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Tag Archive: search engine optimization

  1. How to Add Gamification to Your Website to Boost Engagement

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    GamificationGamification is becoming a significant trend that is destined to alter the way businesses interact with their customers. Are you ready to use games on your website to create breakthrough engagement with your readers? Read on, and we’ll explore what gamification is, and how to use it to amplify your online marketing efforts.

    What is Gamification?

    The marketing term “gamification” was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, but didn’t become popular until 2010. It describes marketing tactics which use game elements to drive user engagement with your website, application, or brand.

    According to Gartner, more than 70% of the top 2,000 companies are expected to have at least one gamified application by the end of 2014. Research by M2 Research shows that the gamification application, tools, and services market is projected to hit $5.5 billion by 2018.

    Gamification taps into the the human desire for rewards and competition. Users are motivated to compete against others to improve their status (ie, via a leaderboard) within a game. Gamification allows marketers to apply game mechanics to entice users to take action. These mechanics usually foster competition and reward users for reaching goals.

    Benefits of Gamification:

    Some of the benefits of gamification include:
    Education: Gamification can be an effective way to introduce your readers to a new product you are about to launch. You can use the game to teach your readers how to use a product before it is launched. Educational games can be an efficient way of collecting information for your business while educating people about your product.

    Engage with your customers: Gamification can help you engage with your customers and provide a frequent reason for them to return to your site. It will help your site to stay top of mind.

    Compelling data collection: Gamification platforms typically require a visitor to login with either social media credentials or an email address. After this information is freely given out, it will allow your company to gather data on the visitor as well as track where they go on your website. Gamification achievements can generate plenty of data associated with that account. This data can supply powerful customer information.
    Feedback can also be collected from games, which can help the company solve real business-related problems. If the feedback is utilized properly, it can also be used as a form of idea generation plucked from a massive number of users.

    How Gamification Works

    Most gamification uses certain tactics to get website visitors to participate:

    • Competition can be used to incite website visitors to achieve status and rewards. The status achieved in the games can be used to inspire people to purchase more products and services over time. In some cases, people are willing to spend money to achieve a higher status or additional tokens for gameplay.
    • Gaming elements can be used to make the marketing experience enjoyable to participants. This can provide better results than simply showing advertisements.
    • Gamification allows visitors to participate in the marketing process and keeps them engaged for longer periods of time.

    Gamification in the Real World

    Participation is what gamification is all about. Whenever you need to collect information from your clients with a survey, you can use gamification to improve results. By offering rewards such as a discount, coupon, or an offer to win a prize, you can increase the likelihood of participation. Another option is to require a survey question to be answered before proceeding to the next level of the game.

    Companies have used gamification to:

    • Entice travelers to use frequent flyer miles on a specific airline
    • Reward employees with the highest product knowledge
    • Encourage children to learn more about a given topic

    Adding Gamification to your Website

    Whether the goal is to track clicks, test sales, or collect data on surveys, make sure your game is an actionable step in your marketing objectives. Make the primary purpose of the game to collect this information for your marketing needs. In order for gamification to provide long-term user engagement, it needs to help your business.

    “Gamification is about better engagement with your audience and facilitating a more interactive experience with your company’s products and services,” said Ivo Lukas, CEO and founder of 24Notion.

    The underlying marketing objective of the game should be something such as encouraging visitors to use a new sales channel, obtaining feedback through surveys, driving new product or service adoption, or increasing frequency of purchases.

    Use gamification as a tactic to meet your measurable business goals. A good example of this would be increasing engagement with website visitors.

    “Gamification is far more than simply putting a branded game on your Web site. Track your progress toward achieving business goals in real-time. Don’t create a game for a game’s sake. If gamification is not providing measurable ROI, then you shouldn’t be doing it,” said Ryan Elkins, CEO and co-founder of IActionable.

    Crossing multiple marketing channels

    The best gamification platforms cross multiple marketing channels to include social media, online, off-line, and mobile devices. Make sure that the outcomes of the gameplay are available whenever and wherever your visitors want to share them. Allowing your visitors to play the game anytime they want across multiple channels will greatly increase participation.

    Test, test, and test some more

    Like any other web content, you should split test your game to see which version of content, videos, graphics, etc. provide greater participation. Split testing can also be a great way to see which awards provide the best engagement.

    Promote it

    Take every opportunity to talk about your new game on social media, your website, off-line, and more. Make sure that every visitor has the ability to play your incredible new game and is informed of the rewards that can be achieved.


    Gamification can improve engagement on your website while allowing you to collect more valuable data from your visitors. Whether it’s helpful information from surveys, increased engagement, or more, gamification can be an effective way to improve your website.

    Photo courtesy of rledda82

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  2. The 3 Core Elements of SEO in 2013: Content, Links, and Social Media


    SEO can be confusing. With dozens of acronyms, technical jargon, tools, programs, statistics, techniques, and all the talk about pandas and penguins, it’s pretty intimidating. Let alone the fact that SEO is a field that is in constant flux! In spite of the confusion, there’s a simple way to think about SEO campaigns today and beyond: as a set of three core elements which support each other to support an SEO campaign. Let’s take a look at each of these elements, as well as how to implement each of them to increase traffic, conversions, and ROI.

    What are the three core elements?

    Discussed in detail below, but provided here in survey form, the three core elements are as follows:

    1. Content – Create and Publish Great Content
    2. Inbound Links – Gain High-Quality Links
    3. Social Media – Be Active and Engage on Social Networks


    I call these the three core elements because they are necessary for any modern SEO campaign to succeed. Without each of these three core elements, your SEO campaign won’t be properly supported and will likely fail. Before launching into an explanation of the three core elements, there are a few things to understand about how they work together.

    • You must have all three core elements in order to have a successful SEO initiative. When performing SEO triage, you can’t simply decide to leave off one or more of these elements. Good SEO means being diligent in each of the three areas.
    • Each core element strengthens the others. When you build each of the SEO core elements in the right way, you are actively strengthening and supporting all of them. These SEO practices possess synergy. For example, when you create outstanding onsite content, you render it more likely that you’ll gain inbound links. More links usually mean additional social shares, which translates into more and stronger social signals. All three components are in play, and each is working to enhance the other two.
    • There are no shortcuts. You may finish reading this article with a sense of fatigue. Admittedly, doing SEO the right way is a ton of work. The hard-to-swallow truth of the matter is that you can’t take any shortcuts. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can hire an in-house SEO specialist if your company is capable of it. Alternatively, you can contract an SEO firm to cover your needs.

