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Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.

By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals.[13] Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb (Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web), was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.[14]
Hi Brian! Very good and exactly what I was looking for. I have a problem though, we are creating the first video editing software that edits video WHILE FILMING. We are video geeks with a lot of experience, however we are trying to appeal to GoPro users and video tutorial makers but we have little knowledge in that field. Any suggestions on how we write about that if we have no idea about the space?
Who doesn’t love quizzes? They are enjoyable, shareable and hard to resist. Design a quiz for your website that somehow relates to your brand. If your company sells jeans, for instance, you could create a quiz called, “What are the best jeans for your body?” and in the results, show the brand’s recommended jeans. But remember—before showing results, be sure to capture the visitor’s e-mail address.

Text-based content is all well and good, but video can be a valuable asset in both attracting new visitors and making your site more engaging. Data shows that information retention is significantly higher for visual material than it is for text, meaning that video marketing is an excellent way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention, and boost traffic to your website at the same time.

Hi Brian! Very good and exactly what I was looking for. I have a problem though, we are creating the first video editing software that edits video WHILE FILMING. We are video geeks with a lot of experience, however we are trying to appeal to GoPro users and video tutorial makers but we have little knowledge in that field. Any suggestions on how we write about that if we have no idea about the space?
While short-tail keywords are often searched more frequently, it is more difficult to rank for them on search engines. Targeting long-tail keywords, on the other hand, gives you a better chance of ranking higher (even on the first page) for queries specific to your products and services—and higher ranking means more traffic. Plus, as search engines and voice-to-text capabilities advance, people are using more specific phrases to search online. There are many free tools available to help you find keywords to target, such as Answer the Public.
So many businesses are focused on attracting new customers through content marketing that they forget about more traditional methods. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, and even a moderately successful email blast can result in a significant uptick in traffic. Just be careful not to bombard people with relentless emails about every single update in your business. Also, don’t overlook the power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially from people who are already enjoying your products or services. A friendly email reminder about a new service or product can help you boost your traffic, too.
A solid content marketing and SEO strategy is also the most scalable way to promote your business to a wide audience. And this generally has the best ROI, as there is no cost per click — so you are scaling your marketing without directly scaling your costs. This kind of SEO strategy is not right for every business, but when it is a good fit, it’s almost unbeatable.
People love reading about results. That’s because it’s one of the best ways to learn. You can read information all day, but results show you the practical application of the information. Create content showing real life results. It’s easy in my industry because results are all that matter. But this can work in other industries as well. Here are some non-marketing examples:
Yep and sometimes it’s just being a little creative. I’ve started a little blog on seo/wordpress just for fun actually… no great content on it like here though… but because the competition is so tough in these niches I decided to take another approach. I created a few WordPress plugins that users can download for free from wordpress.org… and of course these link to my site so this gets me visitors each day.
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’ve always been one to create great content, but now I see it may not necessarily be the right content. Can Share Triggers work for all niches including things like plumbing companies, computer repair, maybe even handy men that have a website for their business? I would say I’m estimating half the views a month as I should. Hopefully some of these strategies will help.

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Influencers: Government Contracting Officers, Other GovCon (Government Contracting) consultants, Sellers of professional services for small businesses (certain CPAs, bonding companies, financial institutions, contract attorneys), large contracting firms (who need to hire small business subcontractors), Union/trade organizations, Construction and Engineering trade publications

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?

Thanks Brain, these tips are useful. The key thing with most of the tips that you provided is that it will take time and most people want to have more traffic, but they do not want to do the work and put in the time. However, if you put in the word and you do a quality job then it will work out. I think that is the overall strategies that a lot of SEOs have to do today is just to take the time and figure out quality strategies.
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[22] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.
Another way to increase traffic to your website is to get listed in free online directories and review sites. For most of these sites, your profile will have a link to your website, so actively updating these listings and getting positive reviews is likely to result in more website traffic. In addition, many directories like Yelp have strong domain authority on Google. There’s a chance that your business’s free Yelp page could rank high for relevant searches.
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.
Think of it this way: The more specific your content, the more specific the needs of your audience are -- and the more likely you'll convert this traffic into leads. This is how Google finds value in the websites it crawls; the pages that dig into the interworkings of a general topic are seen as the best answer to a person's query, and will rank higher.
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?

Just a suggestion, but maybe you could write an article about generating traffic to a brand new blog. As you know, when you start out, you have only a couple posts and very little credibility with other bloggers, also the search engines will take considerable time to be of any benefit initially. Would be interesting to know how Brian Dean approaches that dilemma!
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.
Product images. If you think images don't play a role, think again. When many consumers search for products in the search engines, not only are they looking at the "Web" results, but they're also looking at the "images" results. If you have quality images of that product on your site -- and the files' names contain relevant keywords -- these images will rank well in search engines. This avenue will drive a lot of traffic to your site, as potential customers will click on that image to find your store.

A navigational page is a simple page on your site that displays the structure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listing of the pages on your site. Visitors may visit this page if they are having problems finding pages on your site. While search engines will also visit this page, getting good crawl coverage of the pages on your site, it's mainly aimed at human visitors.

What kind of advice would you give is your site is growing but seems to be attracting the wrong kind of traffic? My visitor numbers are going up but all other indicators such as bounce rate, time page, pages per visit seem to be developing in the wrong direction. Not sure if that’s to be expected or if there is something that I should be doing to counter that development?


Hey Ted, thanks for the great questions! The peak times refer to your particular time zone, if you are targeting an audience that resides in the same zone as you. You can also use tools to find out when most of your audience is online. For example, Facebook has this built into their Page Insights. For Twitter, you can use https://followerwonk.com/. Many social posting tools also offer this functionality.

Dedicate some time to brainstorm all the different ways you can attract inbound links to your website. Start small –- maybe share your links with other local businesses in exchange for links to their sites. Write a few blog posts and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Consider approaching other bloggers for guest blogging opportunities through which you can link back to your website.
SEO is short for "search engine optimization." To have your site optimized for the search engines means to attempt to have top placement in the results pages whenever a specific keyword is typed into the query box. There are many search engine optimization services to choose from, so here are some things to keep in mind when seeking SEO services or developing an SEO strategy of your own.
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.
Think interviews are only for the big leaguers? You’d be amazed how many people will be willing to talk to you if you just ask them. Send out emails requesting an interview to thought leaders in your industry, and publish the interviews on your blog. Not only will the name recognition boost your credibility and increase traffic to your website, the interviewee will probably share the content too, further expanding its reach.
Not sure exactly why, perhaps I used a number too big and since my page is about classifieds, it probably seemed too much to browse through 1500 ads, I assume? Somewhat like you would post 800 tips for better ranking? Don’t know, will try to change things a bit and see how it goes, but you really gave me some new suggestions to go for with this article. Thanks again 🙂
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
Since heading tags typically make text contained in them larger than normal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this text is important and could help them understand something about the type of content underneath the heading text. Multiple heading sizes used in order create a hierarchical structure for your content, making it easier for users to navigate through your document.
Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
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