19 Advanced SEO Techniques That’ll Double Your Search Traffic
Understanding SEO is crucial to significantly increasing your traffic and brand awareness.
Right now, thousands of people are looking for content just like yours. You can help them find it by becoming an SEO expert.
According to HubSpot, 80% of a website’s traffic begins with a search query. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important.
Staying on top of SEO takes a lot of research and experimentation. Google’s algorithms are constantly updated so it’s important to stay tuned into the latest news. With this in mind, and a bit of practice, you can become your own SEO expert.
That’s what I did!
Every day, people use Google to conduct over 3.5 billion searches. In the U.S., 78% of people use the web to research products and services before buying.
Once your website begins to rank in the first pages of Google’s search results, you’ll get more visibility. This means more traffic, more conversions, and eventually, increased revenue.
Getting to page one of the search results is vital. 75% of users don’t even click past the first page!
The first three organic search results get 60% of all traffic from a web search. Leads coming from a search have a 14.6% close rate, compared to just 1.7% from channels like print or direct mail advertising.
See why SEO is so important to your success?
Here are 19 advanced SEO techniques that you can implement right away to increase your search traffic. Getting more visitors should help you convert more people into customers too.
There’s more that goes into conversion optimization than just getting traffic, like making sure you have a clear lead capture form, a sales page, and descriptive product pages.
But you can’t sell to people who aren’t there, right?
So let’s get started!
Don’t want to scroll? Click a section below to be taken right to it.
1. Complete an SEO Audit on your website
Auditing your website helps you discover why you’re not getting enough search traffic and sales. Many SEO companies offer this service, but you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself.
In general terms, auditing is a systematic examination of an event, a result, a concept, or financial books that is done in order to figure out where you stand and how to make smarter decisions in the future. In the SEO world, auditing is a growth hacking technique that will help you attract and retain customers.
An SEO audit means you’re closely examining your overall site performance, setting new goals based on what you find, and implementing tactics to reach those goals. This process helps you increase your profits by making the best use of the content you already have.
This may not sound like an advanced SEO strategy, but you’d be surprised how many websites are missing basic on-page SEO like page titles or descriptions. It’s easy to overlook when creating your website, but easy to fix with an audit.
Here’s what you should be looking for during an audit:
Check #1: Do all your website’s pages have SEO meta titles and descriptions?
Check #2: Is each page on your website optimized for SEO keywords?
Remember, optimize appropriately without keyword stuffing!
Check #3: Is your URL structure optimized for search engines?
Your URLs should be simple, short, and easy for a search engine to tell what the page is about. Here’s an example:
I bet you can guess that article is about 21 ways to improve your Bing ads!
But what if the URL looked like this instead?
Seems a bit complicated, right? A search engine would have a tough time determining the topic of that post since the keywords are broken up by folders and dates. It’s not very clear.
When it comes to URLs, simple is better.
Check #4. Is each page and blog post formatted properly?
By properly, I mean is each page:
- Broken up with headings and subheadings (h1 and h2 tags)?
- Using 2-3 sentences per paragraph?
- Bolding or italicizing important points?
- Optimized with a call to action?
43% of people skim blog posts instead of reading the whole thing. Make it easy for people to read!
Check #5: Do all your images have keywords in their ALT tags?
Check #6: Are you using links in your content?
This includes both internal links (to your own content) and external links (to other websites).
I cover linking in detail later in this article, but it’s very important for SEO as one of Google’s top three ranking factors.
Looking for an easier way to perform a website SEO audit? Here’s how to use QuickSprout to conduct a site audit and discover opportunities for improving your search traffic:
Step #1: Go to QuickSprout. Enter your website URL into the box, and press Analyze website.
Step #2: You’ll be taken to a results page outlining all the SEO items you should fix.
From the results above, you can see that forbes.com does mostly everything right except for a few things in orange. The page title for the homepage is too short, at just 6 characters, when the recommended length is between 15-65 characters.
Additionally, there are several subheadings on the page that are too long which QuickSprout lists for you:
The best heading tags contain 15 to 65 characters. We can easily edit the ones above to be under 65 characters.
Example: Introducing the Forbes SportsMoney Index, The Definitive Money Ranking in Sports
That’s 80 characters. Let’s reduce it to 65 or less, but still keep the keywords and intent:
Introducing Forbes SportsMoney: Money Ranking in Sports
Now it’s 55 characters. Easy, right?
Some other options could be:
Forbes SportsMoney: The Definitive Money Ranking in Sports (58 characters)
Forbes SportsMoney: Guide to Financial Rankings in Sports (57 characters)
An SEO expert will tell you that this single tweak may not improve your page rankings or authority very much, but it will get more clicks. More clicks means more search traffic.
Heading tags, including meta tag components, are important SEO elements and should be created correctly.
A heading tag is an <h1> or <h2> tag, typically the title of your page or blog post or an important heading within it. They’re basic, standards-compliant HTML, which is why Google expects to see them on your site. Optimizing heading tags can get you more traffic.
More importantly, it creates a better experience for your users.
Proper headings make your subheadings and body text stand out so readers can skim your content and read it quickly.
When you perform a full website SEO audit, you’ll likely find at least a few errors or suggestions for improvement. No one’s perfect!
QuickSprout is a great SEO tool to monitor the performance of your website and blog posts.
2. Learn what your users want
Google isn’t an advertising company. They’re a big data company.
Every tool, platform, and device that they design has one purpose: to get data from users and use it to build a stronger search engine.
Think of yourself as a big data company.
You need to focus on what your target customers want. When you understand what they want, you can develop content that draws them in.
When you listen to feedback from your target customer, it guides the content you create to attract more of them.
The opinions of your users count. The public determines whose idea, article, product, or concept gets shared or funded.
Think about Kickstarter. Most campaigns languish unnoticed for days until a few people donate some money. Then, other people follow.
So, how do you get relevant data about your users’ interests?
And how do you get feedback from your ideal customer if you’re just starting out and don’t have any real customers to ask?
There are several ways to find out:
- Use social media platforms like Quora
- See your most popular pages in Google Analytics
- See what posts get the most shares
- Listen to visitor comments on your blog posts
Let’s cover the first one: social media platforms.
Ask yourself, “Where do the people I want to attract hang out online, and what topics do they talk about?”
I personally like to use Quora.
It gives me an idea of what my target audience is talking about and I can learn from experts in the process. If I wanted to write a book or course, the things people ask on Quora would be useful sources for content ideas.
Here’s how to find out what people want using Quora:
Step #1: Go to Quora. You’ll need to sign up for an account, or sign in with Google or Facebook to get in.
Once you’re logged in, type in your primary keyword (e.g. blog traffic) and hit enter.
Step #2: Review the questions people are asking.
If you know how to answer one of these questions, write a blog post about it.
You already know that people want to learn about that subject. If one person asked it on Quora, chances are there are hundreds of other people wondering the exact same thing.
Step #3: Extract ideas from experts for your post.
Quora is a great place to learn new things. When it comes to advanced SEO, you can never know everything so I visit it frequently to learn from others.
There are currently 16 different answers to this question. The above screenshot is just one of them, but you can imagine how much high-quality content you could create from this one answer alone.
Use these answers to form the outline for your next blog post.
Another tool for finding out what people want to know is UberSuggest. UberSuggest generates long-tail keywords for you that are based on what real people are searching on Google.
Here’s how to use it:
Step #1: Go to UberSuggest. Input your keyword (e.g. website traffic) in the search box and click Suggest.
Step #2: You’ll get a list of long-tail keywords for that topic. This is a great place to start getting ideas for your blog post or to find the perfect keyword when you already have an idea to write about.
Research like this is useful because it tells you what real people want to read online. If you just guess, you don’t know if your content will be successful or not.
Other social media sites to look for ideas are in LinkedIn and Facebook groups or web forums related to your topic.
You can also use Google Analytics to find out what your readers want.
Step #1: Login to Google Analytics. On the left-side menu, click on Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages.
Step #2: Look at what your most popular pages and posts are.
The total number of page views is important, but also take a look at the average time spent on the page (the higher the better!), the bounce rate, and the exit percentage.
Here are my top pages from May 14th to June 14th 2017:
The average time spent on the page tells you if people actually took the time to read your full post, or just skimmed it.
Anything under a minute should be a sign that people are quickly skimming and not reading your article?
So if I see an average time of thirty seconds, I’ll know that people didn’t find my post that interesting to stick around for long.
The bounce rate tells you the percentage of people who landed on this page, but then left without visiting any other pages. It’s not an indicator of success or failure by itself, but ideally you want people to stick around and check out at least 2-3 pages.
The exit percentage tells you that for this page specifically, x % of users left your site after visiting this page. Like the bounce rate, it’s not an indicator of a problem by itself, but if your exit rate is 99%, well, that probably means users aren’t finding what they want to know on that page and don’t want to explore any further.
Another great way to find out what people want is to see how many times your content gets shared on social media.
BuzzSumo is a great tool for this. Just enter your website URL and hit Go.
It will give you a list of your most popular content, sorted by the highest share counts.
This lets you know which articles people love enough to share. The most common reason people share content is when they think it will be useful to others.
With that being said, the total number of shares your post gets is a good way to tell if people find your content useful.
You want to know the easiest way to find out what your users think? Just read their comments on your posts.
When you answer real user questions with your content, your search traffic will improve dramatically.
3. Create SEO optimized landing pages
A well-designed landing page can improve your lead generation and sales. The more landing pages you create, the more gateways you open up for incoming search traffic.
Unfortunately, not many B2B companies fully grasp the importance of using specific landing pages to capture new users.
According to the SEO research firm, MarketingSherpa, 44% of clicks for B2B companies go to a homepage, not a landing page. Sure, the homepage is important, but a landing page is where you can initiate a strong relationship.
Here’s an example.
Copyblogger creates high-quality landing pages on popular topics. They go the extra mile with professional graphics and a clean, modern layout.
Then they drive traffic to the landing page through press releases, email marketing, and SEO optimization.
Here’s one of their landing pages about landing pages.
As you scroll down, you learn more about landing pages:
The key elements of a good landing page are:
- No navigation (you want users to stay on the page!)
- Useful, informative content
- A call to action (to sign up for your product, service, download a lead magnet, or another type of action)
On Copyblogger’s page, they have useful content with links to relevant articles:
And, a noticeable and clear call to action:
Do you think these landing pages have good SEO value?
Do people actually link to them and share them on social media?
Let’s find out.
Go to Ahrefs.com. Enter a landing page URL — let’s use http://www.copyblogger.com/copywriting-101/ — and click Search Links.
As you can see from the screenshot above, this landing page has 799 trusted inbound links, over 1,000 tweets and 446 Facebook likes. This landing page is clearly doing its job of converting visitors into leads.
Landing pages can generate a lot of income.
Conversion Rate Experts made $1 million for Moz, using a single optimized landing page and a few emails.
Recent research found that businesses with 10-15 landing pages have 55% more conversions than those with less than 10 landing pages.
Businesses with over 40 landing pages have 500% more conversions!
Basecamp has a great landing page to sign up for a free trial of their product.
It draws you in with a big, bold headline. It highlights the key points in a list for easy skimming. It also features a noticeable sign up form.
But good landing pages don’t always need to be just one page. Check out this example from Bills.com:
It features an interactive way to draw visitors in. First, you select how much debt you have.
I’m going to pick $50,000.
The landing page then asks me a series of questions, which are the company’s pre-qualifying questions for new leads.
To see my results, I need to enter my contact information. Some visitors may not want to and abandon the landing page at this point, but those who really want to know if their debt relief program will help them will fill it out.
This is a very simple landing page to set up that results in thousands of leads per month for Bills.com.
It’s a great example of how a simple design and interactive elements can easily come together to generate huge results.
Here’s how to make sure your landing page is SEO optimized.
Step #1: Find a long-tail keyword and use it throughout your landing page. For example, Copyblogger targets the keyword “SEO copywriting” on one of their landing pages.
If you use Optimizepress or another landing page creator for WordPress, make sure that you add title tags, a meta tag description, and keywords.
Use the keywords naturally throughout your content to avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing. Include your long-tail keyword in the headline, at least one subheading on the page, and a few times in your body content.
Your landing page content has to be useful.
Write to persuade people to take the next step. Every SEO expert will tell you that the #1 goal of all compelling copy is to get you to read the next sentence.
Remember that the anatomy of a successful landing page begins with the headline. Your body content is also important and should include a testimonial or review from a customer to add trust and credibility.
You also want to make sure your landing page looks modern with a professional design.
“Design is King,” says Derek Halpern. If your content is useful, but your design sucks, you’ll most likely fail.
The design is part of what makes the page unique and relevant to your target audience. Paper Anniversary’s landing page was professionally designed with Unbounce software. They’re converting their users at 67%!
Their landing page has strong copy, a persuasive video that’s emotionally appealing and testimonials from satisfied customers, which go a long way toward swaying new customers.
Finally, build links from your existing content to your new landing page.
There is no alternative to link building. Links are a huge ranking factor for Google and likely always will be.
