What is “Relevance” In SEO

Tom Search Marketing Leave a Comment

Everyone talks about relevance in the SEO community.

But what is relevance?

It’s a very good question with very few good answers.

Most of the time when you ask someone in the SEO field what relevance is they will inevitably talk about content. They will say that it is important to have relevant content on your site and possibly to get links from relevant sites. But again, what is a relevant site?

I guess that a relevant site is one where the subject matter is the same as the subject matter on your site. OK….I’m listening….. I know how I, as a human, determines relevance in this regard, but how does a computer robot like Googlebot determine these things?
Remember that we are talking about a computer program and computer logic is based on rules that are quite different than the rules humans brains are based on. It’s easy to confuse the two because we are making human “judgments” every time we make an evaluation. Including evaluating the question “ how does a robot think”.

The simplest way to equate robot logic is to say that it operates based on statements. The most basic of which is “if this, then that”. This is a basic computer logic statement.

So….if I want to get a link from a relevant site I would assume that a computer “bot” would follow that link through the content on the site linking to mine and ask the question “ if this site has X and the linking site has X then relevance = YES” Problem is….what is X.

Let’s say my site is about cats. How does Google know it is about cats? Oh oh….I got this one….you say. It sees the word cat or cats on the site linking to me! OK……maybe and maybe not. What is the linking site is a heavy equipment operators blog and they refer to their machines as “ Cats”. Some of you will immediately get where I am going with this and some may not.

Who is to say that the guys who own the blog are the type of earthy characters who use slang a lot and “Cats” are short for the heavy equipment brand “Caterpillar”.

I can hear it now. Lines like “ my cat plays hard in the dirt” and “ cats are the best…I just love my cat”.
Creates an interesting dilemma doesn’t it. How does a computer bot looking at code know the difference? One could argue that Google could use other corroborating language on the page to put together the puzzle. But this presents another potential problem.

If the main subject matter seems to be cats in the example provided, then Google is going to “weight” that piece of evidence higher than other supporting words and phrases. Remember we are talking about computer logic, not human logic.

And this is only the beginning of the problem when it comes to “weighting” language criteria for a computer bot.

The placement of that content on the site matters too. Let me explain. SEO and digital marketing people will blather on endlessly about content. And they are most often referring to content that equates to article or body content written on a web page. But does Google give this content the same weight rating as other content on a website? Our testing says no. And I mean ABSOLUTELY NO!!!

I can hear the objections from my community now. “Content is king don’t you know!”

Is it?

You mean that 3000 word article on the site talking about “cats “ ( heavy machinery like Caterpillar Brand ) What if I said that the page title or meta descriptions content, despite it having far less words, was more important and was “weighted “ more heavily towards a websites’ relevance score than the article content. You would naturally object to this statement for what appears to be obvious reasons on the surface.

“But there are 3000 words of content and there are only 60 letter characters allowed in a page title and only 165 allowed in a meta description.

True. But who cares. And whoever said that the number of words was the main criteria when it came to scoring a SERP ranking in Google?

That’s one giant presumption you are clinging to.

I could just say” we have conclusive and irrefutable evidence that proves otherwise” and just leave you, the reader, to guess what secret I am hiding but that is a bit cagey since you have come this far.

So here is the story.

Once upon a time…… ( I like when a story starts with that….makes me feel like a kid again!)

People in the SEO community figured out that you could “game” a search engine and influence it to behave in a predictable manner by building links with specific word content and point those links at specific web targets with similar words and rank the target website on page one very easily and very quickly. It was what we in the industry call “keyword stuffing” and “exact match anchor stuffing”.

Google quickly realized what was going on and saw it as detrimental to the user experience and modified their algorithm to punish this practice.
A lot of websites got hit really hard for this practice and dropped drastically in ranking. The SEO community basically threw in the towel and said “ the jig is up and the game is over” ……”SEO is officially dead”

But Google didn’t just make a giant sweeping change to everything about their algorithm all at once. This is not something they cannot actually do because it ends up punishing a lot of websites that are doing nothing wrong when they make sweeping changes. Google has to make algorithm changes very subtly and very gradually for this reason. Obviously, a practice like “keyword stuffing”, where people would put the same keyword or phrase on their page 100 or more times to influence the search engine is an easy practice to punish.

However, as Google tightens up on certain practices like this the funnel gets narrower and narrower as they go. There was a fairly recent algorithm that they named the “Fred update”or algorithmm change. It appeared like they were cracking down on what we call exact match domains with this update. An exact match domain is one that looks like this. Let’s say you have two million people searching for “how to lose weight” every month. So I go out and buy howtoloseweight.com because I know that by having a keyword in the domain name Google is going to “weight” that much higher then if I simply have it in my content 4 or 5 times. It seemed like domains of this nature were getting punished and dropping in ranking quite drastically with the Fred update. But this poses a problem. And this is what the problem looks like.

