5 Ways to get SEO Traffic in a Hard Niche


It’s one of the biggest challenges when it comes to SEO.

You can read about tons of different SEO tactics on various blogs, but will they work for you?

After all, that’s the important part.

Not everyone wonders about this because they know that common SEO tactics will work for them, no problem.

But you might be different.

Your business may operate in a “hard” niche.

And it’s true, SEO is more difficult in these niches, so not all tactics will work.

However, I’ve worked with many clients in hard niches and have been able to achieve great SEO results with them.

That’s why I’m confident that there is an SEO plan out there that will work for you.

I’m going to help you make that plan for your specific business by showing you 5 ways to improve your SEO efforts in hard niches.

But before we start…

What is a “hard niche?” There’s no formal definition, but I’m referring to businesses that operate in niches that:

  • have small online audiences 
  • have lots of SEO competition
  • are hard to get links in (there aren’t many blogs or sites that seem to link out)
  • are “boring” (I’ll expand on this throughout the article with specific examples)

If your business falls into that category, I believe that by reading this post, you’ll learn at least a few ways to improve your SEO traffic. 

1. Competition depends on the scope (hint: change your scope)

We’re going to address those problems individually, starting with competition.

It’s easy to rank highly for a term when only a few pages on the Internet are optimized for that term.

However, if you’re going up against 10 experienced SEOs, you’ll have a hard time.

If your business is in a hard niche in the sense that traffic is incredibly valuable so competition is fierce (think loans, insurance, etc.), you’ll find that scenario often.

The very core of your SEO strategy needs to shift because you won’t be able to beat all your competitors.

Instead, you need to find keywords that they don’t even target because they don’t think that those words are worth their time.

But you’re smarter than that.

We’re talking about long-tail keywords here—longer, more descriptive keywords that have lower search volumes.


Even though they have lower search volumes, because they are more specific, the traffic they bring is usually more targeted and valuable.

While long-tail phrases don’t get as many searches per month as shorter ones do, there are way more long-tail phrases than the popular short-tail ones.

This isn’t a new concept by any means, but it’s an important one if you’re targeting a competitive niche.

Even a phrase that only gets 50-100 searches a month may be worth it if it’s for a term with high commercial intent (reader is likely to buy something from you).

How to find long-tail keywords: Sure, some SEOs are smart and target long-tail keywords because they know they’re easier to rank for, but there aren’t very many of those SEOs.

And since there are so many long-tail keywords, you can always find some new ones to target if you’re willing to dig.


Because the best keywords aren’t easy to find.

Most bad SEOs (and there are a lot) and business owners simply use the Google keyword planner (or a similar tool).

They plop in a broad keyword and choose keywords to target based on the results:


But thousands of people have done this for just about every niche imaginable. You’ll find more competition than seems reasonable for almost all of those terms.

Google has data on just about every search phrase you can think of but doesn’t always show it in these broad search results.

So, while using the keyword planner is fine, you need to enter seed keywords and phrases that are different from those everyone else is using.

There are many ways to find these, but one of my favorites is to head over to Reddit.

Type a broad keyword into the search bar. I typed in “drywall”:


Now, start looking at the results for keywords.

I quickly found “how to screw drywall” in one of the threads.

Put that into the tool, and it turns out that the phrase gets about 90 searches per month in the US:


No, that’s not a huge number, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. If you rank for that phrase, you’ll also probably rank for other very similar phrases (e.g., “how screw drywall” or “how to screw in drywall”). Each of those will have small search volumes, but they’ll all add up to something substantial enough.

Put together 50-100 articles for long term phrases like those, and you’ll be getting a few thousand search visitors fairly easily, without the insane competition for popular keywords.

Look at the search results for that phrase:


The #1 result is a YouTube video, and the top content results don’t even have the phrase in their titles.

That’s as easy a keyword as you’ll find, and it’s because it’s not a keyword that comes up in those obvious searches.

If you put the time into finding great long-tail keyword phrases, you’ll make your SEO plan significantly easier and more effective.

There are many ways to find good long-tail keyword phrases. Here are a few resources with other specific tactics:

2. If links are hard to find, think laterally

In some niches—such as marketing, recipes, and entertainment niches, for example—it’s very easy to get links.

