Everyone loves a good tip, but unfortunately, many of the SEO tips floating around have become outdated. And even if a tip is still current, it’s usually not very actionable.
To solve this problem, I contacted some of the best SEOs in our industry and asked a simple question:
What is your absolute best, most actionable SEO tip?
I received 47 responses, and I’ve categorized them into 8 areas of SEO:
Each tip also has a custom tweet button attached to it so feel free to share your favorite tips with your followers. Now, let’s dive in…
Every year, search engines raise the bar for what constitutes high-quality content, and if you don’t adjust accordingly, you and your site will be left behind. This section is full of SEO tips that will help you create compelling content to dazzle your audience and the search engines.
1. Here’s The Secret To Content Marketing Success: Research, Execute, Analyze & Scale
I follow a very simple process in SEO and content development: research, execute, analyze and scale.
Content is king in the online marketing space for a very valid reason – because it’s the simplest way to determine relevance and expertise.
SEO is very challenging, because it’s all about beating other websites’ content. And in order to be more visible in search results you need to make your content:
- More comprehensive, informative and actionable.
- More helpful, appealing and trustworthy (for transactional, product/sales and category pages).
So to win in search, I usually focus on creating evergreen content assets that answer the most frequently searched queries in the niche I am (or a client is) competing in.
My research phase involves 3 major components:
- Determining the demand for the content I’m planning to create (keyword research and social listening).
- Identifying competitors’ similar content and noting the areas that their content lack (or areas where I can take advantage of to make my content far more unique and valuable – such as including my own insights or including more data).
- Making a list of people or organizations who’re genuinely interested about the topic area of the content I’m planning to create (for outreach and relationship building).
Creating, optimizing and marketing the content is easier when you have solid research that will back up your development process.
Analyzing your content (why is or isn’t it ranking) once it’s up is very important. Measure your content assets’ usage data and engagement rate (bounce rate, visit duration and page visits) to determine aspects of the content that you can improve on.
Knowing why your content is working (in terms of social, link attraction, lead generation and branding) can help you tremendously in coming up with better approaches for your content development in the future.
Always re-optimize your already existing content – using these data.
I believe this is the most important piece of advice I can give from this whole process.
Getting your evergreen content assets ranked highly on search results is one of the best ways to really scale your SEO campaign, because:
- When you’re ranking for informational keywords, other people who are doing research about the topic may use your content as a reference – which makes it easier for your page(s) to earn links over time.
- Since the content isn’t time-sensitive, it’ll still be shared on social networks by people over time – making the content discovery cycle almost never-ending.
There are several ways to scale SEO through your existing content assets:
- Promote them through your newer content or through the content you distribute on other websites (guest blogs, columns, interviews, slide presentations, etc.), so you can strengthen your content assets’ ranking power (and drive constant traffic to them).
- Make your content assets rank for other keyword variations (that have high engagement rates) based on your Analytics data – because they are already seen as very relevant to those search queries. You can also check out this comprehensive guide on implementing this type of keyword audit and content re-optimization.
For more scale, implement these actions on all of your site’s important landing pages.
2. Write More Completely – Examine A Topic In Depth & Anticipate Your Reader’s Needs
The most actionable SEO tip I know, and one I use every week is this…
Write more completely.
It’s the easiest, no brainier activity you can use to rank higher and deeper for more long-tail keywords. You can explain it to anyone, and they don’t even have to be an SEO. Aside from creating better content, there are some very real SEO benefits to be gained:
1. The richer you can make your page contextually, the more material you provide to search engines to understand what the page is about. This also gives you more long-tail opportunities.
2. Since Panda, thin pages tend to not rank very well. Consider the questions posed about high quality sites on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog:
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
3. Several studies, including this one on Moz, have shown a relationship between article length and the number of links a page earns. People tend to link to more in-depth resources.
By writing more completely, I don’t simply mean write more words on the page. I mean examine your topic in depth. Explore the issues you’re creating content about. Be empathetic to the reader and try to anticipate their needs. Write with authority and examine both sides of the issues.
3. Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines & Create Eye-Catching, High-Quality Images
SEO strategy can be juiced up just by spending time writing attention-grabbing headlines and creating eye-catching, high-quality images.
Online marketers need to develop content like Steve Jobs. He upped the ante when he created headlines and visuals that kept people on the edge of their seats.
Jobs created an experience – told a story – with words and pictures.
He used sensory words to help people experience a topic. We need to do the same!
Steve Jobs wrote like a good SEO, but I imagine he never would have admitted that. Here are a couple of his headlines you may have memorized:
- “Today Apple reinvents the phone!”
- “The new iTunes store. All songs are DRM-free.”
So put on your Steve Jobs hat and write headlines with these components:
- 1 Big Idea – Generate curiosity.
- Specific – Use phrases most important to content and audience.
- Attention Grabbing – Give them a reason to read more. Promise powerful benefits!
- <= 140 characters – Make your headlines tweetable!
- “So what?” – Answer this question, and you’ll increase CTR and sharability!
For even more headline best practices, be sure to read this post: Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click Worthy & Viral?!
You’ve heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The following should get you to think a bit more about our ADD approach to reading the Web and the value of images. Mel Carson, author of Pioneers of Digital, said:
A picture tells a story 40 times faster than the written word!
Where do you look first after seeing a page’s headline? Most of us look at the image, which often determines if we are going to stay to read or if we are going to share that page on social.
Bigger is better? Yes, in this case!
It appears that larger images tell even more of a story, or at least they capture our attention better. Just take a look at some of our major news sites, like ABC News. Their images are not small 200×100 clip-art graphics!
Facebook changed the game on September 16, 2013 by requiring larger images for their Open Graph protocol to include larger images when we share on our timelines:
- Recommended image size for the og:image is now 1200×627 pixels.
- Minimum size is 560×292 pixels.
The following is from Facebook’s announcement of larger images for link shares:
As you can see, the author of this ABC News post also demonstrated a good example of a “magazine-like headline.” (Study what journalists are doing to get some good tips for SEO headlines!)
OK, enough said. I’ll let those pictures speak for themselves!
Bottom line… The best content that’s good for SEO and social media is copy written and developed like Steve Jobs spoke.
Show, don’t just tell!
Yes, it’s time to step up your headlines and your photography!
4. Use The Power Of Repeated Publishing To Rank For Competitive Keywords
For a highly competitive keyword, don’t just produce a piece of “viral” content and hope it does well.
Use the power of repeated publishing to ensure that you’re constantly creating opportunities to promote, market, and earn links/shares.
For example, each year at Moz, we produce our ranking factors document comparing the industry’s opinions against correlation data. Since it’s updated annually, it has an opportunity to earn links and shares every time.
The first few years, it ranked on page 1, but by the third release, it consistently scored the top position for a number of competitive keyword phrases. Given Google’s love for freshness, and people’s desire to consume and share the most recent information, this strategy makes everyone happy.
If you’re ever considering a “viral content” type piece to earn rankings, strongly consider how you can make it update-able on a regular basis, so you’re not just relying on that first push.
5. Leverage Your Clients’ Offline Assets To Make Them Online Authorities
Creating content that engages visitors, entices them to act and builds a brand can be a real challenge for online marketers, especially when clients have never been asked to share their expertise or experience in a way that helps them become an authority in their competitive online marketplace.
While Google powers ahead with growing Knowledge Graph data and connecting “people, places and things” to understand subject-matter expert “entities,” we need to help clients connect that information, become “go-to brands” across multiple platforms and prove why they’re the best in their field.
