Moz, creator of popular SEO tools like Open Site Explorer (tracks links pointing to websites) and MozBar (ranks websites’ authority), does more than create amazing tools that make the lives of website owners and online marketers easy. Moz also hosts an amazing resource that helps you understand every important Google update and algorithm change made since the year 2000.

If you already know Moz, you may already be familiar with the resource I’m about to spill. But if you don’t know Moz, or just use it for its awesome (partially-free) SEO tools, you’re going to love me for sharing this with you:

Moz Logo

Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History

With the Change History tool, Moz provides a history of Google updates and algorithm changes from 2000 to present, offering brief descriptions and one or two links to highly informative articles on the subject. These articles are by trusted sources like the Google Press Blog, Search Engine Land and Moz contributors themselves.

Read through this entire list and I guarantee you you’ll become more Google savvy than 90% of people who own and operate websites. Do a little each night or breeze through it all in one sitting. Trust me, the investment of time is worth it if you’re serious about getting found on Google and understanding the search engine landscape better.

And rest assured, this isn’t a boring list. Google, as a company that’s passionate about delivering the best search results, has quite a number of updates that will amuse you and, at the same time, make you feel good about relying on it so heavily.

One update I came across that made me especially proud to be a Google freak was the “Payday Loan” Update. This update targeted the Internet’s “spammiest” queries – those related to payday loans and pornography. According to an article by Search Engine Land, “this update impacted roughly 0.3% of the U.S. queries, but went as high as 4% for Turkish queries where Web spam is typically higher.”

And with an average of 5-plus billion searches per day, that 0.3% accounts for about 150 million daily searches.

Right now, you may be asking “Rob, why didn’t you just share this Change History via Twitter, Facebook and Google+? The link to the Moz page would have sufficed.”

Well, for one, I love talking to you; and two, I also wanted to share this handy Google Search Timeline with you.

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In my opinion, if you’re interested in learning the most you can about Google in as little time as possible, this chart and the Moz Change History are the only things you need to study.

Learn more about Google and, in turn, rule the web more effectively. Remember, Google is how you get found. So it’s worth investigating how you get found (repeated phrase intended).

I’ll admit, I’m getting a little hungry thinking about the impending Thanksgiving holiday, but that’s not the [entire] reason I’m writing this blog post.

Think about this: a turkey takes all day to cook. I mean, you wake up at 8 AM to put that bad boy in the oven, and then you have to torture yourself for hours smelling the unfinished product. When it’s finally done, the last thing you’re about to do is throw away the leftovers. Who wants their hard work to go down the garbage disposal? So, for the next two weeks, it’s gobblers and turkey soup aplenty.

And no one really complains about gobblers or turkey soup because, come on, they’re delicious.

I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

When you write a really good piece of content, it’s kind of like a Thanksgiving turkey. You put a good amount of effort into it, and you’re going to make the most out of it – right? Because if you aren’t, you should. There’s no guarantee that when you write a really well-researched, informative, and/or interesting blog post, you’re going to get as many pageviews as you’d want on it. There’s no reason you should call it a loss, especially if it’s something you think your target audience would want to know.

I was writing a blog post about the essential ways to winterize your home for a client who does HVAC installations and repairs. It’s getting cold out there, and their prospective clients probably want to know how to winterize their homes to save energy and keep the house at a comfortable temperature. If they missed the blog post, they shouldn’t miss out on the info! So, here are a few ways to make leftovers out of perfectly good content (without, of course, plagiarizing yourself).

  • Revisit old posts on social media. A few days, weeks, or even months (if it’s still relevant) after you write a good blog post, don’t be afraid to tweet about it again for anyone who might have missed it! A simple tweet or Facebook post reading, “It’s cold today! Don’t forget to check out our blog post on winterizing your home” works perfectly. I’ve seen a lot of companies do this, and I think it’s a great idea.
  • Link to old blog posts in new ones. If you mention something in a blog post that’s relevant to something you wrote before, then link to it!
  • Make an infographic. Perhaps your followers skimmed over your post because it was too lengthy. Infographics are fairly easy to make (see what I did there?), they’re eye-catching, and they help to organize content in a fashion that’s easy for readers to absorb.
  • Make a slideshow. Similar to making an infographic, slideshows are great because they organize the content and make it easy for a reader to find what they’re looking for. Slideshare is a great tool for this because people can search for your slideshow and you can even put tags on it.
  • Make a video. I could have easily made that blog post on winterizing your home into an informative video to spread it across more social channels and appeal to an audience who prefers a different type of media.
  • Make an e-book, PDF, or whitepaper. Even if your readers don’t want the information now, they can save it to their computers or tablets for reference at a time when it might be more useful.

