Unwrapping New SEO Tools That Save You Money: SEOToolSet 6.1

Unwrapping New SEO Tools That Save You Money: SEOToolSet 6.1 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

We have a new set of tools that, once you use them, should make you a better SEO.

They save time, identify issues, help with ranking and more. And the subscription price is the real present …

Unwrapping the new SEOToolSet 6.1 tools

The SEOToolSet is highly developed, advanced SEO software

We’ve always built SEO tools.

From that day in 1996 when Bruce Clay programmed the first computerized deep page analysis tool, we’ve invested in tools that help SEOs analyze web pages faster and improve search engine rankings more effectively.

Last week our in-house development team polished its newest release: SEOToolSet 6.1.

Bruce Clay, Inc. 20th anniversary logo

Bruce Clay developed the first deep page analysis tool 20 years ago — the same year he founded the company.

It’s no coincidence that the same year we’re updating our sixth-generation SEO tools, we’re also celebrating our 20th anniversary as a company.

That’s because good SEO takes tools. Good tools. It just isn’t possible to analyze the boatloads of data required to run campaigns and optimize websites without effective tools.

Have tools already? You can use these also to validate and learn more than ever before!

The best-kept secret: The price

There are companies in the digital marketing industry that wholly focus on selling their tools. These tool providers have to:

  • Charge high fees to cover all their expenses,
  • Spend a lot of effort marketing their tools, and
  • Add more bells and whistles regularly just to stay competitive.

These same platforms may require year-long contracts, high monthly fees, and a menu of a la carte options for extra features you can add on for an additional fee.

Our tools are different.

Tool sales are not our bread and butter. We build our tools specifically to serve our own analysts’ needs. They use the SEOToolSet for analysis and reporting as they provide SEO results for our consulting clients.

That means any tools sales we make are gravy. We do not need to charge tools subscribers to cover the operation of the company, nor to subsidize an army of free subscriptions! That’s why the price of our SEO tool set can’t be beat.

Here’s the deal.

With SEOToolSet 6.1, pricing is as simple as can be. There’s just one subscription level. Just one low monthly fee. And no commitment needed.

A subscription costs only $24.95 per month, per project. You can cancel at any time. And if you decide within the first 30 days that SEOToolSet is not for you, you get your $24.95 back. And if you want to run our integrated Ranking Monitor, there is a minimal fee to cover that incremental cost.

We think you’ll improve your SEO using tools “made by SEOs, for SEOs” — and pay less at the same time!

With all the noise out there from competing vendors, it’s no wonder our tools are our best-kept secret. But we are choosing to share our competitive advantage and deep analysis tools with you. We’re thinking that SEOToolSet 6.1’s new pricing might just help the secret get out.

Why not try our SEO tools for yourself — with a risk-free 30-day full refund, how can you not?

Sign up for a risk-free subscription here or read about SEOToolSet features to learn more.

Google Penguin 4.0 Recoveries – How These Sites Got a Huge Traffic Boost

There is no need to stress more the fact that Google has just made an innovative update: Penguin 4.0 –  a real-time, granular algorithm update that allows both real-time penalties and incredibly quick recoveries. However, with such a big controversy around this update, what we need to dwell on more are case studies and analyses in order to have the best understanding of the latest Penguin phenomenon.


Penguin 4.0 Recoveries


As (we hope) you’re already used to, at cognitiveSEO we are highly interested in research but not just for the sake of it, but with the purpose of understanding. The Penguin 4.0 update is in our sights now and this is why we’ve run some analysis to see what the algorithm is bringing new to the table.  Therefore, grab a cup of coffee and take a look at these fresh new findings.



1. After 3 Years of Almost No Traffic Penguin 4.0 Brought a 370% Traffic Boost


SmartFares (smartfares.com) is a travel reservation service activating on the market since 2006, specialized in providing affordable travelling fares available in the marketplace. Nothing unheard so far. Yet, what is special about this website, and the reason we are looking into it,  is that their rankings “rise and fall”.

smartfares recovery




As we take a look at the screenshot above, we can easily spot some high Google updates activity, but 2 of these updates will probably remain in the history of this website. The first algorithm update that impacted smartfares.com is the Penguin 2.0, somewhere around October 2013. They had a big drop then and it seems that they have never recovered ever since. Until this fall.

The Penguin 4.0 brought the highest visibility from 2013 until now.

The harvest season came with good news for this travelling website as in the same October, 3 years later from the Penguin penalty, they had the biggest increase in visibility from 2013 until now. Maybe Penguin 4.0 really is “the nicest update” as Google representatives mentioned, at least for these guys.



