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Users come and go and knowing where they exit can be just as important as where they went in. Knowing what links users click brings valuable data on user behavior on your website. This will give you, as a webmaster, ideas on ideal locations to place links and anchor texts that will draw them to click. This can be helpful especially if you participate in affiliate programs or you want users to land on your social media pages and other specific websites.

Six years ago, I wrote an article about How to Track Outbound Links using Google Analytics. Unfortunately, that won’t work anymore today as it uses the old Google Analytics Tracking code (ga.js) and the best alternative way to do this right now is to use Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager might be intimidating to use but it is one of the most useful tools for SEOs. It can help you in organizing all tracking codes that you place on your website in one place. If you want to unlock one of the secrets on how users behave in your website, Google Tag Manager can help.

In this blog post, I’ll be showing the step by step procedure of setting up outbound link tracking using Google Tag Manager. Take note that you need to set-up Google Analytics with your Google Tag Manager Account for you to see the data.Log in To Your Google Tag Manager Account

1. Log in to Your Google Tag Manager Account
If you haven’t set up Google Tag Manager, I highly recommend you follow this Google Tutorial: Setup and install Google Tag Manager.

2. Go to Variables and Click New Under User-Defined Variables

3. Select Auto-Event Variable Under Variable Type
You should also name the variable to something like Outbound Links Variable so it won’t cause confusion when you set up other variables for other tracking you’ll create. Under the 2nd Variable Type selection, select Element URL and under Component Type select Is Outbound. Save your variable. This will automatically treat all links outside of your domain as outbound links. If you have subdomains or other websites you own that you don’t want to treat as outbound links, put them under Affiliated Domains.

4. Go to Triggers and Create a New One
Name it Outbound Links Trigger or whichever you prefer.

5. Select Click – Just Links Under Trigger Type
Select Some Link Clicks and then an option will appear to select a variable. Select the variable that you created earlier, select equals on the second box, then input true on the third box.

6. Go to Tags and Click New

7. Under Tag Configuration Select Google Analytics: Universal Analytics
7.1. For Track Type, select Event

7.2. For Category, select the Outbound Links Variable you created

7.3. For Action, select Click URL

7.4. For Label, click the plus sign and select Click URL

7.5. If you want to set a value for each click (maybe for affiliate links), you could set it under Value.

7.6. Select True under Non-Interaction Hit

8. For Triggering, select the Trigger that you Created Earlier

9. Save the Tag and Click Preview Mode
After you’ve entered preview mode, open a new tab and go to your website. A small window should appear below and it will show you the summary of the tags that fired on that page.

Try opening another page or a blog post that has links to other websites. Click one link and go back to your site. In the Google Tag manager window, you should see under Summary that the Outbound Links Trigger that you created fired.

Viewing it in Google Analytics
To view the data, go to your Google Analytics account and in the sidebar click Events under Behavior. If you want to see the specific pages where people clicked an outbound link, go to Pages.

Click the page you want to see and click Event Category and Event Action until you reach the list of outbound links that users clicked on your website.

Key Takeaway
Setting up outbound links tracking with Google Tag Manager can be done in less than 30 minutes and the results can be surprising. The data you can get from this process can be useful as a marketer or as an SEO. This can help in unlocking the key to user behavior on your website leading to better content and linking strategies.

Key Takeaway
If you aren’t already implementing NLP to your content strategy, you are surely missing out. Of course, you would be making your own strategy that is tailor-fit for your brand and audience. This brief guide is to help you get started and to encourage you to experiment with this type of strategy. It will go a long way, especially in increasing traffic and generating growth for your blog or site.

Google’s roll-out of BERT caused a massive buzz in the whole SEO industry since they deemed it as “the most important update in five years”. This particular update, called BERT, officially impacts 10% of search queries. That’s already a massive number since there are millions of searches made every single day. So, what exactly is the BERT update, how will it affect the SEO landscape, and how can we, as webmasters and SEOs, better optimize our websites for this algorithm update?

What is BERT?
Bert stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a neural network-based technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP) that was open-sourced by Google last year.

The Google BERT Update
BERT isn’t necessarily an update to Google’s current algorithms but it is a technique to improve NLP. It allows Google to process words in search queries in relation to all the other words contained in the query – unlike the word per word process that Google has been using before.

Through this process, Google can, therefore, hopefully, understand the whole context of a word contained in the search query. This means that Google’s application of the BERT model enables them to do a better job of assisting users in finding useful information. The primary target for the BERT model are “longer, more conversational queries” where words like “for” and “to” greatly affect the meaning of the query – in my understanding, these are, more often than not, long-tail keywords.

BERT is currently affecting 10% of searches in the U.S. and it’s currently only applicable to the featured snippets in other languages.

Here’s an example that Google used to highlight the effect of the BERT model:

Google Example of Applied BERT Model

How You Can Optimize for BERT
According to Google, optimizing for BERT is impossible since there is “nothing to optimize”. It’s a direct echo to their statement during the release of RankBrain. However, SEOs always have ways of understanding an algorithm update in a creative and unique way that allows us to come up with strategies that will help our site navigate through Google’s ever-changing algorithms. With that said, here are some (simple) strategies that can help you with the recent BERT update.

Simpler and Succinct Content
I’ve mentioned in a past blog post that word count isn’t as important as you might think it is and that’s directly related to writing for answering a user’s query. Google has always reminded webmasters that we should write for the users – not the search engines. Of course, there are still some webmasters that put the “technicality” of their content as the most important aspect. If you’re one of the webmasters that still focus on keyword density, keyword placement, etc. inside your content while not giving importance to the quality and “naturalness” of your content, you might be losing out on Google’s recent algorithm updates.

BERT focuses on the context of the words used inside the sentences (or group of sentences) that you used inside the body of your content. However, at the end of the day, BERT is still just a process used by machines and they can only understand so much. Our roles as webmasters must be providing content that is simple but still succinct.

One guiding principle that I’ve followed every time I write content is if a high school graduate can understand (this is dependent on the niche) the content I’m writing, then the search engines can understand it as well. Here are some pointers to always consider when you write your content:

Avoid flowery, highfalutin, and unnecessary words
Be as straightforward and direct as possible
The content should contain new and useful information that is helpful to the readers
By doing it this way, you’re not only optimizing your content for the users but you’re also helping search engines better understand the content you’re putting out.

Topic Clusters
Here’s the rationale for focusing on topic clusters: being visible for a specific topic is much better than ranking for a particular keyword. Through the use of topic clusters, you can create signals to search engines that you are authoritative/influential for a certain topic that encompasses a wide range of long-tail keywords – which will eventually outweigh the traffic you’re receiving for just a handful of high-traffic, high-difficulty keywords. To help you get started, I’ve written about Topic Clusters Model and how it can help SEO. Here’s an image from Hubspot that help you understand topic clusters:

Topic Clusters

(Image Source: HubSpot)

Be Specific with the Keywords or Queries You Target
One of the main challenges for SEOs for BERT is that this update is not about how Google understands the content of websites but is to better understand what exactly a user is looking for. That means for SEOs, the key here is to be more specific on the queries or questions your content is looking to answer.

It’s similar to starting a

There are many reasons you might want to run an Instagram contest, whether you’re looking to quickly grow your online presence or simply want to give back to your followers.
But there are some rules and guidelines you need to keep in mind if you want to host an Instagram contest to ensure that it’s both legal and successful.
To help make sure you put on the best Instagram contest possible, we’ve put together this guide on how to run an Instagram contest that your audience will be excited to enter and share. Let’s dive in!

I am Raj Pavi, creator of AI Insider, an AI powered SEO Tool which we use inhouse to outrank any of your competition. If you have any digital marketing assistance, please dont hesitate to contact us. Our site is www.DCDigitlas.com

If you are new here, please consider subscribing.

Instagram contest rules
First things first, we need to go over Instagram’s rules and legalese. You may have noticed that most Instagram contests or giveaways come with an extra long caption with lots of fine print.
This is because Instagram has a lot of rules and guidelines in place to ensure they’re released from any liability in case any party doesn’t follow through with their end of the deal.
Here’s a quick summary of the most important points in Instagram’s contest rules:
You are responsible for the lawful operation of your Instagram contest.
Avoid inaccurate tagging in photos.
Include a complete release of Instagram by each entrant, as well as copy clearly outlining that your contest is in no way, shape or form sponsored by Instagram.
Instagram will not assist you with your contest.
You run an Instagram contest at your own risk.
You can read the full policy here, but basically, Instagram is making sure you know they’re not liable, and that you make sure your followers know that Instagram is not liable, regardless of how your contest pans out.
Instagram contest ideas and examples
So you’re ready to start planning for your Instagram contest. But how exactly do you want to have people enter, and what are the benefits for your overall marketing strategy? There are several different types of contests you could run, so we’ve put together a list of our favorites for you to choose from.
1. Like, comment and follow
One of the most popular methods of entry is to have people like your photo announcing your Instagram contest, leave a comment and follow your account in order to gain entry.
Here’s a great example of this type of Instagram contest put on by CAUSEBOX.

Simply name your prize, lay down the ground rules and watch the entries fly in. You can ask people to comment with why they should win, nominate someone to win or simply tag a friend to spread the word.
However, that last option is a great contest idea all on its own–read on for more ways to make tagging friends in contest work effectively.
2. Tag a friend
Want to really get the word out about your Instagram contest? Ask people to tag a friend when they enter! Users can tag as many friends as they like in order to get even more entries.
Then, those users are likely to enter and tag some of their own friends, creating a ripple effect of awareness around your contest and brand.
You can also host a tag a friend Instagram contest in order to ask your followers to nominate someone who deserves a prize, like in this example below, run by doll10beauty.

In this example, they asked followers to tag a doctor, nurse, grocery store worker or another essential worker who has been going to work non-stop through the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a great way to thank people who have been working hard to help others, as well as grow your customer base at the same time.
3. User-generated content
If you’re looking to put together a campaign around gathering user-generated content (UGC) to share online, creating an Instagram contest around that concept can be a great way to do it.
Ask your audience to share a photo onto their feed using a specific hashtag or tagging your business so that you can easily find all of the entries in one place.
Not only does this reward your customers for helping you out, but it gives you an entire arsenal of user-generated photos to share on your feed for future content planning.
4. Collaboration
Another great way to broaden your audience is by collaborating with a similar brand involved in a contest together.
If you go this route, users will then have to follow each brand going in on the contest together in order to enter. Here’s an example of what this might look like from Ring Concierge and Elemis.

Many influencers also host collaborative giveaways like this, meant to help their followers discover new brands and bloggers, and vice versa.
If you’re working to grow your Instagram presence, a collaborative contest or giveaway might be your best bet.

While having thousands of Twitter followers is great, those numbers don’t mean much if those followers don’t engage with your Tweets. That’s akin to having something important to say but being unable to get people to listen to you. So even though the platform has a huge potential to drive brand visibility and growth, you may be unable to make full use of it if you can’t drive Twitter engagement.

In this video, I will try to help you uncover some of the top strategies to bring up those numbers and engage your Twitter audience more effectively. Let’s dive right in.

I am Raj Pavi, creator of AI Insider, an AI powered SEO Tool which we use inhouse to outrank any of your competition. If you have any digital marketing assistance, please dont hesitate to contact us. Our site is www.DCDigitlas.com

If you are new here, please consider subscribing.

What is Twitter engagement and why does it matter?
Twitter engagement refers to all the ways people interact with your brand and its posts on the platform. So it not only includes likes, Retweets and replies but also brand mentions (tagged or not), follows, embedded media and links, just to name a few. In other words, it’s an indicator of how popular your brand is on the platform.
At this point, you may have started to get a fair idea of why Twitter engagement is so important. But let’s break it down and try to understand the specifics of why you should work on engaging your Twitter audience:
1. Massive audience base
The main appeal of Twitter is its massive audience base. With 330 million monthly active users recorded in 2019, it’s one of the biggest social media platforms and makes a significant contribution to brand visibility and growth. So you can imagine how the level of engagement you get on Twitter makes such a huge difference for your brand.

2. Builds exposure
Twitter allows users to quickly Retweet posts in just a few clicks, which could further promote sharing. And due to the Twitter algorithm, when people share your Tweets, it could help build exposure within their followers’ feeds.
Some likes and replies will show up in a person’s followers’ feeds, as you can see in the example below. A user liked Steak-umm’s Tweet, and that same Tweet appeared in her followers’ feed signifying that she liked it.

The best part is that this exposure doesn’t just end within the Twitterverse. With people often sharing screenshots of Tweets and conversations on other platforms or turning them into memes, you could potentially expand your reach even further. In fact, an estimated 1.6 billion unique visitors each month see Tweets through third-party platforms.

3. Boosts brand-consumer connection
With fewer privacy restrictions, Twitter allows brands to quickly discover and respond to Tweets concerning them. This allows you to connect with customers directly while resolving any complaints or issues at the earliest.
And when you engage with your audience this way, you get to strengthen your relationship with them. In fact, the Sprout Social #BrandsGetReal study found that liking or responding to a customer is the top social media behavior that can help brands connect with consumers.
4. Promotes openness
In line with the previous point, fewer restrictions also promotes transparency and openness between brands and consumers. Because interactions with customers through Tweets and replies is open for everyone else to see, it could quickly reach a large community.
How to measure engagement on Twitter
Now that you understand just how crucial Twitter engagement is, you’re probably curious where your current engagement rate stands. Keep in mind that your total engagements don’t translate directly to engagement rate on Twitter. You have to consider your following size too.
You may have hundreds of followers, but if only a small percentage of those followers like or Retweet your Tweets, your engagement rate needs improvement. Besides likes, Retweets and replies, you may also want to consider less typical actions like branded hashtag use, follows and linkbacks as engagement actions.
With so many factors to consider, it can be challenging to manually calculate your average Twitter engagement rate. And the native Twitter analytics won’t break it down for you either. So consider investing in a Twitter analytics tool to get a more accurate picture of your engagement and measure other performance metrics on the platform.
The Twitter analytics and reporting tool from Sprout lets you do just that. Your Twitter Reports dashboard will give you an in-depth look at your organic impressions, total engagements and link clicks. It also helps you track other metrics such as your net follower growth to gain a more comprehensive view of your Twitter performance.
5 ways to boost Twitter engagement
Once you start keeping a close eye on your Twitter engagement rate, you might notice a huge disparity between your following size and your engagements.

Tip #8: Add a “how-to” section to your website
Since featured snippets are such a great opportunity to attract website traffic and gain new leads, it’s a smart idea to redesign your site in a way that lets you optimize “how-to” content.
Some websites are creating entire sections on their sites that are specifically for giving answers to their readers’ questions.
Here’s how Lowe’s is doing it with their “How-to Library:”
This gives all of your content that is devoted to answering questions or solving pain points a place to live on your site.

If you don’t want to create a “how-to” section, a Q&A area might be a good idea instead.

This area could include answers to frequently asked questions about your products, services, or industry.

High-quality images and videos also boost your chances of ranking for featured snippets.

Tip #9: Add high-quality images and video
Most people love to learn visually, which is why photos and videos can help you rank for featured snippets.

Adding images to each step doesn’t have to be hard. I have repeatedly said that Canva is a great tool for creating your own images because it truly is.

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Upload your own images or pick a free Canva stock photo. Then, choose free shapes, icons, and more to add to your images.

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Don’t forget about video either. It’s huge for engagement.

65% of people watch at least three-quarters of a video and 59% of executives believe that people are more likely to watch a video if they combine text with video.

One simple way to do this is to create a voice transcript for all of your videos. Google will recognize the text and might choose it for a featured snippet.

You should also make sure that your video content is high quality.
I write the entire voice transcript in the description area of the video, right under my other social links.
This allows me to combine my video efforts and my SEO and keyword research plans, optimizing my videos for featured snippets, too.
Conclusion
Trying to keep up with Google can be absolutely exhausting.
But it looks like featured snippets aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re on the rise. That means that pages with featured snippets are dominating search queries.
They’re the first thing that comes up in most SERPs and they’re more than just plain links.
Earning a featured snippet means that you rank for position zero, which is the highest ranking spot possible without advertising.
If you want to boost conversions, drive visitors to your website, and beat your competition easily, ranking for featured snippets is the answer.
Now that you know exactly what featured snippets are, there’s no excuse not to try and rank for them.
Start out by finding out which featured snippets your competitors rank for with a tool like SEMrush. You can also use Google to find other featured snippet opportunities.
Use Answer The Public to identify tons of potential content ideas, and be sure to answer as many related questions as possible in one article.
Keep the word count for each question brief: no more than 50 words. Use headers to break up steps and lists, too.
Don’t forget to add a “how-to” or Q&A area to your website to give content that you optimize for featured snippets a place to live.
And add lots of high-quality images and videos where you can. Create voice transcripts for videos so that Google will recognize the text and consider your videos for snippets, too.

One of the best ways to find snippets that you can optimize content for is to think like your audience.
What questions are people actually trying to find answers for?
For instance, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is new to marketing and may not understand some common terms.
There are a whole lot of terms and acronyms in the marketing world that can be intimidating and confusing to people who aren’t familiar with them.
Do a short search, such as “What is a CTA in marketing?”
For this search query, there’s a featured snippet in the form of a paragraph.
For the term you look for, the snippet might contain a list or a series of steps. And who knows — the featured content might already be yours.
If it isn’t, check out ideas under the “People also ask” section.

These are questions related to the search you already entered. To look at snippets for each search query, just expand the phrase by clicking the arrows on the right.

Then, you can read through the full snippet for each related question.
This is a quick way to identify competitors and content ideas in one easy step. Now, you can steal their snippet with a bit of time and effort.
You can also identify some questions by using a site like Answer the Public.
Tip #3: Find content ideas on Answer the Public
Since questions are most likely to bring up featured snippets, you’ve got to answer how, what, when, where, why, or who.
The best place to find out the types of questions people might be asking about a particular topic is Answer the Public.
Let’s say you want to learn more about apple pie.
Just type it in and you’ll receive tons of suggestions for questions related to the topic that you can answer with your content.
Then, pick which angle you want to take. If you want to answer questions that address the “what,” just focus on that section.
Then, pick a question to answer from that group. It’s that simple!
Keep in mind that you may want to do some keyword research before you do this to make sure the words you’re searching are SEO friendly.
Tip #4: Do keyword research
It’s time for some good old keyword research.
You should already be doing it. But you can optimize your keyword research to help you get featured snippets, too.
It’s a good idea to use a tool or two to find out if a search query will bring up featured results or not.
I like Serpstat because it allows me to easily see which keywords bring up featured snippets on the results page.

Now that’s pretty neat, right?
Just type in a domain, keyword, or link, and hover over each result to see if featured snippets come up for each.
This is awesome for uncovering which featured snippets your competitors are currently ranking for.
Plus, if you already rank high for a particular keyword, it’s worth finding out if Google currently brings up featured snippets for those keywords.
If they do, try to rank for it by identifying (and answering) the questions that people have about that topic.
Then, just format your content to include tags that relate to those questions.
It’s also important to answer more than one question in each of your articles.
Tip #5: Answer multiple questions
Do you remember the Ahrefs study from earlier?
Well, it also uncovered that once a page earns a featured snippet, it’s more likely to become featured in other related queries.
That’s why you should structure your article in a way that answers every related question in one location.
Focus on beefing up one solid article that answers tons of questions rather than multiple articles if you want to earn featured snippets.
Word count is a huge factor to consider, too.
Tip #6: Stay within the optimal word count
Keep your section tight and concise so that Google can easily feature your content.
Section off your lists, paragraphs, and steps rather than letting them all run together.
Just look at this list — it’s only 52 words long!
According to SEMrush, this is a pretty normal length for a featured snippet. Their analysis found that “[t]he most common length of content in featured snippets is between 40-50 words.”
Because of this, you should try and keep each section of content no longer than 50 words and no shorter than 40.
Use headers to break up your content sections.
Tip #7: Use headers
One quick, simple way to format your content for featured snippets is to make sure that you break up each section.
Use the “Paragraph styles” section on Google Docs or in WordPress to do this.
Organize your steps, lists, or paragraphs with headers. I prefer h2 headers, myself. Use h1, h2, h3, or h4, and be sure to organize your subheadings by size.
For example, a subheading under a main heading that is h3 should be h4, not h2.
If you add “Step 1, Step 2” or “Rule 1, Rule 2” to each heading phrase, Google will place them in chronological order.
So be sure to format your article in chronological order, too, so that Google will be more likely to feature it.
Another great tip is to add a whole new are

Brands must listen before they speak

In order for brands to connect with consumers, they need to understand how to speak the same language as their target audience. Reaching that understanding, however, starts with listening. And if brands fail to listen, consumers will sense they’re not operating on the same wavelength as them and won’t hesitate to bid companies adieu.

I am Raj Pavi, creator of AI Insider, an AI powered SEO Tool which we use inhouse to outrank any of your competition. If you have any digital marketing assistance, please dont hesitate to contact us. Our site is www.DCDigitlas.com

If you are new here, please consider subscribing.
Company Aerie
Sometimes brands move in the opposite direction and take a gamble by highlighting issues that aren’t trending in their respective industries. For teen retailer Aerie, such a bold move has paid dividends.
While most lingerie retailers focused on using models and a single body type for advertisements, Aerie paid close attention to what actual customers wanted, attaching itself to the conversation women were having online regarding body acceptance and female empowerment. The underwear brand encouraged people to celebrate body positivity and diversity by uploading selfies of themselves online with #AerieREAL. It even gave some women the chance to be cast in Aerie’s latest campaign.
The result? Aerie’s decision to promote authenticity and user-generated content has seen the retailer become a real threat to established market leaders, and the company now approaches a $1 billion valuation.

Bridging the gap: Brands as community builders
It’s no secret brands are already tackling a variety of social and political issues online, taking a stand when it comes to sensitive topics. For brands, the challenge isn’t whether or not to engage in thorny conversations. Instead, they need to identify opportunities to lead those discussions in a way that unites, not divides, consumers.
To bring people together around social and political issues, more than two thirds (67%) of consumers believe brands should raise awareness around those issues on their social platforms. Fifty-six percent of consumers would like brands to highlight awareness days or months on social, similar to how Barbie’s #MoreRoleModels campaign showcased female role models for International Women’s Day. A little under half of consumers (49%) say brands should use social to raise donations and 47% want brands to start conversations with their followers to rally people around touchy subjects.
Which topics brands choose to highlight also matters to consumers. Over three quarters of consumers (76%) say brands talking about natural disasters or crises could unite people on social, while 74% point to education as an appropriate topic for conversation. Other social issues consumers see as opportunities to unite an audience include environmental issues, human rights and poverty.

Some brands will choose to tackle issues that have the potential to be divisive because they know it will pay off and can deepen connections with consumers who share similar beliefs. Nike, for example, made NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of an ad that ran during the NFL’s regular-season opener, a move that ultimately paid off; spotlighting Kaepernick resulted in the company’s stock closing at an all-time high. Similarly, the shoe company TOMS launched a social campaign closely aligned with the brand’s beliefs in philanthropy and addressing issues that matter. Since advocating for gun reform on its website and social channels, TOMS estimates consumers sent over 750,000 postcards to state representatives in the last year.

adidas
As part of its commitment to removing barriers in sports, adidas launched the She Breaks Barriers initiative. This global movement builds on a previous campaign called #CreatorsUnite and aims to inspire and support the upcoming generation of female athletes with the tagline, “When creators unite, she breaks barriers.”
The sportswear manufacturer has invited fans, organizations and athletes to use the campaign hashtag on social and to share their personal stories, opinions and solutions on how to remove gender barriers in sports. Participants also have the option to submit ideas directly on the adidas website. By fostering conversation, and also partnering with influencers and advocates working towards women’s equality in sports, adidas hopes to raise awareness—and generate solutions—around the obstacles women face in athletics.

New data from Sprout Social reveals that four out of five consumers believe society is more divided today than ever before. Asked what factors contribute to society’s fracturing, 72% point fingers at government and political leaders, and over half of consumers (55%) say social media is to blame.
But despite the negativity, people remain hopeful. Hopeful that social media, for all its flaws, can actually heal society’s divisions and reconnect people with one another. Ninety-one percent of consumers believe social can connect people, and 78% want brands to use social to bring them together. Unlike partisan public figures, brands find themselves uniquely positioned to foster connections between people online.

How brands today benefit when they facilitate connection on social.
This video explains why consumers see brands as ideal facilitators of connection and how brands can establish meaningful relationships with consumers by acting as connectors first and sellers second.

I am Raj Pavi, creator of AI Insider, an AI powered SEO Tool which we use inhouse to outrank any of your competition. If you have any digital marketing assistance, please dont hesitate to contact us. Our site is www.DCDigitlas.com

If you are new here, please consider subscribing.

Key findings
Brands are no strangers to social. But, by and large, brands have only just begun to realize the value of truly connecting with consumers and treating social as more than a channel for promotion. Here are the top five findings from our research on the business value of building connections through social channels:
People believe brands and social media can power connections. Despite feelings of division, 91% of people believe in social’s power to connect people. More specifically, 78% of consumers want brands to use social to help people connect with each other.
Social is the number one channel for brands to connect with consumers. When asked which communication channels give brands the best opportunity to connect with their customers, survey respondents ranked social media as number one.
Connection breeds loyalty and bottom line growth. Investing in relationships with consumers directly impacts business revenue and strengthens customer loyalty. When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.
Real people are the key to authentic relationships. Consumers want to learn more about the people behind their favorite brands. Seventy percent of consumers, for example, report feeling more connected when a brand’s CEO is active on social. Additionally, 72% of consumers report feeling similarly when employees share information about a brand online.
People want brands to connect them to other people. And they don’t mean only those with similar mindsets. Sixty-two percent believe social can unify people of different backgrounds and beliefs, and more than half (52%) expressed interest in connecting with individuals different from them.

Connection is the new currency
Our newsfeeds today overflow with constant breaking news stories and examples of leaders pitting one group against another. All the political strife can make it a challenge to find a true connection. But while 72% of consumers cite government and political leaders as playing a significant role in dividing society, people have a much more favorable outlook when it comes to brands.
Their expectations for brands are high. Consumers expect brands to serve as connectors, whether that means fostering connection with their own customers or bringing together people with different perspectives. In fact, nearly two thirds (64%) of consumers want brands to connect with them, while just under half (49%) expect brands to bring people together toward a common goal.

But what defines a connection between a brand and consumers?
For starters, it’s not just about a brand’s popularity. Metrics like audience size and pageviews matter, but they say little about consumer sentiment or why someone stays loyal to a particular company. A growing number of followers, for example, doesn’t reveal why someone feels an attachment to a specific brand or if a shopper is truly loyal to one business over another.
When asked to reflect on their relationship with brands, two thirds of consumers equate feeling connected with trust. Furthermore, 53% of people say they feel connected when that brand’s values align with their own. And more than half (51%) say their relationship with a brand starts when they feel the brand understands them and their desires.

Of all the communication channels available to them, consumers point to social media as providing brands the greatest opportunity to truly connect with their audiences. Other effective channels for connection include TV/radio advertising, email and direct mail to consumers’ homes. Social ads round out the top five.

Are you struggling to rank some keywords that should be easy? Are you having trouble attracting an audience to your site, even though you think you’re offering some great information? If so, then maybe you should consider adding more long-form content.
To put it succinctly, long-form content can make you look like more of an expert in your field, increase the likelihood of engagement and sharing, improve your search engine results page (SERP) rank, and increase your audience; because of your content, you will be viewed as an “authority” on the subject. All of that works to your benefit and translates to better brand awareness.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is variously defined throughout the Interweb. However, the consensus is pretty clear on one point: If you’re just looking to get past a 500-word mark so that the search engines take notice of your content, then you’re not publishing long-form content.
My personal rule of thumb is that anything less than 1,500 words isn’t long-form content. I’d advise to aim for over 2000 words, since 1,500 is (in my opinion) is the minimum. That way, you’ll have a competitive advantage with the extra cushion.
But why not go all in? Set a goal of 4,000 words for your long-form content.

A Recently Recognized Benefit
The benefits of long-form content in the digital sphere have only recently begun to gain recognition. Believe it or not, it was long believed that digital long-form content was a bad idea:
When readers started moving to the internet, media analysts thought long-form journalism was in trouble. Attention spans were going to shrivel. Readers wanted short, they wanted snappy, they wanted 140 characters and not much more (though a listicle on the side couldn’t hurt). Who would want to scroll through an 8,000-word article on an iPhone screen?Naomi Sharp
Many are now realizing that the inevitable “death” of long-form content was greatly exaggerated, and digital marketers are discovering that long-form content is extremely valuable for both users and search engines alike.
The SEO Benefit
The exact algorithm that Google uses to determine which pages should go straight to the top of the SERPs for a given query is, of course a mystery
However, curious engineers can tinker and experiment — as much as the search engines will allow them — to gain some insight about what ranks well.
Long-Form Content Ranks Very Well
Back in 2012, serpIQ conducted a study involving more than 20,000 keywords. The results showed that the average content length of each of the top 10 results was more than 2,000 words. The average number of words for the content in the #1 spot was 2,416. For the #10 spot, the average number of words was 2,032.
That evidence is fairly conclusive. If you want your articles to rank well, consider using long-form content.
Google Says So
The theory that long-form content benefits search engine optimization (SEO) is corroborated by a hint that’s been dropped on the Google Webmasters Central Blog. Pandu Nayak, technical staff member at Google and creator of the Panda algorithm update, posted the following:
Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.
That’s a very suggestive hint that long-form content tends to rank well. Nayak also advised webmasters to use schema.org markup, authorship markup (the rich snippet for which has since disappeared from search results) and provide information about the company’s logo when producing long-form content as a way to further increase the likelihood of a good ranking.
Long-Form Content Garners More Backlinks, On Average
Not only do the search engines seem to intrinsically love long content, but you’ll find an additional SEO benefit from writing a couple of thousand words: more backlinks. Of course, those additional backlinks will help you rank with the SERPs, as well.
A study conducted by Moz shows a direct correlation between the length of the content and the number of backlinks pointing to it. It’s further evidence that long-form content is great for SEO.
Still, Only Death And Taxes Are Guaranteed
Before you trot back to your content management system with this newfound knowledge, thinking with certainty that if you speed-type 2,078 words about how to lose 50 pounds in six weeks you’re going to be in the #1 spot on Google’s search results, keep in mind that you’re not guaranteed to rank well just because you use long-form content.
The fact of the matter is that the search engine algorithms look at a lot of factors. I could, of course, go on about all the factors, but that is not really what this post is about.
Still, all else being equal, quality long-form content should increase the likelihood that you’ll rank for relevant terms. And that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

4. Jetoctopus: Jetoctopus is a cloud-based web crawler tool, that also provides a “Cannibalization report“. This tool is another easy to use tool, and here is how you can use it:
Create an account on Jetoctopus
Add your website
Connect with Google search console
Under GSC keywords > Cannibalization you can request for cannibalization report

5. Ahrefs:
Ahrefs is another popular SEO tool that lets you see if more than one pages is trying to rank for the same keyword. You can use the Google sheet provided by them to create a quick report of all pages impacted with Keyword cannibalization.

