Glossary -
The A-Z of link building terminology

Our guide to everything you could possibly need to know about link building, authority and Digital PR. From authority metrics to the different types of links and how each can affect your website - here's our itemised glossary, which you can also download on PDF.

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Authority Metrics

Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Domain Rating (or DR) is a site authority metric created by Ahrefs, which is used to show the authority and ranking potential for a given site. It’s calculated based on a number of factors, including the number of referring dofollow links and the authority of those links. Domain Rating is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing the lowest possible authority, and 100 being the highest. Domain Rating generally shares a close relationship with Ahrefs Rank (AR), which is a more granular measure (out of millions) where a score closer to 0 is more authoritative. Domain rating can be useful when making informed SEO observations and decisions, such as your site’s ranking potential compared to its competitors, or prospecting the value of a backlink from a certain domain. DR is measured on a logarithmic scale, meaning that the gap between the DR values on the higher end of the scale are much wider than those on the lower end, and increasing your DR will become more challenging the higher it gets. For example, if you’re working to increase your DR from 25 to 26, you’re going to find it significantly easier than trying to increase it from 65 to 66. If you’re curious about your Ahrefs DR but don’t have access to the full version of Ahrefs, you can view it for free with Ahrefs’ online Website Authority Checker. While DR features prominently in many Ahrefs reports, and tends to have a strong correlation with a site’s traffic and rankings, it isn’t something that’s tracked by Google. By focussing on producing high quality content and building valuable backlinks, your rankings, traffic, and domain rating will improve as a natural by product.
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Authority Metrics

Ahrefs Rank (AR)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Ahrefs Rank, or AR, is a metric showing how well a given site ranks based on the strength of its backlink profile. It shows the position of a given site within a ranking system covering every site in the Ahrefs index, meaning it can range anywhere from 1 to a number in the millions. A page’s Ahrefs Rank can be checked for free, by entering its URL into Ahrefs’s Website Authority Checker. While AR is tracked on a much larger scale than Ahrefs Domain Rating, the two metrics have a strong correlation with each other. Because Ahrefs Rank is calculated based on the number and quality of links pointing to a given site, an increase in a site’s DR often (but not always) translates into an increase in AR. Though Ahrefs Rank is a method of ranking all pages in a large index, and is calculated using many of the same principles as PageRank, it doesn’t necessarily have a direct correlation to the way Google ranks websites. This is mainly because Google’s algorithm draws on a much wider array of factors when ranking crawled sites compared to the Ahrefs Rank system. Having said that, if a site has a higher Ahrefs Rank than another site in the same niche, it will tend to rank higher on average for targeted keywords. It’s important to remember that Ahrefs is crawling new domains all the time, and therefore Ahrefs Rank should be kept in the context of the huge pool of sites it exists within. Ahrefs Rank can be helpful for tracking the strength of your domain’s backlink profile against competitor sites, and getting a quick, at a glance idea of your site’s organic performance compared to other brands in the same industry. Having said that, its ever changing scale, and the sheer number of sites included in the Ahrefs index, means it shouldn’t be used on its own for decision making in your link building. For a clearer picture of your backlink profile’s strength, and a reliable indicator for your link building strategy, AR should be used in conjunction with other metrics such as Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR).
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Authority Metrics

Ahrefs URL Rating (UR)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Ahrefs URL Rating, or UR, is a metric used to gauge the strength of a given page’s backlink profile. It’s measured on a scale from 1 to 100; the higher the number, the stronger the backlink profile. A page’s URL Rating can be checked for free, by entering its URL into Ahrefs’s Website Authority Checker. URL ratings are tracked on a logarithmic scale, meaning that it can be shifted much more easily on the lower end of the scale compared to the higher end. For example, getting a page’s URL rating from 10 to 20 will require much less work than getting a URL rating from 60 to 70. Though what can be considered a “good” UR depends on a lot of factors, such as the age of your site and the level of SEO competition within your industry, URL ratings tend to fall between 40 and 50 on average, with anything higher than that being comparably strong. UR has a positive correlation to rankings on Google, and is calculated using similar factors as Google’s PageRank formula, such as the number of links, the authority of those links’ referring domains, and the links between pages. This data is filtered through similar parameters as PageRank too, such as the way both algorithms respect nofollow html attributes, and both use a damping factor. While the way the URL Rating of a page is determined certainly has similarities with the PageRank algorithm, they’re not identical, and shouldn’t be treated as such. While PageRank has been able to develop over the years on the strength of Google’s massive resources, Ahrefs’ UR algorithm has stayed relatively basic. This is partly because Ahrefs lacks the resources to crawl additional factors on the billions of pages that make up the tool’s index, and partly because the specifics of the PageRank algorithm are deliberately kept secret by Google. URL Rating can be useful during link building campaigns to analyse the relative ranking potential of a specific page. For example, if you’ve published a series of posts on a similar topic and devoted the same amount of link building resources to each page, and one of those pages is showing a URL rating that’s significantly lower than the others, there may be an issue with one of the backlinks.
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SEO

Alt Text

Glossary  |  3 mins

Alt text refers to a written description of an image on a web page, attached to that image as an HTML element. This HTML element was originally conceived in the early history of the internet, when some browsers were strictly text based. These days however, it’s simply used to help users visualise an image if they can’t see it in detail for any reason, for example if they’re visually impaired.

What Does Alt Mean?

The “alt” in “alt text” is a contraction of “alternative”. Alt text is so labelled because the text is intended to act as an alternative to seeing the image.

Why Does Alt Text Matter?

SEO professionals need to consider how they use alt text for two key reasons. Firstly, using alt text will improve the user experience and accessibility of a site, and allow site visitors to access all the image content on a page, even if they’re blind or visually impaired. It can also be helpful for web users who have certain learning disabilities or conditions that affect their sensory processing. Alt text can also make a site more accessible in rare cases where a page doesn’t load properly or a site user has opted not to view images. The second reason to think about alt text in an SEO context is that the descriptions you use in them can provide important semantic cues that search engines use to rank images in search results. The more accurate and helpful your alt text is, the easier it will be for Google to understand and rank your content.

Alt Text Best Practices

With each piece of alt text you write, the most important thing is to keep it succinct and specific. Some screen reading tools have a character limit for every instance of alt text they read, so make sure that you’re keeping within 125 characters to avoid them stopping short. The vast majority of alt text fields can be filled effectively with just a few words, though complex images (e.g. graphs with detailed legends) could require a more detailed sentence. Though it’s good practice to keep alt text short, it’s also important to be descriptive and specific about what the image contains. For example, if you were describing an image from a football match, the alt text should name the players in frame and the league or tournament the match is a part of, and not something vague like “footballer kicking ball”. When writing alt text for images, one of the easiest ways to stay on the right track is to imagine you’re describing the image in front of you over the phone, and trying to give the person you’re speaking to an accurate idea of it in as few words as possible.
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Link Types

Anchor Text

Glossary  |  3 mins

When you place a link into a piece of content, the anchor text refers to the words that include the link to the referenced website. Common anchor text might include actions such as ‘click here’, ‘let’s get started’, or ‘sign up today’ - or it could be much descriptive, such as 'buy to let mortgage'. Your anchor text should always relate to the page being linked to in some way, hinting to the reader where this link will take them when they click on it. For example, if your anchor text says, ‘call us today’, when a reader clicks on it the link should take them to the contact page.

Anchor Text, Branded

Branded anchor text is as described: the anchor text that uses the brand or business name to take the user to the website or page, which is generally the homepage in most instances. For example, Hive19.

Anchor Text, Exact Match

When you’re writing content specifically to rank for certain keywords, exact match anchor text can be very helpful. If you sell parrots in Peru, anchor text such as ‘parrot sellers in Peru’ would be very clear and concise for the viewers and search engines. This is helping the search engine to understand the content being linked to, within the context of where it is being linked from in much the same way that describing images with alt text can help categorise information on the web. However, this is one of the most abused tactics for link builders, and it’s not advisable to use it too frequently, so try to find a good balance! Including the words around the anchor text is often a safer, more natural way to describe the page being linked – depending on the context.

Anchor Text, Long Tail

The phrase ‘long tail’ refers to a type of keyword that is longer than a couple of words. Long tail keywords are often an entire sentence, a question, or a phrase that users might search for. ‘How fish sleep underwater’ is an example of a long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords are less competitive, so although there may be less traffic for the term, you could potentially rank well for it.

Anchor Text, Naked URL

Naked URL anchor text is the most rudimentary way a backlink can be used in a piece of written content. It’s basically the target URL pasted directly (hence ‘naked’) into the page. These days, naked URLs are usually reserved for lists of sources at the bottom of articles and academic writing.
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Authority Metrics

Authority Metrics

Glossary  |  2 mins

Authority in SEO refers to how trustworthy or popular a website is. The BBC, for example, is an extremely trustworthy and popular website. Though Google itself isn’t known to track authority, many industry standard SEO tools have their own methods of tracking it, and maintain their own branded authority metrics (often accessible for free). Here are some examples:

Moz: Domain Authority (DA)

Moz’s DA is a score out of 100. Their DA checker tool also offers a handful of other handy metrics that contribute to Domain Authority, such as ranking keywords and linking root domains.

Ahrefs: Domain Rating (DR)

Ahrefs Domain Rating also runs from 1 to 100, but unlike Moz’s DA, it’s based solely on its backlink profile. Aside from the raw authority score, Ahrefs will also show the number of linking websites and backlinks, as well as the percentage of dofollow links in each.

Majestic

Majestic breaks their authority scoring into two metrics: Trust Flow and Citation Flow. While Citation Flow is based on the raw number of links (“citations”) that point to a domain, Trust Flow is based on incoming links from a specific list of trusted sites. Like the other tools, their free authority checker also gives you a breakdown of backlinks, including trends over time for individual backlinks and referring domains. Website authority is important to monitor, both on your site and your referring domains, due to two main reasons:
  • The authority of your site is a ranking factor, with more authoritative sites tending to have an easier time ranking on SERPs
  • Backlinks from authoritative sites will help your rankings more than links from sites with low authority
As different SEO tools have their own unique way of calculating authority, it’s not easy to say exactly how authority is calculated and what actions can be taken to influence it. However, it’s generally accepted that authority is affected by things like the total number of links pointing to a page, the authority of those pages, the number of keywords that a domain ranks for, and any spammy elements on the page that crawlers can pick up on. Gaining multiple high authority links to your website at a natural link velocity is a great way to build your own online reputation, encourage customer loyalty, and build your brand. Although it’s not an exact correlation, the websites that rank higher in the SERPs on average tend to be the most authoritative.
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Link Building

Backlink Audit

Glossary  |  2 mins

A backlink audit, sometimes called a link audit or backlink analysis, is the act of examining the links pointing to a website to determine their quality, relevance, and potential impact on search engine rankings. The process involves identifying and evaluating all the backlinks that point to a site, reviewing their quality based on their referring sites and other contextual information, and removing any low quality links that may harm the site's organic visibility. Backlink audits are an essential routine practice for any SEO campaign, helping to identify harmful links that may be negatively impacting the website's performance, and informing the next steps webmasters and SEOs need to take to ensure the long term quality of their backlink profiles.

How to perform a backlink audit

Performing a backlink audit involves several steps, and there’s a fair amount of nuance in how SEO agencies and in-house marketers can approach them. Generally though, a backlink audit includes four main phases: Collect backlink data: The first step is to collect all the backlink data for the website using an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush. The data will show all the links pointing to the site, including their quality score, anchor text, and source. Analyse the data: Once you have the data, the next step is to determine the backlinks' quality and relevance. Look for any links from low quality sites, irrelevant sources, or those with spammy anchor text. In most cases it is advisable to leave them be and wait for them to fall away, but in rare cases there may be cause for disavow. Remove toxic backlinks: If you do identify any toxic backlinks, the next step is to remove. This is generally done using Google’s disavow tool, though some SEOs like to reach out to the owners of the referring sites and request that the links be removed completely. Monitor and re-audit: Backlink audits aren’t a one-time thing, and it’s important to continually monitor your site's backlink profile to ensure it remains healthy and beneficial to your overarching SEO goals.
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Link Types

Backlinks

Glossary  |  4 mins

Backlinks, sometimes referred to as inbound links or incoming links, are links from one domain to another. In the context of SEO, backlinks are seen by Google as a “vote of confidence” that tells its algorithm that the page being linked to is associated or has value. Because pages with a higher number of quality backlinks tend to enjoy higher rankings, a solid backlink building strategy is an essential component for any SEO project. Backlinks are important because they tell search engine algorithms that a page is credible and valuable to users. The more legitimate, quality backlinks a site has, the higher it will rank for various search terms on search engine result pages (SERPs). Because of this, SEO professionals and SEO tools place great stock in the quality of backlinks a site has, and use this as a primary indicator for its ranking potential. This method of ranking pages based on the “votes of confidence” they gain through links is a cornerstone of Google’s PageRank algorithm, and was first set out in a 1998 whitepaper The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web. Google has made countless changes to its ranking algorithm since then, and although additional factors are certainly important, backlinks remain a major predictor of how well a site or page will perform in Google’s rankings. Though there was a time when any link from any referring domain would improve a target site’s ranking, today backlinks exist on a stricter spectrum of value. This means that if you want to improve your site’s rankings through link building, your focus needs to be on high-quality, relevant backlinks. The quality of a backlink is determined by a range of factors. One of the most important is how trustworthy and authoritative the website hosting the link is. A link from the BBC News website, for example, will carry a lot more weight in the eyes of a search engine compared with a brand new site that has no authority whatsoever. This is because the BBC News domain is an authority, with a much bigger history of powerful backlinks and has very high levels of trust (through global traffic and consistent interaction of users, amongst many other key factors). The brand new website in this analogy has no such history or trust, and therefore no such credibility to be offering value as a backlink. Another big factor is the context of the link within the content, and within the page itself. The use of anchor text plays an important role, and whereabouts on the page the link is placed. Google’s Penguin algorithm update included a filter that prevents rankings being manipulated by black hat link building tactics, including keyword stuffing and overuse of exact match anchor text, to reduce the benefit that was once provided by such underhand tactics. The subject matter of a referring domain and a specific page that hosts a backlink will also have a big impact on the value of a link. When Google can see that a given backlink is topically relevant based on the content of the referring URL, it will see that link as carrying more weight than otherwise. For example, if a site that covers professional golf news links to a site that sells golf accessories, it will likely prove much more valuable than a link from a site about investment and personal finance. This is topical relevance, and is especially pertinent when considering which page is being linked to, AKA the deep links of the domain being referred. It has long been understood that links from domains that haven’t previously linked to your domain are superior. Whilst this is still likely the case, it is also a very good trust signal to receive multiple links from the same domain, especially to different pages on your domain. Your backlink profile will always have more backlinks than referring domains, so it would therefore make sense that you might wish the most powerful referring domains to be linking multiple times. Backlink acquisition can take many forms, though the longest standing and most white hat of the lot is to create high value content on your own website, which will then act as a linkable asset. This can be any piece of content; blog posts, infographics, videos or tools that provide value to a given target audience, and encourages people to link to it naturally. In this way, linkable assets give webmasters a passive method of creating backlinks for SEO, that will accrue value without requiring ongoing work. This emphasis on hosting linkable assets is the primary reason why the marketing disciplines of SEO and content marketing are so closely linked.
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SEO

Black Hat SEO

Glossary  |  2 mins

Black hat SEO refers to any SEO work that goes against search engine guidelines in an attempt to artificially raise a site’s rankings. Like ethical (white hat) SEO, black hat SEO can cover a wide range of methods and strategies, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and building black hat backlinks through private blog networks or paid backlinks on low-quality referring domains. Unlike ethical SEO, however, black hat SEO doesn’t seek to resolve a searcher’s query, and has a singular focus on driving a website up a given page of search results regardless of how valuable the content is. For this reason, black hat SEO methods often incur penalties for the sites they’re used on. Though black hat tactics can promise quick wins, the risk of using it is rarely worth the return.

Black Hat SEO Link Building

Black hat link building can come in a variety of forms, all of which are explicitly forbidden by Google’s spam policies. Some of the most common methods include using private blog networks (PBNs), spamming public comment sections with backlinks, link building through low quality and spammy websites, and serving keyword and backlink rich versions of pages to search engine crawlers which are invisible to human users (cloaking). The black hat links gained through these methods can create a sudden uptick in rankings and traffic for the target site when they’re first established. Many of Google’s most significant core algorithm updates were rolled out specifically to undermine the value in blackhat link building, for example 2012’s Penguin Update which cracked down on unethical link schemes and keyword stuffing.
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Link Building

Brand Mentions

Glossary  |  2 mins

In the context of SEO, brand mentions are instances where a brand is referenced or mentioned on another website, social network, or another platform. Though brand mentions don’t necessarily always come with a backlink, they can still provide an indirect benefit for SEO campaigns by building brand awareness and social proof, developing your authority in a particular industry, and increasing the flow of organic traffic to your site. When a brand is mentioned on an external, well reputed website, search engines recognize it as a signal of authority and relevance. As a result, a high volume of brand mentions can help to improve a brand's search engine ranking, making it more visible to their target market.