As we take a look at the “winning keywords” for them, we spot some impressive ranking position increases. What is even more interesting is that all these increases are affecting highly commercial keywords: 77 positions up for “cheap rental cars” or  82 positions up for “last minute airfaire”. Highly commercial keywords are being propelled at the very top. Which made us really curious on how the smartfares.com’ link profile looks like.


It’s really difficult to try making anything, without having the proper tools at your disposal. Even if we’re talking about a dog cage, repairing a bicycle or making an in-depth research on digital marketing, when having the proper means at our disposal, things get easier.  In our case, having the possibility to run an automated unnatural link detection on any website we wanted, along with checking their Search Visibility, made this analysis possible.


After we ran the unnatural link detection, we were not surprised to see that more than 50% of their total links are unnatural. And when taking a closer look at their unnatural links, we notice that it’s mostly about links placed in short paragraph of text, web directories, group of links, domains with no authority and thin content, etc.


smartfares cognitiveSEO unnatural links



In this context, the obvious question pops out:

Why did Penguin 4.0 recover a website with such a high unnatural profile?


smartfares unnatural navigator cognitiveSEO


What most likely happened is that smartfares.com have submitted a disavow sometimes in the past. They were down for three whole years now and they were suddenly recovered.


Our supposition is that even if their unnatural links are still live, they must have submitted a disavow and Google simply doesn’t take those links into consideration when ranking this website. Their unnatural links are still live but they simply don’t count in the ranking algorithm.

We do not think that Penguin 4.0 is in a Thanksgiving mood, recovering sites that haven’t made sustained recovery efforts.

Therefore, what Penguin Real Time made for these guys was to rank them and boost them up according to their OK links only. It’s a great recovery for smartfares.com and an interesting case study for all of us to look at.

smarfares OK links cognitiveSEO


2. Impressive Penguin 4.0 Recovery for a Big Online Store

There is a quote of the novelist Robert Ferro I particularly like in the present context; it goes like this: The key to life was rearranging the furniture.   lafurniturestore.com, as its name states, is a furniture store that got recently “rearranged”, but not in the typical way of moving the sofa near the window and the coffee table in its place.

The sort of rearrangement this website got came from Google Penguin 4.0 that boosted this website’s ranks after a penalty that occurred back in 2013.




And if you think that the search visibility increase is not that high when looking at a 5 year chart, when taking a pek at a micro level, we can see that lafurniturestore.com’s visibility has an impressive spike after the latest Google update.


lafurniturestore 1 year visibility



Also, when looking at their top ranking keywords, we ca see that they’re doing pretty well for highly competitive keywords. With seven keywords ranking number one, of which there are keywords with high search volume and traffic index, it seems like lafurniturestore.com is back in the business after almost three years of absence.


lafurniturestore top ranking keywords


However, when looking at their link profile unnaturalness, we encounter the same unnatural link patter that we did for the example above with smartfares.com.

High number of unnatural links, high number of commercial keywords and most of the links being placed in web directories, short paragraphs of text and group of links.

Just like before, our supposition is that lafurniturestore.com submitted a disavow file in the past and now, with the newest update, they are enjoying the fruits of their labor.


lafurniturestore Unnatural Links cognitiveSEO


3. A 320% Increase in Traffic for a Penalized Auto Related Site


Buyautoparts.com, a business headquartered in California that has sold car parts for over 20 years, seems to have experience not only in sales but also when it comes to Google Penalties. Being hit by a Penguin 2.0, the new real time update brought good news for them this fall, as they are having the biggest rank boost since their 2013 penalty.

They seem to have had some rankings fluctuations in the past due to some other algorithm updates, yet, none of them was so significant as the boost brought by the Penguin 4.0 update.




4. Penguin 2.0 Penalty Removed by Penguin 4.0 – Huge Traffic Recovery


The French website proxiconfort.fr,  an online appliances store, seems to be enjoying a great boost in rankings due to the latest Google update.


proxiconfort penguin 4.0 recovery




Yet, even if their link profile doesn’t seem to be the most natural one, with lots of links being placed in web directories or group of links, the French appliance website seem to benefit from the Penguin Real Time update.

As in the previous cases, it’s very likely that this website might have submitted a disavow file and Google now ranks the website based on the natural links only, ignoring the unnatural links even if they are still live.

proxyconfort link profile


5. Penguin 4.0 Recovery for a Website Penalized 4 Years Ago


As we’ve analyzed websites coming from such a variety of domains and countries, e-autoparts.pl, a Polish business specialized in selling car parts, reached our analysis due to the recovery they recently benefited from. e-autoparts.pl had a penalty back in 2012 and since then, the site never returned to its glory until this month.

It seems that the Penguin 4.0 had a big impact on this website, giving it its ranks back, after more than four years. 





