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...) :)
Let me tell you a story. Early in my tenure at Yahoo we tried to get into the site dev process in the early stages in order to work SEO into the Product Recommendations Documents (PRD) before wireframing began. But as a fairly new horizontal group not reporting into any of the products, this was often difficult. Nay, damn near impossible. So usually we made friends with the product teams and got in where we could.
If you create content that people enjoy it can easily become popular or even go viral. The important thing is to put your website and content in front of people that are looking for it, right? Social bookmarking is a super easy way to do just that. Social bookmarking sites allow users to bookmark their favorite websites that other people can publicly view and vote up or down. If you bookmark useful content other people will find it, share it, and vote it up so others can enjoy it. Oh yeah, and it only takes about 30 seconds to bookmark your site. The 3 most popular social bookmarking sites are Digg, Reddit, and Delicious. These 3 sites get over 8 MILLION unique visitors a month – funneling off a chunk of that traffic to your website is very doable. (There’s plenty to go around ) Just remember to create content that people will enjoy and/or find useful. The most popular content on social bookmarking sites are usually check lists, “Top 10” lists, tools & resources, and breaking news – so keep that in mind!
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.
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 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.
Attempting to replace a dead link with your own is easily and routinely identified as spam by the Wikipedia community, which expects dead links to be replaced to equivalent links at archive.org. Persistent attempts will quickly get your account blocked, and your webiste can be blacklisted (the Wikipedia blacklist is public, and there is evidence that Google uses it to determine rankings), which will have negative SEO consequences.
Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors31.
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.