SEO Explained in simpler terms.

I always enjoy teaching business owners about SEO. It’s amazing when they get so impressed with their own data, just knowing for what search queries they are being visited and where their visitors are coming from.

Doing SEO requires a mix of knowledge of Web and Marketing. In the simplest way, we look at the physiology behind how to attract our target audience, and how to utilize the Search Engines to be visited for those searches.

How to be seen on Search Engines
How to be seen on Search Engines

Our web pages each offer a set of rankings for KWs we provide in writing and meta copies. Search Engines use the content we offer, to match the relevancy. But that’s not it, it used to be in early days as there were fewer websites, but as Search Marketing proved its profitability, soon enough many pioneers started taking over the world by stuffing KWs on pages and be found for everything.

Still today, if your website offers a full dictionary of vocabulary, it probably could create a large domain of KWs to be seen, but Search Engines today are smart enough to allow that happen only when the pages are legit.

What Legit means? In Search Engines mind (algorithms), legitimacy comes from authority too that’s given by people (hopefully). Search Engines look for the reputation of each page, through various metrics such as page backlinks, that’s how many times a page has been linked and from which sources. The higher the authority of a linking domain is, that provides a high ranking to the page it links to. The authorities are given by reputation and reputation is by what actually should people trust. Government websites, universities gain those reputations at highest and then any website that gains the online reputation through its digital publications.

Ranking Current given by Higher Ranked
Ranking Current given by Higher Ranked

You might have heard the old SEO saying, “Content is King”. True it is.

Good content is everything, it’s what people will read and will share and at the end Search Engines are doing their best to make that connection happen and make it easier. Thanks Search Engines! If you wonder what Search Engine’s gain from all this good work, we’ll look at the SEM or Search Engine Marketing in next post.

So what are the take aways from this short post?

Here’s a list of how to approach a Good SEO practice for 2020

  • Write Good Content
  • SEO First, start your article by writing your title and description first. That way the most important piece is never left out. Set your focus KW to align the goal of your article.
  • Add Images and add Alt text. Make sure the coding is set to read the alt text from your CMS inputs.
  • Once published, share it with Social Media, more people are looking there to find the news, use hashtags related to your focus KWs.
  • Give it a day or two and start checking your Webmaster Tools (Google GWT, Bing)
  • Look at the Queries that your page is making an impression. These queries occurred when your page was listed in the search result. Usually higher impression pages lead to higher ranks (first pages of Search results) and are seen more frequently. Therefore higher impression queries are likely to get clicks and result in our pages being visited.
How to compete with staying focused on our important Focus KWs.

What are the chances that my content gets ranked?
  • Review and tweak content based on keeping what has worked and what can improve. Make small changes that can be verified and watch the growth, revert if decline.

Good analysis is important and it comes from experience. Often we gain our experience from doing things and a hands on approach can help many business owners to not only succeed, but also to gain a different perspective about their business from the visibility search engines provide to the publishers.

Website Launch Checklist & SEO Matters

This list was originally gathered by Anthony Roffidal, our information architect and SEO specialist for instructing our internal team for launching new websites.

Step 1: General

  • Robots.txt
  • Adding Analytics tracking code
  • Implementing all tracking events on CTA and in nav (optional)
  • Url rewriting to strip off www
  • sitemap.xml
  • Crawl website to make sure no link is broken
  • minify css and js (optional)
  • Favicon
  • Htaccess speed tips
  • 404 (UX tips: search/ fix URL/ sitemap/ Homepage)
  • Accessibility check
  • SSL / https

Step 2: On page SEO

  • Meta title
  • Meta description and keywords
  • Canonical
  • Make sure there are no coding errors
  • Add microformat/ microdata
  • add alt text to images and links
  • respect the hierarchy of <h1> → <h6> and <strong>
  • Make sure no link is broken

Step 3: After launch

  • Ownership of both websites (www and non-www) on webmaster tools
  • select preferred domain on WT
  • Adding sitemap.xml to google, then select fetch as Google, submit to indexation.
  • Linking Analytics to WT
  • Enable Google search console
  • Enable All Analytics features
  • MOZ Campaign (optional)

How to get $10,000 of Google Grants for Non-Profit in Canada

Imagine what you could do with $10,000 USD of in-kind advertising every month from AdWords, an online advertising solution from Google

That’s what Google says on their Google Grant for non-profits page. They suggest that you could hire more volunteers, attract more donations and share your cause with the world.


