Google Search Console Enables Regex Filtering in Performance Reports

This morning, Google announced brand new functionality to allow for Regex filtering in Google Search Console performance reports. This announcement was quickly spotted and reported on by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land. So what does this mean for those of us using Search Console on a regular basis?

What’s New?

With this rollout, analyzers can implement regex to more efficiently filter data in Search Console. The example Google provides is to easily include an “and” modifier to query and page searches. A salient example for Mockingbird is our brand name. Way back in the day, “Mockingbird Marketing” was known as “Atticus Marketing”. We’ve long since transitioned to the name Mockingbird, but I was curious if we’re showing up organically for any “Atticus” queries. Thanks to the new regex rollout, this is as simple as navigating to “Performance”, adding a new filter, selecting “queries”, and inputing the following: “Atticus|Mockingbird”. This allows us to look up query information for both terms on either side of the bar at the same time:

Google Regex for Search Console Rollout


Search Console Reports

Using the search above, we’re retuned the following report:

Google Search Console Report Data

As you’ll notice, we’re returned queries capturing both brand names. You can then add/subtract menu items to get immediate data on a slew of metrics beyond what is listed in the screenshot above.

Get Creative

The only limit to regex is your creativity/understanding. There are plenty of resources online (here’s the one directly from Google) available to gain a better understanding of how to use regex and what it can be used for, but it’s virtually limitless.

What Happens When There’s No Anchor Text?

You may be familiar with the idea of anchor text, the words you click to follow a link on a website. You may also be aware that that anchor text has importance from an SEO perspective. So what happens when a website sends a link with no anchor text, just a raw, or, “naked” url with a link (example: Before getting into Google’s answer, let’s give some background.

What is anchor text, and why should I care?

As mentioned above, anchor text is the actual words you click to follow a link on a site. These links can be either internal or external. Internal links refer to other pages on the same site, while external links point out to another site. For both internal and external links, search engines take anchor text as a clue about what the content on a given page is about, above and beyond just that of the content on the page. If Google sees a page with appropriately named anchor text for “personal injury law firm”, “car accident stats”, and “truck wreck lawyer”, that’s even more evidence that the page really is about personal injury law.

Now, you have no control (or at least, very little) over the anchor text that sites linking to your own use for anchor text. With that being said, there are a set of best practices for your own internal anchor text:

  1. Succinct: be as efficient with your words as possible. What is the page you’re sending users to about?
  2. Relevant: does the page you’re sending users to actually apply to what the page is about?
  3. Low keyword density: in the google old days, SEOs could easily spam anchor text with great results. Now, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and search engines are hyper-critical of keyword heavy anchor text. Back to item number 1, be succinct.
  4. Not generic: be helpful guiding users to another page

How are naked URLs treated by Google?

Given that background, what happens if anchor text isn’t there, and a webmaster just puts the actual link in content? In a Google Office Hours SEO Hangout Google’s John Mueller gave the following response:

“… in that situation we treat that URL as anchor text. From what I understand, our systems do try to recognize this and say well, this is just a URL that is linked, it’s not that there’s a valuable anchor here. So we can take this into account as a link but we can’t really use that anchor text for anything in particular. So from that point of view it’s a normal link but we don’t have any context there.”

What does this tell us? My biggest takeaways from this response are that 1. anchor text is important. Google is definitely still paying attention to the linked words within content, and 2. Google isn’t paying too close attention the the context of the anchor text. I would have expected John to lead with the idea that in the absence of anchor text, context, or the text surrounding the anchor text, is used to gain a sense of what the link is about, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. When asked about this John followed up with:

“Yeah, yeah… I mean that’s something we do definitely take into account but it’s very secondary. I mean there’s no kind of like value of strength for the context there but I’d say it’s like that anchor text is really obvious and we can collect that and we can look at that overall and kind of the context of the linking pages is something well. It’s like we also need to think about at some point. But the anchor text is really kind of the primary thing.”

So, long story short, anchor text is still important, and Google still leans on it to help them figure out what is important on a page.

