Author Archives: Shirish Agarwal

About Shirish Agarwal

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

SEO and PPC November 15, 2013

Leads via SEO vs PPC

SEO and PPCWhats the difference between a website lead generated via Pay Per Click, AdWords for example vs. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? Is there one?

Whether you agree with what I have to say is up to you, however, in my experience of running an online marketing agency that utilises both for our own lead generation as well as those for our clients, I have found the following:

Quality of leads

In my experience, the quality of leads generated via either of the channels can vary significantly as it all comes down to the keyword/keyphrase selection during the start of the campaign. On an average, we receive about 1 call every 3-4 weeks from new clients who ask us why they aren’t receiving any leads in spite of of page 1 rankings via the SEO efforts [ see related post ]. Upon closer inspection we usually find that they’re getting page 1 rankings alright, however, the search queries are far from relevant resulting in a very low rate of conversion from the SEO traffic.

In case of PPC, it’s a little different – if you compare the Cost Per Acquisition of each lead, PPC is higher in most cases, in a large part due to the success of Google’s AdWords platform [see how PPC rates have increased]. Which is why clients are much more careful when selecting the search terms in AdWords. Of course, if you’re using AdWords Express, its a totally different story – whilst Google’s auto-suggest tool is brilliant, it’s still error-prone.

In terms of lead quality therefore, i would say PPC is higher unless you’re having your SEO campaign run professionally or in-house by someone who knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to keyword research, allocation of landing pages and so on.

Cost Per Lead

This is a no-brainier. I cant think of a single instance where you can get lower Cost Per Leads than via SEO. I would go far as saying that SEO deliverers lower Cost Per Leads than is possible from any other paid advertising platform currently available.

There are 2 primary reasons for this:

  1. As discussed earlier, CPC rates have risen significantly over the last 4-5 years. AdWords is supposedly a ‘bidding’ platform but even for search terms that has absolutely zero search volume and no other advertiser bidding for it, it’s unlikely you’re going to get a starting bid from £0.01. The popularity of the AdWords platform means that competition is fierce, especially for super-competitive industries such as health, insurance, law and medical.
  2. The time and resources required for SEO on the other hand haven’t increased significantly. Yes, as social signals have become a bigger part in the ranking factor, you wont get away with just writing content which means you’ll need to incorporate Social Media into your SEO strategy resulting in an increase in resources required but I don’t see a huge increase in costs overall, over the last few years or so.

Undoubtedly, I’d say SEO comes out on top if you want lower a Cost Per Lead.


There’s another intangible difference between the 2 and that is what your listing (whether it’s an ad or organic) tells your potential customer.

If they know a fair bit about the online marketing landscape, chances are, they’ll know that running ads on AdWords doesn’t come cheap, SEO is less expensive to run and there’s a possibility that contacting a company running an AdWords campaign may charge higher to cover marketing costs.

On the other hand, if they dont know much about how PPC and SEO work, it’s not uncommon to find that they may perceive your company as offering a better service based on high up the search results page you appear, regardless of whether it’s an ad or an organic listing (remember, they dont know much about this field).

If you’re a small business owner getting started in online marketing and wondering which one you could possibly handle on your own (no, I don’t recommend you try both at once if you’re new to this), then there’s the question of…

Mastering anything takes time and commitment so if you’re wondering which one is easier to become an expert at, I’d say both are the same! Whilst the SEO landscape may be evolving quicker than PPC, both channels will require consistent time and commitment if you wish to get very good at it.

From a “getting a good grasp” point of view, PPC is certainly easier as you could learn the basic tools and techniques (lowering your CPC rates, improving your Quality Score and so on) and you should be just fine. SEO on the other hand will require much more if you want to see results. Because the margins for error are so low (Page 1 or not!), you’ll need to get pretty good at every aspect of SEO (content, link building, Social Media and so on) before you see any results, especially if you’re in a competitive industry (and, who isnt these days?).

