GIF Engine Optimization 101

Chances are if you’re reading this, you know about SEO, or you want to learn more about how it can help your website get more traffic and help you make more money. Today, I’d like to talk to you about a different kind of search engine – the GIF search engine. If you’re familiar with sites like GIPHY and Tenor, then you know what I am talking about.

GIPHY is the biggest GIF search engine, and it’s actually the second largest search engine in the world in terms of total searches, only behind Google. GIPHY serves over 10 billion GIFs per day across messaging and social media apps.

Google bought Tenor, another popular search engine in March 2018, though the purchase price wasn’t disclosed. Like Google, major search engines have algorithms that decide which content (GIFs) will rank highest in the search results.

If you can create and optimize GIF content to rank for keywords that are meaningful for your brand, Then you increase the likelihood of your content being seen and shared across social media apps and messaging. With that would come hundreds of millions of meaningful brand impressions.

GIFs work as a marketing channel best for Consumer Brands as the main metric to prove return on investment is “views” and the success is measured in cost per thousand impressions (CPMs). But as GIFs continue to evolve, we can expect to see all brands wanting to leverage them as a marketing channel.

What are GIFs?

GIF stands for graphic interchange format. It is a type of animated image format. You can also use them to make still images but this format has a special feature not found in other image formats. You can use it to create animated images like the one shown below. (Yes, I searched GIPHY to find it. I used “marketing” to find it.)

We use the phrase “animated images” because GIF are not actually videos; they are more like flipbooks. They don’t have sound and the format wasn’t created for animations but that’s how things worked out. They work because they can hold multiple images at once and people realize they could load the images sequentially like a flipbook if they’re decoded a certain way. The format itself was published by CompuServe in 1987 and got its last update in 1989 making it older than about 35% of the US population. even though it predates the World Wide Web by 2 years, it played a major role in defining early Geocities websites, Myspace pages, and email chains and remains a major part of Internet culture.

GIFs are becoming popular because they are like means and are useful for communicating ideas, jokes, and emotions.  They are useful to express yourself in a way that cap locks, emojis, and punctuation just can’t. The most popular GIFs are reaction GIFs that convey emotions that are typically used in conversations.

Excitement, sadness, hunger, humor, and love can all be better expressed with a GIF compared to text alone.

How People Use GIFs

GIPHY and Tenor have their own websites and mobile apps. This allows users on the web and mobile to search for in share GIFs. Each platform also has its own application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) that are integrated with nearly every social media platform and messaging app.

When you use the GIF search feature within your messaging or social app, it’s likely coming from either of those two services and sometimes both.

What is GIF Engine Optimization (GEO?)

GEO, like SEO, is the process of creating and optimizing content to rank highly in organic search results on a GIF search engine.

GIF search engines, like Google, want to provide their into users with the best possible experience by giving them the correct answer to their query as quickly as possible.

In the SEO world, Google shows users what it believes is the most appropriate web link to answer a search query. GIF search engines like Tenor and GIPHY works in much the same way.

When are user searches for a keyword, GIPHY serves the user a feed of GIFs to choose from based on what it deems the most relevant content.

GEO consists of:

  • Keyword Research: Researching keywords relevant to your brand that have high search volumes and low competition
  • Content planning and creation: At this phase, you plan and create your content to rank for specific long-term keywords that are meaningful to your brand. You can use GIPHY to create the GIFs, too.
  • Implementation: Here, you tag your GIF with relevant keywords when you upload them to your preferred search engine.

As with much of your SEO strategy, you start with keyword research. Branded keywords from your SEO strategy will most likely be the same in your GEO strategy. After you are branded keywords, consider potential keywords you want to ring for into categories –  words that are directly related to your product and the emotions that are associated with the effect that your product has on consumers.

For instance, if you are a fast-food restaurant you would consider using words like fries, lunch, dinner, and cheeseburgers. You can also use words like hungry, yummy, hungry, and delish, to handle the emotional aspect.

After you have a good list of keywords you want to target, you’ll do some research into how difficult it will be to rank. do this with a combination of tools from both GIF search engines. It doesn’t really matter which platform you’re trying to rank on because in most situations a keyword will be equally as competitive on both of them. use the Tenor insights tools to see a normalized search volume of keywords. The keywords with the highest search volumes are those that tend to be the most competitive so you want to look for keywords that relate to your brand that have medium-high search volumes in a low number of total GIFs.

When you find a keyword that has high competition, you can go long tail to make your target keywords more specific and find lower competition options they give you a better opportunity to rank.

With your list of keywords in hands, make some overly branded content to drive brand equity and ensure that your brand shows up when people are searching for your branded keywords. For any other keywords, make related GIFs.

After you’ve created your GIF, you will need to upload them to a GIF search engine. During the upload process, you’ll have an opportunity to add keywords to those files. That’s where you enter the keywords that are meaningful to your brand on each individual guess. You can add as many times as you’d like but the optimal number of tags for each algorithm is 10.

The best practice is to add your branded keywords to each GIF upload to ensure the people searching for your brain can easily find and share your content when they want to you can always go back and add more keywords after you upload but it’s best to tag them with all of your desired keywords on the first upload so that when the search engine crawls your content for the first time it can categorize your GIF to all relevant keywords.

At this point, the search engine will begin testing out each of your GIF in organic search results to see how they perform. It looks at how often people are viewing your gift and how often is being shared to determine if it is irrelevant result for each keyword you give it. Based on how often your GIF views, shares, and click-through rate, the search engine will either promote or demote your gift in search results for each keyword.



Google Explains How to Use Headings for SEO

Headings help readers who scan through to know what to expect when reading an article. Headings also play a heavy role in SEO presence, but not necessarily for the reason you may think. Google uses H1, H2, and other HTML headings in a specific way for displaying articles in searches on its platform. When Google speaks, we listen, because we want to make sure to incorporate its advice into our SEO strategy.

A Bit Of History On Headers

In the early 2000s, heading elements were among the ranking factors Google used to determine where to rank a page for a particular keyword or phrase. If you wanted to rank, one of the most important things to do was to use your keywords throughout the headings. For the past few years, this hasn’t been the case, but it’s still a common SEO practice today. It’s a habit for many, though if you look at top-ranked sites, you’ll likely see headings that don’t include keywords.

Google’s Thoughts on Headers and Keywords

John Mueller was recently asked about Google’s thoughts on the use of keywords in a heading and their ranking ability.

Mueller responded: I think in general, headings are a bit overrated in the sense that it’s very easy to… get pulled into lots of theoretical discussions on what the optimal headings should be.

Google no longer ranks by keyword but rather the heading and the following contents. They examine the heading to ensure the subsequent information matches. The way that headings should be.

H1 Headings Do Not Outrank H2 Headings

In the past, it was understood that headings were hierarchy based.  H1 was more important than H2 and H2 was more important than H3. The most important keywords would be placed in the highest level of heading. The lesser important keywords were in lower-level headings. Though this may have been the case 15 years ago – it doesn’t apply today – despite the fact that many people still approach using headings this way.

Google explains that headings are irrelevant to rank. Should they still be used? Yes! They are essential for accessibility and for user experience.

What Is The Proper Use For Heading Tags?

Google stands by the idea that the best use of heading tags is for the reader. They indicate the information to follow, introduce a video, or an image. Google doesn’t look for the keyword but the quality of the text. They want to rank a site because the information is relevant to the heading and they can draw the reader to look at more information. The right searches will find your information, not the keywords in the header.

Heading Tags Aren’t Ranked

Headings tags used to make the top lists of ranking factors for decades, even though Google has made changes and has been transparent about them. If you do your own search and really study the results, you will notice the results don’t include the headers with a keyword. Google stands by providing search results with information about the content and that is all.

John Mueller has said: So it’s not so much that suddenly your page ranks higher because you have those keywords there. But suddenly it’s more well Google understands my content a little bit better and therefore it can send users who are explicitly looking for my content a little bit more towards my page.

Mueller also took the time to explain the proper use of heading tags: So obviously there’s a little bit of overlap there with regards to… Google understanding my content better and me ranking better for the queries that I care about. Because if you write about content that you want to rank for which probably you’re doing, then being able to understand that content better does help us a little bit. But it’s not that suddenly your page will rank number one for competitive queries just because you’re making it very easy for Google to understand your content. So with that said, I think it’s useful to… look at the individual headings on a page but… don’t get too dug down into all of these details and variations and instead try to find a way to make it easy for people and for scripts to understand the content and kind of the context of things on your pages.

What This Means For Websites

The great thing about understanding the way Google uses headings is that it encourages more quality content than keyword stuffing we saw for several years. Quality content is much more beneficial to your audience than keyword-stuffed fluff, and Google wants to make its users happy. If people can’t find what they’re looking for in Google, then Google risks losing them to other search engines.

By worrying less about keywords in your content headings, you can ensure your content comes across with more authenticity. You’re less likely to be hit with penalties for keyword stuffing, and more likely to rank ahead of any competitors who are still relying on the old school tactics. Ultimately, you’ll earn a reputation for quality, which helps to build and strengthen relationships with your consumers.


January 2020 Google Core Update

On January 13th, 2020, Google announced that its first core update of the year would be rolling out that day. It’s important to remember that as with any other core update, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the pages that drop in rankings after week or update. They are just being reassessed against content that has been published since the last update or content that was overlooked previously.

Widely noticeable effects are to be expected, which may include gains or drops, so start paying attention to your rankings in the days and weeks following core updates is important. If you found that your rankings dropped, look at what is ranking ahead of your content and consider how you can create an even more comprehensive solution for searchers.

Compared to previous core updates, this one does seem fairly substantial based on some of the early signals and chatter. The core update we saw in September 2019 was slow to roll out and wasn’t very upsetting. The January 2020 core update, however, seems much larger than the September update according to what’s going on in the SEO community.

The core updates usually take a few days, it can take up to two weeks to fully complete so that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your analytics and traffic in the days and weeks after Google makes an announcement about the core update.

Part of the core update included an update to the search engine results page layout which displays company favicon in the desktop search results.

How Big are the Changes?

It may be a few more weeks before we can truly determine the scope of all of the changes, but it is safe to assume that Google is adjusting its trust in entire domains based on machine learning for the score updates. The more credibility and trust a domain has from its industry, the bigger the potential change is when Google adjusts the value internally. We can see it well in the health and finance sectors which at the start of the core update processes have seen changes that are proportionately greater than others.

With the latest score update, Google has widened the circle of affected domains and the trend continues. In the daily visibility index data for mobile search results from Sistrix,  you can see the first reactions begin on the 15th to the 16th of January.

Who Won as a Result of This Core Update?

This update focused on domain-wide recalculation of Google trust, there are both winners and losers. Either all of the content ranks better than before or the domain drops a few positions. So far, the winners include the following domains:


Though many expected the movements in the health sector because there are rumors that Google is planning something in this area, there is a wide range of sectors and content types.

Which Domains Lost?

With winners, also come losers. The top losers so far are:

● BoxOfficeMojo

A lot of the focus in the past core updates seems to mostly impact the “Your Money, Your Life” domains, but what’s surprising about this round is the number of sites related to car buying. This may be related to the amount of finance-related information on the site, such as pricing, financing, and insurance. The computerized, data-based quality evaluation is behind the changes, and that could differ greatly from a human evaluation.

Domains that relate to YMYL topics have been re-evaluated by the algorithm, and are either gaining or losing visibility as a whole. Domains previously affected by core updates are more likely to be affected again in the future. The good news is, the absolute fluctuations seem to be declining with each update, as Google is becoming more certain of its assessment and doesn’t deviate much from the previous one.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of the April 2020 Core Update. Though it hasn’t been announced because the focus is all on the January update, it’s reasonable to expect them on an almost quarterly basis – since we saw one in June 2019, September 2019, and November 2019 (though the November one wasn’t announced, but confirmed by Google.)


Google Has Changed How Local Search Results are Generated

Until recently, searches for local businesses needed to have a business name and location included, which isn’t very helpful if you don’t know the exact business name. If you misspelled the name or completely butchered it, it was likely to not show up at all. This led to a lot of frustration for users that Google has finally addressed. Earlier in the year, Google announced some changes to searches. In November, Google rolled out a tweak for local searches and we think it’s a big relief for many.

November 2019 Local Search Update

It took the entire month to roll out the new update and so far, it’s working well. Many contribute it to the neural matching, but what is it? Google calls it a super-synonym system, we call it smart. Neural matching gives Google the chance to understand the meaning behind searches and match them to local businesses that are most relevant to the search. This gives some businesses a chance to be found when they may not have shown up previously. This also means that some businesses that dominated a keyword will show up less.

Artificial Intelligence Behind The Searches

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used for a lot of different things and Google has been in the game for a while. Google Analytics is a perfect example of AI and its abilities.  It knows a person’s browser, location, what websites they visit the most, and how much time is spent on those websites. Google Maps is also using AI to help with travel. It gives you an ETA, alerts you of detours, and traffic jams. Maps even will give you the option of a new route to compensate for missing a turn or needing to avoid a traffic jam. The next step was to use AI in searches to simplify and streamline the user’s experience just as Google has always strived to do.

No More Multiple Listings For One Site

How many of us have typed in our search and seen six listings for Pinterest in the results? Or maybe we want to shop and we get a whole page of Amazon links. Annoying, isn’t it? Well, that was one of the reasons why the November 2019 Local Search Update was implemented. Many businesses weren’t getting the chance to be seen because other websites took up most of the first page. The likelihood of people making it to the second page isn’t very high. Users also don’t want to see just one business listed, they want the smorgasbord. Trust us, if they wanted to shop at Walmart or visit Pinterest, they would’ve gone straight to that site instead of Google. While the businesses that appear the most may not enjoy the shift, they will still be seen after the local businesses. We live in a society that is striving to go back to supporting local businesses. Google jumped on board and seems to support the very idea.

The Algorithm Effect

Many have wondered how this new update affects our usual searches. We all know that Google caters to the individual user. Searches are based on past searches and they show you what they think the user wants to see. But the update is now promoting more localized businesses, so how does that affect your future searches? Google says that searches will shift a bit but only to match the user’s new activity.

When these searches now show new information they haven’t seen before, they shift the algorithm when they investigate new pages. Let’s say you are searching for an old cookie recipe that your Grandma used to make. While a recipe site will appear, other local businesses relating to cookies and baking will appear. If you fall down the rabbit hole of looking at baking supplies from a store and the new bakery opening down the street, your algorithm will shift a bit. The more this happens with your searches, the more your algorithms shift to fit you as a user. So what does this mean for a business who is no longer appearing as much in searches? It means engagement could slow down or be lost.

Good For The User, Bad For Business?

Google has always been about the user and not so much the business. While the user will now see businesses they hadn’t seen before, this means that some businesses won’t be seen. So what does a business do if suddenly they see a drop in numbers? The same as they always have. They adjust their social media interactions and tweak their marketing plans. They look for new and innovative ways to bring people to their sites.

It isn’t a bad thing for business when Google rolls out these updates. The users have been asking for this change for a while and Google listened.  It can be frustrating for the business but it’s a situation you have to roll with. It helps to also re-think who you are interacting with. Maybe you need to refocus and market more towards your local audience. While Google is streamlining the experience for the user, it is also working to get the best matches for business as well. If you don’t want to lose that fabulous market you have built on the other side of the world, you can still work to keep them on board.

These updates are barely a month old and there will be a lot to witness over time. So far, the changes have had a positive response from the users. As algorithms shift and AI gets smarter, that will be when we really see how well the updates do. We believe it will make business with users better. Change is always a frustrating hurdle for businesses but fortunately, Google has been talking about this one a while. Hopefully, businesses have made flexible plans to keep their engagement and continue to grow.



Using Schema to Create Google Actions

Recently, Google announced that publishers can now create Google Actions from web content with schema markup.

Google Actions are a great way for brands to get more mileage out of their SEO strategy while offering another chance to reach searchers organically. Optimizing your website for newer SEO features such as Google Actions and Rich Results is becoming increasingly critical to keeping the Google algorithm happy.

Though the option is not available for every content type, this new capability is huge for those of us who are less technical.

What Are Google Actions?

Google Actions are apps that are designed for Google Assistant. They range from apps like the Domino’s delivery action to health and fitness apps, ride-hailing services, and even personality tests.

Actions work when the user prompts Google Assistant with a phrase like “OK Google, [Action].

All actions take place inside the cloud even though users can access them on any device with the Google Assistant enabled. Each ActionAction is tied to a specific intent and is programmed with the corresponding fulfillment process to complete the request.

Google Actions and Schema

Schema refers to a type of microdata that provides Google with more context about the intent of any piece of content.

Adding schema markup to a web page creates a rich result or an enhanced description that appears on the front page of Google. Rich Results include everything from book now buttons for local businesses to recipe instructions, events, and contact information.

Search engines need to match content to search inquiries, and part of determining the quality of a search result depends on user intent.

Schema is a way for websites to alert search engines about the intent behind the content. It’s also required for websites that want to be eligible for Google’s Rich Results, which increasingly accounts for the biggest part of the first page in the search results.

Adding schema markup alone, of course, will not guarantee you land at position 0. You’ll have to follow Google’s recommendations perfectly and choose the right schema for the page you’re targeting. Your content must also be useful, engaging, and credible.

Google’s latest announcement brings schema to Google Actions, which offers another channel for you to earn some of your SEO share back.

For content creators, this means they now have the ability to create Google Actions, whether or not they know their way around Dialogflow or the Google Actions Console. Instead, Google will automatically generate an action when users add specific mark up to the eligible content types.

Content Types for Google Actions Schema

Using schema for content actions provides an opportunity for you to increase brand awareness in a format that has limited advertising opportunities. With schema markup, Google can create a variety of actions based on five types of content that you may publish on the web.


Google’s guidelines that you can apply the FAQ schema to any site that features a list of questions and answers on nearly any subject. This means the option isn’t limited to an official FAQ page included on your website. Instead, you can create FAQ Pages for any resource or topic relevant to your business.

The FAQ schema, whether it’s linked to an action or not, allows brands that aren’t in position 0 to take up a ton of real estate on the search engine results pages.

As with other types of schema, your FAQ content needs to match what’s on your website 100%. Otherwise, Google may slap you with a manual action. It’s also worth noting that FAQ content is purely informational and intent, and as such, you should not use markup as a free advertising Channel.

By converting your FAQ pages into Google actions, the Google Assistant reads your answers out loud when searchers enter a related voice query.


With recipe markup, users can promote their content through which cards presented in the Google Assistant and learn about your content in the assistant directory. You can use it to highlight nutritional information, ingredients list and prep time, and images to get searchers interested in your food.

You can also use the recipe schema together with the guidance markup to give consumers a way to follow along with audio instructions for your recipes.

You’ll need to fill out a Google Form to get started with the feature. It requires only your name, company name, email, and domain.

You’ll need to be sure that your page features both the recipe and guidance markup to be eligible for the rich search results and as a Google action. You’ll also need to make sure that you’ve set up your structured data correctly.


Google announced last May that they would be adding podcasts to the search results screen with a new structured markup option.

For podcasters who were reliant on search features on Stitcher or Apple podcast, the option to improve discoverability in the Google search results is huge.

With this markup, podcasters can improve their showing in the search results and on Google podcast with individual episode descriptions and an embedded player for each on the first page. An additional new feature, Deeper Podcast search, allows users to search for actual audio directly inside the podcast with Google transcription.

Connecting podcasts to a Google action elevates things to the next level because it makes it easy for users to find your podcast in the assistant directory and play episodes from their smart speaker, Google home display, or their phone.

All you have to do is sign into the Google Play portal, click “add podcast” from the menu at the top right corner, add your RSS feed and apply required tags, then follow Google’s podcast markup guidelines to ensure you create an automatic action.


Adding mark up to your news content helps increase your visibility and allows users the option to consume your content via Google Assistant.

You can apply this schema to blog content, news articles, and articles, though you will need to be registered as a publisher on Google News to take advantage of this option.

The news markup makes stories visually stand out in the search results pages. Features like the top story carousel, the host carousel, visual stories, & headlines allow users the opportunity to attract more organic traffic to their sites by giving them a larger piece of real estate to share their content.

To add voice compatibility to the list of features, you’ll have to choose between AMP and non-AMP formatting.

To turn your news content into a Google action, you must sign up with Google Publisher. You must also have a dedicated news site that uses static, unique URLs with original content. Keep your ads, sponsored content, and affiliate links to a minimum. Also, consider using news specific XML sitemaps for easier crawling.

How-To Guides

You can use the how-to schema to mark up articles that contain instructional information that show readers how to do something new.

According to Google Developers, how to markup applies to content where the main focus of that page is the how-to. In other words, it doesn’t count if your long-form article includes the short how she section along with several other elements. The content has to be read sequentially as a series of steps.

You cannot markup offensive, violent, or explicit content. You must mark up each step and its entirety. You are not allowed to use this kind of markup for advertising purposes. This markup does not apply to recipes because of the fact they have their own schema. If applicable, include a list of materials and tools to complete the task along with images.

As voice search and smart devices become increasingly popular, they are valuable to the SEO landscape. Google actions offer a new point of entry for Brands who are looking to increase their visibility and the organic search results. This update makes Google actions accessible to a greater range of marketers who may not otherwise be able to build an action from scratch.


Image Link Building: Earning More Links with Visual Content

A strong headline will draw someone in. A hook will entice someone to keep reading. And a well-placed visual keeps you focused and will help you remember the content long after you forgotten the words you read.

The images will captivate your audience but using video visual content goes beyond this. You can also use it as a practical approach to building more backlinks to your site.

A Skyword study showed that content containing related images performs better across all content categories. Google is continually working to include more imagery and videos in their search changing the way the information is presented on a search results page.

Because of this, you need to change the way you present your website’s information to Google and to other search engines.

You know the visual content is a valid way to build links, but how do you make it work?

Types of Visual Content to Build Links

It’s important to understand the various kinds of visual content you can work with. Here I’ll cover 6 of the main types of content you can use for link building purposes.


Infographics are a way to take a lot of data and make it easier to understand and more interesting to read. While there are plenty of people who believe infographics are overused, there are still plenty of people out there championing for them.

Using eye-catching infographics combined with useful information that readers can digest is a wonderful way to earn links, especially when you do the promotion work,  whether you are for or against infographics.

You don’t have to hire a professional designer to build your infographics either, since there are several tools you can use to build your own, including Piktochart, Venngage, and Canva. The image you see to the left is nothing more than a basic template from Canva, and there are hundreds to choose from to help you get started, with plenty of niches to choose from as well.


Your logo is visual content too. You already have it on several places on your website, and it may even be on other websites if you’ve written guest posts, contributed to any kind of community pages, or been featured as part of a podcast or other content.

It’s a good idea to keep track of the places where your logo shows up on the web so you can make sure the image links back to your site.

Product Photos or Brand Photoshoots

This one is for all the online shops and ecommerce sites out there – it’s easy to build links with your product images.

Just be sure you’re using high-quality original photos that have been optimized for SEO.

If you don’t have products to take photos of, then you can hire a professional photographer to do a brand photoshoot as it relates to what you do.

Employee or Company Photos

Have photos of your last company retreat? Feature employee photos on your team page? These are great for link building, too. Keep the images high-quality and make sure everyone’s names are spelled correctly.

Charts, Maps, and Graphs

Data visualization is a fantastic way to generate links. As long as the information is useful and easy for people to understand, you can put it to good use. You don’t even need to create an original map, graph, or chart!

Instead, you can run a report from a third-party site, take a screenshot of the results and share it as an image in your content. It’s important to share the source of the report but the image itself can be attributed to you.

For example, if I wanted to show data about the number of websites online that use the WordPress CMS to operate, I could visit BuiltWith to get the data, Screenshot and include it in my blog post. This is exactly what I’ve done here.

Memes and GIFs

Memes and gifs have taken the Internet by storm and they aren’t going anywhere. If for any reason you’re not using them in your content already, now is a great time to give it a try.

Use them well and use them Tastefully because people love to share good means which means plenty of inbound links for you. There are plenty of memes out there you can use, but if you want to keep things original, you can make your own memes for free using a variety of tools such as Meme Generator.

Above I mentioned the importance of image optimization and link to a post on the blog about it. Though it gives you an in-depth look at what you should do to make sure your images are optimized for the search engines, I thought it would be ideal to end this post with a few quick and dirty tips for those of you who are in a hurry and can’t take the time to read the full post.

  • Include ALT text for all the images. The ALT text appears in place of an image when it can’t be shown for whatever reason. Your ALT should be similar to the filename and provide a short relevant description of the image including keywords. Adding ALT text to your images can boost your site’s rankings by associating your images and therefore your site with the keywords and descriptions you’ve used. ALT text is also important for accessibility standards so that people using screen readers can understand the images on the page.
  • Optimize your file names. Use keywords in your image file names. This helps describe the content to the search engines. You should keep your file name short, relevant to the image and include both primary and secondary keywords.
  • Add descriptive captions. Wildcat options are often overlooked, data shows that captions get 16% more readership than text. An image caption differs from the filename are all text because it is the text that appears below the image that briefly explains the picture. The majority of relevant images are understood without captions but it’s best to never assume that yours will be, too. You can use captions to add additional context to your images, helping both readers and search engines process the information on your page.

The most of your image backlink building efforts, use reverse image searches such as Google Images and TinEye to help you locate images that have been shared on another site without linking back to your site or images that have been shared with the wrong link.  With these tools, if you find an image that doesn’t link back to you as the source or links incorrectly, contact the publication that’s using it and request that they link back to your site as the source.


New Snippet Settings Make Controlling Listings Easier

Google has added new snippet settings that allow webmasters to control how Google search displays their listings. The settings work either through a set of robots meta tags or an HTML attribute.

New Meta Tags to Settings Snippets

“Nosnippet” –  This old option has not changed. It allows webmasters to specify that they do not want any textual snippets shown for the page.

“Max-snippet:[number]”  -This new meta tag lets webmasters specify the maximum text length in the number of characters for the snippet of a page.

“Max video preview:[number]” –  This meta tag allows webmasters to specify a maximum duration in seconds of an animated video preview.

“Max image preview:[setting]” – This is a new meta tag that allows webmaster specify a maximum size of an image preview to be shown for the images on the page. You can set it to none, standard, or large.

It is possible to combine the meta tags if you want to control both the max length of the text and the video.

Here is an example:

<meta name=”robots”  content=”max-snippet:50, max-image-preview:large”>

HTML Attributes

If you’d rather, you can use these as HTML attributes rather than meta tags. This allows you to prevent that part of an HTML page from being shown within the text snippet on the page.

Here’s an example:

<p><span data-nosnippet>Text</span> additional text….</p>

Other Search Engines

As of right now, Bing and other search engines don’t currently support these new snippet settings. Because they are so new, even to Google, it could be awhile before we see them supported in other search engines, if at all.

Google is Using These as Directives

Google says these are directives the search engine bots will follow, rather than hints that it will consider, but possibly ignore.

Can You Preview the New Snippets?

Unfortunately not. Right now, there isn’t a way to preview how the snippet settings will work in live search. The only thing to do is to implement them and wait for Google to show them. Use the URL inspection tool to speed up crawling, and once Google has crawled your site, you should be able to see the new snippet in the search results.

This will be live in mid-to late October, and will take time to fully roll out. It could take over a week before everyone gets it.

Getting Ready for the Update

Google has provided about a month’s heads up to allow webmasters to implement the changes on our sites now and then see how it impacts the listings in Google results when it goes live.

Keep in mind if you restrict Google from showing certain information, it may impact whether you show up for Featured Snippet results. It may also impact how your search results look. Features require snippets to have a certain minimum number of characters to be displayed and if you opt to show less than that minimum, it may mean your pages do not qualify for the featured snippet position.

Content in structured data is eligible to be displayed as rich results in search. These kinds of results don’t conform to the limits declared in the metal robot settings but rather can be addressed more specifically by limiting or modifying the contents in the structured data itself.  For instance, if a recipe is included in structured data, the contents of that structured data may be presented in a recipe carousel in the search results. If an event is marked up with structured data it may be presented as such within the search results. To limit that presentation, a publisher can limit the amount and type of content in the structured data.

Some of the special features on search depend on the availability of preview content so limiting your previews may prevent your content from appearing in these areas. Featured snippets require certain amount of characters to be displayed.

This number can vary by language which is why there is no exact max snippets length Google can provide to ensure appearing in this feature. If you do not want to have content appear as featured snippets, you can experiment with lower Max snippet lengths. Those who want a guaranteed way to opt-out of featured snippets should use “no snippet”

It’s worth noting that you can also use these tags to control what size your images are shown in your AMP results. Publishers who do not want Google to use larger thumbnail images for their AMP pages can you use the settings to specify the max image preview of standard or none.

While these changes will not impact your overall Google web search rankings, it may impact your listing showing up with certain rich results or your site showing up as a featured snippet. However, Google will still crawl index and rank your page has the same way it did before so it will not impact your overall ranking in Google search.

One of the larger request webmasters, site owners, and search engine optimizers have wanted was more control over what Google shows for their listings in the search results. These new settings provide more flexibility in terms of what you do and do not want to show in your search results snippet on Google.


Google Quality Raters Guidelines Updated

Google recently published new Quality Raters Guidelines. Within it you’ll find significant changes to the “Quality Raters Guidelines” section and additional new areas of focus. In this blog post, we’ll track the changes and how they may influence search engine optimization trends.

Something that’s important to notice that many people use these guidelines for tips on how Google search algorithm works but this is not the right approach.

The guidelines are there for quality raters to focus on certain signals and page properties for the purpose of judging the quality of the pages. They are not instructed to look for Quality Raters Guidelines. Google uses quality raters to see if the content the algorithm is ranking meets quality standards and that’s it.

The guidelines are written to assist third-party Quality Raters Guidelines to rate the web pages. They do not contain hints as to what the ranking signals are within the algorithm. The guidelines however do provide hints as to what kind of quality issues the algorithm may be focusing on.

So far, the quality guidelines have been incredibly accurate for predicting trends in the algorithm. For example, the increased instruction on how to rate medical and financial sites coincided with algorithms designed to improve the relevance of those kinds of websites.

The last few Google core Quality Raters Guidelines strongly affected news websites. We see a new news section was added to the quality rater guidelines and it shows how the quality rater guidelines can reflect we’re past or future algorithms are focused. Even though there may not be hints about ranking signals in the quality rater guides, it may be possible to deduce algorithm trends.

What’s Changed

Though a lot of the guidelines have changed overall, an important section to pay attention to is the guidelines that appear in section 2.3.

Section 2.3 handles your money or your life topics. This change affects Quality Raters Guidelines and government related topics. Before this update, the news topic section was grouped in with public and official information pages.

Now the news topic is its own section providing guidance about how to judge and rate news pages. This is likely in response to the fact that Google has gotten a lot of negative attention from politicians and government pundits who Quality Raters Guidelines. It may not be coincidental that the news and government/civics section has been given greater emphasis within the new guidelines.

Topics are Now Emphasized Over Pages

Though it may seem minor, Google has emphasized the topic of a page over the word page itself. The word Pages has been removed in many places throughout the new guidelines whereas the word “topic” has been added in many places.

Removing emphasis from the word “pages” refocuses the sentence on the newly added instances of the word topic. Take a look at this change at the YMYL  section.

Old Version

“Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL pages:”

New Version, with additions added:

“Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL topics:”

This change may appear minor but it has the effect of emphasizing the topicality of a page as something to focus on.

“Some types of pages or topics…”

YLML Rewritten

Section 2.3 that deals with YMYL has been rewritten almost in its entirety. In previous versions, Financial, medical, and shopping topics were in the top three of that section. Now we see the top topics are News and Current Events and Civics, Government and Law.

Those topics are followed by Finance, Shopping, Health and Safety, the new Groups and People and Other. The Other category has also been revised with this new series of update.

It’s worth noting that the Medical section has been demoted from third to fifth place but it has been renamed to Health and Safety.

New YLML Content

The changes to the YLML content are as follows:

  • News and current events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL (e.g., sports, entertainment, and everyday lifestyle topics are generally not YMYL). Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale.
  • Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.).”

These are the newly revised sections, including the new Health and Safety section:

  • “Finance: financial advice or information regarding investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases or transfer money online.
  • Shopping: information about or services related to research or purchase of goods/services, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases online.
  • Health and safety: advice or information about medical issues, drugs, hospitals, emergency preparedness, how dangerous an activity is, etc.
  • Groups of people: information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
  • Other: there are many other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives which thus may be considered YMYL, such as fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc. Please use your judgment.”

“Other” Topic Expanded

As shown above, the other section has been expanded. I specifically calling out Fitness and Nutrition, College search and job search, which are big topics in the affiliate marketing room, it’s possible they may receive additional scrutiny and emphasis in a future round of core algorithm updates.

It’s also a reasonable assumption that quality raters just hadn’t been focusing enough on these topics. The fact that Google includes them by name in the new guidelines suggests that these are areas Google is paying special attention to.

Housing information could relate to anything from real estate and home loans to home improvement. These niches are also among big money in the affiliate area. Because that topic of housing information itself is vague, it will be interesting to see if housing-related niches will be impacted in future broad core updates.

Section on Identifying Content Updated

Google added information to this section to include new guidance on news and shopping pages.

