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Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic, increasing visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results.
SEO Dump
SEO Template
Blog Promotions
Topic Clusters for SEO
Keyword Research Process
Website SEO Audit
Link Building for Beginners
SEO Intermediate
SEO Advanced
SEO Reporting & KPI
SEO Content Optimization
Social Media for SEO
Guest Posting
Link Building
Link Submissions
Cheat Sheet by Neil Patel

SEO Dump

SEO Template


SEO Audit of a website includes the following steps:

1. Check the current status of a website that includes:

Alexa Global Rank 
Alexa Indian Rank 
Ahref rank 
Crawled Pages 

2. Check the current backlink profile of the website and mention it on the sheet. This marks the initial stage of a website and helps to analyze the growth from the initial point.

No Follow 
Moz Rank 
Referring Domains

3. Check the current keyword stats of a website and mention it on the sheet. This includes only the overall count of Organic and Ranking keywords.

4. Mark the status of Search console and Google analytics if available or not.

5. Check for all the tags whether they’re present or not. This includes the following:
Organic Traffic: 
Paid Traffic: 
Canonical Tag 
Geo Meta Tags 
Schema Markup 
URL List 
Facebook Pixel Code 
Google Ads Tracking code 

6. Check the current status of the website speed.


1. Do an extensive Keyword Research and figure out the top 10 keywords that you will be targeting while performing the SEO Activities.
This will be done on the basis of
Global monthly searches
Local monthly searches

2. Do a Competitor Research for keywords on the basis of:


Make a list of keywords that will be targetted for SEO on the basis of:

Current Position
Target Position

Make a list of all the Geos that you’re targetting on the basis of Clicks, CTR and Target Clicks.

Activity Log

Make a list of all the SEO Activities to be done for:



  • 1

    Title Tags
  • 2

    -Meta Description
  • 3

    -Heading Tags
  • 4

    -Content Creation
  • 5

    -Image Optimization
  • 6

    -URL Structure
  • 7

    -Canonical Tag setup
  • 8

    -Crawl Error resolution
  • 9

    -Search Engine Blocks (Robots.txt Setup)
  • 10

    -Mobile Responsiveness
  • 11

    -Internal Linking
  • 12

    -Schema Markup
  • 13

    -Page Speed Optimization

On Page SEO Checklist

-Title Tags

A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the titleof a web page. Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

-Meta Description

The meta description is a snippet of up to about 155 characters – a tag in HTML – which summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched-for phrase is within the description, so optimizing the meta description is crucial for on-page SEO .

-Heading Tags

The header tag, or the <h1> tag in HTML, will usually be the title of a post, or other emphasized text on the page. It will usually be the largest text that stands out. There are other header tags in HTML too, like an h2, h3, h4, etc.

-Content Creation

Content creation is the most important element for SEO as the Google AI or Bots can only read and identify content present on your webpage nothing else.

-Image Optimization

Image optimization is about reducing the file size of your images as much as possible without sacrificing quality so that your page load times remain low. It’s also about image SEO. That is, getting your product images and decorative images to rank on Google and other image search engines.

-URL Structure

The URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the location of a page on your website. … SEO for your page URLs is important because keywords in the URL are a ranking factor and short and descriptive URLs can help with link building and user interaction.

-Canonical Tag setup

A canonical link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues in search engine optimization by specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page. It is used when your site or webpage has a referring content from another website.

So in order to let google identify both individually canonical tags are used.

-Crawl Error resolution

This means that when Googlebot tried to crawl the URL, it was able to resolve your DNS, connect to your server, fetch and read your robots.txt file, and then request this URL, but something went wrong after that.

-Search Engine Blocks (Robots.txt Setup)

The robots exclusion standard, also known as the robots exclusion protocol or simply robots.txt, is a standard used by websites to communicate with web crawlers and other web robots. The standard specifies how to inform the web robot about which areas of the website should not be processed or scanned.

-Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile responsiveness of the webpage is very important as 70% internet users visit websites through mobile browsers

-Internal Linking

Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are commonly used in main navigation. These type of links are useful for three reasons: They allow users to navigate a website. They help establish information hierarchy for the given website.

-Schema Markup

Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about. Here’s an example of a local business that has markup on its event schedule page.

-Page Speed Optimization

Page speed optimization is very important as it cause a increase or decrease in the bounce rate.

An increased bounce rate results in a bad user experience which affects the ranking severly in SEO.

Blog Promotions

Outreach to bloggers, PR, influencers, people/companies referenced in content
Repurpose as Infographics, maps & videos
Modify into PPT & upload on Slideshare


Create trackable URL (goo.gl)
Twitter - schedule total 5 tweets for normal blog & total 10 tweets for imp ones - spread over next 3/4 months
Schedule multiple times on Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest
Share in 5-10 relevant FB groups
Share in 1-3 Linkedin groups
Add in next Email Newsletter
Drop few comments on our article (by us) to get others to comment
Update on Press page (Relevant Article)
SEO optimization - meta tags, images, links, cross link
Submit on Google Search Console + Facebook OG submit + Twitter scrape - faster crawling


For other websites - Ping http://pingomatic.com/ https://pingler.com/
Digital Journal

Topic Clusters for SEO

topic cluster is multiple pieces of content that are grouped by a shared topic and related subtopics. As a whole, these pages offer comprehensive coverage of a specific subject. That enables visitors to satisfy their search query while visiting your site.

The topic cluster methodology, also known as the “pillar-and-cluster” technique, was first detailed by HubSpot Research in 2017. It’s used by both B2B and B2C organizations to streamline their content marketing strategy.

An SEO strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords, the model is an intent-based approach that simplifies blog archives by creating content around one central topic – referred to as the “pillar” page or post.

Then several supporting blog posts – clusters – are written to explain sub-topics based on your pillar content and generate internal links to the pillar page.

The structure turns out looking a little something like this:

Using the topic cluster approach requires treating your blog setup differently because it doesn’t follow the traditional blog publication approach.

The organized structure of pillar-and-cluster content proves to Google a semantic relationship between each page (catering to its latent-semantic-indexing algorithm) and encourages each topic in your cluster to be pushed further up the search engine ranks.

After running this strategy on its blog, HubSpot proved more internal links led to a higher placement on the SERPs:

That discovery is why the topic cluster method is quickly becoming one of the most effective content marketing strategies.

Fancy getting in on the action?

Here’s how you can use the pillar-and-cluster approach to create content that ranks in organic search.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: How to Create Pillar Content Google Will Love

1. Decide on your overarching topic

Pick your pillar – the primary topic around which you build topic clusters. Makes sense, right?

It’s easy to do, too.

Brainstorm to create a list of relevant topics. Look to your buyer personas for assistance. What type of content are they looking for? Which of their pain points can be addressed by your organization through content?

If you’re a marketing agency, your idea list might look a little like this:

  • Content marketing to get leads
  • Promotion of blog posts through social media
  • Email-generated content ideas

Those bullet points are cluster-type topics. You need one overarching topic – the common denominator for all three.

In the example, the pillar topic would be a content marketing strategy.

Google recently announced a shift in the way their algorithm works. A spokesperson said:

For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects.

If you can think of a strong topic cluster that underpins the foundations of your business, and you’ve already got content around that topic elsewhere on your site, you’re already on the right path.

2. Do keyword research to define your clusters

You have the list of topics from your brainstorm – many of which now fit neatly as clusters. Don’t leave it there though – you need to dig and compile a bigger list of the cluster content you can create for your pillar page.

Enter keyword research.

Head over to Answer the Public and type your overarching topic to find a list of long-tail keywords that could fuel your list of ideas.

Notice how many questions it lists?

Each keyword phrase relevant to content marketing strategy can act as a cluster page if it’s sufficient to act as a standalone blog post.

Here are a few relevant inquiries from my Answer the Public graph, and the cluster content they could inspire:

  • How to present your content marketing strategy could become a page on how to present a content marketing strategy to your boss.
  • How to manage your content marketing strategy could become the post, “9 Ways to Manage Your Content Marketing Strategy and Stay on Track for Your Goals.”
  • How to improve your content marketing strategy might be a page on easy-to-do tips to improve your content marketing strategy.

Another option to find cluster topics is to head straight to the horse’s mouth and ask Google to recommend topics that could form your cluster pages.

To do this, type a prefix (such as why, how, or when) before your topic in a Google search, and browse the auto-populated suggestions that Google recommends:

Boom – there’s another bunch of clusters you could add to your list.

Finally, head over to LSI Graph and double-check you’re not missing any glaring opportunities:

Add each relevant keyword you’ve found throughout this process to a spreadsheet.

If you’ve got hundreds of new keywords to target, awesome. But don’t fall into the trap of treating each one as an individual page.

Similar keywords – like “defining a content marketing strategy” and “how to create a content marketing strategy” – have the same user intent. Users searching for either phrase likely are looking for the same content so they can be grouped into the same cluster and still cater to Google’s LSI algorithm.

It’ll save time, improve your SEO, and make sure you’re focusing on one of the most valuable content strategies of all: user intent.

3. Write your cluster pages

Now you’ve got your list of cluster pages, it’s time to move on to the fun part – creating the content.

Sounds self-explanatory, right?

The process for writing cluster pages is similar to writing a standard blog post, but with two exceptions. Your content should:

  • Not mention anything (in detail) covered on another cluster page
  • Dive deep into that topic rather than taking a generalized approach

Follow general best practices for writing epic blog content – like posting long-form pieces, adding unique data, and inserting relevant visuals – but always make sure your topic cluster page brings something unique.

In other words: Don’t let it be a repeat of another topic. That’s why you’ve got several different pages.

Instead of taking a generalized approach and covering things like why PR is important, HubSpot dives into building free buzz with a PR campaign.

And, guess what? It’s linked to from its PR pillar page:

That’s how you do it.

Follow this process and write a comprehensive blog post for each topic cluster. Make sure each page is optimized for SEO by including the long-tail keyword in your:

  • Page title
  • Heading tags
  • Image alt text
  • Body copy
  • Meta title and descriptions

And you’re halfway there.

4. Write the pillar page

With your collection of topic clusters ready, you still need the pillar page – the broad view on the overarching topic – so you can incorporate the internal cluster links.

Again, writing a pillar page is similar to writing a blog post with a few key differences. Pillar pages are:

  • An overview of one broad topic (Don’t go into too much detail about one aspect of the topic. Link to the cluster pages to explain sub-topics in detail.)
  • Usually extremely long-form (3,000-plus words)

To see this put into practice, browse Typeform’s customer success pillar page:

4. Write the pillar page

With your collection of topic clusters ready, you still need the pillar page – the broad view on the overarching topic – so you can incorporate the internal cluster links.

Again, writing a pillar page is similar to writing a blog post with a few key differences. Pillar pages are:

  • An overview of one broad topic (Don’t go into too much detail about one aspect of the topic. Link to the cluster pages to explain sub-topics in detail.)
  • Usually extremely long-form (3,000-plus words)

To see this put into practice, browse Typeform’s customer success pillar page:

You can see how this page acts as an overview for everything related to customer success without exhausting one specific area.

That’s what you’ll need to do with yours, too.

Confused as to why I recommended writing the pillar page after the topic clusters? Surely, it makes sense to write the overarching topic first and then do a deep dive into the specific, right?

Not necessarily.

Diving straight in with the pillar page is a problem for one reason: You don’t know how detailed you’re going to get with each topic cluster yet. That means you:

  • Can’t write an overview without running the risk of duplicating points
  • Can’t add placeholders for internal links

Leave the pillar page for last.

5. Add internal links between pillars and clusters

The final thing you need to do after publishing your pillar and cluster pages is to add internal links in each piece of content. (That is the point of this model, after all.)

Just head back to each topic cluster and link to the pillar page where appropriate.

Here’s how JSS Manufacturing adds those links in its cluster content:

By the end, you should end up with a structure that looks something like this:

Those internal links now provide Google spiders with an easy way to find, crawl, and index your topic clusters, and bring stronger SEO power to your pillar page.

Final thoughts

The topic clusters model is a fantastic way to organize your content while helping both users and search engines to easily navigate through your site’s content.

Remember to choose a strong topic, write your pillar and cluster pages methodically, and add internal links to connect each page.

It might take a while to get a topic cluster boxed at the top of Google results, but just like all content marketing strategies, the best results come from a time and effort investment.

Keyword Research Process

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of discovering words and phrases that people use in search engines with the ultimate goal of optimizing content around those terms.

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

Keyword research impacts every other SEO task that you perform, including finding content topics, on-page SEO, and outreach and promotion.

That’s why keyword research is usually the first step of any SEO campaign.

Put another way:

Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns: they tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.

As a bonus, researching keywords help you figure out the thoughts, fears, and desires of your target market. That’s because keywords research gives you tremendous insight into what potential customers searching for… and the exact words and phrases that they use.

In fact, keyword research is just market research for the 21st century.

How Keyword Research Helped My Site’s Traffic Grow

Today, my site generates 259,240 visitors every month:

And 166,205 of those visitors (62.95%) come from Google:

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that went into my site’s success with SEO, including content, on-site optimization, link building and technical SEO.

But the #1 factor that contributed to my site’s traffic growth was keyword research.

For example:

A few months ago I used the strategies from this guide to uncover an awesome, low-competition keyword: mobile SEO.

And I created a piece of SEO-optimized content around that term: The Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO.

Because that keyword wasn’t super competitive, my site quickly hit the #1 spot in Google:

And thanks to that #1 ranking, that single page brings in hundreds of visitors from Google every month:

With that, it’s time for chapter 2.

CHAPTER 2:How to Find Keyword Ideas

Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of keyword research.

Specifically, it’s time to generate a list of keywords.

And in this chapter I’m going to show you proven strategies that you can use to come up with keyword ideas.

Let’s dive right in.

Brainstorm a List of Topics

Here’s where you come up with topics that your target customer is interested in.

For example, let’s say that you run a digital marketing agency.

Well, you’d want to ask yourself: ”What topics do people search for that are related to my business?”

Some topics that come to mind would be things like:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Website traffic
  • Content marketing
  • Blogging
  • PPC

Note: These topics aren’t keywords. They’re broad topics that you’ll ultimately use to drill down to specific keywords.

Which is exactly what you’re going to learn how to do right now…

Use Google and YouTube Suggest

Now that you have a list of topics, type each one of them into Google.

And see what terms that Google Suggests to you.

These are great keywords to add to your list.


Because if Google suggests a keyword, you KNOW that lots of people are searching for it.

But you don’t need to stop with Google Suggest.

You can also find keyword suggestions with YouTube Suggest:

Searches Related To

Another cool way to find keywords is to check out the “Searches Related to” section at the bottom of Google’s search results.

For example, let’s say one of your topics was “content marketing”.

Well, you’d want to search for that keyword in Google.

And scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll find a list of 8 keywords that are closely related to your search term.

Just like with Google Suggest, these are keyword ideas that come straight from Google. So you don’t need to guess whether or not they’re popular. Google is literally telling you: “Tons of people search for these keywords.”

Pro Tip: Click on one of the “Searches Related To” keywords.

Then, scroll to the bottom of THOSE results. This will give you a new list of related keywords. Rinse and repeat.

Find Keywords on Reddit

Chances are your target audience hangs out on Reddit.

Which means, with a little stalking, you can find fistfuls of Niche Topics with ease.

Here’s how:

Let’s say that you run a site that sells organic dog food.

You’d head over to Reddit. Then search for a broad topic that your target audience is interested in… and something that’s related to what you sell.

Then, choose a subreddit where your audience probably hangs out:

Finally, keep an eye out for threads that have lots of comments, like this:

In this case you’d add “dog food allergies” to your keyword ideas list.

Pro Tip: Scrape common words and phrases from a subreddit with a free keyword tool called “Keyworddit”. This tool scans Reddit for words and phrases that people use… and sorts those phrases by monthly search volume.

Very cool.

Wikipedia Table of Contents

Wikipedia is an often-overlooked goldmine of niche research.

Where else can you find articles curated by thousands of industry experts… all organized into neat little categories?

Here’s how to use Wikipedia to find keyword ideas.