6. Pharmacy Website Got Huge Traffic Boost After Penguin 4.0


There have been some debates in the past whether Google Penguin impacts only English queries or not. Websites penalties regardless of the language there are in, have put an end to these debates. With the newest Penguin update on the table, we took a look into some German websites to see whether the real time algorithm has influenced in any ways their rankings.


As we look at the omp-apotheke.de’s search visibility we can easily see that the Penguin 4.0 recovered this website from a penalty that hit them more than 3 years ago.




If from our previous analysis we figured that out, even if the recoveries occurred, the websites still had a lot of unnatural links live, in this case, it seems that omp-apotheke.de managed somehow to remove the links that might have attracted their penalty. Their link profile, with a few exceptions, is looking quite natural, with around 90% of the total links being OK. 

omp=apotheke unnatural cognitiveSEO


7. German Online Casino – Huge Visibility Increase Due to Penguin 4.0


Have you ever wondered if the doubling strategy at roulette now works? Or whether you can beat the Blackjack dealer with the method of card counting? No worries, we haven’t reoriented our filed of interest, we were just quoting some of the questions placed on the online casino casinoverdiener.com, a website taken into consideration for our Penguin 4.0 Recoveries case study.

After a Penguin update hit them a couple of years ago, it seems that the real time Google update brought some real added value to their business, boosting their rankings.


8. Impressive Penguin 4.0 Recovery for an Online Furniture Shop


lifestyle4living.de is an online furniture shop that is facing a great recovery after a three year penalty.




There are still a lot of aspects to investigate when it comes to Penguin 4.0. Yet, we are glad that we can share such analysis with you, case studies from which all of us can learn a lot.

As for the future, our task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.

And this is why, come what may, in order to prevent any penalty, you need the right tool to help you:

  • Know how your link profile looks like, as well as your competitors’
  • Get rid or Disavow your Unnatural links as they appear
  • Regularly monitor your backlink profile
  • Be alerted as you as unnatural link activity is spotted within your website.


The post Google Penguin 4.0 Recoveries – How These Sites Got a Huge Traffic Boost appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to Optimize for Google Home NOW #OKGoogle

How to Optimize for Google Home NOW #OKGoogle was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google’s recent debut of Google Home — and the impact it will have on search — has kept my mind reeling all week. I haven’t been able to shake this sense that we are on the cusp of a real change in the way that people interact with technology. (It’s also one step closer to the Star Trek computer Amit Singhal wants to make reality.)

Read on to find out how Google Home will deeply impact our interaction with search engine results pages (SERPs) and, subsequently, digital marketing strategy.


How Google Home Will Impact Our Interaction With the SERP

The Star Trek computer isn’t a bot that analyzes external data and catalogs instances of things to return a list of entries that users have to peruse. It’s a knowledge base, much like Google’s knowledge graph. It’s simple, intuitive, and omnipresent. In the world of Star Trek, people spend very little time looking at lists of options; the computer makes the decisions for them.

So how do we get to the 24th century computer from here? The announcements Google made on Oct. 4 took a big step in that direction. Both Google Home and Google Assistant (the heart of the new Pixel phone) bring Google’s experience with artificial intelligence to bear — and Google is training us to use technology in new ways.

The Google Assistant landing page invites visitors to use voice queries: “Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. Tell your Assistant to play jazz on the living room speakers, set your ‘go to gym’ alarm, make a reservation …”

SEOs see that and wonder: Where is there space for a SERP in there?

A SERP presents many results and lets a searcher click their choice. But voice searchers talking to Google Home have a different experience. Google wants to let the Assistant eliminate choices when there’s a clear best option — and “best” is defined by the Assistant.

Obviously, not all queries can have a single response. As you might imagine, a lot of the things we search for need a selection of answers or opinions. But do we need 15,000,000 opinions? Do we even need 10?

Example: I have a pretty small selection of power tools in a very small garage, but I’m getting into some simple woodworking. I recently needed to figure out how to quickly cut a 4″ diameter hole in some 1″ x 8″ pine. So I Googled it.

I really had to comb through the results based on my limited tool collection; a lot of the answers I ignored because they just weren’t helpful.

Now imagine doing that as a voice search with Google Home. I might hear many options the first time I searched. But because of machine learning, eventually Google would recall the particular site (or group of sites) that really caters to my skill level and figure out that out of the 15,000,000 results for “how to cut circles in wood” there might be 4 that are actually useful to me. That’s important information for Assistant; if I ask a question to Google Home while I’m in the garage plugging my jigsaw in, I don’t really want it reading 10 articles to me.


How Will Google Home Affect My SEO Strategy?

A lot of businesses have been doing online marketing, SEO, and PPC for long enough that it’s easy to think we have lots of time to catch up, or surpass, competitors.

While I’m not saying the SERPs are going away anytime soon, I do think that the increased emphasis on personalization is only going to make it harder to find new customers.

