YouTube + child safety: Is the service doing enough?

YouTube + child safety: Is the service doing enough?

It has been a challenging month for YouTube.

As we recently reported, fresh concerns over child safety on the service came to light back on 17th February.

In a video published to the site, vlogger Matt Watson details how the service is being exploited by paedophiles who were using comment sections under innocuous videos of children to leave sexually provocative messages, to communicate with each other, and to link out to child pornography.

Of course, journalists and news sites were quick to level criticism at YouTube. Many pointed out that this wasn’t the first time child safety on the service has been called into question. Others were critical that its methods for safeguarding children were too ‘whack-a-mole’ in their approach.

And then came the actions of the advertisers – with Nestle, AT&T and Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) all pulling their ads from the service.

So how has YouTube responded? Is it doing enough?

Memo directly sent to advertisers

On 20th February YouTube sent out a memo to brands advertising on the service.

It detailed the ‘immediate actions’ it was taking to ensure children are safe in light of the recent allegations from Watson. These included suspending comments and reporting accounts to the NCMEC.

YouTube memo with immediate actions they're taking to address issues

The memo reiterated that child safety is YouTube’s No. 1 priority, but also admitted there was more work to be done.

It laid out a roadmap of tweaks and improvements, including better improving the service’s ability to find predatory comments (set to be implemented this month) and potentially changing how ads are placed on channels.

YouTube memo: Looking ahead, what's on the roadmap?

Changes to Community Guidelines strikes system – are these related?

In a potentially related move, YouTube also announced via a recent blog post that it was going to make changes to its Community Guidelines.

The changes – which came into force on 25th February – include a warning for users the first time their content crosses the line.

YouTube says: ‘Although the content will be removed, there will be no other penalty on the channel. There will be only one warning and unlike strikes, the warning will not reset after 90 days.’

The ‘three strike’ system still exists but is stricter and more straightforward. Now a first strike results in a one-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content to the service. Previously, first strikes just resulted in a freeze on live-streaming.

A second strike in any 90-day period will result in a two-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content. Ultimately, a third strike in any 90-day period will result in channel termination.

That YouTube has taken this opportunity to address its creator community directly is interesting.

The Guardian has reported that the fallout from Watson’s video resulted in a number of prominent YouTube users criticizing him, rather than the service. Their reasoning was that it was overreactive and a deliberate attempt to drive advertisers away.

Additionally, a report at ABC News shed light on stories from creators who have been the victims of false claims and extortion attempts by bad actors who promise to remove strikes only after they’ve received payment via PayPal or BitCoin.

With this in mind, we can see that YouTube have been quite diplomatic in how they’ve rolled this Community Guideline change out. Imposing stricter penalties against a backdrop of better transparency and simpler rules is quite laudable.

Further questions over safety since

In the wake of Watson’s video, further news stories have emerged which relate directly and indirectly to child safety on YouTube.

On 24th February, pediatrician Free Hess exposed that some children’s videos available on YouTube Kids had hidden footage detailing how to commit suicide spliced into them (as reported at The Washington Post).

Additionally, on 25th February the BBC reported that the service was stopping adverts being shown on channels which showed anti-vaccination content.

And the past couple days, widespread internet concern has raged over “The Momo Challenge,” a supposed challenge encouraging minors to do dangerous / potentially self-harming acts.

However, this morning The Atlantic reported that this has been a digital hoax. And that it has followed similar cycles as the so-called Blue Whale challenge, teens eating toxic Tide Pods, and the cinnamon challenge — all of which were found to have no reported deaths/injuries associated.

And yesterday, YouTube tweeted this:

The company has also just updated their Creator Blog with a post titled, “More updates on our actions related to the safety of minors on YouTube.”

In it, they summarize “the main steps we’ve taken to improve child safety on YouTube since our update last Friday.”

These steps include:

  1. Disabling comments on videos featuring minors
  2. Launching a new comments classifier
  3. Taking action on creators who cause egregious harm to the community

It does seem that they are moving quickly to remedy the problems. But I think anyone would agree — they’ve had quite the month.

So the challenge is certainly ongoing…

All this does highlight the difficulty YouTube has in keeping all its millions of viewers, creators, and advertisers safe and happy.

We know the service is constantly updating its algorithm across its search function and its recommendations in order to give users better – more trustworthy – content.

We can also be quite sure that there has been a fair amount of activity in protecting minors on the service since 2017 when unsuitable content featuring Disney and Marvel characters was being found to be available on YouTube Kids. This timeframe is in line with the aforementioned memo which assures that the service has been working hard to improve in this regard for the past 18 months.

I’m not sure it’s entirely fair, then, to call YouTube’s approach to safeguarding children a ‘whack-a-mole approach’ or one which only sees the site take action when the instances gain media attention.

The sheer amount of content and users on the service is so massive, it depends on the community to produce the content and – at times – to monitor how it is used. In this instance, a user flagged an issue up and YouTube worked very quickly indeed. The service is always improving. But changes, tweaks, and improvements are not always newsworthy. The same can be said for Google.

Yes, there is more to be done. As online video continues to boom and the creator community continues to grow, we can expect issues to arise.

