Google Analytics is free to use, and the insights gleaned from it can help you to drive further traffic to your website. Use tracked links for your marketing campaigns and regularly check your website analytics. This will enable you to identify which strategies and types of content work, which ones need improvement, and which ones you should not waste your time on.
Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in.  Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
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...)  :)

Fantastic stuff, as usual, Brian. The First Link Priority Rule is always one that causes me great angst. I often get torn between search engines and usability when it comes to the main navigation bar. And, I’ve never known what the heck to do about the “Home” link. You can hardly target your keywords with that one without it being anything but awkward.
In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However, Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[36] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[37] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[38] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognized term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [39]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it's important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don't want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.

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!
In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However, Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[36] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[37] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[38] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognized term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [39]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.

Creating a Facebook fan page takes about an entire 45 seconds and is a almost a necessity at this point for every business owner. Considering that 1 in 13 people on EARTH have a Facebook account there’s really no need to explain why you should be there. Pro tip: make sure you create a fan page and not a group. Groups messages don’t show up in news feeds making it hard to get in touch with members. Making a fan page will give you a lot more exposure to not only the current members but members friends as well.

Thanks a lot for this very long post! I’m printing it to read tomorrow with a nice cuppa. It has some good reminders of ideas I knew of but had forgotten in the midst of being busy. I appreciate the reminder, particularly as I’m super busy getting organized to grow my blog. I’m very happy to discover new ideas that I didn’t know of as well. Love your writing style. I’ll surely be browsing through your blog more in the future.
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’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.
Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you're linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you're linking to is about.

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?


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. 
Maybe this feels a bit too scattershot for you. Buzzsumo also allows you to find and observe influencers. What are they sharing? By clicking the "view links shared" button, you'll get a display of all the unique pages shared. Sometimes "influencers" share all types of varying content crossing many topics. But sometimes, they're pretty specfic in the themes they share. Look for the latter in this competitive research stage.
Search engines attempt to rank results for a given search based on their relevance to the topic, and the quality and reliability a site is judged to have. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, uses an ever-evolving algorithm that aims to evaluate sites in the way that a human reader would. This means that a key part of SEO involves ensuring that the website is a unique and relevant resource for readers.

Great article as always. My wife is about to start a business about teaching (mainly) Mums how to film and edit little movies of their loved ones for posterity (www.lovethelittlethings.com launching soon). We have always struggled with thinking of and targeting relevant keywords because keywords like ‘videography’ and ‘family movies’ don’t really some up what she is about. Your article ties in with other learnings we have come across where we obviously need to reach out to right people and get them to share to get her product out there because purely focusing on keywords I don’t think will get us anywhere.


Before you say it – no, true guest blogging isn’t dead, despite what you may have heard. Securing a guest post on a reputable site can increase blog traffic to your website and help build your brand into the bargain. Be warned, though – standards for guest blogging have changed radically during the past eighteen months, and spammy tactics could result in stiff penalties. Proceed with caution.
Hi Brian! I enjoy reading your posts and use as much info as I possibly can. I build and sell storage sheds and cabins. The problem I have is that there are no top bloggers in my market or wikipedia articles with deadlinks that have to do with my market. 95% of my traffic and sales are generated via Facebook paid advertising. Would love to get more organic traffic and would be interested in your thoughts concerning this.
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.
Although this is a step-by-step series, everyone's methods will (and should) vary, so it really depends on how much time you think it will take (if you're billing hourly).  What tools do you have at your disposal vs. how much researching for information will you have to do on your own? Will you have to pay for research reports or companies? Do you pay a monthly service for data or research?
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.
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]
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.
Thanks for a this timely article. If I understand it correctly, are you saying that we would better be off looking at market data in our niche and make an article of that for influencers to share rather than actionable tips that the target clients would be interested in? Shouldn’t there be a double strategy – articles for the influencers to share and articles for the users to enjoy?
Firstly, a disclaimer – don’t spam Reddit and other similar sites hoping to “hit the jackpot” of referral traffic, because it’s not going to happen. Members of communities like Reddit are extraordinarily savvy to spam disguised as legitimate links, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that these audiences will find genuinely useful. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, then watch the traffic pour in.
For some reason I had to delete some pages, these pages are using the HTML suffix, so I blocked them in robots.txt use Disallow: /*.html, but it’s been almost a year, I found that google robot often capture these pages, How can I quickly let Google completely remove these pages? And I have removed these URL from google webmaster tool by google index-> remove URLs, but Google still capture these pages.

Great post, your knowledge and innovative approach never fails to amaze me! This is certainly the first time I’ve heard someone suggest the Wikipedia dead link technique. It’s great that you’re getting people to think outside of the box. Pages like reddit are great for getting keywords and can also be used for link building although this can be difficult to get right. Even if you don’t succeed at using it to link build it’s still a really valuable platform for getting useful information. Thanks!


Awesome tips Brian. Always enjoy your posts. My question is, how can I boost traffic significantly if my keyword has pretty low search volume (around 100 monthly searches based on keyword planner)? I’ve been trying to expand my keyword list to include broader terms like “customer experience” but as you know that is super competitive. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance.
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.
Provide full functionality on all devices. Mobile users expect the same functionality - such as commenting and check-out - and content on mobile as well as on all other devices that your website supports. In addition to textual content, make sure that all important images and videos are embedded and accessible on mobile devices. For search engines, provide all structured data and other metadata - such as titles, descriptions, link-elements, and other meta-tags - on all versions of the pages.

Tablet - We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition. Tablets tend to have larger screens, which means that, unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser rather than on a smartphone browser.
AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it's important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don't want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.

This philosophy is beautiful in its simplicity, and it serves to correct the “more, more, more” mentality of link building. We only want links from relevant sources. Often, this means that in order to scale our link-building efforts beyond the obvious tactics, we need to create something that deserves links. You have links where it makes sense for you to have links. Simple.
Another way to increase traffic to your website is to get listed in free online directories and review sites. For most of these sites, your profile will have a link to your website, so actively updating these listings and getting positive reviews is likely to result in more website traffic. In addition, many directories like Yelp have strong domain authority on Google. There’s a chance that your business’s free Yelp page could rank high for relevant searches.
×