Without quality links, your page will probably not rank very high in search, even if you have excellent copy or use every other SEO ranking factor out there. Since 75% of users never look further than page 1 of search results, it’s important to rank as high as possible.
4. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
It’s more important than ever to make sure your website looks good and performs well on mobile devices.
In May 2016, Google introduced an update to their search algorithm that significantly boosts organic search result rankings to websites that are mobile friendly, or in other words, responsive.
Over 60% of daily searches are now performed on a mobile device.
When it comes to e-commerce, the numbers are even more surprising. Business Insider predicts that by 2020, 45% of all e-commerce sales in the United States will be completed on a mobile device. That represents $284 billion in the US alone!
All these statistics are pointing to one thing: you simply cannot afford to not have a mobile-friendly website anymore.
Making your site look good on mobile is no longer a luxury, it’s a standard.
How can you tell if your website is mobile-friendly or not? Check out the example below from Google.
In the X example, the website looks just like it would on your desktop computer. The content doesn’t change size to fit a smaller screen better.
In the green checkmark example, see how the same content re-aligns itself to make better use of the small screen? It’s easier to read and scroll through. That’s what being mobile-friendly means.
If you use WordPress as a CMS for your website, you likely already have a mobile-friendly site. Pretty much all WordPress themes over the past few years are designed to be responsive, which is the design term for mobile-friendly.
According to Wikipedia, responsive design means:
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at allowing desktop webpages to be viewed in response to the size of the screen or web browser one is viewing with. In addition it’s important to understand that Responsive Web Design tasks include offering the same support to a variety of devices for a single website.
Still not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Just check it out on your phone.
Here’s what my site looks like on desktop:
And what it looks like on mobile:
See the difference? The mobile site is optimized for my screen width and is easy to read.
If you want to be extra sure your website checks all the boxes for being mobile-friendly, use Google’s free Mobile Testing Tool.
Enter in your website URL and click Run Test.
You’ll get a results page that lets you know if your site is mobile-friendly or not.
If your site comes back being not mobile-friendly, it’s time to redesign!
You can likely make a few tweaks to your existing website design to improve its usability on mobile. But it may be faster and cheaper in the long run to get a totally new website. Think of it as a good opportunity to freshen up your brand at the same time.
5. Grow your traffic with infographics
Infographics are popular because they allow you to display complex information in an easy to understand way. Since 65% of people are visual learners, a graphic goes a lot further than just a text article.
Here’s a good infographic on infographics from NeoMam Studios:
I’ve been creating infographics for quite some time now and the results are impressive. At KISSmetrics, we generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,000 backlinks within 2 years, using infographics.
Quality infographics can increase your website traffic by 193%. I did that in just one year.
Unfortunately, most people don’t pay attention to the “info” part. Instead, they focus on the graphics. Good design is important, but you need to have quality facts to back it up.
Studies show an infographic is 30x more likely to be read than a regular text article. On average, websites who publish infographics grow traffic 12% faster than those who don’t.
Why do search users and consumers prefer infographics?
It’s because the human brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than plain text. In addition, 65% of users are visual learners. Also, 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual.
You could generate up to 60,000 search visitors to your website with infographics!
Step #1: Get your stats. Find a trending topic or idea that people are searching for and put together some statistics on it.
For example, if you wanted to make an infographic about infographics, you could take the few stats we listed above:
- You could generate up to 60,000 visitors
- Your traffic could grow 12% faster
- An infographic is 30x more likely to be read
Step #2: Create the infographic. There are plenty of free websites you can create infographics with, like visual.ly, Canva, and Venngage.
Don’t want to create it yourself? You can hire a professional infographic designer on Dribbble. Just search for infographics at the top.
From there, pick a designer and read their profile.
If you do want to create it yourself, here’s how to do that with Canva.
Login to Canva and click Create a Design. Choose Infographic under the Blogging & eBooks section.
Canva gives you some great layouts to start with. Pick one on the left-hand side. Click anywhere on the infographic to start editing it.
You can change the text and images until you’re happy with the result. Canva also has a library of free stock icons, photos, shapes, and charts you can find under the Elements tab.
Once your infographic is ready, click Download at the top and save it as a PNG file. This will automatically download it to your computer.
Step #3: Write a blog post based on your infographic. Take the data from your infographic and turn it into an in-depth article to accompany the graphic.
People are more likely to share your infographic if it comes with a post that explains it.
For example, if your infographic is titled “10 ways to make your site load faster,” you can expand on each of the tips in your blog post.
If you can publish unique content of at least 2,000 words and couple it with your infographic, your search traffic will double over time.
Remember that Google doesn’t index the text on the infographic, that’s part of the image file. The only thing Google indexes is the image itself. But, when you create a blog post to go with it, Google will index that content and make it more likely for your infographic to come up in image search results for that keyword.
Step #4: Submit your infographic to directories.
Once you have your infographic, submit it to these top 20 infographic directories.
If you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, you could find someone on a site like Fiverr to do it for you. Just search for “submit infographics”.
Click on the submission services and study them carefully. You should ask providers to show you the sites they intend to submit to. If you’re not comfortable with the sites they name, let them know. You’re hiring them which means you’re in control!
Note: Focus on quality links over quantity when to avoid a Google penalty. That way you’ll improve your search traffic and sustain your rankings.
6. Optimize your content for RankBrain
Search engines have evolved a lot since Google first launched in 1998.
If you want to keep thriving in search rankings, you need to be aware of all the latest Google algorithm updates and SEO best practices.
Google’s third most important ranking factor is an algorithm called RankBrain.
RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that helps analyze search results. It learns what a page of content is about and how that relates to keywords people are searching for. Essentially, it helps connect a search with relevant results.
Let’s say you search for “remote work”.
That could mean a few different things:
- You’re searching for remote, or distance/telecommute, jobs
- Your remote control for the TV is broken and you want to make it work again
How does Google know which one you want?
RankBrain goes to work and determines that you want the first option based on thousands of other web searches performed by people looking for the same term.
A more popular example would be the difference between searching for apple and Apple:
- A fruit
- A large computer company founded by Steve Jobs
So, how do you tell Google the exact “apple” that you’re referring to? Is it the Apple Company or the apple fruit? Or, is it something different-but-related?
RankBrain tells Google’s spiders how to index your content based on your intent.
Since Google is a lot more sophisticated these days, we no longer need to stuff our content full of keywords to make it understand our intent.
Whatever you do, don’t stuff keywords into your content!
Keyword stuffing is when you overuse keywords and phrases that relate to the main keyword in attempts to rank higher in search. It’s a bad SEO practice that you should avoid it at all costs.
For example, consider these related keywords: iPhone reviews, best iPhone reviews, new iPhone reviews. When you use all of these keywords in your content, it’s likely that Google won’t rank that page well, especially if the content falls within the 300 – 500 word count.
Here’s an example of a keyword stuffed paragraph:
Do you want to learn java online? Most java tutorials are not created to help beginners learn java online, because the online java learning platforms are not user-friendly. But today, in the Los Angeles area, you can easily learn java online from the comfort of your home and become a java online expert.
Not great, right?
The main keyword “java online” was mentioned four times, which is too often for that little amount of content.
There is a better way to change this paragraph and make it more user focused, without neglecting the main keyword – “java online.” All you have to do is find synonyms for the keyword. For example:
Are you ready to learn java online? It’s a good step towards upgrading your skills and giving you a better chance of getting that job. There are several places to learn java on the web, and within 2 – 3 months, you’ll be programming in java. Most people don’t like the idea of taking online java courses, but I believe it’s one of the most flexible ways to get access to a wealth of knowledge and become skilled in your life’s pursuit.
The difference is clear, right?
The second paragraph sounds better to users and still uses your keyword without overdoing it.
That’s the power behind RankBrain.
A few guidelines for finding synonyms for your main keyword:
- Find keywords with the same meaning as the principle keyword, but with different spelling and structure. Example: image, picture, photo.
- Don’t over-optimize for other keywords or you could get penalized. Only use them when necessary and make sure your copy flows naturally when a human reads it!
- Write in a natural tone. Make sure that the new keywords don’t override the main keyword that you want to rank for. The new key phrases are only there to give additional meaning to your content and to help Google understand the context of what you’re talking about.
A good example of these practices is Marketing Land.
Marketing Land optimizes content for a main keyword and several synonyms. They know that once YouTube is mentioned, terms like videos, channels, and video source need to be mentioned too.
Where Facebook is mentioned, social graph, sharing, liking, and commenting are also included as they’re all common activities that take place on the platform.
Google looks out for these key terms in your content. As long as you’re including them in a natural-sounding way, your search rankings will continue to improve.
7. Write at least 1,890 words
Backlinko analyzed 1 million searches and found the average first-page search result was 1,890 words.
There have been numerous studies and experiments on the correlation between content length and search engine ranking.
This graph from Backlinko shows their findings that the top five search results all had an average content length of over 1,900 words.
I did an experiment for QuickSprout. The results showed that my posts over 1,500 words received almost double the amount of social shares than the ones under 1,500 words.
Content length isn’t everything. A shorter blog post that’s higher quality will still outperform a longer, low-quality post.
The trick is to cover one topic in so much detail that every part of the post is valuable to the reader. Making it more valuable to humans makes it more valuable to Google as a page to display in search results.
A key benefit of longer content is that it will naturally contain more relevant keywords and rank for them.
A recent Ahrefs study found that the average first organic result in Google ranks for approximately 1,000 keywords.
That’s a lot of SEO power!
Consistently publishing informative content over 1,890 words will yield big returns in organic search traffic.
8. Write a roundup post
A roundup post is when you interview a few people about the same topic or make a list of the “best” of something.
Not only is it a great way to get different viewpoints into your article and learn new things, it also helps grow your SEO rankings and traffic.
Here’s an example: 27 PR Experts Reveal Their Secret Strategy for Handling a Media Crisis
The author of this post contacted 27 experts in their field, asked them the same question (“How would you handle a media crisis?”) and published the results.
It seems simple because it is, and it works!
The key benefit of these posts is that it allows you to get your website in front of lots of new audiences, thanks to the experts you’re interviewing.
If you were featured in a roundup, you’d share that with your audience, right?
Deirdre Breakenridge is one of the experts featured in the post above about PR. She has over 30,000 Twitter followers.
If she tweeted out your roundup post even once, there’s a good chance some of her audience would click to read it.
Those are people you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.
Creating a roundup post that grows your traffic is easy:
Step #1: Find your topic and a good question to ask your experts.
For example, if I wanted to write a post about tips to grow your traffic, I could ask, “What one strategy has grown your website traffic the most?”
Step #2: Make a list of your experts and contact them.
Make a list of as many experts in the topic you want to write about as you can. If you want to feature 10 expert opinions, make a list of 20 experts at least.
It may not be easy to find their email addresses, so write down their social media profiles instead.
Then, reach out with a nice email/social media message and ask them for their opinion!
Remember to include that you’ll be linking back to their website as a thank you for contributing.
Step #3: Collect their responses, write and publish the post.
Make sure you link back to everyone featured.
After you’ve published it, be sure to send a follow up email, or social media message, to let them know the post went live.
Ask them to share it with their audience.
Even if only half of your 10 experts share it, that’s still five more audiences than you would have reached by yourself. And depending on the size of your expert’s audience, that could be thousands or tens of thousands of new people visiting your website.
Brian Lang wrote a roundup post about how to promote your blog.
He got over 40 experts to contribute to it, resulting in a comprehensive and informative piece that got over 5,000 shares on social media. It was also Buzzsumo’s most shared post of that week for the term “blog promotion”.
The biggest wow factor? His blog wasn’t even well-known at the time!
What would 5,000 shares do for your brand?
9. Post valuable content on social media
If your blog is new, it can be difficult to rank well in Google search results for high volume keywords because your Domain Authority and Page Authority are still very low.
However, you can use social media platforms to gain credibility and traffic.
In the screenshot below, you can see the Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) for each search result. I’m using the free Moz SEO Toolbar to see this information.
Page Authority was developed by Moz, and it means the likelihood that your page will rank highly in search. A higher number means it’s more likely to rank well.
This is based on several factors: content length, links, keywords, readability and more.
Domain Authority is the overall likelihood that your whole website, or domain, will rank highly in search.
But not all social media platforms are created equal when it comes to building authority and traffic.
I’m not talking about Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest where anyone can post whatever they want. I’m talking about authoritative platforms where quality content is expected.
A few examples are Slideshare, Blogger, Quora and so on. These sites give you the opportunity to improve your search rankings, as well as build a following, within a short period of time.
Does leveraging authority social platforms increase your search traffic and rankings?
For example, Ana Hoffman got 243,000 views in 30 days, in addition to other benefits, using Slideshare content. Her presentations were among the top 1% most viewed slide decks in 2013.
If you’d like to leverage Slideshare as a search traffic booster, here are the basic steps that you should take:
Step #1: Find a trending topic. In my experience, simply selecting a keyword and creating a top-notch slideshow presentation doesn’t always generate buzz on social media.
Instead, look for topics that are already trending on blogs. Just as you do when looking for blog post ideas, you should identify what people are talking about right now.
