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How to Become an SEO Expert (What it Really Takes in 2021 and Beyond)

How to Become an SEO Expert (What it Really Takes in 2021 and Beyond)

As we move into 2021, those who boast SEO skills are in high demand. But how do you learn these skills? Keep reading to learn how to become knowledgeable in this integral field. This step-by-step guide will set you on the path to becoming an SEO expert. Read our SEO expert tips to prepare for the coming year and achieve your digital marketing dreams!

As we move into 2021, those who boast SEO skills are in high demand. But how do you learn these skills? Keep reading to learn how to become knowledgeable in this integral field. This step-by-step guide will set you on the path to becoming an SEO expert. Read our SEO expert tips to prepare for the coming year and achieve your digital marketing dreams!Read MoreHow To, Tips, SEOSemrush blog

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What is Structured Data? And Why Should You Implement It?

But what’s in it for you, and how do you implement it? Let’s get into it! How structured data helps your SEO Schema markup, the cornerstone of structured data The three ways of structuring data Structured data beyond your website

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The post What is Structured Data? And Why Should You Implement It? appeared first on SEO Blog by Ahrefs.

But what’s in it for you, and how do you implement it? Let’s get into it! How structured data helps your SEO Schema markup, the cornerstone of structured data The three ways of structuring data Structured data beyond your website…
Read more ›

The post What is Structured Data? And Why Should You Implement It? appeared first on SEO Blog by Ahrefs.Read MoreTechnical SEOSEO Blog by Ahrefs

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Disavowing Links: Guidance and First-Hand Advice for SEO

Every content marketer wants high-quality inbound links going to their blog. Those backlinks can give you a huge boost when it comes to your SEO efforts, and help you climb SERPs faster.

But what about the bad backlinks? You know — the ones that come from spammy websites with low-quality content and weak domain authority. To help you remove these bad backlinks, Google developed a tool for disavowing links.

We created this guide to break down this feature. We’ll explain how Google’s link disavow tool works, list links you should consider disavowing, and share expert opinions on the process.

What Does Google’s Link Disavow Tool do?

Launched in 2012, Google’s disavow links tool allows you to ask Google to disregard selected backlinks. The purpose behind the disavow links tool is to essentially clean up your backlink profile and rid it of any spammy, low-quality backlinks that may lower your site’s search engine ranking.

Disavowing links is generally seen as a last resort that isn’t recommended for regular use. That’s because there’s always the risk that Google may penalize you if you accidentally disavow good backlinks or ones that weren’t causing any SEO problems. Most small to mid-sized businesses are unlikely to need this tool because they’re not dealing with large and complex link networks.

That said, if you’ve received a manual action message in Google Search Console that resembles the one below, it’s time to consider disavowing links.

disavowing links manual penaltySource: Search Engine Land

This warning from Google indicates there may be bad links, spammy links, or unnatural links to your site. They could be tied to link schemes: manipulation tactics designed to help you rank higher. These can include buying and selling links, high-volume link trading, and using programs to automatically bring links to your site.

To avoid getting this message, regularly check your backlinks and keep an eye out for suspicious links that may lead to negative SEO issues and force Google’s algorithm to lower your ranking. To get a better idea of what Google expects in terms of website quality, read over their webmaster quality guidelines.

If you do receive this message, disavow links to avoid getting penalized. To do this, access the disavow links tool in Google Search Console, select your website, and add a file with the links you want to disavow. Once you’ve taken those steps, Google will review the links and recrawl your site, which usually takes a few weeks.

disavowing links google tool

 Source: Google Search Console

After you’ve addressed the potential manual penalty and removed the backlinks, contact Google Search Console for a reconsideration request — a follow-up review of your site to make sure you disavowed links that were causing issues. You can also ask Google to recrawl your URLs so that new links and bad link removal are acknowledged.

To get a better understanding of your backlink profile, you can check the “Links to Your Site” section in Google Search Console. It shows what websites are linking to your content:

disavowing links links to your site

This information can help you identify spammy sites linking to your content. You can export this list and sort through the file to find all suspect links in your own disavow list and examine each of them carefully. This informal backlink audit will help you find all the shady backlinks that may result in an algorithmic penalty from Google.

5 Link Types you Should Consider Disavowing

Bad backlinks come in many different forms. Below are a few examples of the most common types to look out for. While this list doesn’t include all types of links you should disavow, it’s a good starting point.

Comment and Forum Spam Links

Google doesn’t necessarily frown upon users linking back to related content in comments or forums. However, it’s tough on webmasters that use forums to pad their backlink profile. If you go on reputable websites and try to flood their comment or forum sections with links back to your website and no additional context, Google will see it as spam and may penalize your site.

