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!
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.

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.


5) Post at the right time. Let’s say you want to post in the r/Entrepreneur/ subreddit, but there’s already a post in the #1 spot with 200 upvotes, and it was posted 4 hours ago. If you post at that time, you probably won’t overtake that #1 spot, and you’ll get less traffic. However, if you wait a day, check back, and see that the new #1 spot only has 12-15 upvotes, you’ll have a golden opportunity. It will be much easier for you to hit the #1 spot and get hundreds of upvotes.
This information hits the mark. “If you want your content to go viral, write content that influencers in your niche will want to share.” I love the information about share triggers too. I’m wondering, though, if you could share your insights on how influencers manage to build such vast followings. At some point, they had to start without the support of other influencers. It would seem that they found a way to take their passion directly to a “ready” world. Excellent insights. Thanks for sharing.
You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.
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!!
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 🙂
I’ve just started blogging and there’s a ton of useful information here. I was wondering how to use reddit and you cleared that up for me, as well as when to post to social media. Quora I’m going to check out as I’ve never heard of them-thank you! In your opinion would you also deal with any of the free traffic generators to have people come and engage, or would you skip that step? Would you use meta tags, and if yes how? Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!
Think of this document as a living communication between you and your client or boss. It is a document you should refer to often. It keeps all parties on the same page and aligned. I recommend sharing it in a collaborative platform so updates are shared between all viewers without having to constantly send out new copies (nothing sucks the life out of efficiency faster than "versioning" issues).
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.
#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.
Wow. This is really great stuff. I just stumbled across this on Pinterest. (proving the power of that venue!) I have been blogging for over 10 years and listen to Gael and Mark too, so most of it was just refresher for me. But your list was exceptionally well written, complete and compelling. I actually thought pretty hard to come up with something that I could say, “Hey I got one more thing for you” and came up blank. So kudos to you!
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.
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.
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]
All sites have a home or "root" page, which is usually the most frequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation for many visitors. Unless your site has only a handful of pages, you should think about how visitors will go from a general page (your root page) to a page containing more specific content. Do you have enough pages around a specific topic area that it would make sense to create a page describing these related pages (for example, root page -> related topic listing -> specific topic)? Do you have hundreds of different products that need to be classified under multiple category and subcategory pages?
As I had a teacher at school who was always really picky on how to draw conclusions I must say that the conclusions you drew for your health situation might be true, but dangerous. For example: If slightly more women than men suffer from health deseases it could be wise to write the information toward women. But, if you take search behaviour into account thing could look a lot different: It might turn up that men search more than women or that (senior) men are more present on the net than women.

Relevancy is the first qualifier of a quality link opportunity. The next qualifying factor is the authority of the opportunity. Since Google doesn’t update PageRank (PR) anymore, you must rely on third party metrics. I recommend you use Domain Authority (DA) from Open Site Explorer, Domain Rate (DR) from Ahrefs, or Trust Flow from Majestic to determine the quality of your link opportunities. You should use all three tools if you can.


Meta tags. Meta tags still play a vital role in SEO. If you type any keyword into a search engine, you’ll see how that keyword is reflected in the title for that page. Google looks at your page title as a signal of relevance for that keyword. The same holds true for the description of that page. (Don't worry about the keyword title tag -- Google has publicly said that it doesn't pay attention to that tag, since it has been abused by webmasters and all those trying to rank for certain keywords.)

Hack #1: Hook readers in from the beginning. People have low attention spans. If you don’t have a compelling “hook” at the beginning of your blogs, people will click off in seconds. You can hook them in by teasing the benefits of the article (see the intro to this article for example!), telling a story, or stating a common problem that your audience faces.
If your social media profiles contain a link to your website, then you’ve turned your engagement into another channel for website traffic. Just be sure to engage moderately and in a sincere way, and avoid including links to your website in your comments—lest you appear spammy and hurt your online and business reputation. Increased traffic should not be the goal of your engagement, but rather a secondary result.
I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you'll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.
Like the hundreds of people already, I thought this was an amazing post. You have a great way of breaking things down into ways that the average reader will be able to understand and make actionable. I think this is a great resource for our readers, so I included it in my monthly roundup of the best SEO, social media, and content marketing articles. https://www.northcutt.com/blog/2014/02/january-resource-round-up-the-best-of-seo-social-media-and-content-marketing/
For example, let’s say I have a health site. I have several types of articles on health, drug information, and information on types of diseases and conditions. My angle on the site is that I’m targeting seniors. If I find out seniors are primarily interested in information on prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, then I know that I want to provide information specifically on those things. This allows me to hone in on that market’s needs and de-prioritize or bypass other content.

Wow. This is really great stuff. I just stumbled across this on Pinterest. (proving the power of that venue!) I have been blogging for over 10 years and listen to Gael and Mark too, so most of it was just refresher for me. But your list was exceptionally well written, complete and compelling. I actually thought pretty hard to come up with something that I could say, “Hey I got one more thing for you” and came up blank. So kudos to you!