Let’s use the example “air quality control.” Let’s also say that this is the business that you are in.  So you name your company Air Quality Control and you go and buy the domain name airqualitycontrol.com. Seems like a logical thing to do in my opinion. So tell me, how does Google know the difference between air quality control the search term that people search on the internet and air quality control the brand name?  Remember, we’re talking about a computer that doesn’t think like you and I!

It reads words.

So during the Fred update, they started punishing exact match domains of this nature. The problem is that by doing so a company like air quality control, used in our example, gets punished for no wrongdoing. And this is exactly what was happening during the Fred update which of course Google had to do a huge reversal on over a period of several months as we began to see exact match domains returning to their proper position in the search results.

So how does Google deal with this conundrum? It isn’t simple, because, again, we are dealing with a programmed computer bot that works on If This Then That type statements. And Google has to be very careful, as we showed in this previous air quality control example, not to punish a group of websites that are actually doing nothing wrong just to crack down on a much smaller segment that are doing something wrong. So this is what we have discovered. And it is also what we believe Google uses as a hierarchical weighting when scoring for relevancy. So here goes. Because Google is a robot that simply looks at words for the most part and comes to conclusions about the words on a website it is too easy to game their system by placing words in content because we can put unlimited content on our website.

By content, in this example, I mean the basic article type content that we put on the pages of our website. But there are other places that we put content on the site that there are not unlimited spaces for that content. Titles only allow 60 characters. Meta descriptions only allow 165. Page permalink strings tend to get chopped off at a certain point as well. And the domain name itself is a form of content. After all the domain name is a series of words in most cases.

There are also the words that constitute “inbound links” as well. What we call “anchor text”.

Because each of these things has different character limits it would make sense that it would be harder to game some of them than others. Because gaming of the system has been a problem in the past it would also make sense to control gaming of the system by weighting things that are harder to change or have less characters to cram keywords into with a higher relevance score then things like basic on page content where there are no limitations. And this is exactly what Google has done. The one thing that I won’t to give away in this article is exactly how they order this hierarchy. But if you’re smart and have paid attention to what I’ve said so far you should be able to figure it out for yourself for the most part. Now, I can hear what you’re saying. You’re calling b******* on all of this because you’ve heard that content is King. It is King, it’s just a question of which content is king?


If you would like to hire an SEO practitioner who knows how to use details like this to get you ranked……..fill out this form and I will get back to you ASAP

Website Conversion Failure

Tom Conversion Leave a Comment

Website Conversion Rate Optimization

An Oshawa SEO Case Study

How to get your site to convert the people who visit into callers and then customers. That is the objective isn’t it?

It’s one thing to have people visit your website and it’s another for them to call when they do so.

I have a great deal of fun using Google Analytics to peer into the somewhat clandestine world of website traffic and watch where those visitors go on my clients websites and observe various other behaviours. Very cool stuff.

But……in the world of SEO we are typically not responsible for what those visitors do once they arrive on the website, and, most of the suggestions we make fall on deaf ears anyway.

2 cases in point.

Client A

The first client I am going to illustrate actually ended up giving up on my services and, in a way, it was a relief that they did. Some people you just cannot please.

During the first phone call I had with this client they were very insistent that I replicate their current website into an exact duplicate on another CMS ( content management system). The current incarnation of the site was on the WIX platform and they wanted to move to WordPress. I concurred since it is the system I know best and also I feel that it has the most optimal SEO functionality currently.

I sent them to my web developer friend and he went to work building out an exact duplicate of the site. I knew there were going to be conversion issues with the current design but who wants to step on toes this early in the game, right?

Better to deal with something as touch sensitive as design a little later when some traffic data starts to show up. After all…this was a Wix website and in many cases, you may be dealing with someone who actually built the site themselves. No need to offend a new prospective client before you even get out of the gate. As well, I was just getting them a website built at this point. They had not committed to an SEO campaign with me yet.

The problems began early though. I was also asked if I could handle a small Adwords campaign for the client as well and I said I would. They wanted some immediate traffic to the site and some early sales since they were well aware that the SEO part would take some time to get visitors.

I got a couple of fairly urgent emails one morning about 3 weeks into the Adwords campaign and then a semi-irate phone call from the husband of the husband and wife team that ran the company.

“ Why aren’t I getting any phone calls? “ he asked with a real irritation and attitude in his voice. “ Do we need to like, hire someone else…or what’s the deal?”.

It’s tough to tell people the truth when they are in these situations. The truth, in this case, was many fold. First, I knew the dreaded conversion problem was upon us. Second, people have a hard time understanding that you rarely get instant results with any campaign including Adwords, even though you are shown to the public for searches immediately, it takes a while to get Google to stop showing the client for irrelevant, or low relevance searches. Adwords is a competition and usually your competitors are the, “well healed”, entrenched players that dominate the field and have so for some time.

In this case, we were dealing with the HVAC business. Very high competition and very expensive click rates for many of the better terms. On the low end some of the clicks were $8 and on the high end they were $22. Pretty hard to get any business when the better converting terms are that costly and the client has a $17 a day budget.

