Local SEO is an art all of its own. For businesses with a bricks-and-mortar presence it’s the key to competing in this digitally disrupted world. Reaching your customers online, means they’re more likely to reach you offline, and luckily, there are a few techniques you can master to help you on the way. Local SEO is all about playing to a specific audience in the vicinity of your business. So, you’ve got your site optimised for location searches, you’ve set-up your Google My Business listing, and you’re working your local outreach campaign like there’s no tomorrow. What else should you be doing? Let’s dig into the world of Google Maps Optimization, shall we?

Are you optimising on Google Maps? If you’re not, you should be. 67% of smartphone users use Google Maps, which is a massive proportion, and far more than the second choice, Waze, which has just 12% of users. With such a huge audience, you’d be mad not to jump on the opportunity to optimize your presence on Google Maps.

What is Google Maps Optimization?

If you’re familiar with SEO, you can probably work out what Google Maps Optimization is. You’re still taking advantage of a specific kind of visibility, and pushing your business to your customers, where they are searching, but this time you’re making the most of this puppy:

Google Maps Optimization las vegas restaurants

With Google Maps Optimzation, we’re not just optimising for the SERPs, we’re aiming for the top listings on the Google Map results. Because, let’s face it, when you’ve got a hankering for southwestern food, you’re not messing around – you’re going to go straight to your map so you can get there ASAP.

Some users will be opting for the ‘near me’ auto-complete Google suggestion, while others will be choosing the ‘Maps’ tab of results. Whether you’re in the vicinity of your potential customers or not, the results that they will be shown are ranked based on your Google My Business listing.

It’s the most important thing for Google Maps Optimization, so let’s get your Google My Business listing right.

Google My Business

If you’ve even scratched the surface of Local SEO, you’ll know how vital your Google My Business (GMB) listing is. Google gives every business a chance to claim their Google My Business listing, which automatically enables your company to appear on Google Maps.

Mesa Grill Google My Business

This is where you share valuable information with potential customers – the essentials, like your contact details, business descriptions, and hours of operation. It’s also a great place to showcase customer reviews of your services.

Once you’ve covered the basics, you can also implement Google Posts. Think of these like a kind of social media post and share offers or events that your customers want to know about. Pro tip: Make sure you get the image size and positioning right, because the dev guidelines aren’t quite right (where have we heard that before?). Test your Google Posts before you publish them.

So, how do you optimise your Google listing? Start with the simple stuff: fill out all of the fields in your listing profile. I know, I know, that’s obvious, but people forget the obvious things when they are trying to get clever. The more information you can provide, the better. By the same token, optimise your images and any media associated with your listing through your keywords, and make sure you categorise your business using Google My Business tags.

As with anything in the world of SEO and digital marketing, Google is constantly updating the capabilities of GMB listings. Not only that, anyone can use the “Suggest an edit” button to not just suggest a change, but actually make it then and there, and you would never know. So make sure to monitor your listing carefully and add details as they become available.

Once you’ve got that in the bag, it’s onto the fun stuff. Google My Business listings have a lot to do with review portals and customer feedback. To really optimize your listing, you’ve got to integrate a review strategy that stays on top of citations.

Take their word for it

Real customer reviews are a big part of your GMB listing and the summary shown in Google Maps Results, so when it comes to Google Maps Optimization, you’ve got to nab those reviews. Think about it, if you see a listing with a ton of reviews that score well, you’re going to be much more likely to trust that business, right? The key is to gather a host of local citations on review platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, even Facebook and Google itself.

You’ve got to invest time in this. Put in as much effort fleshing out profiles on these review directories as you did with your Google listing – it will pay off. By making sure that all contact information and details are consistent across platforms, you’re going to look more professional and reliable. Plus, being more present on review platforms gives the impression that you care about your customers’ experiences. Which, of course, you do.

Speaking of being present, you can’t just put up your profile and then harvest the reviews. You’ve got to engage with your customers. Not only is this good business practice, it’s also an opportunity to amp up you SEO game. How? By responding to reviews and incorporating your keywords in the responses.

Here is an example. Let’s say Mesa Grill get a glowing review from a happy diner. Here’s something they could respond with:

“We are so glad you such a great meal with us at Mesa Grill. We pride ourselves on our authentic southwestern cuisine, so we’re thrilled that you enjoyed the food. It was delightful to serve you and we hope you return soon!”

Note the searchable keyword “authentic southwestern cuisine”? You’re being given these keyword opportunities by the people who have already spent money with you – don’t waste them!

Don’t forget the basics of Local SEO

It’s all well and good focusing a ton of effort on your Google My Business listing and pouncing on every review you find, but it will be worth exactly nada if you forget the basics. Powerful on-page local SEO is critical.

All of your content and your key pages have got to be optimised for Service in Location searches. If you aren’t optimizing for the location your business is based in, what the hell are you doing? You’ve also got to build those links, get your citations in order and make sure your general on-page SEO is top notch too. No excuses!

It also seems that Google are now including images in the local pack. If you don’t know what I mean by that, it’s the boxed off map with three local results that shows under the ads and before the organic results in your SERPs. Images are now starting to appear next to the contact details, so make sure you’ve got high quality images, relevant to your business, with excellent meta data, uploaded on your site.

TL;DR? Google Maps Optimization in brief

Google Maps Optimization essentially comes down to 3 simple steps:

  1. Make the most of your Google My Business listing
  2. Monitor reviews, gather them in and respond to as many as you can
  3. Keep your Local SEO basics ticking over too – there’s no excuse to forget them!

There you have it, Google Maps Optimization really is as simple as 1,2,3!

If that’s got your motor running, then you’re going to love Greg Gifford’s Local SEO masterclass. There are still a few tickets left, bag yours before they’re gone!

With just a month to go to UnGagged 2018, it’s time to start planning your trip to Vegas. Organising most trips starts with the budget. We all want to get a good deal, and the trick is to spend your money wisely. Sure, you could find bargain basement deals for cheap hotels, but that’s actually a false economy and could end up costing you more in the long run.

Let’s look at the costs

We’ve managed to get a special deal with Caesars Palace Las Vegas – the conference venue – where attendees can book nights for $129 on November 4th, 5th and 6th.

Rooms at Caesar’s normally cost anything between $200 and $400 per night, so you’re making a huge saving. Plus, let’s not forget that this deal is for Caesars Palace, arguably the most famous hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas.

Caesars Palace is all about luxury, with an amazing environment that makes everyone feel like a star the moment they walk into that shining marble lobby.

Did Caesar Live Here?

Whenever people tell a story about Las Vegas, they use Caesars Palace as a setting. Ocean’s 11, Iron Man, The Hangover – I could go on – they all use Caesar’s as a location. Caesars Palace embodies the luxury, decadence and risk-taking lifestyle that makes Vegas what it is.

Sure, you can book hotels way at the end of the Vegas strip and save yourself $50-$60 per night. But why would you? You’re making the trip, why not get the conference hotel to match and experience the best of what Vegas has to offer.

Not only that, by saving a few bucks, you could be missing out on huge opportunities. And actually, that well-intentioned thriftiness could end up costing you more money.

Stay where the action is

UnGagged provides sessions on the most relevant and topical subjects for you. But our speakers live at the cutting edge of the industry and you can learn so much more from them than is possible in an hour’s conference session. Imagine being at the heart of the action, staying at the same place as the speakers and other attendees. You would be able to take full advantage of the networking opportunities we offer.

No paying extra for extortionate taxis from your budget hotel, or worrying about saving enough cash to make sure you get back at the end of the evening. If you’re staying at Caesars Palace, you can stick around as groups splinter off over drinks, and as the conversations really start to kick off. If you grab a room somewhere cheaper, you’ll have to leave early to get back to the boondocks, suffering from FOMO while the conversation continues without you.

Where would you rather be? Get yourself a room at Caesars, and you can sit back, relax, absorb the information, enjoy the company and know that all you have to do is stumble upstairs at the end of the night. You’ll be (relatively) refreshed the following morning, without worrying about a 30 minute commute to the conference.

At UnGagged, there’s no knowing who you could meet. Maybe a potential customer who gets the value of your service. Possibly a speaker in your arena – someone who’s happy to tell you their experiences and mistakes to keep you on the right track. Maybe a great contact who can introduce you to someone else. The possibilities are endless, but why rely on chance alone? Why not enjoy yourself and have great stories to tell by staying in the legendary Caesars Palace? And maybe, just maybe, you could win big. You could make the most important business connection of your life.

If you’re not there, it can’t happen. For the trip of a lifetime and to improve your odds, stay at Caesars Palace . Don’t take a chance on missing out when it’s Vegas, baby.



Google penalties strike fear into the heart of every digital marketer. We’re used to our stats and usage fluctuating, that’s part of what makes SEO so interesting. However, when your traffic suddenly plummets and your SERPs crash out, it could be a sign that Google is penalising you for something. So what ‘kind’ of SEO strategies could get you penalized? That’s the big money question.

There are two different types of Google penalties – algorithmic and manual.