There are hundreds of thousands of blogs that are willing to link to you if you make a good case.

But in some niches, those blogs just don’t exist.

That’s when you need to get creative.

One very effective strategy is to get links from related niches.

For example, if you’re a plumber, related niches would be:

  • home DIY
  • home decor
  • beauty/life (e.g., a proper way to unclog sinks or prevent clogs)

Basically, think of any other niche that you can add your expertise to.

Then, all the typical SEO tactics come back into play: guest posting, forum posting, etc.

Let’s go through an example.

Let’s say that you’re a home decorator.

One related niche is home buying and owning, which has a different audience from your typical home decor enthusiasts.

You could write about how home decor could add value to your home. In fact, that turns out to be a good long-tail phrase:


What could you do with this?

You could create content for your own site and then reach out to home buyer/owner blogs asking for a link. That’s a standard SEO tactic.

Alternatively, you could use the idea for a guest post on a popular site.

Not only will it rank for the long-tail keyword that you target (sending you continuous traffic), but it’ll also send you a lot of immediate referral traffic from the site you post on.

Start by thinking of as many related niches as you can, then generate as many ways as possible to add value to those niches.

3. Boring niche? Here’s how to make it more fun

What can you do in a boring niche?

Can you really make painting homes fun?

If you approach the subject with a notion that it is, in fact, boring, then you probably can’t.

But usually, there are ways to make content at the very least entertaining.

Brian Dean did a great case study of this exact idea. Mike Bonadio, who runs an SEO agency based in NYC, had a client who worked in bug control—boring.

However, he created a high quality infographic on an interesting topic: how bugs can help you defeat garden pests. That infographic got picked up by a few prominent blogs:


Gardening is a related niche for pest control (just as we discussed in the previous section).

But Mike took it a step further by creating “fun” content.

Bugs aren’t supposed to be fun, but he made it fun by focusing on the benefits that bugs can provide.

And you can do this in every niche by focusing on exciting benefits and surprises instead of the boring parts.

For example, do you seal driveways?

Well, that seems boring at first, but what if you created content like:

  • How many gallons of sealant would it take to seal Leonardo DiCaprio’s driveway?
  • Choosing the wrong driveway sealant will cost you money: A comparison of the true cost of paving a driveway

I’m not so sure that all of those are real things, but the point remains. Turn the boring parts into an important element of a story, but not the main focus.

Back to the case study—how did it go?

Extremely well, I’d say. After Mike reached out to sites in that related niche, he was able to get over 60 referring domains and hundreds of links:


On top of that, he got over 2,100 views from referral traffic in the short term. His client’s site still ranks #4 for the term “exterminator NYC.”

Can you make your niche interesting to your customers? I know this is difficult and requires some thinking, so let me give you another example: Blendtec.

Blendtec is a company that sells…blenders.

Not exactly a sexy product.

However, you might have heard of their “Will it Blend?” video series.

In these videos, they blend all kinds of crazy objects, like iPhones, superglue, and even skeletons to answer the question: “Will it blend?”


They now get millions of views on each video they produce.

More importantly, those videos get linked to a lot, and those videos link back to Blendtec’s website, which makes them rank highly for all sorts of blender-related terms.

4. Don’t start from scratch

If you’re in a hard niche and you also have a brand new website, it’s going to be a long journey to SEO success.

For some types of businesses, most notably local businesses, you have an alternative: use another site’s domain authority.

For example, if you search for “plumbing Chicago,” you get these results just below a map of a few plumbers:


Notice that these listings aren’t of sites that actual plumbers own but of review sites such as Yelp.

Any business can create a page on Yelp, which will automatically have more search authority than your brand new site.

More importantly, these sites have that authority because they already have good search optimization and huge quantities of backlinks.

All you need to do is show up highly on their important pages, and your page (on their site) will rank highly in the search results.

You don’t need links to do this. Usually, you just need reviews.

If you run a great business, these aren’t too difficult to get. Just ask all your happy customers to leave a review (and give them instructions).

In addition, here are some more resources that will help you get more online reviews:

5. Competitor analysis is always an important first step

The final complaint that I hear is that “no one links out in my niche.”

Well, I’ll tell you something: everyone else is getting their links from somewhere.

And with the tools available to you today, there’s no reason why you can’t get many of those same links.