Jump back to Step 2 for some tips on finding out what’s trending on sites like Quora.
Another great place is GrowthHackers, which is an online community of marketers. You’ll find lots of trending topics. Pick one that interests you and is related to your business or topic.
The article titled “10 Ways to Promote Content in Less Than 30 Minutes” would make a good Slideshare presentation.
When creating your presentation, don’t feel pressured to crank out 50 or 100 slides.
Aim for about 35 slides. This gives a user a good amount of information without being too long to keep their attention.
Step #2: Make an outline. Read the article you selected in step 1, pick out key points, and create an outline for your presentation. This will make it easier to put together the full presentation.
Your Slideshare presentation outline could be something as simple as:
- Join HARO
- Publish a press release
- Update your email signature
- Comment on other influential blogs
- Mention your sources on Twitter
- Use BuzzBundle
- Post in LinkedIn Groups
- Post to StumbleUpon
Each item in your outline represents a single slide.
If you want to make a presentation based solely on someone else’s post or article, make sure you get their consent first to avoid plagiarism. Do that before moving on to the next step and don’t forget to credit the author of the post that inspired you in your presentation.
Step #3: Find supporting images. Slideshare presentations are all about using images to captivate and hold the viewer’s attention. You can find free stock photos by searching Google for “free stock photos.”
Gratisography is one place where you can download free stock photos without copyright restrictions.
A few tips:
- Pick photos that are relevant to your topic or point
- Use high-resolution images/photos
- Use free stock photos, with no copyright restrictions
- Use images as accents — don’t let them overpower your text
Step #4: Study successful Slideshare presentations. Learning from experts is the best way to grow your own traffic and search rankings.
Popular presentations are featured on the Slideshare homepage. Study them carefully. Consider how you could improve them.
Could you design it better? Could you find more facts and data to back up the points made? If the answer is yes, make your own presentation.
Step #5: Create your Slideshare presentation. With all of the information you’ve gathered, create your presentation! Try to make it really stand out from the other ones you studied.
You can use any software you like to create the presentation: PowerPoint, Keynote, Photoshop and save as a PDF, whatever you’re comfortable with.
You can even use Canva, mentioned back in step 5, to create a SlideShare presentation.
Don’t forget to include a link to your chosen landing page for the topic. The link that comes from SlideShare is dofollow, so you’ll get link juice to boost your search rankings.
This presentation is directing people to their lead magnet for doubling leads and sales, which takes you to this landing page:
This is a great way of getting leads and subscribers for your email list.
When it comes to search engine rankings, to get a stronger page authority, share your presentation on Scribd and Animoto too. You’ll attract new audiences and boost your rankings from the additional links from these sites.
10. Use advanced SEO internal deep linking
Deep linking is the practice of using anchor text to link to other pages inside your blog. This shows Google the depth of your site’s pages and encourages it to index more of them.
Most people focus on getting search visitors to their homepage, but struggle to rank their internal pages.
Your older blog posts and landing pages that provide immense value on relevant topics can pull in a lot of new traffic. You should link to them often to help build the structure of your website.
Without establishing internal links, a Google spider may see your website this way:
Pages C and D could be very important, but the spider can’t easily see them.
When your content is properly linked to each other, it helps the Google spider see all your content in an organized way, like this:
When you start interlinking pages other than your homepage, you’ll improve the SEO value for those internal pages and improve their search rankings, even for tough keywords.
But, before you start link building to your inner pages, you should first check to see how many inbound links go to your homepage, as compared to your other pages.
Step #1: Go to Moz’s OpenSiteExplorer. Enter your URL into the search box and click “Search”.
Step #2: Click on “Top Pages,” in the left-hand menu.
Step #3: Look at the number of inbound links for your homepage (the first line).
Looking at the above screenshot, you can see that my homepage has 276,000 inbound links, but the next highest number of links for an internal page is only 2,445.
That’s still a good number of links to have, but much lower than 276,000!
A high bounce rate often happens to websites who receive a significantly higher level of links to their homepage than they do for internal pages.
One of the strategies that worked best for me to lower my bounce rate is deep linking. Using this tactic, I was able to drop my average bounce rate from 45.34% to 24.45%.
Here are a few other ways deep linking to internal content helps your rankings:
Improves Page Authority: Google likes fresh content, because recent information is more likely to be relevant and useful to users.
Adding fresh content regularly is not the only way to raise your Page Authority. Linking to your older content gives those pages more power and tells Google they’re still relevant.
Your homepage naturally may have a higher PA but you need to work towards improving the authority of internal pages.
Cyrus Shepard explained, in a Moz post, that Google gives fresh content a score based on the date that it was published.
This freshness score can decay over time and it’s also responsible for increasing or decreasing the search ranking of that page. You’ll find that the original increase in organic rankings will likely degrade as the content gets older.
Makes your internal pages indexable. If you consistently link to your internal pages, you’ll make it easier for search engine spiders to quickly find and index them.
Say you just published a new post and you want search engines to index it quickly. What do you do, fold your arms and wait? No!
You can ping website directories such as Weblogs to prompt Google to come index your site.
Use Ping-O-Matic to submit your site for indexing on several directories at once.
Enter your website details, check all the directories and click “Send Pings”.
Next, check to see the sites your website was submitted to.
When linking to your internal pages from other blogs, avoid over-optimization of your anchor text.
Your anchor text is the actual part of your sentence that has the link in it, like this. Use something simple for your anchor text, like your website name (“Neil Patel”), or add a keyword (“Neil Patel’s content marketing”).
An easy way to link to internal pages is in your latest blog post, like I’m doing right now when I say things like you could double your traffic. The words “double your traffic” are a good example of anchor text, and I linked over to an older post with more tips on growing your blog which is relevant to my current topic.
11. Send link juice to lower ranked pages
If you have a page that’s currently on page 2 or 3 of Google search results, you can help move it up to page 1 by passing on quality link juice to those lower ranked pages.
Link juice refers to outbound links from high authority sources to your content. Since those links are coming from high authority websites, that reputation gets rubbed off on your content. Essentially, this gives Google an indication that your content must be high quality too.
Let’s look at it this way: you have two websites that are 100% identical – same design, same content. If every other factor were the same, the site with the most links would rank the highest in search results.
This article about indexing used to be on page 2 of Google’s results for the search term “index your site”.
Now, it’s the third organic search result on page 1!
Here’s how I did it.
Step #1: Updated the post. I added new links, content and recent data to bring the post up to date.
I cover how to update your older content in detail in Section 18!
Step #2: Shared it across social media again. Since I updated the post, I shared it on all my social networks again. This brought in a lot of new traffic.
Step #3: Linked to it in my newer posts. Every time it was relevant to a new post I was writing, I included a link to it. This directed traffic to the older post and resulted in people sharing it and linking to it themselves.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but over the span of a few months, I went from page 2 to almost the top of page 1.
12. Link to external sites with high Domain Authority
It helps pass link juice to your content when you get links from high authority domains. Likewise, it also helps your overall trustworthiness in Google’s eyes when you link to high authority sites.
A good place to look for sites to link to is Alltop.
You’ll see some featured sites on the homepage and recent content published by them.
All six of these options would be good to link to, and get links from.
To find something for your topic, just search for your keyword at the top of the page.
You’ll see related categories to what you typed in. I chose SEO here.
Alltop then shows me the top SEO related content from the following high authority websites:
I could link over to one of them as a data source in my content.
Like if I said that user experience was just as important as on-page SEO for ranking high in search.
Better yet, I could approach these websites and ask them to link back to my content.
They may not link back to you, but a simple email only takes a minute to write. That minute could result in huge traffic gains later on, so it’s worth the time.
13. Snag broken link opportunities on Wikipedia to build links
This is something a lot of marketers overlook, but it’s very powerful for generating high authority backlinks to your content.
Scan Wikipedia for dead links and claim them as your own!
Didn’t think of that, did you?
There are two types of links you can get from Wikipedia:
Citation needed: This means someone editing a Wikipedia article mentioned a statistic or fact without linking to a source.
Dead link: This is a source that was previously linked to but for whatever reason, the website or page does not exist anymore.
If you can write a post about the topic, and be a credible source of information, you can get these valuable links from Wikipedia.
I like to use a tool called WikiGrabber to find these link opportunities. Enter your keyword and click Search.
WikiGrabber then shows me this list of Wikipedia articles that need citations or that have dead links.
You can also use Google to find dead links on Wikipedia. Use the following search term:
site:wikipedia.org “Keyword phrase” “dead link”
For “content marketing”, you get the following results:
Let’s check out this article on Content Marketing.
Scroll through the article until you see the text .
Read over the item that needs a source. If you have content that already backs up this statement, you can move ahead to submitting your link. If not, you will need to write a new post that thoroughly covers this topic and provides verifiable data.
To submit your link, click on the  text beside Digital content marketing.
You’ll get the Wikipedia editor screen. Find the sentence that needed a citation, click at the end of it and click on Cite on the top menu.
Paste your URL into the box above and click Generate.
You’ll see this screen confirming your citation and marking the date it was added.
To save your changes to the article, click on Save Changes at the top right of your screen.
Your edit will be submitted for moderation. If Wikipedia staff agrees it’s a valid source of data for that point, it will be added to the page and you’ll enjoy increased page authority and traffic from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia links are technically no-follow, which means that they do not pass link juice over to you. However, their domain authority ranking and trust level from Google are very high, meaning there are still great search engine ranking factors in earning Wikipedia links.
14. Find and use your competitors’ SEO keywords
Researching your competitors is a smart move. Why reinvent the wheel, when all of the hard work of ranking in Google’s top pages has already been done by your competitors?
You can spy on the exact keywords that they’re ranking for and use those same keywords to create better content.
Something as simple as signing up for your competitor’s newsletter can reveal their whole email marketing strategy to you. A little research doesn’t cost anything but your time, and can produce some great new strategies for you to try.
Starbucks made a big splash in China when they studied their competitors’ marketing. Spying helps you improve your own plans to beat the competition based on data, instead of assumptions.
Starbucks’ profit in China has been steadily increasing because they did some simple research.
So how do you find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for right now?
Step #1: Head over to SpyFu. Enter your competitor’s site URL (e.g. smartblogger.com) into the search box and press Enter.
Step #2: Scroll down to Top Keywords and you’ll see the organic keywords they rank for (on the left) and the paid AdWords keywords they bid on (on the right):
The Rank column on the left-hand side tells you which Google search result position smartblogger.com sits in for that keyword. For example, they’re in the first organic spot for “power words”.
In order to verify whether the keywords are truly ranking at the positions SpyFU says, let’s do a quick Google search for “power words”.
Definitely the top spot!
Now your job is to create high quality content using those same keywords. Use all the other tools in this list to build trusted links and boost that page’s ranking power.
If you want to get even more ideas for long-tail keywords to rank highly for, head over to Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Choose Get Search Volume Data and Trends.
Copy the list of keywords from SpyFu into Keyword Planner and click Get Search Volume.
You’ll get the number of average searches per month for each keyword.
You can also find new keyword ideas by typing in the website URL at the top and clicking Get Ideas.
Now that you’ve found some great keywords, get to work on creating an in-depth, useful piece of content for those keywords.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
After you have your content ready, contact the sites and blogs that linked to your competitor’s article and tell them about your article.
Chances are if they linked to the initial article, they’ll link to yours as well, sending additional referral traffic and SEO juice to your page.
How do you find these linking sites and blogs?
Step #1: Visit Backlinkwatch.com. Enter your competitor’s article URL (the exact URL that’s ranking highly in Google top pages). Fill in the CAPTCHA code and click the “check backlinks” button.
Step #2: Analyze the referring sites. Check the anchor text that other sites are using to link back to your competitor’s web page. See whether the link is dofollow or nofollow.
Click the link to visit each of the web pages in the screenshot. Find the contact page or email address that you can use to notify the site owner/author.
Write them an email or send a message via social media with a link to your new article, and ask them to link over to it. Along with other SEO best practices, building links to your article will help you take over the top spot from your competitors.
15. Use AdWords copy in your on-page SEO
Another great way to steal the spotlight from your competition is to look for keyword ideas in their Google AdWords search ads.
Google AdWords ads are short and already optimized for your competition’s target keywords. If you can produce a quality article that ranks well organically for that same keyword, you can easily establish yourself among your target customers.
With over 300 million downloads of AdBlocker Plus and counting, consumers are warier than ever of paid advertising.
Establishing yourself high in organic search results establishes trust and will display you first to those using ad blockers.
To find some good AdWords keywords to create content around, try searching for keywords you want to rank for:
Analyze the titles and copy used in each of these ads. They should give you at least a few ideas for headlines you can use in new content.
A few from this example could be:
How to Perform a Free SEO Website Audit
How to Generate More Calls, Leads and Sales with Local SEO
Increase Your Website’s Domain Authority in 30 Days
I wrote the first post below for QuickSprout using “How to Perform an SEO Audit”, and included the word free in the title.
In that post, I broke down all the steps to do a full SEO website audit and included a template for users to download.
