Changing the User Agent in Screaming Frog

I was running a crawl for a friend’s site with my favorite SEO tool screaming frog and got the dreaded ‘connection refused’. My first thought was oh no this site is not indexable and the search engines probably dont even know it exists. Which is never a comforting feeling.

Fortunately, I found a work around within screaming frog for crawling websites that may block access to bots other than major search engines. Generally, other sites dont want bots visiting and crawling their websites since it can bloat their analytics. There is nothing worse than opening up your Google analytics account and seeing a spike in traffic for the month just to find out its all bot traffic coming into your website.

The work around is surprisingly simple and a little devious. You want to go into the configuration setting of Screaming frog and click change the user agent. I would recommend changing the user agent to Google bot so you can properly crawl and access the site.

As you can see I can now properly crawl and access the site.

I would also recommend running a simple query if you encounter this issue and see if the site is currently indexed within Google. You can do this by simply doing a query like “” remember to leave off the ‘www.’ and ‘https://’.

Unfortunately, when I tried this there were no pages indexed within Google at this time. However, as of writing this I see that two pages have already been indexed upon submitting the sitemap within search console. If this happens you want to submit a sitemap immediately within Search Console and wait for Google bot to come around and index the site properly. If you are worried the robots.txt might be blocking some pages just go to the robots.txt tester within search console.

Input a url you are concerned about and see if your current robots.txt file is blocking anything that would keep Google bot from rendering the page properly. Also be sure to check and make sure there arent any unwanted ‘meta no index’ tags coded within the site to keep search engines from indexing it as well.

Good luck and have fun optimizing your site!

Week 2 Bootstrapping a Startup

As my second week comes to a close I want to take some time and reflect on what is working and what is not to hopefully give an aspiring entrepreneur some much-needed resources. Again, if you have any sort of website I highly recommend setting up Google analytics and webmaster tools to be able to get insight into your traffic sources and the overall health of your website.

For instance, when I dig into my Google webmaster’s dashboard or search console as they call it now I can see some of my web pages are being indexed. I will have to probe a little further to determine why not everything is being indexed but this is a good start as my goal is to begin to get away from relying on paid search for my traffic and really dig into my organic search strategy.


Thanks to webmaster tools I can see the number of urls Google has indexed and get a high-level view of my website’s health. Unfortunately, I see I do not have many clicks coming into the website but the other report I like to look at is what keywords are driving traffic to the website.

Search_analyticsI can see that one keyword I optimized for is working to drive some traffic to my website so that is a good sign my search strategy is beginning to work even if I only have a few pages indexed. I also decided to build out a few additional pages for keywords I am targeting with a high search volume and very low competition. I hope these pages I built out will bring in traffic that will have better engagement than the traffic I currently have coming through from my PPC campaign. I already see a slight bump in traffic that I hope is from the SEO pages I built out.


Unfortunately, my bounce rate is higher than I want it to be and I would like to see a higher time on site I think this is a result of the trash traffic coming through PPC.


I can see the search engines are sending slightly better traffic than the PPC campaign I am currently running. However, the bounce rate is a little higher than I would like. I do see the email traffic has much better engagement than any other traffic source. In the medium “ebay listing” I am testing out posting products on Ebay in an attempt to drive traffic back to my site. I am trying to supplement my traffic since I expect to cut off the adwords campaign sometime soon since it is not converting and it is not cost effective to keep running it. I also installed an app that serves up a questionnaire to keep some more qualitative data back from the traffic hitting my site on the product page.

Doubling back to my Ebay listing attempt I think the people searching on Ebay are ready to make a purchase. I am posting products on there with links back to my site. I also tagged the urls so I know what traffic is coming through and I can further segment the data and see how they engage with my site. To tag the url’s I use Google’s simple url builder to build the links and then I just code it in the html editor on Ebay. I highly recommend tagging all links you put out linking back to your website so you know if your efforts are working and if you are driving quality traffic to your site.

I am also tracking the keyword and rank positioning using traffic travis. It is important to track your rankings and positioning periodically to see how you fare against the competition. Don’t get too hung up on this because keyword positioning does not always correlate nicely with web traffic.

page_rankings Not only is Traffic Travis great because it’s free but I get a quick overview of the keywords I am ranking for and the specific search engines as well. I can see very quickly I am ranking highly for a niche term.