The algorithmic penalties are automatically issued when your site is in breach of Google’s ToS, whereas manual penalties require an actual human to assess the situation and decide if, and what, punishments should be dealt out. You can see manual penalties in your Google Search Console and they are usually for tactics that fall under the more black hat end of SEO.

We’re not going to get into the minutiae of black hat versus white hat SEO, that’s a discussion for another time. Instead, let’s look at the mistakes SEOs might not even realise they are making. It doesn’t matter what hat you wear, these approaches could get you in hot water, so let’s delve into how best to handle them and keep your website penalty free.


If you’re cloaking content, whether that be through images or actual pages, you’ve got to be really careful. When you don’t show your users what you say you will, Google gets pretty peeved. They will penalize you if they catch you doing this. Yeah, it could be a way of getting your keywords in there, and it might hide your ads with a sleeker design, but it’s risky. So clean up your htaccess file, check out all the plugins you are using and if you are going to play this game, be really savvy about it. If you’ve got the option, you might want to consider trying your methods on websites that aren’t as valuable, before you use them on your money site. Test things out, and do your research!


How’s your markup? It sounds like a bad chat-up line, but it’s something you should definitely be asking yourself. In digital marketing, there are two higher powers to appease: the users and Google. Your users probably don’t care about your markup because they can’t see it, but Google will penalise you for things like rich snippet spam. You’ve got to be clever if you’re going to game the rich snippet – those penalties are real and they’re painful.


The game with backlinks is to make Google believe that they are natural. There are various ways to do this, and some are better than others.

Some SEOs choose to create PBNs. By creating a network of sites that are interlinked both literally and thematically, you are building up your authority. But a decent PBN can take almost as much effort as traditional outreach, and it can be risky. You would be surprised how often people leave glaringly obvious footprints throughout their PBNs. Some people even use the same domain registrar or web host for all of their sites – crazy, right? You need to be canny with your PBNs, if you’re going to make the links look natural.

If you haven’t already, you should consider investing in tools that can assess your links. You want something like Moz, Ahrefs, or Majestic, that can help you pay close attention to the DA, trust flow and citation flow of every link on your site. This will enable you to keep your house in order, and it will mean you’re less likely to wind up penalized.

No matter what tactic you go for, it’s all about making your backlinks look as natural as possible. Gradually build your link landscape, including links from images and subdomains, and keep them all as relevant as possible. Oh, and don’t butcher your anchor text for a cheap shot at your keyword, guys, that’s lame.

Remember the basics

You would be surprised how many people still fall foul of low quality content and keyword stuffing. In case you need a reminder, Panda (the update that addressed this) was way back in 2011, which is aeons in digital marketing terms. Since then, keyword discussions have morphed and evolved and now the focus is on natural language. So you might be surprised to hear that there are still some folks out there producing thin content and cramming in keywords where they don’t belong.

Don’t make the same mistakes as them. While you’re trying to up your game and keep your SEO on point, remember to make sure you populate your website with decent quality, natural content, or it will all be for naught.

Something else to consider: HTTP vs HTTPS

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you will know that the shift from HTTP to HTTPS was given a deadline this summer. This change doesn’t mean that having a non-HTTPS site will get you penalized by Google, but it does mean that Chrome will display a security warning on all HTTP websites. Although Google isn’t specifically blacklisting or penalizing these websites, by showing Chrome users this warning, they are bound to be deterred, and that’s going to have an impact on your traffic. Don’t think you can dismiss this because it only relates to one browser, either; as of this summer, Chrome had 80% market share of browser usage.

With the changeover this summer, HTTPS has become part of SEO best practice. It’s the same as having good, readable HTML5 code, and ensuring your site is optimised for mobile. Google loves all of this stuff, and HTTPS is just the latest to join the ranks. If your site is still on HTTP, you won’t get penalized but you’ll lose traffic and you’ll be ranked lower. Nobody wants that.

TL;DR – how do you avoid getting penalized?

Staying in Google’s good books comes down to keeping your website clean and tidy, and toeing the line of SEO best practice.

  • be savvy with your markup and cloaking
  • keep your backlinks as natural as possible
  • only publish decent, original content on your site
  • optimise your keywords wisely
  • get your site migrated to HTTPS

While you’re at it, keep your site secure – make sure you have a robust firewall, choose secure passwords, and regularly update your platform and any themes or plugins.

It’s also a good idea to read through Google’s dev guides so that you’re up to date on algorithm changes. Or, you know, if you have trouble getting off to sleep at night.

We changed the world last week and no-one noticed.

Disclaimer: while this article touches on political topics, I’m not going to bring any personal viewpoints into it and I won’t be discussing the merits of ideological arguments – this is purely about SEO.