How to Get Brand Mentions

There are a number of proven strategies companies can use to get more brand mentions online, including: Building Relationships with Influencers: Building relationships with social media influencers with ties to a particular industry can be a hugely effective way to increase brand mentions. By working with influencers to create content or promote products, brands can increase awareness within their target market, and drive more traffic to their website. Creating High Quality Content: Just like with general link building, creating high quality content that's valuable, authoritative, and informative can help to increase the chances of getting brand mentions. When content is built to provide real value to a specific audience, other brands and influencers are more likely to share it, increasing the chances of new brand mentions. Tracking Brand Mentions: Marketers can use social media monitoring tools and SEO platforms to track brand mentions across various platforms. This allows them to respond to mentions and engage with the public where conversations are happening about their brand, helping to improve customer loyalty and increase the likelihood of future mentions.
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Link Types

Branded Anchor Text

Glossary  |  2 mins

Branded anchor text is anchor text that uses the name of the brand it’s linking to and nothing else, for example “Hive19”. It’s commonly used to link to a brand’s homepage, as it lets readers know that when they click on the link they’ll be taken to a page where they can find out more about the brand. This is opposed to more specific exact match anchor text e.g “outsourced link building”, which alludes to a piece of content with a particular focus and purpose. Branded anchor text is also commonly used to cite sources for quotes in a piece of content, e.g “Aaron Thomas of Hive19 says…”. This allows SEO professionals to maximise the equity passed through a backlink by contextualising it and framing the target page as an authoritative source of information.

Branded Anchor Text Best Practices

Like any kind of anchor text, it’s best practice to keep your branded anchor text succinct, specific, relevant, and to avoid a high density of keywords. While branded anchor text does ensure a certain degree of relevance in your backlink profile, it isn’t the be all and end all of effective link building. As always, it’s essential to diversify the anchor text types that make up your backlink profile, ensuring that it appears natural and doesn’t show signs of manipulation.  
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Link Types

Broken Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

A broken link is any link that fails to take a user to the link’s intended destination. Links can become broken for a variety of reasons, such as a website going offline, a page being removed without having a redirect added, or a website’s URL structure being changed. When a user clicks on a broken link, they’ll see a 404 error page, either generated by the browser in use, or created by the site owners to explain why the content isn’t available. A 404 error is a standardised HTTP status code which indicates that a page doesn’t exist under a given URL, and that the relevant server hasn’t been able to fulfil the user’s request. Broken links in different contexts are a cause for concern in SEO for two reasons. Firstly, when Google’s crawlers come across broken links within your website, they’ll take them as indicators of a poor user experience, which is cause to lower the site’s rankings. Second, backlinks pointing to your site from other domains are seen as a vote of confidence, and if they start pointing to a page that’s been moved or deleted, it is a lost opportunity. For both of these reasons, amending and cleaning up broken links is an important part of routine site maintenance within SEO. By regularly checking for broken links, you can improve the context of your site in the eyes of both users and crawlers, and improve your site’s user experience by making content easy for users to find. Though you may have few or no broken links at the moment, it’s still important to continually check for broken links, due to a phenomenon known as link rot. Link rot refers to the natural tendency for links to cease pointing to the content they originally targeted over time. Due to the dynamic nature of the internet, link targets can frequently disappear due to websites or pages becoming unavailable, or interests in certain types of content shifting. Broken links within your site can be addressed by updating rather than removing pages, or by using 301 redirects to send users to a replacement page, substituting URLs that show a 404. When a backlink is resulting in a 404 error due to an incorrect URL being used in the link, you may be able to fix it by contacting the relevant webmaster and requesting an update. Broken links can also be a good source of new and valuable backlinks. Where a site has a broken link pointing to a site other than yours, you may be able to claim that link for your own profile by creating a replacement piece of content and suggesting that the relevant webmaster links to your content instead.
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Link Types

Citations

Glossary  |  2 mins

Citations are any online references that showcase a business’s information. Citations usually cover NAP information: Name, Address, and Phone Number. Though there are a number of variations for the citation format, and additional information that can be added to citations, all of them include a business’s NAP as standard. There are several benefits of local citations, the main one being that they help establish your company as a local business in the eyes of Google. Citations will provide Google with credible information about your company, and help you gain a rank in your region’s Google Local Map Pack, the section that appears at the top of a search engine result page (SERP) when you execute a search with local intent. To gain citations, you’ll need to provide consistently accurate information about your business on any sites where they might appear, giving Google multiple sources it can use to corroborate these details. Aside from listings in online directories like Thompson Local and Yelp, Google considers a range of factors when determining whether or not to display your listing for searches relating to your products or services. One of the key variables is your business’s proximity to the location of the searcher, alongside other standard ranking factors. Citations for business can be divided into two categories. The first is structured citations, which tend to appear on directories like Yelp, and follow a strict, inflexible structure, with details contributed and controlled by the business it’s referencing. The other type is unstructured citations, which tend to appear on blogs, business journals, and other kinds of sites. The businesses being referenced will have no direct control over unstructured citations, and they can often have vague or incomplete information. Before doing anything in the way of building citations, businesses must ensure that they have an accurate and functional Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). A Google Business Profile can be thought of as a kind of super citation that will give your brand an instant boost in legitimacy in the eyes of your target customers. Once this is in place, you can begin registering your business with some of the most popular local business aggregators, such as Yelp, Facebook and The Yellow Pages. Depending on your location and industry, there may be many other directories that can give you valuable citations. Companies in the hospitality industry, for example, may want to register on TripAdvisor, and solicitors may want to register on The Law Society.
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Keywords

Commercial Intent Keywords

Glossary  |  2 mins

Commercial intent keywords are keywords that show an intention by searchers to find a particular product or service, for example “best link building services”. These provide a golden opportunity to convert searchers into potential customers. Website owners can target commercial intent keywords either by optimising the page of the product the searcher is looking to buy, or by using a variety of content such as how to articles, buyers’ guides, and product or service reviews. Searchers use commercial keywords when they want to know more or discover new information about a particular service or product. For instance, they use commercial keywords when they want to understand the features of a given product, or compare similar products and services.

Why Keyword Intent is Important

Keyword intent helps webmasters and SEOs understand exactly what a user is looking for when they use search engines. A good understanding of keyword intent can be a major factor in keeping your content relevant and effective for your SEO strategy. Understanding the reasoning behind what a user enters into search engines for will help you tailor content to those wants and needs, leading to better user engagement and experiences. When content is more relevant and effective on search engines, it leads to stronger CTRs (click through rates), while keeping more searchers on a page and reducing the website bounce rate. When a website has a reduced bounce rate, it sends a positive quality signal to search engines like Google, potentially increasing the chances that it will achieve higher rankings. Careful consideration of keyword intent when you’re strategising content will help you attract as much traffic as possible, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. It will also positively affect the user experience (UX), authority, and relevance on search engines. By tailoring your keyword optimisation around the various kinds of intent searchers use to find brands like yours, you’ll maximize the likely entry points to your site and supercharge your relevance to search queries with a relation to your business niche.
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Link Types

Contextual Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Contextual links are links that appear within a piece of content with a focus on related topics and ideas that serve to contextualise the link. If, for example, you’re trying to improve the rankings for a page that lists the features of a piece of sales software, and you create a link from a piece of content that has a section on the benefits of using a tool with these capabilities, this would be classified as a contextual link. Contextual link building can be a hugely powerful SEO tactic, as it places a lot of emphasis on topical relevance, and helps to showcase the reliability and authority of the target website. Contextual backlinks are also highly sought after because they can be a powerful source of qualified traffic by virtue of their strong topical relevance. And, even if they don’t bring in masses of traffic, building contextual links in high volumes can help to enhance your brand awareness and trustworthiness, by having mentions of your brand appear on well respected publications.

How SEOs Build Contextual Links

Like any other link building strategy, one of the most effective methods of attracting contextual links is creating high quality content that’s worth linking to. Contextual links generate the most value when they’re pointing to something designed to provide tangible value to a specific audience, and which content creators will feel confident about linking to. Aside from improving your chances of passive link generation over time, this will also help to ensure that more of your backlinks demonstrate strong topical relevance, an increasingly important factor in the way that Google determines the authority and quality of a linked to site. Ultimate guides, thought leadership articles, original case studies, and infographics can all be examples of highly linkable assets, and a long term generators of valuable contextual links. Guest posting is another widely used method for building contextual backlinks, and will usually be a central pillar for a typical contextual link building strategy. Though this will require more effort than passively growing links through publishing high quality content on your own site, it offers a higher degree of control over the referring domains that link to you, and the context in which you frame your links.
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Link Types

Deep Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

Deep links are links that point to a page deep within your site, meaning further down the site architecture compared to pages like your homepage. The verb form, “deep linking”, refers to link building that specifically targets these deeper pages. Deep linking can be a hugely beneficial SEO practice for websites, as part of a sustainable strategy. Along with driving topical relevance and traffic to the core money pages through topically relevant exposure, the overall authority of the website will be raised through the strengthening of other areas outside of the homepage. These pages will rank more prominently for longer term search terms, adding value to both the domain and the searcher who has fewer steps to take in order to find the content they require. Deep links can also help by diversifying the target pages in a backlink profile, as a high number of backlinks pointing exclusively to a small subset of pages can be indicative of either low quality pages across the website undeserving of backlinks, or a low quality backlink building program focused on limited pages. Though backlinks are a natural priority for many SEO professionals, deep links in the context of internal link building are also very important. Allowing users to quickly find the most valuable or relevant pages within the website is essential for usability, and search engines will of course use this to crawl pages. Much like the external factors, links to internal pages from the most valuable, high authority pages on the site will be worth the most, and pass the most authority on to the page being linked to. Search engines favour a clear structure for websites. When users and crawlers can make it from your homepage to your deeper pages via a logical, hierarchical structure, it will increase user engagement signals and aid the ability to have every asset on your website crawled. When building deep links, it’s important to remember to keep links topical and relevant based on referring pages. Because top-level pages tend to have a broader focus, SEOs can fall into the trap of linking to deep pages with links that have vague, all encompassing anchor text from referring pages that don’t have a direct relationship to the target content. These kinds of links won’t send positive relevancy signals to Google, and won’t improve rankings in the same way that logical, topical deep links will.
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Link Building

Digital PR

Glossary  |  3 mins

Digital Public Relations or digital PR is a form of digital marketing used to increase the online reputation and visibility of a brand, adapting more traditional PR methods for use in the modern digital world. Digital PR campaigns often involve creating high quality content which attracts backlinks, but it also involves other online channels like social media marketing, influencer marketing, and content marketing. While traditional PR methods involve developing relationships with journalists who work with major and industry print publications to showcase the brand, digital PR marketing is exclusively focussed on online channels. This expands the reach of campaigns, and can lead to higher awareness and visibility for the brand. An established digital PR agency will leverage a pre-existing network of publications and online journalists and use a wide variety of methods in order to improve their clients’ online presence. Some of these methods include:
  • Creating online press releases with linked mentions to the brand
  • Networking with specialised journalists to showcase the brand
  • Arranging interviews and business profile features
  • Consulting clients on in-house press releases to ensure they’re SEO optimised and are framing links back to the brand site correctly
  • Scouting social media influencers who share an audience with the brand
Though the ultimate aim of any digital PR service is to improve a brand’s equity across the board, it usually results in more site traffic, helping the brand's website to rank for high-volume search terms, and establish the brand as an authority in its industry. Generally speaking, this is an extension of SEO with multiple avenues to raise a website's authority and visibility in search engines. From viral advertisements to guest posting to reputation management with link reclamation, digital PR is PR - but for websites.
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Link Building

Directories

Glossary  |  2 mins

Directories are online platforms that list businesses and organisations under various categories and subcategories. These directories help users find relevant businesses, products, or services within a given geographical area or niche. For businesses, directory listings provide an opportunity for a citation for the business by providing accurate and consistent information about their company to potential customers. In the context of SEO, the entries on directories are known as citations, and cover mentions of a business's name, address, and phone number information (NAP). Citations do not necessarily come with a valuable backlink, but can still be a useful tool for local SEO as they help develop a business's authority and legitimacy.

Directories vs Citations

Citations refer to the mention of a business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) on directories or other sites. These citations can help improve a business's local search engine rankings and visibility, especially when they are consistent and accurate across multiple sources. In addition to NAP, citations may also include other information about a business, such as its website, hours of operation, and reviews. Search engines use citations as a factor in determining the authority and relevance of a business's website, and a higher number of quality citations can contribute to better search rankings.

Are Directories Worth It?

Though directories often aren’t the most powerful avenue for link building, they can still be a helpful element in a wider SEO strategy, especially for heavily localised businesses. Topical relevance can be increased through directories, and some more exclusively high value than others - so it does depend on each case. By listing a business in a relevant directory, marketers can increase its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) for local searches and increase the avenues for traffic with intent. Furthermore, directory listings can help improve a business's online reputation by providing its target audience with accurate and consistent information about the business. Like with any kind of referring domain, it’s important to bear in mind that not all directories are a good backlink opportunity. Some directories may have little to no authority or relevance, making them a waste of time and resources. Rarely, you may also find directories that are engaged in spammy and unethical practices, whose backlinks could actively harm your potential to rank. It is important to research and choose directories carefully, vetting them the same way you would with any referring domain, and focusing on sites that are trustworthy, authoritative and relevant to the business's industry or niche.
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SEO

Disavow

Glossary  |  3 mins

Disavowing is the act of asking Google to ignore backlinks which may be having a negative impact on a site’s search rankings (toxic backlinks). This is done through the Disavow Search Console tool, and is an SEO housekeeping task. Disavowed links tend to come from low authority referring domains, and often show crossover with black hat SEO techniques. Some of the more common types of links that are flagged for disavowal include links from spammy, low quality sites, bought links, and links from sites identified as being part of a PBN. Because these kinds of links can hurt your rankings and limit the effects of any SEO work you carry out, it’s essential for SEOs to keep a close eye on the state of their backlink profile.

How to Disavow Backlinks

The first step in disavowing backlinks is to carry out a backlink audit. Most good SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush have tools that will automatically review any links pointing to your domain and flag them for signs of toxicity. You may also want to check your backlink profile manually and target certain links that are being missed by your audit tool, such as links from referring domains with very low authority or with a vague topical relationship to your site’s content. Once you’ve got a list of the links you’d like to disavow, you’ll need to arrange these links in a .txt file formatted for submission through Google Search Console’s Disavow Tool. These .txt files need to be written according to two simple, but important rules:
  • Every address listed needs to appear on a separate line.
  • Every address listed should be preceded by “domain:”
An example entry in a .txt disavow file might look like this:
  • Domain: domain:spamdirectory.com
Once your file is complete (and double-checked!), you can navigate to the Disavow Tool in Google Search Console and select the domain that you wish to disavow links for. This will show you a button saying “upload disavow list”, or, if Google already has a disavow file on your site, “Replace”. In the latter instance, be sure to save a copy of the old disavow file for reference and backup. Once these links are successfully disavowed on Google, they’ll cease to have any impact on your site’s organic rankings, whether positive or negative.
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Link Types

Dofollow

Glossary  |  2 mins

Dofollow links are links in the original sense, a vote of confidence from one website to another. Once it became apparent that links could be abused to manipulate search algorithms, Google introduced a number of tags that could indicate the intent behind the link, including ‘nofollow’. Dofollow links allow link equity to pass from one page to another, and as such are the target for many SEO professionals looking to gain advantage for pages in search rankings. All hyperlinks added to a web page are dofollow by default, but webmasters often add nofollow attributes to links manually to help with categorisation, and to restrict the value passed from one domain to another. For example, preventing highly-specific content that isn’t intended for general web users from being indexed (e.g. terms of service, legal information) or to avoid penalisation with excessive, but often unavoidable links to external websites. Dofollow attributes are an important concept to understand in SEO, as the way they’re used, both on your site and externally, can have a huge impact on the way Google perceives your site, and in turn, determines how to rank it. Using multiple factors to determine how valuable a page or website is, Google has developed a highly intelligent algorithm to deliver the most relevant pages for any given search term. Backlinks play a significant role in this calculation, and have been a target for commercial gain ever since this became apparent. To combat the misuse of backlink building, Google’s sophisticated systems not only analyse each link on merit, but also factor the instruction given by web users - with multiple tags introduced including nofollow, sponsored, ugc (user-generated-content) and more. There are two main ways to determine whether a link is dofollow or not. The first method, which most SEOs rely on, is to bring up a backlinks report using a professional-grade SEO tool such as Ahrefs or Semrush. These reports will list all the backlinks pointing to a specified domain, listing their dofollow/nofollow status, the age of the link, the domain authority of the referring domain, and other variables. The second method is to assess each link manually, using either a browser plugin such as ‘nofollow’ (which highlights nofollow links on each page with a red square) or by manually inspecting the html of the page. For the latter, whilst on the referring page, find the backlink within the page and right-click on it, then click ‘inspect’ (or the equivalent for your browser). This will open a developer tools window showing the referring page’s HTML source code, with a highlight over the link you’ve chosen to inspect. If it doesn’t have the attribute ‘rel=”nofollow” within the highlighted row or rows, then the link is a dofollow backlink. When it comes to linking to outside sources from your content, the decision of whether or not to allow maximum authority be passed should come down to two main factors; where the link is pointing to, and the benefits of leaving it as dofollow. Remember, it is a vote of confidence - so do you ‘vote’ for this page being linked? From an SEO perspective, any dofollow link from your site should always point to content that’s recent, topically relevant to your site, and rich with accurate information. This will provide link equity for both your site and the site you’re linking to in the eyes of search engine crawlers. However, if you have to link to content with dubious authority, and a relatively low topical relevance to your own content, it might be best to add a nofollow attribute.
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SEO

Experience (E-E-A-T)

Glossary  |  3 mins

Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness E-E-A-T is an updated acronym, building on Google’s 2014 update to their Search Quality Rater Guidelines ‘E-A-T’. The handbook now features the additional trust factor ‘Experience’, as of the December 2022 update, which helps Google to measure the success of its algorithm updates and search results. Google is adamant that while E-E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor it does want to serve results that display websites with strong E-E-A-T. In conjunction with SEO, E-E-A-T is a major focus for websites aiming to improve trust, engage customers and lead to an improved conversion rate.

