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10 Content Marketing Tools You Should Be Using in 2022



10 Content Marketing Tools You Should Be Using in 2022

As a marketer, you have a crazy number of options to choose from for content marketing software.

I’ve been doing content marketing in various forms for over six years now. In that time, I’ve used and tested a bunch of tools. There are some, though, that I find myself coming back to week after week, as these tools have become an integral part of my workflows.

So rather than overwhelm you with a list of 40+ content marketing tools, here are 10 that are tried and tested to help you be more effective and efficient in content marketing. They are:

  1. Ahrefs
  2. Google Search Console
  3. Google Analytics
  4. Wordable
  5. Hotjar
  6. Zapier
  7. ClickUp
  8. Canva
  9. Grammarly
  10. Hemingway App

A toolkit for content marketing research and analysis.

Ahrefs is a suite of tools that you can use to make smart, data-informed content marketing decisions. Here are three things you can do with Ahrefs that thousands of other content marketers are already doing every day:

  1. Find out what potential customers are typing into Google with Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer – This is a research tool that helps you to find new keyword ideas for content. You can search and filter keywords and also get data on search volume, Traffic Potential (TP), Keyword Difficulty (KD), and more.
  2. Analyze your competitors’ content and traffic with Ahrefs’ Site Explorer – This is a competitor analysis tool. By searching any domain in it, you can find data on which pages attract the most organic search traffic, which keywords competitors rank for, which pages are attracting backlinks, and more.
  3. See which pieces of content are performing the best using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer – This is a research tool that lets you find relevant content in your industry that attracts lots of organic search traffic, gets social shares, and generates backlinks.
Content Explorer search results for term "market research"

Ahrefs is built with simplicity in mind. You don’t need to be technically proficient (or even experienced in content marketing) to use it. The UI has lots of helpful tooltips to explain features and metrics.

Also, there’s a wealth of educational content on the Ahrefs blog and YouTube channel to help you maximize your results.

My favorite feature

Ahrefs recently added a metric called Traffic Potential, and it has quickly become one of my favorite features. It tells you how much organic traffic the top-ranking page for that keyword gets in total. That helps you to quickly compare opportunities and forecast potential results.

Keyword search volume alone isn’t a very good indication of how much traffic you can expect if you rank #1. Usually, you expect a page to rank for a bunch of related keywords at the same time. It’s possible to research those manually, but it’s slow and likely to be inaccurate.

Instead, Traffic Potential gives you a quick insight at a glance. It also means you can now sort lists in Keywords Explorer (or spreadsheets after exporting) by Traffic Potential, which saves a ton of time when content planning.

Keyword Explorer overview for "submit website to search engines"


Ahrefs offers Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for free, which gives full access to the Site Explorer and Site Audit tools to explore your own website data. You can sign up here.

To do keyword research and competitor analysis for your content marketing, you’ll need a paid plan. Those start from $83 per month (paid annually), with higher pricing tiers offering extra features and higher usage limits. View pricing and sign up here.

A free tool by Google that helps you manage and analyze search performance.

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool offered by Google to help webmasters learn about their websites’ performance in Google. It also helps to:

  • Manage a website’s appearance on the SERPs.
  • Troubleshoot SEO and responsiveness issues.
  • Submit XML sitemaps.
  • Find (very basic) backlinks information for pages.

If organic search performance is important to your content marketing strategy, this is a tool you’ll want to get familiar with.

Performance report in GSC

Example of the Performance report in the GSC dashboard.

My favorite feature

GSC is a powerful tool when it comes to updating, refreshing, and optimizing content.

Why? Well, by going to the Performance report, you can learn which search terms people are using to find each of your webpages. There, it’s common to find additional secondary keywords that you haven’t yet optimized for but can likely bring more relevant organic traffic.

Let’s take a look at an example. This affiliate site has published an article pursuing the keyword “best hunting knife.”

Excerpt of article about best hunting knives. Picture of knife on a rock; below, some text

GSC reports that this page is already starting to generate clicks from related keywords, including “best value hunting knife,” despite not directly addressing that topic in the content.