5. Google Search console I saved the best for the last, and this one works for all types of websites. You could use Google search console to diagnose the cannibalization issue.
Login to Google search console
Select your domain and click on Performance > Search results
Search for keyword that you suspect is affected by cannablization

Click on pages, and you will have a list of pages that are trying to rank for the common keyword.

Now, based on research, you can decide how do you want to proceed with fixing this issue.

There might be more tools to identify Keyword cannibalization, so far I have found these tools to be the best.
How to fix the cannibalized content issues for SEO?
Once you have a list of pages that are competing for same keywords, the real work starts here.
Tip:
Start with fixing the most obvious cannibalized content. Usually, you would see an immediate impact in overall search engine ranking, and search traffic.

Be ready for wild traffic and ranking move for the next few days (While you fix your website), but if you are doing it right, you will be seeing the great results in months to come.
There are a few actions you could take at this stage to recover from cannibalization SEO penalty.
1. Fix On page SEO:
Often fixing on page SEO stuff such as:
Meta title
Meta description
Remove Keyword
Changing search intent

Helps in giving clear message to search engine about your target keywords. Internal link plays a major role, and something I have discussed in depth in the next section.

This is also a good time to start using any on-page SEO tools like SEMRush writing assistant, Frase or similar tools to optimize your pages based on real-world SEO data.

2. Update internal links:
A lot of time keyword cannibalization happens due to poor internal linking structure. It is common to see, a webmaster linking two different pages with the same anchor text, and this is by far one of the common reasons for cannibalization on older websites. What you could do here is, go through all the internal links of 2 cannibalized pages, and fix the internal anchor texts.
I have used extensively used this plugin called “WP Link Status” to find anchor text to any pages on my website.
This plugin also helps in quickly updating the anchor text or manipulating the links. Either way, WP Link status pro plugin is going to be really helpful to find and fix anchor text issues.

3. Delete Content:
This is perhaps the fastest way to fix the cannibalized content problem. Once you have identified pages that are trying to rank for the same keyword, you can delete one of the pages which do not serve the purpose.
After deleting the page, you have two options:
Option 1:
Set 404 or 410 code for the delete page and use Google URL removal tool to remove the page from web-index
After 48 hours or so (once page is removed from web-index), change the status code from 404 or 410 code, and 301 redirect it to the page you picked as a winner.
I usually do the option 1, as I’m dealing with limited content. (About 2000 articles).
Option 2:
301 redirect the deleted content to the winning page.
Note: You can also noindex the content and publish as a guest post on other websites, earning a solid backlink.
4. Merge two content:
Over the time, the search evolves and it would make more sense to merge two articles into one, and a quick google search could reveal the same.
An example from my experience is here:
I had two different pages talking about:
Article 1: What is managed WordPress hosting
Article 2: Best managed WordPress hosting
Both of them are two seperate article, and for long they both were ranking on the 1st page for different search intent.
However, I started noticing traffic drop on both of them, and a quick Google search also revealed, competitors are creating a single page answering both the topics in one. Moreover, Google has started giving weightage to a single article (covering both the intent) over two separate articles.
This is simply how the search was evolving for this keyword/topic, and the best course of action was to merge both of them into one, and thus also satisfy searchers intent.
When you are in similar situation, here are the steps you could
Check the page SEO score (Page authority) of both the pages.
Check and compare the organic traffic to both the pages. I use Mon

Is your website losing traffic?
Is your organic traffic going down?
Are you losing keyword ranking?
Despite trying hard, you are not able to reach on page #1 (Even with new content)
If you answer yes to one or more of this, You might be a victim of Keyword cannibalization.
What is “Cannibalization in SEO” and how it works?
How to find if your website is impacted by Keyword cannibalization
And
How to fix keyword cannibalism issue.
This is what you are going to learn today.

This is an extra-ordinary issue that could happen to anyone who has a website, and never focused on Keyword mapping or building logical internal links or could be happen due to uncontrollable circumstances

Let’s dive deep into this subject, and learn something new today.

Keyword cannibalization is an SEO issue that occurs when more than one page of your website is trying to rank for the same/similar keywords. This confuses the search engine, and it periodically tries to understand which one of the pages should be ranked on the first page.

In a lack of clear direction, it lowers down the ranking of all pages, and none of them rank for the target keyword.

Another common cause of Keyword cannibalization is when a webmaster creates multiple pages targeting the same topic. This may work initially, but as search evolves, those different pages end up serving the same searcher intent.
Most of the time this happens unintentionally, but the traffic and ranking impact of this is severe.
In my finding, I have seen an entire cluster of pages (category) losing the ranking because of keyword cannibalism.

What I found most interesting is, when keyword cannibalization is fixed, it resulted in improved ranking of entire category of pages.

I have tested this theory on a few websites, and every time the competing pages were identified, and proper action is taken, there is a significant improvement in the overall keyword ranking and hence traffic.
Cannibalization is one uncommon SEO issue where a lot of webmasters are not even aware of it. If your website is impacted by it, identifying and fixing this issue would do wonders for your website traffic.
Before that, let’s understand the common causes of cannibalization.
What Causes cannibalization?
1. Creating multiple pages targeting the same keyword:
A lot of bloggers and content marketers, end up creating a lot of pages targeting the same or similar keywords and hoping one of them would rank. This is now an age-old practice and something you should avoid. You can rather create a long-form article to target a bunch of keywords.
2. Improper internal linking:
This is another most common root cause of content cannibalization. At times, bloggers use the same “Keyword” on different articles to link to different pages. This is one sure shot way to confuse search engine bots and hence results in content cannibalization.
Often this is caused due to backlinks with wrong anchor text.

Interlinking of blog posts is one very important parameter of on-page SEO. It improves the contextual score of your blog and also helps in ranking higher in the search engine.
I have seen many bloggers rely heavily on related posts section for interlinking, which is not the best solution. To make your on-Page SEO and on-site SEO strong, you should have proper internal linking between your blog posts.
In WordPress, there are various ways to interlink your blog posts, and in this guide, I will share all the best available methods that you can use right away.
Most of the solutions listed below are free and only one of them is paid, which I personally use for all my work.
Before I share WordPress interlinking solutions, let me quickly share what are the direct benefits of interlinking your articles:

Crawling and Deep-Indexing: Interlinking helps search engine bots to crawl and index your articles effectively.
Bounce rate and more page views: Right interlinking helps reduce the bounce rate to a great extent. The only key here is, your linking should be relevant.
Passes link juice: It passes link juice from one page to another. This is one reason, I highly recommend to link from your old articles to a new one.
On page SEO benefit: Interlinking also helps in on-page SEO.

Now, let’s look at all the available solution for WordPress bloggers to interlink their blog posts like a pro.

Best WordPress Interlinking Plugins and tricks

1. Linkwhisper

Linkwhisper is the most advanced interlinking WordPress plugin available in the market. The beauty of the plugin is, once you install it, within seconds it will scan all of your WordPress websites and start suggesting you words that you could link to.
I have never found any similar plugin which helps in improving the internal link of WordPress.
2. Interlinks Manager

This is the modern auto internal linking plugin for WordPress which is also Gutenberg ready. Interlinks Manager plugin offers the following features which you would require in 2020:
Calculate the link juice
Set words to automatic link to link of your choice
Include/Exclude custom post type
Suggest internal links in the post editing section (This is super useful)
Track the internal links
Export data to CSV

3. SEO Smart Link Premium

This plugin is for the automatic interlinking of blog articles. It automatically links your taxonomies (tags and categories) and you can set your own rules for automatic interlinking. For example, you can choose to link all articles with “Make money online” in them to link to a specific blog post. Such a command will automatically interlink old and future posts containing the word “Make money online” with your specific link.
Similarly, you can have unlimited linking and especially for blogs with huge content, this plugin is a time-saver. The premium version of the plugin also offers the caching feature so that your blog doesn’t slow down. This is a paid plugin and costs about $149.
4. Wordpress default search and interlink

WordPress also offers a default feature to let you quickly interlink your blog posts. Whenever you select a text and click on the hyperlink to add a link, you can search for your published post from there and link it directly to the anchor text. This is a default feature of WordPress and it’s very useful. Update: Yoast premium can also be used to improve internal linking. However, it’s not automated but worth looking at.

Conclusion: Which is the best plugin for interlinking blog posts?
I currently use a combination of Linkwhisper + Yoast SEO Premium to manage internal linking. Linkwhisper lacks the auto-internal linking, and this is one feature that I stopped using since last algorithm update. The manual internal linking offers better relevancy and Linkwhisper matching engine makes it easier to do just that.
There are a few more plugins that are available, but these are the best solutions that you can use for WordPress interlinking. Do let me know what strategy you follow for blog posts interlinking.
Don’t forget to share this video with others, as it would help them to understand the importance of interlinking and how to do it.

