1024 682 Rebecca Moss

What Should Your Content Really Look Like in 2019

What’s at the centre of your digital and social activity? Chances are its content, which bridges the gap between brand and customer like no other media or medium could do previously.

Content marketing has come a long way since the early days of publishing multiple (and mostly mediocre) blogs each week on your website in the vain hope of getting noticed or ranking for a couple of obscure, long tail search queries.

These days, content marketing is a multi-channel, cross-platform behemoth, consisting of everything from landing pages and infographics to podcasts and videos.

The increasingly competitive space in which content sits has also changed dramatically, with things like featured snippets and voice search making any marketing objective even more difficult to achieve.

But that doesn’t mean to say boosting your brand identity, increasing online awareness and engaging with customers through content marketing is impossible…

Here’s the content that performs best in 2019:

Long-form authoritative content

So, if regular blogging doesn’t cut it anymore, what does?

The answer is long-form authoritative content.

This means going into great detail about a particular theme or topic and updating it regularly with fresh insight, imagery and video.

After analysing 912 million blog posts to better understand the world of content marketing, Brian Dean from Backlinko discovered that long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than shorter articles. It also generates significantly more social shares, especially within the ‘sweet spot’ of 1,000-2,000 words.

Other industry studies have also found a direct correlation between long-form content and first page Google rankings. This is because long-form content stands a better chance of satisfying intent and maintaining engagement by demonstrating in-depth knowledge of a particular subject.

Best practice: Identify topics or themes that strongly correlate with your brand’s products, services, or industry. Think about how you could demonstrate your authority with long-form content that meets your customer’s wants and needs.

Short-form video

Every year, the importance of video content continues to grow – you only have to look at the success and influence of platforms like Instagram to realise that its here to stay for the long haul.

According to a recent study by Altimeter, short-form video (less than two minutes) is the best performing content in terms of engagement across every industry and every geography. By contrast, long-form video (greater than two minutes) was said to be 20% less effective.

In addition to greater engagement, short-form video can also improve your SEO, make content more accessible to a wider audience, generate a strong emotional connection with customers and lead to more conversions.

Best practice: Generate ideas for short-term video content that will resonate with your audience. Remember to optimise for mobile viewing (where most video is watched), create captions, include a CTA and keep it short!

Influencer marketing

Despite the exponential rise of social media influencers in recent years, this marketing trend is nothing new. However, several brands are reluctant to explore the idea of influencer marketing due to misconceptions that you need to spend thousands (or even millions) getting high-profile celebrities on board.

More often than not, brands have the most success with influencer marketing when they choose people directly related to their industry or niche. Better yet, they collaborate with influencers throughout the content ideation and creation process.

The following influencer marketing statistics speak volumes about its effectiveness:

  • Influencer Marketing Campaigns Earn $6.50 for Every Dollar Spent
  • 67% of Marketers Promote Content With the Help of Influencers
  • Influencer Marketing Is the Fastest-Growing Online Customer-Acquisition Method

Best practice: Think of influencers as an ad-hoc extension of your own content team. Take advantage of their creativity and audience, relieve some pressure from in-house efforts and add credibility to your brand in the eyes of followers.

Voice search

Voice search is slowly but surely becoming a daily fixture for many, especially given the increasingly popularity of Google Home, Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants. Estimates suggest there are over one billion voice searches per month, while 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

So with more and more text-based digital tasks moving over to voice thanks to the speed and convenience it affords, every marketer should adjust their content strategy accordingly.

Unfortunately, each device seems to pull data from different sources and offer completely different results. But by creating pieces of content that deliver quick answers to quick questions, you should be able to position yourself ahead of the competition.

Best practice: Think about the words people say, not just what they’re likely to type. Also, most voice-activated searches take place on mobile, so make sure your website is responsive and optimised for smartphones.

Storytelling and Digital PR

There’s a reason why storytelling remains one of the most popular approaches to content marketing – it works, and will continue to work for many years to come. By conveying facts through narrative, you’ll create a connection with your audience and encourage action thanks to the number of decisions people make based on emotion.

One excellent example comes from National Geographic and its content marketing activity that engages with 350 million combined global followers on social media. As Nadine Heggie, VP of Brand Partnership, explains: “Staying true to your brand, being timely with content, using the power of wow and wonder, and embracing new technologies to tell stories.”

Key ingredients to any story include a main character/hero, a conflict/journey, and an ending/resolution. Don’t forget to make it easy-to-follow, relatable and memorable. Support your stories with visuals and data to drive the message home.

Next steps: Try to gain an in-depth understanding of your audience – their needs, pains, hopes and aspirations. Know exactly what you want to say and what you want your audience to do before launching any storytelling campaign.

Take your content marketing to the next level with JBH – let’s create something awesome together.

7 ways to respond to a negative pitch response
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

7 Ways to Respond to a Negative Pitch Response

Turning Objections into Options: 7 tried and tested ways to flip a negative pitch response round.  

Appraisal, constructive criticism or review – however you want to sugarcoat it – no one really likes getting negative feedback on their work, however, it’s not unusual for this to happen during a digital PR campaign.   

With feedback ranging from a single word email saying ‘NO’ to a full-on campaign analysis (we’ve had them all believe me), there are a number of tried-and-tested ways to flip those negative responses into brilliant and long-lasting relationships.

One Foot in their Inbox

Picture the scene. You’ve had a response from someone you pitched your carefully crafted digital PR campaign to. You’ve got a name, you’ve got an email address and you might even be lucky enough to have a direct dial phone number to add to your little black book.

Your heart skips a beat, as you read down the email. The response really wasn’t what you hoped for. You’ve received a negative reply from the one person you were hoping to impress the most.

Remember this: No matter how long you have spent creating your content or how well you have sold-in your campaign there will ALWAYS be objections.

Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Resist the urge to start tapping out an ‘off the cuff’ response. Think about how you can use this to your advantage. Use your words and media relations skills to turn their frown upside down.

7 Tried-and-Tested Techniques to Help Reverse a Negative Pitch

Objection Response
“The wording you used here really turned me off your campaign” Unless you have used an offensive phrase in your content, this is usually down to personal preference and can be tricky to avoid unless you have a relationship already.

In a non-combative way, explain your reasoning for using that wording and ask for more information about why that phrase, in particular, was a ‘turn off’. Thank them for their feedback and explain why it’s useful and offer an alternative way of wording to see if that may be of interest.

“We don’t publish branded content on our site” Offer to switch up the content to include less brand related mentions. For a data-led campaign, you could offer some unique statistics that could be weaved into a feature article, for example.  
“We only work from raw datasets” If you are confident that this will secure coverage, then it may be worth offering them any raw data accompanied by quotes and case studies so that they can embellish anything they are planning to write.
“My editor spiked the idea” Aim to find out why the idea was spiked and how you could have changed your campaign or pitch to make it more agreeable to the commissioning editor.

It can sometimes be as simple as having amazing case studies, imagery or quotes ready to go.

Even if you don’t secure coverage for this campaign, at least you know what to aim for next time when selling into that publication next time.

“How is this relevant to our target audience?” You will have a good reason for contacting them in the first place. Be confident and reiterate those reasons, providing examples based on what other publications with a similar audience profile have featured.

Top tip: Use Facebook audience insights to add some real clout to your response on this one.    

“We only post content that is exclusive to us” It may be that you have missed the mark on this occasion, but make a note for the next round of outreach and offer your campaigns up to them in the first instance.


