Digest Archive + Articles

How to Rank on the First Google Page If You Have a Low-Authority Site

Needless to say, the competition in SEO is fierce no matter the domain.

Google’s top search rankings have been dominated by big players. The most popular search terms belong to 15-ish companies that own big networks of authoritative sites linking to each other.

They can pass link juice around and dominate trending keywords in a new niche in a matter of months, leaving almost no space for smaller players.

Not to mention all the SEO junkies that act on every Google update and optimize their sites down to the smallest detail.

As such, making the first Google page for even long-tail, low-search-volume terms can take forever for small businesses, freelancers, or solo entrepreneurs that have sites with a low domain authority (DA) rank and presumably no SEO support.

But there’s a workaround I call “syndicated SEO content”.

My SEO “aha” moment

The other day I was reviewing an archive of my client’s SEO articles and their rankings. A whole lot of articles didn’t even make the top-30 positions because the competition had much higher DA ranks.

Since we were syndicating more newsworthy content to high-profile publications likes Forbes, Business Insider, I thought, “why don’t we try more evergreen and long-form content on those sites?.”

My intention was to drive some traffic to our site in the short term and then reuse those articles for other SEO efforts.

As expected, the articles did drive some short-term traffic. But unexpectedly, we kept receiving more and more traffic from them over time, which was out of the ordinary for those publications.

Then I looked up the articles on Moz…

In the span of several weeks, these articles made it to the first pages for the keywords we optimized them for on our site. And that’s because our media partners had DA ranks of 85+, which allowed us to outstrip the competition.

Unintentionally, we used them as high DA proxies for our SEO efforts.

In hindsight, it’s seems so obvious. But obvious things often get overlooked when you are deeply immersed in your field.

The SEO article doesn’t have to reside on your page

I know the mantra of content marketers: don’t build property on someone else’s land. That especially holds true in the SEO field, as your syndicated content eventually starts competing with the originals on your site.

But look, if there’s an opportunity to compete for a keyword with a monthly volume of 10,000+ searches by placing your content on someone else’s land, isn’t it worth it?

The good part of it is that the buyer’s journey stays almost intact. People read an article, find a call-to-action (CTA) at the bottom, which links to a lead magnet on your site. Isn’t it the same with content posted on your site?

Of course, you can optimize your article pages better by customizing and visualizing the CTA, setting up exit-intent pop-ups and more. But what can you do with your highly optimized page for conversions if it is not receiving traffic?

It’s clear that potential gains of syndicated SEO content outweigh its downsides for those on the lower part of the DA spectrum.

Use only high DA sites as proxies

Now, not all the sites work the magic. If you want to get the most out of syndicated SEO content, you have to go after the most authoritative and credible sites in your domain.

I personally use Moz and their domain authority (DA) metric to evaluate potential sites for syndication. Your goal is the first page, and more precisely, the first three positions, as the click-through rate drops below a mere eight after the 3d ranking (see the chart below).

Credit: SmartInsights

As such, in most cases, you are shooting for sites with a DA of 80 or higher.

For perspective, here are the DA ranks of several highly credible sites: — DA: 96—DA: 89— DA: 71

Make sure you use effective CTAs

Another key to the success of syndicated SEO content is the quality of CTAs in the article. Since the content doesn’t reside on your site, you are limited to text CTAs, which are not the best type of plugs to catch attention.

But still, there are ways to achieve damn good click-through rates if you are doing it right. (For some reference, I managed to achieve a CTR of five percent with a CTA  on sites like ForbesPlease note that I’m not adding visits to related articles in this figure, which would pump it up twice.)

Now, let’s get back to the topic.

First, you have to understand that the majority of the audience will just glance through the article and spend no more than 10–30 seconds on it, according to multiple studies.

For those people, we want to include a bold CTA that visually stands out from the rest of the article. To that end, I use a CTA note at the bottom with a bolded subhead, a short paragraph about the offer followed by a sentence that entices to take action now.


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Some readers, however, will dive deeper into your article, for whom we need something more organic. To that end, I use one or several subtle contextual CTAs inline with the text. If the publication’s link policy allows me, I bold them.


…your lead magnets must contain five important elements if you want to achieve a high conversion rate. (I discuss them in depth in my free eBook, 5 lead Magnets that Convert. Download it here)

This kind of CTAs also serves another purpose. Since a CTA note is placed at the bottom, inline CTAs cover the audience that will not make it to the bottom—that’s going to be the bulk of the audience.

In addition to these two types of CTAs, I include links to related content on my sites.


It’s a no-brainer to post SEO content on your site and leave it there if you have a high DA rank that can compete for keywords with a decent volume of searches in your domain.

But if you are just starting out or have a low-DA site that can’t beat the competition in this respect, this is a good workaround.

I know, getting featured on sites like Forbes is hard and it’s a completely different topic I won’t dive into now. But achieving a DA rank that is not even close to theirs takes way more time and resources.

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Breaking Content #39: New SEO Ranking Factor, Facebook’s Household Targeting, Q&A Content & More


“Searcher Task Accomplishment”: The New Most Important Ranking Factor [Research]

Rand Fishkin of Moz came up with a Google ranking concept called “searcher task accomplishment”, which may be the single most important ranking factor from now on.

Put simply, every search query carries a goal. How well your content helps the searcher accomplish it determines your rank.

Wondering if it can be measured at scale? Yes, it does.

If the searcher clicks through to your site and finishes his search with that, that indicates your content most likely helps accomplish the intent behind the search query.

Conversely, if the searcher comes to the site, bounces, and goes to other sites, that would signal your content doesn’t answer the question.

Simple, genius, and quantifiable.


Youtube and Google Rank Videos Differently. This Study Shows How and Why [Research/Actionable]

To this day, most marketers have assumed Google is ranking videos on Google and Youtube similarly. However, it turns out ranking algorithms for videos on each platform differs vastly.

This article is an in-depth write up of the experiment conducted by Steon Temple along with extensive checklists for video SEO optimisation on both Google and Youtube.

Here are some takeaways:

  • For Google queries that show YouTube videos, 75% are in the top 10 results;
  • More than half the time, a video that ranks #1 on YouTube isn’t #1 on Google for the same query;
  • More than half the time Google results have multiple YouTube videos, they rank differently than on YT;
  • The more YouTube videos show in a Google result, the more different they rank than on YouTube;
  • Search intent is key to understanding why videos rank differently between Google and YouTube.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 14.54.55


Optimising Sites for Featured Snippets with Q&A Content [Actionable]

Featured snippets are the new position #1.

They are already stealing up to 10% of traffic from top positions on the first page. With growing structured data adoption, featured snippets will become more accurate and precise in answering different queries.

That will render other positions less relevant and further deprive them of traffic.

The following case study from Moz introduces and dissects the idea of creating Q&A type of SEO content that fits in well with the changing landscape of SEO.


Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 15.03.376 MIN READ

Google Is Testing Auto-Playing Videos in Search Results [News]

Rumour has it that Google has been testing auto-played videos in search results. Google has confirmed the experiment but hasn’t provided a lot of details on it.

According to a Google spokesperson, this is a limited test and they have no plans to rolls this out to all users as of yet.

However, you should keep an eye out for it, as the implications of such a move would be enormous and open many opportunities for SEOs and content marketers.


How to Structure and Design Your Content for Google’s Mobile-First Index [Actionable]

Google’s mobile-first index is probably just months away. That basically means your mobile pages will soon become the default versions used in ranking pages.

And as we all know, user experience plays an important role in rankings.

This article gives 9 spot-on tips on structuring content for a better mobile user experience. I believe preparing your site for this paradigm shift is the single most important task of SEOs in 2017, which will determine your rankings for 2018.