First, head over to Wikipedia and type in a broad keyword:

That will take you to the Wikipedia entry for that broad topic.

Then, look for the “contents” section of the page. This section lists out the subtopics covered on that page.

And some of the subtopics listed here are awesome keywords that would be tough to find any other way:

You can also click on some of the internal links on the page to check out the Table of Contents of other, closely related entries.

For example, on the coffee entry we have a link to “Coffee Preparation”:

When you click on that link, you’ll notice that the table of contents for the Coffee Preparation page has even more keywords that you can add to your list:

Pretty cool.

Find Popular Topics Using Forums

Forums are like having live focus groups at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The easiest way to find forums where your target audience hangs out is to use these search strings in Google:

“keyword forum”
“keyword” + “forum”
“keyword” + “forums”
“keyword” + “board”

Once you find a forum, note how the forum is divided up into sections: Each of these sections are potential keywords that you can add to your list.

To dig deeper, check out some of the threads on the forum to find other specific topics that your target audience struggles with:

Pretty cool, right?

CHAPTER 3:Keyword Research Tools

This chapter is all about tools.

Can you find keywords without a tool?


But a tool makes the entire process A LOT easier.

With that, here are the keyword research tools that I personally use and recommend.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere might be my favorite free keyword research tool.


Because it shows you keyword ideas from different places around the web (including YouTube, Bing and Google Analytics).

All you need to do is install the Chrome extension. And the next time you visit one of the sites that Keywords Everywhere integrates with, you’ll see a list of keyword ideas… and data on each keyword.


Ubersuggest was the first Google suggest scraper that I used. And last year the tool got a massive upgrade and overhaul.

Ubersuggest still generates keyword ideas from Google’s search suggestions. But it also gives you data on each keyword (like search volume, CPC, keyword difficulty and more).

The Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is THE most reliable source of keyword information online.

That’s because, unlike most other tools, the data you get from the Keyword Planner come straight from Google.

(So you know they’re accurate)

The big downside of the GKP is that it’s designed to help people with their Google ad campaigns… not with SEO.

That said, you can still use the GKP to get lists of keyword ideas…

…and find search queries that get lots of searches.


If you want to invest in a paid keyword tool, I HIGHLY recommend SEMrush.

That’s because SEMrush is a HUGE time saver.

Here’s why…

Instead of popping random keywords into a tool, SEMrush shows you the exact keywords that a site already ranks for.

So if you have a site that you’re competing against in Google, just pop it into SEMrush.

And steal all of their keywords.



Most people see Ahrefs as a link building tool.

But not as many people know that Ahrefs also has a REALLY good keyword tool.

What’s nice about Ahrefs “Keyword Explorer” is that you get a ton of helpful data on each keyword.

Which can help you decide whether or not it’s a keyword that’s worth going after.

My one gripe with Keyword Explorer is that it’s not great a coming up with new keyword ideas. It usually generates keywords that are just simple variations of the keyword I typed in.

That said:

When it comes to analyzing a single term, you can’t do much better than the features found in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.

CHAPTER 4:Keyword Difficulty

How do you know if a keyword is too competitive to rank for?

It’s a good question to ask.

Because if you choose a keyword that’s super competitive, you can find your site buried at the bottom Google’s third page.

But if you can find a keyword without a ton of competition, you have a good chance of cracking the top 3.

With that, here’s how to figure out a keyword’s SEO difficulty.

Long Tails Are (Usually) Less Competitive

If your site is brand new.

Or if you want to focus 100% on keywords that aren’t competitive.

Then you DEFINITELY want to target long tail keywords.

I’ll explain…

Most people in SEO (myself included) divide keywords into three main categories: head, body and the (long) tail.

Here’s a breakdown of each keyword type:

Head Terms

These are usually single-word keywords with lots of search volume…and competition. Examples of head terms are keywords like “insurance” or “vitamins”. Because searcher intent is all over the place (someone searching for “insurance” might be looking for a car insurance quote, a list of life insurance companies or a definition of the word), Head Terms usually don’t convert very well.

Body Keywords

Body keywords are 2-3 word phrases that get decent search volume (at least 2,000 searches per month), but are more specific than Head Keywords. Keywords like “life insurance” or “order vitamins online” are examples of Body Keywords. These almost always have less competition than Head Terms.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are long, 4+ word phrases that are usually very specific. Phrases like “affordable life insurance for senior citizens” and “order vitamin D capsules online” are examples of long tail keywords. These terms don’t get a lot of search volume individually (usually around 10-200 searches per month). But when you add them together, long tails make up the majority of searches online. And because they don’t get searches for that much, long tail terms usually aren’t very competitive.

There’s no “best” keyword category to focus on. All 3 have their pros and cons.

But when it comes to competition, long tails are usually the least competitive of the bunch.

Authority of Sites on Google’s First Page

Here’s a quick way to evaluate a keyword’s competition level.

First, search for your keyword in Google.

Then, look at the sites ranking on the first page.

(Not individual pages)

If the first page is made up of uber authority sites (like Wikipedia), then you might want to cross that keyword off from your list:

But if you see a handful of smaller blogs on page 1, that’s a sign that you have a shot to hit the first page too.

Keyword Difficulty Inside of Keyword Tools

The vast majority of keyword research tools have some sort of keyword competition feature, including SEMRush:



And Moz Pro:

I’ve tested all of them. And I find that they all size up keyword difficulty based on a combination of page authority and domain authority. So they all tend to come up with the same competition numbers.

Bottom Line? If your favorite keyword tool includes a keyword difficulty feature, go with that. You probably don’t need to invest in another tool just to see how competitive a keyword is.


Believe it or not, but there’s an entire tool dedicated to keyword difficulty: CanIRank.

What I like about this tool is that it doesn’t just spit out a keyword difficulty number. Instead, it evaluates a keyword’s competition level relative to your website.

For example, I recently popped the keyword “SEO” into CanIRank.

And the tool looked at Google’s first page competition compared to my site’s authority. And it gave me a “Ranking Probability” of 90%:

Super helpful.

CHAPTER 5:How to Choose a Keyword

Now that you have a list of keywords, how do you know which one to pick?

Unfortunately, there’s no tool out there that will tell you: “This is the best keyword on your list”.

Instead, you need to size up each keyword based on a handful of different factors. Then, pick the keyword that’s the best fit for your business.

As you might expect, that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do in this chapter.

Search Volume

This is pretty straightforward.

The more people search for a keyword, the more traffic you can get from it.

The question is:

What’s a “good” search volume?

Short answer: it depends.

The long answer:

Search volumes between industries are VERY different.

For example, a long tail keyword in the fitness niche (like: “best ab exercises”) gets 10K-100K searches per month:

But a long tail keyword in a B2B space like digital marketing (like: “best seo software”) only gets 100-1K monthly searches.

That’s why you want to figure out what a “high” and “low” search volume number is in your niche.

Then, choose keywords based on what’s normal for your industry.

Organic Click-Through-Rate

It’s no secret that the number of Google searchers that click on an organic search result is way down.

And it’s no secret why.

Featured Snippets make it so you don’t need to click on anything to get an answer:

Plus, Google now packs the search results with more ads than ever before:

The bottom line?

Search volume only gives you part of the story. To get a full estimate of how many clicks you’ll get from a first page Google ranking, you also need to estimate organic CTR.

Here are two simple ways to do it…

First, you can look at the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) for your keyword.

If you see a lot of stuff on the first page (like a Featured Snippet and multiple Google Adwords ads), then you know that you’re not going to get a ton of clicks… even if you rank #1.

Second, you can use a tool.

Ahrefs and Moz pro both estimate organic CTR.

With all that said:

I wouldn’t avoid a keyword just because it has a low CTR. If lots of people search for that term, it might still be worth going after.


I covered this in Chapter 4.

But to recap:

If your site is new (or doesn’t have a ton of links yet), target low-competition terms at first.

Then, as your site grows in authority, you can start to target more competitive stuff.

For example:

When I first launched Backlinko, I targeted almost 100% long tail keywords (like: “how to get backlinks”).

And because I didn’t have a ton of sites to compete with, I was able to crack the first page within a few weeks. Which helped me achieve some early SEO success.

Today, my site has backlinks from over 10k different domains:

So I can target more competitive keywords (like: “voice search”).


CPC (cost per click) is a single metric that answers one important question:

Do people searching for this keyword actually spend money?

So yeah, search volume is nice and all.

But if the person searching for that keyword is broke, then there’s no point in targeting that term.

Plus, you can sometimes get a great ROI from a keyword that doesn’t get that many searches… if the CPC is high enough.

For example, one of my target keywords is “link building services”.

According to the Google Keyword Planner, this keyword gets around 10-100 searches per month.

So if I ONLY looked at search volume, I’d say: “This is a horrible keyword”.

That’s why it’s super important to ALSO look at CPC.

The CPC on that keyword is $7.15.

Which means that people are spending $7.15 every time someone searching for that keyword clicks on an ad.

So even though the search volume for that term isn’t that high, the CPC more than makes up for it.

Based on CPC (and the fact that the keyword wasn’t super competitive) I decided to create content optimized around that term.

And that blog post now ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword.

Business Fit

Here’s where you look at how likely it is that someone searching for a keyword will become a customer.

Yup, CPC helps you figure this out. But it doesn’t tell the entire story.

For example, a few weeks ago I came across the keyword: “backlink checker”.

On the surface, this is a great keyword.

It gets a decent amount of searches:

And has a $4.01 CPC:

It’s also not that competitive.

So this keyword is a winner, right?

Well… not really.

You see, Backlinko is an SEO training company. Which means I don’t sell a backlink analysis tool. So even if I DID rank #1 for that keyword, it wouldn’t do me much good.

Contrast that with a keyword like “YouTube SEO”.

This keyword’s CPC is only $2.22.

But considering that I sell a YouTube training course, this term is a 10/10 in terms of business fit.

Which is why I wrote a piece of content around that keyword:

Keyword Trends

Finally, you want to see if your keyword is growing fast… or dying slow.

And the best way to do that? Google Trends.

For example, last year I was considering the keyword: “voice search SEO”.

But I decided to pop that keyword into Google Trends before pulling the trigger.

As you can see, interest in that keyword is growing fast.

Which is why I optimized this page around that term.

Even though that piece of content only brings in about 1k monthly search engine visitors per month today…

…the trend tells me that traffic to this post should increase over time.

CHAPTER 6:Advanced Tips and Strategies

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of keyword research, it’s time to cover some cool advanced stuff.

Specifically, I’m going to reveal a bunch of tactical keyword research tips that you can implement right away.

So without further ado, let’s dive right into the tips.

Barnacle SEO

Let’s say that you found the PERFECT keyword.

And you rank in the top 3 for that term.

You’re pretty much done, right?

Actually… not really.

As it turns out, you can get even MORE traction from that keyword with Barnacle SEO.

Barnacle SEO is the practice of using other sites’ authority to rank on the first page.

For example, one of my best keywords (in terms of conversions) is: YouTube SEO.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wrote a post about YouTube SEO. And that post ranks #1 in Google for that keyword.

Sure, a #1 ranking is great. But it’s still only one spot in the SERPs.

That’s why I created a YouTube video optimized for that keyword…

…a video that also ranks on Google’s first page.

Bottom line? If you find an amazing keyword, you want to take up as much first page real estate as you can. First, create content on that topic on your own site. Then, publish keyword-optimized content on authority sites, like YouTube, LinkedIn, Medium and more.

GSC Keyword Research

The Google Search Console is a goldmine of keyword ideas.

Here’s how it works:

First, login to your GSC account and head over to the “Performance Report”.

This report shows you the terms that bring in the most clicks from Google search.

Then, sort the list by “Impressions”.

This shows you keywords that get lots of impressions… but not necessarily clicks.

Finally, create a piece of content optimized around that same keyword.

Why is this a powerful strategy?

These are keywords that you KNOW people are searching for. You also know that Google sees your siteas a good fit in the search results.

You just need to publish content that’s super focused on that specific keyword (or optimize a piece of existing content around that keyword) and you’re set.

Optimize Content around Synonyms and Related Keywords

Yes, you want to optimize your page around your main keyword.

But don’t stop there.

You can get even more search engine traffic to your page by optimizing it around synonyms and closely related terms.

I’ll show you how this works with a real life example.

Earlier this year I published this post on my blog.

As you can probably guess, my target keyword for that page is: “build backlinks”.

But I also made sure to sprinkle in variations of that keyword, like: “get backlinks”.

In the end, I was able to rank in the top 5 for my main keyword…

…and lots of keyword variations.

Ahrefs Content Gap

Content Gap has quickly become one of my favorite features in Ahrefs.

Here’s how it works:

Just like with SEMRush, you can use Ahrefs to see the exact keywords another site ranks for.

And with Ahrefs Content Gap, you can take this this type of competitor analysis to the next level.

Here’s how:

Head over to Ahrefs content gap. And put in 2-3 competing sites.

This will show you keywords that at least 2 of your competitors rank for… but you don’t.

And because multiple competitors rank for these terms, you know that you also have a good chance of cracking the top 10.

Analyze Keywords Based on Searcher Intent

In other words, ask yourself:

What does someone searching for this keyword want to see?

Are they looking to buy? For information? Or are they looking for a specific page (like a login page)?

For example:

I recently created a post that ranks #3 for the keyword “BuzzStream”.

Even though that keyword gets around 2k searches/month, that post only brings in 194 monthly visitors.

What gives?

Well, as it turns out, “BuzzStream” is a navigational keyword.

Which means that most people that search for that keyword are looking for the website… notinformation about BuzzStream.

So yeah, that keyword looked great at first glance. But because it’s a navigational keyword, VERY few people click on anything but the first result. Which is why that post gets so little traffic.

That’s why I recommend looking at the Searcher Intent of a keyword.

If the Searcher Intent is “Navigational”, then you may want to avoid that term… even if it has great CPC and monthly search volume numbers.

(As you just saw, this is a lesson I had to learn the hard way)

But if Searcher Intent is “Informational”, then a piece of content optimized around that term could do GREAT.

Find “Shoulder Keywords”

Most people ONLY optimize their site around keywords that are very closely related to what they sell.

And it’s a BIG mistake for two main reasons:

1. Keywords that people use to find your products are usually super competitive.
2. There are thousands of keywords that your potential customer searches for when they’re not searching for that you sell.

And if you can get in front of your customer with an awesome piece of content, they’re SUPER likely to buy from you down the road.

For example, like I mentioned earlier, I run an SEO training company.

But I don’t optimize every page on my site around commercial terms.

(Like “SEO training” and “SEO courses”).

Instead, I rank for keywords that my customers search for when they’re not looking for SEO training.

(Keywords like: “link building”, “on-page SEO” and “SEO Tools”).

I call these keywords “Shoulder Keywords”.

These keywords aren’t directly related to what you sell. But they’re keywords that your customers search for. Which makes them worth going after.

How about another example?

Let’s say you run an Ecommerce site that sells basketball hoops.

Obviously, you’d want to optimize some of your pages around terms like “buy basketball hoops online”.

But don’t stop there.

After all, someone interested in buying a basketball hoop may also search for:

  • How to shoot a better free throw
  • Slam dunk highlights
  • How to get recruited by college scouts
  • Nutrition for basketball players
  • How to improve a vertical jump

So you’d want to create content around these “Shoulder Keywords” too.

Check Out This Tutorial

I think you’ll agree that we covered A LOT in today’s guide.

You’ll be happy to hear that I recently created a video that takes the content from this guide… and condenses it into a step-by-step tutorial.

Check out the short video:

Website SEO Audit

The 19-Step SEO Audit Checklist for 2019 [New]

by Brian Dean  Last updated Jan. 02, 2019

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to do an SEO audit.

In fact, this is the same process that’s helped me grow my organic traffic 30.84% over the last year.

And I should point something out:

This is a non-technical site audit.

So if you’re not super technical (like me), you’ll love the simple steps in this guide.

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Find and Delete “Zombie Pages”

Type site:yourwebsite.com into Google.

This will show you how many pages Google has indexed:

If this number is higher than you thought, you’re not alone.