I tried explaining this but it didn’t go well. I had to suppress my desire to tell this guy that “ if you want to play in the big leagues in Adwords ( and HVAC in any city centre is getting fairly big league!) then get out your Gold Card and stop “ poking at this thing with a stick!”. I had explained before they signed the agreement for services that

“$1000 for SEO and $500 for Adwords in this industry is the bare minimum.”

What I did say was that I did not control what click rate he paid for Adwords clicks. For the most part, he was likely competing with big players like Enercare who had $50,000 a month budgets and that they had learned over time that the best way to play the Adwords game is to keep bidding up the clicks until you  exhaust your smaller competitors’ budgets. Exactly what was happening.

It’s a “ rock in a hard place “ scenario.

The expensive clicks are the good ones because they have the best “buyer intent”. When you have competitors with large budgets this is the landscape you have to traverse. These competitors have figured out through long testing of their campaigns what they are willing to pay to acquire a client. That client  is going to be worth $300 in wasted click cost because they know how much that client’s ” lifetime value” is  and are willing to stress test their smaller competitors by pushing up the bid rate of those clicks until they “cry, uncle”.

I also reminded the client at his point that I had originally told them that Adwords was not my top skill and that I charge according to that skill level. I was only billing 15% of ad spend which is a trifle compared to the big guys who do nothing but Adwords all day.

Go hire Reach Local or someone similar that specializes in Adwords,” I said. For a $500 a month they will want 60% of ad spend. $300 for the month vs the $75 I was billing. “ I won’t be offended” I exclaimed.

I admit to being a very basic user of the Adwords platform but, rest assured, I am light years more advanced than any business owner would be doing a DIY campaign themselves. I tried to emphasize that. I am particularly adept at the keyword targeting portion of the game since that part is pure SEO which is my first skill set in digital marketing.

But the real monster had not been dealt with yet………. The reason people were not calling after they clicked on the ads and went to the clients’ site!

The conversion issue I had originally imagined was upon us at last.

You see, in case you are a casual reader and do not know, Google gives you tons of data to confirm what is going on in your campaign. I could see that people were clicking on the ad I had created and visiting the client’s site. They just didn’t like something about the message the site conveyed to them. And so they did not follow through and make contact.

And “ Google Analytics” was telling me this by showing an 80% bounce rate when people came to visit after seeing the ad message.

This is a very bad sign.

It means that they are not going to another page on the site and so there is little in-depth investigation being done which shows a lack of interest.
I was sure that I knew what elements on the website needed work but I decided, for the sake of the client and for my own betterment to call in an “ ace”.

I reached out to the SEO community I network with and asked if there was anyone who was an Adwords expert who could lend a hand evaluating a campaign. I got an immediate response from a fellow name Chavdar Iliev who happened to be a 10 year veteran of the game and was a curator of, in excess of, $200,000 a month in Adwords. I had him go through the campaign looking for weaknesses on my part first and he seemed to feel that I was doing an OK job for the most part and made a few suggestions for me regarding splitting the campaign into segments based on certain keyword terms and that I would get better analytics data this way.

Then he asked to see the “landing page” i.e.: the website.  I showed him and the first and very immediate reaction was “ the website is shit and will never convert”. I asked …….why? ( Even though I was sure I knew the answer) He said that it was too busy, the phone number was too small and improperly placed on the site. There was too much irrelevant info on the top of the site, no firm “ call to action” and a lack of testimonials “above the fold”. I agreed.

Those are industry terms for “conversion elements”. There are just certain things humans have been shown to react to a certain way and, through testing, have been demonstrated to seem to want to be presented with so as to cause them to want to know more and investigate your offer further.

There is a rule in marketing that goes like this.

Question: What is the purpose of line one of an advertisement?

Answer: To get you to read line 2!

Question: What is the purpose of line 2 of the advert.

Answer: To get you to read line 3

You can guess how the rest goes!

Getting more engagement from our website visitors

The point is that we want engagement from our website visitors. When people get engaged in your message they eventually get compelled to want to know more. In a case of an ad campaign such os this that whole process could take place in a 30-second span. But it does take place nonetheless. the way people react to the internet is much quicker than with other types of media. It seems to be the nature of the medium.

It is too easy to open up 5 websites in 5 tabs and have a quick glance at them looking for the right “ impression”. Part of the problem is that site owners are often too hung up on design instead of function when they are giving guidance to their web designer. Instead of focussing on sending the message that will get the correct human response when someone visits the site they get busy pouring over color schemes and pictures and trying to cram too many messages unto the screen. They falsely believe that by putting every element of what they are about on the front page they are being informative when in reality they are often doing the exact opposite. They are confusing people. And what do confused people do? They make the choice to go elsewhere or make no choice at all. Sorry. Behavioral Psych is very clear on this data when testing large cross-sections of the public.

Another hard and fast rule of marketing. “Put your most important message or selling point, and only that one message, front and center!”

I know it seems counter-intuitive to do so when you feel you are leaving so much out of “ who you are”. Trust me….if you are an HVAC company…..PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU DO!!!!

