Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors31.
Search engines attempt to rank results for a given search based on their relevance to the topic, and the quality and reliability a site is judged to have. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, uses an ever-evolving algorithm that aims to evaluate sites in the way that a human reader would. This means that a key part of SEO involves ensuring that the website is a unique and relevant resource for readers.

Use clean backgrounds. The background textures and color you choose have the ability to drastically affect the overall appeal of the website. Lots of texture and graphics in the background can be distracting. If you are going to use a color on the background, you should make sure there is significant contrast between the background color and the text. Be careful when using brighter and darker colors such as red or yellow. They cause visual fatigue (temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work) and the reader will lose their focus on the text.
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.

There are many times when you post a small quote or a phrase in your blog post that you believe people would love to tweet. ClickToTweet helps you do just that. Simple create a pre-made Tweet on ClickToTweet.com, generate a unique, and put it on your website so that people can just click it to tweet it. Sounds simple. It is, and it is one of the most popular strategies for generating buzz on Twitter.
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.
Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!

Hi Brian, Awsome content as ever! I’m very interested in your idea of creating an ‘uber’ resource list or expert roundup post i.e. linking out to lots of to other authorities in my niche within one post. But should you always create ‘no-follow’ links to these authority sites to prevent juice from passing to them? And similarly if you sprinkle a few outbound authority links in other posts should they all be ‘no-follow’ or do you think big G ignores ‘no follow’ these days?


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.”
In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.[33] On June 8, 2010 a new web indexing system called Google Caffeine was announced. Designed to allow users to find news results, forum posts and other content much sooner after publishing than before, Google caffeine was a change to the way Google updated its index in order to make things show up quicker on Google than before. According to Carrie Grimes, the software engineer who announced Caffeine for Google, "Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index..."[34] Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2010 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.[35]

Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.
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