    Core Element #1:  Content – Create and Publish Great Content

    The first core element comes first logically, because it involves your own website — the hub where everything happens. This element can also be called “onsite SEO” to distinguish from SEO practices that happen off your site, such as external content that garners inbound links (such as guest blog posts) and social media involvement. Here are the essentials:

        • Site Design. Good SEO can’t exist on a shoddy website. The design must be clean, simple, and intuitive.
        • User Experience. Hand-in-hand with a great site design is user experience or UI. Keep your user in mind with every action that you take on your website. If your site fails your user, you’ve failed with SEO. The whole point of SEO is to give the user what he or she is searching for. What’s more, if someone clicks through to your site and sees a load of ugliness, they’ll quickly close your website. This action is called a bounce. The search engines record every bounce, and a higher bounce rate can lead to decreased rankings.
        • Keyword Research. Many people are familiar with keyword research, or at least the idea of keywords. Keywords have been one of the few unchanging aspects of SEO. A site must regularly use, but not overuse, certain keywords that users are searching for. Be sure to use plenty of longtail keywords, those search strings that consist of three words or more. Additionally, you must never commit the cardinal SEO sin — keyword stuffing. Worrying about saturation rates and keyword frequency is a thing of the past. Use the keywords, yes, but don’t overuse them.
        • Content Optimization. Every website has content that only crawlers and browsers see. This is called the meta content, and it’s crucial for SEO. Even URLs are part of your content. Make sure you’re using best SEO practices in the following places:
          • URLs
          • Meta titles
          • Meta Description
          • Meta Keywords
          • Robots.txt
        • High-quality and frequently updated blog. Although you may have a spiffed-up website with all the right SEO meta data in place, you’re not done with SEO. A blog is a powerful weapon in the SEO arsenal. Without it, your SEO initiative will be severely hindered. Great content engages users; don’t neglect blogging. There are two important laws of blogs:
          • Update it frequently. The more frequently a blog is updated, the better it registers with the search engines. Keep your blog fresh.
          • Publish great content. A blog is only as good as the content on it. To put it bluntly, people don’t want to read crap. If you can’t write, hire someone who can. Content has to be so good that people are compelled to both read it and share it.

    Core Element #2: Inbound Links – Gain High-Quality Links

    Link building tactics include guest blogging, press release distribution, and other tactics as discussed in this post.

    How do search engines decide to bring your website up to the top of the search results? Top-notch onsite SEO is only the beginning. Search engines recognize that your site is important based on who is linking to it.

    Take this example. Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor. You have a website, and you start publishing some sweet articles about yoga. Somehow, Whole Living picks up on your content and asks you to do a guest post on yoga. You write a piece for Whole Living, and link back to your website.

    Whole Living has a domain authority of 80, which is way higher than your site. Bingo. As soon as they link to you, your website gains credibility and authority. Then, you interview a health instructor in a local private college and post the interview on your website. The yoga instructor, in turn, writes about the interview on her college blog and links to your site. Boom. You just got a link from an .edu website.

    Because you’re now a recognized authority on yoga, you publish an article in Lifehacker about the positive impact of yoga on work productivity. This article, of course, links back to your website. Another power move.

    All of these links to your site are driving up your authority. Your site has proven to the search engines its authority and recognition. Your rankings go up.

    No site will succeed in SEO unless other sites are linking to it. It’s just that simple.

    Here are the best ways to gain quality backlinks:

            • Guest blogging. Far and away, your best option for backlinks is guest blogging. Look for high-quality sites that allow you to submit your content including a link back to your site.
            • Press Releases. Creating a press release is a relatively simple way to create a link that possesses authority. The process is as simple as developing a well-written piece on something eventful in your company and submitting it to a press release distribution company such as PRWeb. The service comes at a cost, but it is well worth it.
            • Publish amazing content. All of the best websites have one thing in common:  They have rockstar content. Your site will succeed if you consistently publish outstanding material.
            • Get listed in local or industry directories and professional organizations. If your site isn’t yet listed in business directories, you may want to give it a try. Links from any reputable source will help to improve your site’s rankings. offers a fantastic service for building links from major local directories.

    Links are crucial. Ensure you have a solid strategy in place for building links.

    Core Element #3: Social Media – Be Active and Engage on Social Networks

    More than ever before, social media is an integral part of SEO. Search engines can quantify the amount of social clout that your site possesses. Merely getting a few dozen tweets can ramp up a page’s authority, and therefore its rankings, resulting in more traffic to it. The increasing market share of Google+ is a major factor in social ranking, including the power of Google authorship. Social signals matter for SEO.

    Keep these two points in mind.

            • It’s not enough to be present on social media. You must be active. If you want to succeed in the social arena, you need to monitor your social networks with vigilance. Twitter is a de facto complaint hotline in the minds of some users. Facebook serves as a place where customers ask questions. Neglecting these channels is like failing to respond to an important email from a customer.
            • Find the social niches that are right for your business. It’s obvious that you should be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. But these four sites are but a fraction of the social sites available to you. There are other social sites which serve niches of targeted customers. Find what niche sites best match your company profile, and jump in.

    The power of social for SEO can be subtle, but is nonetheless important. Provide sharing opportunities on every piece of content that you publish. The greater the social signals, the better your SEO.


    This is the state of SEO in 2013. SEO success is possible, but not without each of these core elements present and properly being engaged. It’s no longer easy to game the system and jump up the search engine rankings in Google with a few slick tricks. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

    But you do have a game plan — understand and design your strategy around the three core elements of SEO. As long as you 1) ensure that your onsite SEO is rolling smoothly, 2) you possess a robust and effective link building strategy, and 3) you’re staying active and engaging within social media channels, you’re going to succeed.

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  3. App Store Optimization – Is ASO the New SEO?

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    The mobile market has expanded to unforeseen dimensions in the past years. With the expansion of the mobile world, with the arrival of so many devices (tablets, smartphones of all sizes) it’s a different marketing environment – and very prolific if one truly evaluates its potential.

    App Store Optimization - ASO

    This might be one of the reasons why the term ASO – app store optimization – has become relevant for businesses looking to expand their reach. Studies have shown that many mobile users are more willing to click links and do their online shopping via their tablets or mobile phones, and they have a different attention span when interacting with those particular devices.

    Consider the following scenario – it’s one thing to work at the office and have all sorts of promotional links pop-up (most of which we all ignore) and another to have them while we’re already enjoying our leisure time, and we’re actually looking forward to finding out more about certain products.

    Mobile apps were seen at one point as a method to either increase productivity or challenge leisure time (games, media etc.) but on the other hand, why not use all those feats and integrate a bit of marketing within them?

    TechCrunch wrote an article a few months ago about the future of ASO and how it will demolish the concept of SEO as we know it. Nevertheless, let’s remain a little skeptical – is this truly the beginning of a new era?

    1.) App Optimization – Getting Started

    Creating an app for your company comes with many advantages. First, it creates visibility – consider that the mobile market is increasing quickly. 25 billion apps have been downloaded since Apple first launched their App Store – why shouldn’t your company be a part of that as well?

    Not to mention the fact that it’s a rather easy to manipulate market – building your own app isn’t difficult at all, they have a high degree of customizability and you can always push your competition aside by adding different features.

    And here comes the punch line – with so many apps out there, how will people know yours is available as well? Say hello to App Store Optimization! Essentially, all you used to know about SEO you will now start employing in your new ASO strategy.

    There are two important things you need to focus on with your new strategy:

    • Instead of being the first one on Google Search, you now need to be the first one in the Apple App search engine. Therefore, the first step would be figuring out how to get your app at the top of the app search page.
    • Instead of reacting to Google’s search algorithms, you will now have to start reacting to Apple’s search engine algorithms.

    So, if you’ve managed to get your SEO strategy in place, you should have a pretty awesome view of what to do with your ASO. The ASO process starts as soon as you’ve finished your app development state. Right before deployment and launch in the AppStore, you need to focus on the right strategy for your product.

    Let’s go over the numbers one more time – you have to beat about 600,000 apps on the AppStore and about 450,000 apps on Android’s Google Play. Of course, you can’t hope your app will succeed from the beginning without a little boost. Then, the popularity will kick in and push it over the top.

    2.) Optimizing Your App – Essential Concepts

    This might sound like a broken record, but ASO is a lot like SEO and whatever you used to do to optimize your business’ website for search engines will work for your app as well. In other words, focusing on concepts such as metadata, keywords, head titles and so on should still be part of your daily routine. Let’s go over some of these concepts and see if anything has changed.

    • Focusing on the right audience – Desktop visitors and mobile visitors are two separate entities; make sure you adjust accordingly. Google Analytics can help you with this task using the “Mobile Visitor” tab in your dashboard.
    • Keywords – Similar to website SEO, there are a few tools to figure out what the best keywords for your app might be in order to gather more users to download your product. There are other tools to measure how well your competition is doing, and what product volume they have.
    • Focusing on marketing – Of course, marketing has its own little branch and while it’s not as important as the previous points, it still has its highlights. Consider the fact that your business, your website and your app need to intertwine in terms of marketing – they all need to send out a cohesive message, so people will get the right interaction. Advertising your app on your website simply makes sense. If you want people to buy it or download it, make sure you post a link directly in Google Play’s dashboard or Apple’s AppStore for easier interaction. Using social media to promote your new app is essential as well.

    3.) Optimizing Your App – Essential Tools

    Apart from having the right strategy, you also need the right tools for the job. Here are some tools to make your job a little easier:

    • – Determining what keywords your competitors are using for their product is a great jumpstart for your strategy. While you won’t be focusing exactly on what they’re doing, you will have a general idea of how they reached those high App Store rankings. Not to mention that you can borrow some keyword info and maybe find a better strategy.
    • Flurry – This is one of the most popular analytics tools for mobile strategies and has been used by mobile developers for a long time to keep track of usage patterns. It’s not enough to have an incredible amount of users download the app, it has to also be useful to them because this supports and augments word-of-mouth advertising. Analyzing your audience and figuring out their usage patterns can help you figure what you should change in your next app version and how users see it from a usability point of view.

    Conclusion – ASO or SEO?

    Actually, both. SEO has been and will be around for a long time, and it’s not going away until search engines go away (read: not for a very long time).

    The truth is, they complement each other in a wonderful manner. After all, both help promote your business, and both help it stay first in line – whether it’s on the app store or on the Web.

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  4. “SEO Tips” You Should Ignore at All Costs

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    SEO is the process of increasing a site’s visibility during a search.

    Since its inception, Google, now indisputably the world’s largest search engine, has laid out most of the standards currently followed by webmasters and site owners to get their sites to the top of search results.

    Unfortunately, scheming individuals believed they could punk search engine systems. They manipulated their way up to the top of search results and pocketed huge amounts of profit … but their successes have been short-lived.

    In update after update, all the search engines, but especially Google, flexed their strength and affirmed a commitment to providing quality: they blasted spam and offensive sites in a sincere and usually successful effort to guarantee a user-friendly search experience.

    First in a series of major search algorithm overhauls was Panda, which penalized sites with low-quality content.

    Next came Google Penguin, an algorithmic update that swept search results of spammy sites. It cracked down on websites that feature questionable link profiles, and cleared others that betrayed an over-optimization of exact-match keywords.

    Most recently, Google rolled out the EMD (Exact-Match Domain) update, which sought to penalize sites that have exact-match domain names, but offer content of demonstrably little value.

    While effective, this series of updates risked wiping more legitimate websites from the map along with the ugly ones. Maybe this happened to a site you own. If this happened to you, resist the urge to panic and grasp at quick but counterproductive solutions.

    To help you avoid getting unnecessarily penalized by any of the recent stringent algorithmic updates rolled out by Google, below are some of the “SEO tips” floating around that you should firmly ignore. Treat them like diseases.

    Create doorway pages
    Doorway pages are heavily utilized by blackhat SEO practitioners. These feature very poor quality content, but have been created and optimized for a single keyword to point to a single page. Doorway pages are a direct violation of Google’s recently updated webmaster guidelines.

