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How to Discover and Monitor Bad Backlinks

Posted by rjonesx.

Identifying bad backlinks has become easier over the past few years with better tool sets, bigger link indexes, and increased knowledge, but for many in our industry it’s still crudely implemented. While the ideal scenario would be to have a professional poring over your link profile and combing each link one-by-one for concerns, for many webmasters that’s just too expensive (and, frankly, overkill).

I’m going to walk through a simple methodology using Link Explorer and Excel (although you could do this with Google Sheets just as easily) to combine together the power of Moz Link Explorer, Keyword Explorer Lists, and finally Link Lists to do a comprehensive link audit.

The basics

There are several components involved in determining whether a link is “bad” and should potentially be removed. Ultimately, we want to be able to measure the riskiness of the link (how likely is Google to flag the link as manipulative and how much do we depend on the link for value). Let me address three common factors used by SEOs to determine this score:

Trust metrics:

There are a handful of metrics in our industry that are readily available to help point out concerning backlinks. The two that come to mind most often are Moz Spam Score and Majestic Trust Flow (or, better yet, the difference between Citation Flow and Trust Flow). These two scores actually work quite differently. Moz’s Spam Score predicts the likelihood a domain is banned or penalized based on certain site features. Majestic Trust Flow determines the trustworthiness of a domain or page based on the quality of links pointing to it. While calculated quite differently, the goal is to help webmasters identify which sites are trustworthy and which are not. However, while these are a good starting point, they aren’t sufficient on their own to give you a clear picture of whether a link is good or bad.

Anchor text manipulation:

One of the first things an SEO learns is that using valuable anchor text can help increase your rankings. The very next thing they learn is that using valuable anchor text can bring on a penalty. The reason for this is pretty clear: the likelihood a webmaster will give you valuable anchor text out of the goodness of their heart is very rare, so over-optimization sticks out like a sore thumb. So, how do we measure anchor text manipulation? If we look at anchor text with our own eyes, this seems to be rather intuitive, but there’s a better way to do it in an automated, at-scale fashion that will allow us to better judge links.

Low authority:

Finally, low-authority links — especially when you would expect higher authority based on the domain — are concerning. A good link should come from an internally well-linked page on a site. If the difference between the Domain Authority and Page Authority is very high, it can be a concern. It isn’t a strong signal, but it is one worth looking at. This is especially obvious in certain types of spam, like paginated comment spam or forum profile spam.

So, let’s jump into how we can pull together a quick backlink analysis taking into account these various features of a bad backlink profile. If you’d like to follow along with this tutorial, hop into Link Explorer in another tab:

Follow along with Link Explorer

Step 1: Get the backlink data

The first and easiest step is just to get your backlink data from Link Explorer’s huge backlink index. With nearly 30 trillion links in our index, you can rest assured that we will find most of the bad backlinks with which you should be concerned. To begin, visit the Link Explorer > Inbound Links section and enter in the domain or page which you wish to analyze.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Because we aren’t concerned with nofollow links, you will want to set the “follow” filter so that we only export followed links. We also aren’t concerned with deleted links, so we can set the Link Status to “Active.”

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Once you have set these filters, hit the “Export” button. You will have a couple of choices. If your site has fewer than 1,000 backlinks, go ahead and choose the immediate download. However, if your link profile is larger, choose the largest setting and be patient for the download to be prepared. We can keep going with other steps of the project in the meantime, but you don’t want to miss out on bad links, which means you need to export them all.

A lot of SEOs will stop at this point. With PA, DA, and Spam Score included in the standard export, you can do a damn good job of finding bad links. Link Explorer does all of that out-of-the-box for you. But for our purposes here, we wan’t to go a step further and do “anchor text qualification.” This is especially valuable for large link profiles.