Putting the Theory into Practise

Below you’ll see an exchange between myself and a freelance journalist, pitching an angle from the Missy Empire ‘Girl Boss Entrepreneurs’ data led campaign.

Negative pitch response

As you can see, the initial negative response was quite short so I wanted to see if I could find out a bit more about why they felt this way and attempt to turn this around. I resisted the urge to shrug my shoulders and move onto the next email in my inbox.

Whilst they might not feature the ‘Girl Boss’ campaign, but I will have (at the very least) preserved the relationship in preparation for future relevant campaigns.

Review, Revise and Regroup

Not every digital PR campaign goes the way you would expect. If you’re receiving a large amount of negative feedback in response to your outreach efforts, then it can be easy to feel like this is a personal attack on you.

You don’t have to feel like it’s all down to you to fix the issue. Speak to your colleagues, chat to as many people as possible about your campaign. Ask for their insight and opinion, it may open up an angle or avenue that you hadn’t even considered previously.

Persistence and flexibility are key traits for any content marketer. Approaching negative responses in a diplomatic way could really help you turn those objections into options.  

7 things I learnt during my first month in digital PR
1024 682 Rebekah Massey

7 Things I Learnt During my First Month in Digital PR

My first month at JBH has taught me valuable lessons in outreach, research among so much more.  

With a background in influencer marketing and content creation at a large brand, my first month at JBH working on a range of digital PR campaigns has been a great transition into SEO, journalists and outreach.

Here are the 7 things I’ve learnt taking the leap into Digital PR:

1. Journalists

They can sometimes be difficult to suss out, but value and nurture your contacts!

The way I see it, any reply is a good reply. Whether that reply contains constructive or just a polite ‘no thank you’, it’s all valuable. Learning and predicting which journalists will be open to media releases, research and new content is key, which definitely saves time for future campaign outreach.

2. Ideation

Inspiration can strike at ANY TIME!

I find myself coming up with the best ideas after a campaign is finished! The key is to keep every idea in your notes tab for a rainy day. You never know when “Celebs that remind you of furniture” will come in handy (probably never).

Glasses on a book to indicate research

3. Research is key

A good foundation of research into clients, articles, or websites you want to get your campaigns to is so important.

Knowing your audience can be make-or-break for campaigns and having solid research helps with that. It’s great to have something to refer back to when you have had to go back to the drawing board with an article. Research is also important for outreach, don’t offend journalists/clients with your lack of knowledge on their company or website.

4. Keeping up to date

Not everyone will like what you’re sending them (and that’s OK!)  

You can’t be constantly worrying about someone taking a dislike to your campaign,  but you also need to be educated on current issues and discussions in the news and social media. Make sure you are arriving to the party on time rather than late or early.

Pile of newspapers showing top tier news research

5. Outreach

Personalise, change, alter, make it original, and speak to your audience, rather than generalise.

Ensure the person you are talking to knows that you actually care about their feedback. Starting every email with the same line is dangerous, especially when you are going out to multiple journalists with a range of angles, headlines, and hooks.

Looking for more information about digital PR? We’ve got a guide for that, here!

6. Tools

Tools such as Mozbar, Ahrefs, and Roxhill can help you squeeze even more out of your campaigns.

Prospecting is so much easier when you have these in your toolkit. I found the Content Explorer function within Ahrefs especially useful, helping me to explore content related to campaign keywords. Perfect for link prospecting and a lifesaver if you feel as though you have exhausted all of your target sites (believe me, you haven’t even scratched the surface).  

7. The snack drawer is both your best friend and your enemy

Getting through a full day of outreach with extra motivation is possible when your snack drawer is full and you have cups of tea on tap. But, you can’t blame outreach when you get your sugar crash.

Fancy working in Digital PR?

Does digital PR sound right up your street? Check out the digital PR careers section on our website to see what digital PR opportunities we have available!

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

SEO Tools Every Team Needs in their Toolkit

Data from Statistia revealed that the majority (54%) of corporations spend less than $300 a month on SEO tools. It’s become clear that agencies and corporations are looking to ‘trim the fat’ away from their SEO toolkit, whilst still maintaining a streamlined and productive workflow.  

Whilst there’s a lot to be said for the free-to-use tools (we’ve written about our favorite free SEO tools here), it’s true that you need to find the right blend of tools that fit in with your workflow.

Whether you’re a digital PR agency looking for a better understanding of your client’s backlink profile or an in-house brand marketer looking for a dashboard-style overview of how things are progressing, there will be a suite of tools that’s right for you.    

With so many of the popular SEO tools having ‘feature overlap’ and a tonne of great new tools coming to the market, is it time to rethink your tool subscriptions and make the switch to some of the emerging tools that are filling the gaps the big 6 have missed?



Kerboo SEO tools


Kerboo is a relatively new tool that shows a lot of promise. It focuses primarily on link building and its link auditing software has even won awards.

The software goes beyond just peeking behind the curtain at your backlinks and lets you zoom into every detail about your links so you can full understand your websites backlink profile. The insights it gives you can be instrumental in improving and protecting your sites SEO and will definitely make your life a lot easier when it comes to link building campaigns.

Why it’s different:

  • Two industry recognised link metrics: create and maintain their own metrics–LinkRisk and LinkValue–backed by some serious maths and an ocean of data.
  • Backlink audit: get a clear picture of your link profile and use Investigate mode, which has an easy to use interface that makes manually reviewing your links simple and allows for collaboration with other team members to speed up your workflows.


From £249/month



New SEO Tool Pulno's Dashboard


Pulno is a brand new addition, allowing users to crawl through their sites to identify a whole range of optimisation and development issues. From broken links through to sitemap issues, these issues can cause problems when it comes to the indexability and ranking potential.

In addition to the usual SEO red flags, Pulno offers a range of unique features such as the ‘Unique Content Analyser’ which evaluates on-site content and helps you see the areas where your content might be thin or even duplicate. For the more technical amongst us, Pulno offers a CSS and Fonts audit, flagging up unused fonts and bloated CSS.

Why it’s different:

  • Website analysis: analyse over 100 website parameters including speed, duplicate content and meta tags.
  • Reporting: comprehensible and easy to read reports that can be exported in a range of formats
  • CSS and fonts: Any unused CSS files and fonts will be detected during a website analysis and will also generate a lighter, optimized CSS file that you can download and install on your website


Free and paid options (starting from $12/month)



SEO tool sistrix that helps Marketers see their websites search visibility


Sistrix is positioned as the premier tool used by SEO professionals and provides a user-friendly interface with an intuitive design that makes it easy for even the newest SEO to understand.

It has a range of modules that can help with all elements of your marketing and its SEO models pull through trustworth data from decent sample sizes to help you make informed SEO decisions. It has its own visibility index which specifically focuses on Google and pulls results by analysing one million keywords twice a week per market.

It also has a great keyword tool that has winning functionality that allows for quick filtering and provides data for ranking distribution, ideas, competition, traffic and cannibalisation.

Why it’s different:

  • A range of modules that cover your marketing strategy from all angles including SEO, links, PPC, social and e-commerce.
  • Visibility Index: that is unique to Sistric and based on continuous and extensive Google search result analysis that is then presented in a simple and user friendly way


6 modules available; 5, including the SEO module are €100/month



SERP Robot is an SEO tool that lets users know their serach engine rankings


SERPRobot is a cheap tool that can give you quick and accurate visibility for your Search Engine Ranking Position.

It has everything you need for a SERP tracker:

  • Accurate results
  • Easy to add new keywords
  • Cheap price

With the economical pricing there comes with some to be expected downsides. The user interface is pretty dated and it doesn’t have some of the fancy bells and whistles that other trackers do – but these often cost a lot more .

Why it’s different:

  • Great value for money: A cheap and handy tool that won’t eat into your budget.
  • Search huge volumes of keywords: Allows for many keyword searches
  • Generous free trial: Get a 30 day free trial


Starting from $4.99/month


Content king is a tool that offers realtime SEO monitoring


ContentKing is an in-depth tool that gives marketers a tonne of great insights into their websites content and performance. You can continuously keep an eye on yours or your clients websites with the real time reporting with can be a big help in creating strategy and is noticeably better than intermittent scans and audits.

The tool also supports an unlimited number of team members which is great for international or remote teams. It gives you a central place to manage your on-page SEO ToDos which can be great for accountability and keeping track of tasks across content specialists, developers, SEOs and managers.

Why it’s different:

  • 24/7 Monitoring: ContentKing is the only SEO auditing tool that monitors 24/7
  • Actionable insights: Using a range of signals their algorithms can give you insights into ways to improve the SEO on your site.
  • Unlimited team members: allow your whole team to keep track of projects.


Starting from £19.00/month




Deepcrawl gives marketers insights through comprehensively scanning their websites


DeepCrawl offers a comprehensive scan of yours or your clients website. With high- level site auditing and domain crawling capabilities that are some of the best offered by any product on the market.

It has a narrow focus, concentrating on site crawling, which it does excellently – they know what they do well and they stick to it. However, this does mean you will need to purchase other tools to for your SEO arsenal to complete other tasks like keyword research and link audits.

Why it’s different:

  • On-page SEO recommendations
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Mobile Vs Desktop: includes a section breaking down desktop and mobile pages for responsive design and mobile configurations


Plans starting from £63/month


After more tools, expert advice and networking opportunities from the SEO community? Check out our roundup of the not-to-missed SEO events to attend in 2019



2019s best content events in the north
1024 682 Kerri Rogers

2019’s Best Content & SEO Events in the North

In the past, the South has always been the place where digital marketing has been the most prolific, holding the lion’s share of conferences, events and job opportunities.

However, in the last 12 months, there has been a perceptible shift towards the northern cities of Manchester and Leeds, especially for conferences and events.

So, if you’re in the North and looking to learn from the best, hear about new developments in search and take part in a spot of networking, there’s no need to jump on the Pendolino as there’s some fantastic conferences coming up right here in the North.   


Content Marketing & SEO Events in the North

Planning your 2019 conference calendar? Look no further as we’ve put together THE list of the top content marketing and SEO events and conferences happening in the North throughout 2019:  


Benchmark Search Conference in Manchester

Benchmark Search Conference | Manchester | 11 September 2019

Benchmark Search Conference is the North’s leading search marketing event, packed full of inspiring, engaging and entertaining talks from world-renowned experts.

This years event lineup has recently been released and includes some top industry experts from companies like Google, Bing Ads, Futurist and Ahrefs. This line up of world­-class speakers will be covering every need­-to­-know search marketing topic you can think of so it’s not an event to be missed.



CMO Insight Summit | Ayrshire | 3-5 April 2019

The CMO Insight Summit is one of the leading marketing events in Scotland, bringing together senior marketer and business leaders from all across Europe to discuss current industry challenges and emerging opportunities in marketing.

This years summit will focus on topics such as: defining the tribe, not the demographic; data insight and the power of personalisation; and emerging trends – sure to give you some great takeaways you can incorporate into your marketing strategy.



Search Leeds - SEO Event

Search Leeds | Leeds | 20 June 2019

With a tagline of ‘No sales pitches – just actionable advice’ that’s exactly what you can expect when you attend Search Leeds. It is a one-day event that takes place in the biggest venue Leeds has to offer–the first direct arena–and has now become the largest search marketing conference in the North of England. Plus, the tickets are totally free!


Leeds Digital Festival SEO Event

Leeds Digital Festival | Leeds | 23 April-3 May 2019

Leeds Digital Festival takes place over two weeks and hosts a ton of creative and interesting events covering everything digital, from marketing to VR and AI. It’s a great place to go and get inspiration for your business and see what other people in the marketing and tech spaces are currently doing.



MacSEO - SEO Meetups

MancSEO | Manchester | TBA

MancSEO was on hold for a little while but has recently seen a reboot by Kieron Hughes (Wavemaker), James Smith (iProspect), and Will O’Hara (MediaCom), with the first event set to take place in April 2019.

Originally run in 2009/10 it was a series of meetups by the SEO community in Manchester, providing a place for them to talk shop and educate and inspire one another. The reboot of the events will follow the same principals and will hopefully be up and running real soon.

In the meantime you can keep up to date on their goings on by following them on twitter or requesting to join their slack channel


Impact Summit Glasgow

Impact Summit | Glasgow | 15 May 2019

An opportunity to listen to inspiring speakers and meet other enterprising marketers. Their speakers are people who are shaking things up in their industry and all about not maintaining the status quo by using purpose-driven business models and addressing global issues.



Nottingham Digital Summit | Nottingham | 3 July 2019

An event based in Nottingham that focuses on marketing, creative and tech. Free to attend, in return for a donation to the Samaritans of Nottingham making it a bargain and opportunity to help a good cause.

You will come away feeling inspired, having learnt a tonne of industry insights and seen new innovations that will be coming. Whether you’re responsible for SEO or PPC, digital PR or content this is a day you don’t want to miss.



Creative North | Manchester | 7 June 2019

An event created by copywriters for copywriters. this years Creative North will take an in-depth look at the future of copywriting, content creation and the marketing industry. You can meet like minded, enterprising content creators and listen to a range of expert speakers including writers and podcasters who will discuss the future of the industry.


Atomicon 2020

ATOMICON | Newcastle Upon Tyne | 28 April 2020

ATOMICON happened just a few weeks ago in Newcastle Upon Tyne but if you missed it don’t worry it will be happening again next year. The event is run by Andrew and Pete and their content marketing agency and has established itself as one of the best and most fun event for marketers to attend in the UK.


Marketing Show North in Manchester

Marketing Show North | Manchester | 5-6 Feb 2020

Marketing Show North is the biggest digital marketing event outside of London (formerly Prolific North Live). It takes place in Feb every year, unfortunately, that has passed for 2019 but it’s coming back next year and you can pre-register your interest to make sure you don’t miss out on tickets.

The event covers every topic a marketer could possibly be interested in from SEO and digital PR to broader topics of media, branding and marketing and sales.


Did we miss any search or content events in Manchester / Leeds / Sheffield / Newcastle?

If we’ve missed you off the list, then please get in touch and we can add your event to our list for 2019!  


The Evolution of Google’s SERPs
1024 576 Kerri Rogers

The Evolution of Google’s SERPs

Google was officially launched in 1998. Over the past 20 years, it has gone through numerous updates and its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) have undergone some dramatic changes.

The evolution of Google’s search engine completely changed the way businesses do their online marketing. Once, not too long ago, Black Hat SEO tricks would get your site ranking for your keywords, but these days as Google focuses on providing the best answers for its users – high-quality content and user experience have become the key to SEO.  

