Thursday, 8 October 2020

Custom Extraction Methods & Screaming Frog

It should not need saying that a website is essential these days for any business to succeed. With literally billions of potential customers online, businesses simply can't afford to miss out. In 2018, global 'e-retail' sales totalled something in the region of $2.8 trillion. The projected figure for 2021 is nearer to $4.8 trillion.

Competition for online business is fierce, as you might expect. The companies with the best SEO strategies are clearly going to win. Those who don't invest in SEO, or who neglect their websites, will suffer - it's as simple as that.

You might have excellent SEO and a great website. But how do you give your business the edge over your competition? There are many tools and tricks out there to boost your chances and help you maximise opportunities, and custom extraction is one.

What is Custom Extraction?

First of all, let's think back to the average office about fifty years ago. Immediately, you'd note the absence of computers in most offices, and where they were present they weren't exactly 'user friendly' or powerful - compared with today's models. When data was required, it would mostly be left to humans to gather. It was often a painstaking, laborious, and thankless task. And then there is the fact of 'human error'. Yes, reports were made, and frequently made well. But it took time and effort that often exceeded its usefulness. As time went on, and more data became available, it became less worthwhile. The internet wasn't around at the time, so you couldn't dive in to extract the data you required.

Jump forward to today, and we have information at our fingertips 24 hours a day. In fact, we have vast, overwhelming amounts of information and data. In a sense, we are faced with a similar problem to our counterparts of half a century ago; sifting through masses of data to find anything of value is not a good use of our time. And people still make mistakes at times. This is where custom extraction can be a useful tool, especially Screaming Frog which is our favorite. Special software is put into action that scours websites and grabs the data you need. It then saves it in a file for you to analyse and present in a range of formats.

And this can save you resources, time, and money.

How does it work?

If you're not familiar with the technical terms, it can all get a bit confusing. Basically, all websites are built using a code called HTML. Other codes are used in the design and presentation, but HTML is the basic framework that all internet browsers recognise. If you were to look at the actual code for a website, you might be amazed at just how much is there. If you were to search through it to find a specific bit of information, it could take a while.

Using a 'web scraper' you can find that information quickly. These scrapers are also sometimes referred to as 'bots', 'spiders', or 'spiderbots' and are the same type of tools used by search engines to scour the millions of pages that make up the internet in order to index relevant sites for any particular search.

In terms of custom extraction, the program can search a website, or even something like a Google SERP (search engine results page), and extract the data you need in seconds, even if the website has multiple URLs (possibly over a million!).

Web data extraction is growing in popularity as businesses are waking up to its importance. Custom data extraction takes this a step further by speeding up the process and automating it. You can download software like Screaming Frog to perform this for you, set the required parameters, and wait for the results.

And these results can seriously boost your company's performance or replace a time consuming method with a fast efficient data export.

An example of custom extraction for stock checks.

A lot of large online stores not only sell their own products but those of small or large suppliers that may not have high tech logistics or even a stock list at all. This can be a problem with customers on your site buying a product that you then cannot fulfill.

So how can we fix this?

You need to have a little bit of code knowledge specifically HTML & CSS but it really is quite simple. Although the code/method you use might differ slightly on different websites due to the structure or validity of the code, or indeed because its behind a login/wall.

You will need a tool like XPather to inspect the code on the page you want to extract.

For example:

A TV site might have some items listed as "out of stock" or "limited stock" or "due back in October" etc along with its product code/identifier on the same page. We can use XPather to give us the CSS path, Text Path or Inner HTML path of those values.

It will look something like this:



These 2 lines of code point to the exact path in the back-end code of the web page that you the visitor can see. We can enter these into the "custom extraction" tool within Screaming Frog and set the bot running (you can define a speed which if too fast is not ethical to the site you are crawling so be careful but this would need to be covered in another post).

Custom extraction using screaming frog for SEO
An example of the custom extraction being added

Once Screaming Frog has finished crawling the site (you can check its progress in the custom extraction tab) you can export the data to a spreadsheet. In this case it would be one column of product codes and in the next column its stock status. We can then use this information to do a mass export/import on the eCommerce site to hide out of stock items or un-hide back in stock items. This was a savior for one of our clients who at the time were manually checking or noticing too late after orders were made.