Expired Domain Links

Even if you have links that come from strong websites, they’re no good if they’re dead. At one point, maybe these were links from websites that you’d never dream of disavowing. Once they’re expired, however, all Google sees is a violation of their webmaster quality guidelines and can penalize you for them. 

Low-Quality and Spammy Site Links

Spammy sites with lots of outbound links, or sites that appear to be hacked, may be worth disavowing. This could also be a sign that your site is being targeted by a negative SEO attack. If you don’t disavow these links, consider keeping an eye on the manual actions section of your Search Console dashboard to ensure no future action is needed.

Paid Links

Paid links are essentially backlinks to your site that you pay to receive. While they’re notoriously difficult to catch, there are ways to spot them. For example, if you see the term “sponsored post” on an article with dofollow links, that’s a paid link. However, paid links can be more subtle and appear in the form of dofollow links with exact match anchor text as well. That may not necessarily mean it’s a paid link, so check the site to ensure it isn’t full of spam or low-quality content.

Private Blog Network Links

Private blog networks (PBNs) are large groups of blogs and sites run by the same site owners to build backlinks between them and get their content to rank higher on Google. They were a big trend a few years back, but they’re no longer seen as a viable white hat SEO technique. In 2014, Google turned its back on PBNs and started taking steps toward de-indexing them altogether. A good way to spot them is if multiple sites have very similar backlink profiles or if one site is constantly being linked to. If you recognize any PBN links to your site, consider disavowing them.

3 SEO Experts’ Best Practices for Disavowing Links

If you notice a spammy link going to your site, don’t disavow it right away. According to Matt Cutts, a former distinguished engineer at Google, the first step is to reach out to someone at the website responsible for the backlink to get it removed manually.

While some people may respond to your request, there’s a strong chance you won’t hear back from many of these websites. If that happens, Alex Panagis, founder of SEO and marketing agency ScaleMath, says you can take a proactive or reactive approach to disavowing links.

A proactive approach entails regularly checking your backlinks to ensure they’re not coming from spammy, low-quality web pages. A reactive approach is using Google’s disavow links tool to minimize any negative SEO impact.

Panagis says the reactive approach is more common for disavowing links. This is because Google is already incredibly good at understanding links. Unless you’re affected by a significant amount of spam that you spot before Google, there’s no immediate need to proactively seek out those bad backlinks.

That said, the proactive approach Panagis offers is also an option.

“Update your disavow file as you go to reduce the risk of your site ever being affected so that you never have to worry that the day will come when your site is suddenly affected,” says Panagis.

Jason Berkowitz, founder of inbound digital marketing agency Break the Web, says you also have to be extremely cautious when it comes to disavowing. He argues that disavowing good backlinks, even by accident, can negatively affect your search ranking. He only recommends disavowing links if the backlink is likely to have a negative consequence, like a traffic drop or manual penalty.

Panagis agrees with this sentiment.

“If you have a high-authority domain that naturally attracts a lot of links when the site is published, as long as the link profile is diverse and the majority isn’t spam, the need to disavow individually has never really presented itself,” says Panagis.

Boost Your Backlink Performance With Alexa

If you want to know whether disavowing links is right for your website, you need to start by checking your backlink profile. Alexa can help you find out how authoritative your backlink profile is and show you how many backlinks you’ve earned from top sites.

Try our free 14-day trial today to get all the tools you need to boost your backlink performance.

The post Disavowing Links: Guidance and First-Hand Advice for SEO appeared first on Alexa Blog.

Every content marketer wants high-quality inbound links going to their blog. Those backlinks can give you a huge boost when it comes to your SEO efforts, and help you climb SERPs faster. But what about the bad backlinks? You know — the ones that come from spammy websites with low-quality content and weak domain authority. […]
The post Disavowing Links: Guidance and First-Hand Advice for SEO appeared first on Alexa Blog.Read MoreSEOAlexa Blog

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Content Curation: How to Publish Less and Unlock More Brand Awareness

Trying to bring in more organic traffic? The solution isn’t churning out as much content as you can. Search engines today penalize websites that push out low-quality content for the sake of publishing often.

Your target audience won’t benefit from low-quality content, either. If that’s what you end up producing, your brand’s reputation can take a serious hit, and people will seek out higher-quality alternatives.

The truth is, you don’t need to be constantly publishing to boost brand awareness through content. Instead of focusing on content quantity, try strategically sharing relevant content. Content curation can help you build a following and stand out as a trusted brand among competitors.

What Is Content Curation?