E-E-A-T Timeline:

Mar 2013: Search Quality Rating Guidelines Introduced Mar 2014: E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) added to the guidelines Dec 2022: Updated to E-E-A-T, with the additional ‘E’ for ‘Experience’

Experience

Good quality content should demonstrate an expert level of understanding with subject matter, proving that insights are authentic and ‘tried and tested’. Adding ‘Experience’ to the E-A-T guidelines is a signal that consumers of the content can trust its authenticity.

Expertise

Expertise differs from experience, though there is some overlap. While experience shows a real life understanding of the subject matter, expertise demonstrates a professional connection, through credentials, qualifications and a deep level of knowledge that qualifies authors to provide reliable information.

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness, like expertise and experience, derives from the same place of being qualified to provide reliable information on a subject matter. Unlike the previous two, however, authoritativeness is reputation based, leveraging the power of industry peers to support your credibility as a trusted source of information. In this sense, authoritativeness is sourced by backlinks and citations from other credible, reliable sources of similar information.

Trustworthiness

In essence, Trustworthiness is the combination of the above and in essence, the most important factor of the E-E-A-T guideline - especially in subjects considered to be YMYL. Raters must consider the content as a whole, the look and feel of the website where the content lives, and the author who created it. Being clear, upfront and honest about who wrote it, its sources and any other factors that may encourage a transaction of conversion from users.
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SEO

Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Glossary  |  3 mins

E-A-T (sometimes written as EAT) stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s used to refer to a central principle of Google’s ranking algorithm which Google itself encourages all webmasters to adhere to in their Search Quality Rater Guidelines. The term first started cropping up in the search community in 2014, when Google introduced it in their search guidelines. In this update, Google announced that it would begin looking at three key variables when assessing the value of content: Expertise: How knowledgeable the content creator is in the topic they’re writing about. Authoritativeness: The authority of the content creator, the site, and the content itself to talk about the subject. Trustworthiness: Signals that show how well a content creator, site, and individual pieces of content can be trusted on a topic. E-A-T isn’t a ranking factor in itself, and should be seen as more of a guideline to understand how Google views content, and how content can be strategised and fine-tuned in order to maximise its chances of ranking. Though it’s common knowledge that “content is king” in the world of SEO, many newer SEOs are unsure of what exactly constitutes good content. With the E-A-T principles, SEO professionals have a more concrete understanding of what Google’s looking at when it assesses the quality of content, straight from the horse’s mouth. To ensure the content you create aligns with E-A-T, it must serve certain functions and meet certain requirements espoused by Google, such as:
  • Being intended to resolve an issue faced by its audience.
  • Being created by someone with demonstrable expertise in the topic.
  • Being hosted by a site/publication that’s high in both authority and trustworthiness.
  • Being contemporary and updated to reflect new information regarding the topic.
Bear in mind that these requirements can differ greatly from one site to the next. For example, user-generated content and case studies that aren’t particularly high in expertise could still resolve an issue for the audience well enough to be classed as high quality content.
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Link Types

External Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

External links, often called outbound links, are any links hosted on your site pointing to a page from outside your domain. External links can be anchored in text, buttons, images, and other visual elements of a page, and can also be purposefully hidden from the average web user. External links are an important topic within SEO as they can improve a site’s user experience, and help Google’s crawlers to assess the quality of the content hosting the link. When a page on your site links to a piece of relevant and authoritative content, it will help bolster the authority of your domain and the specific page that hosts the outbound links. Aside from the improvement in authority in the eyes of search engine crawlers, these external links will also improve the credibility of your site in the eyes of human users by citing quality, authoritative content as references to the topic of the host content. External links can also be beneficial for SEO as when you link to a specific site, the webmasters at that site will often see that you’re linking to them. This will improve the chances of the target site creating a reciprocal link pointing to your site, thereby improving your site’s organic rankings. Though it’s certainly good practice to build logical, relevant external links from your site to external content, not all external links are inherently good for SEO, and it’s important to exercise caution when approaching an SEO external link strategy. External links that point to spammy, low quality sites filled with paid links and ads will drive down the site’s user experience, and will likely be devalued by Google’s crawlers. Having too many external links on a single page can also hurt rather than help your organic rankings, by bringing the page above what is considered a healthy page link total. This is particularly relevant for sitewide links, such as footer or header links to suppliers and partners, where the number of pages being linked from can escalate to many thousand. Having too many external links that are reciprocated by a single target site can also be harmful to your SEO. Although mutual linking schemes were a legitimate and effective way to quickly drive up a site’s rankings in the past, Google’s 2011 Panda update introduced algorithms designed to devalue this practice. Today, sites that have an excessive amount of links pointing to a site with an equally excessive number of links back to the referring domain can often be flagged as spammy, which will drive down their potential for strong organic rankings. With each external link you add to your site, it’s crucial to assess the authority and value of the site you’re linking to, and to make sure that both the target and the context of the link makes it topically relevant to the page hosting it.
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Link Types

Footer Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Footer links, sometimes called sitewide links, are links that appear on every page of a website in the footer. The large majority of footer links are internal links that navigate to less visited, but still important pieces of content, such as a business’s corporate information, their careers page, and privacy policy. However, many footers are used to house links to external resources too. Footer links are an important topic within SEO for two main reasons. Firstly, they give site users an easy way to access various pieces of content from anywhere on your site. This helps contribute to a positive user experience, and drives up the user engagement signals that Google increasingly uses to rank websites on its SERPs. Secondly, footer links provide an efficient way for crawlers to reach important content on your site that may exist outside the natural path of a web user. In the past, when Google’s algorithm was much simpler than it is today, the footer was often used for spammy, black hat footer links SEO tactics. Because the footer isn’t a major part of a typical website’s layout, many black hat SEOs would use it for keyword stuffing without affecting site experience too greatly. Footer links were also used for spammy link building tactics, where an SEO would partner with the webmaster of another site, who would fill the footer up with links pointing to the SEO’s site using keyword rich anchor text. Though at one time, these tactics would have had a positive effect on the target site’s rankings, Google’s algorithm is now much more sophisticated, and will be quick to penalise any site found to be employing these methods. Modern SEOs must be careful when organising links and other content in their site footers to make sure they’re an asset, rather than a hindrance. After rigorous testing, most of the SEO community is in agreement that external footer links are devalued by Google, almost to the point where they pass no value whatsoever to the site they’re linking to. When building footer links to, for example, a web design agency, it’s much safer to use anchor text like “BrandName Web Design” rather than “Cheap, high quality web design in Brighton.” Furthermore, adding too many links, whether internal or external, to a site’s footer, can risk pushing the page over its healthy page link total, a benchmark that Google uses to assess the quality of a site’s user experience, depending on the size of the site. A huge site like Amazon, for example, will have a higher bar for the number of links that can be considered healthy, compared to a small startup site with less than 20 pages. When adding footer links to your site, it’s important to make sure that it’s done naturally, and not in a way that’s blatantly intended to manipulate search results. Most, if not all footer links should point to other pages within your site. Any external links should contribute to improving the site user’s experience by pointing to topically relevant content, and should use branded anchor text free of keywords.
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Link Building

Forum

Glossary  |  2 mins

Forum backlinks are any backlinks obtained through online discussion forums. Forum backlinks are created by posting comments or replies on forum threads, along with a link to the website that the commenter wants to promote. These links can be included in the signature section of a profile, or within the content of the post. Though forum backlinks can be either dofollow or nofollow, those sourced from the most sought after and authoritative forums tend to be nofollow as a matter of site policy.

Are Forum Backlinks Worth It?

Forum backlinks are a staple of early SEO tactics, allowing marketers to quickly and easily raise the volume of referring domains to a website or webpage. The evolution of search engine algorithms has decreased the value of forum links somewhat, meaning the activity has decreased as an avenue to raise authority. Though they’re an easy way to generate links quickly, and can help to drive organic traffic to a website, many forum backlinks tend to be low quality and in some cases can be slightly spammy, which search engines would most likely ignore. In the early days of SEO, forum backlinks were considered a legitimate tactic, and many webmasters even followed strategies where forum link building was their primary method of link building. These days, however, Google’s algorithm is much more sophisticated, and puts much less weight behind these methods. Though forum backlinks can be useful when the authority and relevance of the referring site is up to scratch, it’s important to remember not to use them excessively or in an inappropriate way. To avoid this, forum backlinks should be used strategically and sparingly, and should only be obtained from high quality forums that are relevant to your site’s niche.
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Google Algorithm

Google Penalty

Glossary  |  2 mins

A Google penalty refers to a loss in a site’s rankings due to an action by Google. Google penalties can be caused either by Google implementing a manual penalty due to a site going against its guidelines (manual actions), or an algorithm update which devalues a website due to its content and practices (algorithmic actions). Incurring a Google penalty can be very challenging to get the site’s rankings back to where they were previously.

Why Google Penalties Happen

Google’s purpose as a product is to serve up the most relevant and useful search results for any search query it receives. When content that doesn’t serve a searcher’s best interests has a high ranking on Google’s SERPs, it devalues the search engine in the eyes of the users. Google uses a highly sophisticated search algorithm to ensure that pages which provide real value to its users are placed at the top of its SERPs, and that content which detracts from the experience has a relatively small share in its results. Google penalties help to ensure that poor quality or toxic content doesn’t harm the search engine’s user experience and undermine its value as a product.

Common Causes of Google Penalties

For the most part, if your SEO work aligns with Google’s guidelines and doesn’t stray into black hat tactics, then your risk of incurring a Google penalty will be fairly low. Having said that, many changes to a site or backlink profile that are made with good intentions can put your site at risk of a penalty. Some of these causes commonly include maintaining content which doesn’t keep up with changing standards in quality, not addressing poor quality links that point to your site, and creating outbound links that lack context or relevance. Though not all ranking drops are the cause of a Google penalty, if you’re afraid that your site has been hit by one, the first best thing to do is audit your backlink profile for spammy or unnatural links, followed by auditing your site content for any thin or poor quality pages and check within Search Console as to whether there are any manual actions.
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Link Building

Guest Blogging and Guest Posting

Glossary  |  3 mins

Guest blogging, or guest posting, is an SEO practice that involves contributing posts to an external blog or other publication in order to build authority, exposure, and gain backlinks. Because links are a major Google ranking factor, marketing efforts seek to build natural high quality links to drive traffic and improve rankings. However, as unnatural, spammy links can be ignored or even penalised, guest blogging is one of the best ways to build backlinks from quality sources, and develop long-term working relationships to help your SEO efforts. Though guest posting is certainly one of the most effective ways to build high quality, natural links, it’s important to bear in mind that not all guest posting opportunities are equal. Ideally, SEOs should be targeting blogs that maintain high standards of written content, and only include external links that provide genuine value to the reader, pointing to target pages with topical relevance to the referring page.

Finding Guest Blogging Opportunities

There are two main ways of finding guest blogging opportunities:

Sites Collating the Best Industry Publications

Simple Google searches for "best [insert industry] blog list" will find some great resources that collate the most popular blogs that focus on a given niche, telling you about their specialisms, the kinds of content they publish, and in many cases, their guest posting policies. Bear in mind though, these kinds of blogs will have exceptionally high standards when it comes to the guest posts they’re willing to publish. Be prepared to do a lot of research, and write some truly grade-A content.

Using Search Commands

Another effective method is using Google search commands to find blogs that are related to your industry, and which are explicitly asking for guest posts. One of the simplest commands you can use is quotation marks, which will only return search results that include a text string within those quotation marks. One good place to start is to search: "write for us" "[your industry]". This should bring up a contributions page for a variety of blogs with a clear topical relationship to your niche. Be careful with the results here however, as this is not a secret practice and may have been abused by poor quality link builders. The best sites to achieve a backlink from will be within your niche, and not linking out very often. This means that good old fashioned keyword research is still the best methodology for identifying the most valuable link building opportunities. It's important to review the content already on any website, and look for high editorial standards.
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Link Building

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

Glossary  |  2 mins

HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a platform used for collating information from topic experts that reporters and journalists can cite in their content. HARO backlinks are links obtained by contributing to media outlets such as news sites, blogs, and industry journals through the HARO platform. Because HARO is set up specifically to help media professionals link up with trusted sources and industry experts, this form of link building offers a unique opportunity to acquire high quality backlinks from sources that emphasise quality and authority, and a way to maximise your chances of building sustainable, long term quality from your link building efforts.

How HARO Backlinks Work

HARO works by connecting journalists and bloggers with subject matter experts who can provide insights, quotes, and unique opinions for their stories. Users can sign up for an account using both free and paid plans, and subscribe to daily email updates which collate queries from journalists and bloggers. To obtain HARO backlinks, webmasters and SEOs monitor HARO queries regularly, and pitch responses to relevant queries with a unique and informative response. If the reporter finds this response useful, they may feature it in their article and credit the contributor with a link back to their website. Though HARO links have a high bar for entry and can be difficult to obtain, they tend to offer a high return on this effort, as they usually provide quality links from authoritative referring domains. Aside from sending positive E-E-A-T signals to Google, HARO backlinks also help businesses to stimulate traffic, showcase their expertise, and develop their brand’s reputation as an expert source.
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Google Algorithm

Hummingbird Update

Glossary  |  2 mins

The Hummingbird Update is a Google update that was first rolled out in August 2013, with the purpose of helping Google serve up better results based on searcher intent, and reducing the amount of spammy, low quality content that had previously been saturating certain search engine results. While previous algorithm updates had been characterised by penalising and de-ranking sites and pages, the Hummingbird update was designed to serve up more relevant and nuanced results for search queries, rather than punishing sites that go against Google’s guidelines. Hummingbird also introduced Google knowledge graphs - a set of rich data which frequently allowed searchers to find the information they were searching for without ever actually clicking on an organic result. With the Google algorithm Hummingbird update, Google became more adept at determining what users are looking for from the content of their searches. This has made SERPs less diverse, and required SEOs to create content that addresses search intent more effectively. The most important practical step that SEOs can take to align their sites with Hummingbird is to apply natural language in site content, and present information in a way that reflects how your target audience words their queries. This will naturally ensure that all new and existing site content adheres to Google’s exacting standards of quality, and avoids outdated, spammy practices which target keywords in isolation. By leveraging long-tail keywords that exhibit a more conversational tone used by modern searchers, and tailoring content to searcher intent, SEOs can improve the odds of strong organic and local rankings, and help their content find places in answer boxes, knowledge graphs, and other rich results.
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Link Types

Hyperlinks

Glossary  |  2 mins

Hyperlinks, more commonly known as simply links, are clickable elements used as a reference from one webpage to another. Web users can follow hyperlinks by clicking or tapping on them. Though the original hyperlink definition was restricted to text-based elements, modern hyperlinks can be anchored in images, interactive buttons, and almost any other visual element that can be displayed on a webpage. Hyperlinks are the primary method for web users to navigate from one page to another, and have been a fundamental part of the internet ever since its inception. The HTML document format that all webpages adhere to, and allows for hyperlinks to be embedded in a page’s content, was set out as one of the three protocols of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet, as early as 1989. Modern hyperlinks come in a variety of styles. With basic text based hyperlinks, the text that is linked is known as the anchor text. The anchor text of a hyperlink is almost always formatted differently to the surrounding text, traditionally with a blue font colour and an underline. Previously clicked hyperlinks will usually change colour in order to show that the user has already visited the target page. Some hyperlinks will also show a small popup when moused over, known as a tooltip. Understanding hyperlinks is an important part of SEO for two main reasons. The first reason is that backlinks, or inbound links, that point to your site from other pages are one of the main indicators Google uses to assess the value of a webpage, and how it should be ranked in a given page of search results. Google determines the value of a hyperlink based on various factors, such as the words or elements used in its anchor text, the presence of dofollow or nofollow HTML attributes, the age of the link, and more. Google will also look at the referring page’s authority, based on the quality and quantity of its own inbound links, to calculate how a given hyperlink should affect its target page’s rankings. Hyperlinks are also important to SEOs in the context of internal linking, and how a given website is structured through the use of hyperlinks pointing to pages under the same domain. Google’s crawlers will follow links in much the same way a human user does to discover the content on your website, which is one of the first steps in the process of ranking it on Google’s SERPs. If a page on your site doesn’t have any internal hyperlinks pointing to it, or it’s buried so far down the site hierarchy that it’s hard for crawlers to reach within your site’s crawl budget, it will have a much lower chance of gaining a strong rank on a page of search results. SEOs can help a site’s chances of ranking both by organising its content into a logical, crawler friendly site structure, and by building backlinks through the creation of high quality, authoritative content both onsite and externally.
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Link Types