Here’s an outline for quick reference:

Table of contents
HTML headings
Expandable content
Summary, highlights, TL;DR
Bullet points or lists
Bold or italic text
Highlight important points


Google Quality Raters Review Algorithms, Not Individual Web Sites [News]

To those obsessed with Google quality raters, John Muller of Google recently denied that they evaluate individual sites.

“Trying to review our algorithms in general, we’re not trying to evaluate individual sites.” That is the essence, they do look at individual sites but all of that is aimed at the review of the algorithms, not of the individual site.

Add Badges to Your Images in Google Search with Structured Data Markup [News/Actionable]

Google has rolled out a new feature that lets you add badges to images in image search results using structured data markup. This is a great way to stand out and drive more organic traffic to your site through images.

Google currently has badges for recipes, videos, products, and GIFs.



Google Confirms That Sticky Footers Are OK [News]

Google’s Gary Illyes has confirmed that sticky footers are acceptable and should not have any effect on SEO rankings.

He also added that webmasters should keep those footers as unobtrusive as possible to ensure a frictionless user experience.

Reminder: Google’s is releasing its official ad blocker for Chrome later this year that will reportedly block intrusive ads—even if they are served by Google. Ads will be qualified based on the better ads standards.

According to those standards, a sticky ad that takes up more 30% of screen space will be considered obtrusive. So keep your sticky footers within this limit, and you’ll be fine.


Google Boosts AMPs Internationally [News]

Rank Ranger recently noticed a spike in the number of accelerated mobile pages (AMP) being displayed in News Cards in Google across multiple international markets.

AMPs seem to be increasingly adopted globally and I believe will soon become the new standard for mobile pages, especially when Google rolls out its mobile-first index. For those who haven’t marked up their mobiles pages yet, here’s a primer on how to do that:


Facebook Has Launched Pre-Roll Ads [News]

Facebook has started selling video ads that will show up as pre-rolls in Facebook videos. The format is identical to Youtube’s pre-roll ads.

“Marketers will be able to choose to have their ads appear as mid-roll ads within live and on-demand videos on Facebook or as pre-roll or mid-roll ads within videos across Facebook’s Audience Network ad network.”

It looks like Facebook is launching new ad features by the month and quickly catching up with Google in the battle for ad dollars.


Facebook Will Soon Let Brands Target Ads at Entire Families or Specific People Within Households [News]

Facebook will soon roll out a feature that allows you to target the household members of your source audience. It’s yet another step from Facebook in an effort to win over billions in advertising revenue still flowing into TV, which has been famous for its power to influence the entire household at once.

This feature will definitely open up many opportunities for new targeting variations and ad optimisation.


How Switching to Automated Bidding Can Increase CTRs in Adwords by 10.9% in One Week [Actionable]

Are you still managing CPC bids manually?

It may be hard to admit that machine learning-based algorithms can replace part of your job and do it much better, but that’s the reality—well, in most cases.

Need one more case study to convince you? Here you go. This one shows how one agency has managed to achieve an overall increase of 49.57% of clicks and held 53.34% of search impression share by shifting from manual to automatic bidding.


5 Advanced Adwords Optimisation Tactics [Actionable]

Tom Bukevicius from SCUBE Marketing laid down five advanced tactics for optimising Adwords campaigns when you hit the brick low-CPL wall.

A very prescriptive and actionable guide with examples, screenshots, and action items that most of you working with Adwords will find useful.

Here’s a quick rundown of the tactics covered:

1. Reach people who ignored you due to your budget

2. Improve market share lost due to low Ad Rank

3. Expand into a new buyer stage

4. Expand into new locations

5. Expand your offer


How Matching Ad and Landing Page Messaging Can Lift Conversion Rates by 212.74% [Actionable]

PPC heads know that Adwords’ Quality Score directly affects the effectiveness and cost of ad campaigns. An ad that scores below average can cost 64% more than the ad that scores a 5 and more. Conversely, ads with high Quality Scores cost less and secure higher-positioned placements.

In a recent case study, Moz dug deeper into this concept and studied how matching messaging across ads and landing pages can reduce the cost per lead by nearly 70%. They also shared techniques and tools that allow marketers to scale this approach by dynamically changing landing page copy based on ad variations.

A highly-recommended actionable read for those working with Adwords.



6 Psychology-Backed Hacks for Making Engaging Videos [Actionable]

Video has been reigning content marketing for quite some time now. With ever-growing video consumption, every content marketing strategy must involve this medium in one way or another.

One of the keys to success with video content is viewer engagement, as it directly determines how much of the organic reach you will be rewarded with from a platform.

There are a plethora of articles with tips for engaging videos, but the following one from HubSpot has stuck with me in particular. Each argument in this article is backed by specifics scientific studies and psychological theories—and most of them are truly spot on.


9 Effective Strategies for High-Impact Data Visualisations [Actionable]

Every day I get an email notifying me about a new article by Avinash Kaushik I know this is going to be a special day. Because every article of his—no matter the topic—is as insightful as it can get. Because every day I read him I learn something new and my as a marketer’s perspective expands to new horizons.

This time, Avinash takes on data visualisations and goes very deeeeep into it… He laid out nine strategies to make them impactful and engaging. To those who work with visual information, this is your most important read of this month—or maybe this year—for sure.



Scaling Creative with Chatbots: 7 Companies That Use Chatbots in Their Marketing Right [Research]

Chatbots are like VR. Everybody talks about it, but few use.

Yes, chatbots are still in the early stages in terms of their adoption in marketing. But the hype is real. There’s already a number of case studies from companies adopting chatbots and seeing enormously high engagement.

In a few years from now, most brands will be using them.

Where’s the rush? The reward. The reward of being early on in the game is unproportional.

Hence I highly encourage you to read through this great round-up of case studies with brands that successfully implemented chatbots in their marketing mix and take the first step yourself.

This article will serve as a great source of inspiration.


#Social Media

Now You Can Go Live with a Friend on Instagram [News]

Instagram has taken their live videos to the whole new level. Now you can invite a guest to your broadcasts. That opens a plethora of new authentic ways for engaging with your audience.

Again, being early on in the game is highly rewarding. So hit up an influencer in your field and collaborate on a series of live videos together. I’m sure the engagement will be enormous.


Linkedin Has Officially Rolled Out Native Videos Worldwide [News]

It’s official! Yet one more way to double down on videos. Yet it’s still not available to company pages…


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Breaking Content #38: Google’s Ad Blocker, PPC Automation, Email vs. Facebook Messenger & More

Breaking Content was a newsletter before. This is the first issue posted publicly.


How to Structure and Format Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippets [Actionable]

Google’s featured snippets (aka position #0) are reigning the first page. Some studies show that they steal about 7% of traffic from the once-mighty first position, not to mention the rest of the page (see the graphic below).


With the growing adoption of structured data markup, instant answers in featured snippets will become more thorough and accurate over time, capturing even a higher percentage of traffic.

I could go on, but it’s obvious that position #0 is the new #1—and it will be more so in the future.

So I studied a lot what makes sites appear in Google’s featured snippets lately. I’ll skip the obvious part about the quality of content and instead zero in on more technical aspects. One study has stuck with me in particular due to the amount quantitative analysis put into the research. It’s from HubSpot.

Here are the main takeaways from the article for optimizing content for featured snippets:

  • Backlinks still matter;
  • The search query should appear in a header (h2, h3, h4, etc.);
  • The answer to the query should be placed in a <p> tag directly below the header mentioned above. This answer should be between 54–58 words long;
  • Google doesn’t always pull a whole paragraph into the featured snippet. If you add “Step 1,” “Step 2,” “Step 3,” etc. to the start of each subheading within a page (h2) then Google will sometimes just pull through the subheads and list them chronologically.
  • Generic keywords (e.g. “Inbound Sales”) are more likely to display a featured snippet with a whole paragraph, while more question-oriented keywords will, in most cases, display a step-by-step list generated from your headings.
  • Google prefers that paragraphs begin as a natural answer would. So don’t twaddle and get straight to the point, particularly at the beginning of a new section under a heading.

Please note that only pages ranking on the first page can show up in these snippets. So I’d suggest the following process for finding featured-snippet opportunities:

  • Compile a list of all your pages ranking on the first page;
  • Identify the type of search queries returnings these pages (is it a generic query like “content marketing”, a how-to question etc.?);
  • Analyze pages ranking in the featured snippet for those queries;
  • Optimize your page better according to the bulleted list above.




Google Treats 301 Redirects to a Non-Identical Page as Soft 404s [News]

Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that websites should use 301 redirects only for identical pages. If the page you 301 redirect to isn’t a 1:1 replacement, Google is likely to treat it as a 404.


The Usability Push Continues! Google Has Updated Its Test My Site Tool [News]

Google has updated its Test My Site tool with new features. The updated version shows the percentage of visitors you may be losing due to page speed issues and how your site stacks up against the competition in your industry.


This tool also gives recommendations on how to speed up your site—definitely an instructive tool to utilize for site optimization.


Test your site


Google Adds “Posts” to Local Business Listings [News]

Google has made Google Posts available to all businesses. This feature lets companies with Google My Business listings post content directly into the search results, in real-time. Posts will appear in both Google’s rich search and map results.

The caveat is that there’s currently no way to automate these posts as there’s no public API yet. In any case, it’s a promising new medium for local businesses.

Plus, this roll-out presents a short window of opportunity to stand out and possibly rank higher for local queries before the feature is widely adopted.


2 Min Read


Google Will Roll Out Its Mobile-First Index to Sites That Are Ready for It [News]

The same John Mueller from Google also confirmed that they’d roll out their mobile-first index in stages, starting with mobile-optimized sites that are ready for it.

Nobody knows when Google will flip the switch. It’s probably months away. However, one thing is for sure. Making sure your site is 100% optimized for mobile has never been more important than now.


1 Min Read



Robots Are Taking Over PPC: 3 Automation Features You Must Utilize Now [Actionable]

“Smart” features based on machine learning have been one of the biggest trends in the PPC industry this year. Artificial intelligence now drives about every aspect of innovation in this domain.

Earlier this year, Google has rolled out “Smart Display Campaign” and automatically curated “in-market” and “similar” audiences.

Keeping pace with the industry’s standards, Bing also released its “in-market” and “custom” audiences a few weeks ago.

This article breaks down the most important machine learning-based features in PPC and gives some great advice on how to put them to use. (Note: skip through to the section “New Machine Based Featured”.)


4 min read


Ads That Google’s Blocker Will Block Starting 2018 [Alert]

Early next year, Google will release an official ad blocker for Chrome to put a stop to intrusive ads, even if they are owned or served by Google. Acceptable ads will be qualified based on the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads.

You can find a list of unacceptable ads for both mobile and desktop along with their mock-ups and descriptions on this page.

Below are screenshots for quick reference:






How to Choose the Right Bid Management Automation Tool [Actionable]

When you have dozens of PPC campaigns across multiple platforms under your supervision, manual bid optimization is nearly impossible.

This is where bid management automation tools come in handy. However, there’s a myriad of them, and without a proper understanding of what to look for, picking one out may be overwhelming.

This article does a great job dissecting PPC bid management automation tools and laying out the process for choosing the right one for your campaigns.




10 Adwords Scripts That Will Take Your Adwords Campaigns to The Next Level [Actionable]

Adwords scripts are a great way stay on top of your campaigns when scaling.

For those not familiar with these scripts, those are JavaScript code snippets that you add to your Adwords account to perform specific tasks, e.g. keep a record of your data, automate bidding, do competitive analysis, etc.

This article from Adstage lists 10 very handy scripts along with in-action screenshots and application examples. It’s one of the best write-ups on Adwords scripts I’ve come across so far.