This is not a new technique, but it remains one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways of getting backlinks and improving your search rankings.

It’s not difficult either, but it will take some work on your part.

Here’s the simple procedure.

Step #1 – Make a list of competitors: First you need a list of sites similar to your own—your competitors.

If they are similar, you should be able to get most of the same links they have.

To make this list, start searching for popular terms in your niche, and then write down the URLs of the top 10 results (or fewer) in a spreadsheet or list:


If it’s a site on a specific topic, you can write down just the domain name, but if it’s a huge site (like hgtv), copy down the exact URL of the page.

Step #2 – Get a list of their backlinks: Next, you need to sign up for either Ahrefs or Majestic.

Those are not affiliate links; those are just the two best link databases by far.

The small monthly cost is more than worth it if you’re serious about SEO.

Go through your list, one by one, and enter the URLs or domain names into the site explorer:


Then, go to the “backlinks” panel on the results, and you’ll get a list of all the backlinks to that page or site:


Step #3 – Determine if it’s possible to get any of those links: Here’s where the work really comes in.

You need to visit each of those pages that link to your target page and see if it’s possible for you to get a similar link on those pages.

For example, one of the above links looks like this:


It’s a page that links to tons of resources.

If you had an appropriate resource page, it would be simple enough to email the owner and ask to be included.

Other times, you might see that the link is from a guest post. You can email the owner pitching a guest post of your own.

While you won’t get a 100% success rate, you will be able to duplicate a good portion of the links for each competitor.

The links are out there, and this is one of the best ways to find them.

One final note is that I recommend you batch each step to improve your efficiency.

Don’t try to get each link as soon as you find it. Instead, record it in a spreadsheet, and do all your link outreach at once.


Not all niches are created equal.

Some are in fact more difficult when it comes to SEO.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not doable.

I’ve shown you 5 ways that can help you improve your search traffic in almost any industry (hard ones included).

Start by trying out at least one of these, if not more.

If you have any success stories about SEO in a boring niche, I’d love it if you shared them in a comment below.

Source: quicksprout

5 Ways to get SEO Traffic in a Hard Niche

Where Zombie Projects Come From – And Why Killing Them Needs to Be Systematized

I was recently in a meeting with an innovation manager at a large company who told me about all the projects he was overseeing. When I asked who was actually working on these efforts, he mentioned there were some part-time internal people and some external contractors. I told him politely that it was highly unlikely that any of these efforts would yield any tangible business outcomes. We finished our coffee, and I’m sure that when we chat next, there will be yet more “zombie” innovation projects—walking dead efforts wondering the corridors of the company.

They say that in real estate there are only three things that matter: location, location, location. One might paraphrase and say that in innovation only three things that mwhat-are-zombiesatter: focus, focus, focus. While it’s true there are many other things that matter in innovation, there’s no doubt that focus is hugely important.

As I took the taxi back to the office, I started to think about why innovation zombies are so prolific and where they come from. I came up with five culprits:
1. Lack of strategic direction related to innovation
2. Well intentioned ideation sessions and workshops
3. Illusionary safety sought from large number of innovation projects
4. Ease of starting projects compared to finishing projects
5. Difficulty of killing zombie projects

The first and most important factor behind the emergence of zombie projects is the lack of clarity on the role of innovation, especially non-core innovation, in an organization. Innovation is such an imperative in most companies that leaders feel compelled to do something. Building a portfolio of innovation projects is both concrete and actionable.

However, often there is no clear innovation strategy and organizations don’t have clarity on the objectives or boundaries of innovation. This lack of strategic direction allows for all types of efforts to proliferate, because when you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

How good ideas become zombie projects
The second is a seemingly innocent source of zombie projects, namely workshops and ideation sessions. These sessions are conducted with the best of intentions such as energizing the organization, capturing the best ideas within the company, and exploring new opportunities and often that’s exactly what is achieved. Smart and experienced people can be expected to come up with good ideas and that’s exactly the problem. A good idea becomes a zombie project when it is made into a formal project, but one without strategic purpose, proper resources, leadership oversight and support or the structures and processes needed for innovation. The projects exist and they have enough life in them to be a drain on the organizations resources, but they never have any real possibility of becoming a driver of profit and growth.