What are the benefits of Custom Extraction?

Here are a few examples of how this software - and the data it produces- can help:

Website / SEO audits

Your website can hide many technical errors that the human eye may not see which is even more prevalent on large sites with 1000`s of pages. With these tools you can quickly gather all of the data you need to make it easier to spot technical SEO errors.


Find the most suitable keywords for your business of product and see which keywords your competitors are using. Compile a chart to see which are ranking highest.


Regularly keep an eye on your competitors through an automated system, giving you information on their finances, funding, pricing, new developments, technology, and so on. Also, the 'web scraping' software can access content that is usually only available through downloading or creating an account.

Monitoring news sites

Some businesses operate in markets that are affected by events around the globe. This software can automatically gather data that helps them take timely and appropriate action - possibly before their rivals.

Locating a target audience

Custom extraction tools can search social media to discover general trends and to see which products are in demand. They can also explore existing customers to determine satisfaction levels. Both methods help to direct future marketing campaigns, seize opportunities, and maintain customer loyalty.

Brand image and awareness

Image is everything. The World Wide Web gives virtually everyone the opportunity to express their opinion on anything, including your business. Through web data extraction you can find out exactly what people think. Then you can use this data to maintain that image, or take steps to improve it, tracking changes through new reports.

Track Stock Volumes

By performing searches on your own pages, you can keep track of stock levels. One of the most frustrating aspects of online shopping is the message 'out of stock'. This can help out eCommerce companies massively if they are a distributor of suppliers products and do not have up to date stock lists from said supplier. (we have actually used this for a client it worked a treat during the busy Covid period!)

Keep your website updated

In cases of 'time-sensitive' events, like Black Friday, you need to quickly locate instances where wording and details need to be adjusted. Data extraction software keeps track of these locations to ensure they are updated.

Pricing strategy

Instantly keep abreast of fluctuations in prices for service and goods offered by your competitors. Analyze their products, rates, and features.

The benefits and advantages stretch way beyond this list, but it serves as an example of how useful custom extraction can be. Installing this software makes good sense for any business that is serious about SEO.

Based in the North East of England UK Web GeekZ are innovators in the search engine optimisation industry and use tactics that work time and time again, give us a call if you would like to get more traffic or simply a new website design.


5-7 Amity House, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7EE

Source Here: Custom Extraction Methods & Screaming Frog
Article Written By

Monday, 27 July 2020

Meta Title Length Explained

The subject of Search Engine Optimisation can be a tricky one. Opinions from experts in the field often vary, with frequent proclamations that 'SEO is dead!'. However, in spite of these claims, evidence would suggest otherwise. More than 200 people every month search the term 'Is SEO dead?'. And each time, they discover thousands of sites that prove the contrary. They will also learn that the rules of SEO are constantly changing and that it is vital to be aware of the most recent updates. An understanding of the terminology, as well as their applications, is therefore advisable.

One such term is the meta title, also referred to as the title tag, which relates to the HTML code that describes your site accurately and concisely. This will also be used to identify a page when you apply a bookmark. (For an example of what HTML meta descriptions and meta title tags look like, press 'Ctrl' and 'U'.)

Meta title HTML example

Confusion abounds - even amongst SEO experts - as to their importance, and even the ideal length. So, how can you be sure that your meta title is the best choice?

Meta title length explained

The general rule is to keep your title under 60 characters. However, the fact is that search engines measure the meta title in pixels, rather than characters, generally truncating anything longer than 600 pixels. Many people do everything right, creating perfect meta titles, only to see that part of the text has been replaced with the dreaded 'ellipse'...

This may seem a small matter, but the facts speak for themselves -

  • Most people ignore the 'paid ads' at the top of a SERP (search engine results page), choosing the 'organic' results instead.
  • Of these organic results, around 70% of users don't scroll further than the fifth website.
  • At least 95% of users won't even click on the second page.

Although the big search engines such as Google have a lot of control over what is displayed, you can maximise your chances by optimising your meta title.

Meta title example

The pixel limit, as opposed to character limit, can be a problem though. Upper case characters should be limited, and wider characters such as 'W' will reduce the amount of text displayed. And although the officially accepted limit is 600 pixels, some research shows that truncation can take place between 525 - 535 pixels (for some reason, these limits don't seem to apply to mobile web searches!).

In the end, the search engine can choose to ignore your tags and grab whatever HTML text from your site that it feels is relevant. But this should not stop you from ensuring your meta title is clear, concise, and accurate, and between 55 - 65 characters long. Only the most important, high-value keywords should be used, word repetition should be avoided, and instead of hyphens the vertical line '|' should be inserted to display the text more prominently.

Online tools can help with meta title length, as well as content, to improve your SEO strategy, along with your chances of success.

Based in the North East of England UK Web GeekZ are innovators in the search engine optimisation industry and use tactics that work time and time again, give us a call if you would like to get more traffic or simply a new website design.


5-7 Amity House, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7EE

Source Here: Meta Title Length Explained
Posted First By

Maximise Your Online Presence with These 7 SEO Tips to Optimising Your Website

Landing on that sweet #1 spot is a huge challenge, especially if you operate in a crowded niche. But, with proper search engine optimisation, you will be able to start improving your rankings and get there eventually.

Optimising your site might seem like a lot of work and quite a daunting task, but the hardest part about it is figuring out where to start. So, for those of you who feel lost in what you should do to improve your site’s optimisation, I have prepared a short list of seven SEO tips to help you out.

The first thing you’re going to need is some kind of tool that allows you to track your metrics. Linkio has a pretty great compilation of the best SEO audit tools out there, so be sure to give them a visit.

Anyway, let’s jump into our first tip.

#1. Mobile-Friendliness Is a MUST

This is one of the very first things you need to ensure. An enormous amount of users prefer their mobile devices to browse the Web, and their percentage is still growing.

Whereas only a couple of years before mobile users were responsible for about one-third of all traffic, today their count is almost doubled. 

Mobile traffic is up by 222% in the last 7 years! ~ 

66% is a lot to lose. But in addition to losing more than half of your traffic because of poor mobile optimization, Google will actually place a penalty on your site on top of that, cutting your traffic even further.

Why? Because Google knows most people use smartphones, and to help create a better experience for them, it favors sites that are properly optimized for them.

So, you absolutely need to ensure that your resource looks and performs flawlessly on all platforms and browsers.

#2. Upload a Sitemap

Every once in a while, Google’s bots come crawling through your site to index your pages. But the thing is: they aren’t perfect at it. Especially if you have dozens upon dozens of pages and some hidden from view.

Pages that you are editing, ones that aren’t ready to go live, etc. 

There is also a limited amount of pages they can index per visit. So, in order to get the most out of crawlers, it is advisable that you upload a .xml sitemap.

What is it? Essentially it’s a list of all your pages that are up for indexing. Formatting it properly is quite tricky, but you don’t actually have to do it on your own. 

If your site runs on WordPress, Yoast SEO is a great plugin. In addition to helping you optimize your site automatically, it can create sitemaps for you and notify Google each time something changes on your resource, so the bots always know when and what to index.

#3. Choose Keywords Wisely

Choosing proper keywords to rank for is a huge part of SEO. But which ones do you go for? 

Just picking the #1 keyword in your niche isn’t enough. Even though it might be the most popular one that people search for, there’s going to be a ton of competition. 

Try to implement a healthy mix of keywords with lots of variation and synonyms. Don’t be afraid to go for keywords that are ranking a little lower. 

Don’t be afraid to check which keywords your competitors are ranking for since you might find some real gems there. And, be sure to monitor every keyword’s ranking and keep an eye out for ones that are steadily growing in popularity since those are great contenders that can overtake the #1 spot if used properly.

Ahrefs has one of the best keyword rank trackers out there.

#4. Site Speed Matters

There are two reasons why you need to pay attention to your site speed. The first being that nobody likes to look at that annoying loading animation for longer than a split second and being too slow might cause a spike in your site’s click-off rate. 

The second one, though, is tied directly with Google. Every time your pages get indexed the bots actually take notice of how long it takes to load them and that information actually affects your ratings.

So, it is pretty important to stay fast. Use PageSpeed Insights to check your site speed and get a few tips on how to make it load faster all in the same place.

#5. Both Internal and External Links Are Amazing for SEO

You should make interlinking your own pages into a habit if you haven’t already. It’s great for two reasons: firstly, it helps direct your visitors through your content and might make them stay around for longer. 

And secondly, it helps Google’s bots crawl your site faster. After all, it is much easier to follow a link than to scan the entirety of your resource to find a page.

As for external links though, I’m sure you’re already aware of the benefits of link building. The more backlinks from high-authority websites you have, the more traffic they transfer to your own one.

Don’t be afraid to link to smaller websites too as it helps you build relationships, which usually turn out to be mutually beneficial.

#6. Take Advantage of Social Medias

Now, of course, boosting your organic traffic should always be your highest priority. But the amount of traffic you can be able to redirect, say, from Facebook is quite considerable.

By placing ads there you’ll be able to capture much more attention than from Google alone. If you setup up a Facebook pixel on your website it will help you re-target people at a later date with more specific adverts. It also causes a little bit of a snowball effect: someone shares a post of yours, then their friends see it, and so on. 

Besides, no successful website is complete without a social media page. Reposting other people’s content on Twitter is also a pretty nice way to get on someone’s radar. And while it has no direct effect on your SEO, it will definitely help during your link building campaign.

#7. Run Audits Often

Even when you’re nearing the finish of your SEO campaign (or at least running out of tasks to do), it’s important to remember that there’s no real end to SEO. Google constantly gets updated, your competition figures out new strategies, links get removed along with thousands of other factors that come into play when your rankings are determined.

So, your job is never over. That’s why you need to run audits of your site at least a few times a month. In fact, you can also run audits of your competitor’s sites to see what they’re up to.

A tool like SpyFu is a great way of peeking behind the curtains of any site to check what’s going on back there.

Good Luck With Your SEO!

Thank you for staying with me until the end and I hope my tips will come in handy during your own SEO campaign! 

Based in the North East of England UK Web GeekZ are innovators in the search engine optimisation industry and use tactics that work time and time again, give us a call if you would like to get more traffic or simply a new website design.


5-7 Amity House, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7EE

Originally Published Here: Maximise Your Online Presence with These 7 SEO Tips to Optimising Your Website

Friday, 24 July 2020

Confused about which SEO consultant to hire?

Updated 24/07/2020

If you are reading this you probably want some insight into how best to choose your SEO consultant.

So what things should we consider, whats the most important and what should we avoid?

I will first list some of the things we should be thinking about and then go into a little more detail about some of those bullet points

Things to consider

Search engine optimisation is such a broad service that the average surfer will not be qualified enough to interpret the claims of an SEO Agency or do the research on them to qualify that agency for your project. To teach a none SEO specialist how to dissect a website would simply take to long and so this is just a simple guide on how you could help stop yourself getting burned by a team of spammers and help keep your website safe

Most important things to ask

  • The preferred strategy they use to improve a rank (they should tell you this when asked)
  • Does it break Google guidelines (details here)
  • Have they got proof of past success
  • Is content on your site the 1st step for them
  • Is content a step for them at all
  • If content is used is that their only strategy
  • Do they build any kind of links to your site
  • What type of links

Most important things to avoid

  • Rank overnight claims
  • Guaranteed rankings
  • One fee to complete the job
  • Offers of mass links to your site
  • Guaranteed first page results
  • Automated link building

What does all this mean?

So with a a bunch of the most important factors to consider listed above I can start to now list and explain in more detail some of the points mentioned.

Most Important

The preferred strategy they use to improve a rank (they should tell you this when asked)

If they are unwilling to describe how they do what they claim it probably means it will break Googles guidelines in some way and so keep that from you to avoid scaring you off. This does not mean this is always the case however as they might simply have some knowledge they do not want to get to competitors but in general can often get alarm bells ringing. If the strategy is content based and does not involve any named links (described here) then they could be the people for you to consider.

Does it break Google guidelines? (details here)

You should cross reference this list of guidelines against what they tell you because if any of those guidelines are broken on your website then you are in great danger of having a penalty applied to your website by Google and you can say goodbye to your traffic and will have to clean up the mess they have made to have that penalty removed by Google.

