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5 Tips to Find the Right SEO Company



The upheaval caused by lockdown orders in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to not only shift their working policies but also their marketing strategies. Since there is a lot of uncertainty for offline promotion nowadays, most businesses are seeking ways to market their business online. If you haven’t thought about the SEO of your business website yet, you must start doing it now.

As good SEO and bad SEO can create a world of difference in your Google rankings and other search engine rankings, it is critical to find one of the best SEO companies.

Here are a few tips that every business should consider before hiring the services of an SEO firm or picking an affordable SEO package.

Don’t believe anyone who promises to make your website rank #1 within a few days

To improve ranking, SEO pros need to have insights into ever-evolving Google’s algorithms (about which Google remains mostly mysterious) and a deeper understanding of how search engines work and stay abreast with the latest modifications as well. This means doing SEO is not everybody’s cup of tea.

Any SEO company that claims to have special knowledge to top rank your website could be using shortcuts, like buying links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking. It will only harm your website ranking as they violate the search engine’s rules.

Define specific goals and find an SEO firm that can achieve them

Having a vague goal of increasing organic traffic will not take you anywhere. Increased traffic doesn’t automatically mean increased revenue. There are different kinds of organic traffic. Thus, to avoid any confusion, your team should define goals that state exactly what you want to achieve from SEO.

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Do you want to increase the visibility of your products by ranking certain keywords? Are you looking to increase the conversion rate? Or, do you want to reduce the bounce rate of your website? Be specific while defining goals.

Also trust word of mouth apart from Google search for “the best SEO” or “affordable SEO packages”

While searching for the “Best SEO Company” or finding “affordable SEO packages” online will help you make a list to narrow down options, you can also ask other business owners in the circle (but not direct competitors) about SEO services they use. If they seem happy about the SEO firm’s performance and efforts, you can go for that firm too. In short, word-of-mouth advertising is also a legit way to find a qualified SEO firm.

Work with an SEO firm that charts your progress.

Once you have your options narrowed down, you need to choose a company that employs a clear method of demonstrating your progress. When it comes to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), ensure that you and the SEO firm are on the same page. Find an SEO company that understands which metrics are crucial for your business. Some of the common yet most important metrics are organic sessions, keyword rankings, conversion rate, Google crawling mistakes, and page load time.

Find an SEO firm with a transparent and clear method of communication

Though it is essential that you have access to important metrics and tools that the SEO firm is using to measure KPIs, such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you don’t have all the time to analyze their results. Thus, you need a firm that submits reports with results that you can understand easily and quickly.

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Always remember that you will benefit from SEO in the long-term only if you choose the right SEO Company. So, don’t choose the first one you encounter. Do proper research.

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DuckDuckGo Reaches 100B Searches, But Growth Is Slowing Down



DuckDuckGo Reaches 100B Searches, But Growth Is Slowing Down

DuckDuckGo celebrates a milestone of 100 billion total searches, but the search engine’s year-over-year growth is slowing down.

In an announcement on Twitter, DuckDuckGo highlights the fact it hit 100 billion private searches, noting:

  • Your search history wasn’t a data point
  • What you searched for stays with you
  • Users recognize their right to privacy and chose to use it

If you dig into the numbers, however, it’s evident the selling point of the private search engine is losing its appeal.

DuckDuckGo’s average daily search volume grew 17% from January 2021 to January 2022.

That’s the slowest rate of growth for DuckDuckGo in the past five years, and a steep drop from the growth it experienced in 2019 to 2020.

From January 2019 to January 2020, DuckDuckGo’s average daily search volume grew 52%.

In the years before that it was hitting over 60% growth.

Here’s a breakdown of DuckDuckGo’s growth in daily searches:

  • January 2021 to January 2022 – 17% increase
  • January 2019 to January 2020 – 52% increase
  • January 2018 to January 2019 – 62% increase
  • January 2017 to January 2018 – 61% increase
  • January 2016 to January 2017 – 30% increase

At the very least, DuckDuckGo sustained the growth it achieved from 2019 to 2020 and increased it by a small margin.

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That’s a positive thing compared to a year-over-year decrease in daily search volume.

More Evidence Of DuckDuckGo’s Waning Popularity

Last January, all signs were pointing to DuckDuckGo’s popularity growing like never before.

Not only was search volume up over 50% year-over-year, but it hit #1 in the iOS App Store in the Utilities category.

DuckDuckGo even cracked the top 10 in the iOS App Store among all apps.


It’s sitting at #18 in the Utilities category, and is so low among all apps that the data isn’t available.

