 million searches.

If you’ve tried ranking video content before, you probably know that YouTube is dominant, but would you have guessed that results from that site control 94% of all page one carousel results?

The carousel is the primary way that videos are presented in searches, so controlling the carousel is the same as controlling those searches overall.

youtube good job meme

The case study further revealed that the next top video results (Khan Academy and Facebook Video) couldn’t even break 3% of the share when put together.

The study also went further by looking at the popular “how-to” category of video searches. In this category, Google was even more dominant, landing between 97-98% of all carousel results.

Expanding the test to 10,000 search phrases across separate categories didn’t change the results, either. Neither did performing tests once-per-month for a year. This isn’t a fluke. YT is truly in control of the carousel.

The takeaway for SEOs seems to be that you better be hosting videos on YouTube if you want to rank videos. There isn’t even an up-and-comer alternative at the moment.

That’s all the numbers for this month. Let’s start with the month’s most prominent news. We’ll start with Google’s recent AI announcement and what it might mean for SEOs.

How AI is powering a more helpful Google


Prabhakar Raghavan of Google released a lengthy statement this week that may partially introduce upcoming updates and what they hold for everyone using (and making money from) the search engine.

topic tags from google

The announcement mainly dealt with AI technologies and the advancements that Google has recently developed. He focused on the search engines:

  • New capacities with spelling: The algorithm can now understand misspelled words used in searches and interpret them as the correct word more accurately.
  • Greater power to retrieve passages: The algorithm can more accurately pull answers to queries from deep in content, even if it’s not well-labeled by headers and surrounding sections.
  • A better understanding of subtopics: The algorithm can better understand what subtopics exist for a search (for example, affordable exercise equipment or small space exercise equipment) and deliver more mixed results for general searches.

Prabhakar also stressed that Google had used the pandemic to double down on efforts to detect and deliver accurate information about health and control the spread of results that deal with misinformation.

He also introduced Google’s new abilities to retrieve results from singing voice searches (for example, if you need to know a song and you only know some of the lyrics) and it’s increasing power to find and navigate to relevant sections of a video automatically.

hum to search

It’s just a showcase, but the implications for SEOs may be profound. These new features are likely to play a huge role in future updates and the future of SEO.

Google also gave us some more clarity about how sections of a site can impact the rest. The next piece will deal with what they said and what it might mean for you.

Google Answers If Site Section Can Impact Ranking Score of Entire Site


Roger Montti of Search Engine Journal brought us this exchange between John Mueller and a publisher worried about a bad neighborhood on his website.

As the publisher explained, his site, in general, had excellent core web vital scores. However, he hosted a forum on the same site that was (naturally) home to tons of unoptimized content created by his visitors.

This is an essential question because core web vitals are scheduled to become a ranking factor by 2021. Any section of a site could become a liability if there isn’t some way to separate it from the rest.

How Sections Can Affect Sitewide Rankings

Mueller’s answer wasn’t entirely conclusive. He said that the algorithms “tries” to get granular information and recognize different individual parts.

He further clarified that speed might be a more significant factor than others. As long as individual sections aren’t slow, they aren’t a significant risk.

He closed by committing to provide more answers around the time core web vitals were formally fixed as a ranking signal.

That’s all for the news this week, but before you go, I have some exciting deals dropping for black Friday and Cyber Monday that I hope you won’t want to miss.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

black friday ned stark meme

Three massive deals are coming this month, and I wouldn’t want you to be left out. First, we have a special offer on Authority Builders Links, a discount on all guest posts, and a once-in-a-lifetime special offer on an affiliate lab subscription.

Authority Builders: ABC Plus: Buy 3 Months, Get One Free + No Setup Fees

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, all setup fees are reduced from $200 to $0, so you’ll get the full comprehensive analysis for free! Also, if you sign on for three months, you’ll get the 4th month entirely free.

Just go to this link on Black Friday >>

Authority Builders: 25% off all Guest Posts and A-List Links
Authority Builders already has super-competitive prices for safe, white hat backlinks, so go ahead and take another 25% off and get your sites ranked.

To take advantage of this 25% off offer, log in to Authority Builders, and use coupon code: ABCBLACKFRIDAY.

This coupon code will only be active between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it will only be available for the first 500 links purchased, so on the 27th, act fast.

If you haven’t already applied yet, make sure to apply now >>

The Affiliate Lab (50% off)

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, The Affiliate Lab has a 50% discount, so the prices are reduced from $997 to $497. This is the lowest price it’s ever been, and it ever will be.

The page below will give you access to a 50% ($500) off check out page on Black Friday.

Bookmark this page for 50% off The Affiliate Lab >>

We’ll see you on Black Friday, November 27th.


Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

SEO Agency to Affiliate: How Julie Adams 12x’d Her Income https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-agency-to-affiliate-interview/ Mon, 09 Nov 2020 04:59:31 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=517906 (Read more...)]]> I’m about to interview one of my favorite SEOs in the world, Julie Adams.

I first learned about Julie’s story in The Affiliate Lab, where she shared her experience of quitting the digital marketing agency that she worked at and switching over to affiliate SEO.

Now, she’s making more money in one month than she did in an entire year at the agency!

Stick around for this interview because we’re going to get into not only her story but her entire process on how she ranks websites — from backlinks to on-site SEO.

Basically, everything she does to get her affiliate portfolio ranked today.

Transitioning from Client to Affiliate SEO

Matt: Hi Julie. Before we get started, why don’t you give everyone a little heads up on who you are and what you do in this world of SEO?

Julie: Sure, thanks for having me, Matt.

I’ve been in SEO for about seven or eight years.

I started at the bottom, not knowing much, and worked in an agency.

I began working with content and quickly fell in love with everything that goes into SEO — including the technical aspects, then seeing results and making money.

So, I worked at the agency during the day, then I would go home and do affiliate SEO at night.

So I just kind of stumbled my way into SEO, and I’ve had pretty good success.

Matt: Awesome, we’re very excited to hear more about your SEO story — but why don’t we start at the beginning.

First off, how old are you? Where are you from? Where are you living? What’s the full story there?

Julie: I’m 27, out of Orlando, Florida.

I’ve been here my whole life. I love it.

I’m big into the outdoors and all that — when I’m not doing the techie stuff.

Matt: Born and raised in the South?

Julie: I grew up in the Sarasota/Venice area, so always around the beach.

I moved here when I was in fourth or fifth grade, so I was big into Disney, big into everything that Floridians are into — all that good stuff!

Matt: Awesome! And what kind of education do you have? Did you go to high school, college?

Julie: I’m a college dropout.

I was actually a business finance major. I went to Valencia Community College, got my associate’s degree in business administration, and started my bachelor’s degree.

Then I almost failed one class — and I’m the type of person that gets really demotivated if I don’t absolutely excel at something.

An opportunity came up to work at an SEO agency just as I was about to fail out of that class. I decided to just drop out of school and pursue digital marketing full time.

So my bachelor’s degree is still on hold!

Matt: Interesting, I have a similar personality type.

If I can’t be really good at something, there’s no point in it for me — I’ve quit a million things because of that, so I get that…

How did you get into SEO? How did the whole thing start?

Julie: I honestly stumbled into it.

When I started the agency job, I was working at a movie theater, so I was basically scooping popcorn.

That was my first job. I also did some babysitting on the side, which is actually how I met my boss at the agency.

He recognized that I was pretty smart, needed an opportunity and just kind of scooped me up like popcorn!

I started working at the agency without even knowing what the term SEO stood for.

It was a total mystery to me. I thought it was just these three letters.

I started as an 18 or 19-year old going into this office setting, and my boss basically just said, “You’re in charge of content. You’re in charge of links.”

Initially, I was like, “Great, what does that mean?”

And then I just kind of learned on the job from there, in all honesty.

I didn’t get any formal training or anything like that.

Matt: Interesting, so did they just give you in-house training? Was it mostly based on their SOPs and internal knowledge?

Or did you take any courses or learn SEO from any other source?

Julie: This was when SEO just stopped being sketchy.

People were using spun content and SAPE links and tactics like that.

That was my initial idea of what SEO meant. So, when I first started, I was managing spun content, editing it, writing some content myself and managing link orders.

When I got there, we had no standard operating procedures — it was just, “Do X, Y, and Z, and don’t lose a client!”

standard operating procedures

Matt: Makes sense… I mean, that’s the basic plan!

Let’s talk a little bit more about the agency.

First off, I’m curious to know why you decided to leave it?

Julie: Money and time.

I’m fiercely independent. I love SEO. I stumbled into something that I really enjoy.

I felt really lucky because of all that, but I was working 40 some odd hours a week.

And as you can probably tell by how I’m describing this agency, it’s small.

I was one of three core employees at the time, and I basically hit the ceiling.

There was no room to grow, there was no opportunity to make more money, there was no really no room to learn anything else — Every day you go in, you do your work, and you go home…

Then I discovered affiliate SEO, probably how everybody else discovers it. I was just hoping to make a little passive income.

I was good at SEO, and I wanted the free time and the money!

Matt: I get that 100%. And you can throw this question right back at me if you don’t feel comfortable with it, but what was your monthly or annual salary at that agency?

Julie: I don’t remember what I started at.

It was definitely around minimum wage because I had no experience — so it was probably eight or nine bucks an hour, whatever minimum wage was at the time.

And I maxed out at about $40k a year.

Matt: And how many clients did you manage for $40k a year?

Julie:  The most that I managed at one time was somewhere around 70 or 80.

I personally worked with hundreds of accounts when I worked there, but at the peak, I was managing upwards of 80 accounts at once.

Matt: That’s insane!

I mean, that’s an awesome ROI for the agency, but how about your stress levels? How were you able to handle 80 clients at a time?

Julie: It was really stressful!

I wasn’t always honest about what I could handle, so I would just do whatever I could.

I was basically the brains of the operation. I had people to write content. I had people that would help me put all the pieces into place.

So, you could kind of think of me as more of a conductor…

I built out the plans, and then somebody else would implement them. That’s the only way it was possible…

But it was definitely stressful to be expected to answer questions for 80 different accounts.

Like, “Why aren’t they ranking?”

You can’t pull up a report in a meeting. You were expected to know the answers off the top of your head.

So, that was probably the most stressful part.

Matt: Wow, that’s what they call a trial by fire!

Julie: I’m grateful for that, though, because the number of websites I manage now is just chump change in comparison.

Matt: That brings me to my next question. I’m sure you learned quite a few skills on the job that carried over to your affiliate career.

Can you touch upon that a little bit?

Julie: I mean, SEO, for sure. I had 80 clients to play with.

In the beginning, it wasn’t that many, but I did have clients to play with, and it wasn’t like they were my clients. If I lost them, honestly, I still had a job.

So in that sense, I had room to experiment —it was that kind of environment.

Matt: Got it.

When you were considering making the jump from agency to affiliate SEO, what fears or thought processes were going on in your mind?

Julie: Everything that you can think of!

I have generalized anxiety — I overthink everything. And jumping ship from a comfortable position in an industry that I love was really scary.

Now, I always knew that I would have a job there because, as I said, it was a small company. I actually had to give them six months notice to leave!

So I wasn’t worried that I wouldn’t be able to return to the agency…

I was just afraid that I’d have to go back with my tail between my legs — having to admit that I tried something and failed.

Matt: I was thinking about that recently too…

That’s what held my journey as an entrepreneur back an extra year or two.

And it’s such an irrational fear!

What would happen if you actually had to go back to your job. On your first back, do you think your colleagues would say, “Oh, look at her — here she is. Oh, my God. She didn’t make it as a successful entrepreneur.”

Of course not, right?

So people listening, take note —  fear of failure is a powerful fear.  It probably comes from our lizard brains or some kind of prehistoric social conditioning, but it’s an irrational fear.

No one is going to care at all if you didn’t succeed in your attempt to strike off on your own.

Julie: It’s a fear that everyone has — and it’s something that can help you grow too.

Although I’m uncomfortable with the idea of failing, I try to be uncomfortable in life if that makes sense.

If I’m in my comfort zone, I’m not growing.

So you just kind of have to take the leap, similar to what you did.

client and affiliate seo

Matt: I get that 100%.

So, what was it like the day that you turned in your notice, and you said six months and I’m out?

Julie: So I’d kind of been working on it low key. My boss knew what I was doing. He knew that I was about to sell a website, he knew how much I was going to sell it for, but I don’t think he put all those pieces together.

I sold my first website for roughly $30k… A pretty good amount for somebody in their early 20s and definitely enough to sustain me for at least a couple of months to see if I’m going to be good or not.

The day that I quit was the day that I found out that the site sold.

I found out while I was at work, I got an email, and then I immediately ran into his office —  after having my anxiety attack — and said, “I’m quitting. I did this, I want to do this. I can do this. This is proof of concept. SEO isn’t some get-rich-quick scheme that you see on the internet. This money is going to be in my account. I’m quitting. How much notice do you need?”

And he was shocked! He didn’t think that I’d actually ever do it, but we eventually settled on six months. So I stayed for another six months.

Matt: That’s great, and good on you for giving them a six months notice! That’s about 12x what people usually do, so that’s amazing.

Do you genuinely have no clients now? Are you fully affiliate, or do you still keep some clients?

Julie: I would say 99.99% affiliate. I have one account that pays me under $300 a month, and it’s kind of a favor for a friend.

I really just manage their content and do a little bit of their on-page, but it’s by no means substantial.

So it’s a 100% affiliate at this point.

Matt: I heard you say that the trigger point for you handing in your notice is when you flipped your first website.

So, it sounds like you were doing a little moonlighting — working at the agency during the day, working on affiliate at night.

What kind of setup did you have going on that made you feel comfortable? Did you have one affiliate site working in the background? A couple? What did that look like?

Julie: I had one site that I was gearing up to sell, but over the course of a year or two, I started building a new website every quarter.

I wanted to get them out of the sandbox so that by the time I quit, I had not just the $30k from selling my first site, I also had additional income and that residual income replaced what I was making at the agency.

So I had this nice chunk of change from selling the site plus ongoing income, and I needed that to feel comfortable.

Matt: Yeah, I get it. I’d say it’s a conservative way to do it, but that’s exactly how I think too.

Some people might’ve just said, I need the thirty grand, and let’s get going, but you had the $30k and the salary replacement —  it’s a no-lose scenario.

Julie: And Florida, the cost of living here, it’s rough — especially in Orlando. Jobs don’t pay as much as they should, and rent’s really, really high.

If I didn’t have the recurring income, I couldn’t live off of $30,000 for very long — at least in Orlando — and still be able to invest in my sites.

So I really didn’t have an option.

Niche Selection

Niche Selection

Matt: That’s an interesting fact. So, with your small portfolio of sites that you were working on when you’re at the agency, what kind of niches were you getting into?

You don’t have to drill down exactly into micro-niche, but in general.

Julie: At the time, I was basically doing 100% Amazon sites. So, the first site that I started, I don’t actually consider my first website because it was an absolute flop. It didn’t do anything.

I let the domain name expire in the end, but it was a personal thing that I liked: motorcycles. So it was a niche site based around motorcycles.

I used to ride — but it turns out it’s a terrible niche for affiliate!

That was my first website. Then the site that I sold for $30k was in the outdoor niche. When I was doing mostly Amazon, it was a lot of sports, outdoors, home improvement —stuff like that.

Basically, niches where the products were expensive on Amazon is where I was at at the time.

Matt: Did you ever build on any expired domains, or were you always building on brand new domains?

Julie: The first two sites were built before I even knew that expired domains were a legitimate way to do anything, so it was all just fresh stuff.

Keyword Research

Keyword Research process

Matt: How do you do your keyword research?

Julie: At the time or now?

Matt: Let’s talk about now, let’s be more relevant.

Julie: Now, instead of starting with a keyword, I start with a competitor.

If I find a niche that I think is going to be profitable, I don’t just throw whatever I feel might be a good idea into Ahrefs. If I’m not an expert in the niche, I’m not going to have all the good ideas anyway.

So, now I start with finding a competitor that’s ranking and a similar size website to mine. Not a site that’s super micro niche but also not a website that’s super high-authority.

Then I’ll throw that site into Ahrefs and see what pages are generating the most traffic, and then cross-reference that with how expensive the items are, how likely they are to sell online, stuff like that.

And then it’s just Ahref rabbit holes and Excel sheets from there!

Matt: I know the Ahrefs rabbit holes! “Just one more hour. I just want to finish up this spreadsheet…”

Julie: “Wait, this exists? What is this? Now I have 500 more keywords!”

Matt: Exactly!

You hinted about niche versus authority sites. Let’s talk about that…

Don’t let me put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you were building niche sites in the beginning — motorcycles, outdoors and stuff like that.

So were you niche before and authority now, or are you still keeping it niche?

Julie: I like to have my domain names such that they have room to grow, but they’re still considered niche sites.

If I were to use a motorcycle site as an example, it wouldn’t be motorcyclegloves.com. It’d just be motorcycle.com or something like that, so that I have room to expand within the niche.

But at the end of the day, yeah, it’s still niche sites.

Onsite Optimization and Content

Matt: Let’s shift from building websites and niches and get into onsite SEO.

How do you go about creating content?

Are you outsourcing it?

Are you writing it yourself?

Julie: At this point, I outsource all of it because I  just don’t have time to bust out the amount of content you need now.

When I first started, I wrote it all myself just to save money because good content is expensive. But now, I’m at the point where I can outsource it, which is wonderful.

Matt: Cool, where are you getting your writers from, if you don’t mind sharing?

Julie: I’ve been working with one writer for a long time. As I said, I have a small portfolio of sites now, so I don’t have enough to max her out, but I found her based on a recommendation in a Facebook group or something like that.

Matt: How about other kinds of help? Do you have VAs? Do you have content editors? Let’s just do a brief overview of your team and how you structure that.

Julie: Yeah, it’s small. It’s me and one and a half content writers. I have one girl I use for easier blog topics, as she’s a little bit less expensive.

Then I have a VA that does link building outreach and another VA that handles basically all the piddly work needed on a website.

He publishes content. If there’s anything technically wrong with the site, he can fix it. He can do site-speed optimization, he can do some basic on-page SEO. And if, for example, I do an A/B test and find that a button needs to be a different color, he’ll handle the changes across the board.

Matt: Interesting. One of the most common questions I get asked is how to hire effectively and where to find good people. ..

Can you give any kind of advice on where you can find general VA type positions, where you can find writers and people like that?

Julie: The best piece of advice I can give is don’t be afraid to fire somebody just because it took a while to find someone. You’re going to hire good freelancers and bad ones.

Hire quick, fire quick — until you find the right fit.

Matt: Would you say most of your hires are coming from Upwork or other sources?

Julie: Upwork and then personal recommendations for content writers…

Matt: Got it. OK, let’s get back to the content. How long do you make your articles, and how do you determine that?

Julie: It depends on the competition. Most of the time, it’s around 2,000 words.

I’ve been using Surfer a lot lately, so really what used to be a manual process Surfer makes really easy. I use a lot of Surfer’s recommendations and kind of take it from there.

Matt: Cool, I agree. Surfer just makes things a lot easier and scalable.

Speaking of Surfer, what’re your thoughts on keyword density?

Myth? Real? Do you pay attention to it?

Julie: I think it’s useful in terms of NLP stuff, keyword stuffing — it depends on the SERP, really.

If it’s working in a particular niche, do it. Generally speaking, I think it’s basically dead, but every SERP is different. So you kind of have to go into the SERP and see. But I would say, for the most part, it’s done.

Matt: So, keyword density is dead in the sense that you wouldn’t stuff keywords just for the sake of ranking. But using some kind of algorithm or an API like Google’s NLP can potentially help you make better decisions with your content?

Julie: Absolutely, but even that is based on the competition. So, if for whatever reason, I’m in a niche that’s super spammy and my competitors are keyword stuffing, keyword stuffing is going to work.

You need to evaluate on a case-by-case or niche-by-niche basis…

But I don’t think there’s some magic formula that works across the board when it comes to keyword density.

Onsite Optimization and Content

Matt: I’ve never told this story before because it was a website that I worked on.

But you know what? It’s been a long time, and those keywords are long gone. But I used to have a website ranking number one for “how to brew beer.”

So, “how to brew beer,” all good, we’re number one for that.

But, for the term “how to make beer,” we’re on page five.

How to brew beer, how to make beer. Same exact search intent.

You can’t make beer without brewing it. You can’t brew beer without making it…

Then we tossed our content into a true density algorithm — which analyzes entities on the page and assesses how frequently you use certain words compared to the competition — it turned out we’d used the word “make” on the page 60-something times…

In contrast, the competitor’s average was about 12.

So we toned the frequency down and shot up from page five to number two.

And, I was like, “You know what? I don’t care what people say on Twitter. This density stuff, it’s real. I just saw it work right in front of my eyes.”

Julie: Just to piggyback off that, keyword density is real when related to the competitors that are ranking. You’re not just blatantly keyword stuffing content just for the sake of stuffing it.

You’re stuffing it based on what’s working — or unstuffing it in your case.

Matt: That’s exactly right!

How often do you publish new content, and does that change based on the type of website?

Like, for an established website, do you publish faster or slower?

Julie: For newer sites, I actually publish faster just to get the general relevance built up.

For sites under a year old, I’ll do maybe 10 or 15 articles a month. And then, once it gets to a certain point — typically around 40 posts depending on the niche — I’ll gradually slow down to about one article a week.

That can be buyers guides, that can be supporting content — just keeping things fresh.

Matt: Very nice, very nice.

Let’s talk about interlinking — a blazing hot topic this year.

Internally linking various pages on your sites, what kind of process do you use for that?

Julie: I used to be super, super strict with it. I’ve gotten a little bit looser as I’ve fine-tuned my skills. I like to think of it as topic clusters. So that’s also the way that I keyword plan.

Instead of just thinking of one, two, three different random keywords, I’ll take one topic idea, keyword research that group altogether, and then interlink them all to each other.

Now, the only way that I would go outside of that is if there is a topic in another cluster that naturally relates back.

So it’s kind of a mix of typical technical SEO silo interlinking with a little bit of what “just makes sense” mixed in.

technical SEO interlinking

Matt: Speaking of silos, do you ever follow any of the “traditional” silo structures? For example, the top-down silo, the reverse silo, or similar highly structured and planned out configurations?

Julie: I used to use silos like that when I did local SEO — when it was more about services.

But now that I’m fully affiliate, I find that at least in my case, it matters somewhat less.

I usually don’t try to rank for super high-competition keywords — something I’d consider a top tier keyword. I’m generally after tier two keywords, something that’s a little bit less competitive.

So, in order to build out the URL structure and all that, I would basically be making a page that I was going to do nothing with — that I have no intention of ranking.

I basically just interlink pages without doing any elaborate URL structuring, for the most part.

Matt: Do you do any featured snippet optimization?

Julie: I do! But as of recently — and I’m assuming you’ve noticed this as well — featured snippets more or less dropped off the face of the earth.

So it used to be something that I would focus on. I would go do featured snippet optimization like twice a month for all my sites.

I’ve kind of backed off on that, simply because I can’t find snippets for a lot of keywords anymore.

Matt: Let’s pretend we lived in a world that had consistency in the SERPs…

How would you optimize for featured snippets?

Julie: So, in this pretend world, where Google does what we want them to do?

I would Google a keyword and see, first of all, who has the snippet and what type of snippet it is…

If it’s a list snippet that gives me an indication of what Google is looking for. If it’s a paragraph snippet, that gives me another clue.

First of all, I’ll see how they got the snippet — look at what information Google is actually pulling — and then I’ll see where I am in the list of things.

You can exclude competitor’s websites from the SERPs, then you can get a sense of where you fall in line for the snippet.

Once I have an idea what the competition is doing, I’ll do some tweaks on my site and re-index it…

If it indexes quickly, that’s wonderful — I’ll check to see, have I moved up? Have I moved down?

Now, if I’ve moved up, I would keep the change. Or if I stayed in the same spot, I’d keep the change.

If I moved down, I’d revert the changes and try something else until it works.

It’s really all about persistence. If you try hard enough, nine times out of 10, you’ll capture the snippet, as long as you’re in the top three.

Matt: The big trial and error process. The good thing about featured snippet optimization — and I’m sure you found this as well — is that the feedback loop is really quick.

You re-index it, re-crawl in GSC, and you should see whether your change scored you the snippet.

Julie: Exactly. I’ve found Search Console sometimes indexes right away, and sometimes it doesn’t. So if you’re Google’s good books and get indexed immediately — absolutely, you can know right away.

Matt: Any other on-site SEO tips that you felt got good gains for your websites that we haven’t touched upon?

Julie: The biggest thing I uncover when I audit sites right now is how few people optimize the most valuable SEO real estate on a website: your URL, your title tag, and your H1.

So many people have identical Title and H1 tags, which leaves a ton of potential long-tail keywords on the table.

If you’re only optimizing for one keyword, you’re missing out on 20 different things…

Take a couple minutes, go into Ahrefs, see what variations of the keyword there are, and mix up your title and your H1 just so that you can target more keywords.

Matt: Yes, I agree 100%!

As you know, in The Affiliate Lab, we call this The Three Kings,

It’s so crucial that we had to dress it up with a silly name just so you know that it’s essential.

Let’s quickly pivot into offsite SEO…

Link Building and Offsite SEO

What kind of links would you build to a new website?

Julie: I primarily start with basic social accounts. I’m talking Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter —  stuff like that.

Not necessarily for the sake of getting a backlink, but just to claim that entity and to be able to link to it from the website, so it looks a little bit more real. But if the social profiles index, great.

Matt: And what comes after those social profiles?

Julie: Well, first, I would wait for the site to get out of the sandbox. I’m not going to link to something that’s not getting any traffic.

Once I start seeing traffic come in, even if it’s just a blog or something that doesn’t have buyer intent, I’ll start building guest post links to whatever’s ranking, just so that it looks the most natural. And if it does happen to be a blog that’s not something that I’m trying to monetize, I’ll use internal links to kind of funnel the link juice.

Then as the site grows, I start building links to pages that have natural traction. And then the more the site grows, the more authority you have, the more that kind of branches out.

Matt: So, you mentioned guest posts. Do you use any other kind of type of backlinks other than guest posts?

Julie: I used to use niche edits before I found out that they were hacked sites.

That was a couple of years ago, but I still pursue true niche edits.

Once a site is getting a little bit of traffic, I’ll tell my VA you can go after guest posts or if you want to insert a link into an existing article, go for it.

But I don’t do that right away just because it’s not really natural.

And then I’m experimenting right now with Tier 2 PBN links. I hear they’re getting good results.

Matt: So you’re doing guest posts and link insertions, we’ll call it a link insertion instead of niche edits to differentiate from the hacked version.

But are you doing outreach for all this stuff, or are you purchasing any of them from vendors?

Julie: Outreach and purchase. Basically, I purchase the links I source through outreach.

Link Building and Offsite SEO

Matt: Can you give people some insight on how to get started with outreach? Like an example template you use as the first contact when you’re reaching out to someone to say, “Hey, I’m interested in getting a link on your blog.”

Julie: I have some sort of interesting subject lines, something that isn’t just the run of the mill, “Hello, kind sir, let me build a link.” I try to grab their attention.

If I’m doing it myself and it’s a target I really care about, I’ll include something personalized in the subject line so that they know it’s not spammy.

To be honest, I personally haven’t done outreach in a long time. My VA just kind of handles it.

I didn’t even specifically train him because I didn’t have an outreach SOP built out that I was confident in. I hired a VA who had taken certain SEO courses and gave them the opportunity to prove themselves.

Matt: That’s an awesome answer! That’s what I want to hear high-level operators saying: “You know what? To be honest, I don’t even know what my outreach person is writing these days, because I hired someone who’s doing it better than I could — and I’ve given them 100% ownership of the task.”

Do you know what tools you’re using for outreach?

Julie: When I was doing it myself, I would use BuzzStream just to automate the actual sending of the emails, and then I would do a lot of scraping, using Ahrefs and Google, just basic stuff like that.

Good old Excel spreadsheets too, but BuzzStream was the biggest tool I used.

Matt: How many links do you like to build per month, per site?

Julie: It depends on how big the site is. When I have a fresh site, around five to 10, and then as it grows, I get up to 20, 25. That’s the max that I send to a site right now.

So it kind of stays within that window, depending on how much traffic is getting, how aged the site is, and competitor’s link velocity.

Matt: You always need to know that you’re outpacing your competition, or you can never expect to beat them.

So what are you doing for anchor texts?

Julie: Again, it’s based on competition…

I think it might actually be your technique that I’m using — I’ve been using it for so long now!

You take the sites on the first page of Google, look at their anchor text, calculate an average, and use that to inform what you need to do. And, as I mentioned before with keyword density, it changes per the SERP.

Back in the day, I would think, hey, you need 50% keyword anchors, 50% URLs, or whatever the heck it was.

Totally throw all that out the window! It varies for every single search term. You have to base it off the competition, and then you just take the average.

Matt: Amen, sister, amen!

What about social signals — use them, or don’t care?

Julie: Don’t care!

Matt: That falls in the “don’t care” bucket.

Do you keep track of no-follow versus do-follow ratios?

Julie: No, maybe I should, but I don’t.

I’ve found that they kind of appear naturally as the site grows.

I attract the links that I build for whatever reason, whether it’s syndication sites or whatever.

I tend to pick up no-follow links just by existing, so it’s not something that I really put a lot of effort into.

Matt: How about let’s finish up with any other off-site SEO tips that you could recommend or any other link building knowledge bombs that you want to drop?

Julie: Not a knowledge bomb but a reality check — links cost money. If you’re on a tight budget, you’re going to have to build links yourself…

But even if you’re doing it yourself, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 plus for every single link. Webmasters are on to the fact that charging for links is a good way to make money, and there’s no way around it.

If somebody offers you a $20 link on a website, there’s probably a reason why it’s $20, and you don’t want that. So just be ready to spend money — you have to at this point.

Monetization (and How to Get off Amazon!)

Matt: Perfect segue — money. Let’s talk about monetization. How do you like to monetize your affiliate sites?

Julie: Just good old affiliate links. I played around with ads way back when… I don’t do it now. My thought process is, if I can get a click on an ad that gets me a penny and a half, I’m potentially losing an affiliate click that could get me a couple of hundred dollars.

Maybe I’m just being too cautious, but the risk of losing that potential affiliate click prevents me from being enticed by how much I can make with ads.

Matt: Sure, sure. And with these affiliate links, where are you sending them?

Julie: I used to do a lot of Amazon, probably about 80-90%. When was it? March or April when Amazon did their big cut?

I was about 90% Amazon at that time, and now I’m at about 25%. Now I send most of my traffic to manufacturers that bid the highest and have the most relevant products.

Matt: Good on you. You’ve caught my eye in The Affiliate Lab many times for sharing knowledge bombs, whether you think so or not. One thing I’ve noticed is that you have a knack for replacing Amazon as a vendor and working with brands and manufacturers directly. Can you speak a little bit more about that?

Julie: Whether you’re an affiliate or you’re in local SEO, it’s an industry where people like to hide. You’re going to stand out if you’re willing to be personable and eager to talk to people.

Here’s how I land the preferential deals that I’m able to get…

First of all, I’ll apply for an affiliate program. I’ll send the vendor all my site stats — whether or not I get approved, they get an email right away that lays everything out.

Now, if I have enough traffic where I feel confident, part of that email is, “Hey, let’s get on the phone, let’s have a conversation.”

Then, let them talk about the products, make them feel warm and fuzzy, and then talk about what I bring to the table.

At the end of the conversation, you say, “Hey, is this the best you’re willing to offer? How can I get a higher commission?”

Just get on the phone and talk to somebody at the company. You might not even end up talking about affiliate commissions. Just the other day, I ended up having a conversation with a manufacturer about fishing.

If you take the time to get to know somebody personally, they’re much more likely to want to work with you, and they often have a lot of wiggle room on percentages.

Let’s say a base commission starts at 10%. I guarantee you they can go up to 25% or higher if you make it worthwhile for them and if you keep it real…

Be nice, be likable, and build a relationship.

Many people are uncomfortable with this process, but that’s how I’ve been able to obtain much higher commissions.

Monetization and How to Get off Amazon

Matt: What’s the minimum commission rate you find acceptable to move off Amazon? Amazon has amazing conversion rates, but obviously, money talks…

Julie: I always say 10%, and that’s contingent on it not being another online mall…

Let’s pretend for a second that Home Depot or eBay or whatever offers more than fractionally higher commissions than Amazon…

Platforms other than Amazon that aren’t direct manufacturer sites don’t convert as well as Amazon.

Manufacturer sites generally exist to sell a singular product. They have a beautiful landing page, etc.

With Amazon — you have Amazon addicts, and they convert well — but other online malls don’t have that.

So when linking directly to manufacturers as opposed to other malls, I would say 10% is the minimum commission rate.

Matt: I want to echo what you said. I use 10% as a starting point, and that can go up or down depending on the landing page’s beauty.

If it’s horrid, if it looks like one of those old-school squeeze pages and just screams scam, you’re going to have to give me 30 or 40% — and it’s just a test, right?

Julie: And even still, if it doesn’t convert, 50%, 70%, whatever — it doesn’t matter, it’s still $0.

Matt: For sure. I’m assuming you’re testing as well? I mean, just because you move off Amazon and you find this 10% deal doesn’t mean it’s going to convert well.

So, how do you structure these kinds of tests?

Do you use the new provider for a month and then just see which one made the most money?

Julie: Basically, yeah…

I actually use a shorter testing period — it’s a couple of weeks.

What I do is take my highest performing page — it gets the most traffic, so I can gather the most data in a short amount of time — then I place this new provider either number one or number two, and just watch it like a hawk.

I see how many clicks it’s getting and if it has any conversions. Honestly, my average conversion rate is between 1 and 2% right now, so I’m looking for at least that.

If I start making good money off it, I’ll just switch from Amazon across the board, but I start with one, maybe two pages.

Matt: That makes sense. Do you ever do any A/B testing to test out Amazon versus another supplier, or are they always serial tests? You just replace and then test and then switch back if the performance isn’t there?

Julie: I just do replacement tests because I’m trying to get away from Amazon as much as possible right now. Even if Amazon is better, I don’t trust them anymore. So, there’s no sense in split testing if I want to get rid of them anyway.

Matt: I’m not going to disagree with that. We’ve been preaching against Amazon in The Affiliate Lab since the beginning. In fact, the third lesson in The Affiliate Lab is why we don’t like having Amazon!

Julie: Don’t you have a story where you lost like $90,000 or something crazy like that?

Matt: No, it was $150k. They still have that.

Let’s talk about traffic diversification. Do you get all your traffic from organic search? Do you mess around with any PPC or email marketing?

Julie: Organic is what I know… When I was at the agency, I dabbled in paid ads. And when I say dabble, I mean, I would look over somebody else’s shoulder when I went to get coffee.

It’s not something that I have training in. It’s not something I’m super confident about.

To be honest, with a lot of affiliate deals, unless you have a super, super high commission rate to advertise on Google specifically, it’s pretty low margins.

Now with Facebook, if I have a really high commission product, I’ll do a little bit of advertising on Facebook, but that’s it.

Matt: How about email funnels — like offering a lead magnet, getting them in an automated series, and then building up at least a 10,000 person list. Then anytime you release a new post you’re driving 10,000 people back to that post who could convert.

Do you have experience with that?

Julie: I see a ton of value there because, one, it’s traffic you can control, and, two, it’s traffic that ‘s infinitely growing as long as your list is high quality.

I’m still learning, still a baby there. I think it’s viable, so I’m looking into it now.

Matt: Cool. So nothing is holding you back from email marketing — it’s just a work in progress.

It seems that you’re not scared to try new things, you like challenges — and as you said, you like to be uncomfortable — which is a sign of growth, for sure.


Scaling seo team

Speaking of growth, what’s your plan for scaling your portfolio?

Do you want to get into more niches? How many sites do you have now, and where do you want to be in the future?

Julie: Right now, I have six or seven sites, so it’s relatively small.

I’ve said from the beginning that… Look, I’m not going to say I don’t love money, but money is not my main motivation — it’s time.

I want to have a portfolio that I can put four or five hours a day into. I don’t care what work I’m doing, but that’s how many hours I want to work per day.

So whether I’m scaling or taking a step back in order to reinvest money to reduce my operational involvement, I’m open to that…

But I don’t want to grow and work more just for the sake of making even more money, because I’m doing pretty good right now.

Matt: That’s interesting. So, if your primary motivation is time, it seems like you’re more interested in scaling your team and phasing yourself out of operations rather than scaling your portfolio.

Julie: Exactly, yes. If I can do four hours of work a day where I’m not doing any SEO and I’m just managing a team, great. That’s totally on my radar. And if I can make more money doing that, excellent.

I know I’m not going to sit here and build a ton more sites with just myself at the helm. So, if I want to grow, I’m growing with people — not necessarily just more sites.

Matt: Let’s say you’re deciding to build a new site. Let’s say you flip a good one, you have some free time, and you want to build a new one…

Would you go for a niche site, authority site, or go for one of the hardcore niches like CBD, payday loans, or casino. What’s that looking like for you?

Julie: I like to stay away from your money, your life (YMYL) niches, because it’s hyper-competitive and it takes a lot more money to be able to compete there.

And also, not that I have anything against anybody that does it, but if I’m not an expert on something financial or health-related, just from an ethical standpoint, I don’t want to touch it.

I don’t want to recommend products that I don’t personally believe in.

So unless I become an actual expert at something in YMYL,  I would rather just stay in “safer” niches.

Does that answer your question?

Matt: That works for me! Any regrets moving to 99.9% affiliate?

Julie: As I mentioned, I work four hours a day now. So, I went from working 40 hours a week to 20, 25 maybe.

No regrets. I am so much happier. My work/life balance is great. I’m making more money. I have more time. I’m proud of myself.

Everybody suspects I sell drugs or something, I’m sure. At least all of my family thinks so!

But no regrets, this is the best decision I’ve ever made.

seo success illustrations

Matt: That’s awesome to hear!

Do you have any advice for people in a similar position to when you were back at the agency or even beginner SEOs that are just deciding between affiliate or drop shipping or staying at a nine-to-five?

What advice do you have for people like that?

Julie: If you’re good at SEO, do it!

But, if you think affiliate is some kind of get-rich-quick scheme that doesn’t require any time or any money — you’re going to waste a lot of both if you try to pursue this.

You need to know getting into affiliate marketing, that it’s going to take money to get started, it’ll take a lot of time, and you have to be relatively good at SEO.

If you’re just getting started with affiliate SEO — great, because you can learn, but don’t expect to fully succeed.

Keep your expectations in check, and don’t be afraid to fail — even though I’m afraid to fail, we’re all afraid to fail — don’t be scared of failure.

Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but you’re probably going to fail on your first one or two sites, I guarantee you that.

Matt, you have a couple of failures under your belt as well…

People only see success online. They don’t see any of the failures. So, just keep chugging along.

Matt: How would you recommend getting started? Because you had an excellent experience of starting off in an agency… Would you recommend people get their education at an agency and leave them high and dry?

I’m just kidding!

Julie: I’d say that if you have an opportunity to get what I called “paid schooling” towards the end of my time at the agency — go for it! I learned so much, and maybe you’ll end up loving it.

There’s no better way to learn than to do, and I know you’re half-joking with your question but in all honesty, being an agency gives you a handful of clients to learn with. So, yeah, I would recommend it.

Matt: Got it.

Alright, so before we wrap this up — thank you for this awesome interview.

I’m sure people learned a lot of things — not only about your journey but your process, how you rank websites, what you pay attention to, and how you do things.

I’m excited to announce that you’ll be making more appearances on this YouTube channel and coming up with a series of talks and discussions.

Do you want to talk a little bit more about what we can expect?

Julie: As we’ve been discussing this whole time. I come from a local SEO agency background, and now I do only do affiliate.

So, I have a very wide range of advice to bring to the table. And not only about SEO, but going back to having 80 clients at once…

So much of what goes into success is organization and knowing where to dedicate your time to make more money.

So I’ll be talking about all that’s involved with that, as well as stuff like conversion rate optimization — how to make more money with the same amount of traffic you already have.

I’m going to be bringing all my knowledge and experience to the table — I’m excited!

Matt: I’m excited! And you guys watching should be excited too!

Julie, Thanks so much for your time. It’s been eye-opening.

You’re awesome and congrats on all your success.

Julie: See you again on this channel soon!


Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – October 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-oct-2020/ Mon, 19 Oct 2020 03:36:17 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=517598 (Read more...)]]> You’ve got three months left to make this year the one that breaks all your records. With everything you’re going to learn in this roundup, that may be more than enough time.

We’ll start with a pack of guides. You’ll learn how (and when) to use tier 1 vs. tier 2 PBNs, why websites are an evergreen business, and how you need to change your tactics to handle in-house SEO.

Then, we’ve got data you can use to impact your operations. Learn how top SEO companies are optimizing their sites, whether emojis in subject lines can affect your open rates, and what causes rank volatility by the numbers.

Finally, we’ll close with two news items you can’t miss. Learn the results of SEOs voting on the best Facebook group and whether we have reason to believe that Google will soon be launching authority profiles.

PBNs: Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 (When to Use What)


Rob Rok of Rankclub brings us this look at modern PBNs, and two types of links that play different roles. He identifies tier 1 and tier 2 links and describes when you should use them.

Tier 1 PBN links are the links that you build directly to your site. Tier 2 links are the ones that you build to your inbound links. For example, if you land a link from a major news site, the tier 2 links you build toward that page (rather than your own site).

Tier 2 Link Building graphic

For both types, Rob explains the use cases where they do the most good.

He recommends that you build tier 1 links when:

  • You trust the PBNs you’re using
  • Your page doesn’t have too many homepage links already
  • You need some extra power to overcome a challenging competitor

He recommends that you build tier 2 links when:

  • Your competitors don’t have many links, and you don’t want to stand out from the crowd
  • You want to minimize your risk as much as possible while building links
  • When you just need a little more juice from your existing links

The advice applies to most situations where you need to build links, and the next piece is also going to be relevant to nearly everyone—both beginners and jaded veterans. The people at Flippa make the case that websites are an evergreen business.

Websites Are an Evergreen Business – Here’s Why


Ron Stefanski argues that websites represent an evergreen business model with nearly unlimited potential compared to brick & mortar enterprises.

He defines evergreen businesses as those that don’t need aggressive marketing to generate profits and offer investors less risk.

evergreen business from flippa

There aren’t many people in SEO who would disagree. However, understanding his arguments may help you get over some doubts or unlock some extra potential from your websites.

He points to the facts that websites:

  • Are always evolving
  • Never need to close
  • Have effortlessly-adjustable business models
  • Can be updated as needed
  • Have content strategies that can be adjusted as needed

To support these arguments, he lays out how they apply to sites in key niches.

He uses Weight Watchers as one example. WW is a site that has been around for more than a decade and benefitted from how easily websites can adapt.

weight watcher from flippa

That adaptability has allowed the site to effortlessly float from focusing on diets to lifestyle programs and devices without ever having to stick to just one. Wherever the audience for weight loss goes, WW can follow.

These kinds of transitions would be disastrous for a brick and mortar business whose customers expect to find specific items in stock. Websites chiefly focus on information, though, so they can go wherever the interest does.

As evergreen as websites are, their evolution isn’t always voluntary. What it takes to optimize a site is still in flux. The next guide is going to help you catch up with the latest strategies for in-house SEO.

How to Master the Art of Inhouse SEO


Kevin Indig brings us this comprehensive look into in-house SEO, why it’s different, and how you should do it. He starts by breaking down the differences between agency SEO and in-house SEO.

For example, in an SEO agency, account management is almost as important as SEO itself. You have to balance client demands with the ideas that produce results. You’ll often have to deal with lengthy approval processes.

In-house SEO is different, Kevin argues. Here, you’re much more likely to own your project and have free reign to experiment. However, that doesn’t mean in-house SEO is free of conflict.

For example, in-house SEOs may have trouble getting resources—especially design and engineering resources critical to their work. This often happens because SEO is slow to work, and these resources often have their own projects.

For this problem, Kevin identifies some solutions:

  • Make the business implications part of your pitch
  • Front-load the most effective tactics so that you can prove value in the first 30 days
  • Focus on serving the most influential teams of the company so that they can help you back
  • Imitate the people in the company who are the best at getting what they want
  • Be a storyteller

The guide is filled with additional advice, including how to solve the problem of technical SEO being lumped as a marketing expense and the challenges of showing SEOs value. It’s great advice for anyone starting in SEO or just making the transition to working in-house.

That covers the guides for this month, but there’s a lot more to learn in the upcoming case studies. To start, let’s look at how the top SEO companies optimize their websites by the numbers.

How Top SEO Companies Optimize Their Websites


Ivan Palii of Sitechecker has a lot to tell us about how the top SEOs in the world are optimizing their sites, but he’s happy to let the data do most of the talking.

top seo companies by domain age

The top tactics are broken down across 30+ graphs that cover:

  • Website score
  • Domain age
  • Linked domains
  • Page efficiency
  • # of pages
  • # of broken pages
  • Frequency of updates
  • Frequency of title and description changes
  • Frequency of H1 and content updates

After the graphs, he used public data to track exactly what top SEOs were doing to their websites.

He spotted SEOs like Nathan Gotch making small tweaks to meta data to improve CTR. In other examples, he caught Adam Enfroy doing some title experiments, and Brian Dean fixing some typos.

It’s a great look at the exact tweaks that practicing SEOs are using to keep their sites optimized. In the end, he showed that only 9 of 100 of the top SEO websites didn’t make any changes. In SEO at least, it seems that fortune favors the busy.

With the next case study, let’s look at some advice you can apply off-site. You’ll learn whether emojis boost your outreach or land you a 1-way ticket to the spam folder.

Emojis in Email Subject Lines: Do They Affect Open Rates? [DATA]


Shelley Walsh of Search Engine Journal brings us this massive case study involving nearly 4 million emails, and the impact emojis have on open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes.

gordon ramsey email emoji meme

Using SEJs own massive mailing list as a test group, Shelley sent a series of messages through June and July. Emojis were added or withheld from SEJ’s:

  • Daily newsletters
  • Monthly newsletters
  • Merchandise & other announcements
  • Webinar emails
  • Sponsored emails

She hypothesized that the attention-drawing properties of emojis didn’t make up for the downsides. As she puts it: Just because you get attention, it doesn’t mean your reader likes it. The question, though, is what did the data say?

On the first measure—open rates—the results seemed clear. Subject lines without an emoji had an open rate of 52.94%, compared to 47.06% for emojis.

emoji open rate

CTR was a little different. In 11 out of 15 campaigns, the CTR was slightly higher when there was an emoji in the subject line. However, the news only got worse from there.

Emojis not only drove a higher rate of dropped subscriptions, but their use also resulted in more abuse reports to Google. Too many of those can cause your outreach address to be labeled as spam.

Let’s turn back to website optimization for the final case study of the month. We’re looking at what causes rank volatility, as demonstrated by several studies.

What Causes Rank Volatility and How to Deal With It


Darrell Mordecai of RankRanger brings us this look at the possible sources of long-term volatility. He does so by making case studies of volatile pages.

The first case study is a page on the website Allrecipes. This page jumped back and forth more than ten positions over 20 days for the keyword “learn to cook and bake.”

cook and bake serp rankranger

At least, in this case, he found the problem easy to diagnose. The SERP itself was a mess of different intents, and Google’s algorithm has not figured out which intent should be served for the keyword.

His recommendation for this problem was to research and include subtopics that had more stable SERPs. This wouldn’t stabilize the page’s position for the main keyword, but he theorizes it would ensure good traffic from other SERPs.

Another case study in the set looked at the performance of easyjet.com for the keyword “UK flights.” This page was reliably holding position 11 before it hit some turbulence that forced it either up or down, depending on the day.

Once again, this page was hardly alone in seeing shifts. The SERPs for UK flights did bizarre things like promoting a page 20 positions overnight, and then revoke all of that growth the next day.

volatility serp report rankranger

In this case, the volatility was traced back to a bug. Google admitted to the bug after some prompting, and the SERPs stabilized.

While this isn’t a fix, understanding whether you’re looking at a mistake, a Google update or a penalty should be a part of your problem-solving process. He reminds you that you can do so by checking bug reports on places like Search Engine Roundtable.

With the case studies out of the way, we’re ready to get to news and community updates. We’ll start by looking at the community’s choice of which Facebook Groups give the best SEO advice.

4 Best Facebook Groups for SEOs (Most Voted For)


seo group meme

The 10,000+ member Ahrefs Insider group and author Si Quan Ong bring us this poll on the best Facebook group for SEOs. The members nominated more than 20 groups, but in the end, only a handful shared most of the votes.

The top three were:

1. Affiliate SEO Mastermind
2. SEO Signals Lab
3. The Proper SEO Group

The winner was The Affiliate SEO Mastermind group that I founded. As Si notes, this group has nearly 15,000 people. It’s incredibly active on SEO and affiliate marketing topics and serves as both forum and marketplace.

affiliate mastermind fb group cover

The next runner-up was SEO Signals Labs. This beginner-friendly group is well-known for the helpfulness of its members. People who ask questions can often expect multiple replies within the first 20 minutes.

This group is known for its “Pick His Brain” events where top SEOs visit to answer community questions. I’ve been featured in the past, and so have people like Robbie Richards and Kevin Indig.

seo signal fb group

The Proper SEO Group was the 3rd most-voted. This group was recognized for welcoming everyone on the white-to-black-hat spectrum. In addition to that, it’s one of the few groups that regularly features agency and services-oriented discussions. It’s perfect for the professional.

If you hang out in any of these groups, you may have already heard about the possibility of an upcoming authority profile. In the next news item, you’ll learn a little more about them.

Did Google just hint at an authority profile?


Mordy Oberstein of Search Engine Land believes that Google has developed a system for assigning ‘authority profiles’ to sites. Google may have already developed profiles for the highest quality sites in YMYL (your-money-your-life) niches.

These profiles—or sets of recurring traits—could then be held up against newer or lower-ranking sites to see if they match.

authority profile quote from google

He caught a particular segment from one of Google’s recent blog posts that read:

We’ve learned that sites that demonstrate authoritativeness and expertise on a topic are less likely to publish false or misleading information”.

His analysis hones in on the phrase “we’ve learned.” That phrase suggests Google is at least moderately confident they have a process that works.

As further evidence, he reminds us of some reporting he’s already done on how the September 2019 update targeted loan niche sites. These pages had sales language on information pages, which made them an easy target once a working profile was ready.

Mordy has some advice if you think these profiles might play a larger role in upcoming updates. Start watching the super-authorities in your niche now.  Emulate their practices now so that you can be ready if they become the basis for a profile.


Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

The Influencer Pitch – How to Build E-A-T for your Content Website https://diggitymarketing.com/how-to-build-eat-for-seo/ Mon, 12 Oct 2020 04:26:10 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=514101 (Read more...)]]> New content standards may be coming that will require you to get real, credible authors for your content if you want to stand a chance.

If you’re relying on content with fake personas, or content that was written under your own name (when you’re not an expert in the field), your website may not be ready.

I’m going to show you how to get real experts and influencers to take credit for your content. It’s going to help you build immense amounts of trust while developing a website that’s ready for E-A-T implementation.

That could be really difficult and really expensive for many niches. But what if I told you that this transition can be easy?

Let’s begin with a look into the standards we’re trying to meet (E-A-T), what relationship they have to the algorithm, and why you should care, even though they’re still on the way.

Video Version

For those who like video content, here’s a TLDR version of the article:

What is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. It comes from this larger set of guidelines that Google publishes for its search quality rating team.

They’re a legion of Google contractors from all around the world who perform manual (human) reviews of Google’s results.

While they’re digging through search after search, they use standards like those you see in the image above to make judgments about the pages they review.

EAT description

These busy clickers then create reports that Google uses (along with other methods) to evaluate what a live user sees and experiences when searching for results.

Manual review plays an important role in the rollout of each new algorithm changes. After the update lands, Google deploys them to scour the results for unintended changes, such as bizarre returns for common searches or unintended hits to websites.

It may seem like I’m saying that sticking to rating guidelines translates directly to improved rankings. Sorry, but that isn’t the case.

Let’s look at the relationship between rater guidelines and the algorithm.

What relationship do rater guidelines have with the algorithm?

They’re related, but you probably shouldn’t assume you can judge Google’s intent for the algorithm just by looking at what they’re telling their human raters.

The rater guidelines exist to help humans judge algorithm results.

algorithm and raters diagram

As an example, the algorithm is a long way from being sophisticated enough to do most background research. If someone provides comprehensive—but entirely fraudulent—authorship information—the algorithm can’t independently verify:

•   The authenticity of an identity
•   Affiliations with organizations and institutions like universities
•   Credentials and certifications

It’s important to note that while the algorithm isn’t good at verifying these details, it is pretty adept at figuring out when they’re completely missing altogether.

A lot of raters reporting the same issue may eventually result in tweaks to the algorithm. However, making sure your content obeys E-A-T standards isn’t likely to result in immediate, measurable improvements. So, why should you care about what the process coming right up?

Why do I care?

I’ll tell you why we cared, at least: because we’re preparing for the next few years ahead.

Just because Google hasn’t figured out how to automate these verifications doesn’t mean they aren’t giving it their best try.

They’ve already begun to strike in a related area. Websites that make it difficult to find any ownership or authorship information are taking hits.

matt image for abc

Sure, Google’s strategies can change over time, but they aren’t likely to slow down or back down on this one. It’s just a good idea. Google has every motivation to keep information that might provide bad medical/financial advice away from the top of the page.

And why fight it? Your content isn’t going to suffer from having more subject matter experts involved.

Your site will be more authoritative and more credible than it has ever been.

At the same time, as much as we love trying new things, it’s hard to justify a budget for a best practice that doesn’t even work yet. We wanted to get ready, but we wanted the process to be:

  • Cheap
  • Easy to implement
  • A no-brainer win-win

If there was no way to meet those qualifications, this experiment was getting placed on the back burner until it was more relevant.

You’re reading this now, so you know we succeeded. We’ve developed a process that isn’t just future-proof—It’s already paying off.

Introducing: the Influencer Pitch

Alright, so far, you understand that credible authors may matter a lot in the future. Do you know any in your niche? Have you built long-term relationships with people who have degrees, certifications, or influential positions in notable organizations?

influencer process on illustration

Don’t worry if you haven’t because that what the process coming right up is going to help you do. You can start with just one expert, and work your way up.

In the following sections, you’re going to learn how to find influencers, how to pitch them (with an example email), and how to make the relationship profitable for both of you.

Finding influencers

Nearly every niche has influencers, and by their nature, they are not very hard to find. A search of niche-related keywords should bring up people talking about your niche, reviewing products in it, or fighting to be the first to drop news about it.

YouTube and Instagram are the best hunting ground for my niches, but certain audiences tend to gravitate to certain platforms. Use your judgment and your background in your niche to determine the best platform.

vloggers and influencers preview

No matter which one you choose, you want to focus on what you could call “budding” influencers. These are the troopers in the trenches who are starting to develop an audience but are still working their way off the ground.

I’m talking about people who post regularly, seem to put their hearts into it and care about improving, but just haven’t managed to break a couple of thousand followers, yet.

Let me show you.

First, I would search for phrases specific to my niche. For examples sake, let’s call that “protein powder reviews”. I’m going to plug that in and browse the results until I find someone who matches my criteria.

With that search, I didn’t get far down the page until I found a video I liked. I clicked the account under the video and was taken to the profile page of this guy:

Ace 1 Warrior youtube page

He has just over 1.6k subscribers, and many of his videos focus on our example phrase.

That’s only the first criteria, though. You’ll want to make a few more quality calls based on what you see around the profile page.

  • Are videos updated frequently? (In this example, yes)
  • Do the last 10-20 videos tend to stick to the brand/niche? (again, yes)
  • Does this author bring any of their own credibility problems to a relationship? (not at first glance, but naturally I’d do more homework outside this example)

Overall, this influencer looks like a good place to start.

After you find a good candidate, find out how to contact them. In most cases, you can just use the platform’s standard messaging service or hunt around the profile page for information.

In this case, you can see I easily just clicked over to the about tab and found a button for “business inquiries”.

Ace 1 Warrior page description

When you do finally reach out, you’re going to want to make them an offer they cannot refuse.

Here are some ideas and an example pitch.

Pitching influencers

The name of our game here is win-win. We’re controlling our costs by being able to offer influencers enough that they get value out of a mutual relationship. The best way to explain how we do that is by showing you how we present the first offer when we email them.

Here’s a pitch email I’ve written for a fictitious name and website. If I were in this niche, this is how I’d approach my first contact.


Subject Line: Looking for Partnership

Hey Mark,

This is Joe Burns from Fitness365.com

I recently saw that you’re trying to get a foothold in this niche as an influencer. I really like your YouTube videos and I think your work has a lot of potential.

Fitness365 is already a major force in the fitness industry. We’re currently ranking #1 on google for _______ , ________, and many similar topics.

I have the following win-win proposal for you:

In order to help you build up your authority, we’d like to publish some of our high-quality content articles in your name as the writer. Our college-educated fitness writers will ghostwrite researched and polished articles for you.

We’ll also list you on the website as a contributing author.

All we ask for in exchange is 3 videos a month that we can add to our channel. We can even do some cross-promotion to grow together.

Please let me know what you think about this offer. Looking forward to hearing your reply.

Joe Burns

Got the gist? Alright, let me just add a few notes.

For one, I think it’s really important that you identify your value in the first couple of lines, as I did. Notice I covered all the terms I rank for in the first few lines of the email.

Second, note that we’re not asking him to make a big investment. We only asked this guy to create videos because that’s already his thing. If he were breaking out with a different kind of content, we’d want more of that.

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of being published on a major site to a fresh influencer.

Authorship opportunities are just as important to ambitious influencers.

I know for sure that they’re enthusiastic, now. After all…

This pitch currently has a 100% success rate.

Leveraging authored content

OK, you’ve made some connections now, but you need to get some stuff ready before you can really benefit. First, a makeover your about page and author box.

For each influencer ready to work with you gather up:

  • Bio
  • Credentials
  • Headshots
  • Social Media Links

Depending on your niche, you may want some other media that adds credibility. For example, in the fitness niche, people are going to want to see full-body pictures that demonstrate someone isn’t just running their mouth about understanding bodybuilding.

influencer checklist

The influencer should be able to provide you with most of these, so it shouldn’t be a budget-intensive process. Just get them to the right person and get them uploaded.

When you’re ready for them to start making content, you need to provide them with some direction via a video content protocol.

Create a video content protocol

This protocol just covers general standards for creating content.

In my case, it worked a lot like this:

  • Send them 3 topics to make short videos about (I just ask them to summarize my last 3 posts)
  • Have them put together a 3-5 minute video summary
  • Post them on your YT channel
  • Embed them in the article.

That last point is crucial. What that’s going to do is allow you to pull in users who want to read as effectively as those who want to watch.

This is something I’ve already put into practice. In one of my recent posts on getting backlinks with social proof, you can see I stuck the video version right at the top.

ABC social proof screenshot

In my experience, influencers don’t scoff at being asked to do their own editing. If someone wants to be a diva about that, this process will be too involved to deliver the promised savings. Pick someone else.

When you do have a productive relationship and a few rounds of content under your belt, you can start thinking about upping the ante.

Up the ante with a coaching affiliate program

Let’s look at how you can expand on this relationship you’re already building. I’ll continue with the fitness theme by providing an example of how you could offer more to visitors.

So imagine this on a fitness site: A coaching affiliate program that lets you schedule a 1-on-1 advice session with the influencers who authored the article?

If you can pull that off, you’ll be providing not just leads, but paid sessions directly to your influencer buddy. Surely, he’d be happy to pass you a share of that, right?

coaching video chat

Exercise gurus can easily charge $100/hr for voice chats.

In my experience, 20% strikes most influencers as reasonable. That means I can make up to $20 off every call I direct to my influencer. You probably have more internet experience than them, so be a friend and help them set up calendars, Paypal integration, and all that.

That’s all. It’s not a hard process. There’s plenty more you can do with these relationships, and I’m interested to see what other people can pull off using the same thing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if they don’t do YouTube?

It’s already a win if all you got was a name to ghostwrite for. That was the purpose of this exercise, after all. But now that you’ve made a professional connection, you can get really creative.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the instincts they’ve developed for their channel of choice. Let them review or tweak content using their experience to make it more effective. This relationship is going to pay off the closer it is to a real partnership.

You’ve got a lot of opportunities now that you’ve secured a credible author.

What if I don’t have a big enough site to attract an influencer?

That just means you need to aim a little smaller. Adjust your pitch to say something like, “I’m small, you’re small, so let’s grow together?”. Make sure you show value in other ways, such as by showing them successful websites you’ve built in other niches.

Let’s Run Down What We’ve Learned

Alright, so E-A-T isn’t detected by the algorithm, but it might be soon. If you want to get started now, you know what to do.

All you do is find influencers that are a good match for your niche and the power of your website. Pitching them is easy because you have something they want.

Develop a custom pitch that focuses on how you’ll provide value. Offer mentions on a top website, free polished articles under their name, and all the cross-promotion opportunities that may come up.

man writing in front of computer

For just the cost of producing content (on your own terms), you now have your content backed by experts. your readers will trust you a lot more.

How are my own results working? Amazing.

  • All of my websites have real writers and even doctors authoring the content
  • I have a growing YouTube channel for other big moves
  • It’s completely passive

What more motivation could you need to get ready for the future?

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – September 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-sep-2020/ Mon, 21 Sep 2020 04:56:50 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=516117 (Read more...)]]> The last quarter of the year is here. It’s time to ask yourself if you’re beating your personal records from last year or losing ground. If it’s not looking good, this roundup may be the boost you need to clear the final stretch and come out a winner.

In this month’s guides, we’ll cover Ryan Stewart’s 1-day SEO hack, a breakdown of the three stages of link building, a new method for finding local SEO keywords in bulk, and a neutral look at whether PBNs are still performing.

Then, you can catch up on the latest research with case studies. You’ll see the data on building backlinks with a stat page, a breakdown of Google user behavior, and whether your SERP position affects how much room Google gives your description.

We’ll close with the news. This month, a college kid fooled tens of thousands of people with an AI-generated blog, and Apple made moves that suggest it may be launching a search engine.

Get More Organic Traffic in 1 Day?!


Are there any hacks left in SEO? Ryan Stewart often says ‘no,’ but now he thinks he found one. He’s bringing us a technique that he used to create 1-day growth on three different test websites.

The trick starts with a 301 redirect. These redirects pass on all of their link equity to the new page.

Ryan theorized that if he purchased an old post on one website, then redirected it to a new copy of that post on a different website, the new page would inherit the old one’s power.

He based this technique on an earlier test by Brian Dean (who authored one of the upcoming case studies this month). Brian bought an entire SEO website to merge into his site, but Ryan wanted to prove that even a single page could work.

Ryan started with the top-performing post for a keyword he desired. The process was simple. He pitched the current owner, asked if he could buy the whole post for his site (priced at $650), and requested that the original page be 301’d to the article’s new home.

When the original owner agreed, the new page on Brian’s website experienced this in one day:

moz vs ahref. vs semrush purchased post

That may sound easy, but he cautions us that it’s not. For one, it’s expensive. Anyone giving up a post strong enough to pass this kind of power will expect a fat check.

Additionally, this sort of redirect operates like an endorsement. There may not be a price a website owner will accept if it means sending their nurtured traffic to a sketchy site.

Don’t worry. As he explains, you can still work this strategy by doing something as simple as buying a site at auction.

It’s a great hack, though it’s expensive in proportion with its value. If you prefer cheaper DIY strategies, the next guide will help you do that with local keyword research.

If you don’t have the budget to acquire these types of links, don’t worry. Our next guide will introduce you to a lot of new options as you learn what to build along the 3 stages of link building.

3 Stages Of Link Building: What Links To Build And When


Authority Builders brings us this deep look into the why, how and when, of building links in 2020.

These link building tips start with a theory on how we paint the picture that we want Google to see when it looks at our links. That theory goes like this: Each backlink is graded by the power, relevance and trust it signals to Google.

power relevance and trust presentation

Power is measured by how authoritative the linking page is on its own. This is difficult to measure now that PageRank is no longer public, but we often still see the effects of it working when we build links.

Relevance is measured by how contextually appropriate the link is to the page. Relevance comes from:

  • The niche of the linking page
  • The overall niche of the linking domain
  • The niche of the anchor text

Trust is the most difficult to measure, but this article has two possible theories for how it is measured.

The first hypothesis is that Google relies on (possibly handpicked) “seed sites” that are older, heavily trafficked, and known for high-quality content. These sites are marked as trusted, and the sites they link to inherit some of that trust, which they can then pass on to other sites.

The second hypothesis is that trust is a byproduct of ranking. Domains and pages that can be ranked (fewer than 10% of all existing sites) pass on trust to the sites that they link out to.

Using these three priorities, Authority Builders then breaks down three stages of a site’s life, and what matters most. The stages are marked by:

  • The Sandbox: This stage covers when your site is brand new, and truly authoritative links look suspicious. The theory goes that the best links to build in this stage are relevant guest posts because they’re brand new content (like your site).
  • Trustworthy stage: This stage covers the time when your website has established itself as helpful to its audience. In this stage, you should focus on power, by doing outreach to sites that are already powerful. Link insertions are a good way to get into better sites.
  • Authority mode: This stage covers your site as soon as new content placed on it can start ranking immediately. This is the time when trusted top-tier editorial links start to matter. They can be built by investing in shareable content and media mentions.

This blueprint is measured with a case study in the article that shows a brand new site brought to the point that it can attract 120 quality backlinks per month.

The results are great, but following this blueprint will take a couple months. The next guide will help you make some progress in days with local keyword research.

How to Identify Local SEO Keywords in Bulk


Deciding which keywords to target for local searches can be a hassle, especially if you’re trying to help a company with dozens of locations and a variety of products/services.

It’s vital that you target local intent when choosing keywords because that’s what triggers Google to deliver localized results.

Digging for the keywords that return local results can take hours, but Fion McCormack may have a solution for us.

localised intent

His method starts with an unstructured list of all the keywords you want to test for local relevance. You can grab these from whatever tools you use (SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc.) to find bulk keywords.

When you have them, you’re going to:

  1. Convert that list of keywords into Google search query URLs (create the URL that is produced when you run the search through Google)
  2. Import the URLs into Screaming Frog
  3. Set a unique identifier (Fion used the “more locations” element that Google places at the bottom of all map packs)
  4. Run SF on your URLs to automatically filter the list by local results only

Local SEO Illustration

That sounds easy, right? It is, but only because Fion was nice enough to provide us with all the sheet templates, Excel functions, and SF commands that turn this job into a breezy string of copy-pastes.

It’s always great to learn a new technique that makes your work simpler without getting a speck of dust on your white hat. In the next guide, though, we’re going to wade into an issue that’s a point of contention in the SEO community—The world of PBNs.

PBNs: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask


If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m no stranger to PBNs. I’ve done large-scale PBN case studies and covered techniques you can use to measure the link juice PBNs provide and test PBNs before adding them to your network.

I’m not that neutral on them, so my readers may find Jeremy Knauff’s coverage in this guide refreshingly even-handed. He covers the questions most newbies are nervous to ask, along with the technical details and pervasive myths that surround them.

Pre-penguin, there was not much debate at all: PBNs were some of the best links you could build for the money. Where they are now is the focus of this guide.

PBN ancient aliens meme

First, he establishes that PBNs are still very much with us. They have changed a bit. Today, they tend to be “living” sites with high-quality and regularly-upgraded content.

As a result of this change, Jeremy points out, many people are using PBNs without being aware of it. Some of the most authoritative guest posting services use them, and many niche sites you might be tempted to do outreach to may also secretly be PBNs.

From that understanding, the guide confronts some myths:

  1. Myth 1: PBNs don’t work: They do, and they may already be working for you.
  2. Myth 2: They’re garbage: They’re nearly impossible to tell from real sites when they’re built correctly, even to a human visiting them.
  3. Myth 3: Google can easily identify them: Avoiding the same registration info, hosting, themes, content, and links will make them look and act like a normal site

network pbn illustration

In the end, Jeremy refrains from saying whether or not they should be used other than to say that you should know what you’re doing if you try to begin. That goes for many techniques.

That’s the last of the guides, but this month’s case studies are nearly as actionable. Let’s start looking at an experiment where a “stats” page was set up and claimed a #1 spot in SERPs.

Link Building Case Study: How We Built Backlinks With a ‘Stats’ Page (And Ranked #1)


Anyone who writes about SEO frequently will find themselves searching for “SEO stats” to reinforce a point or defend something to a client. The SERPs page for that term looks a little different today because Ahrefs decided to claim the #1 spot for it on a whim.

It started with an SEO statistics post they put together back in June. This normal-looking post was, in fact, a test case for a novel type of outreach campaign.

ranking 1 on seo stats

The test was based on the Skyscraper Technique. This is a process where you search for a page with lots of links, build a better one, and then pitch the new and improved version to the people linking to the original.

It’s a simple value proposition. Everyone wants their visitors to consider them credible, and linking to a better resource instead of a worse one is a simple choice.

Joshua Hardwick of Ahrefs decided that this choice was even more straightforward with statistics pages because they tend to have a ton of traffic and links despite being—on average—sloppy and outdated.

Joshua and the Ahrefs team decided that these conditions could be quickly leveraged into a top-performing post by:

  • Finding a winning angle for the stats page
  • Tracking and refining the link prospects
  • Creating the new and improved stats page
  • Sending out outreach emails

The test post was only published at the end of July. It’s now #1 in SERPs after attracting 27 links that used to go to lower-quality posts. That number only includes the links that outreach generated.

Before the test even ended, uncontacted websites were already building links to it.

By the end of the test, nearly a dozen DR70+ domains had built links to the stats page, along with another dozen DR40-69 domains.

This was an impressive confirmation of the skyscraper technique in action. If you want to develop techniques like this yourself, it helps to understand user behavior. Just in time, Backlinko has some fresh research for us.

How People Use Google Search (New User Behavior Study)


If you’ve been studying how people use search engines since the early days of the internet, you’ve probably noticed it can change fast.

People can teach their own eyes to filter out things that don’t provide them with value, and many old types of advertising have died out as a result.

google how to google meme

This research by Brian Dean could help us catch up to where users are now. Among other conclusions, the research showed that:

  • 9% of searchers make it to the bottom of the first page of the search results
  • 7% of users bounced back to the search results after clicking on a result
  • 42% of searchers click on results inside of the Google Maps Pack for local searches
  • Only .44% (note the decimal) of searchers go to the second page of Google’s search results
  • Only 3% of Google Users Interact With a People Also Ask Box (nearly half of all searches display this box)
  • Searchers use one of Google’s autocompleting suggestions 23% of the time

autocomplete suggestions chart
The study was pulled from actual human behavior rather than a survey. The keystrokes and actions of 500 people were tracked as they looked for commercial products, services in their area, and products for their needs.

It’s worth searching the whole list for data that may be useful to your online business.

We’re going to scale down a little for the last case study. This narrow experiment simply looked at how much room Google gives descriptions, and whether that amount changed depending on rank.

Does Position impact meta description length on SERP?


Meta descriptions have a weird place in SEO. They make an important impression on searchers, but otherwise, they aren’t a direct ranking factor. Also, we can’t stop Google from simply replacing them at will.

If it’s mostly out of our control, is it possible to use them to claim an advantage? Maybe it is because Google may allow higher-ranking pages more room to make a case to searchers.

description length graph by rank ranger

Mordy Oberstein of Rank Ranger put together these results after tracking 5000 keywords for a month. That’s a ton of data points for a question like this, so the results should tell us a lot.

What he discovered was that there was a difference. The first five results (on average) got to enjoy 15 more characters than mid-page results, and up to 18 more characters than the lower results.

It also appeared as if the length of the description changed depending on intent. Informational queries were longer—as long as 200 characters in total.

As Mordy points out, this raises some interesting questions about why CTR decreases as searchers move down the page. It isn’t just position—it’s that they’re given less room to explain themselves.

It seems we’ve learned another reason to fight for the highest position possible.

That closes out our case studies for the month. We’ve got some fun news for you, including a story you may have missed about how a college kid’s fake AI-populated blog became the day’s biggest story on Hacker News.

A college kid’s fake, AI-generated blog fooled tens of thousands. This is how he made it.


Just when you think the wild-west days of SEO are over, here come some young up-and-comers to remind us that there are always new tricks to learn.

As Karen Hao covers in this piece for the MIT Technology Review, a student named Liam Porr used an AI model to create a fake blog. It wasn’t supposed to go much further than that—but suddenly, one of the posts his AI churned out hit the #1 spot on Hacker News.

batman shocked meme

Of course, this wasn’t just any AI. The post was written by a powerful language-generating model known as GPT-3. The model is only available to some researchers and students at this time.

The AI was given a headline (“Feeling unproductive? Maybe you should stop overthinking) and an introduction in the self-help and productivity genre and produced the rest. For a lot of hacker news readers, that was enough.

As the student himself admitted, it wasn’t a great article. He chose the topic because it was too personal for readers to expect any verifiable facts or logical progression.

However, the ease with which an AI can produce otherwise-attractive spam is something that may be keeping the people at Google up at night.

The people at Google may also have some other reasons to be losing sleep. The behemoth brand Apple has signaled that it may be ready to break into the search engine game.

Apple showing signs it may soon launch a search engine to compete against Google Search


Is Apple about to launch its own search engine? Right now, we don’t know much, but there’s some evidence to consider.

apple search engine

First, the exclusivity agreement between Google and Apple (estimated to be worth billions of dollars) that makes Google the default search engine on Apple devices is coming to an end.


Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

A List of SEOs Favorite Books: What The Pros Are Reading… https://diggitymarketing.com/list-of-seos-favorite-books/ Mon, 24 Aug 2020 07:23:14 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=514650 (Read more...)]]> This isn’t your typical blog post about SEO, but perhaps the knowledge behind what motivates and guides SEOs.

I put out a question on social media “What is your all-time favorite book?”

The thread got a lot of traction so I thought it would be great to compile them together here in this post.



From the life stories of legendary entrepreneurs and investors like Ray Dalio, Richard Branson, and Phil Knight to the inspirational journey of Nelson Mandela, one of the 20th century’s greatest freedom fighters and political leaders, these biographies hold pride of place on the bookshelves of many an SEO.

Books like Ray Dalio’s Principles and Ben Carson’s The Big Picture draw on the author’s experiences to suggest powerful new ways of looking at the world.

Each of these unique biographies and memoirs have much to teach their readers.

Long Walk To Freedom
by Nelson Mandela
by Ray Dalio
Shoe Dog
by Phil Knight

The Big Picture: Getting Perspective On What’S Really Important In Life
by Ben Carson, Gregg Lewis
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
The Richard Branson Autobiographies
by Richard Branson



Not surprisingly, books about business are among many SEO’s favorites. Classics like the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett’s collected essays sit next to decidedly more contemporary tomes like “How to Be F*cking Awesome” and Gino Wickman’s “Traction” which introduced the Entrepreneurial Operating System — a must-read for anyone looking to scale their business.

Building A Storybrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
by Donald A. Miller
How To Be F*cking Awesome
by Dan Meredith
The 4th Industrial Revolution
by Klaus Schwab
The E Myth
by Michael E. Gerber

The Essays Of Warren Buffett By Cunningham
by Warren Buffett
The Millionaire Fastlane
by M. J. Demarco
The Start-Up J Curve: The Six Steps To Entrepreneurial Success
by Howard Love
by Gino Wickman



All work and no play makes for dull SEOs…

And while some may argue that time spent reading fiction could be better spent, sages as diverse as Tim Ferriss and former President Barack Obama strongly disagree.

Even when he was in office, Obama put aside an hour each night to read, and told the New York Times that reading fiction left him “better able to imagine what’s going on in the lives of people throughout my presidency.”

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

Fantasy and sci-fi are well represented in our SEO’s favorite fiction selections.

Classics like Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye, War and Peace, and The Picture of Dorian Grey remain as timeless as ever…

But there’s also plenty of room for pop culture staples like 50 Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

50 Shades Of Grey
by E. L. James
A Song Of Ice And Fire Series
by George R. R. Martin
Artemis Fowl
by Kenneth Branagh
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
Captains And The Kings
by Taylor Caldwell
Catcher In The Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Danny Champion Of The World
by Roald Dahl
by Dean Koontz
Devoted by Dean Koontz
Doubleshot  (James Bond Series)
by Raymond Benson
Einstein’s Dreams
by Alan Lightman
Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Shadow
by Orson Scott Card
Face To Face
by Robert Grant
Forever Peace, Forever Free
by Joe Haldeman
by Ayn Rand
Harry Potter
by J. K. Rowling
His Dark Materials
by Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Homo Deus: A Brief History Of Tomorrow
by Yuval Noah Harari
I Could Pee On This: The Other Poems By Cats
by Francesco Marciuliano
Infinity Gauntlet
by Jim Starlin, George Pérez
Jack Reacher Series
by Lee Child, Andrew Grant
Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling

Magician, Raymond E Feist
by Raymond E. Feist
Picture Of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
by Alphonse Daudet
by Gregory David Roberts
by James Clavell
by Herman Hesse
The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho book
The Count Of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown
The Eragon Series
by Christopher Paolini
The Firm
by John Grisham
The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman
The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The I-Land
by Neil Labute, Chad Oakes And Mike Frislev.
The Journey Of A Pilgrim
by John Bunyan
The Kingkiller Chronicle
by Patrick Rothfuss
king killer chronicles
The Source
by James A. Michener
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
by Milan Kundera
The Walking Drum
by Louis Lamour
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
by Dean Koontz
Where The Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak



There’s no shortage of classics in the Non-Fiction category either, with some of the greatest thinkers humanity has ever produced represented here.

From Sun Tzu’s Art of War, to the Bhagavad Gita, and the King James version of The Holy Bible, thousands of years of human knowledge and philosophy is included in this list.

But it’s not all ancient texts. Runaway bestsellers that have changed how many of us view the world like Freakanomics, Antifragile, and Sapiens also make the cut.

If you’re looking to build a respectable bookshelf that covers both age-old and cutting edge thought, you could do a lot worse than using this list as a starting point.

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Art Of War
by Sun Tzu
Bhagavad-Gita As It Is
by Vyasa
Diamond Sutra. First Mass Produced Book, Printed In China Around 1200 Years Ago
by Edward Conze
Enchiridion Of Epictetus
by Epictetus
by Steven Levitt,Stephen J. Dubner
Free Will
by Sam Harris
Holy Bible: King James Version
by Unknown
How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World
by Harry Browne
by Rutger Bregman

Into Thin Air
by Jon Krakauer
Kopf Schlägt Kapital
by Günter Faltin
Letters From The Desert
by Carlo Carretto
by Marcus Aurelius
Outwitting The Devil
by Napoleon Hill
Sapiens – A Brief History Of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens – A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu
The Meaning Of Liff: The Original Dictionary Of Things There Should Be Words For
by Douglas Adams, John Lloyd
Thinking Fast And Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
You Can’t Hurt Me
by David Goggins

Self-Help / Self-Improvement


I can say without hesitation that if I hadn’t discovered two of the books in this section — The 4-Hour Workweek and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — my life today would look very different.

I’m sure many of the other books listed below had a similarly seismic impact on the lives of the SEOs who recommended them.

One of the benefits of being an SEO is the freedom it can give you to live life on your own terms.

These self-improvement books can truly help you optimize your life…

12 Rules Of Life
by Jordan Peterson
Atomic Habits
by James Clear
Be The Best You Can Be – Tips On Self Development: Self Improvement For A Successful Life
by Casey Rivers And Alison Blevins
Becoming Supernatural
by Joe Dispenza
by Brian Tracy
Goals book
How To Win Friends And Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
Mind To Matter
by Diane Lewis
Think And Grow Rich
by Napoleon Hill
Never Split The Difference
by Chris Voss
Out Of Your Mind
by Alan Watts
Psycho Cybernetics
by Maxwell Maltz
Rich Dad Poor Dad
by Robert Kiyosaki, Sharon Lechter
Richest Man In Babylon
by George Samuel Clason

The 4 Hour Workweek
by Tim Ferriss
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People
by Stephen Covey
The Antidote
by Oliver Burkeman
The Art Of Non-Conformity
by Chris Guillebeau
The Compound Effect
by Darren Hardy
The Four Agreements
by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements book
The Go Giver
by Bob Burg
The Happiness Hypothesis
by Jonathan Haidt
The Power Of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
The Power Of Now
by Eckhart Tolle
The Untethered Soul: Journey Beyond Yourself
by Michael Alan Singer
Ultimate Sales Machine
by Chet Holmes
Your Erroneous Zones
by Wayne Dyer

What titles on this list are you itching to tackle?

Any must-rereads it reminded you of?

Most importantly, what books are missing that you think other SEOs would enjoy?

(Or could even change their life?)

This list is a living document…

It’s not too late for you to contribute…

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – August 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-aug-2020/ Mon, 17 Aug 2020 04:02:43 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=515598 (Read more...)]]> If you prefer to live life on the cutting edge, this roundup is for you. Several of SEO’s most innovative minds have published pieces this month, and we’ve got them covered here so you won’t miss out.

It starts with some chunky guides. You’ll learn how to get the perfect length for a blog post in any niche, some advice on doing a 100K launch with no ads, plus a neat method you can use to scale keyword research using Python (don’t worry, you can copy the code out of the article).

After that, we’ve got two case studies for you. Learn what the data says about how to discover any website’s traffic, and whether Google is effective at crawling tabbed content.

Google dominates our news section this month. You’ll catch up with announcements about a new paid GMB profile, the death of the structured data testing tool, what Google revealed during their recent congressional hearing, and what was up with all the recent rank fluctuations.

How Long Should A Blog Post Be to Win the SEO Game


Marta Szyndlar of Surfer brings us this new assessment of what blog lengths work best for SEO. There have been other studies on this. The article links to several of them (Hubspot, Neil Patel, and Backlinko) in the first section. However, Surfer takes a different approach to the question altogether.

They, Marta argues, believe that “ideal length” is worthless to apply to most types of content. This is because there’s evidence that Google prefers different lengths depending on the topic. It’s not just the algorithm, either. Sometimes searchers want fast answers, and they’ll bounce from a long-winded article.

surfer seo content structure length sample

Source: surferseo.com

The article quotes a personal experiment by Matthew Woodward, where he culled more than 20,000 words from an article after realizing his own content was many times the length of competitors. That action alone took his result from the 7th page to the 1st.

The question becomes: How do you find the sweet spot? This guide recommends a simple competitor analysis process where you average out the right length from the top 10-50 results. You’re going to want to use tools to do it, but the guide covers the manual method first.

That method involves merely clicking on results, copying all content (including any comments they have, because Google considers that part of the count, too), recording them in a sheet, and then averaging the results.


Watch out. It’s possible to go wrong with even these simple instructions if you pick the incorrect results. The guide reminds you to try to match intent when considering competitors. Do not average results with a different form or purpose, or results that are apparent outliers.

If you are a Surfer user, the following sections detail how you can use the various tools in the suite to do this work. You can sweep up all this information from the SERPs page, or just enter each URL into another tool to see the ideal length.

Our next piece moves out of content with some advice on how to promote just about any product without using ads.

How to do a $100k Launch with No Ads in A Single Month


This great tweet-thread by Charles Floate covers the methods he used to generate more than $100k over 31 days that followed the launch of a new product. He did it without paying for a single ad.

The product, in this case, was an eBook. Not everyone has the kind of reputation Charles does. His credibility certainly played a role in driving sales, but the process he used has implications for many types of products—notably how he generated hype.

charles twitter post 100k launch

After optimizing his marketplace and landing page, he ran a non-ad campaign that included the following:

  • Generating social proof reviews by distributing free copies to influencers and then leveraging the reviews/grateful comments as they came in
  • Offering the book at a discounted price for 1-month
  • Releasing older paid content for free to promote the new developments coming with the new eBook
  • Filling outreach emails with free information to reinforce the value of the paid product
  • Recruiting affiliates experienced with eBook sales

All of these tactics can be used alone or combined with the rest. None of them even has a price tag if you handle them yourself. The closest thing to an ad buy here is working with affiliates, and the affiliates only get paid when you do.

The next piece coming up will also appeal to the DIY’ers out there. It’s going to show you how to combine Python and a free Google account to scale keyword research.

Using Python & Google Sheets to Scale Keyword Research for Local SEO


Skyler Reeves of Ardent Growth brings us this new process for saving a lot of time on keyword research. It should be said that this guide may come across as a little complex for newer SEOs, but the process it describes could be valuable for a professional agency.

The guide covers the theory and explanation of the process, along with how it can be used to collect better data, build more accurate predictions, and even automate the tricky parts.

Estimated Catch Up Rate from ardenth growth

Source: ardentgrowth.com

It starts with a Google doc filled with standard crawl data (quickly yanked from a free audit tool like ScreamingFrog). In addition to information like URLs, categories, links, and the number of live sessions, you’ll be looking at the existing keywords and how they compare to the best ones.

The guide doesn’t cover how to find the best keywords—assuming you understand that already. It skips right to assessing your competitors by recording the following data from the top 3 competing pages for each of your target URLs:

  • The content type (blog post, service page, a landing page)
  • The number of do-follow referring domains
  • An estimate of the page’s link velocity over the past 12 months
  • The PA and DA of the URL

With this data in hand, you can apply a series of provided formulas to rapidly determine what pages need your attention, and how much potential they have for improvement.

python and google sheets

Once the sheet is set up (which will take some time and elbow grease), it can be repeated in about 5 minutes. A whole website can be analyzed—and the recommendations justified with data—in an impressively short time.

Sometimes the best research is the data you lift from people already doing the right thing. Competitor analysis is the subject of the first case study we’ll be covering. It’s going to show you how to find out how much traffic any website gets.

Find Out How Much Traffic ANY Website Gets: 3-Step Analysis (With TEMPLATE)


This first case study isn’t a study in itself, but a process for performing mini studies when you need to know a competitor or research target’s traffic.

Robbie Richards takes us through a process that can help you determine:

  • Which of your competitor’s channels drive the most traffic?
  • Which subdomains get the most visits?
  • Which pages/posts pull in the most organic traffic?

This process uses the SEMRush tool, but understanding how it works may give you the insight you need to do this same research using the tools you already have at hand. The data is recorded in a spreadsheet template that is provided for download.

How Much Traffic ANY Website Gets

First, Robbie argues, you need to analyze website traffic based on how you monetize your site. For example: for Adsense/ ad revenue, you need to drive ad impressions and should focus on the top results.

For an eCommerce store, you need to look at product category subfolders to see where they’re getting traffic with commercial intent. For an affiliate site, you’ll need to dissect traffic by keyword modifiers like “best,” “alternative,” “top.”

Once you know what information you want to track, the guide details a 3-step process you can use to:

  • Check global traffic data to understand visits and engagement
  • Find out how much organic traffic a website gets (at the subfolder, page & keyword levels)
  • Find out how much paid traffic there is

These are covered using different SEMRush tools, but the article closes with some of the tools that you can use as alternatives. Tools like SimilarWeb, Alexa, and Ahrefs have many of the same functions. You’ll even get some screenshots to show you where to find that data in each tool.

Our next case study is also concerned with traffic, but more specifically, with the effect that tabbed content has on it.

SEO Split-Testing Lessons from SearchPilot: Bringing Content Out of Tabs


Emily Potter of SearchPilot brings us this quick case study on the issue of tabbed content.

In the past, SEOs have had trouble pinning down Google on the subject. This is content that is only partially revealed until a visitor clicks on something like “read more.” Accordions and drop-down content are other examples of this style.

Many SEOs prefer this type of content because it makes for much cleaner pages. It’s almost necessary for the mobile versions of many sites.

However, there are some lingering doubts about whether Google is effective at crawling content that’s been tabbed. Some employees, such as Gary Illyes, have (vaguely) suggested that it won’t interfere with crawling. What does the data say?

SEO Split-Testing Lessons from SearchPilot tweet

In a series of tests, tabs were removed from product descriptions. The effect was tested on both accordion content and a set of four tabs.

The results were surprisingly conclusive. In the cases where the tabs were removed, there was a 12% uplift in live sessions. That change happened within less than a month.

The researchers noted that the effect was even more pronounced for mobile versions. It’s important to note that this was only one experiment with a specific type of website, but it is also easy to test for yourself on your own sites.

Now, we’re ready to move on to the latest news. This month, it’s all about Google, starting with its announcement of a new paid tier of GMB.

Google offers ‘upgraded’ GMB profile with Google Guaranteed badge for $50 per month


Google recently announced the launch of a subscription service for GMB. It adds a Google Guaranteed badge of authenticity (certifying that Google considers the business to be real and in good standing) for the cost of $50 a month.

This badge has already existed for a couple of years but was limited to local service ads. The new upgrade allows businesses to list their services as guaranteed even if they’re not running ads. Here’s how the badge currently appears in the ad program::

Google Local Services Ad

The form may change before full implementation. Google has already taken criticism from advertisers who feel that the company is positioning itself as a competitor to its own ad-buying clients.

As new programs are introduced, a lot of the old ones are going away. Google recently announced it was closing the structured data testing tool permanently.

Google Shutters Structured Data Testing Tool


The structured data testing tool is officially being retired in the next couple of months, Google has announced. If you’ve relied on this tool, don’t worry. All of the functions and many more new ones will be part of the Rich Results tool.

The Rich Results tool is not new, but it has picked up many features since it was first introduced. At that time, it only recognized recipes, jobs, movies, and courses. Now, it can adequately assess all types of structured data.

new google rich result snippet

It includes features that help you discover all the search feature enhancements a markup is eligible for. It will also provide you with both the mobile and desktop renders of a given result, and provide you with the option to test either a specific snippet or an entire URL.

Google was happy to share the last two bits of news with us, but the next story had to be coaxed out by a congressional committee. Let’s look at what we’ve learned from the released document so far.

US Congress Investigation Suggests Google Uses Clicks & User Data In Search


Rand Fishkin has some thoughts on the latest findings from the recent congressional hearing. In this thread, he posted many of the docs and provided some commentary. The documents provide some rare official confirmation (if any SEOs were still waiting for that) of the fact that Google:

  • Has their own secret DA score
  • Uses user signals such as clicks to determine the worthiness
  • Tracks the % of clicks that go to their properties vs. other websites

Internal documents also seemed to reveal that Google expressed early concern about the possibility of competition in verticals like travel and local search. They openly discussed the significant competitive advantage that their search data gave them.

Rand Fishkin tweet on congress and google

While it is news that this information is now public and confirmed, for most SEOs, it’s not news at all. Google has vaguely denied many similar accusations, but the trend lines have always pointed toward the further consolidation of searches toward their own services.

We’ve only seen the beginning of this process, as many other tech companies face accusations of monopoly. These reports may form the origins of a reform movement, and SEOs should watch it carefully to see where it goes.

Speaking of seeing where things go, many of us experienced a massive ranking disruption on August 10th. A few days out, we finally have an idea of what happened. 

That Massive Google Update Was Glitch & Bug – Search Results Back To Normal


If you saw your ranking data dip and dive all over the place earlier this month, we now know why. It wasn’t an update (as many expected), but a massive glitch. 

google glitch meme

Google’s John Meuller reached out after several SEOs reported bizarre fluctuations. According to John, the issue had been noticed and fixed, though no additional details were offered. 

We’re still waiting to learn what happened, but no one seems to be having problems at this point. Across the board, most signals seem to have returned to normal.


Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Most Profitable Niches For 2020: Our List Of Top Selling Markets https://diggitymarketing.com/profitable-niches/ Sun, 09 Aug 2020 08:30:14 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=515264 (Read more...)]]> If you’re pouring your energy into marketing niches with awful growth potential, you’re losing money. You may be losing more than you think.

The difference between niches that make money and those that don’t can be millions of dollars per month.

If you need help and you want to get better at building profitable online businesses, this guide will point you to the next step. Whether you’re an affiliate marketing beginner (or just looking for a new angle), you owe it to yourself to focus on the opportunities that will pay off in a big way.

In this comprehensive guide, you’re going to get an introduction to the year’s most profitable options. For each one, you’ll learn what kind of products define them and what kind of commissions you can expect from some sample advertisers. Let’s take a look.

The Most Profitable Niches

1. Weight loss


Losing weight is a goal for nearly all people at some point in their lives. That makes this market hardy in addition to profitable to the tune of billions. Marketers in this top-selling niche make money by serving up everything from diet guides to supplements.

Sub niches and products

Weight loss for:
  • Women
  • Men
  • Teens
  • The moderately obese
  • The morbidly obese
Weight loss for problem areas:
  • Stubborn belly fat
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Double Chins
  • Chest (Men)
Weight loss programs:
  • Diet/exercise Ebooks
  • Atkins
  • Keto
  • Paleo
  • Weight Watchers
  • South Beach Diet
Foods and supplements:
  • Garcinia cambogia (RIP)
  • Acai berries (RIP)
  • Vitamins
  • Powders (shake mixes)

Expected commissions

There are many ways to make money in this profitable niche. What each conversion is worth to you depends wildly on what you are selling.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
Healthy WageWeight loss challenges$50/sale
FitLife BrandsSupplements/nutrition15%
Invite HealthVitamins20%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

Diet Doctor is a well-designed site in the weight loss market. It focuses on the low-carb diet sub-niche.

Low carb is just one type of diet, but this site shows you how to make the most of that. The content connects to the needs of different people. Podcasts, meal plans, meal delivery services, and other partners help this online business make money.

2. Hosting/VPN

hosting vpn niche

Web services like hosting and VPNs are not only popular; they can also be very high-dollar. Those who can establish themselves can make money online by scrapping with others for big commissions from enterprise businesses.

Myself included: https://diggitymarketing.com/best-web-hosting-for-seo/

Sub niches and products

Hosting services:
  • VPS (virtual private server) hosting
  • Cloud hosting
  • Colocation hosting
  • Dedicated server hosting
  • Managed hosting
  • Subscription VPN access
  • Desktop privacy software
  • Mobile privacy software
  • Anonymous browsers

Expected Commissions

Many services in this niche are subscriptions. If you manage to get a sale, you can claim recurring commissions for years to come.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
TorGuardAnonymous VPN service30% lifetime recurring
HideMyAssVPN Apps40-100% new, 30-35% renewal
HostgatorHosting servicesVolume-based compensation

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

VPN Mentor is a successful site in this niche that carved out its place with authoritative content. Named (and qualified) authors and richly-detailed reviews have helped this site establish credibility among savvy web service buyers.

3. Muscle/Bodybuilding


Bodybuilding has a dedicated fan base that isn’t afraid of dropping money to get those gains. When you enter this market, you can direct their dedication toward a range of different solutions that have (generally) high commissions.

Sub niches and products

Home bodybuilding programs:
  • Workout videos
  • E-books
  • Goal-tracking apps
Branded programs:
  • P90x
  • Insanity
  • Rushfit
Bodybuilding supplements:
  • Sports supplements
  • Testosterone boosters
  • Protein powders
  • Fat burning formulas

Expected Commissions

There are a wide variety of offers in this top-selling niche, including subscription services that can earn you recurring commissions.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
MI40XPrivate community, meal plans, memberships75%
TestogenTestosterone boosters40%
StacklabsWhey protein powders45%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

Healthline is massive and massively-successful across many profitable niches, including bodybuilding. In order to legally work in the space, they took on the expense of having every article reviewed by doctors, nurses, or other specialists.

4. Finance

Finance niche banner

They say you’ve got to spend money to make money. That may be why people in this profitable niche market are so ready to snap up guides, books, and personalized advice.

Sub niches and products

Financial services:
  • Credit cards
  • Loan consolidations
  • Identity theft protection
  • Credit score monitoring
Trading services:
  • Mobile trading apps
  • Custom calculators
  • Financial tracking software
Financial advice:
  • Private newsletters
  • E-books and guides
  • 1-on-1 financial coaching
Making money online (MMO):
  • Passive-income guides
  • Multi-level marketing (LuLaRoe, Avon)
  • Foreign currency exchange (FOREX) platforms/guides

Expected Commissions

Offers in this market can deliver great commissions, though success may depend on how well you define your audience. Trust can be hard to come by unless you’re speaking directly to a need.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
LifelockIdentity theft protectionUp to $110/sale
USAA BankMilitary financial services$25/lead
Ally InvestSavings & loans$25-50/lead

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

Nerdwallet is a great example of a site that is targeting all the signs of financial health. You can learn from their obsessively clean design and emphasis on providing answers before pushing merchandise. People want to learn, and this website delivers.

5. Male Enhancement

male enhancement niche

This niche has a lot of crossover with other men’s health markets, including other appearance-focused goods. For that reason, it’s a relatively easy topic to slide into existing sites that are serving those niches.

Sub niches and products

Erectile dysfunction:
  • Pharmaceuticals
    • Viagra
    • Cialis
  • Corrective devices
  • Guides
Hair restoration:
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Creams & foams
  • Booking procedures

Expected Commissions

There’s a great variety of compensation schemes in this niche. Pills can be a reliable moneymaker, but generating leads for advanced hair loss or ED procedures is another profitable way to go.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
Silver BladePills40%
ProcerinHair restoration40%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

GoodRx is a pharma-focused site that connects users to many types of popular medicines. It has a loyal base of visitors that come back for the site’s focus on money-saving coupons and offers.

6. Survival


This is a niche that has exploded over the last few years. Flip open any newspaper, and you can find out why it’s not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Whether it’s tools, foods, or field guides, there are endless opportunities for an online business.

Sub niches and products

Outdoor Survival:
  • Camping gear
  • Durable tools and blades
  • “Bugout Bags”
  • Doomsday prepping supplies
Home Defense:
  • Specialty locks
  • Camera systems
  • Home/property alarm systems
  • Shelf-stable foods
  • Specialty storage containers
  • Canning/preservation supplies
  • Grow-your-own food kits
  • Hydroponic units
  • Solar power units

Expected Commissions

This niche doesn’t have the highest commissions, but many of the most popular goods in this niche cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
More PreparedEmergency food supplies, survival equipment10%
DayOneGearFirst Aid, solar-power kits10%
StatGearToolsRescue, survival tools15%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

SkilledSurvival takes its dramatic niche very seriously, and it’s a great example of just how many offers can live side-by-side in the same market. Everything from Army surplus ammo boxes to camping hammocks can be found here.

7. Casino/Gambling


Gambling is how some people prefer to make money online. Why not help them out? Some marketers avoid the casino niche because of its rocky relationships with lawmakers, but those who have the nerve can claim a piece of a $50 billion market.

Sub niches and products

Online casino games:
  • Bingo
  • Texas Hold’em
  • Roulette
  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
Sports betting:
  • MLS
  • MLB
  • NFL
  • NBA
  • Horse racing
Geo-focused online gambling:
  • UK
  • USA
  • China and Macau
  • Russia

Expected Commissions

Many offers in this niche have lifetime commissions on sign-ups. A successful website can still be passively generating money for you long after you’ve moved your attention to other projects.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
Bet365Casino games30% revenue share
CloudbetSportsbook betting30% revenue share
Ace RevenuePoker, video poker, slotsUp to 45% Lifetime revenue share

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

PlayUSA is a successful site that may be powered by its focus on legitimacy. There are some scammy, under-the-table sites in this niche, and PlayUSA makes sure that people know this isn’t one of them. Informational content includes state-by-state legal guides.

8. Pets


Pet supplies have become a surprisingly powerful niche, and it’s no surprise. People love to pamper their pets, and they’re taking animal health more seriously. Sites that managed to take off have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sub niches and products

  • Savannah cats
  • Bengal cats
  • Special diet cat food
  • Safety-oriented toys
  • Furniture (cat trees, beds, scratching posts)
  • Carriers
  • Dobermans
  • Yorkies
  • Pitts
  • German shepherds
  • Special diet dog food
  • Leashes and harnesses
  • Carriers for small dogs
  • Heavy-duty toys for larger dogs
Ferrets and Rodents:
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Cages
  • Hammocks
  • Exercise equipment
  • Budgies
  • Canaries
  • Parrots
    • Cockatiels
    • Parakeets
    • Macaws
    • Cockatoos

Expected Commissions

There are many general and focused advertiser networks in this niche (you can see our favourite dog affiliate programs here), but Chewy’s is recognized as a high-priority for most up-and-coming pet sites.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
ChewyAll pet supplies$15/referred customer
FurHavenLuxury dog beds10%
Pet Pro Supply Co.Professional items for trainers, vets, and groomer4%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

Petlifetoday is a successful site that has similar metrics to sites that have sold for $500k. This niche is huge. However, large sites absorb a lot of the market share. People take the health of their pets very seriously, so pet affiliates will need to work to establish trust.

9. CBD


CBD is a rapidly growing market that is already worth $20 billion. Many of the companies in this top niche market have only been around for a few years, so there’s a chance to get in on the ground floor (before more stringent regulations hit).

Sub niches and products

  • Gummies
  • Cookies
  • Coffees
  • Oils
  • Vaporizers
  • Diffusers
  • Topicals/creams
  • Tinctures
  • CBD for pets (not kidding)

Expected Commissions

CBD Affiliate Programs are very competitive because they’re still building out. You can find some impressively high commissions with a little searching. However, expect that you’ll need to compete with more people as time goes on.

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
JustCBDLab-certified organic CBD18%/sale
JoyOrganicsOils, capsules, tinctures25%
CBDPureOils and pet40%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

Natural Wellness CBD Oil is a successful affiliate site that speaks directly to people who are apprehensive about untested products. The content is focused on reviews that will reassure and illuminate the benefits for curious customers.

10. Adult


As much as 30% of all traffic on the internet goes to adult sites. These sites cover everything from online dating to XXX entertainment.

The subject matter can turn some off, so there’s less competition than you’d expect for all that traffic. If you’ve got the stomach for it, it can be a massively profitable way to make money online.

Sub niches and products

Note: Video site subscriptions are massive in this niche.

  • Straight
  • Gay
  • Group
  • Ethnicity
  • Kink
  • Adult entertainment lead generation
  • Online dating

Expected Commissions

AdvertiserProductCommission Estimate
CrakRevenueDating/adult video subs5% + lifetime referrals
AffilaxyDatingUp to 50% of the revenue share
MobideaMobile-focused adult offers5%

Examples of profitable sites in the niche

The Porn Dude knows exactly what people want. The site doesn’t emphasize design, but instead immediate access to whatever floats your boat. It’s just lists of links organized by every possible desire.

What To Do Next

whats next man on a laptop

Now that you’ve been introduced to the top 10 niches in the market, the offers that define them, and where to find some advertisers, you’re ready to start making money online.

You’ll want to supplement what you’ve learned here with a much deeper dive into your niche of choice. It’s not easy to break into every niche. Some will require you to build professional teams and be ready to respond to threats such as negative SEO.

tal logo

If you’re the self-reliant type who wants more than a 5-minute crash course into doing this right, The Affiliate Lab can help. Here, you can learn how to rank, monetize, and flip high-competition affiliate websites.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you find profitable niche markets?

You find profitable niches through research and testing. The list of profitable niches above is a good starting point. If you’re paying attention to what people are talking about, you can also focus on new and developing markets and be the first to leverage them.

How much does it take to compete in (X) niche?

It can cost thousands a month to compete for the top spots in a niche market. This budget includes experienced developers, content teams, and hosting costs. However, you can scale into most markets. Many people learn by doing operations as an army of one.

Is flipping the best way to profit from an affiliate site?

Flipping is a good way to make money online from an affiliate site, but it is not necessarily the best if you’re in a healthy money-making niche. If you have growth, you can keep increasing the sale price of the website while you make money from the sales.

Should you talk to a lawyer before entering Gambling/Adult/Finance niches?

You should consult with a lawyer before advertising in strictly-regulated markets. This is especially true if you intend to work across national borders. In many cases, only a few consultations a year should keep you on the right side of the law.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – July 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-july-2020/ Mon, 20 Jul 2020 06:20:20 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=514714 (Read more...)]]> A few months after the last big update, we’re all finally starting to find our feet again. We’ve added some new terms to our vocabulary and some new tools to our skill sets. Now is the time to start thriving again, and this roundup is going to help you do that.

We’ll start with some case studies. You’ll learn how one company turned SEO, outreach, and content into a $6B valuation. You’ll also see how effective guest posts are in 2020, a process for increasing traffic by more than 300%, and what the data says about category dilution.

This month’s guides will teach you what role CSS and Javascript play in SEO, whether E-A-T can be employed as a ranking factor, and whether Google uses sentiment analysis.

Then, you can catch up with the latest news stories. Find out if Google is using ‘sentiment analysis’ to rank pages, review an extended explanation of how Core Web Vitals are used and find out how you can start getting analytics data right in Google Search Console.

The Canva Backlink Empire: How SEO, Outreach & Content Led To A $6B Valuation


In this piece, Ross Simmonds takes a deep look into how Canva grew to be valued at $6 billion.

It’s an important lesson for SEOs because this company managed its explosive growth by applying the same content and backlink principles that you use on your sites every day. They just did it in some impressively innovative ways.

canva landing pages

Source : foundationinc.co

One of their early (and impactful) decisions was to create multiple landing pages for the same product. They did this to cater to the intent of customers that were coming in from different types of searches.

The first landing page focused on serving people who were ready to order. It targeted terms like “create certificates” and “make your own template”. The second page, however, targeted terms like “free certificate template” to serve people who preferred information over action.

The landing page optimization didn’t stop there. They also created a rapid-deployment template for their content so that new landers could be created on the fly for each relevant search term that gained popularity.

Canva also excelled through their backlink strategy. All the pages that sprout off the main pages (close to 100 for the invitations category alone) each have long lists of backlinks. Today, they have more than 5 million total, including hundreds with 80+ domain rating scores.

collaborate graphic design ahref screenshot

The backlinks were achieved by (among other strategies) buying other sites in the same niche and directing links on those sites toward the main brand rather than just closing them.

There’s a lot to learn from Canva, but let’s narrow our focus to just one aspect of building backlinks for the next piece. Here’s a study Authority Builders just published on how effective guest posts are in 2020.

How Effective Are Guest Posts In 2020? (100 Links Tested)


There has been a lot of debate about whether guest posts are really effective, including by some people from Google’s senior team. Matt Cutts dismissed the practice as dead. What does the data say?

abc chart source

Source : authority.builders

To find out, the Authority Builders team gathered a set of randomly-selected websites that work with us. The list was narrowed down to 100 pages by enforcing the following methodology:

  1. The URL must be ranked on pages 2-4
  2. The URL must have no links currently pointing to it

The first condition helped us single out pages that were trusted by Google but lacked the PageRank to make it to the first page. The second condition allowed us to isolate the results of the experiment while protecting the test sites from becoming over-optimized.

With the list in hand, we put together a budget and built one new guest post to each page. For the links, we used an exact keyword for the anchor text.

Some interesting things happened.

First, 87% of the URLs we tested saw an increase in rank.

Other pages had a spottier reaction. One jumped and then dipped again. Several others didn’t react until much later. However, those that did respond could do so very quickly. One page jumped ten positions in two days.

You can check out the graphs for yourself, but we’re all pretty comfortable saying that guest posts are still going strong. Speaking of strong, let’s take a look at how one site increased its traffic by more than 300%.

SEO Case Study: 313% More Organic Traffic with Real Examples


This case study examined three websites in different niches (Ecommerce, B2B, and Hospitality) to determine what factors played the most significant role in successfully increasing the traffic.

The Ecommerce site was only a few months old when the experiment started, and it was taken from 35,000 to 225,000 organic visits. The B2B site went from 800 visits to 3,600. The already-successful hospitality site went from 210k visits to 306k.

seo organic traffic chart

While this is a case study, the article begins to focus on the “why” and “how” just after the introduction. The data on the changes is followed by some detailed info on how each site was scaled with or without content, and how the backlinks were chosen.

As a bonus, all that information is followed up by an item-by-item list of all the actions that were taken to improve the site. This guide portion takes you through the steps of:

  • Crawling the site
  • Analyzing the core SEO data
  • Making recommendations
  • Building a keyword matrix
  • Conducting a content gap analysis
  • Creating a content map
  • Developing new content
  • Promoting that content
  • Building links

7000 words later, you’ll have a good idea of how to manage a modern SEO campaign, and the data to prove the traffic is worth what each of these steps cost. The next case study is a bit more bite-sized, but the implications could be huge for you if you’re involved in local search.

99 Problems But Category Dilution Ain’t One


‘Categories’ is a Google My Business feature that lets you self-declare the purpose of a business on your, or your client’s, GMB pages.

Experiments performed earlier last year suggest that Google responds quickly and negatively to category confusion. For example, if you select both “septic tank cleaning” and “ice cream” to describe your business, you’re not going to rank well for either one.

But what about more closely related categories? Is adding as many relevant categories as you can harmful? Colan Nielsen of SterlingSky performed several experiments to find out.

The first test case was a relatively successful GMB page for a personal injury law firm. This page had a lot of categories, and the experiment involved removing all except the most essential categories to see if ratings would spike as a result. In fact, they did not.

darren shaw tweet regarding dilution

A followup experiment with a different law firm produced the same results. Removing categories didn’t help or hurt.

The final experiment looked at the effect of adding additional categories to a healthy listing for a dentist. A slew of new categories related to dental services was added.

The outcome here was a lot more positive. While there was no change in ranking for the core keywords, there was an improvement for keywords related to the new categories that were added.

In these examples, it seems that category dilution isn’t a real danger as long as those categories are related and relevant.

Let’s move onto this month’s guides. In this first example, you’ll learn the role that CSS and Javascript play in SEO.

Understanding CSS and JavaScript SEO


Most SEOs can get by without a lot of web development knowledge. However, there are limits to that. Site performance is a crucial part of SEO, and being able to optimize or resolve coding errors by yourself may be the only thing that can keep a project under budget.

This guide by Sylvia Shelby covers what you need to know about both languages, and also provides processes you can use to close a number of related errors.

ned js and css meme

The first part of the guide explains what these languages are, how they’re implemented on sites, and how Google processes them. Knowing this much can help you avoid many errors in the first place, and each explanation is well-illustrated with images and charts.

The next part of the guide covers best practices that can make a big difference. For example, an infinite scroll can appeal to readers, but Googlebot can’t click or scroll as a user can. A simple solution covered here is to enable paginated loading.

The solutions for a range of other problems are also covered, including situations when:

  • Google can’t crawl CSS and JS files
  • Google can’t load CSS and JS files
  • Neither is loading fast enough
  • Caching is not enabled

All of these problems can halt your SEO growth if they aren’t handled. In the next guide, we’re going to look at another factor of your website with a murky relationship with ranking. Is Google E-A-T really a ranking factor?

Is Google E-A-T Actually a Ranking Factor? – Whiteboard Friday


Few SEOs question the importance of E-A-T, but it remains to be proven whether it’s a ranking factor. Cyrus Shepherd of Moz dives into how much we know about its relationship with ranking, and how (if possible) it can be tracked.

E-A-T goals SMART white board

Source : moz.com/blog

To start, Cyrus argues that we need to define our terms. He summarizes the three main schools of thought on what “counts” as a ranking factor:

  1. Only factors that directly impact rankings (and can be measured), count as ranking factors.
  2. Google’s algorithm is too complex for many measurements. Therefore behavior that gets rewarded may be considered a ranking factor, even if it is indirect.
  3.  Any direct or indirect signal can be considered a ranking factor. Even a TV commercial about your company can be a ranking factor if it drives traffic and results in ranking.

If you subscribe to the first school of thought, then you probably won’t be convinced that E-A-T is a ranking factor as it exists now. However, if you favor one of the other theories, then E-A-T can fit the definition, and even be used as a campaign focus.

Even if you agree with that, it leaves the question of how you use it as a ranking factor. Cyrus has some ideas on that, too. He suggests the SMART framework, which emphasizes creating goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-based.

We’re still waiting on experiments or insights that will make E-A-T more measurable. Until then, there’s another possible ranking factor that could use our attention. The first news item is a report that asks: does Google use sentiment analysis to rank web pages?

Does Google Use Sentiment Analysis to Rank Web Pages?


Sentiment refers to the attitude that a page takes toward the information it is presenting. That attitude may be positive, negative, or neutral.

Many SEOs believe that the best practice for ranking is to try to match the sentiment of the current top results when creating or updating content. If all the top results are positive, that suggests that searchers prefer positive results, right?

It’s not a bad theory, but it’s difficult to test, and Google has never endorsed it. In fact, they’ve done close to the opposite.

search intent mobile

As this report by Roger Montti points out, Google has released multiple statements claiming that their goal is a diverse set of results that don’t favor one attitude.

They go further than that, even. Google claims that they don’t even try to tailor results for the searcher’s intent. A search engine query filled with negative terms would still result in a mix of information because that mix is Google’s goal.

We have seen some evidence for this approach. The snippets for certain searches will attempt to present several sides of an issue rather than the one that is simply the most popular.

tort reform google search

As an example, here are the results for the issue of “tort reform”. The snippets include positive and critical sentiments such as:

  • Why do we need tort reform?
  • Why is tort reform bad?

The question remains whether sentiment is used to rank. For the time being, that’s simply not clear.

The author claims that there is an easier case to be made that Google prefers to use sentiment analysis to understand pages rather than rank them. If Google can’t understand your page, that is much more likely to result in ranking problems.

diversity of opinion google search

Source : searchenginejournal.com

Sentiment may not be a ranking factor unless your page has an unclear or confusing attitude toward its topic. That also suggests that you may be able to improve your rank if you are able to correct it.

Let’s move on to some ranking signals that are a lot easier to understand. Core web vitals are presented as a score, and Google is clear about the relationship they have with ranking.

Core Web Vitals – What you need to know


In our May roundup, you were introduced to the core web vitals: A set of readings Google takes to determine the fitness of your website.

By 2021, these scores are expected to be fully implemented as a ranking signal. However, you have access to the readings for your site right now. We’ve covered the “what” already, but this report from Marie Haynes will take you deeper into the “how”.

As the report points out, these scores have a specific place in your strategy. Google has clarified in several places that superior information is higher in the hierarchy of signals. So, while the scores can help you rank, they can’t dig you out of a hole caused by inferior content.

core vital meme

That doesn’t make them an afterthought. Marie details where you should put your focus:

For Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This is a measure of how well your page loads. 2.5 seconds is considered a good score, and Google has stated that it expects at least 75% of pages to be able to hit this number, or better.

This means your first mission is to audit your PageSpeed. However, it’s not always to your advantage to increase speed at all costs—especially if your page is already in healthy ranges. Let the needs of your visitors help you choose between resource-heavy features or the fastest speed possible.

LCP from miriehaynes

Source : mariehaynes.com

For First Input Delay (FID): This is a measure of the interactivity of your page. The score represents how long the user has to wait after doing something like clicking a button or selecting something from a drop-down menu.

These measurements are taken directly from user activity. Each interaction counts toward your score (though not all users will choose to interact with anything). That means any features that are acting up—especially if they are used a lot—need to be addressed.

For Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a new metric focused on what Google calls ‘visual stability’. It measures when the layout of a page shifts during reading, counting the impact and distance.

If you’ve ever clicked the wrong option or lost your place on a page because something suddenly moved up or down, you know why this metric was created. Google is trying to make these frustrating issues a ranking liability.

Test and resolve these issues by opening your site and on any mobile device and watch for points of failure.

This isn’t the only new feature that Google is rolling out to its family of tools and applications. As you’ll learn in the final news item, analytics data may soon be showing up in GSC.

Google tests showing Analytics data in the Search Console with ‘Insights’


Google Search Console is expected to deploy a new feature called “insights” that is going to give you Analytics data right from your GSC dashboard.

The information is said to include page views, time spent on the page, and details about referring sites. It may also offer you breakdowns of where your traffic is coming from and your top referring domains.

gsc insight meme

This program is currently in beta. It has not been officially released or even formally announced. However, some SEOs are already using it after receiving quiet invitations from Google to approve the integrations with Analytics.

Some of the features may change. Watch this space for fresh news on this development when it’s available.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


1300% Increase in Organic Visitors in an Affiliate Marketing JV https://diggitymarketing.com/jv-case-study/ Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:52:11 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=514323 (Read more...)]]> Foreward by Matt Diggity

In a moment I’m going to introduce you to Mico Martinez.

He had caught my eye in The Affiliate Lab member’s group by posting back-to-back SEO wins.

In his latest win, he took a unique approach to starting a new site.  Instead of building from scratch, he contacted an influencer in his niche (one with an existing website) and pitched a win-win joint venture (JV).

Combining that head start with excellent technical, onsite, and offsite SEO, you end up with a 13x increase in traffic in a few months.

Enter Mico…

Back in October, I was given the opportunity to collaborate with an influencer in the beauty/lifestyle niche. This particular influencer has been blogging for over 10 years and has a strong social media presence (800k+ followers on Instagram and 400k+ subscribers on YouTube).

However, with the rise of these social media platforms, focus was shifted away from her website. Before I came on board, the website was getting around 150 organic visitors per day (mostly searches for the influencer’s brand). It was basically just being used as another portal pointing toward the social media properties.

By implementing a well-rounded SEO strategy, I was able to increase organic traffic from 150/day to around 2000/day in 6 months.

increase organic traffic JV

In this case study, I will walk you through every step I took to achieve this broken down into technical SEO, content, and link building.  And also, how I managed to land this fruitful JV in the first place.

The Partnership

So how exactly did I score this JV?

Well, it all starts with finding the right influencer.

Finding The Right Influencer

Every niche has influencers, whether they’re on YouTube or Instagram. The key here is to find influencers that have a website that is being under-utilized. In this case, my partner had a very strong social media presence, but was getting less than 5,000 organic visitors per month to her website.

social media influencer collage

I knew there was a lot of potential because I’ve built sites on expired/auction domains in the past. Her domain had a 40+ DR and backlinks from sites like The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, and BuzzFeed. I assumed that it would be like working on an expired/auction domain on steroids.

After finding the right influencer, you need to learn how to pitch them.

The Pitch

Before reaching out to influencers, it’s important to first get to know them, their work, and their audience. This will help you come up with the perfect pitch for them.

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to reach out. There are some great points on how to do this in the “The Influencer Pitch” lesson taught in the Affiliate Lab. When reaching out to influencers, you want to do two very important things:

  1. Make sure it is crystal clear what’s in it for them – Whether it be traffic, influence, or cash, you should let them know. You want them to immediately understand how this will benefit them.
  2. Demonstrate your SEO expertise – Show them some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past. And the results you’ve achieved.

These two things are key when you first reach out. You obviously need to discuss other specifics such as what’s possible or what’s expected, but you can do this later on in the process.


In my case, my partner had a very strong following outside the US and wanted to grow her reach. I simply pitched to her that we could grow her following in the U.S. by driving organic traffic to her site through SEO. All the while, increasing her income through online affiliate marketing. After a little back-and-forth, she was sold on the idea.

Now that you know how to score a JV like this, let’s talk about the SEO strategy implemented to achieve these results.

Technical Audit

The first step I took was a technical audit since I believe that technical optimization is key to any well-rounded SEO strategy. Because this site was not originally optimized for SEO, I found plenty of technical issues.


They are as follows…


The first thing I did when I took on this project was switch hosting providers. I switched for 2 reasons:

  1. The original host’s servers were outside the USA (closer to where the influencer is from), but I wanted the new content to rank in the USA
  2. I wanted to upgrade to a premium host to improve page speed and get access to a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

web server cdn image

I switched to Kinsta because it’s what I use for the other sites in my portfolio. They offer great support and free migrations.


The website didn’t have HTTPS. HTTPS is a MUST for every website nowadays. Google even announced that HTTPS was a lightweight ranking factor way back in 2014.

To set up HTTPS all you need to do is contact your hosting provider and they will guide you through the process.

https browser preview

Note: If you’re migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, make sure that all pages on your site are already on HTTPS and that all your internal links have been updated to HTTPS.

Page Speed Optimization

Unnecessary Plugins

The site was very bloated because of the use of a lot of unnecessary plugins to decorate the site. She used a plugin to add her Instagram feed to the footer of the website, slowing down every single page of the site. To improve page speed, I simply removed plugins like these.

unistalling plugins


I optimized all images using Shortpixel, which reduced the size of the media library by around 70%, drastically reducing page size and improving page speed.

WP Rocket

Lastly, I used WP Rocket for page caching, file optimization, cache preloading, and to LazyLoad images.

Here are the settings I use on WP Rocket:


  • Enable mobile caching and separate cache files for mobile devices
  • Disable user cache

File Optimization

  • Everything should be selected here
    file optimization illustartion


  • Enable LazyLoad
  • Disable Emoji


  • Activate Preloading


  • If you use a CDN, don’t forget to integrate your CDN

The result: by implementing these simple changes, we improved GTMetrix Perfromance Scores from E to A.


JV gtmetrix pagespeed before


JV gtmetrix pagespeed after

Index Management

Because this blog has been around for over 10 years, there was a lot of thin content, media, archive, author, and even comment pages indexed.

Because we only want to serve valuable, SEO-optimized content to Google, I had to remove these pages from the index.

I removed the majority of these extraneous pages from the index using the Rank Math plugin and the Removals Tool on Google Search Console.

Removing Extraneous Pages From The Index

Using the Rank Math plugin, you can easily ‘noindex’ Attachments, Author, Category, Tag, and Misc Pages by using the setting below:

Removing Extraneous Pages From The Index

Note: Don’t forget to set this for every meta type you want removed from the index.

Removing Thin Content From The Index

To remove thin content from the index, I used two approaches: (1) I decided to set some of the older posts to private, resulting in a 404 and (2) I actually went to each of the remaining posts and manually set them to ‘noindex’ using the Rank Math setting below:

Removing Thin Content From The Index

After that, I went to the Removals Tool on GSC and submitted removal requests for these URLs.

By removing these pages from the index, we allow Google to focus on the pages that we want to rank. Not the extraneous pages that don’t add value.

The result: I got rid of over 23k pages of index bloat.

23k pages of index bloat

Content Strategy

After the technical audit, the next step I took was to come up with a winning content strategy. Like technical optimization, I believe that content is also key to any well-rounded SEO strategy.

Before I started working on this project, the website was merely a blog. This meant that none of the content was SEO-optimized or written with any intention to rank. The website was full of 300-word articles on “January Favorites” or “My Quarantine Workout Routine”. These are great for social media marketing or if you have a large following, but these articles don’t actually satisfy any search queries and won’t rank.

This basically meant that I was starting from scratch. I had to pick the right niche, perform keyword research, and then have the new content written.

Picking the Right Niche

I knew we wanted to work within the beauty/lifestyle niche given the links already pointing to the website. However, I still had to decide on a sub-niche.

Exploding Topics

For niche research, I like using Exploding Topics. It allows you to discover topics that have been rapidly growing over the last couple of months/years.

You can simply select a category like ‘beauty’ and start browsing possible niches.

Exploding Topic beauty niche

Profitable Niches with Weak Competition

Picking a niche isn’t as simple as picking something that’s currently trending. CBD oil is trending, but when you’re just starting out, it’s unrealistic to believe you can compete with the authority sites already dominating the niche.

That’s why I prefer to start with a sub-niche with weak competition (sites with a low Domain Rating (DR) and few referring domains) and then working my way up. So instead of CBD oil, I might do CBD syrup, CBD chocolate, CBD lozenges, CBD gum, etc. at the beginning.

To find sub-niches with weak competition, you can use a tool like Ahrefs.

Using Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer, you can gauge how difficult it would be to rank for a specific keyword.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer preview

The SERP overview above is an example of what I’d like to see when looking for these profitable sub-niches with weak competition.

For a fairly strong keyword – best massage tables, three of the sites above have a DR below 30 and very few referring domains.

Note: You should plug in as much potential target keywords in the sub-niche as you can to determine the overall difficulty of ranking within that sub-niche

For this project, we decided to go with a rapidly growing topic in the beauty niche with low competition (average KD below 5).

Keyword Research & Content Planning

My approach to keyword research and content planning is fairly simple — to target the keywords your competition is already ranking for. That’s why it’s very important to start with a sub-niche with weak competition.

To do this, you can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Simply enter your competitor’s domain and take a look at the “Top Pages” tab.

site explorer Top Pages tab

I would do this for every competitor in the niche and build out a list of all the keywords they rank for.

With this list of keywords, you can then come up with a complete silo of highly-related content. This allows you to have a “topical authority” for that specific silo of keywords.

For this website, I came up with an initial list of over 30 keywords, all highly-related. At the same time, I had all the internal linking already planned out.

The Editorial Process

Now that I had a list of keywords, I had to get these 30+ articles written.

Luckily, because I manage a portfolio of affiliate/content sites, I already had an editorial team and process in place.

Our editorial process is loosely based off of the ‘Editorial System Blueprint’ by Authority Hacker.

Search Intent

First, I determine the search intent behind the keyword and assign it a “Content Type”. Examples of some of the content types we use are: Single Product Reviews, Round-Up Reviews, How-To Post, Vs post, etc.

The reason I determine search intent first is because we use different templates and guidelines depending on the search intent/content type.

To determine search intent, you just have to Google the query and take a look at the types of content already ranking.

content ranking query

For the query “best massage tables”, you easily tell that most of these are round-up reviews.

For this project, we wrote 24 round-up reviews, 9 question posts, and 2 how-to posts.

Surfer SEO

After determining search intent, I use Surfer SEO, specifically the content editor to help us write SEO-optimized content.

Surfer’s content editor gives you data-driven suggestions on how you should write your content.

Based on the top organic competitors, you get guidelines for word count, headings, prominent words, common phrases, etc.

best massage table surfer seo

Using Surfer has been so effective for us in the past that it is now built into our editorial process. Every single article we write is optimized with Surfer.

I can go on and on about how we use Surfer to optimize content, but this case study would be too long. If you want to learn more about Surfer, I suggest visiting their blog.

Editorial Team

Now that I have Surfer’s content editor set up, I simply send the shareable link to my editorial team so they can start working on the first draft.

This draft is then passed between the writer and editor until they come up with a final draft that follows all the templates and guidelines we set out in the beginning.

Once the final draft is complete, the content should be ready for upload.

If you’re interested in content written and optimized this way, I actually provide this as a service at BoostZeus.

CLICK HERE: To Get SEO-Optimized Content Written by BoostZeus →

Link Building Strategy

The last step I took was to come up with the right link building strategy. Backlinks are still considered to be Google’s number 1 ranking factor and key to any well-rounded SEO strategy.

backlink building illustration vector

I started with a backlink audit and then used that to determine what type of links we needed to build moving forward.

Backlink Audit

The first thing I did was perform a full audit on the website’s backlink profile. Because the site owner is a popular influencer, the domain actually had a pretty strong backlink profile with around 900 referring domains and a 40+ DR.

Luckily, a lot of these links used branded anchor text (~80%) and were pointing to the homepage (~70%).

However, it was a mixed bag because over 60% of these referring domains had a DR less than 10. A lot of these come from aspiring bloggers inspired by this influencer.

But because these links were acquired naturally, I ultimately decided to leave them alone.

Authority Builders

After the backlink audit, I immediately started sending guest posts to the most competitive keywords in the silo.

For these guest posts, I went with ABC Plus. The reason I went with ABC Plus is not only because they provide high-quality backlinks, but also because they could provide these backlinks at a consistent velocity.

abc plus banner preview

I also left it to them to decide on which sites and anchor text were optimal. I highly recommend ABC Plus for those who want a hands-off link-building campaign executed by one the best in the industry.


We leveraged the fact that the persona behind the site is an actual influencer and used the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) platform to build high DR links to the homepage.

Using HARO, we’ve been able to get at least 1 high-quality link (average DR over 70) every month with minimal work put in.

haro banner

The HARO platform is relatively easy to use. You just need to sign up to their mailing list and answer any queries you believe you are qualified to answer. If your answer is chosen, you’ll get a link.

Considering most the links you get from HARO are high DR, it’s definitely a link-building strategy worth pursuing.

The Tier 2 Network

We also recently started building tier 2 links to guest posts.

Because guest posts are brand new posts, they don’t have any referring domains pointing to them. Meaning they don’t have a high amount of page rank power.

the tier 2 link banner preview

To add power to your guest posts, you can simply build tier 2 PBN links to them.

For tier 2 links, we use The Tier 2 Network.

Unlinked Brand Mentions

*credit to Mark and Gael for giving me this idea

Because this influencer has such a strong social media presence, I assumed that there must be a lot of websites linking out to her social media properties and not her website.

This presents an easy link-building opportunity.

To find these websites, you can use Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool.

With the help of this tool, you can easily find sites that link to these social media profiles but don’t link to the website (yet).

Once you have added the respective links, click on “Show link opportunities”.

link opportunities tab

Once you find the websites linking to these social media properties but not the website, you can then reach out to these webmasters asking for a link to the website as well.

Final Thoughts

This case study presents a different path you can take to build your own affiliate/content sites. It’s not the typical build on a brand new or expired/auction domain.

As I’ve presented in this case study, an influencer partnership like this could lead into a huge win-win.

In the Affiliate Lab, Matt Diggity teaches us how to leverage influencer partnerships to build real E-A-T.

This case study is an example of that, but taken a step further. And by taking it a step further, results like this are easily achievable.

I hope this case study provided some value to you, whether you decide to actually partner with an influencer or learn something from one of the steps I took to get these results.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – June 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-june-2020/ Mon, 15 Jun 2020 05:42:54 +0000 https://diggitymarketing.com/?p=513763 (Read more...)]]> Is your second quarter going the way you planned? May was a wild month for SEO. Changes came down that were not explained, but now, we know a lot more. The case studies, guides, and news items of this roundup will help you get back on track.

We’ll start with some juicy case studies. This month, you’ll get a deep dive into the May Google Core Update, the numbers on digital PR as a link building strategy, and a data breakdown on the real power of rich snippets.

Then, you can expand your personal toolset with the month’s most cutting-edge guides. You’ll learn how to make your content succeed, how to create SEO-friendly URLs, and how to take the business intelligence approach to SEO link building.

Finally, we’ll cover the month’s breaking news. You’ll discover the real culprit of the ranking fluctuations, review Google’s closing notes on the May 2020 update, and find out why web vitals have replaced speed reports in Google’s search console.

May 4th Google Core Update Analysis


Surfer brings us the first of what will likely be many deep dives into the May Google Core Update. It was a big one, and the effects (not all of them intended, as we’ll discuss in the news items) were felt across most niches.

keywords won authority vs niche site from surfer

Source : surferseo.com

What those effects were, is the subject of this piece by Michał Suski. He compared a list of thousands of keywords to find out how their SERPs looked on April 22nd, May 8th, and May 11th. Each keyword was analyzed against the following factors:

  • domain organic traffic
  • referring domains
  • exact keywords density
  • partial keywords
  • keywords in title and H1 tag
  • page speed metrics
  • wordcount

All of these were tracked to determine the content of the pages that lost or won in the update. This comparison resulted in several interesting implications for the future:

  • Winners had more authority than losers on average
  • Winners had about 60% more backlinks than losers
  • Winners pages have 10% less content on average than losers
  • Winners pages tended to be less “optimized”

Among other insights in the article, it seems possible right now that Google may be drifting away from ranking signals that are easy to game, including precise-match keywords.

This is hardly the last word on the May Update, but it may be a good starting point for your first optimization efforts. Link building seemed to win out, so let’s dive right into some more data about how to do that right.

A deep-dive into the performance of digital PR as a link building tactic


Rather than guest posts or collaborations, Digital PR campaigns focus on earned media coverage from online sites. The target of these efforts isn’t only the links built by the published story, but also by the people discussing and sharing the story.

This method and its results have undergone an intensive round of testing by the people at Digital Loft.

follow & nofollow links ratio from PR

Source : digitaloft.co.uk

For the experiment, data was gathered from more than 500 digital PR campaigns. Some of the data was provided directly by agencies and other sets were drawn from already published case studies.

They found:

  • Digital PR campaigns earn an average of 42 links
  • More than ½ of all links come from domains between DA20 and DA70. However, 20% of links come from DA70 and above
  • DPR campaigns earn a smaller ratio of nofollow links than other link-building schemes
  • An average DPR campaign sees 1000+ social engagements

These findings could mean a lot to you if you have the kind of budget to do a PR campaign. Most of us are going to need to focus on more budget-conscious ways of attracting attention, including by claiming the best possible rich snippet.

Rich Snippets: Everything You Need To Know In 2020 [With Case Study]


Snippets have enjoyed a lot of attention for the last couple of years. SEObility is here to show us what the data says about how to claim them and how they behave as of now.

This piece is part guide and part case study. The guide portion covers some of the best practices for claiming snippets. The case study examines people using the schema, whether Google chose to recognize it, and if there is an upper limit on the snippets per search.

rich snippet google search illustration

The findings point toward some possibilities for anyone working to take control of a snippet:

  • For ‘how-to’ related results, less than 20% of results are currently using the how-to schema
  • In 20% of cases, Google failed to show the rich snippet even when top results had implemented the schema perfectly
  • In all cases where the score was DA70 or better, the snippets were always present

This study was gathered from a small (~100) sample group of keywords, but the implications are still important. There are a lot of snippets left to claim out there.

Let’s move on to the guides. First, we’ll look at what Sparktoro can tell us about how to resonate with the “right” audience.

Want Your Content to Succeed? Make it Resonate with the Right Audience (no, not that one)


Rand Fishkin is here with a new way of looking at how you can target your content more effectively.

audience for your content diagram from sparktoro

Source : sparktoro.com

He starts by breaking down the limits of building and measuring content exclusively to convert. He makes the point that the audiences that make up powerful channels come from:

  • Current customers: people who have already purchased
  • Potential customers: people who are the right fit, but haven’t bought yet
  • Potential amplifiers: journalists, other bloggers, event organizers, etc.
  • Broader community: Content consumers who aren’t customers

He claims that content marketers must recognize that a content audience can be much larger than a product or sales audience. Not everyone who reads is, or should even be treated like, a buyer. Instead, they can be treated like something that could be more valuable: amplifiers.

Why market content to non-customers? Because—he argues—you can then use them to massively amplify your existence to people who are more likely to be customers. In the end, his argument is one for quality, and for building content that’s usable for more people.

Next up, Ahrefs has some of their own ideas about how you can make a better impression. This time, by using SEO-friendly URLs.

How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs (Step-by-Step)


We’ve known for years that Google prefers simple and appealing URLs, but many have struggled to define what that means as far as implementation.

long url spongebob meme

In this guide, Ahrefs guide lays out their interpretation of the most optimized URLs. They provide you with a well-explained series of rules that you can apply to your site including:

  • Remove any special characters
  • Limit the use of numbers
  • Try to boil it down to a single keyword phrase
  • Make it all lowercase (some servers can treat them differently)
  • Structure it like a sentence

The second part of the guide goes a little deeper. It looks at the anatomy of the rest of the URL (Protocol, domain, subdomain, slug, etc.) and discusses how you can work to optimize each part. They also provided a list of detailed recommendations for this part:

  • Use HTTPs
  • Choose your top-level-domain carefully
  • Use subdomains only if necessary
  • Avoid keyword repetition
  • Avoid dates

Nearly all of the advice in this article is directly actionable and easy to implement the next time you’re making changes. The next piece is a little more theory-driven but, hopefully, just as useful. It’s a guide to taking a business intelligence approach to link building.

A Business Intelligence Approach To Link Building


In this guide, Cody West of Traffic Think Tank argues for the benefits of treating your link building strategy as a serious business venture. He champions a method called Business Intelligence (BI) that uses data and scenarios to define goals and minimize risk.

SEO Link building strategy illustratin laptop

In the piece, he breaks down how to make the tactical, resource, and profitability considerations that go into a superior plan. You need to be able to answer questions that relate to your bottom line:

  • How are you choosing the most important link from a domain?
  • How many links do you need to build to close the “Domain Authority” gap?
  • How much is that going to cost?

The next part of the guide reads more like a deep-level backlink analysis guide that helps you work out a plausible ROI for your efforts. It details how you can make precise counts of the resources you need.

Now, we’re ready to look at some of the top news of the month. First, we’re going to cover the real reason behind some of the ranking fluctuations that rocked May.

May 2020 Local Ranking Fluctuations Were The Result of a Bug


Near the end of April, many SEOs who were paying attention noticed that local rankings had become surprisingly volatile. It wasn’t just that the order was changing, they were erratic. Positions seemed to be fluctuating on a weekly basis.

You may have noticed the second wave of ranking fluctuations that began around May 4th when the algorithm update was officially announced. That led many to suspect that the update may have been the culprit.

Danny Sulivan Tweet on may 2020 update bgs

Another week later, things had not really settled down. A large thread on the Local Search Forum tracked hundreds of SEOs experiences with their own data. However, it wasn’t until the end of May that we finally managed to get an answer.

In response to multiple complaints, this issue was explored by Google’s team. On May 28th, staffer Danny Sullivan announced that a bug had been discovered and resolved.

As the article notes, all of the signals being tracked appear to have returned to normal. Now that we know that, let’s look at what all these changes involved. Our next item covers Google’s official announcement that this is finally over, along with some rollout stats.

Google May 2020 core update is done rolling out: time for you to review your site


The update that began rolling out on May 4th has now completed, according to Google.

The completion notice was posted on May 18th. Now that it’s complete, we’re getting a better look at what happened.

core update dj khaled meme

First, this looks like one of the largest updates in a long time. It affected more keywords than the January update, which was itself, already one of the larger updates on record. It appears to have been the largest update since the Medic update that rolled out in 2018.

In addition to being large, it also appeared to affect most keywords in a general sense. No single niches got singled out, and that fact may offer us additional clues into what Google was hoping to accomplish.

For now, we can just be glad that the volatility is over. There will be a lot more details about what changed and why, over the coming months. Let’s move on to our final news item. It’s a look at why Google replaced speed reports with “Core Web Vitals”.

Core Web Vitals Replaced Speed Report In Google Search Console


Core web vitals were introduced on May 5th. We’ve only had a short time to get used to them, but they’ve already replaced the speed report in the Google Search Console.

google web master tweet regarding search consolle speed report

This measure is your new way of seeing how Google thinks your pages perform. As a replacement, it’s wider in scope. The 3 measurements that make it up are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. Pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

If it’s been a while since you checked your site on GSC, now might be a good time to drop in. These metrics are capable of telling you more than the old ones, and they might be telling you that you need to make some changes now.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – May 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-may-2020/ Mon, 18 May 2020 06:59:35 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=512563 (Read more...)]]> The last couple of months have been crazy for everyone. Now, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s time to hit the ground running. Need to gather some momentum? That’s where we come in. This month’s roundup is filled with all the latest tricks to carry you forward.

First, we have the month’s top guides. You’ll see the latest keyword research tips from Moz, get actionable advice for building tier 2 links, and pick up a new technique to track anchor text for incoming links.

After that, we have some data-packed case studies. Learn some new ways to analyze Google Core Updates, what the data says about how Coronavirus has impacted SEO visibility, and why you should “launder” irrelevant content by turning it into duplicate content.

After that, we’ll catch you up on the latest news. Get the latest on the recent algorithm updates. Then, learn what Google has to say about old content, find out how much GMB impressions have collapsed, and discover whether Google is still not indexing new content.

The Keyword Research Master Guide


Now is a great time to start thinking about the fundamentals of what we do. We can come out of this with better standards and practices, and pretty much everything begins with keyword research.

This timely guide from Moz has some ideas for how you can optimize your methods to be in line with the latest updates.

moz keyword-research-guide

Source : https://moz.com/

It covers a range of topics including:

  • How to distinguish between valuable and time-wasting keywords
  • How to pull “seed” keywords from search data and competitors
  • How to transfer what you’ve learned into a content strategy
  • How/when to make on-page tweaks
  • What tools provide the most essential data (Moz may be a bit biased here, naturally)

Not all this information will be new, especially if you’re a regular reader of our seo news roundups. However, Moz is one of the biggest names in SEO, and their guides can influence what clients expect from SEO agency reports.

Better to be ahead of the curve, right? If that’s where you like to be, RankClub’s Tier 2 link building guide offers you an efficient way to take the lead in links.

RC’s Tier 2 link building Guide


A lot of factors go into the value of any given link. This guide makes the case that you can supercharge the best links you’ve built by pointing additional links toward those placements rather than your website.

According to Rankclub, these secondary (tier 2) links can make links that are already strong into long-term authority engines.

Tier 2 Moneysite by Rankclub

Even better, they claim that this strategy is now simpler to pull off than it was in the past. PBNs have replaced GSA spam, web 2.0 blogs, and complex 3-4 layer tier schemes as a one-stop source for effective tier 2 links.

The guide covers how to recognize proper tier 1 and tier 2 opportunities, some options for variety, and even some data from a tier 2 experiment.

While the tier 1 and tier 2 links you build are important, you also need to analyze the links that you didn’t build. The next guide in line will tell you how to track the anchor text for incoming links—using only Google Tag Manager.

Tracking the anchor text for incoming links in Google Tag Manager


The anchor text that strangers are using to link to your site can tell you a lot about what information visitors find most valuable.

This data can be key to your anchor text optimization efforts, and this guide by David Vallejo tells you how you can finally start collecting it.

This process uses a custom HTML tag to make an XMLRequest to a PHP file that scrapes each visitor’s referring source and copies the anchor for your review.

If some of that sounds like gibberish, don’t worry. While this method does require some coding, all of the code is provided for you. You can simply paste it into place.

google tag manager preview for anchor text referal

As the author himself states, the code is pretty rudimentary. You or your developer may be able to improve on what’s there.

If that still sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry. The author has also provided a video for the entire process.

If this guide whets your appetite for backend optimization, you’ll also enjoy the next one. Ahrefs has found that some SEOs are breaking their own pagination. Here’s how to find out if you’re one, and how to fix it.

SEOs Are Breaking Pagination After Google Changed Rel=Prev/Next — Here’s How to Get It Right


Google announced late last year that they no longer recognized the rel=prev/next markup.

In response, SEO teams across the web began changing their implementation. According to Ahrefs, that may have been a mistake.

First, they point out that Google isn’t the only party that ever used this markup. Other search engines still do, and it remains part of the ADA (American Disability Act) compliance and part of the standards published by the World Web Consortium.

ahrefs pagination illustration

Source : https://ahrefs.com/

Google seems to have some other way to get the same information. That’s not something that other parties that use the tag can do anytime soon.

Furthermore, a lot of SEOs who set out to change their implementation may have made things worse in unexpected ways. The guide contains some plans to help if you:

  • Canonicalized the first page
  • Orphaned your own content with misapplied noindex tags
  • Blocked crawling and cut off later pages

For each one, it also tells you how to find out if you’ve made any of these mistakes.

That covers the guides for this month, but the upcoming case studies teach their own kinds of lessons. First, let’s look at an argument for why you need to change the way you analyze core updates.

Google Core Updates: Stop Analyzing them like it’s 2013


If you’re an SEO, you’re probably pretty confident in your understanding of traffic, and how to tell when and how an update has affected it.

This chart-packed piece by Dan Shure may put that to the test. He shows you how to break down your averaged traffic, and how to analyze whether an update was better or worse for it than the first glance suggests.

SEO yellowpages meme

He argues that analyzing traffic changes at the domain level is one of the least-insightful ways to judge whether a core update was good or bad for a website.

The problem with assessing domain traffic is that there is rarely a domain-level solution for the effects of updates. Instead, different pages are taking hits or climbing based on other factors.

He suggests (and lays out) a plan for segmenting your traffic by:

  • Pages
  • Page Types
  • Query
  • Query Types
  • Device Type

This, along with EAT-based analysis, can give you a lot more information about what an update really did to your site. Thanks to the algorithm update that just dropped, you’ll have a chance to put this into action. More on that in the news items.

Unfortunately for us all, core updates are likely less responsible for big traffic changes lately than the Coronavirus. The next case study examines the impact that has had on visibility.

How the Coronavirus Has Impacted SEO Visibility Across Categories


Nearly every niche is experiencing volatility right now because, as this case study points out, the intentions and motivations of searchers are in flux.

Some goods no longer fit in most family budgets, while others have experienced massive surges (like gaming consoles) and even shortages because of their increased value during the quarantine.

laptop viewing woman with facemask

The study examines the effect the Coronavirus has had on 18 niches, including all of the following:

  • Addictions & Recovery
  • Alternative & Natural Medicine
  • Beauty
  • Finance
  • Food & Drink
  • News & Media
  • Nutrition & Fitness
  • Restaurants & Delivery
  • TV, Movies & Streaming
  • Video Games, Consoles & Entertainment

A series of charts break down not only who the winners and losers are, but also how much they’re winning or losing and which domains are benefitting.

Altogether, it provides some great data you can use to target your advertising or affiliate marketing to where the money is moving right now.

If you are responding to sudden changes in visibility, especially on older sites, you may be struggling to manage some old content. The next case study has some ideas for what you can do.

Launder irrelevant content by turning it into duplicate content


There aren’t many satisfying methods yet for dealing with expired content. Oliver HG Mason has an idea for a workaround: turn it into duplicate content and apply what already works there.

His method leans on the fact that duplicate content (when canonically linked) more reliably passes along ranking signals than irrelevant content.

irrelevant and duplicate content slide

Source : https://ohgm.co.uk/

He claims that by…

  1. Replacing irrelevant content with content from a preferred destination page
  2. Making the copied page canonical to the destination
  3. Waiting for Google to confirm the relationship
  4. And then 301’ing the copied page directly to the destination page

…you can create a relationship where ranking signals flow from the old page to the new one.

This isn’t the kind of trick that tends to have a good shelf life, but it’s simple and could mean some solid short-term gains if you have a site with older content.

Of course, some best-laid plans can stop working right when they’re needed. We just saw a new core update land, and we’re still working on what that means.

May 2020 Core Update Drops


The May 2020 Core Update (the second one so far this year) has started rolling out, according to Google. What does that mean for you? If you’re in SEO, now is the time to keep your eyes on your and your client’s stats.

As usual, Google linked their piece from last year about how to respond to core updates. It has some reasonable advice, but naturally, it’s not specific about anything that’s being targeted or relieved.

google update bitch please meme

That work is going to fall to the community, who is always up to the task. Until then, we recommend you chill. In the next week or two, there will be answers and possible rollbacks of whatever caused any problems with your site.

The community still has a lot of analysis to do, so look for more news about this update in our next news roundup.

For now, let’s look at what Google is saying about what to do with old content.

Google Advice On Old Content On News Sites: Remove, Noindex Or Leave It


In a recent Reddit “ask-me-anything” appearance, John Mueller took a question about what a site with massive archives of ancient content should be doing with it.

As he does in many cases, he pushed back on the idea that there was something “to do” about it. He suggested that reduced interest from crawlers was natural for old content, and not necessarily a problem that could be optimized away.

google advice noindex or leave it

He did offer a few suggestions, but stressed that they wouldn’t be appropriate in all situations for all sites:

  • Focus on the new content (since that’s what’s likely driving the traffic of your site)
  • Remove old, unused content
  • Keep category pages indexed, but noindex the articles

The first recommendation is going to apply in almost all cases, but the other two may not even make a difference if older content is already ignored.

Not all traffic problems require hard decisions. Some, you just can’t do much about. For example, the traffic changes that happen because of global plagues.

Google My Business Impressions Down 59%


Anyone in local search has probably taken some hits, but the damage was hard to quantify without data. This release by SEJ gives us a breakdown of what happened by the numbers.

It’s not pretty.

Total GMB impressions are down by a whopping ~60%. Though some services matter more in a crisis, the initial data suggests that nearly every industry got some black eyes at first.

google impressions down

Clicks that follow the (already severely reduced) impressions were themselves down by 31%, and ⅕ fewer people were using click-to-call to reach out.

Despite these revelations, the analysis ends on a high note. The leveling out of these trends appears to be happening already. The trend lines are stabilizing and even picking up for many niches.

You won’t need to make any changes if you were hit by local traffic drops. If you decided to make some anyway, it might not have done anything. As we learn in our final news item, Google is having some trouble indexing new content.

Google not indexing new content again


Ben Schwartz of Search Engine Land is documenting an ongoing issue where Google is failing to index new content for unusual periods of time.

Using several examples, he demonstrates that new content is taking close to an hour to initialize once it has been added. This has been happening even on major and authoritative sites.

google indexing meme

This is not a new issue. It was a recurring issue last year, but (until recently) it appeared to have been solved.

For their part, Google is acknowledging the problem and claim to be addressing it. We’ll have to wait and see if that means a permanent solution in the short-term.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


45.99% Earnings Increase in 5 Months for a Digital Infoproduct [SEO Case Study] https://diggitymarketing.com/infoproduct-seo-case-study/ Mon, 11 May 2020 04:19:23 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=512380 (Read more...)]]> You’re about to get the strategy behind one of the most challenging SEO campaigns my SEO agency has ever run.

Why was it so challenging?  3 reasons:

  1. First, the niche is massively competitive: A make-money-online infoproduct in the financial niche.  Nuff said.
  2. Second, we only had 5-months to pull this off.
  3. Third, just like any other client, they were extremely hungry for results and demanded quality work.

In the case study below, you’re going to learn the technical playbook, the onsite content strategy, and the link building techniques we carried out to get this 45.99% revenue growth win for this infoproduct business.

The Case Study

Our client takes advantage of the wide reach of the interwebs to teach his students how to earn money trading online. We’re talking currencies, forex, stock markets, crypto, etc.

The business’ revenue is generated solely through the sale of digital download products – in this case, trading guides in an ebook format and video trading courses.

When the owner of this profitable business (which already built some authority in the niche) approached The Search Initiative (TSI) about helping to grow their organic reach and find new students, we were excited to take on the challenge in one of the most competitive spaces there is.

There was also a catch – the campaign was planned for only 5 months, which sounded really scary in this case.

To accomplish this, the game plan was to focus hard on a quick-win strategy, while setting the stage for long term gains post-campaign.

Our strategists were certain that the value we could provide would have a considerable impact on his business’ bottom line.

How?  Because…

By focusing on increasing organic traffic, we could improve sales, while allowing the client to pull back on ad spend.

Over the course of the campaign, our technically-focused SEO strategies were able to grow organic traffic by 23.46%.

But what did the best job for the client’s business was the 45.99% increase in the number of conversions comparing 1st vs last month of the campaign. Sales went up from just over 2,100 a month to 3,095 – this really bumped their monetization.

And we did it in time.

Sched a call-CTA

These gains were achieved within only 5 months of the client signing with TSI and our team starting the campaign.

Here’s how we did it…

The SEO Playbook for Infoproduct Websites

Phase 1: A Comprehensive Technical Audit

I’ve said this in every TSI case study we’ve published so far… and I simply cannot emphasize enough:

A comprehensive technical audit is the most crucial part of any SEO campaign.

So before you begin any campaign, always start with a full technical audit.

Starting with…

Page Speed

First, our technical SEO strategists started at the bottom of the client’s tech stack… and you should too.

This starts with you digging into the web server’s configuration, and running a series of tests to measure the site’s speed.

This enables you to ensure that the performance of the web server itself wasn’t causing a penalty or disadvantage on either desktop or mobile connections.

So, what tests we run?

  • PageSpeed Insights (PSI) – this should be everyone’s go-to tool and shouldn’t need an explanation.
  • GTmetrix – it’s good to cross-check PSI’s results, therefore we use at least one other tool. In reality, we use GTmetrix together with Dareboost, Uptrends, and Webpagetest.
  • HTTP/2 Test – this one is becoming a standard that can greatly improve your page speed, hence, it’s definitely worth looking into. If you’re not HTTP/2 enabled, you might want to think about changing your server or using an enabled CDN.You want to see this:


  • Performance Test – I know it might sound like overkill, but we included this in our test suite earlier this year and use it for the sites that can expect higher concurrent traffic.We’re not even talking Amazon-level traffic, but say you might get a thousand users on your site at once. What will happen? Will the server handle it or go apeshit? If this test shows you a steady response time of under 80ms – you’re good. But remember – the lower the response rate, the better!


In cases where transfer speeds or latency are too high, we advise you (and our clients) to consider migrating to faster servers, upgrading to better hosting or better yet, re-platforming to a CDN.

Luckily, most of the time, you can achieve most of the gains through WPRocket optimization, as was the case with this case study.

Your Golden WPRocket Settings

Cache → Enable caching for mobile devices


This option should always be on. It ensures that your mobile users are also having your site served cached.

Cache → Cache Lifespan


Set it depending on how often you update your site, but we find a sweet spot at around 2-7 days.

File Optimization → Basic Settings


Be careful with the first one – it may break things!

File Optimization → CSS Files


Again, this section is quite tricky and it may break things. My guys switch them on one-by-one and test if the site works fine after enabling each option.

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Under Fallback critical CSS you should paste your Critical Path CSS which you can generate using CriticalCSS site.

File Optimization → Javascript

This section is the most likely to break things, so take extreme care enabling these options!!


Depending on your theme, you might be able to defer Javascript with the below:


Note that we had to use a Safe Mode for jQuery as, without this, our theme stopped working.

After playing with Javascript options, make sure you test your site thoroughly, including all contact forms, sliders, checkout, and user-related functionalities.

Media → LazyLoad


Preload → Preload


Preload → Prefetch DNS Requests


The URLs here hugely depend on your theme. Here, you should paste the domains of the external resources that your site is using.

Also, when you’re using Cloudflare – make sure to enable the Cloudflare Add-on in WPRocket.

Speaking of Cloudflare – the final push for our site’s performance we managed to get by using Cloudflare as the CDN provider (the client sells products worldwide).

mobile and desktop results PSI



If you don’t want to use additional plugins (which I highly recommend), below is a .htaccess code I got from our resident genius and Director of SEO, Rad Paluszak  – it’ll do the basic stuff like:

  • GZip compression
  • Deflate compression
  • Expires headers
  • Some cache control

So without any WordPress optimization plugins, this code added at the top of your .htaccess file, will slightly improve your PageSpeed Insights results:

Internal Redirects

You know how it goes – Google says that redirects don’t lose any link juice, but PageRank formula and tests state something different (there’s a scientific test run on 41 million .it websites that shows PageRank’s damping factor may vary).

Whichever it is, let’s take all necessary precautions in case there is a damping factor and redirects drop a % of their link juice.

Besides, not using internal redirects is just good housekeeping. Period.

As we investigated the configuration of the server, we discovered some misapplied internal redirects, which were very easily fixed but would have a considerable effect on SEO performance – a quick win.

You can test them with a simple tool httpstatus.io and see results for individual URLs:


But this would be a long way, right? So your best bet is to run a Sitebulb crawl and head over to the Redirects section of the crawl and look at Internal Redirected URLs:

Audit overview

There you will find a list of all internally redirected URLs that you should update and make to point at the last address in the redirect chain.

You might need to re-run the crawl multiple times to find all of them. Be relentless!

Google Index Management

Everyone knows that Google crawls and indexes websites. This is the bare foundation of how the search engine works.

It visits the sites, crawling from one link to the other. Does it repetitively to keep the index up-to-date, as well as incrementally, discovering new sites, content, and information.

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Over time, crawling your site, Google sees its changes, learns structure and gets to deeper and deeper parts of it.

Google stores in their index everything it finds applicable to keep; everything considered useful enough for the users and Google itself.

However, sometimes it gets to the pages that you’d not want it to keep indexed. For example, pages that accidentally create issues like duplicate or thin content, stuff kept only for logged-in visitors, etc.

google indexed infog

Google does its best to distinguish what it should and shouldn’t index, but it may sometimes get it wrong.

Now, this is where SEOs should come into play. We want to serve Google all the content on a silver platter, so it doesn’t need to algorithmically decide what to index.

We clean up what’s already indexed, but was not supposed to be. We also prevent pages from being indexed, as well as making sure that important pages are within reach of the crawlers.

I don’t see many sites that get this one right.


Most probably because it’s an ongoing job and site owners and SEOs just forget to perform it every month or so.

On the other hand, it’s also not so easy to identify index bloat.

With this campaign, to ensure that Google’s indexation of the site was optimal, we looked at these:

  • Site: Search
  • Google Search Console

In our case, we found 3 main areas that needed attention:

Indexed internal search

If you’re on a WordPress site – you have to pay attention to this one.

Most of WordPress websites offer a built-in search engine. And this search engine is usually using the same pattern: ?s={query}.

Bear in mind that ?s= is the default one for WordPress, but if your theme allows you to set this up yourself, you might end up having something else instead of the “s” param.

To check if this is also your problem, use this site: search operator

site:domain.com inurl:s=


If it comes back with any results, it means that your internal search pages are being indexed, you’re wasting Google’s crawl budget, and you want to block them.

For our client, we suggested implementing noindex tags.

If your SEO plugin doesn’t have the option to noindex search results (I know that Rankmath does, but can’t remember if Yoast offers it as I’ve been off Yoast for a long time now), you might alternatively add the following line to your robots.txt:

Disallow: *?s=*

Duplicate homepage

This is another fairly common issue in WordPress if you’re using a static page as your homepage.

You see, the CMS may generate the pagination on your homepage, even if you don’t really have it paginated.

Why does this happen? Well, usually when you have a section where you list some of your newest posts. Or (thank you WordPress!) when you used to have your homepage set up as “Latest Posts” and Google managed to index them.

This creates URLs like these:domain.com/page/12/

The problem is caused because Google sees different content on these pagination pages – of course, the articles on page 2, 3, x are different, so the paginated list changes.

If you don’t have enough of the other, non-listed content on your homepage, to convince Google that these pages are similar enough to obey canonical – you have a problem.

In this case, even if you have the correct canonical tags in place, but Google finds these pages to not be identical, it might choose to ignore the canonicals. And you end up having all this stuff in the index.

It’s worth a check if you have similar pages indexed – and you should definitely pay attention:

To find these, run another site: search:



To solve this for our client, we set up the 301 redirects so all of these pagination pages were pointing back to the homepage and we also removed them from XML sitemap:


(If you’re wondering, this screenshot is from Rank Math, which is a great free Yoast alternative, but you can also use Redirection plugin for WordPress.)

Please note that if your homepage is set up as a blog page (see below screenshot), this is most likely NOT a problem!


Other unwanted indexed pages

In our case, we also found other pages that were indexed but shouldn’t be:

  • Old forum pages
  • Old template pages
  • Blog tags
  • Media pages (thanks again, Yoast…)

Each of them might be different in your case, so you might want to consult an agency or professional SEO.

Sched a call-CTA

For this client, we removed the pages and used a 410 Gone HTTP header to remove them from the index faster.

Protip: Site: search queries you need to know


This one is your foundational search queries and allows you to go through the entirety of what Google has indexed under your domain.

I like to run a search like this and switch to 100 results per page, by adding a num=100 parameter on Google:


Then, I just click through the SERPs and inspect what’s there.

Things that are the most common issues are:

  • Query strings
  • Login/Cart/Checkout
  • Pagination
  • Tags
  • Anything that surprises you 🙂

Note that it doesn’t work for big sites as Google will only show you a sample of URLs.


This is just an extension of the standard site: search and allows you to find everything in a folder.

For example, on a Shopify site, you can list all category pages by running this search:


Moving on…

site:domain.com inurl:{part-of-the-URL}

I love this one. It allows you to list all pages that share a common part of the URL.

For example, let’s say you want to find all pages that have “guide” in the URL:

site:domain.com inurl:guide


site:domain.com -inurl:{part-of-the-URL}

Did you notice the little minus sign here “-inurl”? This one allows you to list all URLs that do not contain a certain string in the URL.

Let’s say you want to list all pages that do not contain “blog” in the URL.

Here’s how you’d do it:

site:domain.com -inurl:blog
The combination: site:domain.com -inurl:{part-of-the-URL} inurl:{another-URL-pattern}

Get ready for a really serious tool now! This one is a combination of “inurl” and “-inurl” (not in URL) operators and allows you to list pages that have a specific string in the URL, while don’t have another part in it.

For example, if you want to list all pages that are guides on your site, but not the buying guides – here’s how:

site:domain.com inurl:guide -inurl:buying

Make sure not to use spaces between the “:” and the string!

Also, be careful with the queries where operators cancel each other out – Google won’t return any results for these!


There are plenty of other combinations and search operators, so if any of the above is new to you, you should definitely read more about them here:


Get Your Sitemap in Order

In this case study, the team ensured that the XML sitemap was configured correctly so that Google’s crawlers and indexation engine were able to fully understand the site’s structure and present it to their users accurately.

Run a crawl with Screaming Frog to ensure that no URLs that are noindexed or missing are added to the sitemap.

First, switch to “List Mode” in Screaming Frog. Then select Upload → Download XML Sitemap. Type in the URL and let it crawl.

There should be no other pages than only the ones returning a 200 status code.

If there are, just remove them from the sitemap!

Soft 404 Errors

Soft 404 is a URL that displays a page telling the user that the page does not exist, but it returns a 200 OK (Success) instead of a 4xx HTTP status code.

This can definitely be a big problem for your site because, when it occurs, Google will start selecting what it thinks is a 404 with incorrect (200) HTTP response code on its own and, let’s be honest, algorithm sometimes often gets it wrong!

Sched a call-CTA

So, you’re facing an issue that good pages, which you’d rather keep in the index, are being thrown out because Google thinks they’re 404s.

Why does it think so?

Most probably there are similarities between the genuinely good and Soft 404 pages.

Unfortunately, these similarities are not obvious and, when analyzed algorithmically, they can be mistakenly taken as anything common and silly: footer, sidebar, banner ads, or whatnot.

So let me give you an example – this is how my 404 page looks like:


It returns a correct 404 status code, so everything is fine:


Now, if it was returning a 200 code – it would’ve been a soft 404. Google would figure it out and it could all be fine.

But there’s a but.

Let’s say I had a page with just a little bit of content – like this made up one:


As you can see – it has a different content, but everything else is the same: header, sidebar, footer.

When you approach it as Google does – algorithmically, it might end up being very similar to the soft 404 page example above. In fact, Google may class it the same. And this is what you don’t want. You don’t want Google to decide for you.

My rule is – don’t allow Google to make any decisions for you!

Our job, as SEOs, is to make it ridiculously easy for Google to crawl and index your site. So don’t leave anything you don’t have to for the algorithm to figure out.

In this case, we had all 404 pages set up to 301 redirect back to the homepage. It’s a common practice, but occasionally a dangerous one.

Why would it be dangerous?

Because we’ve seen cases where Google would simply treat all 301 redirects to the homepage as Soft 404s. And when it does that, it might also start treating your homepage as a Soft 404 page, because all these Soft 404s are defaulting to your homepage, right?

And what does that mean?

No homepage.

And when there’s no homepage? No rankings!

But if you’re really unlucky, Google will think that if your homepage got removed (Soft 404’d and thrown out of index), your entire domain should go out the window! And it’ll go on and de-index everything.

Sounds harsh!? It does, but we’ve seen extreme cases like this, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So why were we comfortable doing it?

At TSI our approach to this is simple: 404s are a natural thing on the Internet!

sitemap illustration

Therefore, we only 301 redirect the important pages, where applicable. By important, I mean pages that have external or internal links and some history.

We leave 404s where its a legit page of content just removed from the site, but has no value anyways.

I know what you’re thinking: What about Excluded or Errors under Index Coverage in Google Search Console?

To put it simply, in this case – Nothing! Because 404s are normal. Google will report them in GSC, but that’s fine.

Fixing Facebook Pixel Issues

Most infoproduct businesses leverage Facebook retargetting, so if you have an infoproduct (or your client does) you need to consider the following issue.

This problem was quite tricky to find a solution to, but our crawls showed that spiders can follow a pixel image:


So as you can see (or not see, because most of it is blurred) above, crawlers were accessing pages like:

domain.com/“https:/www.facebook.com/tr?id={client’s FB ID}&ev=PageView&noscript=1”

The part in red shouldn’t be there. As you can imagine, this was the case for every single URL on the site. Not good!

We didn’t really know how this was possible or what caused it, but the plugin generating Facebook Pixel was doing it wrong…

The problem was the backslashes “escaping” single and double quotes in the Javascript code generating the pixel:


We retired the plugin and inserted the pixel code directly in the source code (header.php file).

Our tech SEO guys keep complaining that there’s a plugin for literally everything in WordPress. Even for the easiest and smallest things.

So maybe next time, when you’re thinking of installing a plugin do us and yourself a favor – think if it’s really needed.

Don’t use plugins where they’re simply an overkill and the same can be accomplished faster and smoother by just a simple copy-paste.

Heading Structure

This was quite simple, but also an important one.

This site did not use any headings other than H2s… None. At all.

I mentioned the importance of semantic headings in another case study, so I’ll just say that the fix here was to simply organize them on every page and use all headings from H1 to H5.

Simple, but important.

Learn more about heading structure in my Evergreen Onsite SEO Guide.

HTTP pages and YMYL

Non-secure webpages are quickly going out of style.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is aggressively promoting the movement of the secure HTTPS protocol being used across the entirety of the web.

Google is also supporting the idea through flagging of non-HTTPS content as “not secure” in Chrome.

ssl secure domain sceeenshot

This client did indeed have the correct SSL implementation in place, but there was a big problem.

The old HTTP pages were not redirected to their HTTPS versions.

Being in the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) niche, you shouldn’t leave any loose ends.

I mean, you shouldn’t leave any loose ends at all, but when you’re in the YMYL niche specifically, you simply must not.

You could fix it with the use of Really Simple SSL plugin, which enables the HTTP→HTTPS redirects out of the box.

But as I said above, you don’t need WP plugins for every small action.

Here’s the .htaccess code we installed to have a proper HTTP to HTTPS and non-www to www redirect in place:

RewriteEngine OnRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^yourdomain.com [NC,OR]RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} =httpRewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Be careful, though! Make sure you have access to your FTP server before you click “Save” in the configuration.

In some cases, it might break things and to re-gain access to your site you’ll have to manually amend the contents of your .htaccess file.

All in all, this is what you want to see if your preferred canonical domain is https://domain.com/:


Content Taxonomy & Internal Linking

In order to improve the internal linking of our client’s numerous blog posts, we recommended a re-organization of the site’s content categorization and taxonomy.

To start with, we suggested creating more categories in WordPress and adding them to the main menu.

This sounds simple, but prior to joining TSI, this site had only 1 big category (about 300 posts): Blog.

Moreover, to save the crawl budget, someone, unfortunately, noindexed all category and pagination pages.

When guys at TSI saw it, they were like this:

We created 16 new categories in WordPress – all corresponding with the type of course offered and the area of expertise it was teaching. We ensured that there were no more than 20 posts under each category.

See what I mean here?  We’re all about them quick wins.

We also removed the noindex tags from the category pages.

The final trick was to add short, topically relevant text on top of each category page (above the posts), so Google would see them as more than just a list of articles. It meant more love from the G!

Kind of like what I’ve done here for my “SEO News” category page.

Through this, we created topical clusters (silos) under each category.

To create better topical relevance, you can also ensure that the articles would in most cases internally link only within the silo (article to article and article to its root category page).

Sched a call-CTA

This helps to better organize the content for the user’s benefit and also made it easier for crawlers to discover the pages.

The process built more internal links to the content, indicating its importance within the site’s information architecture.

A related posts content section was also added beneath each blog post, which amplified the same benefits, as well as providing the additional pros of helping users to find more of our client’s relevant educational content, also improving user metrics and click-through.

Stack those gains!

Phase 2: Creating a Winning Content Strategy

Once the server, site, taxonomy, and Google index were in advantageous positions, it was time to think about creating targeted content that both served the target demographic and would have the potential to rank for their most essential search terms.

Using Ahrefs, our technical team looked at competitor content for potential target keywords and studied metrics that indicated how difficult it would be to rank against them.

Trust me, once you have a list of keywords or topics you’re considering to go after, Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer becomes very helpful:

ahrefs keyword explorer

And to find great keyword suggestions, from the Keyword Explorer you just need to go to Newly Discovered and you’re seeing all examples of new keywords related to your chosen one:

ahrefs newly discovered

Another worthwhile option is Questions:

ahrefs questions

From there you can just pick keywords that appeal to you, taking into consideration their difficulty vs search volume.

But if you really want to up your content plan game, you have to check out the Content Explorer on Ahrefs:

ahrefs content explorer

It’s an extremely powerful tool, so I suggest you watch the below video to really take full advantage of it:


For our client, we estimated average monthly search volumes and considered the probable user intent behind each keyword vertical.

And speaking about the user intent – trust me, this is already a huge factor, but it will get even bigger in 2020.

If you would like to learn more about user intent, its types, and discovery, we had a great workshop during the Chiang Mai SEO conference this year. Here’s a video of one of TSI’s resident geniuses, Rad Paluszak, who held the presentation:


This content research process will give you the information needed to construct a strategy that focuses on creating content to serve users searching for the highest opportunity keywords.

Content Optimization & Keyword Cannibalization

The next task was to look at the existing pieces of content in 2 ways:

I’ve talked about keyword cannibalization quite a bit in the past.

In fact, I think this is one of the most common, content-related on-site issues of this year.

It’s a plague on the industry, I tell you!

At TSI, we’re predicting that keyword cannibalization issues will become less of a problem with Google becoming smarter in natural language understanding (hint: Neural Matching and BERT), but it will probably remain as a hot topic and a big problem for years to come.

So in this case, we faced quite a serious case of keyword cannibalization. Out of around 300 articles indexed, 50 of them were double- or triple-ranking (cannibalizing) around positions 20-40. This was a strong suggestion that it needs to be solved.

This is just one of the keywords:


Since we are not experts in market trading and financial instruments, we had to ask the client for advice. We combined the list of all cannibalizing URLs and keywords, and supplied it to our client for a review.

When we received feedback regarding which pages can be merged, deleted or updated, the work began: We moved and combined the content.

And this is what you want to see:


In the meantime, we purged the pages that were not required and optimized (or deoptimized) the ones that were not preferable but had to stay within the site.

In doing so, we were able to increase the value of the existing content and get the most traffic possible from the client’s previous investment in the content.

Phase 3: An Authority Link Building Strategy

An essential part of any high-impact SEO campaign is the building of high-quality backlinks.

When this client joined us, we did the standard thing we do on every campaign, which you should do as well.

Perform a full audit on your backlink profile and you’ll likely find a mix of lower quality backlinks and some higher-quality inbound links too.

Sched a call-CTA

Immediately, some of the lowest quality backlinks were disavowed. You can read more about our approach to the backlink audit here.

Also, do an audit of your anchor text distribution.

In our case, we were slightly concerned about the anchor text distribution having too many exact match, partial match and compound (related to keywords, but not necessarily including the keywords directly – examples of these would be questions, sentence-long anchors, etc) anchors.

It looked like this:


And should look more like this:


With this in mind, during the first month of the campaign, we threw around 25 pillow links (we really propped up client’s social media accounts, created a few About Author pages on the publications he’s been contributing to and posted a few Medium articles) with branded anchors into the mix.

In the next 2 months, we also took a slightly safer approach to anchor texts in our outreach. This was all to balance things out.

Our outreach team began the process of reaching out to relevant sites who were pleased to place our client’s backlinks on their domains.

In the first month, the team negotiated and built 9 strong (DR 50+) outreach backlinks to the site and were able to negotiate 5-8 high-authority links each ongoing month.

Here are some link stats of our outreach job:

ahrefs rank 1
ahrefs rank 2
ahrefs rank 3

This quickly grew the domain’s authority, thus driving up rankings and improving discoverability on the web.

Here’s the link growth over the course of the campaign:



Through completing our campaign using the techniques described in this case study, we were able to achieve considerable tangible growth for this client.

After 5 months of TSI working on the site, the client had enjoyed a 28% growth in the top 10 position rankings in Google, up from 1,713 positions to 2,188.

ahrefs top 10 growth

Stable growth is also shown in SEMRush:


This significantly increased the education business’ organic reach within just 5 months and translated into a 23.46% increase of sessions, an 18.46% increase in users and a 45.99% increase in earnings when comparing the 1st and 5th months of the campaign.



Comparing month-to-month with the previous year, with our help, the site reached a 252.78% increase in organic traffic and a 263.24% increase in goal completion.



The results of this campaign speak for themselves.

After 5 months of working with TSI, our client had seen a nice return on investment, and our proven strategies will continue to bear fruit as the business continues to develop in the long-term.


When a client puts their trust in you, you need to look at it from their perspective.

They’re trading their hard-earned cash for you work on their business, their baby.

With this particular case study, the pressure was on with a 5-month timeline in one of the hardest niches imaginable.

But by focusing on quick wins and optimizing what the client already had, results like this are achievable.

Let’s recap…  remember to focus on:

  • Technical SEO first – Without a strong boat, you’re not going to sail anywhere. Don’t skip anything in the tech-SEO section above.
  • Content optimization and strategy – This is the area you want to bank on in the coming years.
  • Quality Backlinks – Focused on authority and balanced anchor distribution.

As long as you’re doing the right things: fixing everything, providing value and making the site easy for Google to understand – you’re going to win.

And if you need help, you know where to find us: The Search Initiative.


Get a Free Website Consultation from The Search Initiative:



Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – April 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-apr-2020/ Mon, 20 Apr 2020 05:21:39 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=512027 (Read more...)]]> There’s no dodging the elephant in the room. These are tough times. Take a deep breath and remember: things are scary, but working online puts you in a great position to survive. If you want to thrive, here’s a roundup of the items from the last 30 days that you can’t miss.

First, pick up some extra insights from the month’s case studies. You’ll learn what the latest numbers say about page sentiment and why it matters. You’ll also get to see how much internal linking alone can do for SEO, and review the latest COVID-19 industry impact research.

Then, expand your skills with new guides. You’ll learn what role content auditing plays in a 6-figure website sale, plus the hidden ranking factor you may be deleting. Then, you’ll get 28 SEO pro’s opinions on the best ways to build links.

Our news and analysis items will get you up-to-date on the big Amazon affiliate commission cuts, plus other coronavirus projections for SEO. You’ll learn what consumer polls reveal about what SEO services are valuable, and why Google’s results were so volatile last month.

Let’s begin with what ~20,000 pages worth of data tells us about page sentiment.

We Analyzed 17,500 Pages’ Sentiment with NLP. Here’s What We Learned


Michał Suski of Surfer takes a deep dive into a signal that he insists will be really important in the coming years: sentiment.

In his definition, “In SEO, the sentiment is an interpretation of positive, neutral, and negative emotions associated with the content.”.

Crawlers read sentiment by looking for terms that suggest an opinion (such as great/wonderful/beautiful for positive, or weak/boring/ugly for negative). But what happens when they read it? Does a certain sentiment do better or worse? The research seems to say so.

Of the nearly 20,000 pages that were tested (all were top 10 pages for their terms) not even %1 were identifiable as neutral. 84% of the sites analyzed were dominated by positive results. In fact, 57.6% of SERPs reviewed had only positive-sentiment content in the top 10 positions.

sentiment distribution Surfer data

This may be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, most sites in top spots worked hard to get there so they could sell products. That doesn’t work as a strategy if you can’t be positive about your niche.

That said, positive content is such an overwhelming preference of searchers that it may be worth working that preference into your strategy.

Now that you have some ideas for content, let’s look at what the next case study says about your links. The author claims that you can improve your rank using only internal links.

Internal Link Building Case Study: How much can Google Rankings improve with only Internal Links Added?


Good internal linking has long been considered an SEO fundamental, but few SEOs would risk saying to a client outright that it could make pages rank. This case study, though, seems to be suggesting that exactly.

While only a single site was tested, that site experienced no other changes except for 108 internal links that were seeded across 47 pages.

In a little over two months, 77% of the pages that had internal links added improved in rank. Another 15% stayed the same, and under 10% of pages experienced any decreased rank. The improved rank led to increased traffic for several pages during the experiment.

Without knowing much about the site, it’s hard to say that everyone could expect these kinds of results. However, the process for trying it on your own sites is laid out very clearly. If the time is worth it to you, this strategy might be good for some minor bumps across the board.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Google Ads Results for 21 Industries [Data]


By now, it’s clear that COVID-19 is going to have a long-term global impact. That’s likely to mean a lot of changes for the SEO industry. This is one of the first case studies that look at the short-term impact and what it’s going to mean tomorrow and into the next month.

Overall, clicks and conversions are down. Conversions, in general, have dropped by a fifth. This probably comes down to consumers who are nervous about making any less-than-necessary purchases.

google searcnh ad clicks data on wordstream

Source : https://www.wordstream.com/

But there is some rare good news. There are some industries that have seen improved performance.

  • Nonprofits and charities
  • Health and medical
  • Business management
  • Finance
  • Beauty and personal care
  • On-demand media

Most of these niches are positioned to help us with our new reality. On-demand media, for example, is in much higher demand because everyone is bored indoors. Business management is exploding as more people are working from home.

It’s not all good news, of course. Industries like travel & tourism have taken massive hits. Many bars and live entertainment venues have been shut down by government orders. It doesn’t look like this means you’ll have to give up, just transition to where the real growth industries are.

That covers the data for this month. Now, it’s time to move on to the guides for the month. In the first one, you’ll learn how a content audit played a role in a website selling for six figures.

How my Content Audit Process Secured a 6-Figure Sale of my Website


In this first guide, author Curt Storring claims that content audits put him in the position to sell a pet-niche site for a six-figure sum.

He performed two major content audits over his ownership of the site. Both were followed by periods of record growth.

His process follows these steps:

He lays out how to diagnose these problems. Correcting search intent is a major theme of these sections. Among other processes, he describes how you can use a simple Google search just to see if you and Google agree on the intent of a key phrase.

finally buys meme

There’s also advice on how to record this info properly to make it more actionable. There’s a template available for download that will save you the work of putting together a sheet yourself.

This type of optimization covers a lot of different factors. In the next guide, you’re going to learn about one that demands very little optimization. All you have to do is stop deleting it.

The Hidden SEO Ranking Factor That You’re Probably Deleting


Matthew Woodward starts this guide with insights from a past experiment. He built a series of sites to test if embedding hidden image EXIF data into images affects rankings.

The results of the tests seemed to suggest that this information does help with ranking. That presented a new problem—a lot of plugins delete this data.

WP Smush, Shortpixel and Imagify are given as three examples of plugins that strip hidden EXIF data. These plugins have the good intention of making the images more manageable, but they do so by taking out data in addition to compression.

The guide provides several solutions. First, there are instructions for finding the “preserve EXIF data” option in some of these tools. After that, you’ll find some instructions for checking this data, and a tool you can use to add data to images without them.

Now that you have some ideas to help you action changes to both your content and images, links are the next destination. But why settle for one perspective on links when you could have 28?

How To Get High-Quality Backlinks – 28 SEO Experts Share Their Tips


This Authority Builders article asked 28 top SEOs to summarize what they considered to be the best advice on building links.

A lot of influential names chimed in, including Glen Allsopp of Detailed.com, Mark Webster of Authority Hacker, and Dixon Jones.

The advice takes a lot of different paths. For example, several SEOs choose to emphasize the role of content in getting good links. They point out that building links is about building something worthy, such as a useful video, tool or another resource.


Others put more importance on how you approach sites. They led with advice on how to properly identify authoritative sites, build relationships with them that will actually lead them to read your emails, and pitch in respectful ways.

Others focused on how recent tools like HARO could accelerate your efforts. It’s worth it to review this article just to get a sense of what successful marketers agree on, or don’t.

Let’s take a look at the news from this month and where we can find hope in these times. First, Amazon’s concerning rate cuts.

Big Amazon affiliate commission rate cuts among latest program changes


sad amazon affiliate

A wave of commission cuts are coming to Amazon on April 21st. While Amazon isn’t stating the reason for the changes, it’s likely that the strain from nationwide quarantine is playing a huge role.

The cuts are serious. As you can see in the table of examples below, rates for some major products were cut by more than half.

ProductOld CommissionNew Commission
Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products and Pantry8%3%
Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial supplies6%3%
Outdoors, Tools5.5%3%
Health & Personal Care5%1%

Amazon also went a step farther. They stopped working with 3rd-party affiliate networks and have started working only with publishers.

If you depend on income from Amazon commissions, this may mean some serious changes for your site. Either change could have you looking for a new network.

If you need to know more about how the virus might affect your business, my video breakdown in the next section covers my biggest predictions.

Coronavirus and the SEO Industry – Will a Recession Affect your Business?


This started as internal conversations that grew into an entire presentation because I felt like I had a unique perspective as someone who has worked in SEO for more than 10 years, who is now running both affiliate and client agencies.

I try to get deep into both the negative and positive implications for both affiliates and client agencies. What is there to be positive about? It’s important to understand, searches aren’t all going away—many are being diverted.

Let’s look at some of the cons you can expect. I can tell you already that my affiliate sites are down across the board. I’m expecting niches like fitness, travel and real estate (who wants to hold an open house right now?) to have some of the biggest problems.

Additionally, I think you can expect websites to stop flipping for impressive amounts. A lot of investors who enjoyed the thrill of picking up a project are probably going to flee to the safety of stocks and bonds.

There might be good news. If you were in the (already lucrative) survival prepper niche, you may be having trouble keeping things on the shelves. Other sites can also appeal to the homebound, such as home gardening.

The good news for us in particular? We’re already working from home, and we won’t need to pivot and readjust like a lot of traditional marketers are doing now. The big media groups are taking the hardest hits right now.

working from home on corona virus pandemic

All in all, keep moving forward if your budget allows it. Now’s your chance to pull ahead as your competitors slip and ad costs get cheaper. I’ve got some advice on the video that could make that easier to do.

Now you know where I stand. Find out where customers stand in our next item: A survey on what increasingly-skittish customers value most.

Google My Business Optimization Considered the Most Valuable Local Marketing Service


What do customers really want when it comes to SEO services? This survey suggests that traditional on-site SEO is starting to lose its shine, especially for clients who are focused on local results.

google my business on screen descriptiion

Google My Business page optimizations are increasingly seen as the most valuable service that local marketers offer. Google rankings remain the top marketing metric for businesses but entering the GMB snack pack matters more than any of the other organic spots.

The same survey also found that word-of-mouth is considered the most valuable channel overall for winning clients. It seems that service matters even after you get the product right.

Changes like these can happen slowly, but watching these trends could help you plan better for the next 10 years. In our next item, we’re going to look at some changes that we can’t explain very well. Why was Google so volatile last month?

Google Search Volatility & Fluctuations Super Unusual


Google’s odd behavior (or possibly, the odd behavior of searchers) inspired a lot of discussion over the last month. Search and traffic trends were changing suddenly all over the map.

In the discussion board conversations linked here, people struggled to explain sudden spikes and dips. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to count on their tools to get an accurate reading of whether the action was human or not.

google ranking surge twitter lily ray

Most SEO tools weren’t up to the job. The 7 graphs that you can find in this article show various tools trying to come to grips with what they’re tracking. SEMRush recorded steep mountains of sudden hits and drops. If you were following SERPMetrics, the line briefly shot past the chart.

An unreported algorithm update has been accused, but not confirmed. If the behavior is from consumers, it should level out soon. However, there’s no telling how this crisis is going to change Google’s priorities for upcoming updates.

We may be dealing with this volatility for some time.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Diggity Income Report: March 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/income-report-march-2020/ https://diggitymarketing.com/income-report-march-2020/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2020 06:54:42 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=511326 (Read more...)]]> Aside from the shit hitting the fan, the first 3 months of 2020 have been absolute beast mode for business. I’ve been working closely with a life coach to help optimize my business processes and routine for absolute effectiveness.

As a result of ongoing sessions, I’m happy to announce that March 2020 has been the most profitable month I’ve ever had.

One of the major techniques Barbara has been teaching me is the secret of transparency… According to her, the secret to business success is complete openness and honesty in all things, including releasing detailed financial information on the profitability of my business.

So in an effort to be more authentic with you all, I’ve decided to begin releasing detailed monthly income reports with regular breakdowns of my revenue streams.

I’m confident that by showing these figures, it will motivate and inspire you to live your best life in 2020.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This income report is NOT intended to flex on anyone… These figures are for motivational purposes ONLY.

diggity march2020 income report3

2020: Implementation Of New Revenue Streams

Barbara has also been coaching me to remove my bias and to try out different platforms. This includes both Fiverr and ClickFunnels. I did some DMT recently, and now I feel like I can truly see the value of these platforms.

dollars suite case money

ClickFunnels Course Sales

My biggest income earner by far was ClickFunnels course sales, hitting the 6-figure ClickFunnels club for the first time ever.   They say, “those can’t do, teach”.  And I say, “make it rain motherfuckers!”

cf course sale dollar

CMSEO 2019

As many of you know, the CMSEO 2019 Chang Mai event was a huge success. We had 800 people attend the event with speakers flying in from all over the world. It took a few (about 12) months of planning.

My accountant just finished tallying up the figures, and the $763 USD I profited made it all worth it.

moneys cmseo


I’ve also started a new income revenue stream on Fiverr selling links, pocketing me a cool $421 in March. At about $7 an order average with a 20% Fiverr fee, I’d say this isn’t a bad little side hustle.

seeling backlinks sale

Agency & Affiliate Work

Agency client work and affiliate website were a little lower than usual totaling to a whopping $38 USD profit together in March, though I’ve been focusing more on automated revenue streams such as Fiverr and ClickFunnels so I have neglected this a little.

I did, however, sell a whopping total of 128,930 toilet paper rolls on Amazon Associates, which counts for that $38.

Can you say, “makin’ paper”?

money dollar deals

A New Hope

Due to my massive business success this year my ex-wife has finally decided to let me see my kids. It’s been a long arduous journey but I feel like she might finally be coming around to the idea of reconciliation, ongoing support, and I’M JUST FUCKING WITH YOU!

a new hope meme


I hope you guys have a killer April Fools with some good pranks lined up.

Keep your heads up.  This corona shit-show will end some day.

https://diggitymarketing.com/income-report-march-2020/feed/ 20
Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – March 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-mar-2020/ Mon, 16 Mar 2020 10:11:38 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=511343 (Read more...)]]> This month’s items are a real toolkit for dedicated SEOs. Many of them focus on areas that aren’t often covered. That means you may catch your competitor’s sleeping.

It starts with a pair of detailed guides. First, you’ll learn why some feel that web design and UI matter more in 2020. Then, you’ll get some advice on how to pitch to the press like a pro.

After that, here comes your data fix in the form two chunky case studies. Is your keyword traffic tool giving you good data? Does the top search result just keep getting lower? Numbers don’t lie, but you may want to interpret the data for yourself.

Finally, we cover the news. Don’t miss Google’s response to a Moz post or some fresh tips on how to future-proof a content site. Finally, catch two dispatches from Google on how they treat nofollow links and whether to worry if your content is being scraped.

Let’s dive in. First, we’ll look at why one SEO is arguing that web design and UI matter more than ever in 2020, and what changes may be necessary to keep up.

This is why web design and UI matter for SEO in 2020


This article begins with an interesting note—

“Google Search Console now throws errors for elements of design and has even partnered up with https://material.io/ to help guide and influence your design.”

This much can be confirmed…

“Google is getting better at detecting ugly websites, and they want you to know it.”

What it means for the future is another question, but this author theorizes that following Google’s own design choices will lead you in the right direction.

For example, the first element discussed in the guide is ‘white space’. This is a very old design term that refers to the amount of empty space in a complete image (in our case, a web page).

The author points out that Google’s own research from the early days shows that they discovered white space conveys trust and authority. They reserve tons of room for it on all their services, including (most notably) Google.com.

google page white spaces

Similar arguments are applied to other design elements throughout the article, including typography, tone, direction, and headings. The author does an impressive amount of work connecting each suggestion to Google’s guidelines or other work they’ve published.

Does that mean applying these suggestions can help you rank? Not necessarily, and that claim isn’t made. However, it is fairly pointed out that these design choices all work to the benefit of human readers. Doing a better job of that rarely goes wrong in the long run.

While your mind is still on how to present yourself better, let’s look at a more direct guide. This one claims to teach you how to pitch to the press like a PR Pro.

How to Pitch the Press Like a PR Pro


If building higher-quality links is one of your big goals this year, you should be considering the fertile ground of major news sites. News sites such as the New York Times, Vox, and Wall Street Journal have massive amounts of authority.

Naturally, journalists aren’t looking for your average blog fare. If you want those links, you need to approach them the right way and offer the right kind of value. This guide claims that it can help you do that.

journalist pitches donut chart

Source : https://www.canirank.com/

It takes you through the journalists’ mindset, complete with data about how many pitches the average journalist gets (as many as 100), and surveys about what practices annoy them the most (having no clue what subjects they report on).

That’s followed by a step-by-step section where the guide teaches you to develop hooks designed for journalists and to put the focus on your credibility. This is illustrated with an example pitch near the end. It has all the elements you need marked for easy practice.

Now that you’ve picked up some new tricks, let’s look at our collection of case studies for the month. First, we’ll take a look at the big keyword research tools and what the data says about where each one stands this year.

Large Scale Study: How Data From Popular Keyword Research Tools Compare


Better keyword research is an important part of competing for business online.

Is your favorite tool starting to lose its edge? This study by Backlinko takes a look at where some of the biggest names have changed.

The study looks at a long list of popular tools:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • Moz Pro
  • KeywordTool.io
  • KWFinder
  • LongTailPro
  • SECockpit
  • Sistrix
  • Ubersuggest

If you’re looking for a clear winner, you won’t really find it in this article. The emphasis is more on the specific ways that each one stands out.

keyword research seo toolbox

There might be more variation than you’d imagine. The quality and volume of automated keyword suggestions received a lot of focus. The advantage in that category went to paid apps.

In other cases, it wasn’t immediately clear who had the advantage. The different tools appear to use wildly different calculations to estimate measures like keyword difficulty scores and CPC costs.

In the final case study of the month, we’ll look at a more measurable metric. This one is so precise you can measure it with a ruler—just don’t be surprised if you don’t like the answer.

How Low Can #1 Go? (2020 Edition)


From the earliest days of Google, SEOs have chased after the glory of the top SERPs spot. According to this case study by Moz, the top isn’t as lofty as it used to be.

In fact, the ‘top’ result may take you 3-4 scrolls down the page to even locate. This, as the study points out, has a lot to do with the introduction of sections that have replaced the first organic result.

Ads, featured Snippets, local packs, and video carousels have all played a role in forcing organic results further down the page.

How much further? According to Moz, by as much as 2800px. That’s longer than most people want to spend scrolling.

jurrasic park meme

Of course, the numbers aren’t as bad as 2800px for most searches. Queries that don’t typically return video results are far more likely to have organic searches higher up.

However, as Moz points out, this is a trend.

Compared to the last time they performed this experiment, the worst examples here were about 3x worse than the worst examples in 2012.

Is that the whole story? Google says no. In the first news item of the month, we’ll be looking at their response to this very case study.

Google’s Response to Moz Article Critical of SERPs


So, Google was not entirely pleased with the results of that last item. They came out shortly afterward with a response seeking to clarify a few matters.

Google begins with the argument that there isn’t a distinction between old-style organic results and new types such as the featured snippet. Both earn their position organically through the algorithm.

Danny Sullivan tweet for moz

Furthermore, they argue, these new forms represent more effective ways of addressing user intent that weren’t possible before.

Moz used “Lollipop” as an example of a search that didn’t have any organic results until the 2000px mark. They made this claim on the basis that everything from videos, songs, and lyric results were stacked before the organic result.

Google claims that example just proves how dynamic other forms of results have become. They insist that the “clutter” that appears above organic results has a better chance of meeting searcher needs.

man searching on google

Maybe you find one argument more compelling than the other. It’s true that results have more functionality than before. However, it’s also true that Google’s recent changes have come at a loss to organic results in more ways than the one discussed here. Let’s leave it there.

Next up, a neat bit of analysis into how to future-proof a content site investment.

Future-Proofing A Content Site Investment


This piece was a little too hypothetical to be placed among the guides, but I know the ideas discussed here are right up the alley of a lot of affiliate SEO marketers.

The author has some fresh theory on how you can maintain the value of existing sites if their original focus becomes less lucrative. You can create a website that doesn’t leave you too reliant on one type of traffic or revenue, and you can do it with affordable, devalued domains.

computer programmer on action number backgrounds

The plan is to create informational content on the sites that were originally designed for affiliate needs. Visitors to most affiliate sites don’t come back. They come in off a link, convert once (if you’re lucky), and then leave. That’s an insecure form of traffic over the long-term.

However, you can earn more (and different) traffic by developing tailored informational content to keep those buyers coming back.

browsing on tablet white background

Informational content drives the repeat visitors that Google considers so important. To attract them, you have to get closer to understanding the needs of the customer who you’ve attracted to the affiliate product.

The article uses the example of drones. If you can attract someone to a site for an affiliate sale of a drone, you may be able to make a regular visitor out of them by appealing to their relationship to that hobby.

So, for the drone, you would want to create hubs of content that met the needs of one of the following:

  • Hobbyists
  • Casual flyers
  • Hikers
  • Photographers (and there are lots of different groups within this group)
  • Construction industry
  • Drone racers

This way, you can turn one-timers into fans. The guide has a lot more detail and is worth a longer look if you need a new way forward for your site.

As long as you’re making some minor updates, you should make sure you’ve reviewed Google’s latest on how to treat nofollow links.

Google’s new treatment of nofollow links has arrived


On March 1st, the rules for nofollow changed. Understand that, from now on, nofollow will be considered to be a hint rather than a rule that a crawler is forced to follow.

This doesn’t mean that a lot has changed. Nofollow is still applied where you left it, and—unless you feel very strongly about Google not crawling a given page—it doesn’t require any immediate action from you.

nofolllow harry potter meme

Perhaps the most substantial change is that link juice is now going to start flowing to places where it didn’t in the past. If you’ve made heavy use of nofollow on older sites, it’s worth it to keep an eye on the data over the next couple of months.

There are also some new attributes that you can use if you want to send a more specific message to Google. These attributes are a lot more specific to intent.

rel=”sponsored”: Used to identify links on your site that are advertisements, sponsorships, or other paid agreements.

rel=”ugc”: Recommended for links appearing in user-generated content (For example, comments and forum posts).

rel=”nofollow”: Use in any scenario you want to link to a page but don’t want to pass along ranking credit to it.

Now let’s move on to Google’s next big message of the month: You don’t have to lose sleep over others scraping your content.

Google: Don’t Lose Sleep Over Others Scraping Your Content


It was once widely believed that having scraped content could come back to bite you. Should you be worried about losing ranks to your own content on other websites?

John Mueller says ‘no’, though without much detail. He argues that scraped content mostly has limited visibility. Additionally, there is rarely much risk of being outranked by someone else unless your site has been penalized for another reason.

John Mueller google scraped tweet

This isn’t a complete answer, of course. There are indeed blackhat cases where real websites managed to scan someone’s RSS feed and steal new content before it was indexed by GSC.

This is deeply frustrating, but there is something you can do in cases like those: Request GSC indexing immediately after publishing.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Ultimate Guide to Surfer Onsite Optimization in 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/surfer-seo-guide/ Mon, 09 Mar 2020 07:45:14 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=511034 (Read more...)]]> Last Updated on November 5th, 2020

Do you know the best thing about on-page SEO? Control.

Even with a small budget, you can see real results with on-page optimization. You won’t get the #1 spot overnight, but you can still rise in the ranks with fewer backlinks than your competitors.

There are two ways to deal with on-page optimization: you can do it on your own and build great content from scratch, or you can use tools that speed up your optimization work.

In this guide, you’ll learn more about Surfer, an SEO tool that specializes in on-page optimization. You’ll also get a step-by-step guide on how to use the tool to create better content, fill content gaps, and rank higher for your chosen keywords.

Announcement: Since Surfer SEO launched in 2017, it’s been amazing to watch the company grow so quickly. I’ve worked with them to develop various features of the platform (such as True Density) and it’s been great to be part of this innovation. So much so that, I decided to officially invest in the company and join their cap table, so now we can work even closer together to improve the tool and develop new products.

What Is Surfer?

Surfer is an SEO tool that analyzes why top pages are ranking well for your keyword. Based on that information, you’ll be able to figure out what you need to do to create content that will help you outrank your competitors.

Surfer helps in two ways:

  1. Creating/outsourcing new optimized content
  2. Optimizing existing pages

The Surfer Content Editor analyzes your content structure, keyword usage/density, phrasing, and more, comparing them to high-ranking results for the same keywords. Then, it provides you with guidelines on how to build content that has the right structure and wording to show up on page 1.

There’s also the Keyword Analyzer, with Audit and True Density features that help you optimize existing pages.

Rounding out the Surfer SEO tool kit are the Keyword Research and Common Backlinks features—I’ll discuss all these in full detail later.

Surfer Recommendations In Action

How does this tool help you optimize your content? And what can you expect from Surfer?

Let’s take one of my own pages as an example. I have an SEO coaching landing page that was ranked at #1 forever. All of a sudden, it had dropped to #2.

After plugging it into Surfer, I found out that my landing page content was too long…and thus I cut it in half. The True Density feature also let me know that my word usage was off.


Tweaking the landing page boosted the page back to #1, and now it’s at a similar length to other high-performing pages.

surfer seo high performing pages graph

Here’s another example: in November, I turned my Affiliate Networks page into an article and adjusted the densities of relevant phrases based on Surfer’s recommendations. The next day, I checked my keywords and saw this:

affiliate network keyword snapshot

My page jumped to the top three after my tweaks.

Similarly, Matthew Woodward had an extremely comprehensive review of SEMRush that clocked in at a whopping 26,000 words and was ranked #7. Surfer told him to remove 22,000 words…or almost 85% of his content.

