Alexander Zagoumenov Search Engine Marketer Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:01:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 6754519 WordPress spam comments & ways to fight them Sat, 05 Jul 2014 09:38:30 +0000 The post WordPress spam comments & ways to fight them appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



WordPress spam comments & ways to fight them

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

I love WordPress. I’ve built sites using wordpress and I do a lot of SEO work for clients based on WordPress websites. I’ve been getting regular questions about WordPress spam comments. So, I decided to write a post about dealing with spam comments on WordPress sites.

Let’s start with where these comments are coming from. First of all, most of these WordPress spam comments are done for the purposes of SEO / link building via blog comments. Here’s what Google says about comment spam as an SEO tactic. It’s usually done via an automated method (i.e. 10,000 comments made by a robot). In this case not-so-whitehat SEO is auto-creating tons of links and looking at what sticks (because some of those links may get approved). Here’s what you get as a notification in your mailbox when a WordPress spam comments are made on your site:

Website : Toms Outlet (IP: ,

URL : [full page address of a site trying to build links through commenting] Trackback excerpt:
<strong>Toms Outlet</strong>

Hi there, I check your blogs named “Bonjour! | [your blog post name]” daily. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about Toms Outlet.

Approve it:
Trash it:
Spam it:
Currently 1 comment is waiting for approval. Please visit the moderation panel:

Fight WordPress spam comments!

These WordPress spam comments take time to review, especially when you don’t know what they are and why they’re coming to you. There’s a few things you can do to deal with these spam comments. So, let’s take a look at your options.

Option 1: Do nothing

By default they’re drafted for moderation in WordPress (make sure you have it configured). They don’t really hurt you as long as you don’t publish them. So, the simplest recommendation is to ignore those comments. Everyone gets them. Best of all, this option is free. Just make sure that you get into a habit of screening those comments and deleting them from your mailbox.

Option 2: Disable comments altogether

Some site owners may want to disable comments throughout the site. If you’re not planning to accept and reply to comments, this is your option. To do that go inside Settings > Discussion and update the settings. This is a simple adjustment that you can do on your own. It’s easy, fast and free. The minus here is that if you blog regularly (which is highly recommended in today’s digital landscape) you won’t be able to communicate with your readers with your comments closed. And it’s like shooting yourself in the foot of your content marketing strategy.

If you still want to do it, here’s a quick 1- minute video from WPBeginner to show you how to turn off comment notifications in WordPress:


Your site may also collect comments from pages other than your articles. Some WordPress themes come with comments enabled on your pages. If this is the case and you haven’t already disabled comments on your pages, then here’s how you do it:


Option 3: Adjust WordPress comment settings

A more involved (time-wise) option is to update the Discussion settings on your WordPress blog so that the commenting rules are very strict (i.e. only allowing comments from registered users who were previously approved for commenting). It’ll give you some peace of mind but still some WordPress spam comments will pass through and you’ll need to update your settings regularly to ensure your site is protected from spam comments. Again, to edit these settings go Settings > Discussion. There’s a bunch of advice out there on how to tighten up your discussion settings in WordPress.

Please keep in mind that each blogger will have his / her own comment policy. Some might want to have a tighter security to ensure that every comment is moderated. Other bloggers who get a lot of quality comments may not want to approve every comment. Anyways, take a look at the video and create your own security level to protect your site from WordPress spam comments.


Option 4: Install Disqus commenting plugin

This option will require installing and configuring a free commenting plugin by Disqus. Disqus is a standalone commenting platform that helps people communicate on the web through commenting plugins installed on websites. I personally tested this option and it fights WordPress spam comments well for me. Of course I get occasional spam comment here and there, but for the most part, it’s a huge improvement. Plus it offers great options for comment moderation and interlining your other posts with similar topics. To use this option you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Register an account with Disqus
  2. Install and configure the Disqus WP plugin
  3. Enjoy your commenting system by Disqus!

To make it visual, here’s a short YouTube video about installing and activating Disqus comments on your WordPress website. Thanks to guys at WP Knowledge Base for producing it.


Option 5: Buy and install Akismet

Finally, Akismet is the most expensive option of the above. It’s a solid spam protection plugin that’s affiliated with WordPress in some way (Akismet is now part of WordPress, I believe). The bottomline is that WordPress and Akismet are highly integrated. It’s even installed as a default plugin when you install your WordPress. If it’s not, get the Akismet plugin. Akismet has both free and paid options. Free for non-profits. I personally suggest that you purchase a smaller package, but still pay for the tool. People have worked hard to make Akismet and they should be rewarded. Here’s what you need to do to follow this route:

  1. Have your account ready (or create one here)
  2. Log into Akismet using your account
  3. Choose the spam protection package you want to use
  4. Install / activate your Akismet plugin in your WordPress install
  5. Get Akismet API key and insert it in Akismet WP settings
  6. All your comments should now go through Akismet filter

Here’s a very short (3+ mins) and a simple video on how to install and run Akismet spam protection plugin for WordPress. By the way, I wanted to thank the authors of this video for creating such a simple, professional and short video on the topic. Most other videos I looked at were close to 10 minutes long and were poorly done. Watch more videos like that at My Digital Dispatcher channel on YouTube.