With all the confusion surrounding American politics, it’s easy to overlook important details. Let’s face it, in amongst the new legislation, staff turn-over and twitter commentary, it’s almost impossible to keep up with everything. But something significant happened in the last couple of weeks that will change the SEO landscape for everyone.

The president of the United States, arguably the most important man in the western world, posted this on twitter:

Instead of just ranking news articles, SEO became a major story, in and of itself. Although the mainstream media isn’t yet using the language we take for granted, they’re suddenly talking about us and about what we do. More significantly, they’re starting to realise how critical SEO has become. It’s a short jump to realise that news articles, opinion pieces and discussion points are worthless if nobody sees them. SEO has gone from the dedicated but unseen lighting technician, to the brand new star in the spotlight.

It seems that everyone is finally catching onto the idea that, as a discipline, SEO has a huge amount of power. People talk about what they see. If something isn’t visible, it’s not part of the debate. That visibility, or lack thereof, is a weapon that devastates the political landscape when it’s deployed effectively.

But watching the news coverage of the issue was… painful. For example, here’s CNN covering the story while trying to explain to their viewers how news and information is ranked on a search engine.

They’re discussing how most of the information in the world is propagated. It’s incredibly important. But the video above is fairly typical of the coverage on the subject so far. It’s basic and overly simplified.

Even intelligent mainstream coverage of the President’s tweets doesn’t really feel like it’s showcasing informed, intelligent people discussing technical concepts. It’s more like hearing your Grandparents explain to you how they got an email from a very nice man who told them their PC is broken and offered to fix it remotely for a reasonable price.

The President of the United States has now entered the debate and, with a broader and less technical audience asking questions, complex concepts are being dumbed down. This 72 year old grandfather is trying to wrap his head around concepts that determine how much authority a site has and how that’s determined by seemingly arbitrary measurements like backlinks from other authoritative sites, frequency and amount of content, etc, etc.

This is part of a much wider debate. Regardless of your politics, think about what this means. The president of the United States – someone who deals with military and financial issues on a global scale – is going to have one of his advisors sit down and explain to him how things like backlinks, unique content, domain authority and so on, help a site rank.

Think of that conversation and how that might go. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

SEO is about to blow up and go mainstream – are you ready?

We control what people see. In the US, 83% of adults are online, of those, 89% go online daily and 31% are online almost constantly. Plus, two thirds of US adults get their news from social media. So we, as SEOs and digital marketers, are in the driving seat when it comes to the information that people consume on a daily basis. But for the first time ever, not only do we help shape the news and information that people see, we’re also making the news.

This year, the news has featured Google, Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg speaking before Congress, Russian involvement in the US election – huge topics, but ones that people not involved on a day-to-day basis don’t truly understand.

For example, ask a non-tech outside the SEO industry, how the Russians got involved in the US election. Go on, give it a go now – I’ll wait.

Chances are they just said something like “didn’t they hack emails or something”, or “I think they hacked Facebook and got a load of people’s details to sell to”, right?

Most people aren’t aware that what’s happening now is SEO in some of its various forms. No hacking, just a mix of black and white hat SEO. But now, thanks to Trump and his recent tweets, it’s becoming part of the conversation.

Right now, SEO is a hidden science. But very soon, as people start learning the words and the attributes that help you get ranked, it’s going to be a big deal. Bet you never thought the US President would be an instrumental part of that happening?

It’s got to the point where the mainstream media is turning to our guys for more information. Here’s a CBS video where they’ve approached past UnGagged speaker, Bill Hertzer, for a brief overview of what it’s about:

This clip is a prime example of how things are changing. The wider world might have limited understanding right now, but awareness is growing and people are becoming more and more interested.

What does that mean for the SEO industry?

It doesn’t matter if you’re black hat or white hat. Gaming the system is what we’ve always done. Regardless of what colour hat we wear, we’re all working towards the same goal, we’re just using different methods. That’s always been the case, but now, everyone else is starting to pay attention. Which means that scrutiny over what you do is going to grow. We should take the opportunity to show everyone that what we do is in response to an algorithm. It’s not about attacking people, it’s about fighting for visibility.

The White House is now looking at investigating the tech giants – Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon have all found themselves in the cross-hairs. So it seems that this was not an isolated incident, and the furore isn’t going to die down anytime soon.

Black hat, white hat, or somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter; you have the power and the responsibility to control what people see. Now that everyone else is starting to understand that, it’s more important than ever that we use that power wisely.

Today’s savvy marketer understands that social media is a crucial part of any digital strategy. These platforms can reinforce brand awareness and facilitate engagement with key demographics in ways we could only imagine a decade earlier. But the social media world is a complex ecosystem where everyone is vying for a few seconds of user attention; just throwing money at your social posts won’t always cut through the noise.

Before you start allocating more resources at audience building or influencer targeting, there’s a lot of social optimization you can do you to push engagement. Here are five simple things to consider when building a social media strategy.

The power of recommendations

There is nothing more powerful than word of mouth. Think about it – if you need a mechanic to look at your car, you ask friends and family for recommendations, right? Social Media has the power to not only fuel those recommendations, but it can potentially create actual brand advocates from your client base.

Research from Hootsuite suggests that more than 50% of social media users turn to these channels for customer service, and since consumers who experience positive customer care are more likely to recommend a brand, this interaction needs to be on point. Beyond that, look for ways of adding some value-adds to your interaction that’ll have users boasting about you.

Use that engagement to tailor easily sharable content and foster bragging rights, if you give your followers the tools to show off a ‘win’, that brand loyalty becomes much more palpable.

Post at the right times

It’s not just about “what” to post, but “when” to post it – If you want to reach the biggest potential audience, you need to factor in optimal posting times. Here’s a hint, it may not be 9 to 5 during week days.

Raise your hand if you start and finish the day with a scroll through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? The stats prove it, too: 60% of Instagram users visit the platform every day and 38% say they use it more than once a day. Luckily you don’t need to spam your audience at all hours. Use your available reporting/listening tools to determine the times of day that people are much more engaged (is it commutes, mid-afternoon slumps, or late night retail therapy?) and catalog the times that seem to encourage different types of activity (likes vs views vs shares etc).

A solid social media marketing strategy is about much more than just posting regularly, it’s about engaging with your audience at times when it’s likely to generate the best results. Check out your stats!

Video is killing it

We already know that visual content sells. But rather than just adding an image to your social content, you should be working some eye-catching video into your social media marketing communications.

There are over 8 billion video views every day on Facebook alone, and while quality video content can be expensive and time consuming to produce, throwing your own video content on Social doesn’t have to cost a fortune with the help of tools like Vimeo. You can create a decent Instagram Story in a matter of minutes with nothing more than a GIF or a boomerang. Even if budget isn’t an issue, regularly updating your Stories will keep your followers hooked in between the meatier videos.

So if you are in a position to spend a little more energy on your video content to grab that extra attention (and keep users from scrolling past), you’ll reach a bigger proportion of your audience.

Get Savvy about the right platforms

More and more businesses are focusing on LinkedIn, and with good reason. There’s a dedicated audience of over 500 million professionals looking to network and share their work successes. It’s like Facebook for the career-minded, right? Well while 40% of LinkedIn users visit the site daily, in 2017 the average user only spent 17 minutes on the platform every month. I don’t have to tell you that is remarkably low! And while your target audience might be lurking there, are they likely to engage with you in ways that justify the marketing resources? Would finding a similar audience on Twitter be more conducive to pulling them into a purchase funnel?

When planning your social strategy, it’s important to focus on those channels most appropriate for your business. Get to know the platforms and their demographics. Just dumping time and money on Social Media Marketing that doesn’t convert won’t help your bottom line. Take the time to test the audience, and refine your message. What works on Twitter or Facebook won’t necessarily convert as well on LinkedIn if you don’t adapt your strategy.

Don’t dismiss Pinterest

Finally, let’s throw a little love at Pinterest. When it comes to conversion, Pinterest might be a useful weapon to keep in your arsenal. Before you scoff and question how an online mood board can help you make sales, here’s a stat for you: more than 90% of Pinners use the platform to plan purchases. That’s right, and 93% of 200 million monthly users is not an insignificant number.

Not only that, the platform reaches audiences during every stage of their buyer’s journey. From awareness to consideration, through to decision making, Pinterest allows people to find products and buy them. So if your business ties into any of Pinterest’s most popular topics, you might want to up your game and get it into your strategy.

There’s no foolproof or one-size-fits-all approach for creating airtight social media marketing strategies, but if you factor in these points, you’ll definitely be onto a winner.

For more actionable SMM advice, you’re going to want to be at UnGagged Las Vegas, this November.

Buy tickets for the conference and get yourself a seat at the table for our Facebook Blitz Masterclass!


Despite the abundance of SEO myths and mysteries, we all know the aim of the game – we want our sites and pages to rank in the top SERPs for our niches and keywords. And yes, we are all gaming the system. Whether you consider yourself white hat, black hat or you think hats just don’t really suit you, we’re all playing the game. We’re constantly tweaking, adjusting and updating our sites to rank higher, and no matter which way you slice it, that’s a manipulation of the system.

