17 Ways to Improve SEO Rankings in 2019

17 Ways to Improve Your SEO

Today you’re going to learn EXACTLY how to improve your site’s ranking.

In fact, these 17 techniques helped grow my site’s organic traffic by 21.30% in 3 months:

Three months' Organic Traffic growth

The best part?

Everything here is working GREAT right now.

1. Get More Organic Traffic With “Snippet Bait”

Over the last few weeks I’ve got my site to rank in 41 different Featured Snippets.

Like this:

Featured snippet example

And this:

"channel keywords" Google Snippet

My secret?

A new strategy called “Snippet Bait”.

Here’s how it works:

First, find a keyword that you already rank for.

Why is this important?

According to Ahrefs, 99.58% of Featured Snippets come from the first page results.

So if you’re on page 2, you have pretty much zero chance of getting in a Featured Snippet.

For example, here’s a page from my site that was ranking on page 1.

Backlinko post "Nofollow link"

Next, look at the Featured Snippet at the top of the SERPs:

Featured snippet

And identify what TYPE of Featured Snippet you’re looking at:

  • Definition Snippet (“What is content marketing?”)
  • List Snippet (“Top 10 Content Marketing Tools”)
  • Table Snippet (“Content Marketing Tool Prices”)

Finally, add a snippet of content to your page that’s designed to fit inside that Featured Snippet box.

(This is the “Snippet Bait”)

For example,  I wanted to get in the Featured Snippet for the keyword “nofollow links”.

So I wrote a little section that would fit PERFECTLY inside of a Featured Snippet box:

"What Are Nofollow Links?"

And it worked! About 2 weeks later, the section I wrote was at the top of the search results.

"nofollow links" Google snippet

Nice.

2. Improve Dwell Time With This Simple Step

Is Dwell Time a Google ranking factor?

In my opinion: YES.

After all, if someone quickly bounces from your page, it sends a clear message to Google: people hate that page.

And they’ll quickly downrank it:

Low dwell time = Lower rankings

The opposite is also true: lowering your bounce rate can improve your Google rankings.

The question is:

How do you prevent people from bouncing?

Embed videos on your page.

For example, I recently compared my bounce rate for a sample of pages with and without a video.

And pages with video had an 11.2% better bounce rate than pages without a video:

Embedded videos can decrease bounce rate

That’s why I embed videos in almost every new post that I write.

Sometimes I make the video an entire step or tip:

"Discover Untapped Keywords on Reddit" step to video

Or as a way for people to learn more about a specific topic:

"Boost click-through rate" topic to video

Which leads us to…

3. Find Low-Competition Keywords With “Ghost Posts”

Here’s the truth:

Most “Keyword Competition” scores are WAY off.

That’s because most of them focus 100% on one metric: backlinks.

Are backlinks important?

Heck yeah!

But backlinks are only one piece of the puzzle. First page rankings are also based on:

  • Organic click-through-rate
  • Search Intent
  • Page speed
  • How well your site works on mobile devices
  • Internal links
  • Lots more

That’s why I now ignore most keyword competition scores.

Instead, I use “Ghost Posts”.

For example:

A few months back I wanted to rank for the keyword: “Free SEO Tools”.

According to Ahrefs, this keyword is “Super Hard” to rank for:

"free seo tools" keyword – Super hard to rank

Instead of giving up, I decided to test this keyword’s difficulty with a new technique: The Ghost Post.

Specifically, I whipped up a quick post and published it on the 4th page of my blog feed.

Backlinko post "Best Free SEO Tools"

In other words: I didn’t promote the post in any way (hence the name: “Ghost Post”).

To my surprise, I cracked the first page for long tail versions of my keyword (like “best free SEO tools”) within a week or so:

SEMrush – Organic Search Results for "Best Free SEO Tools"

And I even started to pop in and out of page 1 for my target keyword.

That’s when I decided to promote the post on social media:

Backlinko Twitter post "Best Free SEO Tools"

And give the content a much-needed upgrade.

As it turns out, this “Super Hard” keyword was ridiculously easy to rank for.

In fact, I now rank #1 for that keyword:

Google rankings for "free SEO tools"

Even though my page has WAY fewer backlinks than the other first page results:

Backlinks comparison of "Best Free SEO Tools" post

(Note: I’m not bashing Ahrefs’s Keyword Difficulty score. I’m just showing you another way to figure out keyword difficulty).

With that, it’s time for…

Last year I decided to make Organic CTR a top priority.

But I quickly ran into a problem:

Besides optimizing your title and description for clicks, how can you push more people to click on your result?

Sitelinks.

You probably already have sitelinks underneath your result when you search for your brand in Google.

Backlinko sitelinks in Google Search

As it turns out, you can ALSO get sitelinks on all sorts of pages… from blog posts to ecommerce category pages.

And these sitelinks can make a BIG dent in your click-through-rate.

How do you get sitelinks?

A table of contents.

For example, when I published this post, I added a table of contents with “jump links” to each tip.

 

(We created this table of contents inside of WordPress. But you can easily set these up with any platform).

And once my page cracked the top 5, Google hooked me up with sitelinks.

Sitelinks in Google for "how to get more youtube subscribers"

As you can see, these sitelinks REALLY help my result stand out.

In fact, sitelinks are one of the reasons my page has a 14.9% CTR.

“How to get more YouTube subscribers” CTR

5. Want More Links? Be The Source

Here’s the deal:

People don’t link to “great content”.

They link to sources.

For example, I published this guide to the Google Search Console last year.

Backlinko post "Google Search Console"

And I’m not afraid to say that it qualifies as “high-quality content”.

The post is full of actionable tips:

Actionable tips from "Google Search Console" post

It even has a custom design:

Google Search Console post – Custom design

Despite being a very solid piece of content, it only has 159 referring domain links:

Referring Domains for "Google Search Console" post

On the other hand, check out this voice search study I published around the same time:

Backlinko post "Voice Search SEO" study

Most people would also call this post “great content”.

But this piece of content has 764 referring domain links:

Referring Domains for "Voice Search SEO" study

(That’s 4.8x more backlinks than my GSC guide).

What’s going on here?

Well, my Google Search Console guide isn’t that easy for someone to link to.

Unless you’re writing about the GSC and want to send someone to a resource to “learn more”, there’s no compelling reason to link to my guide.