The third reason for the proliferation of innovation zombies is that innovation teams believe that there is safety in number of projects they manage. There isn’t, but the confusion is easy to understand. Innovation teams face tremendous challenges in driving the innovation agenda within an organization. Often these teams are small and under resourced and they lack the strategic direction and leadership mentoring that is essential for innovation.

To compensate, teams sometimes seek to build a large portfolio of innovation projects, a kind of “Potemkin village” portfolio of non-serious projects. The motivations vary, but sometimes it’s done to show the leadership that real progress is being made, at others it’s simple done to keep the team busy. Whatever the reasons, innovation teams are often the unintentional authors of zombie projects.

Fourth, it’s much easier to start a project than to progress a project. The primary reason for this is that the resource requirements increase as the project matures. The development and de-risking costs are much higher in version 15 than they are in a first paper model. Thus, projects are started with a small budget and no one, not even the finance department, pays much attention. However, as the project advances, the resource requirements become much more substantial in terms of human and other resources. Those resources have to come from the core business that is usually less than eager to share scarce resources with the innovation team. If resources can’t be marshaled, but the project can’t be killed, it becomes a zombie. After one zombie has been created, the innovation team can be tempted to start a new project because they know they can get resources for an early stage effort which is actually just another zombie in the making

Killing off zombies systematically
Finally, as my colleagues have often noted, it’s extremely difficult to kill an innovation zombie. There are good reasons for this, but the two primary ones are that organizations are not good at dealing with mistakes and that they have no processes to deal with them. Killing a zombie implies having a frank discussion about the lessons of the effort, something that can be hugely valuable for any organization. However, few organizations have deliberate systems in place to allow this to happen. In their absence, people rather choose to let the projects live on without pushing to formally end them.

This reminds me of an old tale where a courtier who, having displeased the king, is threatened with death. To avoid his imminent demise, the courtier promises that he will make the kings horse fly in one year and his life is spared. His perplexed friends point out the enormity of the task, but the crafty courtier notes that in one year the horse might be dead, or the king might be dead or the horse might even fly.
Zombie innovation projects come from many sources, but innovation leaders must aggressively and humanly put them down so the organization can focus on those opportunities that can drive real business impact. As you pursue innovation efforts in your organization, make sure you understand where zombies come from so that you can stop their rise.

Pontus Siren is a partner for the growth strategy consulting firm Innosight.

Source: Innosight

Where Zombie Projects Come From – And Why Killing Them Needs to Be Systematized

DPhil Conference – A fun milestone to reach


As researchers, it is crucial to present our findings and ideas to the world. We DPhils at the Said Business School had the opportunity last week to present our work during an annual student conference. This conference provides a safe, friendly environment to talk about what we are doing, to get feedback and to connect to fellow students and professors. For me, it was the first time I presented my academic work.

Presenting actual research and data this early in the DPhil process is unusual, but I got lucky and my supervisor and his former DPhil student Basak Yakis-Douglas, my colleague at the Centre for Corporate Reputation, provided me with a dataset and helped me produce some initial results, which I could then present last week.

Lots to learn

I only presented for five minutes, followed by five minutes for questions. Since I am at the very start of my research career, I am no expert in the field yet. I also only started my work on this project only around Christmas and I am aware of many small weaknesses in it. However, during this student conference, it is not unusual to present work that is not complete or not perfect yet. In fact, even the research by experienced academics at larger conferences is hardly ever perfect. Conferences in general provide the opportunity to start a discussion and to get feedback.

While the actual presentation helps spark a conversation about our research, improving our work starts way before the actual day of the conference. That’s because in order to present, we need to organize months’ worth of research into a short presentation. This presentation needs to explain what we are doing, why we are doing it and why this is important. Just to illustrate: I had to summarize my work of about eight weeks into five slides. Others had to summarize their work of several years into a presentation of 10 or 20 minutes! Summarizing what you have done into such a short format really helps get to the bottom of the topic and it clearly points to areas where more work is needed.

Inspiration from the work of others

In addition to organizing my thoughts, I learned a lot from just listening to my peers. All of them are doing incredibly interesting research. Even though many of them work in entirely different fields from what I am looking into, I took away lots of inspiration from all of their presentations. I learned what really great presentations can look like and I have a long list of notes and ideas that will help me improve my own project.