Inbound Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Inbound links, more commonly known as backlinks, are any hyperlinks that link from an external website to yours. Though a simple, ubiquitous element of the internet, inbound links can have a huge influence on organic rankings, and as such, are a major topic of interest for all SEO professionals. The two main types of inbound link are dofollow links and nofollow links. Dofollow inbound links are links carrying an HTML attribute telling search engine crawlers to follow them, and in turn, to assign value to them. Nofollow inbound links, on the other hand, are links that search engines won’t follow, and therefore have no direct impact on how the target page is ranked in a given page of search results. Though nofollow backlinks and inbound links can be powerful source of traffic for their target pages, and there’s some debate as to how valuable they are in SEO, dofollow links will always pass a higher amount of value to the target page compared to nofollow links in the eyes of crawlers. All major SEO tools will have features allowing you to check the number of inbound links for a given domain, showing their referring pages and domains, their dofollow/nofollow status, when they were first and last crawled, and other details. If you don’t have access to a full SEO suite, there are a number of free tools which you can use to analyse your site’s inbound link profile, such as the Ahrefs’ Free Backlink Checker. Aside from their dofollow/nofollow status, the value of an inbound link is calculated based on a variety of other factors. The importance of an inbound link, based on the referring page’s position in a site hierarchy, its traffic, and other metrics will affect how much value Google’s crawlers place on that link. Relevancy is also another important determining factor, with inbound links from a page that has a topical relationship to its target page passing on more value than from a page that’s irrelevant. The referring page’s authority is another major factor that will influence the link’s value. Many SEO tools measure the authority of a given domain using metrics such as Domain Authority or Page Authority. These gauge a referring domain’s value based on the quality and quantity of its inbound links, and seek to help SEOs determine the value of a link from one domain vs another. There are many methods that site owners and SEOs can use to build inbound links as a method to increase a site’s organic rankings. One of the easiest ways to gain inbound links is to find and claim broken links that had pointed to another site’s piece of content by reaching out to webmasters and suggesting they link to a similar piece of content on your site instead. Finding unlinked brand mentions, and asking webmasters to turn them into links, can also be an easy route to gaining more inbound links. For long term, sustainable link building though, site owners should create high quality authoritative content on the subject that’s relevant to their site, driving the chances of their site being linked to naturally, while also producing guest posts on external sites that contain inbound links pointing to their site.
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Link Building

Inbound Marketing

Glossary  |  3 mins

Inbound marketing is a marketing discipline focussed on passively attracting customers to a brand by crafting high-value experiences and content, and relies on customers finding the brand on their own accord, rather than actively putting these resources in front of their target audience. Though inbound marketing isn’t synonymous with content marketing, the two methodologies have a lot of crossover, and many successful SEO campaigns rely on content as a tool of inbound marketing to attract organic traffic.

Outbound vs Inbound Marketing

To put it simply, the difference between outbound and inbound marketing is that outbound marketing is initiated by the brand, whereas inbound marketing is initiated by the people the brand is targeting. Outbound marketing refers to active methods of marketing that interrupt the audience in their day to day lives. It covers many of the more traditional methods of marketing, such as TV ads, radio ads, and telemarketing, as well as methods that are still used extensively such as cold emails and PPC ads. The goal of outbound marketing is to actively reach as many people as possible by informing them about a product or service in the course of their day-to-day lives. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a strategy that focuses on attracting potential customers to the company by passively offering content and experiences that are relevant and helpful to them. Inbound marketing has become hugely influential with common methods including search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and social media marketing. Though inbound marketing is traditionally associated with B2B businesses due to them having more drawn-out sales cycles, it can be just as effective for B2C businesses, particularly when it comes to complex consumer products that require a lot of consideration before a purchase, for example laptops.
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SEO

Indexed

Glossary  |  2 mins

Indexed is a term used to refer to pages that have been registered in a search engine’s database, more commonly referred to as its index. If a page isn’t indexed, it won’t be capable of appearing on a page of search results, and any subsequent SEO work done will effectively go to waste. Though indexation is a fundamental part of SEO, a surprising amount of valuable content fails to become indexed due to negligence or a lack of understanding of how search engine indexes work.

How Google Indexes Pages

Google indexes pages by crawling the web through automated bots called crawlers which navigate the web in a similar way to a human user. With each new page that crawlers visit, it will be analysed to determine its content and meaning. This, among other factors, will act as an input for Google to rank the page in its algorithm. Though most pages become indexed through crawling, it’s possible for Google to index pages which crawlers don’t have access to, e.g. if they’re blocked by a directive in the site’s robots.txt file. It’s also important to note that indexation is just a prerequisite for ranking, and if a page is indexed it doesn’t guarantee that it will be ranked on any given SERP.

How to Ensure your Pages are Indexed

If you’ve determined that some of your important site content isn’t being indexed, you can manually ask Google to index it, thereby maximising your chances of the content ranking. To do this, go to the URL inspection tool on Google Search Console and paste in the URL of the page you’d like to index. Once Search Console has checked the URL, click the “Request indexing” button. It’s a good habit to carry out this process when you’ve made changes to your site that you think will have a positive effect on your rankings. This will ensure that Google registers any new content quickly, and means you won’t have to wait for it to crawl and index updated pages in due course. Bear in mind that requesting indexation manually won’t fix any underlying issues that could be preventing indexation, such as rogue canonical tags, nofollow internal links, and pages missing from xml sitemaps.
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Link Building

Infographic Link Building

Glossary  |  2 mins

Infographic link building is a specific technique within the broader strategy of link building that involves using infographics as a target to acquire backlinks, rather than a piece of written content or a landing page. At a glance, the process of infographic link building is fairly straightforward. The first, and most challenging step, is to create an infographic that is both visually appealing and informative, maximising the chances that it will be shared and linked to by other websites. Though creating great infographics isn’t something that can be learned quickly and easily, there are a few best practices you can follow when commissioning or creating an infographic that will help you stay on the right track:
  • Consider the structure carefully and make sure it’s something your target audience engages with
  • Use an eye-catching headline and unique, aesthetically pleasing graphics
  • Use a storytelling structure to keep people wanting to read on and move to the next section of the content
  • Source accurate, recent, and interesting facts or statistics
The next step is including a link to your site within the infographic, ideally in the form of a logo or a small call-to-action (CTA) encouraging the viewer to check out your brand. After that, you need to distribute the infographic to as many websites as possible, to increase the number of backlinks to your site. If your infographic is of suitable interest, it will accumulate shares and links naturally on the platforms where you’re able to distribute it. Furthermore, the “original” infographic hosted on your own site can be used as a target for guest posting campaigns, just the same as a landing page or piece of evergreen content.  
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Keywords

Informational Keywords

Glossary  |  2 mins

Informational keywords are keywords that searchers use to find a piece of information. Unlike transactional keywords, which have a more commercial intent, informational keywords are used to gather knowledge. As a general rule of thumb, any keywords that begin with an interrogative such as "how", "what", or “who” can be classed as informational keywords, along with terms with an explicit informational intent, such as “difference between griddle and plancha” or “black friday date this year”. Informational keywords carry less buyer intent than commercial keywords, and though some may be used to research a particular kind of product, they’re all used to help educate searchers about a specific subject. Pages that target informational keywords are mostly created to build authority around a certain niche, and enhance a brand’s relevance in the eyes of a particular audience segment.

Where and How to Use Informational Keywords

Though there are some exceptions, for example product comparison content, informational keywords should generally be used on content whose purpose to educate, and shouldn’t appear on hard sell content. Since searchers who use informational keywords aren’t usually looking to buy anything, it’s recommended that you reserve them for how tos, FAQs, thought leadership pieces, and similar content. To get an idea of the content Google serves for these search terms, see how search results for informational keywords usually contain infoboxes with quick answers, knowledge boxes, and content carousels. When mapping out your content calendar, informational keywords should be your go to for when you want to build brand relevance, educate your audience, and establish yourself as an industry expert. For instance, if your brand deals in gaming computers, you might want to target informational keywords with a guide to how graphics cards work and the impact they have on the player’s experience. Though it’s fine to have some kind of channel leading visitors from your informational content towards purchasing your product or service, this shouldn’t be the primary purpose of any content you build around informational content. Like with many things you do in SEO, the most important part of creating content targeting informational keywords is ensuring it’s accurate, authoritative, and valuable to the kind of audience you’re targeting with it. Algorithms are much more intelligent than ever before, so keep an eye on your keyword density and avoid outdated, forced keyword stuffing tactics. Always provide content for your users, and let the search engines catch up - if they haven't surpassed us yet, they most likely will soon.
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Link Types

Internal Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

Internal links are any links that link from one page on your website to another page under the same domain. Internal links are used by both human users and search engine crawlers to navigate the content making up your website. A page that has no incoming internal links, commonly known as an orphaned page, can be difficult or even impossible to find for both crawlers and users. Internal links can be divided into four main categories. Aside from navigational links (the links pointing to your most important pages from your site’s main menu) there are footer links, which appear on every page of your site and typically point to content like your privacy policy and careers page, image links, which direct to image files hosted by your site, and contextual links, which link from one piece of content on your site to other pieces of related content. Internal links are an important part of SEO for several reasons. Firstly, internal link building will help Google’s crawlers understand the structure of your site, and allow them to discover and index new content. Furthermore, the context and anchor text of your internal links can help crawlers understand the topical relationship between one piece of content and another. Well planned internal linking can also help to pass authority from one page on your site to another, which can contribute to better organic rankings. This is due to Google’s PageRank algorithm, wherein a page that’s shown to be authoritative by having a large number of quality backlinks will pass link equity onto other pages it links to. The simplest, but no less important reason is that good internal linking will help users navigate a website more easily. This will not only improve your user's experience, but will also improve user engagement signals that are playing an increasing role in ranking algorithms. To maximise your chances for strong organic rankings, you should ensure that all new internal links are topically relevant and helpful to your users. It’s also important to periodically audit your site to ensure there are no orphaned pages, and that every internal link on your site is functional, with their target pages free of 404 errors.
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Keywords

Keyword Density

Glossary  |  2 mins

Keyword density, less commonly referred to as keyword frequency, refers to the number of times that a keyword is used on a webpage as a proportion of its total word count. It’s usually expressed as a ratio or percentage, with higher values alluding to a higher keyword density. For example, if a keyword was used 10 times in a 1,000-word blog post, this page can be said to have a keyword density of 1%. Keyword density is an important topic in SEO, as it plays a significant role in how Google determines a page’s relevance to a specific query containing a given keyword. Making a point to checkkeyword density is an important aspect of any content strategy, as it will ensure your content isn’t falling short of its potential to rank, and that your site won’t be penalised for keyword stuffing (where a keyword density is too high and Google decides it’s being manipulative). Though different pieces of content will call for different keyword densities, it’s generally recommended that any piece of content should aim for a keyword density of 1-2% (1-2 occurrences for every 100 words of total copy). To ensure you’re not going over this bracket of safety, it’s a good habit to use keyword variants (words that are similar but not identical to your target keyword) on pages that require you to mention a certain object or concept a lot. For example, if you’re writing a charcoal barbecue buyer’s guide, and targeting the term “charcoal barbecue”, you might want to use variants such as “kettle barbecue”, “charcoal bbq”, or “charcoal grill”. By diversifying the way you mention whatever your target keyword is referring to, you’ll not only steer clear of keyword stuffing, but also help to optimise your content for secondary keywords that you may not have considered in the content planning stage.
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Keywords

Keyword Research

Glossary  |  2 mins

Keyword research is the act of finding and analysing search terms that users enter into search engines such as Google, with the goal of finding keywords that will help direct and support decision making within SEO campaigns. Through keyword research, marketers and SEOs can better determine which kinds of search terms they should be targeting, based on their popularity, their relevance to a specific business niche, their competitiveness, and other variables. SEO keyword research is one of the most fundamental aspects of on page SEO, and makes it possible to measure the impact of SEO work.

A Brief Guide to Keyword Research

Seed Keywords

The process of keyword research begins with brainstorming broad-topic seed keywords, which will help you define the topics that apply to your site and find more developed keyword ideas. If, for example, you’re running the SEO for a tea brand, you might want to list terms such as “chamomile”, “earl grey”, or “matcha”. Though these seed keywords themselves usually aren’t worth targeting through your further SEO work, they offer an important starting point for future keyword research.

Using a Keyword Research Tool

The next step in the process is entering these seed keywords into a keyword research tool. These tools will use your searches to return lists of related keywords, showing their volume (how many searches they get per month), their competitiveness, trends in how much they’re searched over time, and other metrics pertinent to how these keywords can be used in SEO.

Sort Keywords by Searcher Intent

People enter different things into search engines looking for different results, and it’s important to bear this in mind when you’re researching keywords to use in your SEO. Going back to the tea company example, you might come across a keyword like “organic chamomile tea”, which suggests a searcher intent on buying a product, or another term like “how is tea grown?” which suggests a searcher who simply wants to educate themselves on a given topic. Understanding searcher intent is an important part of deciding which keywords should be implemented where on your site, and knowing which terms to prioritise based on the overarching goals of your business.

Sort Keywords into Topic Clusters

Finally, keyword research involves sorting these keywords into specific clusters, which will further inform your SEO strategy and align it with the way your business categorises its products or services. For example, if you’ve determined that your site is going to have a lot of content that fits into a “green tea” topic cluster, you might want to assign keywords like “green tea health benefits”, “is green tea good for you”, “does green tea have caffeine”, and other related search terms.
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Keywords

Keyword Stuffing

Glossary  |  2 mins

Keyword stuffing is an SEO practice that involves adding large numbers of targeted keywords into a website, via elements such as titles, meta descriptions, and body content. One example of keyword stuffing would be writing a meta description made up entirely of keywords that the page is intended to rank for, accompanied by body copy that includes such a high concentration of keywords that it makes reading it feel difficult and unnatural. Some site owners employing keyword stuffing will hide unnaturally large numbers of keywords in their site content with techniques such as making the font and background colour the same, or reducing the font size to a value so small it can’t be seen by users.

The Effects of Keyword Stuffing

Whether it’s done intentionally or not, keyword stuffing is considered a form of unethical SEO, is associated with fraudulent or otherwise poor-quality websites, and will hurt a website’s potential to rank. Google has said that keyword stuffing results in a poor user experience, and therefore gives their algorithms cause to rank pages lower compared to sites with informative meta data and quality, readable content. If Google’s crawlers detect hidden text on a page, this can even give it cause to de-index the page completely. To ensure you steer clear of keyword stuffing, webmasters and SEOs should be sure to follow a few best practices when it comes to organising pages and creating content:
  • Write long-form content:By expanding the body of a piece of content, it’s much easier to keep targeted keywords distributed naturally, rather than crowbarring them into every other sentence
  • Measure keyword density: Whether manually or with a free tool, measuring keyword density and keeping it at a healthy level (1-2% of total words) will help you make sure your page won’t be flagged for keyword density
  • Focus on a small keyword group per page: Focussing more on a primary keyword, and 2-3 secondaries per URL, will make it significantly easier to avoid cramming several different keywords into a single page
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Link Building

Link Exchange

Glossary  |  2 mins

Link exchange, also known as link swapping, is the process of exchanging links with other websites in order to improve search engine rankings. The idea behind a link exchange is to form an agreement with another site owner to give them a link, with the understanding that they’ll link back to your website in return. This creates a network of links between websites, which can help to boost a website's search engine rankings. Link exchange is widely considered to be an outdated SEO practice, and was used extensively in the early days of digital marketing to improve search engine rankings. Now, as a form of ranking manipulation, it goes against Google’s policies and could harm your rankings if used. In the past, it was a common practice for website owners to exchange links with other websites in order to boost their rankings. The issue here was that the links were simply jammed into the relevant sites without much thought to context or topical relevance. As Google’s algorithms developed to place more emphasis on quality and authority, quick-and-easy tactics like link exchange have become less and less viable.

How to Link Exchange

Though it may not be as quick and easy as link exchange, the most effective and sustainable way to build links in the current SEO market is to place more emphasis on quality over quantity. Nowadays, link building should be done through creating well-written, valuable content, and promoting this content through social media so that the relevant site owners will link to your content naturally. Therefore, if you are going to engage in link exchange, it’s essential to check your target site’s quality metrics (for example Domain Rating, Trust Flow, estimated traffic and overall quality of the backlink profile) and to carefully review the site’s content to check for topical relevance to your own niche. This way, if the other site does agree to create a reciprocal link, it will still be in a way that ultimately benefits the end user and showcases high quality content on both sites.
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Google Algorithm

Link Juice or Link Equity

Glossary  |  2 mins

The term link juice or link equity is used to describe the strength of a backlink that connects one website to another. Because Google prioritises serving up results that people are looking for, it looks at various signals to determine how trustworthy and valuable a given page is. The quality of referring domains is a major determining factor in how much a backlink will raise a target page’s rank, making link juice an important factor when trying to improve organic search rankings. There are many ways to build links, such as guest posting, broken link building, and partnerships with industry thought leaders, but the backbone of any good link building strategy is hosting high quality, authoritative, and useful content on your website.