In my experience, once your site gets better rankings these spam-bots start bombarding you with these automated WordPress spam comments. Good thing is that your site is probably doing well in Google, otherwise you wouldn’t have such a problem :). I hope these simple tips on WordPress spam comments protection for your site will help you. Consider leaving a comment or two if you’d like to share your experience.

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On-page SEO Guide Fri, 15 Feb 2013 03:03:24 +0000 The post On-page SEO Guide appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



On-page SEO Guide

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

On page optimization is critical for Google to rank your pages at the top of search engine results. Quality of your content matters greatly but if your pages are not optimized they will not get much deserved rankings and organic traffic.

In this guide I’m going to cover on-page SEO factors, provide you with an optimization checklist, discuss a few webpage optimization tools and show you how to optimize your WordPress articles. So click the links above to browse this page and skip to a particular section.

To get us all on the same page, let’s begin with a quick on page SEO definition. MOZ, the global SEO authority, has put it most elegantly:

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. Source

There are two things to note.

First, in contrast to off-page SEO, on page optimization deals with optimizing internal factors affecting your page ranks. Most often, these are the factors that you have the most control over.

The second thing to keep in mind is that it’s page-specific optimization. Domain authority affects your individual page rankings to an extent. But to keep things focused and simple, on-page optimization is only about the page that is in front of you right now.

Defining Page Types

Optimizing for user intent (rather than for Google bot) starts with understanding your customer’s decision making process and how he or she uses search. Understanding user intent will make it much easier to choose your target keywords. Here’s the main three types of keywords categorized by searcher’s intent:

Now that we’re on the same page with user intents we can get into the landing page types.

Searchers using navigational intent will likely land on your homepage. Those that used informational search terms are more likely to land on one of the articles or blog posts. And those that used transactional terms will end up landing on your product pages.

Matching the right keywords with page types is important. It’s very difficult to rank your homepage for a transactional key phrase. And you wouldn’t optimize your blog posts for your navigational terms. Because it just doesn’t make sense.

So choose your words-pages connections keeping that in mind. Now that we defined the type of page we want to optimize, let’s move into choosing the right key phrase for this page.

Choosing Page Keywords

Choosing a target keywords is a dated way to go about optimizing your pages. However, in order to optimize a page for something we need to have a starting point. So we do need to pick a key phrase. But let’s keep in mind the following…

Since the move to Hummingbird algorithm in 2013 (and most likely earlier) the search engine was learning to understand topics from queries. Here’s a great Whilteboard Friday about this.

Here’s the board from the video (click to enlarge):

On-page keyword targeting: topics + keywords

Read the transcript and more detailed article at MOZ.


On-page SEO Factors

Now that we got on the same page of what on page optimization is, let’s first talk about key on page SEO factors that contribute to page relevance and subsequent rankings in search engines.

Page URL

Each page on your site has a unique name or web page address called URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator). I wrote a post about creating strong URLs to benefit your on-page SEO here. In a nut shell:

  • Keep URLs short
  • Keep them descriptive
  • Include keywords

Page Title

Page title is considered the most important element of on-page search engine optimization. Great titles should:

  • Be unique
  • Describe the page
  • Include your keyphrase at the top
  • Preferably stay within allocated title length

Meta Description

Page description does not directly affect your page ranking. Indirectly though it may have a significant effect on your positions in search engines. Make a strong meta-description for your page by:

  • Make it enticing for people to click
  • Create a call to action at the end
  • Include your target key phrase for the page (not mandatory) or a variation of that

Primary Heading (H1)

Following the page title, primary heading is likely the second most important element on a perfectly optimized page. Its purpose is to re-phrase your page Title and provide a lead into the following content on the page. To create strong primary headings consider:

  • Make it a variation on your Title, don’t make an exact copy
  • Entice readers to want to read the entire article
  • Mention your target key phrase in your H1 heading once
  • There’s no ideal length, but keep it realistic (3-7 should provide you with enough space to convey the point and mention your target key phrase)


Headings like H2, H3, etc. is a great way to split your content into sections. Studies show that users scan the articles instead of reading every single word.

How Users Read on the Web They don’t. People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.

Especially now with increase in mobile usage, people tend to scroll through headings rather than read the entire post.

So make sure you use headings to split your content into section. To make it SEO-friendly, make it people-friendly first.

  • Don’t include key phrases into each heading if it’s not natural
  • Don’t start headings with your target key phrase if it doesn’t make sense
  • Make these headings short (3-4 is more than enough, or even less than that)
  • Most importantly, make them descriptive of the section each heading starts

Content Length

Latest MOZ study shows that there is a correlation between longer pages and higher rankings. Which is NOT the same as “longer pages rank higher”.