If you make a living off of publishing restaurant reviews, and people start using Assistant to find out about a new burger joint instead of Googling it, then Assistant will (likely) only pull from one source to get reviews, so new users might not even see your site as an option.

By the way, no clues yet on where AdWords may one day fit into a Google Home result.

Be Indispensable

Is this bad news for sites who aren’t Yelp, Wikipedia, or YouTube? No, it’s bad news for businesses who aren’t putting in the work to understand their audience. It’s bad news for businesses who aren’t willing to grow with their customers’ evolving needs. But if your business is willing to talk to your customers, to find out what your competitors are missing, then this is good news. Because the only way to be algorithm proof; the only way to secure a lasting position in the evolving world of search, is to be indispensable. Would the SERPs be lacking without your site?

Do some user experience testing. Survey your customers. Talk to your customer service reps to identify common questions or complaints, then address them. Figure out what your customers do just before and just after converting on your site; if you can help them perform some of those repetitive actions, you’ve suddenly simplified their lives.

This can be as simple as a good “People also bought” widget that anticipates the next need. If the user adds a nail gun to my cart, why not suggest some popular nails that fit the gun? Or, if it’s a hydraulic nail gun, maybe the user would like to know about a sale you’re having on air compressors.

Understand Your Analytics

The other thing to keep in mind here is that less traffic isn’t always a bad thing. A broad trend some of us in SEO have noticed is that many sites aren’t ranking for as many queries as they used to, which at first seems like terrible news. But many of those same sites are actually seeing better ranking for more specific queries, and a concurrent increase in conversions. As the search engines get better at understanding user intent, and as search becomes more and more personalized, rankings will be harder to track, and (in many instances) harder to get. But if your visits drop while conversion rate improves, then that’s a net gain (assuming that you’re in business to make money, of course).

The one exception to this instance is, of course, sites that are dependent on page views for revenue; i.e., ad-heavy sites. I think now is a good time to start developing a secondary revenue stream/way to monetize your site, that you can grow over time, as people are spending less and less time away from SERPs.

Missed the Oct. 4 press conference where Google announced the debut of Google Home, Google Pixel and more? Watch the announcement below.

A Rare Penguin 4.0 Penalty Case Study & How To Protect Your Site

Penguin 4.0 is here and is real-time. This means that the Penguin portion of the algorithm will always be “on” and updating from now on. As we have previously developed in an earlier blog post, Penguin going real-time is huge news for the SEO community. With Penguin 4.0, the algorithm should now catch spam link profiles more quickly. Aside from the fact that Penguin’s data is now refreshed in real time so that changes will be visible much faster, Penguin will be able to devalue spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals at a URL level, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.

Rare Penguin 4.0 Case Study cognitiveSEO

The things we should all have in mind now are real time penalties and real time recoveries.

Not only Google Penguin is in ongoing mode now, but also the question from every cautious webmaster’s mind: Is my website prepared for all these changes?

Penguin 4.0 – Penalty Case Study


We’ve searched back and forth looking for the havoc that the new Penguin 4.0 might have made. As much as we’ve searched (and trust us, research is our middle name), we haven’t found big traffic spikes (up or down) caused by the fearful Penguin. Instead we’ve found various sites that have slightly incremental or decremental traffic patterns.

There are SERP fluctuations, yet, nothing comparable to the impressive volatility caused by the previous Penguin Updates.


Some other researchers in the field found some websites affected by Google’s newest update, then again, no big fluctuations were mentioned.


After a lot of research conducted for several days, with a high attention on keywords and SERP fluctuations, we’ve found a couple of affected websites. From those we choose one that seems very likely to be affected by the latest Penguin. Without any further introduction, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy reading the complete Penguin 4.0 Case Study:


Metamorphosis, as a biological process, sounds like a word with which you can become a Scrabble champion. In fact, as complicated as it might sound, it designates one of the few constants in life: change.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

This is what probably the “spam fighters” team behind Google Penguin 4.0 had in mind when they’ve implemented the new, Real-Time Penguin algorithm.


The irony is that one of the sites affected by the Google update is a website related, at least with the name,  by the newest real time Penguin.


Metamorphosis Design (www.metamorphozis.com) is an online business that offers flash templates, website templates, web design and site re-design services. Or, as the website itself states, Metamorphosis Design is “everything you want to know about web design”.



The website we are looking at is quite a large one: the almost 2 million links coming from around 9k referring domains place our analyzed website within the medium- large sites. We cannot overlook the Link Profile Influence: more than 98% of the total links have low or no influence at all.  Therefore, if we were to think of the catchword quality over quantity, it doesn’t look like Metamorphosis Design have invested a lot in getting high-quality links. 