It remains a very popular post and still converts at over 50%. All for free, with no paid AdWords ads!
16. Use multiple keywords in SEO page titles
Your SEO page title is the title that is displayed in Google search results. Here’s an example.
You want to ensure that each page title for each page and post on your website contains a keyword.
A strategy I have found particularly effective is to include multiple keywords within each page title. Make sure not to be spammy with this or it could end up hurting you.
By spammy I mean just cramming keywords in there for the sake of it, even if they sound a little off. Or, by using spam trigger words that instantly make Google think your content is less than legit.
Let’s say your post is about hair colours for autumn and you want to rank for the following keywords:
- Hair colour
- Autumn hair
- Autumn hair trends
Here are a few examples of a page title that combines those in a natural-sounding way:
Autumn Hair Trends: The Best Hair Colours of the Season
5 Hot Hair Colours Right Now: Autumn Hair Trends
And here’s an example of a keyword-stuffed, not good page title:
Autumn Hair Colour Trends – Hair Colour for Autumn
See the difference? The first two sound natural and like you could picture seeing them online. The last one just seems spammy and like it’s trying too hard.
If your page titles sound like you’re trying too hard, you probably are.
17. Monitor Google Search Console stats
Google Search Console is a powerful tool to help you track potential issues with your site that affect your rankings.
If you haven’t already signed up for it, you can see how to do that step by step right here.
There are three main things you want to check regularly in Search Console:
- Watching for crawl errors, like 404 pages
- Submitting new sitemaps
- See which keywords people are using to find you
When you first sign in to Search Console, you’ll see your Dashboard page.
If you have any urgent issues, they appear at the top under “New and important”.
Click on Crawl Errors to check out your error history and report.
As you can see, I have seven recent URL errors for my blog.
I had corrected a lot of 404 page errors in previous months that were caused by a switch to a new webhost, as you can tell by the red line. It’s important to keep monitoring these reports often as new errors can pop up anytime, like these seven have!
If you click on one of the URLs in the list, you’ll see this message.
404 errors don’t hurt your search result rankings but they don’t make for a great user experience.
You don’t want to show up high in search, get someone excited to visit your site, then disappoint them with a 404 page when they get there, right?
Fortunately, they’re very easy to correct in Search Console. For each 404 error, click on Fetch as Google in the screenshot above.
Search Console will tell you the result of what Google’s indexing spider sees.
In this case, my 404 page was showing up that way because it’s being redirected to a new page. This can be easily solved by getting my site re-indexed. Click on Request Indexing button, and you’re done.
There’s also an easier way: you can submit a new sitemap for your full site.
Click on Crawl -> Sitemaps on the left-side menu.
Click on Add/Test Sitemap at the top right, and enter in the URL to your sitemap. For most people, this is just “sitemap.xml” after your domain name, like neilpatel.com/sitemap.xml.
When you submit a new sitemap, the status changes to Pending.
Getting Google to re-index your site will ensure any 404 errors that you know don’t exist anymore are marked as fixed.
Another great use of Search Console is to find out the keywords people are using to find you.
Click on Search Traffic -> Search Analytics on the left-side menu.
You’ll see a list of keywords that people typed into Google that displayed your website, whether they clicked on your page or not.
Looking at how people found you can tell you a lot about what you’re ranking well for. If the keywords in your list aren’t the ones you want to rank for, it’s time to optimize more of your content!
18. Regularly update your old content
If you’ve been blogging for more than 3 months, you’ve got a goldmine of content in your archives to repurpose.
You’ve undoubtedly written some posts that are still generating organic traffic. You can improve those posts and leverage their authority for higher search rankings.
Start by making a list of your top performing content.
Step #1: Log into Google Analytics. Click the “Behavior” tab on the left side.
Step #2: Click Site Content -> All Pages and look for the best performing posts from three to six months ago.
Here’s what I do to update my best performing posts to keep them fresh and popular:
Step #1: Write a sharable headline. The most critical step of all is to write a headline that will inspire people to share your post, and that contains your SEO keyword.
So, if your old post was titled “How to Make $10,000 From Your Blog,” you could make it more sharable by adding a bit of personal flair. The headline should evoke curiosity, but still maintain its clarity.
Something like this: How I Make $10,000 a Month From My Blog While Traveling the World
That’s a bit more fun, huh?
You could even add a number to the headline, as people more frequently share headlines that contain a number. Headlines like, “7 Reasons Why Blogging Can Be a Career”, etc.
- How I Make $10,000 Blogging Part Time (and 3-Step Plan You Can Follow)
- How I Made My First $10,000 Blogging From Home in 30 Days
Take a look at this Copy Hackers headline. It’s thought-provoking, keyword-rich, clickable and clear:
Step #2: Add customer testimonials or notable mentions. Now that you have some experience, let it show in your content.
If other people have conducted experiments related to your topic, always include that information. For example, Austin Church wrote a post outlining the 12 things he’s learned from me.
That’s pretty cool.
Not only do I appreciate Austin’s post, but he says awesome stuff about me like, “Do what he says, and your business will benefit.” Whoa!
Customer testimonials are huge for marketing. When it comes to including a testimonial within a piece of content, that content has an 89% success rate.
Your reader may not jump on board if you’re the only one saying how awesome you are. But if someone else backs it up, your authority and influence will increase.
When you get a testimonial, find a piece of content that fits it and include that testimonial.
Step #3: Update old data and images. If your post was originally from 2014 and it’s now 2017, you need to update your data sources.
If your website has gone through a redesign during that time, you’ll likely need to update images in the post to be in line with your current branding.
I do this regularly with my best performing content. For example, this guide on getting your website indexed is one of my most popular posts.
Whenever something changes with Google’s algorithm or indexing rules, I update that post so it’s always up to date. I don’t want new users coming to my site and finding outdated info, so it’s important that my top content is accurate.
Another word for content like this is your ‘cornerstone content’.
Cornerstone content is basically the foundation of your blog. They are the articles you are most proud of and the ones that are the most unique, in-depth and informative.
Brian Clark describes it as, “It’s what people need to know to make use of your website and do business with you.”
An easy way to keep track of your cornerstone content is to create a spreadsheet. Add the following columns:
- Post title
- Post URL
- Main keywords
- Last Updated
Scan through your list every few months and ensure that none of these posts are going too long without being updated. Don’t go more than six months without updating one of your cornerstone pieces.
19. BONUS – Revamp old articles with more organic traffic potential
In the previous section, we covered how you can keep your best performing articles fresh and optimized. But what about the articles that didn’t go over so well?
You should also be updating your lowest performing content to improve it.
You know it’s a good topic and that people want to know about it, otherwise you wouldn’t have written about it in the first place. Revamping an old underperforming article is a sure way to get more organic search traffic.
What’s the alternative? Writing a new post from scratch. It may do well, or it could flop too. It;s worth the effort to revamp an old post!
Here’s how to turn your previous content failures into organic search stars:
Step #1: Make a list of your underperforming content.
Open up Search Console and click on Search Traffic -> Search Analytics.
Make sure Clicks, Impressions and Position are checked at the top.
Look at your results. You’ll want to update any posts that get between a 7 – 15 ranking.
Step #2: Analyze keywords. For each of your lowest performing posts that you want to update, run them through SERPS.com.
Enter the keyword you want to check the ranking of and your post’s URL, and click Go.
You can enter in multiple searches one at a time and see all your results at the bottom of the page.
This post didn’t rank at all for the keyword ‘sales funnel’, but it ranked at 15 for ‘LinkedIn page’.
If my goal were to rank higher for ‘LinkedIn page’, I now have some data to start with. There are over 200 factors that go into search engine rankings, but updating this old post with better optimization for that keyword will help boost its position.
The top four organic search results get 69.6% of all traffic.
The higher you can get underperforming content to rank in search results, the more eyeballs will be on it, and the more clicks you’ll get.
Step #3: Update the post. Similar to the section above, you’ll want to update:
- Old data or citations
- Images or broken links
- Optimize for keywords you want to rank higher for
- Add new insights from your experience, or recent news that’s relevant
- Add a testimonial or case study
I recently went through this process with this post about starting a blog.
Before I updated it, it was ranking on page 3. After expanding the post to over 3,000 words, updating all the images and screenshots, adding new information and resharing it to my network, the post is now on page 1 for “how to start a blog”.
The post has received a 167% jump in traffic since I revamped it and it’s now my second most shared post ever!
Step #4: Relaunch the post.
You can’t just press update and expect the world to know you just added a ton more value to your old post. You need to tell people.
It’s important to edit the publish date of the post to today’s date. You don’t want it to get buried in your archives, or for Google to think it’s old news.
When you’re ready to relaunch the post, change the publish date. In WordPress, there’s an edit link next to the date you can click.
Just change that to the current date.
This makes your revamped post show at the top of your blog feed so it looks brand new and more people see it.
There are a few more things you’ll want to do right away:
- Share it on social media
- Contact anyone mentioned in the revamped content and ask them to share it out too (this is very effective!)
- Send it out to your email list
Revamping old content has been really successful for me. In the first half of 2017, my organic search traffic is up by ___% compared to the previous six months.
It would have taken me 10x as long to come up with all new post ideas and write them instead of editing the ones I already had. Making use of existing content is always more efficient than starting from scratch and the traffic results prove it.
A blog is a powerful brand marketing tool.
Blogs are rated the fifth most trusted source for accurate information. 84% of people have purchased a product after reading about it on a blog.
46% of those people were just starting to research product options. That means a single compelling blog post could sway them in your product’s direction.
Maybe that’s because, by their very nature, blogs provide a personal touch that’s not found elsewhere.
There have been a lot of changes in SEO over the past year alone, and we’re sure that 2019 has even more in store. However, there are pillars of SEO that remain as strong and significant as ever, such as backlinking, website speed, and quality content.
Advanced SEO might feel complicated, but it really all boils down to how much value Google thinks you provide to your users. Be creative, come up with unique approaches to problems, implement industry best practices, and use the right techniques to improve your SERP ranking this year.
Search engine optimization is an inescapable part of doing business online, unless of course, you plan on paying Google for every click for the rest of your life.
I’m going to assume that the readers of this have a baseline knowledge about SEO. Most people know the SEO drill – keywords, backlinking, business listings…lather, rinse, repeat.
If you’re wanting the basics before you dig into advanced SEO, then we cover keywords and keyword research, SEO tools for various SEO tasks, and some technical SEO in our Basics of SEO guide.
However, there’s another, deeper, more complex layer to advanced search engine optimization, and that’s what this advanced SEO guide is all about.
Utilize and apply these advanced SEO techniques to create a more effective SEO strategy for your client.
Search engine optimization practices are dynamic and ever-changing, and even as I write this, a broad core update is rolling out and affecting the SERPs. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that some guides can contain outdated information (although I’d say that large chunks of SEO remain relevant regardless of the year).
Let’s dig right in!
Table of Contents
Search User Intent
Search engine algorithms have gone through a lot of changes over the last decade, but the goal has pretty much remained the same: provide their users with the best possible answers to their queries.
Over time, search engines have adapted and evolved to how people search. Search engines were successful in doing this because they understood that most searches can fall under four categories:
- Informational: The searcher wants to know more about a topic. These can be phrased as a question, such as “what is search engine optimization” or “best free SEO tools.”
- Navigational: The searcher wants to navigate to a particular site, such as The New York Times website, Yelp, etc.
- Transactional: The searcher is interested in transacting, ordering, purchasing, or buying. Transactional queries can be direct/explicit such as “buy women’s heels”, include local modifiers like “Jacksonville flower shop”.
- Commercial: The searcher is looking to buy something but is just shopping around. These are the types of search queries that have comparisons – S10 vs. Pixel 3 or Cheap International Phone Carriers, etc.
Knowing the four types of search intent will help you optimize for those searches and target the customers you want. I’ve spoken a little bit more on this in my own article on keyword research, so if you’d like to know how these types of search queries can be applied to your keyword research, give it a quick 5 min read.
People always say “know searcher intent”, but too often, the value proposition of this practice is vague. The reason you want to know searcher intent for your queries is that it will feed into your entire marketing funnel. The calls to action can be customized and the internal linking structure can be optimized along with Page Rank and Chei Rank (Kevin Indig’s post on optimizing website architecture based on your website’s goals).
If you know the intent of the searcher, you can not only rank better, but you’ll convert better, and you’ll lead searchers down the correct path within your site.
Here are two examples of how you can distribute Page Rank and Chei Rank.
The 2nd example:
The 2nd example distributes page rank more equally (thus it doesn’t rely on a centralized model). To understand more, just read Kevin’s wonderful post.
Section 2: Google Ranking Factors and Google’s Algorithm
To really master SEO, you need to understandwhat the search engines look for, why, and how you can leverage that knowledge into something beneficial for your business. Once you know how the system works and what its rules are, you’ll not only be able to play the game…but win at it, too.
My personal philosophy on SEO is that I should learn the practical maximum for tweaking signals to send the strongest signal without going too far and getting penalized. This is the real struggle for SEOs. Once you identify a ranking factor, you then need to identify just how far you can tweak that factor before it ruins user experience or before Google starts to penalize you.
