The Ultimate SEO Tutorial for 2024
Find Keyword Ideas in Seconds

Boost SEO results with powerful keyword research

Free Keyword Research Tool

The Ultimate SEO Tutorial For 2024

This is a SUPER detailed SEO tutorial for 2024.

In this new tutorial you’ll learn, step-by-step, how to:

  • Find untapped keywords
  • Optimize your content for Google
  • Promote your content
  • Get other sites to link to you

Let’s dive right in.

The Ultimate SEO Tutorial for 2020

1.Find Keywords That People Search For

Find Keywords That People Search For

I had to kick this SEO tutorial off with keyword research.

That’s because keywords determine EVERYTHING you do in SEO.

And in this first step I’m going to show you how to create a list of awesome keywords for your business.

Find “Question Keywords” to Generate Lots of Solid Keyword Ideas

Your first step is to come up with LOTS of keyword ideas.

Then, in the next step I’ll show you how to choose the best keywords from your list of ideas.

And the best way to come up with keyword ideas?

Look at questions that people ask online.

To find questions, you can manually scan sites like Reddit.

But it’s kind of hard to pull out the best questions that people are asking.

That’s why I recommend trying a few tools that specialize in bubbling up burning questions that people have.

First up, we’ve got QuestionDB.

All you need to do is enter a broad topic (like “keto” or “link building”).

And you’ll get a list of questions that people are asking online about that topic.

QuestionDB – Link building search

You can also try Answer The Public, which does basically the same thing.

Answerthepublic – Link building search

Buzzsumo also has a solid “Question Analyzer” that specializes in finding common questions that people ask online.

Buzzsumo – Discover Questions

Generate Keyword Ideas Using The Google Keyword Planner

Compared to most paid keyword research tools, The Google Keyword Planner isn’t that great at coming up with keyword ideas.

But it’s not terrible, either.

And in my experience, it will sometimes spit out a GREAT keyword that you’d be hard pressed to find in any other keyword tool.


There are two ways to use The Google Keyword Planner for generating a list of keyword ideas.

First, you can pop in a seed keyword and see what the tool comes up with.

Google Keyword Planner – Basketball hoops

This is how most people use The Google Keyword Planner for SEO keyword research. It’s not a bad strategy. But it usually tends to generate the same keywords that your competitors already know about (and rank for).

Which is why I recommend using the lesser-known “Start With a Website” feature. Here’s where you pop in a URL from a competitor’s site.

And Google will use the content of that page to come up with keyword ideas.

Google Keyword Planner – Website results

Pretty cool.

Focus On Untapped Keywords That Are Trending Up

If you’re new to SEO, or just want to get an edge on your first page competition, I recommend focusing on trending topics and keywords.


Because new keywords aren’t super competitive (yet).

You can easily find dozens of trending topics and keywords with a free tool called Exploding Topics.

To use it, head over to the site’s homepage and choose a category that describes your niche.

Exploding Topics – Choose category

Then, scroll through the results.

Exploding Topics – Category results

If you see one that seems like a good fit, click on it. And you’ll get more detail on the topic, including estimated monthly search volume.

If that topic seems like something that you’d want to write about, add it to your list of keywords. And move onto the next step.

2.Choose a High-Value Keyword

Choose A High Value Keyword

So at this point you should have a solid list of keywords.

And you’re probably wondering: “How do I know which keyword to pick?”.

Well, there’s no magic formula that’s going to show you the perfect keyword from your list.

But there ARE tactics that you can use to quickly choose the best keywords for you.

That’s exactly what I’m going to cover in-depth right now.

Sort Keywords Based on Difficulty

Your first step is to figure out the keyword difficulty of each term on your list.

Fortunately, every major keyword research tool on the market, like Semrush, has a keyword difficulty score that takes the first page competition into account.

You can analyze keywords one by one or input up to 100 of them at once.

Semrush – Keyword overview – Keto diet

Either way, you’ll get an idea of how hard (or easy) each keyword is to rank for.

Keyword overview – Keto diet – Results

You can usually filter out a good chunk of keywords based on keyword difficulty alone.

For example, if your website is brand new, it doesn’t make sense to try to rank for super competitive keywords with a KD of 90+.

Start your keyword research

Explore the largest keyword database.

Backlinko Logo
Semrush Logo

Focus On High CPC Terms

When I first got started with keyword research, I pretty much ignored the cost per click (CPC).

Instead, I’d target keywords that got lots and lots of searches.

As it turned out, this was a HUGE mistake.

Sure, I’d rank for a keyword that lots of people searched for. But these folks weren’t ready to buy anything. Now. Or ever.

Today, I pay super close attention to commercial intent. And I specifically target keywords with high CPCs.