On the other hand, my voice search study gives bloggers and journalists data that they can EASILY reference.

Search Engine Journal mention of Backlinko "Voice Search" study

Which has led to hundreds of high-quality backlinks.

6. Target Keywords With BIG Commercial Intent

When I first got started with keyword research I’d focus 100% on search volume.

If a keyword got a bunch of searches, I’d say: “that’s good enough for me!”.

Not anymore.

Today, I put A LOT of weight on commercial intent.

(In other words: how much are Google Ads advertisers spending on those clicks?)

For example, I recently started targeting keywords like “link building services”.

Backlinko post "Link Building Services"

This keyword doesn’t get that many searches:

"link building services" keyword Search Volume

But with a CPC of $25.00, I know that the traffic is made up of legit buyers:

"link building services" keyword CPC

(Fun fact: I published this page as a “Ghost Post”. As it turns out, “link building services” is MUCH less competitive than most tools claim)

Google rankings for "link building services"

7. Grab More SERP Real Estate With YouTube Videos

Found an AWESOME keyword that converts well for you?

Get bonus traffic from that term with a YouTube video.

For example, this post is targeting the keyword “how to get more traffic”.

Backlinko post "Increase Website Traffic"

Unfortunately, I’m stuck in the #4 spot.

Google rankings for "how to get more traffic"

To make matters worse, I’m cramped below 3 video results.

Stuck under video results in Google SERPs

(But I’m working on it 🙂 )

In the meantime, I decided to create a video on that topic.

"how to get more traffic" YouTube video

And because I optimized my video the right way, it takes up valuable real estate at the top of Google’s search results:

Google video results for "how to get more traffic"

Want to see how I optimized that video? Check out this quick tutorial:

8. Rank for “Topic + Statistics” Keywords

This is the dirty little secret that sites use to get LOTS of backlinks on autopilot.

For example, Student Loan Hero has over 21.1K links to its “US Student Loan Statistics” page:

Backlinks for Student Loan Debt Statistics page

Here’s how they did it (and why this approach works so well):

First, they identified a topic that bloggers and journalists tend to write about.

(In this case, stats about student loan debt)

Then, they created a webpage that curated stats from different sources.

Student Loan Debt Statistics page

Finally, they optimized their title tag, meta description and page around the keyword: “Student Loan Debt Statistics”.

Which now ranks on the first page for that term:

Google rankings for "student loan debt statistics"

Why does this work so well?

Think about it:

Who searches for “Topic + Statistics” keywords?

Journalists!

Specifically, journalists looking for stats to include in their articles.

And when you rank for that term, you’re going to get linked to like there’s no tomorrow.

Very cool.

9. Optimize Old Content For User Intent

I’ve talked about matching your content to search intent before.

User Intent section from Skyscraper Technique post

But the bottom line is this:

If your site isn’t what searchers want, Google won’t rank it.

(No matter how many links you have)

But when your page makes Google users happy, you can increase your Google rankings.

For example, I first published this post in 2015:

Old Backlinko post "SEO Campaign"

As you can probably guess, my target keyword for that page was “SEO Campaign”.

And I quickly carved out a spot on the middle of the first page of Google.

So far so good.

But one day my rankings and organic traffic started to drop.

Google Analytics – Shot of Backlinko traffic drop

This wasn’t a super high-priority keyword. So I just kind of ignored the problem and hoped it would go away.

It didn’t.

That’s when I realized that my content was a HORRIBLE fit for user intent.

Specifically, my post didn’t outline an SEO campaign. Instead, I talked about a single strategy (“Guestographics”):

Snippet about Guestographics from SEO Campaign post

Which was a really bad user experience for anyone that wanted a detailed SEO campaign)

So I went back to the drawing board. And I rewrote the post from scratch.

This time, I made sure to publish something that someone searching for “SEO campaign” would love.

Sure enough, those changes dramatically improved our search engine ranking. In fact, the new version of the post now ranks #1 for that term:

Google rankings for "SEO campaign"

10. Content Partnerships

I’m a BIG fan of Content Partnerships.

Why?

Because it makes your content promotion twice as powerful.

Think about it:

When you publish something on your site, you send as many people as you can to your post.

Single-author content has limited reach

But you’re only one person (or company). So your reach is pretty limited.

But when you partner with someone else, BOTH of you send people to your new content:

Content partnerships increase your content's reach

Which doubles the amount of eyeballs, links and social media shares that you get.

For example, earlier this year I partnered with BuzzSumo to create this content marketing study.

Backlinko post "Content Study"

And because we both promoted it to our audiences, it got A TON of traffic:

Google Analytics – Traffic for Content Study post

11. Repurpose Content Into Different Formats

Last year I realized that I was making a HUGE mistake.

The mistake?

Every time I sat down to write a new blog post, email newsletter or video script… I was starting from scratch.

Which meant it would sometimes take me 14 days to finish a single blog post.

That’s when I realized something…

I already had TONS of content on my YouTube channel. Content that people loved.

So I decided to base my next blog post on a popular video from my channel: a video about getting more YouTube subscribers.

"How to get more YouTube subscribers" video, YouTube

It took some time to turn my video into a blog post.

Conversion of "How to get more YouTube subscribers" video to post

But it was 10x faster than starting with a blank Google Doc.

The best part?

My post did GREAT.

That post brings in 15,701 search engine visitors per month.

Search engine traffic for "/how-to-get-youtube-subscribers" post

And it currently ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

Google rankings for "get more youtube subscribers"

Pretty cool.

12. Double Down On Broken Link Building

I already published a guide to Broken Link Building.

So I’m not going to go over the process again here.

Instead, I’m going to show how I used Broken Link Building to get this sweet backlink:

Time Doctor – Backlink

First, I looked for a piece of content on my site that I KNEW people would want to link to. And I chose this CRO guide:

CRO Guide

Next, I found a site that wrote about content marketing. And popped their homepage URL into Ahrefs.

Time Doctor in Ahrefs

And clicked on “Outgoing Links” → “Broken links”:

Ahrefs – Outgoing links – Broken links menu

Which showed me all of that site’s broken external links:

Broken links for Time Doctor in Ahrefs

Once I found a broken link that was similar to my guide, I reached out to the person that runs their blog. I let them know about their broken link and offered my content as a replacement:

Brian's outreach email to Time Doctor

And because I added value with my outreach, they happily linked to me:

TimeDoctor's reply to outreach email

That’s all there is to it.

