Best SEO Plugins for WordPress

The following article provides information on the best SEO plugins for WordPress sites and how they can benefit your SEO campaign.

About WordPress

WordPress is the no.1 Content Management System (CMS) for many webmasters around the world.  There are currently more than 76 million WordPress-powered websites, including the likes of CNN, TechCrunch and NBC Sports.

One of the main advantages of using WordPress to power your site is the extensive range of 3rd party SEO plugins that have been developed for the platform. The following article will now explain some of the best SEO plugins that you can install on your own site.

Best SEO Plugins for WordPress 2014

1.    Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the world’s most popular WordPress SEO plugin and is completely free to install on your site.

The Yoast SEO Plugin contains everything you need to optimize the content, layout and structure of your site for search engines. It also contains a number of useful features (such as advanced editor) for editing specific sections of your site.

The reason why the Yoast SEO plugin is so popular is that it manages nearly all of the aspects of on-page SEO for your site. For example, it allows you to customise the Page Titles and Meta descriptions of pages and posts as well as insert easy 301 redirects and rel canonicals for individual pages. Finally, the plugin is great for beginners because it provides a simple page analysis tool to check whether you’ve inserted your keywords in your page title, h1 tag, URL, content and Meta description.

Once you’ve installed the Yoast SEO Plugin, it will take you on a easy walkthrough guide of the features that show you how to use it. The plugin also adds navigational breadcrumbs to your site with a simple short code.

yoast seo

The full features of the Yoast SEO plugin includes:

  • Posts Titles and Meta Description preview screen
  • Advanced SEO editor for pages and posts
  • Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess
  • 301 redirects
  • Canonical URLs
  • XML Sitemap
  • Robots Meta Configuration (e.g. edit the robots configuration of your site’s categories, tags, author pages and media to index/no-index, follow/nofollow)
  • Breadscrumbs
  • Content Analysis Functionality for optimizing keywords in page title and description

2.    Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

YARP is a really useful plugin that lets you customize and add related content underneath your posts/pages on a WordPress site. Users can then edit the number and size of thumbnail images to display under your posts for the related content.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

The main advantages of installing this plugin is that it helps improve the internal link architecture of your site and helps to increase the user experience (UX) design and page views on your site, which can indirectly help your SEO campaign. It keeps users on your site longer and prevents them bouncing immediately after reading an article. From my own experiences, installing the related posts plugin has had a 5% Click Through Rate (CTR) for the posts at the bottom of the page, which means it has reduced my site’s overall bounce rate by 5%.

3.    Display Widgets

The Display Widgets plugin allows you to customize particular widgets on your site to be shown for different pages, categories and custom taxonomies. This is incredibly useful for large WordPress sites (200+ pages) that want to improve the user navigation and SEO architecture of the site.

The plugin works by adding check boxes to each widget in the admin. Users can then customize widgets to either be shown or excluded on particular pages, posts, categories and custom taxonomies.

Display Widgets

For example, you might want to display a special SEO offer on the SEO pages and categories of your site, but exclude them for everything else. This plugin allows you to do just that.

4.    W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is the ultimate WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) plugin. It is designed to improve the page speed and user experience of your site.

The plugin works by allowing you to cache pages and objects of your site (improves user experience for users), increasing sever performance, reducing download times and optimising page rendering. According to the plugin’s website, it can lead to 10x improvement in overall site performance once installed.

The reason this plugin is so important for SEO is that Google has begun to start using Website and Page Load Speed as main factors in their ranking signals. This means a slow loading or badly performance site could be causing ranking drop issues and hurt your Panda score.

Overall, the W3 Total Cache plugin is really easy to install and is recommended by sites such as, AT&T and (head of Google’s Search Quality Team)

5.    WP

WP is an image optimization tool that automatically compresses and optimizes images on your site. The plugin works by stripping unnecessary Meta Data and unused colors from the image file, as well as optimizing JPEG compression and converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs.

The benefit of the plugin is that it optimizes all images to speed up the load speed of your site.


Once the plugin is activated, it will automatically compress all new images added to the media. You can also run a bulk in the admin in order to optimize all images in your media library (this process takes a total of 20-30 mins to complete based on a library of 200+ images).

8 Local SEO Tips for Businesses

The following article is an introduction in to the importance of local SEO for business and how to help rank in the local search results.

Local SEO for Business

What is Local SEO?

