Backlinko http://backlinko.com Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:29:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SEO Tips: The Complete List (201 Actionable Techniques) http://backlinko.com/actionable-seo-tips http://backlinko.com/actionable-seo-tips#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 15:07:42 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=9841 This is the largest collection of SEO tips on the planet. The best part? All of the SEO techniques in this guide are 100% actionable. So if you want higher rankings, check out the new guide. Anything I Missed? Any SEO tips that I missed? Or maybe you have a question about one of the... Read more »

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This is the largest collection of SEO tips on the planet.

The best part?

All of the SEO techniques in this guide are 100% actionable.

So if you want higher rankings, check out the new guide.

I want tips that help with:


  1. On-Page SEO
  2. Link Building
  3. Keyword Research
  4. Technical SEO
  5. Video SEO
  6. User Experience

I want tips that are:


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Show only Brian's favorite tips:


  1. Yes
  2. No

On-Page SEO techniques

Add LSI Keywords to Your Content

On-Page SEOAdvancedYes

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are a fancy way of saying: “synonyms and closely-related terms”.

And when you include these in your content you help Google understand what your page is all about. You can find LSI keywords at the bottom of the SERPs:

searches related to screenshot

Add Text Content To Infographic-Based Blog Posts

On-Page SEOIntermediateNo

Yes, infographics are an awesome way to generate social shares and backlinks. But they have one big problem:

Google can’t read ’em!

That’s why I always add plenty of text underneath my infographics. That way Google can understand what your page (and infographic) is all about.

putting text below an infographic

Create Unique Titles for Each Page (Seriously)

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Boilerplate and duplicate titles.

These are HUGE mistakes that sites with lots of pages make (I’m looking at you ecommerce sites 🙂 ).

And it’s something that Google has come right out and said: “Don’t do it dude!”

google search console help guidelines

I know it’s a huge pain to write unique title tags for each and every page. But it’s super important.

Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword ResearchAdvancedNo

Let’s say you’re gunning for the keyword: “red shoes”. You COULD simply optimize your title tag around the keyword “red shoes”.

But it’s smarter to embed a long tail keyword into your title tag.

(For example, you could optimize your title tag around “best red shoes” or “cheap red shoes”).

That way, you can quickly rank for the long tail keyword “best red shoes”. And over time you can ALSO rank for your main target keyword, “red shoes”.

Experiment With Using ONLY Your Keyword in Your URL

On-Page SEOIntermediateYes

A few years ago I had an idea:

I knew that short, keyword-rich URLs were best for SEO.

And then I thought: “why not make my URL the exact keyword that I want to rank for?”.

And it worked! That’s why today I (mostly) use URLs like: example.com/my-exact-keyword

Obviously, if you keyword stuff, these URLs can lead to over-optimization. But when combined with moderate on-page SEO, I’ve found that keyword-only URLs help.

Focus On Insanely Actionable Content

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

In my experience, practical content CRUSHES opinion pieces and clickbait. And several studies have found the same thing.

It boils down to sharing. People are more likely to share (and therefore link to) super-practical content.

Forget Keyword Density. Focus on Keyword Frequency

On-Page SEOBeginnerNo

It’s unlikely that Google uses keyword density as a ranking factor.

But there is no doubt in my mind that they look at the number of times a keyword appears on your page.

(Known as “Keyword Frequency”).

Think about it:

Imagine if page A contained the keyword “oatmeal cookies” only once.

And page B contained that same keyword 7 times. Which page would you think is more likely to be about “oatmeal cookies”? Thought so.

Bottom line: Use your target keyword at least a few times in the body of your article.

Have a Privacy Policy and Terms Page

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

This may or not be a direct Google ranking factor.

That said, easy-to-find privacy policy and terms pages help your site stand out from shady affiliate sites that don’t usually have these pages. Plus, users are used to seeing these pages on “real” sites. And if you don’t have them it’s possible that people won’t consider your site legit.

Include Keyword Synonyms in H1 and H2 Tags

On-Page SEOIntermediateNo

I usually use my exact keyword in my page’s H1 and  H2 tag. But if I feel that the page is over-optimized, I’ll replace the exact keyword with a synonym instead.

So if my target keyword was “Low Carb Desserts” I’d use a term like “Sugar-Free Desserts” in an H1 or H2 tag.

Simple.

Keep Your Title Tag Under (Approximately) 60 Characters

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginnerNo

Google used to limit title tag length based on the number of characters it contained.

Today? They use pixels (the current limit is 512 pixels).

Because counting pixels is a pain, I just count characters. And I’ve found that staying under 60 characters keeps me under the pixel limit 99% of the time.

Make Social Sharing Buttons Super-Easy to Find

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given up on sharing a piece of content because I had trouble finding the share buttons.

That’s why I use social sharing buttons that follow you down the page:

floating social share buttons

That way, my post is ready to be shared whenever the mood strikes you.

Optimize E-commerce Product Pages Like Blog Posts

On-Page SEO, Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

For example, include your target keyword a few times. Use LSI keywords. And when it makes sense, publish 1000+ word product descriptions. For more info on optimizing ecommerce product pages, check out this guide.

Optimize Your Homepage For Conversions (And Your Brand Name)

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Yes, your homepage usually has a ton of authority.

But in general, homepages are a huge pain in the butt to rank. Homepages don’t have a ton of content.

(And when they do it’s content aimed at selling).

In short, homepages usually aren’t the type of pages that Google wants to show their users.

That’s why I focus my homepage efforts on ranking for my brand name…and on conversions.

Publish Long Content

On-Page SEOIntermediateYes

Several industry studies (including ours) have found a correlation between long content and higher rankings. That’s not to say that publishing longer content will skyrocket you to the first page. But there’s plenty of data out there to show that publishing 1000+ word content helps.

02_Content Total Word Count_line

Put Your Keyword Early In Your Title Tag

On-Page SEOIntermediateNo

Search engines put more weight on terms that appear towards the beginning of a page. And the same rule applies to your title tag. So when it makes sense, put your keyword at the beginning of your page’s title tag. Here’s an example:

keyword appearing early in a title tag

Relaunch Old Content

On-Page SEOIntermediateNo

I recently did this and it doubled my organic search engine traffic.

And it’s a practice that Hubspot has had a ton of success with:

relaunching content chart from hubspot

Replace "Published On" Dates with "Last Updated"

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

A few years ago I had a problem:

I’d go back to update and upgrade an old blog post. And despite the fact that the post was 50%+ new content, it still said: “Published on X”.

That meant that when someone saw the post they’d say: “Shucks! I dare say that this is one old post.”

(Yes, farmers read my blog)

Today, I swapped that the published date with “last updated”. That way my readers know whether or not they’re reading something that’s up-to-date.

blog post with last updated date

Take Advantage of Internal Linking

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

It’s easy to overthink internal linking.

Here’s the simple system I use:

Link FROM high-authority pages TO pages you want to rank.

It’s simple…but it works 🙂

Update Old Content

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

This might be the most underrated on-page SEO technique on the planet.

First off, updating show Google that you care about your content.

And the updated information and images tell users: “This page is up-to-date”.  In fact, I update all of my posts at least once a year.

Use "Jump Links" To Get Sitelinks

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Sitelinks are one of the best ways to boost your page’s organic CTR. And you can significantly boost the odds of sitelinks by including “jump links” to different sections of your page. Google will then use the anchor text of those jump links as sitelinks:

sitelinks in google search results

Use Google Search Console to Find Title Tag Issues

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Google states that they want your title tags to be: “descriptive and concise”. Unfortunately, as your site grows and ages you’ll end up with pages that have generic or missing title tags.

Fortunately, you can easily find these in the Google Search Console. Go to “Search Appearance” —> “HTML Improvements”—> “Non-informative title tags”.

title tag issues in the search console

Use Lots of Images

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Images are an awesome way to break up your content into easily-readable chunks.

“Easily readable” means that users are likely to stick on your page.

And considering Google is paying more and more attention to user experience signals, anything you can do to boost dwell time can only help your SEO efforts.

(Plus, our study found a correlation between using at least one image and rankings)

Content Contains At Least 1 Image_line

Use Numbered Lists to Increase The Odds of Getting in The Knowledge Graph

On-Page SEOAdvancedNo

Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just “How old is Leonardo Dicaprio” style searches.

In fact:

For many step-by-step or “how to do X” keywords, Google will sometimes pull your list of items and pop it into the ol’ Knowledge Graph.

example of a list of items in Google knowledge graph

And you can increase the odds of this happening by numbering the steps in your process (or the items in your list post). You can also use bullets to create a list of bullet-point items (like in the example above).

Use Outbound Links

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Does linking to relevant content help your rankings? Google’s take: it might. But an industry study seems to show that outbound linking may give your content a slight rankings boost.

Use Schema to Boost CTR (But Be Careful)

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOAdvancedNo

Schema can hook you up with rich snippets in Google’s search results:

example of rich snippets

Obviously, review stars or an image in Google’s search results will boost your CTR. However, like anything in SEO, make sure to stay legit. Google is now penalizing people for gaming the system with Schema markup.

Use Short URLs

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Shorter URLs are better for users and search engines.

Also, our analysis of 1 million Google search results revealed that shorter URLs tend to perform slightly better in Google than long URLs.

URL Length and First Page Google Rankings

Use This To Get Longer (4-Line) Description Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedNo

I’d estimate that Google uses a page’s meta description tag in the search results only about 50% of the time.

Instead, they tend to pull content from the page and use that as the page’s description. Sometimes these Google-made descriptions are twice as long as the typical 2-line descriptions we’re used to:

4 line description tags

And it stands to reason that these results will get a higher CTR. The question is:

How do you get these 4-line descriptions? I’ve found that Google uses two factors:

1. The page’s overall authority
2. Actionable tips at the top of the page (how do they know it’s actionable? They’re Google. They’re smart)

So when it makes sense, put an actionable tip (or two) at the top of your page. Google may grab that tip and use it in an extra-long description.

Use Title Tag Modifiers

On-Page SEOAdvancedYes

Title tag modifiers are words and phrases that tend to get tacked onto the end of search terms. For example, someone searching for a credit card might search for things like: “best credit cards”, “credit cards 2016”, “credit card reviews” etc.

And when you add these modifiers to your title tag you’ll show up at the top of the page for those terms.

Here are a few modifiers you can use:

  • “best”
  • “reviews”
  • the current year
  • “checklist”
  • “PDF”
  • “guide”
  • “course”

Use Your Keyword In Your First 100 Words

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

This is an old school on-page SEO tactic that may or may not make a big difference anymore. But including your keyword at the top of your content certainly doesn’t hurt. So I still do it.

Plus, when a user sees the keyword they just searched for on your page, it helps them realize that they’re in the right place.

example of using a keyword early in an article

Want More Shares? Use Click To Tweet Buttons

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Ever think to yourself:

“I wish more people would share my content!”? Then you’ll love this SEO tip.

Instead of a generic “share my post” call to action, use a “Click To Tweet” instead. You can ask someone to tweet a specific tip, image…or even a quote.

click to tweet

Write Content That Covers a Topic In-Depth

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Our search engine ranking factors study found that in-depth content significantly outperformed shallow, surface-level content.

07_Content Topic Authority (MarketMuse Data)_line

Write Image Alt Text Like a Caption

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Here’s the deal:

Google can’t actually see what’s in an image. Instead, they use image metadata — like the image filename and alt text — to understand what’s in that image.

That’s why I recommend including keywords in your image alt text. To avoid keyword stuffing simply write your alt text like it’s a caption.

keyword alt text example

Always Have a Specific Page (And Place) For Your Link

Link BuildingIntermediateYes

Here’s a huge mistake a see a lot of people make with link building:

They email someone asking for “a link”. The thing is, even if I LOVE your content, I can’t be bothered to find a page (and place) where your link makes sense.

Instead, always offer a specific page (and even spot on the page) where your link would add value. Here’s an example from a recent outreach email I sent out:

link building outreach email

Become a Regular Columnist on Authority Sites

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

My buddy Sujan Patel uses this technique to get his name in front of thousands of people every month.

He can also brag that he’s been featured on mega-authority sites like Forbes and the WSJ:

example of ive been featured on websites

Yes, it takes a lot of work to contribute a weekly or monthly column. But the benefits can make it well worth the effort.

Build .edu Links from Scholarships

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Most universities have a page that links to scholarships, like this:

Scholarships list on edu website

And when you create one — and let the university know about it — you can land yourself a nice, quality backlink.

One caveat: this SEO technique is getting overused. So I don’t recommend creating a scholarship solely for link building. But if you already offer one, make sure to leverage that scholarship for some super-duper .edu backlinks.

Build Backlinks From Link Roundups

Link BuildingBeginnerNo

Did you just publish something awesome?

Then pitch your content to link roundups. The links aren’t the most powerful on the planet, but they do make a dent. Plus, they’re super easy to build.

roundup backlink confirmation

Build Links From "Find a Retailer" Pages (Ecommerce)

Link BuildingNo

This is an awesome way for ecommerce sites to build high-quality backlinks.

The only catch is that you need to sell a number of different physical products on your site.

If you do, find out which manufactures have a “Find a Retailer” or “Where to buy X” page on their site.

retailer link page

Then reach out and ask to be listed on the page.

Co-Produce a Piece of Content

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Let’s face it:

Producing awesome content is hard work. But it’s a lot easier with a partner.

That’s why I recommend partnering with other sites. Collaborate on a case study, report or infographic.

For example, I regularly get emails from readers that got results from one of my strategies. And if it makes sense, we work together to write a case study for the blog:

reader that is featured on the backlinko blog

This helps me publish a high-quality case study for the Backlinko community. And they get exposure from being the “star” of the case study. It’s a win-win.

Collect (and Publish) Data

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

Earlier this year I published the largest search engine ranking factors study ever.

And it was my first foray into publishing my own data.

The result?

Backlinks from nearly 600 different domains.

referring domains in ahrefs

And I’ve seen the same phenomenon in dozens of different industries: unique data attracts backlinks like a moth to a flame.

Combine the Skyscraper Technique With Guest Posting

Link Building, Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

What happens when you combine The Skyscraper Technique with traditional guest posting?

According to one case study at least, you can see a significant spike in your organic search engine traffic.

google analytics traffic increase

Consolidate Similar Posts Into a Mega Guide

On-Page SEO, Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvancedNo

Those 400-word posts from two years ago aren’t doing you any favors (in fact, they may be hurting your SEO efforts).

So if you have a bunch of mediocre posts that aren’t driving traffic, combine them into a mega guide.

The increased perceived value will help the guide attract 10x more links than a random smattering of shorter posts.

Contribute to Expert Roundups

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Expert roundups are a collection of opinions and tips from a group of experts.

And you get a nice juicy backlink when you contribute something cool to the roundup.

roundup post submission

Create a Glossary of Terms

Link Building, Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

I’ve seen glossaries CRUSH IT in several different industries.