Voice Search Popularity Slowing Down

The past 10 years have seen constant chatter about voice search in the SEO world and beyond. What impact, if any, will the near ubiquitous access to voice command have on how people find information online? If someone is, say, looking to hire a lawyer, we can imagine that the query they’re using to find said lawyer is different when they’re typing, vs. when they’re talking to their Google Assistant. Initially, a surge of panic gripped SEOs to ensure that all content across websites was “long-tail” optimized. This was meant to ensure that queries that were a bit more rambling and long-winded due to the ease of speaking directly to search engines were captured.

Initial Growth

Introduced in 2011, voice search started off as more of a fun feature than something relied upon by users. I even remember using early siri with friends as a joke, anticipating, and often receiving, an answer miles off from the question asked. But over the years technology has improved and users have started to adapt voice search technology, no small part as a result of smart home assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Assistant. Now, in 2020, studies indicate that more than 50% of phone users take part in voice search on their device. eMarketer predicted that one third or more of phone users in the US use voice search on a monthly basis by 2019, and increases in the search for “Hey Google” paints a telling picture:


Despite all the initial interest, things seem to have hit a wall. Survey data from Perficient Digital, which involves annual surveys of 1,000 US adults, is showing a pause in the increasing enthusiasm for voice search. They’ve been asking users, among other questions: “How are you most likely to ask questions on your smartphone?”. In prior years, search ranked as the second most popular answer to this question, only behind “mobile browser”. The most recent study done in 2020 however, tells a different story:

Voice search shows up as the fourth most popular option, after 3 other typed alternatives.


What does this mean for search? It’s hard to say. My two cents says that this is just a hiccup in a larger movement towards voice search coming into the forefront of online searching. If your benchmark is all the hype you’ve been hearing over the past five years, you may be disappointed. But common sense points towards voice search taking over type search in popularity at some point down the road, if for no other reason than shear convenience, it’s just a question of when.

5 Ways to Give Back During A Pandemic

COVID-19 is hurting some more than others. We’ve all heard that those with compromised immunes systems (asthma, diabetes, heart disease), and the elderly are more at risk of becoming severely ill with the virus. On top of this, more and more we’re starting to see the economic fallout of much of the planet not going in to work. First we saw the food and hospitality industry hit particularly hard as large groups were banned, then airlines began to feel it as people started taking self-isolation more seriously and eliminated travel. Now we’re starting to see the ripples across most all other industries.

So this situation has a lot of people wondering how they can help. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Get Informed

First things first, get informed. Quite simply, knowledge is power, and the more you know about what’s happening in the world the easier it is to stay calm and help. As COVID-19 progresses, the medical community is quickly developing a strong understanding of the virus, how it works, and how it’s transmitted. For example, this videoconference with Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York (for the time being treating exclusively COVID-19 patients) gives valuable info on the virus:

  • The vast majority of cases are transmitted via hand to face contact. In only very rare cases is the virus transmitted through the air (i.e. 15 – 30 minutes in a small room with a known carrier coughing).
  • Don’t buy masks unless you have the virus.
  • We may be practicing social distancing for 3 months, 6 months, or up to a year.

Access to critical information (and not being duped by attention seeking headlines) is the quickest route to your own peace of mind, but more importantly stopping the spread of the disease.

2. Do What You Do Best

When it comes to helping out, it may very well be the case that your professional skillset is much-needed. Before you start donating to food banks (which, yes, do that), volunteer your skills where they’re needed most. Are you an employment lawyer that can help field questions from the many people who have recently found themselves out of work, or mistreated by an employer in time of crisis? Do you have manufacturing capabilities to build much needed supplies? Can you offer a product or service for free that might be otherwise unaffordable for someone going through hard times? This is the type of mindset to take when it comes to your business, even if you can only help in some small way.

3. Give Blood

On March 12th, Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research issued a plea for people to continue to donate blood. For some time the rate of donation dropped significantly as fear over COVID-19 prevented people from scheduling appointments. During the drop in appointments we faced a risk of postponing surgeries and denying blood to those who need it. Pater Marks makes it clear that donation centers are still fully operational. Donation rates have since recovered, but the need for continued donation remains very real.

