Disruptive Brand Building

GMail’s New Tabbed Feature: How to Get Rid of It!

Posted on July 17, 2013

I hate when Gmail makes decisions about how I want to read my email. They set out to change the email world, and did a pretty darn good job. And customization is super simple with the filters they provide. My big problem isn’t that they make changes to the inbox, it’s that they do it with reckless abandon, and then force the changes upon me, even though the new changes rarely fit the way I use email. I run a business. The way that I need my email to display is simple: chronological lists of every single email I’ve gotten (though the SPAM filter is generally acceptable, and I allow it to filter what I need.

I literally spent forever a couple weeks ago reconfiguring my priority inbox so that I would stop missing those emails. And then yesterday I log in and my inbox has been utterly transformed into something unusable (for me). I can’t imagine I’m the only one. So here’s how I solved the problem and got my old inbox back.

Click on the Gear >> settings >> Inbox

From the dropdown, select “Priority Inbox”

Then, when it displays all the many kinds of emails you can display in your priority inbox, simply disable all of them except the last one that is listed as “Everything Else.”

Click save changes, and you will be set to go!

Webmaster Tools Default Image:

Posted on July 11, 2013

After logging into Webmaster tools today. I noticed that there was a strange picture next to my site. After doing a double-take and worrying that someone had changed a Brandago client’s site template, I noticed that all the sites in WMT were showing the same image. It looks like Google has defaulted to show the thumbnail for a portuguese, women’s clothing site, at least in our account.
The site is detetive de ofertas.

Anyone else seeing it?

Stop Being Obsessed with Links

Posted on June 4, 2013

It wasn’t so many years ago that Google announced their goal to build a semantic web. The idea behind the semantic web is that their machines will be able to judge intention using textual signals. Now, things aren’t quite there yet, but they’ve come a long way what with the Schema protocol and such. Nowadays, while linking is an important part of what we do, much of our time is spent working with companies on improving the experience of users, and figuring out how a site can link to its own internal pages in a way that improves navigability.

We’ve seen great results using this sort of methodology. Traffic grows, rankings increase, and links are built organically.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s SPAM team, discussed in a video today the obsession many search marketers have with link building. The truth is, link building, while still relevant, is not the be all and end all of traffic anymore. Google has made huge strides toward moving to a more intelligent, relevant internet. And the response of marketers needs to be an obsession not with linking but an obsession with building better content and more incredible user experiences.

Google Targets Link Buying Network: Text Link Ads

Posted on June 4, 2013

Link buying used to be a great way to get links. It’s been that way since Google turned links into currency. But it has long been known that being found out as a link buyer runs afoul of Google’s vision of the internet landscape, and being a link seller can get your site banned altogether from the search engine behemoth.

Today, Google took a giant swipe to one of the web’s biggest and best known link selling networks—TextLinkAds (TLA). According to an article in Search Engine Land, Google has tanked the pagerank of a huge swath of TLA’s network, and Cutts took to Twitter to further emphasize the severity of the punishments.

Lucky for Brandago’s clients, this is not a problem. We do not purchase links, and we work very closely with our sites to grow their link profiles organically. Moreover, we are extremely concerned with the improvement of user experience on sites. We believe the linking, online mentions, an overall usable site, and a huge amount of original content are the pillars of traffic building. It’s a good thing for us that Google seems to agree.

Competing in a crowded niche by sharing everything

Posted on March 11, 2013

Wil Reynolds runs SEER Interactive, one of the most inspiring search marketing firms in the country. His strategy in building his firm in its early days, was to go around the country spilling all of his most intimate SEO secrets. The result of the strategy was that SEER has gained thousands and thousands of links from the webs most prominent sources, which resulted in its ranking for every SEO related keyword that could be imagined.

For new companies in crowded niches looking to make a fast ramp-up by getting as much traffic as possible, one of the best ways to distinguish yourself is to be the first company to tell all of your secrets. The ironic chicken and the egg problem is obvious.

How does a company with no real accomplishments share the secret to their success?

Here are a few suggestions on winning in your niche with some examples from Alarm Grid, one of my favorite projects.

Partner with companies that aren’t too big to notice you, but aren’t so small that they are irrelevant… then get them to notice you

Sometimes, the big dogs don’t have the best products. A lot of new companies are coming out with awesome products that are every bit as good (and oftentimes better) than those that are made by bigger companies. Every company we’ve had the chance to partnership with has an incredibly impressive list of clients, but aren’t so big that this brand new company is ignored. Alarm Grid has been incredibly transparent with their analytics, which has given them the opportunity to get coverage on the blog of their partners like Olark, Onsip and I wrote a guide on optimizing the Spree platform for search which was run on the Spree blog.

These case studies help our SAAS providers sell their services and the SEO guide that was run on Spree helps the open source community that provided the software that allows Alarm Grid to even have the store. We were delighted to provide the content, and they were delighted to run it.