But I think it is unlikely that YouTube wouldn’t be proactive here. After all, its very existence depends on having great videos, trustworthy content, a safe community of users who are having a positive experience on the site, and an ecosystem where advertisers want to be.

The post YouTube + child safety: Is the service doing enough? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

How to dominate Google News search in 2019

How to dominate Google News search in 2019

A few weeks ago, Google published a blog post on its webmaster blog sharing some tips on how to get more success in Google News search in 2019. 

2019 will be a hard fight against fake news as fake news outlets are increasing with time. Along with some social media platforms, Google is also responsible for the spreading of fake and misleading news. If you are running a clickbait rich site with a lot of crappy content, you may encounter Google’s punishment this year.

Generally, Google looks at these five factors when ranking news articles:

  • Freshness
  • Diversity
  • Rich textual content
  • Originality of content
  • User preferences for topics or publishers

To succeed in 2019 your news content should be original, authoritative, and should provide timely news information.

Six important tips for news content

  1. Articles’ headlines should be clear. Keep it in the H1 tag. Headlines should be a minimum of 10 characters, between two and 22 words.
  2. Use proper time and date. Show clear and visible time and date below the title and above the article. Use structured data.
  3. Be transparent in your content. Fake news is a major problem on the internet, especially from the last American presidential election. Google will try to scan out fake news content in 2019. Best practice for this time is to create a very user-friendly site, not something crappy with lots of pop-ups and ads. Add detailed information, mention sources, make it authoritative.
  4. Don’t be deceptive in your content. Don’t mislead. Misleading information in the content can ban you from Google.
  5. Secure your website’s every page with HTTPS. A website that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)  confirms a secure connection between the browser and user. It protects users’ sensitive information. For a news site, it is a very good search signal.
  6. Don’t participate in link spam to increase your ranking. Don’t buy links.

The five ‘w’s

To write your news content, you can use this popular news writing formula. Ask yourself the five ‘w’ questions and answer them all in your first paragraph of news content. The main aim is to provide a lot of information in the first paragraph.

Internet readers have a small attention span and most people scan the content, instead of line by line reading. This is especially true for news.

Write your first paragraph answering these questions.

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  5. Why?

Use proper nouns in the headline

Generic nouns will not get as much attention as proper nouns in Google search. Use proper names of brands, organizations or of people related to your news in the headlines. If you can creatively use proper names where other news outlets are not, you will get a huge advantage in the Google News search.

Graphics, images and video content

Use graphics, images, and videos on your news content to explain your news or to provide more information. Google loves this. With engaging videos and graphics, you can attract more readers, and make your content more shareable.

But before sharing your multimedia follow the guidelines of Google.

Beware the sensational, exceptional, negative, and current (SENC)

SENC is sensational, exceptional, negative, and current events, which is a general definition of current news. But, if you follow this definition to produce your news, they will not be authentic or convey real helpful information.

Shocking, scandalous things can be viral, but these types of sensational news should not be your priority.

If you prioritize only exceptional things, your content will become misleading.

Current news is full of recency bias. The present most recent things, without much in-depth and background information. But every recent event has a root in something old and slow systematic change. In your news content, you should present the actual root cause as much as possible to make the content more authoritative. It will earn you good links and build your brand.

Your news should be foundational not sensational.

On publishing breaking news, you should not be in a hurry to publish it faster than your competitors. Instead, before publishing the content, ask yourself what new information your article will provide that is not found elsewhere.

Pay less attention to CTR, dwell time, and other UX signals on the landing page

Image on click-through rate

According to recent AMA of Gary Illyes, Google webmaster trends analyst:

“RankBrain is a PR-sexy machine learning ranking component that uses historical search data to predict what would a user most likely click on for a previously unseen query. It is a really cool piece of engineering that saved our butts countless times whenever traditional algos were like, e.g. “Oh look a ‘not’ in the query string! Let’s ignore the hell out of it!”, but it’s generally just relying on (sometimes) months’ old data about what happened on the results page itself, not on the landing page. Dwell time, CTR, whatever Fishkin’s new theory is, those are generally made up crap. Search is much more simple than people think.”

This thread from a couple weeks ago caused quite a stir. Perhaps we distract ourselves too much from the “simplicity” of what is actually search?

Ps — what are your thoughts on RankBrain and UX? Leave a comment below!

Muradul Islam is a Business Analyst at WeDevs. He can be found on Twitter @muradt20.

The post How to dominate Google News search in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

The ultimate guide to UTM tagging

The ultimate guide to UTM tagging

Welcome to the wonderful world of UTM tagging! This is a must-read for everyone that wants to track their marketing efforts and everyone who needs an extra hand with creating their own UTM tags.

  • What are UTM tags?
  • Why should you use UTM tags?
  • What UTM tags are there?
  • Channels to use UTM tags for
  • How to set up a UTM protocol?
  • How to find UTM tags in Google Analytics?
  • UTM tag don’ts

    What are UTM tags?

    UTM tags are parameters you can add to links that point to your website that send extra information to Google Analytics. Perhaps you’ve clicked on a link from a newsletter and saw all bunch of weird stuff in the URL.

