Over the next few posts, and starting with this one, I’m going to share with you a detailed 8-step process for creating your own SEO strategy (what I often refer to as an SRD (SEO Research Document)), beginning with defining target audiences and taking it all the way through some fairly comprehensive competitive research, search traffic projections, content strategies, and specific goals and prioritizations.
Although this is a step-by-step series, everyone's methods will (and should) vary, so it really depends on how much time you think it will take (if you're billing hourly). What tools do you have at your disposal vs. how much researching for information will you have to do on your own? Will you have to pay for research reports or companies? Do you pay a monthly service for data or research?
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. 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.
Thanks for the very, very in-depth article. I am a real estate agent in Miami, Florida and have been blogging all-original content for the past 21 months on my website and watched traffic increase over time. I have been trying to grow my readership/leads/clients exponentially and have always heard about standard SEO backlink techniques and writing for my reader, not influencers. Recently, I have had a few of my articles picked up and backlinked by 2 of the largest real estate blogs in the country, which skyrocketed visits to my site. Realizing what I wrote about, that appealed to them, and now reading your article, I am going to continue writing in a way that will leverage those influencers to help me with quality backlinks.
Awesome tips Brian. Always enjoy your posts. My question is, how can I boost traffic significantly if my keyword has pretty low search volume (around 100 monthly searches based on keyword planner)? I’ve been trying to expand my keyword list to include broader terms like “customer experience” but as you know that is super competitive. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance.
Companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported on a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients. Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger and SEO Aaron Wall for writing about the ban. Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.
If you create memorable content, people will want to come back for more. So instead of churning out lackluster content that can be found anywhere on the web, write higher quality, unique content that caters directly to your audience. Speak your opinion on a subject matter, instead of just objectively providing facts. Create useful, thought-provoking content. Posting three so-so blog posts a week will not be nearly effective as posting one superb blog post per week.
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. 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. It is considered a wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic. In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.
Brian, I’ve drunk your Kool aid! Thank you for honesty and transparency – it really gives me hope. Quick question: I am beyond passionate about a niche (UFOs, extraterrestrials, free energy) and know in my bones that an authority site is a long term opportunity. The problem today is that not many products are attached to this niche and so it becomes a subscriber / info product play. However, after 25+ years as an entrepreneur with a financial background and marketing MBA, am I Internet naive to believe that my passion and creativity will win profitability in the end? The target audience is highly passionate too. Feedback?
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.
Having an industry influencer publish a blog post on your site or turning an interview with them into a blog post can help to drive traffic both through organic search but also via that influencer promoting the content to their audience (see the backlinks section above). This can also help to add more variety to your content and show your visitors that you are active in your field.
Yesterday I was re doing our process for ideas and alltop was a part of it. Now I have also known it was a bit spammy (some of my grey sites are featured ) but now it seems way too bad. You have places like new York times next to random adsense blog x. Guy kawasaki needs to really start giving some sort of influence ranking or at least culling the total crap ones.
Hi, my name is Dimitrios and I am responsible for Crave Culinaire’s digital marketing. I would like to drive more traffic to Crave’s blog. Since Crave Culinaire is the only catering company who provides molecular cuisine, I thought about craving a blog post about that. The influencers in this niche have great success in utilizing recipes on their blogs. I will share some recipes of Brian Roland, owner and head chef of Crave Culinaire.
Black hat SEO involves techniques such as paying to post links to a website on link farms, stuffing the metadata with nonrelated keywords, and using text that is invisible to readers to attract search engines. These and many other black hat SEO tactics may boost traffic, but search engines frown on the use of such measures. Search engines may punish sites that employ these methods by reducing their page rank or delisting them from search results.
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve its visibility. Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic. Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to a web page's metadata, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site's search listings, thus increasing traffic. URL canonicalization of web pages accessible via multiple URLs, using the canonical link element or via 301 redirects can help make sure links to different versions of the URL all count towards the page's link popularity score.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks Jure. That actually makes sense. Exactly: I’ve tested lowering the number of tips in a few posts and it’s helped CTR/organic traffic. One thing to keep in mind is that the number can also be: the year, time (like how long it will take to find what someone needs), % (like 25% off) etc. It doesn’t have to be the number of tips, classified ads, etc.
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Yes the article was highly informative it\’s very very useful to the newbies like me in the field of digital marketing, It shows instead of creating some website / blog waiting with hope for the traffic to come instead put more logical steps. Promoting at the different sources where usually traffic can be built for the websites excellent insight hope we can use to the fullest extent with your further guidance & support of-course.
Facebook is keen to promote streaming video – the success of Twitch.tv has them drooling. This means that Streaming videos are given massive “reach” – more people see them. They’ll show your video to more of your page subscribers, more group members, etc. If the video is good, you’ll get lots of shares and likes, and this can build your audience rapidly.
Hey Brian, I have landed in this blog while visiting via blog land. I must appreciate your effort to put up such informative content. As being an Internet Marketing Consultant, I would like to add few thought of my own with your valuable content. There are many people who wants HUGE number of traffic with no time at all. But as per my experience, SEO has become SLOW-BUT-STEADY process in the recent times. After so many algorithm updates of Google, I think if we will do any wrong things with the websites, that should be paid off. So without taking any risk, we need to work ethically so that slowly the website will get the authority and grab the targeting traffic. What do you think mate? I am eagerly looking forward to your reply and love to see more valuable write-ups from your side. Why don’t you write about some important points about Hummingbird Updates of Google. It will be a good read. Right brother? 🙂
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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?
If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey. Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...) :)
LinkedIn has become much more than a means of finding another job. The world’s largest professional social network is now a valuable publishing platform in its own right, which means you should be posting content to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Doing so can boost traffic to your site, as well as increase your profile within your industry – especially if you have a moderate to large following.
Firstly, really think about what your audience is interested in and what their needs are. As SUCCESS agency CEO, Avin Kline, states, “It’s so easy to forget, but the heart of increasing user engagement is to put yourself in their shoes and add undeniable value to the user. Keep in mind, what marketers think is valuable and what users think is valuable are often two different things.”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. You're likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they're essential ingredients for any web page, but you may not be making the most out of them.
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?
Dig deep into everything you ever needed to know about links from anchor text to redirection. Read this series of pages to understand how and when to use nofollow and whether guest blogging is actually dead. If you're more into the link building side of things (working to improve the rankings on your site by earning links), go straight to the Beginner's Guide to Link Building.
Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [football playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google Ads provides a handy Keyword Planner34 that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site in the Performance Report35.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization. Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website. Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.