In fact…

Most sites have 50% MORE indexed pages than they should.

(I call these extra pages “Zombie Pages”)

As it turns out, deleting Zombie Pages can get you A LOT more organic traffic.

For example, Sean from Proven deleted over 9k Zombie Pages from his site…

…which helped boost his Google traffic by nearly 50%:

Why does this work so well?

Well, Google has said that more content doesn’t make your site better.

And when you delete Zombie Pages, you give Google what it wants.

Pro Tip: Deleting Zombie Pages also makes the rest of this SEO audit MUCH easier. Fewer pages=fewer problems

With that, here are the most common types of Zombie Pages:

  • Archive pages
  • Category and tag pages (WordPress)
  • Search result pages
  • Old press releases
  • Boilerplate content
  • Thin content (<50 words)

Which leads us to our second step…

Step #2: Check To See If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Mobile SEO is more important than ever.


First off, 60% of Google searches are now from mobile devices.

Second, Google recently started using their Mobile-First Algorithm.

This means that Google now uses the mobile version of your site for mobile AND desktop searches.

The question is:

How do you know if your site is mobile-friendly?

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

Just pop your site into the tool…

…and you’ll see whether or not Google considers your site optimized for mobile devices.

Step #3: Make Sure Google Indexes ONE Version of Your Website

Did you know it’s possible to have different versions of your site indexed in Google?

It’s true.

For example, here are 4 different versions of the same site:

  • http://yoursite.com
  • https://yoursite.com
  • http://www.yoursite.com
  • https://www.yoursite.com

To me and you, they’re pretty much the same.

But not to Google.

And unless you redirect these versions properly, Google will consider them completely separate websites.

(Not good)

Fortunately, this is easy to check… and fix.

Just type each of the 4 different versions into your browser.

They should all end up on the same URL:

In my case, the “WWW” version of my site redirects to backlinko.com.

And when someone visits the HTTP version of my site, they get redirected to the HTTPS version.

All good.

If a version of your site isn’t redirecting properly, no worries.

Just 301 redirect it to the version you want to use.

Then, move onto step #4.

Step #4: Speed Up Your Site

A few years back Google confirmed that your site’s loading speed is a ranking factor.

And they recently rolled out a new update that makes speed even MORE important.

Here’s how to get your site to load REALLY fast:

First, clean up your site’s HTML code.

You can easily find problems with your code with PageSpeed Insights.

Pro Tip: Don’t just analyze your homepage. Test 2-3 internal pages too. I’m talking about blog posts, service pages, and category pages.

Second, run a speed test.

This type of test actually loads your page… and lets you know about bottlenecks that slow things down.

I personally use WebPageTest.org. But GTMetrix is really good too.

Third, crunch your images.

Huge images can bring your site speed to a screeching halt.

That’s why I recommend compressing your images with a platform like Kraken.

Pro Tip: Upgrade your hosting. If you spend $10 per month on hosting, don’t expect fast loading times. A few years back I switched from a budget host to $200/month premium hosting. And the speed difference was INSANE.

Step #5: Find and Fix Indexing Problems

Next, it’s time to find web pages that Google isn’t indexing.

To do that, fire up the good ol’ Google Search Console.

The “Index Coverage” report shows you a list of pages that they can’t index for some reason.

As you can see, Backlinko is pretty much error free.

All good right?


To double check everything is A-OK, I recommend a free SEO tool called Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog crawls your site the same way Google would. And it lets you know about pages that it can’t access.

(For example, if you’re accidentally blocking a page with your robots.txt file… or the page has a noindex tag).

So if you find a page that’s blocked, double check that it’s meant to be blocked.

For example, we paginate comments here at Backlinko.

And I don’t want Google to index every single comment page. So we throw a noindex tag on those pages.

In this case, the pages that are blocked are meant to be blocked.

And once you’ve confirmed that Google can access all of the pages you want them to access, it’s time to…

Step #6: Check Your Organic Traffic

Now it’s time to see how much organic traffic you’re getting.

To do that, head over to Google Analytics.

Then, go to Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Channels.

Hit “Organic Search”.

And you’ll see exactly how many people visited your site from search engines last month.

Next, set the dates to the last 6-8 months.

And you’ll see whether or not your organic traffic is trending in the right direction:

As you can see, my organic traffic has gradually increased over the last few months.


If your organic traffic is flat (or declining), no worries.

The goal in this step is just to see where you’re at.

Things should start to improve once you finish this SEO audit.

Speaking of…

Step #7: Improve Your On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is HUGE.

That said:

You probably don’t have time to optimize every page on your site.

Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Here’s what to do instead:

First, identify your 5 most important pages.

These can be pages that:

  • Target an important keyword
  • Get less traffic than they did back in the day
  • Already rank well… but have the potential to crack the top 5

For example…

I recently published a list of my favorite link building tools.

Besides the basics (like including my keyword in my title tag), I didn’t do much to optimize this page.

And because it’s already on the first page for my target keyword…

…it has a good chance of cracking the top 5.

Then, optimize your page with the strategies in this video.


If you’re REALLY pressed for time and don’t have time to implement everything from the video, focus on these 5 strategies:

  • Include your keyword in your title tag
  • Include your keyword in first 100 words
  • Add 5+ external links
  • Add 5+ internal links
  • Use LSI keywords

Once those strategies are in place, let’s dive right into step #8:

Step #8: Set Up Keyword Rank Tracking

Now it’s time to start tracking your rankings in the SERPs.

There are a million rank tracking tools out there.

But to me, the best out there is SEMrush.


SEMrush is awesome because it doesn’t just track the keywords you give it.

(Although it does that too)

What’s cool about SEMrush is that it automatically finds keywords that you rank for.


Step #9: Analyze Your Backlinks

There’s no doubt about it:

Backlinks are still REALLY important.

In fact, our study of 1 million search results found that backlinks correlate with rankings more than any other factor.

And now it’s time to analyze your backlink profile.

Here’s how:

First, enter your homepage into a backlink analysis tool.

(I’m using Ahrefs for this step. But you can also use Majestic SEO or Moz)

And you’ll get a report on your links:

Then, check out referring domains and Domain Authority.

Referring domains = the number of sites that link to you.

Don’t sweat the exact number too much. You’re just benchmarking where you’re at.

You also want to take a look at your Domain Authority.

Every tool has its own name for “Domain Authority”.

(For example, Ahrefs calls it “Domain Rating”)

But the idea is the same:

Domain Authority tells you how much authority your site has… based on a combination of the quantity AND quality of your backlinks.

Finally, look for toxic links.

To do that, check out the most common anchor text in your link profile:

If you see a lot of branded anchor text (like “Backlinko” and “Backlinko.com”), you’re good.

Fortunately, that’s the case with my link profile:

But if you notice lots of keyword-rich anchor text (like “SEO blog” and “SEO training company”), that’s a sign of a toxic link profile.

Here’s an example of a link profile with spammy anchor text:

And if you want to dig deeper, take a look at some of your backlinks.

Most of your backlinks should come from REAL websites.

For example, you can see that most of my links come from blogs and news sites that write about digital marketing and SEO.

(Which is good)

But if you notice that most of your links are from shady sites, you might want to disavow those links.

Pro Tip: Spammy links are a normal part of any link profile. So don’t stress if you see a few shady links

Step #10: Fix Broken Links

A few years back Google stated that they don’t “lose sleep” over broken links.

That said:

Broken links are bad for user experience… which CAN hurt your SEO.

(More on that later)

With that, here’s how to fix broken links on your site:

First, find broken pages on your site that Google can’t index.

You can find this info in the Google Search Console’s “Index Report”.

I stay on top of broken links, so I’m in the clear.

Here’s what you’ll see if your pages are giving Google 404 errors:

Sometimes you deleted pages for a reason (for example: you deleted a bunch of Zombie Pages).

If so, you don’t need to do anything. Google will eventually stop reporting these broken pages as problems.

But if Google can’t access a page that you want to rank, you obviously want to get that page back up ASAP.

Next, use a tool to find broken internal and external links.

You can use Ahrefs…

…or a free tool like Broken Link Check.

Both work.

Step #11: Competitor Analysis

Now it’s time to spy on your competitors.

Here’s how to do it:

First, find your competitors’ best keywords.

You can easily find this info using SEMrush…

…or Ahrefs.

Needless to say:

If your competitors rank for these keywords, you have a good chance to rank for them too.

Which makes them GREAT keywords to target.

Second, check out the pages that are ranking for those terms.

Then, figure out what those pages have in common. That way, you know what type of content works best in your niche.

For example, if you look at some of my highest-ranking pages…

…you’ll notice that my content:

  • Is long-form (3k+ words)
  • Contains custom visuals and illustrations
  • Cites research studies, data and statements from Google
  • Isn’t super technical

Finally, see who links to those pages.

To do that, pop a URL into Ahrefs.

And take a look at the links pointing to that page.

This tells you who the influencers in your niche are. That way, you can start to build relationships with them.

(Which will come in handy when you get started with link building)

Step #12: Make Your Content 10x Better

Back in step #7 you SEO-optimized 5 of your most important pages.

And now it’s time to make the content on those pages 10x better.


It’s simple:

To rank in 2019, your content needs to kick butt.

With that, here’s how to make those pages 10x better:

1. VERY short intros.

No one wants to read long winded introductions like these:

Instead, keep your intros short and sweet:

2. Small paragraphs.

People don’t read online. They skim.

And small paragraphs help skimmers consume your content better.

3. Lots of subheaders.

Subheaders help break up your content into digestible chunks.

Use them early and often.

4. Use visuals, images and video

Multimedia makes your content MUCH more compelling.

(Plus, visuals help people learn and understand)

For example, in this SEO checklist post, I use lots of images:


And videos:

And because my content is easy to read and understand, the average user spends 05:08 on that page:

Step #13: Optimize For UX Signals

RankBrain is Google’s new AI algorithm.

Unlike the old Google, RankBrain measures how users interact with your site.

Which means:

To rank in Google today, you need to optimize for UX Signals.

In other words, your content needs to make users happy.

When you do, Google’s going to give you a HUGE rankings boost.

For example…

A while back I noticed that this post on my site wasn’t ranking that well.

(It was hovering between the 10th and 15th spots for my target keyword: “SEO Campaign”)

And when I looked at my content, I realized why…

My content didn’t give people searching for “SEO campaign” what they wanted.

Instead of steps, they got a case study of ONE specific strategy:

My post also had lots of outdated screenshots:

In short:

Because my content wasn’t optimized for UX signals, Google buried it.

So I decided to overhaul the entire post.

Specifically, I:

  • Replaced the case study with a step-by-step guide
  • Included more actionable tips for beginner and intermediate SEOs
  • Added examples from several different industries
  • Lots more

In the end, I had a piece of up-to-date content that was a PERFECT fit for someone searching for “SEO campaign”:

Sure enough, because my content is designed to make Google searchers happy, my page quickly went from #15 to the #4 spot in Google.

And it recently hit the #1 spot:

Very cool.

Step #14: Flatten Your Website Architecture

Your site architecture is simple:

It’s how the pages on your site are organized.

As it turns out, your website architecture is REALLY important for SEO.


Two reasons:

First, site architecture helps search engines find and index all of your pages.

When your site’s architecture is a big ol’ mess, Google’s gonna have trouble finding all of your pages:

But when your site architecture links your pages together, Google can easily find and index your entire site.

Second, architecture tells Google which pages on your site are most important.

In general, the closer a page is to your homepage, the more important it is.

The question is:

How should your site’s architecture look?

Well, I know I said that this SEO audit wasn’t going to be super technical.

So I’m going to keep this super duper simple…

You want to keep your site architecture flat.

In other words, not like this:

Instead, you want it to look like this:

(Super flat)

Or put another way:

It shouldn’t take more than 3 clicks to go from your homepage to any page on your site.

In some cases, you’ll need a developer to completely overhaul your site’s navigation.

But you can also just add internal links to different pages…

…and add links to the sidebar:

As long as users can reach any of your pages in 3 clicks or less, you’re good.

Step #15: Rewrite Duplicate Meta Tags

Google recently said that your title tag and meta descriptions are “easy wins”.

And I’d have to agree.

ESPECIALLY when it comes to fixing duplicate titles and descriptions.

Fortunately, you can easily find duplicate metas in the (old) Google Search Console.

Just head over to Search Appearance → HTML Improvements.

And you’ll get a list of duplicate metas:

In my case, I have 8 pages with the same description:

These are all different pages of my blog feed (which aren’t indexed anyway). So it’s no big deal.

But if important pages on your site have duplicate meta tags, I recommend rewriting them ASAP.

Step #16: Launch a Skyscraper Post

The last step of this SEO audit is to publish a piece of content using The Skyscraper Technique.


It helps Google quickly find and index all of the changes you just made.

For example, look at the spike in “Pages crawled per day” whenever I publish something new:

And this video will show you exactly how to execute the Skyscraper Technique process:

But as a quick recap, here’s how it works…

First, check out the top 10 results for a keyword that you want to rank for.

For example, I recently published a piece of content called: “27 Ways to Increase Website Traffic”.

Before I wrote a single word, I analyzed the first page for keywords like “how to get more traffic”:

The content I found was pretty good. But nothing special.

Next, publish content that’s 5x better than what you found.

I took things up a notch with my post.


I included lots of detailed steps:


And techniques that are working RIGHT NOW:

Finally, it’s time to promote your post.

This part is key.

When Google sees a flood of people (and links) coming to your site, they say: “This site is blowing UP. We need to send Googlebot there right now.”

(Like I mentioned earlier, this helps Google quickly process all of the changes you made to your site).

In my case, I sent out a newsletter to my email subscribers:

And promoted it on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter:

Bonus Step #1: Get More From Your Internal Links

Internal linking is one of the most underrated SEO strategies on the planet.

The question is:

How do you internal link the right way?

It’s simple:

Make sure you link to high-priority pages as much as possible.

You can see all of your site’s internal links in the GSC.

Go to Search Traffic → Internal Links.

And you’ll see the pages on your site that get the most internal link love.

Pro Tip: You might find a handful of non-important pages in this report. For example, you might have lots of links pointing to your privacy policy or contact page. That’s usually because you link to those pages from your site’s navigation or footer. Don’t sweat it.

Bonus Step #2: Use a Site Audit Tool

I tried to keep this SEO audit process as non-techy as possible.

But if you want to dig deeper into your technical SEO, I highly recommend using an SEO audit tool.

Which tools do I recommend?

Actually, I use and recommend two.

The first is Seobility.

Unlike most audit tools, Seobility is VERY easy to use. Plus, the reports are simple to understand and take action on.

Even though SEMrush is mostly known as a keyword research tool, it has a surprisingly in-depth site audit feature.

Bonus Step #3: Optimize for Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets can DRAMATICALLY increase your organic traffic.

For example, a while back I got this page to show up in the Featured Snippet spot.

And organic traffic to that page shot up like a rocketship:

How do you get your content in the Featured Snippet spot?

This guide (and study) has you covered.

To sum up the guide, to show up in the Featured Snippet, you need to…

  • Have your content optimized for mobile
  • Have HTTPS installed
  • Use lots of headers (H2 and H3 tags)
  • Include short answer to questions (42 words)
  • Link out to authority resources

That’s about it


“What is on-page SEO?

On-page SEO (also called on-site SEO) is the process of optimizing various front-end and back-end components of your website so that it ranks in search engines and brings in new traffic.

These on-page SEO components include content elements, site architecture elements, and HTML elements. Google’s algorithm ranks your website on three main factors: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO:

We’ll cover on-page SEO elements below. Off-page SEO refers to social sharing, external linking, and more.

Technical SEO refers to all the SEO elements not included in on-page and off-page practices, such as structured data, site speed, and mobile readiness — the more technical parts of SEO.

When it comes to on-page SEO, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about meta tags and keyword density for one lifetime.

If you’re looking for some practical strategies that you can use on your site today, then you’ll love this infographic.

It’s a simple checklist that will bring in more search engine traffic from every piece of content that you publish:

Here’s my take on the on-page SEO insights from the infographic:

1. Use SEO-Friendly URLs

Google has stated that the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight. And our ranking factors study found that short URLs may have an edge in the search results.

