I first heard you talk about your techniques in Pat Flynn’s podcast. Must admit, I’ve been lurking a little ever since…not sure if I wanted to jump into these exercises or just dance around the edges. The clever and interesting angles you describe here took me all afternoon to get through and wrap my brain around. It’s a TON of information. I can’t believe this is free for us to devour! Thank you!! Talk about positioning yourself as THE expert! Deep bow.
There are a number of ways to optimize your website for conversion—such as by including calls to action and lead capture forms in the right places, providing the information your visitors are seeking, and making navigation easy and intuitive. But the first step is to be attracting the right visitors to your site in the first place. Your goal when it comes to website traffic is to be driving more qualified visitors to your site. That is, those who are most likely to convert into leads and customers.
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).
But I've recently heard some chatter voicing the polar opposite. I've heard the sentiment to wholly ignore certain data points because they don't represent the real person. To me, that's bad advice — directional data is better than the romantic notion of success based on your "gut" feel. Estimated search volume, clicks, and even impressions give credence not only to a keyword, but a bigger theme. This starts to create direction and an understanding of need, which leads to your next few rounds of audience recognition.

Practicing SEO now for over a decade, I don’t often come across many blog posts on the subject that introduce me to anything new — especially when it comes to link building. However, I must admit, after reading your article here I had to bookmark it to refer back to it in the future, as I’m sure it will come in handy when doing SEO for my websites later on down the road.

On one specific project, one of the SEOs on my team was brought in during the wireframe stage. T­he entire product team held SEO-specific meetings every week to go over specific recommendations, taking them very seriously, and leaning on every word our team said. We were thrilled. We were hailing their efforts, promising big wins for the relaunch, and even hyping up the launch and it’s projected SEO results in the company SEO newsletter.
Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [football playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google Ads provides a handy Keyword Planner34 that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site in the Performance Report35.

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.

#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.
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.

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.

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
Wow I wish I had the comments you do. So you’re saying that by re-visiting and re-writing old posts garnered 111% more traffic by updating old posts? I feel like I go back from time to time to do this, mostly to keep information current. This tip makes me want to revisit all my old posts to see what could be updated. That’s a lot of low hanging fruit. Thanks for this one.
It’s not enough to produce great content and hope that people find it – you have to be proactive. One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote your content. Twitter is ideal for short, snappy (and tempting) links, whereas Google+ promotion can help your site show up in personalized search results and seems especially effective in B2B niches. If you’re a B2C product company, you might find great traction with image-heavy social sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Here's more advice on making the most of social media marketing.
Meta tags. Meta tags still play a vital role in SEO. If you type any keyword into a search engine, you’ll see how that keyword is reflected in the title for that page. Google looks at your page title as a signal of relevance for that keyword. The same holds true for the description of that page. (Don't worry about the keyword title tag -- Google has publicly said that it doesn't pay attention to that tag, since it has been abused by webmasters and all those trying to rank for certain keywords.)
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...)  :)

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.
As of 2009, there are only a few large markets where Google is not the leading search engine. In most cases, when Google is not leading in a given market, it is lagging behind a local player. The most notable example markets are China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the Czech Republic where respectively Baidu, Yahoo! Japan, Naver, Yandex and Seznam are market leaders.

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]
A backlink is a link to your website from another website. Backlinks from complementary businesses or industry influencers will not only get your business in front of a larger audience, but it will also drive qualified traffic to your website. In addition, Google picks up on backlinks and will increase its trust in your business if it sees other trusted sites pointing to yours. More trust from Google leads to higher rankings, which leads to more traffic. Get noticed on Google for free with quality backlinks.
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.
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.
In our research with what we have done for ourselves and our clients, there is a definite co-relation between content greater than 1000 words and better rankings. In fact, we are finding amazing ranking jumps when you have content over 3,000 words, about 12 original images (images not found anywhere else online), 1 H1 (not keyword stuffed), 12 sub-headlines (H2), 12 relevant internal links, 6 relevant external links and 1 bullet list. I know it sounds like a lot of work and a Big Mac recipe, but this does work.
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.