For example, this glossary of gardening terms has over 300 backlinks (!).

ahrefs backlink report

The other cool thing about glossaries is that most of them are old and relatively small.

For example, the gardening glossary I mentioned above only has about 50 terms on it. Very beatable.

Create an Awesome Free Tool

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvancedNo

People. Love. Tools.

More importantly, people love linking to free tools.

For example, this retirement calculator has links from 238 domains:

free tool as linkbait

Create Awesome Infographics

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

BuzzSumo discovered that infographics generate significantly more social shares than your average text-based blog post.

infographics vs blog posts

And my personal experience has shown me that (awesome) infographics tend to generate more backlinks too.

(Mostly because people will embed your infographic in their posts and link back to you)

Create Co-Branded Infographics With Cool Peeps

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

It’s harder than ever to publish a successful infographic.

Infographics used to be novel. Today? THOUSANDS come out every single day.

So how can you possibly get your piece of stand out?

Co-brand an infographic with someone else. That way you halve the work and double the promotional impact.

Create Linkable Content Around "Shoulder Niches"

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvancedNo

In a boring niche? Then you might think that there’s no way you can create content that people will link to.

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

“Shoulder Niches” are closely-related topics that you CAN create awesome content around.

Just look at how Mike Bonadio used Shoulder Niches to boost his client’s organic traffic by 15%:

search engine traffic increase in Google analytics

Don't Bother Guest Posting (Unless You Follow These 2 Rules)

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Guest posting is OK for link building as long you follow two simple rules:

Rule #1: Don’t make guest posting your go-to link building strategy

Rule #2: Don’t guest post on low-quality and/or irrelevant sites

Don't Completely Discount Nofollow Links

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Google’s Matt Cutts has said that nofollow links can’t hurt you (unless you’re hardcore spamming).

But can they help?

My own testing (and a few industry studies) have found that nofollow links can help with rankings.

That’s why I don’t completely discount nofollow links. As long the my link is a contextual link from a relevant site, I’ll take it.

Don't Overoptimize Anchor Text

Link BuildingBeginnerNo

Sure, exact match anchor text can help you rank for a specific keyword.

But too many exact match anchors can also get you into hot water with Big G. Yup, I’m talking Google Penguin. Bottom line? Even though exact match anchor can help you, it’s not worth the risk.

Don't Overthink Link Quality

Link BuildingIntermediateYes

The #1 ranking signal we found in our recent ranking factors study was the number of sites linking to you.

05_Number of Referring Domains_line

So yeah, you should always focus on building uber-quality links whenever possible. But don’t overthink it.

If you find a quality site — but it doesn’t have the authority you want — get the link anyway.

Don't Sweat Metrics. If a Site LOOKS Good, Get The Link

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

I get this question all the time:

“Brian, what’s the minimum PA/DA/Trustflow/SiteAuthority that a site has to have for link building?”

My answer? I don’t even look at metrics anymore.

To me, if a site passes the “eyeball test”, it’s good to go.

In my experience links from sites that look good and publish quality content tend to have the most impact. So I don’t waste time fiddling around with metrics.

Don't Waste Time on Easy Links

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

If you find a strategy for “easy links”…

…run the other way as fast as you can.

Seriously. Any link building strategy that’s easy will eventually get devalued (or even penalized) by Google.

So I recommend sticking to “hard” links. In other words, links built with good ol’ fashioned email outreach.

Find Link Opportunites on Twitter

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

If you want a fresh set of link opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else, check out Twitter search.

twitter search results

You’ll often come across industry bloggers that you can build relationships with.

(And even sometimes content that you can get links from)

Focus on Contextual Links

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Have you ever wondered:

“Will this link actually boost my rankings?”

In my experience contextual links seriously move your site up in Google’s search results. Here’s an example:

contextual backlink from a blog post

I recommend putting 100% of your focus on building links like that.

Focus on Link Relevancy

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

As an ex-Google employee once said: “…relevance is the new PR [PageRank].”

Yes, link metrics (like a page’s authority) still matter. But today, I put relevancy on equal footing with traditional link authority metrics.

Followup With Out of Office Emails

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Ever use email outreach for link building? Then you’ve no doubt come across the dreaded “out of office” email.

Back in the day I’d wait for the person to reply when they got back from vacation.

But they never did.

This makes total sense: your target probably got 250+ emails during their trip. And your message about a broken link isn’t anywhere near the top of their priority list.

That’s why I follow up a few days after they get back to the office.

followup email

Get Interviewed on Podcasts

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

Podcasts might be the most underrated link building strategy on the planet.

Unlike guest posting, there’s a high barrier to entry.

(It’s also 10x easier to hop on a podcast than pitch, write, edit and publish a guest post)

podcast shownotes

Get Links From News Sites With HARO and MuckRack

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

You want to get mentions from news sites like the Huffington Post.

Reporters want quotes from experts.

HARO and MuckRack bring these two groups together.

It definitely takes some grinding to get a journalist to use your quote. But each link you do get is worth its weight in gold.

Get Links From Places That Use Your Visual Assets (Like Infographics)

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

In a perfect world, everyone would link back to you when they use your chart or infographic

But we don’t live in a perfect world 🙂

On the bright side, I’ve found that most people are happy to link to you when given a friendly nudge.

So if you tend to publish a lot of visual content, spend a few minutes today on Google reverse image search.

finding unlinked embeds of an infographic

This will show you every page that’s using your content. Then find people that didn’t link back…and send them a gentle reminder.

Help Hacked Websites

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

30,000 websites are hacked every day (source).

And most of these website owners have no idea their site is now under someone else’s control.

Fortunately, you can find these site owners and give them a heads up about their hacked site.

hacked website search

It’s a great way to get your foot in the door with influential webmasters in your niche.

Learn Everything You Can About Email Outreach

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

White hat link building is all about email outreach.

And the more you learn about this critical skill, the more backlinks you’ll get.

Here are some resources I recommend checking out:

The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach

How to Write a Personalized Outreach Email Even When You’re Sending it to 100 People

How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Journalists

Let People Know You Featured Them

Link BuildingBeginnerNo

Want some easy shares (and even a potential backlink) from your next piece of content?

Let people know that you featured them in your content. It works:

example of outreach email to influencers

Make Your Content Appealing To Influencers

On-Page SEO, Link Building, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Content marketing rookie: “I create content that appeals to my target customer”.

Content marketing pro: “I create content that appeals to industry influencers…and my target customer”.

This may sound like a small distinction. But creating content with influencers in mind makes a HUGE difference when you get down to the brass tax of link building.

For more info on how this works, check out this post.

New to Link Building? Focus on Resource Pages

Link BuildingBeginnerNo

Resource pages are a link builder’s dream.

I mean, these are pages designed for the sole purpose of linking to awesome content!

Here’s an example of a resource page about tea:

resource page

So if you’re new to link building, focus 100% on building backlinks from resource pages. They’re relatively easy to find and get links from.

Offer Discounts to Universities

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Create a fat discount for university students and staff. Then let them know about it.

When you do you can land yourself some sweet .edu backlink action:

university discount listing page

Promote to People That Commented on Another Post

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

When someone leaves a comment on a post you know a few things about them:

First, they’re knowledgeable about your topic (or at least think they are 🙂 )

Second, they like to discuss that topic.

This means that these folks are VERY likely to be receptive to your outreach.

Promote Your Content to People That Just Shared Something Similar

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

If you want people to share your content, here’s what to do:

First, find people that recently shared something on that topic.

Next, let them know about your content.

(Seriously, that’s it).

Here’s an example:

email to influencer

Promote Your Content To Your Email List

Link Building, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Forget Facebook.

Forget Twitter.

If you want people to see your latest piece of content, promote it to your email list.

In my experience NOTHING beats the sheer quantity and quality of engagement that you get from email subscribers.

Reach Out to Bloggers That JUST Published a Post

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

I’ve found that people are MUCH more likely to change a brand new post than one they published five years ago.

And you can use an alert tool to get fresh link prospects delivered to your inbox every day:

fresh mentions screenshot

Send Personalized Emails to Contact Forms and "Info@" Emails

Link BuildingBeginnerYes

Contact forms and “contact@” email are the bane of a link builder’s existence.

9 times outta 10 you never hear back. It’s like your message ends up in a black hole.

I’ve found a trick that significantly boosts the conversion rates from contact forms:

Write your message to the person you want to get in touch with.

For example, let’s say you want to let Jane know about your awesome ultimate guide. But you aren’t able to find Jane’s email address.

Simply send a personalized message “to” Jane via the site’s contact form.

contact form submission for link building

Because it’s so targeted, the person that runs the generic inbox will likely forward your email to Jane.

Speak at Conferences and Events

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Is this a lot of work for a single link? You betcha.

Fortunately, speaking at events has fistfuls of benefits –from networking to positioning yourself as an authority.

Also, when you speak, bloggers that write about the event will also link to you.

example of blogger writing about a conference talk

In fact, I’ve received 5+ links from speaking at a single conference.

Tap Into Reverse Guest Posting

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Reverse guest posting is where you get an authoritative blogger to write a guest post for YOUR site.

As you may expect, having a baller’s content on your site be a HUGE credibility booster.

It’s not easy to convince an influencer to write a guest post, but the payoff can be well worth it.

Test Two-Step Email Outreach

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

Most people send their link pitch in their first email.

But I’ve found that a two-step email outreach process converts MUCH better. In fact, Mike doubled his conversion rate with a 2-step approach:

Two step email sequence conversion rate

Time Your Outreach Emails

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

When I first started link building I’d send outreach emails whenever I felt like it.

Big mistake.

I quickly learned that WHEN you send your emails makes a difference…a big difference.

That’s why today I use Boomerang. This tool makes sure your email hits your target’s inbox at just the right time.

boomerang for gmail

(I’ve found that 1-3pm is best)

Transcribe Text Content Into Audio (Or Vice Versa)

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Offer a blogger an audio version of their post…or a text version of their podcast or video.

Word of warning: make sure you don’t trade this service in exchange for a backlink (this goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines). Just send them the text or audio. And leave the linking decision up to them.

Plus, even if you don’t get a link, you’ve done someone a solid. And that can lead to a long-term relationship down the road.

Translate Other People's Content

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Whenever you find a resource that would be valuable to a global audience, send the author a translated version.

If they like the translation, they may use it and link back to you:

translation link

Trim Your Link Profile's Spammy Links

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

When it comes to backlinks, what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

That’s why I highly recommend pruning your link profile of spammy links. Maybe you built them back in the spun article days of 2011. Maybe your competitor blasted you with blog comments.

Either way, those links are a risk to your site’s search engine rankings.

Proactively use email outreach to remove as many bad links as you can. And disavow the rest.

Turn Unlinked Mentions Into Backlinks

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

First, use a tool like Buzzsumo alerts to get a heads up whenever your brand is mentioned on the web.

When you see an unlinked mention like this…

example of unlinked brand mention

…ask the author to add a link to your website.

Uncover Untapped Link Opportunities With Keyword Monitoring

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Keyword monitoring shows you bloggers that just published content on your topic.

(In other words PERFECT peeps to reach out to)

For example, let’s say you want to build some links to your new ultimate guide to eco-friendly travel.

You’d set up an alert in Buzzsumo for keywords like “green travel”, “eco travel” etc.

buzzsumo alerts

And you’ll get a heads up anytime someone publishes something on that topic.

Update Other People's Outdated Content

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Whenever you find a piece of content that’s good — but outdated — offer to give it a fresh coat of paint.

In my experience most site owners are happy to have someone freshen up their old content with new links, advice and images.

(Of course, they’ll sometimes add a link to you as their way of saying “thanks!”)

Use Blog Lists to Find Authoritative Link Opportunities

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

How do you find the best blogs in your industry?

Well you could Google “your topic” + “blog”. But that will only get you so far.

Instead, I recommend checking out hand-curated lists of quality blogs:

best of blog list

In my experience blogs that appear on lists like these make great link targets.

Use Broken Link Building (And The Moving Man Method)

Link BuildingAdvancedYes

Want to 3x the results from your email outreach?

Then let your targets know about broken links (or outdated resources) on their site.

This way you provide value to the site owner BEFORE pitching your resource.

(And it works)

example of broken link building email for link building

Use Contentmarketer.io to Find Emails

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Finding people’s email addresses is a big pain in the butt.

That’s why I use ContentMarketer.io. Simply upload a list of people and get a list of working email addresses.

content marketer email outreach list

Very cool.

Use Google Images To Find Guest Post Opportunities

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

First, find someone in your niche that tends to guest post a lot.

Second, grab their image and pop it into Google’s reverse image search.

Voila! You can see everywhere they’ve guest posted:

finding guest post opportunities with google images

Use Linkclump to Grab Prospects

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Linkclump is a handy Google Chrome extension that lets you grab multiple link prospects from Google’s search results.

linkclump in action

That way you don’t have to click on every Google result one at a time.

Use Million Short to Zero-In On Realistic Link Targets

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

How much time do you spend filtering out giants like YouTube and Amazon from your list of link prospects?

It’s a massive pain.

Enter: MillionShort. This nifty tool filters out the top 100, 1000 or million sites from your results.

million short search tool

Very, very cool.

Use Testimonials to Build Backlinks

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

If there’s a product or service that you love, see if they have a testimonials page that link out:

testimonials page

Then let them know that you’d be happy to submit a testimonial for their page. When you do, you might find yourself with an easy (yet powerful) link.

Use Yesware to Optimize Your Email Outreach Tactics

Link BuildingAdvancedNo

Yesware shows you if people are opening your emails, clicking on your links or forwarding emails to other people.

Creepy? Yes.

But it’s a tool that REALLY helps you figure out what’s not working with your email outreach…so you can fix it.

yesware in action

Write Epic Content In The Form of Ultimate Guides, Case Studies and Mega Lists

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

There are (literally) 2 million blog posts published every single day.

That means that your 500-word “5 tips for weight loss” post is just a drop in the ocean.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you can still get links from your content. How? Publish epic content like case studies, definitive guides and huge lists (like this one).

For example, my definitive guide to keyword research has attracted backlinks from 350+ domains.

referring domains in ahrefs2

Keyword Research techniques

Can Your Keyword Get "Knowledge Graphed"?

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

If so, avoid that keyword like the plague.

You don’t want to be like these poor guys:

example of google knowledge graph

Choose Keywords That Are Movin' on Up

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Do this before you decide on your next keyword:

Pop it into Google Trends. That way you can see if your target keyword’s popularity is moving on’ up…or dying a slow death.

google trends chart

Choose Keywords With High Commercial Intent

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

When I first got started in SEO I’d choose keywords based on two factors:

1) Search volume and 2) competition.

Not good. Today I understand that a keyword’s commercial intent is super important.

