Reality bites. You could draft up an amazing strategy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to which you're rebuilding an entire category structure of one of the website's most lucrative lines... only to find out there's a ticket queue for the necessary resources that's more than 6 months long. Despite your brilliant idea, you're going to look bad when the client calls you out on not understanding their business.
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]
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.
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!
This was all free information I found online in less than an hour, that gives me some great ideas for content, partnerships and potential tools to build into my site to be relevant and useful to my target audience. Of course this is just some quick loose data, so I'll emphasize again: be careful where your data comes from (try to validate when possible), and think about how to use your data wisely.

There are many SEO tactics you can perform on each of your website pages to increase their rank in search engines and get more visitors. This includes producing high-quality content that your audience is searching for, and writing concise meta descriptions for your pages. The meta description appears below your URL in search results. Knowing what a page is about and what will result in a click makes users much more likely to do so. On-page SEO tactics such as these are free, but do take some time. For more help with on-page SEO, check out this blog post: Google Ranking Factors: On-Page vs Off-Page SEO.
Regarding internal linking, i believe that in the case of two links pointing to an internal page, being one of those links in the group i mentioned above, they will considered only the one witch feed the algorithm with more information. In sites that have the menu before the content, it will be the second link. I think that’s the smart way for them to analyse all the links to better understand the destination page content. And they are smart 😉 .

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.


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.
I’d add one thing to number 5: Writing good copy is crucial not just for your Title/snippet, but for your whole page, especially your landing page. You want people to stay on your page for a while and (hopefully) even navigate to other pages you have. Google looks at bounce rate and where they go after they hit your page. Learning to write good copy can not only increase conversion (if you’re selling something) but make your content more impactful and engaging. There are free books at most libraries or online to help.
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.
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]

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 😉
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).

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.
Thanks Brain, these tips are useful. The key thing with most of the tips that you provided is that it will take time and most people want to have more traffic, but they do not want to do the work and put in the time. However, if you put in the word and you do a quality job then it will work out. I think that is the overall strategies that a lot of SEOs have to do today is just to take the time and figure out quality strategies.

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.


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:

A backlink is a link to your website from another website. Backlinks from complementary businesses or industry influencers will not only get your business in front of a larger audience, but it will also drive qualified traffic to your website. In addition, Google picks up on backlinks and will increase its trust in your business if it sees other trusted sites pointing to yours. More trust from Google leads to higher rankings, which leads to more traffic. Get noticed on Google for free with quality backlinks.

My company has been working on a large link building project. We’ve already performed extensive keyword research and link analysis and now we’re considering executing an email outreach campaign. However, all the content we’ve created up until this point is geared more towards our target audience as opposed to the key influencers of our target audience. Do you think it would be worth it to try to build backlinks to our existing content or are we better off creating new content that directly appeals to the influencers of our target audience?

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!


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.
Lastly, it's important to remember that paralysis by over-thinking is a real issue some struggle with. There's no pill for it (yet). Predicting perfection is a fool's errand. Get as close as you can within a reasonable timeframe, and prepare for future iteration. If you're traveling through your plan and determine a soft spot at any time, simply pivot. It's many hours of upfront work to get your strategy built, but it's not too hard to tweak as you go.
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