That way, I get my content in front of people that are actually going to buy. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But those high CPC values tell me that those folks have SOME commercial intent.

(Otherwise, people wouldn’t be bidding on those terms.)

So as you go through your list of keywords, keep an eye out for terms that have a high CPC value.

Ahrefs – Highest CPC keywords

What’s “high’ or “low” depends a lot on your niche. For example, in the marketing space, a “high” CPC is around 5 bucks. But in the personal finance space, 5 dollars per click is NOTHING.

And in the fitness space, 5 dollar CPCs are insanely high.

So yeah, I don’t recommend fixating on a specific CPC number. But I DO recommend going after keywords with an above-average CPC.

For example, I created this post optimized around “link building services” because it has a super high CPC.

Backlinko – Link building services

Choose Keywords With Solid Search Volume

At this point your list of keywords should be A LOT shorter than when you first started.

Which is good.

Now that you’ve zeroed-in on low-competition terms with high CPCs, it’s time to actually choose the first batch of keywords that you’re going to create content around.

And to do that, you want to go after keywords that get a decent amount of searches every month.

What’s a “decent amount” of monthly searches?

Just like with CPCs, “low” and “high” monthly search volumes are relative to your niche.

So I recommend looking at the search volume numbers for your list of keywords.

And you’ll quickly get an idea of what “high” and “low” is for your industry.

Then, choose a keyword that has the best combination of:

  • Keyword competition
  • CPC
  • Monthly searches

For example, with this list of potential keywords, the keyword “link building” has a high CPC and search volume… but it’s way too competitive.

Ahrefs – Link building

On the other hand, this keyword isn’t super competitive, has a high CPC and gets a decent number of searches every month.

Ahrefs – Link building services

Of course, you don’t need to go through your list manually like this. You can always filter out keywords with high levels of keyword competition and super low search volumes.

Ahrefs – Filter keywords

3.Publish Content That Google Searchers Want

Publish Content That Google Searchers Want

Step #3 is to publish a piece of content around the keyword you just picked.

But not just any piece of content…

Content that’s specifically designed to rank in Google.

And now it’s time to learn exactly how to do that.

Figure Out That Keyword’s Search Intent

Back in the day I’d write content that I THOUGHT would rank on the first page of Google.

Sometimes I was right.

But most of the time I was wrong.

Today, I take all of the guesswork out of the equation.

Specifically, before I write a single word, I figure out my target keyword’s Search Intent.

For example, some time ago I wanted to rank for the keyword “local SEO”.

So the first thing I did was a search for that keyword in Google… and analyze the first page results.

(I paid special close attention to the top 3 results, because that’s where most of the clicks are.)

And I quickly noticed that most of the content on the first page were guides.

Google SERP – Local SEO – Guides

Which told me that people searching for “local SEO” didn’t want a list of tips, a case study… or any other content format. They wanted a complete guide.

Write Content That’s a 1:1 Match For Search Intent

Now that I knew my keyword’s Search Intent, it was time to create a piece of content that was 100% aligned with that intent.

In my case, I made my post a giant definitive guide.

Backlinko – Local SEO guide visuals

And because my post was a GREAT fit for that keyword’s Search Intent, it quickly cracked Google’s first page.

Make Your Content 10x Better Than What’s Out There

Creating content that matches Search Intent is one thing.

But for your content to rank above the first page competition, it needs to be better than what’s out there.

WAY better.

Yup, I’m talking about “10x Content”.

What’s “better” depends on the content that you’re competing against.

For example, in the case of my post about local SEO, I made my content better by adding custom visuals that explained tricky concepts.

Backlinko – Local SEO guide visuals

And used more real-life examples than most of the other sites that were on page 1.

Backlinko – Local SEO guide examples

4.Optimize Your Content for UX

Optimize Your Content For UX

This step is all about making sure your content is easy for people to read, skim and consume.

This step is also where you write titles and descriptions that make people want to click on your result… even when you don’t rank #1.

So without further ado, let’s jump right into this step.

Write a Title Tag That Stands Out

When someone’s scanning Google’s first page results, they rely largely on title tags to figure out what they should click on.

And when you write a title tag that stands out, you can get tons of clicks (even more than the sites that rank above you).

You can easily see if your title stands out using CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer tool.

Just pop your headline into the tool…

Coschedule – Headline Analyzer

…and you’ll get a score along with a list of detailed recommendations.

Hook Google Visitors Right Away

When someone clicks on your site in the search results, then clicks back to Google, that’s a signal to Google that your page is a BAD fit for that result.

And if that happens often enough, Google will downrank you for that keyword.

Which is why it’s super important to hook people the SECOND that they land on your website from Google.

