Nofollow Vs. Dofollow: What’s the Difference?

Nofollow and dofollow links - what's the difference?

Nofollow Vs. Dofollow: What’s the Difference?


If you’re new to blogging, you’re likely being bombarded by a lot of technical information and terms that are just kinda blowing your mind. That’s okay, take a deep breath – I promise it’s not as complex as it seems.


Today, class, we’re going to cover a term you hear about in SEO circles, but particularly among bloggers: nofollow and dofollow links. First though, it’s time for a crash course in how links relate to your site’s page rank and SEO strategy.


How Links Are Connected to SEO


Google uses algorithms to sort through web pages and determine how valuable they are to searchers. There are countless factors that go into play, and in the end, only Google know exactly how they all work.


A big part of the equation though is the links that Google finds on your site. Every web page, no matter how small, has a link profile attached to it (you can see yours with tools like Moz). The links going to your site and from your site tell Google a few things about how popular your content is, but also how spammy it is.

Inbound Links


Inbound links are links from other pages to yours, and these are a very good thing. When Google sees a lot of inbound links, it figures, ‘Hey, this must be some really good stuff if everyone’s linking to it!’, and it gives you some more of its sweet, Google-y love.


You can get inbound links by having fantastic content for starters, but you can also actively build your inbound link list by guest posting on other blogs (read more about how not to do this in this post).


Outbound Links


Outbound links are links that you yourself put on your own pages going to other pages. When you think of something relevant that would enrich the content for your readers that isn’t on your site, cue the outbound links.


Use links on your own site with caution though – linking to spammy content is a great way not only to piss off your readers, but Google as well.


‘Bad Neighborhood’ Linking


When you have a bunch of inbound or outbound links going to or coming from spammy sites, it’s known as bad neighborhood linking, and it can seriously tank your SEO.


Google’s smart, way smarter than me or you, and when it sees these kinds of links, it can only surmise two things:


  1. You didn’t vet the content for quality control.
  2. You’re in cahoots with those no-good, dirty spammers.


It’s essentially like hanging out with the wrong crowd, and when Google sees a lot of links like this, it can have a negative impact on your SEO.


Which brings me to the crux of the solution…the glorious nofollow link distinction.


The Difference Between Nofollow and Dofollow links


Once upon a time, black hat SEO strategists (those are the jerks that spam everyone) figured out that they could boost their own pages’ rank by leaving comments with links on high authority blogs.


They sought them out in droves, even going so far as to use automated software to do it, and Google noticed.


Enter the invention of the nofollow and dofollow link distinction. Matt Cutts, software engineer for Google, developed a solution that gave Google the information it needed to not count low-quality links against a page’s rank.


By adding a nofollow or dofollow tag to a link, admins could ensure that their sites didn’t get dragged into the gutter by link farmers, and create a dividing line between good and bad links on their site.


When a dofollow link is used, Google counts the link towards your page’s rank, and it will either help or hinder your ascension to the top of the result pages. When a nofollow link is used, it tells Google not to count it, and the link’s poor SEO has no effect on your own page, whether good or bad.


Do Nofollow/Dofollow Links Still Matter?


Since Google’s Panda update, the necessity of nofollow and dofollow links has been frequently debated, and the consensus will vary depending on who you talked to. Some experts claim that link profiles no longer play that heavy a role in a page’s ranking, but, well – tell that to the strategists still aggressively pursuing this tactic.


Our opinion? It can’t really hurt. All this little tag does is tell Google whether you want to be associated with that link or not, and ultimately, if Google chooses to ignore that information, it’s not going to hurt your rankings.


We say stick with those tags, people.


Knowing When to Use Nofollow and Dofollow Links


So now the big question – when do you use a nofollow link, and when do you use a dofollow link? The answer requires a little detective work on your part.


First of all, actually go to the link and check it out for yourself. If the site looks reputable, there aren’t a ton of popups or scripts, and particularly, it’s a secure page (https), then you should be fine.


You can also dig a little deeper into the reputation of a page by taking a look at its own link profile. Again, just use your free Moz extension, hop into ‘Page Analysis’, and select the ‘Link Metrics’ tab at the top. Even with the free version of this tool, it’ll tell you the external followed links and total links.


The Benefits of a Nofollow Link


So is there any upside to landing a nofollow link on someone else’s page? Yes actually, because guess what people – it still brings in traffic.


If you have a link in an appropriate, relevant spot that’s placed in a way that’s helpful to the reader, then chances are it’s still going to bring you some traffic, whether it’s nofollow or not. While the link won’t do anything for your SEO, on a high-traffic site, it can still do a lot for your own numbers.

How to Specify a Link as Nofollow/Dofollow


Making a link nofollow or dofollow is actually relatively simple, but you’re going to need to glance at a tiny bit of HTML to do it manually. Don’t freak out, it’s not that bad – I promise.


When you have a hyperlink to a website, it looks like this:


21 Taco Recipes


Really though, on the back-end of a page, the HTML looks like this:


<a href=””>21 Taco Recipes</a>


Breaking that down, this is the HTML you use to create a plain-old, no distinction hyperlink:


<a href=”link goes here”>text goes here</a>


See? Easy peasy. To specify a link as nofollow or dofollow, you just add another piece to the puzzle, so that it looks like this:


<a href=”link goes here” rel=”dofollow”>text goes here</a>


There, that’s not so scary, is it? Now we bring it all together with our link information, and we have a shiny new, dofollow link (because what reader on this planet wouldn’t want to read 21 taco recipes):


<a href=”” rel=”dofollow”>21 Taco Recipes</a>


This method is easy enough if the links are going into the content you yourself are creating, but with blog comments, it can get a little trickier, and a LOT more time-consuming. Thankfully, there’s a plugin for that.


Using plugins like External Links, you can actually set up automatic settings that tell WordPress when to designate a link as nofollow, taking you out of your moderator hat so you can focus on content creation.


How to See if a Link on Someone’s Page is Nofollow/Dofollow


If you’re curious to see if a link to your page somewhere on the web is nofollow or dofollow, it’s as simple as checking out the source code.


In Google Chrome


At the top of your browser screen, go to ‘View’.


Select ‘Developer’


Select ‘View Source’


A window will pop up on the right side of your screen displaying all of the code for the page. Just use command + f to quickly find the link you want to check out, and look for that handy-dandy dofollow tag.


In Safari


At the top of your screen, click on ‘Safari’


Click on ‘Preferences’


Go to ‘Advanced’


Check ‘Show develop menu in menu bar’


Go to the web page and click ‘Develop Menu’


Click ‘Show page source


In Firefox


Easy peasy.


Go to anywhere on the page you’d like to see the source code for (except images or text, try the margins)


Right click


Select ‘View source code’


Do Nofollow/Dofollow Links Really Matter?


The jury’s still out on how effective these links really are at factoring in the reputability of links with Google, but the way we see it – it just can’t hurt.

How to Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool for SEO

How to use the Google Keyword Planner for SEO


How to Use the Google Keyword Planner for SEO


If you’ve ever run a Google ad, you’ve probably come across the glory that is the Google Keyword Planner Tool. Easy to use and loaded with wildly useful information, learning how to use the Google Keyword Planner is pretty critical to your success in SEO.


Despite its user-friendly interface, it’s fair to say that for beginners, the tool can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing which options to use and how to use them is going to make or break the usefulness of the Keyword Planner for you. Read through this quick-start guide to get the plain-English breakdown on how it works, and what it all means to you.


How to Get Access


The first thing to note is, while the Google Keyword Planner is technically a free tool, access is not actually free. Here’s what I mean by that.


The Google Keyword Planner Tool is just one tool in the Google AdWords arsenal, and to get access, you have to first set up an account. That means creating an ad campaign – and yes, they’re going to want your credit card number for that.


If you’re not ready to create your first campaign yet, there’s actually an easy fix for that. As you begin setting up your AdWords account, just go through the motions and set up what is essentially going to be a placeholder ad.


Once that’s in place, go to your campaigns and pause the ad. Nothing gets charged, and you still have access to the AdWords suite – easy peasy. Then, when you have your list of SEO-magic-makin’ keywords, you can come back to your campaign, get it edited, and unpause the campaign.


Unfortunately, without setting up an account and at least forking over your payment information, there’s no other way to get access to the Keyword Planner Tool.


How to Use the Keyword Planner Tool


Once you’re in, just click on the ‘Tools’ menu at the top of the screen, and select ‘Keyword Planner’ from the drop down menu.


The Google Keyword Planner Tool


Option 1: ‘Find new keywords and get search volume data’


This is the meat and potatoes of the Keyword Planner tool, and where you get the information you need to turn a profitable, effective PPC campaign. Let’s get started.


Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category


This is essentially a keyword suggestion tool, and while it’s very handy for giving you ideas for new content, quite honestly, you can do the same thing over here with Text Tools, and the process is a lot simpler. For the sake of being thorough though, I’ll cover it here.


First, start with what you’re looking for keywords in relation to. In our semantic keyword analysis, this is just the keyword you start with to get the list from our software. The same works with the Google Keyword Planner Tool, so you can start with whatever your target page is all about.


Finding new keywords with the Google Keyword Planner Tool



Here I used ‘chicken’ as an example. From there, you can adjust the filters to make sure you’re not overwhelmed with results, from placing location restrictions on the suggestions to minimum search volume data. For the most part, this can all remain at their default settings. If you get overwhelmed with results, go back and tweak those filters then.


Google Keyword Planner research results


As you can see, I only came back with two results, but it’s a solid direction to start in.


The key difference between Text Tools and this portion of the Google Keyword Planner Tool is that Text Tools goes beyond the search string to provide keywords that are related to the term you enter. They show up often in pages containing your target term, and ultimately, this data can help you pass up the competition in the SERP results.


The main thing to note here is that this feature is a lot like the ‘People who bought this also shopped for…’ feature on Amazon. It gives you an idea of related search history, and a direction to take your content in, but it’s applications are pretty limited.


Get Search Volume Data and Trends


Ah, here we go. This is where the real meat and potatoes of the Keyword Planner are at. Using this section, you can get piles of data on your target keywords, and make determinations on any adjustments you might need to make if the numbers aren’t quite right.


Essentially what this tool helps you to do is to find focus keywords that are effective for your content, but also not so competitive that you’re drowning in the SERP results and being crippled by the cost of the keywords in PPC adverts.


To use this tool, it’s pretty simple: start looking at your content, and get together some ideas for focus keywords. You can use the option listed above to analyze the URL of an existing keyword, or you can try to lean in a fresh direction by looking up new targets.


When you get to your results, Google will provide you with the average monthly searches for those terms, the suggested bid for the term (which you can use when working your PPC campaign budget), and the competition level for the term. Use this information to determine if a keyword is worth the expense and the risk (high $ value, high competition), or if there are low competition terms you feel you can capitalize on more effectively.


Google keyword tool search volume result research


From here, you can click on the tab at the top of your results labeled ‘Ad group ideas’ to explore recommended keywords for your ad set.


Google's suggestions for ad set keywords


If you like the looks of any of this data and want to dig into it more later or share it, you can download a spreadsheet with the data, or even add it directly to your Google Drive for quick and easy access later between team members.


Multiply Keyword Lists to Get New Keywords


Multiply keyword lists in Google Keyword Planner to get advanced keyword data


This is where it gets really fun. Data junkies, get ready, because this section is really going to give you your fix. Here you can multiply lists of keywords to get in-depth search figures, but you can also create a forecast for an ad campaign.


Google's forecast for keywords in a PPC campaign


The information here is great for determining the costs to run a campaign, and optimizing that campaign for the most success. Before you choose your keywords and run to create your ad, jump in here and play around with some numbers to see where your money will best be spent.


What the Data Means


The Keyword Planner ool takes the guesswork out of optimizing your content, giving you hard figures to base the SEO work on your site on. While it’s not something that should dictate the direction of your content, it can give you a focus keyword to hang your efforts on as you optimize.


Even if you don’t plan to run a new PPC campaign, using the average monthly search volume data coupled with the competition for the keyword can show you which keywords should be popping up in your H1 text and meta descriptions.


From there, you can continue to build the SEO power of your site with semantic keyword analysis, plugging these focus keywords into the Text Tools software for a closer look at the content your competitors are putting out, and other keywords you can target.


Using semantic keyword analysis (TF-IDF) to generate keyword ideas for the Google Keyword Planner Tool


Once you get your analysis data back from Text Tools, take it back into the Keyword Planner Tool for some search volume data, and let the process come full circle.



  • Keyword research in the Google Keyword Planner Tool
  • Content optimization with your new focus keywords
  • Semantic keyword analysis of your current focus keywords in the Text Tools software
  • Search volume research with your new keywords in Google Keywords Planner Tool
  • New content creation based on the best performing keywords from your semantic keyword analysis



In short, Text Tools and the Google Keyword Planner Tool is a match made in heaven. Use one to complement the other, and your rankings will soar as you sharpen the edge on your SEO and kick the competition’s non-optimizing ass.


Kick the competition’s ass – start using Text Tools with the Google Keyword Planner Tool now.

TF-IDF: SEO and Content Marketing Rolled Into One

TF-IDF: SEO and Content Marketing Rolled Into One


TF-IDF for content marketing


Content marketing is a time-consuming process. Keeping a site consistently up to date with fresh articles and compelling copy takes time and skill. To add to your mountain of to-dos, you have to get that copy into the hands of people that want to read it with content marketing strategies.


Search engine optimization, outreach, backlinking, networking, cross-promotion, advertising, inbound marketing strategies – it’s a full-time job and a half. So what happens when those efforts fall flat, and you still don’t have the traffic coming in that you need?


You’ve wasted hours, days, weeks of your valuable time on a strategy that isn’t producing results. You’ve allocated your resources to getting this stuff out there, but people aren’t finding you. It’s a maddening situation to be in. You’ve put other things on the back burner for the long game with content marketing strategy implementation, things that could have made you immediate money, and now you’re coming up empty.


There are a few different approaches to content marketing that can help bring in more traffic, with less manual input from you, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of growing your business.


SEO and Inbound Marketing


SEO is a tricky beast. It starts off being simple – put this keyword here this number of times, get those stop words outta there, keep your pages spam-free… The truth is though, there is no single SEO strategy that is going to shoot your content to the top of the SERPs – Google’s made sure you have to try harder than that.


Though it might not always seem to be the case, we’ve officially entered the age of authenticity selling. Information-rich content that’s original and actionable is what is going to market your site for you, and draw traffic in with no marketing expertise required.


What is TF-IDF?


TF-IDF is just a fancy technical term for our keyword software here at Text Tools. Here’s what it stands for:





If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s okay, don’t panic – it’s not as technical as it sounds. Basically, this is a keyword program that looks at a single term within a document to determine its importance, based on the frequency of its use, compared to the frequency of words that are less relevant.


The more a term gets mentioned on a page, the higher TF-IDF judges its weight to be, and the more important the software determines it is.


How Does TF-IDF Help With Content Marketing and SEO?


TF-IDF doesn’t just provide you with information about term frequency. The Text Tools program has a feature called ‘Semantic Analysis’. Based on the term you enter in the software, once the program calculates the weight of the term, it quickly scans the web for other pages that have this term listed at a high weight.


When Text Tools does this, you’re given a detailed graph that essentially lines out the top competing pages for that term on the web on a graph. Digging deeper though, Text Tools also gives you a list of semantically related keywords. Here’s what that means:


Semantics: of, relating to, or arising from the different meanings of words


Basically, semantically related keywords fall into a category of words that have something to do with each other but aren’t necessarily a part of the same topic.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis results


When you do a semantic analysis with Text Tools, you get several words that are also showing up commonly on the pages with high weights for your target keyword. In this graph, you’ll see the URLs that are referenced, as well as the weight of those terms on each page.


How to Use TF-IDF for SEO and Content Marketing

So how does TF-IDF tie in with content marketing? Essentially what it comes down to is pretty simple: giving the people what they want. Using semantic keyword analysis, you can evaluate the target market and get a feel for what they’re reading, and what the sites they’re reading on are also writing about.


Take your findings from Text Tools and use them to create an entire content creation strategy, so that you can create a targeted approach to leading your readers on to other topics. It not only opens the door to fresh eyes, but it keeps your content from getting stale and repetitive.


As you continue to create organic content, your website becomes richer and richer, with naturally key term dense articles and pages that start showing up in the SERPs more and more. As you build that content, you link back and forth between related articles, and the Google crawler starts indexing even more of your site, making you easier to find.


Why SEO Isn’t the Answer to Everything

Ethical SEO practices


The problem with building content around an SEO-based strategy is that it sets you up to create content that is artificial and not free-flowing. You wind up with robotic text that is unpleasant to read, and obviously engineered, and Google picks up on that.


Google’s Panda algorithm is smarter than ever, and can smell engineered content a mile away. When too many sentences are starting with the same word, and a word appears in more than 2-3% of the text, Google senses that the content is being written for the search engine, not the reader.


The result is essentially a penalty, and Google punishes the page for bad behavior, not ranking it well, and generally treating the link like spam that it doesn’t want its searchers to see.


Cost/Benefit of Link Building


Building backlinks is a great way to boost a target page’s rank and drive traffic to your site. You get your name out there, network with other blogs, and there’s the SEO benefit of getting a link on a site with a substantial domain authority.


Link building is the long game for SEO and content marketing, but it’s a tremendous way to expand the reach of your audience, without spamming in the comments sections of other blogs (don’t be that guy).


The problem with link building that most sites – particularly those fresh out of the gate – run into is that it takes time, money, and plenty of outreach, most of which tiny budgets don’t allow for. The result is a lot of time spent for little gain for a site that’s still in its infantile stages.


The bottom line is, you need to build your rapport with your audience first. You can spend all of that time and money driving people to your domain, but ultimately that progress will be short-lived and unsustainable if the content you have on your own site isn’t engaging and continually growing.


Social Media Marketing Won’t Work by Itself


Social media marketing is another area where content creators and digital marketers place a ton of effort and strategy, and often get frustrated by the lack of results. The engagement doesn’t yield clicks, and all of that time and money invested only serves to build a social media presence that isn’t building sales or an email list.


The bottom line is, you can’t just count on social media marketing to build your audience and grow your business. In every scenario and with every strategy, it always starts with content. You have to give your readers a reason to do more than like your Facebook page.


Ask yourself, what is really drawing people to your email list from your social media accounts? What incentive is there for your audience to go further and commit to a relationship with you?


A Match Made in Heaven: TF-IDF and Inbound Marketing


The bottom line is as it always was – content is king, and there is no substitute. You have to be willing to give your readers something of value if you want to grow your base of readers, and it really is that simple.


TF-IDF is like the ultimate market analyzation tool, helping you create content that’s relevant to your audience, but will also help your site rank better. It’s not keyword stuffing – it’s not even just packing that list of Keyword Tool generated related keywords into a page.


TF-IDF is taking the natural interests of your readership and giving the information you need to dig deeper and diversify your content based on that data. With this information, you can create content that brings in organic traffic, and builds your subscriber list based on the diversity of your information.


Why TF-IDF is the First Thing You Should Try


Your ideas are grand, and your ambitions have the power to take your online business places, but ultimately you cannot forget about your readers. If you want to see your hard work pay off, you have to put in the time with your content – there are no sustainable shortcuts.


Use TF-IDF to break through your writer’s block and stimulate the flow of fresh ideas and new content that’s relevant to your readership.


Learn more about what your audience wants to read – get Text Tools now.

Worst SEO Practices – How to Piss Google Off

Worse SEO Practices

SEO has put the internet through the ringer over the last decade. As SEO practices get more advanced in content marketing, strategists are pulling out all the stops to put their pages in the top of the SERPs. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and now it’s time review the worst SEO practices.


Pissing Google Off


Over time, as content creators got more and more savvy with ascending the rankings and capturing that precious search engine traffic, Google started to notice that websites weren’t necessarily creating content for the sake of the visitors. Instead, what was happening was that sites were getting over-optimized, and as a result, the user experience was suffering.


Keyword stuffing created content that was just, well, garbage, and SEO specialists were manipulating page layouts for the sake of ranking, not for the benefit of the navigational experience.


What happened? Google cracked down.


Google may be a search engine, but it’s a service provider first and foremost, and so they took action to save face with their customers. An unhappy searcher was bad for business, so they started implementing new ways to penalize sites for creating content for the wrong reasons.


The algorithms in place were modified and adjusted to look for these shady new SEO practices, and pretty soon, the black hat link builders and keyword stuffers were finally getting their comeuppance. Their rankings fell, and their traffic took a hit – and rightfully so.


Too Much SEO


Over optimizing content

What happened was, people got so caught up in rankings and traffic, that they forgot the reason they had a website in the first place – to attract real traffic from real people, who were really interested in their content.


Nobody wants to read a page that has nothing to do with what they were searching for, and everybody likes content that feels organic, and flows without seeming engineered.


When Google caught on to SEO practices that were using keyword placement just to bring searchers to their pages, they implemented algorithmic protocols to ensure that these pages did not rank well.


Since then, any SEO strategist worth their salt has upped their game for quality over quantity, in nearly every respect. SEO is still a part of content creation, but it plays a much more subtle role in the process than it used to.


The Worst SEO Practices You Can Stop Implementing TODAY


Let’s get down to it. There are some SEO practices that are definitely going to hurt your reputation with Google, so if any of these have you looking at your feet in shame, it’s time to adjust your strategy and remember why you got into content creation.


#1 – Link Farming


Building a backlink profile ethically


Having relevant links on your pages is definitely a good thing. Strategists all agree that linking between your domain’s pages is helpful with the Google crawlers, and will help to get those pages properly indexed.


Sourcing high-quality external backlinks is also beneficial, so long as the link is relevant to the content. It offers readers an opportunity to enrich their experience on your site by digging deeper into the topic, and it’s a great way to build bridges with other sites.


However, there is such a thing as too many links. A page heavy with links is going to set off alarms to Google that your site is likely engaging in some shady link-building practices, so keep it practical, and don’t go too crazy.


While the perfect number is generally up for debate, generally using only what’s relevant and helpful to the reader is a good rule of thumb – if it feels excessive, it probably is.


Only include links on your pages that are actually relevant to your content, and make sure they go to reputable, secure sites. Linking to spammy sites is going to drag down your rankings, and ultimately deter people from going to your pages, so link with care.


#2 – Over-Optimizing for Keyword Density


If you’re trying to rank high for a certain search term, it definitely makes sense to put that term into your content as much as you can. However, don’t get into the habit of replacing every pronoun with your keywords, or Google is going to pick up on your attempts to manipulate the system and knock you down a peg.


Always focus first and foremost on writing authentic content that flows well for the reader, and then go back and see if you can do a little light optimizing.


It’s like wearing makeup – too little, and you may not get the chance to shine, but too much SEO, and everyone’s going to know you’re a big phony. Remember, if your content’s good, then the readers will come.


#3 – Too Many Ads


Too many adsSelling advertising is a great way to drive income to your site, but using too many can seriously damage your rankings. If your advertisements are covering a significant portion of the screen, particularly at the top of the page, then you can expect Google is going to ding you for it.


#4 – Duplicating Content Incorrectly


Sometimes, repetitive content is necessary on certain types of sites. If it has to be done, then by all means, create the pages your site needs to function correctly, but keep in mind that Google sees duplicate content as a red flag, and often won’t index those pages correctly.


