The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live

The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Editor’s note: We’re updating this post as we get more news and comments.

Big news in the world of search this morning. Google released a major update to its link analyzing algorithm, Penguin, today. This latest update is the long-anticipated upgrade that will help sites previously penalized by Penguin get out from under the SEO shadow of spammy paid links.

As the fourth significant enhancement since its initial launch in 2012, Penguin 4.0’s most noteworthy upgrades include:

1. Real-time data refreshes and
2. A more granular approach to the way it filters spam

Bruce Clay, Inc.’s VP Duane Forrester’s response to the news? “About time! But now the real work for many begins. Those working hard on managing their link profiles or cleaning up old link building programs have reason to be optimistic. Those thinking old tactics will still work are about to fall on hard times. A real-time factoring of link quality into the mix means as soon as they see it, they decide. Everything is on the fly, so it’s the algo at work here, making the call on good, bad and ugly as it sees links. If you’re still thinking buying links works, you’d better be careful. Those days are behind us.”

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes, author of the Google Webmaster Blog post announcing the news, took to Twitter to answer SEOs’ questions about the latest Penguin update.

On how many pages are affected by the Penguin Update:


On whether the roll-out of Penguin is complete:


On how manual actions are handled now:


Keep It Fresh: Steps for Updating Your Website Content

Keep It Fresh: Steps for Updating Your Website Content was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

There are four pillars of SEO content: expertise, authority, trust (E-A-T) and maintenance. These are exactly the qualities search engines look at to rank your site. Google even says so outright in its Quality Rating Guidelines.

To demonstrate expertise, you publish comprehensive content about your topic.

To demonstrate authority, people share your content through links and linkless mentions.

To demonstrate trust, you publish examples of your successful projects, client testimonials and reviews, and make your privacy and security statements clear.

To demonstrate maintenance, you keep your content up to date and ever-relevant.

Be mindful of these four things and you’ll be on the right track for developing high ranking, highly engaging and useful content for users and search engines.

Here we drill down into maintenance — keeping your content up to date and ever-relevant.


BCI is deep in the process of a full content inventory to maintain and upkeep With this process fresh on our minds, we walk you through the full program on how to update website content.

Read through from start to finish or skip to a section with the links below:

Game Plan

Wrap your head around the situation that is your website. You know what you want it to do for you: assist your business. To get your game plan in order you want to:

  1. Get specific about the goals your website should accomplish for your business and its visitors. This is where you get your conversions in order.
  2. Have a full and clear understanding about the content that exists on your domain. This is where you take an inventory of your content.

Define and Set Up Conversions

You have probably already defined and set up your goals in Google Analytics at some point but it’s worth doing again — from scratch.

BCI brought together our managers and stakeholders to define every conversion and micro-conversion we want tracked on the site.

List the conversions you want performed on your site. Maybe there are new ones since you last did this exercise. Maybe you forgot about something that you needed to be reminded of.

If you didn’t have a list of conversions as part of your website strategy from before, now you do. Let it guide your site design and content offerings.

Conversion examples include:

  • Quote request
  • Phone call
  • Store locator
  • Appointment scheduled
  • Subscription
  • Video viewed

With your conversions defined, your team’s techie can match your conversions and micro-conversions with online actions.

One can configure goals in Google Analytics with great flexibility and granularity. For instance, Destination goals are usually thank you or order confirmation pages. Event goals can track things like downloads and clicks. Think of Destination goals as the page a visitor lands on and Event goals as actions a visitor takes.

Read all about creating your goals in analytics here.

Inventory Content, Identifying Updates

If you find the process of organization cathartic, you’re about to get your zen on. You’ll start with a crawl of your webpages and end with a clear view of the content to update, optimize or even cut.

For the last website crawl I needed, I turned to my team techie who wrote some custom code that spidered a site and dropped into a spreadsheet the following:

  • URL
  • HTTP status
  • First-level directory
  • Last modified date
  • Title tag
  • Description tag
  • Keywords tag
  • H1 tag
  • External links
  • Snippet of body text

Then I add columns to sort through what has outdated content and pages that are 404s are other errors. I also identify the pages that are the main theme hub pages that should be getting link juice from deep, supporting content. A column that spells out the goal of the page or goal that it supports is critical too. By the end of this, you have a clear view in of the shape and focuses of the site.

library catalog

Take an inventory of your web pages. Instead of using the Dewey Decimal System, you’ll catalog your content in Excel.

How to inventory your website content is a topic hole here on, so for more how-to info, I’ll point you to Facebook UX expert and content strategist Jonathon Colman’s recommended hub on all things content inventory related.

Dig Into Content

Before you freshen up, you’re going to get your hands dirty. Start digging into the pages.

Analyze Current Performance

To analyze current site performance, check your analytics and figure out what people are doing on your site. What keywords are bringing in organic search traffic, social traffic and other sources of traffic? What pages are visitors hanging around on a while and which pages are they bouncing from? Use this data to inform your priorities and next steps.

Get User Feedback

Along the way you’ll be reading your website. It’s so close to you yet it may have been on autopilot for a while now. It’s time to rekindle your familiarity with the site navigation, information, conversion paths, search traffic. Ask friends to read pages. Other eyes see things you won’t.

Do user tests. Hire to do some user tests on your site. Or have a friend navigate a conversion path. Draw up a scenario that happened at the office today and ask your friend to try to navigate to the solution. Do they get hung up anywhere? Have them talk as they’re walking through your site. Specify an action they should try to accomplish and record their experience. This information is critical to your understanding of how your customers are experiencing your site.

Update and Test

Put Your Strategy in Place

At this point you’ll have an understanding of what users are coming to your site for, what they’re doing when they’re there, and anything they might be having trouble with on the site. From this understanding you can make improvements. This happens in two ways:

  1. Creating new content to address unanswered questions and needs.
  2. Updating current content so that it’s optimized for search and the user experience.

Consider site architecture. This is the point where you’ve taken inventory of the pages of your site and can decide whether the way the pages are connected is the best way.

Are you familiar with siloing? Does your site’s hierarchy match the way a user navigates your site? Basically, each big idea or category of your website is a pillar of your website. There will be a main page on that topic, usually reachable through the main navigation. Depending on the size of the site or the topic, there may be a group of pages containing supporting content on that topic.

All the pages about a topic would link together as appropriate to answer a reader’s questions on the topic. This gets a little technical, but only link from one silo to another from the top landing pages; this is done to maintain a concentrated theme in that section of the site, increasing chances of good rankings due to subject relevance.

So in short, there’s three things to think about at this stage:

  1. Navigation that fits what users are looking for when they hit your site.
  2. Information structured as strong themes with supporting content.
  3. Linking throughout the site in a way that maintains the individual themes.

Addressing a website’s architecture might be considered an update or the changes may be drastic enough that it’s like starting new. Whichever the case, the site architecture structures your site as a topic expert. From here you can position and build up content.

As you create and update content, link thoughtfully to support site themes across the site and help your users navigate to the content they need on your topics of expertise.


A clear site architecture is key to building your content themes. Design your site as an architectural masterpiece of the finest quality content.

Update Content

Update old content and add new content. Break out that spreadsheet. Add rows for new pages that will need to be written under your site architecture. For all new pages, assign keywords that will ensure that page supports its theme.

Write content that informs, engages, sells, serves, collects information … whatever it is the page is meant to do, including containing keywords and a call to action to move them down the intended path.

For all pages that already existed, make sure the assigned keywords are appropriate, and also make sure they’re actually used in the content on the page. Use a tool like the SEOToolSet Single Page Analyzer (free SPA here) for a report of content optimization, including the phrases most commonly used on the page.

Ask yourself if the page accomplishes what it’s intended to, and if it’s clear what you want the visitor to do. Make sure the answer is “yes” before you check off the columns for body content and calls to action on the spreadsheet. Consider where a page links to help a user through the funnel and discovering more useful content.

A couple additional tips:

  • Assign priority. Take a list of site pages and silos and give them a rank of importance to the business goals. On your spreadsheet, indicate the goals a landing page or silo is responsible for. Key pages and/or sections of your site can be addressed first. You can use this spreadsheet throughout the refresh project to manage the updates to keywords, body content, Meta data and calls to action. Create a column for each of those essential elements on your spreadsheet as well.
  • Set deadlines. Time management 101. If you have set dates for when you want certain pages or sections of the site reviewed, edited, optimized and published, the project is likely to keep moving forward.