4. Donate

With such widespread economic implications from COVID-19, there are many places gladly taking donations to help. But before you start sending money out left and right, take a moment to make sure the organization you’re donating to is credible. There’s a great New York Times article with how to get money to areas of critical need:

Each city has different small business support funds, for the rest Google your city for geo specific donation opportunities.

5. Patronize Restaurants

To support restaurant/bar workers who have suddenly hit hard times, remember that most restaurants are still open and serving takeout. Don’t forget about your favorite neighborhood spot, they may still be open! Get out as much as you can to ensure that your favorite small businesses are still around when we finally come out of our social distance caves.

See Your Competition’s Backlinks

Whenever you set out to get more organic calls to your website, one of the first things you do is get links. As you can imagine, there are a LOT of ways to go about doing this, some tedious, some creative, some misguided, some lucrative. So before you get started training to set a world record for most knives juggled while blindfolded on a tightrope for a link from Guinness, make sure any easy, high-value opportunities have been identified.

What Easy Links Does Your Competition Have?

One of the first things to do for linkbuilding is to run a competitive audit. This is one of the best ways to make sure your bases are covered when it comes to easy backlinks, as well as a way to pinpoint creative strategies for down the road. In a nutshell, this article will help you identify which competitors to emulate, dig up their backlink profile, and recognize and acquire good opportunity links.

1. Identify Competitors.

To do this, simply run a search in Google for whatever keywords you want to show up for. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, these might be “personal injury lawyer”, “car accident lawyer”, “medical malpractice”, etc. Note the top organic search results for the range of terms you’re targeting. Skip the ads, the map, “People also ask…”, we’re looking for the first true organic landing pages. I recommend getting a list of 5 or so domains from these results (the highest in search results). What we now have is a list of competitors that are doing well at what you want to do well at. As a starting point, why reinvent the wheel when it’s possible to see what’s making their sites tick?

2. Competitor Backlink Scan

Now that you have a big list of competitors, it’s time to narrow that number down. For this part you’ll some sort of backlink analysis tool. I like to use, but Majestic and Moz Open Site Explorer do the same thing (note: only one of these, Moz, is free, and unfortunately you get what you pay for). All of these tools have some variety of a bulk domain upload. If you’re using Ahrefs, yours will look something like this:


From this list, depending on how involved you want to get, you can take a closer look at one or all of these domains, starting with the highest. I’ll typically take three.

3. Identify Opportunity

Once you’ve chosen your domains to zoom in on, plug that domain into the domain analysis tool you’re using (no longer on the bulk tool, but using the  individual domain tool) and navigate to the backlink list. in Ahrefs you’ll see this:

Where do we go from here? This is the more labor-intensive part. It’s now your job to comb through all the websites pointing to competitor’s sites and identify links that can be recreated. Particularly easy opportunities are directories. On the list above I see a “”. Now that we have a linking domain picked out, we have a few questions that need answering:

  • Is this a website that you want a link from? Check out the article I wrote on this here. Basically, is this a legitimate website that has users and a caring webmaster, or is it spam? If spam, opt out.
  • What’s involved in getting a link? Some of the time this can be as simple as building a profile and hitting submit. Sometimes this requires a bit more legwork. After assessing the site (by means of the article linked to above) determine how much time and energy is appropriate for what links. This takes some trial and error to get a sense of, but really boils down to reaching out to webmasters in creative and persistent ways asking them to feature content that already exists on your site.

Remember, linkbuilding is only limited by your creativity and persistence. Competitive auditing is one way among many of finding links and finding inspiration. As you go through competitor link lists approach each of them from a creative standpoint on how you might be able find an in and get a link, this can vary wildly from site to site. Remember that you will get frustrated. Of the webmasters that you reach out to, less than 10% will respond. That’s just part of the game.

9 Keyword Research Tips and Tricks

Simply put, you should be writing content that your customers need. The goal is for a potential client to stumble across a page on your site and think, “these people know what they’re talking about, I’ll give them a call”. Given that basic premise of content writing, there are a lot of ways to go about getting inspiration for what your customers need to find. Here are 9 quick and easy ways to figure out what you should be writing about, drawing on personal experience and two great articles by localvisibilitysystem and Moz.