How Does Link Juice Work and How to Get Link Juice

There are a range of factors that can determine the link juice in a single link or a backlink profile as a whole. Though gaining links from sites that follow Google’s E-A-T principles (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is the main thing to think about when trying to positively affect link juice, there are a number of negative influences that can drag down link equity which SEOs must be aware of. The first big thing that negatively affects link equity is 404 errors, which happen when you delete a given page on your website and forget to set up the relevant 3xx redirect. Though 404s will not discount all of the link equity from any backlinks pointing to the original URL, by properly applying 301 redirects, you can ensure the link juice from the backlink will be passed on to the redirect destination. Another factor that greatly affects link juice is duplicate content. When Google or other search engines crawl two identical pieces of content on different locations of your site, they categorise such pages as duplicates, and select only one for indexing. This means that if you have two separate sets of links pointing to each page, half of your potential link juice will be wasted. Disavowing backlinks also affects a link juice. Although link disavowal is usually only used for toxic backlinks, it’s important to have a good handle on what links and domains are being disavowed to ensure you’re not accidentally blocking potential link equity.
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SEO

Link Neighbourhood

Glossary  |  2 mins

Link neighbourhoods are groups of sites that are connected to one another through links, vaguely similarly to those seen in tiered link building. The links that connect these sites send important signals to web crawlers regarding how different pieces of content are related, and in turn, how these pages should be ranked in SERPs. The quality of a given site that makes up a link neighbourhood can quickly raise or lower the value of the sites it’s linked to in the same way that property values can appreciate or depreciate depending on the value of surrounding properties, hence the term “link neighbourhood”. To maximise their chances of high organic rankings, SEOs must work to ensure their sites are a part of high quality link neighbourhoods, and avoid link neighbourhoods that may harm their ability to rank by association.

Being Part of a Good Link Neighbourhood

To keep your site in a good link neighbourhood, you should ensure that all external links and backlinks associated with your site link you to sites that meet high quality standards. This means that search signals like the content authority, trustworthiness, and value to the reader, should all be as high as possible, and that all technical factors make for a smooth and efficient user experience for site visitors. With each new link, whether inbound or outbound, look at the content that’s being associated with yours, and think about whether or not you’d be happy to host it on your own domain. If the answer’s no, then this link may risk depreciating the value of your link neighbourhood.

Signs of a Bad Link Neighbourhood

When you’re looking to keep your site in a good link neighbourhood, it’s often useful to start by checking for the signs of a bad neighbourhood. These tend to be similar to the signs of a poor link building prospect, including:
  • External links to spammy sites, adult content, gambling sites, etc
  • Thin and poorly-written content that offers no tangible benefit to the site’s target audience
  • An excessive amount of ad space that detracts from the user experience
  • Crowbarred-in link spam that lead to sites which have no topical relevance to your brand
By running regular internal and extrarenal link audits using your chosen SEO tool, you’ll be able to stay vigilant for these signs and take the necessary steps to move your site towards a healthier, higher value neighbourhood.
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Link Building

Link Profile

Glossary  |  2 mins

In SEO, a link profile is the list of backlinks that point to a particular website. The overall quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to a given website can have a major impact on its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), and achieving a strong link profile should be a key aim for any successful SEO campaign. When developing a site’s backlink profile, SEO professionals aim to ensure that it contains a healthy balance of high quality, relevant, and diverse backlinks in order to improve its ranking.

How to Improve Your Link Profile

The work required to develop a strong link profile has a lot of overlap with building strong individual links. Here’s some of the methods you should use when looking to improve your link profile: Aim for a natural balance: Having too many links from the same or similar sources will act as a red flag to Google and could be taken as a sign of link manipulation. Be sure to vary referring domains and niches in your link building campaigns as much as possible to develop a natural and diverse backlink profile. Vary backlink anchor text: In the same vein, Google will see too much repetition of over optimised anchor texts as a sign of link manipulation. Make sure the links you build appear as natural as possible by avoiding too many keyword-rich anchors. Create high quality content: High-quality content is essential for attracting natural backlinks from high-authority sources. Review your content calendar regularly to keep your content original, engaging, and valuable to your target audience. Guest posting: Guest posting on relevant websites can help you build your site’s authority and earn backlinks from high quality sources. Monitor and disavow toxic backlinks: Monitoring your backlink profile regularly and disavowing toxic backlinks can protect your website from losing authority or incurring penalties from Google. Build relationships: Building relationships with industry influencers and bloggers can help you earn high quality backlinks from their sites and social media profiles.  
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Link Building

Link Reclamation

Glossary  |  2 mins

Link reclamation is the process of finding and reclaiming lost or broken links on a website. These links can be internal, linking to pages within the same website, or external, linking to other websites. The goal of link reclamation is to identify and fix any broken links, which can negatively impact a website's search engine rankings and user experience. One common way to reclaim lost links is by conducting a link audit. This involves using tools such as Google Search Console or Ahrefs to identify broken links on a website. Once these links have been identified, the website owner can then take steps to fix or redirect them. For example, if a page has been removed or moved, a 301 redirect can be implemented to redirect users to the new location of the page. Link reclamation can also involve reaching out to other websites that are linking to your website but are now linking to a broken page. By reaching out and requesting that they update their link to the correct page, you can reclaim these lost links. Another important aspect of link reclamation is monitoring your website for new broken links. This can be done by regularly checking for 404 error pages or by using a tool that will notify you of any broken links. By regularly monitoring your website for broken links, you can quickly address any issues and ensure that your website's search engine rankings and user experience are not negatively impacted.

Link Reclamation Email Template

If you have broken backlinks pointing to your site, and you’re looking to reclaim them by reaching out to the referring domain owner, here’s a simple template you can use to try and repair these missing links:
Hi [Website Owner], I hope you’re well. I am reaching out to you because I came across a broken link on your website while browsing. The link in question is [insert broken link URL]. I understand the importance of providing a positive user experience and I believe that fixing this broken link will benefit both our websites. I noticed that the link is supposed to lead to my website [insert your website URL] and I would be grateful if you could update it to the correct URL [insert correct URL]. If you need any help with repairing the link or have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Kind regards, [Your Name]
Link reclamation is just one effective way to repair a neglected backlink profile and start achieving higher organic rankings.
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Link Building

Link Scheme

Glossary  |  2 mins

Link schemes are a black hat tactic used in search engine optimization (SEO) that involve the manipulation of links in order to improve a website's search engine rankings. These schemes can include tactics such as buying or selling links, participating in link farms, or using automated link building software. These tactics are typically intended to manipulate search engine rankings by artificially inflating the number of links pointing to a site, with no real consideration of the end user’s experience. This is considered a violation of Google’s guidelines and can result in penalties or even de-indexing. One common link scheme is buying or selling links. A webmaster might pay for links to be placed on other websites, or sell links from their own website. Another link scheme is participating in link farms. A link farm is a group of websites that all link to each other in an effort to improve their search engine rankings. These links are typically low-quality and have little relevance to the content on the linking website. Automated link building software is another link scheme, which automatically creates or acquire links for a website in large quantities. These links are often low-quality and have little relevance to the content on either the target site or referring page.

How to Spot a Link Scheme

Here’s a list of some of the common signs of a link scheme to be aware of. It's important to note that not all of these are necessarily indicative of a link scheme. However, if several of these are present, it’s certainly worth investigating the strategy or service offering further.
  • Large numbers of low-quality, spammy links pointing to a website
  • Links from irrelevant or low-authority websites
  • Purchased or paid links
  • Link farms or link networks
  • Hidden links or text
  • Use of link cloaking or redirects
  • Links from sites with a high number of outbound links
  • A sudden increase in the number of links pointing to a website
 
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Link Types

Link Spam

Glossary  |  3 mins

Link spam is a term referring to low quality backlinks that are created for the sole purpose of boosting their target page’s organic rankings, with little or no regard of the link’s context, topical relevancy, or its impact on user experience. Though link spam is treated the same way by Google regardless of details, it can occur in many different forms. Spam posting is one of the most common forms of link spam, where a link builder will post an excessive number of links pointing to their target page on public platforms such as forums, blog comment sections, and site guestbooks. Hidden links are another type of link spam, where a black hat SEO will hide backlinks on a referring page by making the anchor text’s colour match the background content, effectively making it invisible. This is used to engage in link spam without having too great an impact on the referring page’s user experience. Link farming is another common form of link spam, where two webmasters will form a partnership in which they repeatedly link to each other for the purpose of SEO. Sites with excessive reciprocal links to each other were devalued by Google’s 2011 Panda update. One or more of these methods can be used in a practice known as anchor text spamming, where a large number of low authority links are built pointing to the same site, all with the same anchor text. This is intended to help a page or site rank for specific keywords included in the repeated anchor text. Though the practice is in decline, it’s not uncommon for webmasters and inexperienced SEOs to engage in link spam in an attempt to gain backlinks and improve their organic rankings. Though this was an effective method in the early days of search engines, Google’s algorithm is now sophisticated enough to identify link spam. Today, new, spammy links now offer no additional value to the pages that they target. To avoid spam linking in your SEO efforts, it’s important to ensure that every new link you build is of a high quality, and doesn’t have any traits that Google might interpret as spammy. All new backlinks should be from authoritative referring domains, be topically relevant to the page on your site that they’re linking to, and have a clear intention to improve both sites’ user experience. It’s also important to periodically audit your backlink profile for existing link spam to prevent these links from damaging your rankings too severely. The easiest way to do this is to use a professional SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to export your site’s backlink profile, sort your links by domain authority, and manually check the least authoritative backlinks for spammy practices. It can also be helpful to comb through these exports and manually check for anchor text spam. Once the spammy links are identified, you can copy the relevant links or domains into a disavow file and upload it to Google Search Console to prevent them causing any damage to your rankings. By keeping high standards for all your link building prospects, and regularly pruning toxic links from your pages, you’ll be able to prevent spam links from devaluing your site and harming its ranking prospects.
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Link Building

Link Velocity

Glossary  |  2 mins

Link velocity refers to the rate at which external websites link to a target site, and in turn, how quickly search engines register these new links and factor them into their ranking algorithms. Link velocity, among various other variables in the way new backlinks are created, helps Google and other search engines determine the authority and relevance of a website. Link velocity is often measured by the number of backlinks a website receives over a specific time period, eg “X links per week”. This metric can provide valuable insights into a website's link building strategy and the effectiveness of its SEO efforts.

The Importance of Link Velocity

Link velocity’s potential to influence organic rankings is important to understand for any SEO. A high link velocity, meaning a sudden surge in backlinks, can be interpreted by search engines as a sign that a website is engaging in manipulative or spammy link building practices. A slow and steady increase in backlinks, on the other hand, is indicative of a more natural accumulation of links, and can help to contribute to a healthier looking backlink profile and stronger organic rankings. It’s important to note that link velocity and penalisation is only something to worry about if previous SEO efforts have seen you gaining links through spammy or manipulative link building tactics. If you take appropriate steps to ensure that your link building campaigns are ethical and hold strictly to white hat SEO methods, link velocity’s impact on your trust and authority should not be an issue. Outside of being a benchmark for your SEO’s legitimacy, link velocity can be a useful metric for identifying patterns and trends in a website's link building strategy, as well as for monitoring the impact of SEO efforts over time. By monitoring link velocity and adjusting your strategy accordingly, website owners and SEO professionals can work to steadily improve a website's search engine rankings and overall visibility online.  
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Link Building

Linkable Asset

Glossary  |  3 mins

Linkable assets are valuable pieces of content that are created with the specific purpose of acquiring backlinks, which in turn can improve a website's visibility and rankings. These assets can take various different forms, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and downloadable white papers. There’s no firm parameters in terms of the form and subject matter a linkable asset can take on, but in order to be successful, it must have a carefully considered appeal to your target audience. The key to building effective linkable assets is to create content that is both informative and engaging, increasing the likelihood that outside parties will want to link to it. Because linkable assets are such an integral part of SEO, it’s important to ensure your assets have a unique voice and are able to stand out in a saturated market. Some of the most commonly-used linkable assets include: Blog Posts: Blog posts can be used to provide valuable information on a specific topic, and can be optimised for search engines by including keywords in the title and throughout the content. Blog posts are also easy to distribute, being highly sharable on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Infographics: Infographics are a great way to present complex information in a visually appealing way, and they are great for sharing on social media. Though it can be hard to create an infographic that’s up to scratch, when it’s done right, there’s no limit to the value it can bring in as a linkable asset. Videos: Though more costly to produce, videos are an increasingly popular as a form of linkable asset. Videos can be used to provide information on a specific topic, or to showcase a product or service. White Papers: White papers are also a great form of linkable asset for B2B businesses. White papers are in-depth reports that provide information on a specific topic, and can be used to establish a website as an authority on the topic. When creating a white paper, it is important to ensure that the information presented is accurate and relevant, and that the design and editorial quality is highly professional.
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Link Building

Local Citations

Glossary  |  3 mins

Local citations are mentions of a business's name, address, and contact information on third-party websites. The term is often used by SEO professionals to refer to search engine citations (e.g. Google business profiles), but can also appear in directories, review sites, and social media platforms. Local citations are an important component for many businesses’ SEO because they show search engines that a business is relevant and trustworthy in a specific geographical area. Aside from the basic information about a business, local citations usually include a website URL, opening hours, and a business description. The more consistent and accurate these details are across different citation sources, the more valuable and trustworthy the local citations will be. There are a few different ways webmasters and SEOs can obtain local citations, including manual submission to directories, automated tools, and local link building services. Local backlinks are also important factors in local citation building, acting as an additional signal to search engines that a business is relevant to a given area.

The Benefits of Local Citations

Local citations have a number of benefits for businesses who wish to improve their local SEO performance. Firstly, local citations can improve a business's visibility in local search results, which can drive more relevant traffic and leads if the business depends on commerce from their local area. When a business is listed in a relevant directory or review site, it has the potential to appear higher in local search results for relevant keywords. Second, local citations can improve a business's trustworthiness and credibility in the eyes of search engines and potential customers. The more consistent and accurate a business's NAP (name, address, phone number) information is across different citation sources, the more reliable and authoritative it appears. Finally, local citations can maximise a site’s chances of earning local SEO backlinks, which can further improve a business's local SEO performance. Local SEO link building services can be particularly effective in building a quality backlink profile and improving a business's organic visibility for searchers in a specific location.
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Keywords

Long Tail Keywords

Glossary  |  2 mins

Long tail keywords are keywords which get a relatively small search volume (searches per month), but tend to enjoy higher engagement due to them being longer and more specific than high volume alternatives, or head keywords. For example, the word “keto” is considered a head keyword because it gets a monthly search volume in the hundreds of thousands, whereas a term like “what does a keto diet consist of?” can be considered a long tail keyword because it only gets around 800 searches per month. Long tail keywords draw their name from the fact they exist in the search demand curve: a visualisation that plots interest in search queries on a graph with one axis representing search volume and another representing the number of separate keywords. Within this visualisation, the “head” of the curve is made up of a small selection of keywords with huge volumes. The curve is composed of more and more keywords as the volume gets lower and lower towards the “long tail”, which is where we find the most specific, high conversion terms.