Content curation is a method of selecting pieces of content that are relevant to your brand and sharing them through different channels. The goal is to add new value to existing content—whether internal or external—by sharing it in meaningful ways.

If you’re a content marketing agency, for example, you might create an email newsletter that consolidates the best content trending about SEO. While this process doesn’t require you to create any original content, you’re adding value by providing all the best online content about SEO in one place for your readers to access.

Why Content Curation Strengthens Your Brand

Content curation doesn’t just help the creators of whatever you’re sharing. It also helps boost your own company’s credibility and following, among other benefits.

It Helps You Stand Out as a Thought Leader

Sharing content can help your brand get recognized as a thought leader within your industry. The more unique, insightful content you share on a consistent basis, the better the chance customers and other brands will take notice. You can help your brand become known as an expert if you’re adding continual value over time.

When you share content, ask yourself: Is this something my audience would be interested in? If the content is already widely shared, keep looking. Even if the content is great, your audience won’t care about it if they’ve seen it all over the Internet.

Finding unique perspectives from trusted thought leaders and industry influencers is an excellent starting point. Put on your investigative hat and start digging. Scour social media (you can do this quickly using our tips below) for surprising opinions or interesting infographics you can share with your audience. This counterintuitive content will likely hold your audience’s attention.

It Strengthens Your Community

Content curation isn’t just about sharing good content—it’s about interacting with your community.

If you send out a tweet that’s seeing a lot of comments, don’t be afraid to get involved. Look for insightful comments on the social network and respond to them. A particularly high-quality response may even warrant a retweet. All the little things you do to interact with commenters on blogs and social sites will show you’re genuinely ingrained in your network.


All the little things you do to interact with commenters on blogs and social sites will show you’re genuinely ingrained in your network.
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You can also interact with the creators of the content you share. Properly attribute and tag them in your social posts about their content. And, of course, be sure to highlight why you think their content is valuable.

The creator may very well engage with a like, a comment, or a retweet. Who knows? They might even be interested in a collaboration with you down the line. The ability to build relationships like this is a fantastic byproduct of content curation.

It Keeps You in the Know

Curating content keeps your finger on the pulse of what’s trending in your industry. That information can help streamline your own content creation efforts in the future. Knowing what your audience is interested in and engaging with online, you’ll have plenty of ideas about what content you should create next.

Sharing a variety of sources also gives you a well-balanced perspective on your industry. Instead of deferring to Google for everything, your palette becomes a little more refined. You know what news sites are reliable, what RSS feeds have the most interesting content, and so on.

How to Find and Curate Content for Your Audience

Content curation requires a careful eye for detail. Here are three essential steps you need to take to do it right.

Find Content Outside the Industry Norm

Make sure the content you share offers a fresh perspective. You don’t want content that looks generic.

Following industry thought leaders is always a good practice when looking for content to share. Keep in mind that content sources should be reliable. If a site has a track record of putting out edgy content just to rattle people, you might be wise to avoid them. Stick with trusted names and verified accounts.

One way to find unique content is to use Alexa’s Content Exploration tool. Here’s a quick step-by-step process you can take:

  1. Start by typing in a keyword or site, such as “home design” in the example below. 
  2. Change the date range to the past month or past week to find recent content. Unless it went viral, it’s unlikely that your audience will have seen this content yet.
  3. Navigate to the articles tab to find recently engaged-with content. Ideally, you want to pick an article with low shares and engagement that you think your audience will appreciate. If it’s great content, yet few people have interacted with the content, it’s likely that your followers haven’t seen it yet but will appreciate having it on their radar.
    content curation search by topic or site
  4. Alternatively, you can narrow your search to specific niche topics using the visual in the summary tab. As you can see from the visual below, the “natural light” topic has a low number of articles, with a relatively high amount of overall engagement. Click the topic to filter articles about natural light.
    content curation alexa topics

Now, if we navigate back to the articles tab, we’ll see articles that contain specific mention of natural light. In the list below, the last article about the unique Dallas home may be good to look into further considering its low number of shares. 

Add Value to Existing Content

Curating content isn’t about merely sharing existing content. Try to add a fresh take on what you’re sharing.

You might offer an opinion on the content you’re sharing. If you want to build more brand awareness, make it more memorable by leveraging your brand’s voice. If there’s a blog with a topic you disagree with, say it. Briefly explain why you disagree with it (while staying respectful, of course).

Consider creating a social media infographic from data included in an article you’ve shared. People don’t want to sift through rows of numbers, but they want the information. You can use a tool like Canva to simplify data and create a colorful infographic. Your audience will likely find it easy to consume and engage with your post as a result.