Over the last 2-3 years, Google and other search engines have made massive steps towards localizing search results for users.

Nowadays when a user searches for a local service, Google will display a list of business in the nearby location as you can see here for the search “Sheffield photographers”:

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 15.56.25

Notice that after the first 3 results of this regular search query, Google shows an additional 7 local listings (on top of the other regular organic listings on the page) which includes the business name, address, phone number, reviews and location pin of that business on Google maps. This is what local SEO helps you to achieve.

The advantage of optimizing your site for local SEO is that it makes it easier for local customers to find your services, as well as increasing your prominence in the search results. The main advantage here is that it allows local businesses to rank well in the search engines without having to to compete with large multi-national companies with multiple physical locations.

In this article, we’ll focus on how to achieve these local listing on the 1st page of Google’s search results.

Key Steps Towards Ranking your Business for Local SEO

1. Set up a Google Local Business Listing

The most important step for local SEO is to set up a Google Local Business Listing (formerly known as Google Places). This essentially allows you to add your business’ physical location to Google Maps, so that when people search for businesses in your area (or on their mobile phone), Google will be able to display you as a local result.

Setting up a Google Local Listing is very easy to do. Simply go to Google Places for Business and run a search to see if your business is already listed on Google Maps.

Google Places Business Listing

Setting up a Google Places for Business Listing

If you’re business isn’t currently listed, click on the option “No, These are not my businesses. Let me create my profile.” You’ll then be presented with a simple form to add your business – you’ll need to include your business name, address, city, phone number, post code and choose a category. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to quickly verify your listing through your phone/postal address and you’re done.

2. Optimize your Site for Geo-Keywords

In addition to your Google Places account, Google can measure the location and nature of your business through keywords on your site.

Keywords for Local SEO

If you add your city name to your homepage, title tags and h1 titles then Google will be able to understand the local nature of your business. For example, if you run a local dentist in Sheffield then you’ll want to include the city name in your title tag such as “Private Dental Surgery – Sheffield City Centre”.

3. Add your Physical Address to Every Page on your Site.

It’s important to add your physical location not just on your contact page but also in the footer of every page on your site.

This helps Google to “pinpoint” the location of your business, even without a Google Local Listing. Don’t forget to include your business times, opening hours, contact information and directions.

4. Build Links with “Local City” + “Service” Anchor Text from Local Sites

Similar to the geo-keywords on your site, Google can also understand the locality of your site based on your backlinks and anchor text. The more backlinks your have from local sites with geo anchor text, e.g. “Sheffield Dentist“, the more likely your site will rank for local business terms.

5. Add the Address Schema Markup to your Site

Schema markup is a type of HTML coding that allows Google to understand key pieces of information about your site. They can even display these markups of information in the search results.

For example, using the [address][/address] tags helps Google pinpoint your local business, which again helps with Google Local.

6. Build Citations from Local Sites, Businesses and Directories

Local citations are an online reference to your Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). Like links to your website, Google uses local citations when measuring the authority and address of local businesses. Unlike links however, citations don’t need to physically link to your website.

You should aim to build citations with your full business name, address and phone details on local directories and websites.

For example, if you run Dental surgery in Sheffield then you’d want to get your business listed in the local pages, newspaper, Sheffield directories and possibly the local council website: e.g. Greenmans’ Dentist, 45 Wayfield Street, Sheffield, S17 3HJ, 0114 2360059.

Examples of directories where you can submit your site for local directories include,,, and more. You can find an even biggest list at here.

Importantly, the more citations and links you have, the more likely Google will list your business as a local listing result. You should also make sure that you’re consistent with all of your local listing information and citations. If you move location, try and update as many of your citations and links as possible.

7. Get Positive Reviews from your Customers

As part of your Google local listing, Google displays user reviews and ratings under your listing. A positive rating (e.g. 4-5/5 stars) will help give users confidence in your service and increase your local business ranking.

Google Reviews

You can encourage users to review your business through promotions, social media, email lists. You can also get your business listed on 3rd party review sites such as

8. Different Locations should have Unique and Separate Landing Pages

If you have multiple office locations than you should set up unique and separate landing pages (a different URL for the web pages) with unique content and title tags for each location.

For example, if you have offices in both London and Manchester then you should set up a landing page for London (with the keywords London in your page title and content) and then a separate landing page for Manchester.