In addition to being a great learning experience, the conference also provided an opportunity to connect with professors from around the school and even some alumni. It was fantastic to see so many professors there and to be questioned and advised by seasoned experts of the profession, during the day as well as during a dinner after the conference.

Next time

In essence, the conference was a small milestone in our journey, but one that was fun and inspiring to reach. The experience from the day will motivate me to work hard for the next few months until the next conference. Later in the summer I hope to speak in front of a wider academic community. Even though I know the feedback there might be harsher than that of my peers here in Oxford, I am really looking forward to the inspiration and improvements I am sure I will take away again.

The post DPhil Conference – A fun milestone to reach appeared first on Saïd Business School Blogs.

Source: Said B School

DPhil Conference – A fun milestone to reach

A Step-by-Step Guide to Protecting Yourself Against Negative SEO

negative seo

You’re checking the backlinks pointing to your site, as you do occasionally, when you see it:

huge spike in links.

At first, you’re not sure whether to be excited or scared, but when you look closer, your fears are confirmed—you’re being attacked.

Someone is bombarding your site with spam links (like the ones below) in the hopes that you will be penalized by Google.


It’s likely a competitor, but it’s almost impossible to tell who.

While this type of scenario is most likely to happen in competitive niches, it can happen anywhere.

The term for it, as you may know, is negative SEO.

Will it hurt your rankings?

It can. There are many stories in forums of negative SEO causing organic search traffic to crash.

However, you should first understand whether there’s a real risk to your site.

In order to get penalized by Google, the number of spammy backlinks would have to be overwhelmingly huge compared to the number of good links.

For a site such as Quick Sprout, there’s almost no risk that a negative SEO attack would be successful because it has hundreds of thousands of quality links pointing to it.


If your site has only a few hundred links, or even a few thousand, that’s when you need to be concerned.

I have some good news for you (among the bad): If you do get attacked, it sucks. It will cost you weeks or months of lost revenue. However, you can almost always recover from negative attacks.

Additionally, if you follow the four steps that I lay out in this post, you’ll be able to prevent negative SEO attacks from causing any real damage most of the time. 

Step #1 – Automate your data updates

The first thing you should do is get regular updates about your site’s health.

To do that, log in to your Google webmaster tools account and go to Preferences. Next, make sure that the “Enable email notifications” box is checked:


While you can pick specific issues to be notified of, it’s best to set the type to “all issues.”

You’ll immediately get notified if there are any signs of foul play like getting hacked or having malware on your site.

Next, get email updates about new backlinks: The longer you wait to address a negative SEO attack, the more likely it is to be successful.

If you get a daily email that gives you a quick overview about new links pointing to your site, it will be obvious when someone spams your site.

If you see an abnormal quantity of links or tons of links with anchor text such as “pills,” “payday loans,” etc., you have an issue.

There are a few tools that can help you track your backlinks.

A free option is OpenLinkProfiler.

As a free option, it’s limited, but it’s still a decent solution for small sites.

Once you create an account, go to the Backlinks panel, click “Link Alerts,” and then input your website and email:


You’ll then get a daily email that lets you know whether any new backlinks were detected.

Alternatively, Ahrefs (a paid tool) also has this feature, but it has a more reliable (and sizeable) database.

You can either look at new links manually by going to the “new links” page:


Or you can also go to the “email notifications” section and change the status of new/lost backlink notifications to “Daily”:


Again, you’ll get a nice email summary every day.

You don’t need to do anything big with these email summaries. Just take a 10-second scan of them for anything out of the ordinary.

Step #2 – Monitor your top backlinks

There’s one more type of negative SEO attack you should be aware of although it’s far less common than the ones I mentioned above.

Sometimes, someone doing negative SEO will create a new email account similar to yours (e.g., Neil.Patel38388@gmail.com) and then email sites that link to you asking them to take down the link to your site.

This is clearly unethical, but some people don’t care.

While you can’t monitor all of your links, you can keep track of the best ones.

You can find your best ones with any backlink database tool. On Ahrefs, you type in your site in the “site explorer” tool, and then click on “links” in the sidebar:


This will bring up a list of links to your site, sorted by URL rank by default.

Get to know your top 20 or so links well because they’re likely the ones that will be targeted.