Web development and Search Engine Marketing team-up for non-profits.

There are no doubts about how having a website can help non-profits organizations with their communications. Spreading the word, reaching potential partners and telling the story of those who are in need of help, whether it’s at home or abroad.

Over the course of the years, we’ve worked with several non-profits, all of which had a website and several communication channels like Social media — generally, twitter and Facebook, often Instagram. Very often these websites are informative, and even when they are well made, they could be improved in terms of SEO, online marketing, dashboards and automatization of processes. But this is where the cost explodes. Hiring an SEO team, developers to build complex applications to run events or manage volunteers, integrate with CRM, report data, advertise, adds up to amounts that are hard to allocate.

One of the ways to deal with these essential tools is to plan different development phases. The problem? Search Engine Marketing such as Adwords is generally at the last step.

Not with Google Grant for Nonprofits.


What is Google Grant for Non-profits?

In 2014 TechSoup and Google brought the program to Canada. Thanks to them, now Canadian registered charities, Canadian federal nonprofits, and Canadian provincial nonprofits can apply to get a $10,000 Adwords grant to spend every month, plus free tools and premium features for Youtube.

How google grant can help non profit in canada

Above all the excitement, this program has many advantages:

  1. It drives traffic to your organization’s website. A lot.
  2. More traffic means more donations. You can now build your organization faster than ever.
  3. By spreading the word, you have much more chances to get the interest of volunteers and sponsors.
  4. With the appropriate tools (like Google Analytics) you can track what are the best keywords for your organization and build a better Information architecture.
  5. It helps you cut in IT expenses.

Remember that the Grant doesn’t allow you to do exactly what you want in your Adwords account, there are some limitations. (source Google)

  • Your ads will be entirely text-based (no videos or images).
  • They’ll appear only on Google search results pages, in positions below the ads of paying advertisers.
  • All campaigns must be keyword-targeted.
  • Your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) will be $2.00 USD.
  • You’ll receive $10,000 USD (up to $40,000 USD for Grantspro participants) of in kind AdWords advertising each month.


What else is included in the grant?

youtube premium feature with google grant for non profit

On top of the Adwords grant, here is what you can get:

  • Free access to the Google suite (Gmail, Drive, Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Surveys, Calendar and Sites)
  • Premium access to Youtube
  • Free license for Google Earth Pro


The conditions to be eligible to google Grants

Google specifies that all the grantees must meet certain criteria to qualify and keep that qualification active. See if you’re eligible by visiting Google eligibility page.

Once you know, you’ll need a TechSoup account. TechSoup is a program from the Centre for Social Innovation, a non-profit coworking space dedicated to helping people who change the world.

Here is how to register to TechSoup. Note that it generally takes around 7 to 10 days to be registered.

When you’re done, it’s time to apply to Google Grant.


Apply to Google Grant:

First, you’ll need to create or login to your Google account.

Then you need to certify that:

google grant member application certitifcation

Once that’s done, enter your TechSoup token:

techsoup token for google grant

Once you’re done, select your organization and complete your profile to finish your application.


You got the Grant, what now?

You’ve been approved, congrats! You now have to choose the right Ad Program. If you want to control all the aspect of the SEM campaign, choose AdWords. If not, pick AdWords Express.

Set up your account, start working on your campaigns and submit your account for review.

In case you need to learn how to use Google AdWords, here is what you need to know about online marketing:



A few things to keep in mind when setting up your Adwords campaign with Google Grant

Due to the nature of the Adwords account, you might have to set up things slightly differently.

  • Don’t submit your billing information
  • Don’t include the display network. Ads are text only.
  • The email you use has to be tied to your organization. Don’t use a personal email.
  • Follow Google’s recommendation. Apply. Wait. Get approved. Set up Adwords. Submit. Wait. Get approved.
  • Don’t give up! If nothing happens in weeks, email Google or re-submit your application.

Good luck!

SEO: What if the future was Honesty?

In the last 10 years, I’ve heard many stories about the future of SEO. Now it is time to ask ourselves, isn’t it simply, honesty?

Some awesome teams like MOZ and Searchengineland try hard not to sacrifice content over sensationalism, and that’s what make them stay around. And somehow, these teams strategy is like SEO itself, focusing on relevancy, greatly organized content, education, and transparency.

Beware of sensationalism

The future of seo

I have a tendency to generally stay away from sensationalism. My greatest challenge these days is to filter my Twitter feed to remove all the “5 things you didn’t know about” and “what you’re about to read will change the way you see […] forever”.