So here’s the challenge: how do we help clients transfer their unique, juicy pot of knowledge online?
Here’s the step by step process I use…
1) Educate the client about:
- How “search” is changing – from on-page keywords to semantic query relevancy
- The importance of becoming a topic “authority”
- The time investment needed by them to help me achieve this
This step helps the client understand the “why.”
2) Find out what they want to achieve:
- Business goals and objectives – it’s hard to hit a non-existent target!
- Content goals and objectives – what actions do they want their visitors to take?
- Realistic expectations of what can and can’t be achieved in their timeframe.
Understanding (and agreeing on) these items will make a project run much smoother.
3) Ask open-ended questions, listen and document (or link to) the following:
- History & Background, USP, Staff Accomplishments, Geographical Reach, Awards, Accreditations, Industry Associates, Product and Service Portfolio, Specialties, Sales Process & Approach, Projects, Existing Strategic Partnerships, Testimonials, Case Studies, Community / Charity Work
- Target customer profile and specific personas
- Customer feedback via surveys, questionnaires, reviews and social sentiment
These items categorise the “who, what and why” of a client’s business model.
4) Find out what’s hot and in demand in their industry by investigating:
- Google Trends & Insights
- Trade association news
- Industry white papers, guides and surveys
- Industry news, events and press releases
- Social trends (over multiple platforms)
- Staff – directors, operations managers, salespeople, marketers, customer services and engineers
Listen to what the market is saying – insight exists everywhere.
5) Armed with industry analysis, ask:
- How can my client become an authority in their online marketplace?
- What do they do that adds tremendous value to their clients?
- What innovation do they include in their products and services?
- How do they go about satisfying their clients in creative ways?
- How does their story relate to their target customers?
- What challenges have they overcome that need to be shared?
- What type of content would potential customers find helpful?
- What are they doing to win market share from their competitors?
This step dictates the content that needs creating, fast!
6) When creating content, ask:
- Am I using words that resonate with the target audience?
- Are there clear and definitive “calls to action” throughout?
- Is the content helpful; does it solve a problem?
- Does it show subject-matter expertise?
- Does this content stand up on its own merit?
- Can I link to authoritative resources that back-up facts or opinions?
- Would another website link to it?
- Is this content truly unique and impossible to duplicate?
These questions keep you focused on what’s really important.
By following these steps, not only can you create content that attracts visitors and social shares, you’ll also prove that your client really knows their onions!
Bonus Tip: Create a spreadsheet showing ALL your clients’ social account details: social media platform link, username and password. This ensures housekeeping is in place, ready for content outreach and promotion!
6. Test Absolutely Everything & Truly Invest In Content
I have two tips, I like to share. First, test everything. This sounds simple and not that useful, but testing is one of the most beneficial ways to spend your time.
Tactics have varying effects on different sites, some knobs get turned up over time, others get turned down. You need to figure out what works for you and your site, don’t take someone’s word for it. Or you might find out something new.
Second, invest in content. Anyone can put content in a page, but it is extremely valuable to really invest in it. Good content takes time – time to come up with a strategy and plan, time to create, and time to edit.
While this doesn’t scale well, it does pay massive dividends. On top of that, users actually like and read the content, and engage with your brand.
7. Hire Established Bloggers In Your Industry To Write A Few Posts A Month
I’m going to go to the content side of things, since people have been struggling with it lately. Everyone keeps saying, “Just create great content,” but obviously it’s not that simple.
If you know you need a content strategy, but don’t have the means to properly execute it, try hiring well established bloggers in a relevant industry to write a couple posts a month.
This is an easy way to instantly get exposure in front of a related audience. It’s also less expensive and less of a hassle than hiring a bunch of writers full time.
8. Create Content To Provide Value & Solve Problems
The most actionable SEO tip I can offer to anyone in the digital marketing profession is to create content not for building links or getting better rankings but because you think the content will offer value to the targeted audience or your content can offer solutions to the problem they are already facing.
If you come up with a content piece that really hits the marketing target, all the links, branding, social and rankings that can bring more business to you will come along with it.
And don’t forget: creating content is only half the battle. You need a solid marketing plan to grab your audience’s attention.
9. Digitize Old Print Materials For New Content Ideas & Curation Opportunities
So… my tip is related to content creation in very technical B2B niches or niches that – as incredible as it may sound – do not have a large presence on the Web.
One of the problems these niches have is finding content to curate and finding inspiration to create new or better content to publish on their own sites and, from there, promoting that content.
The solution can be found in old classic paper B2B magazines.
In fact, believe or not, thousands of magazines are still published in these niches (e.g., dental or hardware engineering), and they don’t have an online version and, even more important, the clients know them very well and know the people publishing them and their journalists.
At the same time, these clients usually have tons of internal documents and promotional content on paper, which they never realize could be repurposed as digital content.
So, my tip involves digitizing all that content and creating a private not indexed WordPress blog where it will be archived and used as a database for technical writing inspiration, discovering contacts to create relationships, images, technical charts, data you can use to craft rich content (infographics, video-infographics, etc.) and, obviously, doing great curation both on the client site and in social media.
Ah, and this database can be – from a keyword search point of view – a fantastic resource for discovering semantically similar niches. Even simple visualizations like word clouds of the “posts” could be very enlightening.
Be aware that, even though this is something I suggest strongly for the industries I cited above, this tactic can also be useful for more popular niches such as tourism. In many niches, you can still find paper only press magazines/books/guides that can seriously help you find new ideas.
In marketing, you can’t reach your audience if you don’t speak their language. Keyword research is the process of learning the words and phrases your audience uses to search for your products and services. These next SEO tips will help you improve that process.
10. Calculate The Expected ROI For Your Keywords
When I create a keyword research project for a client, beyond search volume, competition and rankings data, I look at the expected ROI (return on investment) of each keyword.
I ask the client for two things: 1) their website’s average conversion rate and 2) their average sale/client value. I ask for a site-wide average of both at the very least, but if there’s different rates/values for different products/services areas then even better.
Then I put it together as a calculation:
((Monthly Search Volume * Expected CTR % if #1) * Avg. Conversion Rate %) * Avg. Sale Value £ = Expected Monthly ROI £
So a recent example is from a client whose main keyword gets 4,400 searches per month in the UK (on [exact match]).
The expected CTR (click-through rate) if the client were to occupy the #1 position in Google.co.uk would be 18.2% (going by Slingshot SEO’s CTR case study), and they told me their conversion rate is 1% and their average sale is £150.
Put that all together and you get this:
((4,400 * 18.2%) * 1%) * £150 = £1,201.20
This approach is great for a number of reasons:
- It helps to justify any future SEO work. In the example above, just one keyword (the head term of just one product they’re selling) could earn them £1,200 per month, if they were #1 and so long as the search volume, conversion rate and average sale data all stay consistent. Imagine how much it would total when you also include mid-range terms, the long-tail and other product areas combined!
- It can help to show them the bigger picture and therefore influence other sales/marketing areas: for example, if my client can improve their website’s UX to increase the conversion rate to 2%, they could potentially double their earnings.
- For those two reasons, it can be used to say to a client: “I think you need to improve your site’s conversion rate if you want to see a decent return from SEO,” or in an extreme case where the numbers just aren’t good enough: “maybe SEO wouldn’t be effective for you…” (gasp!)