If you ignore commercial intent than you may spend time ranking a keyword that makes you exactly zero dollars.

That’s why I recommend choosing keywords that have a high “suggested bid” in the Google Keyword Planner.

suggested bid in the google keyword planner

Create Branded Keywords

Link Building, Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes

Guestographics.

The Moving Man Method.

The Content Upgrade.

These are all terms that I coined.

And because of that fact, I rank #1 in Google for all of them.

That’s why I highly recommend coining your own term. It takes a ton of work for that term to become a keyword people search for. But it’s well, well worth it.

Don't Focus on Long Tail Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

Long tail keywords have their place.

But Google Panda and Semantic search has made targeting a bunch of long tail keywords ineffective.

Instead, target moderately high volume keywords (I call these “Medium Tail Keywords”).

Find Awesome Topics (And Keywords) In a Book's Table of Contents

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

Here’s how to execute this SEO technique:

First, find the most popular books on your topic in Amazon.

Next, check out the table of content’s. Each chapter it a potential topic/keyword idea.

amazon book chapters used for keyword research

Finally, pop the chapter titles into the Google Keyword Planner to check out search volume, commercial intent etc.

Find Keyword Ideas in Wikipedia

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Wikipedia’s table of contents can have some AWESOME keywords in them.

(And these are keywords that you may not have found using any other technique)

wikipedia table of contents used for keyword research

Find Keyword Ideas on Quora

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Quora is a goldmine for keyword research. That’s because it’s a community devoted to one thing: asking and answering questions.

To find keywords in Quora, just search for a potential topic. Then keep an eye out for keywords that appear in questions (and answers).

quora keyword ideas

For example, a quick search for “Paleo Diet” uncovered potential seed keywords like:

  • Atkins vs. Paleo diet
  • Scientific basis of Paleo diet
  • Paleo diet actually healthy
  • Pros and cons of Paleo diet

Find Keywords with "Searches Related To..."

Keyword ResearchBeginnerNo

Google’s “Searches related to X” can help you uncover long tail keywords…and keywords that you may not find any other way:

googles searches related to section

Find Kick-Butt Keyword Ideas in Conference Agenda Pages

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

Conference agendas list talks that people pay money to see.

All you need to do is note any potential keywords in the title and description of each talk:

conference agenda example

All of these make excellent seed keywords to pop into the Google Keyword Planner.

Generate 1 Million Keyword Ideas With "Keyword Magic"

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Keyword Magic is a new feature in SEMRush that generates an insane amount of keyword ideas.

Just enter a keyword into the tool and it’ll spit out up to…one million keywords.

(Yes, I felt like Dr. Evil when I wrote that 😀 )

semrush keyword magic search

Generate Keyword Ideas From Your Users

Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

We ask users what they think about our products.

We ask users what they think about our content.

So why don’t we ask them what keywords they search for?

Instead of buying the latest and greatest keyword research tool, simply ask your users what they’d use to find you.

And you can easily track the queries they use with the helpful SeedKeywords tool.

example of finding keywords with seedkeywords

Hack Google Suggest With "Wildcards"

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

You probably already know that you can find keywords using Google Suggest.

But what you may not know is that you can use “Wildcards” to find even MORE untapped keywords.

For example, let’s say that you’re using Google Suggest to find variations of the keyword “SEO tips”.

(A very meta example, I know).

Sure, you can type “SEO tips” into Google and see what keywords it shows you.

But you can also add a wildcard “_” in the beginning or middle of the term.

google suggest with wildcard

This technique often reveals keywords that are tough to find any other way.

Look at the SERPS Before Deciding on a Keyword

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes

Knowledge graph.

Ads.

Carousels.

These features can steal clicks from your organic result.

And unless you put your tool away and actually look at the results, you’ll have no idea what people see when they search for that keyword.

So before deciding on a keyword, look at the SERPs. If there are lots of ads (and a knowledge graph) you may want to move onto the next keyword on your list.

Optimize Keywords Ranking In Positions #7-#15

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes

Pages ranking in positions #7-#15 can sometimes crack the top 5 with a little TLC.

To find them, head over to the Google Search Console.

Then take note of pages that are at the bottom of the first page…

…or the top of the second page:

positions in google search console

Finally, use link building, on-page SEO and UX optimization to catapult those pages to the top of the first page.

Provide "What is X" Information For Definition Keywords

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

When someone searches for a high-level term like “inbound marketing”, they’re usually looking for a definition. And as Ross Hudgens points out, results on the first page for terms like these tend to be “what is X”-focused pages.

So if you’re gunning for a definition keyword, make at least some of your page focused on answering the question: “What is X?”.

example results for a definition keyword

Steal Your Competitors' Keywords With SEMRush

Keyword ResearchBeginnerYes

SEMRush is my favorite keyword research tool for one main reason:

It  shows you keywords that your competition already ranks for. That means that there’s zero creativity required.

Just pop in a competitor and steal the keywords they’re already optimizing for:

semrush organic rankings report.png

Tap Into Google's Underrated Keyword Research Tool

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Google Correlate shows you keywords that tend to get searched for together.

For example, someone searching for “blogging” may also search for:

  • WordPress
  • Blog comments
  • Blog post ideas
  • Copywriting tips

To use Google Correlate, just pop a keyword into the tool and see what it pops out:

google correlate screenshot

Target Brand New Keywords

Keyword ResearchAdvancedYes

Here’s one of my favorite SEO tips: target keywords that are new. In other words, keywords that didn’t exist a few months ago.

For example:

Back in 2014 I released a guide that included a chapter on the Google Keyword Planner.

At the time, the Keyword Planner was brand new.

And because the keyword was relatively new there was ZERO competition on the first page.

So I quickly cemented a spot in the top 5 for that keyword (and still rank there today).

example google first page ranking

Use Amazon Suggest to Find Ecommerce Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Amazon Suggest is one of the best ways to quickly find long tail keywords for your ecommerce product and category pages.

Simply enter a seed keyword and see what Amazon pops out:

amazon suggest

Use Blog Comments to Find Content Gaps (And Then Close 'em)

Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Check out comments on competitor’s blogs. What questions do people tend to ask? What topics are they asking to be covered?

These comments can help you find topics (and keywords) that your target audience wants to learn more about.

For example, this comment shows that people might want to learn how to design attractive infographics.

blog comment with a question

Use Internal Search Results to Uncover Laser-Targeted Keyword Ideas

Keyword Research, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Internal searches hand you laser-targeted keywords on a silver platter. I recommend seeing what terms people search for on your site at least once per month. Then create content around those keywords. Simple yet effective.

Use Pinterest Ads to Find Ecommerce Keyword Ideas

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

If you sell physical products, Pinterest is an untapped source of product and category keywords.

And Pinterest Ads is the easiest way to find keywords that your target customers search for on Pinterest (and probably on Google too).

Pinterest ads search

Use SEMRush to Gauge Keyword Difficulty

Keyword ResearchIntermediateNo

Keyword difficulty is a tricky thing to measure. After all, Google uses over 200 ranking signals to rank pages. And we can only see a handful of them.

That said, it’s smart to at least glance at a keyword’s competition before optimizing for it.

And I’ve found that SEMRush‘s difficulty score is one of the most accurate out there.

keyword difficulty score in semrush

Use Uber Suggest and KeywordTool.io to Find Google Suggest Keywords

Keyword ResearchIntermediateYes

These two tools scrape Google Suggest results. Super helpful for finding long tail keyword ideas that people actually search for.

uber suggest in use to find keyword ideas

Write Out Clear Steps For "How To Do X" Keywords

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

When someone searches for “how to talk like Yoda” they want one simple thing:

To talk like Yoda!

So instead of a ton of background on how awesome Yoda is (which everyone knows already), simply lay out the steps.

When you do, you’ll boost your odds of ending up in the Knowledge Graph:

how to knowledge graph example

Technical SEO techniques

Check (And Fix) Crawl Errors in Google Search Console

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

I recommend digging into the “Crawl Errors” section of Google Search Console at least once a month.

This report reveals technical issues that can hurt your rankings.

website crawl errors

Check Google Search Console Every Week For Issues

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

I was recently chatting with a friend who heads up SEO at a big company. Their organic traffic had recently took a hit and they didn’t know why.

They poured over every page. They hired consultants.

But they couldn’t figure it out. Then one day they had an idea: let’s check the Google Search Console!

Sure enough, they had a manual penalty message waiting for them. #facepalm

That’s why I recommend logging into your GSC account weekly.

You’ll see messages from Google…but also indexing and search visibility problems that can hurt your SEO efforts.

example of errors in google search console

Create AMP Pages

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Accelerated Mobile Pages” are designed to load super quickly on mobile devices.

While Google may not use AMP as a direct ranking signal, they have been pushing AMP pages.

Plus, their demo shows that AMP pages could get highlighted in the SERPs someday soon.

Google AMP page demo

Create an XML and HTML Sitemap

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Sitemaps help Google find (and index) your site’s pages.

So make sure to create an XML and HTML sitemap of your site. And submit them to Google via the Google Search Console.

xml sitemap status in google search console

Delete (Or Noindex) Mediocre Blog Posts

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedYes

I love deleting crappy old blog posts.

Because the truth is this:

If a page isn’t bringing in traffic or revenue, its USELESS. So delete it or redirect it to another relevant post.

In fact, Koozai deleted 900 blog posts without any issues.

Destroy Duplicate Content

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Duplicate content alone probably won’t get you into trouble with Google.

That said, duplicate content + other on-site issues=SEO problems.

So it’s worth staying on top of. A tool like Raven can help you find (and fix) duplicate content issues.

raven duplicate content

Dodge Duplicate Content With Canonical URLs

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOAdvancedNo

Run a massive ecommerce site with thousands of pages? Then you probably have lots of duplicate content.

It’s inevitable.

As you know, duplicate content can really hurt your on-site SEO efforts. That’s why I recommend setting up canonical URLs using the rel=canonical tag.

chart of canonical urls

These can help you avoid getting dinged by Google for having lots of duplicate content on your site.

Double Check That You're Using 100% 301 Redirects

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Yes, 302 redirects pass PageRank. But probably not as much as a good ol’ fashioned 301 redirect.

That’s why I recommend checking that your permanent redirects are all 301 redirects.

You can easily check this by using Google’s “Fetch as Google” feature:

301 redirect check fetch as google

Double Check That Your Site is Mobile Friendly

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Not sure if Google considers your site (or page) mobile-friendly?

Then search for your page on a mobile device. And keep an eye out for the “mobile-friendly” label.

google mobile friendly designation

If you see that label, you’re set.

Fix HTML Issues and Errors

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

No, you don’t need to be WC3 validated. And Google probably doesn’t use HTML as a direct ranking signal.

That said, sloppy code can effect how your site appears to users…which CAN hurt your SEO efforts.

That’s why I recommend at least taking a look at your code for issues and errors.

html code validator

Have Public Whois Information

Technical SEOBeginnerNo

Public Whois information may be a Google trust signal.

So only use private Whois information if you have a super good reason to do so. Otherwise, make it public.

Implement SSL (But Not Just for SEO)

Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedNo

Google came right out and said it:

HTTPS is a “ranking signal“.

(And our ranking factors study found a small correlation between HTTPS and rankings)

Use of HTTPS_line

So if you’ve been on the fence about SSL, this might push you to try it.

However, I don’t recommend switching to HTTPS solely for SEO. It can cause serious technical issues that can do more harm than good.

Invest in a High-End Host for Faster Load Times

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Want your site to load faster?

Forget plugins, WordPress themes or HTML. Invest in a premium host instead.

Just like anything in business, you get what you pay for with hosting. In fact, I’ve seen a 2x increase in speed by switching to a better host.

Keep an Eye on UGC

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

If you allow User Generated Content on your site, make sure to keep a very close eye on what people are publishing.

Why?

Because UGC can quickly become a spamfest. A spamfest that Google may penalize you for.

Make Your Website Responsive

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Anything you do to make your site mobile-friendly is a step in the right direction.

However, Google recommends responsive design. And so do I.

Noindex Dynamic URLs

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Yes, dynamic URLs DO get indexed.

And these dynamic URLs can lead to thin or duplicate content issues.

So if you find your dynamic URLs in Google’s index, slap a “noindex” tag on them.

Periodically Check Your Robots.txt File

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Sometimes you’ll find that there are blocked pages you don’t want blocked (or vice versa).

The only way to know is to check your robots.txt file every few months.

robots txt file example

Prune Zero-Traffic Ecommerce Product Pages

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedNo

Here’s the deal:

Most ecommerce sites have WAY too many product pages.

And if you look at Google Analytics, 95% of these pages bring in a grand total of zero dollars in revenue.

So for the sake of your SEO, delete these pages. One ecommerce site saw a 31% boost in organic traffic (not to mention a 28% increase in revenue) when they “pruned” 11k low-performing product pages.

google analytics screenshot of traffic

Scraped Content Outranking You? Let Google Know

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginnerNo

Is someone stealing your content? Not cool.

Is that same someone outranking you in Google? Even less cool.

Fortunately, you can report that jerk to Google via a DMCA report. If Google agrees that you’re the original author, you may get the ranking you deserve.

Speed Up Your Wordpess Blog With WP Rocket

Technical SEOBeginnerNo

I’ve tried a bunch of site speed plugins over the years. And WP Rocket is my current favorite.

Its super easy to use and works insanely well.

wp rocket wordpress plugin

Squish Images (Without Losing Quality) With Kraken

Technical SEOBeginnerNo

I’d estimate that images makeup 75% of your site’s loading time.

So it pays to optimize your images as much as possible. In my experience, Kraken.io works the best.

Kraken shrinks your images without sacrificing quality.

Subfolders>Subdomains

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateYes

There’s no doubt about it:

When it comes to search engine optimization, subfolders (backlinko.com/example) CRUSH subdomains (example.backlinko.com).

Sure, Google stated that they don’t have an inherent preference for one or the other.

But I’ve seen rankings shoot up with a switch to a subfolder. So my eyes, experience and gut tells me that subfolders are ideal for SEO.

Tie Your SItes Together in GSC

Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Google’s “property sets” let you to group your site’s various elements (like mobile and desktop versions) under one roof in the Google Search Console.

google property sets

Use a Flat and Wide Website Architecture

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

You want to minimize the number of clicks it takes to get to your site’s inner pages.

That way PageRank will flow evenly to your pages, making them more likely to get indexed.

(Flat website architecture can also help your inner-pages rank better)

Here’s a good example of how you’d set up a “Flat and Wide” site architecture for an ecommerce site:

flat and wide site architecture

Use Google PageSpeed Insights to Improve Your Code

On-Page SEO, Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Site speed matters.

If you’re not sure if (or why) your site is sluggish, pop it into Google’s Pagespeed Insight tool.

google pagespeed insights

This free tool will show you how to tweak your site’s code for faster loading speed.

