How to rank an xyz domain above .com domain

Your TLD's doesn't matter in SEO .com = .xyz

Like every business owner, when we were launching A&B, we went looking for a .com domain and like many business owners, these days ended up not finding it. We had two choices:-

Pay the domain owner (squatter) crazy amounts of money to buy it from them.
Go for a geographical TLD like .in or .co.in.
Become adventurous with a domain like .xyz

Option 1 was out as we did not have too many $$$, Option 2 was out as it would restrict us in case of a future expansion, so we had pretty much no choice 🙂

The below story is how we fought our .com obsession, and not only adopted newer TLD like xyz but also outranked .com domains.

The first thing you need to step in the Digital World is a website, where you can land your users. And obviously, a unique domain name is needed for users to remember and visit your website.

A lot of times what happens is the domain with the .com variation you want to buy is already taken and you are left with the option to go ahead with some other name or compromise with your TLD (Top Level Domain).

But do you know xyz as a TLD exists?

A lot of Webmaster and business owners are hesitant to try a new TLD because of a lot of reasons. One of the major is: SEO of the website depends on a lot of factors and your domain name is one of them and that’s the reason webmasters are scared to invest in it.

By the end of this blog, you would be convinced that using an XYZ domain is no different than the other gTLD’s

Before we get started let’s introduce you to the person who was responsible for the emergence of xyz domain in the year 2014. Daniel Negari is the CEO of XYZ registry and one of the youngest registry operators in the world when asked about his view on xyz TLD and why it should exist? He told, “you end the alphabet with X, Y, Z, why not end domain names the same way?”.

Like you are not getting a domain with a .com TLD just because it’s on auction which indirectly impacts the freedom to use the internet for this reason xyz TLD came into the existence ..!! You may also see big brands launching on xyz. eg. MIT (Engine.xyz), the co-founders of Skype (Starship.xyz), etc. You can check out a full list of xyz domain live around the globe here.

Do you know how many websites in the world use a xyz TLD?

“In November 2015, xyz reached 1.5 million domain name registrations. As of January 2016, xyz was the sixth most registered domain name on the Internet. As of June 2016, xyz was the fourth most registered global top-level domain (gTLD) name on the Internet, after .com, .net, and .org”

-source: Wikipedia

This implies the use of the xyz TLD is going upwards. In fact, Google itself chose this domain for their parent company Alphabet Inc.

A strange thing happened in our case: Moz OSE didn’t use to show any metric for xyz TLD, even to the limit that the tool showed DA, PA as just 1 for Google’s parent company abc.xyz
We tweeted Moz & Rand Fishkin with the issue and they were very astonished to figure this out. Even John & Rand had a fun time in the comments when John said, “It implies Google doesn’t consider Domain Authority in their rankings”

 

But the good bit is Moz has now updated their OSE to Link Explorer Tool, it now recognises most of the TLDs.

Do TLD matters to Google?

For SEO’s even a hint of a ranking factor can make or break the deal for them. The most commonly used TLD in the world is .com with a 46% stake.

There was a time when Google used to consider .com as the preferred TLD for ranking websites in their search engine. But the story has changed completely now. Google has officially mentioned a number of times that TLD doesn’t matter and they crawl almost all the TLDs that are present in the current system. In 2015 John Mueller wrote this blog on How Google processes all the new TLDs in search rankings.

Actionable Steps we took to rank www.aandb.xyz ahead of other .com domains.

1. Optimised Page Speed with the score of 99/100:

The first thing we started with the work for our website was page speed improvement. Though page speed is officially a ranking factor in mobile searches, we emphasised on this point since 2016 and knew very well that the speed of a website impacts rankings in search engines to an extent. We used PSI Tool to work on the website speed and we had a goal in common with the dev team that the optimisation score should be at least in 90’s out of 100.
The result: we improved and optimised the load time of all the pages on our website with a minimum score of 90.
Here’s the screenshot of PSI score of our home page:

   

2. Revamped Website Design

We worked a lot on revamping our website design as the older version was not that good and interactive. so we planned for a new version of A&B. Started with including an attractive video in the first fold which includes what we are, what we do and our office space. See how kick it is here.

Our website was just a static one earlier, during this revamp we designed & created all the internal pages. We added the call to actions on proper places on the page to ease the navigation for the users.

We also launched our blog and created a page for case studies so that more content can be added on the website as it is visually very appealing but the room for content is less on services and home page.

The alignment of the folds on our webpage was done keeping in mind the user and mobile accessibility.

Revamping the website helped us a lot in terms of usability and gave our website a good structure, more content, and more service pages which we targeted for different keywords

3. Focused on User Experience

After the process of revamping, we managed to achieve a better user experience as compared to what we had earlier. As a result of the revamping process, we observed an increase in the Dwell time which is the time spent by the user on a website.

Adding some interesting videos, images or anything which is related to your services and make the website more informative (level of information matters whether it’s for the home page, service page or any other page). Accordingly, we managed to frame the content, video, and image to create a better user interaction.

A&B first fold video screenshot - home page

“The whole and sole motive were to make the user interact with the website which in turn increases the Dwell time and make sure the user takes proper actions in our case it was getting more digital marketing leads.”

4. Created Backlinks to our Website

Backlinks are consistently one of the most important ranking factors for the search engines and also one of the hardest things to do in SEO.

Our strategy for creating backlinks to our website was simple. It included guest blogging, content marketing for our blog articles and one benefit we had was we got links from the footer of the website which we had designed and developed.

As we are in the agency business a lot of agencies shut down in a year and we found some similar agencies which were closed permanently and had broken links coming from high authority websites. We did reach out to them and managed to get to some links.

Our main focus in this area was to build High-Quality backlinks instead of low-quality quantitative links. The result: we managed to outrank domains with more backlinks and referring domain than us. We approached the right websites that actually linked back to us.

SERP overview for the keyword "digital marketing agency in mumbai"
Here’s the SERP overview of the keyword: digital marketing agency in mumbai

5. Started with CRO

After all the aspects of SEO (on-page, off-page, technical) were taken care of, we started with CRO

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) is the mechanism of increasing the conversions on a website with the current set of visitors by doing A/B tests, improving UI, UX issues, fixing and resolving bugs, etc.