Other SEOs may warn against this methodology, but ultimately, an SEO is paid to optimize for an algorithm, and that’s all I’m suggesting.
I know of one person that stands out amongst everyone else in the SEO industry as THE expert on dissecting Google’s algorithm. I’m sure many of you already know his name, but go follow Bill Slawski’s Blog if you’re looking for someone to search through hundreds of thousands of pages to distill relevant Google patent information on search engine ranking methodologies.
Outside of Slawsky, I really appreciate Ahref’s curated list of SEO blogs.
As a general rule of thumb, beginner level SEO can be learned from a variety of sources as it’s not too hard to nail down the basics. We’ve mentioned our SEO basics, but you can also check out people like Neil Patel and Brian Dean if you’re looking for a well-designed beginner level SEO walkthrough (though, these guys seem more like content marketing talking heads rather than sources of deeper SEO insights).
I also suggest identifying experts via social media and following them on twitter and following their blog (if they have one). To identify an expert, I’d stalk the walls of famous SEOs (like Rand Fishkin for example).
You can also start from my tiny list.
Social media is the free option for getting good SEO technique insights, but you can also pay for someone to spill the beans on their SEO techniques or just buy an SEO course from reputable sources.Matt Diggity has a great course that I highly recommend. Other amazing courses exist as well, but I’m not here to promote person after person for their paid courses, so I’ll push onward.
Search engine optimization algorithms are based on mathematical algorithms. If you understand the ranking factors and apply advanced SEO techniques, you can use them to your own advantage. Google is smart, but ultimately, Google is just using math. Great content is…great, but Google can’t tell the difference between great and poor, so it uses math to get as close as possible.
The Flaws of the Algorithm
As smart as search engine algorithms are nowadays, it’s important to know that they still have their limitations that you need to work through.
They don’t “see” web pages the same way we do, and it’s this difference between human and machine that is the reason that SEO even exists in the first place—we do search engine optimization because it helps make our content readable to search engine bots.
One of the biggest weaknesses of current search engine algorithms is that they can’t understand non-text elements. Google can’t actually read pictures, illustrations, or videos unless they have alt text, meta information, or surrounding contextual information.
Another weakness is that the algorithm can be manipulated. Ideally, the highest quality content and the most relevant results would rank the highest, but that isn’t always the case.
Take the recent Google 30-day ‘Rank or Go Home’ SEO challenge held in the Facebook group, SEO Signals. Entrants competed to get the best ranking for the term “rhinoplasty Plano”. The first result was a minimalist site with relatively poor-quality content. The second result was a website entirely in Latin, except for a few strategically-placed keywords.
The Facebook Group ‘SEO Signals’ has a range of members ranging from SEO beginners to advanced SEO experts.
Of course, Google and other search engines are getting much better every day. There’s also the issue of impressing not just the algorithm, but the real people who make up your target market. The techniques we’ll be discussing in this guide are useful, long-term strategies for both search engines and human beings.
Real SEO Ranking Factors
Not one, not even the best SEO experts, can tell you with 100% certainty what the formula is for the perfect SEO strategy. First of all, Google alone is said to have OVER 200 different ranking factors.
Benchmarking tools such as Cora or SurferSEO correlate ranking positions against a few hundred different SEO ranking factors to determine the exact ranking factors for any given keyword. Utilize these tools as part of your advanced SEO strategy to skyrocket your rankings.
Even if someone could list all of the factors, there’s no way to tell exactly how much any particular factor contributes to your SERP ranking. Plus, the list of factors (and how important they are) changes all the time!
The above image shows the 500+ ranking factors that Surfer SEO measures. The tool then allows you to visualize what everyone in the SERP is doing.
Despite all the rank factor changes, there are some factors that are proven to be important aspects of any SEO campaign. The exact impact may be speculation, but that doesn’t change the fact that these factors actually matter and are worth the effort. Here’s a great episode from some SEOs I trust and they cover this topic in massive detail.
RankBrain is a relatively recent addition to the Google algorithm, but it’s already considered the third-most important ranking factor.
RankBrain is a sophisticated machine learning algorithm that learns from REAL user searches and behaviors. It influences rankings based on how much a user interacts with your site. Let’s illustrate with an example.
Say that you are searching for dog grooming tips. You notice that the fifth result looks interesting, so you click on it and spend several minutes reading through the article. Google will take note of the fact that result #5 is valuable, and will potentially boost its rankings.
This is a super simplistic view, but humor me as I’ll dig into the more advanced view a little further down.
The opposite is also true. If a lot of people ignore the first result—or even if they click it, but exit the tab right away because the information isn’t relevant or interesting—Google will most likely demote that result to a lower ranking. This is known as a ‘bounce rate’ and is a commonly debated SEO ranking factor.
What you should learn from RankBrain is that providing high-quality content that users actually want to read will encourage them to spend more time on your site. This, in turn, will help improve your SERP rankings.
I’ll share with you my favorite graphic on Rank Brain. Hopefully, it helps.
Credit: David Harry
The shortest way to summarize the meat of RankBrain – RankBrain works by embedding words into vectors. Google doesn’t always understand words, but it can understand vectors (Bill Slawsky’s blog has additional content on patent information on word vectors). RankBrain needs to also recognize vector similarities and differences.
If you’re a big ole nerd, you should be thinking that RankBrain sounds familiar to something else in SEO past – Word2vec.
If you haven’t noticed the constant bouncing of website queries and rankings, then you’ve been asleep, but one of the reasons, (besides Rank Transition) is that Google is basically guessing through trial and error.
The problem with RankBrain is that its usage is so vague. SEOs don’t really know how to apply it to SEO techniques. We know that it is used for ambiguous searches and for never-before-seen searches.
If you have any real world examples of RankBrain changing the way SEO functions, drop a comment.
For now, suffice it to say, my suggestion is to continue optimizing for simple queries (“What is a Backlink?” for example), rather than trying to guess Google’s understanding of complex vector relationships.
Section 3: Indexation and Crawl Guide
These words get thrown out a lot in advanced SEO guides, but do you really know what they mean?
When search engines “crawl” your pages, they “read” the content to gain information about it. It helps search engines understand what exactly your website is all about.
Through crawling, a search engine can pick up the most important keywords. If it comes across a link, the bots will follow it to crawl that page as well.
Search engine bots ‘crawl’ your website and use a few hundred SEO ranking factors to rank your site against thousands of other sites.
Indexing, on the other hand, makes your website, pages, and content available to the viewing public. Unless your content is indexed, people will not be able to find it via the search engine results page, even if they type in all the right keywords.
People can still access your website by typing in the URL directly or clicking on a link on another page, but not showing up in the SERPs will significantly decrease your site’s traffic potential.
Many guides focus on the “How to Rank with SEO Marketing ” , but crawling and indexing is just as crucial, and ultimately, it will affect the “how you perform on the SERP. Stay tuned, we’ll teach you how to make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content, which will, in turn, boost its rankings.
Google has its own description on how it crawls websites, so feel free to read the webmaster description. I suggest reading the “long answer”
“Googlebot processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. In addition, we process information included in key content tags and attributes, such as
<title> tags and alt attributes. Googlebot can process many, but not all, content types. For example, we cannot process the content of some rich media files.
Somewhere between crawling and indexing, Google determines if a page is a duplicate or canonical of another page. If the page is considered a duplicate, it will be crawled much less frequently.
Note that Google doesn’t crawl pages with a noindex directive (header or tag). However, it must be able to see the directive; if the page his blocked by a robots.txt file, a login page, or other device, it is possible that the page might be indexed even if Google didn’t visit it!”
Improve your indexing
There are many techniques to improve Google’s ability to understand the content of your page:
- Prevent Google from crawling or finding pages that you want to hide using noindex. Do not “noindex” a page that is blocked by robots.txt; if you do so, the noindex won’t be seen and the page might still be indexed.
- Use structured data.
For those getting more advanced, you’ll need to understand the science of “crawl budgets”. Gary Illyes writes a wonderful description on this crawl budget blog post.
Essentially, he covers the factors that affect your crawl budget – Things like:
How to Get URLs Indexed
As we’ve mentioned, search engine bots crawl and index your content. However, this can take a while for some content, especially on low traffic sites. You can speed up the process by submitting your sitemap to the search engine for indexing.
A sitemap is a document that outlines or explains your site structure to both users and the search engine, to make it easier to navigate through it. Adding your sitemap to Google, the world’s biggest search engine, is easy enough.
- Upload your sitemap to a location on your website.
- Go to your Google Search Console dashboard.
- On the left sidebar, click on Sitemaps.
- Under “Add a new sitemap”, enter the address/URL of your sitemap.
You can also check on the Google Search Console which pages have been indexed, which pages were excluded from indexing, and if there are pages with indexing errors that need to be addressed.
There are 3 main formats for sitemaps, although some search engines may accept other formats as well (Google Webmaster accepts 9 different formats). The most common formats are:
- XML: XML is the recommended format for most sitemaps. It is widely accepted across different search engines, and it is easy to generate using an XML sitemap tool. It is one of the easiest formats for search engines to crawl.
- RSS: RSS feeds may be created automatically through a blog site. It’s a subtype of the XML sitemap.
- Txt: The simplest and easiest sitemap format to create is the Txt sitemap. However, you sacrifice functionality for convenience. You can’t add metadata to a Txt sitemap.
Publishing Posts: Indexation and Traffic Perks
How often you publish posts is also quite important. More content = more value = more potential clicks. Not only does it often equate to more clicks, but it also plays a part in getting crawled more often (read, provided that the content isn’t poorly written or formatted (orphaned content and no internal linking would be an example of poor formatting). I recommend reading Shout Me Loud’s tips for increasing crawl for additional info on specifically increasing the crawl rate of your site.
A HubSpot study showed that sites who published at least four times a week had 450% more leads than those who published 4 or less posts a month. But publishing every day may not be realistic, especially if you’re a small to medium business owner with limited time and budget for SEO.
While you should aim to publish as much as possible, stick to a publishing schedule you know you can commit to, even if it’s just once a week. Try to publish at the same time and day of the week so that your readers know when to check back for new content.
Once you hit publish, though, that isn’t always the end of it. You can (and should) update old posts so that they stay relevant and useful to your customers.
For example, in a few years, this guide to advanced SEO will likely be outdated. To keep it fresh and accurate, we’ll need to update it to fit new SEO standards. Instead of writing the article from scratch, we can save time and effort by updating the numbers, removing inaccurate information, and adding new info.
Every once in a while, look at your lineup of posts and check to see if any could use a rewrite. We recommend that you revamp articles that:
- Have low traffic or CTR, even with a lot of high-volume keywords
- Evergreen articles with outdated information
- Comprehensive educational posts that aren’t getting proper backlinks
Section 4: Speed and Security
In 2018, page load times officially became a ranking factor. It’s about time, too; studies have shown that more than half of mobile users abandon a site if the loading time exceeds 3 seconds.
As internet visitors become used to a constant influx of information, their attention span and patience decreases. Optimize your site for mobiles and speed to keep both search engines and your visitors happy.
Because Google’s goal is to give users the best experience possible, it makes sense that faster sites will be rewarded with higher rankings. Just like content, though, speed isn’t the end-all, be-all. You also have to consider if your site is at its most optimized, a.k.a. if it’s the fastest it can be, or if there are things slowing it down.
Have you ever quit loading a website halfway through because it took too long? In a world where information is so readily available, sometimes a few seconds can spell the difference between you and your competitor snagging that sale.
Studies have shown that bounce rate significantly increases after a mere 3-second wait. Improving your website speed will keep more visitors on your site for longer, improving not just your SERP ranking but also your conversion rate.
You can use a free tool like GTMetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights to find out what your page loading time is, and what your opportunities are to lower that number.
Since speed is so important to auditing your website, Raven includes detailed insights into our audit tool. You can also use the Website Auditor to identify page issues.
https://auditor.raventools.com/#/s/11ul5vav7 to see what a detailed report looks like in the Raven Website Audit Tool.
Some of the most common solutions to a slow website are:
- Compressing visual content like images and video. Large files take longer to load, slowing down your site. Compression minimizes the file size without sacrificing image quality.
- Using a faster web host. Your web host can set limits on your bandwidth. Private servers from premium hosts are more expensive than regular hosts, but they are often much faster.
- Hosting your files on an external network instead of embedding files. This allows you to display images and video without bogging down your web speed.
- Using accelerated mobile pages that reduce mobile page loading time to a fraction of a second.
- Switching to a cleaner, less bloated template with minimal code.
On top of speed, there’s also the issue of security. While Google hasn’t explicitly said that website security is a major factor, it does provide a better experience for your site visitors.
When a website has an SSL certificate, customers feel more at ease. Users will think twice about clicking on an unsecured site because their private information may be at risk.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption offers a higher level of security and safety for users. When a site has SSL encryption, the data that passes through it cannot be tracked or stolen by malicious third parties. It also protects information from being corrupted as it is being transferred.