Use Google Search Console to Find (And Fix) Duplicate Title Tags

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOBeginnerNo

Google wants you to use unique title and description tags on every page.

Fortunately, the “HTML Improvements” section of the Google Search Console makes finding these duplicate meta tag issues simple.

google search console duplicate title and description tags

Use GTMetrix to Improve Your Site's Actual Loading Speed

Technical SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Google’s Pagespeed Insight tool only evaluates your page’s code.

However, your code is only half the story.

If you want to Usain Bolt speed, you need to optimize your server, plugins and CDN.

And GTmetrix’s awesome tool makes optimizing your site’s overall speed performance a breeze.

gtmetrix performance report

Use RavenTools to Uncover Thin Content

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

“Thin content” refers to content that doesn’t provide a lot of value.

Yes, an article with 1000+ words can technically be considered “thin content”. But for most websites, thin content means pages with <150 words of content on it.

Finding these potential thin content pages is a huge pain…unless you use Raven Tool’s site auditor. It crawls your site and shows you pages that likely have thin content:

low word count raven tools

Use SEMRush or Raven Tools to Check Your Site for Errors

On-Page SEO, Technical SEOIntermediateYes

Is SEO important to you? If so, run a monthly site audit with RavenTools or SEMRush.

They’ll scan your site for errors…

…and hook you up with actionable tips for fixing them.

webite audit via semrush

Use SEO Browser to See What Your Site Looks Like to Search Engines

Technical SEOBeginnerNo

The way search engines see your site is COMPLETELY different than how users see it.

To get a search engine spider’s perspective, enter a URL into the handy SEO Browser tool.

webpage using an seo browser

Use Website Penalty Indicator to See If You've Been Hit

On-Page SEO, Link Building, Technical SEOIntermediateNo

Have your rankings suddenly dropped?

It may have been a Google update, like Panda or Penguin.

While there’s no way to know for sure, the nifty Website Penalty Indicator will show you if your traffic dip coincides with a known Google update.

website penalty indicator

Use Your Site on a Mobile Device

Technical SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Yes, actually USE your site on a mobile device.

You’d be surprised how many UX issues you’ll uncover this way…

…UX issues that may be hurting your SEO.

Video SEO techniques

Add Transcriptions to Videos

On-Page SEO, Video SEOBeginnerNo

If you host your videos on a platform like Wistia, you definitely want to put a transcription underneath your video.

Otherwise you have a page with…just a video.

That may be OK for users. But Google needs text to fully understand what your video (and page) is all about.

So I recommend including a transcription (or meaty summary) below your video.

Create a Video Sitemap

Technical SEO, Video SEOIntermediateNo

Do you host a lot of video content on your site?

Then I highly recommend creating a video sitemap using the Yoast Video SEO plugin.

This plugin helps Google index and understand your videos…

…which increases the odds they’ll rank in Google.

Create Keyword-Rich Playlists in YouTube

Keyword Research, Video SEOIntermediateNo

Why?

First, your playlist can actually rank in YouTube’s search results.

playlist ranking in youtube

Second, your playlist title gives YouTube more context to what your videos are about.

For example, let’s say you have a bunch of videos under a playlist “My Favorite SEO Tips”. YouTube is more likely to suggest your videos to people that are interested in SEO.

Create Long Videos (They Rank Better in YouTube)

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

This is probably due to the fact that longer videos=longer session time.

Straight from Google:

“The algorithm for suggesting videos includes prioritizing videos that lead to a longer overall viewing session over those that receive more clicks.”

So when it makes sense, create a video that comprehensively covers your topic.

Embed Your Videos in Blog Posts

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

If the video is a YouTube video, these embeds will boost views (and therefore rankings).

Either way, embedded videos can significantly improve your bounce rate and dwell time numbers.

Here’s an example of an embedded video from Backlinko:

emebedded video

Embed Your YouTube Videos in Guest Posts

Video SEOBeginnerNo

This is another way to get more (targeted) views.

Also, embeds are an important YouTube ranking factor.

So it’s a double whammy (the good kind).

Find Video Keywords With YouTube's Traffic Sources Report

Keyword Research, Video SEOYes

This is an AWESOME way to uncover YouTube keywords…

…and “Video Keywords” to rank for in Google.

Just head over to your channel’s analytics–>Traffic Sources–>YouTube Search.

And you’ll see all of the keywords that your videos already rank for:

youtube search in analytics

These keywords are a goldmine of info on what people actually search for to find you. Now that you have this list of keyword gems, it’s time to create videos that target the best terms on your list.

Get YouTube Video Views From Online Communities

Link Building, Video SEOIntermediateNo

I probably don’t need to tell you that YouTube SEO is largely a game of total watch time.

But what if you have one YouTube subscriber…

…and that subscriber is your mom?

That’s where online communities (like forums) come into play. You can embed or link to your video to in your response.

example of sharing video in online community

When you do, you’ll get super-targeted video views that will help your YouTube rankings.

Implement Video Schema

Technical SEO, Video SEOAdvancedNo

If you embed your videos with YouTube or Wistia, schema is added for you automatically.

wistia embed code

If not, I recommend adding video metadata using this helpful tutorial from Google.

Include Your Keyword In Your Video's Filename, Title and Description

Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginnerNo

Remember: Google still has trouble understanding what videos are about.

But when you include your target keyword (at least once) in your video’s filename, title and description you’ll help Google and YouTube understand your video’s topic.

Maximize Video Indexing by Putting Video at the Top of Your Page

On-Page SEO, Video SEOBeginnerNo

Have a page where your video IS the content?

Then make sure to put your video at the top of the page.

Videos at the top of a page are more likely to be indexed by Google than videos that appear further down.

Optimize Around “Video Keywords”

Keyword Research, Video SEOIntermediateYes

Creating an awesome video? Awesome.

Ranking your video in Google? Awesomer!

But if you want to get your video in Google’s search results, you need to target Video Keywords.

Video Keywords are keywords that Google already shows video results for.

video keyword in google

In other words, if you don’t see a video on Google’s first page, it’s unlikely you’ll get your video to rank for that keyword. Instead, go for a Video Keyword.

Optimize Your Thumbnail Image or More Views

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

When I first started with video marketing, I ignored my thumbnail.

I thought: “They’re either gonna watch it or they aren’t. The thumbnail won’t make a difference.”

Boy was I wrong.

Dead wrong.

(OK, not “dead wrong”. But it feels cool to say that 🙂 )

Now I understand that the right video thumbnail can boost viewership by 50% or more. So I spend time making the thumbnails for videos in my channel look cool:

video thumbnails

Promote YouTube Videos to Your Email List

Video SEOIntermediateYes

A while back I published this video on link building.

Instead of waiting months for the video to accumulate views, I sent it to the Backlinko email list.

And the video quickly got hundreds of high-retention views.

Within DAYS my video ranked in the top 5 for the keyword: “link building” (where it still is today).

youtube ranking

Use "Like this" CTAs on YouTube

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Remember:

Your video’s likes are an important YouTube ranking signal.

Instead of sitting back and HOPING people hit “like” on your video, why not ask them?

example of like call to action

I’ve found that a gentle ask increases my video’s likes 2-5x.

Use End Slate on YouTube to Get More Subs

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Want more YouTube subscribers?

Add an “end slate” to the end of your video…

…and ask people to subscribe.

video end slate in youtube

Just look at the difference in subscribers when I started using end slates:

subscriber count youtube

(Of course the videos with an end slate are more recent and therefore tend to get more subscribers. But it doesn’t account for the massive boost in subscribers. The end slate made a big, big difference).

Use Open Loops To Boost Video View Retention

Video SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Yes, viewer retention is a HUGE YouTube ranking signal.

But even if you self-host your video, you obviously want people to watch it all the way to the end.

But…how?

That’s where “open loops” come into play. Open loops are where you mention something coming later on in the video.

This little preview makes the person watching say: “I better stick around to see what that’s all about.”

If you want more tips for boosting video view retention, check out my guide to YouTube SEO.

Use These Two Tips to Boost Session Watch Time

Video SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Video SEO experts agree: Session watch time is YouTube’s #1 ranking signal.

That’s why I’m hooking you up with two of my favorite session watch time tips:

Tip #1: Use annotations to link to your other videos. People will click through and watch that video too…boosting session watch time.

Tip #2: Use an end slate. This will encourage people to watch to the very end of the video. You can also use your end slate to pitch your other videos.

Here’s an example of an end slate in action:

end slate from youtube video

Use YouTube Suggest to Find Video Keywords

Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginnerNo

Yup, just like you do with Google.

youtube autosuggset

Write Long Descriptions for YouTube Videos

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, Video SEOBeginnerYes

Long video descriptions help Google understand what your video is about.

So I recommend writing YouTube video descriptions that are at least 250 words.

long youtube video description

User Experience techniques

Avoid Using Huge Images Above Your Content

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Yes, putting a cool image at the top of your article can grab your reader’s attention. But make sure your image isn’t TOO big. If it is, it pushes your content below the fold. That means your users have to scroll just to read the first sentence.

Unfortunately, most Google searchers won’t scroll. And they’ll hit their back button.

So if you DO use an image at the top of your page, make sure it doesn’t push your content down below the fold. Here’s how I do it:

above the fold image

Copy Adwords Ads for Highly-Clickable Title and Description Tags

On-Page SEO, Keyword Research, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Google Adwords ads are an untapped goldmine of words and phrases that you can use in your page’s title and description tag.

(After all, these ads are super-optimized for clicks)

And when you use proven ad copy in your title and descriptions, you’ll have an organic listing that stands out from the pack. Check out this video for a step-by-step guide to executing this SEO tip.

Create Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Intros

User ExperienceIntermediateYes

This may sound crazy, but here it goes:

I spend more time on my introductions than my headlines.

Really.

That’s because I’ve found that your introduction can make or break two critical user experience signals: bounce rate and dwell time.

So before you hit “publish”, invest some time into making a kick-butt introduction.

Emphasize Fast Results In Your Description Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceAdvancedNo

Google searchers want their answer FAST.

And if you offer a quick answer (or solution) in your content, don’t be afraid to mention that fact in your description tag.

Specifically, use words like:

  • Fast results
  • Works fast
  • Hours, minutes, days
  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Simple

Encourage Users to Leave Comments On Your Content

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Google’s Gary Illyes states that an active community on your site can help “a lot” with rankings.

comment from google on community

Make Sure Your Ads Don't Dominate The Above The Fold Area

User ExperienceBeginnerNo

If you use ads to monetize your site, then this is a super-important SEO tip to pay attention to:

Google hates it when a page is dominated by ads…especially when those ads are above the fold.

So do your best to minimize the amount of ads at the top of your page.

Make Your Design Clean and Easy To Read

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

People size up the quality and credibility of your site based largely on design.

And if your site looks credible, people are more likely to link to it.

Optimize Your Meta Description for CTR

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Google doesn’t use your description tag to understand your page’s topic.

But that doesn’t mean the description tag is completely useless. In fact, your description tag can make a HUGE difference in your CTR.

So make sure to optimize that bad boy for clicks.

Put Your Content Front and Center

User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Remember:

Google searchers want their results FAST. And if they can’t easily find the answer their looking for, they’re going to bounce like a rubber ball.

So place your main content front and center on your page. Here’s an example from Backlinko:

a webpage focused on content

As you can see there’s very little going on EXCEPT for the content. This makes users (and Google happy).

Sprinkle Bucket Brigades Into Every Post

User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Bucket Brigades are words and phrases designed to keep your visitors from hitting their “back” button.

Here’s an example from a recent blog post:

bucket brigade example

See how that makes you want to keep reading? I recommend at least three bucket brigades for every post (especially in the beginning and middle of your content).

Use a Colorful Image Above The Fold

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Including a colorful image at the top of your article can cut down on your bounce rate and boost dwell time. How? Eye-catching images make it more likely that your visitor will read the rest of your page.

image above the fold and readability

Use a Number In Your Title Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Several industry studies have found that numbers (especially odd numbers) boost CTR. And this rule definitely applies to your title tags. So whenever you can, include a number in your page’s title tag.

numbers in title tags

Use At Least 15px Font Size

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Several readability studies show that 16px is ideal. But if that font size looks too big, go for 15px.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that 12px, 13px or 14px is simply too hard to read.

(On the internet, “hard to read”=”won’t read”).

Use Click Magnet Words on Title Tags

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

“Click Magnet Words” are terms that tend to attract clicks. And when you use these in your title tag, you can get more clicks from Google searchers.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • New
  • Proven
  • Now
  • A number (“7 lbs.”, “431 backlinks” etc.)
  • Free

Use Facebook Ads to Boost Organic CTR

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Imagine you just searched for a keyword. And you see three brands:

Brand X

Brand A

Backlinko

Which are you most likely to click on?

Backlinko of course! Why? Because you’re familiar with that brand.

That’s why increasing brand familiarity can double the odds that someone clicks on your result. And Facebook ads are a great way to do just that.

Use Google Analytics to Find Pages With Low Dwell Time (and Improve Them)

User ExperienceAdvancedNo

This SEO tip is dead-simple:

First, head over to Google Analytics.

Then go to “Behavior” –> “Site Content” –> “Landing Pages”.

And take note of pages that have an especially bad bounce rate and/or “avg. session duration”.

google analytics bounce rate and avg sessions duration

Finally, take a look at those pages and improve their UX.

Use High-Quality Images

User ExperienceBeginnerNo

You already know that you need to use images in your content.

But what you may not know is that image quality is a BIG deal. In fact, one study found that pro-quality images got 2x more shares than similar, low-quality images.

Use Keyword-Rich URLs

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerYes

The results from my experiments are clear: Google pays attention to the keywords that appear in your URL. And why not? Your URL is a strong indicator of what your page is all about.

For example, I have a page that ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “search engine ranking”. As you can see, that keyword ONLY appears in the URL (not in the title tag):

google ranking url

Use Lots of Bullets and Subheadings

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

People will spend more time on your site when you make your content easy to read.

That’s why I avoid the dreaded “wall of text” like the plague. Fortunately, you can easily turn a wall of text into skimmable content with bullets and subheadings:

bullets and subheadings

Use Lots of Multimedia (Not Just Images)

User ExperienceAdvancedNo

Yes, using at least one image in an article can help your SEO efforts. But there’s a world of multimedia outside of screenshots and stock photos. I’m talking video, infographic, polls, and interactive content.

Because most people only use images, these untapped multimedia tools can turn a would-be bounce into a longer session. And as you may have seen, this can make a HUGE difference in your rankings.

Use Parentheses (Or Brackets) In Your Title Tags

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Brackets have been shown to significantly boost CTR. That’s why I tend to use them whenever I need to stand out from the pack:

example of parentheses in a title tag

Use Short (1-3 Sentence) Paragraphs

User ExperienceBeginnerYes

Short paragraphs that are “skimmable” significantly boost readability.