So if you want SEO-friendly URLs, make them short and sweet.

And always include your target keyword in your URL.

In other words:

  • Avoid ugly URLs:
  • Or long URLs:


Click “play” to see the tip:

2. Start Title With Keyword

Your title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor.

In general, the closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title tag, the more weight it has with search engines. Here’s an example from my big list of SEO tools.


You don’t always need to start your title tag with your target keyword. But if there’s a keyword that you’re gunning for, try to put it towards the beginning of your title.

3. Add Modifiers To Your Title

Using modifiers like “2019”, “best”, “guide”, “checklist”, “fast” and “review” can help you rank for long tail versions of your target keyword.


Click “play” to see the tip:

4. Wrap Your Blog Post Title in an H1 Tag

The H1 tag is your “headline tag”. Most CMS’s (like WordPress) automatically add the H1 tag to your blog post title. If that’s the case, you’re all set.

But some themes override this setting. Check your site’s code to make sure your title gets the H1 love it deserves.


I used to assume that WordPress hooked up my post titles with H1 tags…until I actually looked at my site’s code.

Then I realized that WordPress themes sometimes use H1 tags to increase text size. As an example, my email opt-in area used to be wrapped in an H1 tag:

It’s worth checking out your site’s code to make sure you only have one H1 tag per page. And that H1 tag should contain your target keyword.

5. Dazzle with Multimedia

Text can only take your content so far. Engaging images, videos and diagrams can reduce bounce rate and increase time on site: two critical user interaction ranking factors.


You probably notice that I use a lot of images, diagrams, and screenshots here at Backlinko.

That’s because I firmly believe that it makes my content straight up better.

But it has a nice SEO benefit too: multimedia boosts those user-interaction signals that Google pays attention to.

And it increases the perceived value of your content –which means that people are more likely to link to it.

6. Wrap Subheadings in H2 Tags

Include your target keyword in at least once subheading…and wrap it in an H2 tag.


This definitely won’t make or break your on-page SEO efforts. But my tests have shown me that wrapping your target keyword in an H2 tag can make a dent.

Here’s an example of this strategy in action (target keyword=”SEO strategy”):

7. Drop Keyword in First 100 Words

Your keyword should appear in the first 100-150 words of your article.


This is something that you probably do naturally.

But a lot of people start their posts off with a long, meandering intro…and use their keyword for the first time MUCH later.

Instead, drop your keyword somewhere in the first 100 words or so. This helps Google understand what your page is all about.

8. Use Responsive Design

Google started penalizing mobile unfriendly sites in 2015. And with Mobile-first indexing now live, a mobile-optimized site is a now an absolute must. What’s the best way to optimize your site for mobile devices? Responsive Design.


I’d be surprised if your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet. But if it isn’t, maybe the incentive of more search engine traffic will push you to take the leap.

And if you’re going to make your site mobile-friendly, I HIGHLY recommend responsive design. In my opinion, it’s ideal for user experience. Plus Google prefers it.

9. Use Outbound Links

This is an easy, white hat SEO strategy to get more traffic.

Outbound links to related pages helps Google figure out your page’s topic. It also shows Google that your page is a hub of quality info.


Not linking out might be the #1 on-page SEO mistake that I see people make. I try to use 2-4x outbound links per 1000 words. That’s a good rule of thumb for most sites.

Keep in mind that the sites you link out to reflect on you. So make sure to link out to authority sites whenever possible.

10. Use Internal Links

Internal linking is SO money. Use 2-3 in every post.


If you want to see a great example of how to internal link on your site, check out Wikipedia.

They add keyword-rich internal links to every entry:

Obviously, they can get away with 50+ internal links per page because they’re Wikipedia. I recommend a simpler (and safer) approach: link to 2-5 older posts whenever you publish a new one.

11. Boost Site Speed

Google has stated on the record that page loading speed is an SEO ranking signal (and they recently made PageSpeed even MORE important). You can boost your site speed by using a CDN, compressing images, and switching to faster hosting.

Make sure your site doesn’t take more than 4 seconds to load: MunchWeb found that 75% of users wouldn’t re-visit a site that took longer than 4 seconds to load.

You can easily check your site’s loading speed using the excellent GTMetrix.com:


CDNs and cache plugins are nice, but investing in premium hosting is the #1 thing you can do to make your site faster.

$5/month hosts are decent for the money you’re paying. But they don’t hook you up with serious speed.

I’ve literally dropped load times from 6 seconds to less than 2 seconds by switching from a $5 shared hosting plan to a top-notch host (I use Synthesis Hosting here at Backlinko).

From a conversion and SEO standpoint, the ROI of premium hosting can’t be beat.

12. Sprinkle LSI Keywords

LSI keywords are synonyms that Google uses to determine a page’s relevancy (and possibly quality). Sprinkle them into every post.


I don’t go nuts about LSI keywords because I usually write REALLY long content.

(Long content increases the odds that you’ll naturally use LSI keywords).

But if you want to make 100% sure that you’re using LSI keywords, search for your keyword in Google and scroll down to the “Searches Related to…” area at the bottom of the page:

Toss one or two of these into your post.

13. Image Optimization

Make sure at least one image file name includes your target keyword (for example, on_page_SEO.png) and that your target keyword is part of your image Alt Text.


Another reason to optimize your images for SEO: it gives search engines another clue of what your page is about…which can help it rank in organic search.

When Google sees images with alt text “blue widgets” and “green widgets” it tells them: “this page is about widgets”.

14. Use Social Sharing Buttons

Social signals may not play a direct role in ranking your site. But social shares generate more eyeballs on your content.

And the more eyeballs you get, the more likely someone is to link to you. So don’t be shy about placing social sharing buttons prominently on your site.

In fact, a study by BrightEdge found that prominent social sharing buttons can increase social sharing by 700%.


Social signals aren’t an important part of the Google algorithm. But social shares on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may give you an indirect rankings boost.

That’s why we put social sharing buttons in the sidebar of every post:

15. Post Long Content

The SEO adage “length is strength” was supported by our industry studywhich found that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page.

Aim for at least 1900 words for every piece of content that you publish.


As a rule, I make sure all of my articles have 1000+ words of meaty, useful content. And some of my ultimate guides clock in at over 5,000 words.

Longer content helps you rank better for your target keyword. It also brings in more long tail traffic. A win win!

16. Boost Dwell Time

If someone hits their back button immediately after landing on a page, it tells Google in black-and-white: this is low quality page.

That’s why Google uses “dwell time” to size up your content’s quality. Increase your average dwell time by writing long, engaging content that keeps people reading.


Want to improve your dwell time (FAST)? Use the tactics from my SEO copywriting guide (especially bucket brigades):

Here are a few more important on-page SEO factors that I didn’t have room to include in the infographic:

Quality Content: I know that you’re sick and tired of hearing about “quality content”.

Even though search engines have no direct way of determining quality, they have plenty of indirect methods, such as:

  • Repeat visitors
  • Chrome bookmarks
  • Time on site
  • Dwell time
  • Google searches for your brand

In other words, great content definitely won’t hurt you. So there’s no reason NOT to publish awesome stuff every single time.

Encourage Blog Comments: I’ve long suspected that sites with lots of high-quality blog comments get a slight edge in Google’s search results.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Google said that having a thriving community on your site can help “a lot” with rankings:

That’s why it’s smart to encourage people to comment on your blog posts.

Maximize Organic CTR: There’s no doubt in my mind that Google uses organic click-through-rate as a ranking signal.

And even if they don’t, you STILL want to optimize your Google listing for CTR.

(More clicks=more traffic)

This video will show you exactly how to do it:

User Intent: This is a big one.

Google RankBrain measures how searchers interact with your content.

(For example, RankBrain pays close attention to CTR and Dwell Time… two factors I talked about already in this guide).

The ultimate goal of RankBrain is to determine if users are satisfied with your content.

In other words, does your content match user intent? If not, it’s going to be VERY hard to rank (even if your page is keyword-optimized).

But if you create a page that makes users happy, Google is going to rocket you to the top of the SERPs.

For example, let’s say you want to rank for the keyword: “Paleo diet breakfast”. Do a Google search for that term and peruse the top 5 results:

What do you notice?

All of the results are lists of recipes, like this:

In other words, people searching for that keyword don’t want to learn why breakfast is important (or not important) on the Paleo diet. They don’t want to know the “5 elements of a Paleo breakfast”. They just want a big ol’ list of recipes.

So the better you can satisfy user intent, in general, the better you’ll rank.

Here’s How to Use These Techniques For Your Site

I made a free on-page SEO checklist for you that will help you put these strategies into action for your site.

It outlines — step-by-step — exactly how to use the techniques that I talked about in this post…including 2 strategies that I didn’t include in the infographic.

SEO Intermediate

Intermediate SEO: Developing Intermediate SEO Techniques

Intermediate SEO Techniques

What is the difference between an intermediate SEO (a Journeyman SEO) and a beginner SEO (an apprentice SEO)?Intermediate search engine optimization demands a level of research and innovation that the beginner is just not ready for.

The Apprentice SEO is still learning the fundamental principles and doing things by the book. The Journeyman SEO should also do things by the book, but the Intermediate SEO book needs to challenge the Journeyman. The Apprentice SEO book gives you all the answers. The Journeyman SEO book makes you think about the problems and ask the right questions that lead you to the answers.

Intermediate SEO goes beyond the fundamental principles of search engine optimization and refines them.

Four Fundamental Principles of SEO

  1. Visibility
  2. Content Organization
  3. Keyword Research
  4. Links

Successful search engine optimization buids or enhances visibility, manages content organization, promotes ongoing keyword research, and incorporates links into its strategy.

If you’re not thinking about all four aspects of search engine optimization, you’re not engaging in intermediate-level SEO.

Visibility is the most difficult principle to master for many people because it cannot easily be measured. You can define a metric. For example, you can say you have achieved visibility when your site hits the top ten results for one or more queries.

Content organization was once considered to be the most important aspect of search engine optimization. Unfortunately for many Webmasters, link bombing tactics became easy and popular, and today’s Web is littered with the damage that link bombing has inflicted on Internet Marketing.

If you cannot optimize content (and that includes organizing it), you are not ready for intermediate SEO.

Keyword research never ends. I think most SEOs who have been around for a few years understand that but it’s hard to persuade clients that they should re-evaluate their keyword choices. Clients never change their vocabularies, but intermediate SEOs absolutely must update their query vocabularies or they’ll lose track of the markets they deal with.

Links are the baby food of search engine optimization. Anyone can get links. The difference between a Journeyman SEO and an Apprentice SEO is measured not in the quantity of the links but in their quality. One Intermediate SEO link should be worth 10, maybe 100 Apprentice SEO links. Spammers rarely move beyond Apprentice Level linking. Since they deal in volume they don’t need to.

Sadly, most SEOs are so obsessed with linkage they never move beyond Apprentice Level linking either. If you’re spending most of your time getting links you’re doing it wrong (unless you’re in one of a handful of competitive queries). SEO link obsession is not only stupid, it’s self-destructive. We can thank spammers and white hat SEOs alike for the Google Supplemental Index. Had it not been for all the link building tips and techniques people have shared on blogs and forums through the years we wouldn’t have ever heard of Google Supplemental Hell.

Intermediate SEO: Managing Visibility

If you’re an Apprentice SEO you’re just trying to achieve visibility. If you’re a Journeyman SEO you should be able to manage visibility. The Apprentice celebrates when the client page hits the top ten results. The Journeyman celebrates when the client page has maintained a top 5 listing through 2 or more updates. The Master SEO puts the page in the first or second position, locks it down, and moves on.

You manage visibility by evaluating the results you have achieved and making adjustments. You make adjustments by adding, changing, or deleting copy and/or by adding, changing, or deleting links. That’s the textbook explanation.

At the intermediate level search engine optimization has no obvious, easy answers. You’re not just dealing with search engine algorithms, you’re dealing with competition. It’s a rare Apprentice SEO who can take a top ten position in a competitive field. It’s a rare Journeyman SEO who cannot move a 10th position page into the competitive top 5. But the top 5 positions on any query have to be earned regardless of how good you are.

Master SEOs get no breaks or special dispensation. Journeyman SEOs wish they could get them. Remember that you have to earn the top 5 slots. Everything else is relatively easy.

Intermediate SEO: Content Organization

In an idea situation the Journeyman SEO is the architect of the Web site. The client tells you what the objectives are, gives you the resources you need (a competent Web developer and plenty of content), and gets out of the way. That actually sometimes happens. In the less than ideal situation the Journeyman SEO is the plumber who has to dig up the broken pipes and fix them.

Web sites leak. They leak content. They leak traffic. They leak value. They leak everything but PageRank.

You leak content when you orphan pages, block pages from being indexed, create too many copies of pages, break the HTML code so that page copy cannot be indexed, etc. Think of the Web site as a bucket and think of the copy as water. You have to carry the water to people in the bucket. How much water do you get to the people if the bucket is full of holes?

Web sites leak traffic by creating bouncebacks, by directing people to the wrong resources, by carrying intrusive advertising that drives people away, by being annoying, by making it difficult for people to see that there is more for them on the site than off. What does that have to do with search engine optimization? The Journeyman SEO has to learn the answer to that question if he ever wants to become a Master SEO.

It doesn’t matter when the site was designed, who designed it, or what the design goals were. You’re facing an Intermediate SEO task if the site is not working. Your challenge is not to change the site, but rather to make the site work. Do you understand the difference? The Journeyman SEO has to learn how to make sites work in impossible situations. The Apprentice SEO won’t be able to handle that challenge. The Apprentice SEO just goes out and gets more links. That don’t cut the mustard.

Intermediate SEO: Managing Links

Link management has been redefined over the past few years. People think that link management has something to do with swapping links, sending out emails, asking for links, etc. That isn’t link management. That is paperwork.

The Apprentice SEO looks for links wherever he can get them. The Journeyman SEO stops and looks at the Webscape, analyzing the potential non-search value of links. Just because you’re doing search engine optimization doesn’t mean you’re not doing Web marketing. You have to create visibility, remember, and visibility is found wherever you have people. People use search less than half the time to find Web content. If your linking strategy focuses on search, you’re doing it wrong.

The Journeyman SEO has to build a repertoire of linking maneuvers that leave Apprentice SEOs scratching their heads in frustration. The Journeyman SEO uses links to get the PR 2 site crawled and indexed, not to boost the site’s Toolbar PR to 4, 5, or 7. People who think in terms of “PR X” sites are either looking to sell domains or links or they are stuck at the Apprentice level of SEO.

Search engine optimization does not depend on links. Links depend on search engine optimization. Do you understand what that means? The Journeyman SEO doesn’t use links to drive rankings. The Journeyman SEO uses links to improve rankings. The Apprentice thinks you need links to rank. The Journeyman gets a good base ranking first and then brings in links where needed.

Journeyman SEOs don’t create profiles on social media sites, forums, or other “SEO friendly” resources. They can (and often do) build blogs, create secondary Web sites, build out existing Web sites, spread content to other sites, and do other things to make links happen rather than asking for them, swapping for them, or buying them.

A Journeyman SEO can buy links like everyone else (he had to go through his Apprenticeship). A Journeyman SEO can live with or without the paid links. Paid links make the Journeyman SEO’s job a little easier but more expensive. They are not really worth the hassle so the Journeyman SEO gets away from paid links as soon as possible.

A Journeyman SEO doesn’t evaluate links on the basis of Toolbar PR. A Journeyman SEO looks at the page, the site, and the placement of the link. A Journeyman SEO looks at the traffic potential of the linking site. A Journeyman SEO looks at the content organizaion of the linking site. A Journeyman SEO looks at the keywords of the linking site.

But do you understand why? If you’re thinking “relevant links from relevant sites” you have not yet learned the lesson. A Journeyman SEO, in order to become a Master SEO, has to understand why “relevant links from relevant sites” is just a pattern to follow. This ain’t your mama’s sewing class. Understand when and why you want a link from a relevant site andfrom an irrelevant site.

CNN and Yahoo! are never relevant to your site. Their links are always relevant. To graduate from Journeyman SEO status to Master SEO status, you have to avoid the pitfalls of the Relevant Link Myth. All links are relevant by definition. The Journeyman SEO is building relevance, not looking for it.

Intermediate SEO: Keyword Research

Keyword research never ends. When your clients lose traffic because people are no longer searching on their keywords you have to know which keywords will bring the traffic back to them. When your clients lose traffic because someone has beaten you out of the top ten results you need to know which keywords to fall back on until you can recover your lost rankings.

The Journeyman SEO makes backup plans. Before he can become a Master SEO he has to be able to pull the bacon out of the fire in many different situations. He has to be ready to change horses in the middle of the stream because a search engine just rewrote its algorithm. He has to be ready to think in new and different ways because “that little no-account search engine” is now the biggest, most popular search engine out there.

Keyword patterns change by year, by season, by age group, by search engine. The Journeyman SEO cannot just dip into WordTracker and look at what is popular. The Journeyman SEO has to scour the Web for references to new expressions that might signal a shift in searcher activity. The difference between the Journeyman SEO and the Master SEO is that the ongoing research is second nature to the Master SEO.

A Journeyman SEO must be absolutely sure he has the right keywords. A Master SEO knows he can make adjustments if he doesn’t have a perfect match.

A Journeyman SEO has to make the client keywords work. A Master SEO can make the client keywords work with the right keywords. That’s a very subtle distinction. You may be ready to move on to Master SEO status if you can not only explain it but implement it.

Intermediate SEO: The Art of Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the art of persuasion exercised on both machines and people. You have to persuade them both that your content is more relevant to a query than anyone else’s. And that means capturing traffic from 1st position listings in the search results pages. An Apprentice SEO has no idea of how to do that. A Journeyman SEO has to figure out how to make the 3rd listing more compelling than the 1st listing.

The Journeyman SEO’s day is never done. You eat, sleep, and breathe search engine analysis. You look at every query you type in as if you were about to optimize for it. You study other people’s search engine optimization problems and help them find solutions that you may be able to use later on.

The Journeyman SEO’s task is to learn how to get along without shortcuts and cheats. The Apprentice SEO paints by the numbers. The Journeyman SEO may be lucky enough to draw his own lines before he has to start applying oil paint to the canvas.

You’re an Apprentice SEO if you reach for a tip sheet or SEO tutorial every time you are stumped. You are a Journeyman SEO if you are asked to contribute to a tip sheet or tutorial.

An Apprentice SEO studies other people’s research. A Journeyman SEO tries to do his own research and gets mixed results. The closer you get to doing really good research the closer you get to becoming a Master SEO. Learning how to test, evaluate, and collect data is part of the Journeyman SEO experience.

An Apprentice SEO runs reports. A Journeyman SEO writes reports, explains reports beyond the obvious implications, and appreciates the finesse of moving a page up in rankings for several keywords at the same time.

An Apprentice SEO panics when a search engine changes radically overnight. A Master SEO rolls his eyes, checks his watch, and waits. A Journeyman SEO looks at what is happening in depth. He analyzes every complaint about lost rankings and lost indexings. The Journeyman SEO never stops asking “Why?” until he is confident that his pages either won’t drop out of the index or will at least return quickly.

When you no longer care if the search engines are updating, you may be ready to graduate to Master SEO status. But you cannot stop caring about search engine updates until you can design an SEO campaign that is rock solid. You have to be that good to justify your confidence. Just because I say things will return to normal is no excuse for you to believe they will.

Why do I say they will return to normal?

Intermediate SEO: The Difference Between Beginner and Intermediate SEO

When you are ready to try things you have not read about in SEO blogs and forums, when you take on a Web site where things are not done to your specification, when you start getting involved in competitive SEO, you’re ready for Journeryman status.

Intermediate SEO looks for advantages in everything: other people’s optimization mistakes, other people’s generosity, other people’s marketing oversights. Beginning SEO relies on the advantages handed down by a mentor or free service provider.

Intermediate SEO may produce the next great thing, the next successful service site. Apprentice SEO may get the local craft shop’s Web site onto the first page for a geolocal keyword.

You don’t have to be a Master SEO to be successful. Intermediate SEO is very often successful. Intermediate SEO requires resourcefulness, tenacity, and a very judicious application of techniques and tips shared by other people. Intermediate SEO challenges you to question everything. Intermediate SEO demands that you start explaining things. Intermediate SEO means you have to understand what you are doing, at least enough so that you can recover from any mistakes you make.

Your kit of intermediate SEO tools should include at least:

  • Five successfully optimized Web sites you can study to remind yourself of why they succeeded
  • A growing list of resources you can use for linking, visibility, and testing
  • Two or three reliable references to help you learn the terminology that Web tools and services use
  • A set of analytical tools that let you look at Web page code, server-provided information, and other useful “under-the-hood” things
  • Your own Web site (server account) where you can experiment, prepare files for presentations, and play without worrying about hurting client campaigns

You’ll add your own tools as you improve and grow.

Intermediate SEO works on complex, challenging opportunities. You go after multiple keywords, multiple verticals. You work with inadequate content, insufficient linkage. You develop new skills, new resources. You abandon old skillls and resources that no longer help you. You analyze, analyze, analyze. You work endlessly, ceaselessly, tirelessly.

Every site you look at should tell you something about how successful it really is. You have to learn how to read behind the copy. Do you know the difference between a real testimonial and a faux testimonial? Do you know where to find the real testimonials? The Journeyman SEO has to know.

That’s the key to being successful: you have to know. What you do in your quest for knowledge determines what techniques you learn and come to rely upon.

SEO Advanced

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!

Here’s how:

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
  • Scoop.it
  • 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 [citation needed].

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 [edit] 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.

For example:

  • 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
  • Topic
  • 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 understand
what 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


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.

  1. Upload your sitemap to a location on your website.
  2. Go to your Google Search Console dashboard.
  3. On the left sidebar, click on Sitemaps.
  4. 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.


SSL Encryption

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.


Rank Zero

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 my
Rich 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.


Mobile SEO


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

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.

Word Count

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.


Content Formatting

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.

Keyword Strategies

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.

Writing Techniques

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 _____________
  • Listen:


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.


Content Ideas

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.


Incorporating Keywords

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

  1. 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

  1. 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.

Headline Writing

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).


Original Data

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 Blogging

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.

Forum Posting

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 Edits

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

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.

Tiered Links

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.


Spammy Links

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.


Link Buying

Backlink buying involves paying someone or offering goods/services in exchange for a backlink.


Link Farming

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.


Keyword Spamming

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.

Content Copying/Scraping

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.


URL Structure

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.


Image Optimization

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.

Duplicate Content

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.


Nofollow Tag

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.

Canonical Tag

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:

  • Homepage.com
  • homepage.com/home
  • homepage.com/index.php
  • www.homepage.com
  • 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”/>


301 Redirects

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:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • 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.

3. Reviews

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.

SEO Reporting & KPI

Thinking back to grade school, you may have fond or not-so-fond memories of getting your report card.

If you were a straight “A” student, this was likely a moment of pride. But if you struggled through your schoolwork, you may have been the one to hide your report cards from your parents, or even lit your reports on fire – (My first attempt at hiding my report card ended in burning down my mother’s taxes and her companies taxes, which taught me to just bury the reports underground in the future). 

SEO Reports can’t really be burned nor should they be buried….sorry. But, just like report cards, these reports are ways to track and highlight wins and losses or successes and failures. 

If you demonstrate a killer track record, reports become less important, but one of the primary ways to build trust is to build a good reporting system to track your efforts and your clients SEO business health.

Creating an SEO report is an essential part of staying accountable. It outlines the work performed, and proves that you’ve given your clients a positive ROI.


Table of Contents

Why is Reporting Important❓Aside from Just Highlighting Wins

When selling SEO to businesses that compete locally or nationally, your clients buy from you for one reason above all others: to get leads.

And while generating leads is the ultimate goal with SEO, most SEO pros experience high client turnover and low retention rates. 

The truth of the matter is, digital marketing customers are shopping around and looking at 2-3 other agencies, especially when your contract is about to end.

So how can you remind your clients of the value you provide and keep them from canceling? 

If you’ve been in SEO for long enough, you’ll know that the average client has been burned a couple of times with SEO, which means that an opportunity for differentiation exists as long as you can prove your value. 

Heck, often times, you don’t even need a stellar ROI, the customer just wants to know what you’re doing.

That’s where SEO reports come in.

A detailed SEO report can be the difference between putting your professional, data-driven foot forward or having to convince clients that you know what you are doing. You’re the pro – it’s time to build SEO reports that showcase your best work.

If you take a look at the Raven Tools report above, you’ll see in the table of contents that several things are covered:

  • Year to Date Google Analytics Metrics that cover traffic sources, sessions, page views, bounce rates, and anything else you may want to add.
  • Month over Month Google Analytics metrics to highlight recent campaign improvements.
  • Search Console Analytics for both date ranges to reveal deeper insights into the valuable click data for the site.
  • Keyword rank tracking data
  • Site audit improvement data to show that you’re finding and fixing site issues from page speed to
  • Conversion data to track the most important metric of all. Are your marketing goals being met? With this one, you’ll need to understand Google Analytics to fully track everything within Raven. We actually have a Google Analytics Event Tracking and URL Builder Tool that’s pretty dang handy.

Stop the endless cycle of arguments and low LTV for clients. Unless you knock it out of the park with a client or establish a really healthy relationship with the client, you’ll need to give yourself some extra retention firepower.

Before we dig into the benefits, templates, best practices, and lists of reporting tools, let’s cover the basics.

What is an SEO report?

SEO reports are primarily for your clients. They give an overview of how a website is performing in search engines and what work your agency has done to help them reach their SEO goals.

Clients like to see that their marketing investment is being put to good use.

With a detailed report, they see how much traffic their website is bringing in, which sources are generating the most traffic, and how many leads they are getting through their site. This can then be tied to the work your agency has performed or their own advertising spend.

SEO reports highlight what is working and what may not be working. This will inform your SEO strategy and where you should allocate your time.

It can also prove ROI to clients who constantly ask, “What have you been doing all this time?”

It allows your clients to see what progress is being made and what their ROI is. You ever have a client that seems to doubt all efforts and ask – “What have you been doing all this time?”

After all, what’s the point of any type of marketing without an ROI? Providing ongoing website analytics will help remind your clients of the value you provide and increase trust.

An SEO report can track how many leads or sales are coming in as a result of SEO – and may help you justify upping their SEO efforts. 

Another perk of reporting is that you can usually score a retainer type deal if you’ve done a good job making their SEO strategy understandable and if you’ve made clear consistent connections between your efforts and campaign success.

What are the benefits to mastering your reporting?
  • Track progress of SEO efforts ✓
  • Highlight website issues and areas that need work ✓
  • Measure conversion rate ✓
  • Show how many new sales and leads are being generated ✓
  • Informs ongoing SEO strategy ✓
  • Tracks new backlinks, social shares, and views ✓
  • Allows SEO expert to make recommendations going forward ✓
  • Measures client’s return on investment 

It’s important that your SEO reports are detailed and easy to understand so that your client can be confident that your SEO efforts are working and that your agency is worth the investment. I can’t emphasize this enough.

With Raven Tools, you can build custom SEO reports for your clients that keep them knowledgeable about the campaign successes without inundating them with information that goes over their heads.

Ultimately, they just want to see more leads and more conversions.

By now I hope you’re saying -”Ok, I get that I need SEO reports” and now you should be asking, “what does into these reports?” 

There are a lot of metrics you may want to show your clients including page visits, unique visitors, position changes, and more. But just because there are a lot of metrics you can report on, does not mean you should add them all into your reports.

The Typical Layout:
  • Website traffic broken down by page
  • Keyword rankings for each page
  • Previous month comparisons
  • Website health
  • Backlink reports
  • Conversions
  • Recommendations

Some reports will even include social shares and comments to help gauge future content.

Usually, the smaller and more focused the report, the better. Keep recommendations short and to the point, show measurable results and make a clear outline for what the client should expect going into the next month.

At the end of the day, what you include in your SEO reports is up to you. This will be contingent on your business model and the clients you serve. Including keyword rankings, traffic comparisons, and sales/leads is a great place to start.

Best Practices for Search Engine Optimization Reports

It’s not only important to know what to include in your reports. You’ll need to understand how to set yourself up to deliver a report that your client will love.

Remember, the purpose of reporting is to demonstrate your value. This is how you retain your clients or even upsell them on other services you offer or extended packages with “next steps”.

⭕ Clearly Determine the Objective

This step happens before the reporting even begins. The more clear you are in setting primary goals, objectives, and how you plan to achieve them with your clients, the more clearly you get to demonstrate how you’ve moved towards those objectives in the report itself.

Remember that the key word here is “clarity”; meaning, you want to clearly reiterate the goals and objectives originally agreed upon in the report and then follow up with the steps you took to meet them.

⭕ Explain the Data

 The worst thing you can do is leave the client to come to their own conclusions about what the data means. 

People often have a tendency to see the worst side of things, and if your client isn’t experienced in SEO they won’t know what to look for in the data or how to read it. Add a summary to your SEO reports to help them make sense of the data.

⭕ Offer Observations and Opportunity   

You already know that SEO isn’t a guaranteed practice and results don’t normally come in strong until about 6 months in. This is why it’s important to develop a habit of presenting observations to your client that support the opportunities you’ve found in the data.

Remember to look at every “bad” piece of data as an opportunity to improve and focus on presenting that opportunity in your report observations. If one thing you’re doing isn’t moving the needle, be honest. But quickly move on to what insights you’re able to gain from the data to try again or pivot.

⭕ Outline Next Steps

 Make it a practice to communicate next steps to your client and why those next steps are important to support their growth. 

This could be a continuing the same service because what you’re doing is working and there’s no need to fix a process that’s not broken, or it could dive deeper into how to turn insights on a misstep into an opportunity for everyone involved.

Now that you understand why SEO reporting is important and how to go about it, let’s dive into what tools you can use to help you get the job done.

What do clients want from to see in an SEO Report? 

 Clients most often want to see: 

  • How much traffic their website is getting
  • Where their website is ranking
  • Where the traffic is coming from
  • How many leads or sales are being generated through their website
  • Overall SEO health
  • An overview of work performed by the SEO agency
  • Evidence of a positive ROI

You can include an analysis of any SEO successes or setbacks, a list of any work performed, and recommendations on what to do next. Fully customize your SEO report to fit your client’s style and needs.

In the steps below, we outline how to build out a comprehensive SEO report for your clients that are just as professional and data-focused as you are.

SEO Report Template

Making an SEO report can be done in a matter of minutes by using the Raven Tools WYSIWYG Reports builder. Here’s an SEO Report generated by Raven Tools. It combines keyword ranks, Search Console, Google Analytics, Site Auditor, and conversion data.

I recommend doing a month over month progress report and a year to date progress report. You want to show recent efforts and total efforts.

Create custom reports by following the directions below through your Raven Tools account.

Raven Tools SEO Reporting Walkthrough

1. Log into Raven Tools ✅ 

Log into your Raven Tools dashboard at raventools.com.

2. Select Campaign ✅ 


If you want to conduct an SEO report for your own website or a client’s website, select the domain from your list of campaigns.

Or, for a new site, select “Add New Campaign”.

3. Open WYSIWYG Report Tool ✅ 

Click the “WYSIWYG Reports” tab on the left side menu. The WYSIWYG reporting engine builds, automates and stores custom reports for you.

The dashboard will show you a list of any previous reports and give you the option of creating a new SEO report.

4. Create New ✅ 

Click “New Report” to start creating a new SEO report.

A box with further instructions will pop up with the “4 Steps to an Interactive Report”:

Next, you will choose which metrics you want to be included in the report and will customize the report for your client.

5. Add Metrics ✅ 


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➕Select “Add More Metrics” to add analytics and features to your report. ➕

Raven Tools allows you to add a wide range of metrics, integrations, and even text summaries. Some of the SEO report  metrics include:

You can also import your own data, add attachments, and add summaries to the report. Be sure to include any data that you are measuring for your client.