When I pass this on to a client, instead of sending it to them as a PDF, I leave it as an Excel spreadsheet – that way they can play around with the figures, e.g. if they don’t agree that a #1 position would be 18.2% (as some people argue that it may be higher or lower) or if their average sale value changes.
It makes for a less pretty/sexy document, but it’s a much more useful and functional document – I know what I’d rather have if I were in the client’s shoes!
11. Create More Targeted Landing Pages Using Product Attribute Keywords
I started to approach this strategy in my latest advanced ecommerce post, but it’s essentially using keyword data to create “pseudo sub-categories” focused on product attributes.
For example, if there’s search volume around blue alligator shoes, or leather alligator shoes, and you carry those products, but don’t have top-level, dedicated landing pages with those URL’s, you create them and populate them with the individual products that match that attribute criteria.
Only a few sites are doing this (and they’re killing it) whereas most ecommerce sites leave product attributes like size, color, style, features, etc. all on the product pages.
12. Prioritize Your SEO Activities Based On Keyword Potential, Competitiveness & ROI
Imagine you have an online store with 10,000 products. Since the days of quick and nasty link acquisition and content spinning are now over, the only way to have these pages compete in organic search is to add value and earn links naturally.
This is generally not a problem when you have 5-10 pages, but scaling up to thousands of high-quality content pages can be costly and take a long time. You should still do it, for if you never start the task, you’ll never complete it either.
So the answer is obvious, really.
You’ll need to prioritise your activities by considering potential, immediacy and ROI of pages, products and search terms in question.
Let’s consider some of the parameters and metrics available to us:
- Search Phrase(s) and corresponding URL
- Monthly Search Volume
- CTR (%)
- Average Position
- Product Retail Price
- Product Cost Price
- Shipping Cost
- Profit Margin
Impact of location, language, device, search history and social connectivity on search results can be quite complex. Since there is no such thing as an absolute position in Google it’s OK to use averages on a non-granular level.
For example, average position for one of your phrases may be 4.1 with all the personalisation elements factored in.
Your next step is to download search query data from Google Webmaster Tools and work out your average CTR for each position in organic search.
Knowing that keywords ranking on the position close to #1 have a CTR of 40% will mean that you can start predicting what would happen if something that’s ranking near position 2 moves one position up.
Note: Individual search terms may fluctuate based on the nature of the search results (e.g. rich snippets, news, image and video results). This deviation from the website norm may be something you can adjust on a phrase level.
For example, if a term “yellow running shoes” has a CTR of 10% on an average position of 2.3 while the rest of the site has a CTR of 20% on that position, this means applying the site average of 40% CTR for the spot #1 will not make sense. An adjustment will need to be made for the phrase deviation from the site averages.
Once you have a table of projected traffic based on keyword movement you can apply dollar values to the same report by factoring in each product’s conversion rate and value (or even profit margin if you wish).
If you don’t want to take any chances with the accuracy of this report, you’ll need to consider one more thing. How competitive is the term I’m about to attack?
If you’re selling books and the result above you is Amazon, do you really stand a chance? A good way to generate a keyword competitiveness metric is to work with MajesticSEO data; they even have an API which you can use to apply to your report.
What I tend to do is combine the phrase potential score (how many extra clicks will I get if I move up) with the phrase difficulty metric (Flow Metrics) to create a single score which I can use to sort the entire report.
Now I have a table which I can sort in order of priority and start working on content, functionality and presentation of pages that promise quick ROI.
I personally use this phrase research methodology so often that we built a tool which takes care of most of the work. Naturally, human review is required in the final stages to determine what the best phrases/pages are in terms or targeting, ROI and common sense.
Pro tip: Once you’ve exhausted all your ranking phrases (Google Webmaster Tools report), you can also inject all the non-ranking phrases from other research tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner while applying the CTR averages and modeling outcomes based on potential position.
13. Use Long Tail Pro For More Efficient & More Effective Keyword Research
After thinking about it, the one single thing that’s been most impactful for me has been really learning how to do keyword research. Once I really figured that out, I was able to drastically decrease the amount of link building I needed to do, and substantially increase my SERP batting average.
It’s really all about knowing your limits and abilities. Being able to successfully link build is great, and necessary – but even being a very solid link builder is still really unlikely to rank you for “credit cards.”
That’s an extreme example, but it illustrates the point. You need to be able to have a feel for a SERP; know when you can and can’t get into the top spots with the content and linking plans you’re actually capable of executing.
Boiling that down into one actionable tip – I’d have to go with “Use Long Tail Pro.”
It’s been a massive time saver for me in being able to build a narrowed down list of keywords that have the minimum search volume I know I need, a healthy average CPC, and available domains (more on my specific process in this post).
Even if you’re not going to get into the EMD game, knowing that the com/net/org exact match for a keyword is available is a good tip-off that it isn’t too heavily competed.
Using the calculation feature in the “Platinum” version is also a great addition. You’ll need to do some manual checks at first so that you can match up what competition number is your cut-off point.
I do this on a per site basis. If I know the site I’m working on is a few years old and has a DA of 45, there’s a specific competition score that I don’t go above. If I switch up and start out on a brand new site – there’s a different number for that, too.
Sometimes I’ll make pages for keywords above the cut-off, but they’re knowingly made as longer term, ever-green pages that I don’t expect to pick up until a few months later.
In terms of adding new pages today to make more money this month, there’s specific limits and guidelines in place for each site I have. You need to know what those numbers are so you can stay effective, and realize smaller wins on you way to your long term goals.
This isn’t super shiny and new – but I think it’s so foundational to everything else that we do that it’s what I want to stress. If you screw up your keyword research and pick goals that are out of your league, all you’re going to do is spin your wheels.
The link building landscape has changed significantly over the past few years, but despite these changes, your site’s backlink profile still plays a vital role in your organic search rankings. With that in mind, the following SEO tips will help you build better links.
14. Use Google+ Profile Pictures & Google Images To Find Guest Post Opportunities
My favorite area of SEO is most definitely link building. And my absolute best, most actionable SEO tip is about how to find an almost limitless amount of quality guest posting opportunities.
Because if there’s one thing that’s frustrating about guest posting, it’s spending hours searching in Google for phrases like “keyword” + “write for us” just to find a handful of guest posting opportunities.
This technique solves all that.
What you’re doing is reverse engineering Gravatars using Google reverse image search.
1. Find someone in your niche that tends to publish a lot of guest posts or posts on authority sites in your niche.
You can find these people by searching the top 10 in Google for competitive keywords and seeing who has Google Authorship set up:
2. Click on the “in ___ Google+ circles” link to access their Google+ Profile.
3. Right click on their head shot and choose “Copy Image Location”:
4. Head over to Google Images. Click on the little camera icon.
5. Paste the image URL into the search field. Click “Search by image”:
6. Google will show you all of the places where the person’s image shows up on the web (most of the list will be guest post and interview opportunities for you).
15. Use ScrapeBox To Find AdSense Users & Offer Them Better Advertising Alternatives
My biggest tip has to be for finding webmasters who are busting their guts and making no money online. According to Builtwith.com, there are nearly 7 million websites using AdSense, but I can imagine that is only a fraction of the web.
You will need a copy of ScrapeBox for this. If you’re an experienced link builder then I am sure you’ve already built up a list of thousands of link opportunities for your sites and/or client sites.
For this tip I’ll be using the Free Link Checker, but you can pick up a full copy for less than $100.
#1. Load your list of link prospects into a .txt file, and select that file after clicking the “Your Backlinks” button.