How to Use Long Tail Keywords

Because they’re less competitive and easier to group by searcher intent, long tail keywords are a great component to include in your SEO strategy. To use long tail keywords effectively, start by sorting into groups that share a similar meaning, then sort these groups by keyword volume to prioritise the ones which are likely to return the most value. From there, use the high priority keywords from each category on your relevant pages the same way you would with any other keyword; by including them naturally in the title and meta description, the body content, and the anchor text for links pointing towards the page. One important thing to note when it comes to long tail keywords: it’s a common mistake for site owners to optimise several pages for the same group of long tail keywords that share a similar search intent, which can lead to keyword cannibalisation and mean that your website is fighting itself for rankings. To avoid making your long tail keywords redundant, be sure to group them carefully and avoid creating unique content for topics that are too closely related.
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Authority Metrics

Majestic Citation Flow (CF)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Citation Flow (CF) is a metric created and trademarked by the SEO tool Majestic. It’s a numeric score between 0 and 100 used to show the popularity of a given URL, based on the raw number of links that point to it. Low quality or newly registered websites will have a citation flow a little above 0, whereas authoritative, long-standing sites like YouTube enjoy citation flow scores in the high 90s. It’s important to note that Citation Flow is a quantitative metric, not a qualitative metric. Citation flow is only influenced by the number of links pointing at a domain or webpage, not the equity of those links. Majestic uses a separate metric to measure equity, known as Trust Flow. Though Citation Flow won’t give you the full story on a domain’s authority or equity, it can provide a useful benchmark that will allow you to begin searching for good link building opportunities. Let’s say, for example, that you’re planning to improve the average equity for the referring domains in your site’s backlink profile. If you’ve determined that the average Citation Flow score for referring domains in your backlink profile is 55, you may want to begin your search by filtering out all domains with a Citation Flow score of 60 or lower. When using Majestic’s metrics in your link building campaigns, Citation Flow can be a good starting point to assess the value of a referring domain, but it’s certainly not the only thing to look at when deciding whether or not to target a link from that page or domain. Though all authoritative sites will have a high citation flow score, a low-authority site can gain a high citation flow score just as easily, simply by building a lot of spammy, low quality links. While a link from a highly trusted site with a low Citation Flow score won’t be especially valuable, a site with a high Citation Flow score and a low Trust Flow score isn’t going to do you any favours either, and may even drag down your site’s rankings as a toxic backlink. When using Majestic’s Citation Flow in your link building strategy always consider a site’s Trust Flow alongside it.
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Authority Metrics

Majestic Link Graph

Glossary  |  2 mins

Majestic Link Graph was introduced in 2020, giving link builders and SEOs a new way to visualise the immediate map of links surrounding a website or URL. By the very nature of the internet, links and link networks are everywhere. Many of them are benign, as Majestic state, such as footer links within corporate subsidiaries or a single website translated into many languages. However, some networks are not so innocent and are designed to manipulate search rankings. These are known as private blog networks (PBNs), and fall under the black hat tactics that white hat link builders avoid at all costs. Due to their malicious intent, PBNs are not always easy to spot and are designed to appeal to marketers for commercial gain. The Link Graph, therefore is a highly useful tool for marketers to quickly get a real time analysis of the top 50 websites that point to a domain or URL. It considers the four tiers stipulated by Majestic (1-4), collecting the top links within each and then calculates which are linking to each other. Whilst the tool is insightful and accurate to a degree, it does not consider all network possibilities, and Majestic provides no guarantee that it is all encompassing. It does however provide an instant insight into the top external links (or lack thereof) that surrounds a website or URL - which in conjunction with other authority metrics can be a vital component in the decision making for link acquisition. The static image provided by the Link Graph is made up of red dots and dark lines - where the dots are websites or URLs, and the dark lines are the links that connect them. The size of the red dot depicts the Trust Flow of the referring domain, while the lighter dots and lines show links that are farther away from the domain in question.
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Authority Metrics

Majestic Trust Flow (TF)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Trust Flow (or TF) is a metric created and trademarked by the SEO tool Majestic. It’s a numeric score between 0 and 100 which indicates how trustworthy and authoritative a given website is, based on the authority of the referring domains it has in its backlink profile. It can be checked for free through the Majestic Backlink Checker. Like Ahrefs’ Domain Rating and Moz’s Domain Authority, this metric isn’t endorsed by Google, but does provide a useful indicator for the ranking potential of a site, and the value of a backlink from a referring domain. Unlike Majestic’s Citation Flow metric, which measures the quantity of links alone, improving Trust Flow is much more challenging. Because Trust Flow is a measure of the quality of links rather than the raw quantity, and new backlinks can cause the score to go up or down depending on the authority of the referring domain, the vast majority of websites tend to have a Citation Flow that’s higher than their Trust Flow. During any SEO work, your site’s Trust Flow score can be useful for getting a quick, at a glance idea of your site’s ranking potential, and sudden peaks or dips in the score can prompt you to identify and understand how changes in your backlink profile are affecting your organic visibility. This is especially true of one of Majestic's other features - the Link Graph. When all are used in conjunction for analysis, it can give you a good idea of your backlink profile’s overall quality. It could be estimated that the closer the ratio of the first two metrics, along with a score circa 1 on the Link Graph - the higher the average authority of the sites linking to yours. When carrying out a link building campaign, and looking for new referring domains to target, it can be helpful to use Trust Flow as a benchmark for quality. By filtering out domains with a Trust Flow score lower than that of your site, you’ll ensure that any new links you’re able to build will improve the Trust Flow of your site, and its authority.
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Authority Metrics

Moz Domain Authority (DA)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Domain authority (DA) is a system of measuring how authoritative a website is, created by leading SEO tool Moz. Although similar to Page Authority, another measure provided by the software company, Domain Authority is a metric for the entire domain as opposed to the individual page. It’s based on a range of different factors using data drawn from Moz’s Link Explorer web index, including a site’s total number of links and root domains. Although DA is not a direct ranking factor, and isn’t tracked by Google, it remains a useful indicator for assessing both the ranking potential of your site, and the potential value of links from outside referring domains. Checking domain authority is a routine step when most SEOs begin working on a site. Moz maintains a free Free Domain Analysis Tool on their website, so even if you’re not paying for the full tool, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your site’s DA as you work to optimise it. Domain authority is scored on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. Authority scores average between 40 and 50, so anything above 50 can be considered good. The 60 mark is a tough barrier to break for most sites, so anything above 60 can be considered excellent! A minority of long-established and highly popular sites, for example Wikipedia, have DA scores in the 90s. Many link builders consider the domain authority of a website before reaching out for links, as gaining links from high authority websites is extremely beneficial. However, while domain authority is important, it is not the only important metric, and assessing the true value of a site will require a more granular look at a range of other authority factors.
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Authority Metrics

Moz Page Authority (PA)

Glossary  |  2 mins

Page authority, often called PA, is a metric representing the potential for a page to rank compared to other content on a similar topic. It’s created and managed by leading SEO software provider Moz. Like other independent tool metrics, it isn’t tracked by Google and doesn’t have any direct impact on rankings. Similar to Moz’s Domain Authority metric, Page Authority is scored on a 0-100 logarithmic scale. The higher the score, the more likely a page is to rank for relevant search terms. Moz calculates a page’s PR by looking at a number of different factors, including the number of unique referring domains a page has in its backlink profile, its dofollow backlinks, nofollow backlinks, redirects, the age of links in its backlink profile, and various other factors the company doesn’t disclose in detail. A page authority rank between 40 and 50 is generally considered average, with any score of 51 or higher considered good. Having said that, page authority averages vary greatly depending on the content topic. To get an accurate idea of an average PA, you’ll need to look at the relevant SERP and the kind of scores that competitor content has. To determine what kind of PA you should be aiming for for a specific piece of content, you can enter competitor pieces’ URLs into Moz’s free domain analysis tool. Page authority can be useful for SEOs when weighing up the potential equity that a backlink from a referring page could bring in, or when comparing the potential value of a link from two different places within the same referring domain. Both Page Authority and Domain Authority are based on data within the Mozscape index, which is gathered by bots designed to replicate the behaviour of Google’s web crawlers. Because Page Authority is drawn from a wide range of different factors, there’s no catch-all solution for SEOs who want to improve their page authority score. The general advice is to make your whole site as SEO friendly as possible, by ensuring a smooth user experience, publishing high-quality content, and making it easy for crawlers to find your most important pages. Having said that, building backlinks from high quality, authoritative sources is the fastest and most reliable way to increase page rank.
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Link Types

Naked Anchor Text

Glossary  |  2 mins

Naked anchor text refers to anchor text that displays its link’s target URL. The anchor text is described as naked because there’s no separate anchor text hiding the URL, and the destination of the URL is clearly visible to readers before they click on it. They’re most commonly seen in the form of source citations at the bottom of articles, or in user-generated content on social media platforms and forums. Though naked anchors are one of the rarer forms of anchor text, there are still situations where they’re the most logical choice for a certain piece of content. In these situations, it’s best to make sure the text surrounding naked anchor text provides plenty of context as to what the link is referring to. This will give Google’s crawlers more of an idea about the link’s topical relevance to both the referring page and the target page. Although this will have a relatively minor impact on the way Google perceives the link, and won’t have nearly the same effect as including keywords and contextual phrases in the anchor text itself, it should still be considered best practice when you opt to use naked anchors. Overall, because naked anchor text doesn’t give crawlers or users a lot of context about the link, and can risk disrupting the user experience, they should generally be avoided outside of cases where they’re a widely accepted format, such as in citations or when they’re directing users to a homepage.
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Link Types

Natural Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

Natural links are any links that are created without an obvious intention of influencing a site’s search rankings. Search engines see them as a natural consequence of a site owner recognising the value in the target page, thereby treating it as an organic “vote of confidence” in the target page or site. This distinction makes natural links a hugely valuable strategy for any modern SEO professional. Generally speaking, any of the following kinds of links can be considered an unnatural link, and therefore won’t improve the value of the target site in the eyes of Google’s crawlers:
  • Links that contain UTM tracking parameters
  • Links that redirect the user through pages or elements designed to monetise links
  • Links that are a part of sponsored / monetised content

The Importance of Natural Link SEO

Because Google has always aimed to serve up the results that will provide the maximum possible value to its users, its algorithm rewards sites that show signs of natural, organic popularity, rather than the artificial inflation of ranking signals. Though most successful SEOs will build links using prior agreements with publishing sites and other methods that could be viewed as unnatural, the important thing is making sure that the links remain natural in the eyes of Google, and don’t carry any incriminating markers that will detract from a natural link profile.

Best Methods of Natural Link Building

Though there are a variety of ways to build backlinks that Google will classify as natural, many years of trial and error have led a few key methods to rise to the top of the pile. Creating high value content: If you want to motivate people to link to your site, then you need to fill it with content that will provide real, tangible value to interested audiences. Though many marketers can become hyper-focussed on the need for publishing new content as often as possible, and the freshness of your content can certainly help with your natural link SEO, it’s far more important to ensure that your content is valuable and relevant when you’re building natural links. Diversify your content: A common mistake can be to focus on one high value keyword, and using a single kind of anchor text. Though this may make sense at a glance, it will quickly become unnatural. A natural backlink profile will contain a wide range of anchors from a wide range of domains and content topics.

Answer Questions with your Content

Leading on from the previous two points, a good way to ensure that your content stays valuable and diverse is to find the burning questions being asked by your audience using sites like Reddit or Quora, then create content that’s designed to address these questions. Using these platforms as a starting point for brainstorming content will not only help you fill your content calendar with natural link magnets, but can also be a great way to find influential industry thought leaders who can help with future blogger outreach campaigns.
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Keywords

Navigational Keywords

Glossary  |  2 mins

Navigational keywords are keywords that are used when a searcher is looking for a specific site, or a specific page within a site. Because of these parameters, navigational keywords almost always include a brand name. Some basic navigational keywords examples include "contact Hive 19", “Youtube”, and “Samsung careers”. When a searcher uses navigational keywords, they typically have a fair amount of knowledge about the brand they’re interested in, and simply need to find a specific piece of information regarding that company.

Navigational Keywords SEO

One of the best things about navigational keywords is that they can be a great source of organic traffic, without requiring any serious work in terms of optimisation. Because your brand name and product name or service type will typically appear in your page titles and content naturally, there’s a high chance your site is already perfectly well optimised for navigational keywords relevant to your brand. Though you may already be near the top of the SERPs for many navigational keywords, it’s important not to ignore them completely. It’s a smart move for any SEO to research the navigational keywords that include their brand name, and make sure there’s no missed opportunities to attract organic content. For example, if you notice the keyword “YourCompany CFO” has a lot of volume, but your “About Us” page focusses much more on your history and company philosophy rather than the people who actually work there, you may want to update the content on this page to better serve the intent of these searchers. By searching for navigational keywords on your chosen keyword research tool, and using the trends you discover to inform your content, you can maximise the flow of organic traffic and ensure a more positive user experience for all segments of your audience.
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Link Building

Niche Edits

Glossary  |  2 mins

Niche edits, also known as curated backlinks, link insertions or contextual backlinks, are links obtained by adding a link to an existing piece of content on a website within a relevant niche. Niche edit link building often targets evergreen content, as these referring pages are relatively future proofed which maximises the long-term value that can be extracted from the link. When building niche edits, the aim is to create a natural and organic link that blends seamlessly with the existing content and offers real, tangible value to the reader.

Methods to Obtain Niche Edit Backlinks

There are a number of ways webmasters and SEOs can work to obtain niche edits. One of the most common methods is to use SEO tools and manual analysis to check content relevant to your niche and search these pages for outdated links. You can then reach out to the webmaster and request a link update, offering to provide an updated link that offers additional value to their readers. This tactic will usually make up the bulk of the work done by a niche edits service provider if you outsource the service to them. Another way to obtain niche edits is through a reciprocal link building, which involves reaching out to webmasters in a similar niche to yours and offering a niche edit on your own pages in exchange for one on theirs. Though this is usually more efficient than scouring content for niche edit opportunities and reaching out to webmasters, it’s important to note that this runs the risk of creating an unnatural-looking backlink profile if it’s done too much with the same referring domain. As with any kind of backlink acquisition, it’s essential to ensure that your niche edits come from high quality, authoritative websites. Low quality niche edits from spammy, low authority sites can often do more harm than good.
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Link Types

No follow Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

No follow links are links that have a rel=”nofollow” HTML attribute applied to them. This is used by webmasters to designate a link they want search engines to ignore, which can be done for a variety of reasons. Nofollow links do not pass PageRank value onto the target page, and therefore are unlikely to affect the organic search rankings of the target page or site. Nofollow links can be identified in two main ways. For SEO professionals, the fastest and most popular method is locating it within the backlink profile of a given domain using any good SEO tool. Alternatively, you can highlight the link on the referring page, right click on it, and click “inspect” (or a similar command) to view the page source. If you see a rel=”nofollow” link attribute in the highlighted portion of the page’s source code, then the link has been nofollowed. Though dofollow backlinks (any links without a nofollow attribute) will have a more direct positive impact on your site’s organic rankings, that doesn’t mean that nofollow link building is completely useless. Though nofollow backlinks may not pass PageRank and won’t directly impact the way Google ranks your website, they can still act as a powerful source of traffic. This traffic, combined with a user-friendly site design, can generate positive user engagement signals that will increase your chances of strong organic rankings. Nofollow backlinks can also be viewed as positive because they can help diversify your backlink profile. A naturally formed backlink profile will have a mixture of both dofollow and nofollow backlinks, with many backlinks from social media platforms and forums such as Reddit being nofollow by default. If a backlink profile has nothing but dofollow links or an unnaturally high proportion of dofollow links, then it can be viewed as spammy by search engine algorithms. Although paid links are explicitly against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, there are cases where webmasters may want to buy links for the traffic alone. Ensuring that you’re only using nofollow sponsored links can reduce or eliminate the chances of the target site being issued a manual penalty. For the best chances of strong organic rankings, webmasters must audit the dofollow/nofollow status of their links regularly. This involves checking that all sponsored links and links with exact-match anchor text are nofollowed, and that all internal links do not have a nofollow attribute, unless they’re pointing to a page that you specifically want to exclude from the Google index.
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SEO

Off Page SEO

Glossary  |  2 mins

Off page SEO covers any SEO actions which occur outside of your own website, and works in tandem with on-page SEO to maximise the chances of climbing the ranks on SERPs. Although off page SEO was once used to refer to link building and nothing else, there are a wide variety of off-site ranking factors which can have a significant impact on a site’s potential to rank. The one thing all off page SEO has in common is that it involves a platform other than your own site, unlike on-page SEO methods like optimising titles and meta descriptions.

Off Page Link Building

The most prevalent and widely known off page SEO technique is off page link building. Building links is so much a part of off-page SEO, that for a long time “link building” and “off page SEO” were used interchangeably. Off page SEO backlinks generally fall into three main categories: Natural Links: Links that are generated by outside sources naturally when another webmaster decides to link to some content on your site. For example, if you’re running a graphic design agency and a marketing journal links to your gallery that exhibits an emerging design trend. Manual Links: Links that are generated via manual link building activities such as guest-posting or motivating influencers to share your content. Self-Created Links: Links that are made yourself on a referring domain that’s generally not under your control, for example adding listings to directories, comment signatures, forums, and press releases. Aside from link building, off page SEO can refer to guest blogging and thought leadership, social media and influencer marketing, and nurturing brand citations (both linked and unlinked). While not all of these are strictly focussed on building links to a target site, they’re all done with the aim of creating new references to your site or brand from platforms that are outside of your control.
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SEO

On Page SEO

Glossary  |  2 mins

On page SEO, sometimes called on site SEO, refers to any SEO actions that take place on a site you control, as opposed to off page SEO methods like link building. keyword optimisation, internal linking, and assigning alt tags to images are all examples of on page SEO. Aside from structuring content in a way that makes it easy for search engines to understand, on page SEO seeks to build a positive user experience for site visitors and resolve their search queries. Both of these aims work to make a site or page more valuable in the eyes of search engines, thereby making it easier to improve your SEO ranking.