Do you repurpose your content? What methods do you use?

Between the countless writing classes I took a bit too seriously in college, the time I’ve invested in my hobbies, and the past couple years I’ve spent freelancing and working for SEO companies, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. As a result, I’ve written on a lot of blog platforms.

There are a lot of great platforms out there – some that are easy to use and secure, some that work well for niche purposes, some that make interacting with other bloggers really easy. Though I’ve had my dances with Tumblr, spent many a late night conversing with Quora, even had my morning coffee with Blogger, I’ll always return to my love affair with WordPress.

Perhaps it’s true that my affinity for a free, sophisticated, minimalist theme and a reason to spend hours perusing possible personalization options are what initially attracted me to WordPress, but its superior SEO capabilities are what keep me coming back. Maybe you’re blogging for the sole purpose of SEO or maybe you’re a hobby blogger who optimizes out of necessity; either way, blogging and SEO are happily married, so all authors should prioritize posting on a platform that’s easy to optimize.

If you’re not taking advantage of these four WordPress SEO customizations, simply stated, you’re doing it wrong.

The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. The SEO Plugin allows you to choose your focus keyword for the blog post, edit the post’s meta description, create custom descriptions for social media platforms, edit the post’s meta title, and more. It’ll even provide you with suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly. Get the plugin here.

The Ability to Customize and/or Modify Permalinks

Your permalink – that is, how your blog post’s URL appears in your browser bar – should be as reflective of the content as your title. If you modify your permalink, then instead of your permalink reading “www.webimax.com/blog/2013/10/01/modifying-permalinks,” it’ll simply read “www.webimax.com/blog/modifying-permalinks.” That way, Google only has to do a shallow crawl to see that this page is relevant. All you have to do to modify your permalinks is access your WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings, then go to Permalinks. Choose ‘Custom Structure’ and in the field, simply put /%postname%/.

Premium Themes

I’m sure I’m not alone in this: I can write a decent blog post on nearly any topic, optimize it, and promote it. What I cannot do on my own, though, is make my blog look pretty. That’s why WordPress themes are the design-inept blogger’s godsend. There are few things more important than a user-friendly, attractive website if you’re trying to attract (and keep) traffic, but accomplishing a clean, easy-to-navigate look is hard when you know virtually nothing about Web development. Premium themes on WordPress are a good investment because they don’t glitch, they appear sophisticated, and they’re almost always pre-optimized by their developers, so your blog has a predisposed fair chance at competitive ranking.

The ‘Related Posts’ Widget

LinkWithin is a widget that shows related stories from your blog’s archive under each post. It’s genius! If someone’s reading a blog post about a recipe you created or a home repair how-to you detailed, chances are, they’re going to be interested in another recipe or another home repair how-to. Show them where to find more! Having them click to another one of your blog posts will keep them browsing your site, helping you to maintain their attention and giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your credibility. It’s basically free interlinking, and it helps your old content to resurface, making your blog posts into gifts that keep on giving.

Google’s recent Penguin Update redefined the basics of SEO link building. Prior to the update, sites linking to yours weren’t an issue. However, with guest posting becoming increasingly popular and more and more people engaging in it, link spamming has increased and Google has jumped on it, penalizing sites with unnatural links in posts. Now, SEOs and webmasters are hurrying to find ways to fix the link issue and prevent their sites from being hit.

Google refers to the unnatural linking in guest posts as link schemes and defines them as follows:

Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

While we recognize that businesses selling links and sites building spammy link profiles are practicing bad SEO and applaud the Penguin Update for penalizing them, what about those of us who are just looking to guest blog — you know, those interested in creating well-written and relevant content that will be posted on another site?

It’s not the end of guest blogging
Don’t be discouraged! Guest posts can still be a useful and legitimate way to get your content hosted on another site with a backlink, expose your content to the online community, and even connect with other bloggers. In short, Guest blogging can still go a long way in your link building efforts. Google doesn’t want to do away with guest blogging — it just wants to make sure that you’re following the best linking practices.