    These things are UTM tags. And people use them to track their marketing efforts so that they can analyze that effort in Google Analytics.

    Why should you use UTM tags?

    Google Analytics recognizes a lot of traffic and places traffic in buckets. If you explore the source/medium report, you can see how Google Analytics sees this traffic and where it ends up. If you’re wondering how Google Analytics sees traffic from Facebook or your newsletter, grab your mobile phone, make sure you’re on 2G/3G/4G/5G and visit Facebook or your newsletter and click on a link that points to your website. At the same time, check your Real-Time traffic sources report and see if you show up there and how you show up. If you see that Google Analytics recognizes you as direct / none, then Google Analytics doesn’t know where you came from.

    Let’s say you have a lovely newsletter. Its content is awesome, there are links to your site. There are upsell buttons, images that link to your site. You’ve got the whole shebang! You’ve put a lot of effort into these emails because you’ve heard that they can really help your business. And you’d like to see if you get any traffic from your newsletters, if your readers buy anything, and you’d like to see which types of content they find interesting and what not. So you go to the place that can help you with these types of questions: Google Analytics! And you’re searching and searching, but you can’t find anything. You know why you can’t find them? The links in your emails weren’t tagged and all that traffic ended up in a bucket called direct / none.

    That’s where UTM tags come in. With UTM tags you add extra information about what types of things your audience clicked on from sources that don’t automatically add this type of information. All those items like image clicks, button clicks in your newsletter can be tracked by using UTM tags.

    If you don’t tag your emails, your PDF’s and your social efforts, you have no way of knowing what to optimize. Or how to optimize. You wouldn’t have a clue on what works for your business and what doesn’t work.

    What UTM tags are there?

    You can use 5 UTM parameters to define your traffic more precisely. Let’s go over them one by one.

    1. utm_medium
    2. utm_source
    3. utm_campaign
    4. utm_term
    5. utm_content


    Open up the Medium report in Google Analytics and see what comes up. Google Analytics recognizes certain mediums by itself, like: organic, referral, cpc. It can recognize email but this doesn’t have to mean it can recognize traffic from your email campaigns. Google support defines medium as: “The advertising or marketing medium”. For me medium is an umbrella term, it’s a general bucket where a lot of things can belong to.


    Source is a bit more specific, you can see what I mean when you just look at the Source report in Google Analytics. Here you’ll see types of search engines, websites that are referrers, social media platforms and so on. Google support defines source as: “Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property”. It all comes together when you look at the source/medium report. Here you’ll see which source belongs to which medium. The UTM tag Source is mandatory when tagging your links.


    You’re most probably only going to see data in the Campaign report in Google Analytics if you have AdWords campaigns or using UTM tags for campaigns. Google support defines the Campaign tag as: “The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product”.

    Term and Content

    There isn’t a standard report in Google Analytics for the Term tag and the Content tag. It’s only possible if you add one of these as a secondary dimension or if you create a custom report. Just like the Campaign tag, you’re only seeing data for these two tags if you used that in UTM tags. Google support’s definition of the UTM Term tag is: “Identify paid search keywords”. That’s specifically for AdWords but later on you’ll learn that you can use the Term tag for anything you’d like. Google support defines the Content tag as: “Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad”.

    Channels to use UTM tags for

    There are where UTM tags come in very handy. Always tag your email marketing efforts. If you use PDFs that people can download or are send to people as an incentive and that PDF contains links to your site, UTM tag those links. That way you can see if people are actually coming to your website using that PDF. And if there are upsells or other conversion goals, like a make an appointment button, you can check in Google Analytics if your PDFs are converting or not. Google Analytics can recognize traffic from Facebook and Twitter and such but you can only analyze that traffic on a source/medium level. And apart from that, you don’t know if you’ve gotten traffic from other people sharing links to your site on a social platform. If you want more information about your social media efforts, use UTM tags.

    How to set up a UTM protocol?

    This is actually the hard part. You need to think about a constructive, sustainable UTM protocol you can use for your channels which can be scalable. You must think about a strategy that can deal with change because you never know where your business is headed. Important to know is that Medium and Source are related to each other, all other tags don’t necessarily have to be related to each other. Each step adds more information to your data. It’s a way of classifying your traffic.

    The Medium UTM tag is the most general UTM tag of them all. This is a big bucket of data that is collected by the same medium. And since we’re talking about ways that drive traffic to your site, we’re going to use an analogy to make things more clear. You can see UTM tags as if it was a way of transportation. A medium can be a car, a plane, a boat and so on. And I can compare mediums to know which type of transportation is working for my website at the moment.

    Source is a smaller bucket, but still a pretty large one. The source is related to the medium. If we take the analogy of a car, a source can be the brand of the car. By looking at the source, we know if we can better spend money on trying to get more traffic from brand X or on brand Y.

    We’re narrowing our data with campaigns. We don’t only want to know which brand of car drives more traffic and converts better but also which type of car is most successful. If Yoast was a car brand (that would be awesome), we want to know if Yoast sedans convert better than Yoast SUVs.

