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.
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.
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve its visibility.[48] Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic.[48] Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to a web page's metadata, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site's search listings, thus increasing traffic. URL canonicalization of web pages accessible via multiple URLs, using the canonical link element[49] or via 301 redirects can help make sure links to different versions of the URL all count towards the page's link popularity score.

Smartphone - In this document, "mobile" or “mobile devices" refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.


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!


Excellent post Brian. I think the point about writing content that appeals to influencers in spot on. Could you recommend some good, manual strategies through which I can spot influencers in boring niches *B2B* where influencers are not really talking much online? Is it a good idea to rely on newspaper articles to a feel for what a particular industry is talking about? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.


Thanks for the very, very in-depth article. I am a real estate agent in Miami, Florida and have been blogging all-original content for the past 21 months on my website and watched traffic increase over time. I have been trying to grow my readership/leads/clients exponentially and have always heard about standard SEO backlink techniques and writing for my reader, not influencers. Recently, I have had a few of my articles picked up and backlinked by 2 of the largest real estate blogs in the country, which skyrocketed visits to my site. Realizing what I wrote about, that appealed to them, and now reading your article, I am going to continue writing in a way that will leverage those influencers to help me with quality backlinks.
An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines' guidelines and involves no deception. As the search engine guidelines[18][19][52] are not written as a series of rules or commandments, this is an important distinction to note. White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat advice is generally summed up as creating content for users, not for search engines, and then making that content easily accessible to the online "spider" algorithms, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose. White hat SEO is in many ways similar to web development that promotes accessibility,[53] although the two are not identical.
When referring to the homepage, a trailing slash after the hostname is optional since it leads to the same content ("https://example.com/" is the same as "https://example.com"). For the path and filename, a trailing slash would be seen as a different URL (signaling either a file or a directory), for example, "https://example.com/fish" is not the same as "https://example.com/fish/".
In a very crowded, noisy space – entrepreneurs and small business owners with a ton of “experts and influencers.” How do I get “above the noise?” I have built up a great brand and, I think, some great content based on a boatload of practical, real-life experience. I also have some products and services that I’m trying to sell, but I remain, “all dressed up, with no place to go.” Thoughts?
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.
Great content. Although I disagree with ‘the best times to post’ section. It is important to understand your audience. For example, if your brand/business is in high school, there will be low engagement until 2-5 when they are out of school. I highly suggest using instagram analytics (a subsidiary of facebook analytics) which gives you all of the details on when your followers are active. https://www.facebook.com/help/788388387972460
On a dating niche site I took the ‘ego-bait’ post one step further and had sexy girls perform a dance and strip to revel the names of the major bloggers in my niche written on their bodies. As you can imagine it got a lot of attention from the big players in my niche and my audience and is a little more creative for getting links, shares and traffic.

In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[30] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat any nofollow links, in the same way, to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[31] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow led to evaporation of PageRank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated JavaScript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and JavaScript.[32]
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:
Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure. Make sure all of the pages on your site are reachable through links, and that they don't require an internal "search" functionality to be found. Link to related pages, where appropriate, to allow users to discover similar content.
Loading speed is one of the significant factors in Google’s search algorithm. If your website is having a slow loading time, then you need to improve this thing on your website. If you don’t do this then slow loading time of your website will leave a bad impression about your website on your visitors. Ensure that your website is search engine friendly and loads faster.
#6 Go on podcasts! In 13 years of SEO and digital marketing, I’ve never had as much bang for the buck. You go on for 20 minutes, get access to a new audience and great natural links on high dwell time sites (hosts do all the work!). Thanks for including this tip Brian, I still don’t think the SEO community has caught on to the benefits of podcast guesting campaigns for SEO and more…it’s changed my business for sure.
Hello Brian, i am planing to start my blog soon and im in preparation phase (invastigating, learning, etc…). I have read a lot of books and posts about SEO and i can say that this is the best post so far. Its not even a book and you covered more than in books. I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and rest of the world, thats one of the most appriciate thing that someone can do, even if you do it for your own “good” you shared it! As soon as i start my site ill make and article about you!!
The world is mobile today. Most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. As a result, having a mobile ready site is critical to your online presence. In fact, starting in late 2016, Google has begun experiments to primarily use the mobile version of a site's content42 for ranking, parsing structured data, and generating snippets.
Website owners recognized the value of a high ranking and visibility in search engine results,[6] creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase "search engine optimization" probably came into use in 1997. Sullivan credits Bruce Clay as one of the first people to popularize the term.[7] On May 2, 2007,[8] Jason Gambert attempted to trademark the term SEO by convincing the Trademark Office in Arizona[9] that SEO is a "process" involving manipulation of keywords and not a "marketing service."