You can spot an SSL-encrypted website by looking at the URL bar. If there is a padlock next to the URL, and the URL starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP, then it has SSL encryption.
While we can’t say that SSL encryption is a major ranking factor, we know for certain the SSL is a ranking factor. As of the Oct. 2017, half the web is secured. I haven’t found solid statistics on updates to this number, but its safe to say with Google’s strong arm policy, everyone will move to SSL if they care about web traffic.
It’s quite easy to get SSL certification. You just have to get an SSL certificate from a certificate authority (there are both paid and free certificates). Once your site’s been verified, you can install your SSL certificate.
Section 5: Mobile SEO, Featured Snippets, Structured Data, and Voice Search
(hint: all of these things are intertwined)
The new age of search will be dominated by mobile. The advent of mobile first indexing is just the beginning. Featured snippets and voice searches are tailor-made for mobile. The UI of the SERP in mobile makes it seem like featured snippets ARE the SERP.
Voice Searches literally only read out the information from those little boxes, so all of a sudden, you should really (like REALLY) be focusing on mobile optimizations.
You already know that making it to the first page is important, and getting that top spot is even better. But in recent updates to the Google algorithm, there’s another rank to aim for—the featured snippet.
Utilize advanced SEO techniques to gain ‘Rank Zero’ for target SEO keywords.
Featured snippets are small bits of information lifted directly from a search result that answer the user’s query. They can be in paragraph, list, or table form. I dig into this in detail in myRich Snippet Visual SERP Guide.
These snippets take up the very top part of the search engine results page, appearing before the #1 result. This is why it’s called rank “zero”. On a mobile device, the features snippet has MASSIVE importance as it occupies a
So far, only about 12.9% of searches even have a featured snippet, but it definitely “steals” a lot of clicks and views from the #1 spot.
Getting to the #1 organic search result is tough enough, but earning the coveted “rank zero” is even harder. Featured snippets are hard to achieve but give great exposure to those who manage it.
To increase your chances of landing a featured snippet, there are a few ways you can optimize your content.
First off, featured snippets always come from the top results. You don’t have to rank number one or even number three, but you do need to be on the first page to get a shot at it.
Second, create short and digestible “snippets” of information for relevant ranking keywords. Most rank zero content answers a question in a short and succinct way, like “what is SEO”
Rank zero snippets are usually in the 40-60 word range. Format your content so that it can be divided into these chunks. Most featured snippets are in paragraph form, but bulleted lists and tables can also be featured.
Voice Search Optimization
Alexa. Cortana. Siri. What do they have in common?
More SEO opportunities.
This section summarizes our previous post on optimizing for Voice Search, so if you’re wanting more detail, I suggest you check it out when you’re done here.
Voice command technology has made huge leaps in recent years,resulting in 47 million Americans(and millions more people around the world) having some sort of smart speaker/device in their homes.
Through these devices, they can automate parts of their daily routine, do “screenless” online shopping, and search for information without ever having to look at their phones or computers.
Currently, voice searches make up 20% of all Android Google searches. That number is only going to grow, so there’s no better time than now to optimize your content for voice searching.
Here are some of the most common characteristics of a voice search result:
- Voice searches are mostly taken from the top 3 results of the page.
- Voice searches are often in the form of a question, such as “what’s the difference between camembert and brie” or “what time does Taco Bell close?”
- Search results that contain both the question and the answer in the content are more preferred for voice search.
To write voice search-optimized content, include the actual question somewhere on the page, followed by a short answer. An FAQ section to your posts will make this easier for you, the reader, and the smart software.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a mobile-friendly website in 2019.
The big push for mobile-first indexing started in March 2018. Google announced it would be prioritizing sites that have a mobile version or a responsive site that worked well on mobile devices.
If you think about the fact that more than half of all Google searches are done on mobile, that shift makes much more sense. Google will, of course, rank mobile-friendly sites higher since they can provide more value to users on the go.
When optimizing your site for mobile, you first have to analyze your current site. Google has a free tool that tests how mobile-ready your content is and what you’ll need to improve.
Some sites may have a mobile version of the site, but SEO experts agree that a responsive site is better. Responsive sites use themes that adapt to the device it’s being viewed on. So a responsive site will look just as good on mobile as it does on a PC—no extra coding necessary.
Mobile optimization also involves creating mobile-friendly content that is viewable and easy to read on a small screen. This means fast loading times, large text, and proper formatting.
Lastly, we need to cover structured data so you’ll know how to properly format your data to get snippets and to appear in voice searches with a greater frequency.
Schema markup refers to code that helps search engines understand not just the text itself but the meaning of the information, and what kind of information it is. Instead of Google seeing “3PM, 13 March 2020, Carnegie Hall” as text, it will see it as a time, date, and location respectively.
Marking up your information helps Google give users information that more accurately aligns with their search intent. There are hundreds of markup categories, like price, TV show, name, and so much more.
It is extra work, especially if you have existing content that you need to mark up, but is it worth the effort? All signs point to yes.
Posts with schema markup average a whopping 4 positions higher in the results page compared to plain text/non-schema results.
In a battle for first page and rank #1, those 4 places could be a major gamechanger. Also, including schema markup increases your chances of landing a featured snippet in rank zero, further boosting your rank.
Raven has a 10 best Schema Markups post that may benefit some of you.
Section 6: Content Strategy and Keyword Strategy
It’s been said many times and many ways, but content truly is king. Generally, the better and more useful your content is, the more Google is likely to rank you higher. However, it’s not just about good content, it’s also about optimized content—the right keywords in the right way.
Keep in mind, content isn’t just important for SEO, its paramount if you hope to convert. People like Kyle Roof prove that Google can’t read content, but they can understand keywords.
So when I say “content in king”, I’m saying that content is king for conversions and its important if you hope to build a web that looks natural, while containing x amount of keyword 1, and x amount of ___ term.
One of the more contested aspects of web content creation is the length. Is it better to have short, concise articles or long ones? There are staunch advocates on either side, but the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
Looking at content that does rank, most top search results tend to be on the longer side. This, of course, varies per industry, topic, format, etc., but the general average word count of over a million #1 results is 1890 words.
Now, that doesn’t mean that 1890 should be your target for every post. There isn’t a magic number that will automatically boost your rankings.
Longer isn’t always better. A 500-word blog isn’t inherently less valuable than a 2000-word article. It really depends on the quality. There are well-written short blogs that are leagues better (and rank higher) than their much-longer counterparts.
The reason longer content tends to rank higher is because longer content tends to be more in-depth. The writer has more room to insert relevant keywords, thoroughly discuss important concepts, and provide more value to the reader.
No matter how long your content is, make sure to demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Quality first over quantity.
Use headers (H1, H2, H3, H4, etc.) for your on-page content. Not only will this help bots understand your content better, but it breaks up walls of texts into smaller blocks for your readers. Stick to short sentences and paragraphs that users can quickly scan through.
Formatting can help draw attention to and emphasize certain phrases. Use it sparingly on your article’s most important points.
Like I’ve mentioned before, the tool I personally use for checking how to format, is Surfer SEO. I like to review what other people are doing with good on page practices for my particular target keyword, and then I try to apply what they’ve done to my own content.
SEO is a lot of reverse engineering the SERP in 2019.
Keywords, keywords, keywords. Many ‘advanced’ SEO guides will repeat this ad infinitum. But the real question is, what keywords do you use?
The first level of keyword research is listing down the most important search phrases that you want to rank for. This includes your business name, the name of your products/services, your location, etc. It also includes words related to your niche/topic.
Once you have an initial list of keywords, you can use an online tool to find other keywords that you may have missed. These tools make suggestions for related keywords while also giving you insight into the monthly search volume of those keywords. Gotch SEO has a great 19-minute video covering the topic, if you’re looking for a video review,
My personal google sheet ends up looking like this:
Here are other tips for SEO keywords:
- Avoid broad, generic ‘short-tail’ keywords like “wine” or “SEO. It can be super difficult to rank for those words due to their competition, plus it doesn’t target specific search intent.
- Use long-tail keywords that are specific to your particular business. Instead of “burgers”, try “best Angus beef burgers Brooklyn”, for example.
- Use an LSI (latent semantic indexing) keyword tool to find keywords that are similar to or related to your main keyword phrase. Thanks to Google’s increasingly-sophisticated algorithm, you can rank for keywords even without using an exact match phrase.
- Search for competitor keywords. This will help you identify new queries you could be targeting, improve your SEO strategy, and gain an advantage over your competition.
Advanced SEO Content Guide
Really good content isn’t easy to accomplish. It requires time, effort, and some expertise. Focus on creating high-quality content that your customers will actually like, and the rankings will follow.
Hook your readers. The longer they stay on your blog, the better. Google does notice how much time visitors spend on your site, so how do you encourage people to keep reading?
Write high-quality, interesting articles that provide solutions to your customers’ biggest challenges. Write about things that actually interest your target market. If you’re a car-related business, your customer base wouldn’t be turning to you for advice on cooking a steak. Cater to their needs and address their pain points.
Get creative with your work. Captivate your audience by using transition words, phrases, or sentences that pull them into the next line.
Use the attention-grabbing “bucket brigade” technique to generate interest in the next sentence:
- Here’s something you might not know:
- The truth? It’s _____________
ALWAYS use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Even if you have a fun or quirky business, your content needs to be readable and professional. But don’t be scared to inject some personality into it! Be witty, be funny, or be playful—if it fits within your brand image.
Make sure the writing is smooth and flows well. Use short sentences and paragraphs to make it much easier to read. If you have a particularly long or complex post, try to divide it into shorter easy-to-understand chapters.
There is no limit to the kind of content you can make. Listicles, roundups, guides, checklists, videos, and infographics all make great for great posts.
No matter what industry you’re in, you could make evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that is relevant to your customers all the time and isn’t dependent on trends or current events. TImeless resources could include comprehensive guides, FAQs, definitions of concepts, and others.
How you use keywords can really make a difference.
The most important thing is to use them organically throughout the content. Keywords should never break the flow of your content. It should feel natural.
All too often I hear other writers expressing frustration about integrating SEO keywords into their content naturally.
Here are 4 sure-fire techniques to implement difficult keywords:
1. Using Commas
Let’s say your keyword is ‘Australia Ultimate Frisbee’ — integrating the keyword naturally into your text without feeling ‘out of place’ can be tough… by using a comma IN the keyword, you can integrate your keyword creatively.
Keyword: Australia Ultimate Frisbee
- As the summer kicks on in Australia, Ultimate Frisbee is becoming a popular pastime for beach goers this year.
2. Using Stop Words
Search engines have become significantly more advanced in recent years and are capable of filtering out words such as ‘for’, ‘of’, ‘in’ or ‘but’. Keywords that help structure your content grammatically without having an effect on the actual intent behind the keyword.
Keyword: Dentist Perth
Simply integrating your keyword into your content as ‘Dentist Perth’ would come across as poor English. Using the stop word ‘in’ helps make the keyword grammatically correct while still keeping the original intent behind the search.
However… there are exceptions to this. If the stop word changes the INTENT behind the search, Google will take this into consideration when crawling your content.
The search phrase [Notebook] would return results for laptops.
Whereas the search phrase [The Notebook] would return results with the dashing Ryan Gos.
3. Using FAQs ⁉️
Question keywords such as ‘How to do x’ can be tough to implement throughout your content naturally… without coming off as jarring or repetitive. By utilising FAQs, you can include your keyword and keyword variations easily through the headings and body text.
4. Using Conversational Writing To Your Advantage
Writing conversationally can be an effective method for implementing long tail keywords naturally… ESPECIALLY question long-tails.
Keyword: How Hummus Is Made
- So if you’ve been wondering how hummus is made then this is the article for you.
Integrating keywords into your content is a constant balancing act to optimize your content for both your readers AND the search engines. Both Google and your reader can tell if you’re just trying to stuff in your keywords as many times as possible. Keyword stuffing used to be a popular practice, but Google’s gotten much better at picking up on it.
Engaging headlines encourage readers to click on and read your article, so it’s important to make it creative and stand out.
(Tell me right now you don’t want to read this article)
Use your main keyword in the headline, but use it sparingly. Don’t overload the headline with keywords. Keep your headline to 65 characters or less for a short yet catchy title.
Try out different styles or voices for the headline. Come up with 2-3 different options with slightly different approaches.
Learn from these headline writing hacks:
- Use numbers in your headline. “7 Things To Consider When Buying A House” is interesting and sets reader expectations. Studies have also shown that articles with odd numbers get moreclicks than those with even numbers.
- Take a cue from clickbait headlines like “You’ll Never Guess This Secret To Perfect Skin!”. Mystery, intrigue, and surprise are all elements of a great headline.
- Let people know that it is timely and updated content. “Fashion Trends For Fall 2019” is a better headline than the more generic “Fall Fashion Trends”.
Section 7: Backlinks and Link Building
Backlinks serve many purposes. First, promotion on another site could mean more traffic for you (and more paying customers). Second, it signals to the search engine that your content is valued by other members of the online community. Third, it helps the algorithm crawl new pages.