    And because we can, we send more information about our data to Google Analytics. By adding a content and term UTM tag. We can distinguish purple and green Yoast cars with the content UTM tag. And we can add more information like green gear change Yoast SUVs and compare that to automatic green Yoast SUVs. Gear change information can be send with the UTM term tag. See how much information about one specific type of traffic I can gather just by using UTM tags?

    As I hope this example tells you, is that you can use UTM tags to give you more information about your data. The challenge is to think of especially mediums and sources that last. Thinking about on which level you want to see data and compare data can be quite the challenge. What kind of information do you need to improve your marketing further?

    Example: medium=email

    When I was setting up a UTM protocol for Yoast, I was dying to see some examples I could use for Yoast. But the frustrating thing was that each of the sources I consulted saying different things. And I understand why; it’s about what works for you as an analyst and what works for your business. Here’s how WE use UTM tagging for our emails.

    We have different types of email, for instance our standard newsletter that contains our latest updates. And we have Sales emails that we only send to our subscribers when we have a sale. They both belong to the same medium which is email. And I’m using source to distinguish the type of email. For our standard newsletter I use the date on which the newsletter is send on. But if you’re more interested in the day of the week or the time you send the newsletter, use that as a campaign. It all depends on what kind of information you’d like to see in Google Analytics. We could also add term and content tags for our regular newsletter but decided we don’t need to see more specific data.

    For our Sales email we use the name of our sale for the UTM campaign tag. The cool thing is that if you use that campaign tag for everything you’re doing to promote your sale, like Facebook posts, you can later on analyze which marketing channel worked best during the sale.

    Black Friday campaign UTM tag

    We use the UTM content tag to distinguish buttons from text links so we can figure out if people are more inclined to click on a button or on a text link later on. If you have more than one button, you can use content tags like: button-1, button-2 etc. etc.

    We use the UTM term tag to identify the page the link points to. This last one isn’t really necessary because you can also tell this by looking at the landing page in combination with the campaign. But of course, you can add other information in the UTM term tag like the color of the button or the category the page of the link belongs to.

    But in the end, it’s all about what YOU, as an analyst, would like to see in Google Analytics! It’s about gathering information about the behavior of your audience, about how to get more insight into your audience.

    How to create a UTM protocol yourself

    Write down all your marketing efforts on a piece of (digital) paper. What are you doing with email? What types of email do you have? And what kind of things are you doing on social? And perhaps other channels. Are you running campaigns? Map it all out. And then just write down possible UTM tags for all of them and check if it’s useful for you or not. Keep trying different ways of UTM tagging till you finally have a structure that works! And try to visualize how it will look in Google Analytics. So get familiar with the source/medium and campaign report.

    There are Google Sheets out there that help you, like this one from Annie Cushing:

    Annie Cushing’s Google Analytics Campaign Tagging Tool

    Using such a Google Sheet will help you with consistently tagging your links. Google also has a tool you can use to create links with UTM tags:

    Campaign URL builder

    When you’re done creating the UTM protocol it’s vital that everyone in your team that has to deal with UTM tagging is aware of this protocol. And of course, it’s very important that everyone uses it in a consistent manner.

    How to find UTM tags in Google Analytics?

    All this time we’ve been talking about UTM tags, we’re talking about traffic sources. If you want to know how to find each tag in Google Analytics, you need to be in the Acquisition section.

    The utm_medium corresponds with the Medium variable in Google Analytics. And utm_source corresponds with the Source variable. If you click on ‘Source’ right above the table, you only see the Source. And if you want a more general view, click on Medium.

    In the Acquisition section you can find an item called ‘Campaigns’. Here you can find your data about the utm_campaign tag.

    If you want to find the utm_content and utm_term tag, you need to do a small extra effort. You can only see these if you add a Secondary dimension in the standard reports in Google Analytics:

    In Google Analytics the utm_content is called ‘Ad Content’. The utm_term is called ‘Keyword’ and you can add these variables as a secondary dimension to your reports. If you want all of your UTM tags in one report, you need to create a custom report.

    UTM tag don’ts

    There’s no need to add UTM tags on links that are on your site. If you do use tags on internal links, you’ll overwrite the original source of your traffic. So for instance, if someone from a paid Facebook post comes to your site and clicks on a link in the menu that’s UTM tagged and buys a product, there’s no way of knowing that your paid Facebook ad was the source that lead to a conversion.

    2. Using Campaign tags that are too general

    Tags that are completely the same, end up in the same bucket in Google Analytics. If you’re using a campaign that is specifically for email, but someone else in your team is using the same campaign for a completely different thing on social, these will end up in the same bucket. But they’re both completely different things! You don’t want to draw the wrong conclusions so you want to be sure that you’re not mistakenly receiving data from a different campaign with the same name. For sales campaigns I suggest to add a date. For channel specific campaigns, add something that relates to the source, like utm_campaign=fb-daily-post.

    3. Not consistently using UTM tags

    Every time you misspell a tag or use an uppercase tag instead of a lowercase tag, a new tag is created. Why is that a bad thing? Well because of this:

    UTM tagging gone wrong in Google Analytics

    Rows 5 and 6 are examples of tagging gone wrong and as you can see, traffic from these UTM tags get a separate row. But it’s traffic that belongs to row 1, the sales/email source. Now these numbers are small but what if that number is bigger?

    4. Not using the utm_source tag

    This one is mandatory. And if you want to be completely safe, use the Medium, Source and Campaign tags to avoid tracking errors.

    5. Tagging guest posts

    If websites have links that point to your site, they’ll be easy to recognize in the referral section in Google Analytics. The same goes for if you write a guest post for someone’s website. You can see this traffic in your referral report.

    6. Create too specific Medium tags

    As said before, you want your Medium tag to be as general as possible. If you create too specific Medium tags then you’re missing the meta view of all efforts that belong to that medium. You don’t want utm_medium=facebook because how can you measure all of your social media efforts in Google Analytics?

    7. Using sensitive information in tags

    You don’t want to share business sensitive information in your UTM tags, information you don’t like others to know. Because with UTM tags, that’s publicly visible. The same goes for personal information, don’t store data which can be traced back to a specific person.

    8. Use tags that aren’t recognizable in Google Analytics

    If you don’t know what it means just by looking at it, it’s not very suitable as a tag. You make your life a whole lot easier if you can tell what it is without having to go to the link. It really helps you to analyze your Google Analytics data.

    Read more: How to create and use dashboards in Google Analytics »

    The post The ultimate guide to UTM tagging appeared first on Yoast.

SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle?

SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle?

Every couple of months, someone proclaims that SEO is dead or sets off a number of anti-SEO threads, based on the continuous changing scenery in the search industry. It goes without saying that the landscape is different from what it used to be a couple of years before but from “different” to “inexistent” there is a wide range of tones.


One might say: “Nothing has really changed. It’s simple: focus on your visitors and pretend Google doesn’t exist!” That is indeed a very good piece of advice but Google does exist and, at the end of the day, it is its yard we are playing in. 


SEO vs overoptimization


It goes without saying that SEO has a range of colors and sizes that everybody is trying to guess. Lots of websites use all sorts of SEO techniques and lately, we’ve seen a new approach – the “unoptimized” SEO technique. What it is and how it affects the web you’ll get from today’s article. 


  1. Google’s Opinion on Website Optimization
  2. Search Engine Optimization vs. Over Optimization
  3. How to Approach Unoptimized SEO
  4. Strategic Growth Strategies for Unoptimized Web Pages
    1. Verify the Indexability of Your Pages
    2. Check Website for Duplicate Content 
    3. Implement Social Protocol Meta Tags
    4. Correct Any Mistakes Associated to the Linking Structure
    5. Fix any Broken Links and Resources
    6. Improve Your Mobile and Desktop Performance
    7. Try Link Earning for Unoptimized SEO

1. Google’s Opinion on Website Optimization


Undoubtedly, the search industry has changed a lot lately and SEO was forced to constantly adapt to these never-ending changes.

Techniques that used to be SEO’s no.1 weapons now seem rudimentary and wasteful.

If, back in 2009, Matt Cutts said that “there is no such thing as Google over-optimization penalty“, in 2012 the same Matt Cutts was telling us that all those who had been doing over-optimization or overly doing their SEO compared to the webmasters could be the subject of a penalty. Google always worked on making their bot smarter, and their relevance criteria more adaptive. 


In short, Google’s message is pretty clear: Optimize too much and you will get penalized. Yet this statement has raised so many questions all these years. Lots of SEOs have been using this terminology for a long time for websites that don’t do well in the Google search results because they do too much SEO. Some call it the over optimization penalty. Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that over optimization exists and can hurt your rankings.



2. Search Engine Optimization vs. Over Optimization


Once again Matt Cutts tries to answer this question (or rather raises even more questions). In Google’s opinion, keyword stuffing, too many links exchanges or too many SEO improvements begin to ruin the website’s ability to rank and thereby, penalize it. 


Although nowadays optimization requires an integrated approach, SEO was traditionally divided into two main areas:

  • on-page optimization – covering the actions that can be done on the pages of the website itself, factors that are controlled by you or by coding on your page. Examples of on-page optimization include actual HTML codes, meta tags, keyword placement or keyword density.
  • off-page optimization – covering the activity that is off-site and is not controlled by you. Examples of off-page optimization include things such as link building, link popularity or link authority.


When it comes to optimization, Google says NO to off-page optimization and YES to on-page optimization. By this, Google is telling us that one should not try to alter the rankings by manipulating the external metrics of the site. If you’re using on-page, you are free to do anything you can in order to grow your ranking organically; anything as long as it doesn’t imply excessive keyword repetition, duplicate content or any other black hat SEO technique.


On the other hand, over-optimization comes often times as an off-page technique, through link building and all sorts of linking schemes. That’s why it is not something Google agrees with.


That happens because the big search engine doesn’t like it when people are trying to alter its results. These manipulation attempts are “rewarded” with big penalties most of the time. Lots of sites, big and small, were penalized publicly to set an example. From famous banks to flower shops, from travel agencies to online clothing, they were all given a harsh lesson about the rules of the game.


The aim of all these measures is not to make the SEO industry disappear, but to redefine the SEO industry’s behavior.

In this new “unoptimized optimization” process it might be better for content marketers to focus more on strategic growth strategies and not on technical off-page SEO.


3. How to Approach Unoptimized SEO


Although it may sound like a paradox, “unoptimized optimization” is a reality we must cope with. In a recent AMA on Reddit, Gary Illyes recommends webmasters to go with the basics and focus on the on-site technicalities. 


I really wish SEOs went back to the basics (i.e. MAKE THAT DAMN SITE CRAWLABLE) instead of focusing on silly updates and made up terms by the rank trackers, and that they talked more with the developers of the website once done with the first part of this sentence.
Gary Illyes  Gary Illyes
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst


I am not here to tell you that you shouldn’t optimize your website. But I am saying that it is better to adapt to the actual SEO context rather than fight with the windmills. Optimization, in whatever form, shouldn’t distract you from the most important asset: visitors, customers, readers, etc. In the long run, they are the ones that matters the most. If you focus your actions on your audience, everything else falls in line behind that.


The Evolution of SEO


In the traditional SEO, success was measured according to the number of backlinks obtained or the authority of the pages that linked to a website. Unoptimized SEO changes the rules of the game, and therefore, the metrics for measuring success.


Search is the biggest game in town so the ace up in your sleeve should be on-site SEO. There are lots of things you could do in your yard before telling everybody that you have a party there. That means getting your website prepared before promoting it to get off-site benefits.


On site SEO is the “last mile” to strong search rankings.


Site Audit is the on-site tool that can help you keep track of your website’s performance and technical errors, at the highest level of detail. Practically, the tool flags ALL possible on-page SEO issues a site might have and provides recommendations on how to fix them. You can review information about:

  • pages that are indexed by search engines or for some reason they are not indexed;
  • duplicate content & meta tags;
  • malware and unsecure content;
  • social media issues;
  • internal and external errors;
  • broken links & resources; 
  • HTTPS implementation;
  • canonical tags issues;
  • sitemaps;
  • AMP setups;
  • page speed and website performance; 
  • & more.


Site Audit


Using the Site Audit tool will definitely improve your website’s on-page SEO performance, and there are a lot of strategies you could follow. 


4. Strategic Growth Strategies for Unoptimized Web Pages


4.1 Verify the Indexability of Your Pages


A webpage that is not indexed means it is not eligible to receive search engine traffic. The Site Audit gives information for such pages, classified in 8 categories:

  • pages with the “Disallow” tag, which informs the search engines not to crawl this page;
  • broken pages;
  • pages that have duplicate content are placed in the Near Duplicates category;
  • pages from the No-Index in Meta category that tells robots not to index the content of this page, and/or not to scan it for links to follow; 
  • redirected pages;
  • pages that don’t have the canonical tag placed;
  • pagination, applied mostly to e-commerce websites that divide the content into discrete pages, either electronic or printed pages;


Indexable pages


For a good website organization, you should allow the search engine to index only the important URLs so that these pages can rank high. In case you have any issues associated with your indexed pages, you need to fix those and decrease the issues that can harm your website. 


4.2 Check Website for Duplicate Content 


Another technique to improve your website is verifying duplicate content and meta tags (which includes titles, headings, descriptions). Duplicate content may negatively impact your search engine rankings, and create a poor user experience on the website because users will see almost the same content. Google encourages webmasters to create unique and relevant content for the visitors; that’s why you need to resolve the issue and rephrase the content that is repeated on your site.


Duplicate content


You have to establish your awesome content as the go-to resource by creating in-depth blog posts to attract the interest of the user. Evergreen content and case studies can be great examples of resources. For each blog post and page you have on your website, you’ll have to write different titles and unique meta descriptions. In case you have any issues regarding duplicates, use the Site Audit to easily discover the pages. 


4.3 Implement Social Protocol Meta Tags


Social protocol meta tags help your content look proper when it’s shared on social media platforms. You know that every time a piece of content is shared, you can see a featured snippet like the screenshot below:


Twitter snippet


Site Audit can show you information about Facebook and Twitter protocols implementation because only these two platforms are still showing information about shares, likes, and other social metrics. For Social Media, the protocol is named Facebook Open Graph and for Twitter it’s Twitter cards. For example, if somebody shares your website content, Facebook will automatically extract a title, description, image and URL that it considers to be relevant for the shared page.


Social protocol meta tags


Having social protocols implemented on your website will make it easier for users to share it and see it properly in the social feed. The nice part of these protocols is the opportunity to customize and create actionable descriptions for every piece of article. 


4.4 Correct Any Mistakes Associated to the Linking Structure


External and internal links can strength the authority of your site. It is important to have a well-structured architecture so that the user understands your website. Do you have pages with lots of internal links or too many external links? Then you need to find out what pages have those type of issues. 


It is good to have pages with up to 100 internal links. On the same note, the number of external links must be kept under the same level, 100 links. At the opposite pole, pages with a small number of internal links should be checked, and if possible linked from a higher number of pages on your site, relevant pages. 