If you do need to create some duplicate content, be sure to use “no follow” link tags, so that those pages can still function without negatively impacting your site’s SEO.


#5 – Too Many Plugins


I can’t tell you how often I see this one – a site with great content, that I’m desperate to read, and then 30 seconds in, something on the page causes it to crash. Too many plugins are going to slow down your page’s load time, and ultimately make them more likely to crash. Keep your website as streamlined as you can, and only install plugins that are essential to your operation.


Google looks at load times as a factor in ranking pages, so make sure that yours is efficient enough to be passable. If in doubt, just run your URL through a speed check site, and then you can determine if and where you need to trim some fat.


#6 – Stale, Repetitive Content

Bored girl

A lot of bloggers that don’t have time to do their own writing often accept guest posts as a means of bulking up their content, or just wind up writing circles around the same topics over and over again.


Google picks up on low-quality content – if it’s weak, poorly written, and riddled with links, your rankings are going to suffer. If you don’t have any fresh content ideas, use a semantic keyword tool like Text Tools to do some brainstorming, but if that doesn’t work, you’re better off not publishing anything than publishing something lackluster.


Remember, quality over quantity, every single time.
Ultimately, good SEO practices are pretty simple – don’t be a tool, be a content creator. Generate stuff that people want to read, and promote it in ethical, honest ways. So long as you’re upfront and have your head in the space of delivering something of value, you only need a light touch of SEO to send your content to the top of the SERPs.


Dream big, write often, and optimize sparingly.

Why Isn’t My Page Ranking for Google Searches?

There’s nothing easy about getting your content noticed in a place where literally everyone is creating something new every week. Your competitors seldom take a day off, and every single day you have to get your content out there and get your page ranking higher in Google searches.


The internet is basically just a big claw machine, with a rotation of players with an attention span shorter than a goldfish’s. If what you’re offering doesn’t attract their attention right away – bounce – they’re gone, and on to the better-looking things in the pile.


What happens when you put the content out there, diligently and consistently, and your site still doesn’t rank? There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve been spinning your tires and never gaining any traction.


Why High Page Ranking on Google is So Critical


Google search engine result pages


While Google rankings aren’t everything, search engine users are a major driver of traffic. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has become the driving force behind audience growth and revenue potential for everything from e-commerce sites to blogs.


If your page isn’t ranking well in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), then you’re missing out on a massive chunk of audience that could absolutely be a game-changer.


If people can’t find your website with a Google search, you’re going to be forever relegated to building your audience the hard way – through networking, advertising, and cross promotion. It’s labor-intensive, it’s often very expensive, and it’s not going to pay off nearly as much as just being on the first page of the search engine results.


Why Your Site Isn’t Ranking


So what’s the deal – why isn’t your site ranking?


The answer is never simple, but the culprit is usually a combination of SEO errors and poor content. Content is king,  but even high quality, organic content is a massive factor in good SEO practices.


If you’re not paying attention to the basics, keeping your content focused, or engaging in good linking practices, your site won’t just stay off the SERPs – it might even get penalized by Google’s algorithms.


Bringing Your Site’s SERP Rankings Up



It’s time to stop just mindlessly posting content, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. Your competition is going to try harder than that, so you can bet you’re going to have to as well. Don’t be a punk and rig the game, but don’t count on the raw awesomeness of your content landing you on the top SERPs either.


Here are some basic SEO practices that you can start incorporating into your strategy TODAY, and make that editorial calendar of yours actually work.


#1 – Make Your Content Relevant to Your Target Audience


All too often, we get so caught up in the brainstorming and content creation aspect of running our sites, that we forget who we’re talking to. If you’re not tailoring your tone and content for your target audience, they’re not going to stick around.


Spend some time getting to know your target audience and their interests. What kinds of problems do they have? How do they typically speak? What is their age range?


Just like you likely wouldn’t speak to a college professor the same way you’d speak to a friend in a bar, you need to customize your voice and subject matter for the people you’re trying to reach. It’ll keep them around, and keep them engaged with your site.


#2 – Create Actionable Content


Creating actionable content

All too often, blogs are publishing content that really doesn’t do anything for the reader. In the content creation community, we know what’s up – those people are just writing for the sake of their posting frequency, and not actually to add value for their readers.
Whenever you write something for your blog, ask yourself:


What problem is this article solving for my readers?


If it’s not providing content that readers can take and apply to their own lives to solve a problem, then it’s not going to do anything for your traffic.


Remember: subscribers = sustained traffic, and without the traffic, your page isn’t going to rank in the SERPs.


As you put together blog posts, structure them like this:


  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What is a problem they have in common?
  3. How will this article help them solve that problem?
  4. Offer the solution, and include a firm call to action to keep them engaged.


People notice when a blog is providing more than just filler. If you build it, they will come.

#3 – Plan Time-Sensitive Content Ahead of Time


I’ve written for a lot of agencies over the years, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve gotten some last minute, urgent, top-of-the-stack article request because the editor just realized a big event was approaching that we had to cover.


The bottom line is, current events get a lot of search traffic, and it’s a great way to bring in fresh readers to your blog. Get a feel for the events that your niche audience is interested in, and then orchestrate plenty of content around that to stick in your editorial calendar.


Keep in mind too that most events have something to do with most niches, so even if the spin isn’t apparently obvious from the beginning, just put yourself in their shoes for a moment and consider what the event might mean to you.


Boom – you have your angle. Now put it in your calendar.

#4 – Only Post Well-Written Content


Check spelling with Grammarly

As a writer, it is insane to me what counts for passable writing on the interwebs these days (and hey, some of you may be thinking the same about me).


The bottom line is, poorly written content can and does affect your page rankings and SEO, so don’t allow guest posts on your site that are written in garbled, broken English, and always hold your own language skills to the highest standard.


The Yoast SEO tool has a readability function that you can either choose to take or leave, but it’s a good way to gauge how well your content is flowing.


Here are some common problems with content I see:


  • Wandering topics
  • Long, dense blocks of text
  • Improper punctuation
  • Sentence fragments


Keep it on topic, use some tools and extensions to check for basic grammar and punctuation, and be sure to keep your article easy to read. You’ll notice readers sticking around longer, and your rankings improve as your bounce rate goes down.


#5 – Keep the Number of Links Within Reason


Including links in your posts is helpful to readers because it provides them with in-text references. When you talk about something and feel like an explanation of the topic would be an article on its own, or like someone else would be a better authority on the subject, that’s when it’s time to use a link.


You can have links flow naturally within the text without devoting any attention to explaining it, like this:


The architecture in Sydney is world-renowned for its elegance and modernism.


, or you can try for something more direct, to encourage your readers to check out a resource that you value and trust. It’s a healthy link to have on your page, and definitely a great way to build a relationship with another site (link exchange anyone?):


To learn more about architecture in Sydney, check out the Sydney Architecture Walks.


What raises red flags for Google is when an article has several outbound links. Avoid these mistakes when adding links to your content:


  • Linking to spammy sites
  • Using links that aren’t relevant to your content
  • Using paid links
  • Using more than one or two per paragraph


Can you link internally to one of your own pages or posts? Absolutely, and it’s a great way to help the Google crawler index your site. If you’ve already written something that’s relevant to what you’re posting, or have a product that may help your readers solve a problem referenced in your article, link away!


#6 – Don’t Over-Optimize Your Anchor Text



In addition to sourcing quality, relevant links for your content, make sure you’re using anchor text that flows naturally. It’s fine to use anchor text optimization to improve your SEO to a certain extent, but doing so over and over again will set off alarms for Google that you’re trying to inorganically rank your pages.


Diversify your anchor text to keep the content flowing naturally.


#7 – Using Keywords in H1 Text


This one is pretty important. If you’re trying to boost your site’s rankings for a particular search term, then you need to make sure that you naturally work that term into as much of your H1 text as possible (headers).