    Cloak links
    Another widely practiced spam technique is link cloaking. Link cloaking tries to deceive search engines and users by hiding URLs. This is done by disguising a link via a tinyurl service so that the displayed URL is transformed. The goal is to increase clickthrough rates (CTRs) by duping users into clicking on a friendly looking or pretty link.

    Use HTTP header cloaking
    One of the surest ways to get effectively banned from the search engines is by the use of HTTP header-cloaking schemes. This tactic sends HTTP headers to search engines that are different from the ones sent to users.

    An example of this is when good content on a high-ranking page is replaced with a sign-up form with the expires and cache control headers changed in an attempt to mislead search engines into retaining the page’s ranking.

    Apply javascript redirects
    Search engines crawl Javascript codes. However, search engine robots may not index the links that are hidden within the Javascript codes. Javascript redirects are not necessarily bad. They’re a coding scheme used to notify users when a page is moved, so that users get automatically forwarded to the site’s new location. However, blackhat SEOs have used them as a sneaky tactic to dupe both the search engines and the users.

    Hijack links
    Link hijacking yet another form of cloaking. This happens when the anchor text leads visitors to a different page. The goal is to hide the URL that contains specific keywords for which the page is optimizing, in a deceptive anchor text.

    Why would folks want to use these deceptive tactics? These have been practiced by blackhatters not just to deceive the search engines, but to make a quick buck.

    Fortunately for those of us who play by the rules and maintain legitimate online businesses, the search engines are getting smarter. It’s increasingly difficult to get around search engine algorithms, and we can only hope that eventually there will be no other way to play it than their way.

    If you still have questions about the proper search engine optimization techniques that won’t get you banned from the search engines, talk to us and we’ll show you great ways to push your site to the top of the search results.


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  5. 6 Reasons Why Startups Need SEO

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    The Internet has fueled an almost exponential growth in startups. Industries worldwide see a total of about 50 million new startups per year.

    From biotechnology to social media, each year sees a staggering number of new businesses. Each one struggles to get its operations off the ground to profitability. A few get lucky by landing a generous venture capitalist who is willing to shell out millions of dollars for their growth.

    Not all startups get lucky, obviously. Some fold after months of fighting to break even. Others pump thousands, even millions, of dollars of their own funds into the new venture.

    But a few startups quietly rake in profits from the get-go. Even without the help of angel investors, these winners often take advantage of a factor the others fail to fully utilize: Search Engine Optimization.

    Experts disagree about whether startups need SEO or not. Some contend that all a startup needs are brilliant ideas and access to VC funding, which is what happened in the case of Facebook and Twitter.

    But if luck isn’t on your side, and no investor is buying your story, SEO can be a solid bet, for several great reasons.

    #1: Most online experiences begin with a search
    About 93% of all online experiences start with a search. That’s an astounding figure, given the fact that, at any moment in time, hundreds of millions of people are online. Most rely on search engines more than social media recommendations when they look for products or services. The subjects of searches range from plumbing to roofing to health care and cosmetic surgery.

    If your startup isn’t optimized for search, chances are your customers will end up finding your competitors instead.

    #2 SEO provides proof of sustainability
    If you are running a startup and looking for a significant amount of funds to expand your business, it’s just not enough to have brilliant ideas on your side. One of the first things investors look for are proofs of sustainability.

    How visible is your site during searches? How much traffic does your business attract on a monthly basis? How many of your visitors convert into leads?

    While investors may not ask you these questions directly, when you can show them the numbers, you will start from a position of tremendous confidence and impress your audience.

    Proper SEO helps ensure that a significant number of highly targeted people will visit your site on a monthly basis and many of them will likely be converted into paying customers.

    #3 Marketing intelligence
    Marketing intelligence used to be a highly expensive proposition. Mega-corporations spend billions of dollars a year to find out what the market wants. With SEO, you will have an extremely affordable method of sussing out the market. You will gain access to what your target audience is specifically searching for, how many people are looking for the products you are offering, and what language they use to find your business.

    You may also gain information on factors driving people toward your business that you might not even have considered.

    #4 Cost-effective lead generation
    Developing leads to whom you can steadily market your products and services can also be extremely costly. With the advent of SEO, however, getting your products right into the faces of your target customers has become remarkably cheap. The rise of Social SEO has made it even easier to get the word out about your business, at an even faster rate.

    #5 SEO lets startups build a solid search engine reputation
    SEO can not only push startups to the top of searches; it also provides them with an effective way to build a solid reputation online. In the cut-throat world of Internet marketing, competitors sometimes generate damaging reviews about a business.

    With proper SEO strategies, you can dominate the search engines with your own content, and direct your target audience to favorable reviews when they search for you or your business.

    #6 SEO helps you expand your niches
    By properly researching your market using SEO tools and strategies, you could identify niches related to your business that no other companies have yet explored. You can also dominate your local market by identifying your business with local attributes.

    As they say, luck favors the prepared. In the world of online marketing, the best way to prepare a startup for success is by creating a solid presence in search.

    If you’ve got questions about how SEO can help your business improve or corner a market, let us know and we will gladly show you how we can help.


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  6. How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities


    Guest blogging, as an SEO tactic, has long been considered an expensive, time-consuming endeavor. It’s also been considered one of the safest, most “white-hat” methods of link building in the SEO’s arsenal, but over the last several years, has largely been put on the backburner as most SEOs pursued more powerful (albeit, more risky) tactics.

    But with the rollout of Google Penguin, everything changed. Guest blogging services are cropping up everywhere (including here, at AudienceBloom) as the industry begins to realize that guest blogging, as a link building tactic, is one of the few safe havens left after Penguin demolished many of the lower-cost, higher quantity tactics that SEOs came to rely upon over the course of the past several years.

    As the new darling of the SEO industry, the popularity of guest blogging is growing exponentially. But while many SEOs are just now learning about the benefits of guest blogging, many are still in the dark about how, exactly, to do it.

    There are lots of great guides available on the Web that offer nuggets of information about guest blogging, but I haven’t been able to find any that really dig deep into the most difficult part of guest blogging: Actually finding the blogs to guest post on. This guide is meant to provide a thorough, step-by-step walk-through of exactly how to find guest blogging opportunities. And I’m going to show you how to do it by using one of my favorite internet marketing tools: Scrapebox.

    Saddled with an unfortunate reputation for being a tool useful only for propagating blog comment spam, Scrapebox is actually one of the few internet marketing tools I use on a daily basis—and for only ethical, white-hat purposes.

    What You’ll Need:

    • Scrapebox (download it here for a one-time fee of $57. TOTALLY worth it.)
    • Private proxies (Get them from Proxybonanza for a small monthly fee. I recommend going for the “Bonanza” package from the “Exclusive Proxies” section.) Note: That Proxybonanza link is an affiliate link. I’d really appreciate if you’d buy through my link!

    How are We Going to Use Scrapebox to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities?

    Scrapebox will execute multiple search queries simultaneously in Google and Bing, automatically harvest all the results, and allow us to manipulate, augment, and export the data.

    For example, let’s say you want to find good guest blogging opportunities for your website about canine epilepsy. To find other websites that rank well for the term (and similar terms) which might be good targets for a guest blog post, you’d want to examine the top 100 search results for the following search queries:

    • Dog seizures
    • Canine epilepsy
    • Canine seizures
    • Seizures in dogs

    Without Scrapebox, you’d have to perform each of those searches manually (via, manually click through each of the top 10 pages, and copy/paste each URL into a spreadsheet for future follow-up. This process would easily take you at least an hour.

    With Scrapebox, you supply the search queries, and it will perform the searches, collect the URLs of the top 100 results, and supply them to you in an Excel spreadsheet. Additionally, you can use Scrapebox to automatically find the PageRank of the domain of each search result, allowing you to filter out low-PR domains without having to manually visit them. Scrapebox also offers myriad other filtering options, such as the ability to ignore results from domains that would never accept a guest blog post, such as,, etc. All of the above processes can easily be completed in under 60 seconds.

    Ready to take your link prospecting capabilities to a whole new level? Let’s get started.

    Step 1: Load your proxies into Scrapebox

    After obtaining your proxies, load them into a .txt file on your desktop in the following format:


    Here’s an example:



    In Scrapebox, click “Load” under the “Select Engines & Proxies” area. Select the text file containing your proxies. Scrapebox should load them immediately, and look something like this:



    Click “Manage” and then “Test Proxies” to test your proxies and ensure Scrapebox can successfully activate and use them.

    test proxies


    Be sure that “Google” and “Use Proxies” are both checked.

    Step 2: Choose a keyword that best represents your niche or vertical

    For example, let’s say I’m trying to find guest blogging opportunities for my website about canine epilepsy. I would select “dogs” as my keyword. I could go for a more targeted approach and try “canine epilepsy” or “dog seizures” as my keyword, but I’m likely to find much less (albeit more targeted) prospects.

    Step 3: Define your search queries.

    Copy and paste the following search queries into a .txt document on your desktop, and replace each instance of [keyword] with your chosen keyword from Step 2.

    Note: The following is my personal list of search queries that I use to identify guest blogging opportunities. Google limits queries to 32 words, which is why these are broken down into many chunks rather than one long query. Enjoy!

    “submit blog post” OR “add blog post” OR “submit an article” OR “suggest a guest post” OR “send a guest post” “[keyword]”

    “guest bloggers wanted” OR “contribute to our site” OR “become a contributor” OR “become * guest writer” “[keyword]”

    “guest blogger” OR “blog for us” OR “write for us” OR “submit guest post” OR “submit a guest post” “[keyword]”

    “become a guest blogger” OR “become a guest writer” OR “become guest writer” OR “become a contributor” “[keyword]”

    “submit a guest post” OR “submit post” OR “write for us” OR “become an author” OR “guest column” OR “guest post” “[keyword]”

    inurl:”submit” OR inurl:”write” OR inurl:”guest” OR inurl:”blog” OR inurl:”suggest” OR inurl:”contribute” “[keyword]”

    inurl:”contributor” OR inurl:”writer” OR inurl:”become” OR inurl:”author” OR inurl:”post” “[keyword]” [keyword] “guest post” OR “guest blog” OR “guest author”

    Step 4: Load Search Queries into Scrapebox.

    In the “Harvester” section in Scrapebox, click “Import,” then “Import from file.” Select the file containing the search queries that you just created in Step 3. Scrapebox should then populate with the search queries, looking something like this:


    Step 5: Update your blacklist.

    Scrapebox has a “blacklist” which allows you to automatically filter out undesired search results. For example, I know that and will never accept a guest blog post, so I don’t want results from those domains appearing in my list.

    To edit your blacklist, click “Black List” from the top navigation, then click “Edit local black list.”

    edit blacklist

    After you start using Scrapebox and receiving output lists, you’ll begin to notice undesirable domains that often appear in search results. As you notice these, add them to your local blacklist so they never appear again. Here are a few good sites to add to begin with:

    Step 6: Set Search Depth in Scrapebox

    Next, define how many search results Scrapebox should harvest for each query. You can do this in the “Select Engines & Proxies” area, in the text field next to “Results.” I generally set it to 200 or 300.

    search depth



    Step 7: Start Harvesting

    We’re now ready to start harvesting search results for our queries. Click “Start Harvesting” in the “URL’s Harvested” section.

    start harvesting



    harvester in action

    Harvester in action



    Finished harvesting

    Finished harvesting


    Step 8: Filter results by PageRank


    You should now have a list of websites that Scrapebox harvested, which looks something like this:


    The next step is to filter these results by PageRank, since we don’t want to waste our time reaching out to websites with a low PR. Scrapebox makes this super easy. Click “Check PageRank” then select “Get Domain PageRank.”

    Check PageRank

    pagerank complete

    Next, click “Import/Export URL’s & PR.” Click “Export as Excel” and export the file to your desktop. Open the file on your desktop and re-save it if need be (sometimes the file is corrupt, but by re-saving it and deleting the older version, you can easily solve this).

    Column A should contain a list of all the harvested URLs. Column B will contain the PageRank of each domain. Add column headers to column A (URL) and column B (PR).

    Next, sort column B by PR, in order of largest to smallest. To do this, highlight column B by clicking on the column header, then click “Sort & Filter” in the “Home” tab in Excel. Then, click “Sort A to Z.”


    You’ll see a popup box asking if you’d like to expand the selection. Do so, and click “sort.”