#2. Load http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com into a .txt file, and select that file after clicking the “Your Sites” button.
#3. Make sure to select the “Check domain” checkbox.
#4. Hit “Start” and it shouldn’t take too long for ScrapeBox to locate the link on the pages concerned.
#5. Now we want to export all the “Found” results.
#6. Using SEO Tools for Excel we can pull into our list things such as PageRank or MajesticSEO metrics. If you have a full ScrapeBox license you can lookup PR and Domain Authority quickly within the tool.
Now that we have our list we can contact the webmasters and discuss alternative advertising for clients which will be much more profitable than a few cents per click.
16. Use Creative Content To Earn Natural Links & Establish A Competitive Advantage
I’m going to try and stay away from some of the more obvious link building tips and focus on a topic that I’ve been talking a lot about recently – creative content.
The advice that I give to any of my clients when we begin an SEO project is to understand their strengths. Finding the strengths of your business or just your website can be a perfect starting point to finding link building opportunities. Not only this, but it can help you build links that can have big conversion potential.
Here’s an example…
One of the key selling points for a client (within the training niche) that I have been working with is the fact that they have worked with some major brands within a niche that they are targeting.
To drive more sales and build links in the process, we approached one of the major companies they had worked with (we will call them Company X, due to an NDA) in order to see if they would be interested in doing a video interview about their experiences with my client.
The marketing director agreed to do a full interview and, after more conversation, Company X as a whole agreed to help promote the full case study that we were putting together on them. My client and I sold it to Company X as a case study focusing on “their journey through the recent changes in the industry” – they were keen to get some free PR, and we were happy to take advantage of their PR routes.
Here’s what we put together:
- A full video interview with the marketing director of Company X.
- An infographic displaying the training process that my client did for Company X.
- A 1,000 word write up (by the client – working closely with our content team) on the journey of Company X, touching loosely on my client’s approach, etc.
- We also had the write up translated into Welsh (Company X are a Welsh company, so it was a nice touch) – if you’re reading this from the US… yes, Wales have their own language.
We then had the content linked to by Company X (who have a .gov domain!), and it was sent out to their enormous mailing list, generating lots of traffic and a load of mentions in industry relevant blogs (after we reached out to them). We weren’t finished here though…
Next, we pulled together a short list of business targets within that niche and got the address details for their main office. We highlighted 5 of our top targets and got to work on how we could get the case study in front of them – we didn’t want to just email them, we wanted to really capture their attention.
Here’s what we did:
- Got a batch of 12 really nice cupcakes made for each of the target companies.
- Each of the cupcakes had a QR code printed on edible rice-paper that, when zapped, took them to a landing page on my client’s website.
- We created a short video of my client’s team baking the cupcakes and signing off with a short message.
- We added the video into the top of the landing page, with a header saying, “We Hope You Enjoyed Your Cakes!” and then below the video was a link to the full case study with the infographic and video interview.
- We got someone dressed as a baker to hand deliver the box of cupcakes into the offices of our targets.
The response was awesome! Not only did we build some great links to the website, but we also created a piece of evergreen content that can be used for marketing (both offline and online) and within sales (for example, within project proposals, etc.). Not only this, but we managed to connect with some of my client’s top targets and really catch their attention.
This is a pretty elaborate example, but if you’re willing to put the work in, the results can be incredible. In my opinion, this is the kind of direction that we, as online marketers, should be moving towards – plus it beats submitting to directories any day!
17. Find Retailer Listing Pages For Ecommerce Linking Opportunities
If you’re in ecommerce and you sell products from many different brands and manufacturers, find all the different “Where to Buy” and “Our Vendors” pages on their websites. They usually link to different retailers and distributors, and I’ve really never had them say, “No” to listing my client.
To make things easy, try and find a few of these pages that already link out to a few different retailers, and find where else those retailers are getting links from. You’ll usually find at the very least a few other opportunities of the same nature from each.
For example, if you are selling medically related products, you can search “Find A Retailer” + “Medical” and find examples like this:
18. Use Original Research To Attract Natural Links
I really feel that Google is getting much better at determining whether or not a link is truly earned. An earned link, especially one that actually gets clicked on by people is likely worth a lot more than a self made link.
Now, there are still some people who have ways to convince Google that a self made link is actually a naturally earned one, but, in my opinion, if you can develop the skill of truly attracting natural links then in many types of niches you can do really well.
One thing that I find works really well at attracting natural links is original research.
Find something that people are talking about and then, instead of just rehashing the same stuff that everyone else is writing about, produce something that other people would like to cite.
An example is an article that I wrote a few days after the Penguin 2.0 update. I noticed that no one was publishing stories of recovery. This concerned me.
This was the first Penguin refresh since the release of the disavow tool. I knew that many thousands of sites had used the tool to disavow their bad links and there had to be some sites that were recovering.
I decided to look at data from some of the sites that I had worked on and noticed a few interesting things.
I took screenshots showing what had happened on May 22, 2013 to a number of sites who had previously used the disavow tool. It wasn’t earth shattering content, but it was something that people who were looking for information on Penguin and the disavow tool could talk about.
I didn’t do much promotion of this article other than tweeting about it, but because it was useful, new information, it got the attention of several influential people and received links from many well known sites. It is still getting links today.
How would you use this for a non-SEO related niche? Here is the blueprint that I use:
- Find a topic that is currently hot in your niche.
- Find a way to put together actual factual research about the topic. This could involve gathering census data, using a survey (either a Google survey or a real life one), using Google Trends data or perhaps using one of the resources that Sean Revell wrote about.
- Get your article in front of some influential people. If it truly is helpful, new information, then you should be able to find some people who want to share your content. Twitter connections can be useful as can press releases or direct contact with reporters.
This type of content attracts links that people actually want to click on. They drive traffic, and they also send a good signal to Google that your site is one that gets people talking.
19. Use Humorous Content To Build Brand Familiarity & Great Links
One of the main principles of persuasion theory is that it is easier to “sell” to someone if they like you, and familiarity leads to likability.
We try to breed brand familiarity through humorous content that gets a lot of social shares and exposure – such as our weekly SEO comics – which then open up further business and link building opportunities.
The only problem with this type of content is that it can be quite difficult to measure its effectiveness.
Recently, we published a post investigating the over-use of a stock “contact us girl” image. The post performed well socially and went hot on the /r/funny subreddit, sending about 11,000 visits in a few hours. However, the average time on site was just 6 seconds.
But sometimes you can land on a content idea that is both humorous and topical, which when executed effectively can build lots of brand awareness AND some great links. Here’s an excellent example…
20. Don’t Just Build Links – Deserve Them
My best and most actionable SEO tip is of course something to do with link building since that’s my bread and butter.
If you want a link from a site, first figure out what you can do to deserve it.
It’s easy enough to offer cash for a link, but think about something that is even more valuable to the webmaster (and hopefully less risky, although I’m still a fan of paid links for certain industries).
If you come across a great site that takes 18 seconds to load but is otherwise exactly the type of site you want a link from, see if you can determine why it’s so slow, offer to help fix the problem if you can, or at least point the webmaster to an article that lists the top 10 things that slow a site down.
Make an effort to offer them something for the privilege of opening your email, and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to get a link when you are prepared with something unexpected and useful.
When you publish content, it is read and shared by people. When your site attracts natural links, they are created by people. These people are your community, and they obviously play a critical role in your success. These SEO tips will help you make that community stronger.