While Google’s algorithms are generally pretty good at overlooking common stop words (at, the, a, etc.), it’s always best to avoid letting them break up your target keywords too much in your H1 text.


Again, make it flow naturally, but make sure it’s in there.


#8 – Include Target Keywords in Your Meta Descriptions


Meta descriptions in SERPs


Your meta descriptions are the text that shows up underneath your listing in the SERPs. While not necessarily a factor in rankings, meta descriptions play a huge role in your CTR on the SERPs.


These descriptions are typically 155 characters in length, and describe the content of your page in enough detail that a user can decide if it’s the result they’re searching for.


While including your target keywords definitely can’t hurt, it’s important to make sure that the meta description accurately depicts the content that the user is going to get. If it’s misleading for the sake of keyword stuffing, your bounce rate will go up, and this can negatively impact your page rankings.


#9 – Include Target Keywords in Alt Text for Image


Alt text, or alternative text, is basically a description for the images on your site. Besides the title you choose for your image, this detailed information tells Google what your image is about, and helps your pages rank higher for your target keywords in the SERPs.


Always make sure the alt text you write is accurate and relevant, and include crucial keywords. Keep in mind that in cases in which the image doesn’t render, or the user is visually impaired, the alt text will be all that the viewer sees, so make it relevant and well-written. Usually three to five words is sufficient.


#10 – Use Relevant Titles for Images



As you’ve probably guessed, the same goes for image title text. This is another piece of the information puzzle that Google will use to help searchers find your images, so make sure you optimize them for easy identification on your site and make them easy to find for searches.


Use your target keywords in the titles of your images (where relevant), and opt for hyphens (-) over spaces and underscores (_) to make it easier for Google to find your image.


#11 – Create a Natural Backlink Profile


High-quality backlinks are extremely sought after in the SEO world, and for good reason. Getting an unpaid link on a high authority site will not only help to send more traffic your way, but will tell Google that your site is associating well with other reputable sites. We call this ‘good neighborhood linking’, or ‘white hat link-building’, and it’s a fantastic way to ascend the ranks of the SERPs.


Here are a few ways you can ethically source backlinks:


  • Create fantastic content that people want to share
  • Use plugins to make it easy for other sites to share and link to your content
  • Provide useful information with backlinks in forums and Q & A sites
  • Guest post on other sites
  • Use social media (Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+,etc.)
  • Put together an expert roundup, and encourage participants to share the link


In every case of sourcing a backlink, to keep the practice ethical, the link must be relevant. Guest posting for backlinks is a bit of a grey area in the SEO community, but when done openly and honestly with relevant links to the audience, it can be a powerful aid to your rankings.


Don’t go into it rubbing your hands together like a greedy little link-farming creton, and generally the outcome will be a positive, natural backlink profile that creates an organic network of links all of the web to your content.

#12 – Include Semantically Related Keywords


In the content creation industry, there is definitely such a thing as niching down too much. All too often, there are websites that miss out on massive traffic potential because they refuse to operate even one iota outside of their niche, and it’s hurting their rankings.


Using a semantic keyword tool like Text Tools, you can pull together data from your competitors that shows you what other topics they’re incorporating into their content that are semantically related to yours.


For example, maybe your blog is focused on architecture. When you do a little bit of playing around with Text Tools, you can see that your competitor pages are also ranking high for keywords like ‘design’ and ‘art’, so maybe focusing all of your content on architecture is actually narrowing your audience too much.


The results of a TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis


Chances are, a great deal of your readers work with other related industry professionals, so keep the core of your content niche focused, and then let your editorial calendar branch into these related topics to diversify, build your traffic, and scale the Google page rankings.

#13 – No Keyword Stuffing


Optimizing your content for your target keywords is one thing, but replacing every pronoun with that keyword (and then some) is not only going to make the copy painful to read – it’s going to set off alarms with Google.


Keyword stuffing takes optimization to the extreme and produces content that is robotic and clearly written for SEO, not for readers. At the most, the usual recommendation for keyword density in a page is 2-3%. Focus on using keywords in title text and where it flows the most naturally. If you can’t quite hit that 2-3% range without your copy suffering, don’t sweat it.


Remember: people first, SEO second.

#14 – Use Accurate Headlines


Frustration at the computer

Misleading headlines and title text is some of the worst SEO around, so don’t let your drive to optimize turn people off from actually getting what they want from their searches. It’s wonderful if your site is turning up in the first page of the SERPs, but if people are expecting one thing from your headline and getting another when they actually click, your bounce rate is going to go sky-high, and your rankings will suffer.


If your target keywords don’t fit in with the actual content of your page, just leave it out, and focus on making your title text relevant for searchers. Don’t stew on it – the traffic will come.


Honest, Ethical SEO + Great Content is the Best Way to Raise Your Rankings


When it comes right down to it, great SEO isn’t really that complicated:


  • Create fantastic content that solves a problem for your target audience.
  • Plan your editorial calendar well.
  • Include links within reason.
  • Make sure that it’s searchable by including target keywords in the copy.
  • Give images sensible names and accurate alt text.
  • Don’t leave your meta descriptions blank.
  • Facilitate healthy relationships with other sites to naturally build your backlink profile.
  • Create content for people, not search engines.


If you take this advice to heart, your pages will climb the ranks of the search engine results, and people will start finding you more. More importantly though, they’ll stick around, because what you’ll have on your site will actually be of value to them.

Ethical SEO practices


The internet can be a sleazy place, but Google is certainly doing its part to reward creators of helpful, actionable content, and keeping spammers at bay with algorithms that shut down cheap SEO tactics.


Climbing the SERPs takes time, and any SEO ‘expert’ that promises you a result in a set time frame is likely blowing smoke with false claims. The simple truth of ranking higher comes down to hard work, great content, and being a good networker. Get your name out there, and build that name on the quality of the content you deliver, and your rankings will come.


Looking for fresh ideas for your editorial calendar? Get Text Tools here, and start reaching a broader audience today.

How to Use the Text Tools TF-IDF Software

The concept of TF-IDF may be new to some, but Text Tools has taken this advanced, algorithmic SEO technique and made it accessible to beginner content creators. With Text Tools, the technical mumbo jumbo is taken care of for you, and you get easy to read data – delivered.


TF-IDF is an easy enough concept to get your brain around, so let’s get down to the basics before we break down exactly how this software works. Here’s what it stands for:





Basically, what this means is that TF-IDF will take your chosen keyword and compare it to the rest of the terms in your document, generally ignoring irrelevant stop words like ‘the’, ‘of’, ‘it’, etc.. From there, you get a generated list of words that are semantically related to the word you entered – in a nutshell, words that might come up in topics related to your subject.


What this information gives you is a jumping off point to maximize the reach of your content by drawing in a wider range of subtopics, and a larger audience as a result. Many content strategists caution about ‘niching down’ too much, and Text Tools helps you avoid that by providing you with a wider variety of target keywords.


As a result, your content covers more ground, and you get more traffic from a wider audience to your posts and pages.


Aside from just enriching the content you’re already putting together, Text Tools is a great way to dream up new blog post ideas. Take that list of semantically related keywords, and use it to put together a rich content calendar that produces posts your audience wants to read.


Let’s take a look at a breakdown of exactly what using Text Tools looks like.


First, we start over here on the ‘TF-IDF’ tool under ‘Semantic Analysis’. Let’s use the term ‘content’ and see what Text Tools comes back with.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis


Hooray, our request went through! Now we wait for the email to arrive with our results.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis results


Within about three minutes, I have an email confirming that my report is ready. I click on the link, and get this big chart.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis graph


Along the x-axis, we have our list of semantically related keywords. Let’s zoom in on those and take a look. At the top of the chart, I move the little bar to show 20 terms at a time.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis graph


Ah, that’s better! Now we can see the top 20 semantically related keywords  to ‘content’. ‘2017’ is first in the lineup, followed by ‘privacy’, ‘contact’, ‘terms’, and so on. These terms are listed in the order of their relevance, with the y-axis giving us the terms’ actual TF-IDF weighted value.