A guest blog shouldn’t just be a few hundred words stuffed together without any clear purpose or understanding of the subject matter, with a link or two shoved in seemingly at random. The most important factor in a guest blog is relevancy. That goes for both content and links.

Guest blogging best practices
Here are some important guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your guest post doesn’t get hit by Penguin:

  • Post to sites that are relevant to the industry you are writing about. Avoid over-diversified sites.
  • Avoid posting to low-quality blogs or websites (the site should have a strong domain authority).
  • Don’t use exact-match anchor text and make sure it looks natural — use long tail words or a call-to-action phrase.
  • The page you link to should be relevant to the hyperlinked phrase.
  • Don’t post to blog networks or article directories.
  • Make sure your title is unique (type it into Google to ensure that it hasn’t been used).

Tools to help you spot and remove bad links
Whether Penguin sent you a warning about your links or you want to check and ensure that they are safe, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO are two of the most effective free link tools for analyzing backlink profiles.

With football season now in full swing, everyone is wearing their favorite team jersey, talking up their team’s success, and undoubtedly expecting big wins and accomplishments for their team. What makes this American sport a favorite among many is that there is always something brewing. From drafts and trades, to injuries and outstanding plays and performances, football season certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Even fantasy football has become an increasingly popular pastime – and football fans are serious about their team picks. So, what do football and SEO have in common?

If you work in SEO, your main goal is to make it to the top. Well, the same can be said about football. But, they have more in common than just winning. It’s also about perfecting a winning strategy.

Have a strategy

To win anything, you need a game plan. Like designing a play in order to score a touchdown, you need to put together a strategy to help your website make its way to the top. Do you have the right set of tactics for your marketing efforts? Are you able to measure, track and adjust your tactics?

Know your competitor

This is one of the most important points in your game plan. Just like knowing the current standing of an opposing football team, where does your competitor stand in the SERPs? What is your ranking in comparison to theirs? If they are higher than you in the Google standings, what actions are you going to take to move above them? How do they promote a similar product or service, and how can you promote yours better?

Work as a team

Just like a coach needs his team to execute a play, you need a team of online marketers to work together to help you reach your goal. From developers to link builders, content writers and social media marketers, it’s important that you are all aware of the strategy for a successful play.

Be willing to improve

No one ever made it anywhere by sticking to the same routine. If a game plan has failed, why continue to run the same plays? The same theory can be applied to SEO campaigns. If you want to make it to the top of the SERPs, you can’t always stick to the same strategy – you need to discover and find new and better ways to get to the top.

Play by the rules

While football players have referees and whistles, marketers have Google algorithms. You have guidelines to play by to ensure that you play fair. It’s crucial that you play by Google’s rules and make it to the top without performing black hat techniques. A skilled and experienced SEO company will go about winning the right way.

Get noticed

In football and SEO, you don’t want to just win, you want to get noticed. Press releases, articles, blogs and social media are all intricate parts of putting your business in the spotlight. When an SEO campaign works properly, you’ll feel the need to celebrate like a receiver who just snagged a touchdown for the victory.

If you’ve ever typed something into the search bar, you already know that Google, although a very powerful search engine, can also be a fickle beast.

If you work in SEO, you’re well aware of the importance of keywords. But, typing in the keyword alone in the search engine may not be enough. You may wind up with inaccurate results. Now what?

To help modify and better define your search, you should use a search operator. Search operators are like instructions: they join keywords in order to form a more accurate search and help pinpoint what you’re searching for. Because they provide you with a more exact search, they help you cut down on search time.

Search operators are highly useful for SEO professionals as they help you find relevant data for optimization purposes, aid in the link building process, and are beneficial for site auditing.

Below is a list of search operators and how they can benefit your SEO efforts:

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SEO-oriented Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
inurl:/allinurl: Search for pages with the keyword in the URL. inurl:college degrees online Displays webpages where your terms appear in the URL.
With this search operator, you can get an idea of how many URLs in Google’s index there are for pages on the web about that topic. You can find competitors with optimized URLs for specific keywords that you are trying to rank for.You can also find out what sites that your competitors are linking to and reach out to those sites asking for a link as well.You can also use this search operator to find guest blogging opportunities, whether you’re looking for a writer or a site to contribute to. In either instance, it’s a great way to get a link out. Example:
Inurl:guest “college degrees online”Additionally, you can use this search operator to determine if a site is indexed by Google. If the site is indexed, it will appear in the search results. If it’s not indexed, then it will not show in the results. Example: allinurl:www.site.com

 

intitle:/allintitle Find sites that contain a specific word in the page title. intitle:college. Find competitors with optimized titles for particular keywords
This search operator refines your search to the title tag of the page. You can find how many pages are indexed by Google with that keyword. You can use this to search for pages that use your keyword in the title and use it for link prospecting for guest blogs.

 

intext:/allintext: Search for sites with the keywords in the body text. intext:education Find competitors with optimized content containing keywords you are trying to rank for.
This search operator is highly useful as it pulls up webpages that contain the keyword in the beginning of the text. Using this, you can find competitors who are also trying to rank for certain keywords. You can specify if they are trying to rank for long-tail keywords, short-tail keywords, or both. This is also useful for brand management purposes as it can pull up negative content about a company or website.

 

inanchor:/allinanchor: Search for pages with keyword(s) in the anchor text. colleges inanchor:online Find existing sites with certain keywords and phrases in the anchor text.
Using the above example, this search query restricts the Google results and displays webpages with links that contain the word “used” and the webpage contains the word “cars.” You can use this operator to determine how many links there are in Google’s index that use certain keywords in the anchor text for links to pages. You can use it to conduct a competitive analysis and see who’s linking to other sites with that anchor text.

 

Advanced Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
cache: Find Google’s cached version of a website rather than the current version. cache:URL View the latest version of the page acquired by spiders. Also view the dates of visits and the content that is no longer live on a site.
info:
(Id: is an alias for this)
Find information about a site. info:URL Retrieve information about the site including links to pages that link to the webpage.

 

filetype:
Ext: (alternative to filetype:)
Search for a particular file format. IRS tax forms filetype:pdf Find a wider view of content available online.
This search operator allows you to specify the type of file you’re looking for. For example, you can search PDF documents, Flash files and Microsoft Office documents. This not only provides you with more quality results if you’re looking for sources to link to in content, but you can determine if your competitor is using any of these documents.

 

link: Find external websites that link to a particular URL. link:mysite.com Find
pages that are pointing to the particular URL.
With this search operator, you can find all the pages in the Google results that link to that specified URL. You can determine the number and quality of links to competitor sites, and reach out to ask for a link as well. You can also find relevant sites that don’t link to your competitor’s site, in which you can reach out to the site for a link. If the site they are linking to is no longer available, you can contact them and offer a site that they can link to, creating a backlink.

 

site: Find pages on a specific domain. site:webimax.com “keyword”/td> Determine what pages are indexed by Google.
This search operator returns the number of indexed pages for the specified domain. With this, you can find out which pages on a site are indexed by Google, and which ones need to be optimized.You can also place a keyword before or after the search operator to determine the keyword density within all of the indexed pages for that specific keyword. With this, you can find out how many pages your competitor has indexed for a keyword, and you can create and optimize more pages on your site.Additionally, you can use this search operator to search for content on different domains rather than sites. For example:site:www.college.edu computer operating systems
site:edu computer operating systems

 

daterange: Find “new” pages in Google within a particular timeframe. daterange:startdate-enddate Find pages that are more current and updated.
This search operator allows you to refine your search according to a date range. This not only help you find current pages to link to, but when you scrape URL for link building purposes, you can keep your results current and avoid old threads.

*Note: You must enter the dates as Julian dates (Julian dates are the number of days since noon universal time on January 1, 4713 BCE.)

For example:
The date June 12, 2013 is converted as 2456456.

You can easily convert dates online.

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Basic Search Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
” ”
(quotations)
Search for an exact phrase. “SEO companies’” Tells Google to search specifically for content containing the keyword phrase. Helps you find places to internally link on your website and find relevant sites to post content in order to obtain a backlink to your site.
*
(asterisk)
A wildcard character used to find documents containing part of a word.This can include a single term or phrase. college * Find other words and phrases that may be relevant to your search term.
This search operator is used as a root search in which the results will contain webpages that begin with the root of the word. This helps you find other keywords or phrases that online audiences and competitors are using. Also, this helps you save time as you can avoid writing long statements or other phrases to search with.
number ..number Find results with numbers within a given range such as dates, prices and measurements. Mega Millions 250,000 .. 2012 Allows you to specifically target a product.
related: Find sites similar to a specific URL. related:nytimes.com To use as a media outlet to find other sites that are similar to what you’ve been using to post content and links.
This search operator is highly beneficial for competitor and backlink research. You can simply type in the name of your website and search your competitors. Also, you can use this to search notable news websites and other sources to contribute content and get a backlink, or to link to and create an external link.
define: Find the definition of a particular word or phrase. define: online marketing Gather links to websites associated with the term.