The SEO recommended content length has evolved over time from 300 minimum per page, to 500 to 2000+ these days. However, I wouldn’t get too hung up on these numbers. Seth Godin writes very short blog posts, yet his posts rank very well.

First, focus on the depth of knowledge the page delivers on the subject. It usually takes some words to dive into a subject in any significant details. That is why, in most cases (but not always), the longer the better.

Take for example the Skyscraper technique by Brian Dean where he explains how to develop long-form content that drives traffic.

Another great benefit of long-form content is that your article can rank for hundreds of different terms. Read some of the posts by Neil Patel and you’ll notice that these are extremely in-depth and very long-form articles. Checking his posts on SEMrush you will see that some of his more popular posts rank for 2000+ keywords.

Neil Patel keywords per article

So, when talking about ideal content length:

  • Make it well-researched. Remember that in-depth articles get huge ranking rewards.
  • Make it well-written, check grammar, and make it easy to digest. Some people will end up reading the whole thing, keep that in mind.
  • If you do the above two well, you’ll end up with articles that are 1000-2000+ words long.

Text Decoration

Is it important to decorate (apply italics, bold or underline) key phrases? Although it might have worked in the past I don’t think it’s necessary these days (early 2017). Some good SEO-tools like Squirrly SEO still check for “keywords bolded” but I personally don’t think that it makes sense.

Feel free to decorate inside your text to emphasize your point, but don’t feel obligated to highlight exact key phrases. I actually think that it might be considered a bad practice because it’s aimed at manipulating Google results.
List and bullet points

Just like with text decorations, lists help users scan the content of your page. It’s recommended that you utilize lists and bullet points in your articles. I haven’t noticed a direct effect of using lists on rankings.

However, if content is easy to scan, read and consume by the user, then the reader is happy. If the reader is happy, he or she will engage with it. Google will notice the engagement and will reward your page with better rankings.


Pictures are a crucial part of any on-page optimization efforts. Here’s a few best practices that I try to maintain to optimize my (and my clients’ pages):

  • Use original images
  • Use images roughly every 350 words
  • Use high quality images
  • Use relevant images
  • Graphs work well
  • Use images to illustrate the point
  • Add appropriate ALT text to each image you use

The bottom line is that you should use images to improve user experience. You can read more about the best ways to optimize your images for SEO in my earlier article.

Engagement Features

Making people stay on your pages is one of the most important things you should aim for. Engaged users = higher rankings. Sure, people land on your blog posts to learn more about the subject they want to understand better.

Examples of such engagement features might include table of contents, calculators, videos, slide show embeds, etc. Pretty much anythings that will keep them clicking.

The main idea though: create a page that helps user understand the subject better. If a calculator doesn’t help user understand the topics better, don’t use it.

Internal Links

Make sure people stay on the site longer. Provide users with other relevant content on your site. They landed here to read your post, but they might want to explore further and you should give them this opportunity. After all, the longer they spend on your site, the higher ranking potential you will get.

Should you link to other pages with keyword rich anchors? I would not recommend that. In the past SEOs recommended: 1) write a post that attracts relevant traffic, 2) link to your service page with keyword-rich anchors, 3) get higher ranking for your services page.

Only link to internal pages if it makes sense for the user, if it enriches his or her experience. If you feel that it’s appropriate to mention your service page, do it. But don’t do it for the reason I described above.

External Links

Linking out to other sites is NOT bad for SEO. In fact, if you link out to authoritative pages on the topic of your article, it only indicates that you’ve done your research and that you’re willing to provide your readers with the most credible resources.

Should you use rel=”nofollow” attribute on your external links? It depends. If you want to associate with the target page and if the link helps your readers, then DON’T nofollow the link.

For example, if I talk about link building and mention Brian Dean, then I don’t use nofollow. I sincerely think he is great at what he does and my reader definitely needs to know about Brian.

As a rule of thumb, keep all your external editorial links followed.

Page Speed

Another critical factor of your on page optimization is the speed it loads at. People like fast pages, especially while browsing on mobile device. So, when you build and optimize your page make sure you test your page speed using Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool.


With growing number of mobile / tablet users accessing sites these days, Google wants to make sure that user experience is of high quality for desktop and mobile users alike. If your pages are not optimized for mobile they will get lower rankings for users on mobile. So, once your page is built, make sure it’s mobile-friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tool.

Although mobile unfriendliness of a page is more of a site-wide issue (the site is either built with mobile-specific design template or responsive designs OR it is not, period.) I add it here to further emphasize the importance of mobile-friendly pages as an on-page ranking factor.

Now that we’ve gone through all key elements of on-page SEO, let’s dive into how you might use this list in optimizing your website pages.

On Page SEO Checklist

Now that we covered key on page SEO factors for 2017 let’s summarize things into a nice checklist that you can have handy any time you optimize your pages (see the PDF download link below the list).

Download the PDF: On-page SEO Checklist

On Page SEO Tools

Tools play a role in a successful on page optimization. But remember, tools don’t make you rank. Tools aid you in optimizing your pages. No tool will do everything for you. So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at a few good on-page optimization tools.