Another rule of marketing is. “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

And how will they know this?


I had a high bounce rate on my agency website for a long time and didn’t give it much thought. In the SEO business, a large number of our visitors to our sites are often competitors who are spying on us. They take a quick look and then leave the site. Despite that, I had never put my client testimonials on my site. So much for telling my clients how to manage their conversions when I am not taking the same medicine!

So I decided to put them on my site right under the header. To my amazement, my bounce rate went from 78% to 41% in a week. My “depth of engagement” in Google analytics went from 6 levels deep to 12 levels deep. Wow, what a difference.Google Analytics,depth of engagement

I regret to announce that after informing the HVAC client of what were perceived by experts in their field to be some serious shortcomings on their website I was met with disdain and eventually it seemed to be the beginning of the end for our business relationship. I admit I was a bit hostile with them at one point, but I felt it was deserved after I had gone over and above the call of duty to deal with an area of their site that I strictly avoid for the very reasons I have demonstrated above.

You just cannot win when it comes to telling people that their website isn’t right. They seem to have to go through the pain of figuring this out themselves. I think if they paid someone for that advice they would probably take the advice more seriously. This seems to be another failing of human nature. We only value things we pay for and that seems to include good business advice, apparently. I actually offer to pay the Adwords expert, Chavdar, out of my own pocket just to get things right. The client does not know this and probably doesn’t care either but he insisted to help me out for free. Thanks again my friend!

So now on to case # 2 of conversion failure.

The site redesign. To be continued……. Client #2

DIY SEO Tip…..Don’t DO This! Please!

Tom Client SEO Leave a Comment

Local SEO 101

Some people want to manage their own website. I get that. Maybe you have had some negative experiences with outside “expertise” in this department in the past and you don’t trust anyone else to do the job now. Again, I sympathize.

So if you are going to go it alone and do your own SEO then let me lend a hand with some helpful advice. If there is one mistake that I see website owners make that pains me more than any other it is this.

Buying links.

This is my advice on how to buy links. Don’t….not ever. Never, nada, no damn way. And here is why. Because this is one sure way to get your website a penalty. Unless you have been schooled in SEO and link building it is almost a guarantee that you are going to buy something harmful. It’s just the nature of what you are buying.

This is a picture from Ahrefs, an SEO tools showing how fast a crummy link building gig on Fiverr blasted a website of a client I just took onboard.

This is very aggressive and the anchor text is way too heavy on what we call ” money keywords”. Guaranteed to get a Penguin Penalty

There are many places that you can buy links online, and they are going to have 5-star ratings and 300 positive reviews which appears encouraging to those who do not understand a good link from a bad one. And honestly, I could not give someone enough instruction in 100 articles like this one that would give you the knowledge to make correct choices in this regard.

So you must be wondering how these vendors get so many positive reviews for their link building service when I am warning you not to ever go there? How can people just keep buying this service and not eventually either get bad reviews and/or run out of potential customers after enough get stung by their bad links?

The answer is somewhat complex but I will simplify it by saying that SEO has a dark side. Some call it “black hat” SEO after Matt Cutts called it that in an interview once. I guess it’s a cool name.

The fact is, there are some types of web properties that you can point these kinds of “bad” links to and it is actually an effective tactic to get them to rank higher. You can point them at properties that you do not own such as your Facebook page or a Youtube video.  Often this will help those pages rank higher just like quality link can help your main website rank higher.

However, there are so many other factors besides just having a link pointing to your website than just the link itself. And these factors do not each contribute to the cause in isolation. Each factor about the link is interconnected to every other factor. For example, the anchor text of the link is a very critical element of the link. Anchor text is the words the clickable link is embedded in, meaning the word or series of words that you actually click on to move to the other website.

But again, the anchor text of the link you just acquired has to be weighed in combination with all other anchors of every other link that is pointing at your website currently. Yes…..Google looks at the entirety of all anchors pointing at your site, not just the individual one you just built. So, as you might imagine, not having access to SEO tools that can measure and scan this information is alone a serious setback to the person “ just wanting to get some links” because some SEO dude on Youtube said it would help and, after all, the guy selling them on Fiverr has 300 positive reviews and those SEO guys are so freaking expensive….I mean really…..how hard can this SEO thing be anyway????

Ah……….it’s hard enough let me tell you.

And the links, and all the anchor combinations of all the links pointing to your site are just one factor in this equation. The entirety of all SEO factors, as they pertain to the position that your site ranks is so far beyond the scope pf this article it is laughable to think that someone from John or Jane Q Public could just spend $20 on Fiverr and replace all the time I have spent ( literally 1000’s of hours) and get the same results as any competent SEO practitioner would get with this amount of training.

It is actually not laughable since the damage I have seen it do on several occasions is quite severe and ultimately avoidable if people would, at the very least, consult with someone in my field before proceeding down the road to link building disaster.

But people like to save money. If only it were this simple!