On Page SEO Best Practices

On page SEO covers can cover many different elements and variables on a website. Here are some of the key best practices that all SEOs should be aware of:
  • Using keyword optimised title tags
  • Writing descriptive and compelling meta descriptions to improve clickthrough
  • Naturally including keywords in highly relevant content
  • Organising content with header tags that make it easy for humans and crawlers to understand
  • Internal linking with relevant anchor text
  • Well written and engaging content that’s intended to provide tangible value to the target audience
Though on page SEO is exceedingly important for effective SEO, it needs to be used in conjunction with off-page SEO for the best possible results. When planning and executing your on page SEO, be sure to consider how this will affect your link building and other off page SEO efforts, and frame on page optimisation as one part of a larger strategy.
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Link Building

Organic Link

Glossary  |  2 mins

An organic link, also known as a natural link, is a link obtained through natural means, rather than through manipulation, link schemes, or other artificial methods. These links are created when other websites or web pages link to a particular website or page without any form of compensation or artificial incentive. Organic links play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) and are a key factor in improving a website's search engine rankings. The more high-quality, relevant websites that link to your site, the more likely it is that your website will be considered an authority on the topic and will rank higher in search engine results. These links can also drive more traffic to your website, which can further improve your search engine rankings. Organic link building can be approached in a number of ways, including through content marketing, social media marketing, and digital PR. By creating valuable, informative, and engaging content, a website can attract other websites and webmasters to link to it. Social media marketing can also be used to increase visibility and drive traffic to a website, which can lead to the creation of organic links. Finally, digital PR can be used to generate coverage and mentions of a website in popular publications, which can also result in the creation of organic links. When you’re embarking on any link building campaign, it’s important to note that the quality of your link is more important than the quantity. Search engines use a variety of factors to determine the quality of a link, including the relevance of the linking website or page, the authority of the website or page, and the anchor text used in the link.
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Link Types

Outbound Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

Outbound links are any links that point from a page on your site to a page on another domain. They’re an extremely common element of any website, and are often used in blog posts and articles in order to provide more context or to back up a claim made by the content. They can take the form of standard text based links, or use buttons, images, videos, and other page elements as an anchor. Though outbound links are usually created naturally in the course of composing a piece of content, they’re also added to pre-existing pages in a conscious effort to help a site’s organic rankings. Outbound links can be beneficial from an SEO perspective in two main ways. Firstly, they will enhance the user experience of your site by directing visitors to other valuable resources. Second, linking to topically relevant pages from your site will help Google’s crawlers understand the context of your referring pages, sending topical relevancy signals that will improve the chances of your site ranking for certain search terms. Though outbound links are an important tool for SEO professionals seeking to improve a site’s user experience and authority, they should be applied carefully, and shouldn’t be added to a piece of content just for the sake of having them. Each new outbound link should be placed as naturally as possible, with a clear aim to provide value to the reader, either by citing sources or making it easier for visitors to navigate the site that you’re linking out to. Forcing unnatural links into your pages are sure to hurt the user experience, and in some cases can cause Google to perceive the page as low-quality and spammy, thereby hurting its ranking potential. Having too many outbound links on a single page can also be detrimental to SEO, as it could push the page over what’s considered a natural page link total. By keeping all new outbound links natural and helpful, and regularly checking your site for common outbound link issues, such as unnecessary nofollow attributes or dofollow, sponsored links you’ll be able to maximise your chances of strong organic rankings.
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Link Building

Outreach

Glossary  |  3 mins

Outreach is the age old process of communication, reaching out to the relevant bodies in an organisation to pitch, offer or request something. In the context of SEO and link building, it generally involves offering up a linkable asset and a very polite request that they link back to it, for one reason or another. This can be done through email, social media, or other forms of communication. There are several different techniques that outreach link building services typically employ. One popular method is to create valuable content, such as infographics, blog posts, or videos, and then reach out to other websites to request that they link to the content. Another approach is to search for broken links on other websites and then reach out to the webmaster to request that they replace the broken link with a link to the website. One more successful platform that is built on outreach practices is HARO (Help A Reporter Out), where you can provide expert comment to journalists covering a story in your industry or niche, in return for exposure (often a link). Link building outreach can be a time-consuming process, but it is an effective way to acquire backlinks and boost the visibility of a website in search engine results. As always, it's important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. Search engines place more weight on backlinks that come from authoritative and relevant websites. For this reason, many webmasters will outsource the process to a vetted outreach link building service. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that search engines have also evolved in recent years to ignore or even penalise websites that engage in manipulative link building practices, such as buying backlinks or participating in link farms. For this reason, it's important to focus on acquiring backlinks through legitimate, ethical means, with building high-quality valuable content as a central pillar of the overall strategy.
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Google Algorithm

PageRank

Glossary  |  2 mins

PageRank is a system of ranking web pages based on the volume and quality of its citations  and links. PageRank is also used to refer to a score determining the authority and value of a given link or piece of content, where a higher PageRank for a link or page assigns greater authority to that content. PageRank was first developed by the original founders of Google at Stanford University, and has served as a foundation to all future changes to Google’s ranking algorithm. Though future algorithm updates have made Google’s algorithm more complex and nuanced, PageRank on Google is still an important factor to understand how the search engine ranks pages based on user-generated signals.

How Google PageRank Works

When PageRank was first incepted, it was based on the idea that a link to a webpage acts as a vote of confidence for the target content, and a mark of authority and trust. In simple terms, PageRank works off an understanding that the more links a webpage has pointing to it, the more it should be trusted, and the higher it should be ranked on a SERP. Aside from looking at the simple quantity of links pointing to a given page, PageRank also looks at the PageRank score of the pages links are coming from to determine the overall value of the links. Therefore, if Page B has 5 links pointing to it and Page C has 2 links, a link going from Page B to Page A will have a greater effect on Page A’s PageRank compared to a link from Page C. In order to help your SEO efforts align with the PageRank Google ranking factor, SEOs must ensure that backlinks and internal links are optimised to pass on the maximum possible PageRank to the pages that you want to rank. To achieve this, SEOs pay close attention to a variety of factors, including how relevant and accurate link anchor text is, how likely a link is to be clicked in the context of the wider content, and whether or not the link has a nofollow attribute. It’s also important to use a good internal linking structure to help PageRank flow through your site.
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Link Building

Paid Backlinks

Glossary  |  3 mins

Paid backlinks are any backlinks that webmasters and marketers pay for with the intention of improving their website's search engine rankings. Paid links can be bought through various paid link building services, which will create those links on various referring pages such as articles, blog posts, or other types of content on sites with a high domain authority.

Paid Links in SEO

Paid links can be a contentious subject, as often it’s not entirely clear how to define “paid links” in the first place. The official line from Google is that using paid links in your SEO strategy won’t improve your rankings, and their algorithms are becoming progressively more effective at identifying them. Having said that, outsourced SEO is a huge industry that countless businesses rely on for their organic search marketing, and reputable link building agencies specialise in building links through quality content aimed at providing genuine value to a given target audience. To put it simply, not all links that you pay for are “paid links” in the sense that they’ll risk a Google penalty.

The Risks of Paid Links in SEO

While cheap, poor-quality paid links may seem like a quick and easy way to improve a site’s ranking, there are various risks associated with these services which can mean they’ll do more harm than good. Here are some of the risks associated with paid links to be aware of:

Search Engine Penalties

Google is constantly updating their algorithms to crack down on spammy and manipulative SEO tactics like using paid links. If a site is found to be using paid links to manipulate its rankings, it can penalise the website by lowering its search engine ranking or even removing it from SERPs completely.

Reputation Damage

Though it usually won’t mean as much to human users as search engine bots, paid links also have the potential to tarnish a brand’s reputation. If users discover that a business is using paid links to manipulate its rankings, they may lose trust in the site and be less likely to consume its content or engage with its products and services in the future.

Irrelevant Traffic

Paid links also have the potential to attract irrelevant traffic to a website. When a paid link service uses referring domains and content that’s not relevant to its industry niche or target audience, it can quickly start to attract visitors who are not interested in its content or products. This will not only waste marketing budget, but can also lead to a high bounce rate and low engagement, which can hurt a website's search engine ranking in the long term.
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Google Algorithm

Panda Update

Glossary  |  2 mins

The Google Panda update is a Google algorithm update that was first launched in 2011, aimed at rewarding high quality content and diminishing the value of black hat SEO techniques. Initially known as the “farmer” update, Panda was rolled out over several months, and influenced the rankings of roughly 12% of English language content on Google’s index. Like other algorithm updates, Panda worked to devalue various problematic site elements that had previously been used by webmasters to artificially improve the rankings of poor quality content. Some of the primary targets for the Panda update were duplicate content pages, thin and low quality content, content that was lacking in authority and trustworthiness, and sites that were guilty of content farming. Panda was in part a correction for an earlier “caffeine” update, which allowed Google to index content much faster than before. This had the unintended effect of adding swathes of poor quality content to the search engine’s index.

Aligning your Site with the Panda Update on Google

When working to align your site with the Google Panda update, the most important guiding principle is to ensure that the content you publish is high quality, authoritative, and intended to solve the problems faced by your target audience. Though most SEOs understand the importance of quality and authority when producing new content, there may still be older pieces of content which are being flagged by the Panda update and limiting the ranking potential of your site. If you’re concerned that your site has been penalised due to the Panda update, it’s often a good idea to audit your site for content that doesn’t measure up to Google’s standards of quality, and remove or re-optimise pages that may have been targeted by Panda’s parameters. Some common remedial actions to help sites align with Panda include ceasing content farming and preventing these practices from seeping into your future strategy, auditing your content for E-A-T values and amending them accordingly, auditing content for searcher intent relevance, and purging duplicate content. It can also be useful to carry out a thorough backlink audit to check for any toxic links which may have come about through black hat SEO methods.
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Google Algorithm

Penguin Update

Glossary  |  2 mins

The Google Penguin update is a search algorithm update that was first launched on April 24, 2012. The update was designed to reward high quality websites and penalise those that go against Google's Webmaster Guidelines, particularly those that published high volumes of poor quality content through content farms and similar schemes. The algorithm update has demonstrated its effectiveness through the wide ranging impact it’s had on the SEO industry. Following its initial release, it affected 3.1% of English-language search engine inquiries, and since then it has supercharged Google’s ability to prevent spam content and manipulative search marketing. Google first began curbing a rise in spammy, low quality content using its Panda algorithm. By 2012, however, they needed to do more in this area, and developed the Penguin update to effectively cover Panda’s blindspots, particularly in the way of prohibited link building tactics. The Penguin update was created to help quality, relevant content get the visibility it deserves, while penalising poor quality content churned out in batches with the sole intention of manipulating SERPs. To align your site with the Penguin update, you need to stay wary of black hat SEO, and follow Google’s basic principles of providing quality, valuable content to people who are searching for it. Having said that, Google Penguin isn’t a one-trick pony, and takes several factors into account when influencing a site’s rankings. To maximise your chances of strong rankings, make a point of publishing good content, building high quality links from high quality sites, and avoiding black hat SEO tactics or services at all costs. If you're concerned your site is being penalised due to the Panda update, the three best ways to review and fix your Panda compliance include:
  • Reviewing the content of your website for quality, paying special attention to signs of over-optimisation
  • Auditing your backlink profile and eliminating any low quality and unnatural links that associate your site with poor quality content
  • Reviewing your company’s history of third party SEO services, and screening for any other black hat elements which could be undermining your site’s value in the eyes of Google
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Link Types

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Glossary  |  3 mins

Private blog networks (PBNs) are networks of blogs and publication sites which are built with the sole purpose of linking to other websites in order to artificially inflate their backlink profiles and organic search rankings. Not to be confused with the more white hat measure of link neighbourhoods, PBNs are considered more dangerous, malicious backlinks that could cause harm to a website's rankings in the long run. Though at one time, using PBN link building was a viable SEO method, Google has since classed PBNs as link building schemes which violate its terms of service. Today, the use of PBN link building or a PBN building service is a black hat SEO method that should be avoided.

The Risks of Using a PBN

The main and most glaringly obvious risk of using a PBN is that it’s a direct violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines, and therefore runs the risk of inviting Google penalisations. PBNs have a direct, negative impact on the quality of Google’s search results, and Google invests a lot of resources into tracking down and dismantling these networks. If a lot of your past link building efforts have been facilitated by a private blog network, and this network is identified by Google, it will mean that your inflated rankings will come crashing down, and all the money you invested will have been wasted. Though PBNs can promise significant ranking increases in a very short space of time, the rewards are minor compared to the risks.

Identifying PBNs

Though PBNs are in decline, they’re certainly not extinct, and there are many that are surprisingly effective at disguising themselves as legitimate, websites. If you’re not sure about a link building service, there are a few elements you can check to determine whether or not it’s a PBN. Hosting: The individual blogs making up PBNs often use the same hosts. Free tools like Builtwith can be used to see the hosting of a given domain, and to check for other similarities between blogs that you suspect might be a part of a PBN. The History of Domains: PBNs are typically dependent on buying a lot of expired domains. They do this in order to control the large number of referring pages they need to deliver the huge ranking increases they promise. Using Majestic's Link Graph is a quick, insightful way of getting a real time overview of the domain's proximity to a network. Content Density: Because PBNs are purpose built for generating backlinks, and prioritise the quantity of backlinks above quality, they're often made up of several blogs where the overall content is notably thin on the ground. If the blogs in a given network seem thinly populated despite presenting themselves as well established authority publications, and you notice that a lot of posts seem to link out multiple times to irrelevant domains, then it's likely part of a PBN.
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Google Algorithm

RankBrain

Glossary  |  2 mins

RankBrain is an artificial intelligence and machine learning engine algorithm Google uses to rank search results. The algorithm was first launched on October 26, 2015, to complement Google's hand coded algorithm and produce better, faster, and more specific search results. When it was first launched, RankBrain was used to analyse search terms that Google had never seen before, which accounted for 15% of keywords used across all searches. Its initial intent was to help Google understand the meaning behind keywords and provide their users with more pertinent results, thereby creating a better user experience. But in the past few years, it has developed to take cues from search results more dynamically, for instance, by analysing brand new keywords and user engagement signals to determine which results to serve.

How to optimise your content for RankBrain

RankBrain places a strong emphasis on content, and determining how useful it is to Google users. SEOs must try to minimise negative engagement signals while encouraging positive ones. For example, your CTR (click through rate) will go into decline if your content is poor, meaning users won’t click on your results and won't return to your website, resulting in a lower ranking by RankBrain. RankBrain also looks at negative user engagement signals such as a site’s bounce rate, which is driven by users clicking on a result, deciding that the page isn’t useful to them, then going straight back to the search results without taking any further action. Because RankBrain takes cues from the way users interact with SERPs, the best way to align your site with it is to make sure your SEO efforts reflect the way that people search for content. Optimising for medium tail keywords is one particularly effective RankBrain strategy, as these terms tend to cover several different iterations of related searches, and have a decent amount of volume with moderate competition. Furthermore, working with mediumtail keywords can often help to naturally boost related long tail keyword rankings. By optimising your site based on the way people are searching, you’ll help encourage the positive user engagement signals that RankBrain uses to understand search terms, and decide which content is best.
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Link Building

Reciprocal Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Reciprocal links are links gained through a link exchange where two websites agree to link to each other's pages. In theory, this strategy is mutually beneficial for the owners of both websites, allowing two brands to drive traffic to each other's pages and improve their search engine rankings. In the early days of SEO, reciprocal link building was a common way for marketers and webmasters to quickly develop their backlink profile and improve rankings. However, due to the abuse of this tactic and the sophistication of search engine algorithms, it is assumed that they don't hold the same weight nowadays. There are of course completely natural occurrences where two brands would link to each other, and the links would hold significant value. However, where it is clearly an attempt to gain competitive advantage, search engines might ignore the links as a ranking factor - and in some extreme cases, consider it worthy of investigation (where a manual penalty could be applied).

What are the risks of using reciprocal backlinks in SEO?

These days, Google’s algorithm is more than capable of identifying patterns in sites using reciprocal linking, and if they suspect a site has been employing this unnatural link building technique, it is likely to be ignored or worse. One of the primary risks of abusing reciprocal links in SEO is the potential for your site to be flagged as part of a link farm. Link farms are networks of websites that link to each other for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. This practice was common in the early days of SEO, but is now considered a black hat technique and should be avoided. Another risk associated with reciprocal links is that they may simply not provide any tangible SEO benefits. Webmasters who become comfortable with reciprocal linking can have a tendency to produce large volumes of irrelevant or low-quality links. If a website's reciprocal links are not relevant to its content, or if the linking website has a poor domain authority, the links may not improve its search engine ranking and could even have the opposite effect. Reciprocal links occur completely naturally all of the time, and are completely normal as it would be in any form of advertising. Of course, this type of organic link would likely provide benefit to the website's SEO strategy. However, abusing this tactic as a route to gaming the ranking algorithm could lead to lead to unwanted consequences, which has made it less popular in recent years. For more sustainable, long-term success in your link building campaigns, it’s essential to stay wary of manipulative, black hat techniques, and to prioritise natural links from quality, relevant sites that provide tangible value to your target audience.
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SEO

Redirect

Glossary  |  2 mins

A redirect is an HTML status code that’s used to navigate users and search engine crawlers away from the URL that they’d originally requested, and to a different, specified URL. Redirects are an important consideration for SEO for two main reasons. First of all, it prevents users from landing on dead-end 404 pages when browsing your site and ensures a positive user experience. Secondly, redirects can help search engines to understand the structure of your site, and let them know which content to crawl, rank, and index when a page has been redirected. The various types of redirect can be used to tell a search engine whether a redirection is permanent or temporary, which will have a direct effect on how this content appears in search results.

Types of Redirects

Every kind of redirect returns a 3xx HTTP status code when a user or bot requests a certain page. Here are two of the most common 3xx redirects that every SEO professional should be aware of: 301 Redirect: By far the most common kind of redirect, a 301 status code will forward users on to the replacement content and tell crawlers that the page has been permanently relocated. When a search engine detects a 301 redirect, it will usually remove the old URL from its index with the new URL put in its place. Most search engines transfer PageRank or the equivalent to the replacement URL. 302 Redirect: 302 redirects navigate browsers to a replacement URL and sends a signal to search engines that the content has been moved, but only temporarily. 302s cause the search engine crawling the resource to keep the original URL indexed, despite the fact it’s being redirected. Note that 303 and 307 redirects effectively serve the same purpose as 302s.

