Google NCR (No Country Redirection) Feature Stop Working But Google May Bring It Back

Google keeps pulling away search features, but the removal of the feature might be a mistake.

The post Google NCR (No Country Redirection) Feature Stop Working But Google May Bring It Back appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 Reasons Why Slack Is the Tool You Need for Business Communication

Slack has been all the rage for companies and employees over the last year, but now that 2015 is wrapping up it’s making headlines as one of the hottest startups of the year worth $2.8 billion, and it’s expected to see an even bigger reach in 2016. While it may have started as a tool employee’s use on their own, there are ways that you can bring Slack into your company officially and help improve communication and collaboration. Check out how it works below and how you can use it to your advantage.

The Basics: How Slack Works

Slack is actually considered a “messaging app” and is completely free to use. The idea behind Slack is to make communication easier between coworkers with a few advanced features to also improve collaboration (more on this in the last section). Below is a sample screenshot of the dashboard of Slack:

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 2.47.04 PM

As you can see, it is structured similarly to a social mean stream while keeping tabs separated on the left-hand side. This means that each person will have a potentially different looking Slack dashboard based on the channels they are a part of or created. It offers three basic features:

  • Channels. This helps you organize conversations within that Slack team in what they call “open channels.” When you make a channel, then everyone can see what is going on in that channel. This means it’s a good idea to create channels for different projects, topics, or a conversation between certain team members.
  • Private Channels. This is the place where you want to include confidential information with just a few team members.
  • Direct Messages. This works just like email. Reach one coworker quickly and directly. The screenshot above is showing a Direct Message.

In addition to the three basic features above, you also have a few advanced features to work with that can help take businesses to the next level:

  • You can drag, drop, and share your files within Slack conversations. This includes images, PDFs, spreadsheets, etc. You can add comments, star to reach later, and search for these files.
  • Paste the link for your Google Drive spreadsheets or Dropbox files and that document will then be in sync and searchable right away.
  • Setup integration between Slack and your other apps so you don’t have to switch back and forth and so that you can get notifications within Slack. This makes it easy to use Slack as a one-stop platform.

Keeping things in sync is probably what Slack does best and why Slack is becoming so popular. Not only is everything archived and therefore searchable, but it’s also compatible with iOS and Android so you have the information with you wherever you go.

Getting Started with Slack

To get started you visit the website and type in your email address. You are then sent through a series of webpages to get started that include:

  • Name your team, which refers to the overall Slack account.
  • You’re then given a custom URL that you and your coworkers will use to sign in to Slack.
  • Pick a username so that coworkers recognize you.
  • Look in your email to setup your password.

That’s all there is to it to get started. You will then be asked to send invitations to your coworkers so that they can be a part of your slack conversation. Once members get your email invitation and join, you can start talking and using the features mentioned above.

5 Ways to Use Slack to Improve Communication in Your Business

So it’s clear that Slack is all about communication, but how exactly you organize your Slack conversations/ channels can help you make sure you’re taking full advantage of the benefits. Consider some of the ways you can use the tool below:

Create a Channel for Blog Posts to Discuss Social Promotion

This is usually where businesses start. Sometimes it’s tough to get everyone in your company on the same page when it come to content, but even your IT professionals can benefit from sharing and knowing what’s happening with the blog. Use this Channel as a way to add links to most recent content that has been published and ask others to help promote on social. Because it can sync with Buffer, this makes it easy for the Channel owner to urge others to share right then and there.

Integrate Slack with Google Drive

By integrating Slack with Google Drive you can truly keep everything in one place. We use this as a way to keep track of the links we earn, which makes an SEO audit much easier. Because everyone can collaborate, it’s easier to make sure you cover all of your bases.

As discussed above, Google Drive isn’t the only app that you can sync with Slack, in fact far from it. Visit this link to see a list of all the apps that are compatible with the tool. They even break up the apps by category, so you have choices from Customer Support to File Management to HR, Productivity, Social, and much more.

Take Advantage of the Open API

This essentially means that Slack is made for developers. The tool makes it easy to add other tools to a developer’s user stream so you can use Slack for payroll, Intranet, advertising, structure management, and more.

Build a Referral Network

According to an Entrepreneur article, freelancers are among those who benefit most from using Slack because they can use it as a way to build referrals. They say that freelance workers make up about 34 percent of the workforce in the US, and 81 percent of freelancers refer work to fellow freelancers. On top of that, 52 percent hire fellow freelancers to collaborate on projects. This makes Slack the perfect place to organize this network and keep the freelance work flowing faster and easier than ever before.

