Friday, 26 May 2017

Google Again: There Was No Sandbox…

It is like every now and then a Googler has to say Google never had any Sandbox algorithm. They said it as recently in December. The Google Sandbox concept dates back to 2004. However, many SEOs felt there still was a Google Sandbox. In fact, just a couple years ago, many thought there was a Google Sandbox 2.0 but that conversation died down a lot.

However in 2005, Google’s Matt Cutts said there is something like a sandbox. There was even a hack that worked to see sites pop out of the sandbox, it really did work back then.

But Gary Illyes posted on Twitter:

I am sure Google never called it a Sandbox which is why Google can deny it.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Author: (Barry Schwartz)

The post Google Again: There Was No Sandbox… appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Google Adds Personal Tab To Search Filters

Google now lets searchers filter their search results by “personal” results. By that, it mostly means emails, flights, anything related to that Gmail account they are logged into. You should be able to see it if you are logged into a normal Gmail account and do a normal Google search. If you are logged out or logged into a Google Apps (GSuite) account, you won’t see it.

Here is a screen shot of the option:

click for full size

This was spotted first by Jessica Grammer and posted on Twitter. Here is what happens when you filter by personal results, at least for me:

click for full size

It shows me a bunch of emails. Note, I don’t use my personal Gmail account much, so it is mostly filled with spam.

Google first launched personalized results in search back in 2012 but it was included in your core results without the personal filter option.

I asked Google for a comment on this but I have yet to hear back. When I do hear back, I’ll post something here and at Search Engine Land.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Author: (Barry Schwartz)

The post Google Adds Personal Tab To Search Filters appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Exploit These 3 Powerful Motivators for Better PPC Ad Copy by @clarkboyd

Here’s a typical search engine results page:

Flower Delivery

Wow. There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Do you see it?

Every ad here is vying for a click. So how will people decide which ad to click on – and ultimately make a purchase decision?

The best PPC ad here is the one that ultimately motivates a searcher to click.

We rely on data to guide us toward that all important click. After all, we have so much data at our disposal today.

But pure, hard data isn’t the answer in isolation. Actually, it’s the interplay between the rational and the emotional where we can have the most impact.


Humans Aren’t Rational Creatures!

People make snap judgments all the time and with good reason. To apply our full critical faculties to every decision would be exhausting and inefficient.

Rational PPC

Moreover, rationality itself is a nuanced concept. We are rational to different extents and in different ways at various times of each day.

The level of rationality applied to decisions will depend on the product. For example, the behavioral factors behind choosing a pension will differ from those that drive our choice of Mexican restaurant for dinner tonight.

So if we agree humans aren’t rational, then how can you ensure as many of them as possible click on your PPC ads?

With some motivation.

Here are three powerful motivators you can exploit for better PPC ad copy that converts.

Motivator 1. Incentives

Incentives are behind pretty much everything we do. They are the reason we go to work, tchoose certain brands over others, and eat at particular restaurants.

These concepts typically come in two forms:

  • Extrinsic incentives: These relate to factors outside of the self. For example, I go to work because I need the paycheck to pay rent and I enjoy the status my title affords me.
  • Intrinsic incentives: These come from within and can often be more powerful motivators. For example, I go to work because I feel like I am contributing to society and I enjoy what I do.

Advertising has always played to these incentives.

In other words: What’s in it for me? How will I feel, look, or live better if I buy your product?

How to Use Incentives in PPC Ad Copy

Incentives should play a significant part in any PPC campaign. You’re fighting for attention in a crowded space. The quicker your offer can demonstrate incentives, the better.

The line between extrinsic and intrinsic incentives is often blurred, as we can see in the ad copy for [charity donation]:

Charity PPC

All worthy causes. All deserving of support. All competing for our attention.

The intrinsic incentives are clear: “Children Need Help”, “End Childhood Cancer”, “Support Cancer Research”, to cite just three examples. We would all like to contribute to these causes.

However, there’s an awareness that perhaps donations are not always purely selfless acts. There are extrinsic incentives behind donations, too. Note the mention of “100% Tax-Deductible” in there.

These examples of ad copy demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of just how muddled our incentives can become.

At other times, the distinction is clear.

Mens Jeans PPC

For an overtly commercial search like [mens jeans], we can see which tactics are employed. These ads play to extrinsic incentives, with nods to our desire to be seen as fashionable (“The Seasons Best Looks”) but also to find value within our financial range (“At Affordable Prices”).

There are, however, numerous attempts to appeal to intrinsic incentives. Of note are phrases like “Made Ethically”, “Personal Freedom”, and “Stop Paying Retail Markup”.