Redirect Best Practices for SEO

In the vast majority of cases, SEOs should use 301 redirects for any instance where they want to serve up a new piece of content for an existing URL on their site. This will let users and search engines know that the page has been moved permanently, and that the old URL is no longer in use. 302 redirects should only be applied when you’re working on a site where pages may become inaccessible for a limited period of time, for example when A/B testing or targeting special offers to a certain region or device type. This will ensure a smooth user experience without the risk of the old page being removed from a search engine index.
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Link Types

Referring Domains

Glossary  |  4 mins

Referring domains, sometimes called linking domains, are websites from which a given target website has one or more backlinks. If, for example, a target site has three links all hosted on TechCrunch, it can be said to have three backlinks and one referring domain. If it has two links from TechCrunch, and one link from Wired, it still has three backlinks, but two referring domains. While they’re often measured alongside backlinks, tracking referring domains deals with the value of the entire site, rather than the value of a specific page that hosts a backlink. Referring domains are important in SEO, as sites with backlink profiles that have a higher number of referring domains tend to perform better in organic rankings compared to those without. In some cases, sites that have a high number of backlinks, but a relatively small number of referring domains, can raise red flags in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. Sites that have a disproportionately high number of backlinks from a small cluster of referring domains can be seen as using spammy tactics, such as partnering with webmasters to build high volumes of unnatural links. Aside from showing Google that a wide range of sites find your content valuable, building referring domains can be a useful way to diversify your backlink profile and protect it from ranking drops when referring sites and pages are deleted or removed. Furthermore, backlinks from referring domains that haven’t linked to the target site in the past have been shown to be more valuable for SEO compared to new links from a referring domain that’s already included in a target site’s backlink profile. Referring domains can be a good metric to track when analysing your site’s ranking potential compared to competitors, as sites with a greater number of referring domains tend to rank higher on average than those with a low number. Referring domains are also useful when vetting new sites for link building campaigns. This is because sites with a high number of referring domains are seen as more authoritative than those with a low number. Links from these kinds of sites are usually challenging to build, but also tend to be much more valuable for organic rankings. Like backlinks themselves, referring domains can be gained by hosting authoritative, high quality content on your site, claiming lost or broken links, and guest posting on targeted referring domains.
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Link Building

Resource Page Link Building

Glossary  |  3 mins

Resource page link building is a link building technique that, as described, involves building links to a web page from relevant resource pages where similar websites or competitors are listed. By targeting well ranked and high traffic pages, the topical relevance and opportunity for traffic will be a highly beneficial link for the page. Resource pages are web pages that provide information on a given subject, most commonly in a B2B context, and contain a list of links to other websites that offer additional content, tools, or information related to that topic. For instance, a resource page on "best digital marketing tools" may contain links to various websites that offer digital marketing tools. Resource link building as a practice would involve research to identify relevant websites and then expert assessment to decipher the potential benefit of adding the domain that is to be referred within the page. Then, as with most digital PR practices - good old fashioned outreach and persuasion to convince webmasters why adding the link might be beneficial. Though it can be hard to earn these links, especially when it comes to the more authoritative and high-traffic resource pages, it can prove a valuable tactic for marketers and webmasters alike, as refreshing lists can often be of benefit to the publisher as well as the site being linked to.

Benefits of Resource Page Link Building

Adding resource page links from well regarded referring domains to your link building activity can be hugely beneficial in an SEO context, not only potentially helping to bring in more traffic - but also raising the topical relevance of the page being linked, to help increase rankings and fuel growth for the most desirable key terms. Like with any kind of referring page, it’s important to remember that not all resource pages are created equal. With any resource page you set your sights on, it’s essential to vet them based on their authority metrics (domain authority, search traffic etc.), and to carry out a manual review so you can get a good idea of the domain’s E-E-A-T values. Even relatively lesser known resource pages can be very discerning about the content they’ll link to, so make sure you’re not pouring too much time and effort into a referring page that won’t return much value to your campaign.
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SEO

Robots.txt

Glossary  |  2 mins

Robots.txt is a text file in the root folder of a web domain, used to instruct search engine crawlers on how to crawl the pages of a website. In the context of SEO, robots.txt files are mainly used to dictate which pages crawlers can and cannot access. Though the exact purpose of a robots.txt file can vary from one to the next, they all follow a basic format: User-agent: X Disallow: Y The “user-agent:” field is used to specify the exact bot that you’re instructing, whereas the “disallow:” field is for specifying pages and sub-sections that you don’t want the bot to access. If, for example, you’re building a page on an ecommerce site that goes over the details of a loyalty program, and the page is part of your sitemap but not ready to be seen, you may want to stop it from being crawled and indexed. In this situation, your robots.txt file might look like this: User-agent: googlebot Disallow:/rewards Though it’s possible to give directives to some bots and not others, in most cases you’ll want to set the same rules for all bots. In this situation, you can put an asterisk (*) in the user-agent field to send the same instructions to any and all bots that visit your site. Robots.txt files can also be used to help crawlers auto-discover your XML sitemap through the “sitemap:(your sitemap URL)” directive. This will allow crawlers from all search engines to crawl your whole site without having to manually submit your sitemap through the relevant tools. Remember that robots.txt files don’t need to be complex, and even larger sites often only have a couple of directives in their file. To maximise the chances of indexation and ranking, robots.txt should only be used to block sections that you never want to appear in search results, and to make it easier for crawlers to discover your sitemap.
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Link Types

Sitewide Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Sitewide links are any outbound links that appear on each page of a website, usually within the footer, main navigation menu, or a sidebar. These links typically link out to social media pages, the business’s page on a review aggregator site, and other third-party domains that involve the referring site in some way. In the early days of SEO, creating sitewide links was a quick and easy way of building high volumes of backlinks in a short space of time, and artificially inflating a site’s Google rankings. This all changed in 2012, when Google released its Penguin update, aimed at undermining the rankings of sites that had been using black hat SEO methods. This was a wake-up call for many SEOs, and accelerated a shift in thinking spurred on by the knowledge that any links that Google deems unnatural can be dangerous if they find their way into your backlink profile.

Sitewide Links Relation to SEO

Although the subject of sitewide links can carry negative connotations due to the ways they were implemented in the past, they’re not necessarily a bad thing for your site’s SEO. If an external site links to yours using a sitewide link, and the link is completely natural, then this shouldn’t pose any risk to your site’s rankings. Footer and sidebar links that credit a web designer, credit the CMS used to create the site, or link out to another owned and related domain, are all common examples of innocuous sitewide links. The fact that sitewide links aren’t inherently bad raises the obvious question: can they be used to improve a site’s organic rankings? Although it’s possible that sitewide backlinks can help a site’s rankings, it’s generally accepted that Google doesn’t weigh them as heavily as links that are included naturally in pieces of content, with plenty of contextual information that will fortify the link’s topical relevance. Therefore, if you have a logical, natural reason to build sitewide backlinks, you should do it, but there’s no real reason to go out of your way to build them or try to force them into your link building strategy.

Sitewide Links Best Practices

When you’re building sitewide backlinks, and deciding whether or not it’s a good idea from an SEO perspective, you should generally follow the exact same rules you would for any other backlinks. The link should appear in a way that’s likely to provide added value to visitors on the referring domain, and should be relevant to the surrounding content on the page. The anchor text shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords, and shouldn’t look unnatural in the context of the other links on the referring page.
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Link Types

Sponsored Links

Glossary  |  3 mins

Sponsored links are any links that have a rel=“sponsored” attribute attached to them, and are a form of advertising where the publisher has indicated to Google that they have received compensation in some form to include the hyperlink to the given page. This informs search engines that they should not be treated in the same way as a natural reference link, for both domains. Sponsored links generally come in the form of an editorials, but they also feature in advertising banners and other such website advertisements. In the past, all sponsored backlinks outside of ads were nofollow sponsored links. However, in 2019, Google created a rel=“sponsored” link attribute, intended specifically for use on paid links. While the jury’s still out on how this attribute affects the SEO value of links compared to a regular rel=”nofollow” attribute, it does add a little extra transparency to backlink profiles.

Using Sponsored Links

Sponsored links, unlike organic links, are less likely improve your site’s chances of improved organic rankings, but they can still serve an important function for your SEO work and broader digital marketing efforts. One of the key benefits of sponsored links is that they can provide an immediate source of traffic from a high traffic domain. The traffic you can get from natural links within pieces of content will vary heavily from one referring domain to another, but if you have the budget then sponsored links can provide instant visibility from high traffic and high relevancy websites. From the publisher's perspective, applying the rel="sponsored' attribute to links that have been recompensed provides a layer of protection from future issues that could arise through the sale of links from one website to another.
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Link Building

Tiered Link Building

Glossary  |  4 mins

Tiered link building is a link building strategy that involves creating a chain of backlinks to a target site from multiple sources, with each link feeding into the value of the previous one. This strategy is also known as pyramid link building, and it involves building backlinks across multiple tiers, with each tier supporting the integrity of the tier above it. A tiered link building strategy is particularly attractive to sites that want to improve the authority of their backlink profile, as it allows them to leverage relatively low-authority referring domains to achieve stronger organic rankings.

Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Link Building

Though tiered link building can be approached in a variety of ways, a typical tiered link building service will apply the following structure:

Tier 1 Link Building

Tier 1 link building involves building backlinks directly from a quality referring page to a website's key target pages. These links are often the kind of sought after links most marketers think of when they hear "link building", and are essential for building a strong foundation for a site’s backlink profile. Examples of Tier 1 referring domains include major news outlets, industry journals, and high-authority blogs.

Tier 2 Link Building

Tier 2 link building involves creating backlinks that point to the Tier 1 referring pages. These links are often from lower level websites and will have less of an immediate effect compared to Tier 1 links. Having said that, they can still be highly beneficial for a site’s organic rankings. Examples of Tier 2 backlinks include links from niche blogs, forums, and social media profiles with a large following.

Tier 3 Link Building

Tier 3 link building, as you’ve probably guessed, is focussed on creating backlinks targeting the Tier 2 referring pages. These links are often from low quality referring domains and can include links from directories, blog comments, and social bookmarks. While these links don’t necessarily have much direct impact on a website's search engine ranking, they can help to diversify the backlink portfolio and ensure more natural results from a targeted link building campaign.

The Risks of a Tiered Link Building Strategy

The main risk of tiered link building is the potential for search engines to consider it a form of link manipulation. If search engines identify a pattern of unnatural or low quality backlinks, they may penalise the website involved. This penalty could result in a significant drop in search engine ranking or even removal from the search engine index altogether. As with any link building strategy, it’s essential to focus on creating high-quality content that earns natural backlinks rather than leaning too heavily on a tiered link building strategy. By creating valuable content and building relationships with reputable and authoritative websites, webmasters can improve their rankings naturally and develop a diversified backlink profile which will be less likely to be considered manipulative by search engines.
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Link Types

Toxic Backlinks

Glossary  |  3 mins

Toxic backlinks are any backlinks that hurt, rather than help, a website’s chances of improving their organic rankings. They’re typically built unnaturally, have poor quality or spammy referring domains, or carry other markers of poor quality linking which will limit their target site’s ability to rank. In some cases, they can be interpreted as a sign of black hat link building practices. When a site has a large number of toxic links in their backlink profile, this is often a sign of black hat link building, where poor quality link building agencies will build large numbers of links from spammy, low quality sites in an attempt to give their client's website a ranking boost. Whether this is done knowingly or simply because a link builder hasn’t kept up-to-date on SEO best practices, Google will regard these sites the same way, and any backlink profile with a high proportion of toxic backlinks can easily incur a manual penalty.

How to Disavow Links on Google Search Console

The first step in this process is to audit your backlink profile using a good SEO tool such as Ahrefs or SEMRush. These tools have purpose-built backlink auditing reports which will make it easy to see any links in your site’s link profile which have show signs of toxicity. Once you’ve created a list of the referring pages and domains that are hosting the offending links, the next step is to enter these into a .txt file, with one URL or domain per line. If you want to disavow links from a specific URL, these can be listed as they appear in your browser’s address bar. If you want to disavow whole domains, these should be preceded with “domain:” (minus the quotations). Once you’ve completed and checked this .txt file, you can upload it to the disavow backlinks Google Search Console tool. Simply click through the warnings until you get to the feature which allows you to upload your file, then upload and submit it.  
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Keywords

Transactional Keywords

Glossary  |  2 mins

Transactional keywords are keywords that allude to a searcher’s explicit intention to buy a product or pay for a service. These keywords are commonly targeted via product pages and PPC ads. Unlike informational keywords where words like "how", "why" or "what" are used, transactional keywords are often, but not always, distinguished by verbs that show a clear intention to make a purchase, such as "buy", "for sale", "hire", etc. Some basic examples of transactional keywords include “thai delivery near me”, “buy unlocked phones online”, and “cheap non-stick cookware”. Transactional keyword searches occur in the later stages of the buyer lifecycle, after a searcher has already done their research on a specific kind of product or service, and resolved that they want to pay for it. Because of this, they’re usually one of the most important keywords for people planning an ecommerce SEO strategy, or running a PPC campaign for any given product or service.

Optimising for Transactional Keywords

The most effective way to optimise your site for transactional keywords is by naturally including them in your site content in a logical format, usually “transactional verb” + your brand name or product. This kind of transactional keywords example should only be restricted to pages where they’re likely to benefit a searcher’s browsing experience, such as on product detail pages, pricing pages, sign-up pages, etc. If someone lands on your site simply looking to educate themselves on your industry, and they’re suddenly inundated by hard sell language, it’s only going to stir up a negative view of your brand. Even on the pages that are intended strictly for commerce, there’s a limit to the amount of transactional keywords you can use while ensuring a positive experience for your users. To avoid keyword stuffing, use transactional keywords sparingly in places that won’t cause you to blow all your budget at once, such as the title and meta description, first few words of any body copy you use, and the anchors for internal links taking you to related pages, e.g "shop barbecue accessories".
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Link Types

Unnatural Links

Glossary  |  2 mins

Unnatural links are links that are built intentionally to manipulate search engine rankings. Intentionally building these links, known as "unnatural link building," violates Google’s policies and can result in penalties and lost rankings. Unnatural backlinks often come from low-quality or spammy websites, link farms, or paid links that are intended to artificially inflate a site's ranking. Search engines consider these links as manipulative and deceptive, and therefore, they can have a negative impact on a website's search engine ranking.

Dealing with Unnatural Links

If your website has been penalised by search engines due to unnatural links, it’s essential to remove them to regain your ranking position. Even before incurring any penalties, it’s a good idea to remove any unnatural links that may have been built by ill-informed SEO efforts in the past. Sometimes, getting rid of unnatural links can be as simple as reaching out to the webmaster of the referring domain and asking them to delete the relevant link, but when you notice links coming from poor-quality, spammy sites, you may need to go a step further and disavow these links through Google. You can use the Google Disavow Links tool to disavow unnatural links, which allows you to upload a list of URLs or domains you want to disavow. However, you should only use this tool in circumstances where you’re absolutely sure the links are harming your website's ranking. Disavowing quality links can negatively impact your site’s link profile and potential to rank, and this damage can be very hard to reverse.
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SEO

White Hat SEO

Glossary  |  2 mins

The term white hat SEO is used to refer to any SEO strategies and techniques which align with the policies of a given search engine. While black hat SEO seeks to manipulate search rankings through actions that have no concern with the user experience, white hat SEO seeks to improve a site’s search rankings by offering added value to the end user. White hat SEO techniques include creating high quality content, whitehat link building, optimising site speed and navigation, and using descriptive, easy-to-understand meta tags on all pages. For dependable, long-term success, SEOs and site owners should familiarise themselves with white hat SEO techniques, and understand what separates them from unethical black hat SEO tactics.

White Hat Link Building

White hat link building involves nurturing new backlinks pointing towards a certain website in order to increase that site’s organic rankings. Common white hat backlink building techniques include guest posting on authoritative websites, creating valuable and linkable pieces of content which will attract links organically, and developing professional relationships with other people in your industry that will lead naturally to you linking each other’s content and assets. If you’re looking to outsource your SEO, remember that any white hat link building agency will always be able to tell you how their techniques aim to benefit the end user. Keeping this guiding principle in mind will help you to identify true white hat link building companies.
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SEO

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)

Glossary  |  3 mins

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL), as the name sounds, describes the most important and sensitive topics online. YMYL topics are broad, but generally involve information that could significantly influence consumer's health, financial situation, safety or wellbeing. There are many such topics that could influence these areas, though are most commonly found on websites that provide advice on subjects such as medicine, finance and current events. Google's Search Quality Rater Guidelines include E-E-A-T, a method for evaluators to judge whether a page is providing reliable information that consumers can trust, which is never more important with YMYL topics. Google states that evaluators need to use judgement as to whether a page qualifies as YMYL, and if so, these pages need to be demonstrating the highest levels of E-E-A-T. Both E-E-A-T and YMYL are not directly SEO ranking factors, however they do influence the factors that are considered. For instance good quality content will likely attract high quality backlinks, naturally reference many of the most important concepts and keywords in context - whilst hugely influencing time on page and click through rates.

E-E-A-T for YMYL SEO is important to stop the spread of misinformation to:

  • The reader of the page
  • Those affected by the reader of the page
  • Exponential spread of those affected by those who were affected by the reader of the page

Example YMYL topics

  • Side effects of certain prescription drugs
  • Safety advice for natural disasters
  • Self Assessment submission dates

Tips for creating YMYL content

    • Create high quality, people first content that answers questions, provides advices and satisfies the reader’s queries.
 
    • Provide author bio information, as well as complete transparency as to where any information for the content was sourced, with references. Ensure your website has a well populated About page, with all certifications and qualifications of authors clearly displayed.
 
    • Link out to credible sources when citing statistics or relevant opinions within the content.
 
  • Encourage similarly high quality publications within the industry or niche to cite your work as a source, via a backlink. This will help to build topical relevance for your page, as well as building the authority of the author to speak on the subject.
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