Technically, all attempts at SEO are black hat. The Google Webmaster guidelines say: “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.” But that’s exactly what SEO is.

So now that we’ve muddied things up and got you nice and confused about your SEO moral compass, let’s just go for it, hell for leather and dig into the top 10 things we’ve always believed and been told about SEO, that might not actually be true…

Ready to debunk some SEO myths and solve some mysteries? Let’s go.

Quick disclaimer: most of these myths seem to relate directly to Google, but they’re still handy for other search engines too.

SEO Myth 1: We know exactly what search engine ranking factors are

Wouldn’t this be nice? We’d love to know every single ranking factor, precisely and perfectly – it would make our jobs so much easier. But life isn’t that simple. So no matter what you think, you definitely do not know them all.

Sure, SEO software companies are always claiming that correlation studies have told us exactly how the algorithm works. But actually, we’re making assumptions and coming to conclusions from the tests that we do and we can’t test everything. Of course, testing our approaches is really important and it’s the only way we can be successful, but we should never follow the results of these tests blindly, or we’ll find ourselves in a mess sooner rather than later.

Remember that you don’t know everything. Engage critically with the results of every test you do. Don’t get lazy or sloppy.

SEO Myth 2: Links are the most important ranking factor

Following on from this very neatly (if I do say so myself) is the idea that the ranking factors can be prioritised or weighted, making any one more important than the others. This would be super useful too. If there were a set few ranking factors that would make much more of a difference than anything else, then we would all have prescribed ways to absolutely smash our SEO.

Yet again, not so simple.

All ranking factors have their part to play. Links are important, but so is content and structure and technical elements. Unfortunately, you’ve got to give every factor some love to give yourself the best chances. No slacking!

SEO Myth 3: Guest blogging is against Google’s ToS

You could be forgiven for believing this, if for no other reason than Google’s ToS are convoluted and confusing and sometimes plain stupid. Plus, Google’s employees don’t seem to be able to agree on this, with Matt Cutts and John Mueller tying themselves in all kinds of twitter knots on the subject.

But, if you think guest blogging is entirely a no-no, you would be mythtaken. (I couldn’t help myself).

The cut and thrust of it is that guest blogging has a lot of benefits. We all know about the authority and links and exposure that guest blogging can provide. So, as with most things in SEO, do it for quality rather than quantity (or at least cover your tracks) and you shouldn’t be penalised.

SEO Myth 4: There’s no point putting noindex directives in robots.txt file

You might believe that Google ignores noindex directives in your robots.txt file, and that you need to use meta noindex tags on the specific page if you don’t want it to rank. Well, that’s probably because Google’s John Mueller told us all not to rely on robots.txt.

However, testing has shown that using robots.txt does work. What’s more, robots.txt is cleaner than having multiple confusing directives and you can use it to noindex groups of URLs all at once, rather than having to do them all individually. So that’s handy.

SEO Myth 5: JS-injected canonical tags don’t work

Ok, so injecting canonical tags isn’t the most efficient approach, because it can take a while for JS-injected target URLs to be picked up by the search engine, but tests have shown that they do work eventually.

Yet again, it pays to look at the supposed rules more closely, pull them apart and test the crap out of them.
Myth number 6: You can use robots.txt crawl delay directive effectively

This used to be true, but times have changed. Now that modern servers are capable of handling huge amounts of traffic, this directive has become outdated, so Google will ignore it. There are other ways of adjusting the rate that Google crawls your site, so play around with the site settings in Google Console.

Having said all of that, Bing still pays attention to the delay directive, so, go figure.

SEO Myth 7: You can manipulate crawls with sitemap priority and frequency

Yet again, wouldn’t this be great? We would love for search engines to crawl our most important pages more than any other pages on our site – it would make so much sense and would be such a great way of targeting all our SEO efforts and making them all worth it.

Keep dreaming.

Apparently, Google ignore sitemap priority and have their own logic that decides how frequently a page is crawled. Of course they do.

SEO Myth 8: It’s a bad idea to put hreflang attributes in anchor links

So, according to Google, they don’t particularly care if we put hreflang attributes in our anchor text. But, testing has shown that some hreflang attributes are picked up if they’re put in anchor text. Emphasis on the word some here.

Basically, it’s not an entirely bad idea, but it’s also not a golden ticket to success. Play around with it, see if works for you. Are you noticing a pattern yet?

SEO Myth 9: Cookies are a super important factor in crawls

I’m going to keep this short and sweet: Google only cares about cookies if your content won’t work without them, otherwise it’s just white noise.


SEO Myth 10: Googlebot crawls HTTP/2

It doesn’t yet. Currently, Google bot still only crawls HTTP/1.1. So that’s worth bearing in mind.