Dynamically Update Reports With Data from Google Sheets

A Raven Tools pro-tip, should you choose to import your own data: 

You can dynamically update your reports through Google Sheets. 


URL: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1MRRRUbr7lRv8wniZ5uj6Xc4NsWOVnxF1dLwxaE_Iacg/edit?output=csv#gid=0

Replace /edit with pub?output=csv

URL: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1MRRRUbr7lRv8wniZ5uj6Xc4NsWOVnxF1dLwxaE_Iacg/pub?output=csv

Alternately, you can “publish” your sheet in CSV format with these steps:

  1. Click Menu
  2. Click “Publish to the web”
  3. Change the dropdown showing “Webpage” to “Comma Seperated Values (.csv)
  4. Grab the URL

Here’s how to add the dynamic data to any report in Raven Tools:

  • Go to Report WYSIWYG or Dashboard
  • Click add metric(s)
  • Click Data Import
  • Input that URL
  • Format the data – then add the widget

It will then dynamically update based on the sheet – so if the sheet is updated, the report data is updated!


For example, if you are managing their Google Ads, SEO, and social media, you will want to add metrics for Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, other social media accounts, and Google Analytics. That way, you can highlight progress across all fronts.

These metrics will show up as widgets on the SEO report (see image above). This creates a clear, easy-to-understand report that shows progress, any SEO issues, and a description of each widget.

6. Connect with Google Analytics, Bing, and other integrations ✅ 

Once you have decided which metrics you want to add, make sure that your report is connected with your client’s accounts. These can include social media profiles, Google Analytics, Bing, and any ad accounts.

Once connected, Raven Tools will pull in the data from these platforms for your chose timeframe. You can then add a short summary for each and add it as a widget on the report.

7. Add Logo and Customize ✅ 

Raven Tools allows you to completely white label SEO reports for your clients so that your reports appear to be coming from your agency and not a third party site. This adds a professional yet personalized touch.

You can add your logo or your client’s logo. Then, you can add your own summary of the data points, a description of work performed, and an outline for future SEO efforts.

Clients appreciate when you take the time to explain confusing metrics and relate them back to their business goals. Has their site seen an increase in organic traffic and leads as a result of your work?Make that be known.

8. Edit Report Settings ✅ 

The nicest part about the report builder is the fact that you can just turn any customized report into a template that you can then use across every client. If you’ve built as many reports as I have, you’d immediately know the hours of time you’ve saved from the swamp of tediousness.

Not only can you use a template, but you can just schedule these reports and send them from a customized email and brand the reports or white label a domain to make yourself even fancier (white label domain starts at the Grow package in Raven).


In settings you can:

  • Name the SEO report
  • Save the report as a template
  • Set the report as “one-time” or schedule regular reports
  • Set the date range
  • Add a cover page
  • Add a Table of Contents
  • Set the frequency of reporting

By adjusting these settings, you can create a template for each client and generate new reports for them automatically on a regular basis. This will save you loads of time on reporting if you are building SEO reports every few weeks or every month.

Plus, with the option to add a cover page to the report, you can further customize your report PDFs to make them even more unique.

9. Publish ✅ 

Once you are ready to publish your SEO report, select “Publishing Options” and click “Publish Report”. 

You will see a message that your report has been updated and that you can “View Report” via a link.

10. Share or Send Report ✅ 

If you view the finished report, you can export the report as a PDF by clicking “Export PDF”.

To email the report to a team member or client, go to your WYSIWYG Reports dashboard, choose report, and select “Email Report”. Enter the recipient’s email address and click Send. Then you’re good to go!

What SEO Reporting Tools Are There?  

SEO analysts can generate ranking and traffic reports with a plethora of different tools. Some of the most common tools used by SEO’s include SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, and of course, Raven Tools. When deciding what tools are best for your business, you need to compare the benefits of each.

SEMRush SEO Reports  

With SEMRush you can create PDF reports on the fly for your clients or schedule daily, weekly or even monthly reports. Unfortunately, with their $99 per month plan, you are limited to 5 automated reports while creating manual reports is unlimited.

For the data you get in SEMRush surrounding keywords, their automated reporting is a great way to show your clients ranking increases and progress. However, most SEOs have more than 5 clients and having to create manual reports is a pain. In order to get more than 5 automated reports each month, you’ll have to upgrade to their $199 plan to increase your total limit to 20 reports. 

Report Garden:  

Report Garden is basically just a report and proposal tool, but it does a great job at visualizing your data at a decent price. The lowest package starts at about $149 but it offers a lot more campaigns than SEMRush, but lacks much of the functionality of SEMrush or Raven Tools. 

The real value of Report Garden doesn’t kick in until you spend $299, but at this price point, it gives you access to a range of call tracking, email marketing, PPC, Google integrations, and access to invoices and proposals, which is a nice feature.

Raven Tools Reports:  

While each of our competitors is strong at a specific thing, SEOs often find themselves missing the things each tool doesn’t have. Some of your clients will benefit from SEMrush’s capabilities, while others will need what Ahrefs or MOZ  has to offer. That’s where Raven Tools comes into play with an all-in-one solution for SEO reporting.

With Raven, you get Majestic backlink analysis, Authority Labs keyword tracking, Moz and Majestic domain metrics, along with Raven’s award-winning site auditor. You also have access to all of the 30+ data connections, which can be brought into one dashboard and made into any style of report.

At $139 you get unlimited white labeled reports with 80 domains.

SEO Reporting with Raven Tools: 

With Raven Tools’ WYSIWYG report builder, you can easily pull data from many channels into one report. Pull organic ranking positions, social media data, CallRail reports and more all into one automated daily, weekly or monthly SEO report.

One of the greatest benefits of Raven Tools is that it connects directly to your clients Google Analytics account. This means that you can pull complete SEO metrics directly from Google Analytics and into your reports. If your client is also running ads on Google, Bing or Facebook, you can combine those metrics into the same report.

Affordable Growth Pricing With Raven Tools 

Raven Tools pricing is designed to grow with your business. Then, as you grow, other options become available that cover more clients.  The Start Package includes 20 campaigns at $79, but the majority of users prefer grow at $139 as it offers 80 domains and a host of other benefits at a fraction of typical market cost.

The great thing is that unlike the previously mentioned tools, with Raven Tools you can have up to 20 of your clients SEO reports completely automated for less than $80 a month. And since we’re an all-in-one tool, you won’t be missing features and access to client data.

Wrapping Up 

Your agency brings amazing results for your SEO clients. Isn’t it time to create SEO reports that highlight your best work?

Impress your clients with detailed, customized reports. With Raven Tools, you have access to all-in-one analysis, monitoring and reporting for all of your clients.

Choose from a wide range of metrics and features to show clients SEO successes and outline next steps for helping them climb the rankings. Plus, show how your SEO efforts and helping them generate new leads and sales.

The 9 Most Important SEO KPIs You Should Be Tracking

Your website is beautiful.

You’ve invested heavily into content marketing.

You’ve spent countless hours developing buyer personas and zeroing in on your target audience.

Now it comes time to present your efforts to your client, or share the latest campaign developments with the higher-ups.

How can you prove success?

How can you demonstrate value in a tangible way?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) hold the answer.

KPIs are objective metrics that help to measure and give clarity into the success of a given organization or campaign.

What are the most important KPIs when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO and digital marketing efforts?

Here are nine critical KPIs you should be tracking.

1. Organic Sessions

Organic sessions measure earned visits to your website from search engines such as Google and Bing.

A session is defined by a visit to the website, the actions taken by the user during that visit, and then the exit of the user from the site.

If a user idles, their session will time out after 30 minutes of inactivity by default.

A single user can be responsible for multiple sessions.

Organic traffic can be measured directly in Google Analytics, or you can integrate the data with a reporting tool such as Agency Analytics to better cross-reference with other data points.

Growth in organic traffic is the single most important key performance indicator because it most clearly aligns with the objective at the heart of SEO: getting more eyes on your website.

A growth in organic sessions has a few potential causes that can be pinpointed by digging into your analytic data and keyword positions.

For one, it could mean more branded searches. As your digital and traditional marketing efforts pay off with increase brand awareness, you’ll see more searches for your brand name or products as a result.

As your on-page and off-page optimizations start to pay dividends, your website will improve rankings for keywords, both ones you are targeting and ones you have put no effort into achieving.

Expected click-through-rate (CTR) increases with every single position on the search engine results page. Jumping from 3rd 2nd on page 1 can result in a spike in organic sessions, not to mention if you’re able to jump from page 2 to page 1 of the results for a high volume keyword.

You can help spur more organic sessions by crafting a compelling, relevant page title and writing a meta description with a clear, enticing call-to-action.

Growing organic sessions indicates that you are occupying more value real estate on the leading search engines, exactly what you’d hope to achieve with a full-scale SEO campaign.

Digital and traditional, on-page, and off-page marketing efforts alike will help you continue to grow the number of organic sessions.

2. Keyword Ranking Increases

Keyword rankings are where your specific keywords are positioned in major search engines like Google or Bing.

The closer to number one, the better.

The higher your website ranks for high volume keywords (terms that are frequently searched), the better.

You can track keyword rankings in a tool such as SEMRush or SE Ranking.

There are some keywords you will naturally rank highly for, like your brand name or highly targeted long-tail keywords specific to your service and location. Others will be part of a long-term strategy in an effort to gain visibility for competitive terms with high commercial intent.

Keyword ranking is an essential KPI because it’s what clients directly correlate with SEO success.

Keyword ranking improvements are the first entry point to achieve other primary objectives: more traffic, leads, and sales.

You should keep a close eye on keyword rankings.

Fluctuations are normal and Google algorithm updates can cause significant volatility, but in the long view you should see growth.

Keep an eye at least weekly if not daily, as a drop in rankings could signal an issue with your site that must be addressed.

But don’t panic if you see minor drops. Over-optimization is just as bad as under-optimization.

Your on-page and off-page optimization efforts will result in keyword rankings improvements.

Everything from high-quality content additions to speed optimizations to link building to developing an engaged social following, among other ranking factors, will help improve rankings.

3. Leads/Conversions

The first two ranking factors relate to attracting visitors to your site from search engines – but what action do you need users to take once they’ve landed on your site?

You’ll want to generate a lead that will hopefully convert into a sale.

A lead is any kind of contact with a potential customer. It could be a:

  • Newsletter signup.
  • Contact form submission asking for more information.
  • Phone call.
  • Registration for a webinar.
  • Completed purchase.

If you set up goals and events in Google Analytics, you can track leads across a variety of dimensions:

  • Do you have a higher conversion rate on mobile vs. desktop?
  • Men vs. women?
  • What page drives the most leads?

You can also set up goal funnels to see where people drop off in the process and make improvements to your site and iterate from there.

An increase in leads not only means you’re drawing more visitors to the site, but those visitors are completing the desired action in higher and higher numbers.

This is an essential KPI because it relates so closely to the core business objective of growing the customer base and increasing sales.

To improve results for this KPI, put focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO)and user experience (UX).

  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Are calls-to-action (CTAs) prominent and clear?
  • Is the content trustworthy and persuasive?
  • Can the user move through the conversion funnel in easy and expected ways?

4. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a metric that measures the percent of sessions where the user loads the page and immediately exits without performing any action.

Bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of non-interactive sessions by the total number of sessions.

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A typical bounce rate is between 40 to 60 percent, meaning about half of all sessions are expected to end with no action taken. But this will vary greatly depending on your industry/niche.

Bounce rate is an important KPI because a huge priority for search engine algorithms is satisfying the user’s search query.

When a user searches a keyword, Google wants to show them the most relevant and highest quality results possible that resolve the issue.

When users bounce back to the search results page it can indicate that the ranking page is not relevant, frustrating to navigate, or may not be trustworthy.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a low bounce rate indicates that your site is relevant, easy/rewarding to navigate, and satisfies a minimum E-A-T threshold.

Routinely audit pages on your site with high bounce rate and A/B test different approaches to see if you can get that number to improve.

5. Pages/Session

Pages per session is a simple metric that measures, on average, how many pages users visit during a session. It also counts repeated views of a single page.

What is a strong pages/session metric? It will depend on the depth of your site architecture and the complexity of your conversion funnel.

If you have a one-page website, 1 page per session is perfect (you’ll want to look at time on site, in that case).

If you have a content-heavy site focused on informing the user, or an ecommerce site where users typically view multiple products and go through a multi-step checkout process, you’ll expect to see many more pages per session on average.

As with other metrics that track user behavior, pages per session is an important KPI because it indicates the value/quality of your site and how users navigate through it.

Still, having a user visit 100 pages is not truly valuable unless you’re priming them for a conversion now or later.

Make sure you have prominent and clear CTAs through, even on deep inner pages, to direct users deeper into your conversion funnel.

6. Average Session Duration

Session duration measures the average length of a visit to your website.

The more in-depth your content and site structure, the longer you can expect this duration to be.

Session duration is an important KPI because it indicates the quality of your site content and how incentivized users are to stay, read, and click deeper into the site architecture.

If you see a drop in session duration, has something changed to frustrate your users?

Continue to focus on prominent and clear CTAs to convert this captive audience into a lead or customer.

7. Page Load Time

We haven’t touched on it yet, but page load time is an underlying contributor to most of the metrics discussed so far.

Think about how you behave as a user.

If a site is taking a long time to load, you’re more likely to bounce back to the search results page.

If a site is very slow to load, you’re less likely to explore pages deeper on the site. You’re also probably less likely to convert because your first interaction with this company has been frustrating.

Ideal page load time will vary based on the complexity of the content and the patience of your user, but the majority of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

With every additional second of loading, expect bounce rate to increase as a result.

In fact, a page that takes 5 seconds to load increases the probability of a bounce by 90 percent compared with a page that loads in one second.

Use a tool such as GTMetrix for insights into how well your site loads, and get recommendations about optimizations you can make to the server, code, content, or images to improve load time.

Every time you take a website action, whether it’s redesigning a page layout or uploading a new picture, keep the effect on speed in mind.

It’s much easier to optimize images, content, and code as you go, versus trying to correct a decade of bloated code, massive images, and redirect chains.

8. Top Exit Pages

An exit page is the last page visited by a user before ending the session, closing the tab or browser, or searching for a new website.

Though people are leaving your website, an exit page is not inherently negative – a user can exit from the thank you page or purchase confirmation page, having a fully satisfied experience.

However if a high percentage of users are exiting from a page where you do not intend their journey to end, it could be an opportunity for CRO/UX improvements.

You can find these details in Google Analytics’ by navigating to Behavior Reports > Site Content > Exit Pages.

You’ll want to assess not only the raw number of exits, but also the exit rate. This is a percentage calculated by dividing the number of exits by the number of pageviews for a given page.

If you have a high exit rate for a page that is not intended to be an exit page, optimizations are needed.

9. Crawl Errors

Googlebot and other crawlers need to be able to fully see and access site content to assess its value and relevance.

If your site has crawl errors, it means that Googlebot is having trouble accessing your site or reading its content.

Crawl errors can be found in Google Search Console.

You can test the crawlability of a page at any time using the “Fetch as Google” tool in Search Console and selecting the “fetch and render” option.

Crawl errors can be at the server error, if Googlebot cannot communicate with the DNS server, the request times-out, or your site is down. Crawl errors can also be at the URL level, if a given page no longer exists or has a long redirect chain.

If you see a spike in crawl errors, you’ll want to take immediate action especially if the crawl errors are at server level or the URL errors affect core pages.


In focusing on these nine KPIs and making efforts to see an increase month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, and year-over-year, you should see an increase in the corresponding business KPIs as well:

  • Customers.
  • Profit.
  • ROI.

Leverage the power of Google Analytics and rank tracking, heat map, site speed analyzers, and other analytic tools to amplify strengths and correct weaknesses on your website.

The Definitive SEO KPI Guide: 23 Vital Metrics to Tie Business Goals to Clicks, Links and Signups

Stats or it didn’t happen.

It’s part of your job to know things.