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

Google website logo November 13, 2013

Get feedback on your website by Google

This Monday, 18th November, Google is offering short, website reviews for website owners across the web.

Google hasn’t given a lot of information on exactly what kind of feedback website owners can expect excepting that “For this hangout, we’ll review sites that are submitted via the moderator page and give a short comment on where you might want to focus your efforts, assuming there are any issues from Google’s point of view.”

You can read more about the announcement on the official page.

To enter the chance to get feedback on your own site, you have to leave your website address and comments on the the Google moderator page.

Here’s a little screenshot from the moderator page to give you an idea:

Google moderator page








If you need help, feel free to get in touch with us.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.


Social Media globe November 11, 2013

Importance of Social Media for any business

Before, we get started, here are some facts about the world of Social Media that you’ll find quite interesting:Social Media globe

  • Every minute, 700 YouTube videos are shared on twitter every minute (Source). Every minute!
  • By 2013, approx. 13% of revenue from the mobile web will be accounted for by Flow20 (Source)
  • Google+ is catching up to Facebook with already claiming about a 50% penetration of the Social Media platform worldwide (Source). [However, whether it’s as effective as Facebook to communicate with your customers is a different matter.
  • Approx. 20% of Facebook users are mobile only (Source).[See related infographic and article)

According to Steve Nicholls in his book, Social Media in Business, “any company ignoring it (social media) is already behind.” That’s a powerful statement, and it can easily be shown to be true as well. A business social media presence has become an essential feature for large and small businesses everywhere, if they are to succeed in today’s world.

Social media may have started out as something trendy and nice to have, but those who viewed it as a passing fad are now wishing they had developed a strong social media strategy early on, instead of playing catch-up now. Just as traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses were getting comfortable with having a simple website presence, along came a whole slew of social media platforms that are now essential supplements to the traditional website, which is no longer good enough on its own.

The big three (and the others …) Facebook twitter linkedin

The combination of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are usually referred to as the big three. These are arguably the most important social media tools that every business should utilise, though Google+ is also fast becoming another of the essential social media platforms for companies.[Hubspot has a useful presentation on this)

Other tools and networks used in marketing include company blogs and YouTube. The company blog has become a must for every business. It allows the company to develop content marketing through regularly posting highly targeted articles. This strategy, when used properly, is invariably more cost-effective and successful in the long term than paying for expensive ads in a local newspaper, for example.

YouTube has emerged as an extremely popular social media marketing tool. The platform makes it very easy for companies to put up a video on their website or blog. This is especially relevant when considering that 80% of Internet users say they regularly watch video ads on a website, and 46% of those take the required action, according to the Online Publishers Association ( Any company that includes YouTube in its social media plan is likely to see surprisingly encouraging results.

What can social media do for me?

The question facing any business owner unfamiliar with social media must be what can it do for me? Perhaps the 2012 Social Media Industry Marketing Report, compiled by Michael A Stelzner, can best answer that question.

Generating greater business exposure comes out top in the benefits gained from using social media. A very high total of 85% reported this as their experience. The next reported benefit is a significant increase in traffic, reported by 69% of businesses. This was closely followed by 65% who said that their social media presence provided them with a greater marketplace insight.

Video is the social media strategy to be targeted more intensely in future, according to 76% of marketers surveyed. This is likely to elevate YouTube and the other video sharing platforms in the list of essential social media tools. This makes sense after all. After cinema and television, online video is the natural successor, and as we are being entertained, we accept that promotional ads will be shown occasionally.

Where does it go from here?

A majority of businesses have already accepted that a social media presence is essential for success. They are now asking highly pertinent questions, according to Michael A Stelzner, such as how they can effectively measure the return on investment from a social media marketing campaign.

The other most asked question from business marketers is how to find their target audience online through social media advertising. They don’t want to go through a trial and error process; they want to know exactly which of the social media platforms is ideal for them, and how they can get noticed by their target audience once they are there.