Below the chart, we have our color key that coordinates links with the terms in the chart.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis graph


These are our competitors, and this is what they’re content is also covering that we should be thinking about adding to our own. If we hover over one of those links, Text Tools kindly highlights the line in the chart for us, so we can get a clear picture of the data we’re working with.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis graph


Lastly, if we’re to get an idea of how we can outrank our competition and cover the ground they’re missing, we need to utilize Text Tools in one other way. Let’s hover over one of the spikes in this graph and see what happens.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis graph


You can see here that when we hover over ‘events’ in this graph, we get a little list of URLs that pops up. On the left of that list in bold, we have a number that represents the weight of the term ‘events’, or the term’s TF-IDF (it’s all coming together now, huh?).


With this information, we can see that has no mention of ‘events’ in their top-ranking page for ‘content’, but that Content Marketing World scored pretty well with it. All the same, a TF-IDF weight of around 2 isn’t very high, so these pages aren’t doing particularly well for this keyword.


More information than you need? The next cool thing you can do with this information is reduce it down to the bare essentials. Just go into the list of URLs in the color-coded section under the graph, and click on any that you don’t want to show up in your chart. You can hide them and make them reappear at will, cleaning up the data and making it easier to sort through.


Now let’s take a look at a different set of data. At the top of the graph, let’s click on the tab that says ‘Compare’.


At the bottom of that chart, there’s an area to either paste your own text, or enter a page URL to analyze the text and determine how effective your keyword usage is. This is a great way to make sure you’re not keyword stuffing, but still using enough of your target keywords to reach your audience.



Use the color coded key at the bottom of the graph to analyze your new data.


TF-IDF term comparison guide


As you can see from this analysis from one of my blog posts at my professional services site, most of these keywords fall right within the average range, with some creeping into the max range.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis comparison


At the bottom of the screen below the text box, we have this list of suggested keywords to help me optimize my content even further to help this page rank higher.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis comparison


Lastly, we have the ‘Data’ tab, where we can download the information we’ve gathered from Text Tools into neat files to send and share with collaborators. You’ll get a comprehensive list of the term data you’ve gleaned in a nice spreadsheet that you can revisit offline.


TF-IDF Suggest Terms


The ‘Suggest Terms’ tool is reminiscent of Google’s Keyword Planner, but without as much aggregated data. This simple tool takes your primary keyword and generates a list of semantically related keywords for you to sort through.


TF-IDF keyword suggestions


From there, you can dig even deeper into your results, and get TF-IDF reports on the terms, or look into even more keyword suggestions for the list the software generates for you.


It may sound really technical – it is, after all, computer science – but TF-IDF is made simple with Text Tools. This program uses a user-friendly interface to bridge the gap between this type of technical SEO and the content creator, giving you the ability to do in-depth research with an easy to use tool.


Text Tools breaks down the data for you, and gives you the pertinent information first. Use it to refine existing content, round out your editorial calendar, or strategically try to top your competitor’s rankings.


Whatever your endgame, Text Tools gives you the information you need to make it happen, and is a fantastic tool for ensuring you’re not overdoing it with keyword stuffing and blatant placement. These in-depth analyses will give you the insights you need to help you stay five steps ahead of the competition.


You don’t need to fight dirty to dominate the SERPs – get Text Tools now to create content that conquers all on its own.

Too Much SEO? Where to Draw the Line


If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years in engineering content that goes beyond the written word, it’s that there is definitely such a thing as too much SEO. At first it was easy:


Do a little keyword research, stuff a mess of keywords into your content, and create a massive network of incoming and outgoing links to your pages – done. Your page showed up, and regardless of the quality of your content, you ranked – you ruled.


These days, Google is smarter than ever, and true to the nature of their quality control practices, they’re working hard to ensure that searchers are getting the results they want. That means content created for humans, and pages with actual value to lend to their readers.


The past several years has seen a massive shift in just how much SEO Google is willing to tolerate before it penalizes sites, so the question is now, how much is too much SEO?


Keyword Density


While it’s important to optimize your content for target keywords, it’s important to remember that density isn’t everything, and that over-enriching your content with keywords will send Google’s algorithms a red flag that you’re trying to rig the game.


Don’t focus too much on how many times your keyword is appearing in your content – usually between four and six times per 1,000 words is more than sufficient. Focus instead on ensuring those target keywords have relevance, and put them in the places that weigh heavily on your page’s ranking, including your H1 text and meta descriptions.


Keyword Stuffing


Let’s get this clear from the start – Google hates keyword stuffing, and it will absolutely penalize you for doing it to try to outrank your competitors. Sure, you want to reach a broad audience, and you want a lot of searches to pull up your page, but over-optimizing your content with blatant keyword stuffing not only dilutes the relevance of your copy, but sets off alarms to Google that your content is engineered for SEO, not people.


By all means, use handy tools like Text Tools to identify semantically related keywords for your topics, and make your content relevant and indexable, but don’t let the focus of your content be on keyword optimization – always make it about the reader.


Anchor Text Over-Optimization


While putting some thought into your anchor text certainly makes sense from the user-end of things, it can also hurt your rankings to over-optimize it. Branded link anchor text is generally safe to optimize like crazy, but it makes more sense to keep your anchor text more topically relevant than keyword-focused for better rankings.


Moz recommends a 7:3 ratio of non-targeted:targeted anchor text, with the majority of the anchor text you use being selected based on concepts rather than keywords. Google will love you for it, and your readers won’t feel bombarded by what is obviously SEO-focused, link-heavy content.


‘Bad Neighborhood’ Linking


black hat link building SEO practices

This is a rather interesting concept, but one that makes a lot of sense when you think of it like you would in real-life relationships. Just as you can be penalized in life for consorting with unsavory characters, such is the same for link-building.


If spammy sites are the source of many of your incoming and outgoing links, it can and will affect your rankings, and Google’s algorithms will punish you accordingly. Sites that are blatant link-farms, or are using unethical SEO practices are going to negatively affect you, so make sure that every link you build is on a site you’re happy to associate with.


Likewise, make sure you’re a good influence friend to have around. Keep your link-building strategies ethical and productive for the sake of your content – not just your link profile.


Stop Posting Fluff – Publish Real, Valuable Content


Content frequency is a big part of keeping your site relevant and ranked, but a lot of site owners take this one too far, publishing content as frequently as possible, regardless of its topical relevance or value.


The problem with this is, you wind up with a lot of really short, keyword dense articles that are low on information, and more often than not, your bounce rate goes up. Aside from it just being a negative experience for your user, Google also takes note of excessive, light content, and takes it as a red flag that you’re just trying to populate your site, and not deliver valuable content to your audience.


If you’re running out of ideas, don’t publish fluff that’s devoid of valuable information. Instead, focus on optimizing the content you already have in place, and use advanced keyword tools to create content that’s more relevant to your target audience. You’ll build traffic to those pages, and ultimately rank higher for your target keywords.


Don’t Create an Army of Sites Just to Link to Yourself


This is generally pretty common knowledge among some of the worst things you can do for your own SEO, and for good reason. Building links between sites is time-consuming enough, without having to own and manage them all yourself.


Aside from the time input from this kind of link-building, it’s also deeply frowned upon by Google, and you absolutely will be penalized for it.


Not only is it unethical, but it’s ineffectual as well. Since most of these sites are created around the same time, the sites themselves aren’t old enough to be valuable sources of backlinks anyway. The age of sites plays a huge role in the trust they’ve garnered with Google, and if you have a bunch of backlinks from several young sites, it’s not going to do much to boost your rankings or traffic anyway.


The golden rule of SEO? Craft sites and content for people, not SEO. Remember folks, it’s search engine OPTIMIZATION, not search engine manipulation. Google is smarter than you, I promise, and you will absolutely feel the sting if you decide to try to engineer your way to the top of the SERPs, instead of earning your spot there with organically ranking content.