21. Build Relationships With Companies Who Are Doing Great Things & Leverage Their Communities
It takes a really long time to build community. When we first started building the Mack Web community, we had nothing. When we created content, no one shared it (crickets). Comments? What are those?
It took more than 10 months to get any type of engagement, and then things (slowly) started to happen. We’re eighteen months in and certainly we have some traction, but it’s hard work. Every. Single. Day.
If there was one tip that I could give those who are looking to build a community, it would be this:
My advice to you is to co-market.
Build relationships with companies who are doing great things and leverage communities that already exist.
How do you find these companies and opportunities?
What’s worked for us is not only reading a ton, but going to conferences, events, and meet ups and listening for the companies that people are talking about and using as examples of companies who are doing great things.
Not the behemoth companies who are already ginormous brands, but companies who are in a growth stage and still working on building something.
These companies don’t even have to be related to your products or services, but they do need to have the same values, be a culture fit, and essentially offer some kind of benefit to your customers and your community.
So start looking for companies you respect. For example, Mack Web has a huge crush on Wistia. They’re really creative, funny, and awesome people. And they also happen to make a great product.
We started hanging out online (we reached out to their community manager) and we just recently met in person at a conference for the first time. We hit it off and are working on some cool projects together that are going to help both of our companies get some exposure.
The best part (besides the friendship and the fact that they like to dance) is that both of our communities will benefit from the relationship. The members of the Mack Web community would very much benefit from using Wistia’s product.
And perhaps there are some super hip companies in Wistia’s community who will be inspired to talk to Mack Web about having us help them to build their communities.
This tip isn’t a “scale” thing. It’s a relationship thing. It’s a wanting-to-work-with-cool-people-and-do-great-things, thing. And in the end, everyone benefits.
If you want to learn more, here’s all kinds of community building guidance for you. Mack Web will also be launching a free online community building guide on October 15th, which you can sign up to receive here.
22. Build A Strong Community & Leverage That Community To Generate Great User Generated Content
Supposedly 2011–12 was going to be the year of social media marketing. Unfortunately most didn’t get the traffic, brand, and conversion explosion they were expecting. Myself included. But what I did end up with was a community that could be engaged if I found the right spark.
I always encourage clients to build a community with questions, engaging FB ads (a Like for an ad is a Like for the page), and brand representation – my simple formula. In many cases your audience are comprised of a decent chunk of content publishers. Maybe they have a WordPress or Tumblr blog, and maybe they have their own following where they can be valuable as brand advocates.
I recommend reaching out to this group en masse and requesting their expertise. Let them write for you. It’s a reverse guest post strategy. You can choose the fans (writers) based on their quality, Klout, followability of their blog – whatever (though I recommend quality be your criteria).
Here’s what I find: Most responses are poor, so you have to weed them out, but some are truly unique and great content for your site. Über-UGC. Additionally, the writers are often proud to be accepted and often brag in the form of links. At the very least this tactic does something for your brand recognition. Everyone wins.
23. Build Relationships With As Many People As You Can
My most actionable SEO tip would be to build relationships with as many people as you can.
There has been a lot of talk in the SEO industry this past year about how link building is dead and content is king. A site can have the best content out there, but if you don’t have relationships with people/companies who can share that content and help it get discovered, then it isn’t valuable.
To be more specific and give you an example, we had a client that had an awesome software package for helping companies schedule shifts for their employees. Their website had lots of great content around the features of their software. They blogged regularly with very helpful articles around employment and time management.
The site was very optimized and getting steady traffic, but through working with us on outreach and building relationships through social networks, they saw significant improvements in organic traffic, rankings, and social shares. Here is a screenshot of their organic search traffic over the course of 5 months:
When you’re building social relationships, Followerwonk is a great tool for Twitter, and you can use Facebook’s Graph Search to find people and groups with similar interests on Facebook.
For this particular company, LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities were also effective. Twitter ads and sponsored stories on Facebook also work well once you build an audience through those social networks.
24. Build Relationships By Supporting Your Peers & Helping Others
What is my most actionable SEO technique? That’s really difficult I thought at first as SEO seems to encompass a huge number of little things that combined make success happen. Then I took a look at my blog’s backlink profile to see where my most important links came from.
Most of my valuable authority links based on domain authority (counted by Moz) are links from my peers, people that know who I am, like me or socialize with me online. Most of them are also people I like very much and supported in the first place. I have:
- Shared their content on social media.
- Linked out to them.
- Commented on their blogs.
Guess what, they seemed to like me too. They even trusted me enough to link back to me.
So my most important links are not those from Moz, Search Engine Land or mainstream media, they are the links from my peers.
Some of them are not my peers anymore because they are industry leaders by now while I am what I always was for the last few years, a somewhat prominent SEO blogger.
When you look up my links you will notice the following people among the highest value links:
I am grateful I was able to connect with them while they were still able to notice me. These days they have so many followers and things to do they’d probably overlook me.
So don’t wait until your peers become high-profile influencers. Assist them while they are on the way up and still need the help. Of course you never know who will really succeed in the long run so just be helpful and support all your peers.
The links are of course just one benefit of such a mutal aid relationship.
Technical site issues might not be sexy, and eyes will probably glaze over when you talk about things like “canonicalization” and “crawl budgets.” But these technical issues are often the source of a site’s biggest SEO problems (especially sites with a significant number of pages).
25. Crawl Your Own Site & Monitor How Google Crawls It
My favourite area of SEO is the technical side of things. I love creativity, content and seeing stuff spread, but from a pure SEO side of things, I’m a geek at heart, and I’m continually fascinated by the technical stuff. So that constrains the area.
Next, I need to decide on my “best” tip. That’s tough – it could mean “most widely-useful / having the biggest impact” or “the one fewest people know / do”. I’m going to give you one of each:
It’s rare that crawling a site fails to throw up something that’s holding you back, and it can highlight serious issues – especially on big sites that have whole sections you haven’t visited manually for months.
Similarly for watching Googlebot’s behaviour – it’s always somewhat surprising to see where they’re expending crawl budget. In some ways Googlebot isn’t as smart as we’d like to think.
I also like to monitor for changes to my own robots.txt and monitor for the (accidental) inclusion of noindex or incorrect canonical information. Each of these things can cause serious issues if they go unnoticed for even short periods of time, and I’ve seen this kind of mistake get deployed accidentally far too often.
26. Optimize Your Site’s Architecture To Avoid Wasting The Site’s Crawl Budget
This is a tough one because I enjoy all aspects of SEO, but if I had to pick one that is my absolute favourite, it would be Technical Audits.
What gets me going is when I get the opportunity to audit a large e-commerce website. I define large as having thousands and thousands of products and a consistently high volume of traffic.
Websites like these tend to benefit from controlling how the bots crawl and interact with the website, otherwise known as crawl optimisation.
Bigger isn’t always better – having a higher number of indexed pages in search engines isn’t always a good thing. A lean and crawl-efficient website tends to perform better, in my opinion.
Here are the most common things that I check for:
- Number of “actual” pages on the website vs. a site: command in Google
- URL parameters report in Google Webmaster Tools
- Index status report in Google Webmaster Tools
I tend to look for discrepancies and any irregularities with the above.
For example, if there is a massive difference in the number of pages on the website versus the number of indexed pages using a site: command and in GWT, the site has URLs that aren’t meant to be indexed. These URLs tend to take up crawl budget.
