Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Razvan Gavrilas, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Razvan has 20+ years of SEO & digital marketing experience.

He’s been doing SEO since Altavista and Lycos were more popular than Google.

Razvan has been a super affiliate in the past and now he runs his own businesses including CognitiveSEO and BrandMentions.

Please feel free to pick his brain on anything related to SEO and SaaS business.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

Why did you decide to build cognitive seo?

Back in 2010 I was doing a lot of SEO for my own affiliates sites on highly competitive niches.

I was building some scripts that would be doing indepth link analysis to understand my competitors strategies.

One day I started thinking why not built those scripts into a tool and make money from this area too.

This is how cognitiveSEO was born. By Dec 2011 we’ve built it and launch it.

Over 1 year and a half of building a tool full time with another 4 people.

What are you golden rules for SEO, and what would you tell someone who’s new to the field and feels overwhelmed by all the things in SEO and Digital marketing, It’s a big ocean and even specializing in SaaS DM, it’s still a truly big ocean to swim in.

Focus to get the prouct out the door first.

Then start looking into SEO.

Be carefull with standard onpage stuff and reach out to people for product reviews initially.

These bring both sales and links.

What is the best way to evaluate the backlink and what is the good links which increase my ranking? – is social signal affect my ranking and which is the best facebook or twitter?

I don’t think social impacts directly rankings.

I decide on the value of a link by looking at the number of referring doms the main dom has/ than drilling into it.

But this is just a quick and light way of doing it.

Can you explain which factor contributes to steep increase of content performance percentage?

The Content Performance metric from cognitiveSEO is built using advanced semantic analysis on the related documents /top serps and is looking at various content stuff.

Can disclose the algo but I can tell that it correlates very well with higher ranking positions.

Sometimes it may be hrd to reach 100 but in general is you are over 85 you shoukd do well.

What are you tools for SEO audits?

CognitiveSEO for real. Don’t use any other tools. Except Google ones.

What software do you use to build custom websites and what do you use to mass build dynamic landing pages?

I do use software to build sites. We build them from scrath

Is there any on page absolute check list that u use? Actually there are so many factors so i want an absolute check list if it’s possible.

No checklist.

Good sense factors like title/h1/h2/bullets/video and aim for a high content performance score from the content optimization tool we run.

This helped us explodecour traffic in the past year

What tool particularly u use for content optimization?

Content performance metric from CognitiveSEO

How do you position cognitive SEO in the market in comparison to your competition? What’s the USP for you?

We believe that cognitiveSEO is different from the other SEO tools via an in-depth and all-inclusive crawling & analysis process that’s done on-demand for each analyzed website.

Using proprietary machine learning algorithms, premium third-party data and unique intelligence processes we help you identify the weak points while presenting you with new ranking opportunities.

This allows for continuous growth optimization.

Put it simply: We’re NOT just a database! We’re an SEO Intelligence tool!

I heard others recommended Cognitive SEO content analysis is as good as the MarketMuse. Would you elaborate further on this maybe? Honestly, I haven’t heard much of CognitiveSEO until some mentioned it in comments here and there and not heard it from the big names.

Myself I may by biassed so I would share a link from a professional who did a side by side analysis of the correlation and part of the tools…/

May I know if you still run affiliate sites these days? Or you just focus on your SAAS?

Few here and there.

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Focus is on SAAS.

Do you use pbns?


Is the ability to do website programming help you to be a great SEO? If so, what language do you recommend to learn for SEOs?

If you know programming or have a technical background it makes it a lot easier to do technical SEO.

You may not be as good when it comes to the creative side as SEO nowadays.

It more complex beast than it once was. You need to know HTML eitherway

What percentage of your overall expense is allocated for crawlers?

We use several premium API (which are quite expensive) and we also do our own crawling for a lot of stuff.

So I would say we have like 15%-25% of the costs go into this area.

What are your thoughts on correlation tools out there such as CORA and POP?

Correlation as an instrument is great but it can be dangerous if not understood correctly.

Correlation is not causation. this is the first thing we need to understand.

If this is clear than any correlation can be used in some way to understand patterns maybe.

This does not mean that we can change a H1 or add a H1 tag and see an improved ranking.

Lots of factors behind it. For example our Content Performance score also correlates very well with the ranking position.

But this does not mean that only that can get you a high ranking. It’s that plus some other factors.

In the end it helps with making things clear for Google.

And if it’s simpler for the bot to understand the intent vs the content than we have a winner.

My question is more related to seo in Romania area. Having all that data and seeing differences between tier 1/2 countries, how would you see covering the seo standards gaps between these two tiers (i.e. UK/US/RO? Clearly its about competition/e-business emerging in Ro, but i am thinking about 1st class seo like you involving in rising the seo standards in East Europe.

Romania is at least 5 years behind in terms of what is going on at the moment compared to the international level.

The way people do SEO. the way SEO is perceived and the way Google treats the sites.

Things move forward though.

Does cognitive SEO perform well with spanish language-oriented sites?

Yes it does.

Where can i get SEO agencies online?

Not sure I understand

What’s your Off-Page Strategy?for SEO’s

Like our strategy at cognitiveSEO or what strategy I recommend to SEOs?

Have a good site structure.

No errors. write/have content that is written for people and optimized for bots.

Try to be creative and generate organic links via quality of products/service you offer.


How do your on page tools differ from POP or Cora? I’ve been meaning to try Cognitive for a long time but haven’t found the time to do it.

So first of all we focus on a content and not HTML.

Google is so much smarter and surely understand content very well.