Test Changes

All the insight you got from asking friends and testers to use your site? You should get that for your new content, too. Testing lets you serve different versions of a page to segments of your visitors and gives you information about how each performs.

Use the testing tool Content Experiments in Google Analytics and see which versions of your new page (or old pages with new modifications) get more of your desired actions. This overview will get you up to speed on Content Experiments, how it works and what you can do.

Now isn’t that nice and fresh?

Let us make your content work harder for you.

Our SEO content services are driven by SEO objectives. We develop content that feeds the appetites of search engines and visitors and builds a loyal lifetime customer base. Learn more.

This post was originally published on Aug. 9, 2012! #refresh

What is the Facebook Algorithm?

What is the Facebook Algorithm? was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Facebook headquarters sign on Hacker Way

Photo credit: Facebook Newsroom

The Facebook algorithm takes into consideration engagement, relevance, timeliness, and thousands of other factors in an effort to populate people’s News Feeds with more of the stuff they want to see, as inferred by Facebook.

Unlike sites where everything you post automatically shows up for every person who follows you, Facebook uses an algorithm to dictate what content appears in an individual’s News Feed. In Facebook’s official words, “The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. To do this, we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you.”[1]

In a sentence, the Facebook algorithm weighs factors to determine on a post-by-post basis whether a post is qualified to pass into an individual’s News Feed. And given Facebook’s impressive stats (1.71 billion monthly active users at last count[2]), it’s worth finding out how to extend your content’s reach organically on this platform.

What’s in the Facebook Algorithm?

Facebook calculates the authority and importance of Facebook Pages based on several factors — the most prominent of which is social interactions. The social site rewards engagement, so the algorithm considers the ratio of engagements to total number of followers.

The number of people “liking” your Page isn’t the main criterion. Content creators having real interactions with people, even if the audience size is smaller, carries more weight in the algorithm than an account with thousands of mute (and possibly fake) followers.

But that’s on the Page level. Individual posts have ranking factors, too.

The engagement cues that count in the algo include likes, clicks, comments and shares. But the social network also looks at the length of time spent viewing a post in the News Feed as an indicator of content people want to see more of.[3] The lesson here isn’t surprising — quality counts.

The News Feed filtration system — once called EdgeRank but now simply referred to broadly as the Facebook algorithm — takes into consideration as many as 100,000 individually weighted factors to deliver the most authoritative, relevant, and timely content to individuals.[4]

Algorithm 2

Sheldon explains the friendship algorithm on The Big Bang Theory. His algorithm has more to do with real, in-person friendship and less to do with news feeds, but you get the idea.

Of those 100,000 considerations, the three original EdgeRank factors — Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay — are still relevant and prominent ranking factors. In other words, EdgeRank hasn’t gone away. Its principles have simply been folded into a much larger, more advanced contemporary Facebook algorithm.

The goal of News Feed quoted4 Factors the Facebook Algorithm Takes into Consideration

Facebook keeps adjusting its algorithm. It’s not just trying to find the right balance of ads and content, but also the right mix of shares from various sources.

  1. Interaction a post is generating: Not just how much, but also what type — liking, commenting, clicking, sharing, or time spent viewing; each of the interactions has its own weight depending on the amount of effort it takes to perform.
  2. Who made the interaction: How directly connected is the user to the poster based on manual friendship designations and user preferences, closeness inferred by interaction, and other factors.
  3. When the post was made: Time decay happens because the News Feed rewards freshness.
  4. Post popularity: If a post is losing the freshness edge because of time decay, but lots of people are still actively commenting on or sharing it, the engagement can trigger a bump that expands the post reach.

4 More Factors Brand Pages Need to Know to Increase Organic Reach

Social sharing is a critical part of content marketing. But Facebook isn’t going to appreciate a business Page using Facebook just to promote its own content. Short of boosting posts with actual money, here are a few tips to help you keep your posts circulating through the network.