I’ve always believed in honesty over tricks, long term over short term profits, and in a world where everyone has been put in competition with anyone, and even with themselves, it’s been pretty tough to stick with my principles.

The beautiful part of SEO nowadays: Honesty has become the best strategy.

Not because an ethical battle has been won, but simply because the search algorithm has evolved this way.

Some SEO predictions

SEO predictionsThe Nostradamus part in all of us has a tendency to try and predict the future. After all, isn’t it what I’m doing with this article? But like with any predictions, it’s important to not blindly follow them. Here are predictions I heard in the last 10 years that were supposed to happen “next year”:

  1. Bing is gonna be the real deal in 2011
  2. QR codes will be everywhere before the end of the year 2011
  3. Google instant preview is here to stay in 2011
  4. Social Media Optimization is the way to go to improve rankings in 2011
  5. Mobile apps will beat Mobile websites in 2012
  6. Website speed is the key for 2012
  7. Websites without a mobile version will die in 2013

It’s important to understand that I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with these predictions, but none of them really happened the way they said they would. It’s never black and white, and predicitons should show tendencies, no more.

The infamous one: SEO is dead

SEO is dead

This one likes to stick around. Every Halloween the fear for the living dead SEO specialists is back.

Apart from being the same old clickbait, this prediction seems to have some believers. Every year some people predicted the death of SEO. What they should have said really was that a way of doing SEO was not recommended anymore.

You can read this great article about the many deaths of SEO over history.

But the truth is as long as there are Search Engines there will be SEO. Because the Search Engines are algorithms, we can optimize our websites to get better rankings, explore opportunities, make our brand look better, help users find our content…

Working with website owners?

Search Engines are not much different nowadays. They simply have fewer flaws.

Google has always tried to satisfy users, and the only way for the giant search engine to do so is to offer the best results. Think about it; millions of links for each query and Google has to pick 3 of them… not only to please the whole world but also to please you, personally.Education in SEO

What better way of doing that than by controlling how websites are optimized?

That’s what Google decided in 2009 when they shared their SEO recommendations with web developers. They gave up the key to their algorithm, with the risk of helping spammers and black hat SEO. But what happened is really the opposite, they helped website owners getting ranked for what they are worth.

It took years to become mainstream, but it looks like now it quite is. Education has paid off.

Forget about old-school SEO

In SEO, the term old-school generally has a negative connotation. It brings back the time where cheap tricks had an impact on search results. People were not even known as SEO specialist, but more as that nerd guy that can help your website rank first for $10,000.

Some of their techniques were considered very bad (like writing keywords in the same color as the background), and some were considered fine, like paying to get a thousand backlinks.

You can read the awesome White Friday about the old school SEO practices that don’t work anymore by Rand to understand why these practices don’t work anymore.

In case you don’t have time to read his article now, here is what I retained:
forget about old school seo

  • Don’t over-optimize your content, unless you want to look sketchy, or spammy. There was a time when it was worth it but this time is over. What you risk now is getting bad CTR and thus, bad rankings.
  • Heavy use of anchor text internally. Well, that’s pretty much the same idea: it’s spammy.
  • Pages for every keyword variant. This one is not really spammy, but it still is not very… natural. would you incorporate ten synonyms of the same keyword in a well-done information architecture? probably not.
  • Most Directories and paid links.
  • Microsites, subdomains, and separate domains for same audience or topic target
  • Sketchy domain matching keywords, something like instead of the actual name of the dentist.

The list goes on and shows what most SEOs used to do, not only black or gray hat SEO.

What it tells us is that we’re heading in a certain direction, and it’s pretty clear:

Honesty will lead you much further than any SEO technique you could think of.

Why do you need the services of an SEO expert then?

Why do you need the services of a Community manager, you know Social Media right? Why do you need a copywriter? You can write your own story… You can hire an SEO expert to worry about everything Search Engines related so you can have more time to worry about your business. Plus there are still finally so many things an SEO can help you with:

  • Information Architecture for both humans and robots
  • Quality of code
  • Quality of copy
  • Looking for topics that interest your audience
  • Understanding how your brand is seen by robots
  • Help you understand your website

In a more poetic way:

An SEO expert can help your website finds its place in the digital world.

Bonus chapter: RankBrain, Google’s IA

Google fabulous rankbrain and seoTo finish this article I want to talk to you about RankBrain, Google’s IA that helps the algorithm deliver better results. Basically, from what Google says and what we assume, it’s designed to understand what people are looking for exactly. After all, when we search for stuff, we don’t always type in the best query.

