You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide gives you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and we'd love to hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the Google Webmaster Help Forum1.

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.
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.
Another excellent guide is Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.” This is a free PDF download that covers basic tips that Google provides to its own employees on how to get listed. You’ll find it here. Also well worth checking out is Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide To SEO,” which you’ll find here, and the SEO Success Pyramid from Small Business Search Marketing.
SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[61] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[62] It is considered a wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[63] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.
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.
When would this be useful? If your site has a blog with public commenting turned on, links within those comments could pass your reputation to pages that you may not be comfortable vouching for. Blog comment areas on pages are highly susceptible to comment spam. Nofollowing these user-added links ensures that you're not giving your page's hard-earned reputation to a spammy site.
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.
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.
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.
Companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported on a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients.[15] Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger and SEO Aaron Wall for writing about the ban.[16] Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.[17]

SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO.[50] White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.[51]
“In conclusion, this research illuminates how content characteristics shape whether it becomes viral. When attempting to generate word of mouth, marketers often try targeting “influentials,” or opinion leaders (i.e., some small set of special people who, whether through having more social ties or being more persuasive, theoretically have more influence than others). Although this approach is pervasive,recent research has cast doubt on its value (Bakshy et al. 2011; Watts 2007) and suggests that it is far from cost effective. Rather than targeting “special” people, the current research suggests that it may be more beneficial to focus on crafting contagious content. By considering how psychological processes shape social transmission, it is possible to gain deeper insight into collective outcomes, such as what becomes viral.”

Spider-driven search engines such as Google®, Yahoo!® and MSN® use "robots" or "crawlers" to score websites across the Internet. Robots "spider/crawl" each site and "score" pages based on how relevant they are. A website's score or placement within a spider driven search engine is derived from hundreds of variables such as link popularity, density and frequency of keywords in page content, HTML code, site themes and more. You will want to focus many criteria in your SEO strategy to position yourself well among the major search engines. Here are two of the most influential factors:
Poor User Experience: Make it easy for the user to get around. Too many ads and making it too difficult for people to find content they’re looking for will only increase your bounce rate. If you know your bounce rate it will help determine other information about your site. For example, if it’s 80 percent or higher and you have content on your website, chances are something is wrong.
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!
Hi Brian, I’m so glad I found Backlinko! I’m downloading all the free guides you’re offering and taking notes. I started a blog last year, and I’ll just call it my “learning blog.” You help me understand that I need to change how I think about content creation (think keyword and topic, research it, THEN create content). So that will be the first strategy I implement for the new blog I plan on launching in the fall.
The goal of SEO is to get a web page high search engine ranking. The better a web page's search engine optimization, the higher a ranking it will achieve in search result listings. (Note that SEO is not the only factor that determines search engine page ranks.) This is especially critical because most people who use search engines only look at the first page or two of the search results, so for a page to get high traffic from a search engine, it has to be listed on those first two pages, and the higher the rank, the closer a page is to the number one listing, the better.
You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine's search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.
Brian, I’ve drunk your Kool aid! Thank you for honesty and transparency – it really gives me hope. Quick question: I am beyond passionate about a niche (UFOs, extraterrestrials, free energy) and know in my bones that an authority site is a long term opportunity. The problem today is that not many products are attached to this niche and so it becomes a subscriber / info product play. However, after 25+ years as an entrepreneur with a financial background and marketing MBA, am I Internet naive to believe that my passion and creativity will win profitability in the end? The target audience is highly passionate too. Feedback?
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.
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