  1. Don’t use click-bait: Facebook’s algorithm weeds out click-bait headlines, the kind that give little information about what the person will find if they click through.[5] So make sure to put enough description in your headlines.
  2. Link the right way: Facebook favors links shared as link posts over image or status posts with a link in the text.[5] You’ll get even more reach if you leave off the link altogether! Sharing in a variety of formats is best, with and without links. With our own Facebook Page, we get 10X more organic reach on posts without a link — probably because Facebook likes keeping people on its own site.
  3. Mobile site load time must be fast: To improve the mobile UX, Facebook announced that “website performance and a person’s network connection” are considered when delivering promoted (paid) posts.[6] We can assume that how fast a page opens for a mobile user can affect the reach of organic link posts, as well. (Tip: Publishers can make sure their content loads fast using Facebook Instant Articles.)
  4. Go for engagement: The social network’s tips for effective posts include: keep it short; use big, beautiful images; and respond to people’s comments quickly.[7]

Want to boost your social media engagement? Talk to us about our social media services.


Editor’s Note: This is an update of an article originally posted by Chelsea Adams on Sept. 30, 2013.

New Feature: Build Citations Directly from your CitationTracker Report

We’ve released a brand new update today that allows you to start a CitationBurst campaign directly from your CitationTracker report.

This integration between our two citation tools is a great time-saver, because you don’t need to set-up CitationBurst campaigns from scratch – we extract the data directly from your CitationTracker report.

So now these 2 tools play nicely which makes life easier for Agencies & Freelance SEOs when setting up new clients within your BrightLocal account.

Want to know more? Please watch our quick video below (90 secs).

3 Steps to build citations from a CitationTracker report

This integration works when you’re viewing your CitationTracker report, but then spot some listing issues which you want to fix.

Step 1 – Go to new or existing CitationTracker report

You can now just click on the “Order Citation Campaign” button (as below):

build citations from your CitationTracker report

Step 2 – Automated setup of your Citation campaign

Once you’ve selected this option, we’ll begin processing data from your existing CitationTracker report – as well as carrying out a few fresh checks.

This only takes a few moments, but it’s an important step to ensure we get the most accurate & complete data on your existing citation sources.

build citations from your CitationTracker report





Step 3 – Select package, citations & complete your order

Voila! This will take you straight through to Step 2 on a normal CitationBurst campaign.

With those quick checks we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. Then all you need to do is follow the steps through from 2-3, and your citation building campaign can begin:

build citations from your CitationTracker report

And remember, with CitationBurst you now have the option to submit to 4 Major Local Data Aggregators for just $55! That’s right, BrightLocal is the most cost-effective service for submitting to local data aggregators!

Of course, you can still order manual submissions as well – the choice is yours!





build local citations

We hope you enjoy this new feature & that it saves you time.

As always, if you have any feedback or questions, let us know in the chat box or comments.

The post New Feature: Build Citations Directly from your CitationTracker Report appeared first on BrightLocal.

Do Social Signals Influence SEO? A 2016 Study on 23 Million Shares

There is a lot of buzz and fuzz regarding the influence of shares, comments, likes, etc. on SEO in general. Yet, the question that is on everyone’s lips is actually: “Are social signals a ranking factor?” There have been lots of discussions around this topic, both pros and cons; even some studies were conducted on it. Yet, no clear light has been shed on the matter.


And, as we think that research is one of the most exciting and, most of all, rewarding of occupations, we’ve conducted an in-depth investigation in order to find out exactly this. What we wanted to see was whether there is any good reason to believe social networking sites have any relation to page ranking beyond anecdotal evidence. In order to study this relation, we needed quite a bit of data, therefore I warn you that you might need to arm yourself with a lot of time and coffee before reading our study.


TL;DR – This is quite a large study. If you don’t have time to read it all now, you can browse through the main take-aways.



The Methodological Approach- How the Research Was Done

We wouldn’t want to bore you with a lot of technicalities related to the research, however, allow us to present you the study’s main points:


  • The current study is based on social signals coming from Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. We couldn’t include Twitter into this analysis due to their decision of deactivating share counts.
  • We took into consideration all social signals from approximately 300k pieces of content, coming from ~34k randomly chosen keywords that rank on Google on positions 1 to 10. All the research data were gathered over the months of May and June 2016.
  • The current study shows a correlation between social signals and the search engine Google. Yet, correlation does not mean causation.


