Top 7 Free SEO Tools for Small Business Owners

Search engine optimization involves a lot more than just keywords and XML tags. Effective SEO requires market research, competitive analysis, coding, evaluation of website analytics, content marketing, and converting visitors into customers or followers. Choosing the right tools is the key to accomplishing all the work needed for competent SEO. Fortunately, many of these tools are available for free:

1. Google Analytics

This is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of SEO professionals. All it takes is a few lines of code implemented into a website to unleash a treasure trove of insights about visitors, their actions on your website and their preferences.

One of the best features of this tool is the vast amount of learning and training resources available to beginners and advanced users alike. The free version of Google Analytics is powerful enough to be used by Fortune 500 companies; the premium version has, even more, features that can be used to fine-tune SEO, content and website layout strategies.

2. Google Search Console

Similar to Google Analytics, this tool is a must-have for website administrators, SEO practitioners, and internet marketers. Previously known as Webmaster Tools, the Search Console can be used to see how Google crawls and indexes a website so that improvements can be made.

One of the most powerful features of this tool includes the Disavow Link option to eliminate negative inbound URLs. Another useful function is the crawl report, which lists errors that should be corrected to improve page rank and search engine visibility.

3. Google Keyword Planner

Another fantastic free tool offered by Google; this one is actually part of the AdWords online advertising machine but it can be freely used to conduct keyword research and to analyze search trends.

It is important to remember that the estimates given for monthly search volume may not be accurate, particularly since Google intends to get users to launch AdWords campaigns. Nonetheless, this is a great tool to evaluate longtail keywords. Since the Keyword Planner is plugged into Google Search Insights, users can trust that their research will be current and congruent with ongoing search trends.

4. Moz Open Site Explorer

One of the most important aspects of modern SEO is to cultivate good backlinking practices, which can be greatly augmented with this tool by Moz, a very respected name in online marketing.

The ranking of websites by domain authority is very useful not only in terms of pursuing inbound links but also to get ideas on potential content and layout strategies. The Site Explorer determines the keywords that are actually working for websites based on visitors and content, thus allowing administrators to work on increasing the authority of their pages.

5. MozBar

This abbreviated version of Open Site Explorer provides a lot of functionality in a single browser bar. With a single click of the Moz button, the bar provides users with Domain and Page Authority metrics according to various search profiles that can be customized to account for the geolocation of the searchers.

With the MozBar, search profiles can also be changed with just a couple of clicks to learn more about the browsing and searching habits of audiences in other countries. With the premium version of this tool, users can also view the keyword difficulty for any search term or string, and they can also investigate the page optimization options related to specific keywords.

6. Yoast

Hands down, this is the best SEO plugin for WordPress websites. The best way to use Yoast is to install it at the same time the website is being created. By doing so, website administrators will be able to create the global metadata necessary to start publishing and optimizing.

Once new pages or posts are ready to be posted, the Yoast plugin examines the content and structure to issue SEO recommendations based on a traffic light scheme of red, yellow and green. Content creators who use Yoast regularly will notice themselves becoming more proficient in terms of creating blog posts, articles and new pages that are truly SEO-friendly.

7. SEMRush

This is the tool recommended by SEO professionals for advanced keyword research. The powerful features of SEMRush are intuitive and easy enough to use for the benefit of small business owners and website administrators who handle their own SEO.

For many users, SEMRush will feel as the only tool they will need for their online marketing needs. Users can access keyword intelligence for any website to learn how frequently those terms appear in search queries every month. SEMRush integrates with the SEOBook and SEOQuake products created by associate developers. The free version of this tool allows a few searches each day; with the premium version, users get more insight and freedom to explore more keywords.

Bonus: 8. Linkio

Anchor text has come into the cross hairs for Google over the past several years. Getting a good anchor text strategy is important for results, but it’s not always possible to carve out time for the deep analysis (or have the expertise for it). makes this exercise easier by automating much of the grunt work associated with a deep analysis.

This includes automated backlink imports, an anchor text categorization algorithm and suggesting the next anchors to use based on ideal percentages.

In the end, becoming proficient with SEO requires some research to learn the basics followed by constant practice that can be accomplished by regular use of the tools listed herein. Small business owners who master the use of these tools will be well on their way to staying ahead of their competitors.

How to Adjust Your Local SEO After an Office Move


Any business will understand the effort required to grow their online presence and achieve first page Google rankings, which makes it rather disheartening to learn that an office move to a new location can rock this. In this blog, find out how to adjust your local SEO after an office move.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a secret formula to immunize your business against a ripple with your local SEO rankings if you choose to change your address. Google views an office move as it would a new business listing, so it’s no surprise some businesses choose to keep the old details and add a ‘we have moved’ page to their, in order to avoid losing SEO rankings.

If like us, accuracy and consistency are your bags, updating your details after an office move is an answer. This may mean having to rebuild some of your local SEO power, but there are few tips and tricks you can put in place to help you.

First, let’s look at the importance of NAP Protocols.

NAP protocols

When looking at where to rank you in the local results pages, Google looks at your website and other listings, such as Google + and Google Places listings to cross-references key information, such as NAP (name, address, phone number). The NAP should match wherever you are listed.

Having a local address to the proximity of the user searching is of course important, but if there is a discrepancy in your NAP databetween your site and your online listings, this could result in Google not ranking you at all because discrepancies hinder Google’s ability to trust the data they have gathered about your business, online sources.

NAP matching is an important activity to undertake when moving your office if you want to rebuild your SEO efficiently.

Google places (Bing local etc.)

A good start is adjusting your Google Places and Google + listings. Since these are branches of the Google powerhouse, these listings will be the first sources scanned when the search engine is matching your data, so it’s a no-brainer.

Other Citations

Once you have adjusted your Google listings, it’s time to find where else you are listed. You may have an organized listed of citations to work through. If not, you can find your existing citations in Google and Google Maps using search parameters such as (“01303 123456” so you can log back in and change them.

Directions Pages

NAP protocols covered, you may also want to consider consistency across any directions pages. If any directions pages to your old office exist online, adjust them to show directions to your new location. Ensure this is matched on all your citations.

Schema Tags

Websites can be found in the search results more easily by implementing the proper schema markup. This enables you to include microdata about your businesses location, open hours and contact details.

Although the data isn’t shown on the website, it exists in the code and it can be managed easily via your websites admin system easily.

Moz local

Pushed for time? You can clean your listings in one go using the Moz Local portal. It’s also a handy tool for checking your current localized visibility. It’s not cheap, but it saves a lot of time and resources.

Email signatures

Some marketers believe that having traffic from a broad range of sources sends a strong quality signal to Google and that includes email signatures any digital stationary such as PDFs and white papers. This point is arguable, but in any case, it’s good practice to have consistency across all of your digital listings and material, for accuracy.


Chris Surridge is an experienced digital marketing director with a wealth of knowledge on search marketing strategies and conversion analysis. As well as his many years as an SEO professional, the value he brings is in strategic planning for client accounts and his consultative services in helping businesses grow.  He is the marketing director for Whitefish Marketing, a Kent based SEO agency, and manages a team of highly experienced digital professionals.

How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts Your Audience Will Read – And Love

So, you have started a blog for your business – great! But are you seeing the results you had hoped for? Perhaps you have been blogging for months without much fanfare, or maybe you just started and want some tips for writing blog posts. Whatever your situation, there are key rules every blogger must follow when it comes to crafting useful content that readers will consume, enjoy, and share with others. But how do you write a blog post that gives you the results you desire? Read on, blogging novice, it’s time to take notes.

Tips for Writing Click-Worthy Blog Posts

A regularly-updated company blog can play an integral part of increasing visits to your website, but it is just the beginning. Search engines don’t just love content, they love SEO-friendly content, and the more pages of click-worthy SEO content you have on your website, the more pages can be indexed and then found by your target audience on search engines. A keyword-focused blog can make a significant difference in your search rankings while playing a crucial role in acquiring new and returning customers.

Before you start writing, it’s important to understand that the content you’re creating must appeal to your audience as well as search engines. If you want a potential patient, client, or customer to click on your content, read through it, and then take action (e.g. book an appointment online, purchase a product etc.) you must be able to do three things:

1) Write content that is SEO-friendly

2) Write in an engaging tone

3) Solve a problem specific to your audience

If you can’t accomplish these three goals, then your blog content may not be seen by anyone at all.

Focus on Just a Few Keywords

While you may have heard that incorporating a lot of keywords into a blog post will help you rise in search engine rankings, this is entirely untrue. Cramming as many keywords as possible into your blog posts will result in stale, invaluable content that search engines will gloss over. And guess what? Your audience won’t be paying attention either.

It’s important to choose just a handful of core keywords and long-tail keywords to focus on in your blog post. This will not only show search engines that your content is rank-worthy, but it will also be enjoyable and worth reading.

Spreading yourself too thin is common mistake when it comes to keywords – Justin

Utilize Keyword Synonyms

Using keyword synonyms within blog posts is a simple way to include keywords you want to rank for, while also increasing search traffic to your blog. For example, if you have a blog post that focuses on dental fillings, you could also use the synonym, “tooth fillings” in both the body copy and in subheadings.


Optimize Your Blog Post with Relevant Questions

Writing a great SEO-friendly blog post goes beyond just user intent. For example, while someone may be searching for “tooth filling dentists in Columbus” they and other people who are researching the topic are usually curious beyond their intent to simply find a local dental practice.

