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.
Text-based content is all well and good, but video can be a valuable asset in both attracting new visitors and making your site more engaging. Data shows that information retention is significantly higher for visual material than it is for text, meaning that video marketing is an excellent way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention, and boost traffic to your website at the same time.
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.
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.
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.
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!

Another example when the “nofollow" attribute can come handy are widget links. If you are using a third party's widget to enrich the experience of your site and engage users, check if it contains any links that you did not intend to place on your site along with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your site which are not your editorial choice and contain anchor text that you as a webmaster may not control. If removing such unwanted links from the widget is not possible, you can always disable them with “nofollow" attribute. If you create a widget for functionality or content that you provide, make sure to include the nofollow on links in the default code snippet.

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?
Backlinks. If content is king, then backlinks are queen. Remember, it's not about which site has the most links, but who has the most quality links pointing back to their website. Build backlinks by submitting monthly or bi-monthly press releases on any exciting company, and contacting popular blogs in your niche to see how you can work together to get a backlink from their website. Create the best possible product site you can, so people talking about the products you sell will link back. Try creating graphics or newsworthy content that will influence bloggers and news websites to link that content.
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.

If you are using Responsive Web Design, use meta name="viewport" tag to tell the browser how to adjust the content. If you use Dynamic Serving, use the Vary HTTP header to signal your changes depending on the user-agent. If you are using separate URLs, signal the relationship between two URLs by tag with rel="canonical" and rel="alternate" elements.
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.
Hi Brian! Very good and exactly what I was looking for. I have a problem though, we are creating the first video editing software that edits video WHILE FILMING. We are video geeks with a lot of experience, however we are trying to appeal to GoPro users and video tutorial makers but we have little knowledge in that field. Any suggestions on how we write about that if we have no idea about the space?
I’m considering a niche that I’m not sure I can find good influencers for – fundraising. School fundraising or charitable fundraising. I’m passionate about it but how would I get my articles shared by influencers? The non-profit sector is somewhat apprehensive about promoting commercial sites, unless it’s fundraising software. The name really says it all: “non”-profit.
There is no magic formula for content marketing success, despite what some would have you believe. For this reason, vary the length and format of your content to make it as appealing as possible to different kinds of readers. Intersperse shorter, news-based blog posts with long-form content as well as video, infographics and data-driven pieces for maximum impact.
Landing pages are another free source of traffic to your website. These are pages specific to your offers, such as for redeeming a discount code, downloading a free guide, or starting a free trial. They contain the details users need in order to move forward and convert, and focus on one specific call to action, making it more likely to happen. Because landing pages are so specific, you can get very targeted in your messaging, increasing the traffic coming to those pages.

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.
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:
Hello Brian, really such an informative article and is more meaningful as you provided screen shots. I have noticed that articles with images bring more value to understand the things. I have just started my career in this industry and thus keep looking for some good articles/blogs that are meaningful and help me to implement tips in my work apart from my seniors instructions. I guess this was I can prove them about my caliber 🙂
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...)  :)

Landing pages are another free source of traffic to your website. These are pages specific to your offers, such as for redeeming a discount code, downloading a free guide, or starting a free trial. They contain the details users need in order to move forward and convert, and focus on one specific call to action, making it more likely to happen. Because landing pages are so specific, you can get very targeted in your messaging, increasing the traffic coming to those pages.
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.
Squidoo is a website full of 100% user generated content that allows you to create what’s called a “lense.” A lense is a page about a specific topic that you choose to write about (usually something you’re knowledgeable in). After creating your lense other people can find it by searching for terms and keywords related to your lense. Let me just start off by saying Squidoo is an absolute powerhouse in the search engines. Its very easy to rank Squidoo lenses for competitive terms that would prove to be a challenge for websites with lesser authority. Creating a lense on Squidoo gives you 2 traffic opportunities:
A navigational page is a simple page on your site that displays the structure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listing of the pages on your site. Visitors may visit this page if they are having problems finding pages on your site. While search engines will also visit this page, getting good crawl coverage of the pages on your site, it's mainly aimed at human visitors.
Think interviews are only for the big leaguers? You’d be amazed how many people will be willing to talk to you if you just ask them. Send out emails requesting an interview to thought leaders in your industry, and publish the interviews on your blog. Not only will the name recognition boost your credibility and increase traffic to your website, the interviewee will probably share the content too, further expanding its reach.
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!

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.
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.
While most of the links to your site will be added gradually, as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, Google understands that you'd like to let others know about the hard work you've put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject. As with most points covered in this document, taking these recommendations to an extreme could actually harm the reputation of your site.
Hi Brain, I am a young business owner who has had 4 different websites in the last 2 years but none of them were successful as I would have liked due to lack of SEO. Now I am in process of starting another business and I felt it was time for me to learn about SEO myself. I must say the information you have provided is invaluable and extremely helpful!! I am learning on the go and you are my biggest contributor. Thank you Sir!

Every time I write new content I post it to twitter. If you use the right keywords and make your tweet interesting enough you can get a lot of clickthroughs just from people searching. For example if I write an article about SEO and Google I can tag the end of the tweet with #SEO #Google and anyone that searches for those keywords on Twitter can see my tweet about the post that I wrote. Be sure to write creative headlines for your posts so people feel the urge to click on them.
I definitely learned tons of new things from your post. This post is old, but I didn’t get the chance to read all of it earlier. I’m totally amazed that these things actually exist in the SEO field. What I liked most is Dead Links scenario on wikipedia, Flippa thing, Reddit keyword research, and at last, the facebook ad keyword research. Its like facebook is actually being trolled for providing us keywords thinking they are promoting ads.
Google Analytics is an invaluable source of data on just about every conceivable aspect of your site, from your most popular pages to visitor demographics. Keep a close eye on your Analytics data, and use this information to inform your promotional and content strategies. Pay attention to what posts and pages are proving the most popular. Inspect visitor data to see how, where and when your site traffic is coming from.
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.
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