Is content on your site the 1st step for them?

This should be the first step for any SEO company good or bad because its what we call low hanging fruit, simple changes to text/layout/keywords and content can sometimes be all is needed to get ranked and then no risky work is needed. I say risky work because all offsite SEO carries an element of risk because no matter which way you look at it all SEO is borderline for Google guidelines but none the less all companies including the big beasts need to do it for traffic and they do so on a daily.

Is content a step for them at all?

If it is not then they are simply building back links to your properties which is a very risky thing to do with regards to Google and you have to be very careful and planned to do this safely which you will know is not happening if they are charging you peanuts - it should be at least £250 a month for even the most basic safe seo any less and your asking for trouble as the things involved to do this are time consuming and require assets to be built.

Do they build any kind of links to your site

If they do then you need to look into what they do carefully and have them explain exactly whats going to be done, when, how often and from where because link building is the most risky aspect of SEO just have a read of what Googles Penguin algorithm can do to your site if caught (described here)

What type of links

I cannot go through the many types of links one can acquire on the net there is simply too many but they all have a trust and authority score used by seo tools as metrics to gauge a link or websites quality. You can use tools like Majestic SEO to check these metrics.

Things to avoid

Rank overnight claims

Some things can be ranked over night but generally not a website and nothing that will help you a great deal. SEO is a long term project no matter what, on occasions a rank can be achieved and work can stop but at some point it will start to devalue and that will happen before its reflected in the search results and then you will have to play catch up so its generally always a long term constant service. This is why a claim to rank something overnight is false, very risky and most definitely will get a penalty even if it succeeds.

Guaranteed rankings

This is a double edged sword because an experienced SEO can to some extent guarantee some sort of rank based on past experiences and knowledge but can certainly not guarantee it especially in a given time frame or to a desired position like number 1 for example, even with an in depth report of your competitors one can only guesstimate the level of work needed to outrank someone else and for all they know they have a good SEO working for them that knows how to hide certain things of benefit from peeping toms. In general nothing is guaranteed there are so many factors to consider and an existing competitors age alone can be hard to overcome and pushing to hard early on will catch the attention of Googles algorithms, panda, penguin, hummingbird and rankbrain.

Offers of mass links to your site

We can get you lots of back links to outrank your competitors they will say, this works time and time again. Yes in a way it does but not that way, a website with 2 powerful links from reputable trusted sources can outrank a website with 20,000 links from dodgy sources this is a fact. This will also most definitely get you a penalty and contacting 20,000 webmasters to have your link removed from there site will be a ridiculous task and you will not get in touch with 95% of them which will require all sorts of interaction and reconsideration requests with Google to resume business as normal. This often ends up with the client starting from scratch on a new domain. You should not be building any links to your site unless you are sure its good.

Automated link building

This is something done by SEO tools used by virtual assistants for companies who outsource their SEO work or even use the tools themselves. Googles algorithm is clever enough to know which computer posted a link, what time it was done, which server was used, which IP address was used, which other sites are on that server, where else that IP has appeared, where else have those links been posted and all of this easily accessible data creates an obvious footprint which makes your site stand out like a red balloon to Google. Risks can be minimised by using proxies to rotate IPs and servers, scheduling to avoid time frame issues and other complicated scripts but this will never be invisible to Google. Basically a cheap link service should only get you a few links because its not profitable to do more properly unless using automated spamming tools to find low quality orphaned websites to post on.

Ok so I hope your head is not to fried by all of this but this is about as simple as a helpful article can be with regards to finding a suitable SEO Company but it does layout in understandable terms what is important and what is not.

Based in the North East of England UK Web GeekZ are innovators in the search engine optimisation industry and use tactics that work time and time again, give us a call if you would like to get more traffic or simply a new website design.


5-7 Amity House, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7EE

Originally Published Here: Confused about which SEO consultant to hire?
Posted First By

What is a Meta Description Checker?

With around 59% of the world population
being active online - that's about 4.6 billion people - it is more important
than ever for businesses to use best practices when it comes to SEO and online
strategy. It's a subject filled with pitfalls and hazards to trap the unwary,
and it is advisable to seek professional help. One particularly problematic
topic is that of meta descriptions. A poorly-formed meta description
could cost a business dearly in terms of online visibility, or could even be
giving a false impression of that business. In this situation, a meta
description checker could be the answer.

meta description
Meta Description

Why are meta descriptions important?