If you are like most people, you have used search engines to find answers to specific questions. For instance, if you know that you have a cavity and need a filling soon, you may be curious about the dental filling procedure, how long it takes, if it hurts, and so on. Just know that you aren’t alone in this! If you type, “do fillings hurt?” into a search engine, you will see that there are plenty of blog posts that answer the question, and you will even find related questions on the topic that people are actively looking for answers to.

As you can see here, you may want to think about incorporating a handful of relevant questions into a blog post if you want to rank higher for “fillings”, “dental fillings”, and the like.

Optimize Headings and Subheadings with Keyword Variations

Before you write your post, think about searching for keyword variations of the main keyword your post is trying to rank for. For example, if your blog post will be focusing on a broad term such as “dental procedures” you could add related keywords such as, “cosmetic dental procedures” and “pediatric dental treatments” or “emergency dental procedures.” You can then use these variations as subheadings with descriptions and bullet points of the various types of procedures or treatments. However, be careful not to overdo it; integrate additional terms like this only if they make sense from a readability standpoint. A blog post that incorporates these keyword variations would benefit from a title like, “Common Types of Dental Procedures.”

Words of Wisdom: Breaking up blog content with relevant subheadings when possible also helps readability. Users love to skim articles first to see if the content may resonate with them. If they can’t find what they’re looking for easily, they will move along to another article — and search engines may even direct them to a competitor’s site instead!

These ideas are just the beginning when it comes to writing SEO-friendly blog content. But these guidelines will help your blog get started on the right foot so the right customers will find your content, read it, love it, and return for more.

Natalie Lynn is the content director of Two Wheels Marketing, a Columbus, Ohio based digital marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing (SEO, PPC), paid and organic social media marketing.

EMDs as an Effective SEO Tactic

In 2012, Google released the EMD algorithm update. The EMD Update stands for “Exact Match Domain” and is essentially a web filter Google launched to prevent poor quality sites from ranking, well merely, because they use words that match search terms in their domains. So if you were trying to rank for the keyword, sell my car, you would name your domain and business (relevant TLD )


When SEO’s and marketers first discovered that they were able to rank on the top of search results when using highly searched keywords as domain or brand names, it caused an epidemic. This, of course, led to an uproar amongst established brands, who had invested millions into establishing their online presence over the years. Traditional industry leaders were now outranked by overnight competitors, affiliates and microsites. As a result, a great deal of organic traffic and leads were lost, and affiliates made a killing selling these leads back to advertisers.

Some brands quickly adapted, and setup legitimate business and websites, using the same tactics. Since most of them had bigger budgets, they were able to hire SEO agencies and experts to optimise their websites back to the top of search results.

How It Works

Step One:

Find the most valuable keywords within the relevant industry.

Step Two:

Find out which of these high traffic keywords are registered as domains. For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that this domain is still available.

Step Three:

Implement a keyword strategy revolving the keyword “buy a car” – you will need to use the keyword as much as possible. This includes using it in the copy, H1’s, Metadata and internal linking structure.

You will also need to build some links to your domain, using that exact match anchor text. One of the advantages of using a keyword as your business name or domain name, is you can argue that you are naturally using your brand name when Google threatens to penalise your website, for spamming web results. Whether or not they will believe you is another story.

What Does Google Say About EMD’s in 2017?

As former Google Head of Spam stated below, this was only a small scale update. Their focus was predominantly set on “low-quality” and reducing their visibility in search results.

When a fresh EMD Update happens, sites that have improved their content may regain good rankings. New sites with poor content or those previously missed by EMD, may get caught.

So What’s The Verdict ?

It appears as if Google are not entirely focused on eradicating search results associated with exact match domains. They are merely trying to reduce low-quality content, which spammers use as a tactic to secure traffic to their websites.

Using an EMD is like using performance enhancing drugs – you might get there faster but you still need to put in the hard work. And if you are involved in a recognized sport, you will be held accountable if one of the drugs you are taking is on the banned list. Google does achieve its due diligence with EMDs from time to time, and I have personally seen thousands of businesses disappear from search results over the years. The true question here is, how much of a risk is it to you?

George Ian Wyngaardt

SEO Manager at

How to Craft the Perfect Blog Post for SEO

SEO jargon can be overwhelming. All you need to do is reach your audience, right? You’ve built a beautiful website and you’re blogging regularly, so don’t let all that content go to waste! A few simple points of SEO knowledge can tighten up your content so search engines, and your target market can find you and understand what you’re all about. Follow these five tips to make your blog better for SEO.

1. Think About Your Keywords

In point of fact, it’s important not to get too hung up on keywords. Research reveals that emphasis is shifting to searchers’ intent, not so much the keywords themselves. And it’s important to remember that to a living, breathing audience, keyword-stuffed content is obvious and unreadable. Still, the discreet use of keywords remains an important part of SEO, and it’s one of the topics that bloggers ask about first.

Keywords operate best in the first and last paragraphs, and in the headline. To avoid redundancy, look into Latent Semantics Indexing (LSI). It’s easy to find synonyms that search engines will understand. For example, instead of using the term “horse trailers” over and over, you could note that you specialize in “equestrian vehicles.” Google will get it, and you will broaden your keyword cache, making your filly wagons easier to find.

2. Organic Backlinks Are the Best

Everyone’s abuzz about backlinks, the links on other websites that direct traffic back to you. There are many ways to go about getting these links (not all of them ethical). The best and most foolproof way is to let them happen organically. Google scrutinizes your “link portfolio,” and a collection of unseemly or ill-gotten links can incur you a penalty. This will do the opposite of what you want your SEO efforts to do.

The best thing about organic backlinks is also their biggest problem: they’re effortless. They arise naturally from other bloggers, journalists, and companies who link to your site because they want to share your content. So how do you take a more proactive approach? Here are some do’s and don’ts of garnering backlinks:


  • Pay for links
  • Hire a black hat SEO agency or use black hat tactics
  • Leave comments on other blog posts with your link


  • Reach out to other blogs you genuinely connect to and offer to write a guest post
  • Have your company hire a white hat SEO agency
  • Promote your blog by building relationships with relevant people in a genuine way (more on this later)

As with many things, the slow hard road is the best one.

3. Localize Your Content

Remember that you have readers all over the world. And if you don’t yet, it’s an important goal. But a global reach doesn’t get very far if your readers in Patagonia don’t understand your content. There are some valuable localization companies available to help solve this problem. In addition to simply translating your blog, localizing finesses your content into something that looks and sounds natural to the location where your content is appearing. The last thing you want is an awkward Google translation sending the wrong message to thousands of readers overseas!

As a bonus, localizing duplicates your content for every region that you serve, making you more visible to search engines.

4. Collaborate With Other Bloggers and Micro Influencers

This is an expansion on building backlinks, but the goal here is not to gain a link. The goal is to expand your sphere of influence and build meaningful relationships with people in your niche. Write guest posts for other blogger’s sites, comment, follow, and meet for coffee if you’re in the same city! Things will come off some of these relationships. For others, it won’t. Don’t force it. See what clicks.

For more efficient results, zero in on social media micro influencers who post content relevant to your niche. Initiate relationships with them. Consider the difference between reaching out to individual horse lovers, versus reaching out to a well-known rider. A celebrity rider might have thousands of horse loving followers on social media. If they decide to shout you out on Instagram, you’ve reached thousands of horse lovers just by building one relationship.

5. Be Authentic

Content is king. There’s no way to fake authenticity, and authenticity is the hallmark of good content. Keep yours to a high standard that’s easy to read, and easy for search engines to understand. Write clear, structured posts with relevant headings and subheadings. Don’t think so much about SEO that you lose your human audience. Remember, search engines work for people, too–the same people you are trying to reach. Authentic content that means something to people, and not just Google, is more important than any SEO tactics. Without it, the tactics become moot.

The Takeaway

A few simple SEO tactics can go a long way for your blog and your company. But remember that these tactics should work in service of authentic, meaningful content, and never at the expense of it. When you’ve mastered these steps, there are ever-deeper levels of SEO that you can explore. It’s a fascinating field that we are all helping to create and develop in real time, with every passing day and every passing search. But for now, try out these techniques on your blog and watch your traffic rise!

Author Bio

Brian Oaster writes content for translation services company Day Translations from Central America. He has worked all over the world as an arts educator, English teacher, basket exporter, rare book dealer, fortune teller, and as the first mate of a private sailing yacht. Educated in the visual arts and an avid reader of news and literature, his focus is on international arts and culture, world religions and global politics.

5 SEO Tips for Your Brand New Shopify Store

More than half a million Shopify stores have sold their products online at one point or another. More than 370,000 of them are still alive and using this platform to sell to online customers. When you consider the fact that these stores make up a small portion of the online commerce ecosystem, the numbers become mind-boggling.

In other words, it takes a lot to make your Shopify store stand out and earn any kind of decent revenue.

One of the ways to help your Shopify store stand out and start making money is to ensure people actually find it in search engines. To cut a long story short, you need to do SEO for your store if you want to see it succeed.

Use Shopify’s Own Features

One of the best things about Shopify, when it comes to search engine optimization, is that their own people seem to be quite versed in the whole thing and the platform actually boasts a number of features that can help your store follow Google’s (Bing’s, DuckDuckGo’s) guidelines for best practices.

These are nothing spectacular, but they help take care of the on-site basics that can build a decent base for the rest of your SEO efforts down the line.

For example, Shopify features editable title tags, meta descriptions and URLs, as well as ALT tags, automatically generated sitemaps and robots.txt files. They even provide automatically generated canonical URL tags which help avoid duplicate content. You can also find great domain names for your store(s), register them without leaving their website and even play with subdomains.

Even people who know nothing about SEO can sit down for a reading session of a couple of hours and learn SEO 101, that will help them set up their store for success.

It sounds like fanboy stuff, but really, kudos Shopify.


Often times, Shopify store owners do not have the time to also run a blog, especially if they happen to run a few separate stores. This is a big mistake, as a blog can be a great SEO tool.

For one, with great content, you keep people on your website, even if they are not purchasing, which is a great signal for search engines that your website has quality to offer. Also, it is a fantastic way to fill your website with keywords without seeming spammy in any way.

Once you start doing some guest posting (we will get to that later), you will also discover that other website and blog owners feel much more comfortable linking to a blog post on your store’s site than a commercial page. Of course, you should still try to get links to your commercial pages, but when this just isn’t happening, links to your blog posts will also help.

Finally, if you come up with innovative and interesting content, it is very likely that your visitors will get involved in the conversation, which makes for a fantastic signal for search engines.

Be Smart about Product Images

There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with product images on your Shopify store. For one, you need to optimize them before you include them on your store’s website. This will speed up your loading times, which is something search engines love.

Also, you will want to include ALT tags for every image of every product that you feature on your page, as it will let search engine crawlers know what the image is of (machine image recognition still isn’t that advanced).

This will also help vision-impaired visitors know what is on the page. While it is not an SEO thing, it is a common decency thing.

Think Mobile

It has been a couple of years since online shoppers have become majorly mobile, meaning that they do their shopping on their mobile devices (mostly smartphones). Because of this, all SEO efforts should keep in mind the need to be mobile-friendly.

The first step, of course, is to ensure that your Shopify store is mobile-friendly. In a perfect world, all Shopify templates would be 100% mobile-friendly, but this is still not the case. Google provides their own mobile-friendly test tool which will point out the issues that might be hurting mobile users and you will want to fix these as the first step.

You should also learn more about the differences between desktop and mobile searches and modify your content appropriately. Google’s Mobile Index is not yet live, but it is safe to say that it will happen one day.

Of course, you can always take this a step further and start using the mobile marketing platform that will best suit your needs, even beyond simple SEO.

Utilize Product Pages

Product pages should always feature an original product description. Many Shopify store owners decide to simply copy descriptions that they find on the manufacturer’s website or other stores. This is a huge mistake as search engines will flag this kind of content as duplicate and penalize your store. It may be time consuming, but it is a very basic SEO thing to do. If done the right way, product descriptions can be a good way to optimize your pages for search engines through smart keyword practice.

Another good way to utilize product pages is to give your customers the chance to write their reviews of your products. This will provide your product pages with additional content, which will be as natural as possible, also giving search engines signals that people are engaged enough to leave their comments.

Closing Word

The important thing to remember is that SEO is not some sort of a magic wand that will save your Shopify store. You will need a good product. You will need a product that people are willing to pay for.

SEO’s job is to ensure that people find it.

That is all.

How To Make Search Engines Love Your Small Business Website

SEO or search engine optimization represents a set of techniques and practices used to optimize the website and raise its ranking in the search engine results page. When executed properly, it is an excellent way to increase traffic coming towards your website and is particularly useful for small businesses which don’t have the same budget for advertising as large companies do. However, bad SEO can have quite the adverse effect and could potentially result in getting your website completely omitted from the search results.

Mobile-first and responsive web design are a must!

Considering the fact that over a half of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, it’s important to have a website which is mobile-first, or at least responsive. This is one of the key factors the search algorithm looks for when ranking your website, so make sure to avoid spending all your time, effort and resources into making a desktop-first website only to have it outranked by the competition. Well, the optimized mobile-first website allows for a better mobile user experience, which is another factor you have to take into consideration.

Create a Blog

Search engines absolutely love blogs. To be more specific, they love well-written and regularly updated content and blogging is by far the easiest way to generate content regularly. You can use it for a number of different purposes, such as keeping the public up to date with the latest website developments or answering any questions customers might have. Additionally, a blog is an excellent way to engage with customers as it allows them to leave comments and reviews, which is known in the industry as passive content.

Produce Engaging Content

Once you’ve set up both your website and the blog, it’s time to fill them with content. All the content you produce must be original, relevant and most importantly engaging. The best way to ensure that is to use content and keyword research, which will give you information about how people search for products and services and incorporate that information into your content creation process. Use appropriate title tags and meta descriptions for each post you make and don’t forget to properly name and optimize the images.

Use Appropriate Keywords

Once you’ve done the research, it’s time to incorporate those keywords into your content, using the best available keyword research tools. They are vital for any SEO strategy, as they help both the users and search engines with figuring out what your website is about. The best way to do this is to separate the pages on your website that have content on and use separate keywords for separate pages. By doing that you direct the customer towards a page which is best suited for answering their questions. Avoid overstuffing your articles with keywords, as this will only get your website down-ranked by the search engines.

Focus on local SEO

Setting organic search results aside, you also want to rank well within local pack listings. To start, you should open up a Google My Business page with proper description, category, contact information and information describing the purpose of your business, high-quality profile and cover picture and if relevant, closing and opening hours. NAP or name, address, and phone number consistency are also important so make sure to make that information accessible from every page of your website. Finally, work on getting reviews from your customers. Although Google reviews are considered to be a top priority, don’t forget to focus on reviews from sites like Yelp and local directories.

Use Analytics to refine your strategies

Measuring and evaluating the results of your search engine optimization efforts is vital for success, as it provides vital information you can use to further tweak and improve your SEO strategy. Google Analytics is an excellent tool for measuring organic traffic over time and providing you with information regarding your target audience. This includes what browser they’re using, from where and when did they access your website, how long they’ve stayed on each page, etc. You can use this insight to further improve the visitor’s browsing experience.

Focus on Social Media Marketing

One of the best ways to grow and maintain your brand’s influence is to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other niche communities. Include links to your social media profiles on your website and maintain them regularly. Social media is excellent for engaging with your customers, and also provides you with additional marketing without any cost. Google and other search engines rank interconnected websites higher than those with no social media links. And it works wonders for positive brand association and awareness.

Author bio: Steven Clarke is a digital marketing specialist at SEO Adelaide. In his spare time, he likes to write about his ideas and share them with the world. Steven is a regular contributor to several websites.


All about LSI keywords and why they’re important

SEO is slowly getting into a new stage of existence.

Keywords in their current form are becoming less and less important. Instead, Google focuses on determining the overall meaning of an article. Nowadays, typing in certain words or phrases doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get articles filled with them. You might get something completely different yet relevant.

For some time now, Google has been developing systems that will discover the true meaning behind the words. Such an approach can only be beneficial for users as it gives us proper answers to our questions.

With all that being said, LSI keywords have become the most important factor during content creation. Let’s talk about it.

What are LSI keywords?

LSI stands for latent semantic indexing. It is a concept that determines importance of a word within a corpus (body of text). Based on that, it is easy to determine that LSI keywords are the keywords that are important to your article.

As mentioned, focusing on a single keyword is no longer lucrative.

There is no way for Google to determine whether use of this keyword is random or intentional. At least not without LSI keywords.

With LSI keywords everything changes.

They are a set of words and phrases which helps describe content more thoroughly. It provides depth to the article allowing Google to precisely determine what it is all about.

Example of LSI keywords

Let’s say you are writing a thorough article about a country.

Of course, the name of the country will be used as the main keyword (e.g. France).

Now, remember that this is a thorough article. In that regard, you will have to cover different aspects of the topic. It is only expected that you will talk about various French cities (e.g. Paris, Lion, Marseille), French cuisine (croissant), French history (Napoleon) and so on.

Given that you used the broadest keyword possible, you will have to use a broad array of LSI keywords just so that Google can notice you. If the topic was narrow, you would’ve used only a handful of LSIs.

We have to clarify this a bit more.

With the LSI concept, Google is able to determine relations between the keywords. That being said, a search engine is able to determine how relevant a certain phrase is to the article and how often it should repeat itself.

For example, in an article about American presidents, you will use Abraham Lincoln more frequently than Gerald Ford. However, both of them are necessary for Google to perceive the article as relevant.

Basically, LSI helps establish what is normal and what is not normal within a text.

Using LSI keywords to your advantage

Now, here is the question you’ve all been waiting for.

How can you use this knowledge to your advantage and create content which is more likely to rank on the first page of Google?

We got a few tips for you!

  • Write naturally

First and foremost, LSI keywords are used to determine what is natural and what is not. Best thing you can do is to write an article without thinking about keywords and their frequency.

  • Use synonyms

Besides related phrases, synonyms are also important. In the end, if you are writing a natural copy, it is expected that you will use a few synonyms for your most frequently used words.

  • Think about the topic beforehand

Google uses your copy to determine the real intent behind it. For example, if I used word “France” a few more times, it could’ve misled Google to think that this article revolves around it. By considering everything in advance, you are able to make a battle plan and determine which few keywords should have priority.

  • Check out the top results

No matter how hard you try, you may still forget a few keywords. This can be easily prevented if you go and check top 10 results in Google. In the end, if they managed to reach the first page, they are probably doing something good.

  • Going back to the article

Naturally, you will read the article after you’ve finished it. But, you will also need to focus on your LSI. It is common for an author to forget a few things. So, go back to the article, read it again and make sure to add a few phrases that you’ve missed.


When it comes to LSI keywords, these are all the tips you need. However, try not to overdo it. Google expects naturally written content. This is why LSI concept was introduced in the first place.

Basically, as long as you write a thorough, informative article, you should be fine.

