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. 
Google has recently changed how you can use the Google Keyword Planner. Before, everyone who signed up could see the search volume for keywords. Now, it only shows estimates. There is a way to get around this. You need to create a Google Adwords campaign. The amount you spend doesn’t matter. After you do that, you will regain access to the search volume.
Google has recently changed how you can use the Google Keyword Planner. Before, everyone who signed up could see the search volume for keywords. Now, it only shows estimates. There is a way to get around this. You need to create a Google Adwords campaign. The amount you spend doesn’t matter. After you do that, you will regain access to the search volume.
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.
I understand that some SEO agencies and departments are not built for the big SEO campaigns. Strategic work takes time, and speeding (or scaling) through the development stage will likely do more harm than good. It's like cramming for a test — you're going to miss information that's necessary for a good grade. It would be my pleasure if this post inspired some change in your departments.
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!
In addition to optimizing these six areas of your site, analyze your competitors and see what they are doing in terms of on-page optimization, off-page optimization (competitive link analysis) and social media. While you may be doing a lot of the same things they are, it’s incredibly important to think outside the box to get a leg up over the competition.
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.
Achievable: Make sure you're grounding your goal in reality. Sure, you can't control a massive Google update, but using the history of your sales and competitive data, you can make some inferences. You also need to make sure you have agreed-upon goals. Get buy-in before you set the goal in stone, leveraging the thoughts from the leaders, merchandisers, analysts, and anyone who might be able to provide insight into the likelihood of hitting your goal.

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?
Guest blogging is a two-way street. In addition to posting content to other blogs, invite people in your niche to blog on your own site. They’re likely to share and link to their guest article, which could bring new readers to your site. Just be sure that you only post high-quality, original content without spammy links, because Google is cracking way down on low-quality guest blogging.

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.

Commenting on blog posts written by industry experts with lots of followers can bring your website a lot of traffic. When you post a comment (most) blogs allow you to leave a link back to your site for other readers to check out – as long as you leave an insightful comment you WILL get traffic from your blog comments. Make sure you comment as quickly as possible when new blog posts go up. The higher in the comments you are the more clicks you’ll get. I have Google Reader setup to alert me when new blog posts are made on the industry blogs I follow and I comment immediately to lock in my first place spot.
Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.

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!


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.
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
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.
Promoting your websites by publishing articles to various article directories is by no means a new idea but still an extremely effective way to drive traffic. If you write content and publish it to websites like Article Base, and Article Dashboard website owners will pick it up and post it. This idea is similar to guest blogging except that you only have to write one piece of content that can end up on hundreds of even thousands of blogs and websites. The same rule applies here: don’t be boring – be creative and interesting and use common keywords in your article and title so website owners can find it!
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
Specifics: Be as specific as you can with your recommendations. For example if you’re suggesting partnering with meal home delivery sites, find out which ones are going to provide the most relevant info, at what cost if possible, and what the ideal partnership would look like for content and SEO purposes. Even provide contact information if you can.
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.
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]
There's often a top-down marketing strategy already baked before you get to pitch your SEO work, to which you may find opportunity on a battlefield where access is not granted. It's reckless to assume you can go into any established company and lob a strategy onto their laps, expecting them to follow it with disregard to their existing plans, politics, and red tape. Candidly, this may be the quickest way to get fired and show you're not aligned with the existing business goals.
SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors.[61] Search engines can change their algorithms, impacting a website's placement, possibly resulting in a serious loss of traffic. According to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes – almost 1.5 per day.[62] It is considered a wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.[63] In addition to accessibility in terms of web crawlers (addressed above), user web accessibility has become increasingly important for SEO.

Commenting on blog posts written by industry experts with lots of followers can bring your website a lot of traffic. When you post a comment (most) blogs allow you to leave a link back to your site for other readers to check out – as long as you leave an insightful comment you WILL get traffic from your blog comments. Make sure you comment as quickly as possible when new blog posts go up. The higher in the comments you are the more clicks you’ll get. I have Google Reader setup to alert me when new blog posts are made on the industry blogs I follow and I comment immediately to lock in my first place spot.


So many businesses are focused on attracting new customers through content marketing that they forget about more traditional methods. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, and even a moderately successful email blast can result in a significant uptick in traffic. Just be careful not to bombard people with relentless emails about every single update in your business. Also, don’t overlook the power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially from people who are already enjoying your products or services. A friendly email reminder about a new service or product can help you boost your traffic, too.
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.
A solid content marketing and SEO strategy is also the most scalable way to promote your business to a wide audience. And this generally has the best ROI, as there is no cost per click — so you are scaling your marketing without directly scaling your costs. This kind of SEO strategy is not right for every business, but when it is a good fit, it’s almost unbeatable.
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!
There's often a top-down marketing strategy already baked before you get to pitch your SEO work, to which you may find opportunity on a battlefield where access is not granted. It's reckless to assume you can go into any established company and lob a strategy onto their laps, expecting them to follow it with disregard to their existing plans, politics, and red tape. Candidly, this may be the quickest way to get fired and show you're not aligned with the existing business goals.
Hey Brian, love your site + content. Really awesome stuff! I have a question about dead link building on Wikipedia. I actually got a “user talk” message from someone moderating a Wikipedia page I replaced a dead link on. They claimed that “Wikipedia uses nofollow tags” so “additions of links to Wikipedia will not alter search engine rankings.” Any thoughts here?
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.
Thanks for sharing these great tips last August! I’ve recently adopted them and I have a question (that’s kind of connected to the last post): how important would promoting content be when using this strategy? For example, through Google Adwords. As I guess that would depend on the circumstances, but I am trying to discover if there’s a ‘formula’ here. Thanks in advance!
Really great article. In some cases when you are creating strategies there are many SEO companies that focus more on finding link building opportunities rather than actually create visual assets or other link earning content. Do you think more emphasis should be placed on creating these assets first based first on understanding hot topics or refining a customers pain points?
The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company's temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don't be your own biggest obstacle — I've never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.
It’s rare to come across new SEO tips worth trying. And this post has tons of them. I know that’s true BECAUSE…I actually read it all the way to the end and downloaded the PDF. What makes these great is that so many are a multiple step little strategy, not just the one-off things to do that clients often stumble across and ask if they are truly good for SEO. But there are also some nice one-off tips that I can easily start using without ramping up a new project.
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.
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results. Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to important pages may improve its visibility.[48] Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries will tend to increase traffic.[48] Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. Adding relevant keywords to a web page's metadata, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site's search listings, thus increasing traffic. URL canonicalization of web pages accessible via multiple URLs, using the canonical link element[49] or via 301 redirects can help make sure links to different versions of the URL all count towards the page's link popularity score.
Content is king. That’s the saying, right? It’s true in a way. Your website is really just a wrapper for your content. Your content tells prospects what you do, where you do it, who you have done it for, and why someone should use your business. And if you’re smart, your content should also go beyond these obvious brochure-type elements and help your prospective customers achieve their goals.
People love to learn, and webinars are an excellent way to impart your wisdom to your eagerly waiting audience. Combined with an effective social promotion campaign, webinars are a great way to increase traffic to your website. Send out an email a week or so ahead of time, as well as a “last chance to register” reminder the day before the webinar. Make sure to archive the presentation for later viewing, and promote your webinars widely through social media. If you're wondering how to do a webinar, click the link for some tips.
Great article, learned a lot from it! But I still really get it with the share trigger and right content. For instance, the influencers now care a lot about the new Koenigsegg Agera RS >> https://koenigsegg.com/blog/ (Car). I thought about an article like “10 things you need to know about the Koenigsegg Agera RS”. The only problem is that I don’t know which keywords I should use and how i can put in share triggers.
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.

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."
Structured data21 is code that you can add to your sites' pages to describe your content to search engines, so they can better understand what's on your pages. Search engines can use this understanding to display your content in useful (and eye-catching!) ways in search results. That, in turn, can help you attract just the right kind of customers for your business.
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