The ultimate goal of any business is to increase revenue, One side where SEO, PPC, social and other channels bring traffic to the website, on the other hand, CRO helps to convert the potential traffic into customers.

The best way to start is to get in your customer shoes and see how they are experiencing the website.

A lot of tools like Hotjar, Yandex Metrica, Crazyegg etc all can help you to analyse and track user behaviours.

We personally used Hotjar and Yandex Metrica and started to look for any blockage that would hurt our conversions.

We used the heatmap and session replay feature of Hotjar to find out how the users were experiencing our website

Below is the list of bugs which we found on our website and got it fixed.

To our surprise, we found that the fonts we used were looking different in chrome, safari, and firefox which was causing a readability issue.

There was a glitch in the video on our home page and similar bugs. We also made a few UI changes for a better mobile experience.

All this helped us to improve the user experience and directly improving our conversion rate.

The Result: Our Website started to rank ahead of a lot of .com domains.

The result of all these efforts? We are still ranking ahead of the .com, .in domains and most commonly used TLDs domains. We are ranking on the first page for most of our targeted keywords and not only ranking locally but also for some keywords in the UK. We were getting leads from London because our website mentions the address of our London Office.

Below are some of the 1st-page rankings for competitive keywords:

Keyword: digital marketing agency in mumbai- 4th Position

Keyword: seo agency in mumbai – 6th Position

Keyword: Influencer marketing agency mumbai – 1st position

Conclusion

Clearly, you can’t say that only .com and ccTLD can rank on the 1st page. The conclusion here is to focus on the 5 pillars of SEO that is

  • Code – Keep your code clean, and website accessible to search engines.
  • Content – keep your users in the first place and develop content keeping them in mind.
  • Performance – focus on speed and make sure everything loads under 3-5 seconds.
  • Links – Create High Quality, contextual links to your website.
  • Mobile – focus on user experience and optimise for mobile devices, make your website responsive and be ready for Mobile First Indexing

Do your normal SEO, definitely, Google will reward you with high rankings and don’t stress about your TLD.

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How to measure your SEO success?

Digital penetration has already crossed 50% and with giant techs like Google, Facebook trying to penetrate Internet to far reaches of the world, this means business is going to be entirely digital within few years down the line.

That means a significant number of customers would be looking for your product on the search engines where you have to appear to be able to sell. Currently, the competition to be seen visible is very hard in the search engine and coming to the top position of the result is even harder.

To increase your business visibility, marketing and branding in the digital world, there is SEO, Social Media, PPC, Content marketing to give you the essential boost you need. A recent study conducted by SEJ states that “SEO-related spending will be worth $80 billion by 2020”

Reaching to the top position in a search engine for your targeted keywords is a gradual process, and it takes months time to plan and execute. SEO is a time-consuming process and one of the hardest marketing channel to measure. The cost of SEO for your website depends on a lot of factor including market competition, keywords, website structure, links, etc. But how do you know, if the monthly dollars you are spending on SEO is giving you the desired ROI? Is your SEO strategy giving you any success? How do you plan to measure it?

Compared to other marketing channels, SEO doesn’t give instant results. Either you are on the first page or nothing. Even if you will rank on the 2nd page you will not get much traffic because 89% of the users don’t go beyond the first page.

But is SEO just about rankings and traffic? What are the other ways to measure your SEO success? Well…! A lot of webmaster measures SEO success in a wrong way. Submitting 200+ spam directories in a month, blog commenting, targeting very specific keywords for a page, creating a lot of duplicate pages, etc. are some of the strategies which Google advice not to use. If you are measuring any of these tactics and taking it for improvement then you should stop right now and measure these metrics instead.
In today’s article, we will discuss what significant factors are important to measure your SEO success.

1. Increase in Organic Leads –

The main goal of a business is to get marketing qualified leads for their business. These leads then convert into customers if they get the information they are looking for on the website.

When it comes to SEO, one of the main things that matter is how many leads have you generated for your clients?

And yes, mentioning the number of leads generated in your monthly reports will help you to show value to your clients.

So, how to track leads metrics?

You need to create goals in your Google Analytics account, to track your lead count.

Check out this article on how to get the most out of Google Analytics for Lead Generation.

If you have already created the goal in Google Analytics, you can find the organic goal conversion under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channel.

2. Quality of Traffic –

Your SEO strategy will be pointless if it doesn’t bring quality traffic to your website. Traffic is the best way to understand your audience. But as we all know, organic traffic is not going to increase unless you are ranking on the 1st page.

When you do SEO for a website, the overall user experience of the website improves including speed, UI, content, etc. All these improvements will also reflect in Analytics with better metrics.

Check out for these metrics in Analytics to actually measure the quality of your traffic:

Increase in New Users – Every business looks to gain unique visitors every day. New visitors might be visiting your website with a specific intent, landed through organic, ads, social, etc, Analyzing your new user’s data is essential when it comes to traffic quality. Acquiring new users signifies that a new set of users are landing on your website through different mediums because of organic & brand discovery

Increase in Organic Sessions – A session is the period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. Increase in the number of organic sessions directly implies the increase in traffic to the website.

Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search

image of organic session

The other way to measure the quality of your traffic is through metrics like Pages / Sessions, Avg. Session Duration, Page Views, and Bounce Rate. It will help you to measure the quality of your traffic.

Increase in Pages / Session – Also known as (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. This metric is one of the best ways to know how much content a user is consuming after landing on your website. The average number of the page a user visits in a session implies how well the website is structured.

Increase in Avg. Session Duration – This is a very important metric to track. The average time spent on your website by a user signifies how much they like the website. Rank brain which is the third most important ranking factor in Google considers dwell time as one of the major rankings signals. The amount of time spent on your website after landing from Google gives them the signal about relevancy, content depth, and user satisfaction!
If you have a very low time spent, then start adding fresh and engaging content which will help you to hook the user for a long time.

Increase in Page Views – Average page views are the number of pages visited by a user in a single session. An increase in this metric implies that users are navigating and exploring to other pages of the website.