WordPress Plugins

Also known as all-in-one WordPress SEO tools. These tools have wider use than just on-page optimization.

Yoast SEO Plugin

I’ve been using this all-in-one SEO plugin for several years on over 50 websites. This is definitely a must-have plugin in my collection. There are rival plugins and a few people that don’t like this plugin, but this plugin works for most of my needs. Please note that this is an all-in-one plugin which includes features and settings beyond those that related to on-page optimization.

Get this plugin and more details here. Here’s a few intro videos about this SEO plugin.


I haven’t used this plugin for that long but it based on what I’ve seen, the plugin offers some great on-page SEO features. It follows a very similar process I outline here. It starts by asking you for the target keywords and even offers a few real-time keyword options. Then it check your page content for to make sure your target keyword is mentioned in all key places.

Check reviews, installation instructions and more detailed description here.

Online Checkers

Keep in mind that these tools will check single pages to see if all on page SEO factors have been covered.

There are more tools related to on page optimization here. But for the sake of keeping things simple and focused to single webpage optimization I’d like to keep this one tool on the list for now.

Readability Checkers

As you already know making your content easy to read is important for user experience and therefore SEO. Readability tools are usually part of SEO plugins such as Yoast or Squirrly. However, if you don’t run WordPress, you have a few options to check your content for readability score.


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Setting Linkedin Company Page for Clients Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:00:00 +0000 The post Setting Linkedin Company Page for Clients appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



Setting up a Linkedin Company Page for Clients

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

You offered a client to build a Linkedin Company Page. And the client agreed! However, you may realize that it’s not that straight forward to do it if you’re not your client’s employee with a corporate email address.

In order to create a Linkedin Company page two things need to happen. First, you have to have an active personal / individual account with Linkedin. Second, you have to have a company email address such as Linkedin needs your corporate email to verify that you are who you say you are.

So, if you’re asked to setup a Linkined Company page for a client you have two options: do it yourself with minimal client involvement OR involve the client into the process. First option is probably quicker, easier on client BUT…

  • client may not want to give you access to his personal Linkedin account and corporate email address
  • this would violate privacy best practices and might flag your client’s account with Linkedin
  • you may trigger “logging in from an unusual location” with Linkedin, which would block the account access for you and the client

In short, I don’t recommend this option :). You may try if 1) you have a close relationship with the client and 2) located in the same city as your client.

If you choose to go this route, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

Do it yourself with minimal client involvement


If you’re located in a different city than your client, make sure you use some kind of a VPN service to appear as if you’re logging in from your client’s usual location. The worst case scenario is that Linkedin blocks the account temporarily and your client will need to verify that it was him trying to log in from an unusual location.

Once you create the page, make sure you let the client know to update his / her password with Linkedin. It’s just a good manner.

Option 2 is more of a “by the book” solution. So, I’m going to do a quick step by step guide for setting up Linkedin Company Pages for your clients. Here we go…


Proper way to create Linkedin Company Page for clients

  1. Explain the process to the client. No need to go into the details, but give your client an overview of what this process will entail and who will do what.
  2. Ask your client to make the basic setup of the page following official Linkedin instructions. See the video tips on the right of this post.
  3. Ask your client to create a corporate email address with your name and provide you with access. For example,
  4. Go to your linkedin account and add this new email address as one of yours. Linkedin will want to verify that by sending you the email. Follow the instructions.
  5. Make sure you and your client are connected on Linkedin.
  6. Make sure you Follow the newly created page (the one that client created with basic setup).
  7. Ask your client to add your new email address to a list of admins for the page.

Now that you are connected and you added as the admin of the page you will be able to edit and optimize this page for your client.

This way it’s a bit more work on the client’s part, especially if it is a larger company and he / she needs to get in touch with IT people to set up up with the corporate email account. The client may push back a bit because they hire you to create that page and you’re making them do the work. However, this is a proper way to do it. Make sure you explain the situation and the privacy issues you’re overcoming with this option.

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Does your website create duplicate content? Mon, 11 Jun 2012 15:00:00 +0000 The post Does your website create duplicate content? appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



Does your website create duplicate content?

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

Duplicate content is bad. Just like breaching copyright law or cheating at the university (plagiarizing your friend’s work). Google, in this case, the authority which will penalize your website for duplicate content practices by lowering your rankings or completely removing duplicate content from Google’s database.

I realize that there’s a lot of good articles on duplicate content out there but I wanted to write one as a reminder of this commonly overlooked issue. In this post also want to bring up the issue of unintentional duplicate content.

What is duplicate content?


Duplicate content according to Google generally refers to “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”. For example:

  • two pages on your website are almost exactly the same
  • two pages on your other website are almost exactly the same (mirror website)

Duplicate content issues come in two forms: intentional (spam) or unintentional (failure to recognize existing rules). Intentional duplicate content happens when your site copies information from another site. Unintentional duplicate content usually occurs when a site has failed to recognize certain usability rules.


Unintended duplicate content issues

Some duplicate content issues may not even happen intentionally. Here’s a list of most common unintentional issues.

Canonical URL issue

Your website is loading for both and In this case Google sees your website as two different websites with the same content.

Printer-friendly pages

If your site has printer friendly page versions without proper redirects created, then you might have a duplicate content issue. Google sees that there are two pages (web version AND printer-friendly version) that exist together on the website.

Mirror websites

Your business is servicing various locations and you buy a number of domains such as,,, etc.. The content on those sites is exactly the same except for the city name at the beginning or the end of the titles, headings and descriptions. Google sees two different websites with very similar content.


Deal with common duplicate content issues

There’s a number of ways to deal with duplicate content. Here’s a number of things you can do to spot and fix duplicate content.

  1. Check your pages for duplicate content. Anything over 75-85% similarity may trigger as a duplicate content issue.
  2. Read about SEO best practices as it relates to duplicate content from SEOmoz.
  3. Follow Google’s advice on avoiding duplicate content issues.

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URLs for better SEO Sun, 03 Jun 2012 15:00:09 +0000 The post URLs for better SEO appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



URLs for better SEO

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

URL construction is one of the most frequent things being overlooked in the website design process. Way too often I see URLs that are long, not descriptive and confusing to both people and search engines. Here’s an example of one that can be improved: This article is about way to build proper URLs and, as a result, improve your relationship with search engines like Google.

As an outcome of this article I want you to look up your URLs and talk to your developer (or let me know if you want me to look into it) so that the situation can be improved. Here’s a few things that you should look for in a well developed URL structure that is geared to improve your website’s SEO.


Keep URLs short

Having short and concise URLs is good for users and search engines. SEOmoz tool recommends against having URLs longer than 100 characters. The reason for that, my take, is that longer URLs may slow down indexing and impede Google’s understanding of your page. Here’s an example of a short URL:

URL SEO best practices, short snippet

You can also consider keeping articles and short transitions out of your URLs. For example, “a”, “the”, “an”, “to” don’t really add meaning but can consume valuable URL space. Adam Whippy has developed an SEO-friendly URL tool that removes these parts of speech from your URLs automatically. Other platforms such as Joomla, I’m sure, can be geared towards this functionality too.

Keep URLs descriptive

Along with being short, make sure both a search engine and a human can understand what the page is about. Some examples of descriptive URLs include:

URL SEO best practices, descriptive snippet

Keep ULRs logical

Confusing URLs such as… can be confusing to search engines. Ensure that your URLs are 2-3 levels deep at the most. For example, is a good example of a logical URL construct because it goes from generic to specific and it doesn’t go more than 2 directories deep. Here’s a good example where the author has broad category as /articles/ and the post URL as a more specific content:

One of the reasons for “2-3 directories deep” suggestion is that deeper directories take longer to index by search engines. In many cases these days I’m seeing my colleagues are rewriting their URLs to have the page as the first level page. For example, looking at the image above, a new (rewritten) URL may look like This may allow for quicker indexing of new articles, but may take away from the website logic.

Keep some keywords in your URLs


The reason I put “some” in the section title is that you don’t want to stuff your URLs with keywords. It’s not logical, nor search engine friendly. However, a single mention of a key phrase is all you need to make your URLs optimized for better rankings. For example, my working URL for this article, as I’m writing it, is

That should be it in an nutshell. Let me know if things need to be clarified or if you want me to look into fixing your URL structure for better SEO results for your website. Also, feel free to share your experience and notes as it relates to SEO-friendly URLs in the comments below.


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Domain options for great SEO Thu, 31 May 2012 15:00:03 +0000 The post Domain options for great SEO appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



Domain options for great SEO

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

Domain is an important part of your overall SEO efforts. Good domains tend to get higher rankings in Google and Bing. Here I want to share a few things you want to keep in mind as it relates to having a strong domain for SEO purposes.

Please note that in this article I will not talk about sub-domain or directory structure of your pages. These will be the subjects of future discussions.

Before we go into qualities of a good domain let me lay some ground work for the discussion by talking about the anatomy of a domain name.

Anatomy of a domain name


Domain is composed of a couple of key parts: TLD or Top-Level Domain, domain name. Example of a TLD would be .com, .ca,, ru,, etc. There a number of TLD types such as country TLDs like .ru for Russia and .ca for Canada. There’s also generic types such as .net, .org and .com. Read more about TLDs on Wikipedia.

Domain name in turn is a single-word or dashed word-group that goes immediately preceding the TLD. For example, my domain name is zagoumenov and EBay’s domain name is ebay. Now that we’ve covered the anatomy issues, let’s talk about some qualities of a good domain name for the purposes of search engine optimization.