1. Google Ads Keyword Planner

This is the default source for most SEOs. Log into Google Ads, “Tools and Settings”, “Keyword Planner”, “Discover New Keywords”, and start firing away. This tool will give search volume for any term you type in by location, which can guide you as you build out content addressing high search volume phrases to start competing in search results. It’s worth a look to check search results for content quality on a given search term to see you if might outperform it with better content of your own. At the same time, this tool is helpful for identifying content opportunities for lower traffic, more specific topics.


2. Google Trends

This tool is helpful for identifying popular search terms. I’ve found this to be more helpful on a larger scale, helpful at the beginning of your keyword research to get a general sense for where things are heading. This tool has location settings in addition to timeframe settings. A helpful tip for using this tool is the “Related Topics” section. Whatever keywords you add will be followed by similar but different suggested terms, very helpful when piecing together what you need on your site. Below I typed in “Family Law” and Google Trends came back with a number of specific related terms.

3. “Google Suggests”

It sounds simple because it is. Just type in the beginning of a search term and see what Google recommends you finish it with. These are popular searches that Google thinks you might be going for. Below are a few opportunities for content based on typing in “Family Law”

4. Competitor Analysis

Check out what your competitors are writing about. This will not only give you ideas of where you need to build out content on your site to start competing directly with those pages you find, but can also lead to inspiration for spin-offs and similar-but-different pages for you to start working on.

5. Moz Keyword Explorer

Similar to to Google Ads Keyword Planner, Moz’s tool will give you related terms for inspiration as well as SERP analysis and other functionalities for a new perspective. Unless you’re paying for Moz Pro, this has a monthly quota.

6. Your Own Reviews

Moving on to a few more creative ways to gather keyword research, try checking out your own review. After running down the reviews you’ve been collecting over time in Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Avvo, or anywhere else, see if you can pick apart any trends. Reviews will tend to mention the things that are important to them in reviews, wether that be a particular type of case, product, or service. It’s often the case that at least a few of the things mentioned in reviews are being sought after by other people and warrant a page of content.

7. Competitor Reviews

Just like your own reviews, competitor reviews can unearth valuable trends. See what your competitors clients liked/didn’t like, and write about that.

8. Competitor’s QAs in Google My Business

The QA section of your own and competitor’s Google My Business listings can bring valuable insights into what people want to know. This is basically a tiny version of a search engine with some users putting exactly what they’re wondering straight to your listing. Trends in what customers are wondering can often be valuable as pages.

9. Directory Categories

Run through some online directories like Avvo,, or Superlawyers to see what categories they are using to segment out a given practice area. More often than not, these categories are heavily researched by the directories, doing some of the work for you. This can be used as a baseline to make sure any category showing up popular directories is showing up on your website as well.



Google’s Latest Algorithm Update

On March 12th of this year Google released a new algorithm update and in decidedly creative form have named it the “March 2019 Core Update”. Incredible. The usual flurry of speculation is still in full force as SEOs attempt to piece together who is going to be impacted by this update and why, while help from Google towards putting the pieces together has remained minimal. Following is a quick update on what people are saying about the update, some history to help put it in context, and what you should be doing to make sure you aren’t hit.

Medic update (Early August 2018):

To help put this latest update in perspective, let’s step back and visit Google’s last major algorithm change, the “Medic” update. This core update got its name by having the most noticeable effect on websites relating to health, wellness, fitness, and medicine. In addition to sites featuring info on medical/health topics, many e-commerce sites were also impacted, largely those within the health and wellness sector.

What Are People Saying About the March 2019 Update?

A central theme of much of the chatter in the SEO community about what the March 2019 update is geared towards comes back to the user. Most theories are based on Google removing an emphasis on showing pages that are actually valuable to a user (e.g. a heavily research, lengthy, and hard to digest article on cholesterol) towards showing pages that the user will perceive as valuable (e.g. “Buzzfeed’s 10 Quirkiest Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol”). Whether or not this is true is up for debate.