“News website homepage: the purpose is to inform users about recent or important events. (MC – News Homepage)

News article page: the purpose is to communicate information about an event or news topic. (MC – News Article)

Store product page: the purpose is to sell or give information about the product.

  • Content behind the Reviews, Shipping, and Safety Information tabs are considered to be part of the MC. (MC – Shopping Page)”

Author Information Section Updated

In section 2.5.2, they cover information about finding out who is responsible for a website and Quality Raters Guidelines. The section remains intact but has one addition:

“Websites want users to be able to distinguish between content created by themselves versus content that was added by other users.”

This change relates to news magazines as well as any sites that accept guest articles or allows Quality Raters Guidelines question-and-answer content.

This could mean that Google is reviewing guest posts and authors and it may indicate that Google is focusing on identifying low-quality sites and excluding them. Sites like Quality Raters Guidelines are full of spam links so this may be one reason why Google is considering paying closer attention to them.

Very High Quality Content Section Expanded

In section 5.1 where very high-quality main content is addressed, the section has been expanded to address the uniqueness and originality of the content. This section has a new focus on news sites but it isn’t limited to sites in that niche. The standards of high-quality also apply to all sites, but in particular YMYL sites.

The new section goes beyond the quality of the text content encouraging quality readers to judge the quality in the originality of artistic content that includes photography, images, and videos.

“A factor that often distinguishes very high quality MC is the creation of unique and original content for the specific website.

While what constitutes original content may be very different depending on the type of website, here are some examples:

  • For news: very high quality MC is original reporting that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort. Often very high quality news content will include a description of primary sources and other original reporting referenced during the content creation process. Very high quality news content must be accurate and should meet professional journalistic standards.
  • For artistic content (videos, images, photography, writing, etc.): very high quality MC is unique and original content created by highly skilled and talented artists or content creators. Such artistic content requires a high degree of skill/talent, time, and effort. If the artistic content is related to a YMYL topic (e.g., artistic content with the purpose of informing or swaying opinion about YMYL topics), YMYL standards should apply.
  • For informational content: very high quality MC is original, accurate, comprehensive, clearly communicated, professionally presented, and should reflect expert consensus as appropriate. Expectations for different types of information may vary. For example, scientific papers have a different set of standards than information about a hobby such as stamp collecting. However, all types of very high quality informational content share common attributes of accuracy, comprehensiveness, and clear communication, in addition to meeting standards appropriate to the topic or field.”

Very Positive Reputation Section Expanded

Section 5.2.3 referencing very positive reputation also got an update. The new content reads:

For YMYL topics especially, careful checks for reputation are required. YMYL reputation should be based on evidence from experts, professional societies, awards, etc. For shopping pages, experts could include people who have used the store’s website to make purchases; whereas for medical advice pages, experts should be people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. Please review section 2.3 for a summary of types of YMYL pages/topics.”

We know that website reputation has been a part of the quality raters guidelines for a long time. This doesn’t mean you should go out and then join as many associations as possible and seek testimonials from your customers. But if you are creating YMYL content it should be expert and focus on quality.

Big Changes: Are More on the Horizon?

With this Google quality raters is guideline update, we see a number of significant changes. It’ll be interesting to see how  sites are affected by it’s your garage for updates. If you want to read more of the guidelines and see the changes for yourself, you can download the Quality Raters Guidelines here.


Rank and Rent Lead Generation

Rank and rent refers to a digital marketing strategy that involves building a site and nurturing it until it becomes visible to the search engines. When it achieves a high local rank, you then rent it out to a business who is interested in acquiring new leads. You collect profits from all the business leads the website generates.

This approach is something that local SEO veterans are running to because it is simple and easy to scale while being incredibly lucrative.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the practice of ranking a web page for a search phrase and then selling leads from that page. Companies such as HomeAdvisor and Yelp are examples of lead generation businesses.

HomeAdvisor and Yelp rank web pages for local search related keywords. Their business model depends on ranking for search phrases and then selling them leads from the Google local search traffic or paid advertising.

Rank and Rent Business Model

The rank and rent business model is a variation of this approach. Rank and rent rents the entire website along with all of the keywords that it ranks for to a single business.

This is an alternative to taking an existing site-built and working to get it rank within the search engine. The new websites are built, are tailored to a niche rather than a specific business. It’s still necessary to perform all the tasks that go into helping that website rank with the search engines. He must create content, do on page optimization, build a backlink profile, and so on.

For instance, someone in St. Petersburg, Florida could build a website for pool cleaning in the area with a domain like Keeping the domain name generic not only helps make it easier to rank for those local search keyword phrases but allows you to rent it to any pool cleaning business that services the St. Petersburg area.

The hard part is understanding how to setup call forwarding and call tracking to properly send the leads to the business. You aren’t a pool cleaner or a plumber and the people are calling you for those services, so you need to send them directly to the person who can help.

Rank and rent websites are easy to recognize because the site is incredibly generic with the information it provides. It can also be difficult in some industries where licenses are required. Generally, once the SEO has found the business to take the leads, they include their license number and information on the website.

This variation on the standard lead generation model is good for the business because the business can benefit from the rank and rent website as well as rankings from their own website. This variation is ideal for the SEO expert  because in the event that a business stops paying for the leads or decides they no longer want them, they can take the website and rent it to another business in the area. Oftentimes, local business owners don’t want those leads going to the competition so they jump on the opportunity to continue paying for leads from the property.

An alternative to this style of the rank and rent method is for the marketer to sell the warm leads to local businesses rather than renting out the entire website.

Businesses get the benefit of a pre-built website that’s already ranking and bringing in leads while the marketer gets money from the websites rental. Service companies  love the arrangement because it is a risk-free way to get into an SEO property.