Step 2: Get anchor text

Getting anchor text out of the new Link Explorer is incredibly simple. Just visit Link Explorer > Anchor Text and hit the Export button. No extra filters will be needed here.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Step 3: Measure anchor text value

Now here is a quick trick where we can take advantage of Moz Keyword Explorer’s Keyword Lists to find anchor text that appears to be manipulated. First, we want to remove some of the extraneous anchor text which we know absolutely won’t be concerning, such as URLs as anchor text. This step isn’t completely necessary, but will save you some some credits in Moz Keyword Explorer, so it might be worth it.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

After you’ve removed the extraneous anchor text, we’ll just copy and paste our anchor text into a new keyword list for Keyword Explorer.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

By putting the anchor text into Keyword Explorer, we’ll be able to sort anchor text by search volume. It isn’t very common that anchor text happens to have a high search volume, but when webmasters are trying to manipulate search results they often use the keyword for which they’d like to rank in the anchor text. Thus, we can use the search volume of anchor text as a proxy for manipulated anchor text. In fact, when working with Remove’em before I joined Moz, we discovered the anchor text manipulation was the most predictive factor in link penalties.

Step 4: Merge, filter, sort, & model

We will now merge the data (backlinks export and keyword list export) to finally get that list of concerning backlinks. Let’s start with the backlink export. We’ll open it up in Excel and then remove duplicate domain-anchor text pairs.

I’ll start by showing you a quick trick to extract out the domains from a long list of URLs. I copied the list of URLs from the first column to the last column in Excel, and then chose Data > Text to Columns > Delimited > Other > /. This will cause the URLs to be split into different columns wherever the slash occurs, leaving you with the 4th new column being just the domain names.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Once you have completed this step, we are going to remove duplicate domain-anchor text pairs. Notice that we aren’t going to limit ourselves to one link per domain, which is what many SEOs do. This would be a mistake, since there could be multiple concerning links on the site with different anchor text.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

After choosing Data > Remove Duplicates, I select the column of Anchor Text and the column of Domain. With the duplicates removed, we are now left with the links we want to judge as good or bad. We need one more thing, though. We need to merge in the search volume data we got from Keyword Explorer. Hit the export button on the keyword list you created from anchor text in Keyword Explorer:

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Open up the export and then copy and paste the data into a second sheet in Excel, next to the backlinks sheet you already created and filtered. In this case, I named the two sheets “Raw Data” and “Anchor Text Data”:

How to Find Bad Backlinks

You’ll then want to do a VLOOKUP on the backlinks spreadsheet to create a column with the search volume for the anchor text on each link. I’ve taken a screenshot of the VLOOKUP formula I used, but yours will look a little different depending upon the the names of the sheets and the exact columns you’ve created.

Excel formula: =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(C2,'Anchor Text Data'!$  A$  1:$  I$  402,3,FALSE)),0,VLOOKUP(C2,'Anchor Text Data'!$  1:$  I$  402,3,FALSE))

=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(C2,’Anchor Text Data’!$ A$ 1:$ I$ 402,3,FALSE)),0,VLOOKUP(C2,’Anchor Text Data’!$ 1:$ I$ 402,3,FALSE))

It looks a little complicated, but that’s simply because I’m using two VLOOKUPs simultaneously to replace N/A results with the number 0. You can always manually put in 0 wherever N/A shows up.

Now it’s time for the fun part: modeling. First, I recommend sorting by the volume column you just created just so you can see the most concerning anchor text at the top. It’s amazing to see links with anchor text like “ring” or “jewelry” automatically populate at the top of the list, since they’re also keywords with high search volume.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Second, we’ll create a new column with a formula that takes into account the quality of the link, the riskiness of the anchor text, and the Spam Score:

Excel formula: =D11+(F11-E11)+(LOG(G11+1)*10)+(LOG(O11+1)*10)

=D11+(F11-E11)+(LOG(G11+1)*10)+(LOG(O11+1)*10)

Let’s break down that formula real quickly:

  • D11: This is simply the Spam Score
  • (F11-E11): This is the Domain Authority minus the Page Authority. (This is a bit debatable — some people might just prefer to choose 100-E11)
  • (Log(G11+1)*10): This is a fancy way of converting the number of times this anchor text link occurs into a consistent number for our equation. Without taking the log(), having a high number here could overcome the other signals.
  • (Log(O11+1)*10): This is a fancy way of converting the search volume to a number consistent for our equation. Without taking the log(), having a high search volume could also overcome other signals.

Once we run this equation and create a new column, we can sort by “Riskiness” and find the links with which we should be most concerned.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

As you can see, examples of comment spam and paid links popped to the top of the list because the formula gives a higher value to low-quality, spammy links with risky anchor text. But wait, there’s more!

Step 5: Build a Link List

Link Explorer doesn’t just leave you hanging after doing analysis. Our goal is to help you do SEO, not just analyze it. Your next step is to start a new Link List.

The Link List feature allows you to track whether certain links are alive. If you embark on a campaign to try and remove some of these spammier links, you can create a Link List and use it to monitor the status of those links. Just create a new list by naming it, adding your domain, and then copying and pasting the concerning links.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

You can now just monitor the Link List as you do your outreach to remove bad links. The Link List will track all the metrics, including whether the link has been removed.

How to Find Bad Backlinks

Wrapping up

Whether you want to do a cursory backlink audit by just looking at Spam Score and PA, or a deep-dive taking into account anchor text qualification, Link Explorer + Keyword Explorer and Link Lists make it possible. With our greatly improved backlink index, you can now rest assured that the data you need is right at your finger tips and, if you need to get down-and-dirty in Excel, you can readily export it to do deeper analysis.

Find your spammy links!

Good luck hunting bad backlinks!

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Writers: Discover How to Step Up Your Game with Our Free Ebook

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We love writers around here. Have you noticed?

Professional writers. Aspiring writers. Struggling writers. Successful writers. Writers of all kinds!

To show our appreciation, we put together a free ebook for writers called WORD. Because in our experience, writers are also readers, so an ebook seemed like the perfect delivery system for our information.

We gathered our best articles-written-for-writers from people like Sonia Simone, Brian Clark, Stefanie Flaxman, Beth Hayden, and this other writer you may know. ”</p

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Discover Your Strengths and Supercharge Your Business

image of flowers in sunshine

Have you ever been kept awake until 2 in the morning having an imaginary conversation with one of your blog readers who thinks you’re great and left a long comment telling you so?

Or spent hours obsessively trying to figure out how to do better work, spurred by a fan letter from a customer about the terrific job you did?

Or is it maybe more likely that your late-night solo conversations and obsessive problem-solving go to the trolls, the complainers, and the folks who just plain can’t stand you?

Don’t worry. If you give an undue amount of attention to negative comments and feedback, to the extent of almost ignoring the good stuff altogether, it doesn’t mean you’re neurotic. It means you’re exactly like the rest of us.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their marvelous book Switch make this observation:

Imagine a world in which you experienced a rush of gratitude every single time you flipped a light switch and the room lit up. Imagine a world in which after a husband forgot his wife’s birthday, she gave him a big kiss and said, “For thirteen of the last fourteen years you remembered my birthday! That’s wonderful!”

This is not our world.

But in times of change, it needs to be.

Play to your strengths

I’ve long been fascinated by the advice to those who tell us to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses, in order to create breakthrough success.

It’s so appealing. You mean I don’t have to learn to cold call, balance my checkbook, or know how my RSS feed works? Sign me up.

But it seems like it might be contradicted by another idea that’s gained a lot of attention in recent years: there’s not really any such thing as talent. Researchers like Carol Dweck and brilliant nonfiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell tell us that what we call “talent” is really the result of a heck of a lot of hard work.

What are strengths, anyway?

Until recently, I never realized this was a trick question. I thought that your strengths were things you were good at, and your weaknesses were things you sucked at.

But Marcus Buckingham, who’s made a career out of writing about strengths, put it this way:

A strength is “an activity that makes you feel strong.” It is an activity where the doing of it invigorates you. Before you do it, you find yourself instinctively looking forward to it. While you are doing it you don’t struggle to concentrate, but instead you become so immersed that time speeds up and you lose yourself in the present moment. And after you are finished doing it, you feel authentic, connected to the best parts of who you really are.

Your strengths are the activities that give you the juice to put your 10,000 hours in. They’re the work you love enough to become the best in the world at.

I’ll give you an example

I recently heard Yo-Yo Ma giving an interview about how he got started as a cellist. As it happens, Yo-Yo’s parents are both musicians, and had high musical expectations for their little son. So when Yo-Yo was three, they gave the boy a violin.

And Yo-Yo hated it. Wouldn’t practice. Wouldn’t focus. Didn’t have any zest for it. His frustrated parents finally gave up in disgust.

And then little Yo-Yo saw and heard something amazing, something that surprised and delighted him. Something that he knew was exactly what he wanted to play. It was a double bass — the violin’s really, really big brother. Now that was more like it.

He and his parents split the size difference, and Ma began to study first the viola and then settled (at four years old) on the cello. By seven he was a recognized prodigy, performing for Eisenhower and JFK, and by eight he played on national television, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

To have become so skilled between the ages of four and seven, he must have put in untold hours of practice. But they were hours spent on something he adored.

One thing that interests me about Ma is that he isn’t just a brilliant cellist. He isn’t just world-famous and in-demand and a name brand.

He also seems to be a remarkably happy and kind human being. He loves working with children. He’s been married a long time to the same person. He radiates kindness and a certain goofy charm. He’s got a great sense of humor, referring to himself at times as an “itinerant musician.” And he’s known for boundless energy.

If I’m going to be a nationally-famous virtuoso, that’s the kind I want to be.

Build your business like Yo-Yo

When you see someone busting her tail to build a business, writing tons of great content, reaching out to potential customers, speaking and podcasting and doing everything we’re supposed to do to build a terrific content-based marketing program, it’s easy to ask:

How does anyone find the time to do all that?

The truth is, it’s not a time management problem — it’s an energy management one.

When you focus on your strengths, you do the work that gives you energy. You do the work that drives you, that makes you giggle, that keeps you up late because you’re just having too much fun to stop.

When you’re starting out, you do everything. You build the blog site and write all the content and do the bookkeeping and answer the support emails. Some of those things build you up and some wear you down.

Pay attention to which is which.

As soon as you can (it could be today), find partners who are energized by the tasks that exhaust and deplete you. If you can’t find the right partner, outsource the aspects of your business that make you want to crawl back into bed.

And put your time and attention on what the Heath brothers call the “bright spots” — on what’s really working today. Put your time on the work that gives you juice.

  • Do more of what’s working well.
  • Do more of what energizes and strengthens you.
  • Do more of what your readers and customers adore.
  • Do more of what you can do better than anyone on earth.

I know it sounds too simple to be real. But it’s how every genuinely great business — of any size — is built.

Editor’s Note: This Copyblogger Classic post was originally published in September, 2010.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Discover your International Online Potential

Posted by Aleyda Solis

One of the major advantages of having a web-based business presence is the opportunity to reach a global audience, eliminating many of the restrictions and costs that a “physical” international presence might have. Nonetheless, from my day to day experience I’ve found that there is still a lack of vision of opportunity to target international markets.

Ask yourself: when was the last time you checked how many visitors were coming to your site from other countries? Even if you have a small or mid-sized business, do you frequently check what's the percentage of your current conversions coming from other countries and languages than yours?

Besides being an International SEO, I consider myself a cultural broker: I'm a Nicaraguan living in Madrid. I speak English and French in addition to my native language, which is Spanish. I love to travel and I've had the opportunity to do it because of work (and also for pleasure) to places like Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Turkey, Tunisia, Montenegro, and Russia (on top of other, more common destinations such as the UK, US, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.). I've had Nicaraguan, Argentinian, Dutch, Spanish, and German bosses in the past, and now I have an American one.

I've also worked in the past as an SEO for:

  • A Dutch owned online marketing agency in Spain with clients from all over Europe
  • A Spanish owned Vertical Web portal targeting eight Latin American and European countries
  • An online marketing provider for Spanish small businesses owned by a French group
  • A Russian company targeting the European market

Currently, I work for an American online marketing agency targeting international clients. As you can see, the “international” component has been a common characteristic in my personal and professional life, and I cannot imagine how there's still a lack of vision and openness towards international activities, which at the end means lost opportunities for businesses and a less rich and competitive market that will end up also hurting the audience.

Unfortunately, this frequently happens because of misconceptions about expanding internationally. I want to share and clarify here three of the most common misconceptions I find in my every day work. 


Misconception 1: I'm already in the most profitable market so I don't care about the rest

I'm not telling you to leave your current market (and lose your current profits), but to take others into consideration. At the beginning, it will be only to assess the opportunities there, so really, you don't have anything to lose. I also know that we all tend to feel like we're already in the "center of everything," and a couple of World Maps from different countries are the best proof of it:

The World map according to our perception

According to a recent eMarketer study, B2C E-commerce sales will grow 18.3% to $ 1.298 trillion worldwide and Asia-Pacific will surpass North America to become the world's No. 1 market:

B2C Ecommerce Sales Share Worldwide by Region

Additionally, in the same study we can see how Asia-Pacific and Western Europe as regions have both more digital buyers (Internet users who buy goods online) than North America:

Worldwide Digital Buyers

As you can see, nowadays no one is really in the "center." There's enough globally "distributed" potential out there, and the highest growing ones are in countries like China. Wake up! This means more exciting possibilities for your business internationally.


Misconception: Local Businesses don't need to have an International Online Presence

You don't need to be a large international corporation, an E-commerce business, or a completely online based business to benefit from a website version in other languages, or targeting to other countries.

Although from a business perspective it can be more straight-forward for these type of sites to identify an international potential, there are also different types of local businesses that have an international audience, or that can additionally benefit from having an international online presence since their target market can be also abroad or from abroad. For example:

  • Language schools: such as Spanish language schools in Spain or Latin America targeting US, German, or UK students
  • Summer camps: like international summer camps in Switzerland targeting children from abroad
  • Centric hostels and apartments rentals: located in touristic or centric areas that can be attractive for tourists
  • Traditional restaurants and bars: that usually have tourists as clients 
  • Volunteering organizations: looking to attract volunteers from abroad
  • Gift and flower shops: which might also suitable to send from audience abroad
  • Traditional art and crafts shops: that look to sell typical local goods to foreigners 
  • Traditional food and drinks shops: like cured ham factories or wineries in Spain looking to sell their products abroad  

You need additional incentive? Check-out a mobile search engine result page for a local query in Google.es for "restaurantes en brooklyn" (restaurants in Brooklyn), that in English would be usually taken by Google maps results:

Local SERP for Spanish Query

There's a huge opportunity, indeed. You can definitely achieve additional benefit targeting an International audience even if you are not a big company or based internationally!


Misconception 3: Expanding Internationally is Expensive

It's true that expanding your site presence internationally might have higher costs than your local language version. From deploying the web platform in a new ccTLD (or subdirectory if it's not a country but a language targeted version) to localizing (not only translating) the content, having native language support to expand your content and social media marketing strategies (that also need to take into consideration the local audience behavior, using the criteria I've previously shared in this post), as well as to support your outreach and community management efforts in this other language. 

Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that expanding your site internationally should be non-beneficial for you. When you implement complete research to identify the potential organic traffic and conversion from each language and country and on the other that you validate from the start, this potential revenue will surpass the costs related to your international web presence:

International SEO: Revenue vs Costs

With this information, you will be able to calculate the expected international presence (as well as international SEO process) return on investment:

International SEO ROI

I've seen too many situations where this type of initial assessment hasn't been done, and because of this, there are businesses that have ended up with many languages or country site versions that have been developed without any clear strategy. They don't  answer to a business related goal and are simply the "literal translation" of the main site version. Of course they're not profitable! But it's because the international web project hasn't been correctly developed.

Another common signal when an international site presence hasn't been effectively planned or executed is when the site owner tells you that they have their UK site version with the exact same content than the US one but they cannot afford to update it to make it unique, specifically targeting the UK audience.

If they cannot afford it, this means that they're at the moment not getting any or enough benefit from it; whether because they likely don't have any strategy behind and this presence is potentially not optimized, or because there's not enough potential in this market and they haven't been able to identify this since they didn't do any research previously. It's also our work to advise our clients effectively from the start, validate the potential benefit from any international development or SEO project, and warn them if, for some reason, there's no potential.

Additionally, we can run pilot projects to test the market, just with the most important product or services categories with targeted landing pages, so as you can see there's no excuse for a non-successful international web presence that has been effectively planned, well developed, and optimized.


International SEO Potential

With a couple of very simple analysis steps that shouldn't take much of your time you can have an overview of the potential your business might have internationally:

Google Analytics International Traffic

Check your International traffic status

Go to the Audience > Demographics > Location & Language reports in Google Analytics to check the percentage of your website visitors coming from other countries and using browsers in other languages.

Verify the volume and trends from the last couple of years for all of your traffic as well for only organic and compare them:

  • Is there a high or growing percentage of visitors coming from other countries? 
  • What's the volume and trend of conversions and the conversion rate of visitors coming from other countries?
  • What's the traffic source of visitors coming from other countries? Direct, organic, referrals?
  • Which are the keywords and pages attracting this international traffic?

You have a bit more of time? If so, go to Google Webmaster Tools to validate the visibility you're getting already in Google search result pages from other countries, along with the queries and pages impressions and clicks.

International Search Queries

This is just your starting point that will help you to prioritize the international markets where you have already have activity and might be initially easier to start with.

Nonetheless, if numbers are not high it doesn't mean you don't have potential, but that maybe your efforts have been highly targeted to your current audience and haven't had a high international impact until now, so you will likely need to work harder at the beginning.

International Keyword Research with Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Identify your International Organic potential

Prioritize the countries that you have already identified with higher traffic activity in your Website before and do a quick keyword research for each one of them by selecting the desired location and language from the Google's Keyword Tool Advanced Options and Filters.

You can use the keywords that you have identified in the previous analysis that are already giving visibility and traffic from these countries and languages. If you didn't identify any keyword information in the previous analysis and the country you need to research is non-English speaking (or in other language than yours), then the best option at this level is to take the keywords in your current language, use Google Translate to quickly translate them to the desired one and use them for this initial and quick validation and overview (It's important to note that this is ok just for this initial, quick analysis, since these keywords will likely have errors and missing opportunities. You can do a complete international SEO research and process without speaking the language but with the right process and local language support, as I've described in this post).

Use the exact match type (to get more "realistic" data that you can expect for each specific keywords) and check:

  • What's the local monthly search volume for the relevant keywords in each of the countries and languages?
  • Are there more suggested keyword ideas with a high level of search volume?

Refine and expand the research according to the suggestions you get for them.

You have a bit more of time? If so, go to SEMRush or Search Metrics Essentials (that support many countries) to identify more keywords opportunities:

Additional Keywords Ideas from SEMRush

Is there a high search volume potential for the verified countries and languages? If so, congratulations! This are great news.

It's time then for you to develop a full International SEO research to understand, validate and plan your strategy, and verify your potential costs, revenue, and ROI, taking into consideration all of the necessary aspects, from a business abd language to technical capacity, restrictions, and requirements.

To do this, take a look and follow the step-by-step guide I published some weeks ago about it: 

How to start your international web presence


International SEO Doubts? Let me know in the comments!

Images under Creative Commons taken from Flickr.

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Twitter Update Makes it Easier for Users to Discover Your Marketing Content

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The savviest of inbound marketers know that content creation is at the heart of a successful inbound marketing strategy. But if marketers are consistently pumping out tons and tons of content, what you end up with is a cluttered web that will only get more cluttered, right?

These days, content discovery is a big problem, both as a user and as a marketer. Your audience is constantly struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff, and as a marketer, you’re always looking for ways to make sure your content gets in front of the eyes of that audience.

The good news is, search engines and social networks have been trying to make content discovery and delivery a little bit easier lately. For example, we’ve witnessed LinkedIn’s launch of more robust content targeting tools; Google’s pushes to reward high quality content and penalize low-quality, spammy content in search; and various other efforts by Google and social networks to provide more relevant, personalized content to its users.

Well, here’s one more for ya! Yesterday, Twitter announced an update to its Discover tab, which aims to provide users with content that is even more personalized and relevant to them.

 

disco final resized 600

 

The Twitter Discover tab was originally created to make it easier for users to discover meaningful information without needing to follow other accounts. With Twitter’s new update, the tab will now take into consideration additional personalization signals to surface stories and tweets that are popular among the people you follow — and the people they follow.

How Twitter Decides Which Content to Highlight on the Updated Discover Tab

The Twitter Engineering Blog had a bit more to say about how Twitter determines which content is relevant to a particular user via the Discover tab. Here’s how it works:

  • Twitter uses a ‘graph processing library’ called Cassovary to identify a user’s connections.
  • It then ranks those connections based on how strong and important they are to the user.
  • Once it identifies that strong network of users, Twitter uses its search function to find URLs that have been shared by that group of people.
  • Twitter then converts the links it finds into stories to display in the Discover tab.
  • Before it displays the stories, Twitter does a final ranking of the stories based on how many people have tweeted about them and how important those people are in relation to the user.

Twitter states that this all happens in near-real time so they can surface breaking, relevant stories to users in the Discover tab soon after people start talking about them.

New Discover Tab Design

The update of the Discover tab also comes with a new design, which features avatars of the users who have tweeted about particular stories. You can also view popular tweets about that story from people in your network as well as recent and relevant tweets by clicking ‘View Tweets‘ on any given story, giving you the social context to understand why particular stories are relevant to you. Furthermore, you have the option to easily share your perspective on the story with your followers by clicking ‘Tweet this story,’ or to retweet, favorite, or reply to tweets about the story.

Content Discovery and Marketing

Twitter has indicated it will be rolling out this new design and functionality to users on Twitter.com as well as for iPhone and Android devices over the coming weeks. Twitter also mentioned that this is just the first of an ongoing effort for Twitter to bring users closer to the content and tweets they care about, so you can bet there is going to be more from Twitter in the future to make content discovery even easier.

As a marketer, think of Twitter’s update as yet another way for your audience to discover your content — and another reason why using social media as a vehicle for content promotion is so important. To optimize your marketing content for social sharing so it’s easier for your audience to share the content they love, add share links/buttons to all your content — every blog article, every landing page, every case study, within every ebook — you name it! Putting your content out there and making it easy for others to do so will make it more likely that it will pop up in content discovery engines like Twitter’s Discover tab for your target audience, especially if it’s getting shared by likeminded people!

What do you think of Twitter and other platforms’ attempts to improve content discovery? What other implications does it have for marketers?

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Discover EXACTLY What Your Audience Wants With This Clever Google Analytics Hack

Are you a married man? I am! Happily married now for five years, one month, and seven days at the time that I’m sitting down to write this. In the five years of my very happy marriage, and my dating years that came before, it has become quite obvious to me that, in many situations, guys can’t read girls’ minds. I know, it sounds strange, but follow me on this one.

Have you ever been in a situation where your significant other expects you to know what they are thinking, and you have absolutely NO IDEA that they are even thinking about something? If you are a guy, you’ve probably encountered this at least once in your life src='http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_wink.gif' alt=';)' class='wp-smiley' />

In my Many years of marriage (ok, I know. I’m still a newbie), my wife and I have come to realize that if we want to know what each other are thinking, asking can be a very valuable skill that is often overlooked.

So what in the world does this have to do with Internet Marketing, Online business, blogging, etc? Well, in a past article, I showed how my href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/6735/how-my-five-question-survey-saved-me-time-and-resources-in-product-development/"> 5 Question Survey saved me time and resources in product development. It’s a very clear example of how asking your audience the right questions can help you accomplish your goals for your online business.

But what if you could read the mind of your significant other? What if you knew exactly what he/she was thinking without even having to ask? How awesome would it be if you could wake up in the morning, sit at your laptop and get a detailed report of everything your wife thought the day before, and throughout your entire relationship? How AWESOME would that be?

(On a side note: Have you seen the Movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson? That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about)

Well, unfortunately for you and I, that won’t happen. My wife and I will just have to go through the long, and sometimes painful, process of getting to know each other. Fortunately, for my online business, this is something that’s very easily accomplished – Thanks to title="Google Analytics" href="http://www.google.com/analytics/" target="_blank">Google Analytics‘ Site search Feature.

What Is Site Search And How To Benefit From It?

id="more-7237">If you’re a blogger, you probably have a search function on your site. If not, you should definitely add it. It’s an easy way for your website visitors to search the contents of your site. It basically functions as an internal Search Engine. Most WordPress themes have a search function built in, and if yours doesn’t, WordPress has a widget that you can add to your sidebar.

Here’s the thing – most bloggers have site search on their website, but don’t use it to their advantage. Whenever someone does a search on your site, they are telling you exactly what they are looking for, without even intending to do so. However, you will never know what they are looking for if you don’t have a system to report what their searches are. It’s like having the ability to read the mind of your significant other, but not taking advantage of it.

