SEO Tips

What is the difference between a keyword and a keyphrase?

You’ve probably heard that doing keyword research is an essential, first step in optimizing your website properly. But how about these keywords: can they only be single words or can they also be longer multi-word keyphrases? And what exactly is the difference between the two? In this SEO basics post, we’ll explain the difference between a keyword and a keyphrase.

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Hiring an SEO Vendor

As part of my job at the company where I work, I basically “taught myself” how to do SEO.

It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight.

I don’t claim to be an absolute SEO expert, but I have learned a few tricks and shortcuts – I’m talking about ethical, effective, SEO strategies and tactics – not the sleazy and self-defeating kind that gets your site banned by Google. 

Unfortunately, I gained this knowledge from hard-earned experience – by having a few run-ins with unqualified, unreliable SEO vendors.

The fact is, there are too many bad SEO firms out there who make unrealistic promises, use weird and shoddy methods, and cause more harm than good.

Especially a few years ago, the field of SEO services was kind of a Wild West, with too many fly-by-night firms claiming to be able to deliver results that were ultimately unsustainable as Google tweaked its algorithm. 

The good news?

Good SEO matters and it makes a difference in your business results.

It is definitely possible – more than ever – to do SEO the right way to drive better search results and get more traffic to your site, without doing unethical tricks to game the system and without making your site sound like a robot wrote it. 

I’ve learned lots of lessons along the way that may be valuable in helping your company do SEO the right way – or helping your SEO advisory firm to sell your services more effectively by building trust with your prospective clients. 

Here are five things I wish I had known before I hired my first SEO vendor.

1. SEO Guarantees Are Often Unrealistic

If an SEO firm is promising you “top 10 search results on Google,” just run.

It isn’t realistic.

In fact, it’s impossible to guarantee a top spot on Google, especially for some of the more popular and competitive search keywords.

It takes a lot of time and work to get your site to climb the ladder on Google.

Don’t expect it to happen overnight, and don’t trust anyone who tells you they can do it. 

2. SEO Takes Time

SEO is not something where you flip a switch and watch the results pour in – it’s an ongoing process.

You need to constantly tweak your site and adjust your SEO strategies, and then wait to see how Google views your results.

It’s like planting a garden – you have to plant the seeds, see which ones sprout and grow, and then you have to tend the garden over time to maintain the progress you’ve made.

The Google algorithm is constantly learning and adapting, so your SEO strategies need to keep up. 

3. Don’t Worry About Keyword Density

My first SEO vendor tried to get me to rewrite the content for our site as if a robot could read it, and put way too much focus on including a certain percentage of keywords within the overall text.

After a certain point, keyword density just starts to sound ridiculous – it changes the whole voice and flow of your content, and makes it feel like you’re writing for a robot.

Maybe this worked back in 2009, but Google has gotten smarter since then.

Google tends to reward websites that have higher quality content, where the website actually is “about” what it claims to be about – you can’t just stuff your website full of “business” terms and expect Google to send customers to you.

By all means, include keywords and try to target the keywords that are important for your business, but don’t go crazy with calculating keyword densities.

Write with humanity, for a human audience.  

4. Quality Links, Not Quantity Links

The SEO game used to be all about getting lots of links back to the site, even if you had to pay for links from shady link farms and other dark corners of the Internet.

The truth is: low-quality links are a loser’s game.

It isn’t about getting tons of links from lower-ranked sites; in fact, that’s bad.

Today, you want really good content that people want to read and share.

It’s better to work harder to get a few good links from well-respected sites (like Search Engine Journal) than to scrape the bottom of the barrel with an outdated link-building strategy.

Google judges you by the company you keep. If too many low-quality sites are linking to your site, your Google results will suffer.  

5. Want Quick Results? Use Google Ads

If you need an immediate boost in your SEO, buy Google Ads for your most important search terms. This puts you at the top of the listings right away.

There’s a reason why Google gets most of its revenue from paid search ads: they work.

Check out the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool to get started.

Keep experimenting and learning.

Try new things and see what gets results.

You might be amazed at how much you can do with $500 of Google PPC ads, depending on your business and your target keywords. 


SEO never ends, so you must commit to it as an ongoing process.

Spend some time every week or every day on doing some of the simple everyday things, such as:

  • Creating new content.
  • Updating your website.
  • Posting links to your site on social media.
  • And more.

All of this will help you build a sustainable, long-term SEO strategy. 

Source: This article was originally posted at Search Engine Journal by Gregg Schwartz on January 23, 2019

How to Set up Google Tag Manager for Better PPC Tracking

Proper tracking is crucial to the success of any PPC campaign.