Here are some of the most common scenarios where crawl budget gets wasted:
- Internal search result pages
- Paginated series
- Miscellaneous URLs generated by plugins and web apps
- Internal duplicate content (e.g., the same content on different URLs)
- Product filtering options
To remedy these issues, the “nofollow” tag, rel=”canonical” tag and meta robots tags are your best friends. Cull any pages that add no value to the user, and canonicalize any duplicate content.
You can also utilise the URL parameters option in Google Webmaster Tools to inform Google how they should handle different URL strings. If you are uber geeky, you can even take it a step further and run some log file analysis.
Ultimately, the objective is to get the crawlers and bots to:
- Not waste any time on URLs that have no value and shouldn’t even exist.
- Crawl and index pages that make a difference to your bottom line.
27. Learning To Code Is A Prerequisite For Performing Thorough Technical SEO Audits
I’ve always said that SEO technical audits provide the most bang for your SEO buck. One of the reasons I believe that is because thorough audits provide a deep analysis across a number of core areas.
Although I could write a book covering SEO tips (literally), I’ve only been asked to provide one tip here. So, I decided to provide one ultra-important recommendation for anyone looking to enhance their SEO audit skills…
Learn how to code.
I feel fortunate to have started my career in web application development. Technical SEO is a natural fit for anyone that’s been neck deep in writing code (both server-side and client-side).
There are so many things that can go wrong SEO-wise if a site isn’t coded properly (or if a site is developed without the proper understanding of various SEO elements and directives).
During audits, I’m often viewing the source code of client websites to hunt down problems. From analyzing metadata and on-page optimization to reviewing structured data to checking SEO directives like rel=”canonical” or meta robots tags, understanding the source code of a webpage is extremely important.
Tracking down coding problems can often uncover serious technical issues SEO-wise, which can be impacting rankings and traffic from organic search.
Start learning how to code. I recommend beginning with HTML and CSS, since they are easy to learn and provide the building blocks for webpages. Test your knowledge by actually building webpages, even if they are rudimentary.
The goal isn’t to become an expert programmer. The goal is to clearly understand how to properly build a webpage, to learn the various HTML elements, and how to use CSS to organize and style those elements.
You can learn how to catch user actions, validate forms, trigger additional content, etc. The main goal would be to understand how a client-side scripting language works with your HTML.
And finally, you must learn how to write server-side code (like php, asp.net, etc.). This is what drives many of the websites you visit on a regular basis.
The ability for server-side code to dynamically process user-requests, build or retrieve information, and then publish that data to webpages is extremely powerful (and important to understand for an SEO).
In a nutshell, dynamic webpages enable developers to scale websites. And as you can guess, this is where many problems can occur SEO-wise. Any time you programmatically generate content, it leaves room for poor markup, the wrong directives, hidden content, broken links, unoptimized pages, etc.
Many of the problems I pick up during audits are the result of botched server-side code. And on larger sites, botched code could impact millions of pages. And when Pandas and Phantoms are roaming the web hunting for low-quality content, you don’t want your server-side code to trigger an algorithmic hit.
But that’s exactly what could happen if your code generates 40K soft 404s, or 200K pages containing duplicate content, or the canonical url tag is being implemented incorrectly on 500K pages, or thousands of lines of excessive script code ended up in your HTML. I can keep going here, but I think you get the point.
The fact of the matter is that understanding how webpages are coded, and how those pages work with client and server-side code, is critically important to hunting down SEO problems.
To me, learning to code is a prerequisite to performing thorough technical SEO audits. You need to know what you’re looking at in order to identify and fix problems. I recommend getting started today.
28. Use Google’s Change Of Address Tool When Redirecting A Domain
My best SEO tip is something I’ve come across recently, and I really think it’s got legs.
Go through your client’s domain portfolios, and find out if they’ve had any old domains 301 redirected to their current domain.
If any of these old domains *have not* been verified through Google Webmaster Tools, verify them.
Then, use Google’s Change of Address tool to tell Google the new address for these old domains.
I recently went through this process with seogadget.co.uk. The domain was already 301 redirecting so I set up a DNS TXT record and a new A record for www.seogadget.co.uk. Then, I verified the domains and changed their address to seogadget.com.
I think this process works better than just a 301 redirect – in fact, I think the value of 301’s has dropped considerably over the years. It feels like a Change of Address is quite a lot more powerful when executed in the right circumstances.
The advice in this section is more strategic in nature. These SEO tips are still very actionable, but they also adopt a more holistic approach than some of the others.
29. Use Competitive Analysis To Generate New Strategic Ideas & Emulate The Success Of Others
In terms of my “best, most actionable tip” I think it has to be some good old fashioned competitor analysis. I’m not particularly talking just for SEO purposes either, I’m talking all areas of your internet marketing strategy.
I’ve noticed many SEO’s who discount competitive analysis as simply “copying your competitors,” but I’m not recommending you should be doing that. However, you should definitely know what it is they are doing well (and not so well) to incorporate it into your strategy if it works.
A few tools I like to use to see what competitors are up to:
Ahrefs: Currently my backlink analysis tool of choice, clearly this will give you information about sites which are linking back to your competitors.
But what strategies are they employing to gain these links?
Are they creating comprehensive resource posts on their own sites? Are they using guest posts? Are they buying links?
SEMrush: One of the best overall SEO competitor analysis tools available for unearthing your competitor’s popular keywords, organic vs. paid traffic and suggesting even more competitors you may want to investigate.
Social Crawlytics: If you’ve yet to use this tool in your competitor analysis, you’re missing a trick. It pulls share data from across the major social networks for any of your competitors, and it gives you 2 major pieces of information.
First, it tells you which social networks your competitors (and their customers) are active on.
Second, it shows you which pages on your competitor’s website are getting the most traction via social media.
Mentionmapp: If your Social Crawlytics analysis throws up Twitter activity for your competitors, Mentionmapp is always my next stop. You can get a fantastic visualisation of interactions, hash tags and mentions which could prove useful in your own Twitter usage, in terms of relationship building and exposure through popular hashtags.
If you pop a couple of your competitors’ details into these sites and come up with some ideas for your own site, SEO or otherwise, it’s time to step away from your computer.
30. Establish A Home Base That You Own & Always Make It The Focus Of Your SEO Strategy
My most actionable SEO tip (and boy, is it hard to isolate it down to one…) is something that is probably going to sound really basic but is the most often overlooked. It’s also kind of a two-part piece of advice because both go hand in hand.
1) Always put time and effort into a home base that you own and start planning your SEO from the beginning.
Don’t leave hosting in the hands of something like WordPress.com, Ning or Tumblr. Spend the time to buy a domain and host it yourself.
If you’re not running something complex like an e-commerce site, going with something simplistic that offers huge customization opportunities (WordPress, Genesis, etc.) will make managing it a lot easier.
The limitations of something like WordPress.com, Ning and Tumblr can hinder you from an SEO standpoint immensely, whether it be from plugin limitations or technical things like controlling redirects or canonicals.
From an equity standpoint, you’re going to have a tough time setting up redirects from something you don’t own, should you choose to migrate to a new domain that you’re personally hosting.
The migration process and reaching out to get links updated can be a huge PITA and a giant time sink, but also a necessary evil. Don’t set yourself back from the beginning by putting your efforts in the hands of something you don’t own.
Plan, plan, plan. Which leads me into…
2) Signal consolidation.
If you’re pushing things through social, posting on Google+, working with a PR company, writing guest posts, etc… make sure that you’re always linking back to and tying those efforts back to your main blog or website.