Consumers want more from a product than just the latest styles. They want to feel ethically responsible, they want a sense of buying into something greater than just the material, and they also don’t want to feel like they are being ripped off.

Key takeaway: We should always be asking what is most likely to motivate our audience. We should also understand that this will differ by product set, by time of day, and by demographic.

Motivator 2: Herding

People are conditioned to learn from the experience of others. Deep down, there’s an assumption that the wisdom of crowds will guide you toward a quick, safe decision.

Parallels of this form of decision-making are found everywhere in nature.

Penguins in the Antarctic face a daily dilemma, as they are in the middle of the food chain. Should they dive into the water in the hope of finding krill, but simultaneously invoke the risk of being eaten by a seal? There’s no way to be certain.

One penguin takes the plunge and the others make assumptions based on the outcome. Should their flightless friend emerge unscathed with a beak full of beautiful krill, the others will follow suit. If not, well, they hold back the hunger pangs a little longer until the coast clears.


This is a slightly more important decision than choosing which PPC ad to click on, but the underlying principle is the same. People are suspicious of brands they’ve never heard of and that have no customer reviews. People also want someone else to take the plunge and report back to base.

Although most people still trust media outlets, in this cynical age many people are more likely to trust their fellow consumers.

How to Use Herding in Ad Copy

Remember that people want all the necessary information to make a decision at their disposal, as effortlessly as possible.

Reviews matter. Use them in your ads if they are available.

Make full use of ad extensions to include your company’s USPs and reassure the consumer that you’re a reputable provider. This provides a sense of security in the knowledge that many other consumers have used and enjoyed your services.

We can see this in action if we look at the results for [red sox tickets]:

Red Sox Ticket

There are not only reviews but also quotes from sources like the Washington Post. Ad extensions are used to include consumer ratings on service and website quality, too.

People are sometimes concerned about buying event tickets online, but these ads show that they are in safe hands. Others have entered the waters and returned unscathed.

Motivator 3: Availability Bias

People reach for the information that is most readily available when making most decisions.

We all have a repository of past experiences and knowledge that we use to cut through the noise and reach snappy conclusions. This is known as the availability bias. It is considered a bias because it tends to lead us to irrational choices based purely on the first relevant piece of information we think of.

The availability bias is related to psychological phenomena known as primacy and recency. These concepts state that we tend to recall the information we heard first and last, but rarely the information in between.

The applications of such a theory for search are self-evident.

How to Use Availability Bias in Ad Copy

Make decisions as easy as possible for customers. You can do this by demonstrating how close your store is to their location or how simple your shipping process is.

Also consider how you communicate with existing consumers. If they have shopped with you before, they are more likely to do it again. This should be a central consideration as you try to attract repeat customers.

Looking to primacy and recency, you can test your ad positions to see if it makes the most sense to rank first in PPC and first in SEO. We may perform more cost-effectively in the fourth position for PPC and first for SEO, for example.

We could also go against the grain. Availability sometimes leads consumers into decisions that are against their best interests. This is particularly true of more cumbersome decisions, like switching cell phone carriers.

We can see this in action for the query [sprint]:

Sprint PPC

The second ad is focused on convincing consumers to make the switch. They may be overpaying for service with another carrier out of habit, so Sprint makes overt reference to the savings it provides and also the ‘Waived Activation Fee’. Mentioning a limited time offer also plays into the scarcity effect – or FOMO (fear of missing out) in modern parlance – to add a sense of urgency to proceedings.

We can learn from this that while cognitive biases can be used to guide users on an unconscious path, we can also awaken them from the slumber of irrationality if we have a better deal to offer.

Bringing It All Together

Now, let’s go back to the earlier example of search results for [flower delivery brooklyn] and apply what we’ve learned.

Flowers PPC Analysis

Now it’s clear to see all the motivators at play.

Sometimes we simply know these things intuitively and include them within ad copy. However, familiarizing yourself with these concepts can add more rigor to your testing.

Adding some powerful motivation can significantly improve your ad copy and PPC campaign performance.

Image Credits

Featured image: Pixabay

In-post image 1: Unsplash

In-post image 2: Unsplash

Screenshots taken by Clark Boyd, May 2017.

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Author: Clark Boyd

The post Exploit These 3 Powerful Motivators for Better PPC Ad Copy by @clarkboyd appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Should SEOs Care About Internal Links? – Whiteboard Friday

Internal links are one of those essential SEO items you have to get right to avoid getting them really wrong. Rand shares 18 tips to help inform your strategy, going into detail about their attributes, internal vs. external links, ideal link structures, and much, much more in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Should SEOs Care About Internl Links?