13. Find Backlink Opportunities With “Link Intersect”

It’s no secret that reverse engineering is a GREAT link building strategy.

But it’s not perfect.

After all, let’s say you find a site that just linked to your competitor.

You have no idea if that site linked to them because they have an existing relationship, they just sent an awesome outreach email… or a million other reasons.

But when you look at who links to MULTIPLE competitors, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

(After all, what are the odds that the site has a great relationship with three different sites?).

That’s where Link Intersect comes into play.

To use it, fire up good ol’ Ahrefs and enter three domains into their Link Intersect tool:

Ahrefs – Link intersect homescreen for Moz, Ahrefs and SiegeMedia

And make sure to put your site in the “But doesn’t link to” field:

Ahrefs – Link intersect "Doesn't link to homescreen" section

And voila!

You’ll see everyone that links to these 3 sites… but doesn’t link to you.

Ahrefs – Link intersection results screen

And if your site publishes better content than your competitors, there’s a really good chance these peeps will link to you too.

14. Target Brand New Keywords

Want to find popular, low-competition keywords?

Of course you do 🙂

Question is:

How?!

Target NEW keywords.

I’ll explain…

Most keywords are competitive for the simple reason that there are LOTS of sites trying to rank for them.

But when you target new terms, you’re competing with fewer people.

Which means you can often rocket your way to the top of the search results.

For example, last summer I created a guide optimized around the growing term “Voice Search”:

Backlinko post "Optimize for Voice Search"

Because the term “Voice Search” was relatively new (especially compared to old school keywords in my niche like “link building”), my guide cracked the bottom of the first page within a week.

And it currently ranks on the first page of Google for that term:

Google rankings for "voice search"

15. Use Concept Visuals

This is a way to get high-quality backlinks WITHOUT having to grind with outreach.

In fact, I’ve used this approach to get links like this:

Image backlink from Monitor Backlinks blog post

And this:

Image backlink from Convince and Convert post

All without sending a single outreach email.

With that, here are the steps:

First, create an AWESOME visual that helps people understand a tricky concept or idea.

This can be a graph, chart, visualization or table.

Here’s an example:

"Windows 10 desktop searches made by voice" visual

Next, feature that visual in your content.

"Windows 10 desktop searches" visual – Used in post

And if the right person sees your visual, they’ll use it on their site:

"Windows 10 desktop searches" visual – Image backlink from WideInfo

Rinse and repeat for every post that you publish.

Pro Tip: Focus on creating visuals for NEW topics. That way, you’ll be one of the few sites with a high-quality visual of that topic.

16. Use Industry Glossaries for Keyword Ideas

Want some creative keyword ideas?

Check out industry glossaries.

For example, this nutrition glossary covers 100+ different terms:

NutritionData – Glossary section

You can either straight up copy these keywords into a spreadsheet.

Or use them as seed keywords and pop them into a keyword research tool.

Either way, glossaries are an AWESOME way to find new keyword ideas.

Pro Tip: Pop the glossary URL into the Google Keyword Planner for a mega list of keyword ideas:

Mega list of keyword ideas from Keyword Planner

Most people struggle with outreach because they send garbage like this:

Bad outreach email

There’s a lot wrong with this outreach email.

But the biggest issue is that I don’t have a place on my site where a link to their content makes sense.

So I hit “Delete”.

That person would have had a lot more luck reaching out to a Content Curator.

Content Curators are just like they sound: people that curate their industry’s best stuff.

For example, you might have seen the SEO Marketing Hub that I created a few months back:

Backlinko – SEO Marketing Hub

Well, because I got my content in front of Content Curators, I was able to get a handful of links to my site like this:

SEO Marketing Hub - Backlink from AuthorityAlchemy's link roundup

No arm twisting required.

Bonus #1: Find Question Keywords With Question DB

QuestionDB is like Answer the Public.

QuestionDB – Homepage

But in my opinion it’s actually a little bit better.

Why?

First of all, it’s MUCH easier to use.

Unlike Answer the Public, with crazy charts and images of some bearded dude, the questions are laid out in a simple table.

QuestionDB – Report for "paleo diet" keyword

And because QuestionDB focuses on questions that people ask on Reddit, you can find keyword and topic ideas that most other tools won’t show you.

QuestionDB – Report for "paleo diet" keyword sorted by topic

Bonus #2: Rank For Brand Name Terms

Low competition.

High volume.

Great CPC.

I’m talking about brand name terms.

For example, look at these two keywords:

Branded .vs. Unbranded search volumes

That’s right: Mailchimp gets searched for 280x more than “email marketing software”.

And it’s the same story with most categories:

The brand gets WAY more searches than the topic or category.

(The one big downside of targeting brand names is that you’ll never rank #1. But it can still be totally worth it)

That’s why I’ve started to publish content designed to rank for brand names.

For example, I have this BuzzStream review post on my site.

Backlinko post BuzzStream Outreach

Not only does my page rank for “BuzzStream Review”:

Google rankings for "BuzzStream review"

But it also ranks high up on the first page for the popular brand keyword “BuzzStream”.

Google rankings for "BuzzStream"

Now It’s Your Turn…

I hope today’s post showed you how to improve your SEO ranking.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which of the 17 SEO strategies from today’s post are you going to try first?

Are you going to target brand keywords?

Or maybe you want to try Snippet Bait.

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

310 Comments

    1. Loved the part about optimizing content for user intent. I agree with you that we all focus too much on search volume and overlook other aspects. Also found the part about ranking for new keywords really useful! My team used to always stay away from new keywords – but now I’m going to show them how we can capitalize on new keywords! 🙂

  1. You truly are a real genius. Some very incredible pieces of result oriented steps mentioned in the post. Really appreciate your guidance and analytical skills. Thanks for sharing great information.

  2. wow Brian, this is another GOLD post! I am glad I clicked on the link from your newsletter, so much value in this post. easy to read, easy to understand, easy to act upon. you are doing amazing work for the whole SEO community.

  3. Thank you Brian for having an impact on my SEO knowledge. I’ll forever be grateful. My blog now ranks in top 500k with less than 50 blog posts with 10k search visits a month. To be exact, 47 posts.
    Because i learnt one thing from you, not just pushing out content but put out content that has a search volume that you can complete on and rank well.
    The rest is history.

