Don’t trust SEO third party tools 100% (Moz case history)

When analyzing web sites for SEO purposes I use many different tools to extract the data I need. With the news that Google is no longer intending to update the Page rank shown on its toolbar (not that it was very reliable anyway), I have for a number of years been using one of my favourite tools called Moz Open Site Explorer. One of its metrics which I found very useful is the domain authority and page authority.

The problem I have come across is with the page authority data. When a 301 (permanent) redirect is added to a particular url which correctly redirects to another url on the same site, then like Google, the Moz algorithm should pass the Page authority (PA) to the new url where the page is redirected to.

Below is a case history highlighting the issue:

On the 9th of January 2015 a site wide 301 redirect was added to the to pass over to the https protocol. At around the same time (which can be easily be verified on ) the url re-write format was cleaned up to show lowercase characters. This is where the problem lies.

As of today 19th Sept 2015 here is a screenshot of the Moz data for the above URL’s

Moz domain & page authority screenshot

I’ve reached out to Rand Fishkin of Moz oon Twitter but didn’t get a satisfactory reply as to why this is happening.

Rand Fishkin tweet

Goes to show that you can’t trust 100% the data you see.


What are the best SEO search engine rank checking tools

Every site owner wants to know where their site is listed in the search engines, checking by hand is of course not feasible for 100’s or thousands of keywords. Although Google Console (previously known as webmaster tools) gives you some data on your average position, it only supplies you with sampled data and can be inaccurate because the data includes personalised results (for example when a user is logged in and as interacted with the site via Google+)

What are the best SEO search engine ranking tools to check your average position? Below are some of the best search engine rank checking tools on the market.

Advanced web ranking

Track unlimited keywords in many search engines across the globe. Besides ranking checking there is Analytics intergration, Links, keyword Research tool and comprehensive reporting.
Available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Cost: STANDARD version $199 one time payment ( plus yearly software maintenance fee)

AWR ranking report


Search engine position (SERP) tracking tool to see our your daily positions are getting on, local rank tracking, whitelabel PDF reports. Integration with Analytics, Majestic, ahrefs, and Moz.

For free you can get daily rankings (and trending) on 10 keywords.

Pro Rank Tracker®

Software as a service with an impressive list of features including; Tracking to the top 100 search results, Track all Google, Yahoo and Bing local sites, any language, Daily updates plus Updates on demand, No proxies needed, Full historical data, graphs and trendlines, Track videos on YouTube results. You can also resell the service with your own branding on your reports in the form of personal logos, texts and colours. Reports can be exported in PDF, CSV and excel XLSX. Free URL Google Page Rank and MajesticSEO backlinks data is also supplied.

Prices: sliding scale based on keyword & URL number starting from the Free version up to 20 search terms & 2 URLS up to the Diamond service for $159 month for 6500 search terms and
unlimited URLs.

Pro Rank Tracker dashboard screenshot


Basic low-cost tool to quickly Check Your Website Rankings For Various Keywords. It does not use proxies so you are limited on our many keywords you can check. You can track Particular Long URL Pages Not Just Root Domains. Currently only available for Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10.

quickranktracker rank checking software


Web based service, with prices starting from $19 a month to track unlimited domains, 100 keywords, White label reporting (ideal for digital agencies) and finally daily tracking updates.

Freshmetrix ranking checker

Dragon Metrics

Track your web site rankings on 10 search engines in every country and language, on desktop or mobile devices. Get a detailed site audit with optimization recommendations and infomation on more than 50 common SEO issues effecting your site. Additional SEO tools created specifically for Baidu and Chinese search engines. Prices starting from $99 / month.

Dragon metrics Track rankings

How to choose a domain Name?

Finding a great domain name for your startup is no easy task, either you search for unique one or buy an existing one from the likes of Sedo o Flippa. Below are a list of my favorites:

Free Tools for finding a great domain name


Generate unique business/domain names and check their domain availability instantly, just click the [GENERATE NAMES] button on the homepage and a list of ideas appears. The list also tells the user if the all important .com extension is available and allows you to buy the domain straight away. By clicking the Gears logo on the right you can use the advanced filter to:

  • Choose  domain availability (No preference, only .com or .net).
  • Choose the name type with random letters or names made out of words

Elertify domain business name generator to check available ones

Great domain generator tool, enter a keyword that relates to your upcoming business niche and this great little tool will combine it with carefully selected list of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The domain tool then searches for unregistered .com domain names. You can literally find domain names which are impossible to find any other way.

domain names related to SEO







You type in a keyword and it will list domain names that were available in various different formats. It shows you various TLD’s like .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us & .info. If there is a green icon besides the domain name you can buy it through Godaddy domain name service. You can also check the WHOIS record.

domain name keyword tool






This tool searches and produces a list of short, available single-word domain names. The list is automatically updated every 10 minutes. The list includes a vast array of TLD’s to choose from, you can filter with the following extensions: .bz .cc .co. .eu .io .me .nu .tv .us .biz .xys .link
In the screenshot below I typed the letter y and the tool returned these domains still free to buy:

Search for a catchy short domain name with this free tool

Top tools for DNS issues

When moving web hosts you are going to have some downtime unless you are using the name-servers of your registrar, in that case you just need to change the ip address of your new host/VPS server. Below is a list of my favorite DNS tools:

Open DNS Cache check

This tool from OpenDNS helps you check what server OpenDNS customers see when they request a domain. It includes their servers across the world including North America, Europe and Asia.

OPENDNS cache check tool

Pingdom DNS tool

I highly recommend the tools from Pingdom including their DNS server checker. Just enter your domain to check if its DNS servers are configured correctly. After the test it gives you a Permalink to allow you to share the test link. The results are either in Basic view mode for easy reading or Advanced mode for you techies out there.

Pingdom DNS checker tool



Hit by Penguin? How to remove bad back links

With  low quality back links becoming more dangerous by the day I thought I would compile a list of tools both free & paid to help clean up your back-link profile and be loved again by the major search engines.

Link detox

This online organic algorithm helps you spot unnatural links that could be hurting your rankings. Link Detox Genesis™ incorporates feedback from thousands of users on links that could be considered unnatural like links in the footer or sidebars, etc.  is highly accurate at spotting unnatural links. The tool works for any language and country.



SEO Gadget Tools

Check you site’s link profile with the link categorisation tool for Excel. Understand your link profile by categorising your inbound links to assess quality and diversity.



Check back-links from 3 data sources (Majesticseo, Seomoz and Ahrefs). There is also a tool to identify your anchor text diversity and highlight links at risk for anchor text over optimisation. The service is a not free but you can generate a report of some sample links to see how it works.




Is the 1st position in organic results still worth a fortune?

Obtaining 1st position in organic results like Google used to be a perfect way of guaranteeing a large amount of targeted traffic to your web site, well not any more…. With the introduction in the organic results of universal search, which included images, news & videos among the standard results, the chances of being found via a normal organic result has become so much harder.

There is quite a lot of data around the web showing “average click through” rates of users on search listings, like the leaked data from AOL in 2006 which contained 35 million search queries. This data provided the SEO industry with a massive click distribution study highlighting the importance of the top 3 positions. Of course this data was very useful at the time but with the current search results so different now, it’s much harder to estimate how much traffic a top position in Google will bring to your web site.

A report from 2011 by suggest that on average, a 1st place position in Google would receive around 53% of the total clicks from users searching that particular keyword or search phrase. The second position would receive around 15% and the third place around 9%.

Compete stated this about the above data:

“Compete analyzed 10s of millions of search engine results pages generated by actual consumers in our U.S. panel in Q4 2011.”

Percentage search listing clicks in Google

Shopping results

When looking at shopping related searches which are often the most competitive for obvious reasons, the introduction by Google of paid listings (Product listing ads) in the shopping results (previously free through the Shopping link) and the display of some of these results including photos just below the Adwords paid listings, means that companies looking for visibility with these kind of search phrases must consider paying as well.

Google shopping results screenshot

Future strategy

Here are some of my tips on how to get the most out of you SEO campaign:

– Don’t let your ego take over and try to be in first position in the Google organic results for every keyword
– Try to create a niche for your business and obtain positions for keywords and search phrases that have a medium search volume and room for competition
– Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to analyse which keywords will drive your traffic
– Try to target keywords and phrases that have about one third to half the search volume of the most competitive keywords in created from the list in the Google’s Keyword Tool. It’s a somewhat quicker way of generating traffic in the short term.
– Take a look at Google trends to see if that keyword is increasing or decreasing over time
– After you have created a search list, take a look at the real results in Google to see how far down the organic results are compared to paid adverts.
– Remember to also check the search suggestions which offer insight into what other key phrases users typed in as well (one example is visitors often make searches with the month or year added on)