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat a little bit about internal links and internal link structures. Now, it is not the most exciting thing in the SEO world, but it’s something that you have to get right and getting it wrong can actually cause lots of problems.

Attributes of internal links

So let’s start by talking about some of the things that are true about internal links. Internal links, when I say that phrase, what I mean is a link that exists on a website, let’s say here, that is linking to a page on the same website, so over here, linking to another page on We’ll do /A and /B. This is actually my shipping routes page. So you can see I’m linking from A to B with the anchor text “shipping routes.”

The idea of an internal link is really initially to drive visitors from one place to another, to show them where they need to go to navigate from one spot on your site to another spot. They’re different from internal links only in that, in the HTML code, you’re pointing to the same fundamental root domain. In the initial early versions of the internet, that didn’t matter all that much, but for SEO, it matters quite a bit because external links are treated very differently from internal links. That is not to say, however, that internal links have no power or no ability to change rankings, to change crawling patterns and to change how a search engine views your site. That’s what we need to chat about.

1. Anchor text is something that can be considered. The search engines have generally minimized its importance, but it’s certainly something that’s in there for internal links.

2. The location on the page actually matters quite a bit, just as it does with external links. Internal links, it’s almost more so in that navigation and footers specifically have attributes around internal links that can be problematic.

Those are essentially when Google in particular sees manipulation in the internal link structure, specifically things like you’ve stuffed anchor text into all of the internal links trying to get this shipping routes page ranking by putting a little link down here in the footer of every single page and then pointing over here trying to game and manipulate us, they hate that. In fact, there is an algorithmic penalty for that kind of stuff, and we can see it very directly.

We’ve actually run tests where we’ve observed that jamming this type of anchor text-rich links into footers or into navigation and then removing it gets a site indexed, well let’s not say indexed, let’s say ranking well and then ranking poorly when you do it. Google reverses that penalty pretty quickly too, which is nice. So if you are not ranking well and you’re like, “Oh no, Rand, I’ve been doing a lot of that,” maybe take it away. Your rankings might come right back. That’s great.

3. The link target matters obviously from one place to another.

4. The importance of the linking page, this is actually a big one with internal links. So it is generally the case that if a page on your website has lots of external links pointing to it, it gains authority and it has more ability to sort of generate a little bit, not nearly as much as external links, but a little bit of ranking power and influence by linking to other pages. So if you have very well-linked two pages on your site, you should make sure to link out from those to pages on your site that a) need it and b) are actually useful for your users. That’s another signal we’ll talk about.

5. The relevance of the link, so pointing to my shipping routes page from a page about other types of shipping information, totally great. Pointing to it from my dog food page, well, it doesn’t make great sense. Unless I’m talking about shipping routes of dog food specifically, it seems like it’s lacking some of that context, and search engines can pick up on that as well.

6. The first link on the page. So this matters mostly in terms of the anchor text, just as it does for external links. Basically, if you are linking in a bunch of different places to this page from this one, Google will usually, at least in all of our experiments so far, count the first anchor text only. So if I have six different links to this and the first link says “Click here,” “Click here” is the anchor text that Google is going to apply, not “Click here” and “shipping routes” and “shipping.” Those subsequent links won’t matter as much.

7. Then the type of link matters too. Obviously, I would recommend that you keep it in the HTML link format rather than trying to do something fancy with JavaScript. Even though Google can technically follow those, it looks to us like they’re not treated with quite the same authority and ranking influence. Text is slightly, slightly better than images in our testing, although that testing is a few years old at this point. So maybe image links are treated exactly the same. Either way, do make sure you have that. If you’re doing image links, by the way, remember that the alt attribute of that image is what becomes the anchor text of that link.

Internal versus external links

A. External links usually give more authority and ranking ability.

That shouldn’t be surprising. An external link is like a vote from an independent, hopefully independent, hopefully editorially given website to your website saying, “This is a good place for you to go for this type of information.” On your own site, it’s like a vote for yourself, so engines don’t treat it the same.

B. Anchor text of internal links generally have less influence.

So, as we mentioned, me pointing to my page with the phrase that I want to rank for isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I shouldn’t do it in a manipulative way. I shouldn’t do it in a way that’s going to look spammy or sketchy to visitors, because if visitors stop clicking around my site or engaging with it or they bounce more, I will definitely lose ranking influence much faster than if I simply make those links credible and usable and useful to visitors. Besides, the anchor text of internal links is not as powerful anyway.

