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. 
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.
Great post. I know most of the stuff experienced people read and think “I know that already”… but actually lots of things we tend to forget even though we know them. So its always good to read those. What I liked most was the broken link solution. Not only to create a substitute for the broken link but actually going beyond that. I know some people do this as SEO technique but its actually also useful for the internet as you repair those broken links that others find somewhere else.

To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect32 from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel="canonical"33 link element if you cannot redirect.
Great post. I know most of the stuff experienced people read and think “I know that already”… but actually lots of things we tend to forget even though we know them. So its always good to read those. What I liked most was the broken link solution. Not only to create a substitute for the broken link but actually going beyond that. I know some people do this as SEO technique but its actually also useful for the internet as you repair those broken links that others find somewhere else.
Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say "might" because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. The Webmaster Central Blog has informative posts on improving snippets with better description meta tags18 and better snippets for your users19. We also have a handy Help Center article on how to create good titles and snippets20.

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.

Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to interpret which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
I have been trying to produce more content because I believed the lack of traffic was to the small amount of content, but after reading your blog post, i’m beginning to doubt wether or not this is quality content. I will definitely do more research on influencers on my niche, now I have to figure out how to get their attention with my kind of content.

Content is king. That’s the saying, right? It’s true in a way. Your website is really just a wrapper for your content. Your content tells prospects what you do, where you do it, who you have done it for, and why someone should use your business. And if you’re smart, your content should also go beyond these obvious brochure-type elements and help your prospective customers achieve their goals.

Google Analytics is free to use, and the insights gleaned from it can help you to drive further traffic to your website. Use tracked links for your marketing campaigns and regularly check your website analytics. This will enable you to identify which strategies and types of content work, which ones need improvement, and which ones you should not waste your time on.


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.


Thanks for a this timely article. If I understand it correctly, are you saying that we would better be off looking at market data in our niche and make an article of that for influencers to share rather than actionable tips that the target clients would be interested in? Shouldn’t there be a double strategy – articles for the influencers to share and articles for the users to enjoy?
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.
Thank you Brian. I am so brand spanking new to all this and i am really struggling with understanding it all. I have tried to read so many thing to help my website and this was the first article to really make sense however Being an urban, street menswear online store i feel like my niche is too broad?.. Ahh Feel like I am drowning maybe I need to do your course! Thanks again for the read I will be doing a lot more thats for sure
As of 2009, there are only a few large markets where Google is not the leading search engine. In most cases, when Google is not leading in a given market, it is lagging behind a local player. The most notable example markets are China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the Czech Republic where respectively Baidu, Yahoo! Japan, Naver, Yandex and Seznam are market leaders.
Guest blogging is a two-way street. In addition to posting content to other blogs, invite people in your niche to blog on your own site. They’re likely to share and link to their guest article, which could bring new readers to your site. Just be sure that you only post high-quality, original content without spammy links, because Google is cracking way down on low-quality guest blogging.
Google Analytics is free to use, and the insights gleaned from it can help you to drive further traffic to your website. Use tracked links for your marketing campaigns and regularly check your website analytics. This will enable you to identify which strategies and types of content work, which ones need improvement, and which ones you should not waste your time on.
Hi Brian! I enjoy reading your posts and use as much info as I possibly can. I build and sell storage sheds and cabins. The problem I have is that there are no top bloggers in my market or wikipedia articles with deadlinks that have to do with my market. 95% of my traffic and sales are generated via Facebook paid advertising. Would love to get more organic traffic and would be interested in your thoughts concerning this.
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.
Marcus Miller is an experienced SEO and PPC consultant based in Birmingham, UK. Marcus focuses on strategy, audits, local SEO, technical SEO, PPC and just generally helping businesses dominate search and social. Marcus is managing director of the UK SEO and digital marketing company Bowler Hat and also runs wArmour aka WordPress Armour which focuses on helping WordPress owners get their security, SEO and site maintenance dialled in without breaking the bank.

