The Distinct SEO Web Marketing Blog

Discuss the latest topics on web marketing, SEO, branding, and organizational development.

Google to Increase Mobile Ranking Signals

Pay attention to an important announcement from Google Webmaster Central. The key ranking signals will be adjusted in a month’s time to reflect the growing prominence of mobile friendly websites. Of worthy note:

1. More mobile-friendly websites in search results

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:

  • If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

Are you ready? If you’re website is not performing well for mobile devices Webmaster Central may alert you. But don’t rely on their messaging to prompt you to ensure your website meets the minimum standards for mobile devices. Run the tools they suggest above.

Banning semalt and buttons-for-websites via .htaccess

If you’re tired of seeing faux results in your Analytics reports and have been looking for a solution to ban the Semalt and buttons-for-websites referrals then here is the .htaccess code I used that worked to completely eliminate bot visits.

# Block all http and https referrals from" and all subdomains of ""
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]
# End semalt block
# block referer spam buttons for website
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons\-for\-website\.com
RewriteRule ^.* - [F,L]
# End buttons for website block

I’ve tried other iterations but the code above was the only version that completely eliminated the bot visits. As an aside, my WordPress spam comments went down 90% as well. Hope this works for you and your websites as well.

Keyword Research – Choose Words Your Customers Use

stux / Pixabay

Search engine optimization has long been the red herring of the web marketing industry. In itself it serves a haphazard function. Robust SEO strategies are carefully developed tactics executed within well thought out business plans.  One of the tactics within SEO is the process of keyword research which falls under the category of market research. Doing an environmental analysis of your target market is a crucial step to understand both your customers and your competitors.

You should already be familiar with your market and how they behave because as a business owner / employee, you have a passion and interest for your particular market segment. Once you garner your understanding (and continuously refresh it) your content will improve significantly.

Here are some helpful tips to guide your keyword research that are commonly overlooked but will quickly become a leading method in selecting the right direction for you website and business.

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How to Organzie Your Web Links – Sub-Folders or Sub-Domains?

Previously posted in 2011 and updated.

What’s the best way to organize your web site for SEO factors? Is it sub-folders, sub-domains, or something in between?

What’s Best For Your Web Site? Subfolders or Subdomains?

Simply put, there’s no one size fits all approach to this, it’s dependent on the needs of your users. You should always create website content, and organize that content, with the end user in mind. If it makes more sense in terms of clarity to add subdomains on the website instead of subfolders, then do so.

For example, do you have one parent company but multiple locations? Sub-domains for each geographic location retains the brand and also makes it clear you’re in a different part of the website (the design has to reflect this as well). Do you have one store but multiple related products? Using categories in subfolders would be the most natural.

In terms of SEO one of the major things you should look out for is the treatment of subdomains. Subdomains can be treated like their own unique website. That means two subdomains would largely need their own unique linking campaigns (so you double the required investment). With sub-folders ( you do all the promo for 1 site and all folders benefit in a trickle down effect. All in all, make your choice based on the existing structure of the company and your end user. This is also a question of navigation for your users.  See for how Google will treat your domain.

You may naturally insert keywords where you can, maybe use the date or year if it’s relevant, and then away you go. Make sure you do the work beforehand so you’re not switching out a year later. Continuity is important so be sure with what you choose. Clear and concise navigation and URL structures is for your users and is your goal in choosing website structure.

Measurement Key for Local Online Success

A number of local (and even international) businesses can’t connect the dots between marketing dollars and sales. That’s important to know, whether or not you’re making money, and how much. If you can’t measure your outputs (probably some form of sales) then you can’t figure out a) whether you’re making money, b) more importantly, WHY and HOW.

The why is crucial because is stretches backwards and says, “this is why you’re making money.” It may highlight particularly effective market segments, or it may point to new opportunities.

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How Does Google Determine Content Quality Without Many Links?

Unfortunately, this video does not describe what its description suggests, “How can content be ranked if there aren’t many links to it?”