A decrease in Bounce Rate – The percentage of sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. In other words, if a user closes that page without clicking or interacting with anything then its a bounced visitor.
Pro Tip: Usually higher bounce rate % indicates that your website is not providing valuable content to the user. That is partially true because a recent article states that if you have a high bounce rate for content-rich websites then it is nothing worry unless your time spent is excellent. To put it in simple context, If your article has all the information and it fulfills the user’s intent then the user is not likely to click on any other page. But this metric should only be considered valid if you have excellent time spent.

image showing bounce rate

These metrics will help you understand the quality of your website traffic.

And yes, monitor your traffic channel source. In that way, you get a fair bit of idea which source is giving you good traffic.

So under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channel, you will get different traffic channel grouping along with Volume and Quality.

Image showing acquisition

3. Improvement in Rankings:

Who doesn’t want to rank at Google’s first page? Website developers and SEO team spend most of the time making sure each page are well optimized and will leave no stone unturned.

For people who just started their small businesses with little or no existing web presence, reaching the top of the search rankings will not happen overnight. That’s the reality! You can’t do anything about it.

How to exactly check your average rankings improvements?

1)To start with this you need to find keywords, search volumes, initial rankings and current rankings (or rankings on monthly basis)

2) Create an excel sheet and plot all the keywords data in that. Make sure to plot all the rankings on a month on month basis.

Image showing rankings

3) Do the total sum of the initial ranking positions using the formula =sum(column x : column y). Drag this formula for all the month’s rankings you have:

Image of formula

4) After you have obtained the sum of initial rankings on monthly basis, calculate the difference by subtracting the current month’s total with previous month’s total using this formula:
=column x – column y.

Similarly drag this formula for each month’s keyword positions you have.

Image of formula for month's keyword positions

5) After you got the difference of every month, calculate the average ranking improvement using this formula:
= Difference / Previous month total sum * 100

So the formula for calculating the average ranking position is:
Current month’s difference divided by previous months total multiplied by 100.

You can track keyword based rankings manually each month and calculate its average position based on the estimated results you acquired or else you can use paid tools which can give you a faster result.

It will help you get a percentage idea of how much increase or decrease of keyword rankings you had over the few months.

Note:- Remember, when you launch the website, the keyword rankings usually start at a position value of above 100 i.e. 10th page or more in google search engine.

4. Increase in New Visitors

Google Analytics is purely data-rich, and if you understand how to harness the power of this rich data-source tool, it will give you every valuable information you need.

For every business, the primary goal is about getting more and more new visitors to their website who will probably end up being your customer.

Google Analytics, elevated this factor and started giving fantastic insight about visitor information, the behaviour pattern, demographics (age, gender, location) and many more.

New visitor navigates your site for the first time on a specific device whereas returning visitors have already visited your site before.

Pro Tip: We all know this basic understanding but lot of user gets confused with this. What if you visit a website from your desktop at work or home, and then revisit the same website again from your mobile device? Will it be counted as one user or two new users?

Previously google analytics would record it as two new users but now they have made significant changes by improving the way it tracks data. So now if you’re logged onto your Google account from all the devices(work, home, mobile) and repeats the same process above, you would be recorded as a New Visitor on your desktop, and a returning Visitor on your mobile device.

To check new visitors and returning visitors report in Google Analytics, click on Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning.

Image showing new vs returning users

Google Analytics report on New Visitors will help you measure your success rate as new visitors usually lands through search engine(ads or organic). If you know one of your keyword climbed to the 1st page you will see an increase in the new users data because of the organic discovery.

5. Webmaster Impressions –

Wait, what? How can impression be considered in measuring SEO success?

Most even we tend to neglect because Clicks, Click Through Rate (CTR), Position are given more priority. But make no mistake, an impression is critically important because it gives you a clear indication of how your website is performing in search engine result pages when a user is searching.

It gives an estimated idea how many impression you are getting in comparison with Clicks, CTR, Position.

What are impressions?
When a user searches something in the search engine all the results that appears for it are counted as impressions.

So for example, if a user searches for a keyword: “Content Marketing” the 10 organic results that will appear on the first page are all counted as impressions. Usually user clicks on 1-2 results, so those websites(which got clicked) will get the count of impressions + clicks and others will get the impression count.

It’s one of the ways to analyze how web users interact with your search engine listings. You can assess your listing per impression at different search result page position.

So based on impression data, you can get a fair estimate idea how your much your website will be growing organically in the coming days. In other words, if you are ranking on the first page on 8th position so you will get a lot of impressions but less clicks which means once your website starts to climb positions you will have increased organic traffic. Similarly if you see a sharp decline in your impressions it means something is terribly wrong with the website. It could be a penalty, a server error, redirects errors, or simply the website could be down!

How To Check?
In Google Search Console select the preferred property and, check out:

Dashboard > Search Traffic > Search Analytics
.

Image of search traffic

You can also view this report in new search console under:

Status > Performance

It will give you an overview graph report of total clicks, total impressions, average CTR and average position

.

Image of performance in search console

Google has released a detailed report document on Impressions, Positions and Clicks in the Search Analytics Report of Google Search Console.

6. Micro & Macro conversions –

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you understand how your website is performing and gives you all the data insight you need. Most often, we care about the primary conversion goals (which in other words is termed as macro conversion) because that’s the results which matter to everyone.

But are you measuring those little steps on your website which leads to macro conversions? Those small actions that users take on your site is called as micro conversions. If you are not measuring, then you’re probably not using the full extent of behavioural data.

Micro conversions help to measure how visitors are engaging with your website before making any purchase. No visitor will directly purchase something; they tend to browse first to see what your site has to offer.

There is a slight difference however between goal conversion and micro conversion?

Following things can be measured in goal conversions:
Subscribed to newsletters, updates & alerts
Contact us
Landing pages
View products

Then, What can be measured in micro conversions?
Followed a topic or shared content on social media
Add to cart / Wishlist
Viewing video
Download files such as PDF, brochure, ebook, white paper etc.

If visitors are viewing specific articles before sharing them on social media, if they sign up for the monthly newsletter or downloading specific files, all this helps to increase awareness of your brand plus they’re showing a keen interest which may lead directly to a sale soon.
It also helps us to see if our website is compelling enough to engage the audience.

How to set up goal conversion?

Using google analytics, you can set ‘goal’ to measure your goal conversions.

Image of goal conversions

Click on Admin Tab > Under View property > Click on Goals.

Image of goal setup

You can configure goal setup, description and details under this section to measure your goal conversions.