    Expand selection

    Remove all the rows with a PR of 2 or lower. We only want to target PR 3 and above.

    Step 9: Manually Filter & Qualify the Remaining Websites.

    You should now have a list of hundreds or thousands of potential candidates for guest blog post outreach. Add two more columns to your spreadsheet:

    • Follow up?
    • Contact information

    Use the “Follow up?” column to note whether the website would make a good candidate for guest blog post outreach. If so, use the “Contact information” column to note the webmaster or author’s email address, or the URL where the contact form can be found.

    While reviewing each website, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether it’s worthy of outreach for a guest blog post:

    1. Is the website designed well?
    2. Does it have a social following? Are they active in social media? Do they have social media icons on their website? Do they have a Facebook fan count on their website?
    3. Do the other posts on the website look well-written and informative, or is this website full of spam or scraped content?

    Use your best judgment to decide whether the website is worthy of follow-up.

    You’ll also notice lots of results from Twitter (if you used my queries supplied above). Visit each tweet and try to figure out whether the author has a blog and accepts guest posts. If so, follow that author on Twitter, and then reach out politely to ask them about doing guest blogging for their website.

    Step 10: Finalize Your List for Follow-Up.

    After you’ve finished manually reviewing each website and deciding whether it’s worthy of asking for a guest blogging opportunity, save your Excel file and begin your outreach to the authors & webmasters.

    Scrapebox has several very useful “Addons” which you can access from the “Addons” menu. For link prospecting, I recommend installing the “WhoIs Scraper.” This handy tool will automatically crawl your list of links and perform a “WhoIs” lookup to tell you the following information about each domain:

    • Registration Date
    • Registration Expiration Date
    • Registered owner’s name
    • Registered owner’s email address

    You can use the name and email address information to aid in finding contact information for each of your prospects.

     WhoIs Scraper


    Establish and grow your relationships with each one, and you’ll be scoring guest blog posts in record time! So, are you going to try it? Leave a comment and tell us whether or not this method has saved you tons of time!

    Want more information on link building? Head over to our comprehensive guide on link building here: SEO Link Building: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

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  7. 6 On-Page Optimization Best Practices For the Post-Penguin SEO World


    It’s still all about Penguin, isn’t it?

    Yes, but that’s because I’d like to arm you with as much information as possible, so instead of battling Pandas and Penguins, you can cuddle with these cute animals; after all, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make love than war.

    As you may already know, Google Penguin is just getting started. Additionally, we’re in the midst of a new era of SEO where traditional SEO is becoming more seamlessly intertwined with social media.

    And who knows how much more of Google Penguin we’ll see in coming days, weeks, or months.

    We’ve covered the basics as far as recovering from Google Penguin is concerned. We know that these days, more than ever, the only legitimate way to attain rankings is to provide quality and relevant content to users, in order to obtain links naturally.

    No more tricks, says the Penguin.

    In this post, I’ll share with you six on-page optimization best practices that conform to Google Penguin’s guidelines. I’ll focus on key optimization considerations that will help you create a more reputable image for your site both in the eyes of your audience and of the search engines. Let’s get started.

    Keyword density (keyword what?)

    Not long ago, SEOs were concerned about keyword density, or the number of keyword occurrences as a ratio of the overall number of words on the page. The acceptable keyword density used to be somewhere between 2% and 4%, which meant that for every 100 words, a specific keyword (note that I use “keyword” interchangeably with “keyphrase”) should occur two to four times.

    Today, however, keyword density is no longer a ranking factor (was it ever?). Search technology has tremendously evolved over the years to recognize the relevance of certain content to a topic.

    SEOs now advocate the use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). Simply put, LSI refers to the use of relevant terms to the content’s target keywords. So if you’re gunning for the keyword “consumer electronics”, you can use that exact keyword within the first few sentences of the content and then use related terms such as “gadgets”, “electronics”, etc. throughout the rest of the content.

    Tip: You can find LSI terms for any given keyword by using Google’s Keyword Tool. Alternatively, you can perform a search for your keyword in Google and then scroll to the bottom of the first page, where you’ll see some other suggested search terms. These suggested search terms are LSI terms for the keyword you queried.

    While I still recommend using your target keywords exactly within the post title, meta description tags, and in the first and last paragraph of your text body copy, I highly recommend using as many varying LSI terms within the content’s body as you can muster.

    However, if your target keyword is tricky to use in a grammatically-correct way, such as “Roofing L.A.”, then don’t force the issue; just settle on using each word within the keyphrase as closely together as possible.

    Don’t forget internal linking

    Internal linking is still an important aspect of on-page optimization. There are several key benefits to internal linking:

    • Reduces bounce rate, as it promotes relevant internal content to your audience
    • Helps search engines determine the importance and relevance of your pages within your domain
    • Helps Google and other search engine spiders crawl and index your pages more easily and effectively
    • Helps users easily find their way around your site, lending to a more positive overall user experience, and time-on-site metrics
    • Allows you to control anchor text to each individual page, helping search engines understand what keywords you believe the destination page is relevant for

    Generally, websites with good internal linking strategies rank better in search results.

    Link to relevant information outside your site

    Whenever possible, link to sites that offer relevant information to your content. You may have already noticed that I’ve done so in this very post.

    This makes your link structure more natural and it provides value to your audience. Don’t worry about linking to your competitors occasionally, either. Linking to related websites helps Google understand what circle of relevance your website falls under. Plus, giving props to a competitor with a link shows a lot of confidence in your product, and can speak volumes about your business.

    Keep it fresh and useful

    Google Panda and Penguin take into account the freshness of content. That’s why setting up a blog for your site is so crucial these days. With a blog, you can post new and useful information as often as you want. This helps in many ways:

    • Supplies new content to your existing audience, keeping your brand top-of-mind (and thus, makes your audience more likely to convert)
    • Helps grow your audience by drawing in new readers
    • Establishes niche authority/credibility
    • Increases traffic via social channels (due to shares, mentions, tweets, etc.)
    • Increases organic search traffic because it adds more content that can be turned up in the search results
    • Gets you more opportunities to receive natural inbound links when other authors reference your existing content

    Ideally, you should update your blog at least once per business day.

    You also want to post information that is extremely useful and relevant to your audience. How-to posts and posts on trending topics are preferred by most readers. If you constantly post useful information you will give your audience plenty of reasons to visit your site regularly. Lame content that nobody cares about won’t help you at all; if it doesn’t provide some sort of value to your readers, don’t even bother posting it.

    Be original

    Remember how sites with duplicate content were killed early in 2011? Google’s stern stance against duplicate content still stands.

    Sites with internal duplicate content are also at risk. If you’re not sure if your site has internal duplicate content, you can use Google’s Sitemaps (Google Webmaster Tool) to check for duplicate content.

    Keep ads to a minimum

    For many users, ads are simply annoying. But from a search engine perspective, peppering a site with ads can actually hurt your rankings.

    But how much is too much?

    Avoid setting up more than two ads, especially above the fold. Ideally, keep ads to a maximum of two per page. And if you are going to serve ads within your pages, serve only those that are extremely relevant and valuable to your users.


    There you have it, quick and easy tips for proper on-page optimization. If you have questions or if you need help with your on-page optimization initiative, contact us and we’ll be happy to offer a free consultation.


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  8. How to Perform Keyword Research with Google AdWords Keyword Tool


    Google AdWords LogoKeyword research is crucial to online marketing success, because keywords still govern the way people find information online. Keywords help us accurately find the information that we are looking for among the flood of information on the Web.

    As such, proper keyword research with quality keyword research software allows you to understand what set of keywords consumers are using to find what they need. It also allows you to select proper keywords for an SEO campaign based off key metrics such as search volume, competition, and seasonal demand.

    But with all the research tools available out there, which one should you use?

    Here’s a hint: Marketers are vying for a prime spot on Google. Doesn’t it make sense to use a keyword tool owned by Google?

    Google’s own Google Adwords Keyword Tool is one of the best keyword research tools available. This is largely due to the fact that most other keyword research tools pull data directly from Google’s tool via API. While 3rd party tools often do a better job of displaying Google’s data and combining that data with other data to present proprietary or unique insights, they are broken as often as Google changes its keyword tool (which, lately, has been daily).

    Since most 3rd party tools draw on data from Google’s keyword tool, my experience with them has been one of unreliability. Furthermore, the proprietary data insights that are often provided by 3rd party keyword research tools are often misleading, inaccurate, or downright useless.

    Add in the fact that Google’s keyword tool is free, and you have a compelling case. Let’s take a close look at this awesome keyword research tool.

    The interface

    In recent years, Google Adwords Keyword Tool’s interface has gone through several transformations, but the latest has resulted in a cleaner and simpler-to-use interface.

    Google AdWords Keyword Tool

    On the main interface is the word or phrase box, where you type the keywords you’re researching. Right below it are Website and Category.

    Right below the main box on the interface is the Advanced Options and Filters feature, which lets you more specifically target your research to certain countries, languages, and devices from which traffic is coming.

    On the left are several features that let you customize your research further by selecting the match types of the keywords you’re looking for, whether broad or exact.

    Step by step: zeroing in on the right keywords

    For the sake of illustration, I’ll walk you through the steps on how to do research for keywords based on Exact Match, which I recommend using for SEO campaigns.

    Let’s say you’re gunning for “LinkedIn Marketing”.

    1. Type “LinkedIn Marketing” on the Word or phrase box.keyword
    2. You can leave out category for the keywords we’re using here, but for accuracy, I recommend you choose the most appropriate category for the keywords you’re researching.
    3. Click on the Advanced Options and Filters feature.AdWords Tool Advanced Options
    • Choose the country you’re targeting
    • Select the language
    • Select the device you wish to know where traffic is coming from
    • Be sure to include information such as Local Monthly Searches, Competition and Global Monthly SearchesAdWords Keyword Tool Advanced Options

    4. On the left hand side of the page you’ll see Match Types

    • Select “Broad” if you wish to see how “LinkedIn Marketing” is broadly used on searches
    • Select “Exact” if you wish to see the numbers for “LinkedIn Marketing” using exactly those termsAdWords Keyword Exact and Broad Match

    Now it’s time to move on to the next phase of the research – gleaning information from the results.

    The Keyword Ideas section shows the main keywords, i.e. “LinkedIn Marketing” and the list of variations for the keywords, the Competition and the numbers for Local and Global Monthly Searches.Keyword Results

    The list of Keywords column shows results for the main keywords and its variations. In the case of Exact Match, the column shows the exact set of words or phrases consumers use to learn about “LinkedIn Marketing”.

    The Competition column shows how competition looks whether it’s Low, Medium or High. Aim for keywords with Low competition. Keywords with low competition will have a better chance of hitting the first page of Google’s search results.

    But don’t discount keywords with Medium to High competition; you can target them for your long-term campaigns.

    The Local Monthly Searches column shows the average number of searches for the keywords in a specific country or region in a typical month. Global Monthly Searches, on the other hand, shows the average number of people worldwide looking for information on “LinkedIn Marketing”.

    For easy reference, you can download the results in spreadsheet format by hitting the Download button right above the Keyword Ideas section.

    Combine insights from Google’s Keyword Tool with data from an SEO competition comparison tool such as my personal favorite, Market Samurai (that’s an affiliate link – thank you for clicking, if you do!). If you or your clients’ website metrics stack up to the competition, then go for it.


    The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is an excellent keyword research tool. While it doesn’t give you exact numbers (not that any tool can), it’ll provide you with a good idea of which keywords to use as well as which ones to avoid. It’s clean, simple, and reliable, and when combined with insights from an SEO competition analysis tool, it gets the job done efficiently and effectively.

    To find out more about keyword research and how to select the right keywords for your business’ SEO campaign, contact us!

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  9. When Will I Recover My Rankings after Google Penguin?


    The dust has now settled after Google’s Penguin update, offering us a clearer view of the damage sustained by affected sites. We can now clearly see the multi-faceted effects of–and reasons for–the update.

    If your website was affected, the questions you’re probably asking are, “When will I recover my rankings?” and “What do I need to do to recover my rankings?”

    Algorithmic Penalties vs. Manual Penalties

    The good news is that Google Penguin is algorithmic, and algorithmic penalties are not permanent. Take a look at the video below, in which Matt Cutts discusses algorithmic penalties and how they work.

