By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals.[13] Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb (Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web), was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.[14]
Backlinks can actually serve as a proxy for interest. In Google's vision of a democratic web, they considered links to function like votes. Google wants editorial votes to influence their algorithm. So, if we assume all links are potentially editorial, then looking up backlink data can illustrate content that's truly beloved. Grab your favorite backlink data provider (hey — Moz has one!) and pull a report on a competitor's domain. Take a look at the linked pages, and with a little filtering, you'll see top linked pages emerge. Dive into those pages and develop some theories on why they're popular link targets.
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.
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.

People want to speak their minds and weigh in on subjects they feel passionately about, so building a community into your site is a great way to start a conversation and increase traffic to your website. Implement a robust commenting system through third-party solutions such as Facebook comments or Disqus, or create a dedicated forum where visitors can ask questions. Don’t forget to manage your community to ensure that minimum standards of decorum are met, however.
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to interpret which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
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.

Fantastic stuff, as usual, Brian. The First Link Priority Rule is always one that causes me great angst. I often get torn between search engines and usability when it comes to the main navigation bar. And, I’ve never known what the heck to do about the “Home” link. You can hardly target your keywords with that one without it being anything but awkward.


Give customers the ways with which they can access the translated version of your website easily. And if they are not able to execute that, then they will bounce without engaging. You can integrate the ‘hreflang” attribute to the website’s code and assure that the adequately translated version of the website appears in the search engines. Yandex and Google highly recognize it.


Wow. This is really great stuff. I just stumbled across this on Pinterest. (proving the power of that venue!) I have been blogging for over 10 years and listen to Gael and Mark too, so most of it was just refresher for me. But your list was exceptionally well written, complete and compelling. I actually thought pretty hard to come up with something that I could say, “Hey I got one more thing for you” and came up blank. So kudos to you!
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.
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?
This one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising (try our Smart Ads Creator!) are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you reach for your credit card.
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.

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.
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.
Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
So many great tips! There are a couple of things I’ve implemented recently to try and boost traffic. One is to make a pdf version of my post that people can download. It’s a great way to build a list:) Another way is to make a podcast out of my post. I can then take a snippet of it and place it on my Facebook page as well as syndicate it. As far as video I’ve started to create a video with just a few key points from the post. The suggestion about going back to past articles is a tip I am definitely going to use especially since long-form content is so important. Thanks!
Brian, I recently found your blog by following OKDork.com. Just want to say you’re really amazing with the content you put out here. It’s so helpful, especially for someone like me who is just starting out. I’m currently writing posts for a blog I plan to launch later this year. I think my niche is a little too broad and I have to figure out how to narrow it down. I essentially want to write about my current journey of overcoming my fears to start accomplishing the dreams i have for blogging, business, and travel. In doing so, I will share the best tips, tools, and tactics I can find, as well as what worked, what didn’t and why.
I have been trying to produce more content because I believed the lack of traffic was to the small amount of content, but after reading your blog post, i’m beginning to doubt wether or not this is quality content. I will definitely do more research on influencers on my niche, now I have to figure out how to get their attention with my kind of content.
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.
You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.
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. 
This was very interesting. I run a website that promotes sports entertainment amongst teenagers who are graphic designers or video editors. The foundation is in place (Over 60 contributors) so my only focus is how to blog consistently about what goes on in the sports world with appeal to teenagers. I am confident i took a huge step today after learning these 4 steps!

Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.


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.
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.
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.

You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine's search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.

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