Image showing how to measure goalconversions

To see the report, Click on conversion > Goals, and it will tell you how many goal conversions occurred on your website.

How to set up micro conversion?

This one is slightly different from goal conversion, as you need to put event tracking code in your website code.
You might be wondering hold on, what the hell is this event tracking code now? Is google analytics tracking code not enough?

So a quick description of what event tracking is all about. Events are generally user interactions with the website content, and that can be tracked independently using a javascript code. This helps you understand how many events are triggered every time when a user is viewing your website.

Event tracking is slightly different from the Goal Conversion setup. Google has published a small guide on how to implement event tracking code to your website. Once your web developers execute the code on the website. You can track any events you have set.

Micro-conversion will help you measure your SEO success, as you get a more in-depth analysis of how many users are viewing your specific content. This will help you further to serve your audience with the right material.

For detailed information check out on how to measure macro and micro-conversion, written by Avinash Kaushik, where he recommends, “Focus on measuring your macro (overall) conversions, but for optimal awesomeness identify and measure your micro conversions as well.”

7. Links to your site (Referral) –

To measure your SEO success, backlinks are by far one of the most critical factors, as they help website rank within the search engines. Usually links act as a vote of trust mainly because they pass “link equity” from one website to another which helps the other website to rank better. It’s also referred to as “inbound links”.

Sometimes, high-quality sites with a lot of traffic can link to your site, but even if you get a nofollow-link which might not help you in ranking, it will boost your traffic source. Hence high-quality backlinks with nofollow-link attribute also pays a dividend, so it’s worth the effort.

Just keep producing high-quality content, i.e. via content text, video, infographics, blogs, case studies, articles and promote your content at the same time. Let your backlinks develop naturally & remember, Google loves quality and relevancy.

How to track referral traffic?

Under Google Analytics > Click on Acquisition > Referrals > Under Secondary Dimension > Type Referral Path. It will give you an overview idea about how much traffic you are getting from where you have build backlinks

Image shhowing refferal traffic

.

8. Page Load time –

Page load time is a major factor in search rankings but often overlooked mainly because many SEO’s tend to focus their attention primarily on content and link. But from a user perspective, if the website loads up slowly (i.e. if it is taking more than 3 seconds to load), you are potentially losing valuable customers.

That’s one of the main reasons why optimizing page load time is very crucial. A faster-optimized website will give you a better conversion rate & will boost your sales revenue which is ultimately the business goal for each firm. Though the company will benefit from sales revenue, the real impact it will create is customer experience.

The cycle is simple: A happy visitor > Converts into a happy customer > Will share the experience with others > They will come back as returning visitors. This creates a big positive impact on your sales & marketing funnel.

To give a contrasting example – Read this case study on how pagespeed can impact sales for amazon

In one of the line, it states that:
“Amazon’s calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. ”

So how to identify slow loading pages and its direct impact on conversion rates?

In Google Analytics, to measure page load times navigate to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings. After filtering down and adding a secondary dimension, you can analyze which pages are having load issues and then generate the report.

image showing page timings

image showing page time

Based on the report, developers will make all the necessary changes to optimize the website. Once page load times have been optimized, generate a new report and compare it to the old report to see if any difference in search traffic and conversion.

Are you losing out on conversions and sales due to a slow loading website? Hubspot posted a video on why website speed matters.

To summarise the importance of site speed, Google has officially said they are going to consider site speed as a ranking factor starting July 2018

Summary –

After going through all the significant factors in measuring your SEO success, there is a perfect quote which summaries everything. “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”
Therefore remember, measuring your results is crucial for any SEO campaign success.

Let us know in the comments below, if we missed any important metric to measure SEO success?

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Yandex Metrica – An Alternative to Google Analytics

Google analytics, Yandex Metrica, Woopra, Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, etc. With so many analytical tools available in the market, there is a lot of chaos amongst the webmasters in coming up with the most desirable tool.

The search world is Google centric and there is no doubt that Google Analytics drives you to a huge data, though every tool is great at some of its features! Metrica proves it in a better way.

Well, let’s check it out how Yandex Metrica plays a great alternative to Google Analytics.

Let’s start with the basics!

So what exactly is a web analytics tool?

In a lucid language, a web analytics tool is a digital marketing tool used for measuring, collecting, analysing and reporting of important metrics of a particular web page or a website as a whole.

So What’s this Yandex Metrica?

Yandex Metrica is the second largest web analytics platform, provided by the popular Russian search engine called Yandex.

And guess what? It’s free! It’s not even limited just to Russian sites, also it doesn’t have any restriction in the Chinese market like Google analytics does. It can be used by any website from any part of the world. This tool lets you go through the important metrics and get insights of a particular website and come up with actionable plan to tackle the factors hindering a site’s performance.

The best part about Yandex Metrica is that it does not limit data. It gives you with precise data no matter how many sessions or page views you have, unlike Google Analytics it doesn’t sample data.

Yandex metrica - getting started

It will surely leave you flabbergasted after you get to know what’s unique with Metrica. What if I told you that you can actually check what actions are being taken by your website users? Yes, that’s happening! Metrica does come along with some incredible features like Heatmaps & Session replays which walks you through the customer’s journey on your website.

And all these come to you for free! Isn’t it amazing? Still not convinced enough to use it? So just stick along and keep reading to get more on it.

Getting started with Metrica

To create a Yandex Passport (yes, that’s what Yandex user account is called), you need to go through a registration process and get signed up before getting an access to the tool. You can also opt to sign up via social accounts. The sign-up process is so simple that you don’t even need a visual representation of it.

After going through the whole sign up process, you need to add a counter.

Yanxex metrica counter

  • It starts with the counter name, you can add your company name as the counter name
  • Next, you have to add the website domain.
  • You can also add an additional domain in the additional domains section. This step is not mandatory though.
  • Then comes time zone & currency which needs to be added.
  • Select I accept and move on to create counter and hit it.

Counter code

The counter code is the place where you can create the tracking code which needs to be placed on our site’s backend in the HTML code within the body. Before placing the tracking code into the body, you need to select the options which you need to track.

In our case, we have chosen the following options which can be seen in the image.

