WOW. I consider myself a total newbie to SEO, but I’ve been working on my Squarespace site for my small business for about 3 years and have read dozens of articles on how to improve SEO. So far, this has been the MOST USEFUL and information-packed resource I’ve found so far. I’m honestly shocked that this is free to access. I haven’t even completely consumed this content yet (I’ve bookmarked it to come back to!) but I’ve already made some significant changes to my SEO strategy, including adding a couple of infographics to blog posts, changing my internal and external linking habits, editing meta descriptions, and a bunch more. Thanks for all the time and passion you’ve out into this.
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Make data-driven decisions when optimizing your site - It is never smart to invest in optimizing your website based on hunches and guesses. Traffic insight is only a click away with powerful data sources like Google Analytics and visitor tracking software. However, don’t treat this information like an autopsy - use it to make changes and find the story behind your visitor’s experience on your site. Where are people jumping off the most? What do the trends say about your site’s usability? What hypothesis can be made based off of average site visit times and heat maps? Test out your hypothesis with AB testing first to see if you can convert those visitors and then make the widespread changes based off what the testing showed works with your customers.
Also make sure that your blog posts are consistent with one another and that each post has the same-sized images, headings and font. Always ensure that your blog post titles don’t lead your visitors astray.  This may seem obvious, but it happens more often than you’d think. For example, if your blog post is titled “The Top 10 Places to Hike in Southern California” but the post itself talks about hiking spots all throughout the entire state of California, you’re probably going to lose visitors. After all, it’s not what they had signed on for!

The most basic and straightforward way is to use Google Analytics. And I'm not just talking about installing Google Analytics. I'm talking about using the UTM (short for Urchin Tracking Module, which relates to the old Urchin analytics system that Google acquired to create its tracking tool) variables that exist in Google's Analytics to ensure that you know where they're coming from.
By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals.[13] Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb (Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web), was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.[14]
SEO is also about making your search engine result relevant to the user's search query so more people click the result when it is shown in search. In this process, snippets of text and meta data are optimized to ensure your snippet of information is appealing in the context of the search query to obtain a high CTR (click through rate) from search results.
But some schema extensions are targeted at search engines. These code snippets tell Google which elements you would like to display next to your links in the search results. Of course, Google isn’t obliged to follow your instructions, and they can totally ignore the schema you insert in your code. But often, Google honors the schema you insert in your pages.
Getting traffic is always important but one should not worry too much, nothing happens in overnight, Now I read this article and genuinely tried to make my own impression about the post which automatically creates a link to my blog but don’t try hard thinking back links in mind, you always get caught in some or the other way, Panda and Penguin are one such examples.
When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.
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Take the 10 pillar topics you came up with in Step 1 and create a web page for each one that outlines the topic at a high level -- using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in Step 2. A pillar page on SEO, for example, can describe SEO in brief sections that introduce keyword research, image optimization, SEO strategy, and other subtopics as they are identified. Think of each pillar page as a table of contents, where you're briefing your readers on subtopics you'll elaborate on in blog posts.

Another excellent guide is Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.” This is a free PDF download that covers basic tips that Google provides to its own employees on how to get listed. You’ll find it here. Also well worth checking out is Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide To SEO,” which you’ll find here, and the SEO Success Pyramid from Small Business Search Marketing.
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Thanks for your 2019 tips. As a startup business I’m researching heavily on all SEO matters and you’re giving me the confidence to succeed. Just one question if I may. I’m creating a platform that will have 50,000 pages… As it’s practically impossible to create backlinks to all individual pages, do backlinks count from the domain, for example blog posts. Thanks, Matt

Sites like Outbrain and Taboola are great for promoting your website or blog as long as you have some sales funnel setup and an ability to track those individuals who arrive from these platforms. These sites will promote your content across thousands of other similar websites across the internet for a fee. However, be sure to do your due diligence and test things out before diving in headfirst.

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This one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising (try our Smart Ads Creator!) are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you reach for your credit card.

Great article, Brian. Like that you’re finally talking about Domain Authority (DA). It’s essential to make skyscraper technique work as well. Also, a great pointer on comments as I have personally seen articles perform well because of comments. Do you recommend closing the comments as well a few days after the article is published? Kinda like Copyblogger does now.

Inclusion in Google's search results is free and easy; you don't even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to our index. In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren't manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when we crawl the web. Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages.3
An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines' guidelines and involves no deception. As the search engine guidelines[18][19][52] are not written as a series of rules or commandments, this is an important distinction to note. White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat advice is generally summed up as creating content for users, not for search engines, and then making that content easily accessible to the online "spider" algorithms, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose. White hat SEO is in many ways similar to web development that promotes accessibility,[53] although the two are not identical.
Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure. Make sure all of the pages on your site are reachable through links, and that they don't require an internal "search" functionality to be found. Link to related pages, where appropriate, to allow users to discover similar content.