If you aren’t tracking conversions correctly, you won’t have the right data flowing into ad accounts to make informed decisions about keywords, ad copy, and audiences.

Unfortunately, implementation can be a barrier for accounts of all sizes. An overworked developer or a bureaucratic IT department can take weeks to add a simple Google Ads conversion code.

Thankfully, Google Tag Manager provides a solution to save time and back-and-forth communication when implementing tracking codes. Once a single code has been installed on the site, PPC marketers can then have full access to add as many ad platform tags as they need.

This article will walk you through how to set up Google Tag Manager (GTM) and deploy tags for major ad platforms.

Setting Up Google Tag Manager

If you haven’t yet created a GTM account, start here. The interface will walk you through setting up a new account.

Set up Google Tag Manager account

Within your account, you’ll also need to create a container for your site. Generally, you’ll want to name this the domain name where the GTM container will be used.

Select Web and click Create to start your account.

Set up Google Tag Manager container

Next, you’ll see a box appear containing the code to add to your site. You’ll need to add the first snippet of code toward the top portion of the site and the second snippet right after the opening tag.

Install Google Tag Manager

Note that if you use WordPress, you can also install GTM using this plugin. Some other CMS platforms have built-in GTM integration; check with your provider’s support if you’re unsure where to go.

Checking Tag Installation

To double-check that GTM is installed properly, install the Google Tag Assistant extension in Chrome.

Now, navigate to the page you wish to check and click the extensions’ icon in your browser bar.

Google Tag Assistant

You should now see Google Tag Manager listed, along with any other active tags for Google products.

  • A green “smiley face” indicates the code is functional.
  • Blue indicates potential issues (such as placement in a non-standard section of the code).
  • Red indicates an error in installation.

You can click on the tag to see more details about errors for troubleshooting.

1. Implementing Google Ads Tags

For Google Ads, you can deploy both conversion and remarketing tags through GTM.

First, we’ll implement a conversion tag.

Adding a Google Ads Conversion Tag

Navigate to your desired GTM account and container. On the overview screen, select Add a New Tag.

Add New Tag in Google Tag Manager

In the window that appears, click in the Tag Configuration to choose a tag type.

Choose Tag Type

Select Google Ads Conversion Tracking.

Choose Tag Type

Now, go to your Google Ads account in another tab or window to grab the Conversion ID and label. Click the Tools icon on the top menu and select Conversions.

Set Up Google Ads Conversion

Next, either create a new conversion or click an existing one to edit. Under the Tag Setup section, select the option to Use Google Tag Manager.

Google Ads Conversion ID

You’ll now see the Conversion ID and Conversion label. Copy these and paste into the respective fields in your GTM tag.

Google Ads Conversion Tag

Next, add a trigger to determine where your conversion tag fires on the site. Of course, what you define as a conversion will vary from site to site, and the setup will be different for each.

In this instance, we’ll set up a conversion to fire on a “Thank You” page, assuming that a user sees this page after submitting a form.

Click within the Triggering section to begin setting up your trigger. Within the window that appears, click the Plus (+) button in the upper right to add a new trigger.

Add Google Tag Manager Trigger

Name the trigger based on the specific conversion point you’re wanting to track. Click within Trigger Configuration to select the type of trigger. For this example, we’ll select Page View to track all hits to a certain URL.

Choose Trigger Type

Select Some page views so the trigger only fires on defined pages. Next, use the section below to define where the trigger will fire. We’ll set up a rule for a Page Path that contains /thank-you.

Thank You Page Trigger

Save your trigger, and save your tag. For now, your edits will live in your workspace within GTM. Note that to push any GTM edit live on your site, you’ll need to click Submit and then Publish.

Next, we’ll add a remarketing tag.

Adding a Google Ads Remarketing Tag

Create a new tag in GTM and select a tag type of Google Ads Remarketing. Now, you’ll need to find your remarketing tag in your Google Ads account (or enable it if you haven’t done so).

Navigate to Tools > Audience Manager from the top menu.

Access Audience Manager

Next. select Audience sources from the left menu. If your Google Ads tag is already active, click Details; otherwise, you’ll see an option to create your tag.

Google Ads Audience Sources

On the Details page, scroll to the bottom Tag setup section and click it to expand. Next, click Use Tag Manager at the bottom of that section.

Google Ads Global Site Tag

You’ll see a box appear with your Conversion ID, which you can then copy and paste into the corresponding GTM box. Note that you don’t need a Conversion Label for a remarketing tag.

GTM Google Ads Remarketing Tag

Next, click the “Triggering” section to choose where your remarketing tag should fire. If you simply want to include the tag across your entire site, choose All Pages. You can also set up triggers to fire the code only on select pages if necessary.

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Google Tag Manager Trigger

Finally, save your tag, and don’t forget to publish it live once ready!

2. Adding the Bing UET Tag

Now, we’ll cover setting up the Bing Ads tag in GTM. Create a new tag and select Bing Ads Universal Event Tracking as the tag type.

Next, go to your Bing Ads account to obtain the UET ID. Navigate to Conversion Tracking > UET tags from the left column.

If you haven’t yet created the tag, you’ll see a prompt to walk through setting it up. If the tag was previously set up, you can copy the Tag ID from the table.

Accessing Bing UET Tag

Paste the ID into the proper field in GTM. For the default setup, you won’t need to adjust any of the advanced settings.

Bing Ads UET Setup in Google Tag Manager

Next, choose a trigger for where you want the tag to appear. Since the Bing UET tag is a global tag, you’ll most likely want to fire this on all pages.

Once the global tag is in place, you can also add additional tags for event-based conversions. Use the same Tag ID, and select an Event Type of “custom.” Then, you can define parameters based on what you’ve set up in Bing for your custom conversion.

To check the setup of the UET tag, you can use Bing’s UET helper Chrome extension.

3. Adding the Facebook Pixel

While the previous two platforms we covered have built-in GTM templates, Facebook Ads does not.

Thankfully, GTM includes a Custom HTML tag as an alternative option, and Facebook offers a direct integration to make the setup process simple.

To access your pixel from your Facebook Ads account, mouse over the menu from the top bar and select Pixels. If you haven’t yet set up a pixel, you’ll be prompted to do so.

Accessing Facebook Pixel

Otherwise, click Details on the proper pixel and Set up.

Set up Facebook Pixel

Now, you’ll see a box with options to select a setup method.

Click Use an Integration or Tag Manager and then select Google Tag Manager from the options that appear.

Use Tag Manager Integration

You’ll now see a series of steps walking you through logging into your account, selecting the proper GTM container, and finalizing setup.

Connect Tag Manager and Facebook

To check the setup of the Facebook Pixel, you can use the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome Extension.

4. Adding the LinkedIn Insights Tag

To add LinkedIn’s tag in GTM, create a new tag and select LinkedIn Insight as the tag type. You’ll now need to grab the Partner ID from your LinkedIn Ads account.

From within your account, go to the Account Assets dropdown on the top bar and select Insight Tag.

Access LinkedIn Insight Tag

You’ll now see the code for your tag, or be prompted to set the tag up if you haven’t done so yet.

LinkedIn Insight Tag Code

Look for the second line of code, which should look like the following (the number will vary):

_linkedin_partner_id = “12345”;

The number within the quotes is your Partner ID, so add that to the field in GTM.

LinkedIn Insight Tag in Google Tag Manager
Now, add a trigger for all pages (or define any specific criteria necessary for where the tag appears or doesn’t appear on your site) and publish the tag live on your site.

5. Adding the Twitter Universal Website Tag

To add the Twitter Ads tag to your site, create a new tag and choose Twitter Universal Website Tag as the tag type. Next, you’ll need the pixel ID from your Twitter Ads account.

From the top menu in Twitter Ads, navigate to Tools > Conversion Tracking.

Access Conversion Tracking in Twitter Ads

On the page that appears, click “View code and installation instructions.”

View Twitter Ads Universal Website Tag

Now, you’ll see the code in a text box.

Set up Twitter Ads Universal Website Tag

Find the line of code that looks like the following (the final string in quotes will vary):


You’ll want to copy the string of characters within the second pair of quotes. Insert that string into the “Twitter pixel ID” field in your GTM tag.

LinkedIn Insight Google Tag Manager

For the global pixel deployment, you shouldn’t need to customize any additional settings. Add a trigger for All Pages (or whatever pages you want the pixel to appear on) and publish it live.


Google Tag Manager can help to majorly simplify tracking tag deployment for organizations of all sizes. With the ability to add tags more efficiently, you can reduce unnecessary communication and save time for other priority tasks.

If you haven’t yet worked with Google Tag Manager, start an account for free and begin setting up some tags for your ad accounts.

If you’ve started with GTM but haven’t dug in very far, try out some new templates and set up some custom HTML tags.

You’ll likely find using a tag management platform an improvement on previous methods of tag implementation.

Source: This article was originally posted at Search Engine Journal by Tim Jensen on January 28, 2019.

DuckDuckGo is growing fast but not enough to grab SEOs’ attention


The search engine’s share is small but some of its metrics are better than Bing’s, according to a third party analysis.

Last month, DuckDuckGo announced that it had exceeded 9 billion searches in 2018. That compares with 4 billion in 2016. By comparison, Google sees more than a trillion searches per year globally.

Growing fast. DuckDuckGo’s popularity has grown as privacy has become a more significant issue over the past several years. According to the company, it will “shatter” its 2018 traffic record this year. Even so, it controls less than 1 percent of all U.S. search volume.

US search engine market share (1/19)

Source: StatCounter

SEOs not paying attention. We reached out to a number of SEOs and found that no one is focused on optimizing for DuckDuckGo. However, one local SEO noted that Yelp ranks very well for local queries. So optimizing for Yelp will help locally-focused businesses with visibility and discovery on DuckDuckGo.

In 2015, Neil Patel wrote four SEO tactics for DuckDuckGo. And DuckDuckGo’s Daniel Davis offered this general advice: “Our recommendation is to continue putting users first, focusing on high quality content that they appreciate.”

Why you should care. According to a 2016 analysis of usage and traffic by SimilarWeb, DuckDuckGo outperformed Bing in terms of bounce rates and user engagement. The same analysis suggests that its audience was more tech-savvy than average and more privacy-conscious. Two years later the audience may have broadened.

Given the tiny market share, it’s unlikely that many SEOs will devote time to DuckDuckGo any time soon. But if it continues to grow, that will change. It’s not outrageous to suggest that if present trends continue, DuckDuckGo’s share could ultimately exceed either Bing’s or Yahoo’s.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”orange” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-external-link”]This article was originally posted at Search Engine Land by Greg Sterling on January 28, 2019.[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

How Reliable is Google’s SEO Score?

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Google’s tool offers an SEO score. The score offers a score from 0 to 100.  What does the tool measure for the SEO metric and how useful is it?

What is SEO?

What do you expect an SEO score to mean? That depends on how you define SEO.

Moz defines SEO within the context of traffic:

What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”

Unlike Moz, Wikipedia defines SEO within the context of visibility on a search ranking. Search engine visibility is a euphemism for ranking on a search engine.

“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results”

Search Engine Journal defines SEO as:

“The process of optimizing a website… so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines.”

  1. Moz’s definition of SEO focuses on traffic.
  2. Wikipedia’s definition is about search engine rankings.
  3. SearchEngineJournal’s definition of SEO focuses on ranking and on being appealing to users.

Search Engine Journal’s definition is interesting because it recognizes how important it is to appeal to users. Google’s search rankings are primarily about ranking what users expect to see. If users don’t see what appeals to them then they are disappointed.

How Does Google Define SEO?

Google’s SEO Starter Guide defines SEO as:

“Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content.”

Understanding content means writing the content in a way that is clear and focused. It may also include adding images, structured data and meta data that helps the search engine understand what a page is about.

Google’s site defines SEO in terms of how easy a site is to crawl, how easy it is for the content to be understood, for the purpose of bringing more traffic.

Here is how Google’s Web Dev site defines SEO:

“Making your content discoverable matters because it’s how you get more relevant users viewing your content…

By making sure search engines can find and automatically understand your content, you are improving the visibility of your site for relevant searches.

This is called SEO, or search engine optimization, which can result in more interested users coming to your site. Audit your site and check the SEO results to see how well search engines can surface your content.”

What does the SEO Score Measure? is based on Google’s Chrome Lighthouse extension. According to the official Lighthouse page, these are are the nine factors Google uses to create the SEO score:

  1. Document Does Not Have A Meta Description
  2. Document Doesn’t Have A Title Element
  3. Document doesn’t have a valid hreflang
  4. Document doesn’t have a valid rel=canonical
  5. Document Doesn’t Use Legible Font Sizes
  6. Document uses plugins (Flash)
  7. Links Do Not Have Descriptive Text
  8. Page has unsuccessful HTTP status code
  9. Page is blocked from indexing

What Does the SEO Score Mean?

According to the definition, Google’s SEO score is a measure of how well search engines can “surface” content.

What does Google mean by surface? Does Google mean how well it can rank content? Or does Google mean how well it can discover content?

I believe Google means that the SEO score is a measure of how well Google can crawl and discover content.

Google’s main page defines SEO as:

“Checks for best practices to ensure your site is discoverable.”

The next page defines discoverability as:

“Easily discoverable
Ensure users can find your site easily through search.”

That is an artfully vague description of what it means to be discoverable. Does Google mean ranking? Or does Google mean making the content discoverable so that if other ranking factors align users can find the content through search.

Google is vague on the issue of what SEO is.

Publishers understand the concept of SEO within the context of ranking and traffic. Google’s Web.Dev page does NOT use the word Rank anywhere on its site. That is a curious omission for a tool that offers an SEO metric.

Google does not use the words rank or ranking anywhere on the site. I believe that this is a conscious omission on the part of Google.

The site not referencing SEO in the context of ranking. It is referencing SEO in the context of crawling and making content easy to understand.

Searching for the words rank and ranking yield zero results.

Google’s Web.Dev site does NOT use the word Ranking anywhere on its site either. Publishers are concerned with ranking. But Google is silent. This is to be expected. But it’s somewhat less expected considering that Google is offering an SEO metric to the SEO community .

Searching for the word Discoverability yields two results.

It is clear that Google’s SEO results are not concerned with ranking.

Page Scores 90 and Ranks #85

Here is a screenshot of a web page that ranks #85 in Google for the phrase how to diagnose arthritis.

Here is the SEO score of that .edu web page that ranks #85:

As you can see, the web page scores 90 for SEO. The only reason it didn’t rank 100 is because it was missing a meta description tag.

A meta description isn’t even necessary for ranking. Yet it still counts for 10% of the SEO score.  This makes it clear that the SEO score is based on a definition of SEO that has less to do with ranking and traffic (how SEO is defined) and more to do with crawling and indexing, otherwise known as discoverability.

Is Web.Dev SEO Score a Useful Metric?

The answer depends on how you define SEO. Google’s definition appears to be if your title tag and meta description exist and if Google can access the page. That’s a limited definition of SEO.

The SEO industry and Wikipedia start at Google’s definition then expand it to traffic, ranking and user satisfaction.

It’s naive to expect Google to provide an SEO tool that gives a clear answer as to how likely a page might rank. That’s probably one of the reasons Google removed the PageRank meter from it’s toolbar.

Google’s SEO score does not conform to the definition of SEO. That’s a more accurate description of the tool.

The SEO score is not an indicator of how likely a page will be able to rank. A page that ranks #85 is proof of that.

Rankings and traffic are the two qualities the SEO industry associates with the word SEO. offers no insights into those factors.

It may be more accurate if Google’s’s SEO score were rebranded as an Indexability or Discoverability Score.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”orange” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-external-link”]This article was originally posted at Search Engine Journal by Roger Montti on November 16, 2018.[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

7 things that hurt your SEO rankings and how to fix them – Part 2

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A bad SEO entails practices that are outside the boundaries of Google webmaster guidelines and it affects the optimization of your website for search engines.

There are many techniques that can hurt your SEO rankings if implemented. Serpstat, in 2017, found about 300 million errors when they indexed 175 million pages with an SEO audit tool. These errors stemmed from not doing SEO the right way and while we have discussed 7 of these errors, here are more things that could hurt your rankings and how you can fix them.

Accessibility and indexation

The accessibility and indexation of your site contribute greatly to how your website pages can be seen on search engines. Some of the categories to consider include:

Canonical Tag: duplicate content makes it difficult for search engines to decide on a page to show users, which could affect the visibility of either page. If you will be implementing a rel=canonical tag, ensure it is done correctly, to avoid losing your website ranking. Situations, where you may implement wrongly, may include:

  • Incorrectly installing a code, by inserting it in <body>, instead of the <head> section
  • Implementing a rel=canonical to a 404 page
  • Launching without checking the code, which triggers search engines to de-index.

Noindex Tag: if you do no longer need a noindex tag on a webpage, ensure you remove it as soon as possible. With the tag still there, search engines will not index the webpage, which could leave you wondering why your SEO isn’t improving. Always keep track of your pages to know when a tag is no longer relevant.

Robots.txt: always check for pages hidden in robots.txt and take them out when necessary, to help improve your SEO rankings. If you have redirects in the webpage hidden in your robots.txt file, the crawler will likely not recognize it.

Nofollow links: nofollow links have no SEO value but you could be penalized by search engines for not using it properly. Many websites easily fall victim of this, as they often have links featured in their web pages that are unrelated to the content of the page. This ends up dropping their SEO rankings.

Links and bad redirects

While links are great to help drive traffic and boost your SEO ranking, they could also ruin your SEO efforts if they aren’t managed well.

Broken links

Broken links on your web pages should be rectified or removed as soon as possible. Reasons for broken links could stem from entering the wrong URL, removal or permanent move of the linked webpage by the destination website, or a software on the user’s end that is blocking access to the destination website. There is a WordPress plugin for WordPress users that can be integrated into the website to get rid of dead links. You can also manually check for broken links by using the broken link checker plugin.