If you don’t take the time to set up separate landing pages then it can sometimes cause confusion to Google and you won’t get the appropriate markup for either of your locations. You should also avoid using duplicate content for the landing pages as this can lead to duplicate content penalties with Panda.

Google Penalties Explained

The following article provides key information about the various types of Google penalties, how to detect if a site has been hit by a Google penalty and some tips on how to recover.

What is a Google Penalty?

Technically speaking, a Google penalty is when a search engineer from Google gives you a manual penalty for violating one of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  There’s a number of ways that you can violate Google’s guidelines, including but not limited to backlink manipulation, mass guest posting, over optimized anchor text, hidden text links and doorway pages. You can see the whole list of topics here.

However, in addition to manual penalties, Google also has automatic filters that remove low quality sites or sites breaking their guidelines in the search results. Although Google refuses to class these as “penalties” because they are automatic filters as opposed to manual class actions, they still have the same affect of lowering your search engine rankings. Therefore, most SEOs still class these filters as “penalties”, “algorithmic penalties” or “algorithmic updates”. You can read more about manual vs. algorithmic penalties at here.

The Different Types of Google Penalties

Over the years, Google has had to develop numerous algorithms to counter web spam and the burgeoning black hat SEO industry. For instance, competitive industries such as payday loans are notorious for breeding webspam and blackhat SEO.

As such, Google has built numerous types of penalties and filters into its algorithms. The main ones are discussed below.

1.    Manual Penalty or Spam Action

What is it? A manual penalty is the most common type of Google penalty that a Webmaster will come across. A manual penalty occurs when a member of Google’s Search Quality Team manual reviews your site and sees that it has violated one of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

According to Google, only 0.22% of websites on the Internet have received manual actions, however most people that have been in SEO for long enough will have experienced a manual action in one form or another.

What’s the Result? Upon receiving a manual penalty, Google now sends an alert to all webmasters hit with a manual action in Google Webmaster Tools (note that if you don’t have your site verified in Webmaster Tools than you won’t receive a message).

1-3 weeks after receiving a manual action, your site will normally lose all of its organic SEO rankings. Sometimes this will be indefinitely and sometimes the penalty will expire after 3-6 months. The severity of the penalty usually depends on the seriousness of the violation. Matt Cutts at Google has stated that most penalties applied to websites have a fixed expiry time. Furthermore, penalties become more severe for repeat offenders

How to Fix it: In order to fix a penalty you’ll need to make changes to your website and fix whatever guidelines you violate with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This usually involves cleaning up your bad links with the help of a backlink monitoring tool.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to file a reconsideration request with Google (this is found in your Webmaster Tools account) that explains all of the actions you’ve taken to bring your site back in line with Google’s guidelines.

If you were penalized for buying links or link manipulation, you’ll need to remove or disavow the bad links before filing the reconsideration request (you’ll need to manually remove at least 40% of the bad backlinks). Once you’ve submitted your reconsideration request, you should here back within 1-2 weeks with the outcome.

2.    Penguin Update (Algorithmic Penalty)

What is it? The Penguin update was launched on April 24th 2012 and is a day that will live in infamy for most SEOs. The Penguin update targeted sites that had violated Google’s Webmaster guidelines (specifically Link Schemes such as over optimized anchor text and paid links). At the time it was launched, Google said that it impacted a total of 3.1% of English query search results.

You can read more about the Penguin update on Google’s Official Webmaster Blog here.

What is the Result? The Penguin update is the most ruthless and shocking of all penalties. This is because it completely removes all of a website’s organic search rankings and is arguably 99% impossible to recover from. In fact, in the 2 years since Google launched the Penguin update, there have been only faintly rumored cases of recovery.

How to Fix It: Google’s Matt Cutts claims that if you remove the link scheme violations to your site than your site will resurface in the next Penguin update (when the data is refreshed). However, to date there are been virtually no proven cases of recovery. The notion that you can’t recover from the Penguin update is reinforced by Matt Cutt’s declaration that Google aims to “break the spirits of Blackhat SEO’s”.

In conclusion, if you’re hit by the Penguin update then you’re only realistic option is to start over on a new domain.

3.    Panda Update (Algorithmic Penalty)

What is it? The Panda update is an algorithmic update that promotes high quality sites and reduces lower quality sites in the search results. The Panda update (also known as the Farmer update) was first launched on February 23rd 2011.