C. A lack of internal links can seriously hamper a page’s ability to get crawled + ranked.

It is, however, the case that a lack of internal links, like an orphan page that doesn’t have many internal or any internal links from the rest of its website, that can really hamper a page’s ability to rank. Sometimes it will happen. External links will point to a page. You’ll see that page in your analytics or in a report about your links from Moz or Ahrefs or Majestic, and then you go, “Oh my gosh, I’m not linking to that page at all from anywhere else on my site.” That’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. That is definitely problematic.

D. It’s still the case, by the way, that, broadly speaking, pages with more links on them will send less link value per link.

So, essentially, you remember the original PageRank formula from Google. It said basically like, “Oh, well, if there are five links, send one-fifth of the PageRank power to each of those, and if there are four links, send one-fourth.” Obviously, one-fourth is bigger than one-fifth. So taking away that fifth link could mean that each of the four pages that you’ve linked to get a little bit more ranking authority and influence in the original PageRank algorithm.

Look, PageRank is old, very, very old at this point, but at least the theories behind it are not completely gone. So it is the case that if you have a page with tons and tons of links on it, that tends to send out less authority and influence than a page with few links on it, which is why it can definitely pay to do some spring cleaning on your website and clear out any rubbish pages or rubbish links, ones that visitors don’t want, that search engines don’t want, that you don’t care about. Clearing that up can actually have a positive influence. We’ve seen that on a number of websites where they’ve cleaned up their information architecture, whittled down their links to just the stuff that matters the most and the pages that matter the most, and then seen increased rankings across the board from all sorts of signals, positive signals, user engagement signals, link signals, context signals that help the engine them rank better.

E. Internal link flow (aka PR sculpting) is rarely effective, and usually has only mild effects… BUT a little of the right internal linking can go a long way.

Then finally, I do want to point out that what was previous called — you probably have heard of it in the SEO world — PageRank sculpting. This was a practice that I’d say from maybe 2003, 2002 to about 2008, 2009, had this life where there would be panel discussions about PageRank sculpting and all these examples of how to do it and software that would crawl your site and show you the ideal PageRank sculpting system to use and which pages to link to and not.

When PageRank was the dominant algorithm inside of Google’s ranking system, yeah, it was the case that PageRank sculpting could have some real effect. These days, that is dramatically reduced. It’s not entirely gone because of some of these other principles that we’ve talked about, just having lots of links on a page for no particularly good reason is generally bad and can have harmful effects and having few carefully chosen ones has good effects. But most of the time, internal linking, optimizing internal linking beyond a certain point is not very valuable, not a great value add.

But a little of what I’m calling the right internal linking, that’s what we’re going to talk about, can go a long way. For example, if you have those orphan pages or pages that are clearly the next step in a process or that users want and they cannot find them or engines can’t find them through the link structure, it’s bad. Fixing that can have a positive impact.

Ideal internal link structures

So ideally, in an internal linking structure system, you want something kind of like this. This is a very rough illustration here. But the homepage, which has maybe 100 links on it to internal pages. One hop away from that, you’ve got your 100 different pages of whatever it is, subcategories or category pages, places that can get folks deeper into your website. Then from there, each of those have maybe a maximum of 100 unique links, and they get you 2 hops away from a homepage, which takes you to 10,000 pages who do the same thing.

I. No page should be more than 3 link “hops” away from another (on most small–>medium sites).

Now, the idea behind this is that basically in one, two, three hops, three links away from the homepage and three links away from any page on the site, I can get to up to a million pages. So when you talk about, “How many clicks do I have to get? How far away is this in terms of link distance from any other page on the site?” a great internal linking structure should be able to get you there in three or fewer link hops. If it’s a lot more, you might have an internal linking structure that’s really creating sort of these long pathways of forcing you to click before you can ever reach something, and that is not ideal, which is why it can make very good sense to build smart categories and subcategories to help people get in there.

I’ll give you the most basic example in the world, a traditional blog. In order to reach any post that was published two years ago, I’ve got to click Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next through all this pagination until I finally get there. Or if I’ve done a really good job with my categories and my subcategories, I can click on the category of that blog post and I can find it very quickly in a list of the last 50 blog posts in that particular category, great, or by author or by tag, however you’re doing your navigation.

II. Pages should contain links that visitors will find relevant and useful.

If no one ever clicks on a link, that is a bad signal for your site, and it is a bad signal for Google as well. I don’t just mean no one ever. Very, very few people ever and many of them who do click it click the back button because it wasn’t what they wanted. That’s also a bad sign.

III. Just as no two pages should be targeting the same keyword or searcher intent, likewise no two links should be using the same anchor text to point to different pages. Canonicalize!