I’ve seen some articles in the past that encourage companies from small businesses to enterprise level to spend time building up their social networks and put things that could live as their own blog posts on Google+, Facebook or in multiple tweets…. yet they completely neglect the fact that the most powerful place you can put your efforts into is something completely owned and controlled by you, and then push that outwards.
Social is a great promotional tool, but always lead users back to your site.
There are many brands out there who are putting out content but failing to link back and give themselves credit, and this also goes for finding other sites that may have distributed your content and getting attribution where it’s due.
Make sure you’re properly consolidating signals and making it evident where your main business lives, and what should be properly served to those searching for you.
31. Rigorous Testing Is The Only Way To Quantify The True Impact Of SEO Changes
Whenever I think about my favorite area of SEO (and there are many), it always goes to testing.
By this, I don’t mean a change on a few pages to see anecdotally if there’s an impact. I mean making changes on 10,000+ pages for a single factor to determine the actual percentage shift and revenue gain.
The following actionable tip may not be for everyone or every site; however, if you’re working on a large site and the team is not doing SEO testing on top of everything else, I strongly believe it’s time for the company to find a new team if they don’t start implementing this tip.
The best kind of testing a large site can do is the creation of three groups: test, control, and noise (a second control group to basically determine the control error range).
Then, by randomizing your landing page data set (using hashing, even/odd numbers, etc.), you help to avoid bias, and with a doubly-cautious change of the control to the test, you can determine whether your specific SEO change led to a material impact on the business’s bottom line.
That testing should look something like this graph:
Thus, when you make a change (e.g., moving text from lower on the page to above the fold) and you see a ~3% lift in traffic for Binghoo two weeks later, you can pinpoint one of the many solutions to what plays a part in ranking better (and in turn providing a better user experience).
32. Optimize Existing Pages Before Creating New Ones
Go through your list of referring keywords in Google Webmaster Tools, and pull out a list of the top 10 where you rank between 3rd and 10th.
Then find the landing page that is ranking for these keywords and really focus on improving that page.
Make sure all of the on-page SEO elements are covered, make sure all the content is accurate and up to date, make sure the page load speed is good and then look for ways to build both external and internal links to that page.
By just focusing on these few pages, you have a good chance of pushing their rankings up. This is a lot easier than trying to get a page ranking for a brand new keyword and will give you a bump in traffic a lot quicker!
33. Leverage Remarketing To Maximize Your SEO & Content Marketing Efforts
My most actionable SEO tip is to leverage remarketing on the Google Display Network to get more out of your SEO and content marketing efforts. Here’s why…
SEO, by definition, is targeting people who know what they’re looking for but don’t know where to find it.
Consequently, sites that rely on SEO as their primary traffic generation source often have relatively low repeat visitor rates because they’re targeting people who aren’t as familiar with the site’s brand (otherwise, they would have navigated to the site directly).
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that the typical conversion rate for whatever it is you’re driving traffic to, is generally in the low single digits.
By tagging your organic search visitors with a remarketing cookie, you can chase them around the Internet across millions of websites, including Google properties like YouTube and Gmail.
Remarketing will greatly improve brand recall (and increase user engagement metrics like repeat visitor rates) while simultaneously improving conversion rates (because remarketing is targeting people who didn’t initially convert to a lead or sale).
Sure, remarketing isn’t “free,” but neither is content marketing and SEO.
At WordStream, we’ve invested millions in our SEO/content marketing efforts over the last few years, and to maximize our results from those efforts, we invest half of our PPC budget in remarketing!
34. Consistency Is The Key To Long-Term SEO Success
This SEO tip might not be as actionable as some of the others in this post because I’m not going to give you a link building process hack (plenty of those on my blog if you are looking for those), but here is the one tip that I would give if I could only give one tip.
It will probably see you through most link building and ranking related challenges:
“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”
There are an awful lot of campaigns however where the consultant is so busy being creative and dreaming up new big content projects that very little actually gets done.
Have confidence in the strategy you devised, the plan you laid out and your execution thus far. See it through to fruition.
You didn’t need a big new idea or a “creative committee,” you just needed to keep pushing forward in the direction you were going in. We all know SEO can be both challenging and long-term, which makes it even more important to remain focused on what is often a long journey.
How to avoid the distraction of the SEO bubble?
Limit your reading, limit your tweeting and think carefully about what is being said and who is saying it.
Google condemns it and suddenly everyone runs for the hills. If you look back at the types of links Google denounce, they tend to be the links that algorithmically they struggle to deal with. Paid links for example, are very hard for them to cope with at scale. (Source)
Focus on your own experiences, run small scale tests (whether with experiment websites or in a small way on a live project) and analyse what the data is telling you. There are more answers in the project you have in your hands than on any SEO blog out there.
35. Stop Using Risky SEO Tactics – Focus On Quality, Uniqueness, Authority, Relevance & Trust
Stop. Whatever it is you are doing, or planning to do, for SEO, stop.
Whatever it is you’ve heard or read, or an SEO “expert” told you, stop.
Before you take another step, or thought or action. Stop and pause.
Long enough to ask yourself – given how risky SEO tactics have finally been proven to be riskier than they used to be, to the point where it’s more difficult to rebound from a penalty than ever:
“Am I willing to risk my future, my company’s future, my client’s future, my family’s housing and food and expense payments, our company’s families’ housing and food and expense payments, all because ‘I think I can get away with it long enough’ or ‘the SEO expert said it was safe’?”
People need to wake up. I’ve been saying that for years. Except until Panda and Penguin, few people listened. Well hello reality!
You can’t truly fake quality, uniqueness, authority, relevance or trust to enough of a degree for any long term success. Not anymore. And the price you pay for attempting to, is now real. It’s painful. It’s real life serious.
So whatever strategy or tactic you make use of, check it against those five “super signals” – quality, uniqueness, authority, relevance and trust.
And if you’re not faking those signals, you’re more likely to be on solid ground.
And if you’re not sure whether the SEO you’re working with or you’ve hired is faking any of it, get an outside opinion. Before you shoot yourself in the foot. Again…
User Experience & Conversion Rate Optimization
Once you’ve attracted a visitor to your site, you’re not done. In fact, you’re just getting started. Your site should have two complementary goals: 1) provide the best user experience possible and 2) generate as many conversions as possible. The following SEO tips will help you accomplish those goals.
36. Focus On Your Users
My absolute best, most actionable SEO tip is focusing on your users.
Yes, SEO is about getting traffic, but that traffic means nothing if it’s not converting for you.
Google doesn’t pay you to be #1 so if you really want to see the investment for SEO pay off, it’s time to start incorporating some UX into your SEO strategy.
Simple things like A/B Testing, CRO and usability testing will work wonders to convert that traffic into leads.
We use Visual Website Optimizer for all of this, and we can make design/styling changes ourselves without having to get a developer, which as we all know, is pretty difficult.
Plus, Google is focusing more on the quality of websites rather than the quantity of links. Providing a good experience for your users means they’ll share it. They’ll come back.
37. Incorporate UX Best Practices Into Your SEO Strategy
Learn usability. Most of us by now can rank content if we try hard enough …but then what?
Incorporate as much usability and user experience best practices as you can into your SEO strategy.
You could build all the links, get all the shares, have the greatest content in the world and optimize until the cows come home. But at the moment of click through from the SERP, you simply have to provide a good experience.
As we know, Google uses click through rate and “the long click” as a ranking factor, and by incorporating UX principles at a foundational level, your efforts will go much further.