Until next time, feel free to leave comments and post questions.


Week 1 Bootstrapping a Startup

As the first week of running a lean start-up comes to a close I wanted to take time to reflect on everything I have been doing and provide some valuable resources to anyone interested in starting their own project. I have finished building out my website which sells custom Native American inspired streetwear shirts. I have ran into obstacles along the way but the website is finally up and running.

One extremely important step before launching the website was to set up Google analytics and Google webmaster tools which is now search console. This will allow me to track who comes to my site and what content they are consuming and how they are engaging with me. Search console will give me insight into a number of things like how many pages are indexed and the search terms people are using to get to my site via search engines.

The first step was to build out a new platform which didnt all happen over a week it actually took several weeks. First, I planned out the content I wanted to have on the page I simply wrote all the content in a word doc. Prior to that I had done some basic keyword research and found a few terms I wanted to rank for I recommend using SEO tools toolbook for this. I built out several pages around my keywords then moved on to finding images that did not have any copyrights associated with them. Of course I was looking for free images since I am on a tight budget therefore, I recommend for this. When that was completed I saved them all in a folder and set up a shopify website. I chose shopify over bigcommerce because of all the additional apps the app market had and how intuitive the platform was. Then I set about building out my pages and installing some apps such as, a pop up email subscriber, persistent cart, linklicious and a custom contact page. I also decided to build a page using an app that pulls in dynamic content from my social profiles as well.

The second step, once the website was live and integrated with my drop shipper was to drive traffic to it. If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? No it does not therefore, I know SEO is going to be a vital part of my strategy I also decided to run an AdWords campaign and really try to drive traffic from social media to my website as well. I conducted a deeper dive into keyword research and found some terms to bid on that had decent traffic and of course relevant to my niche. I also took my time to write a few different ad copies to a/b test in google adwords which I will begin doing next week. Since I am on a tight budget I have also been making adjustments in adwords every few days. It is important to keep an eye on search terms your ads trigger and be sure to remove negative search terms or keywords that are costing you money but are not yielding any results.

Finally, moving forward along with blogging I am going to build out my static content that will serve as landing pages to drive organic traffic to my website. I conducted yet another round of keyword research and found some interesting keywords to build out content and topics around. The goal here is to go after the “low hanging” fruit or keywords that are not very competitive at first. These may not have a high search volume but will hopefully allow me to gain some traction first while I start trying to build backlinks to my website.

Lineage Clothing website

Not too bad for a first week around 380 page views and 192 sessions. I even had some goal conversions in my sign up and I used mail chimp to reach out to everyone and offer a promotional discount.

It has been an exciting first week and I look forward to what next week brings. Until next time!

Pre Launch of my New Website


I have decided to build a new website for my project which happens to be a clothing line catering to a specific niche. I noticed there is a need and not many businesses doing a great job in fulfilling the niche. As I get closer to re-launching my website with new products, new features, and better digital marketing I will regularly blog and post updates about my journey.

My first step was identifying a platform to utilize for my store front one that had a significant app marketplace so I could add powerful features to the website that would support my sales efforts and customer retention. I ultimately decided to use Shopify with their beautiful free and responsive website theme’s I figured it was a good choice. The next step was to conduct keyword research to build content around and begin writing content to publish on my site. Next I continued to get all my image files and finalize product mockups and descriptions.

Now I am in the process of publishing the website and running a highly targeted AdWords campaign on a budget to get short term traffic while I continually work on developing my organic traffic initiatives. I have been regularly posting on my social media platforms to drive traffic to my website when it is officially launched.

Moving forward, I will post regular updates about the test I will be running to optimize my store and turn a profit so stay tuned!

5 Free Search Engine Optimization Tools

Free Search Engine Optimization Tools


We have all been in a situation where we need a certain tool to get the job done and may not have the resources to purchase paid tools. These are my top 5 favorite SEO tools to get the job done when you are on a budget or you are free-lancing on a budget.

My top favorite tool is SEO Book because it has a few different programs within it that are pretty awesome. I generally use it to do some preliminarily keyword research for content writing.

SEO_book_overview SEO Book’s keyword research tool is a great starting point if you need to do some quick content research for a client and don’t have a paid plan with Moz or another prominent platform. I have had some pretty good results with SEO Book in the past and I highly recommend it. digital_marketing_search

When you are accessing the tool you get a pretty standard search bar you can begin your research. Unfortunately, this tool is not great for discovering long tail keyword opportunities. However, you can export your results and filter through them and gain some insight into your keywords.

Digital_marketing_QuerySEO Book is nice enough to also suggest other related keywords along with search volume and their relative competitiveness. Then you can export your results into excel and proceed to determine if your website is competitive enough to rank or gain any organic traffic from using them.

My next tool I like to use to get some insight into my competition is SEM Rush. While SEM Rush does have a paid version it does have a pretty neat free option. SEM Rush has a pretty generic search bar to research your keywords from SEO Book and gain some industry insight. Or, if you prefer you can spy on your competition fairly easily for free as well. You get an overview of how many backlinks your competition has, how much organic search traffic they have, along with their top organic keywords they are ranking for.


SEM Rush also gives you insight into their top paid keywords and their referring domains. This will help you compose a more comprehensive SEO and digital marketing strategy.

My next top free tool I like to use is Epicbeat for content research. Epicbeat has another pretty standard search feature that allows you to conduct some research on keywords and phrases. This free tool gives you an overview of which types of content is gaining traction within your niche or industry.


This free tool lets you know which social platforms are popular for the topic you are researching and even gives examples of types of high-performing content.

The next tool I like to use is Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. With all the Google algorithm updates, there is a preference being placed on mobile-friendly websites. Google has begun using mobile-friendliness as one of its ranking signals so now more than ever it is important to have a mobile-friendly website.

Google_mobile_friendly_testGoogle’s mobile-friendly test tool will analyze and report if the page conforms to Google’s mobile preference. When performing updates and changes to your website it is important to remember to test the impact of the impact on user experience.

Finally the last tool I like to use for SEO purposes is the Moz bar. The Moz bar will give you quick insights into your clients link metrics, meta data along with Moz’s own PageRank and Domain Authority.


There are a plethora of Free tools you can take advantage of for SEO and digital marketing purposes. I recommend doing some extensive research prior to purchasing any paid tool to see if there is any free alternative.


Why Display Ads Suck and How Marketers Destroy Everything.

Why Marketers Destroy Everything


This is probably a little odd considering I am a digital marketer myself but oh well. The problem I have with advertising is display ads and promotional ads that show up within apps, programs or websites. I know people have to eat and pay bills. I’m ok with that, but the problem comes when I am trying to watch Youtube and I am swarmed by a barrage of pop-up ads that are irrelevant and disrupt what I am doing.

Interruption marketing died a long time ago and it is not an effective means of promoting products. Speaking from personal experience online paid ads are generally very poorly targeted. For example, youtube ads are the worse. I would be curious to see the click through rate or ROI on these ads because I know from personal experience I get hit with a lot of irrelevant video ads that usually has nothing to do with my online searches. According to Smart Insights, the average click-through rate for display ads in April 2015 is .06% which is roughly 1 click per 1000 impressions. While this could potentially be attributed to poor copy writing, imagery and poor targeting but this is still a very low Click Through Rate.

I believe moving forward as marketers we need to have better-targeted ads and conduct better research. We need to learn more about our target audience such as their needs, wants and desires. We need research our markets better and understand their needs moving forward rather than running poorly targeted ads and risk tarnishing their brand.

How to Utilize Holidays for your Social Media Campaigns and Inspire Engagement!

How to Inspire Engagement on Social Media During Holiday’s and Special Events

The holidays can be a time to make an emotional connection with your audience and social following and inspire engagement on your platforms. This isn’t just limited to holiday’s though, it is important to stay up to date with current and ongoing trends within your niche or industry to capitalize on them. If there is breaking news in your industry be at the forefront and publicize it or use it for content creation in addition to any scheduled content your business intends to push this week. If there are social justice issues occurring around and it’s appropriate for your industry, use that as well to generate content to inspire greater engagement. Just make sure it is tactful and take into consideration of any backlash that may occur.

To put this tactic into action do  some research into your current followers and see what types of content they share. Spend some time researching their profiles and keep an eye out for trends. That doesn’t mean creep on your audience and stalk them be professional but dig deep. Do some secondary research as well utilize Google and see what sort of issues are currently trending within your niche or industry that your audience may be interested in.