More than 98% of Metamorphosis Design’s links have low or now influence at all.


metamorphosis explorer data cognitiveSEO


Before going any further with our analysis, please allow me a few moments to explain why is the SEO Visibility chart presented bellow (and fully integrated within cognitiveSEO) is so important and why it’s helpful in easily spotting Google Penalties.


Basically, SEO Visibility is about monitoring the search performance of a website as it presents the historical development of a domain’s visibility in Google.  It is calculated based on millions of keywords that are tracked in Google and their importance and traffic volume. Each keyword has a particular importance and based on that and the ranking of the tracked site, a SEO visibility score is calculated, score which is updated weekly.

The SEO visibility chart can help you identify penalties in a heartbeat.

We, at cognitiveSEO, are trying to make the penalty identification process as easy as possible. And this is why, with the integration of the SEO visibility chart, we take the “penalty identification” process to another level, making it easy to identify what happened to a specific website. We live in a world where we use apps and tools on a daily basis; we have apps to helps us get our schedule right or tools to helps us buy Christmas presents for the dear ones. When it comes to your business I find it only natural to try using the best tools there are out there to be sure that your website will attract customers, not penalties.


Therefore, as we look at Metamorphosis Design SEO visibility, we get an important insight. It seems like a significant drop affected the website in 2012, drop that can be easily correlated with a Penguin update from that time.





And although the site never seems to have completely rebounded ever since, it seems like the new Real-time Penguin has destabilized the flash templates site even more. It’s true that it’s not an abrupt drop like the one from 2012 we are talking about, yet, there is a significant one, and it’s most likely related to the newly released Penguin update.



seo visibility sept meta


Luckily, we have the possibility to look at our analyzed site’s link profile and see if indeed the drop might have something do to with this website’s link profile. We don’t know how Metamorphosis Design’s link profile looked back in 2012 when they probably got another penalty, but one thing is sure; if their link profile was similar they did not learn from their mistakes.

unnatural profile metamorphosis


With almost 90% of total links being unnatural, there is no big surprise that this site is a Penguin 4.0 “victim”.

Name it; it seems like they have it all: thin content, low influence links, suspect anchor text, footer links, etc.


Metamorphosis is a changing process that involves a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in one entity’s structure through growth and differentiation. However, it looks like Metamorphosis Design has borrowed only the name but not the characteristics of the metamorphosis process as well. 

With most of the links being placed in short paragraphs of text or group of links, there is no wonder that this website might have raised a lot of red flags for Google Spam Team.


The anchor text distribution and classifier don’t bring extra points in Metamorphosis Design’s defense, as most of the anchor texts are of commercial nature. And as Google is not a big fan of such keywords as it may consider them of being part of a link scheme, the suspicion of penalty in the case of our analyzed website is becoming more and more a certainty.


anchor text meta


Some other penalties examples com from  Mary Haynes, who wrote an interesting blog post where she analyzed various keyword fluctuations, highly correlated with the dates of September when Google announced the Penguin 4.0 Update. No big SERP fluctuation found within these examples either.


Google Penguin 4.0 And What You Need To Do


Having in mind the idea of real time penalties, it’s important to stay prepared, regardless of the surprises this Penguin might come with.


As the Penguin update is becoming a real-time part of the algorithm, things are slightly different from the publicly announced updates until now like Penguin, Penguin 2.0 and Penguin 3.0.  This means that the algorithm will become smarter and at a quicker pace than before since Google will be able to roll out changes as needed as opposed to scheduling one massive update.


Google updates have always been of high interest and, as you can see in the screenshot below, the interest on this matter is fantastic. If on Thursday, one day before the big announcement Penguin 4.0 had a few mentions, the next day the interest for the on-going penguin increased 65 times.


Brand Mentions


One might say that as long as you always work on the safe side and you are developing digital marketing strategies by Google’s Guidelines, you shouldn’t invest much time and energy worrying about this update. However, even when analyzing things within this mindset, two things should be taking into consideration: first, Google’s Guidelines (as many other guidelines) can be subjectively interpreted and second, it is better to be safe than sorry.


This being said, let see what you can do to be sure that your rankings will be safe even with the Penguin being released “in the wild”.


1. Regularly Monitor Your Backlink Profile

As Penguin is here and it’s real time it should get into your routine to regularly check new and lost backlinks, their value and quality, and most of all their naturalness. There has been a lot of speculation related to the fact that this update wasn’t released; we cannot deny nor confirm these rumors, yet, what we can do is take a look at what Google representatives have to say.

tweet rolling out

Therefore, what you need to do from now on, more than ever, is to constantly keep an eye on your link profile. Manually checking ALL of your links and identifying the unnatural links will get you a lot of time and energy. And even if you were willing to invest all the energy it takes, with Penguin being ongoing, time might not be in your favor. As soon as Google discovers that some links are shady, it will instantly penalize the involved website. And the vice-versa is just as valid:  as soon as links are being removed or disavowed, the Penguin algorithm will process it in real time, and you would be able to recover from a Penguin penalty incredibly quickly.

