Robots.txt is not an appropriate or effective way of blocking sensitive or confidential material. It only instructs well-behaved crawlers that the pages are not for them, but it does not prevent your server from delivering those pages to a browser that requests them. One reason is that search engines could still reference the URLs you block (showing just the URL, no title or snippet) if there happen to be links to those URLs somewhere on the Internet (like referrer logs). Also, non-compliant or rogue search engines that don't acknowledge the Robots Exclusion Standard could disobey the instructions of your robots.txt. Finally, a curious user could examine the directories or subdirectories in your robots.txt file and guess the URL of the content that you don't want seen.
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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.
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What is Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO)? A broad definition is that search engine optimization is the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines. More narrowly, SEO seeks to tweak particular factors known to affect search engine standing to make certain pages more attractive to search engines than other web pages that are vying for the same keywords or keyword phrases.
Let me tell you a story. Early in my tenure at Yahoo we tried to get into the site dev process in the early stages in order to work SEO into the Product Recommendations Documents (PRD) before wireframing began. But as a fairly new horizontal group not reporting into any of the products, this was often difficult. Nay, damn near impossible. So usually we made friends with the product teams and got in where we could.
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 

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?
Just ridiculously good as usual Brian, you continue to set the bar higher and higher each time I see a new post from you, well done. A quick point regarding point 16 about Google only counting the first anchor to a page, what is your opinion about links that go to DIFFERENT pages on the same site. I believe they pass equal weighting but would be good to get your option.
Hey Brian. Even though our own website ranks constantly (last 3 years now) for SEO Companies at Number 1 of Google (obviously when searching from London UK or nearby that is), I sttill keep reading other people’s posts and sending my own out when I find a gold nugget. However, within your clearly written article I have noticed multiple golden nuggets, and was very impressed by your ‘thinking out the box’ approach, and the choices you made for this article. Anytime you want a job as head of R&D for SEO at KD Web, you just let me know 😉
Nothing looks sloppier than websites that don’t abide by any sort of style guide. Is your blog section a complete deviation from your website? If so, this very well could throw off your visitors and decrease engagement. Instead, make sure that all of your web pages are consistent in design, font and even voice. For instance, if you use a very formal tone on your homepage, but a super casual tone in your blog posts, this could highlight brand inconsistency.
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.
Hey Sammy, I would always advise against buying traffic, social followers, or anything else in that area. It mostly ends up being a vanity metric without business benefits. It’s always better to earn the traffic by creating a valuable, high-quality website and marketing it properly. When you do that, you attract the kind of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer, which is usually better for the bottom line.
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 😁
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Stickers are essentially mini-posters, and advertisers have been using them for decades to get the word out without technically breaking the law. They hand them out to teams who then go out and plaster them over public buildings, bus stops and street signs. When the authorities complain, they say “oh, we only gave them to our customers. We have no control over where they put them.”
Hey Brian. Even though our own website ranks constantly (last 3 years now) for SEO Companies at Number 1 of Google (obviously when searching from London UK or nearby that is), I sttill keep reading other people’s posts and sending my own out when I find a gold nugget. However, within your clearly written article I have noticed multiple golden nuggets, and was very impressed by your ‘thinking out the box’ approach, and the choices you made for this article. Anytime you want a job as head of R&D for SEO at KD Web, you just let me know 😉
You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.
A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And certainly, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.
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

This philosophy is beautiful in its simplicity, and it serves to correct the “more, more, more” mentality of link building. We only want links from relevant sources. Often, this means that in order to scale our link-building efforts beyond the obvious tactics, we need to create something that deserves links. You have links where it makes sense for you to have links. Simple.
Brian, great post as always! Question: Do you consider authority sites (industry portals) a form of “influencer marketing?” e.g. guest blogging, etc? In some niches there are not so many individuals who are influencers (outside of journalists) but there are sites that those in the industry respect. I am in the digital video space and for me one site is actually a magazine that is building a very strong digital presence. Thanks, keep up the good work!
Nothing looks sloppier than websites that don’t abide by any sort of style guide. Is your blog section a complete deviation from your website? If so, this very well could throw off your visitors and decrease engagement. Instead, make sure that all of your web pages are consistent in design, font and even voice. For instance, if you use a very formal tone on your homepage, but a super casual tone in your blog posts, this could highlight brand inconsistency.
Page and Brin founded Google in 1998.[23] Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[24] 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.[25]

But some schema extensions are targeted at search engines. These code snippets tell Google which elements you would like to display next to your links in the search results. Of course, Google isn’t obliged to follow your instructions, and they can totally ignore the schema you insert in your code. But often, Google honors the schema you insert in your pages.


Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
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!

Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black or grey hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[54] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's search engine results page.[55]


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Thanks for sharing these great tips last August! I’ve recently adopted them and I have a question (that’s kind of connected to the last post): how important would promoting content be when using this strategy? For example, through Google Adwords. As I guess that would depend on the circumstances, but I am trying to discover if there’s a ‘formula’ here. Thanks in advance!

SEO is also about making your search engine result relevant to the user's search query so more people click the result when it is shown in search. In this process, snippets of text and meta data are optimized to ensure your snippet of information is appealing in the context of the search query to obtain a high CTR (click through rate) from search results.


Headlines are one of the most important parts of your content. Without a compelling headline, even the most comprehensive blog post will go unread. Master the art of headline writing. For example, the writers at BuzzFeed and Upworthy often write upward of twenty different headlines before finally settling on the one that will drive the most traffic, so think carefully about your headline before you hit “publish.”

Page and Brin founded Google in 1998.[23] Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[24] 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.[25]
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