There are as number of effective ways of doing these things, of course, but the fact that companies are seeking these answers shows that they have fully accepted the power of social media campaigns as an effective way to do business, and that is why a social media presence is now a must for any business that wants to stay in the game.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

Google places October 10, 2013

Getting better rankings in Google places

For business with a physical location relying primarily on the business of local residents, getting good rankings on Google places is perhaps even more important than traditional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

This is especially important if you’re the type of local business that generally don’t tend to have an own website, such as dry cleaners, take away restaurants and the like.

So, here are some tips which can help increase your rankings in Google places and get your brand seen by more local residents searching for a service like yours.

The first thing to do is to submit your business to Google places. I’m assuming that you already have a Google places account. If you don’t however, there’s a good guide here on how you can go about creating an account and submitting your business details.

Optimising your Google places listing

Get reviews

Whilst Google wont disclose the factors that impact ranking in Google places (nothing new there!),  you can be pretty sure that having reviews on your listing will help improve your rankings.

Generally speaking, for small businesses, getting reviews without nudging your clients is difficult so you have to actively encourage your customers to leave a review.

Some of the ways you can do this:

  • Send an email to every customer asking them to review the service making sure you insert your listing’s URL so they don’t have to search for it
  • Include an incentive such as a discount for the next purchase or anything that will encourage them to leave a review
  • If you have family or friends who have used your service, ask them to leave a review

Getting reviews is essential if you want to improve your places listing especially if there are many other businesses like you in the area.

Make sure your website is mobile friendly

For local business, having a mobile friendly version of your website is almost a given now and not just for SEO. 3 out of 5 searches on a mobile are for users looking for a local business, there’s a pretty good chance, your website visitor is using a mobile or tablet to view your website. if your website doesn’t render properly on these devices, you’ll be throwing away a large percentage of potential business.

For the purposes of SEO, a mobile friendly website is equally important for precisely the reasons mentioned above already.  Carry out the same search on a desktop vs. a mobile and you’ll notice that the results aren’t the same.  Again, there’s little conclusive evidence as to why (check out this article for more) but it’s no coincidence that most of the top 5 results for different searches have websites which are mobile friendly.

The good news is getting a mobile version of your website is relatively inexpensive and with the mobile web showing no signs of growing, it can pay for itself many times over in the long term.

Build links to your Google places listing

That’s not a typo!  Building links is an essential part of any SEO strategy whether you’re optimising your website,  Google listing or even a YouTube video.

The one difference here however, is that building links from local sources to your places account will have a much better impact. For example,  if you provide home teaching for English and are listing yourself in directories (relevant ones and few), then you should consider submitting your places listing URL in a few of them.  Google verifies places data in many different ways and this can help increase credibility of your places listing as well as your brand, in Google’s eyes.

Don’t game Google

If you’ve submitted a business in the early days of Google places, you’ll know the process was extremely easy – submit your business and in a few days,  it’s live. Now, however, there’s a verification process, in that Google sends out a postcard containing a code which then has to be entered online to verify your listing before it goes live.

Whilst this may be 1 technique that we know Google uses to verify places, in my experience, even if you managed to open multiple places accounts there’s a pretty good chance it’s not going to get published if each of the places address you submitted isn’t visible on your website.

The reason I include this tip here is if you get it wrong and Google understands that your listing(s) aren’t real, you may get even your genuine listing removed altogether.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.



SEO in 2013 September 23, 2013

SEO in 2014. What’s important, what will be and what isn’t

Penguin 2 was perceived as a major algorithm update by Google. And, it surely was, in terms of the impact it has. However, the actual ‘check-list’, if we want to call it that for Penguin 2.0 wasn’t an eye-opener by any means. Google has long expressed it’s dislike for spammy links, duplicate content and it’s like for content that’s being shared, an engaging user experience and so on. All of these are just some of the elements officially a part of Penguin 2.0.