Let’s focus on the second purpose. When people link to your content, it acts as a vote of confidence. It lets people (and Google) know that they trust your content and want to share it with others.
Quantity matters, but so does quality. One backlink from a popular or established site is much more valuable than possibly even dozens of backlinks from low-quality sites. It only makes logical sense that a backlink from the New York Times would matter more to the algorithm than your neighbor’s small blog.
If you’re trying to evaluate quality, Raven has two different tools to assist. One is based off of Moz and Majestic, and the other is a custom URL and domain grader, which allows you to pick from about 20 metrics for your eval.
The custom grader is under “quality” and looks like this: (I love it, especially for niche research for affiliate SEO).
Here’s a few examples of what it looks like –
Once you’ve created your metrics, you can select the importance of the metric and then use the drag and drop editor. Feel free to use Raven’s default score as well.
By the end, you’ll have a score somewhere between 1 and 100. And just like that, you’ve evaluated a domain or a URL based on what is most important.
SEO Linking Strategies
Backlinks are massively important, but because backlinking is about inbound links, i.e. links from other websites to yours, it’s not 100% under your control.
Backlinking is one of the more social aspects of SEO because it hinges on your engagement within a community of bloggers and influencers. This makes backlinking one of the more complicated SEO strategies.
However, there are many techniques you can use to build a strong network of quality backlinks. Here are the best white hat methods to use for 2019 backlink acquisition. (I’ll dig into a white hat and black hat towards comparison towards the end).
One of the best ways to get backlinks is, incidentally, also the most difficult. Creating absolutely unique content that can’t be found anywhere else—like doing your own research or conducting a survey—is an effective way of providing value that nobody else can.
New information is always valuable to an industry, and your findings will quickly get picked up by other people in your community. Blogs and articles will use your results in their own content, which means hundreds or even thousands of potential backlinks for just one post.
Guest posting is often considered the backbone of backlinking, and for good reason. Not everyone has the time or the funding to do original research, but most people do have the time to write a post for someone else’s blog.
The process of guest posting is actually quite simple. First, you land a guest blog spot on a site by reaching out to websites with a similar target market to yours.
Next, you create original, engaging, useful content for their blog. In your content (or your author’s bio section), you can link back to pages on your website, earning you a backlink.
There are many benefits to guest posting besides backlinking. You use another blogger’s platform to expand your own and gain access to their regular roster of readers. You also get to establish yourself as an authority in your field. Lastly, it’s a great way to network and builds relationships with other professionals within your community.
Personally, I like to use some free methods before I go into the paid route (paid by either paying someone to find opportunities or paying agencies to give me links via guest posts). I recommend reciprocal links (don’t go too heavy from one site). I also recommend facebook groups (this link goes to my personal choice) that offer people opportunities to build links together by just being nice to each other.
Getting featured by another business or website can expand your reach while giving you the backlinks you want.
You can get a feature from a news site or community blog in many different ways. One way is to join a community podcast where you discuss topics related to your expertise. The podcast host will often link back to your site so that listeners can follow up and learn more.
Another way is join offline events. Participate in speaking engagements or host a conference; you’ll get a ton of backlinks from the news coverage, social media pages, and many others.
Like guest blogging, you can’t wait for opportunities to happen to you. You need to assertively seek out opportunities to get features.
The best way to do it is through PR. When you release a new product or have a major company announcement, write a press release. Send it to the relevant media outlets. Reach out to micro-influencers to try out your products/services. Be an active participant in your own promotion.
You can also pay for SEO press releases and it’ll generally cost you about $100 for 300+ press releases, which isn’t bad. If you’re still reading, I’ll add that you can also pump these links up with some T2 link building, but I won’t dig too deeply into that particular rabbit hole. That SEO Technique will be a post for another time.
As accessible as blogs have become, some people prefer the interactivity and realness of a forum. Many people flock to forums to ask questions and get advice from actual people, often in real time.
There are general forums like Reddit or Quora where you can find every kind of community imaginable. There are also interest-specific forums like for bodybuilding, cooking, automotive, and more.
Forums are a great venue to meet your target customers, engage with them, and build trust with your brand. You can also answer their questions and gain insight into their biggest problems.
When posting on a forum, it’s important to not to be aggressive with the promotion. You are there to build relationships and provide solutions. Link back to your blog when it adds value.
Niche editing is the process of adding a link to your site on existing content. Business love this technique because you can earn a quality backlink without having to write a guest post or do any extra legwork.
SEOs also love this SEO technique because Google (and other search engines) like aged content, a.k.a. content that has been around for a while. A backlink on a popular existing post is worth a lot more than a backlink on a new post! Done right, niche edits can get you much more valuable backlinks for significantly less effort than a guest post.
You can start getting niche edits by searching for sites with similar content to yours. If you work in the food and beverage industry, for example, this could involve going to recipe sites and food bloggers. Ask the site owners and bloggers if they could link to your content (and offer to link back to them as well!).
Many webmasters are actually quite happy to add links to other sites. They may even be more willing to do that than accept guest posts, since they don’t need to screen, edit, or upload anything new.
Mention tracking is sort of similar to niche edits, except much more specific to your business. Whenever someone mentions your business or product/service online, it contributes to your overall reputation. But you could be getting more out of that mention if they linked back to your site as well.
You can scan the internet for unlinked mentions of your brand. If you find a news feature or blog that mentions you, you can reach out to them, thank them for the mention, and request if they could add your link.
You can even automate this process for the future by setting up an alert system that notifies you whenever someone mentions you online.
With quality backlinking, you try to get a good link from a reputable site. Tiered linking is sort of the opposite of that; instead, you get multiple links from small low-authority sites to signal boost a blog post on a bigger site. Basically, it looks like the image below.
Basically, you have your target post on a popular or big website (tier 1). You link to your tier 1 post from 4-5 “tier 2” posts on smaller websites. You then link to those tier 2 posts from even more niche tier 3 sites. And so on and so forth (although usually tier 2-3 is more than enough!).
The backlinking from the lower-tiered sites improve the domain authority of the higher-tiered sites. The tier 3 links improve the tier 2 sites, and the tier 2 sites improve the tier 1 site. At the end of it, you have a “supercharged” tier 1 post whose backlink to your site is worth much more.
Tiered link building is a bit tricky. While it’s not strictly an unethical practice per se, tiered linking can be done in a way that manipulates the algorithm and leaves you vulnerable to harsh penalties from the search engine.
The best way to do it is to follow webmasters guidelines and focus on creating value. The secret is in approaching niche blogs for quality tier 2 backlinks.
Don’t rely on low-value, spammy websites that were built for the purpose of tiered linking. Instead, post content that benefits everyone involved:
- You, because the backlinks can improve your SERP ranking
- Your readers, because they learned something new from your content
- The ssite masters because hosting good content boosts their credibility
Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
PBNs are similar to tiered linking in a sense. Both practices involve using tier 2 sites to build up a tier 1 post. However, PBNs take it up a notch by using high-authority domains to create super powerful tier 2 sites. Another difference is that instead of linking from third party sites, you link from sites you control.
We’ll go into detail later, but here’s an overview of the PBN process:
- Secure an expired domain with high domain authority
- Create content on that site
- Link back to your main post to award it a quality backlink
- Not get caught by Google
Yes, you read that last one right.
Using PBNs is an effective tactic in SEO. With backlinking as one of the most important factors in your SERP ranking, there are few things better than multiple quality backlinks from trusted sites.
However, this is considered an advanced black hat SEO technique, which means that there is a potential risk of getting penalized if Google finds out you’re using PBNs.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use PBNs. This just means you need to be smart about it.
It’s a lot of work (and will cost some money), but the results are clear: a faster and more effective way to get the ranking you want.
Here’s how to build PBNs (the manual way) that ACTUALLY WORK in 2019:
Step #1 – Search for expiring or expired domains with high authority.
How do you find these domains? You have a lot of options, such as getting a domain broker or participating in domain auctions. The biggest auction and broker sites include NameJet, GoDaddy, PureQualityDomains, and SnapNames. You can also scour DomCop, WhoIS Domain Lookup, and PBN HQ for a list of expired domains and metrics.
Don’t worry about getting domains that are related to your business. The most important thing right now is getting domains with good metrics. You can customize the website later to make it work for your purposes.
TIP: Don’t buy all the domains in one day, and make sure you use different emails and names for each of the sites. The goal is to make each domain seem distinct and unrelated to the rest.
Step #2 – Set up your sites.
It’s good to diversify your portfolio, so to speak. Use different web hosts to prevent Google from associating your domains with each other.
Use different themes and layouts. Not only will this help you reach wider and more varied audiences, it’s also a great way to convince the search engine that your PBNs are legitimate.
There are many different ways to set up your site. It could be a blog, a business site, or a city-based website to boost your local SEO.
TIP: The website needs to feel as real as possible, so include an “About Us” section and other pages. This may involve creating a variety of personas for each of PBNs as well as address/contact information. The personas don’t need to be experts in their fields, that makes it difficult to create content. Instead, introduce them as bloggers who just want to share their experiences and knowledge.
Step # 3 – Create content for your PBNs.
Be creative about how you can relate your acquired domains to your website.
If you run a home cleaning service, for example, you might not know how to link back to it from a domain like femalefashiontrends.com. But it’s not impossible, you just have to think outside the box. You could write about how to keep your clothes and closet space clean, then link back to your site.
Whether you choose to keep your domain’s old niche or try to re-work it into something relevant for your business, the most important thing is that you regularly create content and put in contextual links back to your site. You could do reviews, listicles, or regular articles. It’s up to you how you want to tackle it.
This step is usually the hardest. You have to regularly come up with quality content for your PBN sites. Plus, you have to use different “voices” and write on a wide range of topics.
However, you don’t need to write super long articles; 500-2000 words per post should be more than enough. And you only have to publish weekly or every two weeks.
TIP: Do not use an SEO content generator. Those may save you time, but they create low-quality content that Google will easily sniff out. The content needs to be convincing to both users and search engines.
Step #4 – Link back to your money website, or the website whose SERP ranking you want to improve.
Be careful not to overdo it on the links; otherwise, your PBN will look like an obvious link farm.
Stick to 1 or 2 links to your money site per article. And don’t just use any anchor text; you have to choose them carefully. Try to use keywords as anchor texts whenever possible, but don’t use the exact same anchor text more than once.
For example, if your money site is for a photography studio, and your keyword is “professional photography”, you could use the following variations as anchor text:
- Photographer for hire
- How to take professional photos
- Photography blog
- Best photography studio
As much as possible link to relevant pages or the homepage. However, you don’t want to link only to your site. Mix it up by linking to other authority sites.
TIP: With multiple PBNs, don’t link to every single one of your money sites from every single one of your PBNs. And not every SEO post should link back to your money site; throw some filler articles in there to make it more believable.
Running PBNs takes almost as much time and effort as running your actual site, but the backlink boost could be worth it. Just be careful to keep your PBNs separate from each other to avoid getting penalties.
Not all links are good links. Your backlink is only as good as the quality of the domain that gave you that link. If it’s a bad website—full of spam, low quality, or otherwise irrelevant—there is a chance that the search engine could think that you’re part of that bad website’s network…and then get penalized for it.
To avoid this, you need to disavow spammy links or backlinks from sites that you don’t trust. You can use tools like Google Search Console or Raven Tools to find unwanted links and remove them from your site.
Section 8: Black Hat SEO Vs. White Hat SEO
Before we move on too far past backlinks and content on this big ole monstor guide on advanced SEO, we have to talk about ethical and unethical SEO practices.
In the world of advanced search engine optimization, it’s not really a question of “legality”; it’s about what’s effective.
With this in mind, most practices can be categorized into one of three groups.
First, there’s white hat SEO. White hat SEO refers to all the tactics and techniques that are search-engine approved. The strategies outlined here in this guide are all white hat SEO strategies; they follow the guidelines search engines have put in place to protect their users and provide them with high-quality content.
White hat SEO is characterized by practices that raise your profile organically. You have to earn your ranking by building better content, providing value to site visitors, and putting users first.
On the other hand, there are black hat SEO practices. These are more shady methods that search engines frown upon. Black hat techniques try to game or manipulate the system without providing value.
Below, we go into detail about the various black hat practices you need to avoid.
Backlink buying involves paying someone or offering goods/services in exchange for a backlink.
PBNs and link farming use the same tactics, except link farming doesn’t necessarily involve high-authority sites or expired domains. Link farmers build up tons of spammy, low-quality websites to build powerful tier 3, tier 2, and eventually tier 1 backlinks.
Cloaking is the act of making a page seem like it contains one thing when it really contains another. Sites lie to search engines about the contents of the page so they can rank for unrelated terms.
301 redirecting is another black hat technique similar to cloaking. The title and description on the search engine results page will show that it is about one topic, but when the user clicks on the link, they get redirected to a completely different—and unrelated—page.
Stuffing your content full of keywords is not a great way to boost your SERP ranking. One, spammed keywords tend to sound unnatural or forced which increases the bounce rate of your page. Two, Google is actually quite good at catching (and penalizing) spammy sites. An example of this would be for me to repeat the words “Advanced SEO Techniques” over and over.