One methodological clarification we’d like to mention is that the mean values were calculated for all entries which had at least one like, share or comment (therefore greater than 0), but less than 100.000. The upper limit was set for both theoretical considerations (social signals presence above that level tends to be rarely organic) as well as pragmatic ones (given the scale, even a small number of values over that threshold can influence a rank’s score and make it unrepresentative).


Strong Presence on Social Networks Is Correlated with Better Rankings

On average, presence on social networking sites (which includes likes, shares and comments on Facebook, plus shares on Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest) is negatively associated with site rank, and the relationship is close to linear (and perfectly linear for the first 5 ranks). This means that, in general, the smaller the rank number is (so, the higher up the website), the higher the chances are that the average presence on social network is larger.



Higher Rankings are Correlated with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn & Pinterest High Shares Altogether

This holds true for almost all of the individual social networks as well, though the linearity of the relationship varies. Facebook (overall activity, including likes, shares and comments) and Google+ are the closest to a perfectly linear relationship, each with 2 “deviations” from the expected values. LinkedIn’s relation to site rank is decidedly less linear, although the overall trend still holds true. The one site that stands out is Pinterest, because there is no linearity whatsoever, and also because it is the only social platform where the highest number of shares is not associated with the first rank.





Top 4 Ranking Positions Have Significantly More Facebook Activity


Even with Facebook, things are slightly more complicated. For Likes, the linearity is broken from the second rank, but except for that it holds true for the first 5 ranks and the top 3 all have significantly higher numbers than the rest.


More Shares are associated with higher ranks (so, then, lower rank numbers) in a clear fashion for the first 7 ranks and, again, the first 3 ranks are significantly higher than the rest (with the first being significantly higher than the next two).

Comments maintain the linearity for the first 6 ranks and the first rank has significantly higher numbers than all that follow. Overall, while no causality can be inferred, more presence on Facebook is clearly associated with a higher rank on the search list.


The Average Google+ Shares for the 1st Rank is Significantly Higher

With Google+, the linearity is still there, overall, but more so in brackets. There is a clear streak from the 1st to the 4th rank, than another from the 5th to the 8th. Furthermore, the mean for the first rank is significantly higher than the other values, as is the difference between the mean values for the first two ranks, compared to differences between any other two ranks.



No Direct Correlation Can Be Made Between LinkedIn Activity and Ranks


For LinkedIn there isn’t much of a linearity, save for, maybe, the one that can be seen for ranks 6 through 8 (but to draw any conclusion about all ten ranks would be a stretch). What can still be said with certainty is that the mean for the first rank is higher than for any other rank. Still, it’s difficult to claim anything about associations beyond that, since the second highest mean value corresponds to the 10th rank, while the lowest mean corresponds to the 8th rank.


Pinterest High Shares Don’t Correlate at All with High Rankings


Pinterest is the one social network that stands out for two reasons. The first is that there is clearly no linearity whatsoever (at least not in the direction of the same relation that we’ve seen for Facebook and Google+). The second reason is that this time, the highest mean value of shares isn’t even associated with the first rank. The two highest values are associated with ranks 8 and 7, respectively. In fact, the mean for the 1st rank turns out to be the 9th highest (and ironically, the only mean that’s smaller is the one for the 9th rank). This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to be getting as many shares on Pinterest as possible, but rather that they will most likely not be a good indicator of overall search results ranking prowess.


There is a strong correlation between ranks and social activity in general, yet, each social network needs to be analyzed in particular in order to draw the right conclusions.



Sharing Activity Correlated With Rankings and the Content’s Length


In an earlier study conducted in the cognitive labs we figured out that shorter articles are usually correlated with higher rankings. But is it a connection within a post’s length, its number of shares and rankings? (consider rephrasing) With this precious data at our disposal, we’ve decided to see whether there is a connection between the content’s length, the number of shares and rankings.

We’ve classified all >300k posts into categories that went from 1 to 10k words. We are going to stress on two categories that we found more relevant.

  • Content between 1 – 50 words. We’re basically looking at micro-content here. We chose to take this category into discussion as, usually, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about social media is short content.
  • Content between 1001-5000 words. We chose this category as this length of content is the “winner” in terms of rankings, as you can see in the screenshot below.

article length ranks correlation


Content Between 1 – 50 Words Is Correlated with High Facebook Activity and 1st Ranks


As predicted, when it comes to micro-content, we can see a huge difference between the first position and all the others. Even if we sum up all the other nine positions’ number of shares and we still don’t get the high number of likes, shares & comments that the first rank holds.


There Is No Correlation Between Facebook Activity and Ranks when We Look at Long Content


When it comes to posts that are usually successful judging by the number of words, we cannot say that the same success replicates when it comes to the number of Facebook activities for the first ranks. We are talking here about the number of Facebook likes, shares and comments altogether. Yet, a direct correlation between Facebook activity and ranks for content that has between 1001 and 5000 words cannot be made.



Micro Content that Ranks 1st is Correlated with High G+ Shares


As in the case of Facebook, micro-content seems to make a real breakthrough. Yet, although we can see a high correlation between the first position and the number of Google+ shares, same linearity does not apply for the rest of the positions. For instance, there are almost the same number of shares for the second position as there are for the 7th. However, a strong correlation can be made between micro content, high Google + shares and first ranking position.

Slightly Linearity between G+ Shares and Ranks for Long Content

When it comes to content between 1001-5000 words we can see a sort of a linearity which, although not a consistent one, is still better than in the case of Facebook. Except the third position, all first six positions seem to be following a sort of consistency when talking about the relation between G+ shares and ranks.

LinkedIn High Shares Correlate with Micro Content Ranking 1st

If we couldn’t determine a strong correlation between ranks and LinkedIn activity when it comes to the total sample, when looking at content with 1-50 words it looks like we can definitely say that there is a correlation between LinkedIn shares, micro-content and ranking first. Then again, just like in the previous cases, there is no direct correlation when it comes to the other ranking positions; yet, the relation with the first position is so strong that it might raise some interest.

For 1001 – 5000 words content, LinkedIn seems to correlate with ranks just like it usually does…or, better said, doesn’t. Just by taking a look at the chart below we can figure out that there is not a strong correlation between Linkedin Shares, medium length content and ranks.


Pinterest Shares Do Not Correlate With Ranks When Looking at Micro Content


Pinterest continues to have the same peculiar behavior no matter of the sample of content and ranks we are looking at. Indeed, micro content ranking first has by far the most Pinterest share, yet, we cannot talk of any sort of linearity as all the other positions don’t seem to express that. Just by taking a look at the chart below we realize that “correlation” or “linearity” are not the most suitable words to be used in this context.

Linear Correlation Between Pinterest Shares and Ranks when Looking at Long Content


As mentioned earlier, Pinterest seem to be special when it comes to posts with 1001 – 5000 words, only that this time, in the sense that it’s the social network that has, probably, the most clear linearity between the number of shares and ranks when it comes to medium content.


Some More Methodological Clarification


Please indulge us while explaining why we chose to look only at the social signals coming from top 10 results. In search engine pages, this usually means that we only looked at the first page of a web search. We chose to do so because, to be honest, if you’re not in the top 10 there are really small chances for a user to find your page by performing a search. There are several studies on this and results may vary, but there’s a world of difference between being on the first and being on the second page. As you can see below, even by the most conservative of estimates, the difference between being on the first page and being on the second is quite staggering.


In terms of pages, the Optify study claims the first page of results rakes in about 89.69% of the results, while the Chitika one puts the number at 91.5%. The Moz study, by comparison, puts that number at 52.40%, a much lower figure. It’s also the more recent study, so there’s a possibility it is slightly more accurate.


Other Relevant Studies & Google’s Position


As we were mentioning before, a lot of discussions and even studies were conducted on the importance (or lack thereof) of social signals in rankings.

While some of them, like the Moz study, claim that there is strong reason to believe Google doesn’t use social share counts directly in its algorithm, there are other positions on this, like Neil Patels’, that highlight the fact that there might be a strong connection between the two (just like we can see in the screenshot below taken from the Quick Sprout’s gifographic).

Giphografic Social Signals

Of course, even Google, through Matt Cutts (currently on an extended hiatus from his job as head of Google’s web spam team) had something to say about this. Long story short, what the search engine communicated in 2014 was that Google treats Facebook & Twitter posts like any other web pages for search, but NOT as a ranking factor. And why would they do so? Because, as Google says, they won’t use a signal to influence its search rankings unless they have high confidence in the meaning of that signal.


