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.
2. Targeted Keyword Discovery: Ideally you’ll want to do keyword research based on what the audience wants, not solely on what content the site already has (or plans to have sans audience targeting), which may be limited. I can do keyword research on health conditions and drugs (content I have on my site) and determine what the general population is searching for and optimize my current content, or I can cast my net wide and look at what my target audience wants first, then do my keyword research. You may find there are needs that your site is not meeting. Knowing my senior audience is interested in primarily in prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, I can first make sure I’m providing that content, and then further determine the top keywords in these areas (in the next article Step 2), and use those terms in relevant and high visibility areas on my site.
There are a few competitive tools we tend to gravitate towards in our industry. SEMrush is a fantastic tool allowing anyone to look up a website and get an estimated search visibility and traffic share. Drilling in shows how well pages perform independently. Gleaning through exports can quickly reveal what topics are driving traffic, to which you might replicate or improve your own version.
Like many SEOs, I was hired with one vague responsibility: to set up an SEO program and achieve results. Like many SEOs, we jumped right in and started spewing out SEO audits, rewriting title tags, offering up link suggestions, rewriting URLs and so on. And like many SEOs we promised results. But what we didn’t do, until that fateful launch, was develop a comprehensive strategy.

Getting more website visitors does not happen overnight. It takes some effort but we’ve eliminated the hard part for you: knowing what to do in the first place. By using Google My Business and the other safe channels listed above, you can get the right visitors coming to your site and more importantly, more of those visitors converting into customers.


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.
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...)  :)
Expertise and authoritativeness of a site increases its quality. Be sure that content on your site is created or edited by people with expertise in the topic. For example, providing expert or experienced sources can help users understand articles’ expertise. Representing well-established consensus in pages on scientific topics is a good practice if such consensus exists.
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.
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]

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]


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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.
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.

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!!
A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And certainly, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.

Thanks so much for this entry, Laura! I loved the way your post is so practical, straightforward, newbie-friendly - and most importantly, how it emphasizes the bottom line at all times. It's easy to get "lost in the fog" of SEO with so many looming tasks and forget the main purpose, so it's wonderful to have a straightforward outline of what to do and why certain tasks need to be done. I look forward to reading your future insights!
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 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.
Thanks Jure. That actually makes sense. Exactly: I’ve tested lowering the number of tips in a few posts and it’s helped CTR/organic traffic. One thing to keep in mind is that the number can also be: the year, time (like how long it will take to find what someone needs), % (like 25% off) etc. It doesn’t have to be the number of tips, classified ads, etc.
Hey Brian. Even though our own website ranks constantly (last 3 years now) for SEO Companies at Number 1 of Google (obviously when searching from London UK or nearby that is), I sttill keep reading other people’s posts and sending my own out when I find a gold nugget. However, within your clearly written article I have noticed multiple golden nuggets, and was very impressed by your ‘thinking out the box’ approach, and the choices you made for this article. Anytime you want a job as head of R&D for SEO at KD Web, you just let me know 😉
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.
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.
You mentioned: "many times clients have already done this work.  Ask them for copies of their market research reports when you start a project.  It will save you a ton of time and effort!"  We do this with most of our clients, like you said we have found that around 75% of the have some kind of Market research done, that saves you a lot of time and helps setting up the right SEO Strategy. 
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]
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.
Keywords. Keyword research is the first step to a successful SEO strategy. Those successful with SEO understand what people are searching for when discovering their business in a search engine. These are the keywords they use to drive targeted traffic to their products. Start brainstorming potential keywords, and see how the competition looks by using Google AdWords Keyword Tool. If you notice that some keywords are too competitive in your niche, go with long-tail keywords (between two and five words) which will be easier for you to rank. The longer the keyword, the less competition you will have for that phrase in the engines.
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]
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.
I love your post. I keep coming back because you always have great content I can use in my business as well as share. Since I own my own Digital Marketing company I guess you would be one of THE influencers in Internet Marketing field. I just started my business and because most influencers on twitter are talking about Content Marketing, that is what I have been writing about. But my site is only about a month old so I will just stay consistent in my writing. I’m also in the process of changing my navigation bar so be know how to get to what they want faster. Which would be “what is SEO”, etc. Thanks and would love any advice you can give me.
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.
A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And certainly, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.
Yahoo! might be losing the search engine market share battle but they still dominate in the Question and Answers arena. People ask thousands of questions every day in almost every niche and industry you can imagine. A quick search for “Search Engine Optimization” shows over 1,300 questions that can be answered. The key to driving massive amounts of traffic from Yahoo! Answers is to give genuinely helpful answers. Instead of trying to create a blatant advertisement for your website work on becoming an authority in your industry. This technique has the potential to send you far more than 100 visitors. When people use search engines to look for the questions you answered often times a Yahoo! Answers result will appear near the top of the search results. This will give you and your website a ton of exposure if you answer commonly asked questions!
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? 🙂 
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