Other theories put forth the idea that the update has deemphasized the power of links, in favor of brand recognition. In other words, Google is now serving people websites that they recognize rather than serving them websites that have received the highest quality of links from other websites, as has been done in the past. This theory however has been largely discredited.

Alternatively, some thinking is around click metrics, specifically bounce rate, though these have also been dismissed.

What to do:

Google’s take: have great content. For both the Medic update and the March 2019 update, Google asserts that they aren’t penalizing websites for doing anything wrong, but they are rewarding well-made content that hasn’t been fairly represented in search results in the past, which explains the dip in previously high performing pages (more competition).

To hear it from Google, don’t worry, just keep making great content and you will be rewarded in search results.

Mockingbird’s take: have great content. At the end of the day, the best SEO strategy does boil down to content. You can spend months focussing on optimizing a site to show up in search but if the content isn’t there, there’s nothing to prop up. After looking at myriad law firm websites, without fail the sites that have the most traffic (and typically the most leads) have a foundation of great content.

Battle of the Sexes: Online Reviews

We all know online reviews are important. Most of us nowadays, before buying something online or booking an appointment, will scan reviews to find the business with the most favor among peers. But what groups of people pay the most attention to these reviews? Does everyone care equally? If the answer to that question is no, this could have implications for businesses targeting specific demographics. To answer one facet of this question, Jamie Pitman of BrightLocal published an article in Search Engine Land addressing the divergence in online review behavior between men and women, and the results are surprising. Jamie and his team conduct their annual “Local Consumer Review Survey“, in which they poll a representative sample of 1,000 people and published the results. Here are some of Brightlocal’s notable findings from 2018:

1. A Much Higher Percentage of Men “Always” Read Reviews

While 37% of the men within the sample reported “always” reading reviews before interacting with a business, only 15% of women reported doing so. Meanwhile, 29% of men polled reported only “occasionally” reading reviews, while 45% of women did so. As Jamie noted, this implies that businesses with a male customer base need to be thinking about their review profile online.

In thinking about what might account for this difference between men and women, my mind goes to a few possibilities:

  • Too small a sample: it could be the case that the women being polled just happened to place less importance on reviews, or visa versa for the men, and this doesn’t reflect reality. I’m looking forward to next year’s survey to see if these results are replicated.
  • Women rely on other avenues of research: To really bury myself in stereotyping here, beauty products come to mind as an example. It could be the case that with something like makeup, women trust friends or social media influencers more than they do reviews.
  • The men polled inflated their answers due to some societal/psychological stuff I won’t pretend to understand: Perhaps men feel more pressure to play the role of a responsible shopper than do women and this was reflected in how they answered survey questions.

Regardless, let’s explore the implications assuming this sample accurately reflects consumer’s review behavior.

2. Fewer Women Have Been Asked to Leave A Review

Another finding of note within BrightLocal’s study is that more men reported having been asked to leave a than women. When asked “Have you ever been asked to leave a review for a business?”, 54% of men selected, “Yes, and I did leave a review”, while 37% of women responded the same. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 25% of men selected, “No, I’ve never been asked”, while 44% of women responded the same. Meanwhile, 21% of men and 20% of women responded with, “Yes, but I didn’t leave a review”, respectively.

So what can we take away from this? Assuming this sample of the 1,000 people surveyed is an accurate representation of people more generally, this tells us a few things:

  • Ask women for reviews: The biggest takeaway for me from this finding is that ONLY 37% OF WOMEN HAVE EVER BEEN ASKED TO WRITE A REVIEW. From an online marketing perspective, this is astonishing. I urge each of my clients to make a policy out of asking for Google reviews from every one of their clients (assuming the relationship is good). To hear that 44% of women have never been asked to write a review is astounding. Additionally, assuming your customer base is an even spread between men and women, it’s a good idea to have a representation of your female clientele online for potential customers that are also female. My intuition tells me that women relate better to the testimonials of other women when shopping around, and vice versa for men. Given that a smaller percentage of the women that were asked to leave a review did so, this is something to take into account when assessing your review profile to make sure women are represented. It should be noted that as with most things SEO, there’s debate around just how valuable online reviews are, and if you’re getting them, which platforms glean the most value per review. That being said, not one of these voices is suggesting that reviews have no value or aren’t worth having and asking for.
  • Ask everyone for reviews: Looking at the last bullet, the same applies to men. 44% of women responded as never having been asked to write a review, while 25% of men responded in kind. That’s still a lot of men, and a lot of missed opportunities for reviews.