I could search for “pizza” but what I really mean is “I’m hungry, show me pizza around me”. And Google will show you a map with pizza around as well as articles like “the 10 best pizza place in Toronto”, and wait, just in case, the search engine will also show you a quick link to the pizza (dish) in case that’s what you actually meant. If you click on it, the page will adapt and show you images of pizza along with nutritional facts, and also suggest looking for burgers, or pizza dough… It knows what you need, and helps you get it faster.

You can read the awesome article from Searchengineland about Rankbrain to get more information and start freaking out at how smart Google is.

Thanks for reading!

Website redesign: Improve your website without losing any traffic

Interestingly enough, many web development companies don’t differentiate website redesign from building a new website from scratch.

Well, it is different, and for many business owners and managers, it’s one of the biggest decision they’ll make in years.

  • Should I revamp my website completely since I know it is a bit dated?
  • What if I lose my rankings? Or my clients don’t like the new design?
  • Maybe I can improve some sections first and finish later?
  • How long does it take? What’s the process?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Which web development company should I ask?


The Right Time to Get a Website Redesign?

website redesign processDepending on how long you’ve had your website for, it might be the right time to do a redesign.

Generally, these occur every 1 to 3 years. One year being the minimum for users and search engine not to get too confused with changing User Interface and Information Architecture. Three years being the limit for technology to still offer a valuable User Experience.

To know if it’s the right time you need to ask yourself this: “Can my website do everything I need?

  • Can my website offer a good experience on mobile?
  • Can it be understood immediately by users?
  • Can it get better rankings in its current state?
  • Can it be maintained easily?

Be honest with your answers and you’ll know if you need a better solution.


Small changes or Full Website Redesign?

If you ask a professional about whether you should keep your old system and put bandaids or get a new one, chances are you’ll get told: “It will cost you just a little bit more to get a whole new system, and it will last you much longer”.

Sometimes you could get away with a temporary solution but eventually, you’ll need a full redesign.

In fact getting a new system allows you to:

  1. Clean up everything and start fresh.
  2. Improve what wasn’t working and keep what works.
  3. Enjoy the latest technologies.
  4. Get a system that will last years.
  5. Sleep better at night knowing that your website is as good as it could get.

The best way to know is to ask a competent web development studio for advice.


Website Redesign Project Plan

Website redesign project planEvery system has its own rules, but here is the approach we commonly use.

First, list all the limitations of your current website.

You probably have already an idea of what’s wrong with your website but it’s always good to get external opinions as well.

The best way is to ask your clients for feedback since they are the users you care about. Try to offer them sales or perks to get more feedback.

You can also use anonymous opinions from online services like five seconds tests where users have five seconds to look at a design before they answer your questions.

Finally, ask your web development company to tell you what could be improved.

And remember to take every opinion with a grain of salt because ultimately, it’s your website.

Second, keep what works well!

The greatest fear of most website owners is to lose something during a website redesign. And it’s a fair concern. Does the web designer know about that little thing that your users love? Does the project manager know your conversion rate? do they understand your story? So many things to save from the redesign.

While you ask for feedback, make sure you also collect information about what makes your site successful, and what your visitors like particularly.

Visitors feedback + Years of Analytics = good planning

Don’t forget about your Analytics. You probably have them on your current website and there is probably someone within your web team dying to use them (I’m that guy).

If the Analytics expert is professional enough, they’ll extract valuable data from your Google Analytics account. For example what pages are visited the most compared against the time of the year, the traffic source, the device used, the demographic, etc…

They can also tell how your CTAs are doing, how your conversion funnels can be improved, and whether or not a landing page is doing well. If you have more analytics, like let’s say, rankings and social media, it’s even better.


Website Redesign Process

website redesign processFirst step, get a kick-ass UX and an awesome Information Architecture!

Once you’re done with the list of what you want to keep and what to get rid off, your web team will start working on two fronts:

Information Architecture: The idea is to design a map of your new website. Ideally, it should not be too different from the old one, just improved. If a popular page use to take three clicks to reach, make it accessible from the nav directly, and maybe even the homepage.

Keep what works, remove what’s useless, and simplify the access to popular items and users will thank you.

UX designNow is time for your web team to show their web design skills. We personally love UX, and we know how important it is. Years ago, webmasters use to think “do I need to put a button here? No, it’s Ok, the visitor can scroll down to the other one”. This time is over.