Pages that don’t have any internal links pointing to them are placed in the orphan pages category, which means they don’t receive any traffic and search engines aren’t aware of their existence and don’t index them. If you want to be present in SERP, you’ll have to link the content to other pages from your site. 


Google relies on internal links to discover new content, this works because whenever you add a new page/post to your website it’ll almost always be linked-to from somewhere on your website.
Matthew-Woodward  Matthew Woodward
Award winning blogger

4.5 Fix any Broken Links and Resources


Broken links can negatively affect SEO as well as the user experience. Links that are broken will stop search engines from completely indexing your website. Imagine this: the user comes on your website from an external page and looks for some information. If the page is broken, it will show no valid information and give no directions to the user, then they’ll have a bad experience on the site. 


Broken page


Situations like this can be very bad for your business. It can negatively influence your revenue, and SEO metrics in a way that increases the bounce rate and fails to push the user down the funnel. 


Fixing broken links should be a must, not a maybe. The good advantage is that it can be resolved easily. There are a few options in this situation. You can either delete the broken links, redirect the link to a page that has content and works or remake the nonexistent page that the link is currently pointing at. 


Finding broken links can be very easy if you use Site Audit. You have separate charts for internal links and external links. You can view all the pages from a specific category and even get a few directions. 




4.6 Improve Your Mobile and Desktop Performance


Your website performance is an important trigger for unoptimized SEO strategies. Website loading speed time is an important matter. That’s why Google has always recommended websmasters to create faster loading websites for all the devices. Site Audit allows to see all pages that have issues categoried as following:

  • very slow
  • slow
  • fair loading 
  • fast 




Mobile traffic has increased in time and Google saw the evolution of it. That’s why developers thought it important to have fast loading speed websites on mobile. In July 2018, Google said that page speed is a ranking factor for mobile searches.


More than that, Google developed the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project for any publisher to have pages load faster on mobile devices. The goal is to have better user experience, faster websites and a higher mobile performance. To achieve all of these, you need to setup the AMP. For a good implementation and clean setup, you can analyze the Site Audit section for Mobile issues. 




4.7 Try Link Earning

It might be the time to forget about link building and start earning links. The concept of link earning puts together all the qualitative efforts that a webmaster makes in order to gain organic links. These efforts don’t resume to outdated link building methods, such as link exchange, commenting on blog posts or submitting your site to low-quality web site directories. Link earning is about sharing your knowledge, generating original information and being active on social media. Creating engaging, helpful content that users want and need can be more useful than a pile of backlinks.

One shouldn’t create content just for the sake of an editorial calendar but one should offer something that its audience can benefit from, something that people would genuinely want to click on.




What we wanted to underline is that unoptimized SEO shouldn’t mean a lack of interest in optimization in general. Just a focus switch from off page to onpage and a more “back to the basics” approach. 


Is Google militating for an unoptimized SEO concept? We cannot know that for sure but we do know that Google keeps on reminding us every time it has the opportunity that content is the one we should focus on. Good content has always been a necessity. And 2018 was the year of content, and lots of SEO experts and brand focused more on this on-site technique. The unoptimized SEO might be a new direction in your digital marketing strategy. 


The measure of intelligence is the ability to change, so if the new SEO implies unoptimization, webmasters will have no other choice but to up their game and go along with the new rules.

SEO should be full of meaning but shapeless, just like water!

When you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. The water properties itself are unchanged but the shapes it takes in order to fit several recipients are always different.


So, what do you think? Is unoptimized SEO the way to go from now on?

The post SEO vs. Over Optimization – Does Unoptimized SEO Win the Battle? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to get started with data-driven attribution in Google Analytics

How to get started with data-driven attribution in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is used by more than 28.8 billion websites since its inception in 2005. And many have attempted to find a ‘one size fits all’ approach as far as attribution models are concerned.

While this is admirable in and of itself, it also goes against the very nature of Google Analytics. After all, the USP of the service is to customize reports according to your requirements. So why should attribution models be any different?

What is attribution?

Before we dive in any further, however, you must understand what we mean by attribution. In Google Analytics, the term attribution can mean lots of things, from giving credit for visiting the website to completing a particular activity, from a campaign to a kind of source. Attribution is mainly used for conversions and sessions.

Data-driven attribution

Now, attribution models can be of various kinds, but the one generating a lot of buzz lately is data-driven attribution. Rather than a traditional model, this algorithmically-generated model is exclusive to customers of Google Analytics 360 which offers an easy way to provide personalized experiences to your customers. Plus, you need to meet these two parameters across a period of 28 days:

  • 400 conversions of every type with a minimum of two interactions in every conversion.
  • 10,000 paths on your site, which is akin to 10,000 site users. However, a single user can create numerous navigational paths.

The standout feature of data-driven attribution is how it considers the touch points of the users before the start of the conversion process. The Model Explorer Tool reports these touch points. The data is then reviewed.

custom data driven attribution model

The data-driven attribution model serves as a baseline model in Google Analytics, enabling you to create new personalized attribution model. Create the new data-driven attribution model to share conversion credit with multiple touch points along the path of conversion before the implementation of personalized credit rules.

Use the data-driven attribution model to analyze both, the non-conversion and conversion path information. The latter is data gathered from visitors who were not converted by your site while the former is collected from the ones who did convert. A unique aspect of the data-driven attribution model is how it changes weekly.

Why does the data-driven attribution model work?

Understand that this model offers credit to the conversions of various touch points or marketing channels according to what they contributed in the conversion process. The touch point or marketing channel that offers the most assistance receives the most amount of credit for conversions, irrespective of whether it’s the initial touch, the middle touch, or the last touch. The rest of the touches or channels receive credit as per what they contributed during the conversion process.

As the task of assigning conversion credits depends on the latest conversion information rather than the touch point positions, the attribution becomes data-driven. This not only eliminates the need to assign random conversion credit to numerous touch points or channels but also explains why the entire model is called the data-driven attribution model.

Make it a point to remember that the validity of data-driven attribution lasts for a certain period of time since the model changes along with the conversion information.

What your business needs to implement the DDA (Data-Driven Attribution) model?

Never think for a second that an algorithm-based attribution model such as this one can be implemented by every business. First, meet and maintain various strict requirements, and only then can your business handle the data-driven attribution model.

  1. Access to a Google Analytics 360 account

Unless you have a Google Premium or Google Analytics 360 account, you cannot use the data-driven attribution model.

  1. High-quality data and its availability

Always remember that your DDA model’s strength rests on the information you submit. So a poor entry will beget poor results.

Now, the problem is, most organizations might be able to download and install Google Analytics 360, but they stumble hard when it comes to figuring out how to benefit from the service.

What’s more? Even though they have the resources to hire experienced analysts, they cannot always create and maintain large volumes of quality data gathered from different data sources.

Thus, the insights received from the DDA model are likely misleading, flawed, and unusable.

  1. Compatibility of KPIs and goals

The KPIs and goals you select for your business need to align across organizations and marketing channels. Otherwise, the data-driven attribution model does not work. So, if the primary Twitter campaign target is to improve site sales, then your Facebook campaign goal should also be the same.

  1. Conversion tracking

Set goals in Google Analytics Premium to monitor conversions as well as ecommerce. Using this conversion information, Google Analytics generates the data-driven attribution for your business, irrespective of whether you are permitted to use it or not.

  1. Importance of meeting and maintaining the minimum conversion threshold

Be certain that the Google Analytics Premium view to be generated meets the minimum conversion threshold. Also, know that it doesn’t matter if your Google Analytics’ view meets the minimum conversion threshold once; it does not allow for continued DDA analysis in Google Analytics. Make sure the minimum conversion threshold is maintained.

  1. Minimum conversion threshold for every type of conversion

The Google Analytics view you’ve selected must not only meet the minimum conversion threshold for every type of conversion; it needs to be maintained as well. Each kind of conversion generates its own DDA model, and it’s always possible that the generated DDA model works for certain conversions but not all.

If you’ve implemented data-driven attribution and the generated model does not work for that conversion, then GA is going to flash a warning sign right above the attribution model reports.

image of model explorer

Valuate your organic search channel with the DDA model

Open the ‘Model Comparison Tool’. Begin a comparison between the ‘last non-direct click’ and ‘data-driven’ model and the ‘last interaction model’.

model comparison tool

It is best to select the ‘last interaction’ model as it is the basic model for Google Analytics’ multi-channel funnel reports. The ‘Last non-direct click’ works since it is the basic model for non-multi-channel funnel reports. Finally, choose the ‘data-driven’ model rather than ‘time decay’ because:

  • The former not only analyzes the details from the Google Analytics account but other linked accounts as well, such as Google Ads, Doubleclick Campaign Manager, etc.
  • The DDA model uses an algorithm to assign credit to conversions, which is more reliable than credits given through the ‘Time Decay’ attribution and/or manual conversion.

Check the column labeled ‘% change in conversions (from ‘Last Interaction’) to find ‘organic search’

report on change in conversions

Use this report to measure the percentage by which organic search conversion changed from the previous interaction model to the data-driven model. In this case, you can see that it is 22.66 percent. This means if the DDA model is used to offer organic search conversion credits, the process will yield 22.66 percent more credits. So, the last click model undervalues organic search by 22.66 percent.

Once you’re done, download the DDA model into an excel sheet by simply clicking the button marked ‘Download the full model’ to the above right side of the ‘Model explorer tool’.

Concluding remarks

Choose the data-driven attribution model in Google Analytics to implement it for your business and experience the benefits. There are lots of other attribution models available but this model is in a league of its own.

The post How to get started with data-driven attribution in Google Analytics appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Google News Digest: New Features in Google Ads, Google Docs API, .dev Domain and More

Google News Digest: New Features in Google Ads, Google Docs API, .dev Domain and More

Google News Digest: New Features in Google Ads, Google Docs API, .dev Domain and More

In this digest, we have outlined all the important updates from February, from Google’s latest move to fight disinformation to its rollout of new features in display campaigns to the launch of Google docs API and .dev domains. Don’t forget to tune in to our Marketing Scoop podcast with guests JD Prater and Joe Martinez discuss the latest Google updates and developments in more detail.