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/
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.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses hidden text, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.
Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black or grey hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices.[54] Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's search engine results page.[55]
On another note, we recently went through this same process with an entire site redesign.  The executive team demanded we cut out over 75% of the pages on our site because they were useless to the visitor.  It's been 60 days since the launch of the new site and I've been able to still increase rankings, long-tail keywords, and even organic traffic.  It took a little bit of a "cowboy" mentality to get some simple things done (like using 301's instead of blocking the old content with robots.txt!).  I predicted we would lose a lot of our long tail keywords...but we haven't....yet!
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.
Fortunately, Google puts more weight on the anchor text of external links anyway. So as long as some of your external links have your target anchors, you’re probably OK with a “Home” button. In fact, I’ve ranked homepages with a “Home” anchor text nav button for some seriously competitive terms. So it’s not a make-or-break ranking signal by any means.

#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.


Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.
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
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.

Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say "might" because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. The Webmaster Central Blog has informative posts on improving snippets with better description meta tags18 and better snippets for your users19. We also have a handy Help Center article on how to create good titles and snippets20.
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).
Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.
Marcus Miller is an experienced SEO and PPC consultant based in Birmingham, UK. Marcus focuses on strategy, audits, local SEO, technical SEO, PPC and just generally helping businesses dominate search and social. Marcus is managing director of the UK SEO and digital marketing company Bowler Hat and also runs wArmour aka WordPress Armour which focuses on helping WordPress owners get their security, SEO and site maintenance dialled in without breaking the bank.

While most search engine companies try to keep their processes a secret, their criteria for high spots on SERPs isn't a complete mystery. Search engines are successful only if they provide a user links to the best Web sites related to the user's search terms. If your site is the best skydiving resource on the Web, it benefits search engines to list the site high up on their SERPs. You just have to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap. That's where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in -- it's a collection of techniques a webmaster can use to improve his or her site's SERP position.
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...)  :)
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.

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.
Btw, I was always under the impression that digg and delicious were dying but I’m really mistaken. Your(and Jason’s) thinking is foolproof though. If these guys are already curating content, there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to do more of just that! Seo has become a lot of chasing and pestering…it’s good of you to remind us that there are people out there just waiting to share stuff, too.:)
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.
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