Study your competition to see what they do and grab some ideas from them. Then talk to your web designer to see if these are good ideas, and if they are, how to implement them.

Be original, but keep some ground rules. UX is mostly about making sure visitors can navigate and do what they have to do on your website without thinking about it. Once that goal is achieved, a nice design, something stylish or a really great tool will add some personal taste and an overall better experience.

Second step, ask your web developer to design the right technical solution.

Web Developers generally try to balance two aspects of web development. Use a technology they and their clients are comfortable with, and think long term. The first aspect is easy to figure, the second require way more thinking. Here are some challenges to address:

  • Make sure the overall solution can last as long as planned in the requirements (technology deprecation)
  • Keep it safe and secure for that period
  • Ensure the whole solutions can be passed without trouble to another web team
  • Plan a scalable solution to grow with the business
  • Make sure the site will be easy to maintain and update along the way

Once all of these challenges are addressed, it’s time to code.

Step Three, the development.

When we develop we like to involve our clients so they get the exact picture of how things are going. On the other hand, since our project are well planned and our clients trust us, there’s no need to over share updates. We focus on the goals and communicate every time we get close to a milestone.

When a client has questions, we answer them in a way they can understand, and encourage them to continue the conversation.

All this seems obvious, but so many web development company don’t offer a service like that. So make sure you get a team that cares about your project.


Website redesign: the Launch!

website redesign checklist

Before you get to celebrate, there is an important task to achieve. Launching the new website.

Tested and approved. You have access to the future website on a development server. Everything looks good. Has it been tested on all devices and browsers? Is the code clean and error-free? Is the new website optimized for Search Engines? Is Google Analytics properly tracking your CTAs and goals?

We’ve developed a complete checklist to help during launching. It covers the Search Engine aspect, the UX and the Google Analytics parts.

Take a look at our website launching checklist and make sure your website is ready to go live.

When your website is good to go, your web team will replace the old one with the new one in a quick and hopefully seamless process. Sometimes it takes a whole day or more to propagate and be ready, but in general, a few hours are enough.


Website Redesign Cost

website redesign costEven if the difference between a full new website and a website redesign is quite significant, both should take pretty much the same amount of time.

For a website redesign, the risk of failing is even greater since there are many challenges to address, and only one chance to get it right. Your users will probably not forgive you if you replace your website with a less good one. Search Engines can penalize your new website if it doesn’t follow rules.

We recommend that every website redesign is done by a web team you trust.

Now in terms of cost, it’s similar to any investment, ask for a quote and make sure your ROI is worth it. Keep in mind that most web design companies charge between $80 and $150/hour.

In any case, make sure the website is made in-house, not outsourced to a careless company miles away. Even though outsourcing can save you some bucks, it’s not worth the risk.


Don’t lose any of your precious SEO Juice

During a website redesign, many pages are modified, added, or removed, it’s important to tell Search Engines what you’ve done with your content. That way, they can update the search results based on your new architecture.

redirection guide for website redesign

Make sure your SEO team doesn’t make too many redirections since redirections only redirect 70 to 80% of the SEO juice in average. In short, if you can keep the old URLs, keep them.

You can read more about Website redesign SEOwebsite redesign from an entrepreneur point of view or Contact us to get a quote.

Good luck with your website redesign!

The top 10 SEO mistakes web developers make

As a web developer and an SEO specialist at the same time I find myself conflicted many times between both hats. As a web developer I care about clean code and easy ways to create new content, and as an SEO guy, I’m obsessed with the way Google indexes my website, internal linking, breadcrumbs and alt texts.

When I’m wearing the SEO hat, I’m the annoying guy asking my fellow developers if they followed all the SEO rules I gave them.

And since I too am a developer, I know they’re going to lie when they answer “yes of course”.


The 10 SEO mistakes web devs make

10. Alt tags and Titles

When one codes, it’s very easy to not fill in Alt texts for images and Title texts for links. Because sometimes we simply don’t know what they are. Ideally, they should be filled by an SEO specialist or a Digital Marketing guru. But they don’t have access to the code, or limited access to these fields in a CMS. That’s why web devs should always spend a second to wonder what the image or the link is about and write it in the appropriate location.

9. Rich Snippets and Structured Data

Rich snippets and structured data, AKA and microdata were launched in 2009 by Google and then 2011 by most Search Engines to improve the quality of the web. The idea is to tell Search Engines what’s in the content. For example, if we’re talking about a blog post, we should add a bunch of blog related microdata tags to our code. Here is a pretty good introduction to snippets and structured data and here is a review microdata generator .