The original Panda update impacted 12% of search results and was designed to reduce low quality “content farms” and scraper sites in the search results. It is thought that this update was a direct response to the general criticism of Google’s search results at the time.

However, the Panda update has since incorporated far more signals and is thought to promote or reduce a site’s rankings based on additional signals such as user experience, page speed, content quality, uniqueness of content, brand signals, social signals and more.

Panda has a site-wide impact. This means that low quality quality content in one section of a site can bring the whole site’s ranking down.

Although the Panda algorithm was originally only updated once every 1-2 months (meaning webmasters had to wait months to recover once they had fixed their site), in June 2013, Google made Panda a core part of the main search engine algorithm, which means new data is now updated in real time.

What is the Result? Websites impacted by Google’s Panda update will see most of their rankings drop, and lose around 40-60% of their traffic from Google.

How to Recover: In order to recover from the Panda update, you’ll first need to identify the current potential issues on your site (e.g. low quality/duplicate content, slow page speed, poor site design, too many ads). You’ll then need to fix these issues and wait 2-3 months for your rankings to recover.

Unlike the Penguin update, the Panda update is thought to be easier to recover from for webmasters. In fact, in 2013 Google announced that it intended to “soften” the impact of the Panda algorithm and try to make it easier to recover from.

You can read an excellent recovery guide for the Panda update written by Marcus Taylor at here.

Conclusion on Google Penalties

This page has explained the main Google penalties that impact webmasters, the impact that these penalties have, and the strategies needed in order to recover. For more information about Google penalties or to find out if your site was hit by a penalty then we recommend taking a look at the Google Algorithm Change History at You can also use the Panguin checker tool to see which updates impacted your site.

On-Page SEO – How to Optimize a Website for Keywords

SEO Lesson 2: On-Page SEO – How to Optimize a Website for Keywords

Once you’ve chosen your target SEO keywords as explained in the previous lesson, the next stage is to build your site and optimize the on-page for your keywords.

Why is Optimizing your Site for Keywords Important?

The keywords and page titles of your site are two of the most important signals that search engines such as Google when ranking your website for search queries.

As we saw in our explanation of SEO ranking factors, page-level keywords and agnostic features make up around 23% of the search engine-ranking algorithm. That’s almost one-quarter of the ranking factors used in SEO!

On-Page SEO for Beginners

The following page provides a complete guide for on-page optimization for beginners.

1.    Title Tag

The Title Tag is the most important, individual element that Google uses to understand the relevance and context of a page. The title tag instructs Google what the page is about.

A good title tag also encourages a higher click-through rate (CTR) from users in the search engine results.


The HTML verison of a Title tag looks like this:

<title>Example Title</title>


  • When writing title tags, it’s important to include your primary keywords (and ideally secondary keywords) in the title as early as possible. Many SEO studies have shown clear correlation between search engine rankings and how early a keyword appears in the title tag.
  • The maximum length of a title tag should be 70 characters; if you go over this limit then your title tag will get cut off and become truncated in the search engine results page.
  • Don’t just stuff keywords in your title tag. Your title tag should primary be built for users and provide a clear, useful description for the content of your page.
  • Including your brand name at the beginning or end of your title tag can help with brand awareness.

2. H1 Tag (Headline Tag)

The H1 Tag is the main headline of the article and should start above the article content.

The HTML for the H1 tag looks like this:



  • Although the H1 tag used to be very important in SEO, it’s importance has gradually been declining
  • Multiple H1 tags on a single page are fine as long as you don’t over do it. This is according to Matt Cutts in his video.

 3.    Using Keywords in the Body Text

Using your primary and secondary keywords in the article body is just as important as the title tag itself.

Search engines such as Google analyze the context of a webpage by looking at the keywords and context of an article. Using various keywords in your article will also help your webpage rank for both short-tail and long-tail queries, as explained in our keyword research article.


  • In the past, SEOs recommended a minimum of 2% keyword density for your target keyword. However, as search engines evolved, they’re now capable of understanding the topical relevancy and using synonyms to understand article context. This means you should focus on using plenty of synonyms and avoid over-optimizing your content.
  • A number of studies have proven that all things being equal, longer content outperforms shorter content. Google has been getting much better at understanding the complexity and quality of content in recent years. This means you should aim to invest in high quality, long-form content to help your rankings.

4. Keywords in URL

Making sure that your primary keywords are contained in your URL is another advantage in SEO.

For example, if I’m writing an article about on-page optimization then I’m better off with the URL “” then compared to “”.


  • The URL structure of your website should generally be created with the /%postname% structure. These settings can be configured in the Permalinks section of your site if you’re using WordPress.
  • Shorter URLS look cleaner and are better for users.
  • Primary keywords in the domain name is another huge advantage

5. Images and Image Alt Attributes

Inserting relevant images into your article can also improve the perceived user value and SEO rankings for keywords.

Make sure that when you insert images into your post or page that you fill in the image name and ALT attributes (this is how Google currently understands the relevant and context of images, however this is likely to change in the future as Google is able to “read” images).

Not only will inserting and classifying images correctly help you generate more traffic from image searches but they’ll also help your page rank in the search engines.

6. Internal and External Links

Links are by far the single most important factor that Google uses when measuring the authority and trust of a webpage.

Although we’ll discuss more about link building in another lesson, it’s important that you internally link to important pages as much as possible with relevant anchor text. This is not only great for SEO but also good for user experience and increasing a website’s page views.

A good website architecture should also mean that you can get to any single page on your site in 3-4 clicks or less.

7. Meta Tags and Meta Description

In the past, Google relied heavily on Meta tags and description just like your title tag and H1. However, this has now changed and Google has confirmed that they give no weight to your meta tags in SEO.


However, although Meta description isn’t necessary for SEO, a well written meta description may help increase the CTR% in the search engine results page, which is a ranking signal in itself. Therefore, I would recommend filling in your Meta description for your most important pages.

Anchor Text and SEO

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that is displayed on a webpage.

For example, in the sentence “Welcome to our site, click here to learn more about digital marketing”, “click here” is the anchor text.

The HTML syntax for anchor text is:

<a href=””>Example Anchor Text</a>

How Search Engines Use Anchor Text in SEO

Search engines use the descriptive text in the anchor of a link in order to help determine the relevancy and topical nature of the page that it’s linking to.

For example, if a particular webpage has lots of backlinks with the anchor “dog training”, “dog training tips”, “how to train your dog”, then search engines will be able to recongise and understand the context of the target page.

In addition to anchor text, search engines also analyze the content of the source page (i.e. the page the link is on) and the keywords and title tag of the target page in order to determine relevancy and content. This process then allows Google to return more relevant results to their users in the search queries.

Finally, SEOs have proven in the past that when you have two links on a page that both point to the same destination, Google only counts the anchor text of the “first” link when assigning relevancy.

Best Practices for Using Anchor Text in SEO

Although having targeted, relevant anchor text is great for SEO and ranking for your keywords, the historical abuse of artificial anchor text by SEOs eventually led to Google launching a new optimization penalty called the Penguin Update in April 2012.

The Google Penguin update served to counteract the manipulative abuse of anchor text and artificial backlinks by penalizing sites and removing their rankings in the search results. This is because the manipulation of your own backlinks and creating optimized anchor text is a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (under Link Schemes) as shown in the image below:

Therefore, you’re probably asking yourself “if anchor text is important for SEO, but Google gives out penalties for over-optimization, what’s the best practice for building anchor texts now?”

The answer lies somewhere in-between. Although anchor text is still an important relevancy factor in SEO, over the years Google Bots have become smarter and are now able to detect the relevance of a website based on keywords, synonyms and the title tag alone.

As outlined by this Post-Penguin Anchor Text Case Study, and backed up by, websites no longer need 100s of optimized anchor text in order to rank well in the search engines. It can sometimes be enough to just have 5-10 links with a broad range of mixed anchor text with some of your main keywords.

For example, if I wanted to rank for a term such as “buy gold” on then I might have links with the following anchor text:

  • Click here
  • Buying gold
  • This site
  • Where to buy gold
  • Gold bullion store
  • Click here to buy gold
  • Buying gold online

Internal Linking and Anchor Text

Google also analyses the relevance of content by internal links as well as external links. Therefore, you should make sure you have a good internal linking structure on your site that uses relevant, targeted keyword anchor text and distributes Page Rank across your site. Similar to external links, make sure you mix up the anchor text for your internal links as this can also lead to over optimisation issues.