About the author: Nikolay Stoyanov is the CEO of – an SEO company that offers SEO outsourcing, consulting and white hat link building services to clients all over the world. Nikolay is a huge Brian Dean fan and a proud graduate of his SEO That Works course. He’s a contributor to many of the most reputable websites about SEO.

History of SEO Part 1: Link Trading Era 2001-2006

I have seen a bunch of “History of SEO” posts floating around the internet and whenever I read them, I usually laugh and think that it’s obvious this writer is a newbie. I thought I should write something about what this industry was really like… for real.

Human nature dictates that people tend to be reciprocal in actions. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours or maybe you pick and eat lice off my back and I’ll do the same for you if you want to go back to primates.

You see this today demonstrated all over the internet:

  • You follow me on Twitter I’ll follow you back
  • You like my posts on Instagram, I look for one of your images to like back (probably not your kid’s pictures because that is creepy).

I mean everywhere, this is prevalent.


This used to be super popular on the web, even before the days of social media. In SEO it was known as trading links. At one point the Google guidelines told people to trade links with similar sites as a way of promoting their sites. This was before the advent of the no-follow link condoms that are popular today.

2001 SEO Landscape

When I first started doing SEO in 2001 there wasn’t as much info being shared on how to do it. People were not trying to make a name for themselves by sharing lots of technical info on SEO.  Spreading disinformation was more par for the course. These where the days of Jill Whalan and Doug Heil. There was a forum ironically called ihelpyou, which was my first stop on trying to learn SEO.  There is a whole post’s worth of funny observations about that forum but that would be a whole other article.

There was a whole continuous drama at this point which was primarily created by “white hat” SEOs calling out “black hat” SEOs. The whole thing seems pretty humorous this many years later. It was like the current guru thing that has become big, but instead of becoming noticed by giving out actionable information, it was about mostly just calling other people “spammers” and filing reports on your competitors to Google (did that ever work?).


Google Wanted Links

Anyway, I pretty quickly deduced that Google wanted lots of links with keywords in them, and that it had no idea if they were relevant and they didn’t seem to care.  I came to this conclusion by trying to do what the big “white hats” of the time said to do and basically getting my ass handed to me. Instead I went and copied what the top sites were doing and also I copied what We Build Pages was doing (you might know them as internetmarketingninjas now). They were located right by my home town, and I knew they made stuff rank.

I started slowly and cautiously, since I was working on clients’ sites at the time, because I had not made the shift in mindset from web designer to affiliate marketer. I was still looking at SEO as an upsell to web design, not my bread and butter.  I traded links with similar sites and saw small bumps in rankings.

This tapered off though because I would run out of similar sites. So then came the sort-of related trades. I would trade links with a business that complemented the client site, or which was close by location.  This worked too. Then it started getting more loose.

You also did not need any software to check a site’s backlinks at the time you just put a into the search engines and it would report the links.

Some Clients Want You to Push the Limits

Contrary to popular belief, not all clients want you to play it safe (this was also in the early 2000s). Google had not got all crazy with penalties yet. You also saw almost immediate changes with link building. This was almost instant positive reinforcement.  Some of my clients said push it. I let it rip.

I would trade hundreds of links by hand and they would take top positions. They were paying me peanuts but I had no idea. I found networks of hotel affiliates with 50 to a hundred different location EMDs and I could trade links with all of them in one shot. You would just cut and paste the HTML for all their links, then fill out a form with your link info and bam you had a bunch of links. (EMDs = Exact Match Domains).

It was awesome. This was before multiple links from the same server where being discounted and this rush of backlinks was like sucker punching the competition with brass knuckles. Then it dawned on me, why don’t I have a bunch of hotel sites, too. So I signed up for a hotel affiliate program and started buying up EMDs for small cities + “hotels”. I also got an Adsense account.

At this time I was still sort of thinking that I wanted to be a web designer, and since I was constantly testing everything, I made a test of link relevance. I traded links with all these hotel affiliates on my web design website. Suddenly I was number 1 for “my city” + web design” and top ten for “my state + web design”. So much for link relevance.

Emailing Was Way Too Time Consuming

In the early days when everyone was running around emailing each other for links, it was very time consuming.

The official “White Hat” way of trading links was to do this.

  1. Add the person’s links somewhere on your site.
  2. Send them a polite email, saying something like “Your site is a great resource. Look: I linked to it, would you link back to me pretty please?”
  3. Wait and hope they responded.

You would spend a bunch of time trying to get a response, and even when you did they would want you to put their link up and once they verified by your site or page was up to whatever standards they had made up in their head, would your link get put up. If they remembered to do it.

So you would often have to go and check repeatedly to see if they did it, and if they didn’t you would take their link down.

I Had To Speed It Up

Now I had to think of a way to automate this process, and I was not alone in this thinking. This is about the time that the various link trading software packages started springing up, the king of which was Linksmanager and its partner site Linkpartners.