Basically, Google like to lead us on a merry dance, telling us contradictory stuff and then back pedaling as fast as they can. We should take it all with a pinch of salt because at the end of the day, the best option we have is to continuing our rigorous testing and critical engagement with data and results.

But hey, it wouldn’t be fun if it was easy!

Want more insights like this? Of course you do, get yourself to UnGagged in Las Vegas this November. Buy your tickets now!

Work can be an uphill struggle. Justifying expenses, maintaining software subscriptions, keeping your food safe in the communal fridge – you don’t get anything in this world without fighting for it. So we understand that it’s hard to convince your boss to spend money on conference tickets, flights and hotels. The trick is getting them to see how it’ll benefit them, then you’re golden – so why not let us do that for you?

You can thank us later, preferably over a beer, in Caesar’s, some time between the 4th and 7th of November.

There’s always something new to learn in digital marketing

No matter what people may try to tell you, SEO and digital marketing are not dead. Technology is always evolving and changing, so of course approaches and techniques will be adapting too – that’s part of why we love it, right? UnGagged is where you can hear the newest ideas from people who are pushing the boundaries of digital marketing every day.

Sure, you could go to a cheap or free conference, with thousands of other attendees, and hear the same old stuff again and again. Or, you can be among only a few hundred attendees and get the gold that speakers don’t want to share with every person in the industry. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

UnGagged has an excellent ROI

Speaking of paying for things, let’s talk ROI. Bosses love three-letter acronyms, and ROI might just be their favourite. When you convince your boss to send you to UnGagged, they will be spending money on your ticket and paying for your transport and accommodation (unless you live in Caesar’s Palace, in which case, kudos – what’s your secret?) and they have to consider the fact that you’re going to be out of the office for a few days, too. So what is the return on their financial and time investments?

Actionable advice. UnGagged is the only conference where you will get ideas you can actually put into practice and make real money from. In comparison to the initial outlays required for marketing campaigns and projects, the cost of attending UnGagged is small. And yet you’re going to be presented with a whole load of profitable ideas you can take straight back to the office and start implementing. That’s going to make you popular with your boss.

Networking with UnGagged speakers and attendees

The concept of “networking” has a bit of a reputation – it sounds like such a cliché and people think it’s awkward as hell, but it’s actually a valuable thing to do and it doesn’t have to be painful.

One of the great things about UnGagged is the access you have to the speakers. At the huge conferences, speakers have a tendency to disappear as soon as their slot is over. And if they don’t, you’ve got to fight hundreds of people to get anywhere near them. That just isn’t the case at UnGagged. Our speakers hang around for coffee, lunch, drinks and dinner, and they are all delighted to answer questions, share slides and generally chat about stuff. There’s no video recording at UnGagged, so if you want someone’s deck, dive in and ask – it’s the perfect conversation opener and you never know who you might befriend.

On the flip-side, there’s always room to market your business’ service or product to the attendees. Networking isn’t just an opportunity to connect with people who can help you, it’s also a chance for you to find new customers, clients and colleagues. Buying a ticket to UnGagged gives you the opportunity to talk up your company and your boss is going to love that.

Get a fresh perspective

There are so many benefits to getting out from behind your computer and spending time with other digital marketers. When you get bogged down with your day-to-day and the projects you’re working on, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. By coming to UnGagged, you’ll rub shoulders with some of the industry’s finest minds (both speakers and attendees). Talk with other attendees about the things you’re working on and you might find an answer you didn’t even know you needed.

If none of that works throw in some buzzwords like ‘value for money’, ‘synergy’ and ‘diversification’. Bosses love that stuff.

No matter what, you’ve got to get yourself to UnGagged Las Vegas 2018, it’s going to kick-ass.

Buy your tickets now!

Don’t let the “Content-is-king” crowd distract you: Link Building is a vital component of SEO. While many blogs and conferences will euphemistically use terms like ‘Outreach’ and ‘relationship building’, a lot of link building techniques can take you away from Google’s “best practice” definitions. But before you start flirting with PBN’s and tiered links, here are some of the basic tools you need to get your site on the path to inbound Link Building success.

Link Smarter, not Harder.

So, you have an impressive website, a killer product and an amazing SEO plan but somehow your ranking’s stalled below your competitors? If you’re being out-SERP-ed, you might need to take a long hard look at your links. Inbound links are some of the most important factors to consider in a holistic SEO strategy. The logic is sound: if the content is good, people will share and refer to it, therefore it’s worthy of getting a higher ranking. One of the first question you should be asking is: how do you get sites to link to your good content over another guy’s good content?