Extra: What Are Slack Credits?

You’ll notice that when you sign up for Slack you can take a survey to earn Slack credits (usually $100). Although Slack is free and has an unlimited free option that is most popular, they do offer a paid option for $6.67 per user per month. This has features such as guest access, priority support, longer archives of messages, and more, which you can check out on their Pricing Page. If you choose to go for a premium package, Slack uses your credits toward your payment until they run out.

Does your company use Slack? What strategies does your company use to help keep things moving in the right direction? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Giving Searchers a Reason to Prefer Your Brand – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s the season of giving, and that notion extends to search! Brand preferences have an almost tangible impact on several levels, from consumer affinity to a rankings boost on Google. In this holiday edition of our now-traditional Whitebeard Friday, Rand explains why it’s important to keep brand recognition at the forefront of your strategy, and offers up a framework on how to get started on giving searchers a reason to prefer your brand.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to the special Christmas edition of Whiteboard Friday. Now, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my family is Jewish, at least ethnically, but we still love Christmas. We used to get a tree and presents and all that kind of stuff. But Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate religiously or non-religiously, and to all the rest of you, hopefully you’re having a lovely and wonderful December holiday break time, middle of wintertime. The sun’s going to start getting a little higher in the sky. The days get a little longer. I’m really looking forward to that, especially being here in Seattle.

I want to talk today about giving searchers something, a reason to prefer your brand. This is why it is so critical going forward into the next year, into 2016. We have seen that the last few years have been years where Google, where social media sites, where consumers and customers, web users of all kinds and platforms of all kinds have given brands — especially brands that have recognition, that people have an affinity for — they give them a lot of preference. I’ll show you what I mean.

Even small brand preferences can yield these sort of remarkable and amazing results because of the amplification that they receive all the way down the line in your marketing effort. Let’s say, for example, that you are able to get a slight lift in brand recognition, in brand affinity, in recall, and in positive associations. It’s going to do a few things for you.

Raise CTR in search results

First off, it’ll raise your average click-through rate in search results. As a searcher is performing whatever queries they are, the hopefully many thousands of queries that lead to your site, if you appear in position four, five, or six, you might see a slightly higher click-through rate than what you would normally see for an average website ranking in that position because of the brand preference. What this does, actually, is over time it results in higher rankings because Google is set up to reward a long-term click-through rate bump and all the other signals that come with that into higher ranking

So even if you are someone who says, “Ah, I’m not really sure whether Google’s using click-through rate models in my stuff,” they are in a lot of stuff now. Even if you don’t believe that, what’s happening is you’re getting a slightly higher share of visits, which means a slightly higher share of people who can amplify your brand, link to your brand, all those kinds of things. All of those signals over time slowly, positively increase your potential ranking.

Increase return visits to site

Next up, if you have that slight brand preference, you’re going to increase the rate at which visitors return to your site, come back to you through bookmark, through type-in, through branded search, all of those kinds of things. Those forms of returning visits, whether it is branded search or direct visit or a bookmark, that will lead to browser and search biasing. You can see this in all of your browsers.

If I’m on my iPhone or my Android device, if I’m in Google Chrome on a laptop or desktop, and I start typing something, all of those browsers and all of those systems will look for previous patterns that start to match what I’m typing in or voice searching, and they will be more likely to bias to show me those kinds of things. If I’ve been to Moz in the past and I type just “M” into my Chrome browser, I’m likely to see Moz in that dropdown list of things that it suggests to me, particularly if I visit with some real frequency. So you get that preferential treatment.

But this also goes back to helping your rankings up here because brand-based search queries, as Google has shown, can have an impact on non-branded, unbranded query ranking. If lots of people are searching for let’s say “Virgin America flights to San Francisco,” when Google sees the query of flights to San Francisco, they might say, “Hey, you know what, Virgin America should rank a little bit higher because we’ve seen lots of branded search volume for them.”

Improve conversion likelihood & likelihood for social, press, and WoM Aamplification

Obviously, brand lift can help conversion likelihood which leads to more sales. That’s one of the most direct and obvious ones. That’s one of the reasons that big brand marketers invest so much in it. But it’s also the case they will increase the likelihood, so let’s say that you are reaching out through social media or amplifying messages through social media, through press, obviously through word of mouth which may be somewhat under your control and a lot not in your control, all of that amplification will be slightly enhanced each time with additional brand preference, and that means that in the future you have a larger audience for future marketing, future targeting. It’s hugely helpful there.