Fortunately for you and I, Google analytics gives you the option to Track Site Search.

How To Set Up Site Search

Before you can track site search on your site, you need to set it up in title="Google Analytics" href="http://www.google.com/analytics/" target="_blank">Google analytics. It’s quite a simple process. Here it goes:

  1. Go to your site and do a search for anything using your site search function.
  2. When you reach the results page, take a look at the URL in the address bar. For example, when I go to my Interactive Biology Website and do a search for the term “Kidney”, the url in the address bar is http://www.interactive-biology.com/?s=kidney
  3. Take note of the Query Parameter. In my case, my query parameter is the letter “s” (?s=kidney).
  4. In your Google Analytics Profile Settings, you will see a Site Search section that gives you the option to Track Site Search. Select “Do Track Site Search” and enter the query Parameter as shown below.
  5. style="text-align: center"> href="http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SiteSearch.png"> class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-7240" src="http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SiteSearch.png" alt="" width="496" height="142" />

  6. Select the option that says “Yes, strip query parameters out of URL“. This will clean up your reports and make it easier to analyze.
  7. Click on “Save Changes“.

That’s pretty much it. Now you are ready to use your mind-reading powers. However, make sure you use your powers for good and not for evil src='http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_wink.gif' alt=';)' class='wp-smiley' />

How To Analyze Your Site Search Report

Now that you have your superpowers, it’s time to start making the magic happen. Of course, it will take some time for data to start accumulating. Hopefully, you have enough visitors by now and they are actively doing searches on your site. If so, the rest is super easy. Allow me to illustrate by giving an example. Let’s take a look at my Site Search Report.

style="text-align: center"> href="http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SearchReport.png"> class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-7241" src="http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SearchReport.png" alt="" width="522" height="362" />

When I look at the report above, it gives me some very useful details. Not only that, but it shows me that a number of the things people are searching for are very closely related to the content I have on my site. This makes me happy, and gives me actionable data.

The term that is searched most often on my site is “kidney“. Obviously, some of the people that are using my site are looking for information on the kidney. And when they do that search, they don’t find any results. Approximately 67% of people leave after not finding what they are looking for. The average user that searches for “kidney” on my site only spends 1 minute and 25 seconds on the site.

If I were to make a few videos on the kidney, that should increase the amount of time they spend on my site, and that would increase the likelihood of them coming back for more.

The next most frequently searched term on my site is “Action Potential“. Fortunately, I have a bunch of videos on my site that deals with the concept of the Action potential. As a result of that, only 11% of people who do that search leave the site, and the average person who searches for that spends 6 minutes and 39 seconds on the site. Do you notice a difference? I sure do.

So the take home message here is simple: If people are searching for something that is very relevant, but you don’t have it – start making some of that content and increase the amount of time they spend on your site, and the likelihood that they will return (and even share your site).

My Next Steps

Seeing that this gives such valuable info, there are two things that I plan on doing. The first should be extremely obvious. I plan on making more of the content that people are searching for. It’s easy to do, and is very relevant. In other words, it’s a win-win situation.

Secondly, I plan on making a search box that’s more prominent on my website, to highlight the fact that you can actually search for what you are looking for. That will accomplish two things:

  • It will make it easier for my visitors to find what they are looking for
  • It will enhance my mind-reading capability (if you know what I mean).

Are YOU reading your audience’s minds?

If not, then you should start. Set up the Site Search reporting capabilities in title="Google Analytics" href="http://www.google.com/analytics/" target="_blank">Google Analytics. Have you done this already? If so, how are you using this information? Let me know what you think below.

Until Next Time!

class="alignnone" src="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/LeslieSignature.png" alt="Leslie Samuel" width="212" height="47" />

/>
/> href="http://entrepreneurs-journey.com/free-report/"> src="http://cdn.entrepreneurs-journey.com/wp-content/themes/ej2/images/internetbiz-cover_thumb-white.png" width="122" height="140" border="0" alt="How To Start An Internet Business & Make Your First $ 1,000 Online" align="left" /> /> align="right">Get your bonus copy of my book />“How To Start An Internet Business />& Make Your First $ 1,000 Online” /> href="http://entrepreneurs-journey.com/free-report/">Download Here

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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