Boolean Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
AND Combine terms and search for documents with all of the terms.Note: AND must be capitalized when used.
Google enables this operator by default.
dogs AND dating Helps narrow your search.
This search operator helps you narrow your search by pulling up sites that contain all of the search terms, helping to make your search more specific. You can also use this search operator for reputation monitoring to determine what people are saying about your company online. Simply type in the name of your company AND the keyword phrase.
OR Search for sites that contain at least one of the specific keywords.Note: OR must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. college OR university Helps fine-tune your search and yield more effective results.
This search operator helps expand your search and pulls up sites that contain any of the search terms.

 

You can use this to find other terms that competitors are using, as well as relevant sites to get a backlink.

 

NOT Excludes sites that contain a specific word.Note: NOT must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. colleges NOT universities Decreases search time by eliminating undesirable sites.
To cut down on search time, this search operator pulls up sites with the keywords you want included and excludes sites that contain a certain keyword. This is useful to find out what terms competitors are not using, which you can then target.

Proximity Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
AROUND Find words or phrases near each other.Note: AROUND must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. Andy Reid AROUND Chip Kelly Specifies the proximity in which the search terms appear in the results, yielding more specific results.
This search operator helps you get very specific as it lets you specify the maximum number of words that separate your search terms. This search will include words that are in close proximity to each other. This is useful when looking for a combination of search terms and you want to know the relationship between the two.
NEAR Pulls pages with the words near each other.Note: NEAR must be capitalized when used or Google will treat it as a term to search. James NEAR Madison Helps improve the relevancy of matched pages and helps combat webpages that contain dictionary lists.
This search operator finds records in which the search terms are within 16 terms of each other. This is useful for long tail terms and phrases, as well as geo-specific keywords.

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Time Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
time: Find the time in a particular location. Time: Mount Laurel

Location Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
location:
(only in news search)
Filter your search according to a location. location: New Jersey Find out current events taking place in a particular location.
region: Find sites that belong to a particular region. region: USA Find relevant sites to place content about a specific region

Miscellaneous Operators

Search Operator Definition Example
stocks: Find market data about a particular company. stocks: Apple
movie: Find movie-related information. movie: Forrest Gump
map: Find a map of a particular location.
Type in the name of the location or the zip code.
map: New Jersey
sunrise:
&
sunset:
See the precise times of sunrise and sunset in a certain location. sunrise: New Jersey
sunset: New Jersey

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News Operators

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
source: Find articles in news sources regarding the selected keyword. Election source: New York Times Find newsy and relevant sites to link to.
inpostauthor: Filter your search according to an author’s name. inpostauthor:”name” Use to find guest blogging opportunities or find a particular author.
This search operator allows you to search for guest blogging opportunities, which is a great way to get a backlink, and you can also search for specific authors. You can also use it to track blogs and other online publications.

Search Operators No Longer Supported By Google

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In an effort to help make searches more precise, Google has dropped the search operators below.

Search Operator Definition Example How it Helps
author: Search for articles by a specific author. You can search by full name or partial name, or by email address. author:John Smith See what newsy and notable content you can link to.
+
(plus character)
Make sure the words are included in every result and ensure the results contained the exact spelling of the word animals + farm Yields more accurate search results.
~
(tilde)
Includes synonyms for the search term in the search results. ~ocean city vacation Useful for determining additional keywords

While the tilde has been dropped completely (due to lack of use), the author search operator and plus sign (+) have been replaced. The author search operator has been replaced with the authorship link, rel=author. The plus sign has been replaced with an expanded functionality of the quotation marks operator.

Staying on top of your optimization efforts and keeping an eye on competition is a must in online marketing. By using the combination of keywords and search operators, you can boost your marketing success.

Click here for an advanced search operator cheat sheet.

Shout out to Mike Stricker, Bill Slawski, Chris Countey, Jeremy Niedt and Richard Ortiz for helping contribute to this piece!