Fortunately, there is an awesome tool for this called Klout. Klout will give you notifications into what is popular and trending within your industry so you can save time searching for content. If that isn’t enough buzz sumo also provides some pretty great insight into trending topics you can reshare as well throughout your social platforms. Let’s not forget another great content tool Google! That’s right Google is great for finding meme’s and hunting down other content to share throughout your niche as well. If you’re particularly handy with the adobe creative suite you can make some pretty neat visual content pieces as well.

So how did this work out in my case? Well, let’s take a look.

Sample PostI was at a bit of an advantage as I am a part of the niche group I am currently targeting. I am a Native American and as such I am aware of social issues surrounding headdresses being worn as a decorative pieces. I knew from current news, events and my own personal dislike for headdresses being used as a decorative piece that this post was highly likely to resonate within my social platforms. Of course performance does depend on the social platform you choose to post on as well. I know from previous experience and research that Tumblr is a hotbed for social issues so beginning on that platform was a no brainer.

Roughly after 30 minutes or so of posting my content piece was picked up and shared a number of times. So let’s take a look at how it performed.

Social Shares

The content piece had been picked up and reblogged an astonished 387 times in the course of under a day. This was impressive considering the small following I had. Before even posting the piece I only had roughly 70 or so followers. This is a good tactic to spread your reach and increase engagement across your platforms when used tactfully. It is important to understand your audience prior to utilizing this tactic and be able to anticipate any potential backlash.

How Killer Customer Service can Improve your Business

Customer Service 


I know there is a lot of talk about the importance of customer service and I think people generally take it for granted. Customer service can make a business, turn shoppers away or turn them into loyal consumers. Think back to when you are walking through Harris Teeter and you can not for the life of you find flour to bake with. So you ask an employee where the hell the baking goods are and guess what? Not only will they tell you where it is with a smile they will walk you down the aisle to where the flour is located and make casual conversation. This is great customer service they stop whatever they are doing at the time and help you find what you need so you can get in and out quickly… fairly quickly. I can not say I get the same level of service at a food lion or a Walmart.

It is this level of customer service that allows businesses to charge a higher price, inspire a greater level of customer loyalty or even win over new customers. For example, I recently purchased a domain from and had no intentions of using them for web hosting. I intended on finding a free web hosting platform to host the website I was in the process of building, However when I called them the customer service rep was very professional and friendly. I had a few technical questions he was able to answer quickly and I felt confident if I had any issues I would be able to quickly resolve them through godaddy. The free webhosting site didn’t have the same level of customer service or a 24/7 help desk. I was not comfortable saving money and getting myself in a bad situation as a result of it.

Another great example of customer service is the vape shop I tend to frequent more often than I would like to. The reason why I go out of my way to give them my money is simply put because of their customer service. I dont feel like I am simply making a purchase I feel like I am visiting friends when I walk in. I usually end up spending 15 to 20 minutes in the shop at a time talking to the owner and other workers. This level of customer service keeps me coming back and has turned me into a loyal customer. The loyalty rewards card doesn’t hurt either.

If you are a small business owner strive to have consistent and solid customer service and treat your shoppers like guest. This will give you a competitive advantage that is not easily replicated. In an increasingly competitive and sometimes automated world that human element can sometimes be all it takes to give you that competitive edge.

How to Identify Duplicate on Page Content

Identifying on Page Duplicate Content and how to Avoid Penalties

Duplicate content can potentially destroy websites and get them thrown into the search engine abyss. Maybe that a bit of an exaggeration but duplicate on page content can pose potential harm and risks to your website and cause penalties. Or a reduction in web traffic and lowered search engine visibility. Which is definitely not good for traffic or revenue.

So I am a big fan of free digital marketing tools and I found myself in a situation where I had to crawl through a client’s website to check for some notoriously duplicate content. In order to illustrate how I go about finding duplicate content first make sure you have the free version of screaming frog downloaded and set up on your computer. Screaming frog can be found @

screaming_frog Here After you have the screaming frog software installed simply copy the url of the website you are trying to crawl and paste it into the bar at the top in within screaming frog. Next, you want to click the meta description tab at the top and hit the duplicate tab.