But just how did Google evolve into the behemoth it is today, and how have its search results changed over the years? Like many modern tech stories, this one starts in a garage with a couple of university students.


Googles SEPRs changed to include paid advertisement


Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University were working on a project known as “BackRub” where they were developing a search algorithm.



Google was launched and the very first SERPs was displayed.

The first ever Google search was conducted by computer scientist John Hennessy, to whom Page and Brin were demonstrating the accuracy of their algorithm.

Hennessy typed in ‘Gerhard Casper’ into the search bar. Gerhard Casper was the president of Stanford University at that time, and instead of displaying results for Casper the Friendly Ghost – as their rival search engine AltaVista did – Google’s search results showed relevant links to the person, Gerhard Casper.



Google launched Adwords.

Originally only launched for 350 advertisers, 2000 marked the beginning of pay-per-click advertisements in SERPs.   

Paid results generally appear at the top of SERPs and are primarily powered by keywords. They generally look pretty similar to organic search results but have a lower CTR (3.82% vs organics 65.72% as of Feb ‘18).



Google Search Results became available in 10 new languages


Google went international, launching in 10 new languages – French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish. Allowing users to conduct searches in these languages, and for content creators to have their content in these languages discovered.


The evolution of Googles SERPs now included images


Google Image Search arrived.

Not only could users search for links to content, but they could also search through over 250 million images in its database.

Images could be displayed at the top of some SERPs (where relevant), giving content creators more incentive to add images to their sites and add appropriate HTML attributes so Google could display them for users.


Google SERPs started displaying local listings

Source: Google


Local search results were launched and provided relevant neighbourhood business listings, maps and directions.

Prior to Google Local, users were searching more for information, but with the launch of Local, Google understood that its users would want to use its search engine to find local products and services online.


2005 was the year Google Maps was launched



Google Maps was launched. A feature that has changed lives and made it easy for everyone to navigate new areas and find places without getting lost.


The Google Plus Box came to SERPs

Source: Matt Cuts blog


The Google Plus box was added to search results.

If someone searched for a business and Google had further information, such as the business address, they would add a small plus box, that when clicked, it would expand to show this information.


Google introduced Place Search in 2010

Source: CNN


Google introduced Place Search.

From Google Local to Google Maps and Plus Box, the search engine was making it much easier for customers and stores in the same vicinity to connect.  

At the time that it launched, everyone was taking notice because of the dramatic change it had on the look for Googles SERPs.

Place added 7 local listings to the traditional Google organic search listings. It included a Google map window of the listings locations and the address, phone number, and the number of Google reviews.

This was great for local businesses as users aren’t always looking for a website. By filling out their Google Local+ business page, they could have more information listed in their results allowing users to connect with them offline.


SERPs displaying contnet that has used schema markup


Schema markup was introduced by Google, Bing and Yahoo as an initiative to create a unified set of schemas for structured markup.

Rich snippets had been introduced prior to this (in 2009) but were not widely adopted and not displayed in most SERPs. The introduction of Schemas markup and a more structured way to annotate data meant that rich snippets have become ever more popular in the SEPRs.

Rich snippets are especially helpful for e-commerce stores as they can display information such as ratings, price, and availability of products as a way to entice a user to click on their listing.


On top of Schema Markup, 2011 was the year Google+ authors were added to listings.

It was implemented as a way for users to discover content written by experts in their field and let them know they could trust the link they were clicking on.

For authoritative authors, this was great. Having their name on their listing was easy to implement through Google’s own Google+ platform and often increase CTR and return visits.


SERPs now displayed the knowledge graph


Google launched the Knowledge Graph in May of 2012, creating a huge change to the structure of their SERPs.

The Knowledge Graph displays a panel on the right-hand side of search results that pulls information from the web to give quick snippets and summaries of information the user is searching for.

For example, in the listing above it displays; release date, directors, a quick summary of the plot, cast members and other movies people have searched for.

Each piece of information links to the site where the information was pulled and you can get more detail. While the Knowledge Graph is great for users wanting to find information quickly, it hurts sites and creators that provide information by generating fewer clicks for them.

evolution of Google search engine


When Google’s Carousel launched in 2013 it was originally for Local, displaying listings for things like hotels, nightlife and restaurants. However, this dropped just a year later and replaced with panels like the one shown below.

google SERP changes

This did not mean the end of the carousel, and it has been implemented into a number of search results such as ‘US Presidents’ and ‘Movies 2019’


Quick answers displayed in google serps


The introduction of ‘Quick Answers’ (which later became Featured Snippets). Much like the Knowledge Panel, quick answers gave users information right on the SERP, but unlike the Knowledge Graph, the majority of them came from Google’s own knowledge base meaning they had no links to sources.

the evolution of Googles results pages


The ‘In the News’ box started to be displayed in SERPs and was later renamed ‘Top Stories’ and became a carousel.  

The change in name came in 2016 due to some issues Google was having with displaying fake news in this box. Google News vets all the publications that it displays, but the Google News box just displays ‘newsy’ stories from across the web. The similar names were causing confusion and Google was receiving backlash for some of its results.

Featured snippets became a common occurrence in Googles SERPs 2016

Quick answers officially became ‘Featured Snippets’

The Featured Snippets showed a quick summary answer to the search query, displayed at the top of search results and could take a number of forms including paragraphs, lists, and tables.

There are a number of advantages to gaining the featured snippet:


  • Authority: Google chose your page or site to deliver the answer.
  • Ranking ahead of your competitors: You might not rank top for a search term but if you get the featured snippet you will be displayed at the top of the results, effectively outranking your competition.


With that being said, the concern content creators have with Featured Snippets is as they provide answers right there on the SERPs (or even as voice answers if the questions come through Google Home), that there is no need for the user to visit their site.

Google Jobs was launched in 2017


When Google launched Jobs in 2017, it caused massive disruption to the recruitment industry.

Have you ever searched for a job online before? Of course you have, and it is a nightmare. From different companies using different terminology to poorly written or out of date job descriptions the process can often leave you wanting to bang your head against a wall.

Enter Google.

With the aim to improve the job search process for both employees and employers Google has continued to improve its search capabilities so that users can find jobs that are well matched to them and filter results by things like date posted, commute time, etc.

Googles SERPs Video Carousel


Google began including videos in a carousel. Previous video results had been displayed with a thumbnail in organic results. At the same time this change was implemented, the number of SERPs that displaying video results increased.

What does the future hold for SERPs?

In March of 2018, Google started conducting Zero SERP tests. On a selected number of  Knowledge Cards, with simple queries such as time and date, Google displayed results to the searcher with no organic results, just the knowledge card.

A “show all results” button was displayed underneath, that the user had to click on for organic results. While Google only conducted these tests for around a week, it could be an ominous sign of what is to come.

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7 free SEO tools you need for your 2019 Online PR Strategy

In search of the best free SEO tools for 2019? Look no further, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite SEO tools that every digital marketer needs to know about.

We work smartest and fastest when we have the right tools at our disposal. This is particularly true when it comes to SEO and digital PR, as the right tools can help us automate and scale some of the more time consuming, but completely necessary parts of the job.

Whether you’re a digital PR pro, an entrepreneur, or a online marketer simply looking for a toolkit update, you’ll be sure to find everything you could need within our list.

Here are 7 free SEO tools that can help you with site audits, reporting, keyword research and more, just to make your job that little bit easier:


1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a suite of helpful tools straight from Google. You can see if you have duplicate metadata, how many pages you have indexed, security issues and more.

These insights can be invaluable, bringing to your attention errors and bugs you may not have been aware of that are negatively impacting your site’s visibility in search. Once you become aware of them and get them fixed you could see some noticeable changes in your rankings and traffic.

Top Tip: Use the performance report within Google Search Console to identify any landing pages on your site with a particularly low click through rates (CTR). This is a great starting point to help decrease those all important impression:click ratios!


2. Bing Webmaster Tool

As you may expect, Bing Webmaster tool doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by Google’s Search Console but it’s still worth including on our list as your visibility in Bing may still be important to your overall marketing mix.

Did you know that Bing and Yahoo combined search traffic makes up 33% of the search market share? This is a THIRD of all search traffic, so it’s important to remember to there are other engines out there that may index and rank your site very differently to Google.

Top tip: Both Bing Webmaster Tool and Google Search Console require the installation of a bit of code on your site. If you’re using WordPress as your CMS there are some handy (also free) plugins such as Yoast and Jetpack that can make these installations quick and easy for even least tech-savvy marketers.


Keywords Everywhere: A great free SEO chrome extension

3. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is an amazing free Chrome Extension (also available on Firefox if that’s your thing) that literally does what it say on the tin – gives you keywords, everywhere!

It dynamically adds keyword volume and suggestions into almost every search bar you can think of. From eBay and Amazon to Google and YouTube, wherever your audience is searching for your products, services or content, you can get accurate insights into search volumes, competition and a list of suggested relevant keywords as well.  


Free SEO tools for 2019: Google PageSpeed Insights

4. Google PageSpeed Insights

If you weren’t already aware, page load times are a significant ranking factor for search engines.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights lets you check the speed and usability of your site not just on desktop but on mobile as well.

Simply enter your URL and it will measure your lead time and give you recommendations on how to improve it.


5. Google Analytics

If you want to get serious about your SEO you need to be using Google Analytics.

It tracks every piece of data imaginable relating to your website traffic. It’s completely free and can give you info such as how visitors located your site, what pages they are clicking on most and loads more helpful insights. It’s basically the only SEO analytics tool you need to see how well your SEO strategies are performing.


6. Microdata Generator

If you’re not a coder using schema markup for your site can seem a bit scary. Well, Microdata Generator makes it easy. If you are a local business you can simply put in your business info and the free tool will generate the code you need.

Schema markup helps tell search engines what your data means so can be a great way to push your site up the rankings by adding context to your indexable content.


Free seo tool: Website Penalty Indicator

7. Website Penalty Indicator

Ever wondered if your site has been with a Google Penalty? Well, Website Penalty Indicator can help you figure that out. The free tool shows you a graph of your website traffic and lines it up with Google algorithm updates. By seeing noticeable drops in traffic line up with dates of algorithm updates you can see where your site has been penalised.


These are just 7 of the best free SEO tools that marketers need to use in 2019. If you think we have missed any vital tools off our list let us know in the comments.

Digital PR and SEO events to attend in 2019
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13 Digital PR and SEO events to attend in 2019

Here at JBH, we love to attend digital PR conferences and SEO events. They provide a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow industry experts and learn more about new and exciting developments that can inspire ideas for future campaigns and projects that we work on.  

Conferences and events bring a wealth of opportunity to build your network and gain valuable industry knowledge and insight, so for this reason, we’ve put together our comprehensive list of the top digital PR and SEO events throughout the UK in 2019:  


BrightSEO, SEO event in Brighton

@brightonseo Instagram

1. BrightonSEO | Brighton | 11-12 April & 12-13 September

BrightonSEO has become an institution in the UK, starting off in a small room in a pub with just a few attendees it has now grown to become one of the UK’s largest SEO conferences hosting over 4,000 guests last year.

Set in the beautiful seaside town of Brighton, over 2 days, some of the best and brightest in the SEO industry host talks and small group sessions sharing detailed and practical SEO insights.


Read our key takeaways from September 2018’s BrightonSEO Conference


2. SMX London | London | 21-22 May

Anyone who knows anything about SEO has probably gathered some of their knowledge from the Search Engine Land blog – one of the best sources of SEO industry news and technical developments you can find. SMX is their three day SEO event in London, that you can attend to improve your search marketing efforts.

The talks are designed to be accessible to both newbies and veterans, meaning that every attendee will be able to take away practical and actionable tips from their sessions that cover almost every topic imaginable in search.


CMALive - one of the top SEO events to attend in the UK

@hellocma Instagram

3. CMA Live | Edinburgh | 5-6 June

CMA Live is an Edinburgh based content marketing event that plays hosts some incredible speakers in the content marketing industry. Past speakers include Ann Handley of Marketing Profs and Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group so you can expect this years line up to be just as exciting.

These industry experts are constantly creating incredible content for the web and attending CMA Live gives you the opportunity to learn first hand the practical experience and technical knowledge they can share.


4. SearchLove | London | 14-15 October

SearchLove conference takes place over 2 days in October each year. Guest speakers give presentations on content creation, analytics, trends, mobile search and a range of other digital marketing topics.

It is geared toward both in-house and agency professionals as well as business owners and marketing managers looking to improve their SEO strategies.


Marketing Show North, formerly Prolific North Live, digital marketing event

@ziferblatlpl Instagram

5. Marketing Show North | Manchester | 27-28 Feb

Marketing Show North is the biggest digital marketing event outside of London (formerly Prolific North Live). It covers more than just SEO and digital PR going into broader topics of media, branding and marketing and sales.


6. Outreach Conference | London | 8 June

Outreach Conference is the UK’s only event that is dedicated entirely to outreach, digital and online PR. Here you’ll learn all about the techniques, tips and tricks that go into gaining links and coverage for your campaigns.

Top industry professionals host sessions on mindset, creativity and outreach strategy, providing you with a ton of tips to generate coverage and improve your website’s backlink profile.


SEO and Digital PR conference

@ungagged Instagram

7. Ungagged | London | 1-3 April

Ungagged is a 2-day SEO & Digital Marketing event taking place on April 1st and 2nd, with day long intensive masterclasses happening on April 3rd.

Ungagged isn’t your typical marketing conference and promises an unconventional delivery with uncensored sessions that are sure to both inform and entertain.


8. Search Leeds | Leeds | 20 June

Search Leeds is one of the few SEO events in the North of England. Its tagline is ‘No sales pitches – just actionable advice’ and that’s exactly what you get. Speakers are search industry specialists who really know their stuff, running sessions to share their knowledge. You really do come away from this event feeling like you’ve really learned something. Plus, it’s completely free of charge to attend!


9. International Search Summit | London | 20 May

This is the event to attend if you are running an online, digital marketing or SEO project that involves multiple countries and/or languages.

The summit complements the larger SMX London event (as it’s organised by the same team) but this part of the conference focuses primarily on the linguistic and cultural challenges which can affect the operational running of a multilingual site.  


10. Atomicon | Newcastle Upon Tyne | 8 March

Atomicon is a marketing event with a difference. They brand themselves as the most fun digital marketing event in the UK and put a core focus around providing practical insights on a range of topics as well as advising how you can implement them to ensure what you learn is going to make an impact.