8. Link Anchors

Click here and read more are not the best in terms or User Experience, and they’re definitely not the best for SEO! The anchor text of links tells Google (and your visitors) what the destination page is about. So when your anchor says “click here” no one really knows what’s going to happen. Link Anchors have a real importance in SEO and you should fill them with what the page is about (like I did in the present article).

7. Missing Meta (social media, languages,etc..)

Metas are not just for jquery and CSS. they contain a lot of information for bots to understand the website. Yes, the site works without them, but it’s also true that not optimizing them is a good way to miss opportunities in terms of Social Media and Search Engine presence. What you can do if you don’t know where is to start is wonder about what bots you care about, and what do they need. Facebook? Google? they all have different recommendations.

In any case, make sure your description is focused on your keyword AND the content of the page. You might also need robots and canonical to avoid duplicate content, title for SEO, language for SEO and accessibility, etc…

6. Pagination and Pages Variations

Pagination and Variation pages are bad for SEO since they basically have the same URL and the same meta for different content. They all cannibalize the same keyword. There are mainly two ways of dealing with this problem.

First Option: Embrace the difference. Make sure every page has different names and meta, basically, make them unique.

Option Two: Tell Google it’s page two or variation three or whatever the difference is. Use <canonical> to indicate what’s the main page (the first one) and pagination markup like <rel=”prev”> and <rel=”next”>. You can also add a “nofollow” to the link pointing to the next page and a “noindex” to the actual page.

Here is a great article about Pagination and SEO.

5. Duplicate Content

It’s not always on purpose but sometimes we just copy past content from a page to another, or we create a PHP script that generates a bunch of pages using the sane variable. Well, that’s duplicate content, and it is to be avoided at all cost.

You can read our article about how to fix keyword cannibalism to help you fix all these common content issues.

4. Don’t care about URLs

There are many articles about how to construct URLs for SEO. Basically, they should be as simple as possible, and contain only words and dashes that tell users and bots what the page is about. I know URLs are convenient for passing an incredibly long list of variables and characters but if you can, please avoid it.

3. Use the wrong HTML tag

If you want something bold for design purposes, use a class, not the <strong>. Strong means it’s important. Sometimes we use HTML tags instead of classes because it’s faster. But bots and search engines use these tags to understand what matters and what doesn’t. <Strong> and <em> are actually important for SEO, the same way paragraph, section, aside, and other tags are important. Try to make sense, it will pay off.

2. Use Headings for style

Have you ever done that? Use H1 for every sub-title on a page? After all, they are titles and they have the same CSS style.

Bad idea.

Search Engines and bots use headings to understand the hierarchy of your content. If everything that you want big is a H1, then what do you have for h2 or h3? Even rankings don’t really use these anymore, it makes a lot of sense.

1. Robots and Sitemaps

Sometimes we forget. And Google indexes everything. And then when your SEO guy comes in and does “” in Google they find out that your development folder at the root of your website is nicely indexed with all of its content. Don’t laugh, it happens. And the problem is that it will take weeks, or months to fix it.

First, make sure you have a robots.txt file that excludes everything not public. Dev folders, sources, anything not public.

Then create a sitemap (if you’re on WordPress you can install Yoast SEO and it will do it for you). Once the sitemap is created, look at it! Make sure every page in there is useful and relevant.

Hint: the “hello world” post is not.

When you’re done, send it to Google and pray.

How fixing keyword cannibalism will improve your website’s ranking

After a few years of working in various areas of web development, SEO and web design, there is one thing I’ve heard a lot:

Even though I’m sure people love to talk about ethnology; in most cases, I was listening to classic SEO language, whether it is to make one’s look brighter, or to actually do something about it.


What is keyword cannibalism?

Keyword cannibalism happens when your website has more than 1 page targeting the same keyword. While actually not leading to any penalty, it doesn’t help your rankings. In fact, fixing it could have a great impact on your rankings since you would help Search Engines understand your site better.

Example 1: Stuffing

Your website is trying to rank for the keyword “fur coats“.

So you’ve added it to every page, in the content, and also in the meta and the name of the pages.

The consequence: Search Engines don’t know which page does what since they are all sharing the same “focused keyword”.

Example 2: Conversion and SEO conflict

You’ve been careful not to stuff your meta Titles and tried to have different content on every page.

Your website has a service page named “eco friendly fur coats“.