That’s why I use (1-3 sentence) paragraphs in every piece of content that I publish:

example of short paragraphs in a piece of content

Use Short Blog Post Introductions (4-9 Sentences)

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

Long intros make people run away from your site like it’s on fire.

I’ve found that short blog post introductions (9 sentences MAX) provide an overview of your content without boring them to tears.

Here’s an example from Backlinko:

short blog post introduction

Yup, that’s a grand total of 5 lines. And the average time on page for that article is 4:27. That’s no coincidence.

Use Short Sentences To Maximize Readability

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Want Google searchers to stay on your page longer?

Use. Short. Sentences.

Seriously.

Short sentences make your content easier to read and understand.

Use Your Keyword In Your Description Tag

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceBeginnerNo

Want to optimize your description tag for clicks? Write a clear and compelling case for why someone should click on your result.

That said, having bold words in your description tag can also boost your CTR. And when you include keywords in your description tag, Google will make it bold:

bolded keywords in description tag

Wow Peeps With Custom Page Designs

On-Page SEO, Link Building, User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Want to “wow” users (and other bloggers in your industry)?

Publish a page with a custom design. You can go all-out and publish a completely custom page, like this one.

Or you can simply add design elements (like callout boxes) to make your content look cool:

example of callout box

Either way, you’ll increase the perceived value of your content.

Write Awesome Subheaders

On-Page SEO, User ExperienceIntermediateYes

The text you use in your subheaders can make or break your page’s dwell time and bounce rate.

You see, most people use dull subheaders like:

“Nutrition and You”

“Google Adwords”

Yawn.

Instead, create eye-catching subheaders that stop your readers in their tracks.

example of awesome subheader

Write Crisply and Clearly

User ExperienceIntermediateNo

Yes, short sentences and paragraphs make your content easy to read.

But there are other important factors that impact readability…

…like adjectives, use of active voice, and more.

Fortunately, you don’t need a pro editor to optimize your content for readability. The awesome Hemingway app does the job for you:

hemingway app

Offer Unique Content With Visual Content Pitches

Link BuildingIntermediateNo

Whenever you pitch a piece of visual content — like an infographic, chart or diagram — offer some unique content to go along with it.

In my experience this significantly boosts the odds people will use your visual asset (and link to you).

Here’s an example of this SEO strategy in action (source):

outreach email pitching unqiue content

Anything I Missed?

Any SEO tips that I missed?

Or maybe you have a question about one of the strategies.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post SEO Tips: The Complete List (201 Actionable Techniques) appeared first on Backlinko.

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On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2016 Update) http://backlinko.com/on-page-seo http://backlinko.com/on-page-seo#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 13:00:36 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=1126 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... Read more »

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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:

Bonus: Download a free checklist that will show you how to quickly leverage these strategies. Includes 2 bonus on-page SEO techniques not found in this post.


on page seo infographic version 3

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.

So make your URLs short and sweet.

And always include your target keyword in your URL.

In other words:

Avoid ugly URLs: backlinko.com/p=123
Or long URLs: backlinko.com/8/6/16/cat=SEO/on-page-seo-is-so-amazing-omg-its-the-best

Brian's take

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.

keyword in title tag
Brian's take

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 “2016”, “best”, “guide”, and “review” can help you rank for long tail versions of your target keyword.

Brian's take

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.

Brian's take

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:

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.

Brian's take

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

image use in online content

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

But it has a nice SEO benefit to boot: multimedia helps you boost those user-interaction signals that Google has been paying more 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.

Brian's take

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”):

h2 tag example

7. Drop Keyword in First 100 Words

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

example of using keyword in first 100 words
Brian's take

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 they’re likely crack down even more in the future. If you want to make your site mobile-friendly, I recommend Responsive Design.

Brian's take

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.

Brian's take

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.

Brian's take

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:

wikipedia internal linking

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. 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:

page loading speed report
Brian's take

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.

Brian's take

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:

searches related lsi keywords

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.

image optimization
Brian's take

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%.

Brian's take

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


15. Post Long Content

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

02_Content Total Word Count_line

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

Brian's take

As a rule, I make sure all of my articles have 1000+ words of meaty, useful content.

Longer content helps you rank better for your target keyword and 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.

Brian's take

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

examples of 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:

google employee tweet

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:

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.

Here’s where you can download the checklist:

download the on-page-seo checklist pdf

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E-commerce SEO: The Definitive Guide http://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo http://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:03:30 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3486 This is the most comprehensive guide to Ecommerce SEO online. In this expert-written guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about optimizing your Ecommerce site, from keyword research to technical SEO to link building. Free PDF: Download a free PDF version of this guide. PDF contains all chapers and resources listed here Check out... Read more »

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Ecommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any ContentThis is the most comprehensive guide to Ecommerce SEO online.

In this expert-written guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about optimizing your Ecommerce site, from keyword research to technical SEO to link building.

Free PDF: Download a free PDF version of this guide. PDF contains all chapers and resources listed here

Check out the new guide:

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21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now (Updated) http://backlinko.com/seo-techniques http://backlinko.com/seo-techniques#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2016 11:18:10 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=782 People that succeed with SEO do two things very well: First, they identify SEO techniques that get them results. Second, they put 100% of their resources into executing and scaling those techniques. But you’re probably wondering: “How do I find SEO strategies that actually work?” Well today I’m going to make it easy for you.... Read more »

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21 Actionable SEO Techniques imagePeople that succeed with SEO do two things very well:

First, they identify SEO techniques that get them results.

Second, they put 100% of their resources into executing and scaling those techniques.

But you’re probably wondering:

“How do I find SEO strategies that actually work?”

Well today I’m going to make it easy for you.

All you need to do is carve out a few minutes of your day and tackle one of the 21 white hat SEO techniques below.

Free PDF Download: Get access to the free bonus checklist that will show you how to quickly execute these strategies. Includes 2 bonus techniques not found in this post.

1. Find Broken Link Building Opportunities on Wikipedia

Broken link building has it all…

Scalable.

White hat.

Powerful.

There’s only one problem: finding broken links is a HUGE pain.

That is, unless you know about a little-known wrinkle in Wikipedia’s editing system.

You see, when a Wikipedia editor stumbles on a dead link, they don’t delete the link right away.

Instead, they add a footnote next to the link that says “dead link”:

wikipedia dead link

This footnote gives other editors a chance to confirm that the link is actually dead before removing it.

And that simple footnote makes finding broken links dead simple.

Here’s how:

First, use this simple search string:

site:wikipedia.org [keyword] + “dead link”

For example, if you were in the investing space you’d search for something like this:

google search string

Next, visit a page in the search results that’s relevant to your site:

wikipedia entry in google

Hit ctrl + f and search for “dead link”:

browser search ctrl f

Your browser will jump to any dead links in the references section:

wikipedia dead link 2

Pro Tip: Wikipedia actually has a list of articles with dead links. This makes finding dead links in Wikipedia even easier.

wikipedia dead links page

OK. So once you’ve found a dead link, now what?

Well you could re-create that dead resource on your site and replace the dead link in Wikipedia with yours.

But that would only land you a single link (and a nofollow link at that).

Instead, I recommend tapping into The Moving Man Method.

This post will show you everything you need to know:

backlinko blog post

Now for our next SEO technique…

2. Discover Untapped Keywords on Reddit

Hit the play button to see how it’s done:

 

3. Update, Upgrade and Republish Old Blog Posts (This Increased My Traffic by 111.37%)

Last year I get an email out of the blue:

emils email

Turns out Emil used The Skyscraper Technique to achieve these impressive results.

Not only that, but Emil wanted to share his case study with the Backlinko community.

That’s when I had an idea:

Instead of writing a new post for Emil’s case study, why don’t I add it to an existing post?

So that’s what I did.

Specifically, I added Emil’s case study to this old post:

white hat seo case study

(I also updated the images and added some new tips)

The final result?

A new and improved version of the post:

backlinko white hat seo case study post

To make sure the new post got the attention it deserved, I re-promoted it by sending an email to the Backlinko community:

newsletter email

I also shared it on social media:

blog post tweet

The result?

A 111.37% increase in organic traffic to that page.

organic traffic increase

Pretty cool, right?

4. Copy Adwords Ads to Make Killer Title and Description Tags

It’s no secret that compelling title and description tags get more clicks in the SERPS.

(In fact, REALLY good copy can actually steal traffic from the top 3 results)

Question is: How do you know what people want to click on?

That’s easy: look at that keyword’s Adwords ads.

You see, the Adwords ads that you see for competitive keywords are the result of hundreds (if not thousands) of split tests.

Split tests to maximize clicks.

And you can use copy from these ads to turn your title and description tags into click magnets.

For example, let’s say you were going to publish a blog post optimized around the keyword “glass water bottles”.

First, take a look at the Adwords ads for that keyword:

Adwords Ads

Keep an eye out for interesting copy from the ads that you can work into your title and description. In our “glass water bottles” example, we have phrases like:

  • BPA-free
  • Keep you hydrated
  • Durable
  • Reusable

Here’s how your title and description tags might look:

yoast title and description tag

As you can see, these tags include words that are proven to generate clicks.

5. Find A+ Link Prospects on AllTop

What if there was an up-to-date list of blogs in your niche that you could use to find quality link opportunities?

I have good news. There is.

And it’s called AllTop.

AllTop is a modern day directory that curates the best blogs in every industry under the sun.

To find blogs in your niche, just go to the AllTop homepage and search for a keyword:

alltop search

Next, find a category that fits with your site’s topic:

alltop search results

And AllTop will show you their hand-picked list of quality blogs in that category:

alltop fitness page

Now you have a long list of some of the best blogs in your industry. And these bloggers are the exact people that you want to start building relationships with.

6. Use Benefit-Focused Content Curation

Let’s face it: Most content curation is pretty weak.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’ve read enough “top 100 posts you need to read” lists for one lifetime.

So how can you make your content curation stand out?

By tapping into Benefit-Focused Content Curation.

Benefit-Focused Content Curation is similar to most other types of curation, with one huge difference: it focuses on the outcomes that your audience wants.

I’m sure you’d like to see an example.

Here you go:

link building definitive guide

This is a guide I put together a while back called, Link Building: The Definitive Guide.

This guide has generated over 116,000 visitors from social media, forums, blogs and search engines:

overall traffic to a page in google analytics

(I should point out that the guide’s design and promotion contributed to its success. But it all started with how the content itself was organized)

What makes this guide’s curation unique is that it’s organized by benefits, not topics.

For example, Chapter 2 is called “How to Get Top Notch Links Using Content Marketing”:

link building guide chapter 2

Note that the title isn’t: “Chapter 2: Content Marketing”. And most of the other chapters follow the same benefit-driven formula.

Why is this so important?

When someone sees a list of curated links they immediately ask themselves “what’s in it for me?”.

And when you organize your content around outcomes and benefits, that answer becomes really, really obvious.

In other words, answering “what’s in it for me?” makes the perceived value of your content MUCH higher than a list of 100 random resources.

7. Link Out to Authority Sites

With all the talk about Hummingbirds and Penguins it’s easy to forget about an important Google algorithm update from 2003 called Hilltop.

hilltop algorithm entry in wikipedia

Despite being over ten years old, Hilltop still plays a major role in today’s search engine landscape.

Hilltop is essentially an on-page SEO signal way that tells Google whether or not a page is a “hub” of information.

So: How does Google know which pages are hubs?

It’s simple: Hubs are determined by the quality and relevancy of that page’s outbound links.

This makes total sense if you think about it…

The pages you link out to tend to reflect the topic of your page.

And pages that link to helpful resources also tend to be higher-quality than pages that only link to their own stuff.

In other words, pages that link out to awesome resources establish themselves as hubs of helpful content in the eyes of Big G.

In fact, a recent industry study found a correlation between outbound links and Google rankings.

outbound link study

Bottom line:

Link to at least 3 quality, relevant resources in every piece of content that you publish.

That will show Google that your page is a Hilltop Hub.

8. Send Juice to Pages Sitting on Page 2 or 3

I’m not sure how else to say this: If you’re on page 2 or 3 of Google’s search results…you might as well be on page 58.

So how can you give those pages a boost so they hit the first page?

Use one of my all-time favorite SEO techniques: throw some internal links their way!

send pagerank internal links

Here’s the 3-step process:

Step #1: Use Google Search Console to find keywords where you rank on the 2nd or 3rd page.

To find them, log in to your Google Search Console account and click on Search Traffic –> Search Analytics:

google search console search analytics

Make sure to check “position”. That way you’ll see the average ranking for each keyword.

search console position

Then, sort the results by “Position”:

search analytics sort by position

Next, look for keywords with an average position of 11-30.

If you’re getting clicks from a keyword on page 2 or 3, you can be pretty sure that it’s a keyword with some decent search volume.

For example, this page from Backlinko is ranking #12 for the keyword “SEO checklist”.

Even though I’m on the second page, I still get 24 clicks and 2,792 impressions per month for that keyword:

keyword in google webmaster tools

Sure enough, according to the GKP, that keyword gets 720 monthly searches with a suggested bid of almost $5.00

google keyword planner data

Step #2: Identify authoritative pages on your site.

You can easily find the pages on your site with the most juice to pass around using ahrefs.

Just enter your homepage URL into the tool and click “Search”:

ahrefs homepage search

Then click on “Top Pages” in the right-hand sidebar:

ahrefs top pages

That will show you the most authoritative pages on your site:

pages with most authority

Step #3: Go to those pages and add internal links.

Finally, add internal links from those authoritative pages to the page that needs a boost.

9. Add This One Word to Your Outreach Email…and Increase Your Response Rate by 45%

When someone sees an email pop into their inbox, two questions enter their mind:

“Who is this person?” and “What do they want?”

The faster you answer these questions in your outreach emails, the better your response rate will be.

But how can you do that?

It’s easy: Use the word “because” very early in your email.

Believe it or not, the word “because” has surprisingly powerful effects on human psychology.

Research by Dr. Scott Key of Northern Illinois University tested whether people waiting in line to use a copy machine would let a stranger cut in front of them.

When the stranger asked: “Can I use the copy machine before you?”, only 61% people said “yes”.

But when the stranger asked: “Can I use the copy machine before you because I’m in a rush?”, 89% said yes.

(That’s a 45% increase!)

Why such a huge difference?

It turns out that the word “because” makes a request — ANY request — seem more legitimate.

In the world of outreach, legit messages get better responses.

(Just look at all those lame guest post pitches that flood your inbox. If they actually took the time to look legit, they’d perform a lot better)

Here’s an example blogger outreach pitch that leverages the word “because” early on:

example outreach email

The person receiving that message knows why I’m emailing them after two seconds of reading.

But more importantly, the word “because” cements my reason for reaching out as more legit.