Guidelines Recap
Create one new blog post to link to each money site
No more than 1 link per money site
Keep all links permanently on the homepage (usually restricts you to about 8 links, if every post on your site doesn’t include a link)
Try to include around 4 links in total to authority sites
12 Advanced Strategies
Network Clustering
Earlier in this guide, we covered hosting and I briefly mentioned that you could host multiple websites on a single hosting plan with zero risk. This is done with clustering.
This is very professional diagram showing what the opposite of clustering looks like…
You can see that the mixed network just links out to every money site. Not every PBN site will link to every money site, but there will be a linking footprint throughout the network. Example here:
PBNS stands for “Private Blog Network Site”.
If Google found out about the Weight Loss Site, or PBNS1, the entire network could be infiltrated. Like so:
Here is a quick example of clustering. Usually people do it around niches their PBN sites are in. This allows you to get niche relevant backlinks, but there is a flaw..
Once again, the risk here is that if a single money site or PBN site is infiltrated, they may be able to pull apart your whole network.
Instead you should ensure that no money site has links from more than a single cluster. For example:
Using the example above, if you had 25 sites per cluster. If the weight loss site received a full backlink manual review, the worst case scenario is you lose the health cluster – not the others. Same if the health cluster sites were manually reviewed, you could only lose sites part of that cluster.
You can link to as many sites as you like in a single cluster, and you can have as many PBN sites in a single cluster as you like, but this gives you a security pre-caution of not potentially losing your entire network at once.
It also saves you a small fortune. It also allows you to host PBN sites from different clusters on the same hosting account, as they will never link to the same websites.
To put this into perspective, if your average hosting bill is $8 per blog for reputable hosts, but you own 10 different clusters, that brings your bill down to only $0.8 per blog.
If you are just starting out, now is the perfect time to learn about network clusters. Once your network is big enough to rank the money site(s) you are currently working on, you can separate that as one cluster and start building the next.
Remember you can rank up to 8 money sites off of a single PBN site, therefore off of a single cluster, it’s just about eliminating your risk as much as possible.
If you work with high end clients, you can even go as far as creating separate clusters for each individual client. Same goes for if you have affiliate sites that make 4 figures plus per month.
Also a cluster does not need to be niche relevant, that’s just convenient. You can mix this in with any of the site theming methods covered above.

Creating Posts
In the past, the method was to quickly write 300 words, include an image, and you’re done.
These days we take it to the next level while actually making it even easier on ourselves. There are now five types of blog posts…
Infographic Posts
Where you share an infographic, add an introduction, and write a conclusion or summary of what you learned from this
Video Reviews
Where you share a video (or multiple) and summarise / review the videos
Image Gallery
Where you share an image gallery and explain the images
Standard article
500-700 words with image or video
Introduction post
Having that mix of videos, image galleries, and infographics make it much more visually appealing.
Plus they make it even easier to write content, all you need to do is recap an infographic or add your own thoughts to it, much easier than researching and writing a whole new article.
Bonus Tip: Research some long-tail keywords and create SEO optimised content so it ranks well and brings in additional traffic and links. Our testing showed this increase the effectiveness of PBN links.
Creating Pages
There are numerous types of pages you can create, niche relevant ones are a good idea, but here are some absolute standard go-to ones if you need:
About – Write about the website, team, author, or all
Contact us – Explain why people should contact them and include contact form
Events / Workshops – For dates put “in 2 weeks” or “this sunday”, explain what the event is about
Advertising – Have information about advertising on the site and a contact form
Why we created XYZ – Explain the backstory of why the blog was created
FAQ – Answer frequently asked questions about the topic / website
Tips – Have a contact form with information about how to send an article tip in
Resources – Useful advice, links to useful authority sites/videos, book recommendations
Privacy Policy / Terms and Conditions
Make sure to mix up how you are naming these though across all your different websites, for example:
Rather than “about” it could be.. About us, About this website, About [sitename], What is this, Who are we.
How To Steal Free Content
As we’re already breaking rules, here’s an unethical (and illegal?) method people are using to get free content for their sites. Use this at your own discretion.
Remember the Wayback Machine we referenced earlier? It’s a great way for determining what the website used to be about.
Well, as well as doing this, you can also completely copy the contents of the previous website [of your domain]. You can do this by completely copying the website, which can be outsourced for a measly $5. Or you can simply copy and paste the content into your blog.
The reason this works is that the content is that the content is no longer being used, therefore not indexed by search engines. This can even pass manual reviews.
Anyway, once you have the content down, you need to do the final touches before it is ready to start linking, this part is called…
10 Site Structuring
Site Structuring
Even with the addition of content, your blog will look very “default”. You need to make it look like a real website someone setup to use.
This breaks down into 3 parts:
Logo
Navigation Bar
Sidebar
11 Linking To Your Money Site 1Recap – A money site is the website you intend on ranking i.e. the one that actually makes money. This can also refer to a clients website.
Once your PBN sites are up and running, you can start linking them to your money sites.
First, make sure you test them. I’ve got bad news:
Sometimes your domains will be toxic, meaning, they’ll not only provide no improvements, they’ll also cause your rankings to drop.
This shouldn’t happen often if you’re buying quality auction domains, but either way, make sure to test every site before fully adding it to your network.
Here’s an interesting guide on how to do this on Diggity Marketing.
Now let’s talk about creating the links…
Basic Strategy
There are multiple types of links based on the position they’re located:
Footer = Links from the footer of a website
Sidebar = Links from the sidebar of a website
Image = Links from an image (ideally with optimised alt text)
Contextual = Links from within content
With PBNs we’re focused exclusively on contextual links, meaning we’ll need to publish new content (i.e. blog post) on the website every time we want to create a link.
Ideally, this content should be relevant to your money site, and bonus points for including long-tail keywords to rank the content.
This isn’t always obvious, having a PBN site related to plumbing means you can easily link to a plumbing website. But what if you have a PBN site about web design for that plumbing website?
Then you’ll want to use “Niche Matching”.
Simply match the content to both niches, for example, let’s say you have five domains that were previously used as:
Personal weight loss journal site
Web designers blog
Legal advice site
Financial blog
Construct

Option 2. Cityscaping
Cityscaping: The act of building a website around a real city with semi-fictional content.
Say you are setting up a PBN and come across the domain “springfieldmoms.com”. You’re thinking, “that’s stupid, I don’t even have anything going on in springfield, that’ll look fishy on a manual review”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sites like these are truly dynamic. There are over 30 cities named “Springfield” in the US. Pick one that suites your purpose and go check out the official city’s website. Perhaps you are targeting something in Massachusetts. In that case, head over to http://www3.springfield-ma.gov/cos/ and get all your content. Your menu and pages might look something like this:
Home
About (About Springfield Moms, mission statement whatever)
Club Officers (Fake names and roles in the club, great place to put some photos)
Springfield News (Page that just pulls in the actual city’s news feed)
Event Calendar (Embed the actual city’s event calendar)
Contact (contact form + small blurb)
And here is an example format of your first 8 posts:
Blog introduction
City event from the official calendar (Festival, Farmer’s Market, etc)
Featured Business of the Month – If your niche is weight loss your featured business of the month might be “Lake View Fitness Center”. The Article could be “5 tips on losing that holiday weight” with your link strategically placed in there.
Fun facts about the city (wikipedia link)
City Event from the official calendar (Festival, Farmers Market, whatever)
Youtube video from that city
Featured Business of the Month (Repeat formula from the last one)
Pictures from the last city event
and so on…
Option 3. Keep the old niche
If the domain you purchased is relevant to your money sites, then perfect, just keep the same niche. But even if it wasn’t, you can still follow this option (content relevancy is more important than overall site relevancy).
Start by figuring out the niche of the domain.
You can often guess the old niche based on the domain, but there are two other ways of finding it very easily.
The first is the Wayback Machine, a website/tool that saves regular copies of websites, allowing you to “jump back in time” to see what a website used to look like.
You can then look back in time and select any date that comes up
You will now be shown what the website used to look like on that date.
Some times there are issues loading it completely, maybe some images are missing, or the style is messed up, but it shows you exactly what the website used to be about.
The other way is to use Majestic or Ahrefs and look at the websites that link to it. Majestic also has a very useful “Topical Trust Flow” feature:
This tries to figure out the topic or niche of the website, based on the websites that link to it. In this example, we can see it is fairly accurate for the website goodreads.com, with the top 2 topics being libraries and literature.
Some times this isn’t that accurate, and you can look at the top

Where To Find Domains
Knowing what to look for in domains is only part of the game, next you need to know where to find the domains.
Before we cover that, you need to understand the types of domains to find.
Expired VS Expiring Domains
Expired Domain – A domain that fully dropped and is available to register from any registrar at standard domain registration costs. These tend to be weaker and take months to age before being worth linking.
Expiring Domain – A domain that reached its expiration date but was held onto by the registrar for auctioning / selling. These domains retain their age i.e. if they previous owner registered it 5 years ago, it remains a domain registered for 5 years.
My advice today is to purchase expiring domains only, unless you have a strategy for easily finding expired domains and purchasing them cheap.
The downsides of expired domains are:
They tend to be weaker (i.e. there’s a reason it’s expired and nobody else has attempted to purchase it)
They need aged – our testing showed, to get the power from these domains, you’ll need to setup a site and wait at least two months before adding links to get the full power from them
For this reason, I recommend exclusively purchasing domains from auctions or a broker that utilises auctions.
Option 1 – Finding a Broker
Here are some brokers you can buy from one at a time or in bulk.
Please note that I have not used all of these brokers, but I have at least heard good things from others about all of them.
TBSolutions
PureQualityDomains
SERPChampion
Option 2 – Using Auction Websites
Before scraping was popular, most people would buy domains from auctions. These are expiring domains, they keep their age because the registrar is selling it off after they owner failed to renew it.
You can usually find more powerful domains on auctions than from scraping because the dropped (expired) ones are picked up fast by your competition – if not already bought in the auction stages. The downside to auctions is that you pay extra to get first pick.
Some auction sites you can look at are:
NameJet – Potential to find high quality options
GoDaddy Auctions – Used to be THE place to buy PBN domains
NameCheap Auctions – Thousands available in the marketplace
Important Things To Note About When Purchasing Domains
Private is the first word in PBN.
You can’t hide from Google, you need them on your websites to see the links and pass on the power. But you do need to make sure there is no association between these websites. They need to look independently owned.
When buying domains, this means mixing up your domain registrars and registration dates. Do not always buy from the same one. And do not have your name and information in the whois for every domain.
Here are a few domain registrars to try:
NameCheap
Internet.bs
Name
Dynadot (quick heads up, these guys show your name even if you purchase whois protection)
GoDaddy (watch out for their expensive renewal fees)