What is a domain and why it’s important

Domain name is your unique address that identifies your website on the internet. A good domain should be chosen based on the following qualities:

  • Relatively short: choose a domain that’s not super lengthy. For example, zagoumenov is 10 characters and it’s ok. Vovia and Anduro are better because they’re shorter. I don’t think that Google wants the shortest domains to rank higher, so don’t worry if your domain is 10-15 characters long.
  • Easy to remember: just as with your SEO content you should create domains that are built for users first, then for search engines. Make sure your domain is easy to remember and to type into the address bar. For example, is NOT the best name for a domain, but that’s my last name and I’m kinds stuck with that :). However,, although a longer one, is better because people can spell it easily.
  • Branded domains: a good domain for your primary website should use your company name. According to SEOmoz’s recent study Google started to pay attention to domain / brand matching. in other words, sites with their brand name in domain tent to rank higher than sites with keyword-based domains. For example, if you’re a lawyer providing services in Canada, a good name would be
  • Localized domains: pay attention to choosing the right TLD for your business purposes. If your business targets users in Cyprus it’s recommended that you use TLD as opposed to a generic one like .com. Or if you’re targeting users in Russia, then you should use .ru TLD. Google and Bing would value your website higher as being more location specific to the customer.

FAQs on SEO-friendly domains

  • Dashed vs. not dashed: What’s better or I’d recommend the latter. Less characters and therefore shorter. I’m pretty sure that a search engine can understand that we’re talking about Sharp Fridges. Also, non-dashed domains are simpler to spell out. Instead of telling your customer to visit “Sharp dash fridges dot com” you would just say “sharpfridges doc com”.
  • Keywords in the domain: it used to be the case that your domain had to have keywords in there but that’s gradually going out of fashion. Google noticed that this rule is being abused and now places less attention to keywords in your domain. So, you don’t have to insert keywords in your domain for the purposes of SEO and ranking higher. Moreover, generic non-branded domains such as are less reliable than for people and Google equally.

Transferring your domain names


As a side note, if you decide to transfer your domain to another service provider, I want to share a good guide of domain transfer from GoDaddy. Please note, I’m not affiliated with the company in any way. I just found their manual handy and very easy to follow.

Takeaways from the EMD update by Google


The EMD Update — for “Exact Match Domain” — is a filter Google launched in September 2012 to prevent poor quality sites from ranking well simply because they had words that match search terms in their domain names. Oct 16, 2013. Source.

In a nutshell, keyword-stuffed domains are no longer a good practice to achieve higher rankings in Google. Now Google looks at sites with keyword-based domains and tries to understand if these sites were created for the purposes of gaining rankings. Google looks at the quality of content on those sites. If it’s poor, Google penalizes the site by reducing their rankings or removing them from index altogether.

  1. Don’t buy domains to increase rankings. And make sure your agency is not involved in such practices. Feel free to forward this post to them and as if they use such practices.
  2. Focus on content quality. If you have quality content even on the keyword-based site, it’s unlikely that Google will penalize your site. Going forward the quality (along with frequency) of your site’s content will play a huge role in determining your rankings.
  3. Don’t panic. From experience I know that the first reaction is to freak out and start counting dollars lost as a result of lost rankings, calls to your freelancer screaming at them and telling to stop doing what they’re doing, etc. Remember, than panic doesn’t solve problems.
  4. If hit, follow these guidelines. If you’re not maintaining your site, then just send this post to your webmaster or freelance SEO or your marketing agency that’s responsible for your site’s marketing.

Good articles on the topic

The post Domain options for great SEO appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.

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SEO hosting: what it is and why do it Tue, 29 May 2012 15:00:17 +0000 The post SEO hosting: what it is and why do it appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



SEO hosting: what it is and why do it

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

You’ve probably heard the term SEO hosting and may have wondered what hosting has to do with search engine optimization. Here’s I want to share a few thoughts on the matter to help you decide if you need to change your hosting provider for the purposes of SEO.

What is SEO hosting?

Your website is hosted with a hosting provider such as GoDaddy, RackSpace, or your local hosting provider. Such companies provide you with a space on their servers for your website. These servers are located in a specific country such as Canada, U.S., U.K., Russia, etc.

What does hosting have to do with SEO?

Today, when local marketing is important, Google and Bing pay attention to where your website is hosted geographically. For example, if your company sells furniture in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, it’s preferred that you host your website with a local hosting provider as opposed to hosing your website in Philippines or Russia.

If you host with a local hosting company, then server response time will be quicker and the site will load faster. Because website speed is now an important search ranking factor both Google and Bing will reward your website with higher rankings. So the recommendation  for a local business is to be hosted with a local website hosting provider.

What if your website caters to international audiences?


That’s where SEO hosting companies come into play. Such companies have servers in multiple countries and offer server space for your website in the country of your operations. Many international B2C companies refer to this option of specific countries. For example, catering to the U.S. audience is better hosted on U.S. servers. I turn, catering to Russians, is better off hosted on servers in Russia.


Things to keep in mind about SEO hosting

  • You don’t have to have SEO hosting just to boost your search rankings. Just ensure that your current hosting provider is at least located in the country of your business.
  • You can find a few good SEO hosting companies just by Googling “seo hosting”. Make sure you Google “seo hosting companies reviews” too.
  • SEO hosting is more suitable for companies selling to international audiences. In other words, if you sell to Russians, host in Russia, and Google will reward you website.
  • Use SEO hosting if you manage multiple website of multiple domains for multiple countries and languages. Otherwise, just make sure your site is hosted around your place of business (as mentioned earlier, same country is just fine).

Feel free to share your questions and experiences in the comments below.

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How to SEO your social media assets Thu, 08 Dec 2011 08:04:46 +0000 The post How to SEO your social media assets appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



How to SEO your social media assets

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

By now you probably have a number of social media profiles created such as Twitter, Facebook Page, Linkedin profile, SlideShare account, etc. Although these are not located under your domain name, it is important that each one of those profiles is properly optimized to be found on Google. This post is about ways to SEO your social media accounts and overall social presence.

First of all, anything you put out on the web is indexed by Google (unless your profile is part of a private social network that is closed from Google and Bing bots). So, let’s approach it two ways:

  1. Optimizing your social media profile for SEO
  2. Optimizing your social assets for SEO

SEO for social media profiles


There’s a number of great articles written on the subject of optimizing your social media profiles for better SEO performance in search engines. So, I’ll just reference the good ones here.


There’s a lot of other great resources that I recommend you look for. Just Google things like and you should get a lot of cool info on each social media profile you’re interested in.


SEO for social media assets

Again, anything, and I mean anything you put out there will be indexed by search engines like Google (unless it’s a closed social network). So I recommend you pay attention to optimizing any piece of content you are distributing. Some quick examples include:

Each one of those resources has meta data that is important for both internal (network’s own search tool) and external search (Google and Bing). Therefore it’s key to ensure your files are properly described for people and search engines. Let’s take one of my latest presentations that I put out on SlideShare.


SlideShare SEO example

I recently ran a course at Higher School of Economics in Perm. It was an internet marketing module for a ContEd marketing group of students. After the lectures I would upload the slides to my SlideShare profile so my students can grab from there.

Within a day after submitting the presentation I got over 100 views. My group was only 15 people. This means that 85 people were able to find my presentation within a day from its release.

SEO for social profiles, SlideShare results

Let’s look at what I did to get to these stats within a day from my internet marketing presentation submission.

  • Title: The title is of appropriate length, starts with keywords (internet marketing) and is descriptive.
  • Description: The overview of the presentation is like a snippet that tells a user what it’s about. I ensured that my other sessions with this marketing group of students had unique descriptions.
  • Category: I chose the Technology category because I was talking about internet marketing, so the presentation was relevant to searchers in those specific categories.
  • Tags: I tried not to overdo the amount of tags. I used single-word attributes to explain what the presentation covered.
  • File downloads: I turned the file downloads on. Although I don’t think it affects SEO directly. But it definitely offers users more options to interact with my presentation.

By the same example I recommend you optimize any asset that goes out through your business profiles on social networks. Feel free to check my earlier post on SEO for PDFs. Ensuring that your docs are found on Google and through internal search is important for increasing the number of leads your materials generate.


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SEO friendly images on your website Wed, 19 Oct 2011 16:00:00 +0000 The post SEO friendly images on your website appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



SEO friendly images on your website

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

Earlier this week I talked about 5 reasons to SEO images on your website. In this post I’ll talk about how to ensure you have SEO friendly images on your website or blog. There’s a number of important image properties that should be taken into account: size, name, alts, titles and captions. Let’s start from the top.

Optimize the size of your image

Optimizing the size of your images is not directly related to SEO. However, very large images can slow your page down. And by now we know that Google looks at page load speed as a ranking factor. In other words, slow pages rank worse. The idea is to balance between the image quality (user orientation) and its load speed. In my experience images of 100kb should give you a good balance.

Optimize your file names for SEO friendly images


As in the case with SEO for PDFs as well as regular HTML page names, having a descriptive name for an image file helps Google bot identify image’s relation to content or the subject area. Let’s take a look at a quick example of good image file name and a bad one:

  • Bad example: 12345image.jpg
  • Good example: keyword-topic-image.jpg
This way your file name will contribute to overall page relevancy to your search terms being targeted. For example if your page is about keyword research it makes sense to name images on this page keyword-research-diagram.jpg or whatever is presented on the image.


Optimize your image’s alt attribute

Alt attribute is an HTML property of an image. It’s a textual description for what’s displayed on the image. The purpose of alt attributes is to convey meaning of the image in case it can’t be displayed (images turned off in browser) or the user is visually disabled (in this case browser accessibility features reads the user what’s on the image).

Visual recognition has come a long way in the past few years and visuals can be searches by its forms, using certain software. However, Google and Bing bots prefer to look into image alts to understand what’s displayed on the image. That is why it’s important that your alt attributes contain descriptive content and a target keyword (for the page an image is placed on). Let’s take a look at a quick example of an image that is placed on an SEO training service page.

<img src=”” alt=”seo training diagram: people, engines, websites”>

The above example (in bold) shows the use of alt attribute inside the image HTML tag. You can see that the alt description identities what’s on the image as well as includes the page’s target term – SEO training. Length of the description should be natural, just enough to describe what’s on the image and include a target keyword once. Make sure you’re not keyword-stuffing your image alts. Here’s a great video from Matt Cutts on how to use alt attributes smartly:


A note on optimizing image title attributes

Similar to alt attribute, image title attribute is a property of an image according to HTML cannons. Title and Alt attribute are not the same. Views on the importance of title attribute vary. Based on my experience, title attributes do not bring much value to your images and SEO. Having both alt and title in an image tag is ok, but again, don’t overdo it, make sure it’s descriptive and includes a target keyword.

Optimizing your image captions

If you’re using a CMS or a blog platform such as WordPress or Joomla, you will notice that you can add additional property to your images – image captions. These are things that appear under the image in text and have an ability to hold an anchored link.

Just like with other image attributes, use this option, but use it smartly. Make sure your captions are related to the image, descriptive and include a keyword pertaining to the page being optimized.

I hope this quick overview of how to SEO image files on your website helps make your pages better and more relevant to keywords you pursue. As always, leave your questions and comments in the section below. And feel free to share with colleagues you feel will beenfit by this information.

P.S. If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, feel free to review my on-page SEO factors guide. It’s a collection of articles about on-page SEO elements of your website with looking at real life website examples.

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How to SEO your PDF files? Tue, 11 Oct 2011 16:00:00 +0000 The post How to SEO your PDF files? appeared first on Alexander Zagoumenov.



How to SEO your PDF files?

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

PDF stands for Portable Document Format and is an internationally accepted format for managing documents online. The chances are that if you have a website and distribute Word format documents or Power Point presentation they are in a PDF format. If it’s not the case, I strongly recommend converting these docs into PDF. One of the main reasons is that PDF SEO will give you advantage in improving traffic from search engines.

Why optimize (SEO) your PDF files?

A *.pdf file is considered a piece of content that Google indexes in its database. PDF file is like a webpage that you can find in Google SERPs. Here’s an example of a PDF search snippet:

PDF SEO, Google search snippet

If Google treats PDFs as pages, then these pages get a chance in rankings, and as a result, play an important role in getting more traffic to your website.

Another reason to optimized you PDF files is that it’s a piece of content that you can benefit from. Why leave it sitting there un-optimized? Some of the clients I’m working with don’t have much page content, but they do have a lot of PDF files (press releases, product documentation, white papers, etc.). Optimizing PDF files gives them additional volume of page content, and a new search engine traffic opportunity.

Let’s look at things to keep in mind when optimizing your PDF file for SEO performance. Please note that you will notice a lot of references to “keywords”. Yes, keyword research has to be done prior to optimizing your files. This will allow you to better target the elements and content of your PDF files.

PDF SEO: filename

As with page’s file names (i.e. seo-guide.html), PDF file names are important. Make sure your PDF filename is descriptive and contains keywords. For example, if you’ve written an ebook “A simple guide to internet marketing”, a good filename will be: simple-guide-internet-marketing.pdf.

PDF SEO: file location


In order for Google to grab the information about the file the search bot will need to access the PDF file on your server. If your PDF file is located in a deeper folder (i.e. /marketing/presentations/ebooks/internet/F7H643/file.pdf) it will take longer for Google search bot to access the file, and check back on file changes in the future. So, make sure your file is located in a 2-3 directory deep structure (i.e. /files/simple-guide-internet-marketing.pdf OR /files/guides/simple-guide-internet-marketing.pdf).

Also, keep in mind that in order for Google bot to discover your PDF file, you need to create a link to this file on an already indexed page. This way the bot will find the file by following the link to it.


PDF SEO: meta properties

Just as a regular document a PDF file has meta information that is used by Google to 1) check the relevancy, 2) build your search snippet. If the meta information is clear and concise, you will end up with traffic and beautifully looking search snippet. Here’s an example of filed you need to complete in the meta of your PDF files:

PDF SEO, meta properties

The same rules for meta development apply here: Short but descriptive title, 2-3 key phrases just in case and use the Subject field to write an alternative version of your document. Make sure all of those fields have your target keywords in them.

PDF SEO: on-page recommendations

Again, as with regular web page, make sure you follow the key rules of on-page optimization of your PDF. When preparing the PDF, make sure you use Headings (Heading 1, 2, 3) for important information. Also, ensure your images have all the appropriate meta information. I’d recommend using MS Word 2010 to work on your docs. You can add a lot of (read as various) meta data to your files, then save it as a PDF file.

Your document will also benefit by in-text links. Links should be both document-internal (anchoring to certain pages in the document) and document-external (pointing to other pages on your website). Make sure your PDF files include your contact information, if applicable. This way your readers will have an easier time connecting with you as a result of reading your document.

In conclusion, whatever you have, case study, ebook, white paper, press release, it will likely be in a PDF format. PDFs are indexed by Google just like pages. And having your PDFs SEO optimized will increase search engine traffic and an additional opportunity to connect with your audience online.

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