Screenshot from, January 2022.

But Wait, There’s More!

Last year at this time, DuckDuckGo was the #2 mobile search engine in the US.

This year it lost the #2 spot to Yahoo. Now, DuckDuckGo is the third most popular mobile search engine among US searchers.

duckduckgo 100 billionScreenshot from, January 2022.

By all measures, DuckDuckGo is losing steam.

It’s possible that the search engine is suffering from lack of innovation.

There were no notable developments from DuckDuckGo last year, other than the company announcing plans to launch a desktop browser.

Another possibility is that protecting one’s privacy on the web isn’t of great concern to that many people.

The data suggests there’s a finite amount of users who care enough about privacy to change their search behavior, and perhaps DuckDuckGo has reached a majority of those individuals.

As much as DuckDuckGo touts the importance of online privacy, it can also be a hinderance when it comes to the quality of search results.

This is especially true when it comes to local searches. Since DuckDuckGo doesn’t know your exact location, its search results struggle to provide the same value as Google’s local SERPs.

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Let’s see if the 100 billion milestone encourages DuckDuckGo to continue building on what it has already created and offer more to searchers.

Sources: DuckDuckGo, Statcounter, SimilarWeb

Featured Image: Ralf Liebhold/Shutterstock

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Are Local Citations (NAP) A Google Ranking Factor?



Are Local Citations (NAP) A Google Ranking Factor?

In local SEO, a citation is a mention of key business information – your name, address, and phone number (NAP) – anywhere else on the web.

Local citations might appear in directories, on social networking or review sites, in apps, and on all kinds of other websites.

Clearly, these are an important part of a searcher’s experience; NAP info is how a local consumer will find their way to your store or give you a call.

But do citations help you rank higher in Google Search results?

The Claim: Local Citations As A Ranking Factor

Some citations allow only for the location’s name, address, and phone number.

However, you may be able to add a website link, business description, photos, and more, depending on the directory or platform.

The idea here is that each of these optimizations will help you rank higher in local search results:

  • Having your NAP info appear on more external sites.
  • Ensuring the accuracy of your citations.
  • Optimizing each one by adding as much supporting detail as the fields on that site allow.

WhiteSpark’s industry survey on local ranking factors provides a good framework that illustrates the variety of considerations in play when we talk about local citation signals. Citations are evaluated based on:

  • Consistency.
  • Quality/authority.
  • Quantity.
  • Enhancement/completeness.

The Evidence For Citations As A Ranking Factor

Citations have long been widely accepted by SEO professionals as a key local ranking factor.

“Consistency of citations” came in at #5 in Moz’s 2020 industry survey of what SEO pros believe are local ranking factors. (They were ranked fifth in the 2018 survey, as well, for both Local Pack/Finder and Localized Organic search results.)

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However, what it is about citations that matter most has been the subject of debate over the years.

When BrightLocal surveyed the industry in 2016, 90% of respondents said citation accuracy was “very important” to “critical” for local search rankings. What’s more, 86% said the quality of those citations was more important than quantity.

In this video, Google confirms that local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.

And while you cannot control all of these factors, they say:

“First, make sure all of your business information is complete. It’s important to have accurate information including your phone number, address, and business category.”

Google also recommends that in order to ensure the accuracy of your GMB listing and “help you stand out”, you should:

  • Double-check that hours of operation are accurate.
  • Use special hours for holidays.
  • Add photos of your location, services, or merchandise.
  • Verify your location to tell Google you are the correct owner of the business.

In their “Improve your local ranking on Google” help resource, the advice is clear:

“Local results favor the most relevant results for each search. Businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.”

The Evidence Against Local Citations As A Ranking Factor

You could argue that citations are too difficult to maintain and therefore not a reliable signal.

And you would be right.

It’s incredibly difficult to ensure that all citations across the local search ecosystem are kept up to date.

With so many aggregators, user suggestions, manual errors, and other elements wreaking havoc with citation information, how can Google trust that the information they’re finding about any one business location is accurate?

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This is precisely why local listings management is so important, and providing Google a single source of truth through your GMB profile is key.

Monitoring for citation errors is essential so you can correct them before the wrong information is picked up by aggregators and more widely distributed.

Citation inconsistencies can happen for countless reasons:

  • Businesses move to new locations.
  • Brands open and close stores.
  • Staff and owners create listings without documenting them, and they grow outdated as the business evolves.
  • Consumers create duplicate listings by making spelling mistakes when trying to leave a review.
  • Google searchers suggest listing edits with the best of intentions but the wrong information.
  • And more. A lot more.