According to Cutts, one should be active on social networks for many good reasons, yet, ranking high wouldn’t be one of those. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google also insisted that that there is no direct ranking signal in Google’s ranking algorithm.
We cannot agree more that one should be present on social media not for rankings but for building up their brand and driving qualified traffic. Yet, the present study made us wonder if indeed Google is doing what it’s preaching and whether Google’s engineers don’t “monetize” social signals.




It’s the shares that lead to a better position, or sites with a higher position naturally get more shares?

Now that all the numbers are in, it’s important to set one thing straight. It’s the old scientific motto that correlation does not imply causation. To be fair, we’ve never claimed we have been trying to prove (or disprove) that a higher presence on social networking sites will lead to a higher place in search engine rankings. We’re merely observing that there is some relation between the two, though the exact nature is probably more complicated than that and might not even be the same for all the social networks.


Even the tests that we did on the data aim merely at establishing the strength of a correlation, not the directionality of a causal link. So we know there is some relation between shares and position in the rankings list, we’re just not sure whether it’s the shares that lead to a better position, or sites with a higher position naturally get more shares.


That being said, it’s probably also worth mentioning another recent adage, coming from the creator of the XKCD web comic, which states that “correlation does not imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.’“ Which is to say that just because we cannot definitely state that more shares on a social network will lead to a higher position in the rankings list, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We just have to take other things into account as well.


Who did this research


  • Razvan Gavrilas
    Researched & Audited the Analysis
  • Cornelia Cozmiuc
    Researched & Wrote the Paper
  • Ionut Astratiei
    Performed the Crawlings
    and Data Validations

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The post Do Social Signals Influence SEO? A 2016 Study on 23 Million Shares appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

New Feature: Report Creation Wizard

New Feature: Report Creation Wizard

A number of our customers told us that they found it time consuming & frustrating to have to set up different reports (ranking, citation, reviews) individually. And we agree!

So we’ve just released a brand new feature which will save you time & lost-hair by letting you set-up your multiple reports all at 1 time.

We call it Report Creation Wizard – you might want to call it your new best friend!

Set-up all reports for a location in record time!

For BrightLocal customers, the all new Report Creation Wizard is a great time-saving feature.

Watch this quick video to see how it works…

What is the Report Creation Wizard?

Previously, you had to create each report one-by-one in each of our reporting tools. So if wanted multiple reports for a client (e.g. local ranking reports,  citation tracking reports, Google My Business reports) then it was a time-consuming and repetitive process to achieve this.

But now, setting up reports one-by-one is now a thing of the past!

Add a new Location & let Report Creation Wizard do the rest

The start point is the Location Dashboard.

When you add a new location you get prompted to start ‘Monitoring Data’. After that there are a few simple, guided steps.

Here is a step-by-step walkthrough:

Once you’ve added a new Location, the Report Creation Wizard will walk you through your setup.

Report Creation Wizard

Report Creation Wizard will guide you through your report setup

Just use the check boxes to select which reports you want us to create for you:

Report Creation Wizard

Select which reports you want to set up (see highlighted)

After you’ve selected the reports you want to set up, you’ll just need to fill out some basic business information (just one time) to set the Report Creation Wizard in motion.

Depending on the reports you have chosen, this may include Location Data, Search Terms, Search Rank Settings and Advanced Location Data.

Report Creation Wizard

Enter some basic info, then let Report Creation Wizard do the rest

Then you’re done!

The great thing is, you now only need to enter this information once — rather than individually for each report. (This saves you time — so you can give your clients’ extra attention!)

Report Creation Wizard

Report Creation Wizard is busy setting up your reports

Currently this feature is only available when you setup a new location, but our team are working hard to add this functionality to existing Locations and make BrightLocal even more useful for you.

We hope you like this latest update and that it saves you valuable time.

If you have any feedback or questions, let us know in the chat box or comments section below.

Expert Local Citation Survey 2016

The post New Feature: Report Creation Wizard appeared first on BrightLocal.

Jumping on the Google AMP Train? The CMO’s Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages

Jumping on the Google AMP Train? The CMO’s Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

If you care about the ROI of your website, you know the importance of mobile page speed.