From here, do two things:

  • pay special attention to them in the “links lost” section of those emails we set up in step 1
  • check all of them manually once in awhile (maybe once or twice a month) just in case one slipped by. You could create a tool to do this for you if you’d like.

Finally, you may be able to prevent a negative SEO attack from being successful by doing all your outreach from an email address for your domain (e.g., Neil@QuickSprout.com).

Then, add a line to your signature that reads something like this:

This is the official email address I use for all matters regarding (site name).

That way, some of your contacts may notice something fishy when they get a removal request from a different email.

Step #3 (if applicable) – Monitor and report fake reviews and mentions

This next step applies mostly to local businesses although any website can implement it to be safe.

Many businesses get links from review sites such as Yelp:


These links often carry a lot of weight since Yelp is an authoritative site in the eyes of Google.

However, the quality of the link you get from Yelp depends on how your business is weighed compared to other businesses in your industry.

For example, if someone searches for plumbers in Florida, they get a page like this:


That’s the page that’s most authoritative to Google, not the individual profile pages for each business.

But the profile pages are the ones with links going back to the businesses’ sites.

Finally, the higher up on the page the link is within the search results, the more authority is transferred to the profile page, which is then transferred to the actual business website.

This is because links higher on a page are generally more important than those lower on the page.

A competitor involved in negative SEO has an opportunity to hurt you in a few ways here.

The plan will be to leave negative reviews on your profiles, which will lower your rankings on sites like Yelp. This in turn hurts you by:

  • lowering your search engine rankings
  • lowering the number of customers who hire you based on those reviews

If someone resorts to those dirty tactics, react quickly.

Since you should know all your customers, it should be easy to spot fake reviews right away even if they’re well written.

Dealing with them is pretty easy in most cases. Sites like Yelp usually have a “report this review” button available to the owner of the business profile:


The tricky part is finding the fake reviews in the first place and doing it fast enough so that you can remove them before they cause any damage.

To find them, use some sort of a monitoring tool.

Google Alerts is an amazing free tool that is enough for most, but there are also advanced tools you can use if you feel that you need more.

Once you’re signed in, enter the term you want to create an alert for into the text box. Then, click the Options link below to expand your options:


I recommend getting these alerts at least once a day.

You should set up alerts for all the names that could be used for your brand. For example:

  • Quick Sprout
  • QuickSprout
  • Neil Patel
  • Misspellings – e.g., Neal Patel, Quik Sprout

From the emails you get, you can quickly find reviews of your brand and its mentions in groups and forums.

This will help you not only protect yourself from negative SEO but also maintain a good brand image in general.

Finally, you also might want to manually monitor specific review sites that are really important to your business.

They could be Yelp, Amazon, Angie’s List, etc. If they send you customers on a regular basis, check in with them once every day or two.

Step #4 – Disavow bad links

The final step is a last resort.

In theory, the best plan is to just not make any enemies, but even that doesn’t always work.

Eventually, you may be faced with that huge spike of spammy links that threaten to destroy your Google rankings.

You need to make sure that Google doesn’t count those links when the algorithm is deciding where to rank your pages.

It’s a tool that can be dangerous because it can actually harm your rankings if used incorrectly:


Basically, you create a text file that contains all the URLs that should be ignored, and Google will do that the next time it crawls any of those pages.

However, if you disavow a link that was actually helping one of your pages rank well, that page now has one less good link.

What this means is that you need to be careful, and I’ll show you how to do just that.

A possible shortcut: If you have an Ahrefs account with a standard plan or higher, you have access to a disavow feature.

You can turn it on beside the main search bar:


In the link reports, you’ll see an option to disavow a URL or domain by clicking a link:


At any point, you can go to your “disavow links” and export a file that could be uploaded into the disavow tool.


This will save you time in the long run because you don’t need to worry about tracking old links that you’ve disavowed, but it’s not mandatory either if your account doesn’t support it.

Disavowing manually: This is the option that most use, and it works fine.

First, you’ll need to download as many backlinks pointing to your site as possible. It’s difficult to get all the links, but if you use multiple sources, you can get a good number of them.

Start with Google Search Console (former Webmaster Tools). If you go to the backlinks section, there’s an option to download sample links and “latest” links. Do both:


Then download whatever links you can get from backlink databases such as Ahrefs, Majestic, Open Site Explorer, and Open Link Profiler.