People Are Reading Businesses’ Responses to Reviews

The most surprising finding from BrightLocal’s survey is how often potential clients read businesses’ responses to reviews. According to the survey, when asked, “When searching for a local business, do you read businesses’ responses to their reviews?” men responded with the following: “Yes, always” (37%), “Yes, regularly” (27%), “Yes, occasionally” (27%), “No, never” (9%). Women responding with the following: “Yes, always” (20%), “Yes, regularly” (24%), “Yes, occasionally” (43%), “No, never” (13%). What this tells me, above all else, is that people are interested in businesses’ responses to reviews. In the likelihood that an irate customer leaves a scathing review with less than the full story, don’t let that be the full narrative potential customers see. If you respond with the full picture (e.g.

So What?

If you remember one thing from today, let it be this: reviews are important, ask ALL your clients to write them. If you can remember two things, also remember to respond to exceptional (in the good or bad way) reviews.

5 Reasons You Should Use Password Management Software

Mockingbird, a company with a long list of clients each with at least a few dozen logins, has recently decided to enlist the help of password management software. After doing our due diligence, we decided to go with LastPass. Here are 5 reasons we won’t be giving up LastPass any time soon.

1. Password Sharing Across Teams

Easily the biggest selling point for us was how easy LastPass makes sharing passwords across a team. Before LastPass, Mockingbird had a big sheet with logins to every tool we use (Google Analytics, AdWords, Ahrefs, Majestic, Yext, etc.), and a file for each client’s individual login info. Whenever a password needed to be changed or updated, the person responsible had to go in and make sure the change was recorded in our records, which was a hassle and inevitably opened the door to human error.

Now LastPass does all this for us. Whenever a new account is created and username/password are submitted, LastPass asks “Add to LastPass?”.

You then hover over the right-hand side of this menu. This gives you the option to “edit”, and choose where within LastPass you want to save your new logins:

Clicking edit will present a dropdown containing each folder you and your team have made. For us, these folders are organized by client (shared across team), tools (shared across team), and personal login info.

Once all of your passwords are in one place, the LastPass browser extension autofills username/password wherever you need it, eliminating the need for your own messy password files.

2. Increased Security

Convenience aside, LastPass encourages secure online practices. With major security breaches making headlines more and more, the importance of online security is more urgent than ever. LastPass works from the premise that having one username/password combination for each of your many accounts across the web is common, and dangerous. LastPass facilitates the process of individualizing your passwords for each of your accounts. Yes, you do need to log in to each of your accounts (for now) and change your password. Change your password to what, you may ask? LastPass provides a secure password generator in its dashboard for your use. Once you’ve saved your new, unique password to LastPass, that’s it. LastPass removes the immeasurable hassle of managing your new, unique, and very secure passwords on your own. Once your new password is in LastPass, LastPass will autofill as you go to log in to any one of your accounts.

3. Password Audit

Not sure how strong your passwords are? LastPass provides a password strength audit to measure the strength of each password you’ve submitted to LastPass. This tool is a good reminder not to use LastPass only for convenience, rather than security. If you get LastPass, download the browser extension, and add each of your existing username/passwords to LastPass, odds are you’ll stumble across this tool and realize your security is still abysmal. LastPass manages your passwords, but it’s still up to you to make sure that it’s managing good passwords.

4. $24 a Year for Entire Team

See above.

5. Personal Account Integration

This last one is more just icing on the cake than anything. LastPass offers a limited (but entirely sufficient) version to individuals for free. If you take advantage of this for personal use, you’ll notice that your personal and company accounts can be synced with the click of a button. This means that once you’re logged in to your master LastPass Account, you can log in to every account you’re concerned with easily.

To summarize, LastPass has made our lives at Mockingbird just a little bit easier. If you take the time to lay down the groundwork and use LastPass right, it ends up saving you a lot of time and headache.