Hi Brian! I enjoy reading your posts and use as much info as I possibly can. I build and sell storage sheds and cabins. The problem I have is that there are no top bloggers in my market or wikipedia articles with deadlinks that have to do with my market. 95% of my traffic and sales are generated via Facebook paid advertising. Would love to get more organic traffic and would be interested in your thoughts concerning this.

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Sorry for the long comment, I just am really happy to see that after all those years of struggle you finally made a break through and you definitely deserve it bro. I’ve had my own struggles as well and just reading this got me a little emotional because I know what it feels like to never wanting to give up on your dreams and always having faith that one day your time will come. It’s all a matter of patience and learning from failures until you get enough experience to become someone who can generate traffic and bring value to readers to sustain long term relationships.
Brian, great post as always! Question: Do you consider authority sites (industry portals) a form of “influencer marketing?” e.g. guest blogging, etc? In some niches there are not so many individuals who are influencers (outside of journalists) but there are sites that those in the industry respect. I am in the digital video space and for me one site is actually a magazine that is building a very strong digital presence. Thanks, keep up the good work!
Wow Brian, You have solved my problem. A few days back I was looking for ways to increase traffic on my tech blog, I found this blog post by you while I was looking out for possible tricks to increase traffic. I must say that few of the tricks mentioned above really worked for me. For example, I updated a few old posts on my blog, I did try the broken link building technique and the last I did was to repost my content on Medium.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.
If you create content that people enjoy it can easily become popular or even go viral. The important thing is to put your website and content in front of people that are looking for it, right? Social bookmarking is a super easy way to do just that. Social bookmarking sites allow users to bookmark their favorite websites that other people can publicly view and vote up or down. If you bookmark useful content other people will find it, share it, and vote it up so others can enjoy it. Oh yeah, and it only takes about 30 seconds to bookmark your site. The 3 most popular social bookmarking sites are Digg, Reddit, and Delicious. These 3 sites get over 8 MILLION unique visitors a month – funneling off a chunk of that traffic to your website is very doable. (There’s plenty to go around ) Just remember to create content that people will enjoy and/or find useful. The most popular content on social bookmarking sites are usually check lists, “Top 10” lists, tools & resources, and breaking news – so keep that in mind!
Product images. If you think images don't play a role, think again. When many consumers search for products in the search engines, not only are they looking at the "Web" results, but they're also looking at the "images" results. If you have quality images of that product on your site -- and the files' names contain relevant keywords -- these images will rank well in search engines. This avenue will drive a lot of traffic to your site, as potential customers will click on that image to find your store.
In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However, Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[36] The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[37] Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links[38] by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognized term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words [39]. With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you're linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you're linking to is about.
Why? Today, we're faced with a plethora of disinformation and misinformation, crafted and concocted by clever minds looking more to extract money from you than help you to earn it. That latest "proven traffic system" that you just plopped down $997 for isn't going to bring  you the results you expected. That new video series by the latest raving internet marketer on how you can drive "unlimited" traffic to your website? Nope. That isn't going to work either.
Great post, your knowledge and innovative approach never fails to amaze me! This is certainly the first time I’ve heard someone suggest the Wikipedia dead link technique. It’s great that you’re getting people to think outside of the box. Pages like reddit are great for getting keywords and can also be used for link building although this can be difficult to get right. Even if you don’t succeed at using it to link build it’s still a really valuable platform for getting useful information. Thanks!
I’m considering a niche that I’m not sure I can find good influencers for – fundraising. School fundraising or charitable fundraising. I’m passionate about it but how would I get my articles shared by influencers? The non-profit sector is somewhat apprehensive about promoting commercial sites, unless it’s fundraising software. The name really says it all: “non”-profit.
Another example when the “nofollow" attribute can come handy are widget links. If you are using a third party's widget to enrich the experience of your site and engage users, check if it contains any links that you did not intend to place on your site along with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your site which are not your editorial choice and contain anchor text that you as a webmaster may not control. If removing such unwanted links from the widget is not possible, you can always disable them with “nofollow" attribute. If you create a widget for functionality or content that you provide, make sure to include the nofollow on links in the default code snippet.
Guest blogging is a two-way street. In addition to posting content to other blogs, invite people in your niche to blog on your own site. They’re likely to share and link to their guest article, which could bring new readers to your site. Just be sure that you only post high-quality, original content without spammy links, because Google is cracking way down on low-quality guest blogging.
Spider-driven search engines such as Google®, Yahoo!® and MSN® use "robots" or "crawlers" to score websites across the Internet. Robots "spider/crawl" each site and "score" pages based on how relevant they are. A website's score or placement within a spider driven search engine is derived from hundreds of variables such as link popularity, density and frequency of keywords in page content, HTML code, site themes and more. You will want to focus many criteria in your SEO strategy to position yourself well among the major search engines. Here are two of the most influential factors:

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. Using metadata to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[10][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated some attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[11] By 1997, search engine designers recognized that webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engine, and that some webmasters were even manipulating their rankings in search results by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Altavista and Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings.[12]
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