Roundup posts are a great way to get eyes on your blog. Think about compiling a list of the best thought leadership pieces of the year, for example. You’re essentially doing all the heavy lifting for your audience. They don’t have to seek any content when you’ve provided it to them in one place to bookmark.

Decide on the Best Content Sharing Channels

Content curation isn’t the same on every channel. Your approach to sharing should vary based on the channel you’re using. For example, a newsletter will give you more room to add insights than a tweet. Here are some benefits of these different content sharing channels:

  • Social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit): These platforms already have built-in audiences. You can easily engage with your industry community and thought leaders within the space. They’re also ideal for giving brief insights or opinions.
  • Email newsletters: You can share these directly with your email subscribers. If people have signed up to receive an email newsletter from you, there’s a better chance they’ll read it in full. You can also break down larger articles into digestible content pieces in this format.
  • Blogs: All traffic goes directly to your website, where the blog is hosted. These pieces are also great for sharing more in-depth insights or opinions and creating roundups or lists that include other content.

The content sharing channel you choose is ultimately up to you. That said, you should focus on those you’ve already had success with or ones you understand how to navigate effectively.

Find Unique Content Curation Opportunities With Alexa

Great curated content can be tough to come by. A lot of companies simply share social media posts from random bloggers without any thought. The best content curators approach their curation efforts the same way they would when creating original content.

Alexa’s Content Exploration tool helps your marketing team uncover new content that audiences are engaging with. Compare engagement per article of any topic, and identify the characteristics of top content to find out what makes it stand out. With these insights, you’ll be able to share useful, engaging content with your audience ahead of your competitors.

Get access to our Content Exploration tool free with a 14-day trial today!

The post Content Curation: How to Publish Less and Unlock More Brand Awareness appeared first on Alexa Blog.

Trying to bring in more organic traffic? The solution isn’t churning out as much content as you can. Search engines today penalize websites that push out low-quality content for the sake of publishing often. Your target audience won’t benefit from low-quality content, either. If that’s what you end up producing, your brand’s reputation can take […]
The post Content Curation: How to Publish Less and Unlock More Brand Awareness appeared first on Alexa Blog.Read MoreContent MarketingAlexa Blog

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Unlock a Winning Brand Strategy With These 5 Tips

If you think a fancy logo and cool tagline are what matter most when building a brand strategy, you might be in for a bit of a rude awakening. While design is important, a brand strategy is as much about consumer needs and competitive environments in your industry as it is about visuals.

So what is a brand strategy? It refers to a company’s long-term goals and objectives that will contribute to its success as a strong brand. A successful brand strategy takes both customers and competitors into consideration when choosing what goals and objectives should be a priority. Your strategy also needs to reflect your unique brand identity, which is essentially how your company represents itself to the public.

To help you get started, we’ve put together five easy-to-implement tips to get your brand strategy off the ground.

1. Highlight Your Brand’s Core Values

Every recognizable brand in the world has its own set of core values. These beliefs drive your company culture, whether you’re a small business or a billion-dollar enterprise. And they should be a key part of your brand strategy.

Why? Because most people evaluate brands based on the ideals they support. A whopping 77% of consumers make purchases from brands that share the same values as them.

Figure out what core values you want your brand to represent. Is creating an unforgettable customer experience at the top of your list? Are you looking to make a positive impact on the environment? Whatever your values, relay them throughout your brand assets to build a consistent company image.

Starbucks shows their brand’s core values through a mission statement on their site.

Share your brand’s core values on your website, social media channels, and other brand platforms. Make sure those values are clear and concise so that people reading them aren’t confused about your brand positioning.

Your core values need to serve as a differentiator used by new customers to choose your brand above others. It’s about making your brand name synonymous with values that will resonate with your target market for years to come.

2. Be Honest

There’s a reason people say honesty is the best policy. In a world dominated by near-instant access to information, people value authenticity and transparency more than ever. In fact, 94% of consumers said they’re more likely to be loyal to a brand that is transparent.

If a brand messes up, customers want to see that company own up to their mistake. They also want to know the brand is being run by real people with real feelings and emotions. This is particularly important if you are a new brand with a new product or service and are still figuring out your marketing strategy. If you sweep customer complaints under the rug, you’ll lose customers’ trust.

Take Nike, for example. The footwear and apparel titan created a Twitter account to handle all kinds of customer inquiries. See how the Team Nike Twitter account handled a challenging customer situation by being honest about their repair options and offering help:

Source: Twitter

Addressing frustrated customers via social media or online reviews is a great way to own up to a mistake while showing off a little brand personality in the process. Every customer wants to be heard. Acknowledging their feedback shows them that your brand is open about its flaws and wants to make things right.