We created and algo that looks at content from a semantic perspective (TF/IDF and NLP analysis and much more that I can not disclose.

I think it would be simpler if I give you a link to a webinar I had with a customer who shares his experience with the tool.

Check from minute 40 or so…/6CI55…

You may also be interested in checking this research paper…/content-influence-rankings/

What factors does your ‘content performance’ tool consider when calculating a score? I.e. word count, keyword use/density, photos (alt tags, etc), outbound links, passive vs active voice, etc. Or does it solely focus on written text?

It focuses on content. content on the page compared to the content that ranks in the top 100. it’s a benchmark that is done.

It’s pure content. it gives you the keyword/topics recommendations that should be used.

How would you recommend sourcing backlinks for a review based website. Standard outreach doesn’t seem to work as the content is affiliate based. Would you recommend outreach on info articles written for that purpose? Any other ideas would be most appreciated.

If it’s a thin affiliate site you’ll have a hard time to get those links organic.

I would do something that may catch the eye of a reporter and try to reach out to reporters with that piece of content.

My rankings dropped significantly for a keyword. will doing things like moving the key word I lost rankings for to the front of the title tag and front of H1 help recover my ranking while maintaining rankings for other keywords? Hope that makes sense. I’m fairly new to SEO.

Does not make sense.

If rankings dropped they didn’t because you did not have a H1.

A H1 won’t make a difference.

The reason of the drop has to be identified first. Can be a hundread reasons.

One simple SEO strategy which works every time for you for ranking a fresh site.

Don’t think there is such. That is white hat and appliable in any situation.

Does it really mean a lot if your site has dot com? What do you personally think about domains like .studio, .online, .top? Will there be any difference in “percieving” and ranking my website if I have one of those domains instead of .com?

I’ll always go with a dot com.

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You’ll always have to explain yourself to people with that domain.

In your opinion can CTR, Dwell Time and Add to Favorites influence SERPS? What are the things that G can see about your website if you don’t have G Analytics code installed? Do nofollow links transfer juice or any benefit? Why did Lycos, Excite, etc. bomb?

It’s only opinion based and not hard data based.

My opinion is that G uses bounce rate to understand behaviour in SERPs.

Chrome is thier browser so they can see all flowing traffic to an url and use that as a signal.

What have you found to be the best way to generate content both pictures and videos? Most effective least time most efficient? To create pictures/videos not written content? You mean a software?

Use a video designer you don’t have to do it all.

Whats the biggest difference in local seo and global seo that makes a big change in quality?

Local Seo – Citations. Global seo – sote arhitectire / links / content – no simple answer

Any plans on additional development for the content tool portion of it? (it’s a great tool now, curious because content is my forte)

Glad to hear an tks for the support. actually we’ve just added on the Content Tool local and mobile/desktop analysis.

Some really cool new tools are also coming in the following months that would focus on content.

Cutting-edge stuff once again delivered.

Should be pretty useful for content creators and SEOs.

How much weight do you give to backlinks VS onpage when it comes to rankings?

Both are important but I feel links start to lose a bit of the shine they once had.

Onpage content is really important as G started to understand it better and it will be even better at it.

Don’t get me wrong: without links you won’t get anywhere. so it is and always was a mix.

Should we maintain a limit on frequency of backlink creation especially if the competition has 10-20 times more links than yourself for example the competition has around 800k backlinks and we have around 80k.

Look at the ref domains not the links.

It’s like trying to win against Amazon.

You can’t generic but you can niche specific.

About how much is the API access cost? Ahrefs one is ridiculously expensive and it’s something important for us developers/automators. If you don’t feel like making it public I’d appreciate a PM since it’s a make or break for us.

Can’t share any numbers. NDAs

1. How can make a result stick #1 rank and stop jumping? 2. Any tip for improve the ranks in others countries 3. What I should do when Google don’t pick the keywords I wanna rank ( even with amazing content and backlinks)

Can’t control Google.

Rankings will always fluctuate depending on algos and location as well.

You may stick to #1 when your result is the best by far from the competition in terms of bounce rate most probably.

Regarding other countries.

It depends.

In some low quality links still work in most big ones don’t. depend on the situation.

Always analyze your direct competition and see what works for them.

If G does not rank you for the keyword you with use a tool such as the Content Assistant that will help you optimize for that. you may be surprised.

What are instant mentions in BrandMentions?

That is for the Quick Research tool where you search and forget. the project tracks and collects ongoing the mentions.

The instant mentions are for quick checks (topics/new stuff/keywords etc)

Pick His Brain! with Razvan Gavrilas 1

How would someone new start on this journey with no experience or prior knowledge and make this into a career?

I really have no idea just start / try and re-retry.

Can you help me with info of features in Cog that is similar/better than site explorer/kw research in Ahrefs? I would love to switch if Cog is better, since we have limited budget. We run SEO for about 15 clients now.

So much to say here.

The Cotent Optimization tool and Assistant works is rather unique and is provides usually ranking boosts in a few weeks since you do the job.

Then there are lots of other stuff.

Just give it a spin via the trial and connect with us inside

How big your database is in compare to Ahrefs as you guys have a criteria to judge a link quality so if you can not find or get all the links or majority of the links then how can you judge its quality?

We use several databases as we also allow you to import link data so we can crawl it on demand for your sites.

We are not a database.

Our community then starts to spread their profile-link all across the web which will be the foundation of my link building strategy. Since the content is user generated. Any tips or things I should keep in Mind or should be aware of?

Always keep an eye on the pages that are generated via a recurring site audit I would say.

Also monitor their evolution in the SERPS and see how you can improve the rankings based on how people write that content.