It also has a blog post that explain how eco-friendly the coats are. Even though the content is different, the URLs and page names are very similar “fur coats are eco-friendly“.

Consequence: Even though you were careful, search engines are still confused and don’t know which page to rank for the keyword “eco-friendly fur coats” or the keyword “fur coats eco-friendly”. After all they are both very similar and any of the two pages could be relevant.


Don’t make Google choose, tell her* how to rank your website!

website cannibalism
Pretty much how Google sees your website.


Here are all the advantages of fixing cannibalism:

Content quality: If you keep writing about the same topic over and over again, chances are you’re gonna repeat yourself. Even if you avoid having duplicate content, your content quality will not be at its best.

SEO Juice: When you have 10 sites linking to 5 pages, that’s 2 external links each. If you have only one page, it gets 10 links. Basic maths.

SEO Weight: If you manage to merge your competing pages into one long, interesting page, not only the UX will be better, but the SEO weight of your new page will be much greater.

Conversions: Choose the page with the best Conversion rate and improve that one. No need to send visitors to low conversion rate pages.


How to fix cannibalism in a few, quick steps.

Know your web site exact Information Architecture. Use Google Search to find out what Google knows about your website. Go to Google and search for “ keyword”. You should see something like this:

how to fix cannibalism

Now if you think that result #2 and result #3 are actually very similar, here is what you can do:

Option 1: Merge them into one strong page. Keep the strongest (the one that ranks the best for that keyword), and add the content from the weakest page. Once you’re done don’t forget to do a redirection 301 (permanent) to tell Google that your content has moved. Here is what it looks like in a .htaccess file, in case you’re wondering:

RedirectMatch 301 development

Option 2: Re-align the content of one of the pages. I recommend you pick the weakest (the lowest in term of page rank or traffic depending on your goals) and change the content so it’s clear what it does. In our case, I would focus more on the values and ethic of web development so there is no ambiguity. When you’re done, put a link on the modified page to the main page with the proper anchor. Like this:

Find out more about development.


Extra bonus points for making it to the bottom of this article on keyword cannibalism

Well done, you probably care a lot about fixing your website’s cannibalism situation. So I’m gonna give you a few more advice.

Map down your Information Architecture. You think you know your website like the back of your hand? Well, maybe you do. But are you 100% certain that your WordPress hasn’t generated tag pages or category pages? Worst, did you forget to remove the “hello World” article? Take a look at your sitemap to be sure.

100% Optimized. Have you heard about “long tail” or “niche”? They are perfect for fixing cannibalism. Instead of having 5 pages on your website competing for one keyword, make sure each page competes for a different keyword. You’ll have your main page “fur coats” and then 4 differents “smaller” keywords targeted like “duck fur coats”, “organic fur coats”, “synthetic fur coats”, “sustainable fur clothe line”. Make sure you use 100% of your content. You can use Moz Keyword Explorer to better find what keywords to target.

Get indexed in minutes! despite how scammy that title sounds like, you can actually get indexed in minutes. Connect to Google Search Console and click on your website (assuming you already added it). Then, in the left column, go to Crawl and click on “Fetch as Google“.

Google search console

Then you simply add your modified pages or new pages one by one and request submit to index. If you’re submiting a page with a lot of links you can ask for this page and its direct links to be indexed as well.

Google will then index your content in minutes, which should motivate you to fix keyword cannibalism right now.


*Yes, Google is a lady.

Search Engine Optimization, Start with Why.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How many times have you heard about SEO?

If you have a website, you’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. It is in broad terms, the art of making a website rank higher in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). If you wonder whether or not your website needs SEO, don’t. Every site needs it. The questions to ask yourself is why, how and what?

Why SEO?

Let’s start with the basics. When you get a website, you put content online. That content has a certain value for visitors: it is relevant to some topics, or in other terms, keywords.
That relevant content is somewhere in the gigantic internet, and without any other website linking to it, its value is lost.

Good news! Search engines and yourself have the same goal: offer great content to anyone looking for it.
Put yourself in Google shoes for a second here (that sentence makes my coworkers laugh really hard). If you can’t offer the most relevant content for any given search, your loyal users might be frustrated and start using another search engine.

The reason behind any SEO approach is to help search engines understand your website and link to it. We call that “indexing” a website.

SEO for business

Ok, so putting content out there for users is great, but you have a business to run and you probably want to attract customers. Lots of customers.
Well, you’re not the only one. Your competitors are already out there, and they are not excited about having more competition. They might even be watching you to make sure they stay ahead.