See what I did there? I just added another keyword to stuff the article while talking about keyword stuffing. Woah…meta.
Another ineffective black hat tactic is using invisible keywords. Keywords are added in the text so it is read by the search engine, but are otherwise hidden from the user by manipulating the color, size, or placement of the text.
Long story short, content scraping is plagiarism. It is directly lifting parts or the whole of a text from another site. Content scraping is one of the reasons that Google has been cracking down on duplicate content.
Unlike some of the other advanced techniques (which are merely unethical), content scraping is actually illegal since you are using someone else’s intellectual property as your own.
Finally, there’s the third category: grey hat SEO. This category, as the name implies, falls somewhere in between white and black hat SEO. These are practices that are not strictly discouraged or penalized by search engines but are also not explicitly encouraged.
The issue with grey hat is that it toes the line of unethical SEO practices. It may not be penalized today, but it could very well be penalized in future updates to the algorithm.
Both black hat and grey hat SEO techniques are risky, and the consequences far outweigh the benefits. White hat SEO practices are sustainable, safe, and protect you in the long run.
Section 9: Internal Links, URLs, and Site Structure
Internal linking is one of the few aspects of link building that you actually have complete control over. While linking to your own content doesn’t have the same pull as a backlink from a reputable third-party website, it can still affect your overall ranking in other, more subtle ways.
By including links to other content hosted on your site, you are encouraging users to spend more time reading and scanning through your blog. This also helps Google crawl your website and index more of your pages.
Another benefit of internal linking is that your higher-value pages (the popular ones with lots of backlinks) can actually pull up the ranking of your lower-value pages just by linking to it. This is referred to as “link juicing”, where the domain authority of one page “trickles down” into other pages.
Another benefit of the Raven Tools Site Auditor is the ability to look at all of your anchor text.
Download to csv, and then filter and create your own visualization of internal anchor text links.
Silo and Site Structure
The site structure dictates both the search engine and the user’s navigational experience of your site. A good site structure makes it easier for your user to find the information they need. It also makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl and index your site.
Ideally, the structure—what your pages are and how they are related to each other— is planned out before the website is built to ensure that it is intuitive and easy. If you have an existing site, fixing the site structure should be a major component of your next redesign.
Siloing is one of the most effective ways of structuring a website, although it may not apply to all businesses. This involves grouping pages into categories and sub-categories. This works especially well for online shops that may host dozens or even thousands of different product pages.
You don’t have to do a silo-type structure for it to positively impact your ranking. As long as your pages are organized, easy to find, and don’t hinder the overall user experience, that’s what matters the most. I mentioned this above when I talked about centralized and decentralized structures.
Yes, even your web page’s URL matters for SEO.
The rule of thumb is that if a person can’t understand what the page might contain from the URL, then it’s a bad URL. If a human being can’t understand it, then a search engine won’t either.
Compare these two URLs:
The former URL tells you nothing about the content. The latter URL lets you know some very important information—what the page is about.
Here are some more tips on crafting good URLs:
- URLs are case sensitive, so make sure you don’t accidentally create duplicate pages under the “same” URL.
- Use hyphens and not underscores to separate words in your URL.
- Keep your URL as short as possible. Avoid unnecessary words like “and” or “the”, or multiple repetitions of the same word.
- Come up with a logical structure for future posts. You can have the URL flow from a category to a subcategory; use your sitemap as a reference.
EMD (exact match domains) still show ranking benefits, but many disagree on this, and essentially the two sides exist because some conduct tests, and some take Google at face value.
URLs are especially important for E-commerce SEO. Breadcrumbing becomes something that can really affect you if you don’t do it properly with a larger site, so make sure you’re naming URLs correctly and structuring them so visitors can understand their page path.
Section 10: Technical SEO
For this section, I’ll expand next in upcoming articles as it deserves its own mega post, but for now, we’ll cover images, video, duplicate content, robots.txt, redirects, nofollow tags, and canonical tags.
Images & Video
Visual content can catch the eye, make your article seem much more alluring, provide a visual aid to help customers understand complex information better, and give your readers a break from long chunks of text.
People are visual creatures, so make sure to use images, infographics, videos, and other kinds of visual content.
Infographics, in particular, can be an amazing tool to boost your search engine results page ranking.
Because they break down information into a digestible format, they are incredibly shareable. Infographics can also help you tell a story in a more creative way or help your readers visualize your point through data and charts.
On the other hand, video is an increasingly popular format. Compared to infographics, videos are much harder to produce. But because of that, it’s also more difficult to replicate and you won’t have much competition. They also increase dwell time on your site and reduce bounce rate.
Videos are also highly shareable, and many people turn to videos when they search. In fact, after Google, YouTube has the highest market share of searches out of all the other search engines.
Google acquired YouTube more than a decade ago, and has since been incorporating YouTube videos into the search engine results page. Some searches also yield video snippets as the rank zero result. Some advanced SEO testers claim that videos from youtube have ranking benefits, but I’m not entirely sure where I fall on that claim, so for now, I’ll just say that adding a video for various type of web pages will increase user dwell time on your page and does wonders for local SEO.
The kind of video content you can make largely depends on the business you’re in, but the following formats are hits in every industry:
- How to’s/instruction videos
- Product videos that promote the brand
- Live broadcasts for Q&As, interviews, seminars, etc.
Upload your videos to the major video hosting platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Video. Because search engines can’t crawl the video itself, make sure to give them more context in the description. It wouldn’t hurt to add one or two of your focus keywords as well.
Google’s algorithm may be sophisticated, but it still cannot crawl visual content as well as it does text content. So you have to give Google a helping hand by including alt text. This tells the search engine what is in the visual content and how it works with the other content on the page.
Image optimization also involves resizing and compressing your image/video files so that they load faster, especially on mobile devices. Small file size doesn’t mean you can skimp out on quality, however; use the highest quality images/videos and format possible, like JPEG for images and MP4 for videos.
Personally, I trust my good ole panda sidekick for this, and I’ll resize the image through the native editor on my mac.
This image was 300kb, but with Tiny PNG, 70kb. I would hope most readers would know about this, but just in case, I figured it would be good to include.
On-site duplicate content will cause your rankings to dip. Search engines tend to penalize exact-match content to prevent sites from copy-pasting entire pages to artificially boost their rankings.
That doesn’t mean that the crackdown on duplicate content is only for malicious sites. Many sites have had their content bumped off the first page or even de-indexed because of duplicate content on their own sites.
How do you solve a problem like this? You can either delete the duplicate content or consolidate them into a single page. If you must keep all of the pages, you can use the canonical tag which we will discuss in the technical strategy section.
The robots.txt file is an important tool in any webmaster’s toolbox. It tells the search engine bots how to crawl their content, which content they can’t access, or how long they have to wait before crawling the pages.
There are many reasons you wouldn’t want Google crawling certain pages of your site. This could include duplicate content that you don’t want to be penalized for, keeping some parts of your site private, and preventing a server overload when bots crawl multiple pages simultaneously.
The general format of a robots.txt file looks like this:
User-agent: [name of the bot]
Disallow: [URLs that the bot shouldn’t crawl]
It could also include one or more of the following:
Crawl-delay: [amount of time in milliseconds that the bot should wait before crawling]
Sitemap: [location of XML sitemap]
The robots.txt file is case sensitive and needs to be located in the top-level directory. It’s important to note that even if you have a robots.txt file, bots may ignore the instructions (especially in cases of malicious bots). Robots.txt is also a public file that anyone can easily access by adding \robots.txt to your root domain, so avoid using robots.txt to hide private information.
Keep in mind that the default setting for Robots.txt is for Google to not crawl your website, so make sure you are on top of this for new sites, and even for established sites, I’ve seen people who don’t realize what’s going on. Here is an example of a site with robots.txt disallowing one kind of bot while allowing another.
Just add /robots.txt to a url to see the file.
Remember when we talked about outbound linking? If you link to a third-party website, you are giving them “link juice”. You are signalling to Google your vote of confidence in that particular site.
What if you don’t want to give them that backlink? What if you don’t trust the site, and don’t want to risk being seen by search engines as part of that network?
You use the ‘nofollow’ tag.
The nofollow tag tells the search engine that while you may be linking to a particular site, it doesn’t mean you are vouching for it. This prevents bots from following the link and crawling the site.
A nofollow HTML tag looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>
You’ll see sites like Wikipedia use this for just about every outbound link they have on their site.
Keep in mind that nofollows still have an influence on page rank. I tend to no follow competitor links for keywords if I happen to need to link to something they’ve done. I also tend to no follow non-secure sites.
As we mentioned in the duplicate content section, the canonical tag can be used when you have duplicate pages that you can’t consolidate or delete.
This tag lets search engine bots know that a specific page is a copy of another page. It also tells the search engine to not crawl the duplicate page, and redirect domain authority to the main page.
Canonical tags are most common for pages with multiple URLs, such as:
- And so on and so forth
When using the canonical tag, be aware that search engines may choose to ignore it if the content is too different. It is best used on duplicate content or near-duplicate content where only a small element is different (location, price, etc.).
Also, make sure you’re consistent with your canonical tag. Do not put on Page 1 that Page 2 is the main page, then put on Page 2 that Page 1 is the main page. Likewise, do not canonicalize Page 1 to Page 2, only to redirect Page 2 back to page 1.
You would put the following HTML tag in the code of the duplicate page, where the link is the URL of the main page:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://thisisthemainpage.com”/>
Even though the two are often conflated, a 301 redirect functions very differently from a canonical tag.
Whereas the canonical tag allows users to view duplicates of a page under different URLs, the 301 redirect tag completely bypasses the first URL and automatically brings the user to a second URL. 301 redirects also pass on all link juice/domain authority to the new URL.
There are a few reasons to use 301 redirects. One is to avoid duplicate content, similar to the canonical tag. Another is to fix “broken links” —when you change the URL of a page, but it’s more convenient to let users still access it from the old URL.
Note that using a lot of 301 redirects can significantly slow down your web speed. Keep it to a minimum or only when necessary.
Also, only use 301 redirects on related/similar pages. A user clicking on a search result for “top 10 romantic comedies” would not want to be redirected to content about construction equipment.
Last but not least, we’ll touch upon SEO for local businesses. This won’t include any groundbreaking advanced seo technique but it will cover the basics. Local SEO is one of those niches where I find immense value in paying consultants for their courses. The lessons are incredibly actionable, and you can go out and make a killing pretty quickly.
Section 11: Local SEO
Making SEO even more complicated is that there’s a relatively clear marker between general/global SEO and local SEO.
If you’re a small business based in a particular community, or if you are a service-oriented company with a specific service area, your business probably thrives on local customers.
That means you want to build your visibility not just to the general public, but to people who are actually near you. Improving local SEO will help you reach customers in your communities and convert their curiosity into real sales.
Plus, if you neglect your local SEO, you’re missing out on the 80% of consumers who use local searches to find businesses, or the 50% of consumers who perform a local search and visit a business within the same day.
Below are the 3 most important practices to improve your local SEO.
1. Google My Business
Google My Business is pretty much a non-negotiable if you want to boost your local SERP rankings. GMB pulls a variety of information together into some of the most valuable search spots.
Not only will Google be more likely to recommend you for relevant search terms with local intent, but you can also get prime real estate in the local map pack, a list of 3 or 4 suggestions that are given to the user.
In your GMB listing, you can list a variety of important business information, such as:
- Phone number
- Operating hours
You’ll also be able to post promotions, offers, or announcements via your profile, or answer real customer questions about your business.
2. Business Listings
Besides Google My Business, there are many other directories that you need to have a presence on. There isn’t a definitive list of the essential business directories since it largely depends on your niche, but a quick search of “[your industry] business directory” should yield all the results you need to get started.
Add or claim your listing on as many relevant business directories as possible. Ensure that your information on those listings exactly match your information on your GMB profile. Fill out as much information as you can, and keep it updated regularly.
Surprisingly, 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a personal recommendation. Encourage your customers to leave you reviews, and you could see interest in your business soar.
Having reviews makes you look more authentic. It lets people know what kind of experience they can expect and helps them make better decisions about your brand.
Reviews aren’t only helpful when they’re positive. In fact, how you respond to criticism can be better PR than all of the positive reviews in the world. It gives you a great opportunity to respond to negative reviews and demonstrate a willingness to listen to your customers’ needs—and turn critics into satisfied customers.
For insane insights into local SEO and a host of other advanced SEO techniques, I wrote up a mega guide to help others learn SEO from experts. I’ve linked to it in the article already, but I wanted to make sure you give it a read since it truly contains some of the best information on the web for advanced and intermediate SEO.
There have been a lot of changes in SEO over the past year alone, and we’re sure that 2019 has even more in store. However, there are pillars of SEO that remain as strong and significant as ever, such as backlinking, website speed, and quality content.
Advanced SEO might feel complicated, but it really all boils down to how much value Google thinks you provide to your users. Be creative, come up with unique approaches to problems, implement industry best practices, and use the right techniques to improve your SERP ranking this year.