It doesn’t matter how much of a major performance disaster the website achieved thanks to your hard SEO work.

If you can’t prove that the SEO led to the sales, your boss won’t believe it.

Your client won’t believe it.

You might not even believe it.

If you’re not measuring your SEO performance with KPIs, there’s no way to show what you’ve accomplished.

Having knowledge of SEO performance also improves your ability to do great work. With data, you get a real sense of what gets results.

Alternatively, without data, you could be on the brink of a major performance disaster without even realizing it. You could be blowing money on strategies that yield nothing.

This is where SEO KPIs come in.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator, and an SEO KPI is any metric that’s used to gauge the performance of a website’s search engine optimization efforts.

Consider KPIs your flashlight in the dark, dangerous world of online marketing.

Here’s a list of 23 SEO KPIs worth tracking, how to choose which KPIs are right for your business and how to track them.

Why Your SEO KPI Matters

Establishing and measuring a set of KPIs can be a herculean task for any business endeavor.

Even harder if you’re tying your SEO strategies to your business goals and objectives.

SEO, you see, can be a little mysterious.

In fact, SEO KPIs are so tough to track that 52% of B2B marketers can’t justify their SEO spend. In another study, as many as 74% of marketerscouldn’t prove that they had achieved any tangible ROI.

Despite the challenges, if you don’t your SEO KPI, you won’t even have a chance to prove that your work has paid off.

An SEO KPI helps you

  • Demonstrate the value of your SEO to clients
  • Spot and cut off failing marketing efforts early
  • Discover and do more of what works
  • Tie your SEO activities to business objectives

To get you started, I’ll show you 23 SEO KPI worth tracking, and then I’ll guide you to choose what’s best for you. Let’s dive in!

How to Choose Your SEO KPI Based on Business Goals and Objectives

Nope! Not all these SEO KPIs will be relevant to you. For example, you won’t need to track in-store visits if you don’t have a physical store.

Part 1: Which SEO KPIs to Measure

The four broad SEO KPIs that you should endeavor to measure are:

  • Direct business SEO KPIs
  • KPIs based on costs and ROIs
  • On-page SEO KPIs
  • Off-page SEO KPIs

Direct business SEO KPIs

When you think direct business SEO KPIs, you think obvious results.

That’s exactly what these KPIs stand for. The results should be visible and impactful to your business for the SEO strategy to get a pass-mark.

For instance, if I were to measure the return on my SEO investment and I don’t have a bunch of analytics software to aid me, there’s one place I’ll look.

My business records.

If business was plummeting before I engaged the services of an SEO company, then it better be growing markedly after the SEO strategy is executed. By growth I mean, improved sales, increased customer inquiries, better, bigger clients and generally a boost in my business operations.

These KPIs are the easiest to measure in terms of the obvious outcomes they carry. But, from an SEO’s standpoint, they’re tough to track because of the complexity of tying website metrics to eventual leads and sales. Albeit, direct business SEO KPIs are critical to business success.

KPIs based on costs and ROIs

As long as you’re in business, cost-cutting is a goal for every project.

But more important than cutting down on your overhead, is improving your returns on business moves.

Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to spend a million dollars in business and get 10 million in returns after a short while?

Spending more money isn’t the issue. Getting juicy returns is the problem.

But the risk is obvious: How do you justify this massive spending? In fact, how do you justify any spending at all?

That’s where cost-based KPIs come into play. This form of KPI sets targets that measure your costs of business against its direct benefits and returns in the long run.

For different businesses, these KPIs can differ. For instance, a business that specializes in selling products will measure their advertising costs against an increase in customer base. This increase in customers is the KPI.

On-page SEO KPIs

The days of offline businesses that have no online footprint are fast fading into oblivion. Almost every brick-and-mortar business now has some online presence.

This is why on-page SEO is important. Unlike the early years of the internet, competition for customer attention is fiercer today. To stand out, you must have the hang of SEO, whether you implement the strategies or outsource to capable hands you have to know what’s going on.

On-page SEO KPIs track the activities that happen on the page. Why?

It’s those little changes that make all the difference! You don’t want people leaving your site as soon as they arrive there, or scan your site and leave without taking any actions that might benefit you. Setting an on-page SEO KPI helps you do more of what can influence business success; you can say that on-page SEO KPIs work directly with business KPIs.

Off-page SEO KPIs

Just like on-page SEO KPIs, off-page metrics support your direct business KPIs.

An off-page SEO KPI measures how well your users are engaging with your site’s content outside of your website.

Are they linking back to the content? Talking about it on social media and forums? Recommending your business to their friends? Clicking through frequently from your search engine rankings?

Part 2: Choosing the Right KPI Metrics for Your Business

How do you cherry-pick the right set of SEO KPI metrics for your business? The right SEO KPIs for your business will be dictated by your:

  • Business model
  • Type of business (i.e., industry)
  • Business goals
  • Stages of your business

Albeit, you’ll use KPIs from all four categories where and when necessary. You’ll choose the most relevant pieces of direct business and cost/ROI KPIs to track.

Regardless of your business model, goals, industry, and stage, you’ll need all SEO KPIs from the on-page and off-page metrics outlined here. But when deciding the SEO KPIs to track for your business and costs/ROI, you can just ask yourself if the KPI in question provides any insights or value for your business.

Your first mission is to establish what KPIs suit your business the most before you start tracking them. If you haven’t established a connection between these categories and your business goals you might be tracking a mirage.

The Definitive SEO KPI Guide: 23 Vital Metrics to Tie Business Goals to Clicks, Links and Signups

Direct Business SEO KPIs to Measure

Direct business SEO KPIs are key performance indicators that address leads generation and sales. I’ve identified and explained six of them here:

  • Number of leads generated
  • Increase in sales
  • Increase in in-store visits
  • Increased landing page conversion
  • Increased lead magnet download/use
  • Increased percentage of email subscribers
1. Number of leads generated

If you’re like most marketers, then lead generation is one of your top reasons for doing SEO. If you haven’t started measuring how many leads your SEO effort is driving to your business, you want to start now. And don’t just track any leads, but also track qualified leads (who are more likely to convert to paying customers).

This is probably your most important business objective and thus your most important KPI.

Of course, you’ll want to know other important information about the pages that are drawing leads, like their Google SERP rankings and click-through rates (CTR) from the SERPs.

You can track leads by setting up acquisition goals in Google Analytics.


2. Increase in sales

What’s a business without sales?

A hobby!

If you’re running a venture and need to make money from it, then you want your search engine optimization to convert to a sale. Or sales. You need an SEO KPI to connect your revenue growth to your website’s SEO strength.

Sales are tough but not impossible to track. You can use Google Analytics goals to track sales, and you can also use GA’s e-commerce Settings if you sell multiple products.

Note that sales are easier to track online. Offline tracking requires a lot more grit. See the next SEO KPI.

3. Increase in in-store visits

If you think tracking a sale via your website is tricky, then attributing in-store purchases to your SEO effort isn’t from this universe.

But in Google’s estimation, 95% of all retail sales happen in brick and mortar stores.

Making the attribution between your in-store sales and your SEO is vital. You want to track the impact of your SEO in driving visitors to your store.

A rather obvious SEO KPI, isn’t it?

But most webmasters ignore SEO-in-store-relationships because tracking them is a tough nut to crack. Google is working hard to make in-store tracking easier, you have three options here:

The old method of tracking in-store sales require that you manually feed data into your Google Analytics. But Google’s new approach is trying to use proximity and other data points to derive this essential SEO KPI. You should note that in-store tracking works best when you have an active AdWords campaign.

4. Landing page conversion rate

What’s a landing page if it’s not converting?

You can track your landing page conversions using Google Analytics goals and referral reports. I’ve shown you earlier how to set up goals in Google Analytics.

To do this on Google Analytics you must set up a goal. A goal in this sense is a title to help you uniquely track this activity.

Then the next step is to create a custom report. Custom reports will tell you specific details about the item you want to track. These details give insight on how to follow up with your KPI measurement.

Here’s how to set up referral reports to track your landing page conversions:

Go to your Google Analytics account and follow Customization > Custom Reports as shown below.


Give your custom report a title, and then a name. Keep the “Type” as “Explorer” and name the metric group if you wish; you may choose to call it “Landing Pages.”


Click on the “Add Metric” button and choose “Behavior” from the drop-down menu as shown below.



Scroll down to “Goal 10 (Site Search Goal 10 Conversion Rate)” and click it. This conversion report shows the percentage of site search visits that converted to the goal.



Next, click on “add dimension” and then “Behavior.” Scroll down and click on “Landing Page” as seen on the screenshot below.



Click the “Save” button.



If you’d love to dive deep into tracking your Landing Pages here’s a video to help.



5. Lead magnet download/use

Since over 95% of your site visitors will leave without making a purchase, you want to keep in touch with them. That’s where a lead magnet comes to play.

What’s the goal?

Getting visitors to download your material or signup for a demo. This not only gives them something of yours so they can see the real value you provide, but it also gives you their email address and other vital information.

So, you may also want to track your lead magnet download or subscriptions as a KPI.

You can manage this SEO KPI using GA goals. The more engaged your audience, the more likely they’ll convert to buyers, so you want to increase and monitor completed downloads and signup sessions.

6. Percentage of email subscribers


According to 59% of B2B marketers, email has produced the most revenue for them. In fact, welcome emails have grown revenues by as much as 320% for some businesses.

In short, email signup growth is a vital KPI. You can create goals to track in your GA account and then create custom reports to help you track these goals.

KPIs Based on Costs and ROIs

Running a business comes with costs. And those costs should come with returns on them. Tying your SEO KPI to your expenses and returns makes sense.

Which SEO KPIs would you set here? Those that rely on Smart Goals!

Smart goals help you improve your site conversions, using machine learning. Google uses anonymized data from thousands of websites to improve your conversions.

Here’s a small tutorial on how smart goals work:


You can leverage smart goals, regular Google Analytics goals and custom reports to

  • Lower your PPC cost and determine where your SEO pays the most dividend
  • Determine your marketing cost per lead acquired
  • Increase customer LTV
  • Increase ROI due to geographical targeting

Let’s go.

7. Percentage reduction in PPC spend due to SEO success

Not many businesses have an infinite marketing budget. And you’re probably one of those businesses.

You want to see your PPC costs drop. The more you know about your audience and how they find you on search engines the better you get at targeting them and the less you’d spend on PPC.

A smart goal makes this task less onerous. As you generally understand your audience and rank better on search engines, you’ll spend less on pay per click marketing to reach them.

8. Cost per acquisition for leads and customers

Another vital SEO KPI to track is how much leads and customers cost you to acquire them. This cost will include how much you’re spending on:

  • Link building
  • Social media campaigns
  • email campaigns
  • Content creation
  • Content distribution
  • Lead capture
  • Lead magnet

And even technical costs like web hosting, and the like. You want to track the keywords that get your leads or customers in the door and then focus on maximizing their impact. Your goal here would be to bring your acquisition costs down.

9. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) from SEO

Your customer lifetime value is the total amount of money a customer will spend for the period of time they remain your customer. Let’s take an example.

You offer a Software as a Service that requires a monthly subscription. And your customers stay an average of 18 months and pay $200 monthly, your LTV would be:

18 months X $200 = $3,600.

That’s it, your LTV is $3,600.

But not all businesses are subscription based. Josh at Netmark gives a nice and quick way to calculate your LTV if you’re not using the SaaS or subscription business model. See the video here:

The more you target the demographics that pay you the most money, the better your LTV.

You want to get clear on where your best customers come from and optimize better based on that data. For the purposes of SEO evaluation, you should be looking specifically at the LTV of customers who arrive at your site via organic search traffic.

Once you know who your best customers Neil Patel’s tactics for increasing your LTV becomes useful.

10. ROI from SEO spend targeting specific regions

Have you ever noticed that you’re getting a ton of organic traffic from an unexpected region of the world?

The next step is to calculate their LTV compared to the average (from all regions) and compared to other regions.

After all, you may be getting a ton of traffic from a region but better conversions and revenue from another region.

This might mean that you need to improve how you’re targeting visitors from that region of the world. You might, for instance, want to translate your content into their native language, or have a dedicated landing page or CTA for these visitors—something with a special appeal to people in their neck of the woods.

If you’re already targeting a number of regions with your SEO, you’ll want to see how much value you’re getting from that SEO investment.

Calculate the amount spent on regional SEO targeting the given region, and then calculate the response (pageviews, conversions, signups, revenue) from that region’s site visitors.

On-page SEO KPI

These are micro goals. They don’t necessarily generate your business any revenue (and in some cases don’t influence costs or ROI). But in most cases, they’re critical to your success.

You want to track and improve these SEO KPI metrics because they directly or indirectly influence your lead generation and sales.

11. Dwell time

This SEO KPI is how long your visitors linger on your site. The longer a visitor hangs around, the better for your business. The chances of making a purchase or converting increase with an increase in dwell time.

You can set goals to track your site’s dwell time and then optimize them better. Dwell time is how long visitors stay on your site. May sound similar to Bounce rate, but they’re not the same.

We have actual bounce rate and then bounce rate. Google needs two clicks to determine your bounce rate; the entry and exit clicks.

Without that all-important second click, Google may record a 35-minute visit—where the visitor left your site without clicking away—as a bounce.

So a site may have a high dwell time and a high bounce rate at the same time. Keep your visitors on your site, and you’re fine.

12. Bounce rate

How long do your visitors spend on your site?

For your SEO campaign to run smoothly, the bounce rate is one KPI you don’t want to overlook.

A page’s bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your site either immediately on arrival to your website or without going beyond your landing page. As I’ve noted earlier, you have absolute and non-absolute bounce rates.

A high bounce rate shows that your website is unable to retain its visitors. Unhealthy bounces can be attributed to any of the following:

  • You don’t offer what you claim to offer
  • No call to action (CTA) on the page
  • Your site loads too slowly
  • Your design is poor
  • Your content is outdated

The list can go on!

What’s the real-life implication of a bounce rate to a business?

Your site should be able to lead visitors to other pages on it. A high bounce rate shows that this isn’t happening.

The result? No conversion.

Albeit, a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing. If the page’s conversion rate is high, then a high bounce rate may be OK, depending on your niche.

According to KissMetrics, on the average

  • Service sites, portals and retail sites have low bounce rates in the range of 10% to 40%
  • Lead capture sites and Content website have bounce rates of about 30 to 60%
  • The highest bounce rates of about 70% to 90% are experienced by landing pages



How to reduce your bounce rate

To reduce your bounce rate,

  • Make your titles engaging
  • Use bucket brigades
  • Give visitors a reason to buy by leveraging testimonials, pictures or short videos
  • Add related topics for your visitors to read more content
  • Use internal links to other pages on your site

An engaging topic ensures that your visitors spend more time on the page. Whereas, the last two points make sure that they move to other pages of your site.

13. Average number of pages visited per visit

The more pages a visitor clicks to on your site the better engaged they are with your content. You want to monitor this metric. You can track page visits using Google Analytics.

14. Page engagement

The more comments, shares, subscriptions, click through to commercial links/pages you have the better.

The more you get users to engage with your content the more rankings you get because Google perceives you provide a superior user experience. You can set goals in Google Analytics to track your user engagement.

15. Site speed

Faster sites keep more visitors. With more visitors, they generate more leads and then sales. About 30% of visitors expect pages to load in a second or less.

You can test your site’s load speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The tool also gives you recommendations on how to improve your site’s speed.

16. Number of indexed pages

Your pages won’t get found if they aren’t indexed by search engines. So you want to monitor what pages are indexed or not. And if your content or commercial pages are indexed, you want to submit them manually or improve your site structure if that’s getting in the way.

Off-Page SEO KPI

Off-page SEO KPIs are useful for indicating competitiveness and authority.

17. Net Promoter Score (NPS)…

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty. In short, your NPS is the answer your customers give to the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”


Google gives priority to brand authority over content relevance (because reliable brands are less likely to spew off false or weak content). Google factors in reviews and rating in their rankings and your NPS can provide you with helpful insights.