How to find images for your blog posts or site for free

Sourcing images for your next blog post or new piece of content for your web site can be a real challenge at times, the cost of professionally taken photos from sites like istockphoto or Stuttlestock although worth the cost can be prohibitively expensive for the amateur blogger or small publisher. So I thought I would compile a list of sites where you can find royalty free o photos with creative commons licenses. Below are sites where  you will find images for your blog:


The Yahoo owned site has a massive range of photos ranging from amateur holiday snaps to professionally taken photos. The trick here is to use the advanced search option & check the boxes – “

how to search for free commercial use images

Image showing the check box to only download creative commons images

If you click the search button without entering a keyword or key phrase then Flickr will return a list of random images, which can be useful if you don’t have a specific type of image in mind but are looking for inspiration. To download a specific image just click on the image from the results, then with a right click you will see various image sizes which can be downloaded to your computer.

how to download different images sizes from flikr

Method to download different image sizes on Flickr


Compfight is basically a meta search engine for photos showing results from various sites like Flickr (free) or Shutterstock (for a small fee starting from $1). Again to search for images that can be freely used, you must choose the “Creative commons” filter on the left hand side of the page. The advantage of this site is that if you need a specific image size, you can quickly see the maximum available size of each image by hovering your mouse over each thumbnail.

hover over thumbnail to see image size to be downloaded

Choose image to download from Compfight


Same idea as Compfight it is a Creative Commons search engine that uses the Flickr API to source free photos for your blog post. You can filter the search results via License Type; Commercial or Non-Commercial. Also you can sort the image results in most
recent, by relevance and the one I like the most “Interestingness”.

screenshot pf photon free image search site


Depositphotos deserves a mention due it’s slick interface & a special offer for bloggers whereby you can obtain a free limited subscription in return for writing a post about their services. The site offers royalty free images or images that can be purchased from as little as $0.80 each.

despositphotos buy images online

Depositphotos screenshot


Another service which allows you to use their images for free as long as your monthly impressions (amount of page views) does not exceed 10,000. This new standard for fair, online image use which is both ethical and includes auto-attribution. If you have more than 10,000 impressions you pay for what you need on a CPM basis.

Find images with



If you are a designer or photographer you can download high resolution Royalty Free stock images for free. Their interface is really slick, after searching for images just roll yuo mouse over each image to see it enlarged (I wish more sites had this feature, apart from mobile devices which probably would be a pain).

Search for stock images with dreamstime


Advanced Web Ranking Seo software review

A software to analysis the search positions in the major search engines is an essential tool for any SEO specialist. Advanced Web Ranking tool is certainly one of the most reliable, comprehensive products currently on the market.

After you have completed all the onsite optimization including a detailed keyword analsys it’s important to verify the results before starting an off-site link building campaign. In addition to analyzing the search position results of your chosen keywords you will need a software to carry out this rather laborious task.

Currently on the market are numerous SEO software solutions on offer. One of the best for sure is most definitely Advanced Web Ranking from Caphyon. The setup is very simple: just enter the keywords for analysis, the search engines on which to set the research and the web sites to be monitored including the possibility to automatically add competitor web site positions as well.

The keywords can be added or deleted at any time. The program can handle an unlimited number of projects, making it indispensable to SEO consultants or digital media agencies with numerous clients. Each project can contain an unlimited amount of keywords and URLs, displayed with different colours for easy viewing of the “Evolution in Time” grapths.

The search engine list available to choose from amount to over 2,000 in total, in virtually every country in the world. There various options are searching from the same search engine in different ways including Google search results without Geo-location results, Google Places, Images and News, etc.
After running the SERPS positions, the results can be viewed in either graphical or textual format. Among the available data for each keyword is : the current position, the best position reached, the increase or decrease compared to a previous scan.

Multiple types of reports can be created to summarize the position of each individual keywords including trending over time (previous 7 days, month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or all time). Each report can be exported in PDF format (my favorite), xml, csv and html. You can customize the header and footer to insert your company logo for example. With the html report you can also customize the style sheet to match the design of other reports that you create.
Another useful option is the scheduling of your ranking reports. You can decide to check your ranking on a daily, weekly, monthly basis or even every x days. At the end of the rank check Advanced web ranking can be scheduled to automatically create one or more reports and save them in a folder, send them by mail or transfer them via FTP to your server so they can viewed online by your client for example.