Counter-code-sample

After selecting the necessary tracking options it will generate the HTML code which needs to be inserted on each and every page of your site. It does not take long for the data collection process, it starts immediately after the code is placed.

(Note: The counter code changes every time you select or unselect any of the options above. So you need to update the code on your site each and every time you come up with any changes in the above options.)

A sight at the dashboard: Quick view

The dashboard comes up with a sight friendly layout, easy to understand and gives you a quick summary of what’s up with your website.

Dashboard view

  • It gives a view to the number of users who interacted with the site
  • Also keeps a track on the number of new users
  • You can check out which URLs are getting a good number of views.
  • You can see where exactly your traffic is coming from (in the traffic source section)
  • The device type section gives you view of what kind of devices have been used to arrive at your website

 

Reports

Reports make a crucial aspect of any analytical tool. Metrica lets you create standard and customised reports as well.

Here’s an introduction to each type of report.

Traffic

You can create traffic reports which give you an overview of your visitors. Basically, you can view the number of people who visited your site, the date and pages did they visit, their dwell time, bounce rate and so on.

Traffic - sample

Conversion

Conversion reports aid in tracking the goals set by the webmaster. A goal can be any action which a webmaster wants the visitors to take. For example, subscribing for newsletters or making a purchase can be considered as a goal.

Sources

The source reports let you see the sources from which your traffic is coming. Sub categories like sites, search engines, social networks etc which drive traffic are specified in the Source section. You can explore all the options given and check where your traffic is arriving.

Users

Here you can check where your users are coming from (geographical location), their interests, their demographic info, their activity on the website and so on.

Content

The content reports portray the subcategories such as popular pages on your website, entry pages (landing pages), exit pages, titles etc, and shows the data on their sessions and traffic.

Technology

Basically, you can create all the tech reports (reports on the type of browsers, display resolutions, operating systems, devices, etc.) in this section.

Monitoring

Monitoring reports include the following options like the load on site, traffic by a minute, page load time, etc.  There is a need for more than 100 page views (per week) for this feature to work though.

E-commerce

E-commerce reporting lets you analyse data related to your products. You can track your number of purchases, the number of users who bought your product and so on. You can check which of your product is performing best.

Navigating through maps

So what’s exactly a link map anyway?

Link map sample

Link Map is a feature which goes into a deep analysis of link clicks, it portrays how popular a link is by highlighting it with specific colours. The cool coloured link gives an idea of low popularity whereas a dark or warm coloured link says its highly popular. By clicking on the link you check for the number for click-throughs and the percent of shares that particular link has got.

Click maps (Heat Maps): Turning on the heat

As a digital marketer, you must have surely come across the concept called heat maps! If not then let’s have a brief.

Heat maps are the visual representation of data in the form of specific colours. These specific colours are given on the basis of the visitor’s actions (clicks) on the page. The more clicks on the portion, the more is the heat.

Click map (heat map) sample

It is a kind of rescue tool! It comes handy when you want to know which part of the content needs a change, is the call to action worth converting? You can even check whether the call to action you have placed in between the page works or not and if not then you can place it somewhere on the top where people may potentially click.

Scroll Maps: How long they go?

So you came across a piece of content which you started reading, kept you scrolling for a while and suddenly left?

I’ll tell you what exactly happened, you lost interest!

What if this is the situation with your own website? Sounds like a nightmare!

Well, have no fear! Metrica has a solution for this! Get Scroll maps to the work.

This feature lets you know how long people keep scrolling on your landing page and how much of the content do they keep reading. Such a data help you in placing your important call to actions. You can even try adding bucket brigades (at the point where you find people stop scrolling further) within your content to make it more compelling which will make your audience to make it till the end.

Form analysis (for a hassle-free user experience)

There may be times when you have been shopping, and you came across your favourite product, selected it for buying and headed towards the checkout and there arrives the issue; the form is too lengthy, or there is no auto-complete feature, also the layout of the checkout form is confusing. Being irritated, you decided to leave the website abandoning the product within the cart.

And if the same is happening to your site, then guess what? You’re at a great loss.

Fortunately, you can get this fixed. Here’s the deal!

Form analysis lets you examine the various forms like contact form, product form, and the search bar from your website. It gives you the data on how many users have seen the form, out of which the number of users who have filled the form and how many drops have happened in a particular form field.

For more info on form analysis, you can check out Yandex support.

Playing along with Session Replay

Ever thought of getting a peek at visitors actions? If your answer is yes, you’ve got the right tool then. Yandex Metrica does come with such a feature, known as session replay (previously which was called Webvisor).

The session replay gives you a bird’s eye view of the visitor’s behaviour by recording the important actions on the website. You can watch it anytime after it’s being recorded. Be it click, scroll or other movements on site, you can check out the interactions which can ultimately help you make better decisions about what’s working, what’s not, and also where to focus on your site.

Here’s a sample of Session replay.

Segments

Basically, segments refer to personalised reports. You can get any segmented report you have created within this section.

You need to go to any of the reports (from which you want to create a new segment) click the segment option and choose from the predefined segments ( or recently used, if any).

segment sample 1

Segments sample 2

Using segments you can create your own customised reports for just viewing data which you have to track daily. For example, You started a new ad campaign for the holiday season and want to track it daily, you can create a custom segment for it, you will not have to dive deep into source/medium reports section daily

Settings

Common

We can add a new counter here, as we have already discussed on this.

Counter code & session replay are already being discussed. So moving on to the next option.

Goals

You can add a goal within this section. You can add around 200 goals to a single website.

Filters

This option lets you add filter out specific data. It is applied to source data in a specified order, coming up with the records which match certain conditions.

Notifications

Under notifications, you can opt in or out for letting Metrica send you notifications informing when problems appear. You can get these notifications via your registered mail or contact number.

Upload data

You can add the additional data from this section. Currently there are two options under this category, namely ‘Upload user parameters’ and ‘Upload offline conversions’.

Access

You can allow Yandex users access to a particular counter by adding that user within the access option. You can choose to give the user a view option (which is limited to usage) or edit option which gives him full access to all the features.

More features

Offline locations, Yandex.Direct, “Calls” group of reports, Session Replay 2.0, Cross-device, etc. These are the additional features provided by Yandex Metrica. Some of these are under Beta version.