Add them all to one giant spreadsheet. All you really need is the URL/domain name.

Here’s the scary part:

You need to determine whether each link is legitimate or not.

This involves a lot of manual tedious work for large sites.

You can use some shortcuts such as:

  • looking for spammy domain extensions (e.g., “.ru”)
  • looking for spammy anchor text (e.g., “viagra”)
  • looking for well-known domains that are obviously good links

That’s the bulk of the work. You’ll have to visit many URLs to check them. Consider dividing this work up if you have a team.

Next, you need to strip the trailing URL data so that all you have left is the domain name.

To do that in Excel or Google sheets, use this formula in a column next to the URLs:


Drag the corner of that cell down so that the formula is applied to all the URLs in the column:


In the example above, you’d start with column B and end up with the bare domains in column A.

Next, get rid of the “http://”, “https://”, and “www.”. You can do this with a simple “find and replace” function (replace each phrase with a blank space).


Next, highlight all the domains and remove the duplicates.

Finally, you need to add the term “domain:” in front of all the sites so that the disavow tool knows to discount links from the entire site.

While you can disavow specific URLs, it’s usually best to remove all the links from the spammy domain.

Do this by using the formula:


Here is the resulting table:


You should now have a list like the one in column B above.

Finally, copy and paste these into a simple text file:


You can add comments using the “#” sign, but those are just for you. The disavow tool simply relays the information about the links to the search engine’s algorithm.

Finally, go into the disavow section of your Webmaster Tools account, and choose the domain that these links affect:


After clicking that button, you can upload your disavow text file.

As long as you did everything right, you’ll get a success message like this:


It’s a lot of tedious work, but it’s not too complicated.

Within a week or two, Google should remove most of those bad links from consideration.


Negative SEO is a terrible business practice, but some people still use it.

I’ve given you a 4-step process that will protect you against the bulk of potential negative SEO attacks or at least limit the damage they do.

I encourage you to employ these steps as soon as possible because they aren’t very useful if you use them long after the damage has been done.

Have you ever been affected by negative SEO? Share your experience in a comment below.

Source: quicksprout

A Step-by-Step Guide to Protecting Yourself Against Negative SEO

What Do You Really Mean by Business “Transformation”?

Today’s corporate watchword word is transformation, and for good reason. One study suggests that 75% of the S&P 500 will turn over in the next 15 years. Another says that one in three companies will delist in the next five years. A third shows that the “topple rate” of industry leaders falling from their perch has doubled in a generation. Software is eating the world. Unicorns are prancing unabated. Executives at large companies rightly recognize that they need to respond in turn.

And yet.

When executives say transformation what do they really mean? Often, the word confuses three fundamentally different categories of effort.

The first is operational, or doing what you are currently doing, better, faster, or cheaper. Many companies that are “going digital” fit in this category — they are using new technologies to solve old problems. A big operational change can be jarring and drive real business impact, but it doesn’t fit dictionary definitions of transformation, such as “a marked change in form, nature, or appearance” or “to change (something) completely and usually in a good way.” Sure, costs will be lower, customer satisfaction might go up, but the essence of the company isn’t changing in any material way. And, in a quickly changing world playing an old game better is simply insufficient.

The next category of usage focuses on the operational model. Also called core transformation, this involves doing what you are currently doing in a fundamentally different way. Netflix is an excellent example of this type of effort. Over the last five years Netflix has shifted from sending DVDs through the mail to streaming video content through the Web. It also has shifted from simply distributing other people’s content to investing heavily in the creation of its own content, using its substantial knowledge of customer preferences to maximize the chances that content will connect with an audience. Customers still turn to Netflix to be entertained and to discover new content, but the fundamental way Netflix is solving that problem has changed almost completely.

The final usage, and the one that has the most promise and peril, is strategic. This is transformation with a capital “T” because it involves changing the very essence of a company. Liquid to gas, lead to gold, Apple from computers to consumer gadgets, Google from advertising to driverless cars, Amazon.com from retail to cloud computing, Walgreens from pharmacy retailing to treating chronic illnesses, and so on.

Read the rest of the article at HBR.org here

Source: Innosight

What Do You Really Mean by Business “Transformation”?