There’s already enough information out there on what’s included in Penguin 2.0 so I wont cover it again here (see Penguin 2.0 posts). However, here are some other elements that

Video – for those of you who have been to this site before, you may have noticed it has undergone a design update. What you may not know is that after adding the video to our home page, the number of hits the home page receives from search (organic) traffic almost doubled. The search terms the home page had some rankings for has seen an improvement of about 40% as well. Of course, it’s possible that the improvements had to do with other aspects as well such as ongoing SEO work elsewhere but the significant jumps in performance for home page is disproportionate to the other pages which makes me think it’s definitely something to do with video.

Mobile – I’m surprised Google hasn’t officially released any algorithms yet that takes a website’s performance on mobile and tablets when evaluating rankings. Nevertheless, on a few occasions now, we have seen our client website jump up the SERP’s when we have launched a mobile and/or responsive version of their website.  That the web is going mobile, I don’t need to tell you that. Optimising your site for mobiles may not only help your search engine rankings but improve your conversions as well.

Content variety – Google loves content and it loves different types of content even more. Most businesses are now aware of the importance of having good content on their website as a result of which most have some level of competency with textual content. However, here are some other ideas to help you offer more diversified content which Google and your visitors will thank you for:

  • Videos – Here are some examples of videos for different types of businesses to give you ideas
  • Presentations – Consider creating presentations and publishing them on Slideshare. In my experience, it’s unlikely you’ll receive any leads from this but traffic, most likely and it will greatly help your SEO strategy
  • Resources – consider publishing case studies or “how-to’s” in .pdf and host them on your site.
  • Webinars – admittedly, these are more time-consuming to manage which is precisely the reason you should consider it. it’s unlikely your competitors are hosting webinars which could give you a very real competitive advantage

Before I conclude, I’m going to list some SEO “techniques” which I haven’t found of much worth investing time or money on:

  • Keyword stuffing – pure waste of timeGoogle Webmaster Tools HTML improvements
  • Duplicate content – Google Webmaster Tools has a useful tool to help you find any duplicate meta data you may have on your site.
  • Meta keywords – I have done numerous tests on pages with and without meta keywords and I’m yet to find any real improvements in rankings by using meta keywords. Ofcourse, you could always use this if you wanted to, but I don’t usually spend any time on it (as I wrote this came across Bing’s rankings tips which says meta keywords isnt a ‘big’ ranking factor!).

Oh, one more thing – I recently helped a client recover rankings post-Penguin 2.0 and was surprised to find their previous SEO buying Link Packs. As if buying links wasn’t bad enough, link packs consisting of 000’s of links usually from a single country TLD (E.g. .de or .es) is even worst. Stay away from this at all costs.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

google-adwords logo August 11, 2013

Simple ways to reduce your AdWords Cost Per Click (CPC)

If you have used Google AdWords, you’ll know that how much you end up spending on your ads is entirely dependent on your Cost Per Click (CPC). In other words, how much each click on your ad is costing you. Prices for CPC vary, to say the least, from niche search queries only costing a few pence to ads within the health/medical, law and insurance costing where a single click can be in 3 figures.

AdWords is a great tool to get instant and relevant traffic to your website, however, if not done right, you can end up exhausting your budget quite soon without having maximized the possible ROI in the way of low CPCs.

Considering just how important it is to optimise your Pay Per Click campaign, here are some simple ways to reduce your CPC.


How many keywords and/or keyphrases were there in a single ad group of yours? 5? 10? Perhaps, 20? In cases where we take over managing a clients PPC campaign, we generally find anywhere between 5-15 search queries within a campaign.  However, if you want to lower your CPC rates significantly, you need to start thinking small. Really small.