For the marketer, rank and rent provides the promise of steady money without having to deal with day to day client work. The SEO marketer gets to create and optimize the website based on their own ideas of best practices instead of having to work within a client’s request and still gets income. While you are in the process of ranking the website, you have complete and total freedom to make decisions without having to report to a client every day. This can also be a good way for them to demonstrate skills to prospective clients when they are just getting started in the industry.

On the other side of things, the business renting the website or buying the leads has all of the benefits of the established website without having to wait for the results. Investing in a good SEO professional can be expensive which makes the cost of renting an already optimized website attractive.

Local Search Keyword Ranking

HomeAdvisor and  Yelp use their own sites to rank for search queries to sell ads and leads. An expose was recently published revealing the GrubHub buys domain names that match business names to sell leads from the unofficial website. The screenshot below shows that Google is ranking GrubHub for the name of the Mushers Deli Restaurant and the website, also owned by GrubHub is ranking below it.

The expose reported that ranking a business name is a way to attract users to the  GrubHub own site and when they click a button to place the order GrubHub gets a referral fee. Big brands like GrubHub rank domains other than its own in Google to generate leads. Though GrubHub is not practicing Rank and rent, it is ranking websites other than its own for lead generation purposes.

The rank and rent variation of this tactic involves ranking a website for the purpose of generating leads. The difference is that with the rank and rent model the search marketer isn’t selling the weeds but renting the website itself.

Is it Easy to Exploit Local Search Ranking?

In early 2019, website created almost entirely with Latin language filler content was able to ranked number one in the Google local search. Nearly all of the content was written in an extinct language and it’s still managed to rank at the top of local search.

The site ranked for months. Google didn’t remove the Latin language site until an article was published about it. The fact that his sight written almost entirely in an extinct language can rank in me Google local search exposes a weak spot in the local search algorithms.

The concept of rank and rent is not new. Domain brokers have been renting their domains for over 15 years now. The practice of ranking in renting domains for lucrative keywords has been around even longer as I’m aware of many people who rented or sold domains that ranked.


All About Backlink Hotspots

Learning about backlink hotspots can help you expand on your content strategy to support content. It’s something that’s existed for a while, but we don’t hear many people talking about.

What is a Link Hotspot?

Link hotspots are pages on a site that gets links in larger volumes and consistent rates than others. For most websites, this is the homepage, but in some cases, it can also be a resource page. On the majority of websites, the difference between the home page and the next largest page on their website isn’t typically proportionate.

The good thing is that most successful websites have more than one hotspot.

Comparing Hotspots and Assets

Assets are linkable, and not all linkable assets are considered hotspots. However, all hotspots are linkable assets.

For instance, an infographic is likely to earn you some links when you promote it – and from time to time it will gain links without promotion after the fact. A hotspot on the other hand will continue to gain links until it becomes a link hotspot on your website.

Use a search tool like Ahrefs or Serpstat to see which pages on your site have the most links, and you’ll see where you have potential hotspots building.

How Hotspots are Formed

Ahrefs published a study about the number of new backlinks top ranking pages get over time. What the study tells us is that pages that rank well will continue to get links, and this is something that needs to be considered as we discuss building our own and how they benefit us.

Some link hotspots will form simply because they rank well. If how long they rank well has a direct affect on the number of links they acquire, it’s important to factor that in. This can be a good and bad thing when trying to build your own link hotspots because not all ranking pages are hotspots, and not all hotspots will rank. Not all link hotspots are organic, and not all of them are supporting content. That’s why it’s best to build one that can also rank.

Supporting content can rank so that won’t disqualify a page from being supporting. There are some people out there who say that supporting content can even have commercial intent. Though in general, it seems informational content seems to provide the best link spots.

Though they don’t always rank, they do gain links with extreme easy when it comes to doing certain types of outreach. Because of this, they are more likely to rank and as such are more likely to do well when you continue to build backlinks to the hotspot.

Building Your Own Hotspot

It’s easier than you may think to build your own hotspot. The key is to provide value and accuracy because people want to make sure they are linking to quality content that supports what they are talking about. They want to provide their audience with a good source to go for more information. Your content must be comprehensive, and friendly for the user experience.

Common Types of Hotspots and Examples

Some of the most widely used hotspots are:

  • Fact pages/resource pages
  • Calculators: Use a tool like Calconic to create your own free calculator from a number of templates, such as: car loan, price calculators, expense calculators, BMI calculators, commission calculators, and more.
  • Deals/Coupons pages

If you want to build one on your own site, the simplest way to do this is to conduct some research – but instead of keyword research, focus your efforts on topic research with a tool like Ubersuggest. There you can search in the Content Ideas section, and use the results to come up with ideas for hotspots.

After you’ve created the hotspot, it’s time to promote it. Share it on social media. Use influencers to push the message further on social. Run an outreach campaign at some point, and try guest blogging.

If you see that your outreach efforts fall fault and you cannot get any social virality to the content, then it’s safe to say it’s not a link hotspot.

How Hotspots Help Your SEO Efforts

Each new link to your site will add more trust and authority to your site. But beyond that, you’re getting a new entry point for link juice. Even more importantly, designing and using link hotspots as supporting pages on your site ensures that the most link juice will go to contextual links.

Hotspots work two-fold because when you build links to these pages, it’s because you’re using them as supporting content for the rest of your site. Then, it’s typical to link out to at least five other key pages on the site, and the relevance, combined with the power of these pages helps rank the more commercial pages on my site. This is all done without risking using exact match anchor text from external domains, which is a huge risk.

The great thing about this approach is that there are a number of ways you can implement it, and you’re ultimately already familiar with the strategy. By focusing the supporting content that naturally forms on your websites – you’re on your way. Websites are nothing more than information ecosystems anyway.

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