Linksmanger is no longer functioning and there is only a page where the owner is saying why he is pissed at Google


How Linksmanager Worked

Keep in mind this is before anyone was using CMS. Websites were static html or if you have any knowledge you were building sites using server side includes.

Linkpartners was a directory where you could register your site and and then request link trades with other webmasters.  You would choose your category and say if wanted to swap with anybody or people in your own category. There was always like 10 times as many people in the gambling category as its closest competitor (LOL).

The Free version gave you email notifications with cut and paste snippets to put links up on your site.  If you paid ($20 a month) you got access to the Linksmanager software. This would manage your link trades for you. It would generate links pages with your server side includes for formatting and you could hook it up via FTP to your server. It was the “Hot Lunch” of link trading at the time.

Link Market and Link Metro

There was also its cheaper counterpart Linkmarket and Link Metro. Link Metro seems to have disappeared off the internet but Linkmarket still seems to exist. Not only does Link Market still exist it still LOOKS THE SAME! AWESOME.


Basically these services worked like Linkpartners: you registered your site and then requested links from other people. Link Market would generate cut and paste snippets with 10 links each to cut and paste to your website. I remember there was no rhyme or reason to the snippets, and links weren’t categorized or anything. You would just end up with huge lists of links.

In addition to these services, I wrote my own link exchange script. I liked what I saw the hotel affiliates doing and decided to improve on it.

Deadbeat Linkers

As link trading got hugely popular of course there were webmasters who would try to take advantage.

There was a whole culture developed around this, and of course there was what I had called “deadbeat” linkers. These were people who would put your link up for a minute while you checked and then take it down, and rip you off essentially. The deadbeat linkers still exist, they are now the people who follow you on social media, like a few of your posts and once you follow them back, they wait a bit and unfollow you and hope you don’t notice.

Made my Own Software and Started Building a List

So when you were looking for links, if you found a site where your links where posted instantly it was a great find. So I set up a form that not only allowed you to trade a bunch of links at once but also checked your link back and if it existed added your link to my sites instantly.

People loved it.  I also started collecting emails and created the Lake View Studios link exchange newsletter, which was also a big hit. I would send out an email periodically when I had new sites that people could trade links with automatically.

It was awesome: new site, boom 20 to 30 new unique links. Site was indexed and usually appeared in the rankings within a couple weeks. There was a slow trickle as all the webmasters on the list came up with new websites and added them. If I needed more links I could just turn to the link trading systems like Linksmanger.

Adsense was still paying very good per click for almost any subject. Adding links was like guaranteed increases in Google rankings. It was like printing money.

I Needed More Links Faster

I needed more links even faster and I could not do it myself, so I started paying my girlfriend to sit around the house and trade links all day. That was still not enough. So I started hiring more people.

I had this friend from when I was growing up, this guy was a party animal but was actually really smart.  His name was “the Russo”, like he would introduce himself just like that. I hired him to trade links all day too. He would wander around South Beach Miami.  He would party all night, and then wake up wherever with his laptop and connect to various wi-fi hot spots logging into Linksmanger and trading links all day.

At this point I really put the hammer on my personal site. Why stop at ranking for “my state + web design”  why not just rank for “web design” and be done with it? We hammered my homepage, threw every link we could at it. It never really ranked for “web design”. It was like top 20, but it was like top 5 for “website design”, “website optimization”, “flash web design, “website marketing”… the list went on and on and the phone calls just kept coming.

I couldn’t design the sites fast enough and half the people online where super bargain shoppers so it didn’t make sense to have me do that work. I hired this guy from Poland to make the sites. That’s was an ok business but why focus on that when the SEO affiliate route seemed way more lucrative.  I started turning away SEO clients, it made no sense to help them rank, when I could just rank my own sites and just keep all the profit.

Of course sometimes the amount I could earn as an affiliate or Adsensee publisher was way less then a real business, but you cut out all the social interaction: the sales, the supports calls, the questions, and the eventually complaints when an update made their rankings go down.  I would just rank my own Adsense sites and if the rankings fell or if it turned out way more difficult then was expected, I would just ditch them. Take whatever loss and move on to the next websites.

I developed an attitude and had no patience with web design prospects. I kind of let that aspect of the business go. Looking back that was really stupid.

It Came Crashing Down

I don’t really have an exact date or Google update, but it was sometime in 2006. The thing is unlike many of the more recent Google smack-downs,. It was like in general, traded links were just devalued to some degree.

The egregious violators like myself got their sites totally knocked in the rankings but under a certain threshold traded links still seem to have value. In fact I still see older sites that rank with many traded links in their backlink profiles. I haven’t studied them that deeply to see whether they still have the recip link on their site.

It didn’t look good for me and my little crew of link traders but something else was on the horizon and if trading links were like a set of brass knuckles then this was like a backpack nuke. It was called the Digital Point Co-Op Link network.