11. Marketing Technology Expo | London | 27-28 March

This two-day expo showcases all the latest and greatest technologies and that are impacting modern marketing practices.

They boast an impressive range of speakers this year including Andrew Fryer from Microsoft, Yoann Pavy from Depop and Martin Tavener from IBM.


12. Benchmark Search Conference | Manchester | TBA

Benchmark Search Conference is the North’s leading search marketing event, packed full of inspiring, engaging and entertaining talks from world-renowned experts.

Last years event featured speakers from huge industry names such as SEMrush, Google, Canon, Barclays and BingAds. While this year’s event details have not yet been released, we can expect it to be just as inspiring.


Digital PR and SEO events 2019

@liveryonchev Instagram

13. Youth Marketing Strategy | London | 16-17 April

This event gives attendees a youth perspective and helps brands understand the latest trends, meaning you leave will everything you need to know about winning over the most diverse, influential and ambitious generation of young people yet.


Get started building authoritative links to improve your SEO.

what you need to know about voice search
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OK Google; what do I need to know about voice search?

Comscore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. How can your business prepare for the inbound voice search revolution?


The rapid growth of voice search

Voice search is something that is now an integral part of many people’s everyday lives but just a few years ago it was little more that a gimmick.

Remember way back in 2011 when Siri came out on the iPhone 4S? It seems like a lifetime ago in terms of technology. When it first came out, Siri was frustratingly bad and totally impractical to use. In 2011, iPhone users would laugh at the hilarity of the way Siri would interpret their requests; today however, according to Hubspot, 19% of iPhone users engage with Siri at least once a day.

That’s almost 1 in 5 iPhone users daily using their voice assistant. So, if the voice search revolution is already well underway and more users are conducting voice searches, do your content marketing efforts need to change?

The thought of adopting new technologies and adapting to change can be overwhelming and some businesses had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century and are now paying the price as they can’t meet consumer demand.

Change can be scary but with it also comes opportunity. By incorporating voice search into your SEO strategies you provide a service your users want and put yourself ahead of your competitors.


Why businesses need to care about voice search

Why should you care about voice search?

Some stats to convince you that voice search is something you should be thinking about:

  • There will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020 according to Activate
  • Comscore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020
  • 40% of adults now use voice search once per day according to Location World
  • 25% of 16-24s use voice search on mobile according to Global Web Index
  • 41% of people using voice search have only started in the last 6 months according to MindMeld
  • 25% of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice – on desktop! according to Bings Purna Virji
  • 42% of people with voice-activated devices say it has quickly become “essential” to their lives according to

Brands need to be where their audience are if they want to be heard. It might seem obvious to point out but if your customers are using voice search, and your website is not optimised for voice search, you are going to have less visibility with your audience.

Voice search is still an emerging technology but it is being embraced by consumers at a rapid pace. While at the moment, a lot of voice assistant may have a limited capacity, learning how to take advantage of them now will lessen your learning curve as the technology gains more applications, in addition to giving you an advantage of visibility over competitors who have not yet optimised for voice search.


Google search results for 'How does voice search work?'

Is there a limitation to how much information you can answer a voice search with?

While some consider a pitfall of voice search the limitation to the amount of information you can respond with, as a brand you should look at this as an advantage.

Type search on Google and other search engines can be overwhelming for users. They have to wade through a lot of results and it can be difficult for them to find the information they are looking for. Voice search can simplify this process, giving you the opportunity to give simple, clear and conversational answers to consumers.


How is consumer behaviour changing?

A consumer that types a query into Google will behave differently than a consumer that speaks to Google.


Voice search has longer queries

According to More Visibility the average search through typing is around one to three words but voice searches are much longer, generally including seven or more words.

People talk to their voice assistants as if they are a person. Instead of typing in ‘Chinese restaurant’ a user will ask ‘OK Google, where’s the nearest Chinese restaurant?’

Betsy Rohtbart from Vonage told Forbes “with online search, a slew of otherwise random words yields a narrowed list of final results: “non-slip stair covering beige.” With voice search, however, a query or command gets a response: “Alexa, order more yogurt.” “Siri, where is the nearest park?” Create content that keeps the conversation going, rather than ends it.

You might not think this change in language is a significant difference but those few extra words provide more context and change the type of content that the user is searching for. By providing conversational content you can help give a richer answer that is more likely to lead to a conversion.


voice searches are often locally based

Local Search

According to Search Engine Watch voice searches are three times more likely to be locally-based than text searches.

A lot of voice searches happen on the go, through mobile devices, so this makes sense. Voice search allows Google to retain information from your previous search, for example if you ask ‘where am I?’ it will remember the answer if your next question is ‘show me things to do here.’

A user can have a full conversation with Google and go on to get attraction information or contact details and make a call without ever having to leave the search engine or visit a company’s site.  

As a result of this change in search behaviour it is more vital than ever for businesses to keep up to date profiles on sites like Google My Business. Having the correct information such as address, opening hours, phone number, website easily accessible through search results makes for a more seamless experience for users. By having this information available within SERP’s business have a greater chance of getting offline conversions.


Search intent

Elongated search terms can help business of both local and enterprise level understand the users intent. Through text based search a user might type something like ‘camera shop,’ but this doesn’t tell you much about what the user is after. They might want to buy a camera, they might want to speak to someone and ask for advice regarding which type of camera they need, or they might be trying to find a shop that can repair their camera.  

A voice searcher will typically search in more complete sentences asking something like ‘Where can I buy a Nikon camera in Manchester?’ or ‘Camera sensor cleaner near me.’ If you are a smaller brand that struggles to rank for short and highly competitive search term, you might find that gearing your SEO strategy towards these longer voice search phrases and questions will give you better results.


How do you design for voice search?

Voice search has no visual interface

As content creators, when trying to create content that provides helpful answers to our audience, we not only think about the text but the way that it is displayed; incorporating visuals, layout and structure to ensure that it provides the most value to our audience.

Voice search, unlike type search, has no visual interface though, meaning as creators we have to rethink the UX design. In the coming years we can expect to see voice commands turn UX design on its head in much the same way mobile touch screens did just a decade ago.

Rather than thinking about UX design in terms of visuals we need to think about it in terms of how users digest information. Text will become the focal point of content and rather than creating a design with placeholder text, the choice of words will become the most important aspect.


The current state of voice search

Virtual assistants have become more familiar to us and the likes of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google are now entwined in our lives. They make finding information easier and are more intuitive than type search, changing the way search engines operate and the way business present their information online.

A Bright Local study from 2018, found the following:

  • 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information in the last 12 months
  • 46% of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis
  • What consumers want most: to be able to use voice search to make reservations, to hear business prices, and to find out which products businesses have
  • 27% visit the website of a local business after making a voice search
  • Consumers are most likely to perform voice searches to find further information on local businesses they already know about
  • Voice searchers are most likely to look for restaurants, grocery stores, and food delivery

Local businesses are seeing a large impact from voice search and we can see that clearer search intent is leading to users to follow up with businesses, becoming leads and then possibly converting to customers. These stats make it clear that voice search optimisation should be a key marketing strategy in 2019 for any local business owner.


Amazon Echo giving a voice answer to a voice search

Smart speakers

In 2016, Amazon released its smart speaker, the Amazon Echo and sold 11 million units in that year. Smart speakers quickly became the hottest new trend in voice tech, so of course Apple and Google weren’t far behind in creating their rival devices; Apples HomePod and Google Home.