  4. Amazing! The main point of these tactics are, anyone can apply easily without any extra tools. Very easy, simple but awesome and valuable ways. Thanks, Brian.

  5. Hi Brian, awesome content always!

    From the 17 SEO Strategies you’ve mentioned, I will be going with the brand new keywords, especially those with low competition.

    There are always chances of ranking for that keyword in few weeks time.

    Thanks Brian!

    1. Hi Joy, thank you. Nice! That’s actually something I’m going to put more emphasis on too. Those new keywords are tricky to find, but it’s GREAT when you do.

  6. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this. Hopefully I can translate these ideas on our venue blog. Please let me know if you have ever done any Squarespace SEO tips too as its hard to rank Squarespace websites compared to WordPress.

    1. Hi Travis, you’re welcome. I might do a Squarespace SEO post in the future. I don’t have a ton of experience with Squarespace so I’d need to run some experiments first.

  7. Loved your solutions and tips, especially Tip #8. Creating statistical content that journalists can refer and use to not only promote your site but validate their articles makes a lot of sense. Any tips on how to aggregate data cheaply? Thank you for your million-dollar content as always!

  8. Another awesome post. I need to make sure I’m up to the par on all of these in order for my site to rank for the proper keywords. Thanks for putting this up. Just what I needed to review.

  9. Hello Brian,

    Very nice article. Honestly, some tips still out of my reach as I am a nub here but I would go first with broken link building strategy..wish me good luck!

    Thanks,

    Angelina

    1. Definitely! I think repurposing has a bad name because people just reuse the same exact content. Like you said, it has to be executed well to really work.

  10. Landed here via Email
    As always you are rocking with amazing tips Brian.
    Can you please write a detailed article with tips and tricks for LOCAL SEO.

  11. When you talk about ‘Ghost Posts’ i’m a little bit confused. Are you trying to say that we can write posts (skyscraper for example) and rank also if we haven’t backlinks? What about the authority of the site? Better content = better rankings, beside Site Authority? Thanks for your great content!

    1. Hi Francesco, I’m more saying that you can better gauge a keyword’s difficulty by putting something out there. That way, you know if it’s worthwhile to invest the same and energy to make a Skyscraper post. Does that make sense?

  12. Hey, Brian…

    I have been using some of your techniques to build links to my brand new site. Its a bit of a grind but I have recently landed a link with the content curator technique…

    I have also tried broken link building but most of the pages that I have found with broken links are from some outdated website which I don’t get a response after doing my outreach…

    I already know that the conversions rates are low on outreach.. but if there are any tips you might recommend would appreciate it…

    P.S: I have recently done a guest post and gave you a mentioned and a link. though I might give you a heads up.

    1. Congrats Floyd! To answer your question: a big part of the success depends on how much your content replaces the old content… or is a good fit for that page in general. In the example I gave, my CRO guide wasn’t 1:1 replacement for the dead link. But it did make sense for people to add it to their pages because they tended to be “list of CRO resources” type things. Hope that helps.

      Also, thanks for the mention + link!

  13. Wow, Brian.

    You’ve just given me couple of new ideas for my website. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in here. You are a real Pro in SEO.

    Greatings
    Kris

  14. Brian, it’s a great article. I have a question about the ghost posts. You whipped up a quick post and published it on the 4th page of your blog feed. Why do you mean by 4th page of your blog feed?

  15. On using custom graphics for backlinks, this has changed the game for me (while keeping some of our designers MUCH busier).

    Do you think the tag below it matters much? I usually do something like “Graphic by Regex SEO” or “Illustration by Regex SEO”. Thoughts?

    1. Same here Ryan. It’s kind of a pain to create so many custom graphics and charts (we’ve created almost 1k in the last year alone!). But totally worth it.

      I haven’t tested it, but I don’t think the tag makes much of a difference.

  16. This post is the topic of conversation in my blogging mastermind group this week. We are all going to pick 1-2 strategies to implement right now and report back to the group (there are 5 of us). Divide and conquer! Thanks for a post packed with strategies we haven’t tried yet!

  17. Another golden article, thanks Brian!
    But I can’t help to wonder how much time it takes for us “mortals” to rank with ghost posts and similar, after all Backlinko authority is (deservedly) high and doesn’t that make it a bit easier? Not to undermine your incredible effort though..

    1. Hey John, that’s a really good point. If your site doesn’t have much authority, Ghost Posts might not be helpful. But as long as you have SOME authority, you should at least be able to see how competitive a keyword is with a quick Ghost Post.

  18. Hi Brian,

    Your content is always excellent. I really admire your ability to present the content: always clear, actionable and with a lot of visuals.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate that. It takes some extra work to get posts like this all together. But I think it’s worth the extra effort.

  19. Brian,
    All great ideas and I think the best way is to put them all into a check list for me to do. Although, I am getting ready to make another post on my site, I found that the Question DB will be perfect to incorporate into the current project to start with.

    1. In my experience, the table of contents is more helpful for getting sitelinks. But having your page structured like that can definitely help you rank in the position #0 spot.

  20. Another amazing piece of content Brian. But it’s useless if we don’t put action to it. So I’m going to start trying out some of the methods and hope to see some results. For a new website, will these work and what do you think is a reasonable time to see results? I suppose I should use a serp tracker too.

    1. Hey Keith, thank you. And props for taking action. To answer your question: some of these strategies (like SnippetBait) are definitely geared towards established sites. Toa nswer your question: it’s hard to answer because that depends on your niche, keywords, current site etc. etc.

  21. Hey Brian, awesome guide.

    Do you think small sites (let’s say DR 1-25) can take advantage of the ghost post tactic? Or do you think that sites with a higher DR will get the most out of it?

    1. Thanks Brady. I’d say you need some DR for Ghost Posts to be a reliable indicator. I’d say DR25 is a good minimum. But yeah, bigger sites get the most out of it because their domain authority gives them a better idea of where they’ll rank with a full post.

  22. Hey Brain,As always you have created an amazing content.I got some nice ideas to improve my SEO.However,I would love to read your article on topic how to get backlinks when you are not a big brand.