How to disavow negative backlinks

Google has a Disavow Tool that can help protect your site from penalties that may arise from bad linking and also help remove bad links. This tool simply sends a signal to Google to ignore negative backlinks. To disavow negative backlinks, look for the links you want to disavow, create a disavow file and then upload to the Google Disavow Tool. Once this is done, the specified links will no longer be considered by Google

Bad redirects and best redirects – 301 and 302

301 and 302 redirects might look similar to a user but definitely not to search engines. While 301 is a permanent move to a new site, 302 is temporal but a lot of users get to mix both up and use either, without thinking much about the difference. If you use 302 rather than 301, search engines might view it as a temporal move and still continue to index the old URL, which could affect your SEO rankings.

Not maximizing Google Search Console

Google Search Console is packed with lots of benefits that should be maximized in order to have the best SEO experience. Some of the things to pay attention to in Google Search Console include search analytics, links to your site, mobile usability, robots.txt tester, sitemaps, index status, and security issues. Once an identified issue is fixed, your rankings will be improved and your website will gain more traction.

Meta tags

Meta tags are important for SEO and usually one of the first things to learn in SEO training. Your key meta tags, including keywords attribute, title tag, meta description attribute, and meta robots attribute should be taken seriously, as they help search engines understand what a page is about.

Don’t use too long or too short titles and descriptions. The optimal number of words for your title required for the best SEO practice is 10-15 words, which is about 78 characters, following Google’s current meta title guideline.

Your description should be between 110 and 120 characters, for easy optimization for both mobile and desktop. While you ensure your title and description aren’t too long, you should also be careful not to make them too short. Your meta tags should provide enough info about the page to help the search engines understand the content.

Google encourages creating good meta descriptions; ensure there’s a description for every page on your site and they must be different for each page. Duplicate content could mess with your rankings. You should also include clearly tagged facts in the description and use quality descriptions.


Doing SEO wrongly will affect your SEO rankings and following the accurate SEO practices, based on Google standards, will help your website success. These common errors should be avoided at all cost. If you are also caught flouting the SEO rules, you might be penalized by Google which could cause a huge drop in your rankings.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”orange” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-external-link”]This article was originally posted at Search Engine Watch by Guy Sheetrit on December 5, 2018.[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

7 things that hurt your SEO rankings and how to fix them

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The top listing in Google’s organic search results draws 33 percent of traffic while the second spot garners 18 percent, a study by online ad network Chitika confirms.

After that, it’s a fight to see who secures enough traffic, and of course, in this sort of scenario you need all the help you can get.

Being penalized by Google and experiencing a drop in SEO rankings is one of the worst things that can happen to a website. Now, fluctuations are par for the course, especially considering the rapidly evolving Google algorithms.

When your search rankings take a huge tumble, you need to adopt a proactive approach before your site gets lost organic search obscurity. And this “approach” involves fixing the seven cardinal SEO mistakes listed below:

Avoid keyword stuffing

Use the same keywords repeatedly? You might want to stop! Of course, if it is necessary for your content to make sense, then you’ve got no other choice. But if you seek to optimize your copy in this manner, then you’re in for a rude awakening.

Not only does it discourage visitors from reading or interacting with your content but it signals the search engines that you’re attempting to outsmart their algorithms. And that is not something Google takes lightly.

The above comic strip reimagines keyword stuffing as part of a normal conversation. See how many times the man uses “lunch,” “fine,” “talking funny,” and “mean” in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th panels, respectively. If it’s THIS irritating in regular dialog, imagine how your readers would feel reading content like this.

Use an online tool like Live Keyword Analysis or to calculate the keyword density. Remove excess keywords to keep your density around 1.5 percent. Mention your keywords in the title, the description, your opening paragraph, and once or twice in the body of your content. Make sure it all sounds natural. That should do the trick and help you regain some of your lost SEO rankings.

Check your website speed

Almost half of the online users expect a web page to load within 2 seconds or less, and they abandon your website if it does not load in 3 seconds, revealed a survey by Akamai and So, ensure quick load times for your website by leveraging browser caching, optimizing images, minifying codes, and activating resource compression.

Achieve all this by using a free tool like PageSpeed Insights from Google to determine the current speed of your website. Also, look at the actionable recommendations offered by the tool to increase your load times.

Source: CWC

Never buy links

Give your website enough time to become successful. Creating good content is hard work but it pays off in the end. Resort to shortcuts and you get penalized.

One of these no-no shortcuts involves buying backlinks, especially from unreliable sources. As soon as Google finds out, they cut your rankings significantly. 22 percent of web admins still buy links without disclosure, according to a survey.

So, the next time you spot an SEO ad promising hundreds of links along with a first page ranking for a ridiculously low price, ignore it. Links from social networking accounts and spammy, untrustworthy sites hurt your website. A few of these companies claim to protect you by creating a “link pyramid” or “link wheel” that point to an intermediary page.

The truth is, these might work for some time, but as Google continues to evolve and deal more strictly with spam content, they will learn about this practice and shut you down.

Become mobile friendly

With Google prioritizing a mobile-first approach, make sure your website is mobile friendly. According to Google, 85 percent of all websites in mobile search results now adhere to the mobile-friendly label. Become a part of the trend and enjoy a smooth flow of traffic.

Otherwise, if your site is not responsive and people are unable to view you on tablets and smartphones, then not only will your rankings suffer, but your customer inquiries and conversions will too. That’s because users will leave your website and visit one that actually fits this requirement.

Use tools like Screenfly by Quicktools to check whether your site is responsive or not. If not, use another tool like Bmobilized to convert your existing pages.

Get rid of ads

Recent changes made to AdSense rules by Google indicate that stricter rules are going to be put in place for sites “with more advertising than publisher-provided content.” So, if you’ve been indulging in this practice, get ready to bid your SEO rankings goodbye.

Ads prompt users to leave your website and impacts your experience metrics. Once your user experience metrics become critically low, it is usually a sign to Google that your website holds no value for your visitors. They will demote you over time.

Plus, ads have led to the rise of ad blocking. In fact, a report by Adobe and PageFair concluded that the approximate loss of worldwide Internet revenue because of blocked advertising in 2015 was $21.8 billion. So, unless you want to be penalized without any payoff, all you need to do is get rid of the ads and your site will be fine.

Handle technical issues immediately

Technical problems like network outages, poor hosting, slow connectivity, and server downtime can affect your site rankings.

If Google constantly abandons attempted crawls on your site, in due time, your SEO rankings will go down. Of course, short server outages don’t matter, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, then you need to look for a new host.

Identify the problem first. This might not be easy, but it becomes quite obvious if your site goes down every 10 minutes. Or, use an online tool like Downforeveryoneorjustme to check whether your page is up or down. Determine if the problem lies with your host and not your Internet plan. You will find plenty of decent web hosting options, like Liquidweb.

Maintain the quality of your guest posts

Guest blogging can be a great tool for SEO and lead generation. Unfortunately, as of 2015, only 6 percent of bloggers published original content as guest posts. That’s a dismal number when you consider what an amazing way it is to give your website an edge against the competition.

Use scraping tools like the one from to conduct automatic scrapes of every website that accepts guest posts related to your keywords. However, when it comes to your own website, make sure you accept only high-quality guest posts.

Feature fresh writers on your site and post original and relevant content that appeals to your audience. Also, make sure you maintain a balance between content produced from the site and content offered to your page in lieu of an author bio and a link.


Final words

If you want to survive the virtual world and stay relevant, then you need to focus on raising your SEO rankings. Follow the steps given above to help you fix bad SEO and regain your rankings.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”orange” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-external-link”]This article was originally posted at Search Engine Watch by Guy Sheetrit on November 27, 2018.[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

7 Essential SEO Browser Extensions & Plugins

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The vast majority of people use browsers to access the web.

But most SEO professionals take it a step further and use those same browsers to do a lot more.

In fact, some of the most important tools in my arsenal are my browser and its extensions.

So, let’s dive right in and see what we can do with them. And the best part is, all of them are free.

1. Ghost Browser

Ghost Browser

Ghost Browser is built on Chrome so everything available to you there is available in Ghost Browser… and more.

The biggest reason I switched to Ghost Browser is for what they call “sessions.”

Essentially a session is a fresh instance of Chrome that operates within new windows or even tab(s).

In the image above, you’ll see there are four different colored tabs, each with a different site up.

Each of these colors represents a session and they’re independent, which is why one of them is not logged in, one can be logged in, and another is logged in from a different location.

You can run multiple tabs for each session.

So, for example, I can be logged into one session as me to manage an AdWords campaign but also logged in through a different account to access the client’s analytics and Search Console (where they aren’t controlled by the same account).

Similarly, each session can be used to log into different social accounts, etc.

Ghost Browser also has Tasks. Essentially, you can save sets of tabs with their login state as a project and not have to log in and out or open all the different tab sets you likely regularly do each time you need to access them.

The free version supports three sessions at a time – so even it is three times better than what you’re likely currently working with.

There is a pro version. I found it worth the investment based on my usage, you may not.

Either way, after using the free version for a bit you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.

Note: I also discussed Ghost Browser in my article on non-SEO tools for the SEO.

2. Chrome Developer Tools

Chrome Developer Tools

There is virtually no way I could cover all the features, functions, and uses of Chrome Developer Tools in this article.

The tool is built into Chrome and is accessed via Chrome Menu > More tools > Developer tools.

Easily the most common tasks I use it for is to find code, determine the size of elements, and troubleshoot them.

As illustrated in the image above, the tool allows you to hover over and select an element on a given webpage and it will display its code and (in this case) the computed output characteristics.

You can even adjust the code right in the Developer Tools to see how it would render prior to making the changes to the live site. You can do this on the desktop site or set it to render the page as it would on many popular mobile devices.

This isn’t the most advanced of its functionality, which includes various speed, security, and troubleshooting capabilities ranging from generating waterfalls of resource load times to indicating which resources are slowing down the site load.

The advantage to all this vs. some of the other online tools you might use?

The results are real world.

That is, you’re seeing how your browser on your connection is impacted by the resources being loaded.

Read the tool’s page and explore. There’s a ton in there.

When you know what data you have access to, you’ll know where to look when you need answers to related questions.

3. SEO Quake

SEO Quake

SEO Quake is a classic among the extensions and plugins used by SEO pros – and for good reason.

Essentially, SEO Quake gives rapid access to an array of data that we all want.

On any given webpage a simple click to pull in the metrics will list backlinks data, cache dates, indexing information, and more.

With a couple extra clicks you gain access to the internal and external backlinks data, keyword density information (if you’re interested in that), and a ton of information regarding the use of Schema, heading tags, metas and more.

SEO Quake is not a replacement for site audit and analysis tools but gives an excellent quick snapshot of a page’s information.

Perfect when you need just some limited info or are on a phone call and need to pull up some core metrics.

It even ties in with SEMrush to yield some basic traffic stats as well – handy for competitor research, especially when considering new content strategies.

4. User-Agent Switcher

User-Agent Switcher

This is extremely helpful when developing new sites – especially when that site is built using less predictable technologies.

Essentially User-Agent Switcher is exactly what it sounds like: an easy to set up plugin that switches the user agent info sent allowing you to view a site as a different browser or bot.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve used it to troubleshoot crawl issues or uncover differences in how Googlebot is viewing a page versus a browser.

Obviously, it can also be helpful when determining how a site will load with different browsers or operating systems as well.

5. Tag Assistant

Tag Assistant

Google Tag Assistant is an extremely useful tool, especially for those who use Google Tag Manager.

It can also be handy when you simply need to identify issues with analytics or other tracking codes (AdWords, etc.)

The icon for the extension changes color depending on whether there are issues detected and makes note of the issues when clicked.

Search Engine Journal gets a green light, as illustrated above, but warnings and errors get reported when there are duplicate or empty tags or tags not configured properly.

Tag Assistant also reports on duplicate or analytics code issues.

It handily lets you record a session allowing you to navigate paths within your site (or other’s) and then review the recording to find errors and issues.

It’s an invaluable troubleshooting tool across an array of scenarios.

Here’s Google’s video outlining some of its core features:

6. Show Title Tag

Show Title Tag

By no means a critical plugin but a handy one, Show Title Tag simply displays the page title within the browser.

You can move it to any of the corners of the browser and the red text indicates where it’s likely to be cut off in search results.

It’s helpful when viewing competitors’ sites to quickly seeing how they’re doing their titling beyond the short snippet that would appear in the tab and without viewing the source or opening Developer Tools.

This plugin is also helpful when you’re navigating your own site, highlighting instances where your title might be too long.

7. Ghost Proxy Control

Ghost Proxy Control

The Ghost Proxy Control extension comes pre-loaded with Ghost Browser.

Basically, you can add your proxies in and access them easily via the extension.

One of the big perks to the combo of Ghost Browser and Ghost Proxy Control is that you can load different proxies into different session and basically have a tab for each location.

I’ve found this incredibly useful for checking SERP results from various location and having the ability to view them at the same time, side by side.

It’s specifically interesting for local SEO.

The ability to check not just rankings from different locations but compare easily how the layout might differ.

The control allows for a proxy to be assigned to a single tab or an entire session (indicated by multiple tabs of the same color).

While the extension is free, proxies generally are not.

Although free proxies are available, I pay about $20 per month for 10 dedicated proxies.


There are definitely more browser extensions and plugins than what I’ve included on this list of essentials.

However, most of those require subscriptions, are too similar to one of those noted above, or don’t apply to the duties of virtually every SEO pro I know.

For example, Moz and Buzzsumo have great extensions. But they can be quite frustrating unless you have a paid subscription.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_color=”orange” icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-external-link”]This article was originally posted at Search Engine Journal by Dave Davies on October 14, 2018.[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]