Perception of value and quality improves

Also, you can see that perception of value and quality actually improves as brand affinity and recall and recognition goes up. You’ve seen this in lots of consumer tests. One of my favorite examples is the Bing study, where Bing looked at replacing Google’s results with Bing’s results, but they had the Google logo and the Google layout, and then they showed Google’s results in Bing. No matter whose results they showed, if they showed the Google logo next to it, people said those were the better results. So essentially, the brand is part of how we judge the quality of something. It is part of that.

This goes to some consumer-based tests around wine, the flavor that you get from wine or the enjoyment you get from wine. If you set something down and it is a recognized bottle known to be very high in price, known to be hard to get, you will actually see areas of the brain light up and perceive that wine to be better tasting and to provide more enjoyment, even if it’s actually filled with cheap $5.00 wine. This psychological preference is actually improving our perception of quality from the brand perspective, and because of that we get higher retention, more recidivism.

So brand can help you in a huge number of ways, both technical through algorithmic and social means, and also psychological means. Worth investing in absolutely, for the years to come, and certainly as the last few years have pushed more and more stuff in web marketing, it becomes essential for all of us.

But how do we do this? I’m not going to be able to get into all the tactical details today. I mean, we could spend a whole Whiteboard Friday on any one tactic in these groups, but I wanted to provide some framework around these groups for you to think about and add potentially to your strategy going into the new year.

Brand values

Things like brand values matching customer values or overlapping with them, or working against them, can impact how a brand is perceived. Most obviously, many consumers are very frustrated with brands like Volkswagen or Enron before that, who we feel like they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes and they’ve been dishonest. Cigarette marketing in the tobacco industry turned off many, many consumers in the western world to a lot of those brands. Then brands that have values that we recognize and respond to, we can see those getting brand lift.

Voice, tone, and visuals

Voice, tone and visuals, this is essentially the style of how you present yourself and whether that matches and has resonance with your audience’s preferences, with their own styles, and with existing cultural cues. So you can see that it’s like speaking the language of your customer, but we’re not talking about a verbal language like English versus Hindi versus Spanish versus German. We’re talking about the resonance on the cultural language level. Are we in the same cultural zeitgeist? Do we have the same cues and recognition? Do we have the same things around nostalgia and associations between concepts, all those kinds of things?


Content, this is one that we talk about a lot, matching your content to your audience’s potential needs, their desires, things they enjoy, their influencers and what their influencers are going to amplify. This is really where content strategy comes into play, because if you take content down to the tactical level only, you are not thinking about the overlap. Well, many times when you’re doing tactical content creation and content amplification, you’re not thinking about the strategic overlap with what’s my audience’s needs, what do they desire, what do they have associations with, what do they enjoy, what do their influencers enjoy, all of that kind of stuff. When you do this, you get closer and closer to making that Venn diagram match, and your content is much more likely to have a strategic, positive impact on brand association.

Brand representatives

Brand representatives, the human beings that we associate with a brand are critically important. In fact, I would say, and many, many marketers have been talking about this for the last couple of years, but more important to a brand’s presence than ever before. We are getting to build brand associations through human associations. Oftentimes that’s founders and CEOs, but many times it is also brand representatives, which can include a large number of people. It can include people who are amplifiers of that brand, not necessarily people who work at the brand, but amplifiers. It can include the testimonials that are present in the marketing messages. It can include brand contributors, whether those are guest contributors or full-time, and of course team members. The big one is often founders and CEOs and sort of the leaders of an organization, but many of these others have influence as well. If those match well to who your customers’ influencers are or the zeitgeist of your customers’ world, that can create additional brand resonance as well.

Pricing and positioning

Pricing and positioning, this is sort of the classic, old-school four P’s of marketing, but the value perceived and the value that is quantifiable against the pricing and the cost associated with the service. Costs, I don’t just mean financial cost, but also setup cost and work-wise and process cost and customers’ own self-perception, meaning that if a customer believes that they are a medium-sized business but you’re selling them a package that’s called enterprise, they may perceive that they’re paying too much. They don’t think of themselves as an enterprise. Even though the enterprise package is right for them and it’s providing the right kind of value, you’re now sort of disconnecting the language of the positioning from what the customer actually thinks of themselves as. That can potentially harm brand affinity.