Ongoing fresh unnatural link monitoring is a necessity with the latest Google Penguin 4.0



2. Disavow Your Unnatural Links

Having a Google Link Penalty or being on the edge of being penalized is not something you wish for, but it’s something that you might have to deal with. In October 2012 Google launched the disavow tool which purpose is to help webmasters clean up their link profiles. Since its launch date, it has become a very used tool to help people recover from link related penalties, both manual and algorithmic. Even though there are a lot of pros and cons on whether a disavow really helps with penalties or not, Google representatives have stated before and are still claiming today, in the Penguin 4.0 update context, that the disavow tool is really helpful and should be used by webmasters.

Google recommends the use of the disavow tool.

disavow tweets


If manually identifying unnatural links is a time-consuming task, creating a disavow from scratch can be as time consuming and even more stressful as disavows have a high impact on one’s website. We are not advocating a reckless use of the disavow tool, yet, if it is the case, why not making the process as easy as possible? It’s enough energy invested in the fact that you are in the position of submitting a disavow; the last thing you need is to worry about disavow templates agreed by Google and spending lots of time in manually creating one. What I’d recommend is creating an automate disavow file ready to submit but not before documenting a bit on the disavow myths and realities so that you can submit the disavow wittingly and wholehearted .




3. Monitor New Links That Could Trigger Penalties

Real-time is the baseline keyword in the context of Penguin 4.0. As mentioned before, this means that as soon as Google discovers that a link is unnatural, it will process it in real time, causing penalties incredibly quickly.

Be aware of all of your links and why not, be one step ahead of Google and spot the unnatural links on time.


New Unnatural Alert cognitiveSEO


4. Know Your Anchor Text Ratio

Having a clear overall image of your anchor text profile is crucial, especially if you need to see how many of your keywords are commercial and how many are brand related. Brand Anchor Text is one of the signals that Google takes into consideration when deciding if a site should be “trusted” or not, while the Commercial Anchor Text tells Google what keywords might the site be interested in ranking. Therefore, knowing your anchor text ratio is another feature you should be aware of, not only in your quest of preventing a penalty but also on a daily monitoring basis.

anchor text ratio


We know that things may seem a bit confusing for the moment, maybe overwhelming and why not, a bit scary. Having the right tools at your disposal might make a difference in your favor: in terms of rankings, invested time, money and energy, website optimizing and even stress reduction.

The post A Rare Penguin 4.0 Penalty Case Study & How To Protect Your Site appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Learn How to Optimize for Voice Search NOW: More than Half of Queries will be Voice Search Queries by 2020

Learn How to Optimize for Voice Search NOW: More than Half of Queries will be Voice Search Queries by 2020 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

By 2020, there will be 200 billion voice search queries per month and more than half of search will come from voice search, according to comScore research. Digital marketers need to invest in strategies that target voice searchers. Read on to get tips on optimizing for voice search with perspectives from a search agency (with Bing’s Purna Virji), a publisher (The SEM Post’s Jennifer Slegg) and an SEO (Elite SEM’s Tony Edward).

Voice Search panelists

From left: Tony Edward, Purna Virji, Jennifer Slegg

Bing’s Purna Virji on the Evolution of Voice Search

Purna Virji, the senior training manager at Microsoft, talked about how voice search is shaping our world. Everything from television remotes to hotel rooms can be powered by voice. By 2017, all Ford vehicles will come with Apple CarPlay.

Reasons People Use Voice Search

  • It’s faster than typing. You can speak 110–150 words per minute, as opposed to the average person’s typing rate of 38–40 words per minute.

    You can speak 110–150 words per min, as opposed to avg person’s typing 38–40 wpm. -@purnavirji…
    Click To Tweet

  • People want quick answers.
  • People are often second screening or otherwise occupied
Slide of mobile use statistics

(click to enlarge)

Jennifer Slegg: Content for the Voice Search Generation

Like Virji, the founder and editor of The SEM Post, Jennifer Slegg, believes the time to optimize for voice search is now.

Consider the fact that more than half of U.S. teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, or that there are 30 times more action queries on voice search.

How Feature Snippets Work with Voice Search

Voice search has a higher percentage of featured snippets. Slegg says 43.3% for voice queries have featured snippets, compared to 40.6% for text queries. Moreover, Google reads the featured snippets aloud to users beginning with “According to (site)” or “We found this information on (site).” Google reinforces your brand in voice search. (Learn how to earn featured snippets in 2016.)