10. Write Mini Blog Posts for YouTube Descriptions

I don’t need to tell you that YouTube video results are dominating Google’s first page.

And considering that Google owns the popular video site, it’s a trend that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Here’s the best part:

There’s a dead-simple technique that can get your YouTube videos to rank for competitive keywords in both YouTube and Google?

Well there is: write 200+ word video descriptions.

When most people upload a video to YouTube, they mindlessly toss a few words into the description box:

youtube description

That’s a HUGE mistake.

Remember that Google can’t watch or listen to your video content.

Instead, they rely on your video’s text-based title and description to determine what your video is about.

And this extra text content can help you rank for your target keyword.

For example, check out the description for one of my recent YouTube videos:

long youtube video description

That’s a high-quality, 200-word description.

And this description is one reason that my video rocketed to the first page of YouTube for the keyword “link building”:

youtube video ranking

If you want to learn more about YouTube SEO, check out this step-by-step guide.

11. Reverse Engineer the Results on Page 6

Fun fact: Reverse engineering pages 2-10 will often hook you up with top-notch link opportunities…

…opportunities that you’d miss when you only reverse engineer Google’s first page.

But you’re probably wondering: “Is there really anything good to reverse engineer on page 6?”

The short answer: yes.

The idea that pages 3-10 are littered with low-quality sites is a myth.

In fact, a lot of the results on Google’s inner pages are made up of people that started cool sites…

but eventually gave up when things didn’t work out the way they planned.

Here’s the thing: before they moved on to the next project, they published some awesome resources.

Because these resources tend to be neglected, you can easily improve them and steal their links using The Skyscraper Technique.

For example, I did a quick search for “weight loss tips”.

Sure enough, I found this heavily linked-to resource on the 6th page:

example of old content

As you can probably see from the screenshot, this site has A LOT of room for improvement.

However, because the author of this page used to care about his site, he was able to land links to his site from authority sites like Livestrong:

example backlink

Think you could take the content from this old site and make it better?

I know you can 🙂

12. Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags

Here’s the deal:

If you only include one keyword in your title tag you’re leaving A LOT of search engine traffic on the table (And no, I’m not talking about keyword stuffing).

I’ll explain: I recently published a post called “White Hat SEO Case Study: How To Get a #1 Ranking“.

backlinko white hat seo case study post

My target keyword for that post was, “white hat SEO”.

So I included the keyword “white hat SEO” in the post’s title.

But I didn’t stop there…

I realized that the keyword “SEO case study” also got a decent amount of searches every month:

monthly searches in the GKP

So I decided to embed that long tail keyword into the blog post title:

embedded keyword in title tag

And I hit the #2 for spot for “SEO case study” in a few short weeks:

ranking for seo case study

As you might expect, the keyword “SEO case study” is MUCH less competitive than “white hat SEO”.

Because of that, I got traffic almost instantly from the keyword “SEO case study”.

And as that page has accumulated links, it’s made its way onto the first page for “white hat SEO” as well.

ranking for white hat seo

If I had only optimized for “white hat SEO”, I wouldn’t have received ANY traffic until I hit the first page for that term.

Fortunately, my embedded long tail keyword “SEO case study” hooked me up with traffic right away.

Bottom line:

Find long tails that you can embed into your titles.

You’ll get search engine traffic faster… and eventually rank the page for more than one term.

13. Hack Wikipedia for Keyword and Topic Ideas

Want to find untapped keywords that your competition doesn’t know about?

Then stop using the Google Keyword Planner and use this SEO technique instead.

Sure, The Keyword Planner is nice for monthly search volume info…but it’s HORRIBLE at generating new keyword ideas.

Why?

Well, the Keyword Planner only gives you VERY close variations of the keywords of your seed keywords.

So if you enter a seed keyword like “weight loss”, it will spit out VERY similar keywords, like this:

google keyword planner results

If you want to find keywords that are closely related to your seed keyword — but not straight-up variations — you need a human mind.

Or better yet, the thousands of human minds that contribute to Wikipedia.

Here’s how:

Head over to Wikipedia and enter a keyword (I’m going to use the keyword “insurance” in this example):

wikipedia search

Next, keep an eye out for sections on the Wikipedia entry that display closely related keywords and topics.

These sections are… The “Contents” box:

wikipedia table of contents

Callouts and sidebars:

wikipedia sidebar

Internal links:

wikipedia internal links

And “See Also” sections:

see also

You’ll usually come away with fistfuls of keyword and topic ideas from a single Wikipedia entry.

If you want to find even more keyword ideas, click on an internal link.

Then simply follow the same process for that Wikipedia entry.

Rinse and repeat.

14. Use “Best of” Lists to Find Awesome Link Targets

This is one of my favorite SEO tips of all time.

If you do a lot of link building, you know that a list of high-quality, niche-relevant blogs is like money in the bank.

What you may not realize is that bloggers in your niche create these lists for you in the form of “best of” blog posts.

“Best of” blog posts are simply hand curated lists of the best blogs in a specific industry.

How can you find these “best of” blog posts?

Use these search strings:

  • “[keyword] blogs to follow”
  • “best [keyword] posts 2016”
  • “top [keyword] blogs to follow” + “2016”

For example, I just did a quick search for “fitness blogs to follow”:

google search

I found this list of 25 awesome blogs in the fitness space after about ten seconds of searching:

blogs to follow list

These 25 blogs are PERFECT places to reach out to the next time you want to promote a piece of content or build a long-term relationship.

15. Publish Content With At Least 1,800Words

There’s no denying it: longer content CRUSHES short 300-word blog posts.

In fact, our study of 1 million Google search results found that the average word count of a first page Google results was 1,890 words.

02_Content Total Word Count_line

Why do long posts work? First off, long posts show Google that you’re providing in-depth information for searchers.

But that’s not all:

In-depth content flips an important emotional switch that pushes people to share online content: awe.

University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Jonah Berger found that content that elicited awe made people 30% more likely to share it.

As you may expect, it’s REALLY hard to trigger a feeling of awe from a 350-word article…

…but in-depth pieces work like a charm.

16. Remember the “First Link Priority Rule”

Here’s an SEO mistake I see A LOT of people make:

Let’s say you have two links pointing to a page on your site… and both of those links are on same page.

Which anchor text does Google pay attention to? The first one? The second one? Both?

According to the First Link Priority Rule, only the first link.

Why is this important?

Let’s say you have a navigation bar on your site, like this:

example nav menu

Because your navigation is at the top of the page, Google sees those links first.

Here’s where things get tricky:

Let’s say that you drop a link to your “Recipe Index” page in a blog post.

And that link has the anchor text: “healthy recipes”.

example anchor text

Unfortunately, the “healthy recipes” anchor text is ignored by Big G.

Google only counts the anchor text it saw first: “Recipe Index”.

first_link_v1-01

Important Takeaway:

Use keyword-rich anchors in your site’s navigation.

As you just learned, the keyword-rich internal links below them don’t count.

17. Create Your Own Keywords

This is one of the best pieces of SEO advice you’re ever going to hear:

You always rank #1 for keywords that you create.

What am I talking about?

When you create something truly original — like a brand, product, or a step-by-step system — you’re the only person optimizing for that term.

(After all, you made it up)

And if your creation becomes popular, you’ll suddenly find yourself ranking #1 for a high-volume keyword.

Let me show you an example:

A while back I published a post called: Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days.

skyscraper technique post

Now I could have optimized my post around a keyword like: “link building strategy”.

Instead, I decided to create my own keyword: “The Skyscraper Technique“.

Today, I get a steady stream of organic traffic from people searching for that keyword that I created.

google trends

How can you do the same thing?

The next time that you write about a technique that you created — whether it’s a diet tip, productivity hack or system for growing tomatoes — name it.

18. Find Undiscovered Keywords With This Little-Known Tool.

If you’ve been in the SEO game for a while you know that a keyword tool is only as good as the seed keywords you put into it.

In other words:

If you use the same seed keywords as your competition, you’re going to see the same keywords they do.

Fortunately, there’s a little-known tool that helps you get around this problem: SeedKeywords.com.

seed keywords homepage

Here’s how to use it:

First, head over to Seed Keywords and create a scenario.

(A scenario is what someone would use to find your business online).

query

Hit “create my scenario” and you’ll get a special link.

special URL

Send this link to friends, family and target customers to see what keywords they would use:

scenario answer

And you’ll get a list of outside-the-box seed keywords that you can pop into the Google Keyword Planner.

seed keyword ideas

Now it’s time for our next actionable SEO technique…

19. Use Expert Roundups to Generate Links and Social Shares on Autopilot

You may have seen Expert Roundups — blog posts that collect insights from a group of experts — blowing up around the web.

For example, here are some recent roundups from several different industries that have done really well:

expert roundup example 1

(Web development niche: 580 shares)

expert roundup example 2

(Singing niche: 765 shares)

expert roundup example 3

(Socializing niche: 911 shares)

You get the idea 🙂

Here’s why expert roundups are crushing it right now:

Expert roundups are one of the few pieces of content that have built-in promotion.

Think about it:

The experts that you feature in your roundup will naturally want to share your content with their audience.

Which means that — if you get influential people to contribute — you’ll get boatloads of traffic and social shares minutes after you hit “publish”.

Here’s how you can do the same thing:

Step #1:

Collect the top blogs and websites in your niche (you can find them using SEO Technique #14 from this post:”Use Best of Lists to Find Awesome Link Targets”).

Collect their name, blog, social media and contact information in a spreadsheet:

outreach list for roundup post

Step # 2:

Come up with a topic in your niche that a group experts could shed some light on.

Pro Tip:

A topic that your target audience struggles with is ideal.

For example, in the automotive space there’s a lot of confusion about how to find the right car.

google number of results

Hundreds of factors — from price to safety to resale value — go into buying a new car.

That’s a topic where a group of experts could add a ton of value.

Step #3:

Email the experts on your list.

Remember that the experts you reach out to are probably busy. So make sure that you make it EXTREMELY easy for them to respond.

Here’s an email template that would work well in our car Expert Roundup example:

expert roundup outreach email example

Step #4:

Publish the roundup and email your contributors to let them know that it’s live:

expert followup

And watch the social shares and links roll in 🙂

20. Find Niche-Specific Link Building Opportunities Using Flippa

There’s no doubt about it:

Google is putting more and more weight on the relevancy of the links pointing to your site.

But where can you find link building opportunities that are specific to your niche? Flippa.com.

flippa homepage

Flippa is like eBay for websites.

And it’s one of the best places on the web to find untapped link building opportunities.

Why?

Because people that sell their site on Flippa give away every detail about how they built their site.

That means they’ll often show you their keywords, content strategy, (and of course) link sources.

It’s like a downloadable marketing plan.

Here’s how to do it:

Head over to Flippa and click on Websites –>All:

flippa websites

Next, enter a keyword that describes your site’s broad niche (I’m going to use travel in this example).

flippa search

You also want to set the monthly users to at least 500 per month.

monthly users

Here’s a good one:

search results

The owner of this site actually gives a list of places where he landed editorial links:

editorial link list

Not only does he show you where he got his links from…but HOW he was able to get them:

PR sentence

(Many Flippa sellers are just as forthcoming)

Now you know that they acquired those quality links using PR.

That means you have a list of journalists that are open to covering sites in the travel space.

Can you say jackpot?

21. Use Facebook Ads for Keyword Research

Click “play” to see how to do it (step-by-step):

 

Here’s The Next Step…

Are you ready to use the one of the 21 SEO techniques from this post?

If so, then I recommend grabbing the free checklist I made just for this blog post.

The checklist holds you by the hand and show you how to use all 21 of the strategies listed here…

plus 2 bonus techniques that I didn’t have room for in today’s post.

Click the image below and enter your email to access the checklist.

21 SEO Techniques Checklist

The post 21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now (Updated) appeared first on Backlinko.

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We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO http://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking http://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2016 15:58:25 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=8914 We recently analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings? We looked at content. We looked at backlinks. We even looked at site speed. With the help of Eric Van Buskirk and our data partners1, we uncovered some interesting findings. And today I’m going... Read more »

The post We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO appeared first on Backlinko.

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We recently analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question:

Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

We looked at content. We looked at backlinks. We even looked at site speed.

With the help of Eric Van Buskirk and our data partners1, we uncovered some interesting findings.

And today I’m going to share what we found with you.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor. We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.

2. Our data also shows that a site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings.

3. We discovered that content rated as “topically relevant” (via MarketMuse), significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth. Therefore, publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings.

4. Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.

5. HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings. This wasn’t surprising as Google has confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal.

6. Despite the buzz around Schema, our data shows that use of Schema markup doesn’t correlate with higher rankings.

7. Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. However, we didn’t find that adding additional images influenced rankings.

8. We found a very small relationship between title tag keyword optimization and ranking. This correlation was significantly smaller than we expected, which may reflect Google’s move to Semantic Search.

9. Site speed matters. Based on data from Alexa, pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.

10. Despite Google’s many Penguin updates, exact match anchor text appears to have a strong influence on rankings.

11. Using data from SimilarWeb, we found that low bounce rate was associated with higher Google rankings.

We have detailed data and information of our findings below.

New Bonus Section: Get access to a free search engine ranking factors bonus section. This section includes a PDF checklist, a step-by-step case study, in-depth tutorials, and more. Click here to get access to the bonus section.

The Number of Referring Domains Has a Very Strong Influence on Rankings

You may have heard that getting backlinks from the same domain has diminishing returns.

In other words, it’s better to get 10 links from 10 different sites than 10 links from the same domain.

According to our analysis, this appears to be the case. We found that domain diversity has a substantial impact on rankings.

05_Number of Referring Domains_line

Google wants to see several different sites endorsing your page. And the more domains that link to you, the more endorsements you have in the eyes of Google.

In fact, the number of unique referring domains was the strongest correlation in our entire study.

Key Takeaway: Getting links from a diverse group of domains is extremely important for SEO.

Authoritative Domains Tend to Rank Higher in Google’s Search Results

Not surprisingly, we found that a website’s overall link authority (measured using Ahrefs Domain Rating) was strongly tied to Google rankings:

08_Domain Link Authority (AHREFs Domain Rating)_line

In fact, a website’s overall authority had a stronger correlation to rankings than the authority of the page.

In other words, the domain that your page lives on is more important than the page itself.

Key Takeaway: Increasing the number of links to your site may improve rankings for other pages on your site.

Publishing Comprehensive, In-Depth Topical Content May Improve Rankings

In the early days of SEO, Google would determine a page’s topic by looking strictly at the keywords that appeared on the page.

If the keyword appeared on the page X number of times, Google would determine that the page was about that keyword. Today, thanks largely to the Hummingbird Algorithm, Google now understands the topic of every page.

For example, when you search for “who was the director of back to the future”…

google search for hummingbird

…Google doesn’t look for pages that contain the keyword “who was the director of Back to the Future”.