Make it relevant, make it authentic, and don’t count on the SEO shortcuts to make your traffic increase on its own.

Organic SEO for Content Creators – Getting Your Work Noticed


Copywriting in today’s digital marketplace goes so far beyond the written word – you’re no longer just selling your writing skills, you’re selling results, and the marketplace competition is rapidly revolving around this mindset, requiring content creators to work organic SEO into their deliverables.


Are you just delivering copy, or are you delivering copy that’s designed to help your client reach their goals?


It’s impossible to truly predict how well your content is going to bring in traffic, and what kind of impact it will have on a site’s traffic, but there are a few tried and true methods that can only help you reach a broader audience, without stuffing your copy with keywords and setting off Google’s alarms, and those practices lie in organic SEO.


Identify a Target Audience Before a Target Keyword


There’s a saying that’s making its rounds all over the web, and for good reason – write content for people, not search engines. Don’t decide a target keyword is where you’re starting.


Instead, begin by identifying who your target audience is – who stands to gain the most from what you’re writing. In some cases, this is inversely related to keyword research, but more often than not, people let the keywords get in the way of what their audience actually needs to read, and it’s selling their readers short.


Find your people, and give them what they want.


Keyword Research is About People


Remember when starting keyword research why you’re doing it in the first place – you need to know what problems your target audience is most interested in solving. Your aim shouldn’t be to dominate a topic with the biggest and baddest rankings of them all, but to provide easily accessible content to the people that are looking for answers to the questions that you’re answering.


Identify those needs, put together a list of target keywords, and build those keyword lists with semantically related keywords with an SEO tool, like Text Tools, to make your content as relevant and visible to your target audience as possible.

The key to organic SEO is that it comes naturally with the topics you’re covering, but tools make it easier to identify how well what you’ve already written is going to perform, so you can just tweak it slightly for the best results.


Long Live the Content King


content will always be king


You can optimize your copy until your eyes are bloodshot and your brain is fried, but ultimately it all comes full circle to the information that’s actually in that copy – if your copy is weak or poorly written, you’re not going to rank, and it’s just as simple as that.


Before you even begin to get your brain around advanced SEO techniques, get your writing up to par, and format articles that are engaging, easy to read, and create natural interest in the rest of your site for your readers. Give them content that is written in the voice they need to hear, with proper grammar and punctuation, and information they want – most SEO really is as simple as that.


From there, traffic spikes come naturally. If you give the people what they want, the rankings will come, so get to know your audience, and get to know them well.


Keep Content Fresh


Regularly posting to blogs and updating the copy on a site to optimize it for the user-experience is always a smart move for your site’s traffic. Test and track changes made to site copy, and keep blogs up to date with articles that are current, relevant, and compelling to your readers.


It used to be the recommendation for blogging frequency to be as often as possible – once a day if you could swing it. These days, digital marketers are realizing the importance of quality over quantity, and advocating that indeed you post as often as possible, but only when you have new information to share.


No puff pieces, no fillers – just authentic, unique content that’s information-rich and relevant.


Build Your Network


Aside from the rabbit hole that is backlink building, networking with other creatives in your niche is a great way to spread awareness about your latest work, and reach a broader audience that’s interested in what you’re writing about.


Keep open dialogues with industry professionals in your niche, before you decide to send them a link, and make the relationships mutually beneficial with information that’s relevant to them. If they like it enough, they may just decide to share it, with little to no poking or prodding on your part.


Pretty soon, you’ll start noticing that more people are aware of your work, and are simply sharing your links on their sites because they know and trust you, and feel you’re an authoritative resource in the industry.


Know Your Niche


Getting to know your competitors and their content is about more than outranking them – it’s about seeing what they’re delivering to their readers that you’re not. Sure, it might be a competition, but ultimately if they’re ranking higher than you, chances are it’s because they’re offering something you’re not.


Don’t let it get you down – take a stroll through their content, and determine what they have that you don’t. Begin with a basic approach, reading through their topics, article format, writing style, social media engagement, etc., and from there, work into the link metrics, evaluating their backlink profile and DA alongside each other to get the full picture of what’s working for them.


As a wise man once said, watch and learn. Then blow them out of the water.


Don’t Narrow Your Organic SEO Strategy Down Too Much


There’s isn’t a one size fits all approach to SEO that is going to skyrocket your pages to the top of the SERPs – a healthy combination of them all coupled with authentic, relevant content is what is going to ultimately boost your rankings and send more traffic your way.


Employ a healthy combination of everything when you create content for clients and yourself, and you’ll see the results you and your clients want. Don’t over-optimize, and always focus first on what you’re writing, and let organic SEO be the cherry on top of what you’re delivering to sweeten the deal.


Expand the reach of your content based on what your readers are actually interested in – get semantically related keywords to optimize your content with Text Tools.

SEO Tools of 2017 – What You Need to Rank Your Content


If you’re a copywriter, website broker, digital marketer – whatever – in this digital day and age, you need to have a pretty good understanding of SEO tools and best practices to make your content as successful as it can be, for both yourself and your clients.


It’s no longer as simple as cramming as many keywords into your posts as you possibly can.  You need to be savvier than keyword density, or Google is going to write you off as spam, and your rankings will take a major hit.


If you’re just starting out, and wondering where to begin wading into the waters of SEO, here’s a starter pack of easy to use SEO tools to help you optimize your content and bring in more traffic, without being flagged and penalized by Google.


The Google Keyword Planner


Google Keyword Planner tool


Few SEO tools are more crucial to understanding where to begin structuring a page and its content than the Google Keyword Planner. This tool can help you determine which keywords are going to bring in the most traffic, and helps you to structure your content and topics around those keywords.


Though keyword density and stuffing isn’t considered a good SEO practice, there’s no doubt that having a natural, frequent amount of repetitions is going to help your pages rank better for searches related to those terms.


The Keyword Planner used to be a free tool, but now you have to set up some ads to get the tool. There are a few clever workarounds to this, but for the most part, it’s clear that Google expects you to use the Keyword Planner in conjunction with a PPC ad campaign, so it’s going to be tough to use it without setting one up.


But hey – what better way to test it? Set a budget, and see what your keyword selection prowess can do.


Take the Keyword Planner for a spin here.


The Moz Chrome Extension


The Moz SEO toolbar extension for Chrome


Moz is a fantastic free SEO tool that allows you to get a quick glance at your (and other sites) pages, and the pertinent information to see how SEO practices are helping or hurting.


The Moz extension will give you any page’s domain authority (DA) when turned on, and when maximized, a host of other useful information, including page authority, basic link metrics (more in-depth analysis is available with their paid plan), meta keywords/descriptions, H1 text, and more.


Get the Moz browser extension for Chrome here.


Aside from their handy toolbar, the blog over at Moz is a great way to keep an eye on what Google is up to. Their articles are accessible for both beginner and advanced SEO enthusiasts alike, and provide in-depth information and updates on changes in the way Google works.


You can view a full timeline of Google algorithm changes here.


Varvy – The Google Guideline Checker


Varvy optimization SEO tool


This is a rather unique SEO tool that gives your pages a second look to ensure that you’re following the best practices needed to put together pages that Google won’t penalize you for. Google uses several algorithms to penalize sites using unethical SEO practices to boost their rankings, so make sure your site isn’t one of them.


This one is easy-peasy to use, and best of all, it’s free – just input your URL, and Varvy gives you a full, visual breakdown of the parts of your page that are working like they should, and alerts you to red flags that could be affecting your Google rankings.


Everything from security to alt text is covered in this report, and it takes less than a minute to generate. Aside from the obvious keyword strategizing, there are a lot of technical aspects of a page that Google pays attention to when indexing, and Varvy helps you identify those points.