For example, if over here I had a shipping routes link that pointed to this page and then another shipping routes link, same anchor text pointing to a separate page, page C, why am I doing that? Why am I creating competition between my own two pages? Why am I having two things that serve the same function or at least to visitors would appear to serve the same function and search engines too? I should canonicalize those. Canonicalize those links, canonicalize those pages. If a page is serving the same intent and keywords, keep it together.

IV. Limit use of the rel=”nofollow” to UGC or specific untrusted external links. It won’t help your internal link flow efforts for SEO.

Rel=”nofollow” was sort of the classic way that people had been doing PageRank sculpting that we talked about earlier here. I would strongly recommend against using it for that purpose. Google said that they’ve put in some preventative measures so that rel=”nofollow” links sort of do this leaking PageRank thing, as they call it. I wouldn’t stress too much about that, but I certainly wouldn’t use rel=”nofollow.”

What I would do is if I’m trying to do internal link sculpting, I would just do careful curation of the links and pages that I’ve got. That is the best way to help your internal link flow. That’s things like…

V. Removing low-value content, low-engagement content and creating internal links that people actually do want. That is going to give you the best results.

VI. Don’t orphan! Make sure pages that matter have links to (and from) them. Last, but not least, there should never be an orphan. There should never be a page with no links to it, and certainly there should never be a page that is well linked to that isn’t linking back out to portions of your site that are of interest or value to visitors and to Google.

So following these practices, I think you can do some awesome internal link analysis, internal link optimization and help your SEO efforts and the value visitors get from your site. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by

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Author: randfish

The post Should SEOs Care About Internal Links? – Whiteboard Friday appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Gains Support From Facebook by @MattGSouthern

Facebook is rolling out support for AMP as part of its open source Instant Articles software development kit.

The company’s new SDK will have an extension that allows publishers to create content in the Instant Articles, AMP, and Apple News format.

Support for Google’s AMP will be rolled out first, with support for Apple News coming in a few weeks.

Facebook’s SDK will work by building AMP and Apple News pages with the same markup used to build Instant Articles. In addition, it will include the unique customization options offered by each publishing format.

“With an easy way to get from one markup format to another, publishers can then plug-and-play the markup in their content management systems or third party publishing tools.”

This is an interesting and unexpected move from Facebook, which was previously pushing its own Instant Articles format as the only fast-loading article format allowed on the network. Instead of forcing publishers to adopt Instant Articles, Facebook is now giving them more freedom.

Having to create multiple versions of the same piece of content to share in different places is a challenge that Facebook is hoping to address with this update. This can also be seen as a way to attract publishers back to Instant Articles.

As publishers have begun to abandon Facebook’s Instant Articles format due to lack of monetization options, this could be the company’s way to get publishers to come back. Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but introducing a solution for creating three types of articles at once sounds promising,

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Author: Matt Southern

The post Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Gains Support From Facebook by @MattGSouthern appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links by @MattGSouthern

Google has issued a warning to remind site owners about the dangers of publishing content on other sites for the purpose of building inbound links.

The company doesn’t frown on guest posts or syndicated posts in general, but lately there has been an increase in spammy links stuffed into these types of posts. That’s the reason behind this sudden warning from Google.

Distributing content on a large scale when the main intention is to build links back to your own site is strictly prohibited under Google’s guidelines on link schemes.

What Google does allow are guest posts and syndicated posts which “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”

Google goes on to explain other article writing and distribution practices that are against its guidelines.

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles.
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites.
  • Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on.
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised).

This probably goes without saying, but Google reminds being caught publishing articles with spammy links could affect the perceived quality of a site and thus affect search rankings. Site owners should be vigilant in their vetting of guest posts, and nofollow any links that appear questionable.

Google will also take action on websites creating the content in violation of Google’s guidelines. The company points out to site owners being harassed about publish content they can submit a complaint via Google’s spam report form.

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Author: Matt Southern

The post Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links by @MattGSouthern appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.


Looking for a marketing automation platform? This guide takes the guesswork out.

All new for 2017, MarTech Today’s B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide is the source for the latest trends, opportunities and challenges facing the market for marketing automation tools.

This 44-page report includes:

  • profiles of 14 leading vendors
  • pricing charts and capabilities comparisons
  • recommended steps for evaluating

If you’re considering a marketing automation platform, let this report be your guide. It will help you determine if your company needs a marketing automation tool, what capabilities you should look for and the typical costs involved.

Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download your copy.

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Author: Digital Marketing Depot

The post Looking for a marketing automation platform? This guide takes the guesswork out. appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.