Have ‘great’ content

Firstly, we’re going to get this ‘content is king’ cliche out of the way. Yes the quality of your content is important. If you’re looking to create return customers or regular readership, you need them coming back for more. Develop a voice, develop your brand, but most importantly, create content that is worthy of sharing or referencing. You can link build with poor/recycled content as well (we’ll get into the art of PBNs later) but if you’re looking for some earnest google-friendly engagement, it has to look legit.

Guest Blog Posts

Ah, Guest posting. It’s like a caffeine pill for your blog. Traditionally, partnering with a reliable and reputable site for a few inbound links was a lovely way to dance around Google’s ‘don’t do anything that might mess with our SERP’ policy. Today, Guest Blogging comes with all sorts of warnings but it’s generally approved under the guise of ‘educating’ or ‘adding value’.  The rule of thumb is, if you’re Guest Blogging for links, just don’t make it look like you are. There are a ton of how-to guides out there that cover basic Guest Blogging tactics, reverse-engineering your competitors backlinks, and prospecting for similar sites with good link authority – these are a great place to start.

Use Social Media to Gain Inbound Links

Social media is a link sharing engine. And since many people spend more time on social media than anywhere else on the internet, it’s worth throwing a bit of time and money on securing some engagement – especially if it means more eyeballs on your web page. Sure, a link from a social site isn’t giving you direct SEO value in the strictest terms, but it still creates the opportunity for users to discover your site and share it on their channels. If your audience is active on social media, this is the cyclical strategy you have to master: post good content on your blog, share it on social media, encourage people to engage, then rinse and repeat. Don’t let the notion of closed eco-systems scare you: putting your quality content in front of the right people at the right time will create traffic and the links will follow. Tried and true tools like HootSuite, IFTTT, and Buffer can help plan and schedule posts for maximum reach.

Conduct and Post Original Research

Thought of a study no one else conducted before? Have proof that SEO is, in fact, dead? A great way of courting notoriety is to conduct research and post the results on your blog. Crunch some numbers, test some outcomes and, congratulations! You’re now a resource for other bloggers looking to cite your data. You can also create easily digestible (and shareable) answers to common (and uncommonly long tail) questions in your vertical. If you’re looking to write an article on Link Building, you’ll want to look at a few authoritative sites to back your words, for instance, according to HubSpot, 53% of marketers admit that blogging is the top inbound marketing priority. There you have it.

Encourage Customers to Post Reviews

88% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a friend’s recommendation. This means if someone sees a positive review with a link to your product or blog post, there’s a high probability of that person clicking on it to learn more. Self explanatory: Get more reviews! By any means- er. No. Your big meta search engines won’t let you buy reviews, bribe for reviews, aggressively incentivise reviews, or write them yourself. You’ll find a lot of alternative methods out there though, like contests where they have to rate, comment, use specific hashtags, and share your content to qualify and win a potential prize. But that comes with a lot of maintenance. A good place to start is by making sure visitors can easily leave reviews on your site . Ask at the right time, with the right language, and make it easy!

Make Infographics that turn heads

Are we still calling these infographics? It feels passé. When you’re faced with presenting a long block of data, there’s a higher chance more people will stop, look, and share if it’s presented in an easily digestible visual bite. Not only are these images easy to propagate, they help provide credibility and authority. Much like posting your original research, this is good material for influencers to cite and link to.

Reach Out to Influencers

This is a backlinking strategy you won’t find in a lot of best practice guides;  it’s only picked up steam in the past few years with the rise of the million dollar social media celebrity. What’s an influencer exactly? If you have to ask, then you haven’t seen Joe Sinkwitz blow minds at UnGagged recently. An influencer is an online authority in a niche topic, generally with an impressive fan-base or reach. Offer an influencer a free product sample or sponsor their next video or meetup. In return, they’ll advertise your company or product and (this is why we do what we do) include a backlink to your page on their post or social media page. There are a growing number of Influencer brokers out there, these services can pair your brand with online personalities in your price range.

Link Different.

With the above tips and strategies, you can start laying the groundwork to gain more inbound links in a natural (and Google-approved) way. But why stop there?

If you’re looking to put some serious muscle behind your link building campaigns, there are plenty of opportunities that you won’t find on top-10 best practice blog posts like this one, and there’s a reason for it. If it’s been posted about, then it’ll be used and abused before the pixels dry. I’ll go into some of those grey areas next time, but for now I’ll plug the one conference that’s tough enough to go there. UnGagged Las Vegas 2018 will offer plenty of link building sessions, only these will cover material your competitors don’t want you to know.

-Team UnGagged