But I sympathize. It is hard to trust something that is little understood. Not to mention there are no central authorities that train or license those in the SEO field that you can call and no diplomas on the wall to create some trust for those who pay for our services either. That’s a tough situation.

My advice…..use some common sense first. If you are thinking about either doing your own SEO vs not doing it at all….. don’t do it at all. Seriously. It was one of the hardest things I ever learned and it is still ever evolving and I am having to learn new aspects of it every week. A business owner is far better off to concentrate on their craft and earn the money to hire a pro than create an even bigger mess for that pro to have to inevitably clean up after the damage is down.

In fact, I know people in my field that won’t even take on someone who has messed up their site with bad links because it is so much of a setback to future progress and you can only guess who gets blamed when things don’t go perfectly in the cleanup phase when the White Night SEO Squad comes in with all their link detox tools to the rescue.

It’s just a whole lot easier to go get a client without that kind of baggage. This is why the people who specialize in fixing these kinds of link building disasters are so damned expensive. Trust me…some of them are $2000 just to do the analysis before they even agree to do the job.  Personally, I hire the job out to people who specialize in fixing these kind of problems. They are more qualified to do the job. This should be a clue to website owners who want to DIY their way to the top. I am wise enough to hire my betters even though I could probably do a link cleanup gig just fine. I know when not to!

So what does a website owner do to assure they are hiring someone who is competent in the SEO field?

1) Ask them for a few references. It’s common in many fields and if an SEO person doesn’t have a few people that you can talk to regarding their success then they are not very smart business people. It’s kind of standard practice in any field where trust is hard to come by via traditional standards like credentials and licenses. Not that diplomas and pieces of stamped government paper are any kinds of guarantee mind you. They are illusory comfort elements at best.

2) Ask them to do some small tasks for small money and see how they treat you during this time. Get them to build out a few social profiles or a Google My Business page for $30 and see what kind of job they do. Get them to do a small on-screen video showing the steps they took while they explain each step to you. You will get a feel for their attitude and skill level through this.Google My Business page

Really, you are going to have to narrow down the choice of who to hire for this job and eventually make a leap of faith over the void of uncertainty which will inevitably be awaiting you near the decision point. You can never remove all risk from a decision like this. You just have to remove as many risk variables as humanly possible.

3) So now that I have seemingly told you not to do your own SEO let me tell you some things that you can do as a website owner.

  • Do your on-page SEO. Make sure your site title is filled out fully and don’t repeat your business name in the title. This is a waste of an opportunity to place a keyword or phrase in the title. This is a strong cue to Google as to what you want to rank for. If your business is plumbing in Chicago then you may want to make your site title ” Plumbers Chicago | Chicago Plumbing Contractors ” so as to take advantage of that search. So often I do an analysis of a potential client and find that their website name is joesplumbing.ca and their site title is Joe’s Plumbing. Such a waste of an opportunity.

I have started with clients that are stuck on page 2 for all their keywords, changed their site title to a keyword phrase and within a week they pop up to the bottom of page 1. Amazing what a simple change can make sometimes.

  • Build your citations. Citations are free directories that you can use to put your name, address, and phone number plus a naked URL link to your website. They are critical for ranking in the Google Map Pack. They are a small pain in the ass to fill out and a bit time consuming but they are worth your time. Make sure your name, address and phone # are identical to your Google My Business page info. How do you find your citations? Simply place your competition’s web address in a search query like this “competitor.com” and look at the search results for their citations. The top ranking competitors will most assuredly have filled out citations.
  • Build out your social profiles. Obviously, you should already have a youtube channel, Facebook Page, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Twitter but there are many other lesser known social profiles that you can fill out that also lend authority to your web domain. You can go to “knowem.com” and find a list of available sites there. There are literally hundreds of these available to you. This is a standard part of the service we provide for our clients.social profile search site
  • Build up some videos of some aspect of your business and put them on Youtube. I know, I know….. you are camera shy. Tough…. you want to be successful then suck it up and get the camera rolling. If, for example, you are an HVAC pro do a few videos of yourself on the job and talk about what problem you are solving as you work at the task. You will probably be thinking through the steps as you work anyway so just speak them out as if you are teaching an apprentice and record that. You could probably do 20 of these little 2-5 minute videos in a week and put them on Youtube. You would be amazed how many people I know in various industries that have pulled in business with Youtube. And it’s FREE!!!!!
  • Facebook….don’t waste your time. Facebook has become the domain of advertising and that’s the final word on that. Spend your time elsewhere.

These tasks will keep you busy for a while and in many cases, this will bring you some results. If you are in a competitive niche then don’t expect massive success. You will need a pro for that.

See my contact page or fill out my Discovery Form and receive a free video analysis of your online situation.


How To Know a “REAL” SEO Company From a Web Design Company In Disguise.

Tom Client SEO Leave a Comment

How to choose the right SEO agency.

This can be a complex task for somebody not versed in the various disciplines of the SEO world. SEO is difficult enough for those who practice it much less for the Layman.

So let me break down for you a couple of things that I think can help out. The number one thing to watch out for is who you look at after you’ve made your search. Let me explain. You’re probably going to type in your local city and then SEO right? That’s what I would do. For example, in my locale, I would type in “Oshawa SEO”. Knowing that in this particular case you would probably find me at number one so it’s actually a really bad example. Let’s try a more real-world example that’s going to create the kind of confusion that the average business owner would experience were they to do a search for an SEO company.

“That single thing is that they are actually web design companies disguising themselves as SEO experts.”

Let’s try “Toronto SEO company” as a search query.

So here’s the thing. After you type in “Toronto SEO company” you are going to be confronted with several hundred results if you’re willing to scroll down through the various pages to get to those hundreds of results. In all likelihood, the contenders that you will find on page one will have a single thing in common. That single thing is that they are actually web design companies disguising themselves as SEO experts. To be fair, this won’t always be the case but I’ve done this search enough times and done enough competition analysis to recognize this pattern over and over again.

So how does the average business owner sort out this dilemma of who is a real SEO practitioner and who is a web designer?

It’s an easy task for somebody like myself who are involved in this business every day but for someone who is not it could be a bit challenging. The proper way to do this is to use a piece of SEO software to analyze the company’s backlink profile. I can suggest a software that is a free version that can get the job done and give you a basic idea of how to use it. This is better shown in a video that it is explained through speech so I’m going to explain it here briefly and then I’m going to actually show you how to do this in a video.

So how does the average business owner sort out this dilemma of who is a real SEO practitioner and who is a web designer?

What you want to do is take the URL of one of the companies ranking on page 1 and place it in the backlinks analyzer of the SEO software and press enter. What you’re going to find is a series of results and in most cases, web design companies results will have a very similar pattern. The pattern goes like this. Most of the results will appear to be other business websites that have a consistent theme. It’s probably not that easy for the untrained eye so the easiest way to do this is to Simply click on some of the results that the SEO backlink tool gives you and open up those websites in some new browser windows. Then simply scroll down to the bottom or what we call the footer of the website and look to see if the SEO or should I say the “so-called” SEO company’s name is placed there in a link in the footer.


If you see this as a consistent theme then you probably are dealing with a web design company that also does SEO. This is fine and dandy and is not necessarily an indictment of every one of these web design companies because the fact is that some of them may really actually be decent SEO companies as well. They could maintain a fairly large staff of people including several really competent SEO people within that staff. That’s a fair assessment. However, the real problem is there rank position by which you found them in the first place.

Much of that rank position is probably attained because of all of the links that they placed in the footers of their web design clients pointing back and powering up their website. This is fair play and I would do the same if I were them. The problem is, that this is not a practice that they can use to rank your website now, is it? They can’t very well go around putting links in web design clients websites on your behalf that link back to your site how can they. It’s an interesting dilemma but one that I see repeated over and over again. what you want to do is take the URL of one of the companies ranking on page 1 and place it in the backlinks analyzer of the SEO software and press Enter.

What you’re going to find is a series of results and in most cases, web design companies results will have a very similar pattern. The pattern goes like this. Most of the results will appear to be other business websites that have a consistent theme. It’s probably not that easy for the untrained eye so the easiest way to do this is too simply click on some of the results that the SEO backlink to a gives you and open up those websites in some new browser windows. Then simply scroll down to the bottom or what we called the footer of the website and look to see if the SEO or should I say “so-called”  SEO companies name is placed there in a link in the footer. If you see this as a consistent theme then you are probably are dealing with a web design company that also does SEO.

The problem is, that this is not a practice that they can use to rank your website, now is it? They can’t very well go around putting links in web design clients websites on your behalf and point that link back to your site now can they?

Part of what I am telling you here is not speculative and is not based on me simply doing searches with a piece of software and jumping to conclusions about what I see. A lot of this is based on facts that I have gleaned from talking to people who have worked at these big agencies and happened to know what goes on behind the scenes. I happen to have a colleague who works in the SEO industry who was struggling with his own business and decided to go work for one of these large firms.

We have some interesting conversations about the lack of real search marketing knowledge that goes on behind closed doors. Yet, despite this, this particular company does Brisk SEO business and has several hundred clients. My friend says they don’t know their arse from a hole in the ground but people still keep buying it. This is part of the problem with our industry that I am attempting to sort out with this post. Not a simple thing to do and not a simple problem to sort out but hopefully this will save somebody from making a wrong choice. Well, while you’re here, on my website, you could always just hire me.

Hire Green Genie here

SEO and Blockchain

Tom Crazy post Leave a Comment

Blockchain, Ethereum, Litecoin, and SEO. Where, when, how?

Bitcoin website

How will Blockchain tech affect SEO now and in the future?

I think it is safe to say that blockchain technology is still in its infancy and will probably be focussed on specific niches in the near future. One thing is for sure though. The Blockchain is here to stay!

Even a cursory examination of the subject matter is enough to persuade one to accept this as reality.

I find it doubtful that my ( The SEO) industry will be spared in the long run!

Bitcoin is leading the charge in the blockchain realm since it has the longest track record in the space. It poses no direct threat to the SEO community since it is more geared to finance than to any kind of utility that could replace our current search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

That being said, there are some up and coming Ethereum based innovations that are potential challengers in the search engine arena that may indeed pose a long term threat to our current system. Innovation in the computer and internet field are just a part of daily life and so it is easy to get leapfrogged in this industry by an innovation that has been quietly hidden away in some coders files waiting for the right time and the right incentive to spring onto the scene. Ethereum is a “smart contract” technology that has open source architecture which allows any computer coder to adopt it and develop their own blockchain concept. Ethereum based innovations tend to be very utility based and the applications for them are so far ranging it boggles the mind to even consider listing them. They have current applications in finance, insurance, loans, banking, stock trading, social sharing, cloud storage and those are just a few that I have taken the time to investigate for now.Ethereum website

One can barely imagine the scope and reach that these concepts have until the researcher takes the time to truly understand the technology with an open mind.

Bitcoin, for example, was just one of these ideas. Natoshi Sakamoto, the alleged founder of the concept released the White Paper on the system in a shroud of self doubt in 2009. Natoshi himself had serious concerns about the practical application of the idea and for many years it was not taken very seriously by very many people other than a fringe element in the deep tech community. My stepson tells me that he used to see people exchanging these coins in the online gaming community early after their inception. At that time their dollar value was in the thousands of a cent yet at the time of this writing the current price of Bitcoin on the open market is $15,335.60 and the market cap of the investment in them is $257 billion.

Fast forward to 2018 and a new world is about to emerge from the elemental seed that was the Blockchain concept. Many in the tech community and in the corporate space have joined forces to spawn a whole new era of potentially disruptive innovations that I dare say will shake every industry one can name.

This is why it occurred to me to start looking over my own shoulder and see what might be sneaking up on the SEO world since I have firmly planted my roots here and would like to keep them planted!

So far as yet there are only a few contenders suggesting that blockchain could be a viable alternative to the current search engine systems we are experiencing. One of the team members of a blockchain concept call “ Basic Attention” was the founder of Mozzilla and the creator of the Javascript coding language which is a common core of computer science today. They are targeting the online advertising space and claim to have some very powerful ideas that could revolutionize things like Google Adwords and act as their replacement. It seems hard to imagine someone or something replacing Google any time soon but empires have fallen throughout history any so nothing is totally invulnerable. Especially in the world of the internet.Basic Attention website

My basic understanding of blockchain is this. The internet is arguably the most powerful innovation that has ever come down the pike. The problem with the internet as we currently experience it is that it is a very poor custodian in terms of security. Hackers are able to steal money from bank accounts despite banks having access to some of the best and brightest in the online security field. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that banks have the tallest buildings in every major city one can name. They gotta have some serious doe! Plus they have a lot at stake.

According to those in the know, Blockchain has the ability to provide the security layer that has been missing from internet applications allowing extremely safe and secure storage and movement of all types of digital data. Money, documents….you name it.

Again I reiterate….I cannot imagine this not having a disruptive effect on the SEO industry sooner or later with those type of attributes.

I could probably speculate on this subject all day but I admit to having only a minimal understanding of Blockchain so I will leave it to you, the reader, to take the time to find out how blockchain could affect an industry that is relevant to you!

DIY Client SEO

Tom Client SEO Leave a Comment

Just in Case You Want to do Your Own SEO

Let’s talk about DIY SEO. The big question regarding this issue is how much work is a business owner willing to commit to this process to be truly effective? I am in the client SEO business so of course, I have a vested interest in dissuading people from doing this work for themselves. That being said I am all for business owners taking it upon themselves to do some basic SEO for themselves but these are my cautionary suggestions.

1) Stick to the basics.

Doing simple things like keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner and gaining your own understanding of Keywords For Optimum Search which keywords are worthwhile to chase after in terms of getting the best visitors to your website is a great idea for the owner of a website. I personally enjoy working with clients that have an understanding of the keywords that are relevant to their business. Of course, there are some advanced tactics that someone who is a professional in this industry will bring to the table that can really up the odds for better conversions from visitors to the site. No point in getting visitors to your website if none of them ever make your phone ring. All keywords are not equal in terms of their weight as a way to gain buying customers. There is a bit of an art to finding the better keywords in terms of their conversions. Part of this art is learned spending time looking at analytics after the fact and coming to deductive conclusions as to why this of that keyword created a conversion. Personally, I would suggest leaving this job to a pro so you can concentrate on doing things in your business such as customer service. I, as an SEO professional, could never replace a business owner in this regard. I can get the customer to call but only the business owner can make them a permanent part of their customer base.

Pic of Google Keyword Page

2) Don’t ever buy links from a service that sells links

I cannot stress this warning loud enough. Never ever ever buy a link from an online service no matter how convincing their ad copy sounds. This is almost a guaranteed way to create a problem down the road. Not to mention that the solutions for the eventual penalty your website will receive later on are so expensive and time-consuming you will be sick with yourself for the feelings of foolishness you will go through not to mention the bill!