Curious? Check out Varvy here


Yoast SEO – The WordPress Plugin


Yoast SEO WordPress plugin


If you’re running a WordPress site, Yoast has you covered in-house, with a plugin that can optimize your content in real-time, and make sure your strategy stays on target. The free version of Yoast SEO is loaded with handy features that will save you time when engineering your content. I’m a big fan in particular of the ability to set a focus keyword for each post, to optimize the copy for that page.


The premium Yoast SEO tool is worth its weight in gold as well, with a redirect manager that will keep those pesky 404 site bugs from diminishing your rank, unbeknownst to you. When used in conjunction with an algorithmic SEO tool like Text Tools, it’s particularly handy, allowing you to set multiple focus keywords to ensure your content stays relevant and ranked.


Yoast SEO is a motherlode of tools and SEO gadgetry, bundled into a nice, neat plugin package – learn more about Yoast SEO here.


Ahrefs – Still the Best Tool for White Hat Link Builders


Ahrefs backlink tracking


Building incoming links to on reputable sites is a great way to build trust with Google, and show them that your content is relevant. The practice of white hat link building goes back to the ‘good neighborhood’ mentality of SEO, by producing backlinks to your content on sites that aren’t spammy, and that are high authority, not only boosting your own traffic, but helping to boost your rankings.


Getting the full picture of your link profile is a little technical, but there are lots of great SEO tools and programs that make it easy. Ahrefs is a fully comprehensive tool for content marketers and website brokers that gives you an in-depth look at where your links are coming from, and how they’re affecting traffic to your pages.


Big name digital marketers like Neil Patel have sung the praises of this tool, and for good reason – it’s the most accurate, comprehensive look you’re going to get at how far your site’s reach is spreading across the web.


Ahrefs is a high-end platform with a monthly subscription rate, but you can give it a try with a free trial to see how you like it first.


Get a free trial of Ahrefs here.


Text Tools – Because Obviously


Text Tools TF-IDF keyword tool


Shameless plug time – this article wouldn’t be complete without it. The above suggestions are absolutely an excellent place to start implementing actual SEO tool strategies into your content creation, but the reality is, you need to take it a step further if you’re going to outrank sites much larger than your own for a particular keyword.


Text Tools takes keyword research a step further, and gives content creators a list of semantically related keywords to their pages, to help them reach a broader audience. It’s not about keyword stuffing or beating the system – it’s about getting the information you need to make your content more relevant to your readers, which will help your pages rank better organically.


Text Tools is easy to use, and extremely cost-effective, so it’s great for creatives that are still scaling their business and don’t have the funds for high-end services like Ahrefs.


Take a new approach to your keyword usage, and build traffic with natural interest – get Text Tools.


Pingdom – The Site Speed Optimization Tool


Pingdom website monitoring


Aside from keywords, backlinks, and sitemaps, site speed can really affect how Google indexes your site – slow sites are going to be penalized both by Google and users, and you’ll notice sky-high bounce rates if your pages are taking too long to load.


Pingdom is a handy free SEO tool (with paid pricing options) that gives you an in-depth analysis of your site, providing you with a score, and an itemized list of where your problems and strengths lie with your site’s load time. You can choose the location the test server is in, and identify where to put some work into optimizing your site for your visitors.


Check out Pingdom here to get your site speed optimized.


Remove ‘em – Anchor Text Optimization Tool


Remove 'em bad links


I’m kind of in love with this idea. There are so many people out there still over-optimizing their anchor texts and diminishing the quality of those hard-earned links in the process.


This tool takes a look at your anchor text, and gives it to you straight – you’ll get a comprehensive breakdown of the links used, and whether they’re over-optimized to the point of being at risk of getting a penalty from one of Google’s algorithms.


Percentages highlighted in red are cause for concern, but as the site says, this doesn’t necessarily apply to brands, which shouldn’t negatively affect your site. Your target keywords are the ones to pay attention to here.


Remove ‘em is another great free tool with paid premium plans – check it out here.

Why TF-IDF is the Most Effective SEO Formula Around

The internet is a treasure trove of information, but as content strategists, we all know: it’s a jungle out there. There are so many schools of thought as to what the best way to rank higher is, what you absolutely must do to bring in more traffic, and reach a higher volume of your target audience. You’ve read it all, but have you heard about TF-IDF yet?

Who has time for it? You’re busy enough, and you just need to know what you need to know to make the magic happen – to bring searchers to your pages, turn clicks into conversions, and readers into subscribers. Let’s get right into it.

Spammy SEO – When Google Knows You’re Up to No Good

Over the years, Google has gotten smarter and smarter, and the crawlers are now more aware than ever of the techniques sites are using to bring traffic to their pages. This savviness has resulted in Google penalizing sites doing cheap, spammy things to bring in more traffic.

search engine optimization

The problem is, at a certain point in the content marketing craze, it became more about rankings and numbers than it did about just having naturally engaging, unique content. The keyword density craze took hold, and copywriters took to keyword stuffing to the tune of 3-5% per document, putting off readers with robotic and obviously engineered text.

Bounce rates went up, Google took note of the tactics that content creators were using, and new algorithms were created to ensure that sites had to actually provide content of value to readers if they were to land in the top SERPs.

The result now is a better user experience, but a tougher than ever challenge for content marketers. The competition for traffic is fierce, so how do we reach people and employ advanced SEO tactics that Google isn’t going to penalize us for?

What is TF-IDF?

TF-IDF is an algorithm that goes beyond the keyword stuffing techniques of yesteryear, and instead focuses on delivering relevant content to your audience, and helps you reach more of them.

TF-IDF stands for Term Frequency – Inverse Document Frequency. Sure, makes a lot of sense, right? TF-IDF might sound at first like keyword density, but it’s a much more reasonable approach to the dated practice of stuffing content full of your target keyword.

TF-IDF works in two steps. First, it identifies the frequency of important terms in a given text – like, say, a blog post – and then compares that information to the uniqueness of the term to provide a value to every relevant keyword in your document.

So what does this mean for you? You get a list of semantically related key terms that you can use to optimize your content, and add a few keywords to your focus. The results is an information-rich text that will pop up on more SERPs, and be visible to more readers.

Why TF-IDF Kicks the Pants Off Keyword Density Techniques

Initially, this might sound like a really fancy and technical way of keyword-stuffing (which is never cool), but let’s be clear here – TF-IDF is what you make of it. It’s just information, and if you use it to create some 6% keyword dense abomination, that’s on you.

What really makes TF-DF for SEO amazing is that it gives you a unique insight into creating organically engaging content that will rank all on its own, by giving you a list of semantically related keywords to tie into your piece.

Let’s look at an example to paint a picture of what a bit of text might look like before and after a TF-IDF analysis:

Carrots are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but much of the nutrient absorption is determined by how you prepare them. For the best results, always eat carrots raw. If you must roast them, then make sure you use a cooking oil with a high smoke point. Baste them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook uncovered at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, and enjoy.

Turns out, after a TF-IDF analysis, we can see that lots of sites mentioning carrots also mention food, so we work that one in. Now we apply this new information to further optimize our text:

Carrots are a vitamin and mineral-rich food, but much of the nutrient absorption is determined by how you prepare these foods. For the best results, always eat carrots raw. If you must roast them, then make sure you use a cooking oil with a high smoke point. Baste them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook uncovered at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, and enjoy.

TF-IDF – SEO for People

You don’t stuff ‘em, you don’t overwhelm your reader with obvious keyword choices – you just work natural, semantically related keywords into your text to reach more people, and ultimately, rank higher. TF-IDF gives you the information and tools you need to make your content richer and more applicable to a wide range of searches, without using dated methods like keyword density.

If this is the first you’re hearing of this simple SEO tool, I highly suggest you take a look at Text Tools. It’s a very simple platform to use, and provides you with the information you need to optimize new or existing content to organically rank, and blow your competitors out of the water.

Start optimizing your content the right way now – get TF-IDF with Text Tools.