Psychological nudges

Then, of course, lots and lots of psychological nudges that build associations around a brand. So these are things like familiarity, liking, processing fluency, which we’ve had a whole Whiteboard Friday on processing fluency, I think last year in 2014. Those kinds of things, when I say “processing fluency,” what I’m talking about is the ease with which I recognize something and can make an association. For example, one of my favorite studies around this was the correlation between stock prices of companies that have easily pronounceable names versus hard-to-pronounce names, and you can see that the easier processing fluency of an easier-to-pronounce name over time tends to correlate with higher stock value. Weird. Seems like markets would be more sophisticated than that, but human beings are subject to this stuff. User experience flow, that also fits into the psychological nudges.

As we’re thinking about influencing all this stuff, a lot of times when people talk about brand and building brand, they talk exclusively about brand advertising. But as you can see from all of these categories there’s a lot of organic work that we can do in SEO, in social, in content, in email, in community, in all the channels that we talk about here at Moz that can have a big influence on your brand, and that can have a big influence over time on all of these things positively as well.

All right, everyone. Merry Christmas. If you are celebrating another holiday, may you have a great holiday, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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12 days of Christmas: read our best posts of 2015!

We’re quite sure you’ve already noticed our excitement about the upcoming holidays: after our review sale we now have an awesome Academy sale! That’s because we think these holidays are the perfect time to teach yourself all there is to know about optimizing websites!

The holidays are also a great moment to count your blessings and look back on the past year. For us, 2015 was an awesome year full of highlights and growth (in staff as well as products). And, of course, we’ve launched our first Yoast Academy training: Basic SEO!

For the 12 days of Christmas, we’ve selected the 12 most popular posts of 2015 for you. Have fun reading and use the holidays to improve your skills!

1. Optimizing images for SEO

Best Yoast post of 2015 optimizing imagesThe best read post of 2015 is about optimizing images for SEO! Images make an article more vivid and can actually contribute to improving the SEO for your article. In this post, we explain the steps that should be taken to fully optimize an image for SEO like picking the right filename and using an image alt text!

2. How to create the right meta description

how to create the right meta descriptionThe main purpose of a meta description is to get the visitor to click your link in Google search results. But where do you start if you want to write a good meta description? In this second most popular post of 2015 we show you the characteristics of a good meta description and some examples of how it should be done!

3. rel=canonical • What it is and how (not) to use it

how to use rel=canonical
The basic premise of rel=canonical is simple: if you have several similar versions of the same content, you pick one “canonical” version and point the search engines to that. This solves a duplicate content problem where search engines don’t know which version of the content to show. Rel=canonical has turned into a powerful tool in an SEO’s toolbox, but like any power tool, you should use it wisely, as it’s easy to cut yourself. Joost shows how this tool should be used.

4. 10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post

awseome and seo-friendly blog postAt Yoast, we write a lot about blogging. We think your content should be, more than anything else, worth reading. This year, we released our eBook Content SEO in which we explain more about good writing (this eBook is on sale now for only $14). In this article, Marieke shows how to write an awesome blogpost by explaining the importance of stopwords, headings, links and structure!

5. Google Webmaster Tools: Crawl

google webmaster tools crawlThe section in Google Search Console that works most closely with our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, is the Crawl section. This section shows you if Google is able to reach every page on your website. This article digs into for instance crawl errors and stats, finding out how Google sees your website and your XML sitemaps.

6. Don’t block your CSS and JS files

Don't block your CSS and JS filesThe 6th article in our 12 days of Christmas post has a clear message: don’t block Googlebot from accessing your CSS and JS files. These files allow Google to decently render your website and give them an idea of what it looks like! Our Yoast SEO plugin is a great help when it comes to this issue. It’s on sale now for only $69 instead of $89!

7. Yoast SEO 3.0

Yoast SEO 3.0 real time content analysis and multiple keywordsWe did a huge update on our Yoast SEO plugin this year! With Yoast SEO 3.0 came some incredible handy features. In Yoast SEO Premium, we added real time content analysis and the option to optimize a post or page for multiple focus keywords! This post explains the new features of this update.

8. Google Webmaster Tools: Search Appearance

Google webmaster tools search appearance If you want to know how your website’s SEO is doing, Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools) is a great help! Google Search Console is a free tool which gives you a great insight in your pages visibility in Google and provides tips on how to improve your site’s SEO as well. This post is the first in a series about Google Search Console (we call it Google Webmaster Tools in the series) and explains the possibilities of this tool!