3. Reward Loyal Customers

A brand is only as strong as its community, especially in the age of social media and user-generated content. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you reward customers who ride or die for your brand.

And today’s customers today expect to be recognized for their efforts. According to the 2019 Loyalty Barometer: What Consumers Think of Loyalty & Reward Programs data report, 75% of consumers want a reward in exchange for filling out a survey or watching a brand video.

Consider offering extra incentives, such as a discount or gift card for new customers or those who have spent a significant amount of money on your products or services. You can even create a rewards program to incorporate into your marketing efforts or business strategy. Something as simple as designing a pop-up with your rewards program when customers enter your website can be a great starting point.

Most importantly, make sure that your reward is something your target audience will genuinely appreciate. Nobody wants to go home with a gift basket full of useless items.

Sephora has built a very successful rewards program that is divided into three different tiers — each offering varying levels of savings and bonus beauty products, depending on what a customer spends:

Sephora rewards program

Source: Sephora

The best customers aren’t the ones who just make a purchase — they’re the ones who champion the brand. They’ll leave positive online reviews and social media comments and be the first to tell their friends or family members to use your product. Treat them right with rewards, and they’ll spread the word about your business and help you build brand affinity.

4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Competition

You don’t want your business to be a replica of another company — but that doesn’t mean you should ignore competitors’ branding.

Most industries have changing competitive landscapes. Whatever the number of competitors in your industry, make sure you’re always keeping an eye on their brand’s value proposition and how they’re interacting with customers over time. Stay up to speed on your competitors’ branding touchpoints so you know how to create a unique brand image.

There are a couple of easy ways to “stalk” your competitors that involve minimal work. Follow competitors on social media, and pay attention to customer interactions where someone leaves a conversation on a positive note. Take note of any significant changes to competitors’ brand messaging on their websites (e.g., logos, colors, mission statements, even blog posts) and social media channels as well.

If you want to dig deep and get the real scoop on your competitors, consider using Alexa to run a competitive analysis and compare your share of voice and website traffic statistics against competitors. Using our Content Exploration tool, you can compare a site’s average social media engagement with that of competitors, and dive deeper into competitors’ most highly engaged-with topics to find areas of opportunity.

topic "beauty tips" on content exploration

Top engaged-with articles articles and publishers across Twitter and Reddit for the topic “beauty products.”

Using Alexa can give you a better understanding of how your competitors are performing online and how big their brand is within your industry. From there, you can make adjustments to your brand strategy and marketing plan based on gaps that your competitors aren’t filling.

5. Stay Consistent by Any Means

Everything you do on behalf of your brand — from your messaging to your logo colors — needs to be cohesive across the board. Brand consistency helps customers distinguish your brand from others and recognize it at a glance.

The most important piece of building brand consistency is setting a universal set of brand guidelines. These rules should explain your brand’s tone, colors, fonts, and other design assets to employees. Spotify, for example, has put together a page on their website dedicated specifically to all their corporate branding guidelines.

Spotify brand guidelines

Source: Spotify

To compile these guidelines, consider using brand management software, such as Frontify. This tool keeps your brand guidelines and assets all in one place, so they’re easy for employees to access.

Don’t Forget to be Flexible with Your Brand Strategy

Your brand isn’t static — it’s going to evolve over time as your customers and industry change. Regularly revisit your brand strategy with your company’s marketing and leadership teams. Together, the group can determine what adjustments need to happen based on the current market landscape.

Content is a major part of building a powerful brand, so you need to stay on top of your content performance across different channels, like SEO, social media, and paid search. Give our 14-day free trial a shot to conduct target audience and competitive analysis so you know where your brand stands.

The post Unlock a Winning Brand Strategy With These 5 Tips appeared first on Alexa Blog.

If you think a fancy logo and cool tagline are what matter most when building a brand strategy, you might be in for a bit of a rude awakening. While design is important, a brand strategy is as much about consumer needs and competitive environments in your industry as it is about visuals. So what […]
The post Unlock a Winning Brand Strategy With These 5 Tips appeared first on Alexa Blog.Read MoreContent MarketingAlexa Blog

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Old Guard vs New Blood: Crawling & Indexing Edition

Crawling and indexing is the main part of any crawler’s job! But what stops a

The post Old Guard vs New Blood: Crawling & Indexing Edition appeared first on Majestic Blog.

Crawling and indexing is the main part of any crawler’s job! But what stops a
The post Old Guard vs New Blood: Crawling & Indexing Edition appeared first on Majestic Blog.Read MoreTraining, Crawling, old guard vs new bloodMajestic Blog