In other words, you don’t want to greet people with a giant stock photo that takes up the entire above the fold area of your page.

Stock image above fold

Instead, put your intro front-and-center, like this.

Intro above fold

Use Big Font

Font size is an underrated part of what makes up “great content”.

Specifically, I recommend using body font that’s AT LEAST 15px. And you might even want to test out 17px or 18px font.

That way, your content is super easy to read no matter what device someone is using. When you use a font that’s 15px, there’s no need to squint, pinch or zoom. The content is big enough for the vast majority of people to read comfortably. is my model for large, readable font.

Medium – Homepage

Chunk Your Content

In other words, avoid giant walls of text, like this:

Wall of text

Instead, break up your content into sections, like this:

Content with sections

This makes it easy for people to skim your page and pick up the key nuggets that they’re looking for.

In my experience, this is tough to do if your content is already written.

This is why I highly recommend working off of detailed outlines, like this.

That way, you already have the important sections organized and ready to go. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

And if you want a few of these handy outlines, I recommend checking out my guide to writing blog posts. This guide contains five detailed templates that make creating super high-quality content much easier than starting from scratch.

Backlinko – Write a blog post

5.Implement On-Page SEO Best Practices

Implement On Page SEO Best Practices

The 5th step in this SEO tutorial is to keyword-optimize your content.

Most SEO tutorials put this step much earlier on in the process. But in my experience, you’re better off focusing on creating an awesome piece of content FIRST. Then, keyword optimize it right before you publish it.

That way, you can focus 100% on content… without having to worry about keywords, H2 tags, alt text and other on-page SEO stuff.

And in this step you’re going to learn exactly how to optimize your content in 2024.

Frontload Your Keyword On Your Page

This is a simple little SEO tip that I’ve found makes a difference.

All you need to do is write your keyword somewhere in the first 100 words of your page.

Frontloading your keyword

(Preferably in the first few lines.)

Why does this work?

Well, according to my own testing, Google puts a little bit more emphasis on words and phrases that show up towards the top of a webpage.

So when you put your target keyword early on, it emphasizes to Google that your page is about that specific topic.

Include Your Main Keyword In Your URL

A few years ago, Google said that having keywords in your URL was a “small” ranking factor.

Google on keyword in URL

And my own SEO experiments have backed this up: adding your keyword to your page’s URL does help with rankings. A little.

After all, the terms in your URL represent a high-level overview of what your page is about. For example, for my guide to email marketing, my URL is /email-marketing-guide.

Which tells Google that my page is about that specific keyword.

Plus, even if Google doesn’t use the terms in your URL to figure out your page’s topic, according to this industry study from last year, keyword-rich URLs can help your organic click-through-rate.

That’s because your URL is now ABOVE your title tag in the search results.

URL above title tag

So it’s the first thing that users see from your snippet. And if your URL contains the keyword that person just searched for they’re going to say: “Nice! This page has what I’m looking for”. And they’re going to click.

Sprinkle In Related Keywords

Related keywords are also sometimes referred to as “LSI Keywords”.

Basically, these are terms that tend to “show up” next to your target keyword.

For example, let’s take a look at this post from my site: “Local SEO: The Definitive Guide”.

As you can probably guess, the keyword that I’m trying to rank for with that post is “Local SEO”.

So in addition to using that term a handful of times on my page (more on that next), I also added a few related keywords to the page.

Add related keywords

That way, Google and other search engines can see that my page covers my topic in-depth.

You can easily find related keywords using Google Images.

Just enter a keyword that you want to rank for.

And take a look at the little tags that Google suggests.

These are words and phrases that Google considers closely tied to the keyword that you just searched for. And if you want to use a few of these in your content, it can help Google better understand your page’s topic.

Use Internal and External Links

Internal links CAN help your SEO. If you use them right.

The key is to add internal links where they make sense to your high-priority pages.

For example, this guide to writing a press release is one of our most important pages. (Why? It has decent search volume and a high CPC.)

Which is why, whenever I mention anything related to press releases, I internal link to that page.

Post internal linking

I also recommend linking out to related content, which one SEO experiment found to directly impact Google rankings.

Focus On Keyword Frequency

Back in the day, people would literally measure their keyword density: the percentage of text on a page that was dedicated to a single keyword.

(I was one of those people. I’m old… 😀 )


Google probably doesn’t use keyword density anymore. But that doesn’t mean that you should forget about using your target keyword on your page. It still matters.

But instead of worrying about keyword density, I recommend focusing on Keyword Frequency: how many times your keyword shows up on your page.

For example, take this page on my site that’s optimized for “SEO best practices”.

That page is 3,091 words. But I only use my target keyword 10 times on that page. Which is a super low (.003%) keyword density.

