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Content, Links and Search Ranking Theory Early 2016

Search ranking factors 2016 from Brian Dean of Backlinko – Ahrefs domain authority is a good indicator of ranking.  Links work, https has an influence, schema markup language doesn’t matter much.  Site speed definitely helps ranking, title don’t matter much sticking to one topic and writing a lot about it helps (long form 1,800 characters on average in position #1).

Ahrefs little blue book of link building – 42 page PDF.

19 link building tools

Keyword research finding low competition keywords, usually long tail that involve an intention to buy from the searcher.

Content marketing handbook (5 Dec 2015) 30,000 word verison about how to write about information and make it spread.   As Aaron Swarts mentioned everyone has a voice now but who chooses what gets heard. There is also a 6 page  PDF summary here.

Here is the step-by-step process of creating content using the Skyscraper Technique and what to do when it fails (5 Jan 2016):

  1. Publish a Great Piece of Content
  2. Find Websites in your Niche That Allow Guest Posts
  3. Pitch the Websites on Your Guest Post Idea
  4. Make Publishing the Guest Post Simple
  5. Write the Guest Post and Include Backlinks to Your Content
  6. Follow Up to Make Sure the Post is Published
  7. Respond to Comments and Promote the Guest Post

Actionable SEO tips from 28th June 2016 from Brian Dean Backlinko again.  This was  referred by Cyrus at Moz using Twitter, it appears to be getting pretty incestuos at the top of the ‘SEO advice’ tree Neil Patel, Moz and Brian Dean all referring to each others work regularly.

Search Marketing SEO Resources – Who said content is king when its really links

SEO Resources for your site and your competitors web sites

Once you get something written in English (or whatever language) and it actually has a well defined theme and contains useful facts, that’s the content part done – then its all about links.

  • Keyword research
  • External and internal backlinks
  • Search rankings by keyword
  • Overall search visibility
  • Pay per click (PPC) keyword expenditure

Good SEO resources

When requesting links:

No real need to ask for specific anchor text – as long as landing pages are optimized properly – the anchor text would basically write itself. Use brand name keywords or URL keywords and some generic keywords like “here”, “click here”

If you own the rights to the images on your website you can also look for websites using your images without proper attribution and ask for a link as a form of payment.

Link Building

Search Engine Watch Link Building 404 Pages Link Reclamation

Finding links to pages which no longer exist and throw 404 errors or not found errors

Links which go to pages on your own site that no longer exist (and show a 404 error) could possibly be 301 redirected to a relevant active page (which shows a 200 response)

Links which go to other sites, such as competitor sites which throw 404 errors are opportunities to get a link to your own site by telling that web master that they are pointing links to pages that no longer exist and asking for a link to a relevant page on your own site.

Step 1 is use Open Site Explorer or MajesticSEO or Ahrefs to find a list of top linked pages.  Within that list they may show links which go to 404 pages.

Grab the list of URLs which no longer exist on the competitor site, first check they are in fact 404 errors and where they go (OSE, Majestic and Ahrefs are not perfect databases of links and its worth checking the info) and then enter them individually back into OSE to see which sites point to the pages which are no longer there.

Then use a tool like Buzzstream to ‘reach out’ or send an email to those web masters, tell them about the link to the page that is no longer there and ask for a link to your site.

Pay Per Click PPC

10 common adwords mistakes – or without the blog title optimisation 10 things to check you are doing on your Adwords account


Search Marketing Checklist – First to mention Penguin update in August 2014 although it turned out to be a Panda 4.1 update on 25th September see Search Engine Land

Google Penguin 3.0 from Search Engine Watch

Site Penalty Risks from Quick Sprout

Unnatural links and Penguin recovery Cognitive SEO

Link building from Buzzstream

50 reasons a site is penalised – don’t panic it can recover has a google webmasters guidelines checker.  The http-last-modified test is not one that large sites that rank well in travel seems to use and Hotelclub for example do not use the http-last-modified test. has a good duplicate content checker including an internal site duplicate content checker

Seo by the Sea

SEO for WordPress from Yoast

Backlino – Skyscaper Technique, find content, do it better, reach out to get links from whoever is linking to the content that isnt as good as your new content ranking factors for 2015

Conversion rate optimization for ecommerce sites

On Page SEO

Best practises for URLs from 2006 but still relevant

It’s all about “organising the worlds information” for Google so they can feed us the most relevant ads!  Just a tad cynical there

Web Profits SEO approach

From the video at

Massive waste of time build up at the start of video, makes it feel like you are about to be conned, but its actually useful info (unless I’ve really been conned?!)

Localisation is interesting – default location of search even if searcher did not include a location

Basic SEO strategy:

– Go through competitors links and see what types of links they have.

– What type of content they are posting to their blog

– Cleaning up low quality links, its got to be a good link otherwise remove it

– Cleaning up content, quality content or remove it

– Links need to have brand name or url not keyword (which also means there are now more opportunities for link building with brand name only rather than trying to stuff keywords into links)

– Content may not be as important for SEO

– Social media doesn’t yet play a big role in rankings but can help promote your content and then drive links (magically!)