You can use tools like AskNice.ly, Promoter.io or Wootric to automate the process of your NPS survey. Ultimately, keeping track of your NPS helps you lower your attrition rate.

18. Citation Flow

This KPI measures the weight of your website’s authority based on the number of links it gets from other websites. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where any score above 30 is a good one. You can track this score using Monitor Backlinks.

Although citation flow is focused on the number of backlinks you have, you want your citation coming from authoritative sites.

19. Trust Flow

This KPI is also measured on a scale of 0 to 100, like Citation Flow.

What’s the difference?


The quality of your website is measured by the reputation of the sites that link back to you. This is based on the popularity or trustworthiness of the site. You can also use Monitor Backlinks to tack your Trust Flow score.

If you know your competitors’ trust flow range, you’ll know what threshold to match or beat. Luckily you can also track your competitor’s Trust Flow using Monitor Backlinks.

20. Page Authority, Domain Authority and Spam Score

Page Authority, Domain Authority, and Spam Score are SEO KPI metrics from Moz. You can grow these metrics by creating highly useful and engaging contents, and then earn backlinks from authoritative sources to those contents.

You can monitor your backlinks quality using Monitor Backlinks (available for FREE 30 days trial). And you want to control your anchor texts and spammy links too.

You can track your page authority pretty easily. Download and install the MozBar extension for Chrome and then turn it on with the page open in your browser.


21. Organic Click Through Rate (CTR)

According to WordStream, Google’s organic click-through rates (CTR) for the number one position on the SERP has fallen by 37% in two years. Although there are different reasons for this drop in organic CTR of the #1 spot, the chief cause is the stiff competition on the SERP.


You can improve your organic CTR by crafting better meta titles and meta descriptions. Among other factors, searchers rely on your meta descriptions to make the decision to click through to your content.

22. SERP Rankings

It’s never been more important to be on the page one of the Google SERP than it is today. Almost no one looks at links on page two. A recent report says that 95% of all searchers don’t go past the first page of the SERP.

Since 93% of all online experiences start with search, your SERP rankings carry plenty of authority. You can track your search rankings using Monitor Backlinks.

23. Backlinks Profile and Site Traffic

Winning credible backlinks is one of the most effective Off-Page SEO strategies you can leverage. It gives your site credibility and lures search engines to rank you higher.

In fact, your site’s backlinks profile influences almost every SEO KPI metric. So you should learn to monitor

  • The number of links acquired from niche sites
  • The number of links acquired from high authority sites
  • The total number of backlinks earned
  • The link acquisition growth rate

You generally want to keep these metrics growing. So how do you achieve that? Use link building best practices and also leverage Google Analytics to track your link building ROI.

Your link building ROI would be the quantity and quality of visitors your site is gaining due to the links you’ve built.

For this process, Google Analytics is a great tool. All you need to do is create a custom report and configure your metrics and dimensions to measure for the sources of your visitors. This effectively tracks your backlink strategy and give you enough insight to develop a KPI. This KPI can then be used to decide if the strategy was valuable or not.

Here’s a quick guide to determining your link building ROI using Google Analytics. Go to your Google Analytics account. And then to Customization > Custom Reports


Give the report a title, like “Link Building ROI Custom Report” and then name the report tab. Next, click on “add metric” and then “Users.”


You can choose any metric you’d want to analyze from the drop-down menu.

Next, click on “add dimension” and then “Source.”


Now click “Save.”

Now you should see your report displayed depending on what metric you’re tracking. In this case, I chose to track the average time on pages from different sources.

Here’s what I got for the site I used in my test. You’ll notice that direct visitors spent more time on that site than visitors from Google search, at 2 minutes 27 seconds, and 1 minute 15 seconds respectively.


You can set up different variations of these custom reports to suit your traffic and link building KPIs. Some of the traffic KPIs you can track include

  • Percentage Increase in site traffic over time
  • Percentage of site traffic that become leads (and then customers)
  • Percentage of site traffic that contribute to other business objectives apart from leads generation
  • Percentage increase in traffic from desirable referrals
  • Increase in traffic due to branded search
  • Increase in traffic due to non-branded search
  • Percentage of site’s pages that generate traffic

For a thorough understanding of how to utilize Google Analytics for this process watch the following YouTube video.


Time for Action

Now you know what SEO KPI metrics to set and track. How to choose what KPIs are right for your business. Useful insights on how to track these SEO KPIs.

Nothing to scare you anymore.

The beast is tamed. It’s time for action!

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SEO Content Optimization


The complete guide on how to optimize content for SEO and Links

Content marketing has already solidified its stature as a powerhouse in the digital marketing realm.

In growing a brand’s audience and customer base, it’s certainly proved how formidable the practice is, especially when integrated with other data-driven disciplines (like SEO).

It’s no longer a trend. It has already forced its way to stay.


Content Optimization is a process in which a webpage and its content are optimized to become more attractive, useful and actionable to users. The processes typically include fixes and improvements on technical performance (ex: page speed) and content copy for it to perform and rank better on search engines.


The competition for attention has been taken to new greater heights. With the fact that a vast amount of publishers from different verticals have already bought in to the concept of pushing far more “great content” in a steadily growing rate (2 million blog posts are published every day).

What is 10x Content?

“Content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.” – Rand Fishkin

Great content is not as great when it is not well optimized. And optimizing content to be far more competitive for Search has tremendously evolved over the years.

Content optimization is basically the process of improving the aesthetics and performance of a site’s assets or pages that provide unique value to its intended users through on-page SEO, conversion optimization, user experience, design, content editing and more.


In my experience as an SEO, I think that there are 2 major strategic approaches to achieve success in Search Engine Optimization.

The first path is focusing the campaign in the technical side of search optimization. Ecommerce sites that have thousands of pages typically thrive in this kind of approach.

Whereas the second path to SEO success is relentlessly focusing resources on creative link acquisition campaigns – in which, honestly, our agency genuinely thrived for the past 3 years.

The last path, which I personally prefer these days, is focusing on making the most of what the site already have – through systemized Content Re-Optimization.



This process focuses on page-level audits and enhancements, which makes it distinctive to what common technical on-site SEO audits look like (which mostly focuses on sitewide changes on the onset).

It starts with assigning and interconnecting multiple goals for each of the page you’ll be optimizing, such as:

1. Making a single page rank for multiple search terms.

2. Owning Rank #0 in Semantic Search.

3. Increasing the likelihood of pages to earn links for informational queries.


Below are the necessary steps, once you know what you want to achieve for your campaign.


Get data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine your site’s high performing pages.

Note: Prioritize those that are already helping the site generate leads/conversions – and most importantly, pages targeting keywords with medium to high monthly search volume.


Start with those you’re confident you can easily compete with.


A well-planned content relaunch campaign can massively impact your site’s organic traffic (see what Brian did here).


The goal is to have more pages that’s capable of attracting thousands of highly qualified visitors to your site. That’s how you can build a fortress out of your website.

Below are the 17 content optimization tips that are a huge part of our own SEO strategiesfor enterprise level marketing campaigns.




Title tags still remain as one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s ranking algorithm.

  • Optimize your page’s titles for click-through rate (CTR)
  • Use your primary keyword(s) within the title – preferably placed closer at the beginning of the title tag.
  • Align content (body copy) with titles to match user intent.
  • Compare titles with your competitors.



Strategically place other keyword variants and semantically related terms within titles, descriptions, subheadings, images’ alt tag & content body.

Note: It’s important to use more relevant Nouns and entities in your writing. (Read more on Search Entity Optimization). This should also be a part of your keyword research for content strategy.



People don’t read on the web. They scan.

The average attention span of humans has been increasingly getting shorter since the mobile revolution. It’s best to optimize your content for different sets of users – those who intend to learn and those who want to get to the answers fast.


  • Optimize content for skimreaders
  • Use shorter sentences and break long paragraphs.
  • Make the more interesting parts of the content look prominent (through appropriate use of h1 tags, subheadings, bold and whitespaces).



Provide unique value in your content by including ideas or other content elements that your readers will rarely find elsewhere.

This is what will make your content more linkable.



Providing freemium content is one of the best ways to make your content assets a link building machine.

Explore and learn from other industries.

For instance, other verticals don’t invest that much in interactive content creation. Be more competitive by taking your assets a step ahead than your competitors.

The same principle can also be applied to product pages – if you are running an ecommerce site, include the following elements:

  • Quick Buyer Guides
  • “Did you know” or fun facts section about your products
  • Benefits
  • How the product works (visuals)
  • Then make detailed information optional and/or scannable

Lastly, it’s imperative to learn how to design content for eductors. Study the types of content/pages that top .edu sites link out to in your space.



Wikipedia has been successful as a website, not just because of the length of their content, but also because of the depth of the information they provide for each of their content.

This is what makes thousands of their pages so powerful (searchable, shareable & linkable). Focus on topic depth, not just length.

Be better than the wiki of your industry’s web space.

Use “last updated” timestamps when reoptimizing/upgrading your content’s depth. The recency of a high-quality content can help boost SERP CTR, and eventually its search engine rankings.


7. TL;DR

Place the summary, conclusion, key takeaways or TL;DR version of your content where visitors can instantly see them – above the fold. 

Providing quick and direct answers to users (who most of the time prefer to see the answers as fast as they can) can also exponentially improve visitor satisfaction.

This in turn can help your pages compete and rank for the Google Answer Box results.



15% of queries globally display featured snippets. There are 3 types of Google Answer Box results: Paragraphs (63% of all displayed featured snippets on Google search results), Lists (19%) and Tables (16% – according to the data gathered by STAT).

Currently, I have a very primitive process in optimizing pages for these rich snippets.

I use Google Search Console to manually identify queries that display Google Answer Boxes (based on the top 20 landing pages I choose to work on reoptimizing).

Search Console > Search Analytics > Click on Pages’ Filter > Click a Page > Choose on Queries’ filter

Once I’ve determined which pages/queries have displayed rich snippet results, I can then restructure key sections of the content to match the type of Answer Box results being shown for each target query:

  • Provide logical and the most accurate answers to these queries and Answer Box types.
  • Provide the best definition to “what is” queries – to steal weak paragraph snippets.
  • Create data-driven tables to steal weak “lists” rich snippets (not “how to” lists).
  • Get more content/keyword ideas to work on from “People also ask”

Recommended reading: How to Earn More Featured Snippets – by Rob Bucci


Structured Data makes it easier for search engines to better understand what your content is about. This is increasingly becoming more important in today’s search optimization (as Mike King mentioned, it’s the future of organic search).

It has become easier to apply these extra markups. Google have made it very simple to webmasters by offering free tools for implementing structured data markups: Structured Data Markup Helper and Rich Snippet Testing Tool.

If you’re using WordPress, there are a few plugins that can help you implement this (such as Schema Creator by Raven and All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets).

Useful Guides on implement Structured Data:



Optimize your content assets for better engagement with branded visuals and rich media content, like:

  • High quality images
  • Infographics / data visualizations
  • Videos
  • Interactive content (HTML5 landing pages)
  • Memes

As these content elements can boost conversions as well – especially on transactional pages (ex: product size charts).



Establish trust to users and search crawlers by citing/linking out to other authoritative websites and entities.

Cite credible sources within your own writing, especially those who will most likely help amplify your content promotion.

You can make your content assets more robust by collaborating and seeking help from others (co-creation & co-marketing).



Pass more link equity and improve the crawlability of your key content assets by contextually linking your site’s other deeper pages to it.

Take advantage of your internal links by using highly descriptive (or even partial match) anchor texts. This will help your important content assets rank better for the keywords they are targeting.



Pass on more ranking value to your key pages by lessening the # of clicks from homepage. Including these pages to your navigation links (or any type of featured links visible to first time site visitors) are great examples.



What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time, in a sense, is an amalgam of bounce rate and time-on-site metrics – it measures how long it takes for someone to return to a SERP after clicking on a result (and it can be measured directly from the search engine’s own data). – Dr. Pete Meyers

The longer the dwell time (or the length of time that a search-driven visitor stayed within the website), the better it could impact search rankings. It implies that the searcher has been satisfied with the result it clicked from the listings displayed by Google for a query.

Below are several ways you can do to optimize your content assets for better dwell time (and conversions).

1. Provide clear Calls-to-action (CTA)

  • Make sure the CTA is relevant to your content asset
  • Prominently placed within the page (at the bottom, sidebar, header, or pop-up).
  • Continuously test and improve your CTAs


2. Establish and build authority with trust signals & social proof


3. Internally link out to related pages to boost dwell time on site

Your content assets should serve as content layers that can funnel visitors deeper into your transactional pages (services or products).

4. Encourage social media sharing.


Google has clearly put a significant amount of weight in speed as a ranking signal. They’re continuously obsessing about how they want everything to be fast in this modern age of the web (particularly for mobile users).

Quick tips for speeding up your website (via VentureHarbour):

  1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  2. Use a very fast hosting company
  3. Install a caching plugin (WP Total Cache)
  4. Add Expires headers to leverage browser caching
  5. Compress your images (use WP SmushIt for WordPress)
  6. Clean up your database
  7. Compress your site with Gzip
  8. Fix all broken links
  9. Reduce your redirects
  10. Minify CSS and JS files
  11. Replace PHP with static HTML where possible
  12. Link to your stylesheets, don’t use @import
  13. Turn off ping backs and trackbacks in WordPress
  14. Enable Keep-Alive
  15. Specify image dimensions
  16. Specify a character set in HTTP headers
  17. Put CSS at the top and JS at the bottom
  18. Disable Hotlinking of images
  19. Switch of all plugins you don’t use
  20. Minimize round trip times (RTTs)
  21. Use CSS Sprites
  22. Use the rel=”prerender” directive (learn more here).



Links are still very vital to rank better these days (and definitely one of the top 3 core ranking factors).

It should be a lot easier to get and earn links to your content assets if they are already 10x better than what your competitors are offering.

Reach out to people/publishers who have already shown interest on the topic covered by your content – especially those who have linked/shared similar content in the past.

Useful link building resources:



Google recently began experimenting on “mobile-first indexing”.

In which Google will primarily look at mobile versions of pages for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

With this upcoming big change to how Google will treat pages for ranking evaluation, considering to have mobile versions for your site’s key content assets in place could help improve their search visibility.

But there’s no need to worry if your site doesn’t have a mobile version, as per Google:

“If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

Here are some of the recommendations from Google on what webmasters could do to prepare:

  • If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.

  • If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.

      • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version. Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
      • When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
      • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
      • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • If you are a site owner who has only verified your desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.

This means fully optimizing some of your important pages for mobile users (optimizing for local search, speed & structured data).

Final thoughts.

I still think that there’s a bit of truth in the saying “if you build it, they will come”. Success will always follow you when you’re consistently great at something.

Social Media for SEO

Share on Social Media

Sharing on Social Media provides good traffic to your site thus increasing your overall SEO ranking.

7 Times on Twitter

3 Times on Linkedin

2 Times on Facebook

-Post Variation

Make variations in the Shared post such as use different image, Add videos but the link should be of the same blog.

-Post Regularly

Schedule the posts for a week and month to save yourself from the hassle of Creating and Posting daily.

-Don’t Use Link Shorteners

Naked URLs count as direct links back to your site which will improve your visibility in the Search engines. Create unique, short and keyword rich URLs

Make it Easy for others to Share

Make sure you have social share icons on your site so that users can share the Blog/Article they like on their own social media handles thus generating traffic for your website.

Choose Compelling Images

Articles with images get 94% more views. So create compelling images to be posted on social media that can easily grab user attention or interest

Write Catchy Headlines

Use Catchy Headlines to attract your user’s attention

Optimize Tweets for Search

Use Twitter analytics to review your tweets

Include relevant keywords and tweet on topics your audience is most curious about

Ask for retweets

Find Relevant Hashtags

Use free Social bookmarking sites

Guest Posting


Guest posting is that where you write an article and post it on someone else’ blog or website with their author bio. In other word, it is a practice which is used by blogger to enhance blog traffic. Apart from this, it helps to build brand awareness with the help of different types of a potential audience.

Cheat Sheet by Neil Patel


Take control of your workflows today.