9. Use hreflang for multilingual websites

9_Use_Hreflang_FBIf your site’s content is available in more than one language, you’ve probably heard of the hreflang tag. Search engines use the hreflang tag to ‘redirect’ the visitor to the page in the right language. This tag might improve your rankings, but only if you use it well! In this post, we explain when and how the hreflang tag should be used!

10. Using category and tag pages for your site’s SEO

using categories and tag pages for SEOTags and categories can both be part of a taxonomy system. This taxonomy system is crucial for your site’s SEO. Despite the importance of this system, we still see completely unmanaged category and tag pages in our site reviews. This article dives into why those pages are so important and how to use them!

11. Mobile-friendly sites and SEO

mobile-friendly sites and SEOThe 11th post in our 12 days of Christmas series is about optimizing for mobile. As we know, Google introduced Mobilegeddon this year. This update made it extremely important to optimize your website for mobile. Right before this update, we wrote a post about how to prepare yourself for this huge update!

12. Our second eBook: Content SEO

Content SEO eBookIn February, we published our second eBook called Content SEO. It turned out to be a big hit! There are three sections in this eBook: keyword strategy, site structure and content writing. All three sections not only contain all the information you need to write great content, but also lots of practical tips. This timeless, high quality eBook is on Holiday sale now for only $14!

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Locally Sourced: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Local Search Columns Of 2015

What aspects of local SEO captured readers’ interest this year? From tactical guides to mistakes to avoid, here are the year’s most widely read local search columns.

The post Locally Sourced: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Local Search Columns Of 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Dear Santa: An SEO Wish List

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and here on the site, Patrick Stox reveals what SEOs want from Santa tonight!

The post Dear Santa: An SEO Wish List appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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6 Ways SEO is Like the Grinch | HigherVisibility

6 Ways SEO is Like the Grinch | HigherVisibility

6 Ways SEO is Like the Grinch


Posted: 12/22/2015 1:37pm | By:
Amanda DiSilvestro

So we all love SEO in the end, but it can be a rocky road to getting the results you want. This holiday season looking back on everything SEO, it’s amazing how easy it is to compare the industry to The Grinch. And so in the spirit of the holidays, check out five ways that SEO is just like the Grinch below.


In order to steal all the toys from the Whos down in Whoville and pose as Santa the Grinch had to be sneaky, and we all know that in the SEO world sneaky changes and updates happen all the time. Remember when (not provided) data was removed? Or when the Phantom updates were released? And there’s a lot more where that came from.

Lives up on a hill in a cave.

When it comes to SEO in regards to Google, the rules are above us all and are not reachable. We’d like to think that we have some sort of idea what’s going on up there and we have some sort of control, but when it really comes down to it SEOs are at the mercy of those sitting up on a hill in what may as well be a cave.

Takes away from you unexpectedly.

The Grinch of course spends the better part of Christmas night taking away toys and stockings and decorations from all the children in Whoville without giving any warning (which was really the point). Google does this often. Sometimes we hear about an impending algorithm update happening in the next two days, but sometimes their changes and new features and announcements come out of nowhere. It can cause a company to have to change their strategy or stop what they’re doing to learn more about the update which can take away time, and usually this wasted time is therefore completely unpredictable.


Just as the Grinch was irritated with the cheerful spirits of those down in Whoville, Google, users, and businesses alike get bothered by spam, poor quality content, and above all else link building for the sake of link building (as opposed to writing for readers). Google is constantly looking for ways to make sure that those trying to improve their SEO are not scamming the system and trying to push out keyword-rich anchor text and unnatural content all for the sake of rankings. Again, we’ve seen this with their introduction of the disavow tool, penalties for using keyword-rich anchor text, penalties for buying directory links, etc.

Has a change of heart.

The Grinch saw a change of heart when he saw the Whos down in Whoville celebrate Christmas even with no gifts, which of course is where he discovered the real spirit and meaning of the holiday. Even though it may seem like Google and the other search giants are out to get us, they listen to their users. It may take them a while to come around, but they have the best intentions in the end. They work hard to make sure that the web is fair and you have to really put out great content in order to see a great ranking, and although this may mean more work for SEOs in the end, it’s worth it. This may not necessarily be a “change of heart” from Google’s standpoint, but SEOs attitudes toward Google often come around time and time again.

Has potential to save the day.

It was the Grinch that saved the day for the Whos by brining them back all of their presents. In the SEO world, it’s all of your efforts that can help save the day when you feel like your business is having a bad quarter or year. If you really put in the time then SEO will deliver, you just have to be patient. Before you know it you will climb up those organic rankings, have a website full of relevant content, and have built a community for your brand.

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