Here’s the list with links to original sources for quick reference:

Quality Score Tracker by PPC Epiphany
Automated Ad Testing AdWords Script
24-Hour Bidding Script
Weather-Based Bidding AdWords Script
Disable Ads for Out-of-stock Items in Search
N-Gram Search Query Reports
Competitor Tracking Script
“Split Test Anything” Script
24-Hour Heat Map Script
Analyze Quality Score in Detail

If you haven’t set up scripts in Adwords before, here’s a good primer on how to do that:


4 Min read



How to Use Udemy to Validate an Idea for Your Next Long-Form Article/Lead Magnet [Actionable]

Oh, I just loved the first piece of advice in this article, which is how to use Udemy to validate content ideas. I’d like to note that this method is more suited for evergreen long-form content, which is what courses are by their nature.

Why is it important?

All too often, we let intuition take hold of our editorial strategy. But with so much noise out there, success in content marketing comes down to consistency and a data-driven editorial approach.

So here’s the idea on how to use Udemy data as a guide in your editorial decisions:

  • Go to Udemy and search the topic you’d like to write your next article, ebook or whatever about;
  • Pick courses around that topic with the most reviews/the best reviews/the most students (use your judgment for quality criteria);
  • The curriculums of your selected courses will suggest you a proven structure for a piece of content on that topic.

People pulled out their wallets and actually paid for that content, which means the content is compelling, important, and, most importantly, in demand. I can’t think of a stronger validation than that.

This article covers more great ideas for creating shareable and SEO-friendly content, but a lot of them fall into the 101 bucket, so I won’t cover them. But the link is below if you are interested.


16 min read



The Case for Switching from Email to Facebook Messenger for Interaction with Leads. (Hint: a 477% reduction in CPL[Research]

Email is dying.

Inboxes are more cluttered than ever. Open and click rates are in decline.

In search of new mediums, Hubspot has recently put Facebook Messenger to test as a channel to interact with their prospects. They conducted three experiments in which Facebook Messenger was stacked up against email in the following applications.

Using Facebook Messenger as a content delivery channel



“The Facebook Messenger broadcasts had an average open rate of 80% and average CTR of 13%. That was 242% and 609% better than our email controls, respectively.”

Using Facebook Messenger in place of forms

“The results here were even better than we anticipated. We saw a staggering 477% reduction in our cost per lead, while lead quality only slightly decreased.”

The third application was sending updates to event attendees via Facebook Messenger. I’m not covering it because the use is quite niche and HubSpot didn’t provide email results for comparison.


4 min read


Controversy Alert: Stop All Organic Social Media Activity [Research/Opinion]

Avinash Kaushik (Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google) has literally taken the words out of my mouth with this article.

His premise is that organic social media is dead, and so there’s no reason to invest in it anymore. I second him a hundred percent. (That’s the reason we don’t have social handles for Breaking Content.)

This Facebook post from Expedia paints the picture best:


Note: Expedia had 6,462,977 fans on their Facebook page when this screenshot was taken. Divide 75 engagements by 6,462,977 and you’ll get an organic reach rate of 0.00113%.

I can’t find a strong enough word to convey how dismal it is.

The takeaway: Don’t invest in organic reach anymore. Instead, shift your focus to creating irresistible content and amplifying its distribution with paid reach.


16 min read


#Social Media

Facebook Updates Its News Feed Algorithm in Fight Against Clickbait Links [News]

Facebook recently announced an update to their news feed algorithm that will address the issue of high volumes of clickbait content.

Adam Mossery, VP of News Feed, wrote: “By taking steps like this to improve News Feed, we’re able to surface more stories that people find informative and reduce the spread of problematic links such as clickbait, sensationalism and misinformation.”

They added that this update will apply to individual links and won’t have an effect on a domain level.

If you do content marketing right (and I believe you do), this update will work only to your advantage.


1 min read

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