Dup_meta_descriptionsThis will show you which pages on your website have duplicate meta descriptions to other pages. Sometimes this can be an indication of duplicate on page content other times it is simply an indication of just duplicate meta descriptions. Next, you can manually put the url’s into your preferred search engine and check with ones have duplicate on page content.

The next step I like to do is do a quick check for duplicate title tags on a website as well. Simply click page titles and then pan down the drop down and select duplicate. This will give you a list of duplicate page titles as well.


Again, you can manually check each url in your favorite search engine and see which pages have duplicate content on it. If after you have ran your crawl and identified which pages have duplicate or similar content then you can begin devising a strategy on how to combat this issue.

Moving forward a good strategy may be to combine your duplicate content to form a stronger page that may rank better in search engines. For example, if you have an e-commerce site and have similar products with similar on page content you could 301 to whichever page has a better page rank. Moz has a great tool that you can download for free as an extension and comb through your pages to determine which ones rank better in this instance. Then from there you can devise an appropriate strategy. Or on the other hand if you notice you have similar on page content then you can move forward and further build out the pages to make them different and avoid incurring any penalties.

I hope this helps with identifying on page duplicate content. Please share your duplicate content stories and how you deal with them.


17 Items to Look for When Doing an SEO Audit

How to Conduct a Surgical SEO Audit

There are a lot of ways to being an SEO audit recently I worked on a few for some clients I work with. As I reflect over what I learn I want to take the time to share what I have learned. The first thing I like to do before I get into anything else is run a crawl of the website to uncover the more obvious issues. While that is running I like to get a coffee and mentally prepare myself for what is about to begin. Also, while I am drinking my coffee I make sure to have my SEO checklist handy which includes some of the things I look for. I recommend doing this to keep you on task and to make sure you do not overlook or forget anything.

My checklist includes:

H1 Tags | Title Tags – 

Meta Descriptions- While not a ranking factor meta descriptions can help improve click through rates to your website. It is important that your internal pages to your website have appropriate meta descriptions with a call to action to assist with searchers clicking through to visit your site.

Word Count- I know Google and most other search engines do not take a specific word count into consideration but are looking for relevant useful content. There is no specific length that they are looking for. But I recommend researching what your competition is doing and then making judgements accordingly.

URL Structure- Avoid:

Internal Linking Structure– I like to see some internal linking on ideally every page generously spaced out so it does not appear to be spammy in any way. The internal links have to be relevant to the content and useful as well. This helps google crawl through larger website and helps users navigate to various pages and spread page rank more throughout the website.

Sitemap- An example of where a sitemap is usually found (referencing back to my example) Or sometimes you will have to go into Search console or google webmaster tools and see where it is located.

Robots.txt – These can be found if the website your auditing has one at *Example*

Some Sort of Analytics- It is important to make sure your client is tracking their engagement so they can make accurate data based decisions.

Calls to Action (CTA’s) on every page- These can also be micro conversions, but you want your web traffic to interact with your website in some form aside from purchases.

Duplicate Content- A good way to begin checking for this once your crawl is complete and after you had some coffee is to look for duplicate title tags  and meta descriptions. From there check each page with dup title tags and meta descriptions to see if there are duplicate on page content as well.

Webmaster ( Search Console)- When running a crawl I like to check to see if my client has google webmasters installed or I will be left in the dark for some things and not know the overall health of the website.

Mobile Usability- This should be a pretty simple check and there are a few ways to check it. First if you’re like me and do not have a smart phone minimize the web page of the website you are working in and see how the elements interact within the frame. If they distort or if they do not scale down appropriately then it may be time for a redesign.

Site Speed – This can be done from search console or you can do a simple google search for “Free site speed tool” I prefer free tools for obvious reasons.

Backlink Check- This can be done by using majestic seo or ahrefs to check backlinks that are pointing to the website. You will have a problem if there are a lot of spammy or irrelevant links pointing to the website and can lead to being penalized by search engines.

Alt Image Text- 

Local SEO Tactics- If your client has a local business then you want to make sure they have a google my business set up, google + account and a siet up on any other relevant local platform.

Social Media Strategy- Finally I like to look and see if my client has social media profiles set up and icons on their website pointing searchers to their social media platforms.

These are some of the basic items I like to look for when doing a basic SEO audit to get my footing and put together an action plan from there. In my next post I will be doing a deeper dive on a few techniques to identify duplicate content and how to fix it.