Instead, it understands the meaning of the question, and provides an answer:

google knowledge graph

As you might expect, this has a significant impact on how we optimize our content for SEO. In theory, Google should prefer content that covers a single topic in-depth.

But does the data agree with that assumption?

To find out we used MarketMuse to analyze 10,000 of the URLs from our data set for “Topical Authority”.

And we discovered that comprehensive content significantly outperformed shallow content.

07_Content Topic Authority (MarketMuse Data)_line

This is interesting. But how do you write content that Google considers comprehensive?

Let’s look at two examples from our data set to find out.

First, we have this article on the Daily Press about the Busch Gardens fun card:

example of page with low topical authority

This page has many of the traditional metrics that result in first page rankings. For example, the page uses the keyword in the title tag and the H1 tag. Also, the domain (Dailypress.com) is very authoritative (Ahrefs Domain Rating of 64).

However, this page ranks only #10 for the keyword: “Busch Gardens fun card”.

google ranking number 10 on first page

This low ranking is partly due to the fact the content on the page has a very low Topical Authority score.

On the flip side, we have this page about making Balinese satay sauce.

comprehensive topic content

This page provides a wealth of information on satay sauce. This piece of content covers the history of satay sauce in Indonesia, how the sauce is used, a recipe, and even provides nutrition facts.

Even though this page doesn’t use the term “Indonesian Satay Sauce” anywhere on the page, it ranks on the first page for that keyword:

google hummingbird ranking

Part of the explanation for that ranking is that this page has a high Topical Authority for the topic: “Indonesian Satay Sauce”.

Key Takeaway: Writing comprehensive, in-depth content can help you rank higher in Google.

Long-Form Ranks Higher in Google’s Search Results Than Short-Form Content

Does long-form content outperform short, 200-word blog posts?

We turned to our data set to find out.

After removing outliers from our data (pages that contained fewer than 51 words and more than 9999 words), we discovered that pages with longer content ranked significantly better than short content.

02_Content Total Word Count_line

In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.

Previous search engine ranking factors studies found that longer content performed better in Google.

This correlation could be due to the fact that longer content generates significantly more social shares. Or it could be an inherent preference in Google for longer articles.

Another theory is that longer content boosts your page’s topical relevancy, which gives Google a deeper understanding of your content’s topic.

Also, long-form content’s ranking advantage could simply reflect site owners that care about publishing excellent content. This being a correlation study, it’s impossible for us to pinpoint why longer content performs so well in terms of search engine rankings.

However, when you combine our data with what’s already out there, it paints a clear picture that long-form content is best for SEO.

Key Takeaway: Long-form content ranks higher in Google’s search results than short-form content. The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.

HTTPS is Moderately Correlated with Higher Rankings

Last year Google called on webmasters to switch their sites over to secure HTTPS. They even called HTTPS a “ranking signal“.

What does our data say?

Although not a super-strong correlation, we did find that HTTPS correlated with higher rankings on Google’s first page.

Use of HTTPS_line

Does this mean you should make the switch to HTTPS today? Obviously, the decision is yours. But switching your site to HTTPS is a serious project that can cause serious technical headaches.

Before you make the plunge to HTTPS, check out these guidelines from Google.

Key Takeaway: Because the association between HTTPS and ranking wasn’t especially strong — and the fact that switching to HTTPS is a resource-intensive project — we don’t recommend switching to HTTPS solely for SEO. But if you’re launching a new site, you want to have HTTPS in place on day one.

There is No Correlation Between Schema Markup and Rankings

There’s been a lot of buzz about Schema markup and SEO.

The theory goes something like this:

Schema markup gives search engines a better understanding of what your content means. This deeper understanding will encourage them to show your site to more people.

For example, you can use the <name> structured data tag to let Google know that when you use the word “Star Wars”, you’re referring to the original movie title…not the franchise in general:

schema markup example 2

Or you can use Schema to show ratings for products on your ecommerce site:

schema star ratings

All of these things should help with your rankings. In fact, Google’s John Mueller hinted that they might use structured data as a ranking signal in the future.

However, according to our analysis, the presence of structured data had no relationship with Google rankings.

Presense-of-Schema-Markup_line

Key Takeaway: Feel free to use structured data on your site. But don’t expect it to have an impact on your rankings.

Shorter URLs Tend to Rank Better than Long URLs

I typically recommended that people use short URLs for the sake of better on-page SEO.

Why?

There are two reasons:

First, a short URL like backlinko.com/my-post is easier for Google to understand than backlinko.com/1/12/2016/blog/category/this-is-the-title-of-my-blog-post.

In fact, according to Google’s Matt Cutts, after 5 words in your URL:

“[Google] algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.”

And our data supports the use of shorter URLs.

URL Length_line

Fortunately, this guideline is easy to put into practice. Whenever you publish a new piece of content, make the URL short and sweet.

If you use WordPress, you can set your permalink structure to “post name”:

wordpress URL permalinks

Then, whenever you write a post, modify the URL to include a few words:

changing the url

Quick word of warning: make sure the new permalinks only apply to future posts. If you change the permalinks for older posts it can cause serious SEO-related issues.

For example, the URL for my post: 21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now is simply my target keyword:

google url

Second, a long URL tends to point to a page that’s several clicks from the homepage. That usually means that there’s less authority flowing to that page. Less authority means lower rankings.

For example, this URL to an iPad product page on BestBuy.com represents a page that’s far removed from the site’s authoritative homepage:

long url

Key Takeaway: Use short URLs whenever possible as they may give Google a better understanding about your page’s true topic.

Content With At Least One Image Ranks Higher Than Content That Lacks an Image
(But Using Lots of Images Doesn’t Make a Difference)

Industry studies have found that image-rich pages tend to generate more total views and social shares.

This suggests that including lots of images in your content can boost shares, which should therefore improve Google rankings.

To measure the impact of image use on rankings we looked at the presence or absence of an image in the body of the page (in other words, in the content of the page).

According to our data, using at least one image in your content is significantly better than having no image at all.

Content Contains At Least 1 Image_line

However, when we looked at the link between the total number of images and rankings, we didn’t find any correlation.

This suggests that there’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to image usage and rankings.

Key Takeaway: Using a single image is clearly better than zero images. Including lots of images doesn’t seem to have an impact on search engine rankings.

Using An (Exact) Keyword in Your Page’s Title Tag Has a Small Correlation With Rankings

Since the early days of search engines the title tag has been (by far) the most important on-page SEO element.

Because your title tag gives people (and search engines) an overview of your page’s overall topic, the words that appear in your title tag have long had a significant impact on rankings.

However, we wanted to see whether or not Google’s move towards Semantic Search has made the title tag any less important.

We found that title tag keyword usage still slightly correlates with rankings. However, it had a much smaller relationship than we anticipated.

Keyword-Appears-in-Title-Tag-(Exact-Match)_line

This finding suggests that Google doesn’t need to see the exact keyword in your title tag to understand your page’s topic.

For example, here are the top six results for the keyword “list building”.

google top 6 results 1

Note how three of the top six results (including the #1 result) don’t contain the exact keyword “list building” in their title tag.

google top 6 results

This is a reflection of Google moving away from exact keyword usage to Semantic Search.

Key Takeaway: Including your target keyword in your title tag may help with rankings for that keyword. However, because of Semantic Search, the impact doesn’t appear to be nearly as great as it once was.

Pages On Fast-Loading Websites Rank Significantly Higher than Pages On Slow-Loading Websites

Since 2010, Google has used site speed as an official ranking signal.

But we were curious:

How much does site speed impact rankings?

We used Alexa’s domain speed to analyze the median load time of 1 million domains from our data set. In other words, we didn’t directly measure the loading speed of the individual pages in our data set. We simply looked at the average loading speed across the entire domain.

And we found a strong correlation between site speed and Google rankings:

Average Page Load Spead (for URL's domain)_line

Again, this is simply a correlation. Could it be that site owners that optimize for speed also optimize for SEO? Sure.

But having a fast-loading site certainty won’t hurt your SEO. So it makes sense to speed things up.

Key Takeaway: Fast-loading websites are significantly more likely to rank in Google.

More Total Backlinks = Higher Rankings

There’s been a lot of buzz about new ranking signals (like social signals) that search engines use today. Many have even gone on to say that backlinks are becoming less important.

We were curious to see whether or not Google still used the sheer number of backlinks as an algorithmic ranking signal.

To measure this, we used the Ahrefs API to determine the total number of backlinks pointing to each page in our data set.

We found that pages with the highest number total backlinks tended to rank best in Google.

13_Total-External-Backlinks_line

Even though Google continues to add diversity to its algorithm, it appears that backlinks remain a critical ranking signal.

Key Takeaway: Pages with more backlinks tend to rank higher than pages with fewer backlinks.

Google Rankings Are Closely Tied to a Page’s Overall Link Authority

In addition to total backlinks, we wanted to answer the question:

Does a page’s overall authority influence rankings?

Most SEOs agree that backlink quality is just as important as backlink quantity.

In other words, it’s typically better to get a single link from an authoritative page than 100 links from 100 low-quality pages.

And our data supports this:

Webpage Link Authority (Ahrefs URL Rating)_line

According to Ahrefs’s measure of link authority (URL Rating), authoritative pages outrank pages with little link authority. However, this correlation wasn’t as strong as the impact of the total amount of referring domains.

Key Takeaway: The overall link authority of your page matters.

Exact Match Anchor Text Significantly Correlates With Rankings

Since Google released its Penguin update in 2012, many SEO professionals have advised against building backlinks with exact match anchor text. However, several search engine ranking studies have found that anchor text is still important.

That’s why we wanted to investigate whether or not anchor text remained an important ranking signal.

Our research shows that exact match anchor text strongly correlates with rankings.

In the early days of SEO, building backlinks with exact match anchor text was a very effective approach. For example, if you wanted to rank for the keyword “online flower delivery” you would make sure your links had anchor text like this:

example of exact match anchor text

However, Google has likely cracked down on this practice, starting with the initial Penguin update. For that reason, we don’t recommend building links that use exact match anchor text, despite the fact that it appears to have a strong impact on rankings.

Key Takeaway: Backlinks with exact match anchor text robustly correlate with rankings. However, because of the risk in exact match anchor text links, we don’t advise utilizing exact match anchor text as an SEO tactic.

Low Bounce Rates Are Strongly Associated With Higher Google Rankings

Many people in the SEO world have speculated that Google uses “user experience signals” (like bounce rate, time on site and SERP click-through-rate) as ranking factors.

To test this theory, we pulled 100,000 websites from our data set and analyzed them in SimilarWeb.

Specifically, we analyzed three user experience signals: bounce rate, time on site and SERP CTR.

We discovered that websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.

Bounce-Rate_line

Please keep in mind that we aren’t suggesting that low bounce rates cause higher rankings.

Google may use bounce rate as a ranking signal (although they have previously denied it). Or it may be the fact that high-quality content keeps people more engaged. Therefore lower bounce rate is a byproduct of high-quality content, which Google does measure.

As this is a correlation study, it’s impossible to determine from our data alone.

Key Takeaway: Google may use bounce rate as a ranking signal. Or it may be a case of a correlation not equaling causation.

Conclusion

Special thanks to our data partners: SEMRush, Ahrefs, MarketMuse and SimilarWeb for making this study possible.

I also want to thank Eric Van Buskirk of ClickStream (Project Director), Zach Russell (Lead Developer), and Qi Zhao (Head Data Scientist) for their contributions.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about how we collected and analyzed our data, here is a link to our study methods.

And if you want help implementing these findings, then make sure to get access to the free search engine ranking factors bonus section.

Click the image below and enter your email to get access:

search engine ranking bonus section

The post We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO appeared first on Backlinko.

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White Hat SEO Case Study: How To Get a #1 Ranking http://backlinko.com/white-hat-seo http://backlinko.com/white-hat-seo#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2015 13:02:00 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=2604 Today you’re going to learn how Emil rocketed his site to the #1 spot in Google. (You’ll also see how he turned this #1 ranking into $100k in monthly recurring revenue) But wait, there’s more 🙂 I’ll ALSO show you how Richard boosted his organic traffic by 348%…in 7 days. And in this post I’ll... Read more »

The post White Hat SEO Case Study: How To Get a #1 Ranking appeared first on Backlinko.

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white hat seo case study imageToday you’re going to learn how Emil rocketed his site to the #1 spot in Google.

(You’ll also see how he turned this #1 ranking into $100k in monthly recurring revenue)

But wait, there’s more 🙂

I’ll ALSO show you how Richard boosted his organic traffic by 348%…in 7 days.

And in this post I’ll walk you through the exact white hat SEO strategy that they used, step-by-step.

Free PDF Checklist: Download a free checklist that will show you exactly how to execute the strategy from this post. Here’s a link where you can download the PDF

How Emil Used The Skyscraper Technique to Generate 41,992 Pageviews, a #1 Ranking and $100k In Monthly Recurring Revenue

Emil’s Skyscraper content went live in April.

But he didn’t eat Doritos on his couch and hope that his post hit the first page.

Instead, he promoted his post using email outreach (more on that later).

And that email outreach directly led to…

41,992 pageviews:

google analytics pageviews

645 social shares:

social share count

(Including Tweets from peeps with thousands of followers):
influencer tweetAnd most important of all, fistfuls of high-quality backlinks:

contextual backlink link in a blog post

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

“Shares and Pageviews are nice and all…but what about the long-term ROI?”

Even though Emil’s post came out over 7 months ago, his post continues to generate traffic, leads and sales.

How?

Gool ol’ fashioned white hat SEO.

His newly minted backlinks skyrocketed his site to the #1 spot for his target keyword, “wellness program ideas”.

number one ranking

That #1 ranking (and traffic from social media) brings in 10,000+ Pageviews per month…like clockwork:

monthly pageviews

And because Emil’s post attracts high-quality organic traffic, a good chunk of his visitors convert into leads:

email subscribers

But most important of all, this guide helped boost Emil’s homepage traffic by 59%.

pageview increase

Here’s why this is so important:

Because Emil’s homepage converts so well, this traffic boost drives over $100k in monthly recurring revenue.

revenue graph

How Emil Turned a “Blah Blog” Into an Online Sales Machine

OK so who is this Emil guy?

Emil Shour runs content marketing and SEO at SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery service.

emil shour

On Emil’s first day his boss sat him down and said: “get us some backlinks”.

Now:

At this point, Snack Nation’s SEO strategy was scattershot.

They were publishing generic posts like, “3 ways to do X”and “5 tips for Y”.

Here’s an example:

older blog post

These posts didn’t move the needle…despite the fact that they referenced Office Space 🙂

(I LOVE that movie)

In fact, most of their posts generated only a handful of shares:

total social shares

In Emil’s own words:

“When we first started out, the blog had a couple of okay posts. We weren’t going after keywords that were outside of our really tiny niche. There’s only so many things people are looking for in terms of office snack delivery.