Google recognizes that all of these issues can impact citation accuracy, which is why it relies on such a wide array of sources to determine whether the information is trustworthy.

Local Citations As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Bottom line: It is all but confirmed officially by Google that Google uses local citations as a ranking signal in Local Pack/Finder and localized organic search results.

Google’s aim is to provide the best, most trustworthy answers to every searcher.

Citations are an important signal as to whether key business information is correct and that location is the best answer for a local searcher’s relevant query.

If you’re just getting started, check out John McAlpin’s Citations & Local SEO: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide.

Ready to get more advanced? Make sure your citations are accurate and complete on as many relevant sources as possible. WhiteSpark’s free Top Local Citation Sources by Country finder enables you to pull a list of the top directories, networks, websites, etc. in 15 countries.

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And if you really want to step up your local strategy, you’ll want to download Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings.

Featured Image: Paolo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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Is It A Ranking Factor?



Is It A Ranking Factor?

Quickly gaining a lot of links from other sites sounds like it should be a positive thing for any website.

But could it actually hurt, rather than help, your rankings?

Or does link velocity not matter at all to Google? Is it, in fact, just some made-up SEO term?

Read on as we investigate the origins of link velocity and whether it’s something you need to be genuinely concerned about in SEO.

The Claim: Link Velocity As A Ranking Factor

Link velocity refers to a theory that the speed at which a website gains links has the potential to impact rankings, either positively or negatively.

Link Velocity = Good

Years ago, having a high link velocity in a short period of time was viewed by some as a good thing in the SEO industry, one that could positively influence your Google rankings.

Link velocity was mentioned in articles and during conference sessions – because in those days link building was more about quantity than quality.

Want to get a webpage to rank quickly? Build a whole bunch of links to it fast.

But the idea of quantity over quality changed after Google launched the Penguin algorithm.

Link Velocity = Bad

The belief here is that gaining links too fast can cause a website to get penalized or demoted in search results.

It is based on the idea that Google will interpret a quick increase in inbound links as a sign that the website is trying to manipulate its search rankings.

Understandably, the idea of link velocity can be concerning for everyone who is averse to getting inadvertently penalized for acquiring links.

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The growth of a website’s link profile is largely out of its control.

If a site publishes a great piece of content, for example, many other sites may reference it within a short time frame, resulting in a number of links gained all at once.

Were link velocity to work as SEO experts claim, the website in the above example could receive a penalty because it gained an influx of inbound links through no fault of its own.

The Evidence: Link Velocity As A Ranking Factor

The origins of link velocity in the SEO community can be dated back to the discovery of a Google patent that was filed in 2003.

The patent, Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data, includes ideas about how a search engine should treat a website based on the growth of its link profile.

In particular, the idea of link velocity can be traced back to this passage:

“While a spiky rate of growth in the number of backlinks may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine 125. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine 125 may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.”

Search Engine Journal’s Roger Montti has picked apart SEO experts’ interpretation of this patent, noting how they ignore parts of the patent which disprove their own theory.

For instance, the patent goes on to define what a “spiky rate of growth” is and how it can be the defining characteristic of unnatural link building.

The patent isn’t about penalizing websites that see a rapid increase in inbound links.

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It’s about demoting websites that exhibit a pattern of unusual spikes in inbound links over extended periods.

According to Montti:

“What that patent is really talking about is the smooth natural rate of growth versus a spiky and unnatural rate of growth.

A spiky rate of growth can manifest over the course of months. That’s a big difference from the link velocity idea that proposes that a large amount of links acquired in a short period will result in a penalty.”

The evidence doesn’t add up to what experts claim about link velocity.

Link Velocity As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

There is no evidence to suggest that Google uses a signal known as link velocity that can negatively impact rankings.

Link velocity is not a term Google officially recognizes.

When asked about it, Google search representatives say a website’s links are assessed on their own merits, not by how many are gained in which length of time.

Here’s an example of such a response from Google’s John Mueller:

“It’s not so much a matter of how many links you get in which time period. It’s really just… if these are links that are unnatural or from our point of view problematic then they would be problematic. It’s like it doesn’t really matter how many or in which time.”

Google’s Gary Illyes put it more bluntly in a Reddit AMA, calling link velocity a made-up term.

Whether links are gained fast or slow, what really matters is the quality of the individual links and the manner in which they were acquired (naturally or unnaturally).

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Featured Image: Paolo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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