How to do SEO?

The first quality of any SEO expert is to be realistic. If someone tells you that they can get your website to rank first on 100 highly competitive keywords in less than two months for only a thousand dollars, run from them. They either lie or do voodoo.

Keep in mind that you will only ever rank on keywords that you have content for.

Take this page for example. It is targeting the keyword “SEO Ontario“. I’m not hoping to get this page first on Google for the keywords “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO Toronto”. I’m only focusing on the keyword “SEO Ontario“, and even for that one, I know this page won’t rank first. If it gets #5 I’ll be satisfied. It’s my goal for that keyword.

If your goal is actually to be first on a highly competitive keyword get ready to invest a lot of energy in it. It’s almost like landing your dream job, it will happen if you’re committed, hardworking and going in the right direction.

What is on-site SEO?

By now I’m sure that you have a great sense of what SEO is. Let’s then dig deeper in the three major areas of it: on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and local SEO.

So the first one we are going to talk about is on-site SEO. It is the most important part of the work and it is actually quite simple to understand.
Remember when we talked about what search engines want? Well, you’re gonna give it to them.
A lot of developers don’t really follow search engines recommendations and that’s a shame because it’s quite simple and doesn’t take that much time:

  • Focus on 1 keyword on each page
  • Keep your code clean and easy to understand for robots (i.e. make sure you don’t forget all the meta tags, the alt tags, etc…)
  • Don’t cheat, don’t stuff keywords
  • Send your content map to search engines
  • Don’t let the search engine do the crawling work, help them by fixing 404s, create redirections, etc…
  • And much more.

What is off-site SEO?

If your SEO expert has done his or her job perfectly, you will already get good results. However, you might not reach your objectives.
The reason being that search engines now understand what your content is, but they still don’t know if they can trust it. After all, when linking to you they put their reputation on the line and nothing guarantees your content is actually relevant.
That is why you need other experts in your field to endorse your content. How? by linking to it. It’s named link building and it’s probably the hardest and longest aspect of SEO.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is not per se a different area of work, but it is so specific that I want to talk about it in a separate section.
Local SEO is about ranking for an array of services or products in a geographically limited area: Bucher Toronto, hairdresser GTA, sushi Queen st, web development studio Toronto, SEO Ontario

How is it different from regular SEO you will ask? Well, the logic of it is the same. Tell Google what you do exactly, where to find you, how to reach you and at what time.
There is more, you can get ratings on Google map, get listed in yelp, have some special content for your local pages on your website, etc…

Remember: be clear and honest with search engines, don’t be greedy with keywords and show everyone the great quality of your products.

SEO for e-commerce

Here at Noble Pixels, we have a great experience with e-commerce and SEO. We know that without great qualified traffic you will always depend on paid per click and advertising to make sales.
Althought E-commerce websites are huge and contain great content it is hard to get them to rank well. Many reasons for this:

  • The competition is very hard. Big online shops are investing a lot in SEO and they will not be ok with losing their rank
  • Ecomms are dynamic, often built with CMS, and offer technical limitations hard to overcome.
  • Duplicate content. Most of the shop out there selling product X often copy the catalog description to use as their own product description.
  • And much more…

You will need to invest a lot of energy and resources to overcome all these difficulties. The outcome is definitely worth it, since you’ll have tons of potential customers for free.

SEO challenges

You might be thinking that anyone can do SEO, your web team maybe? Well yes and no. Yes, because it’s mostly a matter of making search engines life easier and no, for a lot of other reasons:

  • First, because competition never stops trying. Plus, they probably use the same tactics, so you’ll need to be smarter.
  • Secondly, search engines are complex and no one knows exactly how they work.
  • Then, because a mistake can have terrible consequences. One of our clients told us recently about how a single mistake got them to lose 90% of their organic traffic.
  • And finally because it takes a great deal of realism to admit that your rankings and/or your website are not as good as you think. An expert will transform problems into opportunities to pursue.

Being first

And remaining first.
Also requires work. You’ll need to keep up with the great content, and get detailed reports about how you and your competitors are doing.

SEO works better with CRO.

If you’re still reading, congrats! you’ve done it! You now understand what to do with your SEO needs.

Keep in mind that getting more traffic is great, but at the end of the day, converting visitors into customers is your main goal. You can read (if you still can) our article about conversion rate optimization (CRO).

We are in Toronto, Ontario.


Contact us to learn more about how to get to the top.