One of the factors that affect CPC rates is the Quality Score (discussed below). The higher the score, the lower the CPC. However, to increase your Quality Score, each campaign has to be very targeted and one of the most effective ways to do this is to keep the number of ad-trigger keywords down to a few. We’re talking 1 or 2 (We said ‘simple’ ways, not quick). Once, you have done this, you need to create….

Landing pages

Ideally, you’ll have a landing page dedicated for each of the Ad group. For example, if you have 2 ad groups, one for ‘buy Nike shoes’ and another for ‘buy Nike Air Max 3000’ then these should be in 2 separate ad groups and the headline of each of the 2 landing page should contain the trigger keyword.

Whilst this may sound like a lot of work initially, the potential savings in CPCs can far outweigh the cost over a short period of time, especially if you are spending £700+ per month and once you have a landing page template set up, you should be easily able to modify the headline and associated text via your Content Management System (CMS).

Click-through rate

The CTR is the percentage of clicks your ad receives compared to the number of impressions (how many times your ad was displayed). A higher CTR = lower CPC and one of the ways to increase your CTR is via ads that stand out. So, how do you make this happen? It all starts with the headline…

Resist the urge to keep your headlines very straight-forward in the hope that more people will understand and therefore, click on it. The key here is testing. If you’re showing prices in your ad, try to have a variation which doesn’t.  If you’re used to using up all the available text in each ad , try a version which is much shorter and to the point. Apart from the speed by which AdWords can bring you possible customers, another advantage is that it allows you to test and therefore optimise your campaigns to no end. You can have multiple versions of your ad with different headlines and text for each ad and let your users tell you which one is working best.

Lower your CPCs

Is ad position #1 always better? Absolutely not.

There are at least a few instances when you may not actually want to be on top. For example, items or services which have a long life-cycle involving research and where getting quotes from multiple sources is quite common, even if your ad is the first one that your prospect saw, there’s a very low chance that they’ll convert. In such an instance, lower ad positions can actually work for you better, not only in the way of a lower ad spend, but there may also be a chance where your first interaction with the potential customer is perhaps the 2nd or 3rd or more in their line of interaction with the companies that their business may go to.

Quality Score

The quality score is an overall indication of the quality of each of your ad groups and is determined by other factors such as click-through rate, ad rank and so on.  As discussed above, the higher the quality score, the lower the CPCs are going to be and creating highly targeted campaigns following techniques mentioned above can help you achieve this.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.


Website metrics of popular fashion websites

At Flow20, we carry out a lot of Web Design work for fashion companies and was intrigued when I was recently asked by a client in the said industry how their website compared to the big fashion websites around the globe.

So, I decided to do a little more investigation and create a list of some of the most popular fashion websites and their important metrics.


PS. The list has been compiled using Alexa, Whois domain tools, Ispionage and an inhouse created SEO tool we use.

Name URL Alexa Rank Domain registration date No. of backlinks Bounce rate % (3 month average) Average page load time (sec)
Armani Jeans 24,880 20/02/1995 148573 29.6 2.348
Balenciaga 86704 29/03/1999 425036 29.9 2.418
Bally 155431 05/01/1989 75505 36 4.238
Banana Republic 51643 29/12/1995 18090 65.2 1.324
Burberry 12542 17/01/1997 259508 28 1.195
Calvin Klein 24101 10/06/1997 3513 31.3 1.829
Canali 316300 06/03/1997 6179 26.1 n/a
Chanel 9493 12/08/1996 820207 34.7 1.017
Chloe 129059 19/06/1995 236917 47 2.404
Coach 6932 30/04/1996 17100 28.3 1.646
Diesel 15791 18/11/1996 234866 30.08 2.303
DKNY 62854 26/11/1997 116310 29.9 2.561
Dolce & Gabbana 39667 28/06/1996 213349 30.8 1.932
Donna Karan 241393 28/04/1995 63417 41 n/a
Gap 780 13/09/1993 503061 21.4 1.501
Gucci 9181 05/06/1996 771882 25.9 2.131
Guess 41899 06/09/1995 12963 18.8 2.369
Hugo Boss 13316 24/04/1997 288803 31.9 1.893
Kenneth Cole 42217 03/10/1997 23294 22.7 1.591
Louis Vuitton 16491 18/02/1997 1091993 18.1 0.505
Marc Jacobs 34606 23/04/1998 305859 31.4 1.169
Michael Kors 11790 08/03/1999 225572 22.5 1.389
Ralph Lauren n/a 25/09/1996 320332 n/a n/a
Roberto Cavalli n/a 29/09/1997 58574 n/a n/a
Salvatore Ferragamo n/a 12/02/1996 79961 n/a n/a
Tommy Hilfiger 10829 01/12/1998 1594 24.9 2.006
Valentino 63603 21/07/1998 78321 23.2 1.723
Versace 68778 25/03/1997 162665 28.5 1.446
Yves saint Laurent 77025 22/04/1998 189929 30.02 1.39