Advanced Web Ranking prices are very competitive and offer great value for money ranging from $99 to $399 depending on the version you require (Standard, Professional, Enterprise). There is also the server edition for larger teams to be able connect to the same database all at the same time. Another plus is that this SEO software can be installed on Windows, Mac or Linux (my preferred OS!)
In conclusion, Advanced Web Ranking is definitely one of the most interesting rank checking software solution currently on the market, a “must have” for the webmasters, SEO consultants, web agencies and in-house professionals looking to optimize their time.

For more information, check out their official web site

SEO test of Geolocation results with generic searches on Google

On 27 of Feb 2012 Google published on their Inside Search Blog, 40 changes made ​​to their algorithm when ranking various results. Among these, two concerned the geolocation results or local results:

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”

From this, a well known SEO Specialist Riccardo Perini thought of the idea of doing a little test to try to understand what percentages of  geolocation results or ”geo” targeted results (detected via the users IP address) were being shown when searching for generic keywords (not usually connected with local results) . The aim was also to see if somehow there was a constant for these customizations.

It was decided to do the test using the general search “hotel”.  ”hotels” was chosen instead of “restaurant” as the search [hotel] did not show any results for UniversalSearch, or Google Places.

Riccardo then contacted around 100 people and asked them for help with the test, the test procedure was as follows:

“Using the Chrome browser. Go to Tools > Options > Under the Hood > Clear browsing data (all)
Then open an incognito window.
Now go (not logged in), and search for the keyword ”hotel” (do a single search, so that there is nothing in your browsers history).
Take a screenshot of the entire first page of results.
If possible also note the IP address from which you have done the research.”

Data collection was from the 4th to the 14 March 2012 and included 70 screenshots.

The sample is not very large, and the research was done only for a keyword, so the results are to be ”taken with a pinch of salt.” He would of liked to have collected more data, both in terms of different IP’s and different keywords. Also it would be interesting to have the SERPs (results) for this research shown  from a few months ago, in order to analyze the changes over time.

However, even with the small sample it is not possible to define an exact rule, here is the data collected.

Total research carried out by different IP: 70

SERP results without any Geo-localized results based on the users location (detected by Google): 21
Among them:
SERP standard (*): 13
SERP results Geo-localized but not different from the standard SERP: 8 (**)

SERP results Geo-localized based on location detected by Google: 49
Among them:
SERP with 1 Geo-localized result: 16
SERP with 2 Geo-localized results: 32
SERP with 3 Geo-localized results: 1

Google serps with results geo-localized

In 70% of the cases analyzed from the Google SERP the results showed Geo-localized ones  customized by location detected by Google. Among these 65.31% of cases 2 results out of 10 were customized , in 32.65% cases only 1 result in 10 were customized  and only 2.04% of the cases were 3 results customized.

In none of these analyzed SERP’s were present Universal Search boxes, Google Places Maps or single G. Places boxes.

* The standard SERP for the search [hotel] was composed of these 10 results:


[Note: this “standard SERP” result was the same one that was displayed for the duration of the test by setting the location as “Italy”]

** This was the “normal” results, having collected the data on different days. With any freshness results taken out of the equation.

Here are some SERP examples of customized results (Results marked with arrows are customized results based on the location of the user):

Customized serps results for the word hotel ip address Milano


hotel search from a user in verona Italy

As a side note, I wonder if using the open source version of Chrome called Chromium would have produced the same outcome?

This Post has been translated with the kind permission of Riccardo Perini.

Google travel portal getting ever closer with the launch of hotel finder?

With the launch a while back of the Google Hotel Finder experiment (search for hotels in certain neighborhoods in the USA), Google Hotpot (a platform to review hotels and restaurants), hotel price ads (that shows price and availability for hotels) integrated into Google maps, the much rumored search giant’s expected entry into the travel space, just got much closer with the recent changes in the Google places layout.

This is how the result for the keyword “b&b venice” looked like before:

Google place result before the recent change

Note that the result was showing 115 reviews on that particular Place Page. These reviews where taken from the major travel portals/OTA sites like Expedia, Booking and Tripadvisor, etc.

Now take a look at the same result today:

The reviews from third party sites are not shown, instead they have been replaced with Google only reviews. This must be an attempt by Big G to give more incentive to users to write reviews directly on the Places page.

And finally the other change for all you SEO’s out there, the “Reviews from around the web” situated at the bottom of the Google place result was an indication of the citations (known to be part of the Google places algorithm) has disappeared!