Emil Shour

Emil quickly realized that his “get us some backlinks” mandate wasn’t going to work if they kept pumping out content like this.

Like most people do in a tight spot, Emil started Googling…

How a Random Encounter Changed Everything…

Emil’s search led him to a blog post at Backlinko, “Content Strategy Case Study: 36,282 Readers + 1,000 Email Subscribers“.

older case study

In that post I wrote about Jimmy Daly…

…and how he used The Skyscraper Technique to generate 4,865 Pageviews in a week:

first week pageviews

When Emil saw this post, a light bulb went off:

“I read that post maybe ten times because I was just amazed. I was like ‘holy crap. I have to do this.’ And I just modeled it completely after that.

Emil Shour

I already showed you the impressive results that Emil achieved thanks to The Skyscraper Technique.

Now it’s time to show you exactly how he did it.

Step #0: Find an Awesome Keyword

Emil kicked things off with keyword research.

It didn’t take Emil long to figure out that VERY few people searched for healthy office snacks.

For example, a keyword like “healthy office snack ideas” gets only 20 searches per month.

keyword search volume

But here’s the interesting part:

Emil realized that people interested in healthy office snacks are ALSO interested in the broad topic: “employee wellness”.

So he popped “employee wellness” into the Google Keyword Planner

GKP search

…and voila! — he found this gem of a keyword:

google keyword planner keyword

Now:

This is a keyword that Emil’s customers search for every day…which is great.

But here’s the important thing to keep in mind:

This keyword has a $7 suggested bid…

suggested bid

….and a ton of Adwords ads on the first page.

adwords ads

All that Adwords action told Emil: “there’s strong commercial intent behind this keyword.”

In other words:

People that search for that keyword AREN’T a bunch of tire kickers.

These are people that are going to buy from you.

Brian's pro tip:3 Advanced Keyword Research Strategies
 

OK, let’s get Back to Emil’s story…

Now that Emil had a keyword in-hand, it was time to size up the first page competition.

Step #1: Find Content That Already Ranks for That Keyword

Once you’ve found a keyword, it’s time to get a feel for what’s already out there…

…so you can destroy it.

(Yes, I let out an evil laugh when I wrote that 😀 )

So:

How do you find content that’s already done well?

A simple Google search.

Simply search for your target keyword (and a few closely-related keywords), and see what comes up.

For example:

Emil Googled “employee wellness program ideas”, “wellness programs” and “corporate wellness programs”:

example google search

And he noticed a few trends in the results:

First, most of the first page results were lists of different wellness program ideas.

list post

Second, Emil noticed that the first page results had some major flaws.

For example, 4 of the top 10 results were PDFs.

pdfs in google search results

Needless to say, PDFs aren’t very user friendly.

Emil also took note of the fact that these lists lacked important details. Some were literally just lists of ideas:

content thats a huge list

(As you know, it’s hard to take action on a piece of content that leaves out meaty details)

Emil also saw that the first page lacked visual content…like images, videos, charts and screenshots.

text based content

Content with at least one image generates an average of 43% more social shares than pure text-based content.

social share graph

Last but not least, Emil noticed that the content on the first page was BORING.

Obviously, “employee wellness programs” isn’t the most exciting topic on planet Earth.

But that’s no excuse to write stiff, dull copy like this:

boring copy

As you’ll see in a minute, Emil went the extra mile to make his topic fun and interesting.

But first, we need to dive into step #2…

Step #2: Create Something That Deserves To Be #1

Here’s the truth:

First page rankings have NOTHING to do with “keeping your site updated with fresh, quality content”.

(Yes, really)

Instead, your ability to hit the first page depends on two things:

Thing #1: Creating something that deserves to rank #1.

Thing #2: Promoting that content.

Seriously, that’s it.

Question is:

How do you create content that deserves to be the best?

Let me answer that by showing you EXACTLY how Emil did it.

1. Emil’s post listed more wellness program ideas than any other guide.

Most of the content that Emil found listed 5-10 wellness program ideas:

blog post example

And a few authors went crazy and wrote 50+ ideas:

huge list post

But even the craziest authors weren’t as crazy as Emil…

…because Emil set out to list out a whopping 120 ideas (!).

There was only one problem:

Emil got stuck at idea #50.

So he asked everyone in the office to chip in with ideas. That got him to 60 total ideas.

60 is good…but not good enough.

Emil had hit a brick wall. How the heck was he going to rank #1 with only 60 ideas?

That’s when he had an idea…

2. Emil asked experts to contribute ideas

Emil realized that he was sitting on top of a GOLDMINE of employee wellness program ideas.

I’ll explain.

SnackNation partners with dozens of healthy snack companies.

And Emil guessed that these health-focused offices would be happy to share the wellness programs they used.

And he was right.

Emil got his sales team to ask their partners to send creative ideas:

expert contribution email

And these partners were happy to lend a hand:

expert answer

Emil also asked a few bloggers that write about employee wellness to contribute an idea or two:

asking for a contribution

Again, they gladly sent some amazing ideas his way:

expert answer 2

(As you’ll see in a minute, these expert contributions generated LOTS of bonus traffic to Emil’s post)

Thanks to contributions from a handful of experts, Emil finally had 120 ideas.

(And a post that was 4979 words long)

total word count

Now it was time to take his content to the next level.

3. Emil split up his content into sections.

Let’s face it:

Sifting through 121 items on a list is a chore.

Despite that fact, many of the articles ranking in Google didn’t organize their ideas into sections:

list of ideas

That’s why Emil decided to organize his list of ideas into 7 categories:

blog post categories

Not only do these sections make Emil’s content easier to skim, but they got him nifty sitelinks in Google:

SERP sitelinks

In my experience sitelinks can significantly boost your CTR…

…and therefore, your organic traffic.

4. Emil added multimedia to make his content more visually appealing.

Like I mentioned earlier, most of the articles ranking on page 1 had zero images:

a text blog post

That’s why Emil peppered his post with eye-catching images…

blog post image

…and helpful videos:

blog post video

5. Finally, Emil made his copy fun and interesting.

Here’s the deal:

Whether you write about life insurance or life hacking, your writing CANNOT be boring.

Seriously.

If you bore people, they’re going to click over to YouTube faster than you can say “cute cats”.

That’s why Emil made sure his writing was upbeat and engaging:

upbeat writing

Once Emil made his content more compelling than the competition — bada bing, bada boom — his draft was good to go.

content draft

And after a few tweaks, Emil’s kick butt post was live: “121 Employee Wellness Program Ideas For Your Office“.

emils blog post

Now that Emil’s post was live, it was time to celebrate right?

Wrong.

I probably don’t need to tell you that hitting “publish” is just the beginning.

That’s why I want to show you the 6 content promotion strategies that Emil used to get the word out about his new guide.

Step #3: Promote Your Epic Content

Despite what you may have heard, there’s A LOT more to white hat SEO than “posting great content.”

Sure, awesome content makes link building easier…

…but it’s just the first step.

That’s because there are 2 million blog posts published every day (source).

wordpress publishing stats

And from launching several sites since 2010, I learned the hard way that if you really want to rank, you need to get out there and build links.

With that, here are the 6 promotional strategies that Emil used to get the word out.

1. Emil got influencers on board with “Pre-Outreach”

Once Emil put the finishing touches on his post, he knew he had something special.

That’s why he decided to promote his post…

…before he even published it.

(This is known as “Pre-Outreach”)

Here’s how it went down:

First, Emil found blogs that wrote about employee wellness. And he sent them this message:

pre outreach email

Because he didn’t beg for a link, they were happy to hear from him:

email outreach response 1

Then Emil sent a link to the post when it went live:

sending the content

And that led to a nice contextual backlink:

contextual backlink

I recently used pre-outreach to promote my SEO tools guide.

email outreach exampke

2. Use “Weak Ties” to generate early buzz

You may not realize it, but you have “weak ties” that will happily promote your content for you.

Question is:

What are “weak ties”?

And how can they help you with content promotion?

I’ll explain with an example:

“Weak ties” are people in your professional network that you’re acquaintances with (for example, old colleagues or people that work in other departments).

After Emil’s post went live he asked the entire SnackNation team to share his new post:

weak ties promotion

Even though most of Emil’s coworkers don’t work in the marketing department (and were therefore “weak ties”), they were more than happy to lend a hand:

facebook share

And these shares from weak ties got Emil some early buzz.

“We had thirty people in our office. And if you have LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook – if everyone’s sharing, it already gives us some social proof. That’s like eighty shares right off the bat. And people like sharing their friends’ stuff. So it just gave us a lot of social proof, gave us some amplification.

Emil Shour

Because this is so easy and works so well, I reach out to my “weak ties” to promote every post at Backlinko:

email outreach content promotion

These may not be people that I have beers with every weekend, but I know them well enough to gently ask for a share.

3. Emil used “The Content Roadshow”

Next, Emil promoted his content with “The Content Roadshow”.

Let me show you how The Content Roadshow works:

First, Emil searched for bloggers that wrote about employee wellness, human resources and other related topics.

google search

And when he found a high-quality piece of content like this one…

quality content example

…he emailed the author:

blog content promotion email

In this case, Kristi asked Emil to submit his content to her roundup:

email outreach reply

He did…and got a sweet DA49 backlink in return:

roundup backlink

4. Next, Emil emailed brands that he mentioned in the post

Next, Emil emailed the other companies that he referenced in his post.

For example, Emil mentioned Authority Nutrition here:

brand mention

And sent them a message to let them know that they’ve been featured:

youve been featured email

As you can see, these brands happily shared his post:

reaching out to people mentioned

5. Then it was time for Emil to let his expert contributors know that they were live

Remember when Emil asked a bunch of workplace wellness experts to contribute a quote?

(Here’s an example:)

expert quote

Well, when the post went live, Emil let the experts know that they featured their wellness idea:

expert outreach

Not only were the experts happy to share the post on social media, but one of them even linked to Emil’s post:

backlink example

This is yet another content promotion strategy that I recently used to promote my SEO tools guide (that guide now has over 3,500 shares from social media).

social share buttons

I personally emailed the people behind all of the tools that I mentioned…

emailing people mentioned

…and most of them were PUMPED to share my guide.

email reply outreach email that resulted in a tweet 2

At this point Emil’s outreach racked up a bunch of social shares and traffic.

(It even generated quite a few comments — a first for the SnackNation blog)

blog comments

Comments and shares are nice…

…but they’re not going to get you to Google’s first page.

To do that, you need lots of high-quality backlinks.

Which leads us to our last promotional strategy…

6. Finally, Emil reached out people that linked to the content Emil found in step #1

Now that Emil had some social proof going, it was time to get down and dirty with link building.

Here’s the exact process that Emil used:

First, he searched for his target keyword in Google…

searching target keyword

…and popped the top 50 results into a spreadsheet:

outreach list
Brian's pro tip:Scraper Extension
Use the free Chrome Extension Scraper to quickly export Google results into a spreadsheet.

Here’s how:

Just search for a keyword and right click on any of the results.

google result

Then choose “Scrape Similar…”

linkclump extension

Then pick “Export to Google Docs…”export search results

And just like that you’ll have the results added to a spreadsheet.

link prospects

Next, Emil found out who linked to the top 50 results.

He popped each URL into a backlink analysis tool:

backlink analysis search

And went one-by-one through the results.

backlinks to a page

Then he emailed each of those people to let them know about his new, superior resource.

Let’s take a look at a real life example of Emil’s outreach in action…

Here’s his first email:

first email

Her response:

reply

His second email (with a link to his content)

the pitch

Boom! A link:

contextual backlink

And these backlinks pushed Emil’s guide above his competitors.

number one ranking

Sure, a ranking #1 in Google is great.

But last I checked you can’t pay your mortgage with a first page ranking.

In other words:

For your SEO to pay off, your content needs to generate leads and sales for your business.

And that’s where this bonus step comes into play…

Bonus Step: Generate Leads With The Content Upgrade

Now that Emil’s #1 ranking was secured it was time to turn this targeted traffic into revenue.

Here’s how he did it:

At first, Emil pitched a generic ebook to everyone that visited his post.

Even though his post was about employee wellness, the ebook was about employee engagement.

original popup

And that pitch generated around 20 new subscribers per week.

email subscribers before the content upgrade

20 subscribers a week isn’t bad. But it could be better.

So Emil decided to swap out the generic ebook with a laser targeted Content Upgrade.

Specifically, Emil created a PDF version of his post:

pdf version of the post

(His PDF also contained 10 bonus ideas that weren’t found in the post)

bonus ideas

And to pitch his Content Upgrade, Emil embedded a CTA at the top of his content:

pdf version cta

How well did The Content Upgrade work?

Instead of 20 subscribers per week…

…the Content Upgrade blasted that rate up to 59 per week.

email subscribers after

(That’s a 195% increase)

Backlinko Update: Did Richard’s Traffic Blast Stand The Test of Time?

Back in 2013 I revealed how Richard Marriot used The Skyscraper Technique to boost his organic traffic by 348% in 7 days.

Traffic Spike

Question is:

Did Richard’s results last?

Or did his site slip to page 2?

Let’s find out…

Here’s How Richard Marriot Used White Hat SEO to Skyrocket His Search Engine Traffic

As an SEO newbie, Richard wanted to know which white hat SEO tools the experts used (in other words, not automated black hat tools).

So Richard searched in Google for things like “SEO tools”, “white hat SEO tools” and “link building tools”:

google first page results

And he noticed that the results didn’t answer the fundamental question: “Which SEO tools should I use?”

That’s when he decided to create something that did answer that question.

How?

He asked SEO experts which link building tools they used.

In total, he emailed 115 influential people in the SEO space…and got 47 replies (that’s a 41% conversion rate).

Even though he didn’t have any connections and only a few followers on Twitter, he was able to get contributions from ballers like Neil Patel.White Hat SEO Experts

The end result is Richard’s expert roundup post, 55 SEO Experts Reveal 3 Favorite Link Building Tools:

clambr post

Now:

Once Richard’s guide was live, he built links to his guide with email outreach.

First, he found pages with broken links. And he sent the author of that page this script:

Broken Link Building Outreach Email

When they replied saying “What’s the broken link?”, he sent them this email:

Broken Link Followup Email

And he was rewarded with a handful of high quality backlinks:

Broken Link Success

Including links from:

  • SearchEngineLand.com (DA92)
  • A PR2 resource page
  • A PR6 digital marketing firm blog

So:

Where does Richard rank today for his target keyword (“link building tools”)?

#1 baby!

richards #1 ranking

Here’s What to Do Next…

If you enjoyed this case study, I want you do one thing:

Download the free checklist that I put together just for this post. Click the image below to get the PDF checklist.

Skyscraper Technique Checklist

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