    At the 0:46 mark, Matt Cutts says:

    So, if your site is affected by an algorithm, for the most part, if you change your site, whatever the characteristics are that’s flagging, triggering, or causing us to think you might have keyword stuffing, or whatever, if you change your site, then after we’ve re-crawled and re-indexed the page, and some period after that when we’ve re-processed that in our algorithms, for the most part your site should be able to pop back up or increase in its rankings.

    Starting at the 1:10 mark, Matt Cutts discusses manual penalties:

    Now, on the manual side, as far as I can think of, the vast majority of the time, what we try to do is we try to have, essentially a time-out. So, if it’s hidden text, you might have a penalty for having hidden text, and then after, say, 30 days, that would expire. And then if you’re doing something more severe, if you’re doing some cloaking or some really malicious stuff, that will last for a longer period of time, but eventually that will also expire. So we try to write things such that if you improve your site, if it’s affected by an algorithm, or even if you’ve done something within your site, eventually that would normally time out.

    If you received an unnatural link warning from Google, you may have a manual penalty. Here’s an excerpt of Matt Cutts’ interview during SMX Advanced on June 5th, 2012, in which he discusses the unnatural link warnings that were sent out to webmasters:

    Danny Sullivan: If you submit a warning for unnatural links do you submit a reconsideration request?

    Matt Cutts: Yes, because it was a manual penalty

    Matt Cutts: we want to see a real effort in that you remove those links. We want to see effort. We look at a random sample to see if those links are removed or not. If you remove 90% or so, you are in better shape. We understand it is difficult and we are talking to the webmaster tools to add a disavow link feature.

    Danny Sullivan: If you were hit by Penguin and Panda, should I just give up?

    Matt Cutts: Sometimes, but both are algorithmic and if you change the site and your signals, then you can come back.

    The Road to Recovery

    If your site was hit, there are a number of activities you can engage in to help unwind the effects of Penguin. But before you can begin doing these, you first need to know the reason why you were hit by Google Penguin. The two core non-Google Penguin compliant activities include:

    • Unnatural linking (onsite and offsite)
    • Keyword stuffing (over-use of exact-match keywords in your onsite copy)

    Affected site owners who were quick to identify these problems and implemented Penguin compliant amendments have seen varying amounts of time it took to recover their sites’ rankings. Some recovered within a month, and others are still on the road to recovery, with no end in sight.

    The answer to our question on how long it will take to recover rankings post-Penguin depends on the following factors:

    • How frequently Google crawls your site
    • The level of access of you have to your site
    • How quickly you can identify and fix the problems

    Webmasters with sites that have years of manipulated linking relationships with other sites may find themselves entangled in an especially tricky mess. The only options are to either clean up or start over from scratch (ouch!). The problem is that on April 24th (the day Penguin was released), Google abruptly “changed its mind” on over a decade of previously established best practices. Literally overnight, anchor text became a dangerous weapon rather than a strategic tool for savvy SEOs. This midnight shift in policy left millions of webmasters in the dust; websites that had long held top rankings for competitive keywords saw their rankings fall into oblivion, wiping out website traffic and sales. The longer webmasters had been engaging in manipulated linking practices, the more severely their sites were hit; and the more difficult it is to undo the penalty.

    But if your site is relatively new and you got hit, you may be fortunate, depending on how far you are into your link building strategy.

    Let’s take a look at the factors I mentioned above that could determine how long before you see your site or pages return to their previous rankings.

    How frequently Google crawls your site

    Google’s crawl rate is an algorithmic process, meaning it’s not determined by any individual at Google. A lot of factors are at play to alert crawlers on how often they should visit a site. These factors include, but are not limited to:

    • Number of parameters in a URL
    • Number, source, and recency of links to a page
    • Site’s PageRank
    • Frequency of content updates
    • Date of last page update

    However, you can “train” crawlers on how often your site should be visited. Google crawlers frequent sites that are updated with fresh content. News sites, for example, get visited more often than other sites, while some sites that offer real-time information such as live-score sites (for sports broadcasts) are visited every second.

    If your site is set up for Google Webmaster tools, take a look at the Sitemaps section to give you a good picture of how often Google visits your site. If you’ve kept your site updated with fresh content daily for at least several months, there’s a good chance that Google visits your site on a daily basis.

    The level of access you have to your site

    Your role on your site plays a vital part in its road to recovery after Google Penguin. If your site is a blog and you personally take care of on-site optimization, you can easily clean things up. But then again, that depends on the number of pages and posts your blog has.

    For off-site linking activities, you may need to check your Google Analytics (if set up for your site), Google Webmaster Tools inbound links, or a 3rd party link data provider such as Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to see which sites link to you.

    Identify websites linking to you with exact-match anchor text and reach out to the webmaster, asking to remove or change the link. Here’s the exact email template I have developed, which works well for this purpose:

    Subject line: Link Removal Request



    My name is Jayson, and I represent [your website URL]. I wanted to thank you for linking to our site from [linking page URL] However, it has come to our attention that this link may have been acquired against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It is important for us to bring our site into compliance. Additionally, the link points to a website which Google has penalized, which could cause harm to your website’s rankings. Could you please remove our link from this page and any other page on your site?

    Thank You,


    If you’re operating a large website with many pages, hire an SEO professional to do a total site audit for you. Also conduct a backlink profile audit to identify any external links that may be bringing you down.

    How quickly you can identify and fix the problems

    The sooner you can identify and fix problems that may be affecting your rankings, the sooner your recovery will be. It’s currently unknown whether websites affected by Google Penguin will need to wait until the next Penguin refresh in order to recover their rankings. Unfortunately, if that’s the case, then it may be a while until you recover, because Google has only pushed out two known Penguin updates: The original (on April 24th) and Penguin 1.1 (on May 25th).

    As soon as it becomes more clear whether Penguin recovery can happen between Penguin refreshes, I’ll update this blog post. My intuition says it can, but the jury’s still out for now.

    Obviously, the time it takes to recover from Google Penguin is not set in stone. Your rankings could be back in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the level of commitment and work you put in.


    I hope you find this post useful in understanding how long it should take for your site’s rankings to recover if you got hit by Penguin, as well as what steps you can do to speed up recovery.

    If you need help in making your site Google Penguin compliant, please leave a comment or contact us to set up a consultation.

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