Performance report in GSC; list of queries with corresponding data like clicks and impressions

There are sections recommending knives for different price points, but nothing to conclude which knives are the best value overall. By adding a new section to cover that, the page is likely to rank higher and get more conversions from that keyword because the intent is better satisfied.


GSC is a completely free tool.

A free tool by Google that helps you understand your website traffic and user behavior.

If you’ve ever owned or worked on a website, you’ve probably at least heard of Google Analytics.

It’s a free tool that gives you a range of data about the activity happening on your website, e.g., where users come from, how many visitors you have, and information about them (demographic, geography, device type, etc.). It also helps you to track user behavior on the site.

This is another free tool that content marketers should definitely have in their arsenal.

My favorite feature

In the context of content marketing, Google Analytics is most useful for measuring content performance.

The view I find myself looking at the most is in Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Here, you can get a breakdown of content performance (for each page that users enter your site from) through the following:

  • Conversions and conversion rate
  • Time on page
  • Pages per session
  • Bounce rate
  • New vs. returning users
  • And more
"Landing pages" data on GA; list of landing pages with corresponding data like sessions, bounce rate, etc

You can analyze that data and make decisions to improve your content. For example, if you find a low conversion rate on a high-intent page that you believe should be converting better, it can prompt some CRO initiatives.


Google Analytics is a completely free tool.

A tool for converting Google Docs into blog posts quickly.

If you’re working with a lot of freelance writers who deliver their work in Google Docs, you’re going to love Wordable. It drastically speeds up the process of transferring the content over to your CMS by connecting to your Google Drive account and importing/exporting your content.

Currently, Wordable works with WordPress, Medium, and HubSpot. The Ahrefs marketing team has been using Wordable for years too!

My favorite feature

Wordable’s extra settings for WordPress exports are great. Settings are available to do all of the following things in one click:

  • Set outbound links to nofollow
  • Set links to open in a new tab
  • Compress large images
  • Select the author
  • Select publish status (e.g., draft for one final check)
  • Select categories

These are big time-savers, even if you only upload from Google Docs a few times per month.

List of Wordable's export settings


Wordable offers a free trial of five article exports. Paid plans start from $49/month for one user, three sites, and 50 article exports. View pricing and sign up here.

A website behavior analysis tool.

Hotjar is well known for its heatmap and visitor recording features. It helps you to gather data on how people are interacting with your pages. Heatmaps show you a visual overview of where people are scrolling and clicking, while (GDPR-compliant) session recordings help you see exactly what your users are seeing.

That’s not all, though. Hotjar has more user behavior analysis tools. One that is useful for content marketing is its user surveys tool. You can directly ask users questions, such as whether or not your content satisfied what they were looking for.

Example of question with "yes" and "no" options

My favorite feature

I like to use Hotjar’s heatmaps to help with measuring content performance. If you’re working on maximizing the conversion rate of an article, learning about how people interact with your CTAs is really important.

Heatmaps help you to see how often people click different CTAs (e.g., contextual anchors vs. sidebars vs. CTA blocks) and to adjust your strategy accordingly.

I’ve been surprised on more than one occasion by how little (or often) certain CTAs get used or ignored. Patterns aren’t always consistent across websites, business models, and industries. A heatmap is the best way to get that data.

The alternative is to set up triggers in Google Tag Manager, but it’s more complex to set up and analyze. Plus, you don’t quite get the same visual overview as with a heatmap.


Hotjar offers a free plan, usable for up to 35 daily sessions. Paid plans start from $31 per month, unlocking additional features and raising usage limits. View pricing and sign up here.

A tool for connecting apps and automating tasks.

You can use Zapier to integrate tools you use where a direct integration isn’t available. The use cases are pretty much infinite for this, but here are a few that are relevant to you as a content marketer. You can automatically do the following:

  • Post on social media every time a new blog is published
  • Get a Slack notification when someone fills in your Typeform research survey
  • Push an email address from your form builder into your email marketing tool
  • Get alerts when anyone mentions your content/brand on Reddit
  • And more

If you have any repetitive tasks that require a popular software tool, there’s a good chance Zapier can automate them for you.