Do some creative things internally, and then tell people about them in the most public way possible

The target market for Alarm Grid is DIY alarm enthusiasts. This won’t necessarily always be their market, but for the time being it is. One of the ways we’ve grown the site is by putting together a huge database of security FAQs in order to help that target market. First thing we did then, is share with the world how we built our huge Q&A database on one of the most important, trafficked marketing blogs on the internet. To date, the post has been read by more than 10,000 people and it received more than 1,000 tweets and 250 Facebook likes.

What’s more, the post itself got tons of great links.

The obvious problem with sharing these strategies is that it gives competitors a giant in, allowing them to replicate it. But if you’re the first company to share the strategy, and you can share it in a big way, no one can replicate the strategy in the same way.

Get reviews to build trust

One of the most important things a company can do to get noticed in a crowded niche is to build trust. Reviews are the most important way you can do that. Also, you want to do what you can to control the search for everything having to do with your company (just as much as you want to be able to control the search for everything within your industry). A lot of people were searching for “Alarm Grid reviews” which prompted us to put up a blog post listing all the places people could post Alarm Grid reviews. As a result, Alarm Grid has been able to put its best foot forward, get a ton of reviews on a wide variety of sites, and increase the trust projected to users who are researching the company.

Look better than everyone

Don’t skimp on the look of your site. If you’re new, you need to make sure site is fit and finished. That’s all.

Do link directories still work?

Posted on March 11, 2013

In the olden days, link directories were the first place a good SEO would put a site. They were low hanging fruit, and if a site was in places like DMOZ or Yahoo’s directory, they would go from zero to hero over night.

Nowadays, there are a lot of people wondering if link directories are even worth your time.

The answer isn’t very simple, and it’s definitely nuanced.

The short answer is that a site owner should not think about link directories much. They are low-value links, for the most part, and in the long term they aren’t going to do much to move the ranking needle for important keywords.

That said, when going after keywords we will often match the top sites link for link wherever we can get them. So, if you’re working to gain traction on a keyword, and the sites at the top of the list are all in the big directories, it can’t hurt to match those links, and they won’t hurt. That said, exercise discretion when deciding which directories are worth matching. Even that can be a bit dicey as so many of them have built their link equity on SPAM. Luckily for you, if you’re not sure how to figure out if a directory is worth getting a link from, check out or Q&A on researching if a directory is safe.

When we start a linking campaign, we will often submit to DMOZ, JoeAnt, EZilon, but we rarely pay for yearly membership based directories like Yahoo or BOTW, unless, again, every other player in the niche we’re up against is already in those directories.

How do I know if a link directory is safe to get a link from?

Posted on March 11, 2013

Before we post to a link directory we do a quick analysis of back links using a tool like Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO.

A quick look at backlinks will tell you whether the directory is worth posting to.

What you want to see is a large number of high quality links, hundreds of them. A red flag might be lots of low quality links and one extremely good link that is supplying the site with an enormous amount of pagerank. And while SEO’s love to debate the importance of pagerank (it’s not highly correlated with rankings in case you’re wondering), it’s a great tool to use to understand the link popularity of a site or page on a site.

A good example of a problematic directory would be something like The Dimension which has a pagerank of 7, but whose backlinks are all unrelated links from a site ( that has been redirected. When discovered, this directory’s PR will be discredited, and there is a chance that the links that appear on the site will become suspect. On the other hand, directories like EZilon or JoeAnt have strong backlink profiles, are crawled regularly and will sometimes even send a bit of traffic to the blogs listed within their pages.

Executing an effective Q&A strategy for your e-commerce store

Posted on March 11, 2013

One of our favorite strategies for nearly every client we work with is implementing a good ‘ol Q&A strategy. It’s not appropriate for every single site, but it is one of the fastest ways to grow good traffic. We’ve done some awesome work implementing great FAQs using Google Analytics, so good in fact that Google Analytics themselves tweeted the article we wrote about it on SEOMoz.

It’s different for each site, but when we’ve executed this strategy, we’ve seen it gain a site about 1/3 of a person for each FAQ. So, the math is pretty simple. If you do one FAQ per day, by the end of the year, a site will see an increase of about 121 visits per day. If you have 10 people doing 1 FAQ each day (or 1 person doing 10 FAQs each day), a year from now, a site will see about 1200 new visitors each day.

Now, before you celebrity gossip bloggers with your 10+ million pageviews each month poo poo an increase of 1200 visitors, for an e-commerce site in a small niche, this sort of increase can be amazing, moreover, this sort of strategy is guaranteed to increase conversion rates since it builds trust with an e-commerce site’s visitors. Not just that, but this is the sort of lever that is predictable. You put effort in, the results are predictable. And that’s why we love it!

So go ahead! Try it, let us know how it goes!