Hack #1: Hook readers in from the beginning. People have low attention spans. If you don’t have a compelling “hook” at the beginning of your blogs, people will click off in seconds. You can hook them in by teasing the benefits of the article (see the intro to this article for example!), telling a story, or stating a common problem that your audience faces.


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.
Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in.  Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
Thanks for a this timely article. If I understand it correctly, are you saying that we would better be off looking at market data in our niche and make an article of that for influencers to share rather than actionable tips that the target clients would be interested in? Shouldn’t there be a double strategy – articles for the influencers to share and articles for the users to enjoy?
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.
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:

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.
The Galactic Empire thought they could take over the galaxy with fear and brute force. They developed plans for a space station with firepower strong enough to destroy a planet. Under the command of Governor Tarkin, the Death Star was created. They tested the completed Death Star on Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan, which gave Obi Wan Kenobi shivers.
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.
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...)  :)
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. 

See the screenshot below for some of the sections for specific recommendations that you can add which will provide the meat of the document. Keep in mind this is a very flexible document – add recommendations that make sense (for example you may not always have specific design considerations for a project). Remember, it will be different every time you do it.
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!
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.
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.
Thanks Brian. I’ve had a “a-ha” moment thanks to you! Great advice. I knew that backlinks would improve the organic SEO rankings to our client-targeted landing pages but I never knew it was through getting influencers to backlink blogs. I always just assumed it was great content that users wanted to share with others. It was driving me mad why people love my content but never share enough. Now I know!
Getting free website traffic may not cost you monetarily, but it will require effort on your part. However, the effort you put in will equate to the quality of the traffic you generate. As mentioned above, there is no point in getting more traffic to your website if those visitors are not likely to engage with your pages, convert into leads, or become customers.
In a very crowded, noisy space – entrepreneurs and small business owners with a ton of “experts and influencers.” How do I get “above the noise?” I have built up a great brand and, I think, some great content based on a boatload of practical, real-life experience. I also have some products and services that I’m trying to sell, but I remain, “all dressed up, with no place to go.” Thoughts?
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!
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.
I find it interesting that you talked about nutrition supplements for athletes. I am very close to launching such a product for enhancing aerobic exercise performance in women (ie. improved times in a 3 mile run).. The product contains no stimulants or exotic herbs. In fact three of the five ingredients are well known minerals, but in forms not found in most multi-vitamin-mineral supplements. The research behind the product comes from me. The credibility behind the research is that I am a professor of human nutrition with over 100 research papers. Now, the trick will be to use my connections and credibility in a business savvy way.

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."


You can confer some of your site's reputation to another site when your site links to it. Sometimes users can take advantage of this by adding links to their own site in your comment sections or message boards. Or sometimes you might mention a site in a negative way and don't want to confer any of your reputation upon it. For example, imagine that you're writing a blog post on the topic of comment spamming and you want to call out a site that recently comment spammed your blog. You want to warn others of the site, so you include the link to it in your content; however, you certainly don't want to give the site some of your reputation from your link. This would be a good time to use nofollow.
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. 
A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, leftmost link and list the more specific sections out to the right. We recommend using breadcrumb structured data markup28 when showing breadcrumbs.
Brian, I’ve drunk your Kool aid! Thank you for honesty and transparency – it really gives me hope. Quick question: I am beyond passionate about a niche (UFOs, extraterrestrials, free energy) and know in my bones that an authority site is a long term opportunity. The problem today is that not many products are attached to this niche and so it becomes a subscriber / info product play. However, after 25+ years as an entrepreneur with a financial background and marketing MBA, am I Internet naive to believe that my passion and creativity will win profitability in the end? The target audience is highly passionate too. Feedback?
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.

It’s not enough to just share content through social channels – you need to actively participate in the community, too. Got a Twitter account? Then join in group discussions with relevant hashtags. Is your audience leaving comments on your Facebook posts? Answer questions and engage with your readers. Nothing turns people off quicker than using social media as a broadcast channel – use social media as it was intended and actually interact with your fans.
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...)  :)
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:
Webmasters and content providers began optimizing websites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all webmasters only needed to submit the address of a page, or URL, to the various engines which would send a "spider" to "crawl" that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed.[5] The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine's own server. A second program, known as an indexer, extracts information about the page, such as the words it contains, where they are located, and any weight for specific words, as well as all links the page contains. All of this information is then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.
Hey Brian, I have landed in this blog while visiting via blog land. I must appreciate your effort to put up such informative content. As being an Internet Marketing Consultant, I would like to add few thought of my own with your valuable content. There are many people who wants HUGE number of traffic with no time at all. But as per my experience, SEO has become SLOW-BUT-STEADY process in the recent times. After so many algorithm updates of Google, I think if we will do any wrong things with the websites, that should be paid off. So without taking any risk, we need to work ethically so that slowly the website will get the authority and grab the targeting traffic. What do you think mate? I am eagerly looking forward to your reply and love to see more valuable write-ups from your side. Why don’t you write about some important points about Hummingbird Updates of Google. It will be a good read. Right brother? 🙂
Robots.txt is not an appropriate or effective way of blocking sensitive or confidential material. It only instructs well-behaved crawlers that the pages are not for them, but it does not prevent your server from delivering those pages to a browser that requests them. One reason is that search engines could still reference the URLs you block (showing just the URL, no title or snippet) if there happen to be links to those URLs somewhere on the Internet (like referrer logs). Also, non-compliant or rogue search engines that don't acknowledge the Robots Exclusion Standard could disobey the instructions of your robots.txt. Finally, a curious user could examine the directories or subdirectories in your robots.txt file and guess the URL of the content that you don't want seen.
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