We all know that Google is going away from using web links as the primary indicator of page strength (or at least they say they are, when that happens, and if, is anybody’s guess). What we don’t know is how they’d rank content without links. This video doesn’t answer that question directly. It does offer some insight on how Google determines page content validity and value.

Processing New Business Ideas

Everyone has the ‘next big idea’. But if you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank for US readers) you’ll notice a trend (or a truth). Ideas are worthless. Anybody can have an idea, but the application, turning idea into reality, is where value is created.

Here’s an idea to get you going (or stop you in your tracks). Take your business idea and the dream you have associated with it, say full-time employment, and extrapolate how much revenue you’d have to generate in order to achieve that goal.

Chances are you’ll be surprised with the result–how hard it would be to achieve.

Of course, you can get overwhelmed and do nothing, but once you have a more accurate picture of the work it’s going to take to turn dream into reality, you’ll be able to prepare accordingly, or simply walk away.

The Story of a tumblr Post and Wordsworth Bookstore

If you’re a small business owner and you don’t believe in the power of social media then here’s a quick story.

There are few quaint bookstores with eccentric bookstore owners left in our city of Calgary. One of the last hole in the walls in the middle of the least likely of places is Wordsworth books on 10th and 8th ave SW. If you can find the door then you’ll enter a realm of books stacked floor to ceiling.

Wordsworth was/is eccentric and eclectic, but had a business model that didn’t suit its downtown market (opening hours were erratic and generally took up the brief afternoon). It’s now closing and in its final days a massive 70% off sale (or $10 for a BAG of books) began to clear books off the shelves.

The thing is, nobody really knew about the bookstore, and even fewer knew about the sale, until the last few days because of a tumblr post.
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Why Most Brands Aren’t Memorable

Surprisingly, few online retailers and business owners comprehend some fundamentals of business. Online there are even fewer aspects of your business model that are distinct competitive advantages. In fact, the one you should pay attention to and develop, because it’s practically the only one, is your brand.

Yet, when it comes to branding, most businesses, regardless of size, don’t pay too much attention to brand. They hire someone to do their ‘logo’ and assume that’s the brand.

Brand is the story about your product/service/company. If you’re story is enticing enough, you’ll have a more memorable brand, not because of the story and the service, but because of the new evangelists (customers turned evangelists) that hype your product.

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When Does Guest Blogging Make Sense?

When does guest blogging offer benefits to your website? The answer isn’t ‘never’, but it’s not ‘always’.

One thing is certain, as a tactic to get legitimate incoming web links, it’s quickly fallen by the wayside. It seems the guest blogging craze came and went in a matter of years. Google quickly picked up on the practice, noted it was subject to abuse, and has been de-valuing ever since.

Guest blogging and content strategies started out with semi-good intentions–providing unique and relevant content was supposed to be what Google wanted the most. But unique content is different than lasting contributing content. It seems Google can tell the difference. Not only that, Google has largely thrown out the baby with the bath water advising SEOs and the like to steer away from guest blogging platforms as a means to acquire links.

Don’t believe me, here’s what they have to say about the subject.
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Content Marketing Strategies Gone

Remember this post over 4 years ago, “the death of ezines“? It didn’t take a rocket scientist to observe that abuse that past ezine directories incited. It was a free way to get links and so terrible and spammy content flooded the service.

Generally speaking, any link acquisition strategy that starts to look like spam, or experiences a decrease in obvious quality, has ceased to become a viable means of attracting incoming web links.

Put it this way, if you can tell a website/service looks spammy, how long ago did Google figure it out. Probably a lot earlier than you.

So how should one approach content marketing strategies?
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Facebook Demographic Shifts to Laggards

Check out this link for an interesting graph from istrategylabs that compares user data from Facebook from 2011 to 2014.

The data shows what many have noticed already, it’s uncool to use Facebook. Or at least it’s uncool if you’re under the age of 17 and your grandma uses Bookface. Total Facebook users have in fact increased, but lost are the new generation of users who are off to micro blogging/ micro social media platforms they can quickly use with their mobile devices (i.e. SnapChat and Instagram).

The Facebook demographic shift follows a normal distribution curve of product adoption as well.

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