How to Analyze your Website Anchor Text

In order to analyze and monitor backlinks to your site, you’ll need to use a backlink monitoring tool as explained in this previous article. For those new to SEO, we recommend using the free version of

What Does a Natural Anchor Text Backlink Profile Look Like?

The most common keywords in your backlinks should include references to your website name, raw URL (e.g. or neutral anchors that people often write when linking to a site such as “click here” or “see this”.

Most SEOs recommend at the bare minimum to have no more than 30% of your anchor text for a specific keyword, however even this is probably too high. I would probably say a maximum of 10% of your anchor text should be for one keyword (including exact-match domains).

A normal distribution of anchor text for a website normally looks something like this:

  1. 30% – Website Name
  2. 15% –
  3. 15% –
  4. 5% –
  5. 3% – here
  6. 32% – mixture of other anchor texts

You can see in the below the ratio of anchor text in natural backlink profiles: Backlinks Case Study: Backlinks Case Study: Backlinks Case Study:

How PageRank and Links Affect SEO Rankings

What is Page Rank?

400px-PageRanks-Example.svgPage Rank is a search engine algorithm patented by Google that ranks sites based the number of backlinks pointing to a specific webpage.

Page Rank uses a link equity model, which calculates the number of links to and from a webpage itself, in order to measure its authority and relevance to the user.

The original preposition was that each backlink counts as a “vote” for that webpage, so that if a webpage has lots of backlinks then it will be a more authoritative and relevant source for the user.

According to Google’s CEO and co-founder Larry Page:

Page Rank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.


Although Page Rank is still an important part of Google’s search engine algorithm, over the years Google has added 100s of additional signals in their core algorithm, making Page Rank less important then it used to be.

The History of Page Rank

Page Rank was first created in 1996 by the co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (whom it was named after) during their time at Standford University.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page used Page Rank in order to develop a new search engine that relied on links to help structure the hierarchy and importance of webpages. For example, a webpage with more link popularity would have a higher ranking in the search engine results page.

Google owns patents for Page Rank for both the name and process (U.S. Patent 6,285,999).

Over time, Google has added additional signals and algorithm to the search engine process that complement the original Page Rank algorithm. In fact, they make 100s of changes to the search engine algorithm every year. For example, in 2012 Google launched a new algorithm called “Panda”, which helped to detect and promote higher quality content on the Internet.

How Google’s Page Rank Algorithm Works in Practice:

google_pagerank_explained_500wThe process begins with Google sending an automated web spider called a “Google Bot” to crawl the entire web and count links to every webpage.

Google then downloads all of this information to their massive server farms, processes the information in their computers, and then uses search engine algorithms to rank webpages in their search engine index.

Rather then just counting the number of backlinks directly to each webpage, Page Rank also uses a link equity formula of how links pass value.

For example, if a webpage has X amount of backlinks but then links out on the page itself then the link equity of that page will be diluted through the external links. This is because Page Rank or link flow is passed through each link.

Multiple links from different domains are also worth more than the same number of links from a single domain. This is because Google uses a dampening factor for links from the same domain.

A good internal linking architecture on a website ensures that the Page Rank flow is distributed even across your site to help rank individual pages.

What is the Difference Between Page Rank and Toolbar Page Rank?

seobook-toolbar-pagerankOne of the main confusions about Page Rank is the difference between Page Rank, as measured by Google in assessing the link popularity of your webpage, and then the Toolbar Page Rank.

Page Rank, as used in Google’s algorithms, is a value that measures the link popularity and equity of your webpage in real time. It is impossible to know the actual value of your Page Rank link equity according to Google (although you can use other tools such as that show relative Domain and Page Authority).

Toolbar Page Rank, on the other hand, is a toolbar you can install on your browser that is thought to display a snapshot of your Page Rank (the number of links to your site) from the last Toolbar Page Rank update. Generally, Google only updates the Toolbar Page Rank 2-3 times per year. Google is particularly reticent about how the Toolbar Page Rank is calculated.

How to Check your Toolbar Page Rank:

You can use the following websites or browser extensions to monitor to Toolbar Page Rank of a site:

Although Toolbar Page Rank helps users to see the authority of a webpage, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with search engine rankings.

Useful Videos about Toolbar Page Rank:

Google Explains Why the Don’t Turn Toolbar Page Rank Off:

Google Explains How Page Rank Toolbar is Updated:

SEO Ranking Signals and Factors Explained

As part of our SEO module, it’s important to understand how search engines such as Google rank websites for search queries and all of the ranking signals that they use.

