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. 
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.
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.
There are a few competitive tools we tend to gravitate towards in our industry. SEMrush is a fantastic tool allowing anyone to look up a website and get an estimated search visibility and traffic share. Drilling in shows how well pages perform independently. Gleaning through exports can quickly reveal what topics are driving traffic, to which you might replicate or improve your own version.
What are the pain points? What things drive the members of this organization to drink? From the customer support to the higher-ups, there are things that knock the company down. How do they get back up? Why are the pains they're looking to work around? It may not be realistic to interview the whole company, but ideally you can get a representative to answer these.
Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.
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!
SEO often involves improving the quality of the content, ensuring that it is rich in relevant keywords and organizing it by using subheads, bullet points, and bold and italic characters. SEO also ensures that the site’s HTML is optimized such that a search engine can determine what is on the page and display it as a search result in relevant searches. These standards involve the use of metadata, including the title tag and meta description. Cross linking within the website is also important.

All sites have a home or "root" page, which is usually the most frequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation for many visitors. Unless your site has only a handful of pages, you should think about how visitors will go from a general page (your root page) to a page containing more specific content. Do you have enough pages around a specific topic area that it would make sense to create a page describing these related pages (for example, root page -> related topic listing -> specific topic)? Do you have hundreds of different products that need to be classified under multiple category and subcategory pages?
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?
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:
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.
By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]
Fortunately, Google puts more weight on the anchor text of external links anyway. So as long as some of your external links have your target anchors, you’re probably OK with a “Home” button. In fact, I’ve ranked homepages with a “Home” anchor text nav button for some seriously competitive terms. So it’s not a make-or-break ranking signal by any means.

Just a suggestion, but maybe you could write an article about generating traffic to a brand new blog. As you know, when you start out, you have only a couple posts and very little credibility with other bloggers, also the search engines will take considerable time to be of any benefit initially. Would be interesting to know how Brian Dean approaches that dilemma!
I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you'll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.
Thank you Brian. I am so brand spanking new to all this and i am really struggling with understanding it all. I have tried to read so many thing to help my website and this was the first article to really make sense however Being an urban, street menswear online store i feel like my niche is too broad?.. Ahh Feel like I am drowning maybe I need to do your course! Thanks again for the read I will be doing a lot more thats for sure
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.
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 as always. My wife is about to start a business about teaching (mainly) Mums how to film and edit little movies of their loved ones for posterity (www.lovethelittlethings.com launching soon). We have always struggled with thinking of and targeting relevant keywords because keywords like ‘videography’ and ‘family movies’ don’t really some up what she is about. Your article ties in with other learnings we have come across where we obviously need to reach out to right people and get them to share to get her product out there because purely focusing on keywords I don’t think will get us anywhere.

You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide gives you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and we'd love to hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the Google Webmaster Help Forum1.

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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.
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.

This was all free information I found online in less than an hour, that gives me some great ideas for content, partnerships and potential tools to build into my site to be relevant and useful to my target audience. Of course this is just some quick loose data, so I'll emphasize again: be careful where your data comes from (try to validate when possible), and think about how to use your data wisely.
For some reason I had to delete some pages, these pages are using the HTML suffix, so I blocked them in robots.txt use Disallow: /*.html, but it’s been almost a year, I found that google robot often capture these pages, How can I quickly let Google completely remove these pages? And I have removed these URL from google webmaster tool by google index-> remove URLs, but Google still capture these pages.
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