Trust me. Not only will your SEO become more effective, but you’ll become more knowledgeable and more marketable as a professional.
Plus, you’ll be skating to where the puck is going to be, when Google engineers add more advanced “UX detectors” as they relate to their organic search product.
If you operate a business that caters to a specific geographical location, you should be very focused on your local search visibility. The following SEO tips will help you raise this visibility so you can be competitive in your local market.
38. Reviews Are Critical For Local SEO Success
This tip is all about Local SEO, i.e. Google Places/Google+ Local optimisation.
I’ve worked with two clients who aren’t based close to a city centre (they’re in the city, but either in the suburbs or on the outskirts, so a few miles away from what Google deems to be the city centre), but I’ve managed to get them ranking pretty highly within the 7-set of Map results, meaning they’ve ranked higher than some of their competitors who are smack-bang in the centre of the city.
Given that distance to a city centroid is considered to be an important local SEO ranking factor, I’m pretty pleased with the result.
What did the trick? Reviews! Especially as their competitors each had very few reviews or none at all.
In each instance, I asked the clients to ask their clients/customers for reviews left against their Google Places listing, either:
- People who are life-long, loyal clients, who adore the business. With them, my client could take the approach of saying, “Hey, would you mind doing us a quick favour, help us out?”
- Any recent, happy clients, as it’s fresh in their minds.
One of my two clients is a recruitment agency, so they can be extra cheeky and ask their happy candidates for reviews, too!
I then ask the client to incorporate asking for Google reviews as part of an on-going process, baked into their normal processes. So if they already ask their clients for testimonials and/or LinkedIn recommendations after they’ve done work for them, they know to also ask for a Google review as well/instead.
In industries/locales where not many people get reviews, an added bonus is that once you get 5 reviews, you get the stars appearing next to your listing, which is extremely eye-catching (and more-so if they’re all positive 4/5-star reviews)!
That said, in industries/locales that are more competitive, you might have to do additional Google Places optimisation work, but often-times – and in my experience – reviews alone are enough to make a big difference.
39. Use GetListed.org To Clean Up Your Citations
Every year, local SEO experts rank the factors that influence local search results, and every year, the quality, authority, and consistency of citations appear at the top of the list.
With that in mind, here’s my most actionable local SEO tip:
Clean up your citations.
Specifically, claim local listings on as many high-quality, authoritative sites as possible; eliminate duplicate local listings, and make sure all of your citations use consistent NAP information.
GetListed.org is a great tool to help you begin this cleanup process. It doesn’t cover every citation source (because there are hundreds of them), but it allows you to check your company’s most important local listings (and the citations found in those listings).
To illustrate, here’s a quick step-by-step walkthrough:
0. Make sure your company’s NAP is accurate, consistently displayed on your website, and compliant with quality guidelines.
1. Visit GetListed.org, and enter your business name and zip code in the appropriate fields. Then, click the “Check My Listings” button.
2. If multiple listings appear, choose the most accurate one.
3. Take note of your “Listing Score” because this number approximates how well you’re managing your local listings (e.g., have you claimed your company’s listings, are the listings populated with appropriate information, is that information consistent across each of the listings, etc.).
Ideally, you want this score to be as close to 100% as possible.
4. Create listings for each of the sites that appear in the “Missing Listings” section. For a given entry, click the “Create Listing” button, and follow the instructions on the corresponding site.
Note: When creating a new listing, be sure to use consistent information (especially for your company’s NAP).
5. Claim the listings that appear in the “Unclaimed Listings” section, and make sure each listing shows accurate and consistent information.
Note: You want your listings to be as consistent as possible, but don’t be overly concerned about small address variations (e.g., “Street” vs. “St.”).
6. Check the listings that appear in the “Found Listings” section, and ensure they display accurate and consistent information. Also, if you spot any duplicate listings, try to remove them.
Hopefully, once you’ve completed these steps, your Listing Score will be 100% (or close to it) and your local search visibility will be much higher.
But don’t stop there! Keep improving your local SEO by building more citations and cleaning up the rest.
40. Use Local Citation Finder To Discover Your Industry’s Most Important Citation Sources
Here are my top-3 tips…
1. Use Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder to discover the citation sources that matter in your particular local market. List your business on those sites.
Bonus tip: use the tool’s citation-monitoring feature to track the citations that your local competitors get over time, so that you can also list your business on those sites as well.
2. Create a separate page on your website for each specific service you offer. (Don’t forget to have your business name, address, and phone number on every page!)
3. Ask every customer how you can do a better job, and ask every customer for an online review.
Ian Lurie – Portent
Build it right the first time. No amount of cajoling, tweaking, keyword-adding or link building will fix a site that runs slowly, crashes under load, repels users with a terrible interface or otherwise sucks eggs.
I don’t know that this is my favorite SEO area. But infrastructure is what I see wreck one SEO campaign after another. So please, for heaven’s sake, read the SEO requirements you pay for, and make sure you actually do them, before you launch your new site. Please. I’m begging.
Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting
The true value of social media is not direct links out of social media sites but their ability to provide you with a built in PR channel that you can use to get people to link to your great content. You can see an illustration of how that works in the following:
Kane Jamison – Content Harmony
Create as many exact-match landing pages for your topic universe as you can while still maintaining high editorial standards, and figure out a way to structure them effectively within your site without being redundant.
Avoid repeating yourself by interlinking well (but moderate amounts of duplicate content across pages is fine). Then build as many branded links as you can from sites that don’t suck.
Nick Eubanks – SEO Nick
For any website with a geographic or local focus, instead of using internal links to flow PageRank and relevance between parent and child pages, use schema.org “item property” tags.
This will not only signal location-based results, but it renders your search listing with hierarchical sitelinks – providing up to 4 additional in-SERP links, all sending additional query-relevance and potentially additional traffic from Google.
Paddy Moogan – Distilled
When coming up with content ideas that you think have a chance of getting links to your website, do the ten minute test before getting too far into the process.
The ten minute test is where you go and find ten websites that you think would care about your content idea and would probably link to it.
If you can’t find ten websites in ten minutes, then perhaps it isn’t such a great idea! This can help keep you focused on link worthy ideas and save you a lot of time on developing content that no one will ever link to!
John-Henry Scherck – Builtvisible
Actually research your client’s industry, and set up industry-specific Google alerts. It’s not enough to just produce content. Your content needs to be timely, relevant, inspiring, educational or exceptional (and hopefully all of the above). Originality is key.
Barry Schwartz – Rusty Brick
Make something Google would be embarrassed not to rank well.
Ross Hudgens – Siege Media
Look at your competitors in PPC and see if you can siphon any tips on what’s working from a CTR perspective, and implement it in your own title tags and meta descriptions.
Keyword stuffed title tags don’t work anymore, so you should quickly adapt to a strategy of iteratively testing your title tags.
Andrew Shotland – Local SEO Guide
1. Update all of the web pages you control today. Refresh the content a bit because Google is over-rewarding freshness these days.
2. If a site comment spammed your site in the past and contacts you asking for the comment spam link to now be removed, ask them to publicly post an apology on Twitter and Google+ before you take it down. If you can’t have fun in this business, what’s the point?
Peter Attia – Cucumber Nebula
Take everything you read about marketing with a grain of salt. This includes all shades of hats and all levels of expertise. Try anything and everything that has low risk. Even if it fails, you’ll learn something along the way.
What Do You Think?
I would love to hear from you in the comments. Which of these SEO tips is your favorite? Do you have an actionable tip you’d like to share?