The Important of Backlinks in Google’s Search Algorithm

When Google was founded back in 1998, they revolutised the search industry by introducing backlinks as a main ranking signal. Google treated backlinks similar to references and citations in an essay.

This helped them categorise web pages into relevance and authority. For example, if the BBC News website linked to a blog then it was a positive signal that the blog was important and should rank well in the search results.

SEO Ranking Factors in 2014

Even though Google claims to use more than more than 200 ranking factors in their search algorithm, backlinks are still of critical importance.

In fact, in February 2014 Matt Cutts released a video that said they tried to build an internal search algorithm that didn’t use backlinks but it just didn’t work – the overall quality of results suffered. Here’s the video below:

Although backlinks remain the single biggest most important ranking signal, Google still relies heavily on 100s of other ranking signals that many SEOs have commented on.

Thankfully, releases an annual survey and report on the most important ranking factors in SEO.

According to the latest SEO ranking factors report, which can be read here, links are still the most important ranking factor followed by keywords, content, brand metrics and domain-level keyword usage.

The full results are outlined below:

As you can see, backlinks (40%) are still a huge part of the ranking algorithm, however their importance has been reducing steadily over the years. For example, in the 2009 SEO rankings report links made up around two-thirds (66%) of the SEO algorithm.

WikiWeb’s Top 10 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Signals:

  1. Page-Level Authority (Backlinks and Anchor Text to Specific Web Page)
  2. Domain Level Authority (Domain Age and Backlinks to Website as a Whole)
  3. Title Tags
  4. Content Quality and Keywords
  5. Domain-Level Brand Metrics (e.g. social signals, navigational search queries for brand name)
  6. User Data (e.g. user experience, Click Through Rate (CTR%), bounce rate and traffic volume – higher traffic pages tend to rank higher)
  7. Internal Links
  8. Website Load Speed
  9. Ratio of Ads to Content on Page
  10. Mobile Responsiveness

Because there are so many additional factors that make up small chunks of the search engine algorithm we thought it would be useful to link to’s Complete Ranking Factors List who have provided a list of 200+ possible ranking factors that Google might be using.

Some of the latest ranking signals that Google has confirmed it uses in 2014 includes mobile responsiveness and website load speed. With the introduction of Google Plus and the personalization of search, it’s also likely that your personal behavior and websites that you frequently visit will influence your own search results.

High Correlation of Social Signals with Search Engine Rankings

It’s also worth mentioning that time and time again social signals (including +1s and Facebook Shares) share the highest correlation with search engine rankings.  You can see proof of this in 2013 rankings correlation report.

Although this is largely considered to be correlation without causation (especially when Matt Cutts has come out confirmed that Google doesn’t use social signals in its ranking algorithm) it does give you a clue as to the type of pages and websites that rank well in SEO.

What is SEO?

In our first lesson, we’re going to explain what SEO is and why it is important for businesses.

What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimisation)

Search engine optimization is the process of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors to it from search engines (organic search).

The main goal of search engines such as Google and Bing is to return the most relevant, high quality results for search queries.

For example, if someone searches “buy shoes” then a search engine’s job is to provide the best results for that particular search.

SEO is about making changes and improvements to your site in order to encourage search engines to rank your website highly for your targeted keywords. This in turn generates more targeted traffic, sales and revenues for your business.

So, if you were a shoe wholesaler with the website, you’d want to SEO your site to rank for search terms such as “buy shoes”, “buy shoes online”, “cheap shoes” and hundreds of other terms.

How Important is SEO Traffic?

Although other traffic sources such as paid media and social can be beneficial to a business, more than half of Internet traffic (around 60%) comes through search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

In the UK alone, Google has 92% market share of the search market. This means the typical UK website not only receives 60% of its traffic from search engines but also around 55% from Google alone.

In fact, a typical website’s traffic sources can be broken down into the following:

  • 40-50% from SEO
  • 25% Direct Visitors
  • 10% Referral Links
  • 10% PPC
  • 5% Social

Why Do I need to do SEO?

Although search engines are intelligent in crawling the web and delivering the most relevant results for users, there are a number of ways that a Webmaster improve his/her website’s SEO in order to ensure that it ranks better in the search engine results.