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.
incredible post and just what i needed! i’m actually kinda new to blogging (my first year coming around) and so far my expertise has been in copy writing/seo copy writing. however link building has become tedious for me. your talk about influencing influencers makes perfect sense, but i find it difficult for my niche. my blog site is made as “gift ideas” and holiday shoppers complete with social networks. i get shares and such from my target audience, but i find that my “influencers” (i.e etsy, red box, vat19, etc.) don’t allow dofollow links and usually can’t find suitable sources. I guess my trouble is just prospecting in general.
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.

If you're looking to upload an image to a blog post, for example, examine the file for its file size first. If it's anywhere in megabyte (MB) territory, even just 1 MB, it's a good idea to use an image compression tool to reduce the file size before uploading it to your blog. Sites like TinyPNG make it easy to compress images in bulk, while Google's very own Squoosh has been known to shrink image file sizes to microscopic levels.
#16 is interesting because no one really knows about it. Myself and a former colleagu did a test on it about 4 years ago and published our results which conculded what you are saying. Since then I’ve been careful to follow this rule. The only issue is that often times using the exact kw does not “work” for navigation anchor texts. But with a little CSS trickery one can get the code for the nav bar to be lower in the code, prioritizing contextual links. I’ve also seen sites add links to 3-5 specific and important internal pages with keyword rich anchor texts, at the very top of the page in order to get those important internal links to be indexed first.
Thanks Brian. I’ve had a “a-ha” moment thanks to you! Great advice. I knew that backlinks would improve the organic SEO rankings to our client-targeted landing pages but I never knew it was through getting influencers to backlink blogs. I always just assumed it was great content that users wanted to share with others. It was driving me mad why people love my content but never share enough. Now I know!
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!
Google is the most popular spider-driven search engine. Its database currently has about 4 billion pages indexed and is known for finding the most relevant information. When Google spiders the Web, it finds sites by traveling through links. The more sites that link to you, the more important the engines believe your content to be. You should focus on getting many important sites to link to your site. You can do this in many ways: submit to online directories, exchange links with business partners and industry-related sites, or participate in Link Building.
Another example when the “nofollow" attribute can come handy are widget links. If you are using a third party's widget to enrich the experience of your site and engage users, check if it contains any links that you did not intend to place on your site along with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your site which are not your editorial choice and contain anchor text that you as a webmaster may not control. If removing such unwanted links from the widget is not possible, you can always disable them with “nofollow" attribute. If you create a widget for functionality or content that you provide, make sure to include the nofollow on links in the default code snippet.
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.
Brian hello! First off I want to THANK YOU for this fantastic post. I can’t emphasize that enough. I have this bookmarked and keep going through it to help boost our blog. I totally nerded out on this, especially the LSI keywords which made my day. I know, pathetic, right? But when so much changes in SEO all the time, these kinds of posts are so helpful. So thanks for this. So no question – just praise, hope that’s ok 😁
Google is the most popular spider-driven search engine. Its database currently has about 4 billion pages indexed and is known for finding the most relevant information. When Google spiders the Web, it finds sites by traveling through links. The more sites that link to you, the more important the engines believe your content to be. You should focus on getting many important sites to link to your site. You can do this in many ways: submit to online directories, exchange links with business partners and industry-related sites, or participate in Link Building.
This toolbar is based on the LRT Power*Trust metric that we’ve been using to identify spammy and great links in LinkResearchTools and Link Detox since 2012 and the free browser was just recently launched. It helps you promptly evaluate the power and trustworthiness of a website or page during your web-browsing way exacter than Google PageRank ever did.
I definitely learned tons of new things from your post. This post is old, but I didn’t get the chance to read all of it earlier. I’m totally amazed that these things actually exist in the SEO field. What I liked most is Dead Links scenario on wikipedia, Flippa thing, Reddit keyword research, and at last, the facebook ad keyword research. Its like facebook is actually being trolled for providing us keywords thinking they are promoting ads.
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.
In March 2006, KinderStart filed a lawsuit against Google over search engine rankings. KinderStart's website was removed from Google's index prior to the lawsuit, and the amount of traffic to the site dropped by 70%. On March 16, 2007, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division) dismissed KinderStart's complaint without leave to amend, and partially granted Google's motion for Rule 11 sanctions against KinderStart's attorney, requiring him to pay part of Google's legal expenses.[70][71]

Wow Brian, You have solved my problem. A few days back I was looking for ways to increase traffic on my tech blog, I found this blog post by you while I was looking out for possible tricks to increase traffic. I must say that few of the tricks mentioned above really worked for me. For example, I updated a few old posts on my blog, I did try the broken link building technique and the last I did was to repost my content on Medium.
The first relates to internal link structure. I’ve made the mistake you say you’ve seen so often. I have a primary keyword and have used that keyword in the main navigation, linked to a page optimized for that keyword. But I’ve also got a bunch of contextual links in posts pointing to that page, usually with the keyword in the anchor text. I now understand that those internal links aren’t helping much, at least from an SEO perspective. Am I better to remove that keyword and direct link from the menu and simply link the page from multiple posts and pages within the site. Or will I get better results leaving it in the main menu and changing the contextual links in the posts to point to a related page with a different keyword?
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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