One great tool to see how your competition has changed is Wayback Machine, which allows marketers to access petabytes of archived web pages. By sifting through Wayback Machine’s extensive database, you can track the evolution of your competitor’s brand and web presence, taking note of factors such as changes in UX design or differences in copy from one web version to the next.
And finally, the other really important bucket is authority. Google wants to show sites that are popular. If they can show the most popular t-shirt seller to people looking to buy t-shirts online, that’s the site they want to show. So you have to convince Google - send them signals that your site is the most popular site for the kind of t-shirts that you sell. Fill this bucket by building a fan base. Build a social network, get people to link to you, get people to share your t-shirt pages on their social network saying ‘I want this!’, get people to comment, leave testimonials, show pictures of themselves wearing the product or using the product, Create a fan-base and then rally them to link to you and talk about you. That’s how you prove to Google that you are trustworthy and authoritative.
SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[60] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[61] It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[62] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.
Page and Brin founded Google in 1998.[22] Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[23] Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.[24]

3. Interviews: While many media companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, take a page from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who specifically extends his on-air interviews to be used as unique web-only content....Consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees, as well as outside experts.

I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.
If you’re an amateur blogger on the block, your first goal would be to increase SERP ranking. If you’re new to this space, it’ll definitely take a while to increase ranking. Guest blogging is one way to climb up the ladder sooner than you might otherwise be able to do. You have two ways to do this. You can offer to write a guest post for a popular blog in your space or request a popular blogger to write a guest post for your blog. Both ways it’s a win win for you.
While most search engine companies try to keep their processes a secret, their criteria for high spots on SERPs isn't a complete mystery. Search engines are successful only if they provide a user links to the best Web sites related to the user's search terms. If your site is the best skydiving resource on the Web, it benefits search engines to list the site high up on their SERPs. You just have to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap. That's where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in -- it's a collection of techniques a webmaster can use to improve his or her site's SERP position.
Typically, others in the industry will be maintaining ongoing SEO on their sites, so it’s usually advisable to continue with monitoring, tweaking, and expanding your SEO strategy as time goes on. The logic is that if you’re not acting on your own search visibility, but your competitors are, it’s likely that you’ll eventually lose any hard earned progress in search engine rankings.
You’re spot on, thanks again for sharing these terrific hacks. I remember you said on a video or post that you don’t write every time. Right that why you always deliver such valuable stuff. I have to tell you Backlinko is one of my favorite resources out of 3. I’ve just uncover SeedKeywords and Flippa. As LSI became more crucial SeedKeywords seems to be a tool to be considered.
Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin allows you to optimize your content for synonyms and related keywords – up to five per article in fact. This is a functionality we’re developing and extending currently, to make our content analysis just as smart as Google. Marieke has written a roadmap for this here. We’ve also written a post about why you shouldn’t use your focus keyword more than once. is a certified Google Partner, and our team is filled with specialists in SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click), eCommerce, social media, Google AdWords, conversion optimization, site usability, databases, apps, and more. Our developers and teams combine creativity and top technical expertise to manage the most effective up to date websites.

I’d add one thing to number 5: Writing good copy is crucial not just for your Title/snippet, but for your whole page, especially your landing page. You want people to stay on your page for a while and (hopefully) even navigate to other pages you have. Google looks at bounce rate and where they go after they hit your page. Learning to write good copy can not only increase conversion (if you’re selling something) but make your content more impactful and engaging. There are free books at most libraries or online to help.
The practices and principles of ‘good’ content marketing, however, are here to stay, regardless of the definitions and even as content marketing – rightfully and obviously – continues to already be part of good, integrated and customer-centric marketing. We like the no-nonsense way in which expert Doug Kessler looks at the term, as you can see in the quote.
It goes hand in hand with content sharing, social content marketing, social media, copywriting, visual content, you name it. Storytelling is also closely related with word-of-mouth, recommendations and the simple act of sharing and connecting, since long before digital marketing, let alone content marketing even existed. We know why: storytelling is one of the most human ways of passing along knowledge and traditions, mesmerizing audiences and, in fact, human nature as such. What does storytelling mean in a content marketing context? Below are a few resources on storytelling and content marketing.

A strategy that is linked into the effectiveness of digital marketing is content marketing.[39] Content marketing can be briefly described as "delivering the content that your audience is seeking in the places that they are searching for it".[39] It is found that content marketing is highly present in digital marketing and becomes highly successful when content marketing is involved. This is due to content marketing making your brand more relevant to the target consumers, as well as more visible to the target consumer.
On the other hand, marketers who employ digital inbound tactics use online content to attract their target customers onto their websites by providing assets that are helpful to them. One of the simplest yet most powerful inbound digital marketing assets is a blog, which allows your website to capitalize on the terms which your ideal customers are searching for.