Content gaps – make an inventory of the site’s key content assets, are they lacking any foundational/cornerstone content pieces, non-existent content types, or relevant topic areas that haven’t been covered? What topics or content are missing from your competitors? Can you beat your competitors’ information-rich content assets? Useful guides on Content Gap Analysis:
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.
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...)  :)
Social media. The algorithms have truly changed since social media first emerged. Many content websites are community-oriented -- Digg began allowing users to vote which stories make the front page, and YouTube factors views and user ratings into their front page rankings. Therefore, e-commerce stores must establish a strong social media presence on sites like Facebook , Pinterest, Twitter, etc. These social media sites send search engines signals of influence and authority.

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]
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?
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]
As a simple example, I recently renovated a Victorian-era house in the UK, and throughout the process, I was looking for various professionals that could demonstrate relevant experience. In this case, having a well-optimized case study showing renovation work on a similar house in the local area would serve as great long-tail SEO content — it also perfectly demonstrates that the contractor can do the job, which perfectly illustrates their credibility. Win-win.
Really great article. In some cases when you are creating strategies there are many SEO companies that focus more on finding link building opportunities rather than actually create visual assets or other link earning content. Do you think more emphasis should be placed on creating these assets first based first on understanding hot topics or refining a customers pain points?
This post has been so helpful. It took me over an hour to read because I kept jotting down notes and getting lost in a loop of researching some points on google, haha. You always have such great in depth articles that really help me out as a new blogger. I have a small list of bloggers I follow for advice on blogging, but Twins Mommy is my favorite.
Add relevant links back to your site. Throughout your answer, sprinkle a few relevant links back to your website. The more relevant they are to the question, the more clicks and traffic they will generate. You can also finish your answers with a link to your lead magnet, concluding with something like this: “Want to know more about how to start a business? Check out my free checklist with 10 steps for starting your first business!” and a link to the lead magnet (in this example, the checklist).

Sorry for the long comment, I just am really happy to see that after all those years of struggle you finally made a break through and you definitely deserve it bro. I’ve had my own struggles as well and just reading this got me a little emotional because I know what it feels like to never wanting to give up on your dreams and always having faith that one day your time will come. It’s all a matter of patience and learning from failures until you get enough experience to become someone who can generate traffic and bring value to readers to sustain long term relationships.
Really great article. In some cases when you are creating strategies there are many SEO companies that focus more on finding link building opportunities rather than actually create visual assets or other link earning content. Do you think more emphasis should be placed on creating these assets first based first on understanding hot topics or refining a customers pain points?
Firstly, a disclaimer – don’t spam Reddit and other similar sites hoping to “hit the jackpot” of referral traffic, because it’s not going to happen. Members of communities like Reddit are extraordinarily savvy to spam disguised as legitimate links, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that these audiences will find genuinely useful. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, then watch the traffic pour in.
Guest blogging is a great way to generate free traffic – all you have to invest is the time to write an article. Get in touch with the most popular blogs in your industry and ask if they’ll let you write a guest post. Most website owners will have no objections to having other people write free content for them. (ask Michael how I know…wink, wink) If you’re having trouble finding blogs to guest post on check out www.myblogguest.com – they have a full community of bloggers that are ready and waiting for your content.
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!
Current search engine optimization focuses on techniques such as making sure that each web page has appropriate title tags and that the content is not "thin" or low-quality. High-quality content is original, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct, and engaging to users. Poorly edited articles with spelling and grammatical errors will be demoted by search engines. For more information on thin content see More Guidance on Building High-quality Sites.
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.
The days when internet browsing was done exclusively on desktop PCs are long gone. Today, more people than ever before are using mobile devices to access the web, and if you force your visitors to pinch and scroll their way around your site, you’re basically telling them to go elsewhere. Ensure that your website is accessible and comfortably viewable across a range of devices, including smaller smartphones.
Not only are the tactics creative and unique, but you did an excellent job outlining each with step by step instructions, including great visuals, and providing concrete examples on how to implement the linking tactic. My favorite is probably the Flippa tactic. Amazing for pulling information on how other webmasters were able to acquire links, etc. Thanks again!
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