Some of the Cons Google Analytics has

Well, as I’ve already said, every tool is great at some of its features, and I am gonna stick to my words.

Some of the features which are not in Google Analytics are:

Heatmaps & Session Replay

It doesn’t have features like heat maps and session replay (already covered in the features section) which lets you analyse the website in depth and take actions accordingly.

Bounce Rate

There is a difference in the way Google analytics counts a bounce rate than that of Metrica. Google analytics counts a visit as a bounce when a user visits a particular page and does not have any activity on it.

Meanwhile, Yandex Metrica counts a visit as a bounce when the user leaves a particular page within 15 seconds (also if the visitor converts within those 15 seconds, it is not counted as a bounce).

Data Retention

 Recently Google Analytics has updated their policy according to GDPR on retaining the users and event data. Basically, Analytics can overwrite user and event data in minimum 14 months. You can tweak the settings so that it doesn’t expire automatically, the default selection is 26 months.

Sampling Data

Google Analytics provides users with a sample segment when there is a huge data to be processed. In case you want to peep into precise results, you will have to subscribe to its premium version, which costs around $1.50K (USD) for a year.

Conclusion

You see! Yandex Metrica is seriously good at its power packed analytical data. There is no reason to ignore this potential tool.

Let me make it clear that I am not against Google Analytics. It definitely is a good tool. What you can do is, use Metrica as well as GA to get the most of your website’s insights.

So make sure to add Metrica to your favourites. Now get there amazingly fast and explore all the features specified above to make the most out of your website.

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How to use Trending Searches & Google Trends for SEO?

Google rolled out an update for Android users in April 2016 for testing trending In Search Auto-Complete. When the user clicks on the search bar Google shows the most trending searches happening on the search engine at that time. This should not be confused with the autocomplete feature.

After few days of rolling out, this feature met with a lot of user complaints. A Google Support forum exploded with 500 posts from users who hated this new feature. Users were frustrated because it didn’t have any option to disable it that time. Later, in response to the complaints, Google rolled out an update with an option to disable this feature.

Trending searches image in Google
The trending searches are displayed with an arrow on the left.

On the 1st of September 2017, Google rolled out the same update for their search app on iOS. This Google Search App added Trending Search feature in their latest update, same as twitter trending.
Amazingly it gives a direct answer to questions like “who is the president of iran” in the search bar itself.

Google gives direct answer in the search bar

How Google Displays Trending Searches?

According to Google’s Support forum, it fetches data from Google Trends. In your local area, it fetches the search terms which are trending (getting searched by the most user) and shows the data accordingly.

Google quotes that:
What other people are searching for, including Trending stories. Trending stories are popular topics in your area that change throughout the day. Trending stories aren’t related to your search history. To see Trending stories, go to Google Trends

You can turn off this setting by following these steps:

  1. Open the Google app Google Logo
  2. At the top left, tap Menu Menu Icon Settings Settings Icon Autocomplete.
  3. Tap the switch to turn “Show trending stories” off or on.

How Can SEO’s benefit from the Trending Searches?

How Can SEO’s benefit from the Trending Searches?

There are numerous ways in which you can benefit from the Google Trends data.  

 

Whenever the there’s something trending on Twitter or Google Trends, the information is not fully available on the web.

 

The partial information which we see are news websites ranking on Top giving the information about the incident.

 

Let’s take an example

When I tried to do a search, you can see some topics are trending in the given image

trend result

If I’m a blogger and searching for some trending topic, I can take the 1st trending topic about UN Chief Kofi Annan.

And create a topic around him and write an article like “Top 5 Thing you should know about Kofi Annan, UN Chief”

The benefit is your blog will start ranking for that topic without doing much SEO, because no other website has written about it.

Here you are fulfilling the biggest ranking factor which is “user intent” and to fulfill this, Google has to show the best relevant result for that topic.

Now because of no/less articles around that it starts pushing results which are relevant ignoring other ranking factors. And the amount of traffic you will get for the time it will be trending is huge.

The data which you find in Google Trends is nowhere to be found, be it Keyword planner or any other tool. So it is very easy to find trending topics that happened a year ago and what was the keywords users were searching. For example, “Halloween” Topic trends every year during october so if you are planning to write a blog around it, Google Trends data would be really handy to know the search terms to actually use.

Things to keep in mind while using this approach:

  • The trending topic which you are writing on should be closely related to your niche.
  • Try and select trending topics from your local area.
  • The article you are writing should have enough data to explain the user about the topic. Add images, videos and make it long enough to fulfill the user intent.
  • You might get a lot of traffic but that will probably not last long, because once the trend is over the searches are going to drop.

Closing Thoughts

Using Trending data from Google Trends and Google App can actually give you the next blog idea. You just have to keep looking for the trending topic in your niche and publish the blog ASAP.

The other benefits on writing on trending topics is users will start to see  your website as an influencer in the niche. So when the next time anything will happen, users will directly search on your website.

Writing on Trending topics will build credibility and people might also start linking to your website.


Let us know in the comments section if you have any better idea on using the Google Trends Tool?

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Is Google AMP a Ranking Factor?

According to a Study, nearly 60% of searches on the internet now happens from mobile devices. In 2015, Google officially stated that their mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic. Since the rollout of Mobile Algorithm Update – Mobilegeddon in April 2015, the way websites load in phones have completely changed. The Mobilegeddon update boosted the rankings of Web sites that were mobile responsive at that time.

Google doesn’t just want the websites to be mobile friendly but they also want the websites to load fast in Mobile phones because everyone has difficulty to load websites in phone compared to desktops. To promote fast loading websites across all the platforms, Google has created an official website to know your Pagespeed score. On Feb. 24, 2016, Google integrated with an open standard project called Accelerated Mobile Page(AMP) project which helps to load your pages quickly on mobile devices.

AMP logo

What is AMP?

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is a Google-backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices. It uses an HTML, JS, and cache libraries that accelerates the load time of a web page. Even if you have a 3000 words article with all the images and videos, the page will load under 3 second completely. For more information on how to implement AMP for your website visit the official website: https://www.ampproject.org/

The AMP project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.