I am currently working with a client that did just that and fortunately, there was an alternate fix for the mess that was caused other than the industry standard procedure called a link disavow.

Still, this is going to be a setback in terms of how long it will take to undo the damage that has been done.

Were it not for this mistake on the part of the owner of the website their rankings would be currently a lot higher and my job would be to help them increase their positions and not mop up the mess as I am doing currently.

Fiverr website screenshot

3) Don’t always go for the cheapest price

When looking for a company to do your online marketing be aware that a very common tactic is to tempt you with low rate “package” deals that sound attractive from a price point but will almost always leave you feeling like a number in their system. That is probably because you will be a number to them. I am well aware of this because I have taken on so many clients that have expressed this feeling to me after spending a year or more on that Rolodex of one of these companies.

The bigger problem than the wasted money in these scenarios is the delay to your progress in customer acquisition. If you are a serious business with a marketing budget in place a $500 a month SEO campaign isn’t going to make you poor but it isn’t likely to bring you any new business either. All it will likely do is make you frustrated and make it hard to trust someone is qualified to get you results when you finally meet them.

Sample of SEO pricing table

4)  Get some referrals

I don’t post results from my previous clients on my site for privacy reasons. There are some very nasty people in my industry that will stoop to very unscrupulous tactics to undermine the good work that has been done to a client site just to try to make their own work to a competitor site look better. It’s called “ negative SEO” in our circles and it is a very unethical practice and for this reason, I would like to keep the good work that I do between myself and my clients. That being said, I will always let you talk to one of my previous clients so you can get a feel for my level of competence. Anyone worth their salt in this trade should be able to oblige you with the same.

There are plenty more suggestions I could make but these are the main ones. If you are interested in SEO services we can be found at the following locations in a city near you.

Toronto Services

Pittsburgh Service

Ottawa Service

Oshawa Service

Whitby Service

The Use Of The Internet To Increase SEO

Tom Search Marketing Leave a Comment

Search Engines Rule

Facebook logo

Some people rightly say that it is the age of the internet. The facility of the internet means speed and access to speed for anything. It is a huge market and an option for you to stay connected with all your friends where ever they are. You will be able to cross the barriers of distance, money and time and come together for the sake of friendship. There are various of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and much more that has come up to help you stay connected with your near and dear ones anytime and anywhere you need to be.

SEO’s Role

You just need to register your profile with these social networking sites and then go on with searching your long lost friends on the site. Many have found out their school and college friends at the middle age. This has helped them in coming out of the middle age crisis. They have generated new life force within them with the friends long lost. These sites are having thousands of profiles so finding someone with the same mentality is really great. In today’s world when we are all going through the busy with a schedule of work and personal life can take a fresh breath with the use of internet and social networking sites to stay connected with friends and family.Myspace Logo
The use of internet has obviously bought a revolution. We are busy working all day and now we can just click into the internet, browse for any online courses and stay connected with friends and family even in the middle of a meeting where ever you are. The basic thing is that you will be happy and your work and personal life will get a boost with the use of the internet. Those who were separated from friends for long will get back them and families of many were missing them for distance and lack of time will come together with the help of internet.

The internet is also the best place to do business in 2017 as well. Find out more from our Home Page

Toronto SEO Expert | SEO Myths | 905-233-2488 from Tom Gustar on Vimeo.

If you live in the Pittsburgh area and want more info to help your company rank in Google see our Pittsburgh Page ( Pittsburgh SEO Expert )

History of The Internet

Tom Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Re: The InternetSearch Marketing Services

A window into every part of the world…that’s what it is today. From the click of a button, we can experience audio-visually everything that some of us may never get to see. The football games that are not in your hometown, the live concerts that you wish you had seen and information on nearly every fathomable topic can be accessed so easily that it makes you wonder; what if this were never invented? One thing for sure is that the Internet is something you cannot live without today. There are moments, however, where one has to stop and think: “How did this all come together? How does it work?” Let us find out?

The Internet began mostly as a system of communication….and it was as simple as that. It was a way to exchange information mostly between scientists and military personnel in a more secure, robust and efficient manner. In fact, the basic principles upon which the Internet is based (the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP)) had existed for two decades before it gained real public awareness in the 1990s. Until then, it was mostly just exchanging emails across wide distances.Top Toronto SEO Expert

That is the story in a nutshell, but how does it work? One could delve deep into IT jargon to describe the Internet, but most of us would be lost very quickly. Here’s the simple breakdown:

It is easier to move small pieces of a big object than to move the big object as a whole. Believe it or not, that is exactly how the Internet works. When information is sent from one computer network to another, it gets broken up into thousands of “packets” of information. These packets are then sent via different routes to the same location. Once all the packets arrive, they are reassembled using a predetermined code sequence. That is the gist of how it works and the exact method changes somewhat depending on the type of information.

Pretty strange but that is pretty much the gist of it.

See our Toronto Page for info how to take your rightful place on the web!