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]

The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company's temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don't be your own biggest obstacle — I've never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.
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.
Hey Brian, love your site + content. Really awesome stuff! I have a question about dead link building on Wikipedia. I actually got a “user talk” message from someone moderating a Wikipedia page I replaced a dead link on. They claimed that “Wikipedia uses nofollow tags” so “additions of links to Wikipedia will not alter search engine rankings.” Any thoughts here?
The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company's temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don't be your own biggest obstacle — I've never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.

There are a number of ways to optimize your website for conversion—such as by including calls to action and lead capture forms in the right places, providing the information your visitors are seeking, and making navigation easy and intuitive. But the first step is to be attracting the right visitors to your site in the first place. Your goal when it comes to website traffic is to be driving more qualified visitors to your site. That is, those who are most likely to convert into leads and customers.

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.
You’re spot on, thanks again for sharing these terrific hacks. I remember you said on a video or post that you don’t write every time. Right that why you always deliver such valuable stuff. I have to tell you Backlinko is one of my favorite resources out of 3. I’ve just uncover SeedKeywords and Flippa. As LSI became more crucial SeedKeywords seems to be a tool to be considered.
Thanks a lot for this very long post! I’m printing it to read tomorrow with a nice cuppa. It has some good reminders of ideas I knew of but had forgotten in the midst of being busy. I appreciate the reminder, particularly as I’m super busy getting organized to grow my blog. I’m very happy to discover new ideas that I didn’t know of as well. Love your writing style. I’ll surely be browsing through your blog more in the future.
The idea of “link bait” refers to creating content that is so extremely useful or entertaining it compels people to link to it. Put yourself in the shoes of your target demographic and figure out what they would enjoy or what would help them the most. Is there a tool you can make to automate some tedious process? Can you find enough data to make an interesting infographic? Is there a checklist or cheat sheet that would prove handy to your audience? The possibilities are nearly endless – survey your visitors and see what is missing or lacking in your industry and fill in the gaps.
My company has been working on a large link building project. We’ve already performed extensive keyword research and link analysis and now we’re considering executing an email outreach campaign. However, all the content we’ve created up until this point is geared more towards our target audience as opposed to the key influencers of our target audience. Do you think it would be worth it to try to build backlinks to our existing content or are we better off creating new content that directly appeals to the influencers of our target audience?

Many blogging software packages automatically nofollow user comments, but those that don't can most likely be manually edited to do this. This advice also goes for other areas of your site that may involve user-generated content, such as guest books, forums, shout-boards, referrer listings, etc. If you're willing to vouch for links added by third parties (for example, if a commenter is trusted on your site), then there's no need to use nofollow on links; however, linking to sites that Google considers spammy can affect the reputation of your own site. The Webmaster Help Center has more tips on avoiding comment spam40, for example by using CAPTCHAs and turning on comment moderation.


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.
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.
Tip: Along with delicious I search on scoop.it for similar opportunities. If they liked an article related to a year.. say 2013 and you update the resource to 2014 chances are they’ll share it. Kind of a twist on your delicious + sky scraper technique. You don’t even have to make the content much different or better, just updated! Got some fantastic links recently because of it.
Promoting your websites by publishing articles to various article directories is by no means a new idea but still an extremely effective way to drive traffic. If you write content and publish it to websites like Article Base, and Article Dashboard website owners will pick it up and post it. This idea is similar to guest blogging except that you only have to write one piece of content that can end up on hundreds of even thousands of blogs and websites. The same rule applies here: don’t be boring – be creative and interesting and use common keywords in your article and title so website owners can find it!
Hello Brian, really such an informative article and is more meaningful as you provided screen shots. I have noticed that articles with images bring more value to understand the things. I have just started my career in this industry and thus keep looking for some good articles/blogs that are meaningful and help me to implement tips in my work apart from my seniors instructions. I guess this was I can prove them about my caliber 🙂
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?
This post and the Skycraper technique changed my mind about how I approach SEO, I’m not a marketing expert and I haven’t ranked sites that monetize really well, I’m just a guy trying to get some projects moving on and I’m not even in the marketing business so I just wanted to say that the way you write makes the information accesible, even if you’re not a native english speaker as myself.
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