Step 1 – Conduct audit of top ranked competitors, audit backlinks for top value keyword, find out which type of links work best for your market

Step 2 – Look for content strategies

Step 3 – Clean up your backlinks – go through every single one of the backlinks and ask to be removed or disavow them

Step 4 – Optimise web site (title, meta tags focused on links), Internal linking is good, remove duplicate content, improve site speed, add analytics and conversion tracking.

Step 5 – Use the SEO strategy that works best for your market.

Find link acquisition based upon what works for top ranking competitors

Getting links too quickly can be bad

Promote content through social media (again magically get links from social? yeah right?!)

Review new competitors on the scene to see how they got there

A site needs authority to rank on the top of Google

Once your have authority you can expand your keyword set easily by focussing title, headings etc on a particular keyword

Why it works…

1. We start by auditing your top ranked competitors to identify the tactics that work best in your industry

2. Remove low quality links and content from your site (can inhibit ranking)
3. Implement high quality link building and content building that Google is looking for in your market (worked out from what does work for top competitors now see 1 above)

They have a hotel price ads case study here – Google is taking 16% of the total revenue generated as Ad revenue,  before ad management costs – so lets say at least 20% costs for the Ad (I doubt any one else is making 16% on the booking, including the hotel,  buy Google shares!)

Title tags of the home pages of the major OTAs in Australia

The title tag of your page is meant to describe the topic of that page in a nutshell, now in 55 characters or less according how much space Google allows to display your title in its search results.  It was longer at a suggested 70 character or less title up until around Feb 2014 (Title length

The title tag of the home page has the even harder task of summing up your entire site.

Title tags of the major Online Travel Agents (I’m including Meta Search in my OTA definition here) operating in the Australian market are shown below.

You could compare the title tags of the home pages of the major players in any market to arrive at that markets key offerings to its customers.

I did this to help try and work out what the title tags for the and sites should be and why we stand out from competition or how we can differentiate from the competition.  Sometimes the differences are hard to communicate, possibly because they are hard to find! Possibly because they are the ‘intangibles’ which are harder to describe.

Unfortunately most of the top OTAs still have a meaningless string of keywords stuffed into their titles eg ‘…Cheap Hotels Discount’. has the ‘instant confirmation’ line – which is so 2010.

Interestingly the most well written titles are probably from the two best performing (in terms of growth) OTA’s at the moment Trivago and hotels, accommodation, motels, serviced apartments, B&B – Online hotel bookings with instant confirmation

Travel: Cheap Flights, Hotels, Packages & Car Hire |   (67 characters) Australia – Hotels, Accommodation, Cheap Hotels Discount (67 chracters) 454,198 hotels worldwide. 28+ million hotel reviews. – The world’s top hotel price comparison site with over 700,000 hotels

Compare Hotels – Best Hotel Deals Guaranteed | HotelsCombined

I still think the core benefit or the reason for the existence of OTAs is comparison, comparison of features, comparison of location and comparison of price.  If you know you want to stay the Hilton in Sydney why would you bother with an OTA?  Possibly to check the price,  or check the price of the Swissotel on the next block?  If the OTA collects the money from the customers credit card I suppose they are taking some payment risk away from the hotel which does have its benefits.  I’m getting into a whole different topic here.

Version 1 – one site to compare and book the best hotel and accommodation deals guaranteed. The Search is Over!

Version 2 – One site to compare and book the best hotel deals guaranteed. The Search is Over –

Version 2 is definitely punchier but I had to take out the ‘accommodation’ keyword.   Version 2 still comes in at 95 characters or 65 if ‘The Search is Over –’ is truncated – 15 characters above Googles new title tag suggested limit.

Ok version 3 – Compare and book the best hotel deals guaranteed. The Search is Over –

Verifying Significant Sections of Your Site for Webmaster Tools

Here Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) states that you should verify each significant section of your site and if you have  http:// and https:// versions, you should add each as a separate site.

You cannot submit a file to GWT like it has to be a folder (doesn’t that potentially create some canonicalisation issues?)

Webmaster Tools data and reporting work best on a site level. For example, if your site has separate sections for different countries, we recommend adding each of those subsites or subfolders as a separate site. For example, if you have a travel site with specific subfolders covering Ireland, France, and Spain, you could add the following sites to your Webmaster Tools account:


As soon as you add a new site GWT wants a sitemap also – why submit a sitemap

Then Google also suggests looking at their Search Engine optimisation guide click here for the PDF doc as at Oct 2013.

Also if Google cannot find your Robots.txt file it might suspend crawling your site, so make sure you have a Robots.txt even if it just contains the allow  all line

User-agent: *

You do not need to host your .au site in Australia

By having a country-code level domain or a country specific domain such as .au for Australia Google clearly states that the hosting location is ‘irrelevant’ in this article from Google WebMaster Central