Google has pushed its major speed initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages — AMP for short — hard over the last year. As AMP features and specifications evolve, marketers can capitalize on improved UX and ranking opportunities by staying up to date on AMP.

Here’s your primer on the AMP opportunity. We outline:

CMOs Guide to AMP

What Is Google AMP?

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open source project geared toward enabling content to load instantly for mobile readers.

AMP’s lightning fast loading of content on a mobile device is accomplished by:

  1. Pre-rendering the content while limiting the use of JavaScript that publisher sites can use
  2. And caching content so Google doesn’t have to fetch page content from the publisher’s server

AMP pages can be fast and highly interactive with AMP components like carousel, video and light box. Pages can be customized with amp-iframe to embed components not yet supported by AMP.

To sweeten the attraction of AMP, we know that mobile-friendly pages get an organic ranking boost in Google. Within Google’s mobile search results, AMP pages are indicated with a small grey circle with a white lightning bolt.

There is an AMP report within Google Search Console that shows webmasters and SEOs the AMP pages of a site that have been successfully indexed or caused errors (reported by type) when crawled.

“Gary Illyes from Google revealed what the next big thing for 2016 would be (…) AMP, also known as Accelerated Mobile Pages. And he said they will be pushing it aggressively in 2016.” —Jennifer Slegg, (emphasis added)

Typically, when Google says “this is important and you should do this,” the SEO community jumps to it – especially with today’s focus on mobile SEO.

Who Is Google AMP For?

There are more than 650,000 domains publishing AMP pages today, according to Google.

Google AMP is for:

… with more applicable content types sure to be added over time.

The Problems AMP Solves

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News

Mobile users are used to the fast-loading content experience like that delivered by Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Those platforms often exclude the ability to embed advertisements, however, an issue that Google is keen on solving. AMP is a response to search traffic getting left out of the mobile conversation.

With Instant Articles, publishers’ content on Facebook loads really quickly because all those pages are prerendered. You click and it’s there.

People are getting used to that experience, but Google obviously doesn’t have control over the speed of a publisher’s page load from the SERP, and it’s very important for them to make sure that people are still using Google and visiting some of the more than 2 million websites that are part of Googles Display Network.

When a SERP click leads to a site that’s incredibly slow and gives a bad user experience, it’s almost like people are going to associate that poor experience with Google.

With AMP, webmasters have a solution for speedy loading content served to searchers that doesn’t exclude Google’s advertisements. And advertisers have a framework for developing fast-loading landing pages which brings us to our second problem solved.

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Ad Blockers

AMP is also a response to the proliferation of ad blockers. Ad blockers are a serious problem for Google AdSense and the publishers that serve AdSense ads.

Neither Google nor publishers make money on ads when web users block ads. According to the latest study, 16% of U.S. Internet users block ads. The latest Apple mobile operating system, iOS 9, supports ad blocking in the Safari browser.

Apple’s move to block ads including AdSense is intended to speed up the Internet on phones, and it leaves Google out in the cold. AMP is a response to this.

Google knows it needs to give mobile web users a fast experience or they’re going to stop trusting the search engine as a content discovery engine.

As ad blockers are a symptom of a degraded mobile user experience caused by advertising, it’s no coincidence that Google reps first announced the AMP Project to the assembled webmaster/publisher community at the Google AdSense keynote at Pubcon Las Vegas in October 2015.

Placing ads on AMP pages is easier than ever with support of ad platforms. Outbrain, AOL, OpenX, DoubleClick and AdSense are advertising platforms that work within the AMP framework.

The SEO’s Toolbox for Page Speed Optimization

There are many ways to optimize the speed of a website, and all should be examined by the technical side of the house.

The starting place for AMP is the AMP Project’s Get Started tutorial. Included in the tutorial is everything you need to create an AMP page, how to configure analytics, how to include media and iframes and third-party content, guidance on making your page discoverable and how to validate (test) your AMP pages.

SEOs also have a number of effective tools for cranking up site speed apart from AMP, which you can get started with using the Mobile SEO & Design Checklist. This guide takes you through selecting a mobile platform (responsive, dynamic and mobile site), optiming for crawling and indexing, page load and mobile UX, through to testing and tracking.