My favorite feature

My favorite Zapier feature is Multi-Step Zaps. It does exactly what its name suggests, letting you run multiple automated actions from a single trigger.

Here’s a relevant example for content marketers. By connecting your WordPress account to Zapier, you can trigger actions when a new post is created (whether that’s a draft or a published post).

3 long blocks, each representing an action, arranged like a vertical flowchart

For this example, I created a Slack alert, as well as an action to create a ClickUp task for proofreading and editing with an assignee and description. There are a bunch of other automations you can choose from to fit into your content workflow too.

There are already 4,000+ apps connected, with tens of thousands of different triggers and actions. That means the majority of automation ideas you have will be possible straight out of the box without customization.


Zapier offers a free version for up to 100 tasks per month, with some limitations. Paid plans unlock new features and add more monthly tasks. Prices start from $19.99 per month (paid annually). View pricing and sign up here.

An all-in-one work management platform for tasks, documents, communications, and more.

ClickUp has rapidly grown its feature set in recent years. It is now a feasible replacement for a ton of different apps, being capable of managing content marketing tasks, calendars, and workflows in one place.

As well as managing end-to-end content marketing workflows at scale (more on this in just a second), ClickUp can be used for the following:

  • Setting goals for your team
  • Creating and storing documentation
  • Internal team chat/communication
  • Reporting on progress
  • Gathering and analyzing information with forms
  • And more

My favorite feature

For content marketing, I think ClickUp adds the most value in being able to systemize your workflows. As your team grows, it gets harder and harder to “quality assure” everything and ensure every piece of content goes through the correct processes.

You can use features like task templates and checklists to speed things up and achieve some consistency in your content systems. That can be applied to any part of the workflow: research, writing, editing, promotion, and so on.

You can read this blog post to learn how the ClickUp content team manages its own content marketing projects inside ClickUp by using templates, checklists, and more:

Checklist of "blog post outreach process"


ClickUp offers a “free forever” plan, which is good for personal use. For working in a content team, you’ll need a paid plan. These start at $5 per team member per month (paid annually). View pricing and sign up here.

A DIY graphic design tool for social media, presentations, websites, and more.

Canva is an intuitive drag-and-drop design tool built for people who are not professional designers.

Images in grid format on left. On right, picture of lady working on laptop; next to her is CTA and contact info

It’s a great alternative to more “advanced” design software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and allows beginners to create professional-looking graphics without design experience.

Canva can help you to design featured images for blogs, thumbnails for videos and podcasts, social media graphics, and more.

My favorite feature

It’s a simple one. But one of my favorite things to use Canva for is removing image backgrounds. At the start of my marketing career, it was a pain to remove the background from an image, and it typically would require some skill in a tool like Photoshop.

Canva’s one-click background remover is super handy, is reliable, and requires zero graphic design skills.

Other than that, I think that one of Canva’s biggest selling points is its huge template library. Being able to quickly customize existing templates that already have great fonts, colors, and spacing makes it easy to create a professional-looking design quickly.

Templates in grid format


Canva has a “free forever” plan, which is powerful enough to get you started with DIY graphic design. Paid plans start from $17.98 per month. View pricing and sign up here.

A tool for writing effective and error-free content.

When publishing any kind of written work, making sure your writing is free of mistakes is a basic requirement for quality content. Grammarly is known for doing a great job of picking up any errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

It’s a great way to speed up your proofreading process before releasing your content to the world.

My favorite feature

Grammarly has a great Chrome Extension. This means you can get Grammarly’s functionality anywhere on the web without wasting time pasting your content into Grammarly’s editor, then copying the updated content over to your original workspace again.

Email written in Gmail; on right, Grammarly's suggestions to improve writing

In addition, there’s a great tone detection feature. You can use it to get feedback on whether you’re coming across how you intended (e.g., formal/informal).

