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How to Write Content for Answers Using the Inverted Pyramid – Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Dr-Pete

If you’ve been searching for a quick hack to write content for featured snippets, this isn’t the article for you. But if you’re looking for lasting results and a smart tactic to increase your chances of winning a snippet, you’re definitely in the right place.

Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid method of writing can help you craft intentional, compelling, rich content that will help you rank for multiple queries and win more than one snippet at a time. Learn how in this fan-favorite Whiteboard Friday starring the one and only Dr. Pete!

Content for Answers

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, Dr. Pete here. I’m the Marketing Scientist at Moz and visiting you from not-so-sunny Chicago in the Seattle office. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple years in my blog posts and such about featured snippets.

So these are answers that kind of cross with organic. So it’s an answer box, but you get the attribution and the link. Britney has done some great Whiteboard Fridays, the last couple, about how you do research for featured snippets and how you look for good questions to answer. But I want to talk about something that we don’t cover very much, which is how to write content for answers.

The inverted pyramid style of content writing

It’s tough, because I’m a content marketer and I don’t like to think that there’s a trick to content. I’m afraid to give people the kind of tricks that would have them run off and write lousy, thin content. But there is a technique that works that I think has been very effective for featured snippets for writing for questions and answers. It comes from the world of journalism, which gives me a little more faith in its credibility. So I want to talk to you about that today. That’s called the inverted pyramid.

Content for Answers

1. Start with the lead

It looks something like this. When you write a story as a journalist, you start with the lead. You lead with the lead. So if we have a story like “Penguins Rob a Bank,” which would be a strange story, we want to put that right out front. That’s interesting. Penguins rob a bank, that’s all you need to know. The thing about it is, and this is true back to print, especially when we had to buy each newspaper. We weren’t subscribers. But definitely on the web, you have to get people’s attention quickly. You have to draw them in. You have to have that headline.

2. Go into the details

So leading with the lead is all about pulling them in to see if they’re interested and grabbing their attention. The inverted pyramid, then you get into the smaller pieces. Then you get to the details. You might talk about how many penguins were there and what bank did they rob and how much money did they take.

3. Move to the context

Then you’re going to move to the context. That might be the history of penguin crime in America and penguin ties to the mafia and what does this say about penguin culture and what are we going to do about this. So then it gets into kind of the speculation and the value add that you as an expert might have.

How does this apply to answering questions for SEO?

So how does this apply to answering questions in an SEO context?

Content for Answers

Lead with the answer, get into the details and data, then address the sub-questions.

Well, what you can do is lead with the answer. If somebody’s asked you a question, you have that snippet, go straight to the summary of the answer. Tell them what they want to know and then get into the details and get into the data. Add those things that give you credibility and that show your expertise. Then you can talk about context.

But I think what’s interesting with answers — and I’ll talk about this in a minute — is getting into these sub-questions, talking about if you have a very big, broad question, that’s going to dive up into a lot of follow-ups. People who are interested are going to want to know about those follow-ups. So go ahead and answer those.

If I win a featured snippet, will people click on my answer? Should I give everything away?

Content for Answers

So I think there’s a fear we have. What if we answer the question and Google puts it in that box? Here’s the question and that’s the query. It shows the answer. Are people going to click? What’s going to happen? Should we be giving everything away? Yes, I think, and there are a couple reasons.

Questions that can be very easily answered should be avoided

First, I want you to be careful. Britney has gotten into some of this. This is a separate topic on its own. You don’t always want to answer questions that can be very easily answered. We’ve already seen that with the Knowledge Graph. Google says something like time and date or a fact about a person, anything that can come from that Knowledge Graph. “How tall was Abraham Lincoln?” That’s answered and done, and they’re already replacing those answers.

Answer how-to questions and questions with rich context instead

So you want to answer the kinds of things, the how-to questions and the why questions that have a rich enough context to get people interested. In those cases, I don’t think you have to be afraid to give that away, and I’m going to tell you why. This is more of a UX perspective. If somebody asks this question and they see that little teaser of your answer and it’s credible, they’re going to click through.

“Giving away” the answer builds your credibility and earns more qualified visitors

Content for Answers

So here you’ve got the penguin. He’s flushed with cash. He’s looking for money to spend. We’re not going to worry about the ethics of how he got his money. You don’t know. It’s okay. Then he’s going to click through to your link. You know you have your branding and hopefully it looks professional, Pyramid Inc., and he sees that question again and he sees that answer again.

Giving the searcher a “scent trail” builds trust

If you’re afraid that that’s repetitive, I think the good thing about that is this gives him what we call a scent trail. He can see that, “You know what? Yes, this is the page I meant to click on. This is relevant. I’m in the right place.” Then you get to the details, and then you get to the data and you give this trail of credibility that gives them more to go after and shows your expertise.

People who want an easy answer aren’t the kind of visitors that convert

I think the good thing about that is we’re so afraid to give something away because then somebody might not click. But the kind of people who just wanted that answer and clicked, they’re not the kind of people that are going to convert. They’re not qualified leads. So these people that see this and see it as credible and want to go read more, they’re the qualified leads. They’re the kind of people that are going to give you that money.

So I don’t think we should be afraid of this. Don’t give away the easy answers. I think if you’re in the easy answer business, you’re in trouble right now anyway, to be honest. That’s a tough topic. But give them something that guides them to the path of your answer and gives them more information.

How does this tactic work in the real world?

Thin content isn’t credible.

Content for Answers

So I’m going to talk about how that looks in a more real context. My fear is this. Don’t take this and run off and say write a bunch of pages that are just a question and a paragraph and a ton of thin content and answering hundreds and hundreds of questions. I think that can really look thin to Google. So you don’t want pages that are like question, answer, buy my stuff. It doesn’t look credible. You’re not going to convert. I think those pages are going to look thin to Google, and you’re going to end up spinning out many, many hundreds of them. I’ve seen people do that.

Use the inverted pyramid to build richer content and lead to your CTA

Content for Answers

What I’d like to see you do is craft this kind of question page. This is something that takes a fair amount of time and effort. You have that question. You lead with that answer. You’re at the top of the pyramid. Get into the details. Get into the things that people who are really interested in this would want to know and let them build up to that. Then get into data. If you have original data, if you have something you can contribute that no one else can, that’s great.

Then go ahead and answer those sub-questions, because the people who are really interested in that question will have follow-ups. If you’re the person who can answer that follow-up, that makes for a very, very credible piece of content, and not just something that can rank for this snippet, but something that really is useful for anybody who finds it in any way.

So I think this is great content to have. Then if you want some kind of call to action, like a “Learn More,” that’s contextual, I think this is a page that will attract qualified leads and convert.

Moz’s example: What is a Title Tag?

So I want to give you an example. This is something we’ve used a lot on Moz in the Learning Center. So, obviously, we have the Moz blog, but we also have these permanent pages that answer kind of the big questions that people always have. So we have one on the title tag, obviously a big topic in SEO.

Content for Answers

Here’s what this page looks like. So we go right to the question: What is a title tag? We give the answer: A title tag is an HTML element that does this and this and is useful for SEO, etc. Right there in the paragraph. That’s in the featured snippet. That’s okay. If that’s all someone wants to know and they see that Moz answered that, great, no problem.

But naturally, the people who ask that question, they really want to know: What does this do? What’s it good for? How does it help my SEO? How do I write one? So we dug in and we ended up combining three or four pieces of content into one large piece of content, and we get into some pretty rich things. So we have a preview tool that’s been popular. We give a code sample. We show how it might look in HTML. It gives it kind of a visual richness. Then we start to get into these sub-questions. Why are title tags important? How do I write a good title tag?

One page can gain the ability to rank for hundreds of questions and phrases

What’s interesting, because I think sometimes people want to split up all the questions because they’re afraid that they have to have one question per page, what’s interesting is that I think looked the other day, this was ranking in our 40 million keyword set for over 200 phrases, over 200 questions. So it’s ranking for things like “what is a title tag,” but it’s also ranking for things like “how do I write a good title tag.” So you don’t have to be afraid of that. If this is a rich, solid piece of content that people are going to, you’re going to rank for these sub-questions, in many cases, and you’re going to get featured snippets for those as well.

Then, when people have gotten through all of this, we can give them something like, “Hey, Moz has some of these tools. You can help write richer title tags. We can check your title tags. Why don’t you try a free 30-day trial?” Obviously, we’re experimenting with that, and you don’t want to push too hard, but this becomes a very rich piece of content. We can answer multiple questions, and you actually have multiple opportunities to get featured snippets.

So I think this inverted pyramid technique is legitimate. I think it can help you write good content that’s a win-win. It’s good for SEO. It’s good for your visitors, and it will hopefully help you land some featured snippets.

So I’d love to hear about what kind of questions you’re writing content for, how you can break that up, how you can answer that, and I’d love to discuss that with you. So we’ll see you in the comments. Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Get It All Now: Best of the Best Sale Is Open

If you’ve been reading the blog and listening to Copyblogger FM the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that we’re…

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How to Screen and Recruit the Best SEO Content Writers

Posted by Victor_Ijidola

It’s easy to find writers; they’re everywhere — from a one-second Google search to asking on LinkedIn.

But hiring the best ones? That’s the daunting task marketers and business owners face. And you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.

Mainly because that’s what Google (aka the largest traffic driver of most sites) has clearly been clamoring for since their Panda update in 2011, RankBrain in 2015, and their “Fred” update (and by the way, Gary Illyes from Google coined “Fred’ for every unnamed Google update) in March, 2017.

It’s obvious how each of these major updates communicates Google’s preference for excellent SEO writers:

If you’re a frequent Moz reader, you probably know how they work — but if not: Panda penalizes every webpage with content that adds little to no value to people online, giving more visibility to content pieces that do. On its own, the RankBrain update has made Google almost as smart as humans — when choosing the most relevant and high-quality content to rank on page #1 of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The “Fred” update further tackled sites with low-quality content that aren’t doing anything beyond providing information that’s already available on the internet. It also penalized sites that prioritized revenue above user experience.

After this update, 100+ sites saw their traffic drop by 50 percent to 90 percent.

It is evident that Google has, through these core updates, been requiring brands, publishers, and marketers to work with SEO content writers who know their onions; the ones who know how to write with on-page SEO mastery.

But how do you find these exceptional wordsmiths? Without a plan, you will have to screen tens (or even hundreds) of them to find those who are a good fit.

But let’s make it easier for you. Essentially, your ideal SEO writers should have two key traits:

  1. Good on-page SEO expertise
  2. A great eye for user experience (i.e. adding relevant images, formatting, etc.)

A writer with these two skills is a great SEO writer. But let’s dig a bit deeper into what that means.

(Note: this post is about hiring exceptional SEO content writers — i.e., wordsmiths who don’t need you monitoring them to do great work. So, things can get a bit techie as you read on. I’ll be assuming your ideal writer understands or is responsible for things like formatting, on-page SEO, and correctly uploading content into your CMS.)

1. On-page SEO knowledge

By now, you know what on-page SEO is. But if not, it’s simply the elements you put on a site or web page to let search engines understand that you have content on specific topics people are searching for.

So, how do you know if a writer has good on-page SEO knowledge?

Frankly, “Can you send me your previous writing samples?” is the ideal question to ask any writer you’re considering hiring. Once they show their samples, have them walk you through each one, and ask yourself the following questions:

Question A: Do they have ‘focus keywords’ in their previous samples?

    Several factors come into play when trying to rank any page, but your ideal writer must know how to hold things down on the keyword side of things.

    Look through their samples; see if they have optimized any content piece for a specific keyword in the past so you can know if they’ll be able to do the same for your content.

    Question B: How do they use title tags?

      Search engines use title tags to detect the headings in your content.

      You know how it works: put “SEO strategy” — for example — in a few, relevant headings on a page and search engines will understand the page is teaching SEO strategy.

      Essentially, your ideal SEO writer should understand how to use them to improve your rankings and attract clicks from your potential customers in search results.

      Are title tags really that important? They are. Ahrefs, for instance, made their title tag on a page more descriptive and this alone upped their traffic by 37.58%.

      So, look through the titles in your candidate’s samples, especially the h1 title. Here’s what you should look for when examining how a candidate uses HTML tags:

      i. Header tags should, ideally, not be more than 60 characters. This is to avoid results that look like this in SERPs:

      (three dots in front of your titles constitutes bad UX — which Google frowns at)

      ii. The subheadings should be h2 (not necessarily, but it’s a plus)

      iii. Headings under subtopics should be h3 (also not necessary, but it’s a plus)

      Look for these qualities in your candidate’s work and you’ll be able to confirm that they properly implement title tags in their content, and can do the same for you.

      But some writers may not have control over the title tags in their published works — that is, the sites they wrote for probably didn’t give them such access. In this case, request samples they published on their own site, where they actually have control over these tags.

      Question C: What do they know about internal linking?

        Orbit Media once shared how they used internal linking to shoot a blog post from position #29 up to #4.

        So, it’s important that your writers know how to contextually link to your older content pieces while writing new content. And it works for good reason; internal linking helps you:

        • Communicate the relevance and value of your pages to Google (the more links a page gets, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes)
        • Demonstrate to Google that your site contains in-depth content about any specific topic
        • Tell Google your site has easy navigation — which means it has good UX and is well-structured.

        Internal linking is a major key to search ranking, so you need writers who have internal linking in their pocketful of tools. But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts; in a recent LinkedIn post, expert editor Rennie Sanusi hinted at two key anchor text elements to look for in your candidate’s samples:

        • [Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to
        • [Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long

        Question D: Do they write long-form content?

        The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,800+ words long — according to research from Backlinko.

        Google has been all about in-depth content since its inception; you’re probably familiar with their mission statement:

        Every algorithm change they make is geared toward achieving this mission statement, and ranking long-form content helps them in the process as well.

        Because, to them, writing longer content means you’re putting more information that searchers are looking for into your content.

        So you need writers who can produce long-form content. Check their samples and confirm they know how to write long-form content on a regular basis.

        Question E: Have they ranked for any important keywords?

          Ultimately, you need to see examples of important keywords your ideal content writer has ranked for in the past. This is the utmost test of their ability to actually drive search traffic your way.

          That’s it for finding writers who know on-page SEO. But as you know, that’s only one part of the skills that makes a great SEO content writer.

          The other important bit is their ability to write content that engages humans. In other words, they need to know how to keep people reading a page for several minutes (or even hours), leading them to take actions that are important to your business.

          2. A great eye for user experience

          Keeping readers on a page for long durations also improves your ranking.

          In the aforementioned Backlinko study, researchers analyzed 100,000 sites and found that “websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.”

          And you know what that means; your ideal SEO writer should not only write to rank on search engines, they must also write to attract and keep the attention of your target audience.

          So, look for the following in their samples:

          Headlines and introductions that hook readers

            You need writers who are expert enough to know the types of headlines and opening paragraphs that work.

            It’s not a hard skill to spot; look through their samples. If their titles and introductions don’t hook you, they probably won’t hook your audience. It’s really that simple.

            Explainer images and visuals

              The report also revealed that: “Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.”

              But of course, they have to be relevant images (or other visual types). And many times (if not most of the time), that means explainer images — so look out for those in their samples. And there are two examples of explainer images:

              Example #1: Explainer images with text and pointers

              This one has elements (an arrow and a text) on it, explaining how the image is relevant to the topic the content is about.

              Example #2: Explainer images without text and pointers

              Why does this image not have any text or arrows on it? It’s a self-explanatory screenshot, that’s why.

              As long as it’s used appropriately — where the “online sales of Nike products” is mentioned in the content — it gets its message across.

              In general, your ideal SEO writers need to know how to use tools like Skitch and Canva to create these images. Remember, you’re on a hunt for the exceptional ones.

              References and citing resources

                Your ideal writer should link to stats or studies that make their points stronger. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check the links in their samples and make sure they cite genuine resources.

                Examples

                  Illustrations make understanding easier. Especially if you’re in a technical industry (and most industries have their geeky side), your ideal writer should know how to explain their points with examples.

                  Simply search their samples — using Command + F (or Ctrl F if you’re using Windows) — for “example,” “instance,” or “illustration.” This works, because writers usually mention things like “for example,” or “for instance” when providing illustrations.

                  Excellent SEO content writers = Higher search rankings

                  Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills I’ve mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content. These writers are, again, everywhere. But here’s the thing — and you’ve probably heard it before: You get what you pay for.

                  Exceptional SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. They can send your search traffic through the roof, but, like you: They want to work for people who can afford the quality they provide. So, if you’re going on a hunt for them, ready your wallet.

                  But ensure you get their samples and ask the questions in this guide as you deem fit. If you’re paying for content that’ll help you rank higher on Google, then you really should get what you pay for.

                  Did you find any of my tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

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                  Meet the Lazy Marketer’s Best Friend: The Email Autoresponder

                  No one loves blogs more than I do. They’re a great way to attract an engaged audience, develop trust and…

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                  Aren’t 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same? – Best of Whiteboard Friday

                  Posted by Dr-Pete

                  They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. And in the case of this Whiteboard Friday, it repeats once every two years as we revisit a still-relevant topic in SEO and re-release an episode that’s highly popular to this day. Join Dr. Pete as he explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google.

                  Aren't 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?

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

                  Video Transcription

                  Hey, Moz fans, it’s Dr. Pete, your friendly neighborhood marketing scientist here at Moz, and I want to talk today about an issue that comes up probably about every three months since the beginning of SEO history. It’s a question that looks something like this: Aren’t 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?

                  So if you’re busy and you need the short answer, it’s, “No, they’re not.” But you may want the more nuanced approach. This popped up again about a week [month] ago, because John Mueller on the Webmaster Team at Google had posted about redirection for secure sites, and in it someone had said, “Oh, wait, 302s don’t pass PageRank.”

                  John said, “No. That’s a myth. It’s incorrect that 302s don’t pass PR,” which is a very short answer to a very long, technical question. So SEOs, of course, jumped on that, and it turned into, “301s and 302s are the same, cats are dogs, cakes are pie, up is down.” We all did our freakout that happens four times a year.

                  So I want to get into why this is a difficult question, why these things are important, why they are different, and why they’re different not just from a technical SEO perspective, but from the intent and why that matters.

                  I’ve talked to John a little bit. I’m not going to put words in his mouth, but I think 95% of this will be approved, and if you want to ask him, that’s okay afterwards too.

                  Why is this such a difficult question?

                  So let’s talk a little bit about classic 301, 302. So a 301 redirect situation is what we call a permanent redirect. What we’re trying to accomplish is something like this. We have an old URL, URL A, and let’s say for example a couple years ago Moz moved our entire site from seomoz.org to moz.com. That was a permanent change, and so we wanted to tell Google two things and all bots and browsers:

                  1. First of all, send the people to the new URL, and, second,
                  2. pass all the signals. All these equity, PR, ranking signals, whatever you want to call them, authority, that should go to the new page as well.

                  So people and bots should both end up on this new page.

                  A classic 302 situation is something like a one-day sale. So what we’re saying is for some reason we have this main page with the product. We can’t put the sale information on that page. We need a new URL. Maybe it’s our CMS, maybe it’s a political thing, doesn’t matter. So we want to do a 302, a temporary redirect that says, “Hey, you know what? All the signals, all the ranking signals, the PR, for Google’s sake keep the old page. That’s the main one. But send people to this other page just for a couple of days, and then we’re going to take that away.”

                  So these do two different things. One of these tells the bots, “Hey, this is the new home,” and the other one tells it, “Hey, stick around here. This is going to come back, but we want people to see the new thing.”

                  So I think sometimes Google interprets our meaning and can change things around, and we get frustrated because we go, “Why are they doing that? Why don’t they just listen to our signals?”

                  Why are these differentiations important?

                  The problem is this. In the real world, we end up with things like this, we have page W that 301s to page T that 302s to page F and page F rel=canonicals back to page W, and Google reads this and says, “W, T, F.” What do we do?

                  We sent bad signals. We’ve done something that just doesn’t make sense, and Google is forced to interpret us, and that’s a very difficult thing. We do a lot of strange things. We’ll set up 302s because that’s what’s in our CMS, that’s what’s easy in an Apache rewrite file. We forget to change it to a 301. Our devs don’t know the difference, and so we end up with a lot of ambiguous situations, a lot of mixed signals, and Google is trying to help us. Sometimes they don’t help us very well, but they just run into these problems a lot.

                  In this case, the bots have no idea where to go. The people are going to end up on that last page, but the bots are going to have to choose, and they’re probably going to choose badly because our intent isn’t clear.

                  How are 301s, 302s, and rel=canonical different?

                  So there are a couple situations I want to cover, because I think they’re fairly common and I want to show that this is complex. Google can interpret, but there are some reasons and there’s some rhyme or reason.

                  1. Long-term 302s may be treated as 301s.

                  So the first one is that long-term 302s are probably going to be treated as 301s. They don’t make any sense. If you set up a 302 and you leave it for six months, Google is going to look at that and say, “You know what? I think you meant this to be permanent and you made a mistake. We’re going to pass ranking signals, and we’re going to send people to page B.” I think that generally makes sense.

                  Some types of 302s just don’t make sense at all. So if you’re migrating from non-secure to secure, from HTTP to HTTPS and you set up a 302, that’s a signal that doesn’t quite make sense. Why would you temporarily migrate? This is probably a permanent choice, and so in that case, and this is actually what John was addressing in this post originally, in that case Google is probably going to look at that and say, “You know what? I think you meant 301s here,” and they’re going to pass signals to the secure version. We know they prefer that anyway, so they’re going to make that choice for you.

                  If you’re confused about where the signals are going, then look at the page that’s ranking, because in most cases the page that Google chooses to rank is the one that’s getting the ranking signals. It’s the one that’s getting the PR and the authority.

                  So if you have a case like this, a 302, and you leave it up permanently and you start to see that Page B is the one that’s being indexed and ranking, then Page B is probably the one that’s getting the ranking signals. So Google has interpreted this as a 301. If you leave a 302 up for six months and you see that Google is still taking people to Page A, then Page A is probably where the ranking signals are going.

                  So that can give you an indicator of what their decision is. It’s a little hard to reverse that. But if you’ve left a 302 in place for six months, then I think you have to ask yourself, “What was my intent? What am I trying to accomplish here?”

                  Part of the problem with this is that when we ask this question, “Aren’t 302s, 301s, canonicals all basically the same?” what we’re really implying is, “Aren’t they the same for SEO?” I think this is a legitimate but very dangerous question, because, yes, we need to know how the signals are passed and, yes, Google may pass ranking signals through any of these things. But for people they’re very different, and this is important.

                  2. Rel=canonical is for bots, not people.

                  So I want to talk about rel=canonical briefly because rel=canonical is a bit different. We have Page A and Page B again, and we’re going to canonical from Page A to Page B. What we’re basically saying with this is, “Look, I want you, the bots, to consider Page B to be the main page. You know, for some reason I have to have these near duplicates. I have to have these other copies. But this is the main one. This is what I want to rank. But I want people to stay on Page A.”

                  So this is entirely different from a 301 where I want people and bots to go to Page B. That’s different from a 302, where I’m going to try to keep the bots where they are, but send people over here.

                  So take it from a user perspective. I have had in Q&A all the time people say, “Well, I’ve heard that rel=canonical passes ranking signals. Which should I choose? Should I choose that or 301? What’s better for SEO?”

                  That’s true. We do think it generally passes ranking signals, but for SEO is a bad question, because these are completely different user experiences, and either you’re going to want people to stay on Page A or you’re going to want people to go to Page B.

                  Why this matters, both for bots and for people

                  So I just want you to keep in mind, when you look at these three things, it’s true that 302s can pass PR. But if you’re in a situation where you want a permanent redirect, you want people to go to Page B, you want bots to go to Page B, you want Page B to rank, use the right signal. Don’t confuse Google. They may make bad choices. Some of your 302s may be treated as 301s. It doesn’t make them the same, and a rel=canonical is a very, very different situation that essentially leaves people behind and sends bots ahead.

                  So keep in mind what your use case actually is, keep in mind what your goals are, and don’t get over-focused on the ranking signals themselves or the SEO uses because all off these three things have different purposes.

                  So I hope that makes sense. If you have any questions or comments or you’ve seen anything weird actually happen on Google, please let us know and I’ll be happy to address that. And until then, we’ll see you next week.

                  Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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                  How to Target Featured Snippet Opportunities — Best of Whiteboard Friday

                  Posted by BritneyMuller

                  Once you’ve identified where the opportunity to nab a featured snippet lies, how do you go about targeting it? Part One of our “Featured Snippet Opportunities” series focused on how to discover places where you may be able to win a snippet, but today we’re focusing on how to actually make changes that’ll help you do that. 

                  Joining us at MozCon next week? This video is a great lead up to Britney’s talk: Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target.

                  Give a warm, Mozzy welcome to Britney as she shares pro tips and examples of how we’ve been able to snag our own snippets using her methodology.

                  Target featured snippet opportunities

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

                  Video Transcription

                  Today, we are going over targeting featured snippets, Part 2 of our featured snippets series. Super excited to dive into this.

                  What’s a featured snippet?

                  For those of you that need a little brush-up, what’s a featured snippet? Let’s say you do a search for something like, “Are pigs smarter than dogs?” You’re going to see an answer box that says, “Pigs outperform three-year old human children on cognitive tests and are smarter than any domestic animal. Animal experts consider them more trainable than cats or dogs.” How cool is that? But you’ll likely see these answer boxes for all sorts of things. So something to sort of keep an eye on. How do you become a part of that featured snippet box? How do you target those opportunities?

                  Last time, we talked about finding keywords that you rank on page one for that also have a featured snippet. There are a couple ways to do that. We talk about it in the first video. Something I do want to mention, in doing some of that the last couple weeks, is that Ahrefs can help you discover your featured snippet opportunities. I had no idea that was possible. Really cool, go check them out. If you don’t have Ahrefs and maybe you have Moz or SEMrush, don’t worry, you can do the same sort of thing with a Vlookup.

                  So I know this looks a little crazy for those of you that aren’t familiar. Super easy. It basically allows you to combine two sets of data to show you where some of those opportunities are. So happy to link to some of those resources down below or make a follow-up video on how to do just that.

                  1. Identify

                  All right. So step one is identifying these opportunities. You want to find the keywords that you’re on page one for that also have this answer box. You want to weigh the competitive search volume against qualified traffic. Initially, you might want to just go after search volume. I highly suggest you sort of reconsider and evaluate where might the qualified traffic come from and start to go after those.

                  2. Understand

                  From there, you really just want to understand the intent, more so even beyond this table that I have suggested for you. To be totally honest, I’m doing all of this with you. It’s been a struggle, and it’s been fun, but sometimes this isn’t very helpful. Sometimes it is. But a lot of times I’m not even looking at some of this stuff when I’m comparing the current featured snippet page and the page that we currently rank on page one for. I’ll tell you what I mean in a second.

                  3. Target

                  So we have an example of how I’ve been able to already steal one. Hopefully, it helps you. How do you target your keywords that have the featured snippet?

                  • Simplifying and cleaning up your pages does wonders. Google wants to provide a very simple, cohesive, quick answer for searchers and for voice searches. So definitely try to mold the content in a way that’s easy to consume.
                  • Summaries do well. Whether they’re at the top of the page or at the bottom, they tend to do very, very well.
                  • Competitive markup, if you see a current featured snippet that is marked up in a particular way, you can do so to be a little bit more competitive.
                  • Provide unique info
                  • Dig deeper, go that extra mile, provide something else. Provide that value.

                  How To Target Featured Snippet Examples

                  What are some examples? So these are just some examples that I personally have been running into and I’ve been working on cleaning up.

                  • Roman numerals. I am trying to target a list result, and the page we currently rank on number one for has Roman numerals. Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s not. I just changed them to numbers to see what’s going to happen. I’ll keep you posted.
                  • Fix broken links. But I’m also just going through our page and cleaning it. We have a lot of older content. I’m fixing broken links. I have the Check My Links tool. It’s a Chrome add-on plugin that I just click and it tells me what’s a 404 or what I might need to update.
                  • Fixing spelling errors or any grammatical errors that may have slipped through editors’ eyes. I use Grammarly. I have the free version. It works really well, super easy. I’ve even found some super old posts that have the double or triple spacing after a period. It drives me crazy, but cleaning some of that stuff up.
                  • Deleting extra markup. You might see some additional breaks, not necessarily like that ampersand. But you know what I mean in WordPress where it’s that weird little thing for that break in the space, you can clean those out. Some extra, empty header markup, feel free to delete those. You’re just cleaning and simplifying and improving your page.

                  One interesting thing that I’ve come across recently was for the keyword “MozRank.” Our page is beautifully written, perfectly optimized. It has all the things in place to be that featured snippet, but it’s not. That is when I fell back and I started to rely on some of this data. I saw that the current featured snippet page has all these links.

                  So I started to look into what are some easy backlinks I might be able to grab for that page. I came across Quora that had a question about MozRank, and I noticed that — this is a side tip — you can suggest edits to Quora now, which is amazing. So I suggested a link to our Moz page, and within the notes I said, “Hello, so and so. I found this great resource on MozRank. It completely confirms your wonderful answer. Thank you so much, Britney.”

                  I don’t know if that’s going to work. I know it’s a nofollow. I hope it can send some qualified traffic. I’ll keep you posted on that. But kind of a fun tip to be aware of.

                  How we nabbed the “find backlinks” featured snippet

                  All right. How did I nab the featured snippet “find backlinks”? This surprised me, because I hardly changed much at all, and we were able to steal that featured snippet quite easily. We were currently in the fourth position, and this was the old post that was in the fourth position. These are the updates I made that are now in the featured snippet.

                  Clean up the title

                  So we go from the title “How to Find Your Competitor’s Backlinks Next Level” to “How to Find Backlinks.” I’m just simplifying, cleaning it up.

                  Clean up the H2s

                  The first H2, “How to Check the Backlinks of a Site.” Clean it up, “How to Find Backlinks?” That’s it. I don’t change step one. These are all in H3s. I leave them in the H3s. I’m just tweaking text a little bit here and there.

                  Simplify and clarify your explanations/remove redundancies

                  I changed “Enter your competitor’s domain URL” — it felt a little duplicate — to “Enter your competitor’s URL.” Let’s see. “Export results into CSV,” what kind of results? I changed that to “export backlink data into CSV.” “Compile CSV results from all competitors,” what kind of results? “Compile backlink CSV results from all competitors.”

                  So you can look through this. All I’m doing is simplifying and adding backlinks to clarify some of it, and we were able to nab that.

                  So hopefully that example helps. I’m going to continue to sort of drudge through a bunch of these with you. I look forward to any of your comments, any of your efforts down below in the comments. Definitely looking forward to Part 3 and to chatting with you all soon.

                  Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all soon. See you.

                  Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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                  The 55 Best Free SEO Tools For Every Task

                  Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

                  At Moz, we know the value of premium SEO tools — we’ve built new tools for 10+ years. Paid tools are hugely valuable in SEO when you need advanced features, increased limits, stored data, or online support.

                  But for 70 percent of other tasks, a free tool often does the trick.

                  There are literally hundreds of free SEO tools out there, so we want to focus on only the best and most useful to add to your toolbox. Tons of people in the SEO community helped vet the SEO software in this post (see the note at the end). To be included, a tool had to meet three requirements. It must be:

                  1. Widely used by the SEO community
                  2. Offers above-board value + actionable data
                  3. Actually, truly free

                  The tools are categorized by SEO function. Click on a button below to jump to that specific section.

                  Categories:

                  Analytics   Crawling/Indexing   Keyword Research   Link Tools   Local SEO   Mobile SEO   Multi-tool   On-page SEO   Research   Site Speed   WordPress


                  Analytics

                  The best tools to analyze search performance, monitor SERPs, keywords, and competitor analysis:

                  1. Bing Webmaster Tools

                  While Google Webmaster Tools gets all the glory, folks forget that Bing Webmaster offers a full suite of website and search analytics. Especially useful are keyword reports, keyword research, and crawling data.

                  Get it: Bing Webmaster
                  Also useful: Yandex.Webmaster

                  2. Data Studio

                  If you need to merge data from different sources (say Search Console and Google Analytics), visualize, and share it – this is Google Data Studio’s comfort zone. For an idea of all the SEO tasks and dashboards that you can build for free, check out these Google Data Studio Resources from Lee Hurst.

                  Get it: Data Studio

                  3. Enhanced Google Analytics Annotations

                  How do you know if your dip in traffic (or rise) is associated with a Google Algorithm update, or perhaps a major holiday? This is a highly-recommended Google Chrome plugin that overlays additional data on top of your analytics, so you can easily send screenshots to clients showing exactly how outside forces impacted traffic.

                  Get it: Enhanced Google Analytics Annotations
                  Alternatives: Panguin Tool, Zeo Tools

                  4. Google Analytics

                  The big kahuna, and the most widely-used web analytics package on earth. For being free, Google Analytics is surprisingly robust and plays well with other Google products, including Optimize, Search Console, and Data Studio. Some folks have privacy concerns with GA — though Google swears they don’t use this data for search rankings.

                  Get it: Google Analytics
                  Alternatives: Clicky, Open Web Analytics

                  5. Search Console

                  Probably the most useful free SEO tool on this entire list, it’s hard to imagine doing modern SEO without access to the data inside Google’s Search Console. This is the most reliable location for information on how Google crawls and ranks your site, and is one of the only places where you can get reliable keyword data.

                  Get it: Search Console

                  6. Keyword Hero

                  Did somebody say (not provided)? Keyword Hero works to solve the problem of missing keyword data with lots of advanced math and machine learning. It’s not a perfect system, but for those struggling to match keywords with conversion and other on-site metrics, the data can be a valuable step in the right direction. Pricing is free up to 2000 sessions/month.

                  Get it: Keyword Hero

                  7. MozCast

                  The brainchild of Dr. Pete and the original Google SERP tracker, MozCast is the go-to algorithm tracker whenever there’s a big update, or not. Also useful are the SERP tracking features showing the prominence of such features as ads and knowledge panels.

                  Get it: MozCast
                  Also useful: Algoroo, Rank Risk Index, Ayima Pulse


                  Crawling/Indexing

                  Specific tools to make sure your site is crawlable and optimized.

                  8. Beam Us Up

                  If you need a free, desktop crawler, you can’t do better than Beam Us Up. While it doesn’t have as many features as Screaming Frog, it does offer 100 percent free crawling with no limits. Windows only.

                  Get it: Beam Us Up

                  9. Link Redirect Trace

                  A free Chrome extension, lots of SEOs recommend Link Redirect Trace as the “all-in-one redirect path analyzer.” The extension reveals information about HTTP headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, and basic link metrics from LinkResearchTools. The “Save Screenshot” feature is super useful too.

                  Get it: Link Redirect Trace

                  10. Redirect Path

                  Similar to Link Redirect Trace, Redirect Path is a nifty tool from the good folks at Ayima that shows redirect paths and header information for every URL you visit. Gotta admit, I’ve used this extension for years and it’s almost “always on” in my browser.

                  Get it: Redirect Path

                  11. Screaming Frog

                  Aside from having one of the best Twitter accounts of any SEO tool maker, Screaming Frog is the most popular desktop-based crawler available today. Many people don’t realize that there’s a free version that allows for up to 500 URLs per crawl. While not as fully functional as the paid version, it’s great for small projects and smaller site audits.

                  Get it: Screaming Frog

                  12. Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer

                  Most folks in the SEO space are familiar with Screaming Frog, but many don’t realize that the Frog also offers a standalone free/paid Log File Analyzer tool. The free version is very robust, though limited to 1000 lines.

                  Get it: Screaming Frog Log File Analyser

                  13. SEOlyzer

                  SEOlyzer is a log analysis tool recommended by Aleyda Solis in her very excellent SEO podcast Crawling Mondays. SEOlyzer is a terrific log analysis tool with some cool features like real-time analysis and page categorization.

                  Get it: SEOlyzer

                  14. Xenu

                  Gotta be honest, although Xenu has been on every “free SEO tool” list since the dawn of, no way did I think it would make this one. This Windows-based desktop crawler has been virtually unchanged over the past 10 years. That said, a lot of folks still love and use it for basic site auditing, looking for broken links, etc. Heck, I’m leaving here for sentimental reasons. Check it out.

                  Get it: Xenu


                  Keyword Research

                  15. Answer The Public

                  It’s hard not to love Answer The Public. The interface has an almost “Cards Against Humanity” rebel vibe to it. Regardless, if you want to generate a massive list of questions from any keyword set, this is your go-to tool.

                  Get it: Answer The Public

                  16. Keyword Explorer

                  OMG. 500 million keyword suggestions, all the most accurate volume ranges in the industry. You also get Moz’s famous Keyword Difficulty Score along with CTR data. Moz’s free community account gives you access to 10 queries a month, with each query literally giving you up to 1000 keyword suggestions along with SERP analysis.

                  Get it: Keyword Explorer

                  17. Keyword Planner

                  Google’s own Keyword Planner was built for folks who buy Google ads, but it still delivers a ton of information useful for SEO keyword planning. It uses Google’s own data and has useful functions like country filtering. Be careful with metrics like competition (this is meant for paid placements) and volume — which is known to be confusing.

                  Get it: Keyword Planner

                  18. Keyword Shitter

                  Yes, it’s called Keyword Shitter. It pains me to write this. That said, it says what it does and does what it says. Type in a keyword and it, um, poops out a poop-ton of keywords.

                  Get it: Keyword Shitter

                  19. Keywords Everywhere

                  An SEO favorite! Install this browser extension for Firefox or Chrome, and see keyword suggestions with volume as you cruise the internet. Works in Google Search Console as well. This one is a must-have for keyword inspiration.

                  Get it: Keywords Everywhere

                  20. Ubersuggest

                  Sometimes I make fun of Neil Patel because he does SEO in his pajamas. I’m probably jealous because I don’t even own pajamas. Regardless, Neil took over Ubersuggest not long ago and gave it a major overall. If you haven’t tried it in a while, it now goes way beyond keyword suggestions and offers a lot of extended SEO capabilities such as basic link metrics and top competitor pages.

                  Get it: Ubersuggest


                  Link Tools

                  Tools to find, evaluate, and process backlink opportunities.

                  21. Disavow Tool

                  Google makes the Disavow Tool hard to find because most site owners usually don’t need to use it. But when you do, it can be useful for getting penalties removed and some SEOs swear by it for fighting off negative SEO. If you choose to use this tool, be careful and check with this guide on disavowing the right links.

                  Get it: Disavow Tool

                  22. Link Explorer

                  Link Explorer is arguably the biggest, most accurate link index in the SEO world today, boasting 35 trillion links. The free account access gives you 10 queries and 50 rows of data per query every month, plus adds basic link metrics to the MozBar as you browse the web.

                  Get it: Link Explorer

                  23. Link Miner

                  Link Miner is a free Chrome extension developed by Jon Cooper, one of the masters of link building. Use it to quickly find broken links on each page, as well as see basic link metrics as you search Google. Simple, easy, and useful.

                  Get it: Link Miner


                  Local SEO

                  Free tools to optimize your on Google Maps and beyond.

                  24. Google My Business

                  Basically, this is the #1, must-have tool for Local SEO — especially if you live in a market served by Google. It allows you to claim your business, manage listing information, and respond to reviews — among other things. Claiming your business profile forms the foundation of most other local SEO activities, so it’s an essential step.

                  Get it: Google My Business

                  25. Google Review Link Generator

                  The Google Review Link Generator by Whitespark solves a simple problem – how do you give your customers a URL to leave a Google review for your business? Reviews drive rankings, but Google doesn’t easily provide this. This generator makes it easy.

                  Get it: Google Review Link Generator

                  26. Local Search Results Checker

                  One of the hardest parts of Local SEO is figuring out rankings from any location — especially when Google stubbornly wants to serve results from the location you’re in. BrightLocal solves this with a quick local ranking tool that can virtually drop you into any location on earth to check actual local rankings.

                  Get it: Local Search Results Checker

                  27. Moz Local Check Business Listing

                  How consistent is your business information across the local search ecosystem? Moz Local lets you quickly check how your business shows up across the web in the major data aggregators that Google and others use to rank local search results. Very handy to understand your strengths and weaknesses. 

                  Get it: Moz Local Check Business Listing


                  Mobile SEO

                  Tools to optimize your website in Google’s mobile-first world.

                  28. Mobile First Index Checker

                  Mobile versions of websites often differ significantly from their desktop versions. Because Google has switched to mobile-first indexing, it’s important that major elements (links, structured data, etc.) match on both versions. A number of tools will check this for you, but Zeo’s is probably the most complete.

                  Get it: Mobile First Index Checker

                  29. Mobile SERP Test

                  It’s amazing how mobile search results can vary by both location AND device. MobileMoxie’s mobile SERP test lets you compare devices side-by-side for any location, down to specific addresses.

                  Get it: Mobile SERP Test

                  30. Mobile-Friendly Test

                  The gold standard for determining if your page meets Google’s mobile-friendly requirements. If your page passes the test, then Google counts it as mobile friendly, which is a bonafide (albeit small) ranking factor. If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, it will give you specific areas to address.

                  Get it: Mobile-Friendly Test


                  Multi-tool

                  Free SEO tools that have so many functions, they have their own special category.

                  31. Chrome DevTools

                  The sheer number of SEO tasks you can perform—for free—with Chrome DevTools is simply staggering. From JavaScript auditing to speed to On-Page SEO, some of the best features are hidden away but totally awesome. Need some specific ways to use it for SEO? Check out these resources here, here, and here.

                  Get it: Chrome DevTools

                  32. Marketing Miner

                  Marketing Miner has a low profile in the United States, but it’s one of the best-kept secrets of Eastern Europe. If you need to pull a lot of SERP data, rankings, tool reports, or competitive analysis, Marketing Miner does the heavy lifting for you and loads it all into convenient reports. Check out this list of miners for possible ideas. It’s a paid tool, but the free version allows to perform a number of tasks.

                  Get it: Marketing Miner

                  33. MozBar

                  One of the original SEO toolbars, the MozBar has seen significant upgrades over the years. Log in with a free Moz account and get link metrics as you browse the web, perform on-page analysis, and SERP analysis. The free version is super-useful by itself, while Pro users get additional functionality like advanced keyword suggestions.

                  Get it: MozBar

                  34. SEMrush

                  Like Moz, SEMrush offers a full suite of all-in-one SEO tools, and they have a free account option that works well if you only work with a single website, or only need a quick peek at top level data. The free account level gives you access to one “project” which includes basic site auditing, as well as limited keyword and domain reporting.

                  Get it: SEMrush

                  35. SEO Minion

                  SEO Minion is a very popular Chrome extension that goes beyond most SEO toolbars. Some of the quick functions it performs include analyzing on-page SEO, check broken links, Hreflang checks, a SERP preview tool, and a nifty Google search location simulator. Definitely worth trying out.

                  Get it: SEO Minion

                  36. SEOquake

                  Out of all the SEO toolbars available on the market, SEOquake is probably the most powerful, and comes with a plethora of configuration options — so you can configure it to adjust to your SEO needs. Aside from offering a boatload of data for every URL you visit, you can also perform basic on-page audits, compare domains, and export your data.

                  Get it: SEOquake

                  37. Sheets for Marketers

                  Sheets for Marketers isn’t a tool per se, but a website that contains over 100+ free templates to perform a huge number of tasks using Google Sheets. Find powerful free sheets for everything including competitive analysis, site audits, scraping, keyword research, and more. This is a website for your bookmarks. 

                  Get it: Sheets for Marketers


                  On-page SEO

                  Tools to help you maximize your content potential at the page level.

                  38. Natural Language API Demo

                  While there is some debate over how actionable Google’s Natural Language API is for SEO, there is no denying it’s a cool tool with lots of advanced analysis. The free demo allows you to analyze the text of a single page at a time and lets you see how a search engine would view entities, sentiment analysis, syntax, and categorization.

                  Get it: Natural Language API
                  See also: Advanced SEO Strategies using Natural Language Processing

                  39. Rich Results Test

                  Did you implement review rating stars in your JSON-LD, and want to see if your markup is valid for Google’s Rich Results? Getting a passing grade doesn’t mean your page will automatically display rich results in the SERPs, but think of it as the cost of admission (the cost being free, of course.)

                  Get it: Rich Results Test

                  40. Structured Data Testing Tool

                  Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark this page. Google’s Structured Data Testing tool is essential for not only troubleshooting your own structured data but performing competitive analysis on your competitor’s structured data as well. Pro Tip: You can edit the code within the tool to troubleshoot and arrive at valid code.

                  Get it: Structured Data Testing Tool

                  41. Tag Manager

                  On the surface, Google Tag Manager serves a simple purpose of allowing you to inject “tags” (such as Google Analytics) into your HTML. Beyond that, advanced users can leverage Tag Manager for a host of SEO functions. While Google recommends against using Tag Manager to insert important elements like structured data, it remains useful for a ton of SEO-related activities.

                  Get it: Tag Manager

                  42. View Rendered Source

                  This simple JavaScript auditing tool does one thing, and it does it very well. View Rendered Source is a free Chrome plugin that allows you to easily see the fully rendered DOM of any URL, and compare it to the original HTML. Great for JavaScript auditing and troubleshooting.

                  Get it: View Rendered Source


                  Research

                  Cools free tools for competitive, historical, and technological analysis.

                  43. BuzzSumo

                  As an SEO research tool, BuzzSumo is awesome. Its Chrome extension is one of the few tools available that deliver reliable social share count estimates for any piece of content. You don’t get as much data with a free account, but you still get access to top content and trending data. One of our favorite tools.

                  Get it: BuzzSumo

                  44. Hunter

                  Hunter is a popular email search tool, and definitely the most popular free email finder. Use it to find the email address associated with any company or individual, and verify any email address you already have. 50 free queries/month before paid plans kick in. 

                  Get it: Hunter
                  Also popular: Viola Nobert

                  45. SimilarWeb

                  SimilarWeb is like competitor analysis on steroids. You can research your competitor’s traffic, top pages, engagement, marketing channels, and more. The free offering is limited to five results per metric, but it’s often enough to grab a quick data point.

                  Get it: SimilarWeb

                  46. Wappalyzer

                  There are lots of tools that help you analyze what technology stacks a website runs on, but Wappalyzer is an SEO favorite. It’s 100 percent free (unless you want advanced reporting) and will instantly tell you what technology a site is using. For example, are they using Yoast or All In One SEO Pack?

                  Get it: Wappalyzer

                  47. Wayback Machine

                  Gotta be honest, I personally use the Wayback Machine 2–3 times a week. It’s perfect for uncovering historical data. You can even find a trove of historical robots.txt files archived. There are a ton of other SEO uses for Wayback Machine you may find useful. 100 percent free.

                  Get it: Wayback Machine


                  Site Speed

                  Tools to speed up your site in order to improve engagement, increase conversions, and rank higher.

                  48. Cloudflare

                  There are so many good things to say about Cloudflare, it’s difficult to know what to include here. Aside from a free CDN to speed up your site, it also allows for easy DNS management, and 100 percent free DDoS protection. You can run on a paid plan forever, but if you’re ready to upgrade, the pro features are super cool and amazingly affordable.

                  Get it: Cloudflare

                  49. GTmetrix

                  GTmetrix is one of many webpage speed performance tests that SEOs love to use. It provides familiar reports such as PageSpeed, YSlow, and Waterfalls, as well as automatically visualizing historic data for each page it analyses.

                  Get it: GTmetrix

                  50. Lighthouse

                  Lighthouse is Google’s open-source speed performance tool. It’s also the most up-to-date, especially in terms of analyzing the performance of mobile pages and PWAs. Google not only recommends using Lighthouse to evaluate your page performance, but there is also speculation they use very similar evaluations in their ranking algorithms. 

                  Get it: Lighthouse

                  51. Page Speed Insights

                  Page Speed Insights is another Google tool built on top of Lighthouse, with one key added metric: Field Data. Field Data uses metrics collected by the Chrome User Experience Report so you can see how your page performs with real users across the globe. Not every page has data, but it’s super useful when it does.

                  Get it: Page Speed Insights

                  52. SpeedMonitor.io

                  If manually logging into a speed tool to check your performance each day isn’t your thing, consider SpeedMonitor.io. It uses Lighthouse data to gauge performance, then tracks it over time and stores the results — all for free. You can even add competitor tracking and on-demand audits. 

                  Get it: SpeedMonitor.io

                  53. WebpageTest

                  Webpage test is another performance tool similar to GTMetrix. It breaks down performance into easy-to-understand grades, along with some of the most detailed performance reports found anywhere. 

                  Get it: WebpageTest


                  WordPress

                  To be honest, there are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins that can be helpful for SEO. You almost always want a “general” SEO plugin, and we’ve listed two below. For others, you have a lot of options, but this list from Kinsta is a good place to start.

                  54. Rank Math

                  The “new” kid on the WordPress SEO plugin block, RankMath is quickly earning a cult following among certain SEO pros. It’s fully functional and comes with some cool features like built-in redirection, which means needing to install fewer plugins or pay for upgrades. Worth checking out.

                  Get it: Rank Math

                  55. Yoast SEO

                  Yoast is the “name” in WordPress SEO. The most trusted name, the most installed (30 million sites) and often, the most innovative. With the help of our friend Jono Alderson, they’ve created some amazing advances in the delivery of structured data. I personally use Yoast on most of my WordPress sites, and they are obviously highly recommended.

                  Get it: Yoast SEO


                  Bonus: Free Google Sheet of All 55 Tools

                  We’ve included a Google Sheet containing all 55 tools listed above. You can make a copy of the sheet and file away for your personal use, or share with your team.

                  Get the Free SEO Tool Sheet

                  Special Thanks

                  A lot of smart SEOs deserve credit for helping out with the recommendations in this post. A number of folks contributed suggestions from Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

                  A comprehensive list of SEO tools and resources is maintained by Saijo George. It’s continually updated and well maintained. You can find it here.

                  p.s. While these are 55 of the best free SEO tools, it’s by no means a complete list! What are some of your favorite free SEO tools? Let us know in the comments.

                  Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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                  7 SEO Title Tag Hacks for Increased Rankings + Traffic – Best of Whiteboard Friday

                  Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

                  We’re bringing back an oldie but a goodie this Friday! In today’s highly popular throwback, Cyrus Shepard calls out seven super-easy and timeless hacks to keep your title tags clickable in the SERPs. Check them out and share your own with us in the comments below!

                  Title tag hacks for increased rankings and traffics

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

                  Video Transcription

                  Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m very excited to be here today. My name is Cyrus. I’m a Moz associate. Today I want to talk you about title tags, specifically title tag hacks to increase your traffic and rankings.

                  Now, you may be asking yourself, “Are title tags even still important today in SEO?” You bet they are. We’ve done a lot of correlation studies in the past. Those correlation studies have shown different things sort of decreasing in the past years. But we’ve also seen a lot of experiments recently where people have changed their title tag and seen a significant, measurable increase in their rankings.

                  Now, the other aspect of title tags that people sometimes forget about is the click-through rate that you get, which can measurably increase your traffic if you get the title tag right. Now, what’s neat about increasing your traffic through click-through rate is we’ve seen a lot of experiments, Rand has experimented a lot, that if you can increase this, you can measurably increase this.

                  Traffic through increased clicks can seem to increase your rankings under certain circumstances. So you get the dual benefit. So that’s what I want to talk to you about today — increasing those rankings, increasing that traffic by changing the first thing that your visitor is going to see in the SERPs.

                  So the important thing to remember is that these are things to experiment with. Not all of these hacks are going to work for you. SEO is founded in best practices, but true success is founded when you experiment and try different things. So try some of these out and these will give you an idea of where to get started in some of your title tag experiments.

                  1. Numbers

                  Numbers kind of pop out at you. These are examples: “5 Signs of a Zombie Apocalypse” or “How Mutants Can Save 22% on Car Insurance.”

                  • Cognitive Bias – Standout specific – When you see these in SERPs, they tend to get a slightly higher click-through rate sometimes. This works because of a cognitive bias. Our brains are trained to find things that stand out and are specific. When you’re scanning search results, that’s a lot of information. So your brain is going to try to find some things that it can grasp on to, and numbers are the ultimate things that are both specific and they stand out. So sometimes, in certain circumstances, you can get a higher click-through rate by using numbers in your title tags.

                  2. Dates

                  Rand did an excellent Whiteboard Friday a few weeks ago, we’ll link to it below. These are things like “Best Actress Oscar Nominee 2017″ or even more specific, you can get the month in there, “Top NFL Fantasy Draft Picks September 2017.”

                  Now, Rand talks about this a lot. He talks about ways of finding dates in your keyword research. The key in that research is when you’re using tools like Keyword Explorer or Google AdWords or SEMrush, you have to look for previous years. So if I was searching for this year’s, we don’t have enough data yet for 2017, so I would look for “Best Actress Oscar Nominee 2016.”

                  • Leverage your CMS – If you use WordPress, if you use Yoast plugin, you can actually have your title tags update automatically year-to-year or even month-to-month leveraging that. It’s not right for all circumstances, but for certain keyword queries it works pretty well.

                  3. Length

                  This is one of the most controversial, something that causes the most angst in SEO is when we’re doing audits or looking at title tags. Inevitably, when you’re doing an SEO audit, you find two things. You find title tags that are way too short, “Pantsuit,” or title tags that are way, way, way too long because they just want to stuff every keyword in there, “Tahiti ASL Red Pantsuit with Line Color, Midrise Belt, Hook-eye Zipper, Herringbone Knit at Macy’s.”

                  Now, these two, they’re great title tags, but there are two problems with this. This is way too broad. “Pantsuit” could be anything. This title tag is way too diluted. It’s hard to really know what that is about. You’re trying to scan it. You’re trying to read it. Search engines are going to look at it the same way. Is this about a pantsuit? Is it about herringbone knit? It’s kind of hard.

                  • Etsy study – So Etsy recently did a study where Etsy measured hundreds of thousands of URLs and they shortened their title tags, because, more often than not, the longer title tag is a problem. Shorter title tags, not so much. You see longer title tags in the wild more often. When they shortened the title tags, they saw a measurable increase in rankings.
                  • 50–60 Characters – This is one of those things where best practices usually is the best way to go because the optimal length is usually 50 to 60 characters.
                  • Use top keywords – When you’re deciding what keywords to put it when you’re shortening this, that’s where you want to use your keyword research and find the keywords that your visitors are actually using.

                  So if I go into my Analytics or Google Search Console, I can see that people are actually searching for “pantsuit,” “Macy’s,” and maybe something like that. I can come up with a title tag that fits within those parameters, “Tahiti ASL Red Pantsuit,” “pantsuits” the category, “Macy’s.” That’s going to be your winning title tag and you’ll probably see an increase in rankings.

                  4. Synonyms and variants

                  Now, you’ll notice in this last title tag, the category was a plural of pantsuit. That can actually help in some circumstances. But it’s important to realize that how you think your searchers are searching may not be how they’re actually searching.

                  Let’s say you do your keyword research and your top keywords are “cheap taxis.” You want to optimize for cheap taxis. Well, people may be looking for that in different ways. They may be looking for “affordable cabs” or “low cost” or “cheap Ubers,” things like that.

                  So you want to use those variants, find out what the synonyms and variants are and incorporate those into your title tag. So my title tag might be “Fast Affordable Cabs, Quick Taxi, Your Cheap Ride.” That’s optimized for like three different things within that 50 to 60 word limit, and it’s going to hit all those variants and you can actually rank a little higher for using that.

                  • Use SERPs/keyword tools – The way you find these synonyms and variants, you can certainly look in the SERPs. Type your keyword into the SERPs, into Google and see what they highlight bold in the search results. That will often give you the variants that people are looking for, that people also ask at the bottom of the page. Your favorite keyword tool, such as Keyword Explorer or SEMrush or whatever you choose and also your Analytics. Google Search Console is a great source of information for these synonyms and variants.

                  5. Call to action

                  Now, you won’t often find the call-to-action words in your keyword research, but they really help people click. These are action verbs.

                  • Action wordsbuy, find download, search, listen, watch, learn, and access. When you use these, they give a little bit more excitement because they indicate that the user will be able to do something beyond the keyword. So they’re not necessarily typing it in the search box. When they see it in results, it can create, “Oh wow, I get to download something.” It provides a little something extra, and you can increase your click-through rates that way.

                  6. Top referring keywords

                  This is a little overlooked, and it’s sort of an advanced concept. Oftentimes we optimize our page for one set of keywords, but the traffic that comes to it is another set of keywords. But what’s very powerful is when people type their words into the search box and they see those exact same words in the title tags, that’s going to increase your click-through rate.

                  For an example, I went into the analytics here at Moz and I looked at Followerwonk. I found the top referring keywords in Google Search Console are “Twitter search,” “search Twitter bios,” and “Twitter analytics.” Those are how people or what people are looking for right before they click on the Followerwonk listing in Google.

                  So using that information, I might write a title tag like “Search Twitter Bios with Followerwonk, the Twitter Analytics Tool.” That’s a pretty good title tag. I’m kind of proud of that. But you can see it hits all my major keywords that people are using. So when I type in “Twitter analytics” into the search box and I see “The Twitter Analytics Tool,” I’m more likely to click on that.

                  So I’ve written about this before, but it’s very important to optimize your page, not only for the traffic you’re trying to get, but the traffic you’re actually receiving. When you can marry those two, you can be stronger in all aspects.

                  7. Questions

                  Questions are great tools to use in your title tags. These are things like, “Where Do Butterflies Migrate?” Maybe your keyword is just “butterflies migrate.” But by asking a question, you create a curiosity gap, and you give people an incentive to click. Or “What is PageRank?” That’s something we do here at Moz. So you get the curiosity gap.

                  But oftentimes, by asking a question, you get the bonus of winning a featured snippet. Britney Muller wrote an awesome, awesome post about this a while back about questions people also ask, how to find those in your keyword research and claim those featured snippets and claim “people also ask” boxes. It’s a great, great way to increase your traffic.

                  So these are seven tips. Let us know your tips for title tags in the comments below. If you like this video, I’d appreciate a thumbs up. Share it with your friends on social media. I’ll see you next time. Thanks, everybody.

                  Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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                  7 Proven SEO Reporting Best Practices That Boost Client Retention

                  Posted by KameronJenkins

                  “Let’s hop on a call to go over this report.”

                  Did you hear that?

                  That was the collective sigh of SEOs everywhere.

                  If we’re being honest, most of us probably view reporting the same way we view taking out the trash or folding the laundry. It’s a chore that robs us of time we could have spent on more important or enjoyable things.

                  Adding to the frustration is the reality that many clients don’t even read their reports. That’s right. All that time you put into pulling together your data and the report might be forever resigned to the dusty corner of your client’s inbox.

                  In the words of Mama Boucher, reporting is the devil.

                  Hear me out though… have you ever thought of reporting as a client retention tool? While reporting is something that takes your time away from SEO work that moves the needle, reporting is also critical if you want to have a campaign to work on at all.

                  In other words, no reporting = no value communicated = no more client.

                  The good news is that the reverse is also true. When we do SEO reporting well, we communicate our value and keep more clients, which is something that every agency and consultant can agree is important.

                  That all sounds nice, but how can we do that? Throughout my six years at an SEO agency, I picked up some reporting tips that I hope you’ll be able to benefit from as well.

                  P.S. If you haven’t seen it already, Moz’s own Meghan Pahinui wrote an amazing post for the Moz blog on creating relevant and engaging SEO reports using Moz Pro Campaigns. Definitely check it out!

                  1. Report on what they care about

                  I’ve seen my share of reports that highlighted metrics that just didn’t reflect any of the client’s main objectives. Your clients are busy — the first sight of something irrelevant and they’ll lose interest, so make your reports count!

                  My process for determining what I should report on is fairly simple:

                  1. Identify the business objective
                  2. Create an SEO plan that will help achieve that goal
                  3. Execute the plan
                  4. Report on the metrics that best measure the work I did

                  In other words, choose appropriate KPIs to match their business objectives and your strategy, and stick to those for your reporting.

                  2. Set specific goals

                  You: “Good news! We got 4,000 organic visits last month.”

                  Client: “Why wasn’t it 5,000?”

                  If that’s ever happened to you before, you’re not alone.

                  This simple step is so easy to forget, but make sure your goals are specific and mutually agreed upon before you start! At the beginning of the month, tell your client what your goal is (ex: “We hope to be able to get 4,000 organic visits”). That way, when you review your report, you’ll be able to objectively say whether you missed/hit/exceeded your targets.

                  3. Eliminate jargon

                  Your clients are professionals in their own fields, not yours, so make sure to leave the shop-talking to Twitter. Before sending out a report, ask yourself:

                  • Have I defined all potentially confusing metrics? I’ve seen some SEOs include a mini-glossary or analogies to explain some of their charts — I love this! It really helps disambiguate metrics that are easy to misunderstand.
                  • Am I using words that aren’t used outside my own echo chamber? Some phrases become so ubiquitous in our immediate circles that we assume everyone uses them. In many cases, we’re using jargon without even realizing it!

                  Simply put, use clear language and layman’s terms in your client’s SEO reports. You won’t serve anyone by confusing them.

                  4. Visualize your data in meaningful ways

                  I once heard a client describe a report as “pretty, but useless.”

                  Ouch.

                  They had a point though. Their report was full of pie charts and line graphs that, while important-looking, conveyed no meaning to them.

                  Part of that “meaning” comes down to reporting on the metrics your client cares about (see #1), but the other half of that is choosing how you’ll display that information.

                  There are some great resources on Moz about data visualization such as Demystifying Data Visualization for Marketers, a video of Annie Cushing’s talk at MozCon 2014, and A Visualization Prescription for Impactful Data Storytelling, a Whiteboard Friday video by Lea Pica.

                  Resources like that will help you transform your data from metrics into a story that conveys meaning to your clients, so don’t skimp on this step!

                  5. Provide insights, not just metrics

                  I remember the first time someone explained to me the difference between metrics and insights. I was blown away.

                  It seems so simple now, but in my earliest days in digital marketing, I basically viewed “reporting” as synonymous with “data.” Raw, numeric, mind-numbing data.

                  The key to making your reports more meaningful to your clients is understanding that pure metrics don’t have intrinsic data. You have to unify the data in meaningful ways and pull out insights that help your client understand not just what the numbers are but why they matter.

                  I find it helpful to ask “so what?” when going through a report. Client’s ranking on page 1 for this list of keywords? That’s cool, but why should my client care about this? How is it contributing to their goals? Work on answering that question before you communicate your reports.

                  6. Connect SEO results to revenue

                  I’m going to be honest, this one is tricky.

                  First of all, SEO is a few layers removed from conversions. When it comes to “the big three” (as I like to refer to rankings, traffic, and conversions), SEOs can:

                  • Most directly influence rankings
                  • Influence organic traffic, but a little less directly than rankings. For example, organic traffic can go down despite sustained rankings due to things like seasonality.
                  • Influence organic conversions, but even less directly than traffic. Everything from the website design to the product/service itself can affect that.

                  Second, it can be difficult to connect SEO to revenue especially on websites where the ultimate conversion happens offline (ex: lead gen). In order to tie organic traffic to revenue, you’ll want to set up goal conversions and add a value to those conversions in your analytics, but here’s where that gets difficult:

                  • Clients often don’t know their average LCV (lifetime customer value)
                  • Clients often don’t know their average close rate (the rough percentage of leads that they close)
                  • Clients know, but they don’t want to share this information with you

                  Everyone has a different reporting methodology, but I personally tend to advocate for at least trying to connect SEO to revenue. I’ve been in enough situations where our client dropped us because they saw us as a cost-center rather than a profit-center to know that communicating your value in monetary terms can mean the difference between keeping your client or not.

                  Even though you can’t directly influence conversions and even if your client can only give you a rough ballpark figure for LCV and close rate, it’s better than nothing.

                  7. Be available to fill in the gaps

                  Not everything can be explained in a report. Even if you’re able to add text commentary to elaborate on your data, there’s still the risk that a key point will be lost on your client completely. Expect this!

                  I’ve seen plenty of client reporting calls go well over an hour. While no two situations are alike, I think starting with a report that contains clear insights on the KPIs your client cares about will do wonders for shortening that conversation.

                  Your clients will be able to understand those insights on their own, which frees you up to add context and answer any questions without getting bogged down with back-and-forth over “red herring” metrics that distract from the main point.


                  I want to hear from you!

                  What about you? Every SEO has their own reporting best practices, wins, and horror stories — I want to hear yours!

                  • What reporting trick do you have up your sleeve that could help your fellow SEOs save time (& their sanity)?
                  • What’s your biggest reporting struggle and how are you trying to solve it?
                  • What’s an example of a time when reporting played a role in salvaging a client relationship?

                  We’re in this together — so let’s learn from each other!

                  And if you want more where this came from, please consider downloading our free whitepaper: High-Impact SEO Reporting for Agencies! It’s full of advice and helpful tips for using reports to communicate value to your clients.

                  Read the whitepaper

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                  Advanced Linkbuilding: How to Find the Absolute Best Publishers and Writers to Pitch

                  Posted by KristinTynski

                  In my last post, I explained how using network visualization tools can help you massively improve your content marketing PR/Outreach strategy —understanding which news outlets have the largest syndication networks empowers your outreach team to prioritize high-syndication publications over lower syndication publications. The result? The content you are pitching enjoys significantly more widespread link pickups.

                  Today, I’m going to take you a little deeper — we’ll be looking at a few techniques for forming an even better understanding of the publisher syndication networks in your particular niche. I’ve broken this technique into two parts:

                  • Technique One — Leveraging Buzzsumo influencer data and twitter scraping to find the most influential journalists writing about any topic
                  • Technique Two — Leveraging the Gdelt Dataset to reveal deep story syndication networks between publishers using in-context links.

                  Why do this at all?

                  If you are interested in generating high-value links at scale, these techniques provide an undeniable competitive advantage — they help you to deeply understand how writers and news publications connect and syndicate to each other.

                  In our opinion at Fractl, data-driven content stories that have strong news hooks, finding writers and publications who would find the content compelling, and pitching them effectively is the single highest ROI SEO activity possible. Done correctly, it is entirely possible to generate dozens, sometimes even hundreds or thousands, of high-authority links with one or a handful of content campaigns.

                  Let’s dive in.

                  Using Buzzsumo to understand journalist influencer networks on any topic

                  First, you want to figure out who your topc influencers are your a topic. A very handy feature of Buzzsumo is its “influencers” tool. You can locate it on the influences tab, then follow these steps:

                  • Select only “Journalists.” This will limit the result to only the Twitter accounts of those known to be reporters and journalists of major publications. Bloggers and lower authority publishers will be excluded.
                  • Search using a topical keyword. If it is straightforward, one or two searches should be fine. If it is more complex, create a few related queries, and collate the twitter accounts that appear in all of them. Alternatively, use the Boolean “and/or” in your search to narrow your result. It is critical to be sure your search results are returning journalists that as closely match your target criteria as possible.
                  • Ideally, you want at least 100 results. More is generally better, so long as you are sure the results represent your target criteria well.
                  • Once you are happy with your search result, click export to grab a CSV.

                  The next step is to grab all of the people each of these known journalist influencers follows — the goal is to understand which of these 100 or so influencers impacts the other 100 the most. Additionally, we want to find people outside of this group that many of these 100 follow in common.

                  To do so, we leveraged Twint, a handy Twitter scraper available on Github to pull all of the people each of these journalist influencers follow. Using our scraped data, we built an edge list, which allowed us to visualize the result in  Gephi.

                  Here is an interactive version for you to explore, and here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

                  This graph shows us which nodes (influencers) have the most In-Degree links. In other words: it tells us who, of our media influencers, is most followed. 

                    These are the top 10 nodes:

                    • Maia Szalavitz (@maiasz) Neuroscience Journalist, VICE and TIME
                    • Radley Balko (@radleybalko) Opinion journalist, Washington Post
                    • Johann Hari (@johannhari101) New York Times best-selling author
                    • David Kroll (@davidkroll) Freelance healthcare writer, Forbes Heath
                    • Max Daly (@Narcomania) Global Drugs Editor, VICE
                    • Dana Milbank (@milbank)Columnist, Washington Post
                    • Sam Quinones (@samquinones7), Author
                    • Felice Freyer (@felicejfreyer), Boston Globe Reporter, Mental health and Addiction
                    • Jeanne Whalen (@jeannewhalen) Business Reporter, Washington Post
                    • Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) New York Times best-selling author

                    Who is the most influential?

                      Using the “Betweenness Centrality” score given by Gephi, we get a rough understanding of which nodes (influencers) in the network act as hubs of information transfer. Those with the highest “Betweenness Centrality” can be thought of as the “connectors” of the network. These are the top 10 influencers:\

                      • Maia Szalavitz (@maiasz) Neuroscience Journalist, VICE and TIME
                      • David Kroll (@davidkroll) Freelance healthcare writer, Forbes Heath
                      • Jeanne Whalen (@jeannewhalen) Business Reporter, Washington Post
                      • Travis Lupick (@tlupick), Journalist, Author
                      • Johann Hari (@johannhari101) New York Times best-selling author
                      • Radley Balko (@radleybalko) Opinion journalist, Washington Post
                      • Sam Quinones (@samquinones7), Author
                      • Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) New York Times best-selling author
                      • Dana Milbank (@milbank)Columnist, Washington Post
                      • Mike Riggs (@mikeriggs) Writer & Editor, Reason Mag 

                          @maiasz, @davidkroll, and @johannhari101 are standouts. There’s considerable overlap between the winners in “In-Degree” and “Betweenness Centrality” but they are still quite different. 

                            What else can we learn?

                              The middle of the visualization holds many of the largest sized nodes. The nodes in this view are sized by “In-Degree.” The large, centrally located nodes are disproportionately followed by other members of the graph and enjoy popularity across the board (from many of the other influential nodes). These are journalists commonly followed by everyone else. Sifting through these centrally located nodes will surface many journalists who behave as influencers of the group initially pulled from BuzzSumo.

                              So, if you had a campaign about a niche topic, you could consider pitching to an influencer surfaced from this data —according to our the visualization, an article shared in their network would have the most reach and potential ROI

                              Using Gdelt to find the most influential websites on a topic with in-context link analysis

                              The first example was a great way to find the best journalists in a niche to pitch to, but top journalists are often the most pitched to overall. Often times, it can be easier to get a pickup from less known writers at major publications. For this reason, understanding which major publishers are most influential, and enjoy the widest syndication on a specific theme, topic, or beat, can be majorly helpful.

                              By using Gdelt’s massive and fully comprehensive database of digital news stories, along with Google BigQuery and Gephi, it is possible to dig even deeper to yield important strategic information that will help you prioritize your content pitching.

                              We pulled all of the articles in Gdelt’s database that are known to be about a specific theme within a given timeframe. In this case (as with the previous example) we looked at “behaviour health.” For each article we found in Gdelt’s database that matches our criteria, we also grabbed links found only within the context of the article.

                              Here is how it is done:

                              • Connect to Gdelt on Google BigQuery — you can find a tutorial here.
                              • Pull data from Gdelt. You can use this command: SELECT DocumentIdentifier,V2Themes,Extras,SourceCommonName,DATE FROM [gdelt-bq:gdeltv2.gkg] where (V2Themes like ‘%Your Theme%’).
                              • Select any theme you find, here — just replace the part between the percentages.
                              • To extract the links found in each article and build an edge file. This can be done with a relatively simple python script to pull out all of the <PAGE_LINKS> from the results of the query, clean the links to only show their root domain (not the full URL) and put them into an edge file format.

                              Note: The edge file is made up of Source–>Target pairs. The Source is the article and the Target are the links found within the article. The edge list will look like this:

                              • Article 1, First link found in the article.
                              • Article 1, Second link found in the article.
                              • Article 2, First link found in the article.
                              • Article 2, Second link found in the article.
                              • Article 2, Third link found in the article.

                              From here, the edge file can be used to build a network visualization where the nodes publishers and the edges between them represent the in-context links found from our Gdelt data pull around whatever topic we desired.

                              This final visualization is a network representation of the publishers who have written stories about addiction, and where those stories link to.

                                What can we learn from this graph?

                                This tells us which nodes (Publisher websites) have the most In-Degree links. In other words: who is the most linked. We can see that the most linked-to for this topic are:

                                • tmz.com
                                • people.com
                                • cdc.gov
                                • cnn.com
                                • go.com
                                • nih.gov
                                • ap.org
                                • latimes.com
                                • jamanetwork.com
                                • nytimes.com

                                Which publisher is most influential? 

                                Using the “Betweenness Centrality” score given by Gephi, we get a rough understanding of which nodes (publishers) in the network act as hubs of information transfer. The nodes with the highest “Betweenness Centrality” can be thought of as the “connectors” of the network. Getting pickups from these high-betweenness centrality nodes gives a much greater likelihood of syndication for that specific topic/theme. 

                                • Dailymail.co.uk
                                • Nytimes.com
                                • People.com
                                • CNN.com
                                • Latimes.com
                                • washingtonpost.com
                                • usatoday.com
                                • cvslocal.com
                                • huffingtonpost.com
                                • sfgate.com

                                What else can we learn?

                                  Similar to the first example, the higher the betweenness centrality numbers, number of In-degree links, and the more centrally located in the graph, the more “important” that node can generally be said to be. Using this as a guide, the most important pitching targets can be easily identified. 

                                  Understanding some of the edge clusters gives additional insights into other potential opportunities. Including a few clusters specific to different regional or state local news, and a few foreign language publication clusters.

                                  Wrapping up

                                  I’ve outlined two different techniques we use at Fractl to understand the influence networks around specific topical areas, both in terms of publications and the writers at those publications. The visualization techniques described are not obvious guides, but instead, are tools for combing through large amounts of data and finding hidden information. Use these techniques to unearth new opportunities and prioritize as you get ready to find the best places to pitch the content you’ve worked so hard to create.

                                  Do you have any similar ideas or tactics to ensure you’re pitching the best writers and publishers with your content? Comment below!

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