Google uses 100’s of ranking signals for their website search results, which includes important ranking factors such as backlinks, title tags, website page length, keywords, website age, user experience, technical architecture and more.

Almost every one of these signals is malleable and can be improved or optimized for your website, which is where SEO comes into it. The great thing about SEO is that the smallest changes, such as improving your page speed or changing your page titles, can generate the biggest impact on your site.

Why do you Need to Rank on the First Page of Google?

When launching an SEO campaign, the primary goal is always to get your site ranking on the first page of Google. Why? Because according to the latest research, Page 1 of Google receives 92% of all search engine traffic. This means that only 8% of searchers click past the 1st page of Google’s search results when looking for information or shopping online.

CTR and Organic SEO

Chart shows the average Click Through Rate (CTR) % for Organic Listings in the Search Results


Furthermore, separate studies have shown around 30-50% of users click on the first result in Google’s organic listings compared to 4-6% that click on the 5th result. This shows the huge importance in ranking for the no.1 position for your keywords, even if just for the short-term.

About Our SEO Training Course:

Our SEO module is designed to take you through all of the different ranking factors that search engines such as Google use and how to optimize your site for these different factors.

  • Title Tags and Keywords
  • External Backlinks
  • Content Quality and Length
  • Domain Age and Authority
  • Internal Backlinks
  • Page Speed
  • User Experience
  • Click Through Rate (CTR%)
  • Brand and Social Signals
  • HTML Markup

How to Steal your Competitor’s Best Content

Great content is the lifeblood of the Internet. If you’re looking to increase traffic on your business, news or education site then you need to publish great content and get it in front of your audience.

In this lesson, we’re going to teach you how to research, analyse and copy your competitor’s best performing content.

Why Copy your Competitors Content?

Copying others saves time, provides key information about your industry and allows you to create a better content strategy than your competitors.

If your competitor’s have already laid the foundations or content blueprints for you then you’d be stupid not to analyze their site and see what type of content performs best or generates the greatest amount of traffic and social shares.

The following methods show you different ways you can analyze your competitor’s best performing content and steal it for your own site.

  1. Find your Competitors most Shared Content is a brilliant free tool that allows you to enter a topic or keyword and see the most shared content over any time period ranging from 24 hours up to 6 months. You can also filter content by article, video, infographic, guest post and giveaways.


The advantage of analyzing the most socially shared content is that it allows you to directly see the type of content that most appeals to your audience. For example, does negative or positive spun content perform best? Are infographics a successful marketing channel in your niche? Does a particular topic keep getting shared? Do surveys and reports perform better than news and static content?

  1. Find your Competitors most Linked Content

Backlinks are one of the most important parts of an SEO campaign. By analyzing which content generates the most backlinks to your competitor’s site, you can invest in producing even better content and then stealing their links.

In order to view your competitor’s most linked content, simply load up a backlink analysis tool such as Ahrefs.comor Then all you need to do is click on Top Pages to see the most links pages; allows you this via total number of backlinks or root domains.

If you’ve seen a lot of the links to your competitor’s pages have been placed on “list” or “useful resources” pages than you can invest in an even better page on your site and ask the webmasters for inclusion on their list. This is a strategy I’ve done a number of times with things such as graduate jobs board resources, student finance help guides and postgraduate funding links.

You can also use this strategy to come up with tools, research, products or eBooks around this topic. For example, if a certain topic is generating a lot of attention and links than it might be worth publishing your own industry research or product around it and doing some PR.

  1. Sign up to your Competitors Email List and view their most Important Content

Signing up to your competitor’s email list allows you to spy on their email marketing strategy. By studying the content that they email to users, you can view what they believe to be their most strategically important content (this may be tied to conversions, earnings or user engagement). Over time, you can also see the type of content that they regularly send out to users.

  1. Search for their Brand in Google and View the Extended Site links

Sitelinks are those extended blue links shown in Google search results when someone searches for your brand name in Google. They were designed in order to improve user navigation in the search results.

It’s heavily suspected that Google generates these sitelinks based on your most important content by analyzing traffic flow on your site. Thus, searching for your competitor’s brand name in Google will theoretically allow you to see their most important and high traffic pages.

Google Sitelinks

Google Sitelinks

In conclusion, once you’ve got an understanding of the types of content that performs best in your industry, you can then integrate this with your content strategy. Likewise, you can avoid investing in boring content that receives little social shares, traffic or user engagement.

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