It can also be useful for detecting and removing hedging language. This can help you come across as more confident in your communication.


Grammarly has a great free version that helps with grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Premium plans start from $12/month and unlock features for inclusive language, plagiarism, fluency, and more. View pricing and sign up here.

A content editing tool for conciseness and clarity.

At a glance, it may seem redundant to use Hemingway and Grammarly together. But while Grammarly is mainly focused on correctness, Hemingway is great for concise writing. You can use them together effectively.

Like Grammarly, you can either write directly in the editor or copy/paste your writing from another source for editing. You’ll get instant feedback on:

  • Readability score (including highlighted sentences that are difficult to read).
  • Word and phrase choices.
  • Usage of active vs. passive voice.
Hemingway's editor; on right, breakdown of readability score

My favorite feature

Readability grading is a great feature of Hemingway. It’s quick and easy to understand. The higher the grade, the more complex your sentences and word choices are.

If you’re catering to a global audience (including non-native speakers), ensuring simplicity in your writing is important. Simple copy can help a lot with conversions too, and the app is the best free way to grade your writing.

Other than that, Hemingway has one-click integrations with Medium and WordPress. These make it super quick and easy to publish right from the Hemingway editor.

Without those integrations, a considerable amount of time is added to your editing process when you copy over your changes. So this is a useful solution. It’s only available in the premium version of Hemingway, but it’s affordable.


The majority of Hemingway’s functionality is completely free. You can use the web app without logging in or downloading anything. The premium version is available for $19.99, which gets you the desktop app for working offline and some additional features.

Final thoughts

None of these content marketing tools are absolutely essential. But I won’t like to do content marketing work without them. They all, in various ways, improve your effectiveness and execution speed as a content marketer.

If you want to keep learning more about content marketing, here are some great resources you can check out next:

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile




How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile

Search is evolving at an incredible pace and new features, formats, and even new search engines are popping up within the space.

Google’s algorithm still prioritizes backlinks when ranking websites. If you want your website to be visible in search results, you must account for backlinks and your backlink profile.

A healthy backlink profile requires a diverse backlink profile.

In this guide, we’ll examine how to build and maintain a diverse backlink profile that powers your website’s search performance.

What Does A Healthy Backlink Profile Look Like?

As Google states in its guidelines, it primarily crawls pages through links from other pages linked to your pages, acquired through promotion and naturally over time.

In practice, a healthy backlink profile can be divided into three main areas: the distribution of link types, the mix of anchor text, and the ratio of followed to nofollowed links.

Let’s look at these areas and how they should look within a healthy backlink profile.

Distribution Of Link Types

One aspect of your backlink profile that needs to be diversified is link types.

It looks unnatural to Google to have predominantly one kind of link in your profile, and it also indicates that you’re not diversifying your content strategy enough.

Some of the various link types you should see in your backlink profile include:

  • Anchor text links.
  • Image links.
  • Redirect links.
  • Canonical links.

Here is an example of the breakdown of link types at my company, Whatfix (via Semrush):

Screenshot from Semrush, May 2024

Most links should be anchor text links and image links, as these are the most common ways to link on the web, but you should see some of the other types of links as they are picked up naturally over time.

Mix Of Anchor Text

Next, ensure your backlink profile has an appropriate anchor text variance.

Again, if you overoptimize for a specific type of anchor text, it will appear suspicious to search engines like Google and could have negative repercussions.

Here are the various types of anchor text you might find in your backlink profile:

  • Branded anchor text – Anchor text that is your brand name or includes your brand name.
  • Empty – Links that have no anchor text.
  • Naked URLs – Anchor text that is a URL (e.g.,
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that exactly matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., blue shoes).
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that partially or closely matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., “comfortable blue footwear options”).
  • Generic anchor text – Anchor text such as “this website” or “here.”

To maintain a healthy backlink profile, aim for a mix of anchor text within a similar range to this:

  • Branded anchor text – 35-40%.
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – 15-20%.
  • Generic anchor text -10-15%.
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – 5-10%.
  • Naked URLs – 5-10%.
  • Empty – 3-5%.

This distribution of anchor text represents a natural mix of differing anchor texts. It is common for the majority of anchors to be branded or partially branded because most sites that link to your site will default to your brand name when linking. It also makes sense that the following most common anchors would be partial-match keywords or generic anchor text because these are natural choices within the context of a web page.

Exact-match anchor text is rare because it only happens when you are the best resource for a specific term, and the site owner knows your page exists.

Ratio Of Followed Vs. Nofollowed Backlinks

Lastly, you should monitor the ratio of followed vs. nofollowed links pointing to your website.

If you need a refresher on what nofollowed backlinks are or why someone might apply the nofollow tag to a link pointing to your site, check out Google’s guide on how to qualify outbound links to Google.

Nofollow attributes should only be applied to paid links or links pointing to a site the linking site doesn’t trust.

While it is not uncommon or suspicious to have some nofollow links (people misunderstand the purpose of the nofollow attribute all the time), a healthy backlink profile will have far more followed links.

You should aim for a ratio of 80%:20% or 70%:30% in favor of followed links. For example, here is what the followed vs. nofollowed ratio looks like for my company’s backlink profile (according to Ahrefs):

Referring domainsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2024

You may see links with other rel attributes, such as UGC or Sponsored.

The “UGC” attribute tags links from user-generated content, while the “Sponsored” attribute tags links from sponsored or paid sources. These attributes are slightly different than the nofollow tag, but they essentially work the same way, letting Google know these links aren’t trusted or endorsed by the linking site. You can simply group these links in with nofollowed links when calculating your ratio.

Importance Of Diversifying Your Backlink Profile

So why is it important to diversify your backlink profile anyway? Well, there are three main reasons you should consider:

  • Avoiding overoptimization.
  • Diversifying traffic sources.
  • And finding new audiences.

Let’s dive into each of these.

Avoiding Overoptimization

First and foremost, diversifying your backlink profile is the best way to protect yourself from overoptimization and the damaging penalties that can come with it.

As SEO pros, our job is to optimize websites to improve performance, but overoptimizing in any facet of our strategy – backlinks, keywords, structure, etc. – can result in penalties that limit visibility within search results.

In the previous section, we covered the elements of a healthy backlink profile. If you stray too far from that model, your site might look suspicious to search engines like Google and you could be handed a manual or algorithmic penalty, suppressing your rankings in search.

Considering how regularly Google updates its search algorithm these days (and how little information surrounds those updates), you could see your performance tank and have no idea why.

This is why it’s so important to keep a watchful eye on your backlink profile and how it’s shaping up.

Diversifying Traffic Sources

Another reason to cultivate a diverse backlink profile is to ensure you’re diversifying your traffic sources.

Google penalties come swiftly and can often be a surprise. If you have all your eggs in that basket when it comes to traffic, your site will suffer badly and might need help to recover.

However, diversifying your traffic sources (search, social, email, etc.) will mitigate risk – similar to a stock portfolio – as you’ll have other traffic sources to provide a steady flow of visitors if another source suddenly dips.

Part of building a diverse backlink profile is acquiring a diverse set of backlinks and backlink types, and this strategy will also help you find differing and varied sources of traffic.

Finding New Audiences

Finally, building a diverse backlink profile is essential, as doing so will also help you discover new audiences.

If you acquire links from the same handful of websites and platforms, you will need help expanding your audience and building awareness for your website.

While it’s important to acquire links from sites that cater to your existing audience, you should also explore ways to build links that can tap into new audiences. The best way to do this is by casting a wide net with various link acquisition tactics and strategies.

A diverse backlink profile indicates a varied approach to SEO and marketing that will help bring new visitors and awareness to your site.

Building A Diverse Backlink Profile

So that you know what a healthy backlink profile looks like and why it’s important to diversify, how do you build diversity into your site’s backlink profile?

This comes down to your link acquisition strategy and the types of backlinks you actively pursue. To guide your strategy, let’s break link building into three main categories:

  • Foundational links.
  • Content promotion.
  • Community involvement.

Here’s how to approach each area.

Foundational Links

Foundational links represent those links that your website simply should have. These are opportunities where a backlink would exist if all sites were known to all site owners.

Some examples of foundational links include:

  • Mentions – Websites that mention your brand in some way (brand name, product, employees, proprietary data, etc.) on their website but don’t link.
  • Partners – Websites that belong to real-world partners or companies you connect with offline and should also connect (link) with online.
  • Associations or groups – Websites for offline associations or groups you belong to where your site should be listed with a link.
  • Sponsorships – Any events or organizations your company sponsors might have websites that could (and should) link to your site.
  • Sites that link to competitors – If a website is linking to a competitor, there is a strong chance it would make sense for them to link to your site as well.

These link opportunities should set the foundation for your link acquisition efforts.

As the baseline for your link building strategy, you should start by exhausting these opportunities first to ensure you’re not missing highly relevant links to bolster your backlink profile.

Content Promotion

Next, consider content promotion as a strategy for building a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

Content promotion is much more proactive than the foundational link acquisition mentioned above. You must manifest the opportunity by creating link-worthy content rather than simply capitalizing on an existing opportunity.

Some examples of content promotion for links are:

  • Digital PR – Digital PR campaigns have numerous benefits and goals beyond link acquisition, but backlinks should be a primary KPI.
  • Original research – Similar to digital PR, original research should focus on providing valuable data to your audience. Still, you should also make sure any citations or references to your research are correctly linked.
  • Guest content – Whether regular columns or one-off contributions, providing guest content to websites is still a viable link acquisition strategy – when done right. The best way to gauge your guest content strategy is to ask yourself if you would still write the content for a site without guaranteeing a backlink, knowing you’ll still build authority and get your message in front of a new audience.
  • Original imagery – Along with research and data, if your company creates original imagery that offers unique value, you should promote those images and ask for citation links.

Content promotion is a viable avenue for building a healthy backlink profile as long as the content you’re promoting is worthy of links.

Community Involvement

Community involvement is the final piece of your link acquisition puzzle when building a diverse backlink profile.

After pursuing all foundational opportunities and manually promoting your content, you should ensure your brand is active and represented in all the spaces and communities where your audience engages.

In terms of backlinks, this could mean:

  • Wikipedia links – Wikipedia gets over 4 billion monthly visits, so backlinks here can bring significant referral traffic to your site. However, acquiring these links is difficult as these pages are moderated closely, and your site will only be linked if it is legitimately a top resource on the web.
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.) – Another great place to get backlinks that drive referral traffic is forums like Reddit and Quora. Again, these forums are strictly moderated, and earning link placements on these sites requires a page that delivers significant and unique value to a specific audience.
  • Social platforms – Social media platforms and groups represent communities where your brand should be active and engaged. While these strategies are likely handled by other teams outside SEO and focus on different metrics, you should still be intentional about converting these interactions into links when or where possible.
  • Offline events – While it may seem counterintuitive to think of offline events as a potential source for link acquisition, legitimate link opportunities exist here. After all, most businesses, brands, and people you interact with at these events also have websites, and networking can easily translate to online connections in the form of links.

While most of the link opportunities listed above will have the nofollow link attribute due to the nature of the sites associated with them, they are still valuable additions to your backlink profile as these are powerful, trusted domains.

These links help diversify your traffic sources by bringing substantial referral traffic, and that traffic is highly qualified as these communities share your audience.

How To Avoid Developing A Toxic Backlink Profile

Now that you’re familiar with the link building strategies that can help you cultivate a healthy, diverse backlink profile, let’s discuss what you should avoid.

As mentioned before, if you overoptimize one strategy or link, it can seem suspicious to search engines and cause your site to receive a penalty. So, how do you avoid filling your backlink profile with toxic links?

Remember The “Golden Rule” Of Link Building

One simple way to guide your link acquisition strategy and avoid running afoul of search engines like Google is to follow one “golden rule.”