If you haven’t used software like BuzzSumo to check out what your competitors are up to, you’re at a huge disadvantage. These services aggregate the social performance of specific sites and content to provide you with an at-a-glance view of what topics are resonating with readers and, most importantly, making the rounds on social media. Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website.
Hi Brain, I am a young business owner who has had 4 different websites in the last 2 years but none of them were successful as I would have liked due to lack of SEO. Now I am in process of starting another business and I felt it was time for me to learn about SEO myself. I must say the information you have provided is invaluable and extremely helpful!! I am learning on the go and you are my biggest contributor. Thank you Sir!
Relevancy is the first qualifier of a quality link opportunity. The next qualifying factor is the authority of the opportunity. Since Google doesn’t update PageRank (PR) anymore, you must rely on third party metrics. I recommend you use Domain Authority (DA) from Open Site Explorer, Domain Rate (DR) from Ahrefs, or Trust Flow from Majestic to determine the quality of your link opportunities. You should use all three tools if you can.
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.
I first heard you talk about your techniques in Pat Flynn’s podcast. Must admit, I’ve been lurking a little ever since…not sure if I wanted to jump into these exercises or just dance around the edges. The clever and interesting angles you describe here took me all afternoon to get through and wrap my brain around. It’s a TON of information. I can’t believe this is free for us to devour! Thank you!! Talk about positioning yourself as THE expert! Deep bow.

For example, if a swimming pool business is trying to rank for "fiberglass pools" -- which is receiving 110,000 searches per month -- this short-tail keyword can be the one that represents the overarching topic on which they want to create content. The business would then identify a series of long-tail keywords that relate to this short-tail keyword, have reasonable monthly search volume, and help to elaborate on the topic of fiberglass pools. We'll talk more about these long-tails in the next step of this process.


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.
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."
Whatever industry you’re in, chances are there are at least one or two major conventions and conferences that are relevant to your business. Attending these events is a good idea – speaking at them is even better. Even a halfway decent speaking engagement is an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and gain significant exposure for your site.
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]

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?
Hi there, am interested to try your trick in Wikipedia, but am also not sure of how should I do tht, coz i read some posts saying tht “Please note that Wikipedia hates spams, so don’t spam them; if you do, they can block your IP and/or website URL, check their blocking policy and if they blacklist you, you can be sure that Google may know about it.”

Hey Brian, I have landed in this blog while visiting via blog land. I must appreciate your effort to put up such informative content. As being an Internet Marketing Consultant, I would like to add few thought of my own with your valuable content. There are many people who wants HUGE number of traffic with no time at all. But as per my experience, SEO has become SLOW-BUT-STEADY process in the recent times. After so many algorithm updates of Google, I think if we will do any wrong things with the websites, that should be paid off. So without taking any risk, we need to work ethically so that slowly the website will get the authority and grab the targeting traffic. What do you think mate? I am eagerly looking forward to your reply and love to see more valuable write-ups from your side. Why don’t you write about some important points about Hummingbird Updates of Google. It will be a good read. Right brother? 🙂
While with search advertising, you’re paying to show up in the top spot for relevant searches, with social media advertising you are paying to show up in relevant feeds. With both forms of advertising, you can specify the type of audience in front of which you’d like to appear, but with more psychographic data, social media offers superb targeting.
“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.”
Practicing SEO now for over a decade, I don’t often come across many blog posts on the subject that introduce me to anything new — especially when it comes to link building. However, I must admit, after reading your article here I had to bookmark it to refer back to it in the future, as I’m sure it will come in handy when doing SEO for my websites later on down the road.

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?
We now have a dedicated SEO strategist who, among other things, develops 90 day plans for our websites. 90 days isn't longterm planning, but at least we have a strategic objective for the quarter. He also works closely with our UX team to identify the target audience - the crew that does the persona research and focus groups prior to the wireframe stage.
WOW. I consider myself a total newbie to SEO, but I’ve been working on my Squarespace site for my small business for about 3 years and have read dozens of articles on how to improve SEO. So far, this has been the MOST USEFUL and information-packed resource I’ve found so far. I’m honestly shocked that this is free to access. I haven’t even completely consumed this content yet (I’ve bookmarked it to come back to!) but I’ve already made some significant changes to my SEO strategy, including adding a couple of infographics to blog posts, changing my internal and external linking habits, editing meta descriptions, and a bunch more. Thanks for all the time and passion you’ve out into this.
This information hits the mark. “If you want your content to go viral, write content that influencers in your niche will want to share.” I love the information about share triggers too. I’m wondering, though, if you could share your insights on how influencers manage to build such vast followings. At some point, they had to start without the support of other influencers. It would seem that they found a way to take their passion directly to a “ready” world. Excellent insights. Thanks for sharing.
“Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”
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 🙂

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?


Black hat SEO involves techniques such as paying to post links to a website on link farms, stuffing the metadata with nonrelated keywords, and using text that is invisible to readers to attract search engines. These and many other black hat SEO tactics may boost traffic, but search engines frown on the use of such measures. Search engines may punish sites that employ these methods by reducing their page rank or delisting them from search results.

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.
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