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

Is WordPress good for Ecommerce websites?

WordPress is a self-hosting platform used by millions of bloggers today. This platform which once started as a blogging tool has now evolved into one of the worlds most popular Content Management System (CMS) serving the needs of not just bloggers but businesses of all sizes as well as Ecommerce sites.

Here are some staggering facts about WordPress:

  • In the top million high-traffic sites, at least one-sixth of them are powered by WordPress [Source]
  • There are sixty million WordPress users
  • Built by volunteers and is free and open source
  • More than half of the top million high-quality sites that use content management system operate on WordPress
  • With Fantastico and other third-party installers, WordPress single-click installation is allowed by most hosting providers
  • Better security and functionality is provided through constant WordPress updates
  • To customize better backend functionality and front-end appearance, WordPress helps integrate plugins and themes with ease

Is WordPress good for Ecommerce websites?

WordPress can be a robust platform for your Ecommerce website with the right plugins, themes and other add-ons.


Here are a few more reasons why WordPress can serve your Ecommerce needs well:


  • An impressive variety of themes – WordPress offers users a stunning range of themes to choose from. Though only certain themes can be used for Ecommerce sites, there are enough to choose from. The best aspect is that you can modify the themes on this open source platform and customize depending on your specific preference.
  • Plugins allow you to add functionality – Just like Apple claims “there’s an app for that”, for any Ecommerce functionality you wish to add there’s a pretty good chance “there’s a plugin for that”! This is one of the major reasons for the widespread use of this platform. All plugins are offered free of charge, at least the base version and integration in most cases isn’t too difficult either. Some of the popular extensions offered by WordPress include Google XML site maps, WP-polls, Akismet and Yoast SEO .  While some of them help your site rank high on popular search engines, others are designed to help minimize or even completely eliminate spam comments. Certain extensions enable you to engage site visitors through interactive polls while certain others allow you to back up vital website data to be retrieved later when you want to.
  • Enhance the sidebar contents using widgets – Widgets can help you change the WordPress sidebar content with ease. Using widgets, you can also include gizmos, HTML, images and text for ecommerce site side bars. Many useful purposes are served by easy tools such as text widgets. You can add notices on special deals and rebates, add HTML lists that link directly to categories of products and create featured products using this excellent WordPress tool.
  • WordPress offers enhanced product customization options – One of the most important aspects of an Ecommerce site is continuous addition and removal of products. WordPress allows you to add and customize your products using simple setting options. All you have to do is to follow a simple process to add weight and shipping settings, price, stock control, voucher codes, downloads and merchant notes.

So, are there any disadvantages of using WordPress for Ecommerce?

Actually, yes there is.

Whilst WordPress is a great platform for small Ecommerce websites, for larger online stores we usually prefer using Magento or a custom-coded Ecommerce platform.

Whilst WordPress has many advantages, essentially you are using a piece of software which means that to a certain extent, you are limited by what you can and cant do.