Use Moz and SEMRush to track your own and your competitors’ featured snippets.

RankBrain and Voice Search

  • Stronger influence on 15% of search queries Google has never seen before, and they tend to be voice searches.
  • You’re able to better rank conversational search queries with keywords.
  • It’s the third most important ranking signal, behind content and links.

How do you optimize for RankBrain? By optimizing for conversational search.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Voice search queries are longer than text search queries. The average query length for voice is 4.2 words, and the average query length for text is 3.2 words.

Long-tail queries are less competitive and have higher intent. While they’re searched for less, they’re more likely to convert.

Use your content to answer questions. There is a 61% growth in queries starting with who, what, where and how. Furthermore, almost 10% of voice search queries start with who, what, when, where, why, how – as opposed to only 3.7% of text queries. “How” begins 3.6% of all voice search queries and “What” begins 3.5% of all voice search queries.

Tony Edward on How Humans Speak

Tony Edward, the senior SEO manager at Elite SEM, reminded digital marketers that optimizing for voice search begins with standard SEO best practices.

  • Build in-depth content that answers commonly asked questions around your brand, services, products, etc., including content that answers who, what, when, where, why and how.
  • Leverage Structured Data Markup depending on the content type.
  • Work to get your brand in the Knowledge Graph.
  • Ensure content is structured well using headers and bulleted or numbered lists.

Edward shared his tips on coming up with content strategy:

  • Mine call center, live chat and email data to find commonly asked questions surrounding your product, service or brand.
  • Use third-party tools to get auto search suggestion topics, such as AnswerThePublic.com or UberSuggest.io.

By implementing the above best practices and creating useful content, Edward has been able to earn branded Knowledge Graphs and Featured Snippets. As noted earlier, getting a branded Knowledge Graph entry or Featured Snippet makes your result more voice search ready.

Leading SEOs Discuss AMP, PWLAs, URL Parameters, Featured Snippets, KPIs and More

Leading SEOs Discuss AMP, PWLAs, URL Parameters, Featured Snippets, KPIs and More was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

This is a report from SMX East 2016. Search Marketing Expo (SMX) features speakers from industry-leading digital marketers and search engine representatives. Subscribe to the BCI Blog to get coverage of key sessions sent to your inbox.

Meet the SEOs is a key SMX session where digital marketers are able to ask four leading digital marketers any question they have. The panel, moderated by Search Engine Land Founder and Editor Danny Sullivan, features:

Meet the SEOs panel at SMX East

From left: Duane Forrester, Hillary Glaser, Aleyda Solis, Michael King, Danny Sullivan

What do you think about AMP, progressive loading web apps, and web apps?

Forrester: I welcome our new PWLA overlords. If Google wants it, Google will get it if it waits long enough for it. Google is doing this for a very good reason, because the average person will fail.

Glazer: If you are a newspaper or magazine or a site with a lot of content where the amount of content that is on your site is weighing down your site’s load time, AMP might be a quick fix. But if you rely on ads to produce revenue, AMP is not a good route for you. There are other ways you can go about decreasing your load time.



Do people need to have apps?

Glaser: It’s situational. We have a healthcare client who it really makes sense for. Their clients can book appointments through the app, for example, without even having to log in. That makes the app valuable.

Forrester: I don’t know that AMP is going to have a long life span. If you don’t have an app already up and running and your app is two years away, I would reconsider building the app. PWLA is blindingly fast and looks like a regular website … it just might crush AMP and apps.

Do we need URL parameters?



King: I don’t think inherently they’re bad, but they can create bad situations.

When creating tables does the formatting style influence whether you get a Featured Snippet?

Forrester: It’s not about how you formatted it, but how much the search engine trusts you. To get a featured snippet, you must be highly trusted and serve up highly relevant content.

Will Google make featured snippets sponsored eventually?

Solis: I don’t think that’s realistic.

Glaser: I don’t think that’s going to happen.

301’s vs. 302’s?

Unanimous: 301’s.

(Read our guide on How to Implement a 301 Redirect)

Should we be delivering ranking reports or not?

Glaser: Yes, if you can tie back to something.

Solis: You want to monitor it and see how you are vs. your competition, because it does have an effect on the ultimate goals: traffic, conversion, ROI, etc.

What are the top three KPIs you need to report to management?

Forrester: That needs to be decided before you take on the work. Whatever that business wants or needs, those are your KPIs. Could be traffic, sign-ups, revenue, time on site — find out from them. Ranking is not a KPI, but a tool.

Solis: For a migration, however, I would say ranking is a KPI. It depends on the project.

Should I interlink related but not duplicated sites that my company owns?

Sullivan interjects and answers the question: No — you should only do it if there’s some value. Don’t do it for a boost.