While it sounds counterintuitive to reduce your long-form article to a “regular-sized” one, his review jumped to the #1 spot…the next day.

These are three examples of Surfer giving you insights on pages that are currently doing well with their content, so that you can use the same rewarding practices.

Instead of trying to outsmart Google or figure out their algorithm, you can just take a look at what works, and follow that lead to a higher ranking.

Correlation SEO In On-Page Optimization

Now that you know what Surfer can do, you’re most probably thinking, “How does Surfer know which ranking factors are the most crucial for SEO?”

Unfortunately, Google and other search engines aren’t transparent about their algorithm. Enter correlational SEO.

Correlation SEO analyzes various ranking factors in order to determine which ones have the biggest impact on ranking. Surfer’s data comes from reverse engineering the search engine results page (SERP)—it looks at what top-performing pages are doing that you aren’t.

Instead of giving you vague advice (“long content is better than short content”) or ballpark figures (“aim for 1,000-2,000 words per article), Surfer provides recommendations that are based on pages that already rank for your target keywords.

And this extends to more than just word count. Surfer also looks at what kinds of pages rank best (e.g. long-form vs. quick answers), what kind of media they contain (e.g. graphics, lists, etc.), what topics they cover, and what words and phrases are most commonly used.

Surfer wasn’t the first correlational SEO tool to hit the market.  Cora and Page Optimizer Pro came earlier and are both exceptional tools as well.

One of the major criticisms of correlation SEO is that correlation doesn’t mean causation—just because a competitor is ranking while using certain practices, it doesn’t mean that those practices are the reason they’re ranking.

But by optimizing your content so that it’s similar (but higher-quality) than the content that Google ranks at the top, you are more likely to take the top spot.

The trick is to know which pages to compare yourself to, so that you aren’t introducing the wrong kind of change.

Choosing The Proper Competitors For Your Work With Surfer

Although it sounds sensible to look at the top ten results for your analysis, you’ll end up getting a lot of imprecise data and ineffective recommendations.

If you’ll choose your competitors incorrectly, the “optimization” may actually hurt your rankings.

John from Freedom Bound Business found that out the hard way. When he didn’t pay much attention to picking the right competitors, his page dropped from rank 25 to rank 41. When he qualified competitors correctly, his affiliate review got bumped up from the second results page to the first.

daily ranks graph september - october 2019

Source: https://www.freedomboundbusiness.com/surfer-seo-review/

What does this tell you? There is no point in comparing oranges to apples, and the same rule applies to competitor analysis.

To get the most out of Surfer’s correlational SEO tools, look into pages that are similar to yours, and don’t compare yourself to websites that are not.

Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right competitors:

  • Don’t compare yourself to high-authority sites like Wikipedia or Amazon (unless you are a site of this level, of course).
  • Find websites, pages, or competitors that are within the same niche or have the same format (e.g. review sites, blogs, etc.).
  • Avoid listings and directories while optimizing for local SEO.
  • Look at the word count of top pages and exclude outliers.

Once you do the above, your data will be much more accurate.

Use Case No. 1: Building High-Quality Content From Scratch

Now that you know more about correlational SEO and Surfer, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. Create a new page for your target keyword using Surfer’s Content Editor tool.

Automate Your Content Brief

Content Editor lets you create guidelines for your copywriter that includes all your requirements like keywords, topics, and optimum word count. I’ll show you how to create comprehensive briefs that outline your requirements and make it easy for your writers to understand.

Preparing a good brief the traditional way is a lot of work. You have to manually research your competitors, extract some basic data about keywords, and follow good SEO practices—things that can take a lot of time.

Here’s an alternative way:

1. Type Your Keyword And Location

When working with Surfer, you always start with a keyword and location. In this case, our target keyword is “cordless circular saw” and our location is the United States. You can also choose to turn on NLP Analysis for more phrases and words suggestions from Google API (more on this later).

Surfer seo content editor snapshot

Once the analysis is done, you can find your query in the history log below the input. Open it to access a customization panel.

2. Choose Pages To Compare Against

The customization panel has five sections: pages to include, content structure, terms to use, topic and questions to answer, and notes.

Let’s start with the “Pages to include” section. By default, Surfer checks the top five pages.

url page comparison tab

These top five pages are your benchmarks. Pick URLs that are organic competition for your page. Exclude pages that rank high because of their extremely high authority, pages for different business models, and pages that target a different search intent. Also exclude word count outliers or pages that have word counts that are way shorter or longer than the others.

Basically, everything I already told you about selecting comparisons. Here.

Check out this example for an affiliate review:

affiliate review url circular saw

3. Let Surfer Determine The Word Count

Surfer automatically recommends a word count based on your chosen competitors, but you can also customize it if you prefer. However, if you chose your competitors wisely, there shouldn’t be much reason to adjust the number. Content length is critical—Surfer calculates phrase and keyword density based on it, so be cautious when modifying it!

surfer seo content structure word count

After you save your changes, the average length will appear in the requirements section.

4. Incorporate The Suggested Words And Phrases

In addition to word count, Surfer also checks the top-performing pages for words and phrases relevant to your page.

Surfer uses its own algorithms to reverse-engineer the top words and phrases that you should include in your content. If you chose the NLP option at the beginning of the process, Google NLP API will be a major factor in calculating your recommendations.

terms to use in the content suggestion by surfer seo

Avoid content gap issues by using all of the suggested terms(or as many as possible).

Enable “Show range of use for all terms” to avoid under- or over-optimization.

You can also use the “Add term” button to add secondary keywords (a.k.a. similar search terms) that you could also rank for, hitting multiple birds with one stone.

secondary keyword suggestions

From the example above, the keyword “battery circular saw” appears in 15 out of the top 20 pages (75%) that are in my SERP for “cordless circular saw”.

This is how you optimize for multiple keywords at once.

Pro tip: Include secondary keywords in your headings or at least mention them within the body text. For highly similar keywords. It should be enough to rank for them.

Be careful with adding too many secondary keywords that also have your main focus keyword inside. It could register as over-optimization and keyword stuffing.

5. Answer People’s Questions

In the “Topics and questions to answer” section, you’ll find scraped “people also ask” questions. Use these questions to create an outline or brief for your writer—these are the questions that they’ll try to answer while writing your content.

topics and question to answer

If there aren’t any questions like this for your target keyword, Surfer looks for similar keywords with relevant questions. You can also type your own custom topics and questions to answer.

Pro tip: If it’s possible, add an FAQ section within the content.

Implement FAQ Schema properly to increase your chances of acquiring bigger (and, therefore, more eye-catching) snippets in the search results. Here’s what it looks like in the SERP, using one of my own blog posts:

FAQ schema serp section

As you can see, rich formatting like this takes up more space in the SERP, making your page stand out from the rest.

6. Add Notes And Make Sure You Get What You Need

If there’s anything else you’d like your copywriter to know or take into consideration when writing), you can include it in the “Notes” section. This also helps you consolidate all the info in one place so that it’s not scattered across various communication channels like emails, chat, Trello boards, etc.

content editor notes

7. Share Guidelines With A Copywriter

Your work is done, now it’s time to send your outline to your writer. Finalize your guidelines, and share them via this button:

copy link to share surfer

They will be able to access the Content Editor without needing your login details or a Surfer account, but they won’t be able to change the brief requirements.

When they start writing, Surfer will instantly update the number of times a writer has used a word or phrase. Once they’re done (and they’ve followed your brief), it should look something like this:

content structure wordcount

You don’t have to manually count the phrases/words, so it takes only a few minutes to review.

Pro tip: Many companies use Google Docs for content creation. There is a Surfer Chrome extension that gives you the functionality of Surfer (recommendations and all) without leaving Google Docs.

Publish Your Content

Now that you have completed your content, it’s time to publish it and monitor the results. After a week or two, use a rank tracker or Google Search Console to check your progress and find out which keywords you now rank for.

You should also look for keywords where you’re close to breaking into the top ten, then (as time goes on) run audits in the SERP Analyzer to get recommendations on how to improve your content—more on existing content optimization in the next section!

Use Case No. 2: Optimizing Existing Content

The audit tool is your biggest ally when it comes to quick on-page optimization. To get to your audit, add the page in the “Compare with competitors” section. To illustrate, I’ll be using my own article on this domain, which ranks at #11 for “organic seo services” in the US.

comparing website competitor

Before you hit the “Audit” button, you have to prepare a few things first.

Audit Your Page Against Top URLs

By default, Surfer analyzes the top five pages for your keyword. If you want to be more precise (as  you should), you can pick your own pages for analysis.

Start with excluding all pages from the main view.

audit your pages urls

Next, go page by page and manually include the ones that you know serve similar intent and are good benchmarks. Include as many as are relevant to your analysis.

relevant analysis audit

Then, click the “Audit” button to start optimizing. Focus on the following aspects:

  • Comparing word count
  • Reducing content gap by mentioning missing word entities
  • Checking the “red flags” that Surfer points out

1. Review Word Count

Click on “Audit” and start the analysis. Review the length listed under “True Density”. If the content is longer, consider having it revised.

Let’s see how my “organic seo services” page is doing against pages I picked:

reviewing word count graph

According to this, we can see that my content is long enough, but it could be longer. Based on this info, I can do one of two things:

  1. Leave it as is; OR,
  2. Add around 500 extra words and incorporate the missing terms.
The suggested range is from the average word count of the top 5 (range minimum) to the highest word count plus 10% (range maximum).

Depending on your timeline, budget, current rank, and other factors, you could choose either of the two options. In my case, I didn’t touch the content because the person in 1st is getting away with shorter content.  When in Rome.

2. Reduce Content Gap With True Density

“Content gap” describes any topics/phrases/words that your competitors include in their content that you don’t include in yours. You can pinpoint content gaps using Surfer’s True Density tool, which reports the most common phrases in the top-performing SERP pages for your target keyword.

Some call it TFIDF, Surfer calls it True Density.  It’s all (pretty much) the same thing.

If you opt into NLP Analysis from the main SERP Analyzer dashboard, you will find NLP-enriched entities from currently-ranking content, excluding the pages you removed.

Always start with content length optimization first before moving onto True Density analysis. Because keyword density and usage depend on how long your content is, it will change drastically if you decide to add or remove words.

true density analysis snapshot

In my example, Surfer found that I used certain words much more frequently compared to my competitors. It also showed me the missing terms that I can use to make the article longer and more comprehensive.

To see which keywords need your attention the most, sort by action.

Remember, you don’t have to fix all the True Density errors at once. You can start with just the phrases, then move on to optimizing another page—monitoring the progress from your small changes in the meantime.

Reducing the content gap and optimizing your keyword use can significantly impact your performance and rank, and you may not even need to make additional changes.

3. Place Keywords Where They Belong

In SEO, it’s not just which words to use and how many times to use them that matter—where you use them matters, too. Keyword placement is considered an important ranking factor, and you can use Surfer to identify better placement opportunities.

Scroll down the page to find the section for density and usage in segments. It will tell you if you’re missing an exact keyword in the H1 or meta-title. Fixing this is a great yet simple way to improve your on-page signals.

placing keyword guide

Based on the graph below, I checked my article for the number of exact keywords in the body. In its current state, it meets the suggested range, although I could afford to add another exact keyword or two. If filling the content gap does not give you the results you want to see, and you have some opportunities for additional exact keywords, you can come back to this one and optimize it.

exact keyword rank graph

Partial keywords are important as well, especially when exact keywords were not frequently used by the top-ranking pages. This happens more than you think.

You can find examples of good partial keywords highlighted in popular words and popular phrases sections.

partial keyword graph surfer seo

4. Structure Your Content

Page structure is an indirect ranking factor because it impacts readability and visitor bounce rate. A hard-to-understand page structure discourages readers, resulting in less time spent on the page…and lower rankings.

Surfer has a tool that can tell you if your content is well-structured, based on the top-ranking pages.

content structure number of elements

For my article, Surfer recommended that I reduce the number of bolded elements on the page. This is merely a suggestion, of course, and it’s still your prerogative whether to act on them or not. Since bolded content isn’t that big of a deal for me (or rankings in general), I left it as is.

Pro tip: Before you make a decision and start implementing changes, analyze the root cause of your potential problems. Not all of these “problems” require fixing, especially if the cost to fix it is more than the benefit you’ll get.

5. Look Into Page Speed Insights

Website performance heavily affects visitors’ satisfaction, and it may be a relevant signal for Google. Check your website’s load speed in comparison to your competitors.

If your pages are loading too slowly that could be a major reason why you aren’t ranking well.

But sometimes, the data will show you that your competitors are ranking despite having slower loading speeds. In that case, you can leave it as is.

surfer seo page speed insight

As you can see, my page has significantly quicker load times (℅ WP Speedfix) compared to the top-performing pages in the SERP. There’s nothing to improve here.

6. Progressive Content Optimization

Congratulations, you’ve finished auditing your pages!

But as with most SEO efforts, on-page is never “finished” per se. You should always revisit your most important pages on a periodic basis. I choose quarterly.

Google tweaks its algorithm all the time and your competitors are also constantly improving.

Make sure that your content is up-to-date and optimized.

7. Test Results

The process of optimization is pretty simple. But how do you know your changes actually made an impact?

By testing the results, of course.

I’ll show you what I mean through two of my own test cases. I chose two articles with two different main keywords (“organic seo services” and “local seo solutions” respectively) and ran them through the Surfer audit. Both pages were optimized with terms obtained through NLP (more info about the recent NLP update here).

Here’s what happened:

Test Case 1: “Organic SEO Services”

14th of January

The page (https://diggitymarketing.com/organic-seo-services/) had been fluctuating between rank 20-ish and rank 100 (something f’d up was going on).

The audit showed that there was a huge content gap and a missing exact keyword in the H1. The Content Editor showed that there were dozens of keywords missing.

16th of January

We finished revising the content, which was then sent off to be indexed. Below is a before and after of the Content Editor, where you can see that we tried to incorporate as many of the keywords as possible and get completely green.


20th of January

We checked the page performance after a few days. The page shot up to rank 3 for the target keyword and remained there. 

organic seo page performance

Test Case #2 – Local SEO Solutions

20th of January

The page (https://diggitymarketing.com/local-seo-solutions/) consistently ranked between 5th-6th place. A quick audit revealed tons of missing terms in my content. An NLP analysis fetched keywords that sounded obvious but were also missing from the page.

test case true identity

This time, I tried something different—I used Google Docs and the Surfer Chrome extension so that I could edit directly in my Drive without missing out on any functionality. The recommendations are the same whether you’re using the Content Editor or the extension.

Here is what I sent to indexation, with roughly 80% of the terms in the green:

Google Docs and the Surfer Chrome extension

Results were immediate. The page jumped to #2 and remained there. This example demonstrates pure optimization against NLP Entities.

pure optimization results surfer

Use Case #3: Explore Which Ranking Signals Matter And Which Don’t In Your Niche

The Audit feature is great if you want simple, actionable steps to improve your content. But if you enjoy looking at comprehensive SERP data, you can use the SERP Analyzer. The SERP Analyzer looks at over 500 ranking signals, giving you plenty of insight to work with.

Access the SERP Analyzer tool, which is right next to the Content Editor tool. Plug your keyword and location, access the main view, and check out the graph. For this case, let’s use the keyword “keyword cannibalization” and the US as a location.

keyword cannibalization graph analysis

The graph shows you correlations between position in SERP and a specific ranking factor—in this case, the correlation between word count and ranking.

Before you start playing with the graph, you need to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Next to each potential ranking factor, there’s a small visual that suggests how strong the correlation is. More green bars mean a strong correlation. Yellow, red, or all gray means that the factors are less important. However, these are merely suggestions, so it’s up to you to take them into consideration or not.keyword structure guide tab
  2. By default, the chart presents up to 50 of the top ranking pages. You don’t have to look at the correlation between all of them, though. You can focus on the first 20 or 30 results. This will help you pin down a pattern without overwhelming you with too much data.
  3. Use the eye icon next to the URLs in the SERP below the graph. Again, you don’t want to analyze pages with a mix of search intent, content types, and lengths. Even one outlier (e.g. a skyscraper article with thousands and thousands of words) can skew the whole analysis.

search intent analysis

This correlational analysis, done correctly, can give you great insight into the factors that may be worth looking at. It speeds up the process of figuring out which factors you should take into account while also doing an in-depth page audit.

Strong and easy-to-spot correlations are more likely to appear in homogenous SERPs, but do not conflate correlation with causation! Learn how to identify patterns and rely on your judgment when making important decisions.

In the case below, you can see that there are plenty of high-ranking pages that have more words than those in lower rankings, which would lead you to assume that longer is better.  You can also see that articles that are too long also tend to rank lower, so you should avoid lengthy content for this particular keyword if you want to rank higher.

seach results position chart 1

Use Case #4: Optimize For Multiple Keywords (At The Same Time) With Cluster Analysis

You can use Surfer’s Keyword Research Tool to find keywords with similar SERPS—that is, similar pages are ranking for more than one keyword. If the same URLs rank for the same keywords, it’s a great indicator that they are relevant and easy to take over, even with the same content. This can also help you build supporting pages with topical relevance that will boost your “money page”.

Analyze Similar Keywords

In the Keyword Research Input, plug in your main keyword and localization. Press enter to access the dashboard.

Analyze Similar Keywords snap

Surfer suggests similar keywords based on their database of overlapping search results. In the example below, you can see that there’s a 75% similarity between the main keyword “seo audit” and the secondary keyword “seo audit site”. This means that 75% of pages in the SERP for “seo audit” and the SERP for “seo audit site” are roughly the same!

If all those pages managed to rank for those two keywords, there’s a very big chance that you could rank for them too. It’s up to you to decide if you want to target both keywords with one page or with a network of pages.

network of pages seo audit analysis

If you notice that some keywords have really nice SERP similarity, use them as your secondary keywords to get more traffic.


Run Multi-Analysis for Your Keywords

If you aren’t getting many similar keywords, then the multi-analysis feature will come in handy. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1

Add interesting ideas to the clipboard from the keyword list. Based on them, Surfer will show you a broader list of keyword ideas.

surfer broader list of keyword ideas

Step 2

Click the “Research” button and uncover dozens of suggestions. You will be able to check the similarity between all your researched phrases and the suggested ones by hovering over the max similarity percentage inside the table.

keyword research similar percentage count

I have just found a new topic – free seo audit online – you can explore the niche even deeper.

Step 3

You can sort suggestions by their estimated search volume, max similarity, and the number of similar keywords. For this process, sort by the number of similar keywords—the higher the number, the bigger your chances of targeting this keyword with just one ranking article.

number of similar keywords seo audit

For my “seo audit”-related keywords, Surfer generated a nice list of phrases I could use on my page. There’s a high probability that any of these could increase my organic traffic.

Pro tip: To get more topics/questions or keyword suggestions, you can just add more similar keywords to the clipboard. This will instruct Surfer to pull from a wider set of data.

Analyze Similar Questions

Surfer extracts questions from the list of similar keywords, which could help you uncover a list of questions highly connected to your main query.

Analyze Similar Questions kw reasearch

You can use them as inspiration when creating a brief for your writer. They could also help you spot additional traffic-building opportunities for existing content.

question and keword guide ideas

Like with similar keywords, you can sort questions by the similarity score or the estimated search volume.

Use Case No. 5: Find Backlinks Your Competitors Have And You Don’t

Surfer is first and foremost an on-page optimization tool, but they also have an interesting off-page feature: common backlinks.

With common backlinks, you’ll get a list of domains and pages that at least two of your top 20 competitors have a link from. And because you’re only identifying backlink opportunities from high-ranking pages, you assume that these are quality backlinks.

Analyze Common Backlinks

Surfer provides you with a set of domains that are commonly linked to your top 20 competitors. Under the graph, you’ll find a “Common backlinks” tab that will show you a list of link opportunities for your domain:

common referring domain search

Through the common backlinks tool, you can connect with the most common and powerful domains for your link-building strategy. To get the exact referring URLs, just click on the number in the “competitors with link” column.

Dive Into Missing Common Backlinks

The Audit tool also helps you identify missing common backlinks, or backlinks that have been acquired by your competitors but are not in your profile.

missing common backlinks list

Export the data and get to work on link acquisition and placement. It should be easy since these domains are commonly linking to similar competitors—you already know what the link type is and where it’s placed.


Now you know how useful Surfer can be in the hands of a skilled SEO when it comes to on-page optimization and content creation. You’ve learned how to:

  • Write or outsource optimized content using Surfer’s Content Editor
  • Optimize your existing pages to gain or even recover rankings with the Audit feature and correlational SEO
  • Find new keywords to get more traffic, even with the same amount of pages
  • Discover backlink opportunities based on links that your competitors have and you don’t

Whether you’re a small business trying to DIY your SEO or an SEO agency looking for quick client solutions, this process guide will help you use Surfer to your advantage. Bookmark it, read it, try it, and tweak it to your needs! Just keep in mind the following important takeaways:

  • Surfer is not a cure for terrible content. If you go for difficult keywords or have low-quality articles, no white-hat tools or techniques can help you get the results you want.
  • Don’t try to outsmart Google with much longer articles than your potential visitors need. Longer is not always better, and there are more efficient ways to spend your budget!
  • Reducing the content gap on your page can help you fix your ranking significantly, and it should be one of the first optimizations you should make.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your existing pages and the success rate of new content, I wholeheartedly recommend trying Surfer. I truly believe that this investment will give you some incredible returns.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.


Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — February 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-feb-2020/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-feb-2020/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2020 05:38:46 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=510904 (Read more...)]]> By now, most of us have shaken off the fog of the holidays and are really leaning into what we want to make out of this year.

If you’re ready to buckle down and break your own records, this roundup is for you. Almost every item here points you to something you can upgrade, tweak, or optimize in your current campaigns—right now.

It begins with a beefy set of guides. They’ll teach you how to write superior outreach emails, how to scale organic traffic (but not with blog posts), how to launch content market campaigns without missing a detail, and how NLP is changing everything.

After that, our case studies will give you an in-depth look at the state of your Affiliate SERPs in 2020, how your blogging needs to evolve and whether LSI keywords work the way you’ve been told they do.

Finally, don’t miss the top SEO headlines of the last month. There are new changes to snippets, odd traffic trends around the massive Forbes website, and a report that Google is backtracking on its desktop search results redesign.

There’s plenty to get to, so let’s dive right in. First, how much do you think you could increase your outreach with just a simple hack?

Increase your Outreach Conversions 67% with this Simple Hack


It’s possible to set up your outreach emails in a way that makes your targets leap at them. It’s not hard, and I’m not asking you to take my word for the kind of results this method gets.

You can find the data right there in the article.

The premise is simple.

You can increase your outreach conversions by more than 65% by pitching only titles that your target wants.

Figuring out what content is irresistible to your target may not be as hard as you think. The guide breaks it down into three steps.

  1. Identify their weaker competitors
  2. Research their content gaps
  3. Show them the gap and pitch them the content they’re missing (for free, even)

It gets a little more complicated than that, but each step is well-explained in the article. In cases where tools are used, you’ll see screen captures so you’ll know where to go to find the data you need.

The end result of following these steps is that you can reach out to a target with the content they’ve been craving. Once you get this process, it’s easy to delegate to an outreach team.

While you’ve still got writing strategies on your mind, let’s look at Backlinko’s ideas for how you can do better at content marketing in 2020.

Backlinko’s Guide to Content Marketing in 2020


Backlinko’s guide to content marketing in 2020 is one of the largest you’re going to find, but let’s look at whether it’s the one you’ve been waiting for.

The content includes seven beefy chapters that are unusually specific in their conclusions. They are:

  • Double Down on Video Content
  • Promote With Email
  • Publish “Be The Source” Posts
  • Get Engagement (and Reach) on LinkedIn
  • Create More Epic Content
  • Jump On Emerging Topics
  • Content Repurposing 2.0
  • Content Marketing Tactics for 2020

Some of these changes are going to require large budgets and risky bets. Backlinko makes the case (in this chapter and others) that there is a ton of data that supports the changes. For one…

YouTube is now the largest website on earth after Google. Facebook and Instagram have also focused heavily on expanding video technologies.

Other trends are used to make the case that future content marketing is going to require you to blaze trails. That could mean new perspectives that haven’t been covered, focus on “big” ideas and powerful conclusions, and continue heavily repurposing (if you haven’t started already).

top web ranking similar web

All worth a try, but you have to admit it’s pretty bold to release the “2020 definitive guide” in January. We’ll see how powerful its predictive power is pretty soon.

If you’re in the mood to think about the future of content, you’ll also want to learn what the next guide can teach you about “natural language processing”, or NLP.

How Is NLP Changing The Way We do On-Page SEO in 2020?


Natural Language Processing is a big trend in SEO, and this guide focuses on how you may be able to make your content ready.

While theoretical in some places, the advice here is based on some solid communications from Google. When BERT landed, it’s role as Google described it was to “improv(e) language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries”.

A rough way to understand it is that NLP is the methodology that created the standards BERT uses to determine context and learn new context.

Is it possible to “optimize” for NLP? Perhaps… and the guide section focuses on some of the ways that you can look at your own standards and optimize them for the future.

Mainly, the argument is that you need to focus on the areas where you have control of your website’s structure, the quality of your articles, and the links that are coming and going.

jan 2020 google liasion post

The rollout of BERT represents a serious enhancement in the ability of AI to determine the legitimacy of “related” content, including what tone the content takes toward its subject. It’s a call to action for everyone to run a tighter ship.

Tighter procedures can be a particular challenge when you’re trying to scale up, but CXL claims to have a fresh theory for how to do that without creating a ton of carefully-prepped blog posts.

“How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts)”


This guide makes the case that you can do that you can seize traffic by creating new products—as long as you have the budget to justify it.

The argument made here is that some sites (Quora is the example used here) have managed most of their growth in recent years not by competing for terms, but by expanding their features to create compelling new destinations on their site that drive new traffic.

Features can be a massive driver of new traffic, and this guide illustrates how you can:

  • brainstorm product features;
  • narrow your list of potential features;
  • deploying those new features in an SEO-friendly way

The guide goes deeply into steps you can take to make new features that can meet those standards. It even includes some closing advice on how you can make a case for new product features to your clients.

orgabic traffic carrot meme

Not everyone is going to have the budget for a solution at this scale, but the companies that are facing stagnation across a slate of terms are sometimes the ones with 6-figure budgets. Going bold could certainly work out for them.

If you’re ready for some more data, you’re ready to jump into this month’s rich collection of case studies. First, we’ll look at how affiliate sites are behaving in SERPs and examine the question of whether general sites are dominating niche ones.

Affiliate SERPs in 2020: A Detailed, 1,000 Keyword Analysis


This study began with a look at the rankings of 1000 affiliate-populated keywords. The idea was to determine (based on some odd readings) whether general sites have started to outperform hyper niche sites for the same terms.


Those odd readings included the fact that publishers like Business Insider were snatching up top spots for certain products like toasters.

The team picked a slate of affiliate marketing keyphrases including:

  • Best electric toothbrush
  • Budget GPU reviews
  • Best portable AC

The terms were searched, and more than 2000 websites were sorted by hand to determine whether they fit into one of several categories including:

  • General review sites
  • Niche affiliate sites
  • Hyperniche affiliate site
  • Social media
  • SEO agencies

While the experiment began with the question of whether niche sites were losing ground, that didn’t seem to be the conclusion of the data generated.

keyword list meme

In the end, (compared to general review sites), hyper niche sites caught the first place spot 33% more of the time. Additionally, when a niche site ranked, it was first in 53.4% of cases. eCommerce sites didn’t fare as well. When they managed to get a spot on page one, it ranked first just 1.7% of the time.

There are arguments made here that a niche-focused or hyper niche-focused site would make a better investment. However, there are a lot of factors that need to be looked at. For example, there can be a huge disparity in size or domain authority between two results.

Another factor that should be looked at is how much work these sites put toward creating competitive content. Our next item is going to cover how bloggers feel that they’re meeting the latest content standards.

[New Research] How Has Blogging Changed? 5 Years of Blogging Statistics, Data and Trends


This poll of 1000 bloggers looks at how the business of creating blog content has changed in the last five years.

The polls covers a lot of different questions, including how long people are spending on writing blogs, how many images get used, how often keyword research is part of the equation, and how often publishing happens.


A lot of the answers won’t be new, but it’s interesting to look at just how strong and sustained some of these trends are.

To no one’s surprise, blog articles are getting significantly longer.

According to the respondents, the average time to complete a post has jumped from 2 ½ hours to nearly 4.

That extra time accommodates the massive increase in words from an average of around ~800 in 2014 to an average of ~1200 now.

The bloggers who reported the strongest results from their posts preferred a length beyond 2000 words (the longest option in the survey).

Another interesting trend you’ll find is that the vast majority of bloggers (approaching 70%) report that they now make upgrades to older content as a matter of strategy.

Plenty of other data is included that may be of special interest to people in specific niches. How many are working with an editor?  How many draft headlines does the average team write? That and plenty more is here.

Next, we have a case study about LSI and Ahref’s argument that they don’t matter in the way that we think they do.

LSI Keywords: What are They and Do They Matter?


If you believe the following two things about LSI—

  • Google uses LSI to index web pages
  • LSI keywords in your content help you rank

—then you agree with most SEOs. However, most SEOS might be wrong. That’s the case that Ahrefs is making in this deep look at what LSI really is and how it behaves.

As the article points out, the purpose of LSI is to use complex formulas to determine the relationships between words and phrases from a set of documents and establish context.


Google has clearly gotten better delivering more context-appropriate results in recent years, so what argument could there be that Google isn’t using LSI?

This study uses some credible sources to point out that…

  • LSI is an outdated technology that scales badly
  • It’s designed to assess a static collection of documents, not a collection that adds and subtracts millions of documents a day
  • Google was already making strides on understanding context five years before the LSI patent expired

So, LSI doesn’t matter? That may be, but it’s important to point out this conclusion honestly doesn’t change much when it comes to optimization.

Context still matters. Using natural language for your niche still matters. Google just (might be) using a different technology to pull it off.

That’s the last of the guides. Now, let’s jump to the hottest headlines for the last month. First, what does it mean that featured snippets can’t be duplicated across a snippet and first page results?

Google: Webpages with Featured Snippets Won’t Appear Twice on Page 1


Snippets have become the focus of yet another significant change for SERPs. From now on, no page can hold both the featured snippet and a page-one result. The change has already been rolled out worldwide and affects 100% of searches.

The snippet is now counted as 1 of the 10 organic results that are displayed on the first page of any search. In searches where more than one snippet occurs, each snippet will count as one of the 10.

snippet cersei meme

The reception has been anxious. A lot of SEOs are concerned about the math that goes into what happens when a snippet is lost, or how results that are pushed to page 2 will be ordered.

It remains to be seen whether trading a 1st-page organic result for the snippet is a trade that sites want to make. Existing “nosnippets” tags that lock pages out of being featured are being discussed as a way to hold the organic listing, but that’s a risky bet to make.

Expect to see more on this issue in the coming months. The next story is also one that’s likely to play out in a big way in the future. Forbes insiders are claiming that their traffic has collapsed.

Did Forbes Google Search Traffic Just Completely Die?


Forbes has long been a major force in the online publishing world, but all that may be about to come to an end.

A few days after the January core update landed, sources at Forbes were reporting dizzying traffic losses up to 10x. Though internal data was removed from the original post, the same data should now be showing up on everyone’s traffic tools.

What caused this big change? A lot of people have theories.

Forbes ranking down

One of those theories is that this penalty has been a long time coming. Forbes has a bit of a reputation (one that comes across in the comment section of this story) for low-quality content and a come-one-come-all approach to links.

If all that came back to bite them, it might point to the possibility that Google is more willing than in the past to come down on huge, institutional sites.

This may be bad news for Forbes, as Google can be hard to talk down. However, as the next item shows, they can be moved by some types of public pressure.

Google is backtracking on its controversial desktop search results redesign


Google recently announced that it was making changes to its desktop search results to make them appear more like mobile results.

Shortly after that testing began, though, critics were complaining that the changes went too far. Some accused Google of taking extra steps to make it harder to tell the difference between paid and organic results.

The use of favicons to denote non-ad results (instead of the other way around) drew particular attention from the critics.

google logos glitches

Several days later, Google announced that it was rolling back the changes to allow for more testing. An announcement that followed shortly afterwards read…

“…While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time.”

This doesn’t seem to suggest that critics have really won here, but for the time being, the look of their SERPs is safe.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — January 2020 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-jan-2020/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-jan-2020/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2020 06:26:37 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=510614 (Read more...)]]> A new year may be upon us, but we’re not quite done reflecting on the last one just yet. It was filled with news and advice you need to know if you’re involved in SEO or affiliate marketing.

What news was that? Well, have I got a roundup for you.

We’ll start with the top guides. In this month’s collection, you’ll find a beefy guide to SEO in 2020 and a list of mistakes to avoid when managing an outreach team. You’ll also learn from well-illustrated examples of successful amazon affiliate sites and content.

After that, make sure you catch the month’s most intriguing case studies. Learn what the research has to say about where blogging is going, the meaning of last year’s biggest trends, and how one source says you can come out as a winner of every algorithm update.

Finally, we get to the headlines. Google made some important announcements last month that are definitely worth checking out. They include a report on all the biggest search trends, a clarification on when to disavow unwanted links, and the rollout of neural matching to all local searches.

Let’s start with Backlinko’s huge guide to SEO in 2020.

The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2020


Backlinko has just published what they are calling the “definitive” 2020 SEO guide. I’ll let you be the judge of that, but no one can say they didn’t put in the elbow grease.

SEO future UI

The guide includes 9 full chapters that cover:

  • Domain authority 2.0
  • The rise of visual search
  • The significance of video
  • The significance of voice search
  • The significance of backlinks
  • What it means to optimize for featured snippets
  • What is means to master search intent
  • How to treat decreasing CTR

Sure, not all of this information is going to be new to you. However, there is enough here that everyone should be able to learn something.

It helps that the guide is packed with graphics, embedded videos, and even some podcasts to provide extra depth.

Is that enough to make it the definitive SEO guide of 2020? Maybe, but I bet there’s going to be some competition for that title before long.

Look for those in a future roundup.

For now, let’s look at what 7 successful examples can teach you about how to develop an amazon affiliate site.

7 Successful Amazon Affiliate Websites (That You Can Learn From)


If you’re someone who learns best by reverse-engineering what works for your competitors, this may be the affiliate marketing guide you’ve been waiting for.

This guide presents seven successful affiliate sites and then dives deep into what makes them tick. Each example is packed with stats you can compare, including DR, number of referring domains and estimated organic traffic.

dollars on laptop

After the stats, each section features a more strategic analysis that looks into questions like how the site creates content and builds trust with its unique audience.

Different niches are well-represented in the article. That should make it easy to find something comparable to yours. They include:

  • Survival gear
  • Home-brewed coffee
  • Dog food
  • PC Parts
  • Adventure travel

Some of the sites here have an estimated revenue in the millions, so don’t feel bad if you’ve got a long way to go to match their polish. There are a lot of ways to reach the next level with an affiliate site.

Now, let’s look at how you can make fewer mistakes when you’re managing an outreach team.

11 Mistakes to Avoid when Managing an Outreach Team


This guide features Pete King’s experienced take on how to avoid the potholes of managing an outreach team.

Across 11 points, the guide covers the mistakes that are most likely to slow down your process, eat up too much of your time or blow up your budget.

dream team meme

Pete argues that you can build an agile team as long as you put systems in place so you don’t…

  • Hire for the wrong skills
  • Lose track of the actions being performed
  • Track meaningless KPIs
  • Leave your team without the right leadership
  • Get dragged into processes that should be automated
  • Piss off webmasters

You may be able to use this guide to improve an existing process, but it’s also detailed enough that it could help you build your first team.

If you like doing things at a large scale, you’ll probably also enjoy the next item coming up, a guide to content frameworks for startups.

SEO for Startups: 7 High-Converting Content Frameworks (With Examples)


This guide approaches content building in a different way than many of the guides you may have seen in the past.

This guide is aimed at growth-stage startups trying to attract more qualified traffic. It recommends this be done by developing content along one of seven provided frameworks.

What’s a content framework? It’s a model for making sure that a certain type of content meets a certain set of goals, and avoids certain dangers. Think of it like a template, but for the content’s strategy instead of its look.

Stages of SEO startup

The article introduces 7 of them that are based around some of the most common types of articles in affiliate marketing.

  • Alternative to [Brand] framework
  • Comparison framework
  • Best Tools for [Specific Task] framework
  • How to Choose the Right [Product or Service] framework
  • Industry Trends framework
  • Product Use Case framework

Alternative to [Brand] framework is a great starting example.

So, what is “alternative to brand” content? Think of any topic where you’re setting your product up as an alternative to a more established brand. When you write this type of content, you need to provide information that matches searcher intent.

You also need to avoid getting sued, which can be a risk when you’re making statements about a competitor’s products.

The framework provided in this article provides a series of rules for writing this type of content, and for the other 6 types it describes.

The guide closes with a large section on how to analyze SERPs to qualify your keywords and make the content more effective.

If you follow this guide, you could end up putting a lot more blogs out into the world. But how many are out there already? How many are published each year? What length do SEOs feel delivers the best results?

If you’ve ever found yourself asking those questions, you shouldn’t miss the first case study in our set.

How Many Blogs Are There? (And 141 Other Blogging Stats)


This data-driven piece has come out just in time to provide you with some insight into the state of blogs across the internet as we move into 2020.

It draws together surveys, polls, consumer reports and other types of data from recent research to give you a broad look at what the future may bring.

blogging is cool

Plenty in here may matter to you if you’re involved in the strategy or production of content. For example, did you know that…

85% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers say their companies blog or use other types of content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)

Or that,

Headlines with negative terms like “never” and “worst” perform 30% better than average, and 60% better than ones with positive terms like “always”, “most”, and “best”. ( ConversionXL)

If not, it may be a good idea to give the stats here a scan. Now,  let’s turn to our next case study, a look into what changed with each core update over 2019.

SEO research in 2019 – A Summary of Rank Ranger’s Findings


Google can seem pretty unpredictable at times, but as long as you have two points, you can start drawing lines. This roundup item aims to help you do that by providing data into what changed after each update landed.

The study breaks up the data by the months the updates hit, making for four in total. These are the…

  • March Core Update
  • June Core Update
  • July (Unconfirmed) Update
  • September Core Update

For each of these, you get tables of data about what changed and where. The tables show you how much volatility there was in the top 3, 5, and 10 results for a variety of important niches such as travel, home/garden, health, finance, and gambling.

rank ranger niche graph flunktuation

This could be useful information for you if you’re in one of those niches. You could make all kinds of predictions (or bets) by interpreting the data in your own way.

But what if you could do better than risky odds? In the next case study, the author claims you can win every Google core algorithm update.

How to Become a Winner from Every Google Core Algorithm Update


This ambitious case study takes a deep look into a site that came out of every update of the past year as a winner (after the first one). From that example, they make an interesting case that you can follow the same path to come out the winner in future updates.

Sounds like a bit of a bold claim, right? Let’s see what they have to say.

september 2019 update wins

How would you do that? They have suggestions. In each section, they discuss how the algorithm change affected their site and what changes they made. After the first one, the changes mostly worked out for their site, but they claim it took a lot of work to get there, including:

  • Improving Internal Links
  • Modernizing Site-Architecture, Internal Pagerank, Traffic and Crawl Efficiency
  • Improving Content Structure
  • Building User Trust
  • Managing Index Pollution, Bloat, and Canonical Tags
  • Correcting Wrong Status Codes
  • Optimizing Sitemap and Robots.txt
  • Examining the Competitors

While ‘1’ isn’t a great representative number of samples for a case study, there are definitely opportunities to learn here.

For the site in question, these strategies were a success. They increased their organic sessions by 82.66%, and their site clicks by 92.72% while expanding their keywords ranked for by 9000. Those would be impressive stats even if the site didn’t take a hit from the update first.

Has this team figured out how to ride the wave of Google updates to victory? I’d be skeptical, but they’ve certainly found something that works for their site. If you’re also in the rocky financial niche, you may find the tricks you need to break through arrested growth.

Now, let’s move on to the news. A lot happened this month, starting with Google’s release of the top trending searches of 2019.

Google Reveals Top Trending Searches of 2019


Here’s an interesting summary of all of the year’s largest search trends, published by Google. If you want to do some research on what is being searched, how much it’s being searched and where it’s growing the most, this is a great place to start.

troopers google search the droids

This article only features a few examples that have been isolated for SEOs and affiliate marketers. For example, you can learn the most searched recipes of 2019 (Shepherd’s pie and chicken parmigiana are at the top), or the most searched query of the year (What is Area 51).

This article could be a great first stop before you choose the topic of your next money site. While building any site, you’re going to want to know that your links are delivering the juice.

Google: We Ignore Links From Sites Where Links Are Unlikely To Be Natural


Google isn’t always forthcoming about how they measure sites, but you can occasionally catch some clarification when insiders are answering direct questions.

In this case, John Mueller was asked by a nervous SEO whether a wave of unwanted backlinks needed to be addressed. The asker wanted to know if the links needed to be disavowed or if they could just be ignored.

inconceivable backlinks meme

John assured him that Google already ignores links that are likely to be unnatural and that disavowing them is not something that needs to be done as an emergency.

If “naturalness” is a deciding factor on the ignore policy, I’m wondering why people still build blog comments.

“Likely” may be an important word, here. Google can evaluate signals, but that doesn’t give them a 100% accuracy rate. If you start getting manual actions, it may be worth the work to go in and disavow them.

Google Adds Neural Matching to Local Searches


Neural matching has been added to local searches. If you’re trying to remember what that means, this quick refresher Google made in the announcement should help.

“Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system.

google tweets regarding AI Neural Matching

For example, neural matching helps us understand that a search for “why does my TV look strange” is related to the concept of “the soap opera effect.” We can then return pages about the soap opera effect, even if the exact words aren’t used.”

The rollout is expected to improve the quality and relevance of local results, as it already has for organic searches. It’s not expected to significantly change any positions, but higher quality pages may benefit as spammier results become less competitive.


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Case Study: Should you Put Display Ads on Affiliate Websites? https://diggitymarketing.com/display-ads-case-study/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 05:35:29 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=10452 (Read more...)]]>  

You like money, right? Do you like cashing in a second time on websites and content you’ve already developed? I sure do, that’s why I designed a case study to determine whether it’s possible to turn a healthy affiliate site into a better earner by monetizing it through display ads.

I get it, you’re immediately skeptical, right?

Of course, you are. Multiple income streams are always awesome, but why would you ever monetize a site in a way that might get in the way of how it pays you now? Most affiliate marketers shun ads because their sites make money by drawing people directly to affiliate links, not ads.

People on the affiliate side rightfully ask: Won’t ads distract people away from the links to my affiliate products? Won’t I lose the precious trust of my readers? Will my site load slower?

Those concerns are exactly what I set out to test in this latest case study.

In the following article, you’re going to learn what effect the introduction of ads had on load time, traffic, earnings, and other site growth factors.

Finally, you’ll walk away with a definitive answer on if display ads are a valuable addition to your affiliate content sites.

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.

For those that like the details, the numbers, and more, carry on…

First, a quick overview of what display ads are and how they fit into the affiliate model.

What are Display Ads?

Though you likely filter out a lot of display ads you see every day, they are far too common to ignore completely. Google Ads remains the largest ad platform serving the internet and has only gotten better at delivering targeted ads wherever you go.

You’ll see them on most sites. As an off-hand example, here’s one that’s been following me around.

Vegas Display Ad sample

Unless you aggressively block scripts with a tool like Adblock, you’ve seen them, and you may have even been tempted to click.

If you haven’t used display ads on your site before, the setup is pretty simple. You apply to an ad network, meet the qualifications, and then follow their custom instructions on how to set up your website to display their ads.

It’s hard to be more specific because the qualifications will vary from website to website. Most will require a minimum level of traffic. AdThrive requires a minimum of 100,000 monthly page views. Smaller networks like Mediavine require 25,000 sessions a month.

They are likely to have content restrictions when it comes to adult topics and imagery. As you’d expect, the best networks have demanding standards.

If you still need more background on display ads, this short guide can fill in some of the blanks.

Now that we’re all caught up, here’s how my case study rolled out.

The Case Study

The study involved a single affiliate website. After some consideration,  I chose a website that was already moderately successful with affiliate offers (earning roughly $8,000 per month).

I had less-valuable sites to choose from, but I chose this one because I wanted a site that had a decent amount of traffic.

Good traffic means sudden trends will stand out from the static. I wanted to have statistically significant behavior to analyze when the ads appeared.

traffic overview chart display on a tablet device

My plan was to place the ads across 37 informational content pieces on the site.

I monetized the informational content pieces with email opt-ins to rewards like ebooks. The ROI for an email address is nowhere near as valuable as links to affiliate products that I placed on other pages.

So even if the worst happened.  Even if the ads that ate all the clicks, turned away the readers, or destroyed my site speed… it still would only affect these low ROI informational pages.

The idea that ads only be served to certain pages generated some major resistance from ad networks (more on that in just a bit), but I was able to limit ads to those pages in the end by finding the right ad partner.

Choosing the ad network for the experiment

Two networks came more highly recommended than the others: Ezoic and Media Vine. However, neither one was able to help with the experiment.

Both demanded that I allow ads on all pages or none of them. That wasn’t something I was willing to do, given the risks stated above.

I’ve had people come to me and say that both these networks allow pick-and-choose options, but that’s not my experience.

Actual conversation with Mediavine’s rep:


I really wasn’t enthusiastic about installing the sitewide code updates both platforms require. Once again, I’m trying to protect the site overall, and some ad platforms are known to slow down websites.

Ultimately, I went with a smaller and more flexible network called Newor Media (invitation link). This one came highly recommended by some friends who had longtime ad experience.

Newor Media web page

Newor claimed that their platform does not impact speed (we will cover how that went in the data). They let me pick and choose the pages that were served by ads.

Ultimately, Newor was also the only platform of the three that was chill with being part of an experiment.

Newor worked with me to determine how the ads would appear on the pages. That resulted in the page layout changes you can see in the next section.


How page layout changed

Layout 1: The Original

before placement ad

This is how the page looks without ads. It’s a layout designed to serve informational content. Just past the first section, my email inline opt-ins are distributed discreetly throughout the page. One was placed just past the introduction, and another every few hundred words.

There’s also an email opt-in on the sidebar, a little further down the page. The inline opt-ins are just written calls-to-action, while the sidebar features a full cover image of the ebook that signups receive.

The page is built to serve email opt-ins. Before Newor placed the ads, there’s nothing that distracted from that purpose.

Layout 2: After the Ads

after placement ad

This is the new template based on the best practices I got from Newor.

I know what you’re thinking: An ad before the title? Yeah, I know. Newor insisted that people wouldn’t be annoyed and that an early ad would set the tone for further ads down the page.

I wanted to keep things simple for the sake of the experiment. So, I followed suit.

Also, I should say that the page layout isn’t as busy as it looks. We spaced out the opt-ins and ads so that you never saw more than one per full page scroll.

In addition to some small horizontal banners spaced through the content, I also approved and set up two larger banners in the sidebar.

Now, the ads were ready to go, and the study was about to begin. To make sure it meant something, I tracked as much data as I could.

What was measured?

I collected data on several website factors that I considered essential to my affiliate site’s revenue and performance. To understand how deep the impact was when ads showed up, I needed to know…

webpage performance print out charts

  • Email Subscriber rate impact (would my conversions suffer?)
  • Speed performance (did the website slow down?)
  • Rankings (Did our pages start dropping?)
  • Traffic (Are fewer people coming through)
  • Time-on-page (Are they spending less time on the page?)
  • Earnings from ads (Was it all worth it?)

Some of these factors have less priority than others. Speed is one of the highest priorities.

The Results


To determine this, we performed a cascade of requests for each of the 37 test pages using Pingdom.

That allowed us to reach out from both a San Francisco and Washington D.C. server and see how the load time changed.

Full Data for Showing Off
Full Data for Showing Off


Actually Useful Summary:

Loadtime Useful Summary table

As you can see, there isn’t much evidence of a problem here. Sure, there’s a dip, but it’s matched by a dramatic improvement from the other coast.

If I saw a deviation of say, 3 seconds, I would be panicking. But it’s nothing close to that. These results are firmly in the “who cares” territory.

Next, I needed to track how search engines were responding to the changes.


Well, this is awkward. It turns out, I forgot to tell Google that I was running an experiment, and they decided to drop the BERT algorithm update right in the middle of it.

This event colored all of my tracking data, but it isn’t all bad news.

BERT loved this site. It gave my site such a big hug that I can’t separate what benefits came from the update and what came from our experiment.

2x increase traffic thanks BERT

In all honesty, I didn’t think that adding ads would affect ranking much unless combined with a lot of other downward trends.

I saw my first downward trend while tracking time visitors spent on-page.

Results: Time on Page

The results I was tracking were measured 7 and 14 days after I introduced ads to the site.

 BeforeAfter 7 DaysAfter 14 DaysImpact
Time on Page3:142:572:36-19.5%

Well, this doesn’t seem good. People are spending 20% less time-on-page.

It’s important to remember that this doesn’t always signal visitor disgust. This may have happened because the ads provide colorful new portals to exit the page.

I quickly checked the bounce rate and found people weren’t bouncing back to SERPs in general. The bounce rate did not increase.

That’s a good sign. Google doesn’t like bouncing or pogo-sticking, which indicates I didn’t serve the visitor. People moving on by moving through is good for the site’s health.

Overall it’s not bad, but before we make our final impressions of the test, let’s take a quick look at how visitors are behaving even with shorter visits.

Results: Subscriber Rate

Here’s how the subscriber rate looked after the end of the 14-day cycle.

 Before AdsAfter AdsImprovement
Signup Rate0.623%0.816%29.3%

Wait, did subscription numbers improve after the introduction of ads? Yes, they did. That’s not a typo.

The experiment may have left questions as far as traffic goes, but that ads emboldened visitors seems clear.

Ads themselves may be a visual trust signal.

Who uses ads?

Most sites you visit. News sites like the New York Times do – major health information sites like WedMD do.

In fact, affiliate sites are some of the most notably ad-free sites on the internet.

Maybe adding them creates a little trust?


It takes a while for Newor’s algorithm to ramp up, but by the end of the test, earnings settled at about $28/day.

Newors Earning Chart 01

After the test conclusion, the algorithm continued to optimize, eventually settling at around $40 per day.

That’s essentially $1200/month in additional revenue with no extra effort.

Newors Earning Chart 02

Bear in mind, when flipping websites, this $1200 monthly profit gain essentially results in a $48,000 increase in the website’s value if we’re using a 40x multiple.

I’ll take that any day.


Conclusion: Should You Apply Ads to Your Whole Site?

What we’ve learned is that an affiliate site can survive and even thrive after a transition to ads. Conventional wisdom tells us that ads should make site interactions less common. In this case study, I saw the opposite.

Ad earning screenshot image

There are three conclusions you can take away from this case study if you’re deciding whether to apply ads to your website or not.

  1. Newor’s ads didn’t affect site speed
  2. Time on page was affected negatively, but bounce wasn’t
  3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: email optins increased, implying that affiliate clicks might increase as well.

By the same logic, we can assume that affiliate content will follow suit. However, that’s going to take a lot more testing, which is why I’ve already started.

If you want to be one of the first ones to see phase two, make sure you sign up for my mailing list.

Got Questions or Comments?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — December 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-dec-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-dec-2019/#comments Mon, 09 Dec 2019 23:54:15 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=10515 (Read more...)]]> ‘Tis the season of giving, and I’m getting started early. No need to listen for reindeer on the rooftop, because I’ve got a bag of gifts rights here.

Inside is everything you need to catch up on the last month in SEO.

Some informative guides from the last month are up first. Discover and dive into ten free keyword research tools (that aren’t Google Planner), my video review of my friend’s site Survival Front, and a breakdown of why you don’t need to worry about voice optimization—yet.

Then, mix up some egg nog and brandy and settle in with the month’s comprehensive case studies. You’ll learn what the data says about whether you’re making SEO too complicated, and whether you should be using GA or GSA for the most accurate image search traffic readings.

Finally, throw out the nog and boil some fresh water, because this month’s news is going to be all about sippin’ the tea . Learn about Google’s human “help” and how they feel about absolute vs. relative internal links. Then, enjoy an insider’s perspective on what went down at Chiang Mai SEO Conference 2019.

Now, let’s pull the wrapping paper off these guides. First is a guide by the Ahrefs team about the best free keyword planners.

10 Free Keyword Research Tools (That Aren’t Google Keyword Planner)


This guide by Joshua Hardwick introduces you to 10 free keyword research tools that are worth your consideration. For each one, he gives you essential information about the benefits, drawbacks, and capabilities.

keyword research magnifying

You’ve probably played around with at least a few of the tools that are listed below. Others might surprise you. Joshua demonstrates how to use tools like a simple Google search in unconventional ways to get data on trends.

  • Google Trends
  • Keyword Sheeter
  • Answer the Public
  • Keyword Surfer
  • Keyworddit
  • Google Search Console
  • Questiondb
  • Bulk Keyword Generator
  • Google

The sections that cover each of these tools are detailed and supported by images of the user interface.

This article could make a useful resource for any SEO beginners in your life who are asking you questions about keyword research. All of these tools are free, so there are no stakes in trying out any or all of them to get the right cocktail of features.

Be warned: This guide has already been updated once because a tool went from free to paid.

Many free tools are taking a loss to build a user base.

If you wait too long to test these tools out, the chance to access all the features discussed here may no longer be available.

In the next guide, you’re going to get a certain insider’s perspective on how to spot problems on an affiliate website.

Matt Diggity Reviews Survival Front [Affiliate Website Audit]


Matt Digg—Oh wait, that’s me. I have a guide for you this month in the form of an in-depth video review of Survival Front. SF (from now on) is an affiliate site focused on outdoor gear that I analyzed for affiliate marketer Gareth Daine.

I gave the site and the elements that make it up more than 20 minutes of tough love, noting all the ways the current elements were accidentally driving away clicks.

Throughout the review, I discuss color selection (are your banners and CTAs the same color?), what makes an effective CTA to Amazon, and how to navigate the thorny search issue of “authorship.” Then, I analyze the backend SEO and to sniff out how the links are placed and where the juice is flowing.

I couldn’t cover everything in that time, but I went into as much depth as I could on the issues that stood out to me. As you may have noticed (if you read my articles), I’ve spent a lot of thought and energy on the affiliate marketing side of my business lately.

I tested and optimized, and altogether had a great year. This review helped me put some of the new instincts I’ve developed into words.

Just one guide left before we move on to the case studies. Learn one expert’s opinion on why optimizing for voice search isn’t likely to be worth the expense.

If You Haven’t Optimized Your Website for Voice Search Yet, You’re OK


The SEO field is naturally one where people love to say they were ‘first’ to see a trend coming. Things move quickly here, and it’s easy to fall behind the curve. Sometimes, that can lead to over-confident theories about how to get ready for the future.

In this guide from Sistrix, Juan Gonzalez argues that this is what’s happening with recent warnings that people need to ‘optimize their sites for voice search’.

voice search so hot meme

Yes, the author agrees, voice searching is becoming a large part of many services, including Alexa and Siri. However, he uses a series of data points to make the argument that this change is not yet relevant to SEO, and is unlikely to need to be a part of next year’s budget or even the year after that.

Overall, he argues that the adoption of voice services is moving more slowly than most stakeholders in voice technology are admitting. He also makes the case that sites that are accessible and easy to read don’t have a deficit they need to correct for voice optimization.

Time will tell who is right. Want to develop your power to assess trends? The case studies that we’re about to share with you should help quite a bit. Let’s start with a Moz study into what are the real central pillars of SEO.

It’s Content and It’s Links – Are We Making SEO Too Complicated?


Speaking of being wary of trends, this article by Andrew Dennis of Moz utilizes tables of keyword and search data to reinforce the argument that SEO comes down mostly to steady and sensible optimization of the content and links.

Using two competing toothbrush companies as examples, Dennis lists the ways that differences in the content and the links make the two sites order in SERPs predictable. He suggests that the underdog in the fight just needs to make some standard best-practices tweaks.

complicated SEO meme

It closes with four conclusions that you can measure against how your sites have grown. In his words, success in search comes down to whether you:

  • Research your keywords and niche
  • Analyze and expand keyword opportunities
  • Craft strategic content that serves your search goals
  • Promote your pages for relevant links

Does he have a point? Hard to say, because if black hats know a shortcut that will save you all that work, they’re likely to keep it real close to the vest.

As long as we’re thinking deeply about our content and links, let’s turn to another on-page topic that we don’t consider as often: the optimization of image search traffic.

GSA/GA: Where should you track image search traffic?


This piece by AJ Kohn is likely to be cathartic to SEOs who have understood for a long time how essential image searches are to their niches and are frustrated by the lack of useful data.

I say that because a decent portion of the introduction is devoted to (colorfully) giving you the history of Google’s decisions about image search data—including the time they promised to pass image referrer data to Google Analytics and then changed their mind.

Google images source URL update

However, Kohn argues, there is some data out there if you know how to look for it. Using examples, he demonstrates ways that you can pull search performance data out of existing tools. He provides an equation you can use to isolate conversions from image search data.

As he argues further down the page, the persistence of bad image data is a more serious problem than most realize. He uses examples of clients who made decisions using that data to allocate resources in the wrong direction.

Our guides and case studies have probably given you a lot to think about. This month, the news is just as satisfying. Let’s start with the revelation that Google searches have more human help than we assumed.

Google search results have more human help than you think, report finds


Have you ever come out on the wrong side of the algorithm? Maybe so, but then again, perhaps it wasn’t a bot that you annoyed at all.

As several outlets reported this week, Google may be taking a more active hand than they’ve suggested when it comes to search results.

Though details are scant at this time, the Attorney Generals of multiple US states have launched a review of Google’s practice.

Their statements suggest they believe the staff at Google are taking a straightforward role in whether one result wins out over another.

As an example, Google has directly intervened to prevent sites with questionable content from appearing for medical queries. While that example is easy to defend, Google is now accused of doing the same thing broadly across their search results without informing publishers that there is a finger on the scale.

Are the allegations credible? For now, claims are all they are.

google search engine snapshot on a computer or laptop

If an antitrust suit is filed after the investigation, we’re probably going to spend the next few years learning a lot more about the inside of Google than it’s chief staff would prefer.

And that’s all we get to know for now. Up next, one of those chiefs has some news about whether Google prefers absolute or relative URLs for links.

Google: Doesn’t Matter if You Use Absolute or Relative URLs for Internal Links


Should you use absolute or relative URLs for internal links? According to Google, it has little impact, but there are cases where the difference matters.

It’s hard to summarize it more effectively than John Mueller’s own words (slightly edited for clarity).

“(If) your site has correctly implemented canonicals and has a single uniform domain being used, no duplicate domain issues. So, in that theoretical case where you have a theoretically perfect website then it doesn’t matter at all if you use absolute or relative URLs.

In the case where your website is not a theoretically perfect structure – which probably most websites are not – then working with absolute URLs, if you can, make sure they really point at the canonical versions of all the URLs you have.”

Everyone in the back hear that?

If you have an excellent site structure, it probably doesn’t matter what you use.

If your structure could use some cleaning up, stick to the absolute URLs.

That seems pretty clean-cut, and let’s be honest, this isn’t a situation where Google benefits from withholding info.

If you like facts, you’ll love the next item. It’s the most significant public compendium of facts about the year’s search trends available anywhere.

Released: the 2019 Web Almanac


What’s the average number of javascript bytes per page across the internet? What percentage of pages across the web use at least one image? What percentage of mobile sites are using video as content?

If you wanted any of these answers, you’d have them before you were even finished with Part One of this Almanac.

web almanac 2019

The four parts (covering 20 chapters and an appendix) cover almost every part of SEO and give you insights into how new trends have been adopted and how others have passed into obsolescence.

It’s designed to be used like any almanac, meaning you can jump around and find the details that matter most to you. Each chapter functions as a list of facts about the following:

Chapter 1: JavaScript
Chapter 2: CSS
Chapter 3: Markup
Chapter 4: Media
Chapter 5: Third Parties
Chapter 6: Fonts
Chapter 7: Performance
Chapter 8: Security
Chapter 9: Accessibility
Chapter 10: SEO
Chapter 11: PWA
Chapter 12: Mobile Web
Chapter 13: Ecommerce
Chapter 14: CMS
Chapter 15: Compression
Chapter 16: Caching
Chapter 17: CDN
Chapter 18: Page Weight
Chapter 19: Resource Hints
Chapter 20: HTTP/2

You can jump to the table of contents, right here.

Finally, we come to our last item, a recap of all the cool people and ideas that came together at Chiang Mai 2019.

You had to be there: a Chiang Mai 2019 recap


The Chiang Mai SEO Conference was a blast, but don’t take my word for it. Gael and Mark of the AuthorityHacker podcast are here with the inside scoop.

They share their favorite moments from the conference including what they learned, who they saw and the impact it had on them. Both enjoyed the community atmosphere, and how parties and gatherings were plentiful on both sides of the conference days.

CMSEO2019 image on the stage with the speakers Q&A

Criticisms? They had a couple. It’s easy to fall in love with Chiang Mai, but it’s the mosquitos that really love you back.

The two hosts close the broadcast with some shoutouts for other participants (if you went, you might be mentioned here). If you didn’t go, this podcast is an excellent introduction to what you’ll experience if you choose to visit for 2020.

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Matt Diggity’s Favorite Purchases of 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/favorite-purchases-of-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/favorite-purchases-of-2019/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2019 10:55:17 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=10391 (Read more...)]]> Another year comes to a close and it’s about that time to start thinking about the rewards you’d like to give others, or even yourself for your hard work.

Continuing with tradition, I’d like to share a list of the best products and services I’ve purchased in 2019.

These will cover the categories of business, personal, and books that have significantly made an impact on my year.

Business Purchases



Surfer started making big waves (see what I did there?) in 2019 for its emergence into the market as a powerful onsite optimization tool.

It allows you to make data-driven optimizations to your website that are based on what the top-rankers in the niche are already doing.

It looks at word count, keyword density, backlinks, subheadings, and nearly everything else to give you a playbook on what you need to change in order to compete on page 1.

It also has a content editor that allows your writers to be guided by data when writing their content.

It’s a game-changer.

CTA-Optimize your Onsite

WPX Hosting

WPX hosting logo on white

For the longest time, I was stuck on a terrible “premium” host, simply because of the inconvenience of migrating 20 sites.

I’d never out a business, but you know what?  They’ve ripped me off multiple times so here it goes:   WPEngine, you suck.

After 100’s of recommendations and knowing that Terry Kyle was running WPX Hosting, I took the plunge and switched over.

… and never regretted it.

WPX has solid pricing, a built-in CDN that kicks ass, and next-level support.

WPX’s support is so good, I almost feel bad for how much they’re helping me.

I even ranked them #1 on my top hosts for SEOs post.

Use coupon code “DIGGITY90” for 90% off your first month.

CTA-Level-up your Hosting


AccuRanker Logo

We switched over to Accuranker earlier this year.

It’s got a nice interface, and has all of the typical features you find in a solid rank tracker.

But what I really like most about it is their “Share of Voice” feature.

“Share of Voice is an indicator of how your most important keywords are performing. All keywords that rank between positions 1 to 20 are used for the calculation. The average CTR for the position is multiplied by the search volume of each keyword, allowing you to see if a high traffic keyword is losing rank.”

Rankings go up and down every day.  But most of the time, it doesn’t matter.

Share of Voice gives you a quick way to assess whether or not you should actually care about these fluctuations.

CTA-Get a Solid Rank Tracker

Personal Purchases

Oura Ring

Oura Ring

Hands-down, the best thing I’ve done for my life in 2019 is optimize my sleep.

Sleep affects everything: your energy levels, mood, hormone production, immune system, etc.

If sleep were irrelevant, why didn’t we evolve out of it millions of years ago?

Peter Drucker said “What gets measured gets managed.”

Optimizing your sleep starts with really understanding your sleep metrics.

How much deep sleep do you get?  How many times do you truly wake up? And so forth.

Once you understand the data, the Oura ring gives you suggestions on how to optimize your weak spots.

CTA-Get some zzz’s

Waking Up – Meditation App by Sam Harris

waking up app

If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m huge on meditation.

I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

Meditation allows you to have control over your reactions… to actually choose which thoughts you give your attention to.

This app gives you a 50 day course in meditation, building up your skills one day at a time.

Unlike other apps, Sam’s “Waking Up” is very practical and straightforward.

It skips a lot of the fluff found in typical meditation apps and gets straight to the foundations, which allows you to see quick benefits.

I still use this app nearly every day.

CTA-Calm Your Mind

Muse Meditation Headband

muse headband

Keeping on the theme of meditation, the Muse headband is a wearable device that guides your meditation.

While using Muse, you hear the sound of the ocean.

The headband senses your brain waves and notices when you mind isn’t calm.  It then feeds that back to the audio, making the waves crash harder.

When you hear the change, you know you’ve lost focus and you know it’s now time to refocus on the breath.

I’ve always shied away from long meditation sessions of 20min or longer, but because of this gamified system, I’m easily hitting 45min+ meditations with no issue at all.

CTA-Grow your Zenitals

Google Home Hub

google home hub img

I always brushed aside voice search.

But last time I went back home to Cali, I decided to pick one of these things up and give it a try.

Oh man, it’s addicting.

Once you experience the convenience of simply speaking commands to your search and home devices, it’s easy to get used to.

Get one of these things if you want to really understand where we’re going with voice.

Just don’t set it up in your office. :p

CTA-Welcome to the Future


Niacin bottle

This is where I come in and say that I’m not a medical professional and to always consult with your doctor and all that stuff.

Niacin is vitamin B3 – and its amazing for detox.

You pop the recommended dose of Niacin, then spend half an hour doing some light cardio.

This brings your blood and toxins to the skin surface.

Then you jump in the sauna for some major detox action.

Fair warning, you’re going to sweat a lot.  But that’s a good thing.

Read up on the process here.

CTA-Flush them Toxins

Standing/Sitting Desk

Pneumatic Adjustable Height Standing Desk

I spend a lot of time in my office.  And they say “sitting is the new smoking”.

Sitting down for extended periods of time is extremely harsh on your back, posture, circulation, and general health.

I got this automatic standing/sitting desk to help me switch-things-up during the day.

The benefits have been outstanding (see what I did there, again?!).

CTA-Get Down, Get Up

Varier Kneeling Chair

Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair

When people come into my office, they almost always say “what in the hell is that thing?”

This chair forces you to have good posture.

If you don’t sit straight on a kneeling chair, you’re simply going to fall off.

It also takes pressure off your spine and spinal discs by distributing weight into your shins.

It’s surprisingly comfortable as well.

When I’m not standing at my desk, I’m using this weird ass thing.

CTA-Find Balance


End of Jobs – Taylor Pearson

the end of jobs book

Oh man, I wish I had read this book 10 years ago.

I got this book on recommendation from at least a dozen friends.

It goes through the evolution of the primary skills that have been needed in the workforce throughout the ages.

Spoiler alert…

Right now, the skill you want to have is “Entrepreneurship”

If you haven’t quite decided to jump ship and become an entrepreneur, this book will help you make that decision with statistics and qualitative argument.

If you’ve already taken the leap, it will give you a valuable justification for what you’re doing and will help strengthen your resolve in the inevitable bumpy times.

CTA-Get Motivated

Who: The A-method for Hiring – Geoff Smart

Who The A Method for Hiring book

Ever feel like hiring is a trial-and-error process?

That’s because you’re not shooting for A-players.

A-players don’t drop the ball.  They don’t quit when things get challenging.

A-players are the ones that will change your business for the better and help take things to another level.

This book helps you identify the right candidates for each position, filter out the bad ones, and conduct interviews through a well-designed process created by experts.

Since I read this book, I refuse to hire outside this system.

CTA-De-mystify Hiring

Thanks for reading this article.  For more inspiration, check back on the previous years.

Have a great holiday season, and I’ll be back with you in 2020 with a huge post that could potentially change the way you look at affiliate SEO.

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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — November 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-nov-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-nov-2019/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2019 06:25:02 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=10358 (Read more...)]]> The year’s almost over. Did you accomplish all of your SEO goals?

If you want to make one last big move before we ring in the next year, this roundup is your guide. It features loads of advice that you can convert directly into optimization action plans.

First, dive into the month’s most interesting data experiments. You’ll get to peek behind the veil of the recent core updates, discover how snippets change across devices and gain SEO insights from HTML trends.

Next, hone your competitive edge with the month’s most important guides. Learn about the latest techniques for ranking an eCommerce store, the linkable assets that you should be building and how to speed up stubborn URL migrations.

Finally, there’s a lot of news out that could mean big things for you and your clients. If you like to be prepared, don’t miss these messages from Google, one journalist’s warning about BERT mania and some big predictions for SEO in 2020.

Let’s start with a recent 2019 update, and what we know now.

Google’s September 2019 Core Update – Full Analysis Of Over 6,600,000 Pages


What was the September update all about? The writer of this comprehensive analysis claims to have some ideas. Eric Lancheres lays out the argument that most Google updates happen in a three-stage cycle.

In stage one, the update is released. Next, Google documents cases of unintended effects until sure of a solution. In the final stage, Google releases another minor update to make the original one perform as intended.

This case study suggests that this update is part of the third stage. It’s meant to relieve some of the unintended consequences of the June update.

September 2019 core update graphics

So, what does that mean for your site? Good things, if you were an unintended victim of penalties. The data reveals that sites on the fringe of the targeted topics are starting to recover. In some cases, recovered sites are already breaking previous records for traffic.

However, it’s not all good news. Some sites that were meant to be targeted may have been missed. That could explain why the data crawl also found sites that took significant hits from the most recent update.

If you need a path back, the author argues that that better links and more diverse anchors may be the answer.

High-quality links are likely to be a solution for many problems in the future, as Google continues to focus on them as a mark of authority.

Writing clear content that wins a featured snippet is another good way to establish some authority. However, as the next piece reveals, that victory may not be as complete as you think.

How consistent are featured snippets across devices?


Mobile searches have become an increasingly dominant part of the development of search engines. You’ve hopefully already taken the step of optimizing your website for mobile users, but you can’t stop there.

The case study featured here on RankRanger reveals that the snippets that appear during desktop searches do not necessarily appear for identical mobile searches. This may mean that Google exercises different standards when evaluating content for each type of user.

The experiment here observed a series of searches over the course of 30 days.

Mobile searches return different results than PC searches 10-13% of the time.

That’s not the most threatening figure (depending on your competition), but it is way too many for a coincidence.

What’s Google’s long-term goal here? Unfortunately, there isn’t any good data on that question yet. Have you captured the snippet on both desktop and mobile? If you’re not sure, you should check. You may have some more work to do to really win that snippet across the board.

Featured Snippet Displaay Level 30 Days Graph

If you’re looking for some room for improvement, you may be able to use the next case study to polish your HTML formatting. It attempts to determine what role HTML is playing in performance across millions of results.

A Breakdown of HTML Usage Across ~8 Million Pages (& What It Means for Modern SEO)


How fresh are your meta standards? You can now roughly compare where you are to everyone else, or at least, 8 million of them.

This new case study from Moz looks at how a massive collection of sites are using HTML. It looked at how they were using metadata, structured data, meta keywords (lol) and alt tags.

Some interesting patterns emerged. Millions of websites are surviving and even thriving with standards that ignore conventional SEO wisdom. For example, short (or even massively oversized) meta titles and descriptions don’t seem to have a heavy impact on performance.

HTML Dare Meme

In some cases, outdated standards seem really risky. A concerning number of active sites haven’t even properly updated their HTML to reflect mobile-first readiness. Google will soon begin showing only sites that have updated their <meta name=”viewport” content=”…”> tag.

The data seems to suggest that are still millions of fresh opportunities out there for people who want to unseat a #1 result, and it may take less work than expected.

If you’re in the mood for a little work anyway, you’ll want to check out the guides that are coming up next. First, an actionable guide for ranking SEO commerce stores in 2019.

An Actionable Guide For Ranking SEO Ecommerce Stores In 2019


eCommerce sites have always had to walk a finer line than other sites. Now, they’re facing challenges from all sides. This guide by Jason Brown at SERPWoo addresses some of the modern challenges of eCommerce and provides recommendations for meeting them.

As the guide itself points out, this is a more perilous niche that it used to be. Google’s updates in recent years have been pointed directly at commerce sites involved in certain topics. Ranking can also feel barely competitive when most people in most niches are hitting the gas with PPC.

shark tank seo meme sales mr fantastic

Fierce competition isn’t the only threat site owners face. Google is reserving more and more space for “Popular Product” images that divert searchers away from the organic results before they ever see them.

Are there modern solutions? This guide suggests so. It recommends that you focus on expanding images for your currently listed products, outdo your competitors in length of copy and provide exact-match anchors for terms you want to rank for.

As most guides must lately, it closes on the importance of relevant links to performance. If you’re having trouble making friends out there, the next guide covers the linkable assets that you should be building for more attention.

6 Types of Linkable Assets You Should Be Using


Building something unique and valuable to people is the best way to attract great links. If you don’t know what to build next, here’s a guide with some ideas for content, along with breakdowns of how you can help each one reach its potential.

The guide discusses 6 assets in particular:

  • Case studies
  • Original research and studies
  • Tools and lead magnets
  • List posts
  • Trends and statistics
  • Infographics

As it helpfully points out, each of these types of content tends to attract a different type of link. Case studies, for example, are craved by many marketing and industry sites (Sort of like how 3 were sourced for this post).

linkable assets graphics

Original research and trends and statistics can be used to attract links from publishers and journalists. List posts that manage to go viral can be expanded and traded with larger-scale sites for a link.

If you’re in the mood for a strategy that you can put into place right now, not in 30-60-90 days, you may appreciate the next item: A punchy little guide to speeding up stubborn URL migrations.

Speeding Up Stubborn URL Migrations


This guide by Oliver Mason is designed for people who have completed their URL migration but haven’t seen the expected changes. I’ve seen two people complain about it just this week in the Facebook groups.

The guide explores one issue that may be to blame (Google is not properly recognizing migrated pages) and describes one process that may help.

Turtle and rocket

You’ll only need your Google Search Console’s Internal Links Report. This tells you what links Google thinks you have. The links that are properly canonicalized will be removed from the Top Internally Linked Pages list in the report, so the existing list is a good resource.

Once you have the URLs, you forcibly submit them through Google’s Request Index feature. It may mean a lot of clicking. Entering the URLs here should force Google to recognize them and to properly index them as unique pages.

This short item closes up the guides for us. Next, a look at Google’s post from Oct. 26th about understanding the nature of searches.

Understanding searches better than ever before


What is a BERT? What does it want from you? You may ask that after reading about Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers training.

Fortunately, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. The short story is that Google has pioneered a type of training that improves machine learning and comprehension. The models used for this training are being introduced because they will affect search in the future.

The main goal of developing BERT was to give machines previously unavailable tools for understanding the context of a word by evaluating the words around it. The implications for search are, of course, more relevant and rapidly-delivered results.

Example from the article:

2019 brazil traveler article

Does that mean a harder world for SEOs? Or one where the clearest and comprehensive communicators are suddenly at an advantage? Boy, did SEOs have a lot to say about that, but we’ll get to that next.

The model is currently only being used to choose the snippets in several test countries. It could go a lot of places from there, but as of now, there’s no reliable news about how to adapt or be ready for any changes.

Before the next items, some rumbling followed the release of the original post. Here’s a look at some of the disagreements about BERT among the SEO community.

Google BERT Misinformation Challenged


Google’s recent post about BERT inspired a pop-up industry of experts who were 100% ready to build a guide detailing the changes that were going to be necessary. Roger Montti of SEJ collected some of these (anonymously presented) takes, and the myths that they’ve spawned.

Several myths are explored, including the myths that the BERT is the biggest update of all time or that it’s insignificant.

Bert Tweet 01

Bert Tweet 02

SEOs have speculated that BERT is going to require a harder focus on longtail keywords (as BERT can make more effective use of them). However, as this piece points out, BERT is more concerned with what the searcher means in exact context than what a given publisher means.

The real takeaway is that nobody really knows what BERT means yet. Don’t go implementing massive guides to “optimize for BERT”. No one who claims to know what’s up is credible right now. The credible people will wait until they have the data in their hands.

If you want some informed opinions on what’s happening next, you can’t miss my big 2020 SEO predictions.

2020 SEO Predictions With Matt Diggity


Get some more insight into what next year might bring with this podcast from ContentChampion. In it, we (host Loz James and I) discuss some of the biggest changes of the last year and what they mean for the future.

We discuss the 2020 updates we’re planning to make in terms of technical SEO, on-page SEO and link building. We also go over some of the largest content marketing trends.

back to the future seo meme future

What did we come up with? Well, a lot of technical speculation, and not a lot of pessimism.

Yes, it’s true that there’s been a lot of tension between publishers and search engines this year. However, more people are shopping online than ever before, and that translates to more opportunities for us all.

Diversification may be the best way for struggling SEOs to move to the next level. Organic search is more difficult this year, but affiliate marketing (a reasonably adjacent skillset) is experiencing a boom of investment.

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15 Best Affiliate Networks of 2020: The Year’s Top Platforms https://diggitymarketing.com/best-affiliate-networks/ https://diggitymarketing.com/best-affiliate-networks/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2019 04:39:23 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=7647 (Read more...)]]> Last Updated on September 25th, 2020

Choosing a solid affiliate network is a crucial part of being a successful affiliate marketer, whether you’re starting out as a new affiliate or just diving into a new niche.

There are thousands of affiliate programs offered by merchants to market their services or products. I’ve tried most of them.

The right affiliate network helps you find a lot of great offers by doing one or more of the following:

  • Creating a central database for affiliate offers that can be easily organized.
  • Allowing you to participate in more than one affiliate program through a single registration.
  • Providing analytics, various reporting tools, and reliable payment processing.

No matter what types of affiliate products or services you promote, you can find a variety of reliable affiliate networks to suit your needs. This article will help you do that. Let’s get started.

Affiliate Marketing

Below is a list of my personal list of the best affiliate networks for 2020. These cater to various products, services, and industries. All of them are worth a look.

And after that, I’ll discuss how you can find the perfect one for you and your affiliate goals.

2020’s Best Affiliate Networks



Affiliaxe bills itself as the best option for experienced marketers.

In keeping with that drive for exclusivity, it has an invitation-only approval process that some reviewers have found frustrating.

Those that get in do enjoy great benefits and high commissions. Those benefits include 700+ offers in profitable niches to choose from, including wellness, entertainment, dieting, and mobile content.

The affiliate managers (shout out to Pavel) are reported to offer a lot of guidance on the creation and improvement of campaigns.

I’ve found them to be reasonable when it comes to negotiating commission bumps (try that with Amazon Associates).

Pavel and I worked together to get a single product to $60k/month at its peak, resulting in my best single-product money-maker of the year.

When I asked Pavel, “What makes Affiliaxe special?”, he replied…

All our offers are whitehat and we work with big brands as Norton, Mcafee, Marley Spoon, Omega XL (presented by Larry King), TruthFinder, etc.  We work hard on making our landing pages compliant, while getting campaigns approved as fast as possible. – Pavel Maister, Sr. Affiliate Manager

Finally, the platform is pretty solid. It has a good collection of features and is intuitive to figure out.

If you are experienced and have a lot of weight to throw around, this may be the affiliate network for you, but first, you’ll have to get through qualification.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Health, Digital Entertainment, Mobile
  • Payment methods: Payoneer, Paypal, Check, Wire
  • Minimum payment amount: $100
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS

Visit Site


shareasaleShareASale is among one of the largest U.S. affiliate networks. Doing a quick search, it currently boasts over 3900 merchant programs on its platform and over 1.2M registered publishers participating.

It’s based out of Chicago, IL and has been operating since 2000 with an outstanding reputation as a fair and honest business.

In January 2017, global affiliate network Awin acquired ShareASale to provide further international affiliate opportunities to domestic advertisers and publishers.

ShareASale is a great affiliate network for people getting into affiliate marketing to promote physical products and are looking for an Amazon Associates alternative.

Personally, I’ve earned a lot of income with ShareASale.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Home & Garden, Fashion, Green, and Business
  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit
  • Minimum payment amount: $50
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site


flex offers logoFlexOffers is a massive program with a large variety of advertisers and offers to explore. Those who sign up can choose from over 10,000 of them covering products ranging from seasonal items to consumer electronics.

Due to the large amount of offers, most kinds of programs (CPA, CPI) are represented. Major featured brands on the site have included SKECHERS, Kohls, Macy’s and Barnes & Noble.

Most of those who have tried it out say good things about the dashboard, the customer support and the quality and variety of offers.

There’s a tier 2 referral program where you can earn even by pushing affiliate links to other advertisers.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Automotive, Entertainment, Electronics, Lifestyle
  • Payment methods: PayPal, Payoneer, Wire Transfer
  • Minimum payment amount: $25
  • Programs offered: CPA, CPS, CPI (Depending on advertiser)

Visit Site

Rakuten Affiliate Network

rakutenFormerly Buy.com, this is another great program for e-commerce focusing mostly on physical goods. It’s another decent alternative to Amazon.

Rakuten represents a variety of different industry-standard brands, including Walmart, Sephora, New Balance, etc.

While their affiliate network is smaller than some competitors with around 1,000 partners, they are one of the oldest affiliate networks, and dedicated to premium technology.

These guys offer a ton of creatives to choose from.  Optimizing sales is made easier through the use of technology such as rotating ads and flexible linking options.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) junkies like myself will get the most out of Rakuten’s slick optimization features that this affiliate network provides.

Fun fact: Rakuten helped me get my best affiliate month ever in December 2016.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Retail Goods, Physical products
  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit; PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $50
  • Affiliate program types offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site


click bankThis large and longstanding affiliate network breaks away from the pack by focusing on digital information products, product launches, and other internet marketing products.

They market over 6 million unique lifestyle products created by digital marketing entrepreneurs. In short, they specialize in digital products and currently reach over 200 million customers.

ClickBank is likely the first you’d be recommended when you’re first getting into digital products, email marketing, or other “making money online” endeavors.

Are they the best in the entire industry for digital products?  That’s up to the individual, but I’ve got no complaints. There are plenty of ClickBank alternatives to choose from.

Personally, I’ve never offered any digital products to publishers through an affiliate network, but this is likely where I’d go if I did.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Digital Products, Dating, Self-Improvement
  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer
  • Minimum payment amount: $10
  • Referral program: Yes

Visit Site


reviIf rank and rent lead generation is your game, then this affiliate network is not one to be overlooked.

ReviMedia specializes in the industries of insurance, home services and financial verticals in global markets.

They offer a full-service platform that focuses on using superior technology to fully automate lead generation.

Customizers will have a great time with this affiliate network because, with lead scoring and verification technology, they enable you to maximize your revenue and earn higher lead conversions.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Insurance, Financial Services
  • Payment methods: Check, Wire Transfer, PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $50

Visit Site

CJ Affiliate

CJ-Logo-WebsiteFormerly Commission Junction, this affiliate marketing network specializes in pay-for-performance programs. It’s considered to be one the largest platforms online.

A simple search can send you down a rabbit hole of different offers.

They operate globally and have affiliate programs for some of the world’s most recognized and specialized retailers.

They have attracted a “who’s who” of premium partners including Home Depot, Apple, TurboTax, and Zappos.

I like them for their high end, powerful reporting tools as well as reliable and timely payments.

That said, they do like to cancel accounts with little to no explanation—similar to Amazon Associates —which we’ll discuss in an upcoming section.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Online Retail, Digital Products, Software
  • Payment methods: Check; Direct Deposit
  • Minimum payment amount: $100 Check; $50 Direct Deposit
  • Affiliate marketing programs offered: CPA, CPL, CPS, CPC

Visit Site


2 checkout2checkout specializes in global eCommerce of software, digital products, and SaaS solutions.

Their partners include over 4,000 digital businesses in over 180 countries. Strong support from their publisher community has given this partner network a big boost in rankings.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Digital Products, Software, Software-as-a-Service
  • Payment methods: Check, Wire Transfer, PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $100

Visit Site


max bountyThis is a CPA network, which means each advertiser pays for a specific action.

They offer lots of models, including CPA, CPL and mobile. They work with advertisers involved in market research, diet, dating, and real estate.

That action could be a sale, form submission, download, or any other action performed by the visitor. All of them can be tracked then paid for by the advertiser.

There are certain web services (such as software downloads or file sharing) that generate much more affiliate income when using a CPA program—as opposed to premium affiliate networks such as CJ or ShareASale.

If you’re an ace at conversion rate optimization, this is where you want to be.

MaxBounty has been around for over a decade and is consistently considered one of the best and most reliable CPA networks.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Dieting, Dating, Real Estate
  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, Bitcoin
  • Minimum payment amount: $100

Visit Site


morenicheMoreNiche was established in 2002.  While they don’t have much to choose from, the products are quite good, with most of them offering high commissions (30%-40%).

One of the key aspects that sets them apart from other affiliates networks is how they treat their people. Their affiliate managers provide proactive support, giving up to date SEO advice, website audits, and CRO suggestions.

They also hold mastermind events, which I’ve attended and spoken at.  They’re great.

Affiliates are not just income generators – each affiliate manager wants to generally get to know their customers and build long-lasting relationships. This is the best approach you could ask for from your affiliate network.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Bodybuilding, Weight Loss & Health
  • Payment methods: Direct Deposit, Payoneer, Skrill & BitCoin
  • Minimum payment amount: $100
  • Programs offered: CPS

Visit Site

Market Health

Market Health new logoThis is an affiliate network that specializes in health and beauty products, including more than 200 they manufacture themselves.

This is a friendly affiliate network if you’re selling health and beauty products and operating outside the US. It may even be the best choice for you if you meet those conditions.

I’ve done at least $200,000 with Market Health, and a share of that has to do with their eagerness to reward good partners with better rates. It’s easy to negotiate price bumps as soon as you can do better than 20 sales/day.

They have a global reach to more than 100 countries, and many of the offers come complete with localized language and payment processing.

Affiliate marketers of this network also receive access to a range of high quality perks, including robust tracking software powered by Has Offers and free advertising resources including landers and banners.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strength: Health, Beauty, Physical Products
  • Payment methods: Check by Mail, Bank Wire, Skrill, Pre-Paid Debit Cards
  • Minimum payment amount: $20
  • Programs offered: CPA, Profit-sharing

Visit Site


Pepperjam brandingPepperjam is an affiliate network that claims to offer something new by eliminating the distance between publishers and advertisers.

Publishers (the affiliates) choose to disclose the methods they use to promote products and decent brands, such as Ebates, RetailMeNot and Honey can directly communicate (and offer personalized incentives) with them.

This open communication philosophy extends to the support team, which promises to end the practice of banning partners without warning or appeal.

Affiliates and advertisers are offered the chance to meet directly and network with one another once a year at a conference that also includes the Pepperjam team.

As for offers, they claim to have in excess of 1000 of them. If you focus on working with a particular product and desire a direct relationship with the merchants who make it, this affiliate network could be the one for you.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Coupons, Digital Services
  • Payment methods: Paypal, Check; Direct Deposit
  • Minimum payment amount: $25

Visit Site


This network has 10 years of history and a great track record for attracting premium merchants who deal with catalog products. It can be a good alternative if you have problems with Amazon or the ebay partner network.

In addition to outdoor suppliers, they connect affiliate partners to offers involving everything from major appliances to vacations. There are a lot of offers to choose from with this affiliate network.

AvantLink has a reputation for transparency that exists because they allow members to view details about each merchant’s program before they sign on.

Everyone can appreciate the transparency, but they have several features that will appeal directly to more experienced or more technically minded publishers.

They have a highly customizable setup that allows you to play with the API or add either third-party or your own proprietary apps. The tracking program is also easily customized.

Expect a bit of a process if you want to join their network, however. They’re really proud of the fact that only ⅓ of applicants are invited to join.

You’ll likely need to show traffic numbers before admittance.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Outdoor, Physical Products, Large Retail Products
  • Payment methods: Check
  • Minimum payment amount: $25
  • Programs offered: CPS

Visit Site

Best Affiliate Networks For Beginners

Amazon Associates

amazon associatesAmazon is the biggest and most well known online retailer in the US. So, it should come as no surprise that they have the largest and most popular network.

They offer you the opportunity to advertise over a million products to customers, including some that don’t have a lot of attention from advertisers yet.

One of the biggest attractions to this affiliate program is its ease of use and the wide range of physical goods and brands that you can market.

Consider that this program offers you the possibility of marketing not only your chosen product but also all accessories and most products related to it.

From experience, 80%+ of the affiliate marketers I know are in Amazon. There are many in that group who have hit 5 and even 6-figure monthly levels, despite Amazon having commissions nowhere near the industry highs.

Enough traffic will make any program lucrative.

It’s not all upside, though. New members should beware as Amazon has very strict terms of service that they rigidly enforce.

They will not hesitate to permanently kick people out of the program for violations, and they don’t care much how much that costs you.

If you’re willing to toe the line though, Amazon Affiliates can be a profitable partner for almost any industry. The ebay partner network we’ll be looking at next is an alternative if you get banned.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Retail Products (all of them), Physical Products, Digital Products
  • Payment methods: Check, Direct Deposit, Amazon.com Gift Certificates
  • Minimum payment amount: $10
  • 60-day hold on payment

Visit Site

eBay Partner Network

ebay partnerEbay. You know what it is, but did you know that the ebay partner network is one of the biggest out there? This global marketplace has 1.3 billion listings attracting 182 million active buyers.

The Ebay Partner Network sells to a global market operating in 13 countries around the world. While it doesn’t control as much of the retail market as it’s behemoth competitor, Amazon, it does offer some impressive incentives.

A spokesperson from Ebay Partner Network says…

Today we pay on percent of eBay’s revenue. You can view our rate care here: https://partnernetwork.ebay.com/legal#program-details

Through the Ebay partner network, you can use simple tools to create affiliate links, share products via social media, track sales and view easy-to-understand reports and analytics to help you make money.

Quick Look:

  • Niche strengths: Retail Products (all of them), Physical Products, Digital Products
  • Payment methods: Direct Deposit; PayPal
  • Minimum payment amount: $10

Visit Site

What makes a good affiliate network?


If you’re a merchant, you need an endless supply of affiliates (and the traffic they bring). Likewise, if you’re an affiliate, you need affiliate offers to promote.

Having access to the greatest number of partners is always going to work out better for you for several reasons:

  1. Not every merchant and affiliate is going to be a good match for each other. More affiliate products means more choices.
  2. A massive community is a show of quality. Bad affiliate networks bleed both merchants and publishers. People stay if they get paid.

size matters

I don’t mind smaller operations if they’re focused on specific offer types (for example, pay per sale), or niches. However, I steer clear of the programs that are generalized and smaller.

The only time I’d consider them is if I’m struggling to earn decent commissions from established / larger names. Starting on a smaller network more desperate for players can be a good way to build credibility.

Of course, some are only small because they deal with a very specific product. These often have better credibility with merchants in those niches. Small networks can be beneficial if you’re a specialist.


Running an affiliate network is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts and the business requires plenty of cash flow, to say nothing of strict legal requirements.

Entire affiliate networks can disappear overnight—sometimes with the help of the FTC and the FBI—and leave partners on both sides without any way to claim money that’s owed.

Choosing an aged network is something of an insurance policy. Anyone who has been walking in this minefield for a while is less likely to get into trouble.

Don’t be a guinea pig and don’t put your commissions at risk.

For the protection of your own income streams, look for partners that have been running for more than five years.


logo for amazon

Reputation can be a difficult thing to research, but you’ll get a good feeling for it if you gather enough reviews. Speaking of reviews, this is my stand on Amazon.

The Amazon Associate Program is by far the most comprehensive affiliate opportunity online, but it doesn’t treat affiliates well and has lower commissions.

I have heard more than a few horror stories from 6-figure affiliate sites that are killing it one day, only to be banned by Amazon the next.

No reason was given, no appeal offered, no chance to come back. Myself included.

If Amazon (the most recognized affiliate marketing program out there) can treat affiliates this poorly, you can be sure that smaller operations can do the same.

I’d recommend you check all the related forums and Facebook groups. When you do, give special attention to the problems that could cost you money. Look for complaints about payments, skimming clicks or sign-ups.

In other words, do your due diligence.

Go Make the Best of the Best Networks

With all this information, you should have a much easier time finding the right affiliate network for you.

It’s as easy as choosing one from the list that matches your niche, your level of affiliate marketing experience and your need for security and support.

affiliate marketing

If you have any other questions about these affiliate networks or their niches, I hope that you’ll leave them in the comments, below.


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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — October 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-oct-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-oct-2019/#comments Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:09:08 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=10215 (Read more...)]]> What was that slight chill down your spine? Was it the first cool wind of fall? The spooky vibes of October? Or, are you just scared that you’re going to miss out on the next big trend in SEO?

Fear not. It’s all treats and no tricks in this month’s roundup of all the most important case studies, guides and news items.

The case studies of the month are going to reveal what a survey of thousands of SEOs says about the future of the industry, whether you really know the best length for meta titles and what 3.25 billion data points say about where niches get their traffic.

Then, the guides are going to hit you with a new outreach technique that gets insane results, suggest reasons your CTR data may be flawed, how to adapt to Google’s quality standards, and why you need to go the extra mile to verify your local rank.

Finally, it’s the news. We’ll hit you with the biggest SEO headlines including the changes to “no-follow” (we’ve even got some new tests for you), the need-to-know details from the small September update, and how you’ll soon be able to control your own search snippet.

Let’s jump into the first item and learn what 1000+ SEOs have to say about which ranking factors really matter.

Google Ranking Factors 2019: Opinions from 1,500+ Professional SEOs


So, it’s not a case study, but it belongs here because it involves data and charts about search trends. Where do the industry’s insiders think it’s going?

1584 industry professionals were polled on their impression of which ranking factors were the most important, and which trends will have the biggest impact on SEO in the next 3 years. Their answers were pretty interesting.

They tangled over 26 different ranking factors and 11 trends. There were some clear favorites for both questions and some interesting differences between the top 10% of experienced SEOs and the other 90%.

sparktoro chart

Relevance of overall page content was universally-declared the most important ranking factor, narrowly followed by quality of links and use of relevant phrases. Near the bottom, were “keyword in domain name” and, brace yourself, “use of external links”.

Guys, please don’t forget…

While these are insider opinions, they’re “opinions” just the same.

You’ll see some interesting differences if you compare it to data. Also, Google tends to chart its own course. Any big trend can be nullified by an update.

Next up, find out what a massive data experiment says about the true best length for <Titles>.

Ideal Length Is For SEO In 2019 (Hint: It’s Not 80 Characters Anymore)


This beefy case study looks at 1.5 million title tags to determine what works best in SEO. What kind of titles do searchers prefer? How hard do clicks drop off when your title gets truncated? At what length does Google begin to truncate titles?

If you aren’t sure of the answer to these questions, you may find this pleasantly-organized breakdown useful. You’ll find trends confirmed across millions of results and a firm number for the best title length (spoiler alert: it’s about 50 characters).

title test results graph

It’s all topped off with some helpful advice on crafting good titles.

If you haven’t updated your best practices on titles in a while, this case study can be quickly turned into a plan to optimize all the sites you own (or those of a client).

Next, from the millions to the billions. What can 3.24 billion results tell you about where niches get their traffic?

What 3.25 Billion Site Visits Tell Us About Google, Facebook, and Where Different Niches Get Their Traffic


This massive case study looked at a variety of factors, including how much different industries rely on different types of traffic, and what sources fed them. The results are interesting and useful to anyone who builds niche sites in any of the covered industries.

You’ll find data such as what niches rely most on search vs. social networks, and the most traffic-worthy social network for each niche. The final section of the study is a deep dive into each niche with charts of that niches most important sources.

begging for traffic meme

This is also a study that can really help you organize your paid ads more effectively. Armed with the knowledge of where your competitors are getting the most traffic, you can target your ad campaigns to all the right networks.

You’re ready to move on to the guides. Starting with a backlink strategy on the Authority Builders blog.

The Social Proof Linkbuilding Method


This guide, written by yours truly, lays out one of my most effective link-building tactics.  Something I’ve never shared before.

It leverages two very important psychological factors, social proof and fear-of-missing-out (FOMO), allowing you to get some crazy powerful links that you thought you’d never have access to.

And the best part about it… these links are free.

For the video version:

But definitely don’t miss the full write up, where you’ll get my templates and see some of the results I’ve gotten from this strategy.

Next we get into a Moz guide about how to calculate your CTR more effectively.

The Data You’re Using to Calculate CTR is Wrong and Here’s Why


CTR (click-through-rate) is one of the most important statistics of any page. Wouldn’t it be frustrating if you found out that you were measuring it wrong? That’s what Moz is asking us in this new guide, and they have a compelling reason.

As the piece points out, data pulled from some of the easiest sources (Like Google Search Console) are incomplete and full of static. To get comprehensive, reliable data, you need to go to the right places, do a little scrubbing and properly organize the data.

CTR SEO meme1

That probably sounds like a lot, but the guide takes you through all of the steps with complete explanations. And to be honest… it’s really not that bad.

How about some information on how to optimize your content? That’s what coming right up in the next guide from SEMrush.

EAT, YMYL, & Beneficial Purpose: What Do Google’s Quality Standards Mean for Search?


This long look into Google’s Quality Standards will teach you how to interpret the search engines 3 key standards: Beneficial Purpose, E-A-T, and YMYL.

In short, “beneficial purpose” is now a baseline requirement. During the June update, John Mueller told people they had nothing to fix when their websites were hit. That’s because Google is now targeting sites it doesn’t consider beneficial. Be beneficial first, or the rest doesn’t matter.

E-A-T, (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is how the content is judged when the page has been determined to be useful. Does your content have references? Did someone with credentials write the content? Is your website reputable? These answers now matter


YMYL (your money/your life) websites deal with health, dieting, insurance, investments and other topics close to your body or finances. These sites are now under intense scrutiny. Many of the sites that were hit by the June updates were YMYL.

Recent trends suggest that Google is judging content that looks sketchy more harshly. If the sites you deal with were on the periphery of the niches hit by the update, this guide could be a stepping stone on the path out of the danger zone.

Let’s go local for the next piece. How reliable is your local rank tracking? Probably not as accurate as it could be if you aren’t scanning multiple locations.

Why You Need To Be Scanning Multiple Map Location Points For Local Rank Tracking


You should feel very proud if you’ve put a local business into the top position for local results. However, your victory may not be as complete as you think it is. As you’ll learn in this item, a position may sometimes hold only for several blocks.

The guide starts with an experiment. The position of a result is tested in a single location. It’s at number one. However, as the test goes on, more nearby locations as tested. Not even a mile away, the result has dropped completely out of the local snack pack.

local ranking google map

Most businesses rely on a much larger service area than a mile, and they may not be aware that their prized #1 position fades away only a few streets over. As the later sections reveal…

It’s more than possible to rank 1 for all of the nearby areas.

Now, it’s time to hit the news desk. There’s several headlines of the month that you can’t miss. First, what does Google want us to know about nofollow?

Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links


Nofollow is evolving. This release by Google covers everything you need to know about why and how.

It covers how nofollow has changed and what new functions are being introduced. You’ll also find answers to some of the most common questions people are asking about the new updates.

The highlight of the release is the new link attributes that allow you to distinguish sponsored links and user-generated content.

nofollow meme follow

More on this, down below.

Nofollow still exists, but you’ll want to review the release for all the changes that have happened. It can no longer be used as a guaranteed no noindex command (there were always more effective ways to no-index pages). Google now considers nofollow a “hint”, and you’ll want to see the release to be sure of what that means.

The next item is coming up, but this topic isn’t quite finished yet. Your next item is a series of tests into this change that has already been done.

Tested: New Google Link Attributes (Sponsored, UGC) vs No-Follow, Do-Follow


So, you’ve got several new link attributes to play with? Do they matter? Is one more likely to give crawlers a good impression? Is another likely to signal to Google that the page isn’t worthwhile?

Those are some of the questions that this piece sets out to answer. The experiment is as thorough as possible for such a recent change. Several pages were created and given links. For each page, all of the links were set to only one of the following attributes.

  • Do-Follow
  • No-Follow
  • UGC
  • Sponsored

So, that’s one page where all of the links are set to no-follow, one page where they’re all set to UGC and so on.

Google Link Attributes (Sponsored, UGC) vs No-Follow, Do-Follow

You’ll learn how the rank of each of those pages changed over several weeks of monitoring. You’ll find out how who ended up on top and which of the new attributes can be considered the strongest.

The experiment and results here should be of service to every early adopter. If you like to stay ahead, you’ll also want to see the next item. It covers the outcomes of the Sept. 2019 update.

Google Sept. 2019 Core Update ‘weaker’ than June core update


There was another core update in September. It was a relief to many that it was much smaller in scale than the one that was released in June. However, things still changed in this update and you’ll want to know what they are if you want to be ready for the next “big one”.

You can get some of the information you need in this breakdown of some of the most verifiable effects. There’s a full list of the niches that experienced the most volatility, and the ones most affected might surprise you.

June Core Update

News sites experienced the most volatility, followed by sports sites, entertainment sites, and gaming sites. Don’t assume that’s bad news for them, though. News site DailyMail was one of the biggest winners. It recovered a lot of what it lost after the June update.

You can also hear from SEOs about whether their sites were hit or not. The article hosts some of the biggest tweets about it. Many reactions seems to be positive, with sites responding well to recovery steps. However, some people found that their recovery stopped with this update.

This is only an initial breakdown, of course. More will become clear as the update continues to settle. It’s typical of Google to release minor corrections in the weeks after an update.

Still more Google news is coming right up. In this case, they’re announcing that they will soon let you customize your own snippet.

Google Lets Site Owners Customize Their Search Results Snippets


This is some exciting news  for people who have been frustrated over the quality and coherence of the snippets Google chooses for their pages.

Previously, there were few options for frustrated SEOs who didn’t like what was being summarized for searchers. The snippets could be turned off, but that wasn’t a great solution either.

search snippets setting illiustration

Beyond that, different snippets were simply pulled from all over the page to match certain queries or devices. Now, there are many options. Google is handing out new attributes, letting sites write the snippet and then promising to comply with the settings on all devices.

It could make for much more effective optimization in the future. So could the news in the final item. Google has a new announcement about review schema that’s inspiring a lot of discussions.

Google’s New Announcement About Review Schema


Google is updating it’s review schema to prevent certain types of sites (organizations and businesses) from displaying reviews in their rich results if those reviews are “self-serving”.

How is that decided? What reviews are safe or what reviews are problems? That’s what this lively discussion on Local Search Forum wants to figure out. A lot of people with personal experience weight in on what this means for the local space.

which schema meme

There were some theories of what is now considered proper markup. It is possible that you can review schemas may still work as long as they come embedded from a 3rd party domain.

However, that quickly led into discussions about the specter of schema-related penalties, and whether they were being handed out for review missteps. This crowd seems to feel that they are, and showed up with stories of personal experiences with them.

It’s a good resource for ideas, and strategies for dealing with this change.

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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — September 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-sep-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-sep-2019/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2019 07:14:59 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=9929 (Read more...)]]> Welcome to the last roundup that will take place before autumn is officially upon us. Q4 is considered a great time for reflection and this year in SEO has certainly given us a lot to reflect on.

Giants have fallen. Websites and niches with histories going back to the early days of SEO have collapsed in the wake of new updates. How could anyone imagine what’s coming next? Well, by reading this roundup, of course.

The most important case studies, guides and news items are right here, and they’ll put you back on the inside track.

First, four fresh case studies. You’ll learn what 5 million results can teach you about CTR, how to rank #1 with an aged domain, how to rank locally through organic supremacy and how to get ready for a world where fewer searches end in clicks.

Then, the guides. You’ll learn whether SEO or SEM is more worthy in the current time, how to build the best anchor text and how to (instantly?) increase search visibility with FAQ-based snippets.

Finally, the news and discussions of the month. What’s likely to happen to one intrepid SEO defying a penalty with a new domain? Is Google cracking down on commercial content again? Is Google experimenting with new font sizes in SERPs?

Let’s start with Backlinko’s case study into organic CTR.

What 5 Million Results Teaches us about Organic Click Through Rate


You’re going to learn a lot about the modern state of CTR in this roundup. If this exhaustive case study by Backlinko gives you something you need, make sure you don’t miss the Sparktoro case study covered later.

How much is the top spot worth? How about the lower spots? Are “power words” weak? Should your meta titles and descriptions be appealing to emotion? Brian’s answers to all of these questions are in the article.

Fresh CTR google web ranking screenshot

The writeup opens with a summary of 10 key findings revealed by the data. Each section after that breaks down one of the findings with rich amounts of information and helpful visual aids.

The presentation makes it very easy for you to pick out the essential bits you need most and then track down the in-depth information that may help you develop better practices.

Now, what could be a better followup for the “why” of ranking than the “how” of ranking? Specifically, how to rank for a high-volume term with an aged domain. That’s the focus of the next case study hosted by Authority Builders.

Case Study: Hitting Page 1 for a 50k Search Keyword with an Aged Domain


Ranking an aged domain is a tricky proposition. If you can pull it off, you can build a lucrative money site from a domain that has already strolled its way out of the sandbox and already has backlinks built to it.

Aged sites can mean a larger initial investment, so it’s important that you do it right.

If you intend to do it right, you won’t find a much better map forward than this direct case study. This is no dry examination of data tables. The actions that took the site to page 1 of SERPs are laid out quarter-by-quarter and step-by-step.


Everything is documented in detail, including…

  • Choosing the domain
  • Initial tweaks to the site
  • Link building
  • New content
  • Ongoing maintenance

Experienced site builders can use this study to develop their process, but a newbie could just as easily use the study as a comprehensive guide into ranking aged sites for the first time.

The process documented here is oriented toward ranking for global terms. If what you’re looking for instead is some insight into local domination, you’re going to get exactly what you need from the next case study by Loganix.

The Secret To Ranking In Local Search: Ranking in Organic Search


Local SEO may be targeted toward one geographic area, but that hardly makes it a less lucrative focus for an SEO career. As this case study notes, nearly half of all searches are local searches. Either organic SEO or local SEO can be a great path.

But as the young lady in the classic gif asks us: “why not both?”

ranking gif meme

There has always been a relationship between local and organic results. This case study is one of the most comprehensive looks into how that relationship works.

The data seems to suggest that there is a direct correlation between a position in local map results and a higher rank in organic results. In one niche that was tested, the top 5 map results had the same positions (compared to one another) in organic results.

And there’s plenty more to learn. The study ends with several takeaways revealed by the data. If you want to know why getting more reviews should be your big local priority—or why claiming directory profiles is so vital—make sure you check it out.

However, there’s also evidence on the horizon that the meaning of ranking is changing. Many searches are now ending without a click. What that might mean for you is the topic of the final case study of the batch.

Do less than 1/2 of Google’s searches now result in a click?


Few people realized that June of this year marked one of the most significant events in search history. For the first time (at least according to data we can access), zero-click searches passed 50% of all searches.

Let’s be clear about what this means. It doesn’t mean that searchers are frustrated, or that they can’t find the answers that they need. It means they’re finding the answers that they need ON the search page.


This fact, along with its many implications, is the focus of this massive case study by Sparktoro. The study covers the history of this change, Google’s share of all searches compared to other engines, and how SEOs may need to change their strategies to thrive in this brave new world.

This piece shouldn’t be missed by anyone who has a search career. If this trend continues the goals of ranking are going to change altogether. Everyone will need to learn how to get value from searchers who may never leave the results page.

One suggestion from the study is to watch the increasing viability of paid ads in the short term. That’s a timely suggestion. Our next item (and first guide) is a look at how SEO compares to PPC in the current time.

SEO vs. PPC: Which Should You Use?


Whether SEO or PPC is generally the best investment is a debate that’s been raging for a long time. It doesn’t help that the value of each one shifts constantly as new updates are released.

As you might expect, the best option depends a lot on what kind of budget you have and what you’re trying to achieve. That comes down to dozens of different factors, but this new guide by Ahrefs covers just about all of them.


The guide provides an in-depth look at the strengths of each option, the situations where they have a clear advantage and the best times to use both simultaneously.

Each argument is made with examples of business goals, such as launching a business, promoting a single product or flipping a website.

The guide is designed with more experienced readers in mind, but if you’re still picking things up, you’ll be able to learn where you need to focus your research next.

If you do end up deciding you need to go the SEO route, don’t miss the next guide for the month. It’s going to teach you how to get better at building anchor text.

The Data-Backed Anchor Text Optimization Formula For Maximum SEO Results


You know what anchor text is, but even if you didn’t, this guide has a whole introduction section breaking down what it is, what it looks like and what it tells Google. After that, it dives into the real information.

This guide is part case study and part real-world application. It needs to be because links and the principles behind them have changed a lot in recent history (mostly thanks to the Penguin update).

domain authority illustration by ah

The case study, in the earlier section, reveals why the new best practices in the later sections are necessary. It shows you what’s currently being used (in 50,000 sample URLs) as well as what is and isn’t working anymore.

Better anchors are an important part of the path to rank one. If you need some short-term juice to hold you over while you’re putting that in motion, that’s exactly what you’re going to get from the next guide on the list.

How To Instantly Increase Search Visibility With FAQ Rich Snippets (I am serious, near real-time!)


We’ve already talked a bit about how snippets are not just important but essential to the future of SEO. You need to learn to start getting the most out of what you can say in a snippet or learn how to drive clicks using only what is covered in the snippet.

This guide by Matthew Woodward may be your first introduction to the strategy that goes into doing them just right. Without spoiling it what can be an entertaining discovery, there’s evidence very early in the article that his process is effective.


It begins with the technical process of adding rich FAQ snippets to your sites and then closes with why it works. It’s a breezy guide that will take should take only minutes to read despite providing a significant amount of value.

It’s probably a good thing that the guides are closing on such a quick read because you’ve been given a lot of weighty information in this one. The news and discussions of the month are coming up next. They’re a lot easier to digest even if the information covered is pretty important.

We’ll start with an SEOs questionable quest to defy a penalty with a new domain.

What will happen to the SEO defying a penalty by setting up a new domain?


Dan Petrovic has certainly inspired a lot of interest in his experiment, even if he’s unlikely to inspire many imitators. The experiment examines whether a site can recover from a penalty by jumping to a new domain and politely asking everyone with backlinks to update their links.

It’s cheeky. It’s risky. However, everyone in the lively twitter thread seems excited to watch him try.

google penalty red card

Sort of like how people were excited to watch the local eccentric try out his flying machine in the days before airplanes.

It’s hard not to at least enjoy the energy and the sense of rebellious catharsis. Unfortunately, the next news item is a good example of why people are looking to stick it to the man a little. Google has launched another crackdown that should be noted by people with related niches.

Google cracks down on commercial content


This piece is a lot longer and more intensive than items that are usually covered in this section.

The main story is that Google is penalizing coupons and review results that were hosted on the subdomains of other brands (mainly publishers). Subdomain leasing has already received some negative attention, so this new action shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

However, the full story gets a lot…weirder. Google was seemingly made to investigate and act on the sites that were hit hardest by a single crusader. This crusader has a very young, active and anonymous Twitter account that is laser-focused on the issue of subdomain leasing.

visibilty graph of a german magazine

There is some debate about whether the action ended in a better situation for searchers. You can learn more about that by visiting and reading the full post.

You were promised some lighter reading, so the next item should make for a light closer. If you feel like the text in search results has put on some weight in the past couple weeks, you’re probably right.

Is Google testing larger search result fonts?


Short answer: It seems like it. Multiple credible SEOs have done some light testing and reported that fonts are growing larger. John Mueller stopped short of confirming that the testing was taking place, but gently teased the people who were making a big deal out of it.

The effects do seem like they matter though. In several examples (covered in the link) the size of the text reduced the number of search engine results visible without scrolling.

Font size matter illustration

Some people complained that they could only see the top few results. Others claimed the original size was difficult to restore using only browser tools. More significantly, some claim the changes had ruined carefully-truncated meta titles and descriptions.

Testing is likely still going on without any formal announcements. The final piece of advice for the month: If you see any changes in your stats, check to make sure your metas haven’t been clipped.

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E-Commerce SEO Case Study: How we 4x’d Traffic and Doubled Revenue https://diggitymarketing.com/e-commerce-case-study/ https://diggitymarketing.com/e-commerce-case-study/#comments Mon, 02 Sep 2019 08:41:18 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=9815 (Read more...)]]> Whether you’re an e-commerce manager or an SEO specialist, you’ve invested a considerable amount of time and energy into working out the best practice approach for tackling organic search for online stores.

An E-Commerce SEO Strategy Walk-Through

In this case study, I’ll be showing you my agency The Search Initiative was able to double revenue by building a custom strategy for one of our e-commerce clients who operates within a small b2b furniture niche.

My goal with this case study is to introduce you to a wide range of new ideas that will help you to expand and improve your e-commerce SEO game and better serve your customers.

You’ll learn the strategies we used to improve UX, technical stability, onsite optimization, content, and of course backlinks.

The approach that I will detail saw our e-commerce client grow their traffic by a massive 417% in 8 months.

It also earned them $48k in consistent additional monthly revenue. This took them from generating $43k a month to $91k a month, or a 112% increase in overall revenue.

Started working with TSI Graph Explorer

Default Channel Grouping

The Challenge

Our client is in the b2b furniture and equipment business and they offer their products only within specific locations in the UK. As well as offering their products for sale to clients, they also offer their products for hire.

Sched a call-CTA

The client came to us with a solid foundation. They had an existing e-commerce business, a solid website, and a great brand. However, when setting up their company, SEO hadn’t been a top priority.

Establishing E-commerce E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trust) & Earning Backlinks

If you have a high-quality site and with a keen desire to establish your brand (like our client does), your approach needs to be particularly focused on sustainable, long-term growth. You need to create quality content that represents the brand well and earn backlinks naturally.

In addition, focus on signalling trust in the online store and the brand by demonstrating transparency and authority.

We’ll get to this later.

Despite several core algorithm changes occurring in Google Search along the journey, these goals for our client were indeed achieved.

Here’s how we did it…

Step 1 – E-commerce User Experience

To enjoy the benefits of some quick wins, first focus on the low-hanging fruit.

User Experience

The client came to us with robust branding already established and a professional-looking website, but we were able to identify a few small tweaks that created a significantly better experience for potential customers.

user experience

Visual Changes

Optimize visitor experience by adjusting color contrast (here’s a couple of great tools for choosing brand colors and color contrast), adjust placement and selection of images, and add zooming and scaling images to product pages to further improve user experience and increase the likelihood of generating a conversion.

Mobile Optimization

The majority of Internet traffic now originates from mobile devices, so local and mobile optimization are now crucial for small businesses.

Make these small changes to your site that make a big difference to those viewing on mobile:

  • Making phone numbers clickable
  • Making emails addresses clickable.
  • Increasing the font-size to a minimum of 16px for mobile users, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Mobile Optimization incerease font size
These small tweaks contributed towards significantly increased conversions on mobile.

Step 2 – Technical Auditing

The foundation of any SEO strategy is technical optimization of the website, and since we were dealing with an e-commerce site with many functions and pages, there were plenty of opportunities to identify and resolve technical problems.

They are as follows…

Google Index Management

This included removing all traces of their old website from the Google index, removing duplication in their category pages, managing index bloat, adding their XML sitemap to the robots.txt, and removing now-defunct meta keywords from their site.

The result of these efforts allows Google to focus on the pages that you do want them to focus on ranking… not the extraneous pages you don’t want to rank.

For example, the client’s login pages were indexed. In some cases, this type of unnecessary indexing can cause more valuable pages to be pushed out of the search results, or skipped over in a routine crawl, thus diluting your message.

HTTP Pages and URL Parameters

We also found HTTP pages and URL parameters in the index.

URL parameters are parameters whose value is set dynamically in a page’s URL.

For example, you may have a search bar on your website where customers can search your catalog.

Whenever customers do an internal search, new URL parameters will be created, which ends up bloating the index with a bunch of URLs like:  website.com/category/search?pink+scarf

In order to make it clear to Google’s Search algorithm what the different URL parameters do, specify them in Google Search Console.

Search Console URL parameters sample

Cleaning Up Legacy Strategies

Next, we looked at any technical issues caused by legacy strategies and began to clean them up.

One example of an issue was that the site included meta keywords on the pages, which have been considered defunct since Google confirmed that these self-defined keywords hold no weight in their algorithm.

Worse, competitors could look at your meta keywords and find a perfect list of keywords and niches that you’re targeting.

We then looked at how the client’s CMS might be causing issues without them even knowing it.

Managing Magento 2

Our client’s site is built on the popular Magento 2 ecommerce platform, which is notorious for not having a robots.txt and sitemap.xml configured out-of-the-box.

We created the sitemap ourselves using Screaming Frog web crawler, added it to robots.txt, submitted to Google Search Console, thus helping Google’s search algorithm to better understand the layout of our client’s site.

magento 2 illustrate

Finally, we dealt with a considerable site-wide issue. The site used canonical tags that were meant to be self-referencing, but were actually canonicalized different pages.

This is suboptimal because it confuses Google’s web crawler bots, making it a mess when trying to rank. We cleaned it all up, so that Google knew exactly which pages should rank.

Step 3 – Internal Link Building

Once you have done a technical audit, earned some quick wins and solved some user experience issues, start to think about improving the internal link structure.

Adding Internal Links To Existing Content

Quickly, we noticed that while the client did have a blog on their domain, there was very little content on it and much of it was out of date. Also, there weren’t many links between their blog and their category and product pages… a huge opportunity for spreading link juice and establishing topical relevance.

Our plan was to create more high-quality blog content and expand its scope, allowing us to build more internal links to relevant product and category pages.

We drew up a content strategy that involved producing a consistent number of new content pieces each month and went back through each old blog post, updating them with relevant links to product and category pages.

internal link building puzzle

We’ll get to the content plan in more detail later, but for now, let’s really dig into internal linking.

E-commerce Topical Clustering

Create “topical clusters”, which can be thought of as groups of pages that talk about different elements of the same key topic.

For example, “protein powder” might be the topical cluster. It would be made up of a cornerstone article that you hope to rank for the keyword “protein powder”, as well as several other articles talking about sub-topics of “protein powder”.

Sched a call-CTA

Some examples could be “How to Make Pancakes from Protein Powder”, or “Can Protein Powder Help you Lose Weight?” or “10 Side Effects of Synthetic Protein”. You would then create a content piece for each of these sub-topics and have each linking to the cornerstone article using a close anchor text to “protein powder”.

Using this technique, you’re able to pass value from the smaller articles to the main piece and have a better chance of ranking the main piece for “protein powder” in Google Search.

From these cornerstone articles, we were then able to link back to category and product pages, increasing their perceived authority too.

Topical Clusters Before and After

Step 4 – Content Strategy

Before you can implement a solid external backlink building strategy, you need to create a bedrock of content to be used to support your outreach.

I suggest giving your writers the following guidelines for creating content.

TSI meetup 03

Look at how pretty Raf’s handwriting is!

Evergreen, Algorithmically Optimized Content

Focus on evergreen content, preferably creating linkable assets such as infographics, slideshows or documents containing industry insights.

An example of an evergreen topic would be “why ergonomic chairs are good for your back”. Conversely, “the best chairs in 2020” would not be evergreen, as it will obviously lose its relevance at the end of the year.

In the same line of thought, avoid using dates in the page title, headings or URL.

Quality and depth of content are absolutely essential to analyze in this day and age. Each query (keyword) needs to be answered thoroughly.

Look at the people ranking on page 1.  Ask yourself:

  • How many words did they write? Find the average and add 20% more.
  • What sub-topics did they cover? When discussing “How to lose belly fat”, you’ll see that it’s necessary to talk about “avoiding trans fats”.  Do the same.
  • What kind of layout are they going for? Are they presenting in tables?  Do the same.

And don’t forget, write in an easy-to-read manner, and without any grammar mistakes.

E-A-T and E-commerce Content

Create content that referenced your products and services so that you can funnel users to your core landing pages.

This is good for both conversions, and for your rankings.

ecommerce content strategy

Google is becoming increasingly sophisticated, putting more and more weight on the importance of your website showing expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T).

By creating content that shows you have a deep knowledge of the products you sell, you are improving your chances of ranking higher for relevant keyword phrases.

E-commerce Content & User-Intent

Ensuring that the content matches the user-intent across the entire conversion funnel is a great way to build awareness of your brand as well as helping with link acquisition and visibility.

Since we already had a website full of bottom-of-the-funnel conversion-focused content – we needed to expand upwards. To handle comparison focused keywords, we helped provide users with answers to their much-sought questions around the products.

Instead of just having protein powder product pages, we’d have funnel pieces talking about “The Pros and Cons of Protein Powder vs Natural Foods.”

Marketing Funnel Illustration

However, this still wasn’t the highest level of user-intent that we could target.

We began crafting content for customers that didn’t yet know they needed our client’s products and services – and in doing so were able to place them as the brand to help the user help during the research stage of the potential customer’s search.

An example of this might be “5 Ways to Maintain a Summer Body Throughout the Year.”

Step 5 – On-Page Optimization

Next, focus on detailed analysis and optimization of individual pages.

Page-by-Page Product & Category Page Analysis

Here, we analyzed each page individually, comparing how many exact-match and partial-match keywords were on the page in comparison to the top 10 ranking pages for that keyword in Google.

For that, we used Surfer SEO.

We also used the tool to look at how many common backlinks the competitors had linking to their domain, how many keywords they had in their page titles and H1 tags and whether they were exact or partial-match.

We also looked into other key metrics such as page loading speeds in comparison to the top-ranking pages, the number of words in the content and the number of images.

SEOsurfer chiar hire uk

Step 6 – E-Commerce Link Building Strategy

Spammy Backlink Disavow

Our client came to us with a fairly underdeveloped existing backlink profile, meaning there was little need to spend too much time removing undesirable links to the site.

E-commerce sites may naturally pick-up lots of links like this over time; because they have so many pages within the index to link to.

Sched a call-CTA

We quickly disavowed some of the lowest-quality backlinks using the Google disavow tool and then turned our attention to our client’s competitors.

E-Commerce Competitor Analysis

Use Ahrefs (or your favorite backlink tool) to review the backlink profiles of your top 3 competitors, who will offer similar products to the same target market.

E-commerce websites often have strong brand competitors. You can easily check out where these brands get their links and emulate their brand-building link strategies.

As your first targets, look for publishers that link to your competitors and have high domain ratings and monthly traffic.

Here’s a solid guide on how to audit domains for link placements.

By following this strategy, we quickly found results.

Ahref Rank 01

Ahref Rank 02

Ahref Rank 03

Ahref Rank 04

Ahref Rank 05

Ahref Rank 06

A Natural Backlink Profile

It’s always essential to grow your domain’s backlink profile in a natural-looking way, especially if you have a low amount of existing backlinks, as was the case with our client.

With little previous history, there is a considerably higher risk of penalization by Google if your approach is not careful.

With this in mind, we spent two months building backlinks with safe branded anchor texts (read more) from overall medium quality domains (average DR, average traffic, etc).

backlink profile ecommerce

In the third month, once these backlinks were established, we began to evolve the approach and slowly started gaining backlinks with targeted anchor text from increasingly higher-power domains.

Referral Traffic

Getting links from sites that pull traffic themselves can actually increase your own website’s traffic.

Yes, it’s actually a thing.

Comparing referral traffic figures from before and after the activity, we see that there’s been a 625% increase in revenue from referral sources (based on client data).

By targeting industry-relevant websites with their own existing traffic we managed to both improve our client’s backlink profile in a natural-looking was as well as providing a welcome boost to another channel.

Infographic Outreach

Another strategy that we used (that still sees great results) was creating infographics.

Chose a popular topic and outreach the asset.

To find what would make for suitable infographics, we reviewed strategies that had worked for our competitors – an approach that will always be viable as long as SEO exists.

I wrote about this last year as part of my scalable white hat link building strategies.

Local Citations

We also made a push to gain backlinks and citations from local publishers.

Sched a call-CTA

This helps users and Google’s search algorithm to understand the business’ location – particularly important as our client operates within a limited geographic range.

Back-Linking Results

To summarize, winning in SEO these days requires you to match and then beat every competitor’s backlink profile.

Since working with The Search Initiative, our client has seen a huge growth in the number of referring domains and backlinks pointing to their website – from just a few hundred to more than 1,400.




Campaign Results

I hope you’re sitting down.  These results are tasty.


The core high-value keywords targeted for their revenue potential increased by 1467 positions according to Agency Analytics, our main everyday tracking tool.

agency analytics sample1

And according to Ahrefs data, the overall keywords within the top 100 increased from 391 to 2,494, a 637.8% increase.

organic keyword result chart1

Organic Traffic & Revenue

Our content strategy directly benefited the blog traffic. The blog now acquires 222% more new users and 74% more returning users than it did previously, which obviously opened up a new pool of potential customers.

organic revenue sessions july

returning user organic chart

aqcuisition rate graph

And in terms of traffic across the whole domain, we saw a very nice uplift. Compared with the same time last year (before the client started to work with The Search Initiative), organic traffic has seen an increase of 417.29% in sessions and an increase of 452.49% in users.

organic site summary graph


default channel grouping acquisition graph

*Based on the client’s internal data these traffic increases directly impacted an increase in revenue by $48k extra in monthly orders.

All of this achieved within just 6 months.

This took them from generating $43k a month to $91k a month, or a 112% increase overall.


Through this case study, I hope I’ve illustrated the point on just how incredibly important it is to build content and backlinks at a controlled pace, in a way that looks natural.

The right content allows your e-commerce brand to showcase expertise and communicate authority within your niche, which increases your chances of ranking for tons of relevant keywords, both at the bottom and top of the funnel.

We also touched on the importance of combining technical SEO, user-experience considerations and internal linking to gain the most from all the pages within your e-commerce site.

Make sure as an e-commerce business or SEO operator, you’re using a combination of each-and-every high-impact SEO strategy to maximize the potential of your domain and your products.

If you need any help with that, you know where to find us: The Search Initiative.


Get a Free Website Consultation from The Search Initiative:



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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup — August 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-aug-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-aug-2019/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2019 08:45:49 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=9656 (Read more...)]]> The dog days of summer are upon us—that special time from July to about Mid-August marked by the most sweltering days of the year.

Well, if you’ve been focusing on your online business to escape the heat, you’re out of luck. It’s rising in here, too. But if you’re reading this, you can take the heat. So, let’s get to the advice that will keep you cooking.

First, check out these data-laden case studies to make sense of recent changes. We’ll start by looking at whether CTR is a ranking factor, some tests into the best backlink checker and, what’s working for SEO in 2019. Then, I have a case study for you built off my link service.

After that, I’ll take you through the guides that will show you how to drive traffic to your site, analyze your competitors, and cheaply boost content linkability like a pro. After my choice of guides, I’ll show you the ones Cyrus Shephard considers the best for SEO this year.

Finally, the month’s big news and lively discussions. If you’ve been wondering what’s causing rule-abiding sites to lose traffic or why some GMB reviews are missing—your answers are a few scrolls away.

Your answer as to whether CTR is a ranking factor? Let’s start by looking at what Dan Taylor has to say.

Is CTR a ranking factor?


The role of CTR in ranking has been a huge debate, lately. What keeps this debate interesting is the fact that there are seasoned experts on both sides.

How do you know who to believe? As usual, the answer is hard data. Fortunately, Dan Taylor has just finished collecting some for us.

Rather than a new study, it’s a collection of all of the most authoritative evidence that’s been collected. There are links to multiple in-depth experiments and case studies, along with some evidence you might not have thought to check (like patent filings).

calculating CTR

His conclusion is that CTR is not a ranking factor. However, you’ll need to read the piece to find out why that may not mean what you think it does. There’s some important analysis of the reasons optimizing CTR still matters. Also, you’ll learn why it’s likely to matter more very soon.

This is information you can use to prepare for the future, but our next case study has data you can put to use right now: Check out the latest numbers on which backlink checker is the most accurate.

Which Backlink Checker is Most Accurate? [2019 Case Study]


Link building matters more now than it ever has. Tools have been released to make it easier, but now there’s so many that it’s circled back around to hard again.

Testing out different checkers can be time-consuming and expensive, but reading this deep dive takes minutes, and it’s free.

The case study looks at 4 of the biggest checkers-

  • Ahrefs
  • Majestic
  • Moz
  • SEMRush

backlink checkers list

The point of the case study was to examine not only the number of results but the accuracy of them. Over 10,000 links were crawled to determine how many of the links reported by each checker was already dead.

It might surprise you to learn that none of the checkers were 100% accurate. 8% of the links returned by even the best checker (Ahrefs) were already dead. Except for first place, there were only 1-2% differences between the different checkers.

You can use this case study to pick a more accurate checker. However, the evidence seems to suggest that there isn’t much difference between 2nd and 4th place. That’s reason enough to care about the other features each one offers.

Better backlinks are one way to improve your SEO, but wouldn’t you like to know more ways? How about…17 more?

17 Ways to Improve Your SEO in 2019


I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh. A listicle? What’s this doing here?”

But this is no ordinary list, my friends. Each section is backed up by data and pulled together at the end with a series of growth charts to show what they all accomplished. It’s a case study into almost all the ways that a stalled site can get moving again.

where do i even satrt seo 2019

If you’re new at building and ranking websites, you can use this study to develop your own list of best practices. If you’re experienced, you can use this study troubleshoot problem sites. Compare the items to what you’ve already accomplished, and take the next step (or 17 steps).

If 17 options aren’t enough, I’ve still got one more for you. Coming up next is a quick look at what Authority Builders did for one niche affiliate marketing site.

Authority.Builders Review: Real User Data Case Study


I won’t take up too much of your time to toot my own horn, but I was proud of this particular item that was published this month. One of my clients performed his own case study into how two links from Authority Builders worked on one of his sites.

The effects of the links were as isolated as possible from any other work on the site. So, this will allow you to see what kind of effect they have on their own starting from the day the links went live.

first keyword

It’s a short study and a short read—unlike the following item—which happens to be the beefiest items in our list this month. Let’s move onto our guides for the month with a look at the proven ways to drive traffic to your site.

11 Proven Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website


This roundup is just killing it with the useful lists this month, right? This guide goes deep in-depth into various outside-the-box ways to drive traffic to your website. Each item is supported with all the graphs, references and visual aids that you need to apply the insights to your own sites.

If you’re a pro, you’re likely to have heard some of this advice before. However, the information here is so detailed that there are probably some practices (or the reasons behind them) that you’ve missed. Even if you already use these tricks, these guides may help you do it better.

back to tthe future web traffic

Some of the advice was certainly off the beaten path, such as advice about how to…

  • Promote content in relevant online communities
  • Answer questions well
  • Appear on podcasts

It’s a long read, but a convenient one because you can just jump around to the items that will have the most impact on your sites. Whether this one takes up a lot of your time, or only enough to pick up a trick, it will be useful.

Now, let’s move onto a guide that focuses on one specific skill and how to do it better. Our next guide covers a 5-step procedure to better competitor analysis.

5-Step SEO Competitor Analysis Tutorial (With Template and Examples)


I’m glad that this piece has come along this month because I’ve been a long-time believer in the vital importance of competitor analysis.

If you have the impression that this is something only high-level SEO experts can handle, this simple guide may prove you wrong. No, it’s not a breezy read, but you don’t want it to be if you want to do this right.

If you’re serious about understanding your competitors, I think it’s fair to say that this piece offers everything you need. It breaks the entire process into five steps. Each step is packed with all the information you need to understand what you’re doing and why it will matter.

seo competitor analysis robbie

The guide requires one tool to pull it off properly: Ahrefs.  I might also suggest Surfer SEO, but hey, I didn’t write the guide.

But each step also covers where you find the information you need in the Ahrefs interface. So, you won’t be left confused even if you’re new to the tool.

Ahrefs can be a little costly for a new enterprise, and if that’s a concern you have, then the next guide in the list is also going to be a relief. It’s about how to make content more linkable without dipping into your budget.

How to Boost Content Linkability Without Wasting Your Marketing Budget


Your content will establish your authority, drive conversions and stand as the property that attracts links. At least, it’s meant to do those things. Sometimes, though, you invest serious time and money into good content only to see it stall out.

Increasing linkability without dipping further into your budget is a huge deal and the subject of this guide. It covers several ways that you can increase linkability by making only small modifications to the way that you build your copy.

marketing linkability stats mac

Some of the tips are things that you can do in minutes, such an injecting a few expert quotes or stats in strategic areas. If you want to take it further, there are some higher-budget options like adding images. For the pricier options, you get great advice about how to do it right.

If you’d like to know how to do quite a bit more right (like say, almost anything), you’ll find what you’re looking for in the item. Cyrus Shepard is presenting some of the best articles to learn SEO.

Cyrus Shepard presents the Best Articles to Learn SEO


If you didn’t know Cyrus Shepard from his SEO work already, you may have been introduced to him here. He catches onto trends fast and frequently pulls high-level Google employees into his conversations on Twitter. His tweets have been featured several times on our roundups

He doesn’t focus on education topics that often, so this piece by him is a special treat for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to have his perspective.

seo not rocket science meme

He covers 7 different articles that have the power to transform someone from a complete novice to someone who has a firm grasp on the foundations of SEO. The articles teach everything from keyword research and traffic to on-page optimization.

If you ever have a friend who needs advice about breaking into the industry, this is a very decent place to send them.

With the guides now out of the way, it’s time to start looking at the latest news of the month. First, another story in the ongoing saga of the last algorithm update. Why are some rule-abiding sites losing traffic?

What is Causing some Rule-Abiding Sites to Lose Traffic?


This educational discussion took place on the news-aggregator Reddit.

It was posted by a website owner of a health-adjacent site who is experiencing a serious penalty without an obvious source.

seo case study no way meme

The site discussed is focused on examining medical research related to supplements. It doesn’t sell any products itself, or even make any claims regarding products. All the content is focused on reviewing published research.

The subject of the site (supplements) is leading some in the conversation to believe that the June update is responsible.

The thread is more than worthwhile, with hundreds of comments from other established SEOs that may be helpful as advice for other website owners.

Rankings aren’t the only things going missing lately, though. Many GMB reviews have also seemingly vanished.

Google Confirms Cause of Missing GMB Reviews – Will They Ever Come Back?


GMB reviews began to go missing around mid-July. There was a lot of speculation at the time about whether it was an error or not.

google review missing

Recently, some answers have come down from Google. It seems that at least some of the disappearances are not intentional. It’s true that an effort has begun to target and remove fake reviews. However, Google’s official stand is that some unintended reviews were targeted.

The link includes the full statement from Google, including a promise that an inspection is underway to restore any illegitimate reviews.

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Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – July 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-july-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-july-2019/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2019 09:34:54 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=9371 (Read more...)]]> Got your cookouts, fireworks and family vacations out of the way? Good. Because summer school is now in session and there will be a test. This month’s roundup comes with one of the heaviest collections of case studies and guides that I’ve ever published.

First up, my case studies are going to give you data experts’ perspective on some of the most vital trends in search, including Google’s June core update, the best CMS platforms and what clients expect from SEO services.

Then, my collected guides are going to teach you some intensely valuable lessons about how to be an amazing SEO, fix a plateauing rank and understand how Google values different types of links.

Finally, there weren’t many big news items last month, but what there were, you better not have missed. I’m going to cover the shutdown of CCN and what it means that Google has canceled support of robots.txt.

I’ve got a lot to cover, so better jump right in. Let’s start with one of the first really in-depth data dives into the June 2019 core update.

What an Analysis of 2 Million Pages Tells Us about Google’s June 2019 Core Update


It can be hard to keep track of the important changes in SEO while the sun is shining and people are out having fun. However, the consequences of the June update really aren’t something any SEO can safely ignore.

That test I talked about earlier? It’s about whether you can ride the wave of the latest update or get buried by it.

There have been hundreds of writeups on the update so far, but most have been based on first impressions and speculation. This piece by Eric Lancheres is built with hard data—more than 2 million points of it.

Analysis of 2 Million Pages graph

The piece opens with support for the idea that the June update doesn’t have much in common with any of the updates that came before it. A new focus other than UX, content, speed or other factors is guiding the sites that were boosted and the sites that were penalized.

[callout]The data seems to suggest that the factor that made the biggest difference was links.

Sites that were similar in every other respect thrived or decayed based on the number and type of links that they possessed.

To get the full analysis, you’ll need to check out the article yourself. It’s certainly worth your time because it will not only guide you toward the steps you need to recover, but may give you insight into where Google is going to make updates in the future.

Among other concerning trends you should note, there’s evidence Google is showing less interest in steering their searchers to results they don’t control.

How Much of Google’s Search Traffic is Left for Anyone But Themselves?


No one will argue that Google isn’t getting better at giving searchers exactly what they want. However, this case study reveals that more and more, Google is focused on delivering results in a way that doesn’t require any further clicks.

Features like the featured snippet are making it easier for Google to provide answers in a quick snippet format without delivering a click to the website that is providing the result. Exact information is extracted from the sourced website, and the searcher can read it right on the search page.

where user clicks after searching for google

This could have some troubling implications for publishers who carefully build information into content that is designed to provide incentives to build a lasting relationship with the searcher or direct them to helpful products. All that context is stripped out.

Google also owns or has purchased a lot of the biggest destinations from search engine pages. Through acquisitions like Youtube, the percentage of searches that end on Google properties has risen to about 6%.

The good news is that the percentage has been relatively flat over the past few years. It’s also far too early to say that the death of SEO is on the horizon.

As the case study reveals, there are still nearly a dozen clicks on organic results for every click to a paid result.

The whole piece is worth a read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the future of SEO. Of course, it’s also important to understand that these trends aren’t necessarily permanent.

Publishers have pushed back in recent months, with Ahrefs even going so far as to announce a competitor search engine that pays publishers directly.

Now, let’s move on to some of the external considerations of SEO. Backlinko has released a massive guide on the expectations of SEO clients.

The Most Important Outtakes from the 2019 SEO Services Report


It’s not often that I cover the client-facing side of SEO in my roundups. In this case, however, it comes packaged in data that was generated from a survey of over 1000 business owners who rely on SEO services—so it should fit nicely with what you’ve come to expect.

And after all, this is data you shouldn’t miss. It includes information about how much businesses expect to pay for SEO, how much value they place on factors like reputation and how quickly they expect results.

Perhaps most importantly for SEOs focused on driving leads, the survey covers how businesses find the companies they choose.

Direct referrals account for more than half of all conversions, and clients place a high value on SEOs who is in their geographic area.

On the other hand, the survey shows that there is a great amount of instability in the market. A certain percentage of clients constantly drop their services to hire new ones, and the factors that drive turnover aren’t always based on a good understanding of how effective SEO works.


Anyone providing SEO services owes it to themselves to review the full data for important information on how to optimize their sales and relationships with customers. Highlighting the right factors could make the difference between a lost client and a thrilled one.

Of course, the effectiveness of SEO isn’t always in your hands. If you have clients and they continue to resist migrating to WordPress from Wix, this next article may assuage some of your fears.

What an Analysis of 6.4 Million Domains Tells us about Wix SEO vs. WordPress


Your choice of CMS is not an insignificant one. However, most SEOs believe that they’re making not just the safest, but the best choice when going with global-standard WordPress. Wix has a reputation for ranking in a distant second place, and it has worked a lot to change that.

Wix has made a massive effort in the last two years to improve their reputation among SEOs, updating their product and going as far as to offer a $50,000 prize to whoever could outrank their site for a specific term. But has that effort changed what they offer relative to WordPress?

That’s exactly what this analysis of over 6 million domains set out to determine. That’s a lot of data, but as you might expect, that didn’t intimidate the people at Ahrefs. Through several steps, bias and misleading readings were stripped from the data to produce reliable conclusions.

wix vs wordpress

Those conclusions? They’re best understood by reading the whole piece, but as a preview: it seems that Wix’s poor reputation isn’t entirely deserved.

There seems to be some evidence that WordPress is benefiting from factors that have more to do with who uses it than what it brings to the table on its own. SEO experts who prefer the CMS may be fudging the stats with the expertise that they apply to their WP-built sites.

Of course, the conclusions are more complicated than that. Make sure you check out the data yourself.

While it’s hard to say what the future will bring, there’s a lot to be said about what it means to be an amazing SEO right now. My first guide piece from Authority Builders is going to cover the best in current techniques.

What it Takes to be an Amazing SEO [INFOGRAPHIC]


The last few pieces probably account for a few hours of reading time if you want to dive through all the data. Let’s take a quick break with a piece that takes advantage of pleasant visual aids to lay out the traits that define the top SEOs—As decided by industry insiders.

The data here was gathered from an industry poll of about 100 practicing SEO professionals. They were asked to help define the three main archetypes that defined the most successful SEOs.

SEO.Meme_mr fantastic

The focus was on the archetypes of the thinker (who analyzes and innovates), the learner (who develops their knowledge by accumulating the work of many others) and the implementor (who prizes technical skills and likes to get their hands dirty through trial and error).

The surveyed SEOs placed themselves in one of these categories and took a stab at defining the trait that made each one the most effective. Altogether, the data is a great way for both new and veteran SEOs to learn what skills they need to develop.

Had a chance to breathe? Good, let’s move back to the heavier stuff for a second. Plateauing is a serious problem for any SEO, and the next guide will tell you how to fix it.

12 Reasons your SEO Traffic is Plateauing and how to Fix it


Has your site stopped moving? Possibly for months in a row? There are a lot of reasons this can happen, and this guide looks at a dozen of them in an impressive amount of detail.

It covers frequent problems like slow speeds, excessive amounts of outdated content, too many aggressive ads and even serious problems like competition from Google. For each type of plateau, it provides you with serious, actionable advice on how to get things moving again.


The advice provided is not fluff. In many cases, the article provides specific action plans that may take some work to implement. You can decide for yourself if the site is valuable enough for some of the more intensive suggestions, but you can’t argue the advice isn’t based on results.

You’ll also find that many of the solutions directly involve the quality and quantity of links. If that’s going to give you some trouble, you’ll be well-served by the advice provided by the next item in my list of June guides. It’s all about how to determine the value of links.

All Links are Not Created Equal: 20 New Graphics on Google’s Valuation of Links


Thank goodness—some more pictures to relieve you from all those thick paragraphs and data tables I’ve been throwing at you.

If you’ve been looking for a way to make the value of links make more sense to you, look no further than this brand new guide by the people at Moz.

The guide lays out some of the most important principles for links and then illustrates them with helpful graphics that should make it a lot easier for you to commit them to memory.

1-pagerank-47972 from moz

Though it’s a long guide that covers 20 different principles, each part is easy to digest on its own. You can easily search and find any specific concept about links that you’ve had trouble internalizing, and then use the graphics to understand the concept at the basic level.

It covers concepts such as how to link higher up in the main content cast more powerful votes, and how links with the most relevant anchor text pass more value. Even if you’re an expert, you’re likely to learn something from this many concepts plainly laid out.

This time, I’m not going to throw you back into the data right after your break. Instead, make yourself some coffee and relax while you listen to this video of me  breaking down the latest information.

SEO Fight Club – Episode 21 – Matt Diggity – Affiliate SEO


This Youtube presentation I did for SEO Fight Club is going to be a huge timesaver for you if you’ve been having trouble finding a one-stop resource for affiliate websites and website flipping. Even the different points in the video are broken down in more detail with helpful slides.

The real value of the video is the format of “SEO fight club”. The information isn’t broken down from just one perspective, but from several, with the different hosts (all experienced SEOs) trading questions and offering more insight on different parts of the topics covered.

If you enjoy it, make sure that you check out the entire show. There are more than a dozen episodes up now that all offer the same advantage of competing perspectives.

Now that you should be a little more decompressed, I’m going to cover the two big news items of the month. First, CCN is shutting down as a result of the June core update, and depending on your niche, that should concern you.

CCN is Shutting Down after Google’s June 2019 Core Update


You may have read some takes that suggest the June update was a mixed bag, and that there isn’t much cause for big moves.

For at least one property, that wasn’t true. CCN is reporting that they’re shutting down after a large penalty after the June update. The numbers seem to suggest that they lost 70% of their search traffic.

CCN’s visibility index on Sistrix.com

You don’t have to be a fan of CCN or cryptocurrency, or even care much about what they do to consider what future adjustments might mean for sites in your portfolio. Consider how dependent your sites are on search traffic, or search traffic from just one engine.


The next news item is lighter, but still concerning for anyone focused on strategic indexing.

Google Cancels Support for Robots.txt Noindex


If you’ve been reading my roundups, you know that there was some noise months back about Google ignoring no-index requests. At the time, some of Google’s reps insisted that this was not intentional or intended.

robots txt no index illustrations

However, they’ve taken a new step now and finally declared that they no longer support robots.txt or consider it a valid directive.

While some will find this concerning, considering that Google respected this standard for years, there are still other options. Google itself laid out a whole list of alternatives that accomplish the same goal.

https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-july-2019/feed/ 11
What Does it Take to Rank in the Most Difficult Affiliate SEO Niches? https://diggitymarketing.com/difficult-affiliate-niches/ Mon, 01 Jul 2019 08:47:21 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=8296 (Read more...)]]> Ever wonder what it’s like to compete in some of the most difficult affiliate SEO niches?

  • How much money can be made?
  • What kind of budget needs to be allocated?
  • What kind of links are the best to build?

I sat down with 6 of the world’s top affiliate SEO experts to discuss what it takes to rank in various difficult seo niches, from CBD to Pharma.

You’re about to learn about the potential earnings, necessary budget, team requirements, content and backlink plans involved in each of them.

Pharma Cover image

Pharma – James Upjohn, Serpify

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?
This really depends on the number of products and route to market. Affiliates will earn smaller commissions, drop shippers significantly more.

We’ve done SEO rankings for a pharma client that was having their own pills produced in India and the profit was huge. Their revenue x4 within 3 months.

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
Surprisingly not a huge one! So many SEOs that use PBNs are tackling local SEO keywords! There’s probably 10 SEOs trying to rank and rent lead gen / local SEO for Plumbing Miami but hardly any PBN specialists ranking for terms like Viagra!

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
When we were ranking in this niche market we were a team of two. We did the SEO to make the pharma sites look like legit local businesses. Address, phone, map, schema etc and just a few pbns were needed.

There’s so much spam in pharma that our attempt to look as legit as possible was rewarded big by Google.

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
We didn’t focus too much on supporting content. We probably had 2-3 blog posts with internal links to our product pages.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
PBNs 100%. I had this exact conversation with a UK SEO living in Australia. I told them to charge $250 per month per keyword and ONLY send pbn links. They came back to me a month later and said they could not believe how much PBNs moved the needle in pharma.

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche? What kinds? How do you deal with it?
Not so much negative SEO but a LOT of hacked sites ranking and expect to go up against SEOs with 100s of sites interlinking and tier 2/3 with Xrumer type links. You are competing against the blackest of black hat SEOs in this niche but just do what you know works in local SEO (like these 9 things) and you’ll do perfectly fine.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
Be mindful of the laws. My client got shut down by the FTC and lost the whole business overnight.

Some of the pharma products were banned and he shouldn’t have been making them sell into the USA.

Stick to legit products, maybe partner with a reputable pharma company on search on well-known pharma offers. This is a great niche to get into that still seems wide open.


CBD image cover

CBD – Vithurs (V for short), Rankfluence

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?
There are a handful of affiliate sites in the CBD niche that are absolutely crushing it right now. CBD is definitely one of the most profitable niches and search volume continues to climb.

Let’s talk numbers. If you were ranking in the #1 position for all main search terms - especially the keywords with high buyer-intent (“product + review” keywords for ALL major brands, “best” keywords, “where to buy” keywords, etc), there is no reason why you can’t do at least $1million/month in commissions.

The CBD industry is, without doubt, a very lucrative market, and it’s touted to become a $20B industry by the end of 2020.

The lack of current regulation makes it an enticing opportunity for those who want to explore the niche (whether as an affiliate or as a direct supplier of CBD products).

Although there is currently somewhat of a monopoly in this industry (more on this later), there is still a viable opportunity for newer, smaller sites. If they do some solid keyword research and rank for those low competition long-tail keywords, they will be able to grab a fair share of search traffic. It’s one of those niches where there is plenty of money to be made, even if you’re not ranking at #1.

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
Your biggest expense in this niche will be link building (followed by content).

Taking into account the average link velocity (number of new links being built on a weekly/monthly basis) of the top affiliate sites in the niche and the type of links being built (regular link placements? guest posts? editorials? hacked links?) you should be able to roughly calculate how much a custom-fit link building campaign will cost you.

Link velocity for site ranking for high search volume keywords

Link velocity of a high-ranking CBD affiliate site

As a general guideline, you’d probably need several thousand ($x,xxx) per month (with at least a 9-month commitment) at the VERY minimum to compete in the CBD niche.

The current affiliate sites at the forefront of the industry are heavily investing in links, with some easily spending high 5 figures per month just to maintain their existing link velocity levels. This is the sort of budget you’re looking at if you want to make a real impact in this niche.

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
If your SEO strategy is primarily based around link building (such as outreach), then having a large team can prove beneficial as you can delegate individual tasks to certain members to handle.

On the other hand, you don’t really NEED an SEO team in order to tackle the CBD niche. Would it help? Probably. But with the SEO industry also growing fast on a yearly basis, there are thousands of choices on the market for link building services and quality vendors.

In my case, I have a team of 3 who handle my outreach activities (they land anywhere from 50–150 links per month per site) and I outsource all my content. In some cases (such as when I need double the links, but don’t have the immediate resources), I’ll also outsource the link building.

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
Your SEO content strategy will depend entirely on what exactly your site is about. With my CBD affiliate sites, I try to review every single popular brand. Since the CBD industry is growing at a quick rate, you’ll always find new companies setting up shop, and most of them will have affiliate programs you can join.

If you hit a roadblock, this is where competitor analysis comes handy. More than likely, your competition is ranking better than you for a reason. Clearly they’re doing something right. Why waste time trying to figure out what content will work, when you already have the answers in front of you?

Tools like Surfer and Ahrefs make spying on your competition’s SEO efforts easy. If you’re running out of ideas or need help identifying content gaps and topics, just audit your SEO competition to look for opportunities.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
You’re going to need the very best. The backlinks I’d recommend for this niche are guest posts, link placements (contextual), and PBN links.

Some of you might have expected a huge list of backlink types, but simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. This applies to every niche: the backlinks you build should ALWAYS have some level of relevancy.

Acquiring CBD-relevant links isn’t easy though. For example, when doing outreach, you’ll notice that some webmasters aren’t comfortable linking to CBD-related properties. This makes link building in this niche challenging, but you know what they say about challenges…

The biggest rewards comes with the highest competition

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche? What kinds? How do you deal with it?
I believe there is an element of negative SEO/unethicalness in every high competition niche. It’s only to be expected since you’ll always have haters and jealous people envious of your success.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
There is a lot of search volume and money to be made in the CBD niche. Just like there is money to be made in payday, finance, adult, and casino.

If you have the budget, mindset, and persistence, I’d suggest dipping your toes into this niche and giving it a go. If you’re considering entering this niche, I’d suggest doing your research and due diligence first - properly. I’m guilty of this myself, but it’s important not to let your excitement cloud your judgment.

If a niche doesn’t seem practical, it’s probably best to explore other options. Don’t waste your time chasing rankings you’ll never likely achieve. If you’re considering getting into the CBD niche: Good luck!


Casino SEO

Casino – James Dooley, FatRank

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
$25,000 a month

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
If you are not prepared to cover the whole topic, you are not ambitious enough.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
PBNs, Guest Posts, Niche Edits, Relevant Directories and anything else you can get your hands on (haha).

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche?  What kinds?  How do you deal with it?
Yes, it is constant. Bulk spam links, DDOS attacks, and Click Fraud.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
You need a big team. Ranking the sites is 30% of the battle as you need to manage hundreds of affiliate accounts and it is not like Amazon having one account to deal with. Constant changes in bonuses to update and compliance keeps my team on their toes because if you don’t respond quickly your accounts can be shut.


Medical Lead Gen Image Cover

Medical Lead Generation – Max Meyer, Skyline Health Group

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?
Top players can average between $200k and $400k / month for large websites, some can generate north of seven figures. It all depends on your arrangements with the advertisers.

Often you can negotiate higher commissions if you have the search volume and are able to deliver predictable lead volumes on a monthly basis.

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
Mid six figures to start seeing the results. Sometimes more. For example, in mesothelioma lead gen niche, you’ll be competing against the established websites that are, in most cases, backed/owned by large healthcare corporations with almost unlimited resources and budgets.

So money isn’t everything, you need to have proven and scalable SEO processes, otherwise, your competition might simply outspend you.

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
Based on our experience, an effective team for the project is anywhere between 20 to 50 people, but it all boils down to how good your standard operating procedures are as well as organizational culture and management efficiency.

Quantity doesn’t necessarily translate into quality, but if you’re trying to outrank a website with 15k ref domains, you just can’t avoid paying link builders/content creators/managers/ etc.

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
Here’s something that worked for us, and can help you get returns on your investment quicker: prioritize low competition keywords at the beginning. Most of the companies are competing for high search volume “money keywords”, and it will take you some time to rank for them.

Our strategy is to start building links and get as much traffic as possible to the “informational” pages (example “mesothelioma life expectancy” vs “mesothelioma lawyer”) and conducting in-depth CRO to capitalize on the keyword groups that are often overlooked.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
1. “Non-profit” outreach (resource page links) Example – create a page about lung cancer in the military and reach out to all military-related websites asking them to help raise awareness and link to your article. This is a surprisingly good source of links if done right.
2. PBNs work pretty well
3. Regular guest posting / outreach
4. Forums/Comments/Social Signals to make your link profile look as natural as possible

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche?  What kinds?  How do you deal with it?
Yes, link-based negative SEO is very prevalent, particularly for high search volume keywords. Our strategy is to maintain our link inventory and assess each link we get.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
You need to be very realistic about your budget and processes, there are some easier SEO niches out there that can deliver results quicker and require smaller investments in both time and resources.


adult cover image

Adult – Adrian Borg, Aphex Media

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?
Some time ago I remember reading that over 30% of the global internet traffic is adult traffic.

Towards the end of 2018 we where approached by a group to develop, maintain and promote a tube network. My initial naive assumption was to compare the sheer search volume to the niches I was working mostly in (still am) back then which were gambling and payday and using a 1 to 1 comparison, horribly wrong.

The trickiest part in adult is probably not getting the users to the site but it`s the building up of the various funnels and monetization.

Since we are still relatively new I will share some figures which I have handy… An average 1-year-old tube site getting an average of 50k daily users through SEO can generate anything between 2 and 10k through tier 2 countries.

A tier 1 tube site will expect the same amount of revenue with 25% of that if not less.

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
One of the challenges with adult sites is their huge amounts of content and pages these sites require.

Most of these pages are video pages, add to that all the tags and categories you end up with one big ball of unoptimized clutter. Getting your site set up for decent crawling and setting a basic on-page optimization process is one of the challenging parts I would say.

The industry is reliant heavily on links and a bit less reliant on your usual TFIDF/content optimization.

Page speed and bounce rates have a higher impact.

When it comes to link building one of the main differences, we noticed was the lack of filtering with completely obscure or unrelated links showing a positive impact. This has allowed us to be more aggressive and more links to more silos and subcategories.

A monthly budget of 3k for link building plus two SEO specialists should get a tier 2(non-English) site in a good place. For tier 1 countries you would require at least to double all your efforts and be more patient.

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
The minimum amount of people I would suggest to manage a small network would be 2, this excludes any product facing tasks.

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
This is probably the only thing that works in a similar way to other SEO niches. The only difference is that you need to include a system for removed pages (videos in this case).

Funneling users through blog posts works well and is less of a headache however the real volumes lie within the video categories and pages.

Niche it down, Niche it down, Niche it down!

Nothing new here aim for the stars but start with your neighborhood. Find 15 to 20 clusters and build content towards them. Focus your efforts and resources within those clusters, your user dwell time will improve and Google will also reward you for it.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
Once a site is sitting on a growth path you can rely more on general SEO metrics and a less (in comparison to other niches) to topical relevancy.

Since it’s a volumes game and you are covering a wide array of pages you probably won’t be building many tier two links. We use a mix of niche edits, PBNs and 3 way linking.

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche?  What kinds?  How do you deal with it?
So far our biggest headache was more related to DDoS and maybe a bit less on negative SEO.

Keep your homepage ratios vs rest of site in check and redirect any non-image links (deleted videos) to the homepage. Referencing my previous comment (most links will work) there is very little you can do to directly hurt your site in terms of link building and Google will fix the rest for you.

For image links load all through a CDN and do not redirect images to the page if you want to segregate image span which is rife through crawler bots. Invest in a solid server and CDN and ensure your passwords and plugins are constantly updated as that is one area you will be tested thoroughly.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
Before you get too excited and saying yes to an adult project take a breather to avoid waffling it up down the line.

Make sure to have your staff in place. Finding decent staff willing to work in the niche has been challenging for obvious reasons.

Niching it down to macro, low competition sub niches and build up towards your targets. Parallel traffic is vital, this will not only increase your crawl budget but will also spare you a lot of headaches with setting up enough signals.

If this is your first time getting into adult, avoid high competition English SERPs. I hope this was of use to some of you and if you have any questions feel free to message me directly on facebook or through my email at adrian@aphexmedia.com. Lastly thanks so much for this opportunity Matt Diggity.


dating SEO

Dating – Victor Karpenko, SEO Profy

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top Google spots in this niche?

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
Depends, from 1k/month to a lot.

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
In the beginning 1-3 people, when projects grow, 10+

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
Research first and according to your resources, then plan what to do.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
Different, from outreach and PBN to all others you can place on trusted web sites.

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche? What kinds? How do you deal with it?
Yes, in this niche it can be a pain in the ass. Disavow often, and sometimes you need to fight back with your competition.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
It’s not going to be super fast, if you are ready to strive long run, it’s possible to get good results.


Weight Loss Cover Image

Weight Loss – Matt Diggity, Leadspring

How much monthly recurring revenue can someone expect to make, ranking in the top  Google spots in this niche?
$200k-500k+ per month

What kind of budget does it take to compete in this niche?
Depends on the timing. For example, if you catch a fad weight loss pill right when it gets popular, you can rank for pretty cheap with an EMD.

I’ve gotten to #1 multiple times with under a $10k budget. But if you’re going the long play and trying to rank for ‘best weight loss pills”, you’re going to need a larger budget, of course. Mid 5-figures for sure.

How big of a team (if any) do you need to tackle this niche?
You can pull it off with a boutique level SEO affiliate team: 2-4 people.

Is there a specific content plan you’d recommend?
It’s all about keeping the correct balance between the amount of money (commercial) content on your site vs supporting (informational).

Too much commercial content and you’ll lose your trust. Too much informational content and you’ll get theme’d as a resource site and will have trouble ranking for commercial (review) keywords.

Finding that sweet spot requires tracking and testing.  This applies to all niches.

What kind of backlinks would you recommend for this niche?
If you’re going the EMD route, then definitely PBNs.

That’s what everyone else does, so it’s a race to see who has better PBNs and more of them. For the long play, outreach (guest posts and resource outreach) and PBNs for sniping target anchor text and tier 2.

Is negative SEO prevalent in this niche?  What kinds?  How do you deal with it?
Absolutely. I don’t even want to shed light on some of the techniques I often see.

But one that often comes up is stealing content. People will watch your RSS feeds to see if you post something new, steal it, then index it before you… You need to be quick on this.

Any parting words for those considering getting into this niche?
If you can get ranking, it’s a fun niche to be in.

Weight loss is one of those timeless niches that will be important to people, even in the middle of a financial recession.

Make sure to keep up on the new diets and products that are always coming out.

Ready to Get Started?

So now you know what it takes to tackle the hardest of affiliate niches.

One must be prepared with a big enough budget, a solid team, and most importantly, the skills to actually compete at the level of SEO.

The Affiliate Lab is a high-level affiliate SEO training program, without the high costs.  And it’s full of top tier SEOs to network with.

Here’s a snapshot of an income poll in the members-only Facebook group.

SEO income poll

The course is evergreen as well.  If SEO changes, the course changes.

Hope to see you in The Affiliate Lab.

Diggity Marketing SEO News Roundup – June 2019 https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-june-2019/ https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-june-2019/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2019 05:55:30 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=8598 (Read more...)]]> School may have just gotten out for the summer, but this month’s roundup is going to take you right back to class. From beginning to end, it’s all information that’s going to make you better at what you do.

First up, the month’s juiciest case studies. You’ll learn what an insufficient amount of links will do to you, what the numbers say about how to write great content, and what an in-depth analysis says about the best correlational SEO tools.

After that—the month’s guides that will make you a better SEO. You’ll pick up a stack of new linkbuilding tricks, the means to rank beyond your location, the keys to long-tail keywords and what it really means to optimize for searcher intent.

Finally, the news. You’ll learn what Google announced (yes, seriously) for their algorithm update, the signs that Google is better at judging medical sites, whether text-only ads are on the way out and why everyone is freaking out about favicons.

So, let’s get started with the first big case study. You may know linkbuilding is important, but do you know that without it…you’re doomed?

You’re Doomed Without Links [2019 Case Study]


It’s hard to separate the power of building links from all the other work you’re doing to get your website off the ground. But then, along comes this case study that completely isolates the work of content building from the work of link building.

For the first six months of this study of a brand new website, not a single link was built. 20+ pieces of content were created, but nothing was done to promote them or create links.

graph from the Search Console and google analytics

Predictably, very little happened. Despite tens of thousands of words in high-quality content built out over months, the website saw a negligible amount of traffic and growth.

After the first six months ended, the content building ended, and the focus was placed entirely on links. What followed was a nearly 2000% increase in organic traffic. Check out the article for more interesting data, graphs and insights.

If all this information has you chomping at the bit to improve your linkbuilding strategies, you’re in luck. One of our guides coming up a few items later will give you 13 ways to do just that.

For now, let’s look at a content case study that will show you how to build the kind of blogs that get views and draw new links.

How to Write a Blog Post That Gets 304,392 New Visitors (SEO Case Study)


Creating engaging content can be stressful for even the most experienced SEOs. Throwing some numbers and certainty into the creation process can make that process a lot more repeatable.

You’ll find some of those numbers in this study by Nathan Gotch at Gotch SEO. He runs the numbers on a successful post and breaks down the elements that delivered value to readers and encouraged backlinks.

writing a blog post for wordpress

The study closes with an in-depth guide portion that goes into how to choose the database of keywords that will be used to build the content based on what’s working for your competitors.

Some of the work that is needed to duplicate these results with your own content can SEO tools that maximize your on-page content. How fortunate that our next item will reveal the best ones to do it.

Top 3 Correlational SEO Tools for 2019 (Full Comparison)


You have all the options in the world when it comes to on-page SEO tools, but if you want to know what sets them apart, this in-depth review by Craig Campbell is for you. It covers 3 of the top competitors and studies their unique benefits.

The tools in question are PageOptimizer Pro, Cora and Surfer SEO. They are judged on several different merits, including on-site ranking factors, user experience, simplicity, system requirements, TF*IDF functionality, and other features.

SEO Tools meme

All of the conclusions are pulled into a table at the end, which makes this one a quick and convenient read if you want to find out how the features appeal to your exact needs. As you might expect, the “winner” changes depending on your needs.

Now it’s time to get to the guides. As you were promised earlier, it starts with 19 killer linkbuilding strategies to get your brainstorm blowing.

 13 19 Killer Linkbuilding Strategies


Linkbuilding is always a bit of a pain, even if you have a lot of time to spare. If you’ve been looking for some relief from dropping emails to strangers and hoping for the best, you’ll find it right here in this long piece by Robbie Richards.

The piece was first published with 13 strategies (hence the URL) but has now been updated to 19 with advice about how to build quality links with industry-specific tools, reclaim lost link equity in 404 pages and “hack” quora for referring traffic.

these links are more than gold meme

Each is laid out in an impressive amount of detail. You’ll get all the notes you need to replicate it for yourself, along with plenty of images that will show you how to use any of the tools that are involved in each one.

This guide can make any page a monster, but a page is only as useful as its purpose. If you’ve been trying to make a page rank outside of-of its geographic location, that’s what the next guide will teach you.

I Want to Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works


Local SEO can be lucrative on its own, but sometimes you’re looking to swim in a bigger pond. Ranking beyond one area can be difficult when you’ve got one location, but it’s not impossible to expand your range as this Moz guide reveals.

It breaks down several of the top strategies that take you from hyperlocal rankings to local, regional, state and national exposure. For each level you’re trying to reach, they provide specific tactics to get you where you’re going.

hyperlocal ranking

This piece is high on expertise and low on fluff. You can jump around to find what you need, and there are plenty of references and links to cover any steps you might not understand from your own experience.

One of the key ways to rank for any location at all is to master the use of long-tail keywords. If you have any questions about how to accomplish that, the next guide is going to tell you everything you need to know.

Long-Tail Keywords: The Last Guide You’ll Ever Need [2019 Edition]


This guide by the people at Authority Hacker promises to be the ‘last guide you’ll ever need’. By any indication, they’ve worked hard to earn that distinction, even if keyword advice is anything but evergreen.

The different chapters cover everything you need to know to find keywords, sort them and use them. The guide shows you how to use them to rank more effectively, draw more traffic and to develop better, more focused content.


If you’re planning to give it a try, make sure to find a comfortable chair first, and maybe mix yourself a cocktail. It’s a huge guide that’s filled with step-by-step instructions, screenshots that will carry you through different tools and advice.

Of course, keywords are just one part of optimizing your content. There are a slew of ways that you can make the content better. The next item is going to teach you one of the most important ones.

Optimizing Your Content for Search Intent


Most SEOs are aware by now that Google places a lot of emphasis on user intent. They want to direct users to results based on why they made the search, not just the keywords that they used.

By any indication, Google has become a lot better at judging user intent. Using thousands of signals as clues, the search engine can guess whether you’re looking for specific websites, general information, a product to buy or comparisons to shop.

But have you gotten any better at it? Do you know what steps to take to make your content match the needs of incoming searchers? You will after you read this guide by Ahrefs.

search intent question marks

It covers everything you need to know about the different types of intent, how you can find intent by looking at search data and then how to optimize based on what you discover.

The guide finishes with two miniature case studies that demonstrate how much power making edits around user intent is worth. In the first study, the changes were worth a 677% increase. In the second study, it was 3,100%

This is a guide that will be well worth the time it takes to get through it, but for now, we’re moving on to some lighter reading—the latest news stories. First up, Google had actually announced their last update.

Google’s Announced June 2019 Broad Core Algorithm Update


Google’s announced update is now being implemented. We know this because they took the rare step of telling us. That’s not something that’s really in their nature, so a lot of people are curious about the change in stance.

Unfortunately, that the update was made is just about all we know about it at this point.

The clue that we’ve been given is that the update covered relevance.

This may mean that while nothing was being targeted, spam that has escaped notice until now took a hit. The only instruction that Google gave is that there is nothing for you to fix and that you should do nothing.


While you might be skeptical about that advice, it’s probably the safest bet right now. It can take a few weeks for the changes from an update to settle, and anything you change now in response to mild movements might cause trouble.

My stance is that you are best off waiting a month for the dust to settle before you do anything.

After some rocky updates in recent years, some SEOs might be concerned. However, as the next news item shows, Google is getting better at targeting exactly what it intends to.

Has Google Gotten Better at Judging the Quality of Medical Sites?


Google is constantly looking for ways to improve the results that they deliver to searchers. That’s a gargantuan task considering the billions of searches that happen every day.

When the 2018 core update dropped, there was speculation that they were targeting medical sites in particular. At the time, Google didn’t give validate any theories, even as the data made it clear that medical sites were seeing big changes.

That’s changed with some recent comments by John Mueller. He has just recently confirmed that the algorithm has been focused on more and more on what he calls critical spaces that include medicine.

google and health

This suggests several things that SEOs should note.

First, competing in the medical results is going to take a lot more professionalism than in the past now that these results have special attention.

Second, this is likely just the first attempt at what is going to be an ongoing effort to give special attention to critical search topics. Those involved in any niches that involve people’s safety, financial security or other sensitive areas should take note.

Another subject that SEOs should pay attention to is the recent changes in Ads and Favicons. This is another trend that’s making some concerned.

Why are SEOs frustrated about Ads & Favicon changes?


A sizeable share of all searches is made on mobile phones now. Google has embraced this trend to the point of requiring websites to be mobile-ready for access to certain advantages.

Mobile does come with unique challenges when it comes to ranking and drawing in traffic. The SERPs pages for computer and mobile results don’t look exactly identical, and recent changes to mobile results have some SEOs concerned.

The ad label on the mobile SERPs page is now identified only by the word “Ad”, where it was once identified by that in addition to a bright background and whole-result highlighting.

google hides ad

In fact, the Ad label is now located in the same spot where favicons are featured for non-ad results. People are noting that the label looks a little like a favicon if you aren’t paying close attention.

This is drawing attention for several reasons. First, because organically-ranked results are far more difficult to separate from ads. Secondly, because favicon identifiers represent a fertile ground for scammers to try to phish from SERPs.

The changes are not necessarily set in stone at this point. Google is very active in updating its mobile SERPs at the moment.

https://diggitymarketing.com/seo-news-round-up-june-2019/feed/ 8
How to Prepare Your Website for a Google Algorithm Update [Case Study] https://diggitymarketing.com/algorithm-update-case-study/ https://diggitymarketing.com/algorithm-update-case-study/#comments Mon, 13 May 2019 09:39:30 +0000 http://diggitymarketing.com/?p=8013 (Read more...)]]> I hope that you’ve never had to go through the pain of being hit by an algorithmic update.

You wake up one morning, your traffic is decimated, and your rank tracker is littered with red arrows.

Algorithmic penalties are not a subject I like to trivialize, that’s why the case study I am about to share with you is different than most you’ve read before.

This case study is a testament of faith and hard work by my agency, The Search Initiative, in light of a huge shift in the SEO landscape.

Unfortunately, with core algorithmic updates you can’t simply change a few things and expect to get an immediate ranking recovery.

The best you can do is prepare for the next update round.

If you’ve done all the right things, you experience gains like you’ve never seen before.

March14update_rankedEven if you’ve never been hit with an algorithmic penalty, you should care about these updates.

Doing the right things and staying one step ahead can get your site in position for huge gains during an algorithm roll out.

So what are “the right things”?  What do you need to do to your website to set it up for these types of ranking increases when the algorithms shift?

This case study from my agency The Search Initiative will show you.

The Challenge: “Medic Algorithm” Devaluation

I want to start this case study by taking you back to its origins.

There was a big algorithm update on the 1st of August 2018. A lot of SEOs called it a “Medic Update” because it targeted a huge chunk of sites related to health and medicine.

medic update distribution


What Does an Algorithm Update Look Like?

Let’s start with a few facts.

Fact #1: Google is constantly running search experiments.

To quote Google from their official mission page:

“In 2018, we ran over 654,680 experiments, with trained external Search Raters and live tests, resulting in more than 3234 improvements to Search.”

Google - Search Experiments in 2018Here are the official numbers relating to the search experiments they ran last year:

  • 595,429 Search quality tests – this is the number of tests they have designed to run in the search engines. Some of them were only conceptual and were algorithmically proven to be ineffective, therefore these never made it to the next testing stages.
  • 44,155 Side-by-side experiments – this is how many tests they have run through their Search Quality Raters. The SQR team looks at the search results of old and new algorithms side-by-side. Their main job is to assess the quality of the results received, which, in turn, evaluates the algorithm change. Some changes are reverted at this stage. Others make it through to the Live traffic experiments.
    Sched a call-CTA
  • 15,096 Live traffic experiments – at this stage, Google is releasing the algorithm change to the public search results and assesses how the broader audience perceives them, most likely through A/B testing. Again, there will be some rollbacks and the rest will stay in the algorithm.
  • 3,234 Launches – all the changes that they rolled out.google updates in 2018

Fact #2: Google releases algorithm improvements every day and core updates several times a year!

Bearing in mind everything said above, Google releases algo improvements basically every day.

Do the math…

3,234 releases a year / 365 days in a year = 8.86 algo changes a day!

They’ve also confirmed that they roll-out core quality updates several times per year:

Twitter - Google Algo Changes Happen Every Day
When you suspect something is going on, you can confirm it by simply jumping over to your favorite SERP sensor to check the commotion:

SEMrush Sensor


During this period, rankings typically fluctuate and eventually settle. Like in the below screenshot:

Algo roll-out in our rankings
A lot of SEOs (myself included) believe that during the Heavy-Fluctuation Stage, Google is making adjustments to the changes they’ve just rolled out.

It’s like while you’re cooking a soup.

First, you add all the ingredients, toss in some spices, and let it cook it for some time.

Then you taste it and add more salt, pepper or whatever else that is needed to make it good.

Finally, you settle with the taste you like.

(I’ve never actually cooked soup other than ramen, so hopefully, this analogy makes sense.)

chef ramsey meme

Fact #3: There will initially be more noise than signal.

Once there is an algo update, especially an officially confirmed one, many budding SEOs will kick into overdrive writing blog posts with theories of what particular changes have been made.

Honestly, it’s best to let things settle before theorizing:

google search liason 1
One strength we have as website owners is that there are lots of us – and the data that is collected by webmasters on forums and on Twitter is sometimes enough to give an indication of what changes you could possibly make to your sites.

However, this is not usually the case, and when it is, it is usually difficult to tell if what the webmasters are signaling is actually correct.

Keep an eye on those you trust to give good advice.

That said…

At this stage, there are more rumors, urban legends and people wanting to show off – all contributing to the noise than actually any reasonable advice (signal).

At my agency, we always gather a lot of data and evidence first, before jumping any conclusions… and you should do the same.

Very shortly, we’ll be getting to that data.

The Question: Algorithmic Penalty or Devaluation?

When things go wrong for you during an algorithmic update, a lot of SEOs would call it an “algorithmic penalty”.

At The Search Initiative, we DO NOT AGREE with this definition!

TSI meetup 02

In fact, what it really is, is a shift in what the search engine is doing at the core level.

Put it in very simple terms:

  • Algorithmic Penalty – invoked when you’ve been doing something against Google’s terms for quite some time, but it wasn’t enough to trigger it until now. It’s applied as a punishment.
  • Algorithmic Devaluation – usually accompanying a quality update or a broad algorithm change. Works at the core level and can occasionally influence your rankings over a longer period of time.Applied as a result of the broader shift in the quality assessment.

Anyway, call it as you want – the core algo update hitting you means that Google has devalued your site in terms of quality factors.

An algorithmic shift affecting your site should not be called a penalty. It should be viewed as a devaluation. TSI logo 1

You were not targeted, but a bunch of factors have changed and every single site not in compliance with these new factors will be devalued in the same way.

The good thing about all this… once you identify those factors and take action on them, you’ll be a great position to actually benefit from the next update.

How to Know You’ve Been Hit by an Algo Update?

In some cases, a sudden drop in traffic will make things obvious, such as this particular site that I would like to look at more specifically.

But we’ll get to that in a second.

Generally speaking, if your traffic plummets from one day to the next, you should look at the algorithm monitoring tools (like the ones below), and check Facebook groups and Twitter.

Google Algorithm Change Monitors:

Useful Facebook Groups:

Useful Twitter Accounts to Follow

The Patient: Our Client’s Site

The client came on board as a reaction to how they were affected by the August update.

They joined TSI towards the end of October.

This was the ‘August 2018 Update’ we were talking about – and still no one is 100% certain of the specifics of it.

However, we have some strong observations. 😉

Type of the Site and Niche

Now, let’s meet our patient.

The website is an authority-sized affiliate site with around 700 pages indexed.

Its niche is based around health, diet and weight loss supplements.

The Symptoms

As the industry was still bickering, there were no obvious ‘quick fixes’ to this problem.

In truth, there likely will never again ever be any ‘quick fixes’ for broad algo updates.

All we had to work with was this:

Symptoms - July vs August drop
You can see that in this particular case, the number of users visiting the site dropped by 45% in July-August.

I will rephrase myself: Half of the traffic gone in a week.

If we look at October, when we’re running all our analyses and creating the action plan, the organic traffic looks even more pessimistic:

Symptoms - October drop

With the niche, site and timeline evidence, we could easily conclude what follows:

100% Match with The “Medic” Update

How We Recovered it – What are the “right things”?

To contextualize our decision making on this project, this is a rundown of what we know and what we knew then:

What we knew then

  • It seemed as many of the affected sites were in the health and medical niches (hence, the “Medic” update).
  • Sites across the web have experienced a severe downturn in rankings.
  • Rankings were affected from page one down. (This was surprising – most of the previous updates had less of an impact on page 1.)
  • A lot of big sites with enormous authority and very high-quality have also been devalued. We had speculated that this would suggest a mistake on Google’s part…

What we know now

  • ‘The August Update’ affected sites from a variety of niches.
  • The effects of this were particularly potent for sites in the broad health niche with subpar authority and trust signals.
  • This change has been considered by some as a deliberate step towards the philosophical vision Google had been laying out since the first mention of YMYL in 2013.
  • The update accidentally coincided with an update of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines. (The document put additional emphasis on how to EAT the YMYL sites. No pun intended.)
  • The content was a very big part of the quality assessment. In particular – content cannibalization.
  • The changes were seemingly there to stay (no rollbacks through the aftershocks in September – quite the contrary) and there were no quick fixes.

Quick Fix?

Unfortunately, unlike manual actions, there are no guidelines that you can follow to simply ‘switch back on’ your rankings.

An algorithmic devaluation is a product of data-driven change. It essentially means that what you were previously doing is no longer deemed the thing that users want when they search for the terms that you were previously ranking for. It no longer is the right thing.

I’m going to summarise it in a very simple statement (which became our motto):


Let’s discuss what “all the things” are…

The Tools You Need for Auditing

Auditing websites is an iterative process.

  • Collecting data
  • Making changes
  • Understanding the impact of the changes
  • Collecting data
  • Making changes

iterative optimisation approach

Having access to the tools required to audit a site thoroughly and quickly is really useful when there is no obvious, specific problem to fix and you need to fix everything.

Here are the main tools we used and how we used them.

Google Search Console (The Essential)

The coverage tab on the left navigation bar is your friend.

GSC - Chart with coverage issues

I elaborate further on the approach and use of GSC Coverage Report below.

Using the URL Inspection tool you can check your site page-by-page to determine if there are any issues with the page.

GSC - Inspect URL Step by step

Or if you just want to find out if your site is migrated to mobile first indexing:

GSC - Crawled as URL Inspector

Ahrefs (The Ninja)

If you have an Ahrefs subscription, their new site auditing tool is an excellent way to repeatedly audit your site.

Some of the main errors and warnings you’re looking for with Ahrefs are page speed issues, image optimization problems, internal 4xx or 5xx errors, internal anchors, etc.

Ahrefs - Project History

What I like about it the most is that you can schedule the crawl to run every week and Ahrefs will show you all the improvements (and any derailments) as they happen.

Here’s a screenshot from a client where we’ve run a weekly, periodic Ahrefs analysis and have strived to keep a health score of 95%+.

You should do the same.

Ahrefs - Scheduled Crawls list

Obviously, we also used our ninja tool (Ahrefs) for the link analysis (see below), but who doesn’t?

Sitebulb (New Kid on the Block)

You might recognize the name if you’ve read my algorithmic penalty case study.

Sitebulb is especially good at telling you exactly what the problems are. It’s an analysis tool as well as a crawler.

Here are some (cool) examples of the issues Sitebulb is able to discover for you:

  • Duplicate URLs (technical duplicates)
  • URLs with duplicate content
  • URL resolves under both HTTP and HTTPS
  • URLs that have an internal link with no anchor text
  • Pagination URL has no incoming internal links
  • URL receives both follow & nofollow internal links
  • Total page size too big for 3G connections
  • Critical (Above-the-fold) CSS was not found
  • Server response too slow with a Time-to-First-Byte greater than 600ms
  • Page resource URL is part of a chained redirect loop
  • Mixed content (loads HTTP resources on HTTPS URL)

Sched a call-CTAHere’s a full list of the hints you can find in Sitebulb:


These ‘Hints’ will help you with efficiency.  You get insights enabling you to bundle simple issues into the overlying problem, such that you can fix them all at once, rather than individually.

Sitebulb - Hints

My team loves Sitebulb. It has proved to be incredibly useful for the iterative auditing strategy.

If you don’t know what Sitebulb is, I would recommend you check it out.

Surfer SEO (SERP Intelligence 007)

I fell in love with Surfer SEO the moment I started playing with it.

It’s become a staple tool at The Search Initiative.

Surfer SEO - Header Homepage

Shortly, you’ll learn all about how to use Surfer SEO to optimize the hell out of your content.

Recovery, Optimization, and Implementation


Since we knew that a big part of the update is content, we kicked off a page-by-page analysis, scrutinizing every page on the client’s site.

Pruning the content

During the last Chiang Mai SEO Conference, just 3 months after the update, our Director of SEO, Rad had shared some of the most common issues affecting the last update.

A few recoveries we’ve seen during these 3 months have suggested that one of the biggest problems was Content Cannibalization.

Below are Rad’s 10 most common issues that we had found were mostly affecting the August update:

CMSEO 2018 - Rads Medic Synopsis

(Lucky) Number 7: Avoid content cannibalization. No need to have the same sh*t in every article.

With that in mind, we started going through the site, post by post, restructuring the content.

You can approach it in 2 ways:

1. Consolidating pages – here you identify pages (through manual review) covering the same topics and combine them.
Once the content is consolidated, redirect the page with fewer keywords to the one with more.

A few examples of what posts you can consolidate:

  • 5 Popular XYZ devices That Work
    5 Best XYZ Devices of 2020
    Best XYZ Devices That Actually Work
  • 11 Things That Cause XYZ and Their Remedies
    What Causes XYZ?
  • The Best Essential XYZ
    Top XYZ You Can’t Live Without

2. Pruning – here you select pages matching the below criteria and redirect them to their corresponding categories:

  • Very minimal traffic in the last 12 months (<0.5% of total).
  • No external inbound links.
  • Not needed (don’t remove your ‘About us’ or ‘Privacy Policy’ page, ok?).
  • Not ranking for any keywords.
  • Older than 6 months (don’t remove new content!).
  • Can’t be updated or there is no point in updating them (e.g. outdated products, etc).

Strip the website from any content that could affect the overall quality of the site.

Make sure every single page on the site serves a purpose.

Improving the E-A-T Signals

Around “The Medic” update, you could hear a lot about E-A-T (Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness).

The fact is that Google really values unique, high quality content, written by an authoritative expert. It also is quite good at determining the authority and quality, along with all the other relevancy signals.

Whether or not you believe that the algorithm (and not actual humans) can detect these E-A-T signals, we can assume that the algo can pick up some of them.

So let’s get back to doing “all the things.”

Here’s what was prescribed:

    • Create site’s social media properties and link them with “sameAs” schema markup.
    • Format the paragraphs better and write shorter bitesize paragraphs – authority sites would not make these readability mistakes.
  • Do not overload CTAs – having call-to-action buttons is important, but having them in a user-friendly way is even more important!

Here’s how it looked like originally – some posts had a CTA every 2 paragraphs:


  • Improve your personas – Creating their “authors” online authority helps them improve the overall site’s authority and increases the expertise.
  • Link to your About Us page from the main menu – It really does not hurt!
  • Build your About Us page so it proves your expertise and authority – this is a good example.

EAT - About Us page

  • Include Contact Us page – there should be a way for your visitors to get in touch!
    Here’s a really good example (without even using a contact form!):EAT - Contact Us Page
  • Create additional Disclaimer Page – A good practice is to create an additional Disclaimer Page linked from the footer menu and referenced wherever the disclaimer should be mentioned.
  • Improve your author pages – here’s a really good example.
  • Improve the quality of content – The quality of content for YMYL pages (Your Money or Your Life – sites directly impacting user’s financial status or well-being) should be absolutely trustworthy.
    There are quality rater guidelines for this.
EAT - YMYL Recommendations
Heading Tags

On our client’s site, H3 headings on many pages were supposed to be marked as H2. Some H1 headings were marked as H2s.

Go over each of your published articles and make sure that the structure of each page is marked up properly from an SEO perspective.


Heading Structure - Incorrect

CORRECTHeading Structure - Correct

It’s not a newspaper – so you shouldn’t need to always keep the correct heading hierarchy.

But please, at least keep it tidy.

It really helps Google grasp the more important bits of the content and the sections’ semantic hierarchy.  Learn more about heading structure in my Evergreen Onsite SEO Guide.

Content Adjustments

The name of the game is to write the best content possible.

If you need help with this, organic seo services provide great options here.

Anyways, it requires you to audit what’s already ranking on page 1 and out-doing all of them.

This means you’ll need to do this audit periodically, as page 1 is constantly in flux.

The aforementioned tool – Surfer SEO – has proven itself to be an amazing bit of software. Without it, we couldn’t do a full, in-depth analysis like this in a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s use an example keyword ‘best affiliate networks’ with 800 monthly searches in the US only.

My site is already doing well in top10, but it isn’t ranking number 1.

First, run Surfer for this keyword and set the target country as you prefer – in my case, USA.

Surfer SEO - Keyword Box

It will take a minute to run the analysis. Once it’s done, go to the report:

Surfer SEO - Main Analysis View(1)

What you see here are:

  1. Ranking factors available – From the number of words on the page to the number of subheadings, each factor is measured.  You can quickly see how much these factors matter for the top positions on page 1.Surfer will automatically calculate the correlation of each measurement which is presented as a little ‘signal strength’ icon next to each factor. High signal strength means that this factor is important for ranking in the top positions.
  2. Main chart for the selected metric – in this case, # of words in the body.  As you can see from the graph, the results in the top 3 positions have significantly more words than the others.

Surfer SEO best affiliate network 1 copy

  1. Chart settings – I like to have Surfer set to show the averages of 3 positions. This helps me better visually grasp the averages.

You may have noticed the line through the chart showing the value of 4933 words. It is an exact value for my site, which I enabled here:

Surfer SEO - Filter Settings

  1. Type in your domain in the search field under the chart
  2. It should find it in the search results.
  3. Click the ‘eye’ icon to have it plotted in the chart.


But, that’s not even the best part of Surfer SEO.

The Audit Feature – Surfer can audit your page based on the top 5 competitors and show you all the correlating factors analyzed for this page.

Here’s how it looks like for The Best Affiliate Networks page on my site:

Surfer SEO - Audit
(If you want to have a look at the full audit – it’s shared here)

I can now look at the recommendations in detail, such as the recommended number of words in the body:

Surfer SEO - Word Count Body Chart
The first 2 pages have significantly longer content. So first on the task list is to add some more words.

Before I’d go and do that, though, I’d want to make sure that I’m using all the common words and phrases as the other competitors.

And you can see that here, in detail:

Surfer SEO - Popular Words

Surfer SEO - Popular phrases
Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

Optimize your title tags to comply with the best SEO practices:

  • Keep the main keyword phrase together and towards the front
  • Keep the titles relatively short and to the point
  • Include elements that will improve your CTR (https://ahrefs.com/blog/title-tag-seo/)
  • When including a year (e.g. “Best XYZ in 2020”), remember the freshness algorithm (2007 and 2017 mentions – trust me, it’s still a thing) and ensure to keep it up-to-date
  • Don’t overdo the clickbait – if you do, watch your bounce rates grow – this is bad!
  • DSS: Don’t Spam Silly – obvious, right? Don’t double count keywords
  • Make it unique

page title optimisation
Make sure to fix missing, too short or too long meta descriptions as a quick win for your overall quality score.

Image size optimization

Optimize all important images with size over 100 KB by compressing and optimizing via ShortPixel. Your pages will now use less bandwidth and load faster.

ShortPixel Summary
Here’s the full summary from our Shortpixel optimization for this client:

  • Processed files: 4,207
  • Used credits: 3,683
  • Total Original Data: 137.10 MB
  • Total Data Lossless: 129.32 MB
  • Overall improvement (Lossless): 6%
  • Total Data Lossy: 88.48 MB
  • Overall improvement (Lossy): 35%
Alt Texts

Each image should have an alt text – this is a dogma I don’t always go by, because what can go wrong when missing an odd alt tag?

However, alt text isn’t just something to have – it’s also a factor that can help Google understand what the image shows. It also adds crucial relevancy signals to your content.

Besides, we’re doing “all the things”, aren’t we?

In this case, we optimized images by adding more descriptive, natural alt texts. Additionally, we made sure all the images had them.

Site Structure Optimization

Internal Link Repair

We found many internal links that simply incorrect.

They were perhaps linking to a page that had been 301 redirected (sometimes multiple times).

Other times they were linking to dead pages (404s).

To find them, we used one of our favorite crawlers – Sitebulb:

  1. Go the audit, then Redirects
  2. Look at the number of internal redirects
  3. Open “Hints”

Sitebulb - Internal Redirects - Step by Step

4. From the list of hints, you can now see all the internal redirects

Sitebulb - Internal Redirects Report

5.Use the Export Rows button to export the data to Excel

sitebulb - internal redirects

We then fixed the broken links and updated them to be pointing to the correct pages.

Broken External Links

We’ve found broken URLs that had natural links coming to them.

In case of pages with a 404 status code, a link going to a page like that is a dead end which doesn’t pass any authority or SEO value to your actual pages.

Sched a call-CTAYou don’t want to waste that!

Here’s where to find them in Ahrefs:

  1. Go to Pages → Best by links
  2. Then select the desired status code (in our case – 404)
  3. The list is there!

You can sort it by the number of referring domains (in descending order), so you can see the most important ones at the top.

ahrefs - broken external links
After that, create a redirect map with most appropriate destinations and permanently (301) redirect them to regain the lost link equity.

Technical SEO

Page Speed Optimization

Here’s our client’s traffic breakdown by device type:

Audience by device type
Seeing values like that, you HAVE TO focus on your page speed metrics. It’s not a ‘maybe’ it’s an absolute must.

Chances are, your site and niche are the same.


Page Speed - Desktop Before page speed mobile


 page speed desktop after page speed mobile after

What we did – the same answer: EVERYTHING

  • Minified Javascript.
  • Minified CSS.
  • Minified HTML.
  • Introduced lazy loading for images, videos, and iframes.
  • Combined small CSS and Javascript files to save the round trip times.
  • Improved time to first byte (TTFB).
  • Optimized images.
  • Introduced .webp image formats wherever possible.
  • Introduced critical path CSS.
  • Made above the fold virtually non-blocking.
  • Introduced asynchronous loading of external resources where possible.
  • Introduced static HTML cache.
  • Introduced CDN.

For most of it, these plugins were absolutely priceless:

  • WP Rocket – this one takes care of a lot of things from the above list.
  • Shortpixel – very effective image optimization tool.
  • Cloudflare – decent CDN offering a free option.
Google Index Coverage

This one was usually approached in two ways:

  • Removing unwanted URLs from Google index.
  • Reviewing all Errors, Warnings and Excluded lists in Google Search Console.

Google actually has a fairly decent guide to all of the issues shown in the screenshot below:


GSC - Coverage Issues

You definitely need to look at all the errors and warnings – this is a no brainer to fix them.

However, at The Search Initiative, we’re literally obsessed with these ones:

  • Crawl anomaly – these URLs are not indexed, because they received a response code that Google did not expect.We figured that any URLs here would hint to us that Google may not fully understand where they are coming from and it is not able to predict the site’s structure. Therefore, it may cause crawling and indexing issues (like messed up crawl schedule).
  • Soft 404 – these URLs are treated by Google the same way as normal 404s, but they do not return 404 code.Quite often Google happens to include some money pages under this category. If it happens, it’s really important for you to figure out why they are being treated as ‘Not Found’.
  • Duplicate without user-selected canonical – I hate these the most. These are pages that Google found to be duplicated. Surely you should implement a canonical, 301 redirect or just update the content if Google is directly telling you that they’re dupped.
  • Crawled – currently not indexed – these are all URLs which Google crawled and hasn’t yet indexed.

There are plenty of reasons for this to happen:

  1. The pages aren’t properly linked internally
  2. Google doesn’t think they should be indexed as a priority
  3. You have too many pages and there’s no more space in the index to get these in. (Learn how to fix your crawl budget)

Whatever it is, for a small site (>1000 pages) this category should be empty.

  • Duplicate, submitted URL not selected as canonical – this section includes all URLs for which Google does not agree with your canonical selection. They might not be identical or Google just found them to be useful if indexed on their own.

Investigate and try to drive the number of them to an absolute minimum.

Structured data

Along the way, we had some issues with existing microdata.

You can figure out if you have issues by tossing your page into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool:

GSC - Structured Data Errors

To fix these, we had to remove some markup from the header.php file in WordPress.

We also removed the comment markup from the posts – the posts did not have comments enabled anyway.

After fixing the issues… we decided to implement review markup for the review pages.

The team tested a few plugins (including kk Star Ratings which is dead easy to implement), but we ended up implementing JSON-LD markup ourselves.

My next blog post will be all about schema markup for affiliate sites so come back for that soon.


Google Search Console reported tons of site errors on desktop and small screen devices.

These need to be reviewed, page by page.

Typically these are responsive design issues which can be fixed by moving elements around (if they are too close), increasing/decreasing font sizes and using Sitebulb’s mobile-friendly suggestions.

Sitebulb - Mobile Friendly hints

All errors reported in GSC were marked as fixed. Then we monitored if any would reappear.


All website sections and files that did not have to be crawled were blocked from the search engine bots.

One of the biggest issues we encountered during the early stage of auditing was the fact that all of the affiliate links were using a 302 redirect.

Here’s an example of how it looks like in Chrome using the Redirect Path extension on a randomly picked site:

Crawlability - 302 Redirects

If you’ve been in the affiliate world for quite a while, you know that ‘friendly affiliate links’ (like /go/xyz-offer) usually work slightly better than the ugly ones (like https://go.shareasale.com/?aff=xyz&utm_source=abc). This is especially true when you’re not linking to a big, well-known site like Amazon.

Also, affiliate programs always use some sort of a redirect to set a cookie, in order to inform them that the commission should be attributed to you.

This is all OK, but…

What is not OK?

Don’t use Pretty Links with a 302 redirect.

Never, never, ever, ever use 302 redirects, ever. What-so-ever!

This is simply an SEO sin!

Sinners Meme

What 302 redirects do… they make Google index the redirecting URL under your domain. Additionally, Google can then attribute all the content from the page you are pointing your redirect at – right back to your redirecting page.

It then looks like this under your site:

Crawlability - Content Attribution Caused by 302 Redirects

Guess what happens with all this content under YOUR domain?

Yes, you’re right – it’s most likely treated as duplicate content!

Reconfigure URL parameters in GSC

Configuring your URL params is a great way to allow Google to better know what’s going on on your website.

You’d want to do it when you have certain pages (especially in high numbers) that are noindexed and Google should know straight up that there is no point indexing them.

Say, for example, you are an ecommerce website and your categories use the “sort” URL param to define the order way (best selling, newest, alphabetical, price, etc). Like Playstation Store here:

GSC - URL Parameters - Playstation Store example

You can tell Google straight up that it doesn’t need to index (and crawl) these URLs.

Here is how you do it in Google Search Console:

Go to (old) GSC → Crawl → URL Parameters and you should see something like in the below screenshot.

GSC - URL ParametersTo amend any of them, click edit and a small pop-up will appear – similar to the one shown below.

GSC - URL Parameter ExampleAll the available configuration options are:

  • Does this parameter change page content seen by the user?
    • Yes: Changes, reorders or narrows page content
    • No: Doesn’t affect page content (e.g. tracks usage)
  • How does this parameter affect page content?
    • Sorts
    • Narrows
    • Specifies
    • Translates
    • Paginates
    • Other
  • Which URLs with this parameter should Googlebot crawl?
    • Let Googlebot decide – I wouldn’t use this one unless you’re 100% sure that Google will figure it out for itself. (Doubt it…)
    • Every URL
    • Only URLs with value
    • No URLs

Don’t forget to have a look at the examples of the URLs Google is tracking with each parameter. The changes you select in the form will reflect which URLs will or will not get indexed.

Here’s an example of another client site, where we only wanted to have 1 specific value for the sampleid parameter indexed:

GSC - URL Parameter Exact Config Example

Putting it into Action

The above list of action items is diverse and comprehensive. Conveniently, The Search Initiative team is well set up to meet the requirements of a project like this

Sched a call-CTAWith the use of our project management software – Teamwork – we create a game plan and quickly roll out the work.

Here’s a screenshot of an example campaign where there’s a lot of SEO moving parts involved concurrently:

Teamwork - Planned Tasks

When it comes to auditing and implementation, having high standards is the key. Solving a problem with a mediocre job is worse than fixing a less important issue correctly.

The Results: Algorithmic Recovery

So… What does returning to the SERPs look like?

Through the iterative approach after a series of cycles, the client was well set up for some gains next time the algorithm rolled out.

Results - February to March comparison

This increase in keywords happened over a 1 week period:

Results - Ranking increases

And we saw an increase of the rankings across the board – keywords jumped to the top positions, new keywords started ranking from nowhere… everything.

Results - Keywords

Here are results in a pre-Medic update and after-March update comparison.