A custom-built Ecommerce platform has many advantages such as complete flexibility and customisation which can be especially important if you are selling niche goods, where the products themselves require a certain level of customisation before purchase (E.g., made-to-order goods).

If you aren’t sure which platform to go with, Flow20 can help you decide. Drop us a line at and we’ll be happy to help.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

August 10, 2013

Penguin 2.0 – A list of related posts around the web

If you’re reading this, you already know about Google’s latest algorithm update, the Penguin 2.0, the 4th iteration of the Penguin algorithm changes which went live on May 22nd, 2013 (see Matt Cutts video)

Less than 1 week into it’s launch, I have spoken to a few SEOs and I still haven’t seen any consistency in the results others have experienced, either with their own sites or their clients. Some seem to have seen big improvements whilst others the opposite. And, while Google says that only 2.3 of queries will be affected, the real number seems to be much greater.

Anyway, I have been actively looking for the latest info out there on Penguin 2.0 and thought it might be useful for others to compile a list of the most useful posts I have come across so far.

So, here’s a list of all the best posts on Penguin 2.0 around the web:

Search Engine Watch

Summary: Well thought-out and includes concepts I haven’t seen elsewhere much.  The one about Content push is interesting.

Link Assistant

Summary: A detailed step-by-step guide to recovery.

Search Engine Watch

Summary: Great read. Not Penguin 2.0 exclusive as the guidelines and thoughts put forth on link building is well worth noting anyway.

Search Engine Land

Summary: A focus on Penguin 2.0 implications for the bigger brands.


Summary: This one was written before the update was released but has some useful link related tips, nevetheless


Summary:  Further resources and tips for Penguin 2.0


Summary:  Covers what Penguin 2.0 is all about and where to focus your efforts.


Summary: I didnt find this post particularly useful but included it because it talks about Matt Cutts’s comment about ‘Cutts also mentioned that denying value upstream for link spammers wasn’t incorporated in the latest update, only hinting “That comes later.”’. I must have missed this one as this is the first time I’m reading about it! (if you guys have a related link to this, please share)

Link Research Tools

Summary: One of the most comprehensive posts yet, with an in-depth anaylsis on why’s ranking plummeted.

Search Engine Journal

Summary: This one covers the basics – get a clear picture of how you have been affected, use Google Webmaster Tools and the like to identify and remove spammy links and take a long-term strategy to SEO – Content and Conversions.

Huffington Post

Summary: This one goes into a little more details on the specifics of Link building – remove too many exact-match anchor text,  ideas to generate links, link veolicty and so on…


Summary: More about the update itself and industries/sites affected

Search Engine Watch

Summary : Similar to Moz, talks about the udpate in general

Website Magazine

Summary: This is a good one as it covers some other topics such as Authority Rank, avoiding over-optimisation and so on.

Hobo Web

Summary: Interestingly, Shaun says finds that Penguin 2.0 isnt as aggressive as 1.0 but I’m not sure I agree.

Fourth Source

Summary: A PR take on Penguin


Hope this helps. I’ll be updating this post with more useful links as I come across them as well as our own analysis and suggestions soon.

If you’ve come across a great post let me know and I’ll update the list above. Thanks.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

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Content generation

By now, you’ve heard it all too often – “Content is king”. What’s often missed out 2 important keywords – “unique” and “quality”. And, I’m probably using the word “unique” here differently to how you think..

If you are hoping to improve your rankings with the help of content, there are 2 things to keep in mind :

1)  Don’t publish content for it’s own sake

As important as it is to regularly publish content on your website, it’s (almost) equally important for your content to be unique.  When I say unique, I’m not talking about taking an existing piece of content that already exists, spinning (rephrasing) it and then running it by to make sure it’s unique.

What I’m talking about is thinking about new ideas and topics for your articles, something that does not already exist in some way and then writing the content for it from scratch.

Up until 2 years ago, I followed the very method that I described initially (spinning content). And that works too. However, since I have changed my SEO strategy when it comes to creating content and forcing myself to come up with unique ideas, whether that’s for our own site or that of a client, I have found the effects to be significantly better, advantages far outweighing the cost.

Another significant advantage of this approach is that there’s a decent chance that your content will appear within the first page, probably within the top half of the search results which has the potential to bring a lot of long-tail traffic to your website.

So how do you go about generating unique content?

If you’re carrying out SEO for your own website, this is easy. Once you begin the process, you’ll usually find that a lot more ideas come to your mind when you begin writing your first piece. Make a note of these which will serve as a ready list for your content ideas (remember to hyperlink them within the articles for additional benefits).

If you’re optimising a client website, this is initially a little more time-consuming but gets much easier later on.

To start with, you could ask your client for ideas. Chances are, they’ll have a long list ready but they just didn’t know it. Giving them a few examples usually helps.  Or, it’s possible they have subscribed to some industry newsletters – ask them to forward those to you.  I have been doing this for some time now and find it an instant way to help me think of ideas.

Another way to think of unique topics for your client is to draw inspiration from industry specific news.

2) Quality is important

For a long time, I believed in quantity over quality when it came to generating content. And I think the reason simply is that it worked.

However, ever since my focus changed to quality, limiting the number of pieces I wrote (for our own site) or our copywriters wrote (for client sites) and trying to make the content ‘authoritative’, the results have been amazing.

So how do you improve your content quality?

Here are some of the guidelines I keep in mind:

  • Minimum word count of 500 words
  • Use h and bold tags
  • Using images where possible (alt-tag them)
  • Citing references where possible
  • Hyperlinks within text to related content
  • Not ‘afraid’ to link to external sites

Once you achieve a certain level of quality, the level Google wants, you’ll regularly find your content achieving decent rankings which over time can significantly improve traffic numbers to your website

3) Making your content “rich”

Take a closer look at the pages appearing within the top 5-7 results for a competitive search terms and what do you see?  There’s a pretty good chance that the webpages you’re finding don’t have “thin” content. You’re noticing a lot of text, hyperlinks within the text, images and perhaps some external links as well?

I studied this extensively during our first few super-competitive SEO projects and do this occasionally even now and have found this to be the case almost always, especially when it comes to law, insurance and health sectors. You may have already noticed this in articles published on Search Engine Land or SEOmoz.

Adding content like this helps improve the authority of your article which will ultimately help your rankings. I have already mentioned the list for this above (the points under ‘…guidelines I keep in mind’).

4) Update old content

When was the last time you updated old content on your website? If you are like most people, including me until not so long ago, the answer is probably never.

Until now, I have talked about content generating ideas and the structure of your content. This is the easy one.

Whilst getting yourself generating content in a way that benefits your SEO may take some time, one place where you can immediately start “practicing” is with the existing content on your website. The guidelines in terms of how to increase content quality and richness remain the same. However, even adding more content without any of the elements to increase quality can help your rankings.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to add a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This is easy to think of and not only can it help your rankings but also has the additional benefit of helping your website visitors take an informed decision and improving conversion rates.

Over the last 6 months, I have been updating the existing content on our client sites, some of which is over 2 years old and have noticed some good improvements to the rankings of these individual pages. A positive side-effect is that it helps the rankings of other pages closely linked to the one being updated and usually the home page as well.

That’s it for now and I hope this helps. On a sidenote, you may find the services of a professional copywriter useful in helping your SEO efforts.  Usually, it’s not lack of ideas but time which keeps us from publishing content and a professional SEO copywriter can help.

It may not be easy finding one with in-depth knowledge of generating content for proper SEO benefits, like the ones mentioned above so start by sharing an example with them.

Learn more about generating SEO-effective content.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency why not give Flow20 a try? We can help you with PPC management, Facebook ads, LinkedIn Advertising and Social Media campaigns and even Google Ads training.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have. Send me an email