21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now (Updated)

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…


White hat.


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 πŸ™‚

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.


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”.


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).


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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.


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
  1. Wow, great post Brian! Insanely detailed. I already grabbed a couple of these and shot them over to my assistant to hammer through this week.

    Always top notch stuff man!

    – Trevor

    1. Hey Trevor,

      Just to add a bonus one that saw my website mentions increase HUGE

      HARO (Help A Reporter Out) <——— Brian mentioned this one before too just to be fare.

      Don't just pass this one up: use it big time.

      I took the time to respond to niche focused questions and was shocked in over 2 months to see 3 new backlinks.

      I know that isn't a ton. But, it's an awesome start to get them rolling and to build a relationship hopefully (fingers crossed) with these people.

      Just to add: If you do the totally free version of HARO it is awesome. I decided to pay for it, but found that the free fits me PERFECT.


      Chris Pontine

    2. It’s funny, I’ve been using some of these techniques off and on for a bit now.

      Like checking out copy you know has already performed well in some of your content.

      Keep delivering the goodies Brian.

  2. Really smart and informative guide… I love how these are all “real world” tips that anyone can take action on.

    Normally SEO advice is meaningless to the masses because people think “oh I don’t have 10,000 twitter followers to get my infographic viral” but these tips pretty much anyone can put into action.


    1. I put over 15 hours working on this post so I’m happy to hear that you got so much takeaway value from it, Brandon.

      Most of that time was making sure each technique was insanely practical so that people could
      actually use the techniques to get more search engine traffic.

    1. Thanks for that, Karl πŸ™‚

      When you think about SEO non-stop ideas like these tend to crop up as I go about my day. I guess that’s the upside of being obsessive πŸ˜€

    1. I hear you, Usama.

      Here’s the thing about niches that are hard to build links in:

      It’s hard for your competitors too. That means that you don’t need that many links to rank!
      Even a handful of authoritative links is usually enough to blow by the competition in weird/obscure niches.

    1. Happy to hear that you’re going to put the techniques into practice, Matt. Definitely keep me posted with how that broken link building tip works out for you.

    1. I try, Jon πŸ™‚

      But seriously, I appreciate your kind words. A lot of work goes into posts like these so it’s great to see that all that time in front of my laptop was worth it.

  3. Hi Brian,

    I can’t wait to try some of your ideas in the list starting today. Like I tweeted earlier, “you just took us back to school”. I knew about Alltop but just ignored it (or maybe I was being lazy).

    I am going to set this page as the background image for my computer to remind me of the proper way to build links.


    1. “I am going to set this page as the background image for my computer to remind me of the proper way to build links”…Best. Comment. Ever.

      Thanks Puya πŸ™‚

  4. Blimey Brian, I think this is your best post ever! Gonna be coming back and going through each tip one by one!

    I really liked what you said about using “because” in outreach emails. Am going to implement this immediately and record the results. Also loved the first tip about finding dead links on Wikipedia. In fact, I’m sure this post will spark an arms race for anyone that’s read it so I’m going to get onto that right away hehe!

    Anyway, thanks man for all these insights. I’ve been scratching my head recently trying to think of white hat ways I can defeat the black hatters in my new niche and this has given me so many ideas!

    1. You know you’re doing something right when someone says “Blimey”.

      Anyway, happy to have helped you find some white hat strategies you can use to beat up on the competition.
      Keep me posted on how adding “because” and the Wikipedia BLB technique works out for you, Richard.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *