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]
Current search engine optimization focuses on techniques such as making sure that each web page has appropriate title tags and that the content is not "thin" or low-quality. High-quality content is original, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct, and engaging to users. Poorly edited articles with spelling and grammatical errors will be demoted by search engines. For more information on thin content see More Guidance on Building High-quality Sites.
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.
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. 

Social media. The algorithms have truly changed since social media first emerged. Many content websites are community-oriented -- Digg began allowing users to vote which stories make the front page, and YouTube factors views and user ratings into their front page rankings. Therefore, e-commerce stores must establish a strong social media presence on sites like Facebook , Pinterest, Twitter, etc. These social media sites send search engines signals of influence and authority.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Just ridiculously good as usual Brian, you continue to set the bar higher and higher each time I see a new post from you, well done. A quick point regarding point 16 about Google only counting the first anchor to a page, what is your opinion about links that go to DIFFERENT pages on the same site. I believe they pass equal weighting but would be good to get your option.

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.

Sure, we did keyword research, we recommended partnerships and widgets and architecture advice, but we didn’t step back and take a good look at our target audiences, what sites were meeting their specific needs in search results, and what we specifically could build into the product that would be far more desirable than what everyone else had (not even thought of yet ideally) to make sure our entire site is superior, resulting in the inevitable stealing of search traffic from our competitors.


Hey Mischelle, thanks for the input! It’s true, SEO is definitely a long game. You need to lay the foundation and keep improving your site, publish new content and promote what you already have. However, if you keep at it, it can pay off nicely over time. And you are right, picking the right keywords is one of the foundations for SEO success. Thanks for commenting!
Product images. If you think images don't play a role, think again. When many consumers search for products in the search engines, not only are they looking at the "Web" results, but they're also looking at the "images" results. If you have quality images of that product on your site -- and the files' names contain relevant keywords -- these images will rank well in search engines. This avenue will drive a lot of traffic to your site, as potential customers will click on that image to find your store.
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.
Hi Brian, Awsome content as ever! I’m very interested in your idea of creating an ‘uber’ resource list or expert roundup post i.e. linking out to lots of to other authorities in my niche within one post. But should you always create ‘no-follow’ links to these authority sites to prevent juice from passing to them? And similarly if you sprinkle a few outbound authority links in other posts should they all be ‘no-follow’ or do you think big G ignores ‘no follow’ these days?
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!
When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.
Hey Sammy, I would always advise against buying traffic, social followers, or anything else in that area. It mostly ends up being a vanity metric without business benefits. It’s always better to earn the traffic by creating a valuable, high-quality website and marketing it properly. When you do that, you attract the kind of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer, which is usually better for the bottom line.

There are community forums setup online for virtually every niche, industry, or topic you can imagine. The internet is a prime place for like minded people to talk to each other. 9 times out of 10 you can find a forum for your industry just by typing in [your industry]forum.com or searching for “[Your Industry] Forum” on Google. Find the forums in your industry with the largest user base, start posting there and become an active community member. Most forums will allow you to leave a link to your website in your post signature, so the more you post the more traffic you get.
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.
Not only are the tactics creative and unique, but you did an excellent job outlining each with step by step instructions, including great visuals, and providing concrete examples on how to implement the linking tactic. My favorite is probably the Flippa tactic. Amazing for pulling information on how other webmasters were able to acquire links, etc. Thanks again!
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:
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.

In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[22] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.


Excellent post Brian. I think the point about writing content that appeals to influencers in spot on. Could you recommend some good, manual strategies through which I can spot influencers in boring niches *B2B* where influencers are not really talking much online? Is it a good idea to rely on newspaper articles to a feel for what a particular industry is talking about? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.
If you haven’t used software like BuzzSumo to check out what your competitors are up to, you’re at a huge disadvantage. These services aggregate the social performance of specific sites and content to provide you with an at-a-glance view of what topics are resonating with readers and, most importantly, making the rounds on social media. Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website.
WOW. I consider myself a total newbie to SEO, but I’ve been working on my Squarespace site for my small business for about 3 years and have read dozens of articles on how to improve SEO. So far, this has been the MOST USEFUL and information-packed resource I’ve found so far. I’m honestly shocked that this is free to access. I haven’t even completely consumed this content yet (I’ve bookmarked it to come back to!) but I’ve already made some significant changes to my SEO strategy, including adding a couple of infographics to blog posts, changing my internal and external linking habits, editing meta descriptions, and a bunch more. Thanks for all the time and passion you’ve out into this.
On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.
Thanks so much! Yes, this is a “mom blog” but I do give you blogging tips and how to make money blogging as well as ways to increase blog traffic. I do tailor my content for mom bloggers though! Thanks for purchasing my course, Ready Set Blog for Traffic. It did go through a big update in late 2018 so I would jump and check out the new module and video lessons on SEO in particular and more on Pinterest marketing for RIHGT NOW!
The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. The Yahoo! Directory and DMOZ, two major directories which closed in 2014 and 2017 respectively, both required manual submission and human editorial review.[40] Google offers Google Search Console, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that are not discoverable by automatically following links[41] in addition to their URL submission console.[42] Yahoo! formerly operated a paid submission service that guaranteed crawling for a cost per click;[43] however, this practice was discontinued in 2009.
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