7 Finding Hosting For The Domain
Finding Hosting For The Domain
Now that you have the domain(s) in your possession, you need to setup hosting so you can get your website(s) live.
To avoid Google (or anyone else) knowing you own all the websites, you need to put each of them on different hosting accounts.
If they were all hosted on the exact same server, it would be clear they are all associated with each other.
This need for separating hosting providers sparked the popularity of SEO hosting services.
The problem with “SEO hosts” though, is that most of them have footprints which show they are all the same provider. You can read about hosting footprints here.
The best thing you can do then is to hide in plain sight.
You do that by using popular hosts that real websites would use.
Here are some examples:
Premium Shared Hosts
ASmallOrange
BlueHost
HostGator
GreenGeeks
HawkHost
DigitalOcean (technical)
Amazon Web Services (technical)
CloudFlare (read my guide)
Incapsula (read my guide)
Most of these are expensive in comparison to SEO hosts or cheap shared hosts, but it’s worth it for the reduced risk of losing your network.
Thankfully, there is a cheaper option.
My friend Kevin decided to purchase reseller accounts from all the popular shared hosting companies recommended here, and will host your PBN sites on them for a significantly lower rate (starting at only $1.82/m per site).
There is a cost associated with setting this all up, and it can be scary for beginners, but the overall ROI from ranking top with multiple sites should easily justify it.
Later in the video we’ll cover an advanced strategy named clustering. This will allow you to host multiple PBN sites on the same hosting account with zero risk – but only if your hosting plan allows it. So make sure the packages you purchase allow multiple domains and MySQL databases.
For now, just know that the safest way is to only host 1 website per host, and to use high quality hosts,

Starting from the absolute basics, we’ll be guiding you through how to setup, manage, and use a PBN in 2020.
What is a PBN?
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites used to build links to your money website(s) for the purpose of ranking higher in the Google search engine.
A money website is the website you intend on ranking i.e. the one that actually makes money. This can also refer to a clients website.
In its most basic structure, the finished result appears like this:
PBNS stands for ‘PBN Site’, referring to a website that is part of your private blog network.
One very important detail here is that each of the individual PBN sites are not linked to each other in any way. The idea of a private blog network is that the websites appear unrelated to each other, therefore natural links, as opposed to someone linking to their own website from their other websites.
2 Is it against Google’s guidelines?
Absolutely.The only time Google are going to tell you exactly how to rank is when they are advising you to use AdWords. But for ranking within the organic results, they are the worst source for information.
And I would do the exact same if I were in their position. Why tell you how to rank for free, when you make over $40 billion per year from ad revenue.
Does it work?Take a look at these headlines from September, 2014:
If it didn’t work, I’m sure Google wouldn’t be attempting to target them and scare people away from the strategy.
And yes, this was little more than a scare tactic, people are still building networks and ranking as easily as ever.
4 Why does it work?
Links are the most important ranking factor.
It turns out that backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really really big win in terms of quality of search results.
That is a quote from Matt Cutts, when asked about excluding backlink relevancy from the algorithm.
What makes this strategy effective is the websites that form a PBN are regarded by Google as authoritative. You are not receiving links from some brand new website, nor a spammy untrustworthy one, you are receiving links from a popular website Google’s algorithm loves.
To understand how this works, here is a figurative example…
An initiative was launched in 2011 to help clean up the streets in Chicago. They had a website setup under cleanchicagostreets.com.
The initiative received a lot of publicity, they were featured on their local governments website and local news websites.
They raised enough publicity and money to follow through their plan. And they did, all within a year.
Now their website is no longer needed, and has become a pointless cost to renew the hosting and domain. So they leave it to expire.
This is a domain that has links from local government websites and local news websites. And because it has links from these highly trustworthy sites, Google also presumes this website is trustworthy.

For many businesses, it makes sense to target traffic from specific countries.
But, how do we do that?
There are many factors that can help you to get country-specific traffic. For example, ShoutMeLoud is a popular blog in India & also globally.
I could actually work on targeting more U.S.-based traffic, but whenever I iterate my blogging business plan, I realize that it’s better to target an Indian audience as it provides less competition and a better supply: demand ratio.
There are very few blogs in India that teaches how to make money from blogging in a practical manner.
In this video, I will share some ideas that are likely to help you improve the traffic from your target country.

7 Ways Of Driving Country-Specific Website Traffic:
1. Domain Name Extension
Top level domain extensions like .com and .org usually rank higher on global search engines, but in order to have your blog or website target a specific country, buying a country-specific domain is always a good idea.
You may notice that most Aussie bloggers are using the .au domain extension, and they rank pretty high in Australian Google.
Similarly for India, you can target .in or .co.in as your domain extensions with good results in India. For traffic from the U.K. (United Kingdom), grab a .co.uk domain extension for the best results.
In an effort to preserve your brand, you can also buy other TLDs like .com or .org. But one major disadvantage of this idea is that you will find it very hard to rank on other country-specific search engines.
So, if your goal is clear and you know your target audience, a country-specific domain extension is your best bet.

2. Google Search console Geo-Targeting
Google search console, a free tool from Google for bloggers and webmasters, will be very helpful to a blogger or webmaster seeking country-specific traffic. This tool allows you to set which country your website is targeted to, which helps you get traffic from that targeted country.
Here is to use the country targeting feature of search console.
Login to Google search console
Click on international targeting under legacy tools and reports
Now, on the next page specify which country you wish to target.

3. Web Hosting Server Location
Another significant factor in driving geo-targeted traffic is your server location. If your target country for traffic is the U.S. (United States), you will want to host your website on U.S.-based servers. If you’re targeting traffic from Australia, host your website on Australian servers.
Example:
U.S.-based servers: Bluehost, SiteGround
India-based servers: A2Hosting
Europe server: SiteGround, Kinsta
Other factors like CDNs also help to speed up your website in different countries, but in order to remain focused on your target, host your website only in the country whose traffic you’re targeting.
This will ensure that your website will load faster in that country due to the server’s IP, and search engines bots will be able to determine the location of your server.
All of this will help your site to rank higher in your target country.
4. Backlinks
When Google Search was launched, they used backlinks to determine the popularity of content. Much has changed over time, but the importance of backlinks remains significant. For this reason, it is a good idea to target country-specific backlinks.
For example, if your target audience is in the U.K., try to get more backlinks from U.K.-based websites.
You can get country-based backlinks by taking advantage of guest blogging opportunities, or by spending some time learning the art of blog commenting. Both methods are proven and Penguin-safe… if done properly.
5. Content Level Targeting
Your content is the main signal that Google uses to determine which country you are targeting. If you are targeting multiple countries with your generic domain name extension (.com, .org), add the country’s name in your posts’ meta titles and descriptions. This will not only make your content more keyword-targeted, but it will also give a clear signal that you are targeting a specific country.
Additionally, the kind of content and language you are using in your articles will also determine the ranking of your website.
We all know that readability is a known SEO factor, and if your language is following Indian standards, targeting U.S. traffic will be very difficult. For this reason, you need to be sure to improve your language for the specific country whose traffic you’re targeting.
You can also hire writers or editors from that specific country who have excellent writing and grammatical skills in that country’s language.
6. Local SEO Using Google my business
This may not apply to a generic blog, but if you are running a service blog or an e-commerce website, Google business is going to be very handy.
Claim your business in Google business, and add all related information such as an address, phone number, etc.
This will help Google to determine the location of your

Semantic SEO is the practice of writing content search engine optimized around topics, not just individual keywords.
Why Is Semantic SEO Important?
Back in the day Google evaluated a page’s topic based 100% on keywords.
For example, if you wrote a page that used a keyword “Paleo Diet” over and over again, that told Google: “That keyword appears all over the page. This page must be about the Paleo Diet!”

Then, in 2013, Google launched their Hummingbird Algorithm.

This algorithm changed how Google worked in a major way.

Instead of only looking at keywords, they now read and understand a page’s overall topic.
For example, if you searched for “Paleo diet health benefits” pre-Hummingbird, Google would show you pages that had that exact phrase on the page:

But Hummingbird is smarter than that.
Yes, Google still looks for keywords. But they don’t rely on them.
So instead of only scanning pages for keywords, they look for pages that cover the topic “Paleo diet and health” best.
And present those results to users:

Best Practices
Publish “Topically Relevant” Content
I recently ran the largest Google ranking factors correlation study ever conducted (over a million search results analyzed).
And one of our most surprising findings was how powerful “Topically Relevant” content turned out to be.

So:
What is “Topically Relevant” content? And how can you optimize for it.
Topically Relevant content is a fancy way is describing content that covers and entire topic in-depth.
Write Topic Outlines
If you want to almost guarantee that your content is Topically Relevant, I HIGHLY recommend “Topic Outlines”.
Topic Outlines are outlines that list out all of the subtopics that you’re going to cover in your post.
And they make it easy to write the type of in-depth content that Google loves.
This Topic Outline listed all of the subtopics that fall under the greater topic of “backlinks”

Answer “People Also Ask” Questions
This is a cool tip that I recently picked up.
You might have noticed that Google now has these “People Also Ask” boxes in the search results.
People Also Ask Boxes are basically Google telling you: “These are burning questions that people have about this topic”.
And when you answer these questions in your content, you’ll not only rank better for your target keyword… but you can also show up inside of these “People Also Ask” boxes.
You can either answer these questions directly, like I did here in my post about nofollow links:
Or you can just cover the answer to that topic in your post.
For example, if you search for “backlinks” one of the questions is: “What is an example of a backlink”:
So I included an example in my content.

Simple.
Target Keyword Variations With The Same Page
When I first got into SEO, people used to create a different page for every variation of a keyword.
For example, you’d create one page optimized around “best cookie recipes”. And another optimized for “best cookies recipe”.
The idea was to create a page that was SUPER optimized around that specific keyword. And repeat the process for every different variation of that term.

This worked well… for a while.
But thanks to updates like Panda and Hummingbird, this approach doesn’t make sense anymore.
That’s because Google now shows nearly identical results for variations of the same keywords.
For example, when you do a search for “oatmeal cookie recipe” and “oatmeal cookies recipe”, the results are pretty much exactly the same:
That’s why you want to target multiple similar keywords with the same page.

Avoid Long Tail Keywords
You already learned it doesn’t make sense to optimize different pages around keyword variations..
Well, it turns out that the same rule also applies to most long tail keywords.
I’ll explain:
Long tail keywords are popular because they’re not super competitive.
The problem is this:
Thanks to Semantic SEO, Google now lumps similar long tail keywords under the same topic.
For example, take two long tail keywords like “link building tips” and “link building techniques”.
Google now understands that both of these long tail terms fall under the topic of “link building”.
Which is why the results for both are super similar.

Instead of long tail keywords, I recommend creating content around semi-competitive “Medium Tail” keywords.
And if your content is amazing enough, Google will automatically rank it for lots of long tail keywords.
This isn’t’ an insanely competitive keyword like “SEO”. But it’s also not a long tail keyword like: “best keyword research strategies”. It’s right in the middle.

Don’t Ignore Keywords Altogether
There’s been a lot of talk lately about “optimizing for topics, not keywords”.
And it’s 1000% WRONG.
As you just saw, Google can now understand a page’s topic. Which means you don’t need to spoon feed them different keyword variations and long tail keywords.
But that doesn’t mean that keywords are dead. Far from it.
In fact, Google s

Google leverages entity graphs similarly for search
Google leverages relational data (in a very similarly way to the above example) to form better understandings of digital objects to help provide the most relevant search results.
A kind of scary example of this is Google’s Expander: A large-scale ML platform to “exploit relationships between data objects.”
Machine learning is typically “supervised” (training data is provided, which is more common) or “unsupervised” (no training data). Expander, however, is “semi-supervised,” meaning that it’s bridging the gap between provided and not-provided data. ← SEO pun intended!
Expander leverages a large, graph-based system to infer relationships between datasets. Ever wonder why you start getting ads about a product you started emailing your friend about?
Expander is bridging the gap between platforms to better understand online data and is only going to get better.

People Also Ask - How to use PAA to rank high on Google
Part 2 .
1. Relational entity graphs for search
Here is a slide from a Google I/O 2016 talk that showcases a relational word graph for search results:
Solid edges represent stronger relationships between nodes than the dotted lines. The above example shows there is a strong relationship between “What are the traditions of halloween” and “halloween tradition,” which makes sense. People searching for either of those would each be satisfied by quality content about “halloween traditions.”
Edge strength can also be determined by distributional similarity, lexical similarity, similarity based on word embeddings, etc.
2. Infinite PAA machine learning hypothesis:
Google is providing additional PAAs based on the strongest relational edges to the expanded query.
You can continue to see this occur in infinite PAAs datasets. When a word with two lexical similarities overlaps the suggested PAAs, the topic changes because of it:
The above topic change occurred through a series of small relational suggestions. A PAA above this screenshot was “What is SMO stands for?” (not a typo, just a neural network doing its best people!) which led to "What is the meaning of SMO?", to “What is a smo brace?” (for ankles).
This immediately made me think of the relational word graph and what I envision Google is doing:
My hypothesis is that the machine learning model computes that because I’m interested in “SMO,” I might also be interested in ankle brace “SMO.”
There are ways for SEOs and digital marketers to leverage topical relevance and capture PAAs opportunities.
3. 4 ways to optimize for machine learning & expand your topical reach for PAAs:
Topical connections can always be made within your content, and by adding additional high quality topically related content, you can strengthen your content’s edges (and expand your SERP real estate). Here are some quick and easy ways to discover related topics:
#1: Quickly discover Related Topics via MozBar
MozBar is a free SEO browser add-on that allows you to do quick SEO analysis of web pages and SERPs. The On-Page Content Suggestions feature is a quick and simple way to find other topics related to your page.
Step 1: Activate MozBar on the page you are trying to expand your keyword reach with, and click the Page Optimization:
Step 2: Enter in the word you are trying to expand your keyword reach with:

Step 3: Click On-Page Content Suggestions for your full list of related keyword topics.

Step 4: Evaluate which related keywords can be incorporated naturally into your current on-page content. In this case, it would be beneficial to incorporate “seo tutorial,” “seo tools,” and “seo strategy” into the Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Step 5: Some may seem like an awkward add to the page, like “seo services” and “search engine ranking,” but are relevant to the products/services that you offer. Try adding these topics to a better-fit page, creating a new page, or putting together a strong FAQ with other topically related questions.

#2: Wikipedia page + SEOBook Keyword Density Checker*
Let’s say you're trying to expand your topical keywords in an industry you’re not very familiar with, like "roof repair." You can use this free hack to pull in frequent and related topics.
Step 1: Find and copy the roof Wikipedia page URL.
Step 2: Paste the URL into SEOBook’s Keyword Density Checker:
Step 3: Hit submit and view the most commonly used words on the Wikipedia page:

Step 4: You can dive even deeper (and often more topically related) by clicking on the "Links" tab to evaluate the anchor text of on-page Wikipedia links. If a subtopic is important enough, it will likely have another page to link to:

Step 5: Use any appropriate keyword discoveries to create stronger topic-based content ideas.
*This tactic was mentioned in Experts On The Wire episode on keyword research tools.

However, few people have come across infinite PAAs. These occur when you expand a PAA question box to see 2 or 3 other related questions appear at the bottom. These infinite PAA lists can continue into the hundreds, and I've been lucky enough to come across 75+ of these gems!
So, grab a coffee and buckle up! I’d like to take you on a journey of my infinite PAA research, discoveries, machine learning hypothesis, and how you can find PAA opportunities.
Why PAAs should matter to you
AAs have seen a 1,723% growth in SERPs since 7/31/15 via Mozcast! ← Tweet this stat!
Compare that to featured snippets, which have seen only a 328% growth since that timeframe.
Research has also shown that a single PAA can show up in 21 unique SERPs! How 'bout dem apples?! PAA opportunities can take over some serious SERP real estate.
My infinite PAA obsession
These mini-FAQs within search results have fascinated me since Google started testing of them in 2015. Then in November 2016, I discovered Google's PAA dynamic testing:
The above infinite PAA expanded into the hundreds! This became an obsession of mine as I began to notice them across multiple devices (for a variety of different searches) and coined them “PAA Black Holes.”
I began saving data from these infinite PAAs to see if I could find any patterns, explore how Google might be pulling this data, and dive deeper into how the questions/topics changed as a result of my expanding question boxes, etc.
After seeing a couple dozen infinite PAAs, I began to wonder if this was actually a test to implement in search, but several industry leaders assured me this was more likely a bug.
They were wrong.
Infinite People Also Ask boxes are live
Now integrated into U.S. SERPs (sorry foreign friends, but get ready for this to potentially migrate your way) you can play with these on desktop & mobile:
Why does Google want people to spend more time on individual SERPs (instead of looking at several)? Could they charge more for advertisements on SERPs with these sticky, expansive PAAs? Might they eventually start putting ads in PAAs? These are the questions that follow me around like a shadow.

3 big infinite PAA discoveries:
#1 - Google caters to browsing patterns in real time
It took me a while to grasp that I can manipulate the newly populated question boxes based on what I choose to expand.
Below, I encourage more Vans-related PAAs by clicking “Can I put my vans in the washing machine?” Then, I encourage more “mildew”-related ones simply by clicking a “How do you get the mildew smell out of clothes” PAA above:
Another example of this is when I clicked “organic SEO” at the very top of a 100+ PAA Black Hole (the gif would make you dizzy, so I took a screenshot instead). It altered my results from “how to clean leather” to “what is seo” and “what do you mean by organic search”:

#2 - There are dynamic dead ends
When I reach an exhaustive point in my PAA expansions (typically ~300+), Google will prompt the first two PAAs, as in: “We aren’t sure what else to provide, are you interested in these again?”
Here is an example of that happening: I go from “mitosis”-related PAAs (~300 PAAs deep) to a repeat of the first two PAAs: “What is Alexa ranking based on?” and “What is the use of backlinks?”:
This reminds me of a story told by Google machine learning engineers: whenever an early ML model couldn’t identify a photograph, it would say a default ‘I don’t know’ answer of: “Men talking on cell phone.” It could have been a picture of an elephant dancing, and if the ML model wasn’t sure what it was, it would say “Men talking on cell phone.”
My gut tells me that G reverts back to the strongest edge cases (the first two PAAs) to your original query when running out of a certain relational threshold of PAAs.
It will then suggest the third and fourth PAA when you push these limits to repeat again, and so on.
#3 - Expand & retract one question to explore the most closely related questions
This not only provides you with the most relevant PAAs to the query you're expanding and retracting, but if it’s in your wheelhouse, you can quickly discover other very relevant PAA opportunities.
Here I keep expanding and retracting "What is the definition of SEO?":
Notice how “SEO” or “search engine optimization” is in every subsequent PAA!? This is no coincidence and has a lot to do with the entity graph.
First, let's better understand machine learning and why an entity-based, semi-supervised model is so relevant to search. I’ll then draw out what I think is happening with the above results (like a 5-year-old), and go over ways you can capture these opportunities! Woohoo!

First lets see What You Can Do with the New Advanced Segments

Here’s an overview of some of the new and best and ways to use Advanced Segments.
View all of your Google Analytics standard and custom reports for users and visits that match specific criteria.

Create custom segments with the new easy-to-use interface that will guide you through five types of custom segments – Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Visit, and Traffic Sources.

Include demographic data (age, gender, and interests) in your data segmentation.

Import custom segments made by the Google Analytics team and other Google Analytics users.

Share your custom segments with others using a custom link.

Let’s dive in to how you can start using Advanced Segments today. (This is applicable for both people familiar with the old setup and those who are new.)

2. How to Use Advanced Segments

To access Advanced Segments in the new Google Analytics, you’ll need to click on the dropdown arrow next to the default All Visits view.

This will toggle the Advanced Segments screen.

The default view will show you all of your advanced and custom segments. You can use the tabs to see only built-in segments, custom segments you created, or favorite segments you have starred. You also can search your advanced and custom segments.

To select segments to view, just click on them or drag them to the allotted spaces at the top. You can view up to four segments at a time.

When you’re finished selecting your segments, click the Apply button at the bottom to view your data.

remove a segment from your view, click the x at the top right of each circle box.

3. How to Create a Custom Segment

To create a new custom segment, click the New Custom Segment button. Next, you will be able to name your custom segment and choose from five types of segments.

Demographics – Segment your users by demographic information such as age, gender, language, affinity category, and location. In order to use the age, gender, and categories, you will need to go to the Audience Demographics Overview to see if you need to update your Google Analytics code to support the new Google Analytics data options. Even if you aren’t planning to use Advanced Segments, you’ll want to get this done right away.

Technology – Segment your users’ visits by their operating system, browser, screen resolution, device, and mobile.

Behavior – Segment your users by how often they visit and conduct transactions (number of visits, days since last visit, and visit duration).

Date of First Visit – Segment your users by when they first visited.

Traffic Sources – Segment your users by how they found you using campaign, medium, source, and keyword fields such as the ones you would add as UTM parameter tags on your URLs.

If you would prefer to set up your custom segment similar to how it was done before, click on the Conditions option under Advanced. This will let you add up to 20 and/or filters to your custom segment.

You can even create custom segments to segment users and their visits according to sequential conditions.

Once you have set up your custom segment, you can preview the results, test it to make sure it works, and then save it. You can always edit it later by clicking on the settings wheel icon on the segment itself.

You also will get the option to share your custom segment with others using a custom URL. Only the configuration of the custom segment will be shared, not any of your website data.

4. Import from Gallery

If you are not ready to make your own custom segments just yet and would like more options than the 22 built-in segmenting options, you can use the Import from Gallery button to get more segments created by the Google Analytics team and other Google Analytics users.

When you click the Import button on one of these segments, you will be taken to a screen to confirm that you want to import them into your Google Analytics profile.

When you want to view your imported segments, you will find them under the Custom segments view.

5. Segment Applications

There are thousands of ways you can use Advanced Segments to learn more about your website traffic. Here are just a few fun examples that you can create and view simultaneously to learn more about users and visits throughout your Google Analytics.

Create custom segments for traffic from social media networks, search engines, and other channels of traffic to see which drive the best traffic.

Create custom segments for different age groups to see which pages they visit most and how long they stay on your website.

Create custom segments for specific keywords you are targeting on AdWords.
Create custom segments for different campaigns you are tracking with UTM parameters.

You’ll get plenty of great ideas by visiting the Google Analytics Custom Solutions Gallery, selecting Advanced Segments from the Analytics Solutions menu, and perusing what the communit

Monitor questions people ask on Twitter
Another way to discover untapped opportunities is to monitor questions on Twitter. Its search supports the ? search operator that will filter results to those containing a question. Just make sure to put a space between your search term and ?.
I use Cyfe to monitor and archive Twitter results because it provides a minimal dashboard which I can use to monitor an unlimited number of Twitter searches.

Once you lack article ideas, simply log in to Cyfe to view the archive and then proceed to the above keyword research tools to expand on any idea.
I use spreadsheets to organize questions and keyword phrases I discover (see more on this below). Some of these questions may become a whole piece of content, while others will be subsections of broader articles:
I don’t try to analyze search volume to decide whether any of those questions deserve to be covered in a separate article or a subsection. (Based on the Ahrefs research and my own observations, there is no direct correlation between the popularity of the term and whether it will trigger a featured snippet).
Instead, I use my best judgement (based on my niche knowledge and research) as to how much I will be able to tell to answer each particular question. If it’s a lot, I’ll probably turn into a separate article and use keyword research to identify subsections of the future piece.
Optimizing for featured snippets
Start with on-page SEO
There is no magic button or special markup which will make sure your site gets featured. Of course, it's a good idea to start with non-specific SEO best practices, simply because being featured is only possible when you rank high for the query.
How about structured markup?
Many people would suggest using Schema.org (simply because it's been a "thing" to recommend adding schema for anything and everything) but the aforementioned Ahrefs study shows that there's no correlation between featured results and structured markup.
That being said, the best way to get featured is to provide a better answer. Here are a few actionable tips:
1. Aim at answering each question concisely
My own observation of answer boxes has led me to think that Google prefers to feature an answer which was given within one paragraph.
The study by AJ Ghergich cites that the average length of a paragraph snippet is 45 words (the maximum is 97 words), so let it be your guideline as to how long each answer should be in order to get featured:

This doesn't mean your articles need to be one paragraph long. On the contrary, these days Google seems to give preference to long-form content (also known as "cornerstone content," which is obviously a better way to describe it because it's not just about length) that's broken into logical subsections and features attention-grabbing images. Even if you don’t believe that cornerstone content receives any special treatment in SERPs, focusing on long articles will help you to cover more related questions within one piece (more on that below).
All you need to do is to adjust your blogging style just a bit:
Ask the question in your article (that may be a subheading)
Immediately follow the question with a one-paragraph answer
Elaborate further in the article
This tactic may also result in higher user retention because it makes any article better structured and thus a much easier read. To quote AJ Ghergich,
When you use data to fuel topic ideation, content creation becomes more about resources and less about brainstorming.
2. Be factual and organize well
Google loves numbers, steps and lists. We've seen this again and again: More often than not, answer boxes will list the actual ingredients, number of steps, time to cook, year and city of birth, etc.
In your paragraph introducing the answer to the question, make sure to list useful numbers and names. Get very factual.
In fact, the aforementioned study by AJ Ghergich concluded that comparison charts and lists are an easier way to get featured because Google loves structured content. In fact, even for branded queries (where a user is obviously researching a particular brand), Google would pick up a table from another site (not the answer from the brand itself) if that other site has a table:
This only shows how much Google loves well-structured, factual, and number-driven content.
There's no specific markup to structure your content. Google seems to pick up <table>, <ol>, and <ul> well and doesn't need any other pointers.
3. Make sure one article answers many similar questions
In their research of featured snippets, Ahrefs found that once a page gets featured, it's likely to get featured in lots of similar queries. This means it should be structured and worded the way it addresses a lot of related questions.
Google is very good at determining synonymic and closely related questions, so should be you. There's no point in creating a separate page answering each specific question.

What are featured snippets?
Featured snippets are selected search results that are featured on top of Google's organic results below the ads in a box.
Featured snippets aim at answering the user's question right away (hence their other well-known name, "answer boxes"). Being featured means getting additional brand exposure in search results.
Here are two studies confirming the claim:
Ben Goodsell reports that the click-through rate (CTR) on a featured page increased from two percent to eight percent once it's placed in an answer box, with revenue from organic traffic increasing by 677%.
Eric Enge highlights a 20–30% increase in traffic for ConfluentForms.com while they held the featured snippet for the query.
2. Types of featured snippets
There are three major types of featured snippets:
Paragraph (an answer is given in text). It can be a box with text inside or a box with both text and an image inside.
List (an answer is given in a form of a list)
Table (an answer is given in a table)
Here’s an example of paragraph snippet with an image:
According to Getstat, the most popular featured snippet is "paragraph" type:

3. Featured snippets or answer boxes?
Since we're dealing with a pretty new phenomenon, the terminology is pretty loose. Many people (including myself) are inclined to refer to featured snippets as "answer boxes," obviously because there's an answer presented in a box.
While there's nothing wrong with this terminology, it creates a certain confusion because Google often gives a "quick answer" (a definition, an estimate, etc.) on top without linking to the source:
To avoid confusion, let's stick to the "featured snippet" term whenever there's a URL featured in the box, because these present an extra exposure to the linked site (hence they're important for content publishers):

4. Do I have a chance to get featured?
According to research by Ahrefs, 99.58% of featured pages already rank in top 10 of Google. So if you are already ranking high for related search queries, you have very good chances to get featured.
On the other hand, Getstat claims that 70% of snippets came from sites outside of the first organic position. So it's required that the page is ranked in top 10, but it's not required to be #1 to be featured.
Unsurprisingly, the most featured site is Wikipedia.org. If there's Wikipedia featured for your search query, it may be extremely hard to beat that — but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
Finally, according to the analysis performed in a study, the following types of search queries get featured results most often:
DIY processes
Health
Financial
Mathematical
Requirements
Status
Transitional
Ahrefs' study expands the list of popular topics with their most frequently words that appear in featured snippets:
The following types of search queries usually don't have answer boxes:
Images and videos
Local
Shopping
To sum up the above studies:
You have chances to get featured for the terms your pages are already ranking in top 10. Thus, a big part of being featured is to improve your overall rankings (especially for long-tail informational queries, which are your lower-hanging fruit)
If your niche is DIY, health or finance, you have the highest probability of getting featured
5. Identify all kinds of opportunities to be featured
Start with good old keyword research
Multiple studies confirm that the majority of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords. In fact, the more words that are typed into a search box, the higher the probability there will be a featured snippet.
It's always a good idea to start with researching your keywords. This case study gives a good step by step keyword research strategy for a blogger, and this one lists major keyword research tools as suggested by experts.
When performing keyword research with featured snippets in mind, note that:
Start with question-type search queries (those containing question words, like “what,” “why,” “how,” etc.) because these are the easiest to identify, but don’t stop there...
Target informational intent, not just questions. While featured snippets aim at answering the user’s question immediately, question-type queries are not the only types that trigger those featured results. According to the aforementioned Ahrefs study, the vast majority of keywords that trigger featured snippets were long-tail queries with no question words in them.
It helps if you use a keyword research tool that shows immediately whether a query triggers featured results. I use Serpstat for my keyword research because it combines keyword research with featured snippet research and lets me see which of my keywords trigger answer boxes:
You can run your competitor in Serpstat and then filter their best-performing queries by the presence of answer boxes:

This is a great overview of your future competition, enabling you to see your competitors' strengths and weaknesses.

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