AMP results in SERP
The AMP results are shown n the form of a lightning icon in SERP

Benefits of AMP

If a web page takes more than 3 seconds to load then there are higher chances of user bouncing off. To keep up with the pace we can’t afford to let our websites forever to load. Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year. Google has calculated that by slowing its search results by just four-tenths of a second they could lose 8 million searches per day–meaning they’d serve up many millions of fewer online adverts.

This implies the importance of page load time. AMP is a great way to increase your page speed time and load your web pages in 3 seconds.

AMP improves the overall mobile experience thus increasing the chances of conversions.

It decreases bounce rate in a very effective way. When a website implements AMP, the website data is saved in Google’s cache and hence when you visit the website the URL looks like this:

www.google.co.in/amp/website-url/

Google’s Official Statement

John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analysts, stated in a that AMP is still not a ranking signal.

Google's statement on AMP
Google’s John Mueller ‘s answer when asked about AMP as a ranking factor

Is AMP worth the Time?

Is AMP worth the time?

We ran an experiment for our agency website, which was ranking on the 2nd page(11th position) for a very competitive keyword with a monthly search volume of 1000. We decided to create an AMP page for our website and track if Google gives any boost to the website in the rankings. No other website ranking ahead of us were having an AMP page.
While we ran this experiment, there were no changes made in the content, we kept the meta tags same, the markup was same on both the versions and not a single backlink was build during that period. In short, we mean to say that everything was same in both the versions of the website(AMP & non-AMP).

The Result:
Sadly, there was no ranking improvement even after a month of AMP implementation. Google crawled the page and it was even showing the AMP icon but it didn’t help our website to get on the 1st page in mobile rankings.

AMP rankings
Google crawled the AMP version of our website.

The average time spent on the website on the AMP page was less. Also, the bounce rate of both the versions is also same.

AMP analytics screen shot

We kept the AMP page for 25 days and after seeing no improvements in rankings we switched back to the non-AMP version for mobile.

During that time period our GSC data showed some exciting results:

Google Search Console of non-AMP pages
This screenshot from GSC shows how non-AMP pages have performed on mobile devices. It got 1622 impressions and 57 clicks, with an average of CTR of 3.51%.
Google Search Console screen shot of AMP pages
The AMP page had fewer impressions compared to the non-AMP page and the clicks and CTR were also less.

The AMP implementation took a good amount of time and there are few restrictions in the AMP code compared to normal HTML codes we use:

  • We had to inline all the CSS in our websites HEAD tag because there are no external style sheets allowed.
  • We removed all the other javascript from our code whether inline or external.
  • Normal HTML Image tags were replaced with <amp-img> and similarly with the other media.
  • We are unable to use forms in AMP because of the restrictions
  • We marked up our data using the same schema codes in the HEAD section.

You can validate your AMP code on this website or through this chrome plugin

We’ll compare the design of both the AMP & non-AMP versions of our website to show the changes we were forced to make in the design because of these restrictions.

Original Version:

original website - our association

In comparison to our original version, we had to realign these images in a 3X2  instead of a 2X3 grid. Aso, it didn’t accept text below the images.

Reason: In the Original website we are using bootstrap to align the images but in the AMP version it doesn’t allow to use “bootstrap columns”. We were also unable to set the text below the image because of the aligning issues.

AMP Version:

AMP Version - our association

 

Original Website:

Our philosophies - Original

In the original website, we have given numbers to all our philosophies which resembles our strengths. But that is not possible in AMP, so we decided to go with an auto carousel.

Reason: In the HTML version we can use JavaScript for obtaining the above effect but in AMP we can’t use JavaScript which is outside the AMP libraries. To optimise the website for the best page speed AMP doesn’t allow the use of JS.

AMP Version:

Our Philosophies - AMP version

Original Website:

original - our services

In our original version of the website, we researched icons and created them using bootstrap, which is easy to use and responsive. Also, we displayed all our services tab using accordion in bootstrap.

The Reason: We can use accordion in AMP but there are some restrictions like you can only use a single image/text. We tried using this tool to match our original version but the images were not aligning properly.

In the normal HTML bootstrap, we can use class=”img-responsive” and it adjusts according to the screen size. But in AMP we have to define height & width even after specifying layout=”responsive”

AMP Version:

AMP version our services

The point here is even after coding our website according to AMP guidelines and compromising our website design and layout, is it still worth to shift to AMP knowing the fact that it doesn’t give a boost in rankings?

AMP is surely a very fast way to load your website as it preloads the content even before the website is being opened but it is not for all the types of websites.

Summary

Is AMP the real answer to our mobile page speed issues? I don’t think so because adopting a whole different code and compromising our main version design in AMP knowing the fact that it is not a ranking factor is not advisable. If you will optimise the website according to the Google’s page speed insight recommendations or using Pingdom tool, then it is surely going to help your page load fast.

It’s not that AMP is totally bad, it is adopted by over 900,000 domains as of 2017 including big brands like eBay, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal etc.

Should we implement AMP?

Yes, if you are a:

  • Publisher
  • Blogger
  • E-commerce website
  • Retailer

You should not if you:

  • Have a B2B website
  • Use a lot of JS, CSS
  • Have a heavy E-commerce website
  • Have online tickets booking

Currently, AMP is good to implement for blogs and other article websites where you are getting more than 70% mobile traffic. If you have a business website where you have to show images and videos then don’t compromise your website design instead optimise it for page speed.

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Does Google Hate SEO?

Evil Google Hates SEO

If you are an SEO or have a fair knowledge of how search engines work, then at some point of time you might have thought about all these:

  • Why is my website not ranking on Top?
  • Why there are so many complications in Google’s Algorithm?
  • Why does Google always prefer big brands over the small ones?
  • Why Google gives more importance to Ads than Organic results?
  • Does Google Hate SEO community?

The simplest answer to that question is No, and we are going to give you examples to prove the point. Everyone knows that SEO process takes time to show results, but the SEO’s expect results faster and that is a normal behaviour because at last, you expect some results. The real problem starts when people start to find shortcuts to rank high in Google and then pollutes the SERP with low content.

Remember this: Google’s main aim is to keep their customers on it website for as much time as possible. And this is possible only if the search results are up to the mark and the content is delivered very fast. Google wants that anything that a user wants to search(information or product) should start from Google and that is why they come up with technologies to give out the best results. Shopping Ads, Knowledge Graph, featured snippet etc. can be seen in Google SERP on daily basis, which implies that they care about the user experience.

If you want the answer to all the other questions, then grab a coffee and read till the end. For a better understanding how things happen in the big picture, we are going to explain everything from the scratch.

History of Google.

Everyone knows about their history & how Google has evolved from being BackRub to the Biggest Tech company in the World.

Well, that’s not our point of concern. Here we will talk about facts and how the search engine giants have evolved over the period of time

 

YearNumber of SearchesMarket shareRevenue
1999One Billion7.8%$220,000
2004–200873 billion53% – 77%$3.19B – $21.8B
2009365 billion66%$23.7B
2012–20151.2 trillion91% – 86%$50B – $74.5B
2016two trillion+89%$89.46B

From 7% in 1999 to 89% in 2016. Google’s market share is more of a monopoly here. As more & more searches happen on Google their revenue shoots up accordingly. This clearly indicates how much Internet users trust Google for obtaining data online. 95% of a user interaction starts with search out of which 89% searches happens on Google.

Sometimes, a common question that I come across is How does Google make money?

Digital Examiner conducted a survey asking people about Google as a company.

Here’s the info-graphic stating all the questions

how google makes money

The first answer is a bit shocking, because 63% of the people do not know how Google makes money through search.

Out of the $89 billions google makes, 90% of their revenues come through Google Ads and a significant amount of that money comes from Search Text Ads.

Do you know how much of this revenue comes from Organic Search?

The answer is zero. Google doesn’t earn a single dollar from any of the Organic Listings.

Does Organic Results matter to Google?

Obviously Yes, Google is the biggest search engine in the world, in November 2016 Google updated their How Search Works page changing the number of pages Google has crawled from 30 trillion back in March 2013 to 130 trillion. Google hasn’t indexed all the pages but knows all of them.

Imagine the amount of information Google has and by using this information Google algorithms creates the index accordingly. When Google first launched their website in 1997 their algorithm was simple & it displayed only the organic results.

google-serp-1997

Till date, Google displays tons of Organic & Free results for all the queries. Google results are accurate and the amount of efforts & money Google puts to make the user experience better is immense.

google-results-now

Google’s Regular algorithm updates to tackle spam.

Till now we have seen, how much do the organic results matter to Google. There are always 2 sides of a coin. Good & Bad. Same way, SEO’s have tried to spam the web with irrelevant and low content results to rank fast in the search engines. But Google has sorted the way to tackle these types of spam websites.

Google’s revenue is growing today, because of the relevant result it shows & the trust it has built on the Internet over time. If the user starts experiencing spammy and irrelevant result then they will lose the trust in Google and will find an alternative. If there’s a percent of the drop in Google’s traffic then it means the loss of millions of dollars.

So, to tackle these kinds of spam, Google always keep their search engine algorithm updated with various technologies. Till date, there have been several major algorithm updates that have improved the search results by providing more personalised and relevant results for the query. Google has a dedicated web spam team to tackle spam content and penalise those websites.

Google hates spammers not SEO

Coming back to our original question: Does Google hates SEO?

As we have said No, Google doesn’t hate SEO but they hate the spammers who try to take advantage by using black hat SEO techniques to get rankings in Google.

On June 15, 2006, Google was the first company to have been added as a word in the Oxford Dictionary. Just imagine the amount of trust Google holds in the eyes of the world. It has become a habit to say “Just Google it” for a query instead of saying “search it on the internet”. To maintain the trust they have to tackle with all kinds of spam attacks that happen on them.

You might have a question, then why does it take forever to rank in Google?

Because Google just can’t trust any other websites that have the targeted keywords in the meta tags & content. It takes time to build trust & authority in the eye of Google. If you will do your regular SEO, your website is surely going to rank. Once the website starts to feature on the 1st page, you just need to maintain it.

Then why is Google pushing the Organic results down?

SEO’s who are in this industry might know how Google’s SERP pages used to look earlier. If you do a comparison of the Google’s SERP page in 2016 with today? You will come to know it has changed a lot. This was a point of concern for some

SERP before February update

Google SERP before February 2016 update: Earlier there used to be Text Ads maximum in the 1st three positions and some other ads on the right-hand side

SERP after feb 18

Google SERP after February 2016 update: After the update the SERP changed completely. Ads covered the 1st full Fold(first scroll) and covered the top 4 critical positions. The ads snippet on the right hand side completely vanished and got replaced with knowledge graph(if you search about a company/person). Ads also started to appear in the bottom 3 positions.

Why is Organic CTR going down?

A recent Organic CTR study conducted by Internet Marketing Ninjas states that 30% of the Google Search results on the 1st & 2nd page don’t get clicks. Thats shocking.

Impressions and clicks of 1-20 SERP.

Google Organic CTR 2017

The reason for this drop? Google gives answers to some of the questions in form of featured snippets, knowledge graphs, shopping display ads etc. This SERP feature is killing SEO clicks on the website, as users gets the answer directly by Google.

Featured Snippet:

Featured Snippet Example

Knowledge Graph:

Knowledge Graph Example

Shopping Display Ads:

Shopping Display Ads Example

CTR of Organic Results are Still higher than PPC

When this update was rolled out the SEO community panicked thinking that it will bring down the clicks, as it is acquiring the crucial top 4 positions of the SERP.

Though the CTR of PPC went a bit high because of the addition of 4th ad slot in SERP.

The image shows CTR during the 7-day period before and after the change in ad placements on Google desktop search results:

4th position ads slot had a change of 18% in CTR, because this placement is closest to the organic result.

But the interesting bit is:
Study shows that the Click Through Rates(CTR) of Organic results are still higher than PPC.

This actually implies that users are getting smarter day by day and can easily differentiate between a Text Ad and organic result, no matter how hard Google tries to push Ads.

Conclusion:

Whether Google hates SEO or not, it doesn’t matter, but remember one thing, Google search is nothing without the organic results. Yes, Google has started pushing more ads in the top positions, but that has not dropped the clicks of organic results. One thing Google wants to show relevant results as much as possible, and that is why for some keywords Google directly answers the query through a snippet.

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References and Sources

Link building is a high-level factor of SEO and also a difficult one. There are out bound links and Inbound links. Giving reference link to High-quality domains will not impact your rankings as said by Google

 

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