Since then many smart speakers have launched smaller and more affordable versions to make them more accessible, meaning almost anyone can own one. Amazon now has the Echo Dot and Google the Home Mini and each can be purchased for under £30.00.

2018 research by YouGov found that one in ten people in the UK now owns a smart speaker and according to GeoMarketing, 65% of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine to going back to the days before they had a smart speaker; showing that this is clearly not a fad that’s going to pass.

It will come as little surprise that younger audiences are embracing smart speakers more compared to their older counterparts. Business who have audiences primarily made up of under 36 year old may need to focus on optimising for voice search as research by CapTech Consulting found the following:

  • The majority of smart speaker owners are aged between 18 and 36 (53%)
  • 32% are aged 37 to 52
  • Only 15% of smart speaker owners are aged 53 and over

Speakers can provide a great opportunity for businesses as and Verto Analytics research found that smart speaker owners used their devices much more frequently than smartphone owners; averaging 2.79 times per day in and 0.33 times comparatively.


People eating at a restaurant they found using voice search

Industries that can benefit most from voice search optimisation

Voice search will predominantly be adopted by younger generations who are more adaptive to new technologies and will also have a big impact on local businesses. However, there are also specific industries that can expect to see a greater change in the way users find (or don’t find) their business as voice search becomes a more common.

According to the Bright Local survey, the top industries for voice searches are:

  • Restaurants / Cafés (51% of consumers would use voice search to find)
  • Grocery stores (41%)
  • Food delivery (35%)
  • Clothing stores (32%)
  • Hotels / Bed & Breakfasts (30%)

A thinkwithGoogle report found that there was a 2.1 times increase in mobile search for ‘stores open now’ and ‘food open now’ from 2015 – 2016 which can be linked the the rise of voice search on smartphones and smart speakers over this time.

As users behaviour is changing through voice search industries like food/restaurants need to adapt their current search and SEO strategies if they want to maintain or grow their market share.


languages that are character based are likely to quickly adopt voice search because of convenience

International voice search

If you have an international business, operating in countries like Korea, Japan or Greece where they have character based languages – that are much more time consuming to type than alphabet based languages – voice search will be key to you staying relevant in your market.

We are likely to see an even more rapid adoption of voice search in these countries due to the convenience that it offers; saving users a huge amount of time over type searching, especially on mobile where keyboards are small and more difficult to operate with a language that has a larger number of characters.

The head of search marketing at Google Southeast Asia, Balazs Molnar said about Asian voice search:

“While voice search and commands are unlikely to replace typing completely, in many Asian languages it’s harder for people to type using a small keyboard. For instance, character-based languages or languages with a lot of diacritical markers, like Vietnamese. People find it easier to speak rather than type on their phones.”


Are brands optimising for voice queries?

The short answer is not really. Brands, although aware of the voice search revolution seem not to be focusing their marketing efforts in this area either because they don’t know what they need to do or because their competitors aren’t.

This gives forward thinking brands an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and impress their audiences with voice search optimisation.


How can you optimise for voice search?


Schema Markup example on a search result from Google

  1. Use structured data

When creating content your main focus should be your audience, with that being said you also need to structure your content so that its optimised for search engines.

Factors beyond your content help to determine a pages ranking in the SERPs and Schema markup is one that is highly relevant to voice search.

Schema data is essentially meta data and is put into your sites source code. While it has no effect on what visitors see it, effect how search engines crawl your site and helps to organise and classify your content.

When a user is making a voice search, especially something local, they are generally looking for something like opening times or directions and you can use schema markup to classify this information on your site so it is easy for Google to use it as an answer for voice search.

If you search for the population of the United Kingdom, Google can give you a quick answer right in the SERPs because they can pull this information from World Banks due to their use of Schema markup.


Google My Business for voice search

  1. Google My Business

As we’ve already covered, a large amount of voice searches are local searches. By leveraging your Google My Business you can give your customers and easy way to find you and help Google provide accurate and up to date information about your business.

You might have all your contact information on your site and think that that is enough to appear in local searches but its not the case. If someone searched for ‘Content Marketing Agency Northampton’ then having optimised your search for local keywords gives you a high chance of ranking for this term.

However, if they searched for ‘Content Marketing Agency near me’ Google would be looking at the location of the user and use Google My Business listings to provide results.

The vital elements to have included in your listing are your business name, address, phone number and opening hours. Beyond that it’s also a good idea to fill out the introduction field as it’s a great opportunity to pitch your business to the searcher.



  1. Make sure your site is mobile friendly

Voice search happens on the go so having a mobile friendly site is essential for voice optimisation.  

Your site needs to be responsive, giving users a seamless experience over desktop, mobile and tablet. With short attention spans you also need to prioritise your page load speeds, ideally getting them under 2 seconds to provide the best user experience and stop visitors going back to the search results after they have found your site.


  1. Create FAQs

Voice responses from search engines tend to be pretty short – averaging around 26-35 words. If you want your content to be pulled for voice search responses you need information that is this concise.

The current technology used for voice search does not give it the ability to crawl through a 1000 word blog post and pick out the vital bit of information a user is after so as a brand you need to think about short form content for voice search.

Identify questions that users might be searching for and create an FAQ page with short, concise and informative answers.

Questions coming from voice search often include “who” and “what” type questions. Create conversational and quick answers to any questions, relevant to your business and you will have a greater chance of attracting users to your site


Google is not the only search engine you need to consider when optimising for voice search

  1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

When it comes to voice search, it’s far from a one horse race. While the majority of the search market share is held by Google it is not the search engine of choice for all voice assistants.

Siri, Google assistant, Alexa and Cortana are 4 of the biggest voice assistants but only 2 are powered by Google – Siri and Google Assistant.

Alexa and Cortana are both powered by Bing. While a lot of SEOs measure success by their Google rankings, checking your Bing rankings is something that needs to be taken into account.

With 20 million Amazon Echos sold, and their assistant Alexa powered by Bing, your brand needs to take into account your Bing results if you want to get in front of these users.


How voice search benefits your business

As voice search answers questions without redirecting the user to a site you might think that it’s not going to be of benefit to your business however, there are a lot of advantages to incorporating voice search into your SEO strategy.


Voice answers from stand alone devices like the Echo can help boost your brand awareness.

With voice answers, unlike type answers there is no benefit to being in position 2. The search engine only has 1 answer to give rather than letting the user choose from the top results. By investing in being the brand that provides the best answers to voice questions you can have an edge over your competitors because the voice users is only going to come into contact with your answer.

While voice searches do demand short answers, on mobile where a user has a screen device they can still result in click throughs to your website. Answers from featured snippets, which are primarily used for voice search answers, actually drive organic traffic beyond that of regular search results – especially on mobile where most voice searches are done.  


People talk at 150 words per minute but are only able to type at a fraction on that, averaging at 40 words a minute. Speaking is the more natural way for us to interact with our surrounding and search for information so as voice technology advances brands must prepare for the shift to voice search if they want to maintain and grow their market share.


Learn everything you need to know about content marketing in our definitive guide.


Are nofollow links worth having?
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Are nofollow links worth your time and money?

What is a nofollow link?

A nofollow link refers to a link with a nofollow HTML attribute. This attribute is used to tell search engine crawlers that the link should not affect the domain or page ranking of the site the link is pointing to or pass on any ‘link juice’.

Users visiting the page will still be able to use the link but search engine crawlers will not follow it and it will not pass on any SEO value.


Black hat seo such as blog comment links are part of the reason nofollow links were invented

Why were nofollow links invented?

If you were around in the early days of the blogging boom you’ll likely remember that people started filling up the comment sections of blogs with ads to their own sites in order to improve their SEO.

To tackle this issue, in early 2005 Google’s Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen addressed the problem and came up with the nofollow HTML attribute.

It helped established and trustworthy sites by stopping their credibility being diluted by spammers and freeloaders attempting to take advantage of it to improve their own site’s reputation with search engines.

Blog comment spam occurs less often these days and is now considered a black hat SEO technique. Search engines algorithms, like Google’s, are also now much more advanced and discount blog comment links as they aware of the tricks people use to try and cheat the system.

Where are nofollow links used?


links on social media all have nofollow attributes

Social Media

Any links you post on social media, including links in your profile will all be nofollow links. This prevents you from just creating accounts on these platforms for SEO purposes and is used to prevent users from spamming these platforms with linked content that provides no value.

Comment Sections

Any website or blog that has a comment section will most likely have made sure that all the links posted will have nofollow attributes to prevent spamming, and so trustworthy sites don’t have their credibility taken advantage of.

Open submissions

Sites like Quora, YouTube, and Reddit, that allow users to submit content will all be nofollow links to stop you from being able to boost your link profile by going to these sites and posting a load of irrelevant links

Some publishers

Large publishers that have huge outputs of content (like Inc, Forbes and Huff Post) are now, more and more using nofollow links for any content created by their contributors. For the most part, this is due to the time that it would take an editor to check that every link in a submitted piece of content was relevant and worth passing on link juice to, and it puts more focus on creating content that is helpful for its users.


Why do nofollow links have such a bad reputation?

After the creation of the nofollow attribute, search engines not only told website owners to use it for their blog comments but also for any ad links as well. This way Google and other search engines would be aware of what content was sponsored and know not to pass any link juice on to that link.

The differentiation between paid and natural links protected site owners in later years when Google updated their algorithm and started penalising sites using black hat SEO and that were full of spam content.

Using nofollow links as an indication of paid content meant that many SEO’s wrote them off as completely worthless. Buying and selling links went from a huge industry to occurring much less and since then most content creators and SEO’s have avoided nofollow links like the plague.

Do nofollow links have value?

For the reasons stated above, nofollow links do not have the same value as dofollow links, but that does not mean that they are worthless. In fact, they can be hugely beneficial to your site, traffic, and reputation.

5 Reasons why nofollow links have value


1.Brand awareness

Major publishers such as Forbes, The Huff Post, The Mail Online and The Sun have all been replacing all their external links with nofollow links for some time. Does this mean that earning a link from a publication like this is not worth your time? The short answer: No.

When you’re out there trying to make a name for your business, links from sites like these can have a huge impact on your brand awareness and reputation. A nofollow link might not get you the SEO benefits from this site but it does add to your credibility and get you in front of new audiences.

Getting your brand name in front of these new audiences is vital to growing a business, especially if you are just starting out or have a niche product. Sites like Forbes are also considered highly trustworthy, they have a lot of credibility with their audience and a little bit of that gets passed on when your name is mentioned on their site.

Audiences generally trust major publications and news sites because they are established and will generally only report on something of merit, that’s worth talking about. If a potential customer sees your name in a major publication this adds to your social proof and they are much more likely to convert at a later stage of the buyer journey.

Not only that, but content that is high quality and published on top tier sites has a much higher chance of going viral, getting shared and generating buzz around your brand. While there is no direct way to measure the impact that this has on SEO, it is clear that there is some as Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst said at the 2017 BrightonSEO conference:

If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the internet — and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding. Then you are doing great.



Google says that it doesn’t transfer PageRank or SEO value across links that have a nofollow attribute.

In their blog, Google have said:

In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.”

The key phrase to focus on in this quote is ‘in general,’ which indicated that Google may make exceptions from time to time. Most likely, Google knows that high quality sites such as Wikipedia can’t afford to link to low quality sources or they would lose their audience, so even if these links are nofollow (which all of wikis are) it may still take it into account and adjust that pages position in the SERPs accordingly.

Rand Fishkin from Moz, tested this assumption by pointing nofollow links at pages and measuring the effect it had on their ranking; concluding that there ‘may be a relationship between ranking increases and in-content, nofollow links’  

3.Having a diverse link portfolio

If your link portfolio is made up of all the same kind of links from just a few domains – even if they are from high DA sites – they will lose impact. Links to your site that consistently come from the same domains signals to search engines that the link juice that is being passed on to you is no more than link doping and that these links are being gained for the purpose of generating sales and not to provide high quality content to users.

A non-diverse link portfolio, even if it is built up of links from high DA sites, will end up having the opposite effect on your SEO than you would have hoped for, as Google will penalise your website rankings. Diversification is essential in link building and even if a nofollow link is not passing along link juice it is still building your link portfolio and not insisting on dofollow links means you can get a more diverse range.

Why do nofollow links have such a bad reputation?

4.Snowball links

The Mail Online, The Sun and a number of other big publications often get requests from other sites to use their content. A nofollow link on a site like this can easily snowball into a number of dofollow links from smaller sites.

Small publications often look to bigger publications for content, so your content will be viewed by a number of other journalists. If you are creating valuable content that would resonate with their audience, journalists will then ask permission to use this content on their own site.

You can ask for dofollow links from any journalists that make these requests and you may end up with a bunch of new dofollow links from a diverse range of sites off of one piece of content you were tempted not to give to a site because they didn’t want to give you a dofollow link.

Social media is another great snowball source; any content that gets a lot of shares or goes viral will end up in front of a few journalists. As the digital landscape changes, journalists are using social media more and more as a source for content so even though a successful social media post won’t get you ranking no.1 for your main keyword it might help you generate some dofollow links that will get you on your way to that goal.

5.Traffic is traffic no matter the HTML attribute

Nofollow links will generate the same amount of referral traffic to your site as they would have if they were dofollow.

The nofollow attribute does nothing to stop users clicking through to your site, making referral traffic one of the biggest benefits of nofollow links. If you get a nofollow link from a site like HuffPost, that almost exclusively uses nofollow links, that still has a lot of value in the traffic that it will generate for your site. Huge publications like this have massive audiences and you will be getting in front of them giving you a much higher chance of driving traffic to your site.

For example, in WordStreams link bait case study, they created a piece of content with the intention to generate links and traffic. The article they created used buzzworthy topics like social media and a news topic of an upcoming senate race that generated a lot of buzz and was linked to on sites like The New York Times and Politico, both of which were nofollow links.

The New York Times is one of the most trusted and most visited new sites in the U.S and as a result of getting a nofollow link on their site they saw the referral traffic quadruple, with thousands of pageviews in hours. A clear example of just how valuable these kinds of links can be in getting in front of new audiences and driving people to your website.


Nofollow links are certainly far from worthless. There are loads of benefits to acquiring them especially if they come from top-tier sites that will then generate further links and traffic for you from your content.

Any link building plan should include nofollow links, they diversify your link portfolio can get you in front of some highly relevant audiences and drive traffic that could convert to customers to your site.

Need help with your next link building campaign. Get in touch with one of our Digital PR experts.