When someone makes an online search using
any major browser, the search engine looks at the HTML 'tags' on websites to
find the most suitable and relevant results. This HTML code won't usually form
part of the actual website but will give a good idea of what it is about. This
is to generate what is called 'click-through'. The person performing the search
looks at the results, reads a brief description of the page, and then decides
whether to visit it or not. A good, accurate meta description is therefore
vital in ensuring that people don't simply scroll by and choose a competitor's

A list of meta description checkers

Screaming Frog (Our favourite) - Screaming Frog

Site Checker Pro -

SEO Review Tools - Bulk Meta Description Checker

To The Web - Title & Description Checker

Meta Tags IO -

SEO Mofo - Snippet Optimiser

How does a meta description checker help?

Having a good meta description is just part
of your overall SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy. And if you haven't
got that, then you're already starting at a disadvantage. A brief search online
- in which you'll see examples of good meta descriptions - will provide dozens
of SEO experts willing to help.

You might be tempted to compile your own
description, and if you're confident in doing so, that's great. But there is an
art to it. To save space, meta descriptions are limited to 155 - 160
characters. You can make it any length, but the search engine will cut it
short, which won't look good in the search results. So your description has to
be short and relevant to make sure it appears in the right searches. It also
needs to be engaging. A dull description won't inspire a 'click-through'.

Another trick that a meta description
checker will use is to insert keywords. Most search engines insist that this
won't help with your ranking (where you appear in the list of results)
but it's a good idea to use them anyway. There's a thing called 'click-through
rate' that search engines, such as Google, use to determine whether your site
is a good result. The better your meta description, the more click-throughs
you'll get. Google sees this and bumps you up the list, making your site more
visible to potential customers.

Are meta descriptions absolutely necessary?

As stated above, this is an important
aspect of SEO. In fairness, they aren't essential, as the search engine will
grab a section of your page and use that as a description. In some cases, this
is acceptable - even preferable - for example, if you have duplicate meta
descriptions for different pages. Another example would be if your page relies
on people searching for 'long-tail keywords' (perhaps three or more specific
keywords). In these cases, search engines include the surrounding phrases that
the user has searched for, as well as the keywords. A specific meta description
here might reduce the relevance of the site to the search.

In general, though, meta descriptions are
advisable and can be extremely useful. And a meta description checker will
ensure you are on the right track by using certain tools and methods to boost
your SEO, such as:

  • Bold Keywords - these stand out on the page and catch the eye
    but must flow with the text and be used in context.
  • A 'Call to action' - a good way to increase chances of
  • Using active voice - it is more motivating and energetic
  • Avoid double quote marks - search engines often truncate the
    text when alphanumerics are used
  • Using 'Rich Snippets - extra details such as a thumbnail photo,
    ratings, etc.
  • Optimal length and format - selecting the best length and
    appearance for the business

With the right meta description, any business could receive the boost they need.

Based in the North East of England UK Web GeekZ are innovators in the search engine optimisation industry and use tactics that work time and time again, give us a call if you would like to get more traffic or simply a new website design.


5-7 Amity House, Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL3 7EE

Originally Published Here: What is a Meta Description Checker?
Article Written By

Monday, 27 January 2020

How to find the real rank of featured snippets

This is a simple URL parameter hack to show the real rank of your featured snippet.

As you know featured snippets are not always the best traffic converting spot because people can get the information they needed without clicking through to your website. If you were to de-optimize you might go in #1 (organic) or #2 but to a way lower rank (#6, #7). So how to find your "real rank"?

Use this hack: add &num=9 in your SERP url, you'll see your real rank.

Here is the explanation: you force the number of results per page to be lower than 10 (it also works with num=8, num=7, etc).

Featured snippets are triggered only for SERP`s of 10+ results.
So the "featured snippet layer" is disabled, so the non-snippet rankings are shown.

You can read peoples feedback on this trick on Kevin Richards Twitter

Read Full Article Here: How to find the real rank of featured snippets