    You are such a big brand and you create an amazing content but what about those bloggers who are new to in this business and want to rank high?If you can create on article on that topic, I am sure people will love it so much.

    1. Thanks. It’s true that big brands have an edge. There’s no denying that. So if you’re just starting out, you have to put in the extra work to create something AMAZING that stands head and shoulder above what’s out there.

  23. Dear Brian
    Very deep and clear article on SEO. I am amazed how you have done research a lot of. How you know? And most important you are sharing also. That’s also reason you are outperforming. Good and God bless 🙏 you.

    Best Regards
    Lalit

  24. Hi Brian.

    Great article. I have this big fear for Youtube that I have decided to overcome. So I will create videos for Youtube to get more traffic. Hopefully, will some of them rank in Google 🙂

  25. Hi
    Brain I’ve been reading your posts for some time now and find them amazingly educational.
    However there is so much info on your site and on the web, sometimes it gets overwhelming. Do you have an article or a guide on how to start SEO and in what order you should tackle each task, i.e. keywords research, copy/content creation? link building. audit, and then all these other tips and ‘How to’ articles you write about?
    Especially for eCommerce sites, as we cannot write 2000 word product descriptions for all of our products, nor is it easy to get backlinks to an eCommerce site.

    Best regards
    Reece

  26. Hello Brian,
    Your blog is enough for a newbie in SEO to become a pro. I can’t thank you enough for the great tips you share here. I would like to mention that writing articles on low result keywords has been the secret weapon I use to earn online. It works almost all the time.

  27. I’m really grateful for your generous post, Brian. I’m definitely going to implement TOC on some of my over 4k words posts, where I’m trying to become the source. 😉 And I will also use the stats on some new posts. Thanks to you, I also researched big keywords, which I’d stayed away from, and found that many of the high CPC and ranking articles are from 2014. Hoping some of my fresh new content helps rank me higher. Love what you do, sir!

    1. Hi Lilly, you’re welcome. And glad to hear that you’re looking into high CPC keywords. I used to be guilty of targeting keywords that have a bajillion searches per month. Volume is still important. But I try to pay attention to CPC when picking keywords to go after.

    1. It depends a lot on the list post. For example, if you have 100+ items, a table of contents may not make sense. But if you can use one, I would.

  28. Awesome post, Brian.

    I just added anchor links / jump links to one of my recent posts to try to get in on that sweet sitelink action :D. (I’d used them just for usability purposes on long posts before, but never realized the potential benefit in SERPs.)

    Brand new keywords sound super tricky to find — except for a ton of easy ones that come around every January: simply adding the year to whatever keyword you’re targeting. People can start getting traffic from “2020” keywords long before they show up with any kind of search volume in typical keyword-research tools, since their data lags. (Hat tip to Glen Allsopp, who I got that idea from.)

    And as a perfectionist (not in the sense that my work is perfect, but in the sense that I’m a slow writer)… I love the idea of the “ghost post”. What a great way to test the waters before committing to a full-fledged post (and its promotion).

    Will definitely be trying that one out.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Hey Kyle, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Re: brand new keywords. They’re insanely hard to find for sure. They’re hard to find using a keyword research tool. And when they do show up, they tend to underestimate search volume by 10x. So right now I do it kind of manually: read a lot of stuff in my niche and take note of what’s trending.

  29. Brian, I own and operate a small business in Florida (website below). I had someone build my site. I hired someone in Cambodia (they were referred) to do some SEO work on the site. They made some changes and stopped responding. I received some error message from Google saying my sight may not be seen on search engines. I have no idea how to fix it. My traffic was good, not great but seems to have nose dived. When I watch these videos and login to WordPress I am completely overwhelmed. If this sight doesn’t start producing soon it may put me out of business. Are you for hire or can you refer me to someone at least to make whatever fixes are necessary? Thanks 🙂 Hope to hear from you soon.

    1. Hey Kevin, I don’t do any client work or consulting. But for something like this, you definitely want someone with SEO experience to take a look. I recommend looking for a freelancer on a place like getcredo.com or upwork.

  30. Hello Brian,

    I always read your awesome content. Thanks for so much!

    I hope you can help me with this:

    I plan to leave WordPress and move to a web builder called “TILDA”
    (much simpler for a non techie guy like me, and I liked it better than WIX)

    Do all your seo strategies work with any web builder or do some just apply to wordpress? Do you think wordpress is a must to improve seo?

    Thanks for your advice Brian!

    1. Hi Rolo, I’ve never tried TILDA before. It’s obviously your call. But my recommendation would be to stick with WordPress. That said, 99% of the SEO strategies that you read about here on Backlinko apply to any site running on any site builder.

  31. When you mentioned 4th page of the blog, it reminds me of a post which we did a few while ago, but forgot to update the date when we did the content upgrade. Side benefit of reading Backlinko!

    Other than that, Just noticed that the backlinks from a typical page here is kind of like more than our entire website combined. Obviously we’re in a tinier niche, but someone needs to do some catch up!

    Tom

  32. Hi Brian,

    Great content! Love it… 🙂

    I have a question regarding the Youtube embed. What do you think of lazyloading a youtube VID replacement with image.

    In one way it increases the site speed and less external load/scripts. But you are also missing out an external link to a Google domain.

    Maybe Google even corrects/filters for Youtube video’s.

    Curious what your thoughts are. We are going to experiment the coming weeks.

    1. Hi Jeroen, that’s interesting. I haven’t tested that but it should definitely speed things up. On the other hand, you don’t really have a video there
      that might keep someone’s attention longer.

  33. Great article, Brian! As a video guy myself, I love your point #2 where you recommend embedding videos as I do that too. My concern is that although more visitors stay to watch the video, doesn’t video embedding slow load time thereby causing another Google issue?

    1. Hey Dan, good question. Yes, embedding a video slows things down a little bit. But it’s not so bad. YouTube only loads basic video info and the thumbnail until the person hits “play”. It’s similar with Wistia.

  34. Hey Brian,

    Great idea with the “snippet bait” idea.

    I’ve explored this area but never thought about adding in a section to really draw out the potential.

    Thanks,

    Chris

    1. You’re welcome, Chris. Snippetbait doesn’t work 100% of the time for me. But it definitely boosts the odds of getting in the Featured Snippet spot.

  35. This is a pure gold information Brian. I along with 2 of my friends have just started a technology based, how information site. We haven’t started yet with the SEO part, however with these actionable tips I am sure soon we will start to gain some rankings.

  36. This page is just full of gold. Such awesome information, for some it may look like small adjustments but these changes can really make the difference out there. Thank you so much for sharing these valuable secrets.. Very much appreciated! I will study them with care 🙂

    1. Hi Koen, you’re welcome. I tried to mix in quick win strategies (like snippetbait) and some more involved stuff (like Be The Source). So yeah, glad you enjoyed the post.

  37. Good stuff Brian. Looks like a good SEO hacks compendium to me. Some of these things I already knew, like adding a video on your site, but the majority of tips are pretty insightful. Definitely adding to my list of bookmarks and putting these tips to use. #6 and #16 are gold.

    1. Hey Slava, thank you. It’s pretty hard to create a list post with 100% brand new stuff. But I tried to feature as many new techniques as I could (or least add my own twist to existing strategies).

  38. I have also done some reviews on other brands. I can’t be sure but I don’t really think it helps me. I rank on the first page for some brands – even competitors but I am not sure if it helps at all.

    1. Hey Wade, thank you! Featured Snippets are slowly taking over the SERPs. So I’m glad I at least have one strategy I can use to take advantage.

    1. Thanks Priscilla. Yup, Concept Visuals are great. Personally, I’m terrible at graphic design so I’m useless with Photoshop and Canva, LOL.

  39. WOW it is not often that I get to use the words “Treasure Trove” but that is exactly what I found here on on Backlinko! Arrrrr 🙂

    But seriously thank you I seen a few of these things but it takes hours of searching and to have so many top strategies in 1 place is gold for us newbies (actually an SEO Oldie getting back in the game lol) Thanks!

    1. Hi Kevin, thank you. I’m glad you learned some new stuff (or at least got a refresher on some older SEO strategies from back in the day).

      Also, nice pirate reference!

  40. Great post! So many great tips, I’ll have to keep coming back for memory refreshers! The tips that stand out the most for me right now are the one about statistics, the one about graphics, and the one about pitching to content curators, and the one about including videos in your posts. And the one about Questions DB!

    1. Hey Rebecca, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Yup, QuestionDB was a nice little find that I’ve been using quite a bit lately.

  41. What an amazing post! It’s probably the first post I’ve ever bookmarked so I can utilize all these sweet hacks! Thanks for sharing it all with us. Anyways, I do want to ask what you recommend for content curation? I’d love to know!

    Thanks again 🙂

  42. Embedding a video into your blog articles is a strategy we have been pushing clients to do for a while now and it works amazingly well for specifics type of content like reviews, HOW TOs etc.

    Great post Brian. Love it.

    1. Thanks Andrew. It makes sense that videos would work even better for product review pages and how-to content. Videos usually do a better job of explaining that sort of thing than text.

  43. One thing that you always do on your blog post, you always add “2019”. Are that good for any reason and next year do you will change to 2020?

    1. I add that to emphasize that these strategies are new. Also, lots of people search for “keyword + year” in Google.

  44. Hi Brian,

    I’ve been reading your blog for more than 2 years and I love it. This is the first time that I leaving you a comment.

    I’ve 2 simple questions:

    ・Ghost Post: Don’t you think that the Authority that you and Backlinko has, was the factor that made you easily rank for the keyword “best free SEO tools.”
    ・ How did you find out that “link building services” was having a big CPC? I know that you Ahrefs tell you but I mean, how did you actually find that keyword? Any idea to make this process faster.

    Another great post, thanks Brian!

    My two favorite tips in this post were Target Keywords With BIG Commercial Intent and Link intersect.

    1. Hi Alfred, thanks for your comment. To answer your questions:

      Ghost posts: It made it easier for sure. Domain Authority is a super important ranking signal. The idea of the Ghost Post is more to let me know how hard it will be to rank. Actually getting to #1 is a different story.

      Link building services: You can actually sort the results in Ahrefs and SEMRUsh by CPC. That’s what I do.

  45. Hi Brian,

    It was such a great piece of content. All the tips and strategies you shared are highly actionable.

    Thanks

  46. As always great content Brian.

    The snippet bait is very interesting, are you not using any type of markup for the snippet to work?

    And, besides being up to date and “firstmover” – do you have any tips or tools to finding new keywords before anyone else?

    1. Hey Morten, that’s right: no markup. Just normal HTML.

      To your second question, at the moment I just read about SEO and digital marketing to keep on top of things. Then, I use a keyword tool to see how people search for that topic. It’s honestly not the greatest system. I definitely wish there was a better way.

  47. Hello Brian,
    Love your post.
    But I have one question in mind. You put so many high-quality images on your blog post which makes the site load slower. Doesn’t it affect ranking? If not how is it possible? Because I have seen some of your post which loads slower ranking on top 10?

    1. Hi Suraj, it’s a balance. I bet I’d get slightly higher rankings by removing images. But that would make our content much worse. My #1 priority is putting out the best stuff that I can. If that slows things down a little, so be it.

  48. Thank you for all these great tipps! I took notes while reading them and will start with Snippet Baits. QuestionDB was new to me and I’ll work on some concept visuals.

  49. I liked the “Ghost Post” technique, but I did not understand one thing. You mentioned that you’ve published the post on page 4 of your blog, how did you do that? Or I’m missing something?

  50. Thank you for this great content.
    You are right, embedding videos actually helps to improve the bounce rate. I did an A/B test and it actually showed an 7% better bounce rate than the page without the video. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Lisa, you’re welcome. 7%? That’s interesting. Very similar to what we found (11%). Good to see that it also worked for you!

  51. Hi Brain,
    You post is so great. I have a question over here. Can I use multiple anchors for a single url on a single page. let me explain, for example, I wrote an article for backlinking. I have a single domin name but want to use different keyowrds linking in my aritlce. Like
    Keyword #1 link to http://www.example.com
    Keyword #2 link to http://www.example.com
    Keyword #3 link to http://www.example.com

    different keywords phrases but single domian name on single blog/article page?
    hope you understood.

  52. Excellent post again especially liked point sixteen as it provides more helpful information about Keyword Ideas. And thanks for providing “SEO Marketing Hub.”

  53. Love the snippet bait technique, and the example you gave for the Definition Snippet. Any chance you can provide examples for List and Table Snippets too?

    1. Hi Claire, you’re welcome. It depends. If the keyword seems like a Featured Snippet would make sense (for example, it’s a term that could use a definition or there’s a list of steps or tips), I’d still try snippetbait. One other thing I’d keep in mind is that Featured Snippets tend to float in and out. For example, the keyword “how to get more subscribers on YouTube”. That featured snippet tends to appear (with us ranking in it) and disappear on a weekly basis. Just Google testing stuff out.

  54. This is such a detailed guide. I learned a lot more new tricks. I will try the snippet bait technique first . Thanks for sharing 😊

  55. Love your stuff – Actionable stuff rocks – Now, if I can just get myself to be an action figure! Would love to hear your Local SEO strategies sometime. I’m going to try the Snippet-Bait first – Hope I nail it – Best to you!

  56. Hi Brian, great opinion. But I am not totally understanding of how to get the ranking on google.
    For example, I want to get the first page rank of the keyword “cap manufacturers”, It shows very easy on Ahrefs but how can I do it now?
    Hope to get your reply.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Morgan, I’m not sure what you mean. You mean how to rank for that keyword? That’s a tough thing to cover in a blog post.

  57. Thanks for the practical tips! I intend to try them out. Just wondering, though, if the success of “ghost post” hinges on high DA?

    1. Hi Nia, a high DA definitely helps. But as long as you have some DA, that tactic can help you figure out a keyword’s real competition level.

  58. Hi, Brian.

    I saw the SEO guide for e-commerce websites on your blog

    I would like to ask if this guide is also applicable to the marketing of B2B corporate websites.

    Do you have any better suggestions?

    Thank you very much.

  59. I like the fact that you go after topics which are less talked about in SEO such as dwell time and snippet bait. Most articles go through the generic machinations of SEO, so it was nice to come across some fresh content. Thanks!

  60. Hello Brian

    Thank you for your great tips.
    I can see how these are working for your blog or any blog but would these also work for a webshop who want to get a good ranking for a product or a product category ? Some of your topics I find difficult to adopt to a webshop.

  61. Thanks for these brilliant tips.

    I’m wondering… if you are top 10 for a term but there isn’t a featured snippet for it, what then?

    1. You’re welcome. In that case, Google might not use a Featured Snippet for that keyword. That said, I’d check back a few times because I notice that Google tends to test the results with and without an FS.

  62. Hello Brian,
    Thanks for sharing this amazing article, its very helpful and to the point.
    And can you please tell me or share me some resources regarding “Ghost Post” because i don’t know about anything that what is “Ghost Post”.
    I’m a newbie and i always read your articles for gaining knowledge & its always very helpful for me. I’ll be waiting for your reply!

    Once again, “Thank you so much” 🙂

  63. Wow Brian! Another great tips from you. I think I’m going to start with brand keyword first. I tried QuestionDB for first time. Never thought it can generate so many unique keywords. Thanks

  64. Hi. This is an AMAZING article! Best I’ve read so far (and I read a lot of this stuff!). Anyway, the videos don’t play for me. In fact, they are not clickable. Did I do something wrong?

  65. Hello Brian,

    Thanks for sharing these great SEO tips.

    About tip #4 (table of contents); what would you do if you had a page with multiple tutorials on it?

    Let’s say, you have a page like “12 ways to burn an MP3 CD” and on that page, you’ll explain how to do this with 12 different programs.

    Would you use something like, “Burn MP3 CD with ImgBurn”? or would you only use the names of the programs (e.g., ImgBurn)? or also add “How to…” (e.g., How to burn an MP3 CD with Nero) as anchor text of the links?

    1. Hi Mickel, I’d probably go with something that just has the name of the tool. Otherwise, it’s going to repeat “Burn MP3 CD with…” over and over again.

  66. Thanks Brian for the awesome tips! When you target keywords with BIG commercial intent, wouldn’t even 1st position rank be buried under by Google Ads ?

    1. Hi Cheefoo, really good question. Yes, they definitely will be buried by Google Ads. Fortunately, the organic SERPs still get a lot of clicks… even if they’re pushed below the fold.

  67. Have to say – your tips on SEO strategies never cease to amaze me! I’ve been doing SEO work on my own web properties for over a decade now & have over 812 first page rankings for some good organic traffic yet I seem to always learn new tactics from EVERY post of yours!

    Congrats!

    In addition; I enjoy your writing style as you make it very easy to read by breaking up long text into easily digestible chunks.

    What do you recommend is the most important FIRST step to take when first starting off SEO efforts on a new website?
    (besides keyword research)

    Cheers 🥂

    Chris

      1. Great! One can hope to truly create such a great, actually-useful piece of content as informative as yours though!

        Haha 😆

        So let me get this correct —

        You recommend creating the “great” content piece optimized for my keywords with video for YouTube??

        Thx Brian !

        Chris

  68. Hey Brian,

    I noticed you using ‘this post’ and not the ideal SEO anchor text. You are however using it in the link title. You testing something there? Is it working for you?

    Makes writing and reading easier doing internal linking like that.

    Also have a question regarding comments. I know you’re always testing things. Is there a reason you don’t use something like discus to manage comments?

    I’ve had to justify Discus to the company and was wondering at your approach. I like getting notifications of replies to my comments.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Toby. In that case, it’s more that I want to use natural anchor text. Re: Disqus, I like certain parts of it (like notifications). But WordPress’s built-in comments work well for us so we stick with them.

  69. Another insightful post from the Master. Thank you so much for all the awesome tips, Brian! I’m going to find backlink opportunities with “Link interest” and target brand new keywords.

  70. Excellent resource, Brian. Do you set up Google Analytics to track views of embedded images as an event? We use to do that to make sure Google caught the fact the video was watched. Those that has more to do with bounce rate than dwell time though.

    1. Thanks Matt. I actually don’t track that for the reason that you mentioned: I’m more focused on Dwell Time (and stopping people from pogosticking) than Google Analytic’s definition of Bounce Rate.

  71. Brian – another enormous resource both in value and size. Thank you.

    Love all of your articles and appreciate your willingness to share your experiences with so much detail. I really like the idea of making it easy for content curators to find your relevant content to build quality backlinks.

    1. Hi Seth, you’re welcome. That’s very true: to truly scale link building you need to make it super easy for other people to link to you.

  72. I really like the “concept visuals” idea.

    Tripling down on this, you are essentially “building links” passively. Let people know they can use them as long as they credit you with a link and you’re on to a winner.

  73. An excellent guide once again, Brian. The moment I think I have a good overview regarding SEO, there comes your newsletter, and I feel I’m starting all over again from day 1 🙂 Seriously though, thanks a lot for one more fantastic article. I am looking forward to implementing everything!

  74. Hi Brian: Man I love getting your blog posts but when I do, I know I have a whole bunch of new work ahead of me as everything you write about is super actionable and WORKS so of course I have to implement it! Thanks (I think?!) for this post. Now let me go as I have to create some videos, and snippets, and re-purpose content and… 🙂

  75. One of my legal client is not ranking well though we are following all your SEO guidelines. Can you provide what things should be followed while doing SEO of Legal industry?

  76. HI Brian,

    good read, thanks! Especiall About your featured snippet trick I am curious to test it and make it work (because it didnt worked out once for me – but Maybe I tried the wrong Format…)

    Though I got the Feeling that there are (still) too many ideas and hints for link Building 😉

    Cheers & Thanks
    Max

  77. Brian,

    Thank you for writing and updating this actionable SEO article.

    I have been trying many of these for years but I can see a few of them I need to implement for a new software am trying to market.

    For the past three months, I have been trying to rank for my competitors’ brand name and I have started seeing the results.

    Thanks a lot.

  78. I didn’t know google was so strict on the “dwell time”. I have noticed though that when I click on my site through analytics, the pages that rank on first page of google has higher dwell time than so called bounce rates. So I guess I gotta beef up my content. I enjoyed the read.

    1. Thanks Larry. I’ve noticed the same thing with Backlinko’s pages: higher dwell time tends to = higher rankings.

  79. Great, that you are using Ahrefs as much as we do 🙂 Makes linkbuilding much more easy! I like No. 12 most, but forgetting it much too often… Thanks for refreshing!

  80. I really like your “ghost posts” suggestion, I’ve had success ranking keywords in the past, but I’ll admit I’ve re-thought my strategy at times when I saw a difficult keyword score. You’ve motivated me to try that tactic and see if it’s worth taking on.

  81. Hey Brian, do you use a WordPress plugin to make your Table of Contents? Or do it manually? Can you recommend a plugin if you use one?

  82. Brain, I just discovered your awesome blog and great content. Every article you have posted offers “gold” to my business and my knowledge. I am trying to spend time each day to implement your suggestions, training and tools to use. I am already seeing a difference in my business and an improvement with the tools to save me time. Thank-you!

  83. Hey Brian,

    shout out from Germany – was looking for a more in-depth source for Backlink / content marketing strategies and I am VERY happy with what I found :-).

    Any news on “Thanks. Local SEO is definitely on my list of topics to cover.” ? As it is a major topic for me 🙂

    Thanks a bunch and BR from Munich,
    Peter

  84. Great content! I absolutely agree with the idea of spending time on producing great content that provides value and hence encourages people to share it without feeling resistant or being pushed into sharing something.

    Everything for Google these days comes down to “Customer Experience”. Page speeds, table of content, the relevancy of content, length of content, uniqueness of content, jump links, video in the content, relevant headers, less broken links, customized 404 pages etc are all indicative of improving customer experience on th website and hence helps you rank better.

  85. Awesome blog post. But I did not understand the logic behind ghost posts. could you please give more clarifications? Is it like just because the new post was published on the 4th page and not on the top of the feed, Google would give higher rankings?. And is the correlation between SEO & promoting content with facebook ads and getting traffic?. Does Getting social traffic from paid social ads improves the organic rankings?.

  86. 1. I’m going to create videos for the kw’s that I am already ranking for.

    2. And I will also try topic + statistics + INFOGRAPHIC that describes statistics just to see if it makes a difference. Although the last one will take much more time compared to a regular blog post

  87. Hi Brian!

    Awesome post, as always :D. I´m interesting in the 2 first techniques that you mentioned.
    1. Snippet Bait (I love this name). I guess you choose long tail keywords which are more likely to appear in featured snippet. But how do you know that keyword is actually in the featured snippet? Manually? Using an SEO tool?
    2. When you speak about Ghost post what you mean is that you write a quick blog post without any promotion (like if it was an old blog post) and after several weeks, you update, improve and promote the content, right? So that you make the most of freshness and quality of content.

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks Luis. 1. I usually look at the SERPs to see if there’s a Featured Snippet there. Ahrefs also has a filter for that. 2. Exactly.

  88. Wow! I just discovered the bonuses!
    Great article. Thanks. I will try the snippet bait and wanted to ask about the ghost post. You put on 4th page just ordering or dis you change the date? And… is did good for a company, but no blog, just adding a new page, maybe a /page/new-page?

  89. Brian do you think that comments in 2019 are important for SEO ? I mean i understand that if you have a lot of comments in your blogs (like your blog) it is an important factor of engagement, but if you don’t have almost any comments is it wrong to take the comment form completely off your website? Will it have a negative effect?

    1. Hi George, I think they can have an indirect SEO benefit. I’m not as convinced that Google uses comments as a direct ranking signal.

  90. Hello Brian,

    really great article – thanks for that. Especially the point with the videos is awesome and above all so comprehensible and yet I have not come up with it 🙂

    I will now try some of your tips and look forward to the results.

  91. Hey Brian,
    I appreciate the content quality of your article. Well-done!!
    As you said to reduce the bounce rate add some video on that page.Right? But adding video on a particular page sometimes lower the speed of loading the page and due to which people don’t prefer it. Can you give your suggestions on it?
    Thank you.

    1. Good question, Angelina. It’s a balance for sure. Videos definitely slow things down. But it may be worth it if it gives more people what they want.

  92. Superb content! I absolutely agree with the idea of spending time on producing great content that provides value and hence encourages people to share it without feeling resistant or being pushed into sharing something.

    Everything for Google these days comes down to “Customer Experience”. Page speeds, table of content, the relevancy of content, length of content, uniqueness of content, jump links, video in the content, relevant headers, less broken links, customized 404 pages etc are all indicative of improving customer experience on th website and hence helps you rank better.

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