That rule is to ask yourself: If search engines like Google didn’t exist, and the only way people could navigate the web was through backlinks, would you want your site to have a link on the prospective website?

Thinking this way strips away all the tactical, SEO-focused portions of the equation and only leaves the human elements of linking where two sites are linked because it makes sense and makes the web easier to navigate.

Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Another good rule is to avoid looping your site into private blog networks (PBNs). Of course, it’s not always obvious or easy to spot a PBN.

However, there are some common traits or red flags you can look for, such as:

  • The person offering you a link placement mentions they have a list of domains they can share.
  • The prospective linking site has little to no traffic and doesn’t appear to have human engagement (blog comments, social media followers, blog views, etc.).
  • The website features thin content and little investment into user experience (UX) and design.
  • The website covers generic topics and categories, catering to any and all audiences.
  • Pages on the site feature numerous external links but only some internal links.
  • The prospective domain’s backlink profile features overoptimization in any of the previously discussed forms (high-density of exact match anchor text, abnormal ratio of nofollowed links, only one or two link types, etc.).

Again, diversification – in both tactics and strategies – is crucial to building a healthy backlink profile, but steering clear of obvious PBNs and remembering the ‘golden rule’ of link building will go a long way toward keeping your profile free from toxicity.

Evaluating Your Backlink Profile

As you work diligently to build and maintain a diverse, healthy backlink profile, you should also carve out time to evaluate it regularly from a more analytical perspective.

There are two main ways to evaluate the merit of your backlinks: leverage tools to analyze backlinks and compare your backlink profile to the greater competitive landscape.

Leverage Tools To Analyze Backlink Profile

There are a variety of third-party tools you can use to analyze your backlink profile.

These tools can provide helpful insights, such as the total number of backlinks and referring domains. You can use these tools to analyze your full profile, broken down by:

  • Followed vs. nofollowed.
  • Authority metrics (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Backlink types.
  • Location or country.
  • Anchor text.
  • Top-level domain types.
  • And more.

You can also use these tools to track new incoming backlinks, as well as lost backlinks, to help you better understand how your backlink profile is growing.

Some of the best tools for analyzing your backlink profile are:

Many of these tools also have features that estimate how toxic or suspicious your profile might look to search engines, which can help you detect potential issues early.

Compare Your Backlink Profile To The Competitive Landscape

Lastly, you should compare your overall backlink profile to those of your competitors and those competing with your site in the search results.

Again, the previously mentioned tools can help with this analysis – as far as providing you with the raw numbers – but the key areas you should compare are:

  • Total number of backlinks.
  • Total number of referring domains.
  • Breakdown of authority metrics of links (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Authority metrics of competing domains.
  • Link growth over the last two years.

Comparing your backlink profile to others within your competitive landscape will help you assess where your domain currently stands and provide insight into how far you must go if you’re lagging behind competitors.

It’s worth noting that it’s not as simple as whoever has the most backlinks will perform the best in search.

These numbers are typically solid indicators of how search engines gauge the authority of your competitors’ domains, and you’ll likely find a correlation between strong backlink profiles and strong search performance.

Approach Link Building With A User-First Mindset

The search landscape continues to evolve at a breakneck pace and we could see dramatic shifts in how people search within the next five years (or sooner).

However, at this time, search engines like Google still rely on backlinks as part of their ranking algorithms, and you need to cultivate a strong backlink profile to be visible in search.

Furthermore, if you follow the advice in this article as you build out your profile, you’ll acquire backlinks that benefit your site regardless of search algorithms, futureproofing your traffic sources.

Approach link acquisition like you would any other marketing endeavor – with a customer-first mindset – and over time, you’ll naturally build a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

More resources: 

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Google On Traffic Diversity As A Ranking Factor




Google answers the question of whether traffic diversity is a ranking factor for SEO

Google’s SearchLiaison tweeted encouragement to diversify traffic sources, being clear about the reason he was recommending it. Days later, someone followed up to ask if traffic diversity is a ranking factor, prompting SearchLiaison to reiterate that it is not.