Forrester: Maybe combine the content and make a single, stronger site. If you interlink them, you risk appearing like a link network and getting in hot water. Pull your content together, put it on a single strong domain, build a business and move forward.

If you had a brand new site and no budget, what would you do?

Glaser: Invest in really good content. Update your meta data seasonally and learn how to understand user intent and behavior. Learn why people come from both Google and Bing and dig into Search Console. Update your content with that knowledge.

Forrester: If you don’t have a lot of money, you better have a lot of personality. You need to have a reason for people to engage with you, and that can be writing style, tone and voice. These will get you a social presence. There’s no end to it and virtually no cost.

King: This is what guest posting is actually for. When you write something on a highly trafficked site, it’s one of the quickest ways to get eyes and links on your own site. It’s a good idea when you’re starting something from scratch. Realistically, if you’re going after a competitive term, search is not what you want to target at first with no budget.

What are some of your favorite tools?

Forrester: Bing Webmaster Tools.

King: Moz’s Keyword Explorer, KeywordTool.io and Keyword Studio.

Solis: Keyword Finder and SEMRush.

Glaser: SEMRush, BrightEdge, Raven Tools, Google Keyword Planner. 

Bruce Clay, Inc. is a global digital marketing agency specializing in SEO services (with link cleanup), SEM PPC management, content development and social media marketing. Looking for a partner to grow your online business presence? Let’s talk.

Link Building Stories That Can Save Your Site from Sha Menz

Link Building Stories That Can Save Your Site from Sha Menz was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

This is a report from SMX East 2016. Search Marketing Expo (SMX) features speakers from industry-leading digital marketers and search engine representatives. Subscribe to the BCI Blog to get coverage of key sessions sent to your inbox.

Shah Menz at SMX East

Link building specialist Sha Menz

Link removal specialist Sha Menz has a word of warning for SEOs: Manipulating the link game is like everything else — it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

A superhero SEO can come along and save your site, but there are much more powerful things your superhero SEO could be doing rather than link cleanup.

Menz shared 17 areas where link building can go awry and 3 ways link building can be done best!

17 Ways Link Building Can Go Wrong

1. Anchor Text

link anchor text slide

2. Paid Links
There’s nothing wrong with a sponsored link, by the way — but call it out. Note that it’s sponsored, like Search Engine Land Editor Barry Schwartz does in the below example.


3. Reciprocal Link Exchange

These seem to be having a resurgence, said Menz. If you’re shaking hands and agreeing to trade links with someone, it’s not necessarily a bad thing — if there’s some actual reason that both of your sites can link to the other in a natural and useful way. BUT if this is the case, don’t hesitate to use a nofollow tag. Getting traffic and being useful are the key things you’re doing here.

4. JavaScript and CSS Tricks

Don’t hide things here. Search engines will see it.

5. Irrelevant and Spun Content

6. Footer Links

People can get very sneaky. In the below example, the word “C-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t” actually has a link on every letter.

linking from every letter

7. Comment Spam

8. Wiki-loading

9. Bad Directories

10. Guest Posting

11. Kiss-of-Death Domains

kiss-of-death domains list

Learn about suspect domains at DomainTools.com.

12. Link Networks

13. Redirect Madness

Watch out for third-party redirect passes through high-quality domains. This might appear in the form of intentionally misspelled domain names in the code. Use the SpamFlag Chrome extension in conjunction with Majestic SEO.

14. Coupon Capers

15. Link Builders You Forgot to Fire

This may sound ridiculous, but it can happen. Ensure previous link builders have been informed and are not building additional links.

16. Rogue Themes, Toolbars and Plugins

17. Black Hats Masquerading as White Hats

3 Ways Link Building Works

It’s all about doing the work. None of the tricks are worth it. Investing your time in actual work is much more profitable. Consider, then, doing the following:

1. Help Others to Help Yourself

Sometimes you’re just out there in a forum being really helpful, or you have written a blog post that’s really valuable. Those kinds of things can pay you back dividends with links.

2. Share Your Expertise

Loan a developer, teach a local class, etc.

3. Do the Unexpected

The Elephant in the Room: Penguin in the Wild

Menz would be remiss if she didn’t bring up the elephant in the room: Penguin. Is the newly hatched real-time Penguin the light at the end of the tunnel for your site, or are you clinging to a runaway train?

“Recognition of your cleanup work will be quicker by the search engines, but results will be harder to spot,” said Menz, adding that the only real results she’s seen (so far) have been people who are ill-affected.

One thing she wants to note is that disavows are still important, which we also confirmed with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes earlier this week:


Bruce Clay, Inc. is a global digital marketing agency specializing in SEO services (with link cleanup), SEM PPC management, content development and social media marketing. Looking for a partner to grow your online business presence? Let’s talk.