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.
What blog posts are generating the most views? What subjects are most popular? And how can you create more, similar content? These are some of the questions you’ll want to be asking yourself as you analyze your website data. Determine what pages are resulting in the most bounces (exit pages) and the pages through which people are entering your site the most (entry pages). For instance, if the majority of people are leaving your site after reaching the About page, that’s a pretty clear indication that something should be changed there.
WOW. I consider myself a total newbie to SEO, but I’ve been working on my Squarespace site for my small business for about 3 years and have read dozens of articles on how to improve SEO. So far, this has been the MOST USEFUL and information-packed resource I’ve found so far. I’m honestly shocked that this is free to access. I haven’t even completely consumed this content yet (I’ve bookmarked it to come back to!) but I’ve already made some significant changes to my SEO strategy, including adding a couple of infographics to blog posts, changing my internal and external linking habits, editing meta descriptions, and a bunch more. Thanks for all the time and passion you’ve out into this.
Like the hundreds of people already, I thought this was an amazing post. You have a great way of breaking things down into ways that the average reader will be able to understand and make actionable. I think this is a great resource for our readers, so I included it in my monthly roundup of the best SEO, social media, and content marketing articles. https://www.northcutt.com/blog/2014/02/january-resource-round-up-the-best-of-seo-social-media-and-content-marketing/
While with search advertising, you’re paying to show up in the top spot for relevant searches, with social media advertising you are paying to show up in relevant feeds. With both forms of advertising, you can specify the type of audience in front of which you’d like to appear, but with more psychographic data, social media offers superb targeting.
Expert roundups have been abused in the Internet Marketing industry, but they are effective for several reasons. First, you don’t have to create any content. The “experts” create all the content. Second, it is ego bait. Meaning, anyone who participated in the roundup will likely share it with their audience. Last, it is a great way to build relationships with influencers.

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.
Take the 10 pillar topics you came up with in Step 1 and create a web page for each one that outlines the topic at a high level -- using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in Step 2. A pillar page on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in brief sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as they are identified. Think of each pillar page as a table of contents, where you're briefing your readers on subtopics you'll elaborate on in blog posts.

See the screenshot below for some of the sections for specific recommendations that you can add which will provide the meat of the document. Keep in mind this is a very flexible document – add recommendations that make sense (for example you may not always have specific design considerations for a project). Remember, it will be different every time you do it.
Sure, we did keyword research, we recommended partnerships and widgets and architecture advice, but we didn’t step back and take a good look at our target audiences, what sites were meeting their specific needs in search results, and what we specifically could build into the product that would be far more desirable than what everyone else had (not even thought of yet ideally) to make sure our entire site is superior, resulting in the inevitable stealing of search traffic from our competitors.

Content gaps – make an inventory of the site’s key content assets, are they lacking any foundational/cornerstone content pieces, non-existent content types, or relevant topic areas that haven’t been covered? What topics or content are missing from your competitors? Can you beat your competitors’ information-rich content assets? Useful guides on Content Gap Analysis:


Search engines find and catalog web pages through spidering (also known as webcrawling) software. Spidering software "crawls" through the internet and grabs information from websites which is used to build search engine indexes. Unfortunately, not all search engine spidering software works the same way, so what gives a page a high ranking on one search engine may not necessarily give it a high ranking on another. Note that rather than waiting for a search engine to discover a newly created page, web designers can submit the page directly to search engines for cataloging.
Hey Mischelle, thanks for the input! It’s true, SEO is definitely a long game. You need to lay the foundation and keep improving your site, publish new content and promote what you already have. However, if you keep at it, it can pay off nicely over time. And you are right, picking the right keywords is one of the foundations for SEO success. Thanks for commenting!
Thanks for the great post. I am confused about the #1 idea about wikipedia ded links…it seems like you didn’t finish what you were supposed to do with the link once you found it. You indicated to put the dead link in ahrefs and you found a bunch of links for you to contact…but then what? What do you contact them about and how do you get your page as the link? I’m obviously not getting something 🙁
Fantastic stuff, as usual, Brian. The First Link Priority Rule is always one that causes me great angst. I often get torn between search engines and usability when it comes to the main navigation bar. And, I’ve never known what the heck to do about the “Home” link. You can hardly target your keywords with that one without it being anything but awkward.

I first heard you talk about your techniques in Pat Flynn’s podcast. Must admit, I’ve been lurking a little ever since…not sure if I wanted to jump into these exercises or just dance around the edges. The clever and interesting angles you describe here took me all afternoon to get through and wrap my brain around. It’s a TON of information. I can’t believe this is free for us to devour! Thank you!! Talk about positioning yourself as THE expert! Deep bow.
It’s not enough to just share content through social channels – you need to actively participate in the community, too. Got a Twitter account? Then join in group discussions with relevant hashtags. Is your audience leaving comments on your Facebook posts? Answer questions and engage with your readers. Nothing turns people off quicker than using social media as a broadcast channel – use social media as it was intended and actually interact with your fans.

SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO.[50] White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.[51]

For my Adsense plugin which you can get here https://wordpress.org/plugins/adsense-made-easy-best-simple-ad-inserter/ I’ve created a PRO version (https://www.seo101.net/adsense-made-easy-pro/) that is available to those that sign up for my mailing list. It’s not much but it gets me 5 to 6 subscibers a day. And best of all I know exactly what my subscribers are interested in… WordPress and Adsense:)

There were some great tips in this article. I notice that many people make the mistake of making too many distracting images in the header and the sidebar which can quickly turn people off content. I particularly dislike google ads anchored in the centre of a piece of text. I understand that people want to make a revenue for ads but there are right ways and wrong ways of going about this. The writing part of the content is the important part, why would you take a dump on it by pouring a load of conflicting media in the sides?


2. Targeted Keyword Discovery: Ideally you’ll want to do keyword research based on what the audience wants, not solely on what content the site already has (or plans to have sans audience targeting), which may be limited. I can do keyword research on health conditions and drugs (content I have on my site) and determine what the general population is searching for and optimize my current content, or I can cast my net wide and look at what my target audience wants first, then do my keyword research. You may find there are needs that your site is not meeting. Knowing my senior audience is interested in primarily in prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, I can first make sure I’m providing that content, and then further determine the top keywords in these areas (in the next article Step 2), and use those terms in relevant and high visibility areas on my site.
Relevancy is the first qualifier of a quality link opportunity. The next qualifying factor is the authority of the opportunity. Since Google doesn’t update PageRank (PR) anymore, you must rely on third party metrics. I recommend you use Domain Authority (DA) from Open Site Explorer, Domain Rate (DR) from Ahrefs, or Trust Flow from Majestic to determine the quality of your link opportunities. You should use all three tools if you can.

The first relates to internal link structure. I’ve made the mistake you say you’ve seen so often. I have a primary keyword and have used that keyword in the main navigation, linked to a page optimized for that keyword. But I’ve also got a bunch of contextual links in posts pointing to that page, usually with the keyword in the anchor text. I now understand that those internal links aren’t helping much, at least from an SEO perspective. Am I better to remove that keyword and direct link from the menu and simply link the page from multiple posts and pages within the site. Or will I get better results leaving it in the main menu and changing the contextual links in the posts to point to a related page with a different keyword?
We now have a dedicated SEO strategist who, among other things, develops 90 day plans for our websites. 90 days isn't longterm planning, but at least we have a strategic objective for the quarter. He also works closely with our UX team to identify the target audience - the crew that does the persona research and focus groups prior to the wireframe stage.
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.

Ask a marketer or business owner what they’d like most in the world, and they’ll probably tell you “more customers.” What often comes after customers on a business’ wish list? More traffic to their site. There are many ways you can increase traffic on your website, and in today’s post, we’re going to look at 25 of them, including several ways to boost site traffic for FREE.
Brian hello! First off I want to THANK YOU for this fantastic post. I can’t emphasize that enough. I have this bookmarked and keep going through it to help boost our blog. I totally nerded out on this, especially the LSI keywords which made my day. I know, pathetic, right? But when so much changes in SEO all the time, these kinds of posts are so helpful. So thanks for this. So no question – just praise, hope that’s ok 😁
Create shareable content. In the world of social media, shareable content is king. Your content should be easily share-able so that your readers can spread the word for you. This is a combination of a good headline and an interesting image, as well as a captivating lead-in. All of this creates a perfect bite-sized chunk of your article that others can share through Facebook, Twitter, and other networks.[2]

When would this be useful? If your site has a blog with public commenting turned on, links within those comments could pass your reputation to pages that you may not be comfortable vouching for. Blog comment areas on pages are highly susceptible to comment spam. Nofollowing these user-added links ensures that you're not giving your page's hard-earned reputation to a spammy site.
There is no magic formula for content marketing success, despite what some would have you believe. For this reason, vary the length and format of your content to make it as appealing as possible to different kinds of readers. Intersperse shorter, news-based blog posts with long-form content as well as video, infographics and data-driven pieces for maximum impact.
incredible post and just what i needed! i’m actually kinda new to blogging (my first year coming around) and so far my expertise has been in copy writing/seo copy writing. however link building has become tedious for me. your talk about influencing influencers makes perfect sense, but i find it difficult for my niche. my blog site is made as “gift ideas” and holiday shoppers complete with social networks. i get shares and such from my target audience, but i find that my “influencers” (i.e etsy, red box, vat19, etc.) don’t allow dofollow links and usually can’t find suitable sources. I guess my trouble is just prospecting in general.
Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in.  Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
In our research with what we have done for ourselves and our clients, there is a definite co-relation between content greater than 1000 words and better rankings. In fact, we are finding amazing ranking jumps when you have content over 3,000 words, about 12 original images (images not found anywhere else online), 1 H1 (not keyword stuffed), 12 sub-headlines (H2), 12 relevant internal links, 6 relevant external links and 1 bullet list. I know it sounds like a lot of work and a Big Mac recipe, but this does work.
Inclusion in Google's search results is free and easy; you don't even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to our index. In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren't manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when we crawl the web. Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages.3
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