What Was Said

The question of whether diversity of traffic was a ranking factor was elicited from a previous tweet in a discussion about whether a site owner should be focusing on off-site promotion.

Here’s the question from the original discussion that was tweeted:

“Can you please tell me if I’m doing right by focusing on my site and content – writing new articles to be found through search – or if I should be focusing on some off-site effort related to building a readership? It’s frustrating to see traffic go down the more effort I put in.”

SearchLiaison split the question into component parts and answered each one. When it came to the part about off-site promotion, SearchLiaison (who is Danny Sullivan), shared from his decades of experience as a journalist and publisher covering technology and search marketing.

I’m going to break down his answer so that it’s clearer what he meant

This is the part from the tweet that talks about off-site activities:

“As to the off-site effort question, I think from what I know from before I worked at Google Search, as well as my time being part of the search ranking team, is that one of the ways to be successful with Google Search is to think beyond it.”

What he is saying here is simple, don’t limit your thinking about what to do with your site to thinking about how to make it appeal to Google.

He next explains that sites that rank tend to be sites that are created to appeal to people.

SearchLiaison continued:

“Great sites with content that people like receive traffic in many ways. People go to them directly. They come via email referrals. They arrive via links from other sites. They get social media mentions.”

What he’s saying there is that you’ll know that you’re appealing to people if people are discussing your site in social media, if people are referring the site in social media and if other sites are citing it with links.

Other ways to know that a site is doing well is when when people engage in the comments section, send emails asking follow up questions, and send emails of thanks and share anecdotes of their success or satisfaction with a product or advice.

Consider this, fast fashion site Shein at one point didn’t rank for their chosen keyword phrases, I know because I checked out of curiosity. But they were at the time virally popular and making huge amounts of sales by gamifying site interaction and engagement, propelling them to become a global brand. A similar strategy propelled Zappos when they pioneered no-questions asked returns and cheerful customer service.

SearchLiaison continued:

“It just means you’re likely building a normal site in the sense that it’s not just intended for Google but instead for people. And that’s what our ranking systems are trying to reward, good content made for people.”

SearchLiaison explicitly said that building sites with diversified content is not a ranking factor.

He added this caveat to his tweet:

“This doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of social mentions, or a bunch of email mentions because these will somehow magically rank you better in Google (they don’t, from how I know things).”

Despite The Caveat…

A journalist tweeted this:

“Earlier this week, @searchliaison told people to diversify their traffic. Naturally, people started questioning whether that meant diversity of traffic was a ranking factor.

So, I asked @iPullRank what he thought.”

SearchLiaison of course answered that he explicitly said it’s not a ranking factor and linked to his original tweet that I quoted above.

He tweeted:

“I mean that’s not exactly what I myself said, but rather repeat all that I’ll just add the link to what I did say:”

The journalist responded:

“I would say this is calling for publishers to diversify their traffic since you’re saying the great sites do it. It’s the right advice to give.”

And SearchLiaison answered:

“It’s the part of “does it matter for rankings” that I was making clear wasn’t what I myself said. Yes, I think that’s a generally good thing, but it’s not the only thing or the magic thing.”

Not Everything Is About Ranking Factors

There is a longstanding practice by some SEOs to parse everything that Google publishes for clues to how Google’s algorithm works. This happened with the Search Quality Raters guidelines. Google is unintentionally complicit because it’s their policy to (in general) not confirm whether or not something is a ranking factor.

This habit of searching for “ranking factors” leads to misinformation. It takes more acuity to read research papers and patents to gain a general understanding of how information retrieval works but it’s more work to try to understand something than skimming a PDF for ranking papers.

The worst approach to understanding search is to invent hypotheses about how Google works and then pore through a document to confirm those guesses (and falling into the confirmation bias trap).

In the end, it may be more helpful to back off of exclusively optimizing for Google and focus at least equally as much in optimizing for people (which includes optimizing for traffic). I know it works because I’ve been doing it for years.

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO



The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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