But because my keyword repeats 10 times, my keyword frequency is 10.

Which is more than enough for Google to understand that my page is about that specific keyword.

(Especially considering that the same keyword is in my page’s URL and title tag.)

Use an On-Page SEO Analyzer

If you want to be REALLY sure that your page is optimized for SEO, I’d consider using an on-page SEO analysis tool.

I personally like the On-Page SEO Checker from SEMrush.

This tool scans your content for SEO issues (like basic technical SEO problems and whether or not your content is over-optimized).

But it also has a cool “Semantic” section that hands you a list of LSI keywords that you can use in your content.

SEMrush – On page SEO checker

If you want to go more advanced with your content optimization, you can use something like Clearscope.

This tool scrapes Google’s top 30 results to uncover terms that show up most often in top-ranking content.

And you can check your content against that list to make sure you’re using those same terms in your article.

Clearscope – Relevant terms

6.Promote Your Content

Promote Your Content

Content promotion is a SUPER underrated part of the SEO process.

In my experience, most people use the “Publish and Pray” approach to SEO and content marketing. In other words, they publish a piece of content… and hope that people share it.

The truth is, unless you already have a massive audience, you need to hustle to get the word out about your new content. And in this section you’re going to learn how to get eyeballs on your content.

Social Media Promotion Done Right

Is social media a great way to promote content?

It can be. If you do it right.

Unfortunately, most people just spam links on Twitter… and wonder why no one clicks over.

(I’m not judging. I used to do the same exact thing.)

If you want people to SEE your social posts, you need to get around social media algorithms’ biases against links.

You see, social media sites want to promote “native content”: content that’s original to their platform. And more importantly, they love posts that keep users ON the platform.

Which means that you want to add some native content to your social media posts. When you do, your organic reach will be MUCH higher.

Let’s look at a quick example.

A while back I wanted to promote one of our industry studies. But instead of just posting a title and link, I included a quick summary of what we found in a Tweet.

Summary in tweet

Which helped that Tweet get literally 5x more clicks than my average tweets. Part of this was the algorithm. But part of this Tweet’s success was that it had some interesting stuff in the Tweet itself. That way, people could Retweet it without needing to click over and see the post.

I do the same thing on Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead of just posting a link, I write a little compelling story first.

Story in LinkedIn post

That way, I give social media algos some native content.

Which leads to thousands of views on every post.

And, more importantly, significant amounts of traffic.

Google Analytics – LinkedIn traffic

Improve Content Discovery With Content Curation

Content curation is a GREAT way to let people know about content that you published back in the day.

(Especially when you curate great content from other sites too.)

For example, one of the goals with my guide to learning SEO was to promote some of my older posts. Posts that most of my audience hadn’t read before.

This is why I included lots of older resources from the Backlinko blog in that guide.

Backlinko post – Content curation

Permission-Based Outreach

When I first got started with email outreach I’d blast out lots of messages like there was no tomorrow.

Today? I’m MUCH more careful about who I send to and how I send it.

Specifically, I’ve started to use an approach called “Permission-Based Outreach”.

Here’s how it works:

First, find someone that’s legit interested in your content’s topic.

Note: this isn’t somebody that mentioned your topic once in a blog post 18 years ago. You’re looking for people that consistently write about your topic.

You can easily find these folks using an underrated feature inside of BuzzSumo called “Influencers”.

To use it, search for a keyword that describes what your content is all about.

And BuzzSumo will show you folks that tend to write about that same topic on their blog.

Buzzsumo – Authors results

Then, reach out with a permission email, like this:

Outreach email

This email lets the person know that you have a post coming out (or that just came out) on a topic that they’re interested in. And instead of shoving a link in their face, you ask them if they’d like to see it.

And when they say “sure!”, you can send them your link.

Outreach email reply

If your post is a good fit, you’ll find that many of the people that you email will be happy to share it with their audience.

Build Links From Broken Links

Broken Link Building is one of my go-to link building strategies.

To use this approach, you first need to find a page that you want to get a link from.

In my experience, pages with lots of external links on them (like a resource page or list of “best posts”) work best. In fact, I usually don’t even bother with traditional blog posts.

Then, once you’ve found a page with lots of outbound links, run Check My Links on that page.

And, if you’re lucky, you should find at least one broken link on that page.

Check my links – Broken link

When you do, use or another email-finder tool to find the best person to contact on that site.

Hunter – Contact search

And let the person know about their dead link (or links). And offer up your content as a potential replacement.

We recently used the Broken Link Building approach to build some really nice backlinks to Exploding Topics.

Because we sent SUPER targeted outreach emails, this little link building campaign worked super well: